What if…Sting Beat Hogan Clean at Starrcade ’97?
Our story begins on the 28th of December, 1997, at WCW’s annual flagship show, Starrcade, where the WCW roster has promised that the New World Order will finally get their comeuppance.
And after the blinding opener between Eddy Guerrero and Dean Malenko, WCW has its first chance to live up to its promise, when the Steiners and Ray Traylor battle Scott Norton, Vincent and Randy Savage of the nWo. Try though the nWo contingent may, they are overpowered, and it isn’t too long before Virgil is dropped for the three count by a Steinerizer. Buff Bagwell’s bout with Lex Luger goes a similar way, Lex dominating much of the match before putting Buff away with the Torture Rack. With Bret Hart refereeing the match and keeping the nWo at bay, Larry Zybysko is able to defeat Eric Bischoff for the WCW presidency. All of which is a fantastic revenge on the group that has run roughshod over WCW for a year and a half, but none of which is as important to the fans as the showdown a year in the making: Hollywood Hogan’s world title defence against the man they call Sting.
Hogan struts arrogantly to the ring, air guitaring away on the title belt as ever. Sting, by contrast, simply walks to the ring, as though nothing exists in the world but his need to defeat Hogan. A little of the pride and confidence seems to leave Hogan, making room for fear as he stares at Sting, and the bat Sting brings with him, which he places down at the bottom of one turnbuckle. Hogan passes the belt to Nick Patrick, the nWo’s dirty ref, who holds the prize both men will fight for high above his head, before passing it away, and calling for the bell.
The two icons pace the ring in a circle, looking for an opening. Hogan is the first to step forward, raising his hands for a test of strength. Sting raises his own, and they lock hands above their heads. The two push with all their strength, and Hogan begins to give ground to WCW’s icon. Hogan opts to end the test by kicking Sting in the stomach, before wearing him down with a headlock. Sting powers out of this, however, bouncing Hogan against the ropes, before striking him with a powerful clothesline. Hogan finds his feet, only to be rewarded with another clothesline. He starts to rise again, but sees Sting waiting, and opts to roll outside the ring instead. Sting follows, but is tripped to the ground as he steps off the apron. As Sting attempts to stand, Hogan stands over him, raining punches across his back and head. Sting tries to fight back with elbows, but has his head slammed into the ringpost instead. Hogan whips Sting towards the guardrails by the next corner, but Sting is able to turn the whip around, sending Hogan crashing into them instead, before following him with his patented splash, crushing Hogan against the steel. Hogan is hurled violently back into the ring, before Sting enters by climbing the top turnbuckle, catching Hogan with a crossbody as he stands, getting a reluctant two from Nick Patrick. Sting pulls Hogan up by his head, only to be struck with a low blow that Nick Patrick pretends not to see, and sent into a corner. Hogan follows, propping Sting atop the turnbuckle, and delivering a superplex. With Sting down, Hogan hits the opposite ropes, and attempts his legdrop, only for Sting to roll away. As both men stand, Hogan’s back is to Sting, a dangerous mistake which allows Sting to quickly score his Scorpion Deathdrop DDT. Sting covers, but Nick Patrick does not count the pin, sticking to his nWo loyalties.
Sting drops Patrick with a fierce clothesline, before going to his corner, and grabbing the baseball bat. Hogan stands, and is dropped by a shot between the eyes. The nWo arrive in force now, the entirety of their group turning up, with the exception of Hall and Nash. They storm the ring, only to be put down one by one by Sting bat shots. Numbers chip away at Sting though. Hope is on the horizon, however, as out come Lex Luger and Bret Hart, still in his referee’s uniform. Luger and Sting begin to brawl with the assorted nWo members, giving Sting time to recover. The combined force of the three heroes is more than enough to clear the ring. Luger stands at the apron, watching for nWo member who may still try to enter, while Bret’s continued presence in the stripes suggests he is taking over officiating duties for the match. Sting and Hogan brawl for a while, trading punches. Hogan kicks Sting in the gut to end the fist fight, and bounces him against the ropes, before going for his big boot. Sting ducks the boot, and as Hogan turns around, repays him the favour of a kick to the gut. This kick sets up a piledriver, Bret Hart looking on with approval at the crisp execution. Sting then drags Hogan to the centre of the ring, and places him in the Scorpion Deathlock. It isn’t long before the cowardly Hogan is screaming in submission, and slapping the mat repeatedly with his hand to the joy of the crowd. Bret passes the belt to Sting, who holds it aloft. Elated, the WCW locker room swarms the ring, driving the nWo members from ringside, and crowding around Sting, celebrating him as their hero. Sting, however, pushes his way roughly through the throng of bodies, and walks silently up the ramp alone instead. He stops for a moment to stare at the prize he has won, before he steps behind the curtain and out of sight.
December 29th, 1997: WCW Monday Nitro
Nitro opens with the nWo crowding the ring, to cut one of their trademark group promos that so often start Nitro off. Randy Savage is the first to speak
“Ohh Yeah! Now I know all of you might think the New World Order might be pretty quiet after last night, yeah. But that ain’t so! See, we’re just gonna be coming up stronger than every before, and we’re taking over! 1998 will be the beginning of the end, yeah! This war ain’t even started yet!”
Scott Hall, who has been looking increasingly impatient and frustrated through Savage’s speech, put a hand on his chest, pushing him back, and raising his own microphone.
“He’s right. He can’t win a match, can’t none of them win a match, but he’s right. You shouldn’t get too comfortable. Especially not you, Sting. Because the bad guy’s got himself a title shot he won at World War III. So enjoy all your little parties, boys. Drink to your champ Sting as much as you can, yo, because at Souled Out, I’m taking him out, and I’m taking his belt.”
Hogan turns to Hall, a look of anger in his eyes
“Now, listen here, brother. I’m the leader of this group, and I’m the only one that’s gonna get that title, jack.”
It’s Nash’s turn to step forwards, looking Hogan in the eye.
“He’s earned that shot. Don’t forget who started this war, brother. This was me and Scott’s fight first. We weren’t even at Starrcade. You guys told us you had it in the bag, that you were gonna send them running. Well, we saw how that went, right Savage? Virgil? Scott? Buff? Eric? Hogan? Wait, that’s right. You all got your asses kicked by the same guys me and Scott have had on the run for over a year now. So step aside, old man.”
Hogan steps forward, pushing his forehead up against Nash’s. The two stare angrily at each other, trash talking. Bischoff is quick to step forward and make peace, for the sake of keeping his unit together.
“Whoa! Whoa, guys, guys. Let’s not forget who we are. We’re nWo for life, right? We’re all on the same side here. Look, let me think this out. I’ve always been the planner, right? We can fix this next week. I’ll have it sorted by then, okay? Just, chill, okay?”
Hogan reluctantly steps away from Nash, who laughs, and turns back to face Scott Hall, grinning and shrugging his shoulders. The men named by him as losers look reproachfully at The Outsiders as the nWo all make their way up the ramp, The Outsiders hanging at the back, chatting to each other and joking.
Towards the end of the show, after its main event, we see Bret Hart walking down the corridor, dressed casually. Coming the opposite way is Lex Luger, who stops him briefly.
“Hey Bret, thanks for the help last night.”
“No problem. I guess I just hate seeing someone else screwed out of the title.”
“Yeah, I bet. Hey, we did pretty good against those chumps, right? Well, I don’t care what they say, we’re finally winning this war. You and me, we should team up and clean house on them. What do you say?”
“Sorry Lex. I’m just here to compete with the best. I don’t care about the nWo. Just not my problem, you know? On which note, I gotta get to the ring. Got something to say.”
“Right. Before you go, you seen Sting? Man’s damn near impossible to find.”
Bret laughs a little, asks Lex jokingly if he’s “tried the rafters”, and heads on in the direction he was headed.
It’s not long before his music hits the speakers, and he makes his way down the ramp to the ring, soaking in the adoration of the crowd, microphone clutched in hand. He slides under the ropes, and begins to pace slowly. He waits for the crowd’s noise to die down, then stands in the middle of the ring, and raises the microphone.
“It’s great to be here in WCW! I’ve faced everyone back where I came from, I’ve beat everyone back where I came from, and now I’m here, there’s new competition, new opponents, new titles, I can’t wait! But there’s just one thing. Just one little thing that bothers me. I get into that locker room tonight, and all I can hear is how someone’s been talking trash about how I can’t call myself the best there is, was, and ever will be. I look around to confront the little maggot who wants to talk behind my back, and what a coincidence, he ain’t there. So, Ric! If you’ve got something to say to me, why don’t you just come down here and say it?”
The crowd pop loudly at the prospect of Ric Flair coming down and facing Bret Hart, and they’re not disappointed. Sure enough, the organ opening of Also Sprach Zarathustra comes across the speakers, and out comes Flair. Flair takes in the rapturous response to him as he heads to the ring. He stands across the ring from Bret, and extends a hand to take the microphone from him. Bret passes it over willingly, and Flair gives his response.
“Bret Hart! Wooo! The best there is, was and ever…but you can’t really believe that, can you? You want me to say what I have to say to your face? Well, okay, here it is. You can say you’re better than Harley Race. You can say you’re better than Lou Thesz. You can say you’re better than Ricky Steamboat, than Wahoo McDaniel, than whoever you damn well please! You can even believe it, if you want to! But you cannot say, you cannot believe, not even in your wildest dreams, that you are the best. Not when I’m right here in the ring with you. You want to prove you’re the best?”
Bret snatches the microphone away from him, and interrupts
“I don’t just want to prove I’m the best. I want to prove I’m the man. Which I guess means I’m going to have to beat the man.”
Flair grabs the mic back from him, and quietly utters
“You’re on. You and me, at Souled Out. I’m gonna show you why I’m the man around here.”
Flair extends his hand to Bret, who grasps it. The two shake hands, and we can see each of them stare the other in the eye. The announcement that these two men in the ring, arguably the best two wrestlers in the world, will face each other at Souled Out on the 24th of January is how the last Nitro of 1997 ends.
January 5th, 1998: WCW Monday Nitro
Following a cruiserweight battle that saw Billy Kidman pick up a win over Rey Misterio Jr., we cut backstage to see Eric Bischoff in his office. The door is shoved open without warning, and in strides Kevin Nash. Nash would loom over Bischoff when the two were both standing. With Nash on his feet, and Bischoff off his, to say there is an intimidating size advantage to Nash would be to say the ocean is wet. Bischoff looks puzzled at Nash’s sudden arrival, but Nash gives an explanation before one is asked of him.
“I’m just coming here to make sure you do right by my boy Scott tonight. Because if you don’t, I’m going to have to pay you another visit.”
His point made, Nash doesn’t bother waiting for a response, simply turning his back on Bischoff and leaving.
Later in the show, Lex Luger makes his way to the ring, holding a microphone, evidently with something to say. He steps between the ropes, and wastes no time in speaking his mind.
“Sting! I’m tired of looking for you! Show yourself! I’ve got things to say to you!”
As if in answer, the lights go out all over the arena. A light then illuminates the ring, showing Lex Luger standing in the middle of it, looking puzzled. Another light then comes on, lighting up a section of the rafters, where Sting stands, the WCW World Heavyweight Championship secured firmly around his waist, and a microphone in his hand. Luger faces towards the figure in the rafters.
“I’m tired of you acting like you’re better than the rest of us, Sting! When you beat Hogan, in a match you would have lost if didn’t have your back, we all came out to celebrate you because you’d done it. Just like we knew you would. You’d dealt the biggest blow to the nWo. But you shoved me, your oldest friend in this business, aside. What, do you think you’re better than me? You needed me that night, Sting. You wouldn’t be wearing that gold if it wasn’t for me.”
Sting raises his microphone to his mouth, eliciting a huge pop from the live crowd, this would be the first time in a year that he had spoken.
“I stand above and watch. I stand separate from the nWo. I stand separate from the rest of WCW. I stand here because you and the others would not trust me. Because you saw me as another one of Hogan’s lackeys. And now you ask me why I didn’t join your party? Because the sheer hypocrisy made me sick. You make me sick, Lex.”
Luger looks enraged, and raises his microphone to respond, only for the lights to go out again. They all come back on, and Sting is gone from his perch, forcing Luger to settle for storming angrily from the ring.
The end of the show sees the nWo crowd the ring. There’s an obvious tension within the group, as Hogan and Savage shoot angry looks at The Outsiders, who are lounging in a corner, watching Bischoff with cool disinterest. Bischoff stand in the middle of the group, and says his piece.
“Now, since last week, I’ve thought about what has been said. Hogan has made an impressive leader as champion. The nWo has been massively successful during his title runs, and it stands to reason it will do if he has the gold again.” The crowd boo the Hogan praise, while Hogan plays it up, a man with an obviously high opinion of himself. He steps forward and tells Bischoff
“You made the right choice, brother, putting me against Sting at Souled Out.”
Nash and Hall step forward angrily towards Hogan, drawing Randy Savage to Hogan’s side to even the numbers up. Bischoff once again has to try and keep the peace.
“Hold on a damn minute! I’m not done yet. Hall has won a title shot. Hall started this war, and him and Nash have been kicking WCW’s ass since they got here. So here’s how it is. Neither of you are getting a shot at Souled Out.”
The crowd cheer the news, while Hogan and Savage look outraged, and The Outsiders listen to here the ‘but’ that must be coming.
“But instead, Hogan, you will face Hall at Souled Out, with the winner being the first member of the nWo to challenge Sting. Now, since you’re both team mates in the New World Order, I want you two to shake hands, and agree to this match, okay?”
Hogan extends his hand to Hall, which Hall slaps carelessly, before turning his back on Hogan to leave the ring. Hogan is enraged at the disrespect, and takes a furious step forward, only for Nash to stand in his way
“Wait until Souled Out, brother.”
Nash backs off, watching Hogan, before following Hall up the ramp, as Nitro comes to an end.
January 12th, 1998: WCW Monday Nitro
Randy Savage beats Ray Traylor in a match early on in this week’s edition of Nitro. He is walking through the curtain when Nash confronts him. Savage asks
“What do you want?”
“Don’t know why, but I know you’ve been brown-nosing Hogan more than usual these days. And if you try to screw my boy Scott over at Souled Out, I’ll make sure it’s the last thing you do.”
“What’s with all this ‘my boy’ crap, Nash? What do you get out of it? What’s your angle? I know you, you’ve got to have an angle.”
“My angle is a watch his back, and he watches mine. Thought we were all meant to be watching each other’s backs. But then, while me and Scott were watching Hogan’s, he goes and buries a knife in Scott’s by trying to step over him for the title. Scott’s taking care of Hogan at Souled Out. If you stick a knife in mine or Scott’s, we’ll make sure you get the same treatment. Just wanted you to know, stay the hell away from their match at Souled Out.”
Nash turns and walks carelessly away from Savage, who fumes silently.
Luger is backstage with Mean Gene Okerlund, who has a question for him.
“Luger, what’s your response to Sting’s words last week?”
“I’m angry, Gene, I’m real angry. I could tell you, but I’ve never been a words man. I’d prefer to show Sting at Souled Out. He can put the title on the line if he wants to. What I want is for him to put his damn pride on the line. What I really want is for him to come down from his damn perch, and actually fight me, if he’ll condescend to that.”
Later on in the show, and the ring is set up for a contract signing between Ric Flair and Bret Hart. Flair turns up dressed in a sharp navy blue suit, and walks proudly to the ring, marking a distinct contrast from Bret, who turns up wearing a leather jacket over a white t-shirt, with his trademark reflective sunglasses on. He slouches in the chair opposite Flair. Mean Gene, who is stood between them, hands Flair the contract. He signs it, never taking his eyes off of Bret. Bret pulls it away from him, and lazily signs his name on the contract, before tossing it back onto the table. Flair looks livid at the disrespect Bret is showing him, and slaps him across the face, the sound echoing around the arena.
“Goddamn you! You will show some respect when you are around a legend such as myself! This is my home, you’re just an uninvited and unwanted guest, you little punk!”
Bret’s response is to push his chair slowly backwards, and stand, a red welt still marking where Flair slapped him. Bret tells Flair to “make me respect you next Saturday”, before leaving the ring.
January 19th, 1998: WCW Monday Nitro
Eric Bischoff stands outside Hollywood Hogan’s locker room. He knocks on the door, and waits a few moments before Hogan opens it and answers him.
“Hey brother. What’s up?”
“Just letting you know I got you and Hall a match together tonight.”
“Can’t me and Scott wait until Saturday?”
“Not against each other, Hulk. Together. As a team. I figure Luger’s run his mouth enough since Starrcade about how he wants a war with us, about how we’re dead, about how we have no chance. I figure you and Scott can warm up for Saturday by taking out him and his partner, if he still has any friends left to be his partner.”
Hogan looks frustrated. “Shouldn’t have done it, Eric. I don’t much want to see that punk.”
Bischoff shrugs “Can’t be helped. It’s done now.”
Hogan sighs, and shuts the door on Bischoff’s face.
Later on in the show, and Mean Gene Okerlund is backstage with Ric Flair.
“You might wonder why I asked for this interview, huh, Mean Gene?”
“I was curious, I’ll admit.”
“Well, Gene, you see, it’s like this. Lex Luger has to find himself a partner for tonight, and I’m here to say that that man is me. Now Lex, it’s nothing personal. I don’t want to be your new best friend now Sting won’t return your calls. Don’t get me wrong, I got no love for Hogan, and Hall’s nothing but a no good punk! But it’s not about you! And it’s not about them! It’s about Saturday night, baby! Woo! Because I’m the best wrestler in the world, but on Saturday night, at Souled Out, I go one-on-one with the second best wrestler in the world! And if he’s just real lucky that night, he’s going to look like he’s better than me. And that just ain’t true! So tonight is about having a match to warm me up for Bret on Saturday. I’ll see you three in the ring, woooo!”
Flair struts away from Mean Gene, ending the interview.
Hall and Nash are warming up in their locker room when Bischoff walks in. Hall throws Bischoff a lazy look.
“Yeah. What do you want?”
“Just letting you know you’ve got a match with Hogan tonight. Together. As a team. I figure Luger’s run his mouth enough since Starrcade about how he wants a war with us, about how we’re dead, about how we have no chance. I figure you and Hogan can warm up for Saturday by taking out him and Flair.”
Nash smirks at Hall “That sounded rehearsed to me.”
Hall grins back “Yeah. Sounds like he’d been preparing it for a while.”
“You’d think he could come up with something better, given that he put time into it.”
“Yeah, I was pretty disappointed.”
Hall seems to notice that Bischoff is still standing there.
“What are you still doing there? Yeah, I’ll do the match. Run along now.”
Angry, Bischoff opens his mouth to speak, but thinks better of it, and heads out, slamming the door behind him on his way out.
The time of the match comes around as the main event for the night. Kevin Nash and Randy Savage each stand in the nWo’s corner. Commentator Mike Tenay tells the audience viewing at home that Luger vs Sting for the title has been confirmed for this Saturday. Flair and Hall start off, circling each other. Hall slaps Ric across the face, then tag himself out, and Hogan in, before Flair can look to repay the favour. Hogan doesn’t look much pleased at being sent in to receive Flair’s wrath, but has no time to argue with Hall, as as soon as he’s stepped through the ropes, Flair starts lighting his chest up with chops. Hogan is pressed into his corner, where Hall puts his hands up, making no offer of tagging Hogan out. Flair whips Hogan into another corner, and proceeds to work on his leg. Hogan fights back with punches, causing the pair to trade shots in the middle of the ring. Eventually, Hogan throws a right with such force as to send Flair staggering backwards several steps. Flair and Hogan both seek to make up the distance by charging in with a clothesline. Both connect, and both men go down, and head towards their corners for a tag. Flair reaches Luger, but Hall drops from the apron to talk to Nash, making Hogan unable to tag him. Luger closes in on Hogan, and bodyslams him, before slapping on a chinlock. Savage argues with Hall, telling him to get back up on the apron,which he obliges, standing on the apron, putting a toothpick into his mouth and lounging casually against the turnbuckle. Hogan powers out of the chinlock, and starts to throw elbows into Luger’s midsection, then throw punches once Luger is doubled over. Luger stunned, Hogan turns around and slaps Hall across the face to make the tag. Hall steps in, clotheslines Luger down, and heads back to his corner to spit his toothpick in Hogan’s face. Hogan tries to step into the ring, but Charles Robinson stands in his way, telling him to go back to their corner. Hall uses the distraction to give the rising Luger a low blow. Hall works Luger over for some time now, while Flair and Hogan both fume on the apron. Luger starts to make a comeback, and throws forearms at Hall. Each forearm makes him take a step backwards, and Luger drives away with the forearms, too focused on getting revenge to notice he’s driving Hall back into his own corner. Even with Hall in the same corner as Hogan, and taking this beating, however, Hogan doesn’t help him out by tagging in, Hogan putting hands up, mirroring Hall’s refusal to help Hogan against Flair. Hall uses a thumb to the eye to interrupt Luger, and then throws a punch to send him staggering. Just as Hall has things back in hand, Hogan slaps Hall on the back, bringing himself back into the match. Hogan and Luger brawl for a while, the action working its way close to the ropes, at which point Luger lariats Hogan with enough force to send them both tumbling over the top rope, landing near Randy Savage. Luger has landed atop Hogan, and is raining punches onto the helpless Hogan, causing Savage to step in and attack Luger. Charles Robinson calls for the bell to end the match on a disqualification. Flair steps back into the ring, and starts to brawl with Hall, who he still hasn’t paid back for the slap across the face at the start. Nash storms the ring to help his friend out. Sting drops down on his harness from the rafters, detaches himself from them, and proceeds to go after Savage and Hogan, evening out the odds for Luger. Bret like wise storms the ring to help Flair fight off the Outsiders. The ring and ringside area quickly break into a wild brawl, during which Hogan draws a steel chair from under the ring, and downs his fellow nWo member, and opponent on Saturday, Scott Hall with it. It is on this chaos that the final Nitro before Souled Out ends.
January 24th, 1998: Souled Out
The first match of the triple main event at Souled Out is the clash between Scott Hall and Hollywood Hogan over number one contendership. Predictably, Kevin Nash walks to the ring with Scott Hall, while Randy Savage accompanies Hollywood Hogan. Scott Hall uses his wrestling proficiency to keep Hogan from building up momentum at the start of the match. Hogan is able to power out, and start to build up steam, however. Hall is able to cut off the beating with a thumb to the eyes, which draws a similar cheap shot from Hogan. The two begin to brawl in the ring, an exchange which ends when Scott Hall is able to superplex Hogan. Hall hoists Hogan up onto his back for the Outsider’s Edge, only for Hogan to drop off, landing on his feet behind Hall. Hogan dazes Hall with punches, before hitting the ropes for a clothesline. As he does, however, Nash grabs his legs, tripping him, and causing him to stumble forwards. Hall takes advantage of Hogan’s loss of balance to kick him in the gut, and deliver the Outsider’s Edge successfully this time. He lies across Hogan for the pin, only for Savage to roll in and break it up by landing a running kick on Hall. Nash slides into the ring, and begins brawling with Savage, as Charles Robinson is left with no choice but to call for the bell. The ring announcer calls out that the match has been ruled a no-contest due to interference.
Next up is Bret Hart’s wrestling dŽbut with WCW, against Ric Flair. Flair is angry at the lack of respect Bret has shown him, and it shows, as the match starts off with a flurry of vicious knife edge chops. After the initial surprise, Bret is able to return with forearms of his own, which stagger Flair. Bret comes charging in with a clothesline, only for Flair to duck, and clip Bret’s knees out from behind once Bret has run past him. Flair proceeds to work Bret’s left leg, keeping him grounded and setting him up for the figure four later on. Bret is able to reach the ropes while in a leg lock, and Flair is forced to break the hold. Bret reaches his feet, and the two circle each other, Bret obviously favouring his right leg. The two tie up, and Bret is able to slip behind and execute a back drop suplex, bridging for a two count. Bret pulls Flair up, and scores a backbreaker. As Flair lies on his front on the mat, Bret drops an elbow onto his back. Not letting up his assault on Flair’s back, Bret drags him to the turnbuckle, and sets him up for a superplex. As the two jockey for position on the top rope, Flair thumbs Bret in the eye, giving him enough opportunity to kick him off the top rope to the apron. Flair waits for Bret to regain his feet, and flies through the air with a crossbody, hitting Bret with the manoeuvre, much to the shock of Mike Tenay. It only gets a two count, however. Flair sets to wear Bret down with a front face lock, which initiates a series of reversals on the ground. Both men stand from their chain wrestling clinic on the ground, and circle each other warily. Bret lunges in for the tie up, only for Flair to duck under his arms, and hook Bret’s leg out from under him. Flair drags Bret away from the ropes by the leg, and sets to apply the Figure Four. Bret is able to leverage himself forwards, however, grabbing Flair by the head, and pulling him into a roll-up. Charles Robinson dives to the mat, and makes the count: 1, 2, 3! Both men stand as Bret’s music plays, and Flair paces away from Bret, running a hand through his hair and looking frustrated at the loss, as Bret raises his arms and heads up the ramp.
Which leaves only Sting and Luger left on the card. Their match is a straightforward back and forth exchange of power moves, each taking the best the other has to offer. Eventually, Sting is able to score the Scorpion Deathdrop, and cover Luger for the three count. After the match, Luger offers Sting a handshake, only for Sting to walk silently away from him with the World Title over his shoulder.
WCW was finally able to make its promised rout of the nWo at Starrcade 1997. Since then, Sting has rejected the embrace of the WCW locker room, turning his back on everyone, including his former best friend, Lex Luger. Meanwhile, tensions between the nWo after their defeat came bubbling to the surface, as Scott Hall challenged Hogan’s right to take another shot at Sting. The two came to blows at Souled Out, with Nash interfering on Hall’s behalf, and drawing Savage into the conflict. Aside from all of this, Flair fought Bret to see who the best really was, in a match at Souled Out that Bret won with a roll-up from the figure four. It is on the Nitro two nights after Souled Out that our story continues…
January 26th, 1998: WCW Monday Nitro
Chaos in the nWo dressing room is how Nitro starts. The B-squad look on in nervous tension as Hogan and Savage stand in the centre of the room, trading shouts with Hall and Nash. Hogan’s voice booms “All this talk about doing right by your boy, Nash! What’s it come to? Comes to you just cheating it for your boy! Who’s that do right by, huh?”
Nash responds: “It does right by him. He won that shot, he never should have had to defend it against you, you miserable selfish old bastard.”
Hogan bristles at this, and thunders towards Nash, only for Savage and several members of the B-squad to step between them. He takes a breath, and turns to Hall “And you, you know I could take you out back and beat you like a dog any day.”
Hall turns his toothpick around in his mouth carelessly “Anytime you want, old orange. I’ll beat you down, and when the time’s right, boom! Outsider’s edge. Just like Saturday night, brother.”
Things look ready to kick off between the two duos when Eric Bischoff enters
“Just what the hell is going on here? What is this? You think we can get WCW beat like this? That we had them on the run for a year and half by fighting among ourselves? I’m going to go sort this out with Zybysko. You four just stay the hell away from each other until then.”
Bischoff storms out, and is shortly followed by Hogan and Savage, who leave after shooting one last angry glare at the Outsiders.
Backstage, later on in the show, Bischoff knocks on the door of Larry Zybysko. A voice from within tells him to enter, and he does. Larry treats his former foe with mock friendliness.
“Eric! Great to see you! And how is the former President today?”
Bischoff smarms as only he can
“Hey there Larry. I gotta a proposition for you. One that’ll make us, you, a lot of money on pay-per-view. One that’ll make Superbrawl a can’t miss prospect. Are you ready for this? Sting defends his world title against Hollywood Hogan andScott Hall. How’s that sound? Sounds pretty unmissable, right? Tell you what, I’ll even let you claim the idea was yours, how’s that sound?”
Larry pretends to think about it for a moment as he lounges in his chair
“Well, Eric, you know, that sounds like a good idea. But I’ve got a better one. We find Sting a challenger who wins their matches by being the better man, not by having the most pals in his corner, and the two of them, oh, I don’t know, wrestle, while your boys sit idly by, see how it’s done. Now get out of my office, you’ve got no power here any more, and neither do your new world order buddies.”
After Perry Saturn bests Scott Norton in an entertaining battle of powerhouses, Raven is seen backstage, approaching the same office Bischoff recently left. He knocks on the door, and when the voice tells him to come in, he opens the door and enters, telling Zybysko “I’ve got something I think you need to hear”, before shutting the door, leaving the cameraman outside.
The end of the show sees Bret Hart take to the ring, which he struts proudly around, holding a microphone. “Well, there was a lot of talking, but on Saturday night, I finally got all of that between me and Ric settled. And now that we all know that I’m the better man, I can finally focus on where I belong. See earlier, Larry Zybysko talked about people proving themselves as wrestlers for title shots at Sting. Well, look no further than the best there is -”
He is cut off by the sounds of Also Sprach Zarathustra, and the arrival of Ric Flair, who heads quickly to the ring, a microphone in his hand. He gets up close to Bret, waits for the music and the pop to die down, and gets to talking. “Bret, you beat me by luck on Saturday. That doesn’t make you the best, that makes you the luckiest there is, was, etc. You come down here, calling Sting out for a title shot? You’re just trying to move away. You just don’t want to give me a rematch, because you know I’ll embarrass you, you know that your win was nothing but a fluke!”
Bret takes a step back, and raises his own microphone “Ric, I’ve moving onto bigger and better things than another match with you. Another match with you would be pointless, Ric. It would just reinforce what everyone knows. You were great once, Ric. I’m great now. This is my time, and I’m not wasting it with you.” Bret makes to leave, only for Flair to grab him by the arm. He turns around, and tells Ric
“Let me go.”
“Not until I get my rematch.”
Bret considers for a second, lowering his head. Then he throws a sucker punch at Flair, knocking him to the ground, his nose bleeding. Bret raises the microphone to his mouth, saying “It’s over, Ric. Move on” before throwing the microphone to the ground, and walking away from the ring as Nitro ends.
February 2nd, 1998: WCW Monday Nitro
Tony Schiavone is his usual excitable self as Nitro opens. He has good cause this time though, as he excitedly gushes about the night’s main event: Sting defends his world title against Bret Hart. Before that though, we go backstage and see Bischoff once again knocking on Larry Zybysko’s door. Once again, he’s told to come in, and once again, he does, once again putting on his smarmiest voice.
“You wanted to see me?”
“Yes, Eric. Yes I did. Just wanted to let you know I’ve pencilled that triple threat you wanted in.”
Eric looks shocked for a moment, but he quickly covers it.
“Really? Knew you’d see reason. What changed your mind?”
“Something a bird told me. We’re done here now.”
Bischoff leaves, a sly smirk on his face, which is nothing compared to how smug Larry Zybysko looks. Tony Schiavone wonders aloud why Larry looks so smug.
Bischoff later makes his way into the nWo locker room to spread the good word, which he finds surprisingly peaceful. The explanation is quickly apparent, Hall and Nash are absent. Bischoff wondered where they were.
“Where’s Hall and Nash?”
“Looks like they did what they were told for once. They’ve been keeping away from Hogan and Savage.” Bagwell replies.
“Cowardly move, more like. They know Hulk here’ll crush ‘em if they don’t, ain’t that right, Hulk?”
There’s a bit of laughter, interrupted by Konnan standing up angrily and shouting at Hogan
“This is bullshit, dog! Scott won that shot, and now here you are, actin’ like he done something wrong by wanting it. It ain’t all Hogan, dog! It ain’t all about you! What if it’d been me who wanted the shot, huh? Screw all you guys, I ain’t having none of this.”
Konnan storms towards the door. Bischoff places a hand on his arm to calm him, but is shoved roughly aside. Bischoff sighs, then gives Hogan the news about Souled Out, before leaving to find the Outsider’s.
Later on in the show, he does just that. Hall, Nash and Konnan are lounging backstage, Hall with a can of beer in his hand, and Nash smoking a cigar. Konnan looks a little calmer now.
“It ain’t right, yo. Just ain’t right. When you take that belt, you best know I’m coming for ya, just like he shoulda known you’d be coming for it. It’s the belt, man. It’s the reason we all here.”
Scott hands him another beer, as Bischoff turns up, and excitedly gives them the news of the match. Hall responds by simply draining his beer, and saying
“So? I still gotta share my shot with that waste of air. It’s something, but don’t be looking for a party just because I got what I shoulda got a month ago, but worse. Clear out, Eric.”
Eric clears out.
The main event rolls around, and Sting’s battle with Bret is even handed, swinging back and forth and exciting the fans, who keep up duelling chants through the whole of it. Both men target the legs and lower back of the other,looking to lock in their similar signature submissions, and while it starts out fast paced, within ten minutes the two are limping around the ring. After a superplex by Bret on Sting, the pain caused to Bret and Sting’s backs keep them down for a seven count. The two pace each other slowly, before Bret kicks Sting in the gut and snaps him down with a quick DDT which earns him two. Sting, too dazed to do more, does manage to move his legs under the ropes, sheltering them from the sharpshooter. Bret is slowly reaching his feet when Ric Flair comes thundering down the ramp with a steel chair. His back to the ramp, he doesn’t notice, however, until it’s too late, as Flair stands behind him, and calls his name. He turns around, and is caught full blast in the head. Charles Robinson has the bell rung, and Flair discards the chair, standing over the prone and bleeding Hart.
“Bigger and better, huh? You don’t look so big or so good down there, do you, punk?”
February 9th, 1998: WCW Monday Nitro
With the rift in the nWo widening, the opening match is to be contested between Scott Norton and Konnan. Konnan is obviously overpowered from the start, and is hurled forcefully from the ring to the outside, where Nash and Hall stand. As he drops to the outside to follow up his attack on Konnan, Nash shoves him violently, causing him to stumble backwards, tripping over the ring steps. As he picks himself up off the ground, Hall grabs him by the head and drives his head into the ringpost, before rolling him back into the ring. Nick Patrick has no choice but to call this one a DQ by interference, and call for the bell. Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan storm down the ramp, and engage in a whirling melee around the ring, which Nash and Hall get the better of, each managing to deliver their signature powerbomb. The Outsider’s stand proud with Konnan, before heading up the ramp, the divide in the nWo now gaping wide, as Sting watches enigmatically from the rafters, title over his shoulder.
Later in the show, Bret Hart is backstage with Mean Gene Okerlund. “Wooo! To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man” he sarcastically starts “and at Souled Out, that’s exactly what I did, and I was ready to move on with my career. But some people can’t move on from the past, can they, Ric? Some people can’t get it through their head that they’re not the best here. You see, for the longest time, Ric Flair was the best wrestler in WCW. But for the longest time, Bret Hart wasn’t in WCW, and that’s no coincidence. Up north, Ric, if you can remember, I got my first world title by beating you. If I have to go through you in order to move onto getting my first world title here, so be it. I’ll beat you again at Superbrawl, if that’s really what you want.”
Mean Gene interjects “And what do you say to criticism that you only won the first match by luck?”
“Wrestling is a lot like a battle, Gene, and Sun Tzu’s ‘Art Of War’ tells us that when we are strongest, we must make our opponents think we are weakest. I out thought Ric, and I out fought Ric.”
“One last question, what’s your game plan for Superbrawl?”
“To be the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be! See you at Superbrawl, Ric.”
February 16th, 1998: WCW Monday Nitro
Mic in hand, Lex Luger makes his way to the ring at the start of Nitro, with something on his mind.
“Sting, look, I know you and me have had our little differences recently, but this is bigger than that. This is about that title of yours not slipping back into the nWo’s hands. It’s with a real wrestler now, we’ve got to keep it that way. Hall’s gonna have Nash in his corner. Hogan’s gonna have Savage in his corner. Let me be in your corner, Sting. Let me watch your back. You can’t walk in there alone and walk out as champion, Sting. You’re not that good. No-one’s that good.” A portion of the rafters becomes light, and we see Sting looming ominously on it, belt over his shoulder, microphone in hand. “I’m here because you wouldn’t trust me. Now you ask me to trust you. The answer is no.” Sting stalks away along the rafters, as Lex Luger fumes in the ring, throwing his microphone in rage, and storming back up the ramp.
Later on, we’re backstage, and Bischoff is approaching Nash and Hall. “What the hell was that last week, huh?”
Hall spits his toothpick out at Bischoff’s feet, and looks disdainfully at him “What, you mean when Hogan and Savage came out looking for a fight, and we beat them?”
Bischoff is furious “Because you’re blameless in this, right?”
Nash looks Bischoff dead in the eye, anger slowly mounting in his calm voice as he replies “Do you even know who we are? We’re the Outsiders. We’re the Outsiders because we don’t play by anyone else’s rules, we don’t live by anyone else’s standards, and we sure as hell don’t fight under anyone else’s banner. We came here for a war with WCW, and that orange goblin turned it into a personal publicity campaign, a career resurrection, because no-one cared about his orange ass any more. Now a year and a half later, we’re still on the outside, and we’re damn sure still at war, but it ain’t with WCW any more, it’s with Hogan’s nWo, and anyone who stands with them. Now get out of my sight, I’m almost as sick of seeing you as I am hearing your voice.”
Bischoff scurries off, leaving Hall and Nash to discuss strategy for Sunday at Superbrawl.
Ric Flair is backstage with Mean Gene Okerlund towards the end of Nitro.
“Woo! I gotta tell you, Gene, I’m excited about this Sunday! Because this Sunday, I get to get in the ring with the second best wrestler in the world today, the only man who can challenge me in wrestling ability, Bret Hart!” His voice changes tone suddenly “But more than that, I get to beat some respect into that little punk! See, he thinks that because he got lucky once, he can disrespect my legacy, my career, my reputation! He thinks that can step into WCW, the true home of the nature boy, and disrespect him. Well, this Sunday, I get to prove Bret wrong, with the whole world watching. I’ll see you at Superbrawl, Bret.”
February 22nd, 1998: Superbrawl VIII
Flair/Hart II is the first match of the double main event to run tonight, and anticipation runs high, the WCW fans firmly in the corner of Ric Flair, hoping he will put the arrogant Hart in his place. The two stand in their corners, waiting for the bell to ring. When it does, they’re out like a shot, tying up in the middle. Bret pushes Flair out of the tie-up, and lays a knife edge chop across his chest, letting out a mocking “woo!” as he does. Rage burns in Flair’s eyes at the lack of respect, and he slaps Bret across the face, before lighting him up with chops, running him around all four corners as he staggers away from the chops, the arena filling with “woo”s from the crowd. His chest resembling one giant red welt, he rests against the ropes. Flair hits the ropes opposite him, charging in for a lariat, only for Bret to duck his head, backdropping Flair over the top rope, the fans popping at the spot. Bret waits for Flair to reach his feet on the outside, and slingshots himself over the ropes, catching Flair with a plancha, to pop the crowd once more. From here, he hurls Flair into the guardrail, and Flair is clutching his back in pain as Bret throws him back into the ring. Bret drops knees repeatedly into the back of Flair, softening it up for the sharpshooter, which he cockily goes for early on. Flair leans his head forward, and throws a punch to Bret which sends him stumbling backwards a few steps. Bret puts his hand to his mouth, and feels to confirm that it is in fact, bleeding, the camera catching a close up of the blood on Bret’s hand. Bret is now as angry as Flair, and the two exchange high power suplexes and vicious holds, an exchange which ends with Bret superplexing Flair, and covering for two. Bret grabs Flair’s legs, and goes to apply the sharpshooter a second time. Flair screams in agony as Bret locks the hold in, and crawls desperately towards the ropes, reaching the bottom one with his hand. Charles Robinson tells Bret release the hold, but Bret holds on right up until the four of his five count. Robinson starts lecturing Bret on having respect for his position as a referee, and his distraction with Bret means he misses Flair low blowing Bret. Flair rolls Bret up as he’s hunched over, and manages to get a sly hand onto the bottom rope, allowing him the three count. Flair rolls out of the ring, as an irate Bret Hart shouts at Charles Robinson for missing the low blow.
Leaving only the main event. Hogan comes out accompanied by Savage, and air-guitaring on his belt. Hall is all swagger as he heads to the ring, accompanied by Nash. Nash and Savage stare daggers at each other from opposite sides of the ring. Sting descends alone from the rafters on his harness, and silently passes the belt to the timekeeper. Hogan and Hall stare daggers at each other, while Sting silently evaluates the pair. The bell is rung, starting the match, and Hogan and Hall make a beeline for each other, trading punches. Sting watches for a while, then marches up to the pair, turning Hall around, and dropping him with a right hand, before giving Hogan the same treatment. Each man gets a suplex in turn, and as they stand, a Sting clothesline drops them both at once. Hogan is scooped up, and sent flying into the turnbuckle opposite from the corner the three men are in. Sting follows him, delivering a Stinger Splash that pops the crowd loudly. Scott Hall, meanwhile, has pulled himself up in the opposite turnbuckle. Sting charges toward him, only for him to side-step, and Sting’s splash in the corner meets only turnbuckle. Sting slumps back in the corner, and Hall works him over with punches to the gut, before placing him on the top. Hall throws a shot that catches Sting on the chin, and follows him up for a superplex, only for Hogan to pull Hall down, and start to brawl with him. Sting recovers from his beating, and gives both men a crossbody from the top rope. Tony Schiavone remarks that if Hall and Hogan can’t put their differences aside, they’ll lose this match. Sting pulls Hogan to his feet, and snaps him down with a DDT. He covers for two, but as he reaches his feet, he finds that Hall has got to his own first. Hall gives Sting a clothesline, and from there, proceeds to control the match for a while, keeping either man from picking up momentum, until Hogan is able to reverse an irish whip into the corner, whipping Hall hard enough to send him staggering back out of the corner into a big boot. Hogan stands over Hall, laying boots into him, which makes the mistake of ignoring Sting. Sting rewards this mistake by hooking Hogan back and delivering a Scorpion Death Drop. He notices Hall regaining his feet, and sets him on the top rope for a superplex. Hall puts a thumb in his eye, however, before hammering down on his back, bending him forwards. From this position, Hall manages to hit s top rope version of the Outsider’s Edge on Sting, the crowd exploding for the spot, despite their hero being the victim of it. Hall drops down from the top, and heads over to cover Sting. Charles Robinson’s hand hits the mat once, twice, Savage pulls Hall off of Sting by his leg. Nash is enraged at the interference, and storms towards Savage, the two quickly engaging in a brawl. Sting rolls himself out of the ring to safety, still dazed by the Super Outsider’s Edge. Hogan reaches his feet slowly, only to eat a DDT from Scott Hall. Hall covers Hogan, who manages to get his foot on the bottom rope. Seeing that his friend and partner is in trouble on the outside, as Savage is able to get his hands on a steel chair, Hall rolls outside to blindside Savage. The duo toss Savage into the ring, and deliver a double suplex to him, before double DDTing Hogan. Scott Norton comes charging out from the back, brandishing a chair, which he uses to great effect on both Outsiders, drawing Konnan out from the back. Konnan disarms Norton after taking him out from behind with a running low blow. The ring descends into a chaotic brawl, forcing Robinson to call this match as a no-contest. Sting, having regained some of his composure on the outside, swiftly moves to the time-keeper’s table, and picks up his title. He is heading back up the ramp, and fastening the title around his waist, when Lex Luger appears at the top of the ramp with a steel chair. Luger charges Sting before he has time to react, and catches him with a running chair shot which drops Sting. Luger tosses the chair aside, spits on the downed champion, and storms back up the ramp, as Superbrawl ends on the image of the champion prone, while the nWo brawl wildly in the ring.
“Outsiders” is probably the best word to describe the tone of WCW of late. The Outsiders themselves, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash are living up to their name, engaging in violent brawls with their former comrades in the nWo, in particular Randy Savage and Hollywood Hogan. Of the nWo, only Konnan has chosen to stand with them, and even he’s made that clear that it’s because he wants out from under Hogan’s thumb, not out of any loyalty to them. Meanwhile Sting continues to choose to be an Outsider to the WCW locker room, a choice that has enraged Lex Luger, mking him feel disrespected. This came to a boiling point at Superbrawl, in the aftermath of Sting’s title defence against Scott Hall and Hollywood Hogan. As Sting walked away from the nWo mass brawl in the centre of the ring, he was ambushed by Lex Luger. Meanwhile, Bret Hart, a man who has come to WCW recently from outside of it, is struggling for dominance with WCW’s top dog, who resents Bret’s attitude.
February 23rd, 1998: WCW Monday Nitro
Nitro opens with Lex Luger, microphone in hand, walking towards the ring. He raises his microphone to speak as he heads down the ramp, even as the audience soaks him with boos and jeers. “I guess I should explain my actions last night”
He doesn’t get to finish. Sting rushes from the entrance onto the ramp, baseball bat in hand. He smashes Luger to the ground, and lays into him as he lies there, as the audience give him a huge pop. He raises his arms, before stalking backstage, the damage done.
About halfway through the show, Bret Hart makes his way to the ring. He steps through the ropes, is handed a microphone, and begins to pace up and down.
“Ric Flair, congratulations! Last night, you came up against the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. You came up against the excellence of excecution. You came up against the former WWF world champion, and future WCW world champion. You came up against the hitman, Bret Hart, and on that night, you were the luckier man. That’s all. So why don’t you come out here, and give me the rematch you know I deserve, because I don’t like the thought that anyone out there might actually think you’re better than me.”
Sure enough, the opening organ chords of Also Sprach Zarathustra blare over the sound system, and out struts Ric Flair, who proceeds to strut up and down at the top of the ramp.
“Now, I’m not as young as I used to be. My memory ain’t what it used to be. But I seem to remember a certain arrogant Canadian who beat me by luck. Who told me this meant he was better than me, and that he was going to go onto bigger and better things. So, since last night clearly proved I’m the better man, why should I waste my time fighting you again, when I could move onto bigger and better things than you?”
“Because Ric, you’re a proud man. And you can’t stand, any more than I can, this thing between us not being properly settled.”
“You got me there, Bret. So sure, I’ll give you your rematch, and at Uncensored, I’ll prove to the whole world who the man really is.”
With this, Flair struts back off the stage, as the fans pop at the first announced match for Uncensored.
At the end of the show, Hollywood Hogan, Randy Savage and Eric Bischoff all come down to the ring, to a chorus of boos. Hogan takes up a microphone, and addresses his point.
“I still got no gold around this waist, brother, and that ain’t right, and it’s all the faults of those damn punks Hall and Nash! So Hall, Nash. I know you’re hiding back there somewhere. Why don’t you see if you can find the balls to”
He’s cut off by the music of The Outsiders, who stride angrily down the ramp to the ring, holding microphones. The tension in the ring is thick enough that you could cut slices of it off and butter them. After what feels like an eternity of a staredown, Nash raises his microphone.
“You know what? We’re done talking.”
Him and Hall swiftly drop their microphones, attacking Hogan and Savage viciously. Scott Norton, Buff Bagwell and Vincent rush from the back, flooding the ring. It’s not long before the numbers game takes The Outsiders down, but out comes Konnan with a steel chair to even out the odds a little. He manages to down Virgil and Bagwell before Norton is able to kick the chair from his hands. He buys Hall and Nash a little time to recover though, and the brawl kicks off again with new found ferocity. Suddenly, from out of the crowd come Raven, Hammer, Billy Kidman, Lodi, Reese, Scotty Riggs, Perry Saturn and Sick Boy: The Flock. The Flock storm the ring, taking everyone involved in the brawl out, regardless of their allegiance. They then dissapear just as quickly back into the stunned crowd, and Nitro goes off the air on the image of the downed nWo.
March 2nd, 1998: WCW Monday Nitro
The nWo are in their locker room as Nitro starts, and Bischoff storms in.
“Just what the hell was that last night, huh?”
“We got ambushed. Could have happened to anyone. No way we could have seen that coming.”
“Sounds like a damn excuse to me!”
“We were too busy dealing with Hall, Nash and Konnan, and those little rats bit us in the back, because that’s all they know how to do. Last week was a week ago. What happened happened. This is now, what matters is how we deal with them. Let’s go take care of this now.”
He stands, and is joined as he heads towards the door by Vincent and Scott Norton. He looks towards Hogan and Savage, who haven’t moved.
“Brother, we got bigger fish to fry. We got to keep an eye on what those damn traitors are gonna do.”
Buff is angry “I miss something? Do the nWo no longer run as a unit?”
“Look brother, what is it? You scared of doing something on your own? Need someone to hold your hand?”
Buff prickles at this, and looks ready to start trouble, but Scott Norton places a hand on his shoulder. He turns to face his tag partner instead.
“What, I’m just supposed to let that one ride. You’re with Hogan on this one, right? And you” he turns to Vincent “Well, you’re gonna do whatever anyone else wants you to, aren’t you? I don’t need this. I’ll go handle this alone.”
Raven battles Big Bubba Rogers in a Raven’s Rules match next. The two brawl around the ring frantically before Raven is able to put Rogers away with a DDT clean in the middle of the ring. Buff Bagwell storms down the ramp, chair in hand, and blasts Raven across the head after the match. Rogers, who has no love for the nWo, stands up to Buff, and receives the same treatment. Bagwell turns around as Raven is reaching his feet, and puts him back down with another shot, drawing blood. From the crowd appear the Flock now, jumping the rail and storming the ring. Bagwell goes down to the mob attack, and it isn’t long before Saturn has handcuffed Bagwell to the turnbuckle. Raven crawls to the turnbuckle opposite Bagwell, and motions for a microphone as he slumps bleeding in the corner. Bagwell is beaten into a sitting position, and Raven looks him directly in the eye as he speaks.
“The era of the New World Order is over. You brought ruin to WCW, and in order to survive in this ruined landscape, we became scavengers. Those who feed on scraps. But the scavengers have been given the greatest chance we could have. Thanks to the hubris of your group, you can no longer trust each other, no longer rely on each other. And so begins a time of revolution. Revolution’s have been a theme in history. It was beheading in France, but here, I find that your order has cut off it’s own head. Leadership has collapsed, and you are no longer able to maintain your stranglehold. So now begins the era of The Flock, the era of the Raven. We will seize power from you, much as you seized it from this company.”
Raven begins to walk towards Bagwell, and Saturn pulls Bagwell up by the hair to stand and face Raven. Raven places his hand on his bloody face, and marks Bagwell with his bloody hand.
“This is a declaration of war. We fired the first shot last week, and we are declaring it now. This war will end when The Flock is established as the most powerful group in professional wrestling. Your time has ended. Our time is come.” The Flock leave through the crowd, and referees rush the ring to free Bagwell from his handcuffs.
We cut backstage, where Bret Hart has something to say
“So, Flair. This thing between you and me, for some reason, is still unsettled. Apparently at this next Pay Per View, every match has some gimmick, some angle to it. Well, so be it. Ours will be simple. Submission match. There is nothing ambiguous about a submission, and after you tap out on March 15th, at Uncensored, there will be no question that I am the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be.”
The last person to come out and speak their piece tonight is Lex Luger, who approaches the ring with something obviously on his mind.
“Sting! You hide up their in your rafters. You take this stance of being above us all there, being better than us all. So at Uncensored, I will teach you that pride comes before a fall. You and me, scaffold match.”
The spotlight focuses on Sting, revealing his spot in the rafters. He raises his microphone, and says two simple words.
March 9th, 1998: WCW Monday Nitro
Nitro opens with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash on the street outside the building.
“Hey yo, this is the bad guy and Big Sexy coming to you live from outside the arena. And don’t it just feel like we always been outside, Kev? We came in here as the Outsiders, and since we started this war, we’ve been pushed to the outside of our own group by that egomaniac Hulk Hogan, and his little lapdog, Randy Savage.”
Nash weighs in “Yeah. But they’re the ones always looking for a way out these days, Scott. Every time we’ve confronted them, they’ve run away, or relied on someone else. That’s why we’re laying down a little challenge here, boys. This Sunday, at Uncensored, you two get in the ring with us in a cage match. Ain’t no running, ain’t no relying on your friends, ain’t no getting out until we’re done with you.”
Also with something to say later on in the show is Ric Flair.
“Wahoo McDaniel! Terry Funk! Ricky Steamboat! Barry Windham! Lou Thesz! Harley Race! All got two things in common Bret. They’re all great men, and some of the greatest wrestlers of their time, just like you, Bret, and ain’t no-one can take that away from you. They all also tapped to the figure four, Bret, just like you will this Sunday, when I prove once again to the whole world why I still am the man.”
The nWo make their way to the ring in the second half of the show. Hogan takes up a microphone, and starts talking.
“First things first. Nash, Hall, your little challenge? We accept, brother, but you should be careful what you wish for Ð me and Savage are gonna beat some respect into your dumb hides. Now as for that little creep Raven. You want a war? Sure, but I’m busy that night. I bet some of my boys here want one though. How about it? Any of you in the mood to beat some goth ass this Sunday?”
Bagwell, Konnan and Norton all step forwards.
“Well there it is, brother. You bring two of your little friends this Sunday, you got yourself a beating. We’ll even play it by those Raven’s Rules you like so much.”
Watching with interest from the rafters is Sting. His watching is interrupted by the arrival of Lex Luger, however. Luger violently beats him down above the ring, leaving him clinging to the rafters for life. Lex makes as if to kick Sting off, but laughs, telling Sting to “Wait until Sunday” before leaving.
March 15th, 1998: WCW Uncensored
The scaffold structure for Sting vs Luger and the cage for the nWo tag match loom ominously over the ring during the Pay Per View’s early matches. Of the four matches our story has built towards, the six man tag match is the first to take place, with Raven bringing Perry Saturn and Billy Kidman to the fight. The match starts as a normal six man tag, with tags properly exchanged throughout. Bagwelll and Norton being an established team, and neither agreeing much with Konnan’s recent dissent, the tags are entirely exchanged on the nWo side between this duo, with Konnan growing increasingly frustrated. Eventually, while Saturn is stretching Bagwell with a vicious looking texas cloverleaf, Konnan’s irritation gets vent, as he goes outside the ring, fetches a chair, and brings it across the head of Saturn. This gives the match invitation to become a wild brawl. Konnan and Raven pair off, Norton and Saturn, the two powerhouses of their teams, battle each other, leaving Kidman and Bagwell to sort things out between them. Saturn has the upper hand in his brawl with Norton, and Kidman takes both himself and Bagwell out with a dramatic shooting star press from the top rope through a table set up on the outside. Konnan turns a Raven Effect DDT around on Raven to piledrive him onto a chair, as Saturn locks The Rings Of Saturn onto Scott Norton. Konnan looks at his former ally and recent foe, and chooses not to help him, leaving him to tap in Saturn’s hold.
The next match to take place is the cage battle between the Outsiders and the team of Hogan and Savage. The two teams make heavy use of the cage to inflict damage on their enemies, and the battle goes back and forth, before Nash and Hall pick up the victory, with Nash powerbombing Savage at the same time as Hall hits the Outsider’s Edge on Hogan.
Bret Hart and Ric Flair exchange chops and forearms in the opening stages of their match. The younger Bret Hart gets the better of this exchange, and proceeds to work on the back of Ric Flair, preparing the location for the Sharpshooter. Bret escalates his offence to a series of crisply executed suplexes, which proves his undoing, as Flair is able to float over on one of them, and turn things back in his favour. He works over the legs of the Hitman, a tactic which sees him perform a figure four with Bret’s legs around the ringpost, and fetch a chair from under the ring to work Bret’s legs with. He tries to catch Bret in the figure four in the ring, but Bret is able to desperately kick Flair away. Flair goes to the top rope, hoping to put Bret back down with a high impact move. Bret reaches his feet uncertainly, but in time to grab Flair from the top rope, and slam him down onto the apron. Flair rolls off the apron, clutching his back in pain. Bret limps out after him, and pulls him to his feet, in order to hurl him back first back into the apron. Bret throws a punch as Flair leans against the apron before rolling him back into the ring. Bret walks over to the chair Flair had made earlier use of, picks it up and looks it over. He tells Flair “I don’t need this to beat you”, and tosses it casually aside, before going to Flair to lock on the sharpshooter. Flair is able to plant a kick low on Bret, downing him. Flair crawls across to his foe, and grabs hold of the leg to apply the figure four. Bret leans forwards and grabs Flair by the hair, pulling him into the roll-up that won him his first match against Flair. He follows through to stand on his feet from this counter, and, keeping hold of Flair’s legs, applies the Sharpshooter. In the middle of the ring, with nowhere to go, Flair has no choice but to tap.
Leaving only the main event. Lex Luger takes the early advantage with a steel chair, until Sting is able to turn things around with his baseball bat. A thumb to the eye brings things back in Luger’s favour, and he scores a DDT on Sting, before trying to hurl Sting onto the tables that fill the ring below the two wrestlers. Sting throws his head backwards, headbutting Luger, and forcing him to let go. Sting is able to then throw Luger off the scaffold himself, sending Luger smashing through the tables below. Sting stands proud and victorious above the ring, title still firmly in his hands, with the nWo all but dissolved before him. It has taken over a year, but finally, he has achieved his victory.