It’s fair to say that WCW Monday Nitro wasn’t known for its high quality matches. That’s not a knock, per se. That’s just not what the show was built for.
That’s not to say that good to great matches can’t be found in the Nitro archives. Dig deep and some absolute gems can be found.
Here, in no particular order, are 10 wonderful Nitro matches from over the years. All are available to view on the WWE Network.
Goldberg vs. ‘Hollywood’ Hogan (July 6th 1998)
The highest profile match in Nitro history by an enormous margin. As we wrestling fans know, high profile is no guarantee of quality but this brought the goods. A hot new star gunning for the biggest heel in wrestling in front of a huge, molten crowd was a good start. These two played out a smart, intense match with enough drama to make you think Hogan was going to use his stroke to get the win. That’s where the true tension lay and the match was all the better for it.
The eruption as the result was confirmed is one of the all time greatest Nitro moments. Superb match.
Flyin’ Brian (Pillman) vs. Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger (September 4th 1995)
The very first Nitro matches is also one of the best. At only 8 minutes, these guys pack a huge amount in, especially in terms of false finishes. There’s a reason they were chosen to open this monumental show.
If you want to see them put on an even better match, SuperBrawl 1992 is your jam.
Billy Kidman vs. Juventud Guerrera (September 14th 1998)
Kidman’s coming out party. The youngster in jeans and a vest had proven himself as an unlikely breakout star of Raven’s Flock and this was the match that cemented him as a cornerstone of the Cruiserweight division.
A hugely fast paced match with cruiser champ Guerrera ended with Kidman’s trademark Shooting Star Press, a new champion and a very appreciative audience.
‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage vs. ‘La Parka’ (July 7th 1997)
There’s a reason La Parka’s name is in quotation marks above. Because what was supposed to be a squash match became a bonafide contest as Savage had to strive to keep up with his opponent throughout.
When the supposed Luchador hit a Diamond Cutter mid-match, many fans twigged what was happening and the crowd excitement went up several notches. When Savage then ate a loss and the La Parka mask came off to reveal Diamond Dallas Page, Savage’s hated rival, the ruse was complete and the fans ate it up.
Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Juventud Guerrera vs. Psicoisis vs. Blitzkrieg (April 19th 1999)
Surprisingly for a division built on fast-paced, innovative action rather than storylines, multi-man matches were rare in the WCW Cruiserweight division. So this one shone even brighter. Flat out action between various combinations and a pace that never went below ‘lightning’ fast. The end saw Psicosis win the Cruiserweight title for the first time by pinning Blitzkrieg. One of the absolute highlights of the Luchadors on Nitro.
Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Dean Malenko (July 8th 1996)
They say styles make matches and by gosh was it true here. Two opposites in terms of styles but equals in terms of ability. The story told physically was simply immense. Both men, desperate to win the match and for the Cruiserweight title, fought to impose their will and their style on their opponent. For Mysterio, he wanted to bombard The Ice Man with fast paced ariel assaults. Malenko wanted to ground his opponent, stop him taking to the air and win by brutalising him.
In the end, Mysterio won out and bagged his first Cruiserweight title.
Sting vs. Diamond Dallas Page (April 26th 1999)
This match was soooo WCW. Many believe this to be Nitro’s greatest ever and it was superb. Two heavyweights battling it out in a thrilling main event style wrestling brawl. They had the crowd in the palm of their hand throughout and it ended with Sting taking the win and the World Title. So far, so awesome.
In true WCW style in this era, the match was given little to no build for starters. Zero anticipation was allowed to build. This match was thrown on to Nitro at the midway point of the show. Secondly, Sting’s reign could be measured in minutes. DDP won it back in a cluster of a brawl including Kevin Nash and others in the main event. That segment was BRUTAL.
Goldberg vs. Raven (April 20th 1998)
Raven was WCW’s ultimate gatekeeper in the 2 years he was in the promotion. Whether a rising star in the flock or a babyface primed for the main event, you had to get through him to get there.
And get through him Goldberg did, it hugely entertaining style. Raven had a style all of his own. It was brawling, yes but also technical, done in such a way that it felt like he couldn’t actually be bothered to do it properly, in character of course.
This hugely entertaining brawl had all the bells and whistles to try and hold Goldberg back and it worked. It wasn’t a traditional one on one match but my gosh it was fun. Goldberg came out of it looking tougher, more experienced and of course, carrying the US Title.
Bret Hart vs. Chris Benoit (October 4th 1999)
Emmet Gates went into detail on this match far better than I could so go ahead and read his article dedicated to it here. All I will say is that it is hard to remember a match between two such accomplished technical wrestlers being so rich in emotional weight. Even looking back today knowing what we now know about Benoit, it is a wonderful match in isolation.
Ric Flair vs. Eddie Guerrero (May 20th 1996)
A throwaway match ultimately but two of the best in the world at that time both aiming to make their opponent look absolutely incredible. And they pull it off. No match with so little meaning or consequence on Nito was ever as good.