From September 1995 to March 2001, pro wrestling fans tuned into TNT every Monday to catch a live episode of WCW Nitro. Over that 5-and-a-half-year stretch, some of the most exciting moments in the history of our great sport went down on the Turner airwaves.
From the nWo taking over the show to Goldberg’s unbeaten streak, these are 10 of the most memorable moments from WCW Monday Nitro.
Honorable Mention: Luger’s Debut on Night One (September 4, 1995)
One of the best things about the Nitro era was that it didn’t take long for things to start happening. On the very first episode, we got our first of what would eventually become a Nitro staple: a surprise debut.
Lex Luger showing up on the first Nitro was not only a shock to fans, but a shock to many behind the curtain as well. This debut, along with Madusa trashing an actual WWE title belt, were two of the craziest moments to take place on Nitro in 1995.
10. Flair Challenges Bischoff (December 28, 1998)
Ric Flair was one of only a handful of performers who appeared on both the first and the last episode of Nitro. He was around for the good, the bad, and the unwatchable, to say the least.
Perhaps his greatest individual moment was when he called out Eric Bischoff in the middle of the ring. The two had legitimate issues behind the scenes, and Flair is Flair, so the promo was a beautiful car crash that was impossible to look away from.
Flair was literally in his socks and underwear by the time the promo ended… what more do you want from your rasslin?
9. Bischoff Joins the nWo (November 18, 1996)
If you really want to, you can pick apart this moment with basic logic and absolutely destroy it. But that’s not very fun, so that’s not the direction we’re going to take things.
Here’s the deal. Eric Bischoff joining the nWo successfully did one important thing: it made it feel like there was no possible way that WCW could survive the hostile takeover.
That set things up beautifully for the savior, Sting, to overcome those seemingly insurmountable odds after an incredible year-long build. Plus, it gave Bischoff a chance to show off his chops as an on-screen bad guy, which is what he did best.
8. Sting’s First Rafters Entrance – a Staple of WCW Nitro (January 20, 1997)
When it comes to the Nitro era of WCW, few things were as cool as Crow Sting. Watching The Stinger repel down from the rafters was a moment that sent fans into a frenzy each and every time it happened.
And to WCW’s credit, they got super creative with how they did it. At one point, Sting even repelled down from a helicopter during a spring break edition of Nitro… that’s bonkers.
Nothing beats the original, though. And seeing Sting come down from the rafters for the very first time ever was the true definition of a “moment.”
7. Luger Defeats Hogan for the Title (August 4, 1997)
After a year of watching the nWo run wild on WCW, fans were ready to see anyone knock them down a notch. Enter Lex Luger.
Business-wise, it might not have made a lot of sense to give away a title change for free on TV. But during the Monday Night War, ratings were king, and this moment was a ratings goldmine.
Perhaps even better than the actual title change was the mini-celebration Luger and his WCW pals have backstage. It’s absolutely adorable… and hilarious.
6. DDP Turns Down the nWo (January 13, 1997)
For years, it felt like anybody and everybody could be a member of the nWo. And while almost anybody and everybody was a member of the nWo by the end of 1999, one man said “no thanks” early on.
Simply put, this is a star-making moment for Diamond Dallas Page. After this, Page would skyrocket into a main event spot, helping carry the torch for WCW all the way through their dying days.
5. Goldberg’s Spear Backfires (March 29, 1999)
Bret Hart’s WCW run left a lot to be desired, for a multitude of reasons. And while it was, for the most part, forgettable, there were a few gems along the way.
Perhaps Hart’s best moment in WCW came on Nitro when he tricked Goldberg into spearing him. Doing so sent Goldberg head-first into a steel plate that was under Hart’s hockey jersey. That’s peak pro wrestling right there.
4. Nash Lawndarts Mysterio (July 29, 1996)
One of the best things about the nWo “hostile takeover” storyline was just how literal it was. During an episode of Nitro in 1996, which took place at Disney World, the nWo literally hijacked an entire show and took out half of the WCW roster backstage.
Seriously, there are like 45 minutes of this broadcast where Tony Schiavone and Eric Bischoff just talk over WCW wrestlers being loaded up into ambulances. The fans live at Disney can’t even see this going on, so they start chanting “boring.”
It sounds like terrible TV on paper, but it was quite the opposite. And Kevin Nash tossing Rey Mysterio into a production trailer like a lawn dart is not only the highlight of the segment but one of the highlights of the Nitro era.
3. Hall’s Debut in WCW Nitro (May 27, 1996)
Nitro was only a one-hour program for the first 9 months or so of its inception. For the first-ever 2-hour broadcast, Eric Bischoff and company knew they needed something big to kick things off.
And it doesn’t get any bigger than the start of the most iconic storyline in pro wrestling history.
Scott Hall’s debut is the best of the “this guy was just in WWE” debuts that WCW ever did. And they did a lot of them, so that’s saying something. The fact that it also kickstarted the nWo storyline was just the icing on the cake.
2. Flair and Sting Turn Out the Lights (March 26, 2001)
Ric Flair and Sting wrestled each other hundreds of times in WCW, including on the very first episode of Nitro. But their match on the last episode of Nitro, which signified the end of an era, is one of their most memorable.
Match quality-wise, this isn’t anything special. Flair even wrestles in a t-shirt because he’s not in the best shape anymore. But seeing the two faces of WCW turn out the lights for good was a poetic way for things to end.
1. Goldberg Defeats Hogan for the Title (July 6, 1998)
Here’s the thing. Giving away Goldberg vs. Hulk Hogan for the WCW Title for free on Nitro, on a week’s notice, is one of the dumbest things WCW ever did. When you look at this moment, though, it’s really hard to be mad about that.
In one corner, you’ve got a sold-out Georgia Dome going nuts for the hometown guy—who is undefeated and on a tear. In the other corner, you’ve got Hogan, the biggest bad guy pro wrestling has ever seen, being completely outmatched.
It’s absolutely perfect and we’re so glad it happened the way that it did.
These Moments Made the WCW Nitro Era Unforgettable
The WCW Nitro era was, in a word, special. The highs were incredibly high. And the lows were arguably even lower. But it was a special time to be alive and one that lives on forever thanks to WWE streaming each episode on Peacock.
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