By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Jushin "Thunder" Liger def. Brian Pillman
After seeing him compete in person at the most recent NXT TakeOver special in Brooklyn, I can safely say that Liger is incapable of aging. He wrestled as well here as he did a few weeks ago, even at the age of 50. It didn't seem like this match had any storyline significance, but it made for a fun opener to the show and kicked off the night on a high note. It wasn't without its botches here and there, but it didn't hinder the overall quality of the bout in my opinion. When in doubt, Liger can always be counted on for a quality performance.
WCW United States Champion Sting def. Ric Flair by Disqualification
I knew Sting and Flair faced off on the final episode of Monday Nitro years later in 2001, but I never knew they battled on the premiere episode as well. Very cool! As for the match itself, it was the kind of match you would expect from Sting and Flair, meaning it was quite good. It wasn't the best bout the two ever had and they'd have much better matches in the future, but for a TV match, it was solid from start to finish. I initially assumed the match was thrown out because Arn Anderson stepped in the ring, but I later realized it was because Flair didn't let go of the ropes, so that should have been made clear by the commentators. You can argue that Lex Luger's surprise appearance took people's attention off this match, but I'll go into more detail about that in the next paragraph.
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan def. Big Bubba Rogers
This felt like a match you would see in the mid-1980s. I can't believe Rogers (aka WWE's Big Boss Man) was ever pushed as a world title contender. I'm sure the guy was a sweetheart in real life, but he wasn't a good enough worker to justify being put in the main event scene. It wouldn't have been as bad if his opponent wasn't Hogan, who is very limited in his own right. As a result, the match didn't have the "big fight feel" it should have had considering the world title was on the line, but they made up for it with the post-match promo from Hogan and Luger. I've never been the biggest Luger fan and never have I thought he was as great as WWE pushed him as years earlier, but there's no doubt that his debut in WCW on this night packed a major punch and him challenging Hogan for the belt the on the subsequent episode was a huge hook for viewers to tune in the following week.
With this being the very first Nitro episode I've ever watched, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it definitely made me want to keep watching. The opener was enjoyable and although the two title matches weren't remarkable, they weren't terrible and the gold being up for grabs made the show feel newsworthy. Of course, Luger's debut would be forever remembered as the moment the first shots in the Monday Night War were fired, giving the program the feel that anything could happen. Finally, there was plenty of hype for not only the pending pay-per-view but the next week's show as well, thus making this a strong debut for Monday Nitro.