BUFFALO — We didn’t get stung at WCW Nitro in Buffalo.

Instead, we got Sting. Three times.

That, more than anything else, helped the crowd leave the Marine Midland Arena happy. It wasn’t Buffalo Bill Bruce Smith or ex-Bill Jim Kelly. It wasn’t the Nitro Girls or WildCat Willie. It wasn’t Ric Flair or Chris Benoit, two of the most over wrestlers.

It was Sting. That guy who is finally going to step in the ring for an actual match again On Dec. 28 at Starrcade. Against Hulk Hogan even.

Being there live when they turn out the lights and start the flashes for Sting’s ‘surprise’ entrances is something special. First he floored the NWO’s Konnan in the first match. Then he showed for Randy Savage’s match against Hugh Morris. When the lights came on again, Savage was flat on his back, wearing a white Sting mask (retail price $10 US). A hot seller for the next couple of weeks to be sure. And in the finale, he was brought out from under the ring by the NWO (it’s a long story) and took on the whole gang. Even the Hulkster got the stuffing beat out of him. Much of this must have been after Nitro signed off, since the announcing desk was empty, with the TV monitors off. So we got a bonus. And Sting was over HUGE, without pandering to the crowd at all. Just standing there, he got reaction.

The rest of the Nitro show Monday night was average at best.

From near the top of the ‘Marina’ in Buffalo, we had a good view of the goings-on behind the scenes. It was fun to watch the little things, the things everyone else DIDN’T see on Nitro on TNT:

  • Like the floor director directing traffic.
  • Like the carpet being laid out on the entrance stage so the Nitro Girls could dance. And then being taken away before the wrestlers returned from their match.
  • Like WildCat Willie, WCW mascot, wandering around the building pumping the crowd.
  • Like the security guards taking ‘negative’ homemade signs away; or taking stupid fans away who either threw stuff or threw each other.
  • Like the one fan who entered the ring during a commercial break (missed your 15 minutes of fame, pal) and getting taken down by referee Pee Wee Anderson.
  • Like ex-Buffalo Bill Jim Kelly and wife Jill and current Bill Bruce Smith getting ‘Bruuuuuuuuuuced’, which sounds a lot like boos.
  • Like how well-trained the wrestlers are to speak into the live camera, despite where the crowd or your opponent may have been.
  • Like the ring announcer working harder than anyone else in the building, getting the crowd pumped for the moment Nitro came back from commercial. And trying to keep us entertained through the incredibly long commercial breaks.
  • Like a drunk fan getting his photo taken with Santa Claus and an Elf a couple of sections away from us.
  • Best signs: “I am well endowed”, “Hogan fears Bret”
  • The huge line-ups for merchandise. Since WCW rarely gets to Buffalo, everyone was stocking up.

While I enjoyed going to Nitro live, I’d have to say that it’s not the best way to watch wrestling. There’s no flow. It’s always being interrupted by TV breaks. You also don’t get to see too many matches. We only had one dark match on top of what was on Nitro.

But on the other hand, your average house show doesn’t have fireworks, announcers, in and out-of-ring interviews, WildCat Willie or the Nitro Girls. (The latter two could be both pros or cons.)

In short, wrestling has developed more and more over the past few years into a TV product first, in-ring product second. Get used to it.

For the record, the results of the show.

  • In a dark match, Juventud Guerrero beat Johnny Swinger (who was booed, despite being billed from Buffalo).
  • They introduced Jim & Jill Kelly and promoed WCW’s return June 12, 1998 for the Third Annual Ilio DePaulo Memorial Show, with some proceeds going to the Ilio DePaulo Scholarship Fund and Children’s Hospital. Tickets go on sale May 1.
  • The opening TV match, Konnan vs. Ray Traylor ended when Sting came in. Ray Traylor did pin the floored Konnan.
  • Steve McMichael beat The Barbarian, and then brawled with Meng.
  • Dean Malenko beat Prince Iaukea.
  • Chris Benoit was to face Raven, but instead took on one of Raven’s Flock, and beat him. (Never introduced the guy, couldn’t tell who it was from my seat.)
  • The Ric Flair interview was the highlight of the night, after Sting.
  • Hugh Morris vs. Randy Savage ended with Sting interfering.
  • Disco Inferno beat Saturn to win the WCW TV Title.
  • Buff Bagwell beat Lex Luger by countout when Scott Norton and Vincent kept Luger from re-entering the ring.
  • Scott Hall vs Diamond Dallas Page ended with another Sting angle.