World Championship Wrestling’s Monday Nitro, the TNT-based competitor for the then-WWF’s Monday RAW, ran from 1995 to March of 2001. It combined veteran talent that was probably too old to be wrestling with relative unknowns and high-flying Mexican luchadores. It was, very briefly, the best wrestling promotion, sporting everyone from Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash to Rey Mysterio Jr., Ric Flair, and Sting in full Crow-style face paint. After shuttering, most of the top level talent was absorbed by the WWF. Because the rise and fall of WCW happened during the peak of the collectible card game explosion, of course there is a WCW Nitro CCG. It looks like what it is: a terribly misguided product of the late 1990s.
Steve: There are two obviously bad types of CCGs: The kind based on a TV show or movie that uses photographs and the kind based on a video game that uses screen shots from the video game.
Zack: Oh man, they should have done this game based on the WCW vs. NWO video game. I remember playing hours of that on the N64 with my friends.
Steve: Screen shots of a video game based on a TV show might have achieved new levels of crappiness.
Zack: So I am guessing you are not a fan of this game?
Steve: I have never played it, but I can see from the cards that it looks really bad, dude.
Zack: What about wrestling? Are you a fan?
Steve: Of course. Although I’m a casual fan not a 2018 capital-F Fan.
Zack: I was big into it for a couple years. I pretty much quit watching it around the time these cards came out.
Steve: I’m not a fan like all these 25 year old hipsters that want to analyze wrestling and know ten different Japanese wrestlers and spend their entire weekend watching and listening to podcasts about wrestling.
Steve: I’m more like, “The Rock is pretty cool. I liked the last Raw.”
Zack: I hate to break it you Steve, but every form of pop culture is now anaylzed exhaustively and the subject of numerous podcasts.
Steve: There is a GURPS podcast?
Zack: I said popular culture.
Zack: What the hell? Who the fuck is this guy?
Steve: Alex Wright.
Zack: Oh, I remember blond pompous asshole in a leather jacket Alex Wright, not Berlyn™.
Steve: He tried to be babyface with that Das Wunderkind thing when he first started but the dude looked like a villain from an 1980s ski movie so that wasn’t going to work.
Zack: So that sent him back to the wrestle lab and came up with this sort of late 90s bearded awfulness?
Steve: He looks more like he came out of the character creator of a video game.
Steve: Like a bad one that only had four faces and four hair cuts.
Zack: Based on this being the first wrestler we are seeing, I am going to guess that the WCW card game could not get the rights to all the WCW wrestlers, so we’re stuck with Berlyn™.
Steve: Maybe it will surprise you with some superstars!
Zack: Ah, yes, my favorite wrestling superstar: Berlyn™’s Old Friend.
Steve: That’s not fair! You’re picking the cards!
Zack: This Brion James looking motherfucker walking in here in a suit and sunglasses. I could have just watched a Monday Nitro with him in it and I wouldn’t remember him. It’s like a skinny, poor man’s Paul Bearer.
Steve: Yeah, but WCW was more about the human wrestlers and less about the cartoonish, magical villains of WWF.
Zack: Like the Rock? Like Vince McMahon?
Steve: I was thinking more like Goldust and Kane, but sure, McMahon is a cartoon.
Zack: I just remembered his strut from back stage and him falling out of the chair and, alright, point taken.
Steve: There! Are you happy?
Zack: That this features my favorite wrestler “Baseball Bat”?
Steve: Don’t play stupid, dude, it’s Sting! The coolest wrestler of the mid-1990s!
Zack: Credit to him for coming up with a character that let him barely wrestle.
Zack: He spent most of his time on WCW standing ominously up in the rafters, running out and glaring, or moping around backstage.
Steve: He loses some points for having his theme music literally include a quote from the movie The Crow.
Steve: Like, dude, we get it. You’re the crow.
Zack: He went from being a lame Ultimate Warrior ripoff to this. I suppose it’s a step up.
Steve: Yeah up to the rafters.
Zack: It probably only happened a couple times, but my memory of Sting is Macho Man and Scott Hall and Eric Bischoff down in the ring doing their NWO routine and then suddenly the lights would get low and it would play choral music and sting would be up in the rafters with a vulture and start reading bad poetry about vengeance. It had no coherent plot. Why would some otherworldly spirit of masked vengeance need to take revenge on Eric Bischoff of all people? it was just about the Hot Topic vibe of Sting.
Steve: He was the rarest of birds: the goth babyface.
Zack: I know the feeling, folks. It only gets worse from here.
Steve: The reaction to opening a blister pack of WCW Nitro cards and receiving three Berlyn™’s Old Friends.
Zack: “I don’t even have Berlyn™!”
Steve: Or more likely, they have three Berlyns and it turns into a Berlyn vs Berlyn slugfest.
Zack: Nega Berlyn.
Steve: Also these angry fans do not have nearly enough signs.
Zack: There always has to be the one fan that is planted in the audience to get punched by the heel.
Steve: You just triggered a flashback to some classic “fans rush the ring” moments.
Zack: A fan rushes a Sting match and causes Sting to lose, then for weeks later Sting is up in the rafters reciting bad gothic poetry about Ryan Holtenhaus of Pontiac, Michigan.
Steve: Oh, dang, an everyman fan that gets elevated by an angry wrestler into a heel would be an amazing storyline.
Zack: He could get a slick manager and have some gimmick where he always calls someone out of the audience to give him a weapon or help him in the ring.
Steve: Mob Justice.
Steve: He could invent an app that lets him connect with fans to interfere with matches.
Zack: We could offer our idea to Vince McMahon, but he’ll take it if he wants it no matter what.
Zack: Finally a true superstar.
Zack: Everybody’s absolute favorite wrestler, Buff Bagwell.
Steve: I wish I could see a super cut of all the character pitch sessions where various wrestlers pitched the “I’m super sexy and women love me and I’m a heel” character.
Zack: I’d just want to see the rejects.
Zack: Because you know there are some top tier gross dudes who pitched, either seriously or for comic relief, the arrogant stud heel character.
Steve: Mick Foley.
Zack: You might think by his name that Macho Man was this sort of character too, but he was actually some sort of growling, insane wrestling elemental made out of steroids and bicep tassels.
Steve: RIP Randy Poffo.
Zack: God took the wrong Poffo.
Steve: Not a Leapin’ Lanny fan?
Zack: Compared to Macho Man? Hell no.
Zack: Macho Man’s insane, nearly stroking rants define wrestling for me.
Zack: He was way better than Hogan because at least he put in some effort in the ring too.
Zack: Ahhhh this is great! Hahahah!
Steve: Is this really the best picture of Scott Hall they could find?
Zack: It looks like it is cropped out of a group photo from a dress rehearsal.
Steve: He was definitely drunk or high out of his mind.
Zack: Photoshopped out the bouncer’s arm pushing him out of the door of the bar and telling him to calm down.
Steve: “Please, sir, please stop yelling about the Wolfpac.”
Zack: I don’t want to talk about the Nitro Girls.
Steve: Me and Keith used to talk about which one was sexiest.
Zack: Which one was sexiest, Steve?
Zack: Okay, instead of talking about them, let’s be transport back to the year 2000. A much more innocent time in America, when girls were allowed to dance in roughly synchronized fashion in the middle of a wrestling ring.
Zack: Watch this.
Steve: I feel disoriented after watching that.
Steve: Were things ever alright like they were back then?
Zack: No, Steve, it was always an illusion. We just didn’t know any better back in those days.
Steve: God bless the Nitro Girls.
Zack: And God bless Spice. Amen.
Steve: Why isn’t he wearing his mask?!
Zack: I hate this!
Steve: He looks like a little cancer kid!
Zack: This is the worst. I want to quit now.
Steve: We have to keep going. We have to get this out of our system, dude.
Zack: Why did they use a photo of him without a mask?
Zack: Are we sure this isn’t a Make-a-wish kid they messed up and put on the card?
Steve: No. I’m not sure of anything anymore. The illusion is slipping away.
Zack: America is… is bad? Isis is… good?
Steve: Rey Mysterio is dying, dude. He might already be dead. Come on. We have to keep going.
Steve: Lex Luger!
Zack: That son of a bitch killed Miss Elizabeth!
Steve: Technically, she killed herself with drugs, but yeah, he is not a good dude.
Zack: TTP™ beat the hell out of her repeatedly.
Steve: The total package probably should not include beating up your girlfriend.
Zack: I get that after Macho Man no man could probably satisfy her urge for a ranting, sweaty werewolf in sunglasses, but it does not justify what he did.
Steve: Wrestling is probably the most tragic career for a public figure.
Zack: Yeah, even if you make it big you become a steroid wreck or die from painkillers in your forties.
Steve: But at least we have Hulk Hogan, right?
Zack: Belching his way through a sex tape and then being used by a creepy billionaire to curtail freedom of the press is the American dream.
Steve: Spice would be so ashamed of what we’ve become as a nation.
Zack: Bill Goldberg, the living embodiment of the tribal tattoo on a bicep.
Steve: His whole gimmick was he wins every match and he does it in like 20 seconds.
Zack: He is the quintessential WCW superstar.
Zack: WWF had the hillbilly, beer smashing hell damn ass talk-ups of Stone Cold and WCW had an insanely jacked Jewish guy who breathed heavily through his nostrils and did one move to win a match.
Steve: I like Stone Cold and Diamond Dallas Page was more WCW’s Stone Cold, but honestly Goldberg was the most fun. He would run out and do his spear move and then run back offstage immediately. People went nuts for it.
Zack: “YESSS! WE LOVE LESS ENTERTAINMENT! SHORTER MATCHES, PLEASE! LESS WRESTLING! NO TALKING!”
Steve: It was his energy, man.
Zack: He must have given one hell of a pitch for the way they let him go undefeated for so long.
Steve: Oh, man, this guy sucked.
Zack: He was a heel. That was his point.
Steve: No way. Heels can suck, but this guy sucked because he was a bad heel.
Zack: Did you ever stop to think… he was meta-heeling? He was playing the part of someone with a terrible character concept?
Steve: Wait. Is that a thing?
Zack: I barely ever watch wrestling, but I am sure it is a thing at this point.
Steve: The Podcaster. He runs a podcast about wrestling and breaks down his opponents using all the wrestling terms that I don’t even know.
Zack: Give him a Hitler haircut, ear gauges, and a bottle of sipping vinegar he splashes in people’s faces and he could be the ultimate heel.
Steve: Yeah, now wait about fifteen years and do that character and then you might have Disco Inferno.
Zack: YES! My favorite WCW luchador makes an appearance!
Steve: La Parka was your favorite?
Zack: Hell yes. He was a slightly portly dude who had a skeleton costume, but instead of trying to be ominous he played for comic relief.
Zack: His gimmick was that he would hit someone with a chair in almost every match.
Zack: For someone who was one of the high-flying luchadores, guys who were doing difficult airborne maneuvers that put the American wrestlers mostly to shame, it was hilarious that he had the chutzpah to walk in with a chair and hit someone as a special move.
Steve: He could move though too. Maybe not on Ultimo Dragon/Rey Mysterio level, but he could get up there.
Zack: I’m glad to see his gimmick got some respect from this terrible card game.
Zack: Which was your favorite luchador in WCW?
Steve: Definitely Villano V. Or maybe IV. Although I was good too.
Zack: Ah, the graceful beauty of professional wrestling.
Steve: The high-flying moves of Bam Bam Bigelow.
Zack: Well, here we are Steve.
Zack: We made it to the end of another article.
Steve: I wonder if DDP wears sunglasses when he is out and about if he gets mistaken for Dog the Bounty Hunter.
Zack: Dog the Bounty Hunter is definitely not getting mistaken for DDP.
Steve: Didn’t DDP also star in some movies or something?
Zack: He is a working actor, Steve, and to my knowledge he never said the n-word like Dog the Bounty Hunter.
Zack: To my knowledge.
Steve: He definitely said it at least four times.
Zack: Steve, Huckleberry Finn uses it at least 20 times. Our heroes can’t be perfect.