The Nitro Files: Looking back on the Scott Hall-Diamond Dallas Page match from June 1997
The Nitro Files with Eric Bischoff will delve into a moment from WCW’s Monday Nitro era. Bischoff – who was the president of WCW during the company’s most successful years – also hosts his weekly “Bischoff on Wrestling” podcast with 120 Sports’ Nick Hausman, and has also created the IRW Network, which is currently highlighting over 1,500 hours of independent wrestling. Bischoff plans to prove every week in the Nitro Files that the truth is out there.
WCW returns home from its invasion of the northeast with its June 23, 1997 Nitro, which was live from Macon, Georgia in the Macon Coliseum.
“That was an easy drive,” recalled Bischoff. “Macon was only about 90 minutes from my house, and I drove my black Porsche 911. I got to the building around 10 in the morning and had my first production meeting of the day around noon.”
Nitro defeated Raw again, 3.2 to 2.4, in the ratings battle, which marked the fifth consecutive weekly victory for WCW.
“We were watching the ratings very closely,” said Bischoff. “Keep in mind that this was long before social media and any other form of digital distribution, so television was everything. You can point to other barometers today to gauge consumer acceptance of the product, but for us, ratings were everything.”
Nitro’s main event featured a red hot Diamond Dallas Page versus the NWO’s Scott Hall.
“Scott Hall and Dallas Page had a longstanding relationship,” said Bishoff. “The chemistry was right between them. A great main event match is no different than watching two great dancers, as long as they want to make their dance partner–or, in this case, opponent–look good and have a great match.”
Bischoff admitted that Hall was difficult to work with, but for a different set of reasons than normally reported.
“Scott was very demanding and set such a high bar for himself,” explained Bischoff. “He also expected a lot out of the people he worked with, and he did not want to go out on Nitro and have a bad match. Scott also didn’t want to be in the ring with someone who didn’t sell appropriately and wasn’t a good dance partner. Later on, it became challenging when Scott had issues, and his unpredictability was driven by chemical influences. That was not the case at this point in 1997.”
Hour number two of Nitro, which directly competed with Monday Night Raw, opened with Sean Waltman successfully defending his cruiserweight title against Chavo Guerrero Jr. in a six-minute affair.
“Six minutes really isn’t long for a match,” said Bischoff. “You need to leave the audience wanting more, but you also need time to tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end with drama, back-and-forth, and an arch. Six minutes is not a lot of time, and I personally liked matches that fell into the 10-12 minute range.”
Bischoff’s IRW Network is planning to add its last integral piece to its site this week.
“We’re hoping to have the next big piece fall into place in the next 48 hours,” said Bischoff. “I’m learning every single day, and we’re finding new opportunities and options in the fast-paced world of technology.”
Bischoff also noted one of Nitro’s enduring highlights occurred on the June 23 show during a moment in the ring with Roddy Piper, Gene Okerlund, and Ric Flair. Bischoff noted that those three were even more comfortable with each other off-camera, which led to their on-screen allure.
“Those three had a lot of history behind that friendship,” said Bischoff. “They were tight and spent a lot of time together, and they always had great chemistry together. I knew, and everybody knew, that if you put those three together in a segment, you were going to get gold. They were doing this for years, so that was a known commodity.”
Bischoff confirmed that Okerlund could even hang with Flair and Piper on their late night drinking escapades.
“Oh hell yeah,” said a smiling Bischoff. “Gene was legendary in his day. Those three were very compatible.”