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Between the Sheets #61 (September 14-20, 1998)

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Kris & David are guestless this week discussing the week that was September 14-20, 1998. We discuss the return of Ric Flair to Nitro in Greenville, South Carolina and how magical of an experience it was. We also talk about Masahiro Chono vacating the IWGP Title, the birth of Toryumon, AAA Verano de Escandalo craziness, Sid Vicious returning to Memphis for Power Pro, and Jacquelyn’s breasts showing on live TV on USA Network. A really fun show so listen now!!!!!


0:00:00 WCW
1:18:43 Japan: NJPW, Fuyuki Army, Michinoku Pro, Toryumon, Pancrase, & LLPW
1:58:52 The Amazon Game, In-House Notes, & Plugs
2:40:46 Mexico: AAA, EMLL, & IWRG
3:15:16 ECW
3:46:14 MPPW & Potpourri
4:20:54 WWF


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Having grown up in Greenville, SC, I can add maybe a bit of context and perspective. Anybody else from there probably has a more informed idea, though, than me, since I was 11 at the time. And, unfortunately, I didn't see this Nitro in person because it was a school night and my parents were kinda strict. It still kills me a little to this day. Some of my friends went, so I got lots of second-hand opinions and I watched this show at least 3x when I was still in the 5th grade.


Anyway, this show was one of the first shows at the recently opened BiLo Center. They'd blown up the Memorial Auditorum about a year earlier, and shut it down completely a months before that. So local fans were really dying to see wrestling live again. Obviously, I didn't know that many older at the time, but from what I remember lots of people were more excited that Greenville would start getting bigger acts and shows, and for wrestling that meant possibly more Nitros and PPVs, and by extension likely better (or higher profile) matches and angles, since the roughly 7,000 seat Auditorum wasn't going to cut it for those kinds of acts.


Greenville's proximity to Anderson, Clemson (lots of Clemson signs at this show), Spartanburg, Simpsonville, Asheville, etc. likely played a big role, especially since that's fertile ground for Flair county. I might be projecting some since I was young, but I suspect that local fans having missed out on a lot of big momentous stuff while WCW started to kick into it's boom and bigger cultural period in 1997 had felt left out of the loop because of getting fewer major shows, as well as how as Kris has talked about the perception that WCW was distancing itself from it's southern roots. Flair was both a comeback story that fed into the regions idea of restoration, and he was associated with the area, as well as just being a guy with massive cultural clout from all his years in JCP, NWA, and WCW. I suspect that the confluence of those factors really helped feed into that reaction that night, especially since it was executed so damn well.


BTW, I got a massive laugh out of Bix's repeated attempts to pronounce Mauldin. Locally, there's way less emphasis on the U--it's a bit more like mall--din or mawl-din--but keep in mind since we're in the south the 'a' is dragged out. As a general rule, southerners let their vowels go on and on. Greenville the city is pretty small because so many municipalities and cities have separated themselves because they didn't want the tax rates or whatever, and I'm not sure why exactly but the city hasn't really been successful annexing nearby municiplaities. The county is much larger. Spartanburg might be part of the larger area, but locally Spartanburg is considered different. It's basically been the longtime rival city that Greenville has now surpassed, but it has it own separate county that bears it's name just like Greenville has Greenville County.


Off the top of my head, the Nitro after Havoc 1998 when Nitro re-aired DDP vs. Goldberg from the PPV might have beaten RAW in the ratings. Not sure how many more there were after that.


Also, the first Patreon-only show, Greetings From the Grocery Store Vol. 1, is now up.


Fantastic btw.

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Thought the Toryumon talk was very interesting. I think Bix mentioned it last time the promotion came up also, but I can see where he's coming from when he's saying that he prefers Toryumon to Dragon Gate because things felt less homogenized in Toryumon. Toryumon was a little scary because there was such a high ceiling, but also a terribly low floor. CIMA, Mochizuki, and Dragon Kid were outstanding, yeah, but pre-NOAH Suwa, Taru, Shogo Takagi, etc had the ability to ruin things if they were at their worst.


Good point on the roster exploding once T2P and Toryumon came together. 2003 had the El Numero Uno tournament and the 8/30/03 tag. That's peak in-ring Toryumon, even if some of the booking was obnoxious.

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Great post Brian.....


Early Toryumon had such a fun diverse cast of characters with different gimmicks that came together making a fun core roster while using basically natives only.


Dragon's Gate is like Toryumon on steroids (no pun intended) using foreigners and has it's own charm but to me it just isn't the same.

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I love the punk rock feel that Toryumon had to it from 1999-2003 (2004 before the split is awful). Obviously I wasn't watching in real time but going back and watching every bit of Toryumon that I can get my hands on, it felt like they were going out there and trying to prove something every time they stepped foot in the ring. CIMA had such a chip on his shoulder. They've grown up, and the young kids, Lindaman, Kaito Ishida, Futa Nakamura (who will be a star), and others present that same aura, but the promotion as a whole feels grown up.


I can't think of a good music comp that PWO-land would understand or else I'd make one.

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As ANOTHER Brian from SC (Columbia to be exact), I'll also chime in on Flair......


The most important thing you have to realize about SC is that there aren't any local professional teams to support. If you like baseball you're a Braves fan, pro football you're typically a Panthers fan although some are Falcons fans. When something national comes to town it's a BIG DEAL! Mid-Atlantic Wrestling was essentially our pro sports team that we followed every week and I would say Flair and Dusty were the co-captains. When Mid-Atlantic became WCW and was the only legitimate rival to the WWF there was a sense of pride from us about our product since we stuck with them through everything. With Dusty phasing himself out in later years we rallied behind Flair and wanted to pull for him even when he was being mistreated by management. WCW management NEVER truly grasped what Flair meant to the area so when Flair came out during that Nitro segment it was essentially the ENTIRE REGION saying "This has been and will always be OUR GUY". WCW always came back to Flair after others screwed things up (Sid with scissors, Sting not drawing as well as they thought, Hogan being the top guy upon arrival) and there's also the factor that we DESPERATELY wanted The Four Horsemen back. That angle had been dead for eons and it still resonates in SC to this day. So the fact that we were getting ALL of that in one segment and didn't know when/if we would ever get it again helped generate that response.


BTW Bix, Mauldin is where Kevin Garnett was born and played high school hoops until his senior year when he went to Faragaut High School in Chicago with Ronnie Fields. That's typically what Mauldin is known for....IMO.

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