On the January 25th broadcast of WCW Monday Nitro in 1999, eagle eyed viewers might have spotted a bearded fellow at ringside. Personally, watching it this week I happened to notice it by accident, even though it was common knowledge and old news.
The funny thing is that, true to WCW style, they completely no-sold Norris’ presence for most of the 3 hour show, even when he was sitting right there in front of the hard camera. Even more funnily, Norris seemed to be somewhat oblivious to wrestling custom; after a heel (Bret Hart) bludgeons his opponent with an illegal object to pick up the victory, the crowd boo, but Norris claps emphatically.
But Norris wasn’t the only celeb to show up on this episode.
But for Jean Claude Van Damme, WCW so-sold his presence even harder. During the third hour, at a time when WCW was firmly losing the ratings war, announcer Tony Schiavone nonchalantly (to paraphrase) says; ‘oh look, Jean Claude Van Damme’, before the camera cuts away. Now don’t sound too excited, Tony…!
Eventually both men get into the ring and embrace, after a hero wins his match. But again, borderline no-selling happens from the announcers, somewhat humorously. Compare this to the WWF, who used their celebrity appearances to the fullest. Almost certainly, both Norris and Van Damme would have been in some type of tag match.
This was around the time Van Damme was preparing Universal Soldier 2, which is probably why he was there. And oddly again, the movie is completely no-sold during the entire show and not mentioned once.
SEE ALSO: Universal Soldier – A Timeline History