RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #41 (JUNE 24TH 1996) – STING AND LEX LUGER VS HARLEM HEAT VS THE STEINER BROTHERS FOR THE WCW TAG TEAM TITLES

Welcome to the Retro Express. This is where we’re taking a stroll down memory lane at wrestling history. This post is part of an ongoing series where we’re reviewing every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this post. We hope you enjoy.

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We are racing towards Bash at the Beach 1996. The six-man tag team match between the Outsiders and Team WCW was set, with a few questions up in the air. Who was going to represent Team WCW and who was the third man that would team with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. We got an answer to one of those questionslast week on WCW Monday Nitro. After a randomised drawing out of the top 6 names of WCW, Sting, Lex Luger and Macho Man Randy Savage were the ones picked to fight for Team WCW.

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There actually were only three episodes of Nitro between The Great American Bash and the upcoming pay-per-view Bash at the Beach, so we are not far away from the big reveal of who the third man was alongside Hall and Nash. Last week’s episode I thought was good. This week’s episode for June 24th 1996… was alright.

There wasn’t much to this episode. The matches were OK in general and it didn’t feel like a massive drag to watch it all. It was a wrestling show and there was a bunch of matches. We’ve got some matches for the pay-per-view announced but not a lot of work done to hype up those matches with the exception of the main-event angle which we’ll get to.

 

Date: June 24th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Charlotte, North Carolina

Rating: 3.3

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Bobby Heenan

 

Eric Bischoff was still hospitalised from The Great American Bash beat down he got from the Outsiders. It’s remarkable the amount of commitment they made to this angle. If this was WWE for example, Eric Bischoff would have been back the next week. I actually remember when Brock Lesnar F5’d Michael Cole in 2015, Cole was back two weeks later like nothing happened. Not here. Bischoff was off the show again and that makes sense.

They actually showed the entire clip from The Great American Bash in full this week. I would have to assume that WCW got some complaints from the fans that the powerbomb was not shown last week when they said they would show it, so this was a kind of a course correction to show the viewer what happened. It wasn’t like they could promote the replay of the PPV again so why not?

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Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed Lex Luger, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Sting who all had face paint like Sting to show unity. Savage said WCW was their country, united by the face paint of the Stinger. He said divide and conquer is what they’ve gotta do. He high-fived Luger so it looked like buried the hatchet after feuding for months in the early days of Nitro. It is interesting that this wasn’t mentioned previously as the last time Savage and Luger were in the ring together it was theDoomsday Cage match.

Sting said he doesn’t mind anyone making a statement but a grown man does not make a statement by attacking a commentator. Sting asked why not pick on a wrestler? Sting said every time the Outsiders promise three guys, they only provide two. Luger said we’re united as a team and stand tall and stand strong. Luger said they were unified because they are the very best. Sting said this is where the big boys play when The Steiners interrupted. Scott Steiner yelled at Sting and Luger. and then Harlem Heat talked trash to both teams. All three of these teams were in a triangle tag team match for the tag titles in the main-event. They all yelled and started shoving each other as Mean Gene yelled at them to knock it off.

 

“The Blue Bloods” Lord Steven Regal and Squire Dave Taylor w/Jeeves and Earl Robert Eaton vs “Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock

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Apparently some of the music WCW used here was copyrighted as Public Enemy were muted during their promo. They were showing a pre-match promo as they were coming down to the ring live. One of the things I was able to hear them yell was something about the Nasty Boys because lord knows, we need to see that tag match again.

Suffice to say that this was a much better match than the last Nasty Boys/Public Enemy match! A large part was thanks to the dance moves of Lord Steven Regal. I reviewed the SummerSlam 2007 pay-per-view where he danced with Cryme Tyme and the same thing from that goes here. Even when he was dancing, Regal went all out. He did the Public Enemy wave dance in such a rectangular manner! Regal busted out some more moves but then received a dropkick to the face to his utter disgust! How Regal was never the world champion in either WWE or WCW blows the mind.

Rocco did the Daniel Bryan flip off the corner and then Rocco and David Taylor messed up a school boy roll up where it somehow tumbled them into the corner. It did not look pretty. There was one little spot where Rocco had Regal in a full nelson and then Regal lifted his knee up, grabbed it to free himself from the hold. I thought that was really clever.

Rocco missed a springboard moonsault and all I can think is that if I were part of a big boy tag team capable of doing big dives and athletic spots like a moonsault, I’d save those moves for like the big points of the match. Rocco does it casually to lead to the Blue Bloods getting the heat. Therefore, whenever he does it in the ring from now on it is just gonna seem as no big deal as he didn’t hype it up as a big deal.

Rocco and Regal took each other out with a double clothesline. Grunge got the hot tag and it eventually broke into a four way brawl. Eaton tripped Grunge. Regal then stomped the living daylights out of Rocco outside of the ring but as Regal was distracted, Grunge then hit Taylor with a cast for the pinfall victory. Sloppy in parts but it was fine in general. I think the wrong team won here and it is a real shame that in the space of 8 days, Regal went from wrestling Sting at the PPV to losing to Public Enemy. It sucked to be Lord Steven Regal at this time.

 

The Taskmaster w/Jimmy Hart vs Kip Abee

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This was such a bizarre segment. I’ve seen great Kevin Sullivan squash matches during this series so far but this one was just completely random. Taskmaster power-walked to the ring and took this Kip Abee dude over the guard rail. He beat his arse up the steps and tried to throw the dude into the ladies bathroom. Taskmaster beat him up all over the place and then left him laying amongst the fans. This all happened in the space of like two minutes. This was also a massive arena so Taskmaster goes all the way up the steps and beats up Kip and gets back into the ring in the space of a few minutes. Tony revealed Taskmaster got disqualified. by the way

Mean Gene interviewed Jimmy and Taskmaster. Jimmy said they came to the home of the Four Horsemen and they’re walking in and walking out alive. Taskmaster yelled that he was here in Horsemen town and now the Horsemen are coming out to where Taskmaster lived at Bash at the Beach. The fans chanted “WE WANT FLAIR” and they were thunderous. Jimmy said if Ric talked about taking a woman to space mountain one more time he was gonna choke himself to death.

This was to set up The Giant and Taskmaster vs Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit at Bash at the Beach. If the Four Horsemen won, then any member of the Horsemen would get a shot at The Giant’s WCW World title.

Kip Abee died in 2017 by the way. This was his one and only WCW Nitro appearance.

 

Hardwork Bobby Walker vs Dean Malenko

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This was the ultimate case of “be careful what you wish for” when it comes to the cruiserweights. I talked about wanting to see more of the cruiserweights on Nitro when I reviewed The Great American Bash. After the Malenko vs Mysterio Jr. rematch last week, here we have Hardwork Bobby Walker vs Dean Malenko.

Let’s be fair. Bobby Walker didn’t really do anything wrong in this match but he wasn’t impressive in the slightest. It’s easy to have a decent match when your opponent is Dean Malenko. However, then it is revealed that Dean Malenko would defend the WCW Cruiserweight title at Bash at the Beach against Disco Inferno.

Last week, Disco Inferno lost to JOE GOMEZ in a match where Disco didn’t care that he lost and was more concerned with his hair. Disco’s reward, in storyline, for this lack of interest in wrestling is a WCW Cruiserweight Championship match at the pay-per-view? Are you kidding me? Why would I want to see Disco Inferno wrestling in a pay-per-view match for the title? This is completely ridiculous.

Walker did a horrible Japanese Arm Drag. Dean did a snap suplex and locked on a crucifix submission, wrapping the legs of Walker (the same hold thatKonnan did to Gato at the pay-per-view). Dean transitioned this into a Camel Clutch

Dean powerbombed Walker and did the Texas Cloverleaf but let go as the Disco Infero came out with a framed record as one young fan flipped him off in the front row. His music was playing as Walker got back into the match and fired back. Dean was mostly beating the crap out of Walker up until this point.

Disco went into the ring to dance as Disco Fever played. Dean and Walker continued to wrestle. Walker landed on his feet off a Monkey Flip and then just looked at Disco. He just stared at this man dancing… in the middle of a wrestling match. Dean took advantage and bonked Walker into the Disco and hit the Northern Lights Suplex for the pinfall victory.

Every one in this match came off like a geek. Disco Inferno was the geek who fell to the outside of the ring. Dean Malenko was a geek who got distracted by Disco Inferno. Hardwork Bobby Walker was the geek who just stood their watching Disco which led to him getting suplexed and pin. There was no way anyone got more over with this segment. A MASSIVE THUMBS DOWN.

 

Gene interviewed Dean. Dean said he wasn’t gonna stand for it as Disco threatened to hit him with his record. Disco talked about how his record just went gold. Disco said Dean and Walker were not having a good night and it was a perfect time for him to do a dance, make a little love and get down tonight. He flat out told the viewer that these two were no-good geeks and they needed a “star” like Disco Inferno. Why do wrestling companies do this?

Disco said Dean maybe the man of 1000 holds but he’s just sold a million CDs or whatever. Dean said he’s the man of 1000 holds but it’ll only take one to win at Bash at the Beach. This segment died a 1000 deaths and it sucked. Dean’s promo to Disco wasn’t particular good either.

 

 

The Barbarian vs Eddie Guerrero

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A unique match but I don’t agree with the finish of it as we’ll get to. It’s The Barbarian, who I remind you is tall and scary, versus the tiny Eddie Guerrero. Please keep Eddie in mind when I tell you how this match went down.

Barbarian choked Eddie in the corner. Eddie hit a big dropkick for a 2 count.  Barbarian caught Eddie off a springboard and slammed him into the corner.

The Barbarbian then proceeds to destroy Eddie Guerrero. Barbarian SMASHED Eddie with a powerbomb to a big pop from the crowd but Eddie got the shoulder up. Barbarian hit a pump handle slam and the fans loved him even more. The fans loved every power move the Barbarian hit, just like the Faces of Fear’s squash match from a few weeks ago.

Eddie tried to a reverse a powerbomb into a roll up but it got royally screwed up. Eddie hit a back suplex but Barbarian took control of the match again and hit a massive belly to bell suplex from the top rope as the fans rose to their feet. Eddie got rolled all the way out of the ring. Barbarian tried a superplex but Eddie reversed it into a crossbody for the win.

I would not have done this if the objective was to get Eddie over, which seemed to be the intention when we review his post-match promo. The Barbrarian was getting more over and over during the match and was beating the crap out of Eddie but Eddie got a fluke win over the monster that was destroying him. I would have just called an audible and went with Barbarian getting the clean win. I love Eddie but he really didn’t get over when this match was over. In fact, I’d argue it’d have the opposite effect.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Eddie after the match. They explained that Eddie had been away in Japan wrestling in NJPW I guess. Mean Gene asked Eddie about the finish to the Konnan/Eddie match at Uncensored where Eddie got low-blowed. Eddie said he thinks he should deserve a title shot and the fans booed him for this opinion! They’d just watched Eddie get his arses kicked for 75% of the last match so of course they booed Eddie!

Eddie said The Outsiders had a lack of respect and wished his name was among the list of people to fight the Outsiders. This promo did Eddie no-good when all said and done.

 

Chris Benoit and Arn Anderson w/Steve “Mongo” McMichael vs “The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express” Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson

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I enjoyed this match. It was basically the Ric and Arn vs Rock N Roll Express match from a month ago. Rock and Roll Express came out to boos in Charlotte. These fans LOVED the Horsemen. It was sensational how over the Horsemen were here and keep that in mind when we get to Ric Flair. They were going crazy for everything Arn did in that ring. They loved Arn, they respected Benoit and they did pop for Steve “Mongo” McMichael too!

I got the message saying this would be played in the best presentation possible suggesting there would be technical difficulties. If I missed anything important, please let me know but it didn’t really feel like a chunk of the match was missing or anything.

Ricky reversed a powerbomb into an arm drag. The Rock N Roll Express took over for a while. Robert got a 2 count off a sunset flip. Arn got a tag and got a hell of a applause from Charlotte. Everything Arn did got a pop and that is not an exaggeration.

Robert elbowed Arn coming off the top rope. Benoit jumped Ricky on the outside and stomped at Ricky in the ring. Robert got the hot tag as the fans were very mild. They didn’t react to the Express and it was all about the Horsemen.

Robert tried a backslide but Mongo ran down, cracked Ricky in the head with his briefcase and Benoit got the pin.

Joe Gomez attacked the Horsemen and Mongo hit him with the briefcase to a big pop. Mongo slapped around Gomez but then Randy Savage and Kevin Greene chased off the Horsemen as the fans booed. I think Kevin Greene was actually playing for the Carolina Panthers too but that didn’t matter when it came to the Horsemen!

I thought this was a good match and interesting crowd reactions!

 

Mean Gene interviewed Ric Flair backstage with Miss Elizabeth, Woman and Debra McMichael. Ric Flair said the Horsemen took charge and the hat is off to Mongo. Ric said the Horsemen were mixing business with pleasure as the rest of the Horsemen showed up. Mongo yelled that nobody could stop them and Ric yelled at Konnan so I guess he’s got a shot at the US title at Bash at the Beach. The fans delivered thunderous WE WANT FLAIR chant as they cut to the announcers. These poor fans would be let down as yes, that interview was Ric Flair’s only contribution to Nitro!

NOTE: Ric Flair did wrestle Randy Savage in a dark match after the show, so it wasn’t like the fans didn’t get Flair out there at all.

 

 

DDP vs Alex Wright for the Lord of the Ring

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DDP taunted the fans as Wright charged at DDP for roll up. Finally, after my WWE Network had no problems for the first hour of this show, the buffering problems started. It stopped completely and when I tried to rewind. it crashed the app for me. I went back in and it stopped every 5 seconds. It did sort itself out so it wasn’t like I had to turn the Playstation 4 off this time.

DDP beat on Wright. Wright tried a suplex and DDP reversed it into a face buster. DDP did a big backbreaker gutbuster. DDP went for a punt but slipped in a comical manner.

Wright hit a side kick and fired away with punches to a floored Page. Wright did a double axe handle and hit a springboard dropkick sending DDP flying to the outside.  Wright did a dive and tried to follow this up with a springboard splash in the ring but DDP got the knees up. DDP hit the Diamond Cutter and got the pin.

As much as I like DDP, and it’s great to see him picking up a number of victories since his big Slamboree win, these matches he’s having as of late are nothing special. They just had a match and the fans were just bored waiting for the Diamond Cutter. That alone speaks volumes to how over the Cutter was but everything else just seems like pointless filler.

 

Mean Gene interviewed DDP. So as I have just talked about not wanting to see DDP in nothing matches, it’s revealed that it’s DDP vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan for the Lord of the Ring in a taped fist match at the Bash at the Beach. I do not look forward to that match in the slightest.

Mean Gene said that the taped fist match was Duggan’s speciality. DDP goes sarcastically, at the moment of me thinking it, “yeah right.” In what way was this a speciality for Hacksaw Jim Duggan? DDP said that if he put the Diamond Cutter on anyone, they would have the life expectancy of a house fly. DDP said everyone is trying to hold him down. DDP said if Duggan’s gotta tape his own fist, go ahead. He said he was the Lord of the Ring and this was a solid promo in my eyes.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Kevin Greene on the ramp. They showed Mongo turning on Greene at the pay-per-view. Greene had a go at Mongo for selling out for a bit of extra money. Greene said for the Carolina Panthers, he was gonna kick some ass for the rest of the NFL season. Greene said he was gonna remember Mongo’s slimey back-stabbing face. Greene said when the season is over, he, Macho Man and two WCW superstars were gonna get some revenge. I have no idea if this led anywhere as I would assume the Outsiders deal would reset a lot of stories.

 

“Macho Man” Randy Savage w/Kevin Greene vs VK Wallstreet

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Greene was at ringside in the corner of Savage as the Macho Man beat up Wallstreet. The fans chanted WE WANT FLAIR. Imagine if you are Rand Savage doing an angle where Flair has ruined your life for months, taken your ex-wife and then, if you’re Randy Savage, coming to an arena where the fans chant WE WANT FLAIR. That is… insane to think about.

Savage clawed and punched away at Walstreet during the match as Greene cheered him on. Savage hit a suplex. Wallstreet got the heat. Savage went for the elbow drop but Wallstreet moved out of the way. Wallstreet tried to punch Greene but Greene punched Wallstreet and threw him into the ringpost. Savage hit the elbow drop for the pinfall and the victory

I love how Bobby Heenan spent the entire match bashing Savage and calling him a hindrance to Team WCW and then when Savage wins this match, Heenan changed his tune and goes “YEAH SAVAGE! BRING ON HOSTILE TAKEOVER!” Heenan was the best heel commentator of all time! He was an absolute tremendous character! Keep in mind, Savage chased Bobby Heenan out of the ring last week! He was a great performer!

 

Sting © and Lex Luger © vs “Harlem Heat” Stevie Ray and Booker T vs “The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner in a triangle tag team match for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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Not a lot happened in this match and it was pretty boring until the finish. Booker and Scott started off the ring. Booker beat on Scott for a while and Scott eventually hit a tiger powerbomb but Luger broke up the pin right away.

Rick slammed Stevie Ray with one of the safest German suplexes possible, a week after nearly killing Ray with a suplex! Scott tagged Sting into the ring. Harlem Heat got the heat on Sting for a while and Booker got hung up to dry on the top rope and Sting straddled him.

Stevie got low-blowed and Booker missed a top rope splash as Luger got the hot tag. Luger hit a powerslam as who should come down to the ring but Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. They came down to the ring with baseball bats and security hauled arse down to the ring as the Steiners and Sting stand their ground. There’s about 20 security guards with GUNS in the ring. When security is in the middle of the ring about to go for theier weapons, that should stop the match right? Well Booker then rolled up Luger, with Luger all up in the ropes, and referee NICK PATRICK counts to three as Harlem Heat win the tag titles. Hall and Nash were threatening the competitors’ livelihoods with baseball bats, there was a possibility of the security shooting Hall and Nash but Patrick still must count the pin for Booker T.

I thought that was ridiculous.

Luger gets back up and stood with the babyfaces like nothing happened. The replay conveniently didn’t show the roll-up itself as just panned away to the faces standing up to the Outsiders.

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That was Nitro. Overall, not a lot happened but there wasn’t much wrong with the show. It was a show I didn’t have problem with at the time but when I stopped to review it and think about it, the show doesn’t really have a lot of positives to talk about. There were some bad finishes although the closing segment was fine with the exception of roll-up finish. It was a Nitro that was there but it was tolerable at the very least.

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WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #40 (JUNE 17TH 1996) – THE ONE WITH THE WWE NETWORK BUFFERING, AEW REFERENCES AND SCOTT STEINER’S SUPLEX TO THE GIANT

Welcome to the Retro Express. This is where we’re taking a stroll down memory lane at wrestling history. This post is part of an ongoing series where we’re reviewing every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this post. We hope you enjoy.

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The Great American Bash 1996 was a very good WCW pay-per-view, to some one of the best WCW pay-per-views they ever did. Chris Benoit and Kevin Sullivan battered each other in a falls count anywhere match with Arn Anderson ending the relationship between the Four Horsemen and the Dungeon of Doom with a beatdown on Sullivan. Sting beat Lord Steven Regal and Dean Malenko defeated Rey Mysterio Jr. in two excellent matches. The Giant retained the WCW title and Steve “Mongo” McMichael turned on Kevin Green and became the fourth Horsemen of the Four Horsemen.

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Following up The Great American Bash was this edition of WCW Nitro, with great work done to hype up the next pay-per-view Bash at the Beach. As a WCW Nitro show, it was honestly a good show. It was way better than last week’s episode and actually wasn’t half-bad. However, the thing that ruined the viewing experience of this episode to me was the WWE Network.

This is a spoiler alert for when we get to the very end of this WCW Nitro series but WWF ended up beating WCW and buying them out. When the WWE Network got up and running, they decided to put every WCW Nitro episode, every pay-per-view and a bunch of other WCW shows on the Network for fans to enjoy. This is along with a huge archive of WWE, ECW, WCCW and many other wrestling promotions throughout time.

As much as the WWE Network is value for your money when it comes to the archive, original content and monthly WWE Network specials, the service itself sucks. Watching this episode of WCW Nitro was a living hell. There isn’t one of video-streaming service that buffers as much as the WWE Network does. Not one…

I’ve got subscriptions to the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime. I’ve been able to stream off services likes Crunchyroll, NowTV, YouTube, ITV Player for AEW Dynamite, BBC iPlayer, 4oD among many many other streaming services. Not one of those services buffers at the absurd rate at the WWE Network does. As a loyal WWE Network subscriber for years, it bothers me so much how they’ve not been able to fix this.

How much does WWE make each year? Probably hundreds of millions. WWE has the money but they can’t fix this mind-numbing issue that has been the case for at least 5 years? These other services have no issues with it. Why does WWE have to be the black sheep in buffering and the quality of their streaming services? It makes this blog post series of WCW Nitros a lot harder when the episodes flat out stops the videos some times for minutes.

I’m going to go into multiple examples but there was one example near the start of the show where I just could not take anymore. I almost just skipped this review of Nitro based on this instance. However, I did complete the whole show and I will give you my full breakdown of the post-Great American Bash edition of Nitro.

Date: June 17th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Richmond, West Virginia

Rating: 3.4

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Bobby Heenan

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At the start of the show, Tony Schiavonie revealed he would be calling the whole episode of Nitro this week. Eric Bischoff was destroyed by Kevin Nash at the pay-per-view and Tony actually mentioned Bischoff was still in hospital.

Speaking of Bischoff, they showed the first part of the segment where the Outsiders beat up Bischoff at the pay-per-view. They showed the line about them not being associated with WWF and then Scott Hall gut-punching Bischoff. They then teased that later on in the show, you would get to see the remainder of the incident where Nash powerbombed Bischoff. They teased this throughout the show and when they actually “revealed” it, it was still shots of the powerbomb! They didn’t actually show the actual clip of the powerbomb!

Tony and Larry spent a good five minutes at the start of the show breaking down the PPV and I’ll tie this into the Kevin Nash powerbomb thing. This is a key thing because not everyone watching WCW Nitro bought and watched that pay-per-view. They took the time here and later on in the show to update the viewers of the storylines if they didn’t watch the PPV. They did this while simultaneously encouraging them to buy the replay.

This isn’t like the WWE Network where if you don’t watch a WWE PPV live, you can watch it days or even months later or whenever you can be bothered. At the time, there was a replay and then you had to wait until they sold VHS tapes of the show.

To WCW, it was a big deal to watch the pay-per-view and the Kevin Nash powerbomb to Bischoff. This was a big angle on pay-per-view that they were determined to have people pay to see it was so shocking. By the end of this Nitro, they showed it was a rare thing to see these “outsiders” at WCW. They didn’t bring Hall and Nash back this week. Every time they were on Nitro up until this point, there was a reason for them being there. They were not rushing this storyline along. They had a plan all the way to the Bash at the Beach, and they were sticking to the plan.

Rick Steiner vs Stevie Ray

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Last week, Scott Steiner and Booker had a good match on WCW Nitro. WCW decided to follow that up with their respective brothers facing each other in a singles match. Therefore, we got Rick Steiner and Stevie Ray wrestling each other. Dear god, did this miss the mark.

Rick Steiner tried his best and Stevie Ray was really not impressive. Rick almost killed Stevie with a belly-to-belly suplex. Rick went to the effort of turning himself inside out to sell a clothesline for Stevie. Of all the matches to want to do that spot for, he did it for a random two minute match with the worse half of Harlem Heat. Ray missed a fist drop and Rick hit a clothesline for the win.

Booker came out to attack Rick and apparently there was some issue with the timing. I say this because Harlem Heat overpowered Rick. Stevie had him set up for a powerbomb as he waited and waited and waited and then just hit a powerbomb. Then he went to do it again as Booker makes his way up to the top rope.

Scott Steiner came out to make the save but he basically took a double axe handle from Booker to save his brother Rick. Scott taking the bullet for his brother Rick does actually play into his match later as believe it or not, he had a WCW World title match in the main-event of Nitro! Therefore, he was willing to risk a shot at the WCW title to save his brother. That is true brotherhood being displayed there!

Disco Inferno vs Joe Gomez

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Do you guys remember when WCW was in the middle of a ratings war in 1996? They were battling the WWF and they thought DISCO INFERNO VS JOE GOMEZ was an excellent idea. That’ll put butts in seats…

Speaking of putting butts in seats, although this is a bad match to mention this, this was the first week of 83 straight weeks where Nitro beat RAW in the ratings. This was the first episode in a historic streak for WCW as they would trounce WWF RAW every week. So maybe Disco Inferno and Joe Gomez were bigger draws than I figured. I dunno. Supposedly Hulk Hogan from “Hollywood” called WCW to say he wanted in for the “war” at Bash at the Beach. If that’s not foreshadowing, I don’t know what is!

Gomez beat up Disco for a while and did some arm drags. Disco bantered with the crowd and Gomez cut him off. Gomez did a dropkick and then missed a crossbody. Disco got the heat and Gomez ran wild. Disco hit a swinging neckbreaker to a shockingly big reaction. Disco did a dance and Larry Zybsko on commentary yelled at him for not making the cover. Disco went for a lazy cover and Gomez cradled Disco for the win.

After all of this, Disco didn’t care that he lost the match as his hair was still in place. I understand that this was Disco Inferno vs Joe Gomez but why would you want to have the loser Disco Inferno make it clear that he didn’t care about this match? In fact, forget WCW. Why would any company want to do a match, have a guy lose and then have the loser treat the match as no big deal? If the dudes in the ring couldn’t care less why should I as a viewer care about this?

I know I’ve got years of Disco on WCW but I’m already sick of him. I’m gonna need something from Disco for me to change my mind on him. He was also new to the business at this point so I’m able to give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s also not his fault that the match got booked this way. However, I could do with less Disco Inferno.

Ric Flair was with Debra McMichael, Elizabeth and Woman for an interview with Mean Gene Okerlund. Mean Gene said he’d never so disappointed in one person as he was in Debra. For you see, Debra and her husband Steve “Mongo” McMichael turned on Kevin Greene and sided with the Four Horsemen. Debra said it was for the money. Ric said “Macho Man” Randy Savage was gonna find why he’s on top of the world. Ric said they all think he’s afraid of him and that Savage was gonna tear him apart but that ain’t gonna happen. Savage had been reinstated to WCW and was set to wrestle Flair on this show.

“The American Males” Scotty Riggs and Marcus Bagwell vs “The Four Horsemen” Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit

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I thought this was a decent match although this was the initial start of the buffering of doom which really escalated with the match that followed. Some fans boo the American Males in the front row and Bagwell, at this very point of the entrance, said: “that’s exactly what I wanna hear.”

Benoit’s face was shown bruised up following his match with Taskmaster at the pay-per-view. If that was make-up then I appreciate the commitment to show Benoit physically bruised after the falls count anywhere match from The Great American Bash.

Riggs and Arn wrestled for a bit. Arn took a cheap shot at Bagwell on the apron but whee Arn got on the floor, Bagwell got his revenge. Benoit tried a powerbomb but Bagwell rolled out of his grasp and reversed it into an arm drag.

Bagwell did a fisherman suplex but Benoit immediately broke it up. Benoit beat up Bagwell for a while and the fans were popping big for Benoit. These were fans hugely behind the Horsemen.

Benoit did a diving headbutt but Riggs broke it up. In an awesome spot, Benoit cheap-shot Riggs and after this, Bagwell cheap-shot Benoit and then after that, Arn cheap-shot Bagwell in one big sequence! I thought that was awesome!

Benoit suplexed Riggs on the ropes and got the pin. Decent match ruined in part by WWE Network buffering. Nothing the wrestlers did in the ring ruined this match for me.

Mean Gene interviewed Benoit and Arn. Arn said Mongo made the right choice and they were at full strength and also said his deal with Taskmaster went south. He said at the end of the day, it’s all about the Four Horsemen. Mean Gene talked about Benoit needing assistance at the pay-per-view… BENOIT BEAT TASKMASTER CLEAN. In storyline, there was not one time where Chris Benoit needed the help of anyone during that pay-per-view. He was kicking Taskmaster’s arse during that match, he beat him fair and square, he beat him up some more and then Arn beat Taskmaster up himself!

Benoit said Taskmaster had a quest to destroy the Horsemen but the Horsemen were about guts, glamour and glory… that’s a damn good line!

Big Bubba w/Jimmy Hart vs John Tenta

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This was where my meltdown took place with the buffering on the WWE Network. Not that I was dying to see a pointless rematch between Big Bubba and John Tenta but this was where I lost my rag with this WWE Network.

During this match, it buffered here and there. It dragged out a short match into like a 15 minute viewing experience for me. Bubba tried to attack Tenta from behind but Tenta was ready for him. Larry said Tenta was the size of the national debt.

Tenta pulled off a dropkick as Bubba got mad on the outside of the ring. Bubba posted Tenta as Jimmy had the referee distracted. Tenta beat up Bubba. Jimmy tried a cheap shot but got a reverse atomic drop for his troubles. Tenta hit a powerslam but pulled himself up from the cover and hit a second one and got his foot on the ropes for the win.

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At this point, the episode just became unplayable. I had buffering issues throughout watching this episode and at this point, I just had enough. The entire video stopped playing. It showed like 5 seconds of post-match stuff and then stopped entirely. It was stuck for a minute unable to do a thing. So I clicked off the show and went back in. I got back in, and it stopped entirely yet again.

I had to go through the trouble of turning off the Playstation 4 I was watching it on, start it all up again for it to work again. Before anyone says it is to do with my internet, I have no problems with Amazon Prime, no problem with ITV player, no issues with YouTube and no issues with Netflix. I use them all the same way, using the same internet on my Playstation 4. It’s just the WWE Network. This bothered the hell out of me.

Tenta chased Jimmy back into the ring and Bubba hit him with a loaded sock. He seriously whacked Tenta at one time in the head. He beat on him and beat on him. Bubba revealed coins and dropped it on Tenta. Watching all of this at a time in AEW where Pride and Powerful used a sock full of dollars as a weapon. That’s not even the biggest AEW coincidence on this show! Oh we’ll get to that!

Mean Gene interviewed Jimmy and Bubba. Jimmy said he’s gonna make examples of everyone that leaves the Dungeon of Doom.

Mean Gene interviewed “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Savage says he’s gonna take his time with Flair. He admits he’s not all there but there’s no man that can put him down. Savage said he saw a women psychiatrist during his time away from WCW and she had him down as OCD…. One Cool Dude. He’s used this line before but I still think it’s a great line!

“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs Ric Flair w/Woman, Debra McMichael and Miss Elizabeth

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WCW did my idea of having the second hour fireworks going off during someone’s entrance. Savage came down and there were fireworks all over the place. It was funny because Bobby Heenan came out as he was supposed to call the second hour. Savage chased Heenan towards the ring. Heenan then did an outstanding vault out of the ring and made his way to the announce booth! It was so cartoonish and pulled off exceptionally well that only Bobby Heenan could have done this spot this well. He vaulted out of there like he was a an Olympic swimmer diving into a pool!

Ric got the mic. He said every man in life must in some point of time experience the agony and pain of defeat. He said Savage is experiencing the pain and agony of defeat and divorce. Savage said he was gonna kick Flair’s ass and the fans went nuts.

The match started and I love Flair and Savage fighting in all of their entrance gear! Flair was in his robe and Savage was in his big hat and jacket. It was only for a minute or so but it looked so funny to me! I loved it.

Elizabeth took a cheap shot at Savage with a slap. This was a fabulous old-school fight between Savage and Flair. It was bowling shoe ugly at times and then comedic at other times and the fans were into all of this.  Savage took Flair up to Flair’s fancy table and shoved food in his mouth.

Then we got the AEW moment. Savage gets a champagne and I swear on a stack of bibles. I shared this on my Instagram @tomrobinson5199. Future All Elite Wrestling announcer Tony Schiavonie said “OOooh. A little bit of the bubbly.”

My jaw dropped and I am about 90% certain that AEW has the means of time travel. There’s been so many AEW references in 1996 before AEW even existed that there’s no way this is a coincidence! Tony even said it the same way Chris Jericho initially said it in 2019. Jericho goes “oooh” and in a deep voice said: “a little bit of the bubbly” and I swear Tony said it in the exact same manner on June 17th 1996 on WCW Nitro. It was… surreal.

The finish saw the referee getting bumped. Savage dropped the elbow and went for another elbow drop when the women got in front of him and Flair. It didn’t stop Savage from dropping another elbow drop on Flair. Benoit ran out and Savage gave him a piledriver. Savage then took out Arn and it was Mongo that hit Savage with a briefcase to the back and walloped Savage in the head. It sounded like a shotgun blast it was so loud. Flair pinned Savage and The Horsemen attacked Savage after the match.

Mean Gene interviewed Taskmaster, Jimmy Hart and WCW World Heavyweight Champion The Giant. I think this is the first time Mean Gene referred to Hall and Nash as “Outsiders”. Jimmy cried to Taskmaster that he knew they couldn’t trust the Horsemen. Taskmaster said there’s a legal war going on, there’s a war with Hogan when he comes back and there’s another war. Taskmaster said there’s a fine line between pain and pleasure and Giant cut him off. Giant said the Horsemen say they’re the elite but if that’s the case, why don’t they have the WCW title? He said anyone in the Dungeon is better than anyone in the Horsemen. He said they’d all fall down. Taskmaster then said he doesn’t care about the Four Horsemen and this is all about WCW…. right after cutting a promo about the Four Horsemen!

Taskmaster was at the same time preaching WCW loyalty and calling out the Four Horsemen. A lot of fires being started for the Dungeon of Doom….

 

Mean Gene interviewed Rey Mysterio Jr. Rey talked about Dean Malenko using the ropes during their match at The Great American Bash. Rey said he would show him what he’s made out of and he wanted the cruiserweight title. Rey said something in Spanish to “the Latinos” as Mean Gene put it.

 

Dean Malenko © vs Rey Mysterio Jr. for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship

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Nowhere near as good as their Great American Bash match but still a good and fun cruiserweight match between Malenko and Mysterio Jr. So of course, after about 30 mins of the video being fine on the WWE Network this is the match where the buffering problems started again.

Rey did La Magistral roll-up for a 2 count to which people actually went “awwww” for as they legitimately bought this as a near fall. Rey started winning the match with the quickness factor but Dean hit him with a hard clothesline and used power moves like a backbreaker and a back suplex to turn things in his favour.

Dean did a calf crusher to work on the legs and dropped him with a brainbuster. Dean locked on the abdominal stretch. Dean hit a big powerbomb and he SLAMMED this little man with such force. Not as powerful as the infamous Benoit/Guerrero powerbomb from earlier on in the series but this sounded almost as hard as that Mongo briefcase shot from earlier.

I love how Bobby told Tony to watch his tone as he claimed Tony was gonna get punched in the face. Tony, without missing beat, simply said in a nonchalant manner “no I’m not.”

Rey did a great springboard hurricanrana to the outside. Rey got a near fall from a roll-up. Dean tried a powerslam and Rey just turned the momentum in his favour for a pin attempt. Dean reversed the bulldog attempt into a reverse DDT for the win. A very good match. I give this a thumbs up.

 

The Giant © w/Jimmy Hart vs Scott Steiner for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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Scott’s chest was taped up because of the attack from Harlem Heat. Scott tried a German suplex but was unable to budge the big man. Scott tried to slam Giant but Giant was too big. The Giant actually got mad by these attempts and delivered stomps to the bad ribs, an elbow drop and even stood directly on his ribs.

It was almost exclusive rib-based offense from the champion as he did a Polish Hammer to the back of Steiner. He threw some kicks at Steiner as Bobby said “Giant kicked the life out of Scott Steiner.”

Giant, believe it or not, did a Camel Clutch on SCOTT STEINER, the man with the Steiner Recliner! Jimmy was literally jumping for joy witnessing Giant beat up this guy and pumping his fists up in the air in celebration!

Giant hit a suplex. I’m usually all for dominating performances to put a big monster over but this match was god damn boring at times. He beat on him, beat on him and beat on him. The Giant then got a chair but Scott eventually crotched him on the top rope and chop-blocked him. Scott did a sleeper hold but Giant got out of it and fired away with forearms.

Then we got one of the most unbelievable suplexes I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen Brock Lesnar German suplex guys like Braun Strowman and The Big Show. I’ve seen Brock Lesnar bend John Cena in half with German Suplexes at SummerSlam 2014. I’ve seen Kurt Angle launch Rey Mysterio with a double German Suplex with him and Randy Orton. The suplex Scott Steiner delivered to The Giant had to have been the most impressive suplexes ever delivered in the history of wrestling.

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Scott hit the most unbelievable T-Bone Suplex On The Giant and the fans went NUTS for it. I was gobsmacked as I yelled JEEZUS at the top of my lungs. I’ve seen the likes of Sting, Lex Luger and Hulk Hogan doing spots where they struggle and struggle to get the big man down. Scott Steiner goes in there and suplexed this big man with seemingly such ease. He didn’t just suplex him. He THREW HIM across the ring and this is THE GIANT. It was incredible.

Scott went for a cover and The Giant lifted him off at two. Scott tried to use  a wooden chair but Jimmy intercepted him. Scott shoved Jimmy off, broke the chair over The Giant’s head to no effect and Giant chokeslammed him for the win.

No matter what happened in the rest of this match, that suplex was worth all of the beating and heat that we had to sit through. He hit this suplex and the folks lost their minds as well as me! I lost my mind watching this. Scott Steiner was tremendous at this time.

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Mean Gene came out to announce Team WCW for the six man tag team match at Bash at the Beach. Mean Gene claimed this was the biggest announcement Mean Gene’s ever made. He explained that they’re selecting from the six top men depending on win/loss record and “many other things”. If we’re going off win/losses alone, surely guys like WCW US Champion Konnan would have to be in the mix right? I don’t remember the last time I saw Konnan lose a match.

The six mae in the drawing for this six man tag team match were Hulk Hogan, The Giant, Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Sting and Macho Man Randy Savage. I mean I would have to assume that the “many other things” must out-weigh the win/loss records right? The Giant is an understandable option as he’s the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. Hulk Hogan is understandable but he’s not been in WCW for a month and the same goes for Randy Savage (at least not been in the ring because of a storyline suspension). Lex Luger lost at the pay-per-view. Sting and Ric Flair face each other all of the time and trade wins back and forth so surely, from a win/loss record standpoint, they were not ranked highly?

I would go with the explanation that they went with the six former WCW champions as opposed to going off recent track records. Every one of them except Sting and Luger have been the champion in the past 9 months or so. Sting and Luger are the tag champs so this list does actually do a fair job in “determining” the finalists up for selection if you want to find the biggest stars!

There was a random draw to determine who would be fighting for WCW. There’s an invasion from outsiders that are threatening your company and you’re gonna leave it to randomisation to determine who is gonna fight? That seems like a terrible idea if this were real!

The names were revealed to be Lex Luger, Sting and “Macho Man” Randy Savage and the show ends leaving you to dwell on those names.

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As a WCW Nitro episode, this was actually a decent show but as a viewing experience on the WWE Network, it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I sincerely hope the WWE Network can resolve these issues for the future.

Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly and updates whenever Retro Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I appreciate you taking the time to read this review and we hope you enjoy more of the content from the Armbar Express.

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW THE GREAT AMERICAN BASH 1996 (JUNE 16TH 1996)

Welcome to the Retro Express. This is where we’re taking a stroll down memory lane at wrestling history. This post is part of an ongoing series where we’re reviewing every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this post. We hope you enjoy.

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We’re creeping ever so slightly towards the big reveal of the third man joining Scott Hall and Kevin Nash for the “invasion” of WCW. Scott Hall arrived and Kevin Nash arrived on the latest edition of Nitro that we’ve reviewed. Both of those men were here to meet Eric Bischoff at The Great American Bash about the possibility of actually setting up an official match between WCW and these outsiders and their third man.

The Great American Bash also featured a stacked card of quality matches, with the WCW, WCW United States and WCW Cruiserweight titles all on the line. We also had a big grudge match in Lord Steven Regal vs Sting, a big grudge match between the Dungeon of Doom’s Taskmaster and the Four Horsemen’s Chris Benoit and we had a rubber match between the Steiner Brothers and Fire and Ice. We also had the WCW vs NFL battle with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson facing Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Kevin Greene.

People have told me that this pay-per-view was one of the greatest pay-per-views WCW ever produced. Compared to every other pay-per-view I’ve seen during this series, this is the strongest one by a huge mile. I’m not really in a position to make a claim as if to call it the greatest of all time or something as I’ve never watched WCW properly up until the start of this series.

However, this honestly felt like a normal wrestling pay-per-view. That’s not to say that it was irregular or not extraordinary but it felt a lot more like a real wrestling show. For the likes of Halloween Havoc, World War III, Starrcade 1995 and Slamboree, there was a gimmick going into each of those PPVs. There was one big aspect that WCW were encouraging the fans to watch like the World War III battle royal or the Doomsday Cage match, while everything else on the show was treated as filler.

The Great American Bash felt like nearly every match on the show mattered. WCW weren’t exclusively promoting one match. They promoted a wrestling show and a lot of stuff was pay-per-view quality stuff. There were some awesome matches on this show. There wasn’t like matches on the level of Okada vs Omega for example but it was mostly very good wrestling and very much enjoyable.

Let’s get into the review…

 

Date: June 16th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Balitmore, Maryland

Attendance: 9,000

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie and Dusty Rhodes

 

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To kick off the show, a dude came out with the American flag as Star-Spangled Banner played. It was a grand patriotic moment and granted, it was fitting on a show called “The Great American Bash”. This is also a bad show to make this point I’m about to make. As an Englishman watching professional wrestling, I find it to be a very big disconnect to anyone not American whenever they do the National Anthem or do some big USA pride angle before a show.

There’s all of these starts from AAA in Rey Mysterio Jr. and “El Gato” supposedly from South America appearing in WORLD Championship Wrestling, but WWE, WCW, Impact Wrestling or other American wrestling promotions can’t help themselves but play up the patriotic angle to a worldwide audience. That to me doesn’t belong when you’re promoting the product as a global event.

It was just Tony Schiavonie and Dusty Rhodes announcing this show. They discussed at the start of the show about how Dick Murdoch had passed away recently and they addressed it.

 

“The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner vs “Fire and Ice” Scott Norton and Ice Train in a number one contendership match for the WCW Tag Team Championship with the added stipulation where there must be a winner

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This first match with Fire and Ice facing the Steiners had the announcer Dave Penzer stress heavily that there must be a winner. The storyline going in I believe was that these two tag teams have constantly had matches but they ended with like some no contest or disqualification. I’m pretty sure the Steiners beat Fire and Ice clean one time on Nitro but I do recall they’ve had another match which ended in a no contest.

With that being said, I’ve also seen a lot Nitro main-events and matches where they almost have to have a clean finish but yet there’s shenanigans. Therefore, I was certain that the Road Warriors or someone else was going to run in. But no, WCW were true to their word and there was a clean finish which we’ll get to.

Scott Steiner and Ice Train locked up. Dusty claimed Ice Train and Scott Norton were in Mortal Kombat before they came together. Tony claimed both teams approached this match: “the same way but differently.” So… I guess they both approached the match differently then… but in the same way?

Scott Steiner ran wild with hip tosses as the Steiners took control for the ring. Norton fired away with back elbow and forearms. I love how Norton’s hard-hitting/powerhouse style gels with the wrestling styles of the Steiners. It fit really well and the Steiners were able to sell well for his offense.

Rick eventually fired back with a big clothesline. Rick hit a big belly-to-belly suplex for a 2 count. Scott Steiner dropkicked Norton bringing him to his knees. Norton hit a big Samoan Drop. Dusty criticised Fire and Ice for wasting time and Norton took a cheap shot at Scott as the referee was distracted so I guess Fire and Ice were the heels in this match. I don’t know if they were officially turned heel on Saturday Night or something but they played heels in this match anyway.

Scott hit a belly-to-belly suplex and a clothesline to get back into the match. Scott nearly dropped Norton right on his head with a teardrop suplex. Norton barely caught Scott off the top with a scoop slam. Norton dropped Scott with the shoulder-breaker after Scott I think landed on his shoulder earlier on in the match.

Norton locked on an arm lock to pounce on the wounded arm of Scott Steiner and Rick broke it up. Rick kicked Norton repeatedly in the face to try and break it up but Norton no-sold each kick.

Rick got the tag and ran wild. He hit a massive suplex dropping Norton on his head and threw Ice Train over his shoulder. These four guys were willing put over the other teams during these matches. Ice Train and Norton were willing to take every suplex the Steiners were willing to dish out and they looked like they were landing on their heads and splatting into the mat. It looked ugly but it looked effective too and probably were safer than the moves looked.

Norton hit a powerbomb and Ice Train hit a splash on Rick but Scott Steiner broke it up. Fire and Ice went for the Doomsday Device but it was broken up. Rick planted Norton with a DDT but Ice Train took advantage with a double axe handle. Steiners tried the Steinerizer/diving bulldog but Ice Train broke it up. Scott hit a botched-like Frankensteiner and got the pin.

A great fight and a fun opener. I very much enjoyed it. It was an ugly fight and somewhat a train-wreck at times but what the hell? I loved it. They also delivered on the promise that there must be a winner so this gets two thumbs up. It gets a thumbs up for the match and a thumbs up for the finish, even if it did look a little screwy with the Frankesteiner.

Match Rating: ***

 

Jimmy Hart and Taskmaster were with Mean Gene Okerlund for an interview. Jimmy said they don’t need the Four Horsemen but Taskmaster said this wasn’t an issue between the Dungeon and the Horsemen. Taskmaster said Pillman wasn’t a horsemen and talked about making him quit at Uncensored. He said he knew what a horseman smelt like. He said he wanted to show the Horsemen that they can trust the Dungeon and they were gonna take out Benoit for not being a true Horsemen. Some parts of the promo I wrote down and they didn’t make sense to me so I didn’t include them. Either way, for those unaware, this was basically a continuation of the Taskmaster vs Brian Pillman feud with Benoit taking the place of Pillman.

 

Konnan © vs El Gato for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship

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One of the weakest matches of the show. It is weird saying that because if this match was on Slamboree, the last pay-per-view we watched, it would have been one of the strongest matches on that show! This match was perfectly acceptable wrestling.

Gato started off early with some kicks and a Dragon Screw Leg Whip. Konnan caught the hand of Gator and turned it into a top rope arm drag. Konnan turned Gato inside out with a clothesline which actually looked cool. After a few leap frogs from Konnan, Gato cut him off with a side kick to the face.

Gato tried a submission which I have no idea what it was supposed to be. He wrapped his leg around Konnan’s arm and grabbed the other arm and just laid there. He kept grabbing the rope for leverage but I have no idea what this was supposed to accomplish! It was some crucifix-like headscissors or something.

Gato caught a hurricanrana and hit a sit-out powerbomb for a 2 count. Gato and Konnan traded submission attempts. Konnan’s submission attempts always look so god damn sloppy to me and they just always take me out of his matches. I’d hate to get at Konnan for actually trying some grappling and actual wrestling but it just didn’t look good. If you can’t do something effectively in wrestling, just take it out of your arsenal. Think of an alternative.

Konnan did a roll into a clothesline but was unsuccessful with the pin attempt.

Gato tried the spot where a wrestler would tease a dive to the outside but slip underneath the ropes instead. Instead, he tries to slide under the ropes but he screwed that up. He went under the ropes and then just fell down. He didn’t even land on his feet when he made his way to the floor to prepare for the next spot.

Konnan smacked Gato hard on the floor with a sunset flip powerbomb to which the fans started to get behind Konnan with big chants of his name. Konnan hit an Alabama slam and bridge for the pin to retain the title.

Perfectly acceptable wrestling is the best way to describe this match. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t particular good. It was acceptable where there weren’t many spots screwed up and most of the stuff they did look fine. It’s just that the match met my expectations exactly and that’s exactly the problem. It was a bang average wrestling match at best but when you’re wrestling on pay-per-view, the fans kinda want to see more from you. With that being said, the fans were really behind Konnan and it’s not like they lost the crowd with this match. Therefore, I’d say this match was a success.

Match Rating: **1/2

 

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Mean Gene interviewed Sting and the first thing Mean Gene basically says is that we all know Regal is a “sissy” or “prissy”. I found that line to be funny. However, then Sting cut a weird racist promo against the English. He said you don’t have to stir up the Stinger. Sting made fun of England which pissed me off and talked about Regal and Englishman being sissies. He said Regal’s on US soil and being a sissy isn’t how they do it in the US. Sting said Regal’s a fantastic wrestler but he’s a little iffy and he was gonna beat him.

Again, I understand that the show is called THE GREAT AMERICAN BASH and it’s a celebration of the United States of America. However, this promo wasn’t about fighting for American pride against the English. This was Sting basically calling out English people and calling us Englishmen sissies. This promo would not play well in the slightest in 2020. By the way, Happy New Year to everyone in 2020!

 

DDP vs Marcus Bagwell for the Lord of the Ring

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DDP cut a pre-match promo. He talked crap about Baltimore. I don’t want to keep talking about to the Patriotic nature of this show as a running discussion point in this review. However, doing a promo where the DDP buries the hometown during a show where they’re all about American Patriotism seemed very out of place. If you wanna do a burial of the hometown for heat, that’s OK. However, this would have a worked a lot better if they had a foreign heel deliver this type of promo. DDP calling out the hometown randomly just seemed weird during a hugely pro-USA PPV.

Bagwell chased DDP out of the ring but then DDP jumped Bagwell in the ring as Bagwell turned his back on him before the match started. Bagwell did a snapmare to DDP that sent him over the top rope and to the floor. Bagwell sent DDP over the barricade. DDP cut off Bagwell when he tried to get back in the ring. Bagwell hit a crossbody for a 2 count. Bagwell worked on the arm of DDP but DDP eventually got out of it.

Bagwell dropkicked DDP through the ropes as DDP got stuck in between them. Bagwell did a dive to the outside. DDP tried to cut off Bagwell again as they both got back into the ring but Bagwell was ready for him.

DDP got the heat and hit a backbreaker. DDP locked on an abdominal stretch, grabbing the rope for leverage whenever he could. DDP did it twice successfully but referee Randy Anderson (at least I think it was Randy Anderson) caught him on the third attempt and kicked the rope away from DDP’s grasp.

DDP hit the tombstone slam for the near fall. Bagwell did the atomic drop/reverse atomic drop combination and got back in the match. Bagwell did a springboard clothesline from the apron for a near fall. DDP eventually hit a Diamond Cutter to win the match clean.

There wasn’t that much heat for this match and it didn’t really do it for me. Both men tried hard but they just did moves forever and there was nothing really captivating about it to suggest this should have been a PPV match. This was a decent TV match at best but it just sucked the life out of the PPV for a little bit.

With that being said, if this match was on Slamboree too, this would have also been one of the best matches on that show! So at least it gets that feather it its cap!

Match Rating: **1/4.

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Mean Gene interviewed Jimmy Hart and The Giant. The Giant cut a promo about torture in like a quiet and creepy way. It was like some weird perverted promo which is rare from The Giant, who in 1996 is usually very loud and angry with his promos. Maybe he was trying something out briefly because he did eventually start yelling at Luger during this promo.

He said if Luger thought he was gonna put The Giant in the “rack” he’s sadly mistaken. The Giant said the “rack” is a pure fantasy and said the chokeslam is all he’s going to know. Giant said Lex should have lifted a few more weights before getting into the ring with him. A weird promo with the change in tone from going all quiet to going really loud which took away from pretty good dialogue… minus “the rack” which didn’t age well with time.

 

Dean Malenko © vs Rey Mysterio Jr. for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship

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This is what WCW has been missing so far on WCW Nitro shows. I’ve had about of month of 2 hour Nitros since Slamboree and the shows have mostly felt like a drag in places. They had an extra hour for more wrestling and better wrestling for the fans to stay tuned to watch. They needed more cruiserweight matches in those Nitros and this match was a very good reason why.

This match was so good and so different to anything else on the show and the fans were super into it by the end, even if they did go quiet in the middle. This got the division over big with them and hopefully, this will be transferred to WCW Nitro television shows.

Mike Tenay was on commentary for this match. It was unbelievable how quick Rey was here. It’s hard for me to make notes for the opening minutes for matches like this. It was fantastic lucha libre cruiserweight action. All you can do is sit back, watch and be blown away by it. Lucha Libre done really well is some of the best wrestling you’ll ever see. All I could do was marvel at their athleticism and skill.

Rey hit an awesome springboard dropkick to Dean to send him crashing on the floor. They locked up in the ring but it eventually led to Dean catapulting Rey out of the ring. Dean worked on the arm and started driving the knee in the arm of Rey.

Dean raked Rey’s arm over the guard rail. Rey eventually used Dean’s intention to work on the arm to cause separation with a dropkick. Dean turned Rey inside out with the clothesline, dropping Rey right on his head to immense applause from the crowd. It was such a fantastic sell to the clothesline and the fans appreciated it big time.

Dean worked on the arm again with an armbar. Dean suplexed Rey right on the arm and then delivered the Northern Lights suplex onto the arm.

The great thing about Dean Malenko is that he lived the “man of 1000 holds” gimmick when it came to what he did in the ring. Every move he did to work on the arm was different than the move that came before it. He didn’t do the same thing over and over again. He didn’t chin-lock after chin-lock during his matches. He didn’t do the same type of suplex working on the arm. He didn’t do the same submission. It wasn’t predictable and it worked. Tony flat out said “man of 1000 holds, living to his name” and Dean showed that to be accurate!

Rey hit a like a Boma Ye knee to try and get back into the match but Dean went back to work on the arm. Dean locked on a surfboard with the Romero submission and turned this into a pinfall attempt for a near fall.

Dean tried a somewhat Kimura lock variation right in the middle of the ring. Dean hit a teardrop suplex for the 2 count. Dean followed that up with a butterfly suplex for another 2 count. Dean went to work on the arm again with a wrist lock. The biggest problem with the match was that Dean’s “heat” segment went way too long. I think it took me out of the game watching it and, although it was really well done by Malenko, a part of me just wanted Rey to do something to breathe life into the match.

Rey eventually sent Dean crashing to the floor and hit a baseball slide dropkick to Dean and kicked him further way. Rey followed this up with a springboard somersault to Dean on the outside and Dean was really far away so Rey did well to connect with that distance to the outside.

Rey eventually started a comeback and hit a springboard dropkick. Dean tried an Alley Oop but Rey stopped the impact for a near fall as they traded roll ups. I think I’ve seen Malenko and Liger do that spot before and I really loved it again here.

Rey hit the Frankensteiner pin for a near fall. Dean went for the gutbuster off the top rope and Rey reversed it into a hurricanrana for the near fall. Dean tried a tilt-a-whirl but Rey reversed it into a crossbody. . Dean hit a big powerbomb from the corner with the feet on the rope of the pin.

Fabulous stuff from the cruiserweights.

Match Rating: ***3/4. This was almost 4 stars for me but Dean got the heat for slightly longer than I think he should have. This was still a damn great match from Malenko and Mysterio Jr.

 

Mean Gene interviewed WCW Television and Tag Team Champion Lex Luger. Luger said his mind’s a million miles way and he said he’s not gonna shout and scream about what he’s gonna do to the Giant. I guess this was to hint that he was too focused on the match to cut a promo but then he cut a big promo anyway! He said The Giant changed the landscape of wrestling and The Giant though he was invincible but that was gonna work in Luger’s favour. He said Giant was going to make mistakes and when Luger left the ring, he was gonna have another belt on his other shoulder. I thought this was a good promo.

 

Big Bubba w/Jimmy Hart vs John Tenta

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The worst match on the show but it did appear that the match on paper didn’t actually sound so bad. It was just pretty poor in execution.

Tenta came out with a video playing in the titantron of the head-shaving from a few weeks ago. There was no music for Tenta.

Bubba and Tenta brawled on the outside. Tenta caught Bubba coming from the top rope and then smashed Bubba into the steel steps. Bubba begged Tenta off and then JOHN TENTA did a standing jumping kick the chest! It was one of the most athletic things I’ve seen Tenta do so far in this series!

Tenta slammed his backside into the face of Bubba. Tenta did a running butt-slam into the chest of the heel. Bubba hit a big uppercut to get back into the match. Nick Patrick checked Bubba as I guess Bubba used a weapon when he hit Tenta but I don’t think they ever showed a replay of this. If they did and I missed it, I do apologise.

Tenta kicked out. Bubba ran wild on Tenta for a bit. Bubba tried a pin on the ropes but referee Nick Patrick caught him. Tenta tried a slam but Bubba was too big as they just fell to the ground. Bubba worked on Tenta’s arm. It looked like Bubba tried to do a “fast” paced-match that Tenta was just not built and conditioned for so it just didn’t have the chance to blossom.

Bubba slammed Tenta with a back suplex. Bubba went to the top rope but Tenta caught him and slammed him with a powerslam as Jimmy was distracted with the fans. As Jimmy was distracted, Tenta got the pin. Tenta grabbed the scissors and cut the beard of Bubba and sent him packing.

I don’t think it would have been a strong match on that Slamboree 1996 pay-per-view I keep referencing but it was pretty much what I expected out of these two. It’s a shame because I actually do think these were somewhat decent wrestlers but this match just didn’t show it. At least the good guy was able to get the win in the end after the heel had previously embarrassed him on Nitro.

Match Rating: *

 

Mean Gene interviewed Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Kevin Greene, who were accompanied by their wives. I think Mean Gene mentioned that “Macho Man” Randy Savage, who was coaching Greene and Mongo, had been reinstated into WCW. Mongo said he didn’t care about game plans and that they were coming to get Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. Greene said they were coming hard and coming heavy. He even finished the promo saying they were coming hard. There was something up with the phrasing of Greene from the penetration talk from Nitro 2 weeks to this promo about coming hard and heavy! Savage came in and said they were gonna knock Flair and Anderson into the end zone.

 

Chris Benoit vs “The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan w/Jimmy Hart in a falls count anywhere match

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This was such a great falls count anywhere match. The intensity was just there from the get-go and it was a believable, vicious fight to convince the viewers that these two hated each other. Benoit was a great all-rounder as a wrestler but Kevin Sullivan in particular came off really well as a scrappy wrestler. This match was right up his alley and he and Benoit worked wonders together in this match.

There were two referees on hand to count any pinfall or submission attempts. Taskmaster power-walked into the ring as he and Benoit brawled in an out-of-control manner on the ramp. Benoit chopped away at Taskmaster as Taskmaster responded with open hand slaps to the chest.

Fans went crazy as it went into the crowd. I want everyone to understand that everything that I say about Chris Benoit going forward is purely about his in-ring work and not his personality. With that being said, Benoit had a look of such intensity and such rage, looking like he really wanted to beat the snot out of Taskmaster as he gritted the teeth at the sight of Taskmaster. Benoit had tremendous facial expressions when he was in the ring.

They went further and further up the steps. This was a heck of brawl which led them all the way to the men’s bathroom. Taskmaster slammed the head of the bathroom door into the head of Benoit. The fans in the bathroom all huddled in one side of the ring to watch this all go down. They were all squished-up to the back of this bathroom and couldn’t get out from the looks of it!

Benoit fought back with stiff punches to the head. Taskmaster tried to shove Benoit’s face into the urinal.  Benoit responded by smacking bathroom doors into the back of Taskmaster. Dusty couldn’t help but exclaim that there was a woman in the men’s bathroom as he was super excited about this development!

Taskmaster hit Benoit with a sack of towels! Security had their work cut out for them as Benoit and Taskmaster tried to fight into the crowd of people outside of the bathroom! One guy fell over into the sea of people it was so crowded!

Benoit tumbled down the steps back into the arena. Taskmaster flat out threw Benoit down the steps. They traded punches as they got back to the guard rail. Taskmaster crotched Benoit on the guard rail as they made their way back to the ring. Taskmaster unleashed a Sabu-like chair throw at Benoit’s face.

Benoit crotched Taskmaster on the guard rail in retaliation. Benoit grabbed a table and threw it at Taskmaster’s face, I guess in response to the chair throw from Taskmaster! The announcers actually mentioned that it was a callback to Slamboree when Benoit went threw a table because of Taskmaster.

They tried to put each other through the table but both men just bounced off it rather than breaking it.  Taskmaster back-dropped Benoit to the table balanced on the top turnbuckle. They fought on top of the table and Benoit hit a big superplex to a massive pop and for the win. That was a hell of a match. They beat the crap out of each other as the fans, whether it was in the bathroom or sat at their seats, were just going nuts for all of this action!

Benoit punched away at Taskmaster after the match. Arn Anderson ran down as Benoit continued to punch away at Taskmaster. Arn threw Benoit off of Taskmaster and then took a cheap shot at Taskmaster as they beat up Sullivan. The fans became unglued and lost their minds as the Horsemen turned on The Taskmaster!

The Dungeon of Doom chased them off as the fans went bonkers. That was an absolutely awesome falls count anywhere match and a great post-match angle. They brawled all over the place and it was great. I think Malenko vs Mysterio Jr. was a technically better match but I enjoyed this Taskmaster vs Benoit match more as it just worked as a falls count anywhere match. They beat the crap out of each other and although there was possibly ONE PIN FALL in the entire match, this was a blood feud where they wanted to just destroy each other. TWO THUMBS UP!

Match Rating: ***3/4

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Mean Gene interviewed the Four Horsemen. Mean Gene is stood in between Woman and Elizabeth as they both grab his arms. Tony asked Gene if he’d ever seen anything like the match they just watched. Mean Gene said he’s not sure and he’s not sure he’s ever seen and briefly pauses. He pauses and he looks at Woman and Elizabeth and goes…. “well maybe a couple of times!” Mean Gene had to have been the greatest interviewer in wrestling history. Absolute tremendous comedy nearly ever time!

Arn Anderson said there’s people that dreamed of being able to be a Horsemen and Benoit earned the right to be a Horsemen. He said the head of the snake being severed was Taskmaster’s, who you recall kept claiming he was gonna cut the head of the snake who he believed to be Benoit. Arn said Taskmaster tried to poison the Horsemen but Benoit earned his stripes. Benoit said Taskmaster had been severed and he put him in his place. Ric yeleds at Mongo and Greene and Bobby Heenan was paranoid about Savage. When you’re cutting a promo and Ric Flair barely has anything more to add, you’ve cut a hell of a promo. Arn and Benoit cut damn good promos on Kevin Sullivan.

 

Sting vs Lord Steven Regal in a “special challenge” match

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Another superb match. There was a lot of heat from the crowd and the fans were thunderous for Sting throughout, and the action justified the response from the crowd.

Sting fired away with punches and sent Regal flying with an Irish Whip. Regal beat away at Sting with punches and European uppercuts as the fans chanted USA. Sting delivered multiple Japanese arm drags and then Regal went outside to yell at the fans, egging on the USA chants indirectly. Regal tried a handshake but Sting refused, being no-one’s fool. Regal was literally shaking in his boots as Sting cornered him!

Regal locked in a Cobra Clutch and beat away at Sting. Sting tried a sunset flip and Regal tried to punch away at the referee to get out of it! He was swinging for the fences as I guess he’d rather get disqualified than be rolled-up with a sunset flip and pinned!

Regal wore down Sting with a chin lock but Sting reversed it into the back suplex. Regal locked on an arm lock while pressing his knee on the head of the Stinger. Regal tripped the leg and went back to the head lock. Regal wore down Sting, putting his leg on the bottom rope but the referee kicked his foot off the bottom rope.

Sting got an abdominal stretched locked in out of nowhere with his face paint looking to have been wiped off. Regal locked on a head lock with the head-scissors while wrenching back on the arm. Regal did an under-hook submission which looked interesting.

Sting eventually ran wild with clotheslines and dropkicks as the fans burst into life. Regal hit a butterfly suplex from the top rope which he looked to try to do as quickly as possible. I’m not so sure what it was but Regal rushed the hell out of this spot, so maybe he just wanted to prove he was as quick as Billy Kidman was during their match together on Nitro!

Regal locked on the STF but Sting refused to give up which upset Regal. Regal smashed away with elbow smashes. Sting got fired up after a slap from Regal as he punched away at Regal in the corner. Sting went for the Stinger Splash but Regal got the knees up. Sting locked in a Scorpion Death Lock as Regal tapped out right away to a thunderous ovation.

This is a match that worked on paper, worked in execution, worked with the fans and worked in getting both men over with this crowd. Regal was hugely hated as the heel while Sting was hugely beloved as the babyface. This gets two thumbs up! I loved it.

Match Rating: ***1/2

 

They showed a WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 promo, with the show set to take place on July 7th… we’re almost there folks.

 

Ric Flair and Arn Anderson w/Bobby Heenan, Elizabeth and Woman vs Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Kevin Greene w/Macho Man Randy Savage, Debra McMichael and Tara Greene

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I’m going to be fair to everyone in this match. All four men worked their arses of for this tag team match. We all know how good Ric Flair and Arn Anderson are at making their opponents “look like a million bucks” as the old saying goes. How many tag team matches with Ric and Arn have we seen in the last month of WCW Nitro episodes? They wrestled the American Males, the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express andLex Luger and Sting. Every one of those matches had the exact same structure and each match was effective in many ways. They were both absolutely phenomenal wrestlers.

Believe it or not, Mongo and Kevin Greene both held up their end of the bargain very well. After this match was over, I was very shocked at how well they did in doing a 20 minute tag team match with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. This is not the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express or even Sting for that matter. These two guys were wrestling their FIRST EVER WRESTLING MATCH at a big WCW pay-per-view and they exceeded my expectations in the ring.

However, I think I disliked this match more than pretty much every one else who I’ve seen do reviews of the match. Dave Meltzer from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter rated this match 3 and a half stars out of fivw and I’ve seen people rate it four stars. I can’t go that high purely because this match seemed like a poor imitation of those matches I mentioned from Nitro.

Of course, Kevin Green and Steve McMichael are not going to wrestle on the same level as the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express. However, these guys worked a little slower than the dudes in the matches mentioned below. It was a little bit sloppy although it wasn’t terrible or embarrassing. I would just never in my life, even with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson, never have had Greene and Mongo go 20 minutes on a pay-per-view match. I also hated the finish which we’ll get to.

Bobby Heenan got a big pop coming down to the ring. Kevin Greene, with all of his over-the-top promos where he yelled at the top of his lungs, came down to the ring with no energy about him. He was like a moving scarecrow and he even walked in a wooden manner down to the ring like The Great Khali. For a massive pay-per-view, I expected him to come out with at least an additional 10% of life!

The announcers revealed Savage was back “because of public demand” and would be wresting on Nitro or something. Greene had a shirt on with the back saying: “SACK MACHINE IN THE RING.”

Arn briefly out-wrestled Mongo and Flair cackled with laughter like HA HA HA. Mongo took Arn out with a shoulder tackle. Arn beat up Mongo for a while until Mongo came back into the match with a top rope shoulder tackle.

Mongo and Greene stomped a mudhole on Anderson in the ring to a big pop. Savage punched Arn on the outside as the referee’s back was turned. Heenan pleaded his case but Heenan bounced back off the top rope when he saw Savage staring at him!

Greene got tagged in. I love how Dusty’s advice to Mongo and Greene was not to wrestle them. Far be it for me to question the wrestling advice of “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes but it appears not wrestling would be a bad strategy if this was a wrestling match or something!

Ric suckered in Greene and stomped him in the head to applause from the crowd. The fans were about 60% behind the heels and 40% behind the good guys. Maybe it was a bit closer than that between them.

Greene hit two powerful shoulder tackles and then did Flair’s strut in the ring to infuriate the Nature Boy. Savage went after Flair on the ramp and attacked him, throwing him back into the ring… right in front of the referee. Not a disqualification at all when Savage punches away at a tired Ric Flair!

Flair went high in the air for a Kevin Greene back drop. Greene hit a clothesline as the WWE Network buffered and I lost quality. On my screen, it looked like what WCW probably looked like on VHS tapes back in 1996. Of all the matches for the WWE Network to have issues with, it is this one!

Flair chopped Mongo to little affect. Mongo responded with chops of his own and a hip toss. Flair landed almost on his head off a back drop. Mongo locked on a Figure Four on Ric to a massive pop and Greene did his own to Arn Anderson. Mongo and Greene can take some pride in the fact that they could do better Figure Four Leg Locks than Hulk Hogan! These were OK Figure Four Leg Locks compared to some of Hogan’s attempts at the move over the years!

Woman raked the eyes of Mongo and the heel women chased off the footballer’s wives. Elizabeth chased the women away in the least athletic manner possible. I mean she was in a dress so I understand why she struggled but why bother running to try and get the wives? I also was wondering why the babyface women weren’t fighting back as I figured they were there to level the playing feel for their husbands? It made sense at the end I guess…

Heenan kicked away at Mongo as Savage chased him off. Flair chopped at Mongo and Mongo responded by grabbing him. As Arn had the referee’s attention, Ric hit a low blow. The heels did a double suplex to Mongo which I was stunned that they were able to pull of.

Ric and Arn bonked into each other as Mongo eventually made the tag to Greene. Greene ran wild with chop blocks and back drops to both men. Greene hit a powerslam and Mongo hit a big boot to Flair on the apron.

Ric went for a Figure Four Leg Lock but Greene reversed this into a roll up. Flair locked on the Figure Four grabbed Arn for leverage.

Savage attacked Arn as the ref back was turned. Chris Benoit came down to help the Horsemen and he and Savage go on to have an unbelievable brawl on the outside. They were throwing hands and just have a good old scrap in the middle of this match.

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Then suddenly, Debra reappears on stage with a pink dress on and came down with Woman and Elizabeth. Where Kevin Greene’s wife went, I have no idea. Debra went to her husband on the apron as Greene is still locked in this Figure Four Leg Lock. Debra had a briefcase with a Four Horsemen t-shirt and money. Mongo contemplates this offer as Greene is in agony being locked into the Figure Four Leg Lock.

Greene eventually turned over the hold but as he begged Mongo for the tag, Mongo whacked him in the head with the briefcase and Flair scored the pin. After months of Ric Flair hitting on his wife, Mongo sided with Flair and the Horsemen after the Horsemen offered him money.

What’s weird about the money angle of this heel turn is that the announcers briefly mentioned some interview where apparently Mongo went to the Chicago Bears for the money or something like that? It was such a random line to throw in and then Mongo turned on Greene for more Green! So at least that line gave Mongo a storyline desire and when the Horsemen were able to appease his desires, he betrayed his ally Greene.

So Savage went after Flair but then he was swarmed by Mongo, Benoit, Arn and Ric. Mongo puts on the shirt as he is revealed as the 4th Horsemen, replacing Brian Pillman.

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Do you remember when I recapped asegment with Debra and Bobby Heenan from Nitro, and I questioned the tone of her voice when she denied that she had spoke to Flair “all night” as if she was hiding something. I felt for sure that this was either Debra’s accent, bad acting or she forgot a line or something even thought I thought it was weird she said it like that. Well low and behold, Debra was not kidding in storyline. She really was talking to Flair all day in terms of negotiations for Mongo becoming a Horsemen. So there was a plan to put this into place, at least as of last week, to turn Mongo heel and some long-term booking. At the very least, it’s long term booking compared to WWE in 2019.

This match I’ve actually turned the corner on the more I think about it. I could complain about it not looking as good as if it were two other wrestlers in their with the heels but the point of the match is the fact that they were two non-wrestlers in there with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. Say what you will but they went through a lot of effort to put Mongo and Greene over. Mongo wass showing how tough he is by taking the beating, Greene is running wild and spending about a minute or so locked in the Figure Four  Leg Lock at the end. They did everything to get them over and then they pulled the trigger on Mongo.

As a match, this was booked really well. Therefore, I give this match a thumbs up.

Match Rating: ***

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Eric Bischoff came out on the ramp and talked about Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Bischoff called them out as Kevin Nash and Scott Hall strolled onto the ramp. Bischoff said he was in WCW offices debating about their request for a match and WCW had decided to give Nash and Hall their match. Bischoff said it would be at Bash at the Beach and he flat out asked if they worked for the WWF and they said no. I was reading up the Wrestling Observer Newsletter from the time by Meltzer. I guess this line was a way to avert a lawsuit as I guess WWF were going after Hall for acting like Razor Ramon during his promos. They abandoned the notion that this was WWF invading but this was still treat as an invasion.

Scott Hall grabbed the mic and said to forget about the past, let’s talk about the future. He wanted to know who their guys were that were facing them. Scott told “Billionaire Ted” to get whoever he wanted as they were gonna carve them up. Scott Hall attacked Eric and Kevin Nash hit a massive Jackknife powerbomb on Bischoff through a table. Scott Hall said the real big boys just left the building and then they just… left the building!

For a man who had never entered the ring or took a bump to my knowledge up until this point, Eric Bischoff took a big bump here, even if they did pad the hell out of that table. I give credit to the man as he was willing to put this angle over to such a degree that he took a powerbomb of all moves from Nash off of the stage. That is pure commitment right there.

 

The Giant © w/Jimmy Hart vs Lex Luger for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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Luger actually attended to Bischoff as he made his way down to the ring. Giant stomped away at Luger when the match started and Luger responded with punches and clotheslines, even clotheslining Giant out of the ring onto his feet.

Luger tried to get on Giant’s back and locked on a sleeper hold. Jimmy tried to hit Luger with a megaphone but Sting ran down and chased him off. Giant slammed Luger into the corner and hit a big backbreaker.

The commentators sounded very solemn and quiet on commentary which was exactly what LEX LUGER VS THE GIANT needed. We had a slow big man match between Luger and Giant, with the announcers all quiet for this world title match. To be fair, the match wasn’t particular compelling enough to get excited over.

Giant got Luger up for a backbreaker submission for a brief period of time. Luger tried a scoop slam but Giant was too big so they both crashed to the ground.

Giant tried a charge at Luger but Luger moved out of the way as Giant bounced off the rope. Luger kicked The Giant away and Luger hit two big clotheslines, two big forearms and two chop blocks to get The Giant down to one knee. He punched at the head of Giant but Giant pushed him away and was back on his feet after all of that.

Giant went for a splash but got stuck on the top turnbuckle. Luger kicked away and then tried a Torture rack as the fan rose to their feet. The fans erupted as he got him up in the air briefly but he collapsed due to the weight of Giant. Giant hit the chokeslam and got the pin.

Match Rating: *1/2 –  I’ve seen worse WCW main-events than this but this was by no means good or anything. At least they tried their best.

 

That was easily the best WCW pay-per-view I’ve watched so far for this series. Great matches up and down the show accompanied by a lot of other good ones. There was possibly two matches that were less than 2 stars and everything else came close to or exceeded my expectations. This was a great PPV to watch and makes me excited to see what comes next. Bash At The Beach 1996 is a pay-per-view I’ve been wanting to get to for a long time and that will be the very next pay-per-view that we watch.

If my maths is correct, there’s three episodes of Nitro until Bash at the Beach so do check out the Armbar Express for the Nitro reviews building up to a famous wrestling pay-per-view with possibly the greatest heel turn in wrestling history…

Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly and updates whenever Retro Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I appreciate you taking the time to read this review and we hope you enjoy more of the content from the Armbar Express.

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #39 (JUNE 10TH 1996) – KEVIN NASH DEBUTS IN WCW AS SCOTT HALL’S BIG SURPRISE

Welcome to the Retro Express. This is where we’re taking a stroll down memory lane at wrestling history. This post is part of an ongoing series where we’re reviewing every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this post. We hope you enjoy.

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Scott Hall had arrived in WCW 2 weeks ago but returned for a little bit more fun in the closing segments oflast week’s show. He appeared to confront Eric Bischoff once more when Sting got up in Hall’s face. Sting challenged Hall to a match but Hall responded that no-one told him what to do. Hall threw a tooth pick at Sting and Sting slapped Hall in response. The police separated both men with Scott Hall promising to bring a “big surprise” with him next time…

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This show went from being consistently good for months to suddenly just being inconsistent with the quality. When the first two hour show aired, it was pretty awful. Last week’s episode was fabulous as I worded it when I reviewed it. This week, it was back to just being awful in my opinion. Maybe that’s harsh but this show dragged and dragged and filled with lots of gutter.

The two constant good aspects of the show are Ric Flair matches and the invasion angle which we’ll get to. Everything seemed all over the place to me when watching this episode.

With that all being said, this was the go-home show for The Great American Bash 1996 and it worked as a go-home show. You know why? Because I got excited for this upcoming PPV following this show. There was a stellar card that was being put together and the big angles were being pushed very well. By that standard, this was a good show. As a regular Nitro episode, this was not a good one.

 

Date: June 10th 1996

Brand: WCW

City:Wheeling, West Virginia

Rating: 2.6

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan

 

 

Booker T vs Scott Steiner

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Booker threw Steiner around with his long hair which angered Steiner… just a reminder that Steiner had ridiculously long hair at this time before he became Big Poppa Pump. Booker was using it against Steiner and Steiner was mad about it.

Booker and Steiner battled for the backslide pin attempt. Steiner tried suplex after suplex on Booker to which Booker evaded/avoided every attempt. I love that the battle in this match was about Scott hitting a suplex on Booker which ordinarily would mean nothing, but this was Scott Steiner from the Steiner Brothers. It’s an important part of his arsenal which we’ll get onto later with the finish.

Eventually, after ducking a side kick, Steiner hit a tiger powerbomb. Steiner dropped Booker with atomic drop and clotheslined him over the top rope. Booker hit a scissors kick for a two count and it’s still weird seeing the scissors kick as just a move and not a finisher from Booker as it would become in WWE.

Booker grounded Steiner with a front face lock. Yeah Booker briefly out-wrestled college amateur wrestler SCOTT STEINER! Booker did a top rope crossbody for the two count.

Booker tried a suplex but Steiner slipped behind and hit the Scorpion Death Drop, just like Sting did to Scott himself in the last two weeks. It is actually ridiculous the detail in these matches. If you had watched the last two episodes of Nitro and seen Sting reverse a suplex into a Scorpion Deathlock twice now, for Scott to utilise that himself showed that the man learned from previous mistakes.

Steiner got back into the match and hit a belly-to-belly suplex at last. He then called for a frankensteiner but Booker evaded it. Booker followed that up with the wheel kick but Steiner kicked out. Booker missed a top rope body splash and Scott hit a belly-to-belly suplex for the win.

A good opener and told a simple and basic storyline. The suplex winning the match for Steiner was weird to see but again, more than one way to beat someone is great. The suplex battle was actually cleverly well done. After all of this time trying to hit a suplex, Scott finally hit one at the end of the match and he picked up the win. This gets a thumbs up.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Scott Steiner. He started to cut a promo when Debra McMichael cut him off. Scott gave Debra the floor and left. She was worried about her husband Steve “Mongo” McMichael. She’s worried he’s gonna hurt someone permanently. She thought it was her fault but Mean Gene assured her that it wasn’t her fault. She wanted to ask if he could set up a meeting with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson to call off the tag team match at the PPV. Mean Gene went to see what he could do.

 

DDP vs Jim Powers where apparently the Lord of the Ring was on the line according to Tony Schiavonie

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The DDP character is pretty great at the moment in terms of how is story has been told in the last 6 months or whatever. DDP has been booked as a cocky, arrogant fella that always gets his comeuppance in the eyes of the fans. Let’s take one of the first things that happenED in this match. DDP argued with a fan and almost got rolled up for the win by JIM POWERS of all people.

How many times has DDP went to mock the fans or whatever and that led to his doom or almost his doom? He’s too cocky for his own good and that makes him such a good heel. However, if you watch how he’s been booked since Slamboree, they’ve clearly demonstrated that DDP can actually be a good wrestler when he has to be.

When DDP was in that Slamboree battle bowl battle royal, he took it to everyone and was kicking out of everything The Barbarian was throwing at him near the end of that mtch. He eventually fought back and got a big babyface win. Let’s be honest about this. DDP finally won in the end and the fans actually popped.

So the story is that DDP’s own ego is getting in the way of his own success. This isn’t like Disco Inferno’s character who thinks he is better than he actually is. DDP’s ego is getting in the way of him unlocking his full potential. So when he turns babyface, this could be something he can overcome to make him more likeable to the fans.

The match itself wasn’t much of a match. Jim Powers ran wild for a bit as DDP sold and sold for the babyface, then DDP did a back elbow and dropped Powers with the Diamond Cutter to a polite applause for the pin. It gives DDP another win and this slow build push for DDP I bet will have a massive pay-off when we get to him becoming a babyface.

 

They recapped the Taskmaster/Chris Benoit feud again. Benoit vs Taskmaster was now a falls count anywhere match for The Great American Bash. Mean Gene interviewed WCW US Champion Konnan who was defending the title against El Gato at the PPV.

 

Meng vs Sting

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I feel this is the appropriate time to bring this up based on a comment made by Larry Zybszko. Larry made some misogynist comments about blonde women when talking about Debra. It was the typical “the woman should stay at home” spiel and nothing anyone could possibly get away with saying in 2019. I bring it up because in December 2019, Lana recently accused CM Punk of making misogynist comment. I guess CM Punk called her “chica” when talking about her storyline with Rusev and Lashley on WWE Backstage show and she responded with the following:

“I know you’ve been away from WWE for several years. Perhaps moving forward, you will favor WWE and FS1 by refraining from misogynistic comments like ‘chica.’ Thank you.”

I’m not going to argue whether what Punk said was worse than what Larry said because I personally think it’s down to the individual what they actually perceive as offensive.  With that being said, I’m stunned. If what Punk said was considered “misogyny” by Lana, then I wonder what her thoughts would be on this stuff from Larry SPECIFICALLY AIMED AT BLONDE WOMEN at the start of this match.

Speaking of the match, Meng beat on Sting for a while. Sting hit a hard-hitting crossbody for a 2 count which the fans popped for. Meng tried a small package. Meng dropped Sting with a shoulder breaker. Sting cut off Meng with the Tongan going to the top rope. Sting locked on the Scorpion Deathlock and tapped out Meng for the win.

Not much of a match but for what it was, it was fun.

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Mean Gene was with Debra and Bobby Heenan, with the latter managing Ric Flair and Arn Anderson at the PPV. First of, Bobby claimed Debra had been talking to Flair all week. Debra corrected him insisting that she’d been not been talking to him all NIIIIIIGHT. She said “night” in such a way to hint that she hadn’t spoken to him all night but she had been speaking to him all day!

There was something about the way she said “night” where it didn’t come off as believable. Her tone of voice indicated that she was hiding something! Maybe I’m looking too much into this and this is not an accusation of any kind but she technically didn’t say she didn’t talk to him all week. She just said she hadn’t talked to him all night. If you watch the episode and listen to the tone of her voice, it didn’t seem sincere at all to me!

Debra walked into Flair’s locker room. Bobby slammed the door which led to Debra screaming and running out. Ric Flair jumped Joe Gomez and The Renegade, their opponents for that show, as Flair locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock on Gomez as Anderson put in the boots to him.

 

Squire Dave Taylor vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan

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Hacksaw ran wild with clothesline while Taylor sold like crazy. I’m over this Hacksaw Jim Duggan push that WCW have seemingly been up to. I’m not even sure if it’s a push because he doesn’t win a lot of matches on Nitro. However, there seems to be a strong intention to protect Duggan as much as they can. If you watched Slamboree, he beat three men by himself to single-handedly win a tag team match. Last week, he lost to Lord Steven Regal after being overcome by four men. Here, Duggan is back to getting his revenge of the New Bloods.

The finish was Duggan got the tape he’d been using in his matches and punched Taylor in the face with it and got the pin. Now, every time Duggan does this, he gets the tape when the referee isn’t looking like he’s cheating. He whips it out whenever the referee’s back is turned or there is some distraction. However, he uses it and wins his matches. For this match, the referee raised his hands with tape hanging out of Duggan’s hand to suggest that there is not problem with the tape as the referee didn’t question it. This begs the question, why bother trying to hide the tape from the ref if after the match if you’re just going to throw the tape up right in the view of the referee? This tape gimmick for Hacksaw Jim Duggan SUCKED.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Big Bubba and Jimmy Hart. I think it was Jimmy that said Shark didn’t pull his weight, so he’s not part of the Dungeon of Doom. Big Bubba said he proved to the whole world that The Shark was nothing but half a man. Basically Bubba said he was gonna sweep him into the sea or something. Bubba talked at an even faster pace than Jimmy Hart if you find that hard to believe.

 

The Giant © vs “The Flash” Scott Norton for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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Didn’t I say last week that the dynamite clock/firework thing for the second hour was going to annoy me? Well this week really rubbed me the wrong way. They have this dynamite clock that was counting down for a minute until the second hour started and the fireworks go off. For a solid minute, Norton is in the ring with his music playing as they’re waiting for this clock to tick down and the fireworks to go. A FULL MINUTE of Norton just in the ring STANDING THERE before the fireworks go off.

I had to sit there as a viewer to watch ONE MINUTE of NOTHING going on as we’re waiting for the bloody countdown. It’s not even like the fireworks could have went off during The Giant’s entrance. No, the fireworks go off after a minute for about 20 seconds and then The Giant slowly saunters down to the ring and we’ve got to wait for The Giant to get in the ring. This was wasting time to an absurd degree.

So what happened after all of this pomp and circumstance? Norton tried some forearms but Giant ran wild, doing a powerslam of all moves. Norton fired back with a few clotheslines in the corner. Giant cut him off with a big boot. Norton ran into the ring post. The Giant chokeslammed Norton on the floor and then pinned him. This entire match lasted 1 minute and 42 seconds. Norton waited longer than the time of the match to wait for a countdown, fireworks to go off and The Giant coming down ot the ring. Scott Norton had to have been so furious when he saw that on the script for this episode of Nitro!

Giant tried a further beat down. Luger tried to make the save but got thrown out of the ring. Giant delivered a big super kick which sent Luger flying. Giant tried a chokeslam through the table but Luger punted him in the balls to get out of it. Luger beat up The Giant with weapons as Hugh and Taskmaster come to Giant’s aid. Giant cried with agony and then cried with rage! Luger cut a promo at the announce booth. He said he’d proven the Giant can feel pain and he’d see The Giant at Great American Bash. Lex Luger was challenging The Giant for the title at the PPV. This was a decent go-home show angle for The Great American Bash although there was more to come.

 

Billy Kidman vs Lord Steven Regal

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I understand that this match got less than a minute of time, but Billy Kidman worked at a ridiculously fast paced to get a whole bunch of spots in. This was for a match lasting LESS THAN ONE MINUTE. This was his first WCW Nitro appearance so I understand wanting to stand-out but he worked at 500 miles an hour. He did 5000 moves and I was begging for him to slow down. This put Dolph Ziggler to shame in terms of going too fast. He actually physically looked like his future tag team partner Paul London. He looked so tiny for this match that Regal actually looked massive in comparison.

Kidman dropkicked Regal in the back of the head. Kidman missed a 450 splash I think and landed on his knees. Regal locked on a Liontamer-like Boston Crab for the win. The fact that this match got a minute was actually appalling to me knowing how much time Scott Norton wasted waiting for a countdown clock and fireworks. There’s also a match that got too much time which we’ll get to.

Sting came out for the save and slapped Regal in response to the slap of doom from a few weeks ago on WCW Main Event.

 

“The Nasty Boys” Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags vs “Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock

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These four geeks are lucky that the Hardwork Bobby Walker vs Brad Armstrong match from a few weeks ago existed. If that didn’t happen, this would have easily been the worst match in Nitro history. I’m done these two teams wrestling each other over an over again. Calling this wrestling is even stretching it. I’m done with the blatant and uncalled for weapon shots to the head. I’m doing with the pointless brawling. I’m done with the lack of psychology. I am done with this second-hand garbage wrestling.

At least if this was ECW, this “garbage” wrestling or hardcore wrestling would have been more entertaining. This was not entertaining in the slightest. This sucked. They all brawled with each other as the bell didn’t even ring.

In the previous 20 minutes of the show or whatever, they tried to pack in so many things in the space of a few minutes for each match/segment. There was a run-in after The Giant match and there was a run-in after the Regal match. They gave these two tag teams about 15 minutes when you take into consideration the entrances and the post-match stuff and they did… nothing. They did nothing compelling. They did nothing but brawl with each other and I just started to think that this show sucked.

They fought. Nothing eventful happened. Rocco and Sags had an absolutely shocking brawl on the outside. Knobbs hit a middle rope clothesline which never really looked pretty, although I appreciate the effort from Knobbs. Knobbs seemed to be a wrestler who actually tried to get something out of nothing although he was never quite able to do it. Fair play to him for trying but even he couldn’t save this match.

The Nasty Boys beat up Grunge in the corner. I had no idea who the babyfaces or who the heels were in this rivalry. Sags did a double clothesline to Public Enemy. This put AEW to shame in terms of having wrestlers illegally being in the ring during a tag match but at least AEW had rules that allowed for a bit more time in the ring to do certain spots. These teams are just in the ring doing whatever and the referee did nothing about it.

Knobbs and Rocco tumbled to the floor. Bischoff called this tag match “no pretty” which had to have been the understatement of 1996.  Rocco brought out a trash can but Knobbs cut him off. Sags did a pumphandle drop.

Rocco went for a move from the top but Sags used the trash can and the referee called for the bell to finally end this match. Before we could all move on, I must talk about Knobbs again. I have no idea why he did this but Knobbs took the time after the match to launch a trash can lid at Rocco right on the top of the head SO HARD. Rocco’s back was turned and Knobbs threw this lid at his head so he didn’t know what was coming. This was not light. He threw it so hard and with such a force that I can’t imagine this being done other than to hurt Rocco legitimately. Other than that, why else did Knobbs think that was necessary?

The second worst match in Nitro history up until this point. It’s not even like the fans were going nuts for this as they booed the finish.

 

We got more Mongo and Kevin Greene stuff as “Macho Man” Randy Savage came down to wherever they were training to coach them. RANDY SAVAGE told Kevin Greene not to be too intense. Of all of the people in WCW to tell Kevin Greene not to be too intense, it’s the Macho Man? The guy who was too crazy that he was banned at the time from wrestling because he went crazy! I found that line hilarious.

 

Lex Luger and Sting vs Ric Flair and Arn Anderson

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Luger and Sting were replacing Gomez and Renegade. Apparently this was for the tag titles as the referee showed them off to the camera like he usually did. I thought Sting and Luger were just replacing Gomez and Renegade. When did it become a title match?

Ric chopped at Luger but Luger fired back and did a big Gorilla Press slam. Luger sent Ric and Arn packing. Sting and Luger beat up Ric all over the place. I love how Arn stopped himself from crashing into the corner. After this he then pointed to his brain and bragged about how smart he was, and then Sting just punched him in the face! I love that spot! Again, Arn is too cocky for his good just like DDP was earlier.

Arn and Ric sold and sold for the babyfaces all over the place. If you take every Sting vs Ric Flair match and added Lex Luger acting like Sting and Arn Anderson acting like Ric Flair, that’s what you got here. Two Stings vs Two Ric Flairs in a tag team match!

Arn called for a time-out as the heels re-grouped. This match was also very similar to every Arn and Ric tag match in the last 3 weeks. There’s not a lot to say about this other than it went exactly as you’d figure Sting and Luger vs Arn and Ric would go down.

Arn wore down Sting and Sting sold and sold for a long time. I love that Bobby tried to bribe Bischoff with $50 to go down to the ring to help Arn and Ric! Luger got the hot tag and ran wild. The Giant came down and Luger fought him as the ref rang for the bell.

Scott Steiner ran down and beat up Giant with a chair, It was three on one again with Sting, Luger and Scott battling the monster as The Giant still wanted some more but Jimmy called him off. Giant screamed on the mic that Luger was a dead man and promised Luger was going out on a stretcher at the PPV.

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Bobby yelled at Savage at the end of the show but got cut off and ran way from Scott Hall, who made his way over to Bischoff again. Eric grabbed the mic and said he didn’t want any trouble. Eric then eventually changed his tune. He gets a little confident and said Hall came out last week and said he had a big surprise so where was it? He said he heard a lot of talk but where was the walk?

So as Eric attempted to call Hall’s “bluff”, the big surprise appears from behind Eric Bischoff. The big surprise is revealed as Kevin Nash, formerly Diesel in the WWF. Nash cut a promo on Bischoff saying that Eric had been sitting out for six months running his mouth. Kevin Nash then said the following: “This is where the big boys play huh? Look at the adjective, play. We ain’t here to play.” Not the adverb play… THE ADJECTIVE play!

Nash said Hall was gonna bring someone out here and he’s here. He said WCW still doesn’t have their 3 people because they’re all afraid to face them. Nash suggested that they get a couple of palaeontologists to clean up these “fossils”. He asked: “WHERE’S HOGAN? Doing Blunder in Paradise?” Out all of the people he could have called out first, he called out Hogan? That is very interesting when you say where this storyline goes.

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Eric said he didn’t have the authority but he’ll be at WCW Headquarters in Atlanta to try and arrange something. Nash said the measuring stick just got changed around here and they were looking at it. Nash and Hall then left.

Other than the infamous adjective line, Kevin Nash cut a hell of a promo. Nash basically told Eric that we’re not playing around and things are changing around here in WCW. He cut a way better promo than Hall cut a few weeks ago. They said they were gonna be at the Great American Bash so again, more reason to watch the PPV.

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This was a bad Nitro to me. This was not as bad as the Nitro from two weeks ago but I was done with this show as soon as they got to the Public Enemy vs Nasty Boys match. The time management was spot on last week but it was all over the place this week. Why did Public Enemy and Nasty Boys get more time than anybody? Why did Regal vs Kidman get a minute? Why did Scott Norton stand in the ring for about two minutes to have a match that lasted less than two minutes.

I will say that this month they did a better job in building up the upcoming PPV which is the next show in the series. They had a stacked card for The Great American Bash:

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I’ve actually been told that this is actually a great PPV so I am very much looking forward to watching this PPV. There will be a full review of the Great American Bash 1996 here on the Armbar Express. Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly and updates whenever Retro Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I appreciate you taking the time to read this review and we hope you enjoy more of the content from the Armbar Express.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #38 (JUNE 3RD 1996) – RIC FLAIR AND ARN ANDERSON VS THE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL EXPRESS

Welcome to the Retro Express. This is where we’re taking a stroll down memory lane at wrestling history. This post is part of an ongoing series where we’re reviewing every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this post. We hope you enjoy.

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Last week we finally got the debut of the “outsider” himself Scott Hall to WCW television, as he interrupted the exhilarating Steve Doll vs Mauler match to declare war on WCW and “Billionaire Ted.” He re-appeared later on in the show to challenge WCW to a three on three six man tag team match, leaving the fans in the dark about who his allies are and leaving Eric Bischoff flustered and in disarray.

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In the follow-up episode of the famous Scott Hall invasion angle, I think WCW upped their game. Last week was miserable with some of worst matches we’ve seen in the entire series and an underwhelming vibe minus the Scott Hall segment. This week, it was a massive improvement.

It felt like there was more of a point to a lot of the matches they put on, we had some funny segments, some compelling television and we got a big cliffhanger at the end of the show which tied into last week’s big angle.

Mostly, it felt like they got the pacing way better this week with the two hour wrestling show. It was way better than last week’s two hour wrestling show. It felt less of a chore to watch it and the show went by quicker than it did last week.

 

Date: June 3rd 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Asheville, North Carolina

Rating: 3

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan

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This show got off to a flyer in my eyes! This opening promo from The Shark fit right into the “so bad it’s good” category of wrestling. Mean Gene was interviewing The Shark right before a match with Big Bubba, who cut Shark’s hair last week. Shark told the production team to cut the music which Mean Gene Okerlund dubbed the order of Shark! Big Bubba was shown in the ring and still kept the hair with him that he cut off The Shark last week.

Then the Shark cut this promo. He said he’s not shaving the other half of his hair and mentioned that he was embarrassed of the failure by his neighbours and other people making fun of him. He was embarrassed but despite this, he still kept his hair in the state that it was anyway? That seemed like weird motivation for the babyface.

The Shark yells the following: “I’M NOT THE SHARK, I’M NOT A FISH, I’M NOT AN AVALANCHE, I’M A MAN” as he declares himself JOHN TENTA! He rid himself of the Shark gimmick by declaring himself a man! This was very much the WCW version of Pinocchio! Tenta promised he would shave the hair of The Giant and he would feel what Tenta felt last week.

 

John Tenta vs Big Bubba w/Jimmy Hart

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I went through the trouble of making notes for this match but really, it does no justice to the level of incompetence of this match. It was one of the most bizarre refereeing in the history of wrestling refereeing. John Tenta runs wild on Bubba and hits a big powerbomb. Tenta then grabs a pair of scissors and charges Bubba with the scissors. First of all, he made a great mistake in running with scissors. Secondly, Tenta is threatening someone with scissors and referee Nick Patrick does absolutely nothing about this. HE JUST STANDS THERE. Larry Zbyszko is rightfully saying that Tenta should be DQ’d and he has a go at Nick Patrick.

Big Bubba runs to the outside of the ring and won’t get back in because this mad man John Tenta is in the ring with scissors and coming for him. NICK PATRICK then starts counting out BIG BUBBA. He doesn’t DQ Tenta for having a weapon, he doesn’t even yell at Tenta or try to get the scissors out of his hand. He counts out his opponent, who is fearing for his life, and awards the match to John Tenta. WHAT?

This was some of the worst officiating in a wrestling match I’ve seen in a long time. What happened at the Doomsday Cage match, that didn’t have any established rules in the first place so I wouldn’t really consider that. Nick Patrick condemned Big Bubba for running away from a big guy with a grudge and scissors and awarded the match to Tenta. This would be like if Tenta had brought a gun into the ring and aimed at Bubba. Would Patrick still be counting out Bubba in that scenario? Jeez Louise!

 

 

“High Voltage” Ruckus and Kaos vs “Faces of Fear” Meng and The Barbarian

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This was a fantastic squash match. They bring in High Voltage from the WCW Power Plant and effectively fed them to the Faces of Fear. The Faces of Fear were heels but they were beloved by the fans as they beat the tar out of these two geeks. This was a fabulous squash match.

They lock up and Barbarian smashes away at Kaos.  High Voltage take over briefly with a double hip toss and shoulder tackle. Then the Faces of Fear proceed to beat High Voltage’s collective arses for the rest of this match.

Barbarian hit a powerbomb and the fans went NUTS for this powerbomb. The more this team of savages murderws High Voltage, the louder and louder the fans got for the Faces of Fear. The fans loved Faces of Fear as they took control against the babyfaces. Barbarian drops Ruckus with a pumphandle drop

Barbarian sent Ruckus crashing to the floor with his top rope belly to belly suplex and the fans were in full appreciation. He went up for the move and the fans start to buzz, he delivered the move and the fans went crazy. It was amazing to witness. The heels deliver a double headbutt. Meng throws Kaos’ arse out of the ring as Meng hits the Mafia Kick for the win.

This was an awesome squash. High Voltage were so unimpressive but the Faces of Fear looked so awesome and they were over with the crowd. This gets a HUGE thumbs up. This was fun to watch!

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Mean Gene interviewed Sting and Lex Luger. Luger said things got out of hand last week as the Scott Steiner vs Sting match resulted in a big brawl for the DQ. You see, things got out of hand so the referee threw the match out. Unlike Nick Patrick, who apparently thought running around with scissors was OK.

Luger claimed the Steiners attacked him two on one. He said he’s always painted as the bad guy but hopefully cooler heads would prevail. Sting correctly mentioned the suplex that Luger broke up last week which he knew would be the Steiners’ defence. Luger said we’re all very competitive but insisted he was being a friend.

The Steiners interrupted the interview. Rick was mad that Luger took a cheap shot at Scott but Luger was mad that Scott was trying to hurt Sting on the floor with a suplex. Rick yells “he was trying to win!” and Luger responded “on the floor?” It was such a great argument!

Scott Steiner gets involved and pointed at Luger. They warn him not to stick his nose in. Scott was cutting this promo and all I heard was the future Big Poppa Pump. I realise Scott Steiner and Big Poppa Pump were the same person, but this promo felt more like one of his promos that he would be cutting in the later years as a heel and with TNA. It was surreal to listen to. Scott was all yelling and angry at the other guys.

Sting admitted that if his friend was in the same spot he may have had to intervene. Luger pushed Scott I believe which led to a big shoving match between the teams as Mean Gene lost it and threatened to not interview them anymore! I thought this was a legitimately compelling segment. The intensity was there, all four guys, even Luger, made valid points. They were all compelling and it made you wanna watch these teams go at it later. This is how you build up to a main-event tag team match. This gets two thumbs up!

 

Disco Inferno vs Sgt. Craig Pittman w/Teddy Long

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I may have to take away one of those thumbs up for this match. This match was no-good and as soon as Disco failed do an arm drag, you knew there was trouble. That was the first move of the match and it looked sloppy as hell.

Pittman manhandled Disco, throwing him arse all over the place and slamming him with a powerbomb. Disco’s punch to the face was no-sold by Pittman. Pittman then went for Code Red Armbar but Disco gave up up before the move was applied. Disco explained he wouldn’t be able to dance if Pittman broke his arm so he quit. Nothing like a wrestler who cares little about actually wrestling and more about dancing. Way to go Disco Inferno….

This sucked.

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It is now time for me to talk about a segment that didn’t actually take place on Nitro but they showed replays of it during the show. It’s actually available on YouTube to see. Remember when Steven Regal challenged Sting last week? Well on WCW Main Event, they did a press conference. I watched this segment like 2-3 weeks ago and I thought it was one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen. They showed it again twice during this show and I laughed each time!

Regal ended the contract signing saying something like he’s gonna make an example of Sting so WCW doesn’t overlook him anymore. He turned his back to Sting and Sting goes to grab him. He pushes him in the back. So Regal takes one lunge forward and delivers the greatest backhand slap I’ve ever seen. He slapped Sting right in the face and the sound was so loud in the confides of this small room that they’re having this contract signing in.

This slap must have hurt so hard they not only did they bleep what Sting said afterwards, they blurred his face too! I rewatched this about 50 times when I first saw it. I found the GIF and sent it to everyone I could find. It was the most brilliant slap you’ll ever see. People like Bully Ray and Pentagon Jr do these big slaps all of the time but I’ve seen few people in the world of wrestling do a slap like this right across the face. When I saw it again, I loved it.

That slap alone was perfect build for their match at The Great American Bash. Regal slapped Sting during this contract signing and it was so hard, Sting swore so much that it blurred his face! Sting was all kinds of pissed off about this slap. I cannot wait to watch their match at The Great American Bash.

I watched it again on YouTube and someone commented that Sting deserved the slap as he didn’t wear a shirt and a tie to a contract signing! I laughed at that.

 

Lord Steven Regal vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan

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The fans went nuts with USA chants as Hacksaw Jim Duggan egged them off and Regal was disgusted by this act of patriotism! I love how Larry claimed Regal backing away from Duggan was psychological warfare… after weeks of listening to Bobby Heenan finding 1001 ways to call Jim Duggan stupid on commentary! We’ll get to Bobby later.

Hacksaw ran wild on Regal and Regal had a good snap in the selling of the clotheslines Hacksaw delivered. Hacksaw ran wild with punches in bunches. Regal booted Duggan right in the face to take control, with Regal’s face showing such displeasure in the USA chants!

Regal went for a rolling senton but Duggan avoided it. Duggan ran wild as the Blue Bloods try to get involved. Dave Taylor intercepted the 2×4 and Regal rolled up Duggan off the distraction for the win.

The right man won here but again, they did everything in their power to protect Hacksaw Jim Duggan. This was exactly like Slamboree when they felt the need to have Duggan overcome three men by himself! If you’ll recall, one of those men was Steven Regal! Here, he lost to Regal as he should have done, but he was fighting off four men before Regal eventually beat him. Just have Regal kick his arse and send him packing as yes, Regal’s got a big match with Sting at the pay-per-view.

The match was OK but the booking infuriated me!

 

Mean Gene interviewed Regal and the Blue Bloods. Regal said he got a fine for the slap of doom which was a fine more than the peasants in the arena would make in a year. He paid double in fine so he’s in credit! They showed the clip again from WCW Main Event. Regal called out Sting for not loving anyone except himself. He said he wanted the Stinger at his best. He wanted Sting to be mean, nasty and rude. He wanted to beat Sting in the ring which Regal himself called his home. This was a solid Regal promo and an excellent way to hype up him vs Sting. He wanted the very best of Sting and he slapped him as he wanted Sting to be the meanest, nastiest and rudest he’s ever been so he could beat Sting at his best. This was superb promotion for a wrestling match.

 

They showed clips from WCW Saturday Night in the last month where Chris Benoit and “The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan kept arguing, with Benoit questioning Arn Anderson’s trust in Sullivan. Kevin Sullivan vowed to squash the serpent Benoit at Great American Bash as he figured Benoit wanted to be the enforcer of the Horseman instead of Arn. I do like that with the extra hour, they found the time to air important clips from these other shows as a means to advance my interest in those programs and storylines.

 

“The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan w/Jimmy Hart vs Prince Iaukea

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Again, this was another simple squash  match. Taskmaster went in there and beat the ever-living daylights out of the newcomer Prince Iaukea. He slammed him on the guard rail, he slapped the hell out of him as the prince got no offense at all to my knowledge. Taskmaster hit a double foot stomp and got the pin with a move I totally forgot was his finisher!

I love that this show had a lot more squash matches than we’d previously seen. Remember last week where I got so mad at the Lex Luger vs Maxx match where I said they should have just had Luger hit a bunch of clotheslines and lock on the Torture Rack to beat the guy. Taskmaster was shown here to not be playing around. He went in there, beat the Prince’s arse and won. Give me guys beating other guys to build them up strong for other matches! I realise this is a foreign concept to a lot of companies in 2019 but look at how well it did for Faces of Fear earlier on in the night.

Mean Gene interviewed Jimmy Hart and Taskmaster. Jimmy asked Taskmaster why they have to associate themselves with the Horsemen? After all, they’ve got The Giant and the WCW World title so Jimmy’s asking why they should need them. Taskmaster said two wars are going on in WCW as Hulkamania is not dead. He warned Hogan would be coming back for The Giant, Jimmy Hart and Taskmaster. Taskmaster said the only two people he respected in the wrestling business were Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. He mentioned that he told Arn about Brian Pillman. He called Pilman a quitter. He said he knows serpents and the way you get rid of the serpent is to crush the egg. He said he’s gonna get rid of Benoit in order for the Dungeon to get rid of Hogan.

 

Ric Flair and Arn Anderson w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth vs “The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express” Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson

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They mentioned earlier on in the show that Flair and Anderson were going to be facing the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express and I initially thought Tony Schiavonie had just fluffed up his words a little and they meant… the American Males or some other tag team. Well as it turned out, it was RIC FLAIR AND ARN ANDERSON VS RICKY MORTON AND ROBERT GIBSON on an episode of Nitro. During the year where the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express are making their big return in NJPW and AEW, I watched a Nitro from 1996 with these guys wrestling Flair and Anderson.

They then proceed to have a solid 18 minute tag team match. I understand this was not the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express in their prime but they had a damn decent showing in there with Flair and Anderson. Flair and Arn came out in NFL tops to mock Kevin Greene and Steve “Mongo” McMichael ahead of their match at The Great American Bash. Oh we’ll get to that later.

There was a dynamite timer on the clock as things were gonna literally explode as they were about to go into the second hour. They begin to wrestle. Conveniently at the moment they stop doing anything in the ring, fireworks went off like crazy to mark the beginning of the second hour. These fireworks were massive for celebrating THE SECOND HOUR OF A WRESTLING SHOW of all things! You could tell this company had a lot of money to blow at this point in their existence. This is gonna annoy the hell out of me in the new few weeks isn’t it?

Ric and Ricky started going nuts, throwing hands back and forth as they battled. It was like the battles of The Rock and Stone Cold when they threw these wild punches at each other. The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express took control as Woman and Miss Elizabeth drunk champagne by Ric’s fancy table set-up.

Robert locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock to thunderous applause from the fans. Then Ricky got Arn on the Figure Four Leg Lock of his own and the fans lost their minds at the sight of the double Figure Four Leg Lock by the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express. It’s insane how crazy these fans got for this spot. Even when Hogan would do his horrific Figure Four Leg Locks, the fans wouldn’t go NEARLY as batshit insane as they did here.

The ref pushed Ric around and Ric lost his mind as he and Arn re-grouped on the entrance ramp.  Ricky ran wild on Arn for a bit. I love how Ric voluntarily tagged himself into the match and then begged of Ricky Morton right away! He wanted to tag himself into the match but he wanted no business with Ricky Morton!

Ric took control with an eye poke. Ricky turned things around for a while but Ric quickly turned it back around in his favour by evading a charge into the corner and chopping Morton down. Arn worked on the arm of Ricky, utilising under-handed tactics by grabbing Flair’s arm at any opportunity he could. As the ref would turn around to try and catch them, Ric would just start strutting on the apron! This was great stuff from Flair!

Arn hit a great spinebuster on Ricky but Gibson broke it up. Ric did a suplex and hurt himself in the process… which was weird to me. Arn slowed it down by wrenching on the head of Ricky. Ricky worked his way to his feet and got a sleeper hold locked in out of nowhere, to which Arn turned that into a back suplex. Ric went for a Figure Four Leg Lock but Ricky reversed it into a small package. Ricky and Ric battled for a sunset flip spot.

Arn went for a front face lock and the fans expected the DDT from the Enforcer. Bobby Heenan left the booth and talked to the girls, as the announcers talked about Heenan possibly managing the heels at the PPV. Arn and Ricky bonked into each other as Bobby walked away with a smile on his face.

Ricky went through the legs of Arn and got the tag to Robert. Robert Gibson ran wild. The fans were surprisingly quiet for this which I’m wondering had something to do with the heat segment. I think the heels got the heat for possibly too long as the fans started zoning out possibly. After all, this was an 18 minute match on Nitro, which they weren’t used as discussed last week.

They did a double drop kick on Flair and Arn but then Woman raked the eyes of Robert as the referee was distracted. Arn hit the DDT for the win.

Slow in parts but a good tag match. I very much enjoyed it. I enjoyed seeing the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express as they held their own with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson in this match. In the end, the heels had to cheat to win and this was fun to watch. This gets a thumbs up too!

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Mean Gene interviewed the heels. Arn said he was too big and thick to play football as earlier on in the show, he couldn’t get his jersey off over his head! That I laughed at. Arn said they’re tougher and they’re way too big. Ric talked about Mongo’s wife Debra again and claimed the jerseys were from her. Ric said they were bigger, faster, sleeker and they were all night long as Ric smooched all over Woman. The Coup de grace, as Ric put it, was Bobby Heenan as Bobby came back on screen. Mean Gene suggested chicanery.

Bobby said everyone had asked him to be a manager again, which was actually shown to be true if you remember the Sgt. Pittman angle from months ago when Pittman asked Heenan to be his manager. However, Heenan said he was never gonna be manager again and was going to stay true to his word. Ric was devastated as Ric went: “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE GIRLS?” I was overcome with laughter!

Bobby then grabbed an All-Madden trophy which he got as he was listed as a coach. He said he’d never manage but he didn’t say anything about being a coach. He agreed to coach the heels. Heenan said he’d show the NFL players what coaching means. He said The Brain was back coaching and the fans popped for this. They all celebrated with champagne. I thought this was a great segment.

What was spectacular about this was Heenan cut this great promo about the NFL and he was coming back to show up these NFL players in the confides of a wrestling ring. Arn, Ric and Bobby are all talking about how wrestlers were tougher and better all around and the fans are loving all of this, even from these heels that have been hated for years by the majority of fans! They were defending wrestling, in front  a wrestling crowd, and the fans ate it up! Bobby essentially cut a babyface promo in their eyes!

Bobby reiterated when he got back to the announce booth that this was a one-time thing and planned to teach the NFL that you can’t walk over wrestling.

 

There was another Hulk Hogan video package of him whooping arse to his own theme song. I’m pretty sure there was two Hogan video packages during this episode. They showed us how he was all about the red, white and blue and he was portrayed as such a hero to his fans. I’m wondering what the point of this was, other than to remind us that they still have Hulk Hogan. I figured there was no point to these video packages. It turned out there was a point as we’ll get to The Giant’s promo later.

 

The Giant (c) vs Ice Train for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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The Giant had another title defence on Nitro, this time with Ice Train. I don’t remember ever seeing Ice Train win on Nitro yet but here he is in a title match. Anyway, I was still excited to see him as he and The Giant had this big staredown before the bell rang.

This match went 29 seconds as Ice Train got tripped by Jimmy Hart and pinned by The Giant off a chokeslam. Those were the two things that happened in this match. Ice Train came off as the biggest geek this week.

Then Ice Train’s partner Scott Norton got in the ring. He got mad at The Giant and then he got chokeslammed twice and laid out like a geek too. They mentioned that Fire and Ice are facing The Steiner Brothers at The Great American Bash. You built that match up by having The Giant destroy one of those teams by himself? Jeez Louise.

The Giant then cut a promo on Hulk Hogan. He was sick of Hulk Hogan’s video packages as mentioned earlier. He was sick of him as Hogan was not here. Giant said Luger almost got between him and Jimmy but not quite. He told Luger to come get some as Lex Luger was challenging The Giant for the title at The Great American Bash.

 

Scott Norton vs Hugh Morrus

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Norton is still laid out on the mat after Giant chokeslammed him twice and is being attended to. The announcers explained Norton was supposed to face Hugh Morrus next. Hugh came down and dropped a leg drop on him.

The bell didn’t even ring. There was no effort to stop this by referee Nick Patrick. As far as I could tell, there was no bell so there was no official start to the match! Morrus put his finger on Norton and the referee makes the 2 count. Hugh does three elbow drops. Then the referee suddenly doesn’t wanna do the count… WHAT? It wasn’t like Nick was prompted or threatened by Hugh Morrus to do the count the first time. Now all of a sudden, he doesn’t want to make the count? This is ridiculous.

So this “match” goes on. Hugh Morrus goes for a moonsault. Norton gets up. He was supposed to catch Morrus, but he’s unable to do so. Morrus falls to the ground, Norton punches him a few times and picks up a weird win in a match, that wasn’t even a match. This was a horrific mess.

Hugh Morrus came off as a massive geek too after this match was over. Scott Norton was FLAT ON HIS BACK when this match started. Morrus does a few elbow drops and after a botched moonsault spot, he gets punched in the face a few times and pinned.

Hugh Morrus was at least was a heel, so him being cocky and losing a match he should have had no problem winning was not that big of a deal. It’s fine, in most cases, for a heel to be a geek. On the other hand, Ice Train was a babyface set to have a big match at the pay-per-view and he was tripped and pinned in less than 30 seconds.

However, in the space of about 10 minutes, they buried 3 guys. They buried Ice Train for getting tripped and pinned like a loser, they buried Scott Norton for getting laid out by The Giant and then Hugh Morrus got buried for losing a match to a man who started the match on his back!

GEEK OF THE WEEK – Ice Train for getting tripped, chokeslammed and pinned in 30 seconds

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Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Kevin Greene were shown training. This was my personal favourite moment this week. The Regal slap will be an all-time favourite moment of mine but technically that happened on a different show. This video package of the NFL players training for their match with Flair and Anderson was so bad and goofy, it was tremendous. The NFL players took bumps in the ring, bragging about how tough they were while also whining about the ropes!

They cut to scene where they have a whiteboard and talk about the game plan. Greene’s plan was to treat this match as they were American Football players wanting Mongo to come in with a crossbody block! Greene has basically got a ring drawn up as it’s like the NFL play sheet or whatever. He mentioned something about wanting Mongo to penetrate the area or something and I figured maybe I misheard him saying penetrate. It was clear by the end that I didn’t mishear anything!

Greene is eating beef jerky during this as Mongo explained that thi iss wrestling not American football. Mongo said he should want to rip their head of as he ripped up a can, which I missed the first time watching it. I did watch this segment more than once by the way! Mongo talked about their finishers and avoiding them which was a great plan. In a wrestling match, you should avoid wrestler’s hitting their finishers. No shit?

Greene fired back and insisted that they’ve gotta penetrate them, they’ve gotta penetrate them. He was so excited to say penetrate as loud as he could. I laughed out loud big time. I was hysterical listening to Greene get all excited about penetrating Flair and Anderson. I’ve never cracked up many times watching a WCW but I was in bits during this segment. Greene is bouncing up and down on the chair and everything! He’s so into this wrestling business!

They both decide that there’s going to be a difference in opinion so they wanted to get Randy Savage as a coach since Savage can’t wrestle anymore. They got excited as they went to find him. This was so goofy but I found it hilarious.

If you have the WWE Network, find this segment on the Network and watch it. It was goofy and stupid but it was magnificent in execution. I was hoping the next segment next week would be them looking for Randy Savage, getting him to coach them. I was hoping for like a Empire Strikes Back/Crocodile Dundee mash-up where they’re looking for him! It appears we won’t get that due to the later segment of Savage ringing up on Nitro, which we’ll get to.

 

Sting © and Lex Luger © vs The Steiner Brothers for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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I was still trying to recover from that previous segment as the tag teams came down for this match.

As mentioned, the announcers were able to get “Macho Man” Randy Savage on the phone. Macho Man said he can’t wrestle on TV or PPV but he said he’s able to coach and agreed to be the NFL players’ coach. Scott did an awesome titlt-a-whirl slam as Savage cut this promo on Heenan.

Sting slammed Scott with a big bulldog as Heenan begged for his life on the phone! Savage said they’re gonna eat them all up and there’s nothing they can do that. Heenan got so flustered that he was shown hitting himself in the face with the headset!

Rick worked on the arm of Luger as they came back from the break. Sting ran wild, hit a Stinger Splash and locked on the Scorpion Death Lock but Scott cut him off with a Steinerline clothesline. Luger and Scott pushed each other away. Scott hit a big belly-to-belly suplex. Scott sent Sting flying with a Frankensteiner. Luger broke it up and punched away at Scott.

Sting reversed a suplex into a Scorpion Death Drop on Scott Steiner just like last week. Luger got the tag and hit a powerslam. He went for the Torture Rack but Rick broke it up. Luger raked the eyes and HE tried to suplex Scott on the outside this week but Rick broke it up. So of all of Luger’s talk this week about what a under-handed thing it was for Scott to try the suplex on the outside, Luger himself tried it this time! I do love certain storyline aspects of this show!

Sting eventually brawled with Rick, as it broke into a four way brawl. Sting tried to piledrive Rick on the floor but Rick reversed. The Giant came down and hit the worst chokeslam in the world where he reared back and got Rick in the air, getting his knee up for the slam. He came down, lost his footing and they both just fell down.

Giant went for Luger as the referee called for the bell. Luger punched away at The Giant and fired away as the fans went nuts. Scott, Sting and Luger then all went after Giant in the ring as they tripled-teamed the big man as the fans went bonkers for all of this. Giant got mad and threw a chair into the ring. I actually really liked this. A big good feel moment and the fans were really into this post-match segment.

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Bobby physically begged to Savage for him to show mercy and even offered dinner when Scott Hall came back this week. Hall pushed Bischoff back down to his chair. Hall got the mic. Hall said he had such a good time last week that he came back for more. Hall said Bischoff started it and he said again, they started it but “we’re” gonna finish it. Sting stepped up to Hall. I love that although Sting is feuding with the likes of the Steiner Brothers, Lord Steven Regal, Ric Flair and The Giant all at once, he still stepped up to Scott Hall when he was confronting Bischoff! A true hero!

Bischoff told Sting not the dignify Hall. Sting said Hall said really horrible things about WCW… did he though? I mean Hall made fun of some wrestlers but he just said that Bischoff was talking trash about the competition so they were bringing a war. He says Hall’s in the jungle. Sting mentioned that Hall wanted three of the best but all Sting saw was Hall so HE challenged him to a match. Hall said nobody told him what to do and when to do it. He threw a tooth pick at Sting and Sting slapped him. Hall said he had a big surprise for him next week as the police separated him.

What I loved about this segment was they were careful not to overexposure Hall. He came out and talked to Bischoff and they built up tension between him and Sting. He wasn’t all over the show and showed up at the very end, to tease a “big surprise” for the next show, encouraging the fans to tune in and see what it was.

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This was fabulous episode of Nitro in my eyes. It wasn’t a technically good show with the wrestling, minus the tag team match with the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express. They did some awesome squash matches, they did great angles up and down the show, they built up the pay-per-view superbly well in general. This really got me excited to see what was to come. Obviously, we all know what the big surprise was next week. If by chance you don’t know, I won’t spoil it. However, this was fun to watch and I enjoyed myself watching it.

Next week, we get Scott Hall’s “big surprise” and the Armbar Express will be back with more reviews of WCW Nitro. Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly and updates whenever Retro Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I appriciate you taking the time to read this review and we hope you enjoy more of the content from the Armbar Express.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #37 (MAY 27TH 1996) – “THE OUTSIDER” SCOTT HALL INVADES WCW NITRO

Welcome to the Retro Express. This is where we’re taking a stroll down memory lane at wrestling history. This post is part of an ongoing series where we’re reviewing every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this post. We hope you enjoy.

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It is entirely possible that the episode of WCW Nitro I’m about to review could be the most famous episode of WCW Nitro ever. It was easily one of the most historically significant episodes in wrestling history. It was the first two-hour episode of Monday Nitro which is significant in its own right. Along with that, we had one of the most game-changing angles in not only the Monday Night Wars but in the history of wrestling. In the first hour, we saw the debut of a wrestler that started a “war” and it just felt like a switch was turned in my brain about this show.

We’ve reviewed episodes of Nitro where The Dungeon of Doom tried to destroy Hulkamania, The Giant was cutting goofy promos about eating people and it was just as much as corny as the “golden age” of the WWF. That’s not to say that the last 36 episodes have been terrible or makes wrestling embarrassing to watch, but it felt like a completely different ball-game compared to what’s going to be in store for us. As soon as a certain angle took place, it just felt like a different show.

With that being said… this was such a horrible wrestling show. A lot of the one hour episodes of Nitro have been at least decent and obviously only watching one hour is an advantage. We got another hour of wrestling but even still, this show had some of the most dirt worst wrestling you’ve ever seen. We got three matches in a row which felt like the worst back-to-back combination of matches in a wrestling show throughout the ages. Everything else felt like it was just there… with the obvious exception of a certain angle.

While we’re on the subject of that angle, even that angle didn’t age well in terms of the quality. It seemed to just come out of nowhere and if it weren’t for the significance of it and who was involved at the time, this segment would not be revered as legendary as it has been over the years.

Let’s get to this review…

 

Date: May 27th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Macon, Georgia

Rating: 2.8

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan

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Yes, you read that correctly. We are in the era of multiple announcers across one episode of wrestling. Tony Schiavonie called the first hour with Larry Zbyszko and the usual commentary team of Bischoff and Heenan called the second hour.

As convoluted as this may sounds, this was a more practical use of certain announcers. If you watch RAW or even certain pay-per-views, the announcers are calling three hour or even five hours of wrestling without any breaks in-between. Therefore, they get exhausted throughout the show and the fire is just not there for the big main-event matches later on.

The four announcers here for Nitro were all excitable for the hour they had to call and they had a lot more life to them. At least this, for now, prevented the tiring of announcers over the course of the show.

 

“American Males” Marcus Bagwell and Scotty Riggs vs Ric Flair and Arn Anderson w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth

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A very basic but effective little tag team match. However, this was not quite as effective as Miss Elizabeth was at blowing me away with her green dress as she came down with Ric Flair. She looked absolutely stunning walking down to the ring with the Nature Boy.

Larry Zybsko buried NFL players on commentary for some reason, which is a weird way to promote two NFL players battling Ric Flair and Arn Anderson in a big tag team match at the next pay-per-view. We’ll get to that later.

This was very much a battle between quick youngsters versus methodical, dirty veterans. Ric and Arn double-teamed Riggs on the outside. Ric and Arn punched them, chopped them and poked at them all over the place. The American Males took over. Bagwell ran wild on Flair as it broke into a four way. American Males clapped with the crowd as the faces had the heels on the rope.

Ric grabbed a champagne bottle from his table but eventually got back into the ring. Arn missed a clothesline and hit the ring post a.ka. “the pole” according to Larry. Bagwell punched his way out of the heels’ corner.

Flair caught Riggs’ legs on the apron and Arn took advantage. Tony and Larry enjoyed champagne I guess Flair poured out for them. The heels got the heat as Bagwell desperately wanted to interject himself into the match.

Riggs hit an enziguri to Arn, sending him outside. Riggs crawled to Bagwell as Ric and the referee had one of the all-time great shoving matches! Ric sold like crazy for referees pushing him down which was excellent to see.

Bagwell got the hot tag and ran wild. Bagwell did a small package but Arn turned the small package over but then Riggs turned it over again on Flair. Bagwell hit a fisherman suplex. Bagwell covered Flair but Woman gauged his eyes. Arn hit the DDT and Ric rolled himself into the cover for the win, literally just resting his arm on Bagwell!

I thought this was… OK. It was very basic and they did everything right and the fans were definitely into it. The American Males I still found to be very limited to what they can do and Flair and Arn did all they could to get a good match out of these two. Maybe I was hoping for something a little bit better. Regardless, I can still see that the four men worked hard out there so this gets a thumbs up.

 

Mean Gene interviewed the heels after the match. Arn told Kevin Greene and Steve “Mongo” McMichael that he never met a football player that he couldn’t walk over. He didn’t respect anyone that had to wear protective gear. He said in this sport it was man to man and hand to hand. Ric said while they were playing football, he’d been making up lost time with Debra (Mongo’s wife). Ric called Miss Elizabeth their sugar mommy with Savage’s money.

They showed Greene and Mongo working out and preparing for The Great American Bash. I hope I never wear what these two were wearing to the gym. Despite their fashion sense, they were still looking jacked and bulky. Not gonna like. A heads up, Ric Flair and Arn Anderson were set to face Kevin Greene and Steve “Mongo” McMichael at The Great American Bash. At least, that’s the billed match at the moment.

 

Scott Hall Debuts In WCW

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As soon as I saw The Mauler and Steve Doll come down for “a match”, I figured this was “the match” that would lead to the big angle previously alluded to earlier. Even if it wasn’t, WCW were in the middle of a wrestling war and they had these two guys out there for a wrestling match in the first hour?

The announcers said Randy Savage had been banned from any WCW televised event. I wrote a bunch of spots these two did but really, none of it mattered. During the match, the fans started to buzz and turn around. A tall dude in a sleeveless blue denim jacket walked around near the seats, which is hard to miss in its own right. In the midst of this crowd, a big dude made is way down to the ring. Of course, walking across the fans and over the guard rail is in fact… Razor Ramon.

It was like time had stood still. This was the WWF’s “Razor Ramon” in the eyes of the fans at the time. He didn’t say he was Razor Ramon but the people knew who he was. They only knew of this guy as Razor Ramon and so him appearing at a WCW show and asking for a mic it was mind-blowing to see for them. He grabbed the microphone as the action just stops. There was no finish to the match

I’ve just found a transcript of the entire promo this guy cut on a Fox Sports article. I did try to take down as much as I could about the promo but here it is in full:

“You people, you know who I am. But you don’t know why I’m here. Where is billionaire Ted? Where is the Nacho Man? That punk can’t even get in the building. Me? I go where ever I want, whenever I want. And where oh where is Scheme Gene? Cause I got a scoop for you. When that Ken doll look-a-like, when that weather man wannabe comes out here later tonight, I got a challenge for him, for billionaire Ted, for the Nacho Man and for anybody else in WCW. You want to go to war? You want a war? You’re gonna get one.”

This man leaves with security and… I will talk more about the premise of this entire angle later on in the review. Suffice to say, “Razor Ramon” a.k.a Scott Hall showing up on Nitro was a pretty damn big deal at the time. With that being said, if we’re being honest… this felt so underwhelming watching it 23 years later or so!

This dude just came through past security and he just cut a below-average promo at best and let. He just interrupted a random match and cut a weird promo, where he mumbled all over the place and even repeated the line about wanting a war. He took a long time getting to the point that he was bringing a war.

With that being said as well, even though it was hard for Hall to get to the point, this worked as a means of keeping the fans guessing. He never mentioned the WWF although that was the premise of the angle. It was actually really clever with the way they had a “WWF” invasion angle without actually having the WWF. Hall was just a guy coming over the barricade, known to be coming from the WWF, invading WCW and being an “outsider” and it was effective in making people question what was going on. It blurred the lines between reality and fiction for a lot of fans in a way that hadn’t been done effectively for years by either the WWF or WCW.

Bischoff tried to do “insider” references during these Nitros and he tried the Brian Pillman angle from Uncensored but Hall coming down and declaring a war while the announcers are not referencing him at all was effective at the time. Say what you will about the promo but it did work in getting people talking.

I do love that after this big angle with Scott Hall, Tony Schiavonie can’t help but ask what happened to the match!

 

Sgt, Pittman w/Teddy Long vs Diamond Dallas Page

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Remember when DDP was the #1  contender for the WCW World Heavyweight a week ago? He won the Slamboree battle bowl battle royal, he overcame 31 other wrestlers to earn this shot and the title shot was stripped away from him, unfairly if you think about it. After all of this, on this episode, he was just breezy. To be fair to DDP, The Shark randomly got a WCW title match this week on the grounds that The Giant chokeslammed him previously so I guess title matches weren’t that hard to come by.

DDP did the worst push-ups in the world… which actually fit his gimmick! Pittman showed him up with a one armed push up. DDP knocked himself loopy with a headbutt and fell out of the ring. DDP was tied up in the television cable again. DDP hit a jawbreaker on the rope to take control of the match.

Then we got the geek of the week moment from the w/c May 27th 1996. Pittman went for Code Red armbar “upside down.” DDP grabbed Pittman’s manager Teddy Long on the outside and just grabbed him, which led to no harm to Teddy Long. Pittman looked at Long, and DDP took advantage with a Diamond Cutter for the pin. Pittman came off like a complete geek with this finish. There’s nothing like a distraction finish to bury a babyface any worse.

GEEK OF THE WEEK – Sgt. Craig Pittman for distracting himself by looking at his manager after nothing happened to him.

 

They showed a highlight video package of the Randy Savage going crazy storyline.

 

Mean Gene interviewed The Shark. Mean Gene mentioned he’s no longer with the Dungeon of Doom. I guess The Giant chokeslammed Shark during a previous angle on Saturday Night and he got kicked out of the group, which actually led to a Giant vs Shark WCW title match later on which we’ll get to it.

Shark cut a promo about he almost ended Hulkamania and he was gonna hurt Taskmaster by winning the WCW title.

 

They showed another video package of Hulk Hogan hanging around with celebrities like George Foreman, Shaq, Dennis Rodman and Kevin Greene. They talked about Hogan raising money for charity with Sugar Ray Leonard too.

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That was the end of the first hour. If you looked at just the first hour of the show, this show wouldn’t seem so bad. Then we got the second hour which had to be the worst hour of wrestling I’ve ever seen. We got five more matches and the next three matches were some of the dirt-worst wrestling in the history of wrestling. This felt like the longest hour of my life.

 

The Giant © w/Jimmy Hart vs The Shark for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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I love how Eric Bischoff jumped on commentary and he talked about how they weren’t going to dignify Scott Hall’s appearance but then proceeded to spend the entire second hour of the show constantly bringing it up. Bischoff even told Hall to come down at the end of the second hour, basically promoting another appearance at the end of the show.

I had a weird desire to watch this match but this was an absolute nothing match. I’m pretty sure that The Giant vs Loch Ness had to have been better than this match. Maybe I’m over exaggerating, but this was such a dull monster battle. At least the Loch Ness match was shorter.

Shark jumped Giant but Giant fired back with a big headbutt. The Shark tried to knock down Giant but Giant wouldn’t budge. Giant hit a big clothesline. Giant forced all of his weight on the stomach on Shark by standing on him. Shark punched away at Giant but was unable to lift the big man. Giant scoop slammed Shark.

Shark gouged at the eyes of Giant. Shark pulled off a clothesline from the middle rope, just barely. Shark got his hands on Jimmy which led to Giant taking advantage and chokeslamming Shark for the pin. Previously, The Giant’s title matches were somewhat interesting and in some cases good but this one was just boring. A boring big man match that just set the tone for the second hour.

Big Bubba came down to cut Shark’s hair.

 

 

Lex Luger © vs Maxx for the WCW Television Championship

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Maxx, previously Max Muscle, was back on Nitro. The announcers talk about Maxx’s haircut. Eric goes: “nice haircut Max” and Bobby, without missing a beat, said: “yeah, if you’re going to the chair.” In their defence, that was a bad haircut Maxx was sporting. It was some weird Mohawk he had going on which thankful never caught on.

Thankfully, these types of matches never caught on in wrestling either.

Luger ran wild with clotheslines and Maxx cut him off with a powerslam. Maxx got the heat. If you liked clotheslines, then this match was the match for you. These guys could do absolutely nothing. Clotheslines, forearms, punches, powerslams. It was pretty much four or five moves on repeat and this just kept going on and on and on. A wrestling website I found listed this match as going 5 minutes and 45 seconds. I felt for sure this was 5 hours long. Luger got Maxx up but eventually locked on the Torture Rack for the win and the fans went nuts.

Speaking of which, when was the last time we saw a torture rack on Nitro? It feels like forever since Luger has just been in tag team matches with Sting.

Either way, this match was god awful and went longer than it had any right to be. Luger should have hit a few clotheslines, locked on the Torture Rack and won. Instead, we got 5 minutes of god awful wrestling and then Luger struggled to get Maxx up on his shoulders for the finish. A HUGE THUMBS DOWN.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Lex Luger. Luger said he didn’t make the matches but nobody wanted The Giant more than the Total Package. They showed The Giant chokeslam from 2 weeks ago. He talked about how Giant didn’t try to win a match, as he just wanted to take Luger out but he was still standing. He wanted every big man WCW had before he got The Giant. If these matches were anything like the Maxx match, I’d rather they didn’t give Lex these matches!

 

Hardwork Bobby Walker vs Brad Amrstrrong

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The quality of the last two matches were pretty bad. In the defence of those matches, you could at least expect a below par match out of the likes of the still-green Giant and Lex Luger. This next match was even worse and sad part was that it had nothing to do with Brad Armstrong.

This Hardwork Bobby Walker was so atrocious during this match. Literally every “spot” he attempted during this match was screwed up and every single time, it was his fault. Brad did an monkey flip and Bobby was meant to land on his feet but he stumbled. Hardwork tried a crossbody from the top but lost his footing. When they realised Hardwork could not be trusted to do any actual moves, they wrestled on the floor for about 10 hours. Walker tried a small package and a backslide for near falls.

Walker couldn’t do a lucha libe crossbody without losing his footing. It was like a Rey Fenix-like spot where he would jump from the middle rope to the top rope and then do a dive but he screwed that up. Then Walker hit a crappy looking blockbuster for the win. I wrote that “this was shit” and that is being generous. This was the second worst match I’ve seen so far in this WCW Nitro series. This was a -3 star match worse than the horrific tag team match from Slamboree I gave -2.5 stars. Remember when I reviewed Eddie Guerrero vs Ric Flair last week and it was better than anything on WCW SlamboreeWCW Slamboree? Well this match was WORSE than everything on WCW Slamboree and think of the ground that covers.

I’m going to mention this very briefly as this is a sensitive topic to a lot of people. Hardwork Bobby Walker was part of a lawsuit where he and a bunch of other wrestlers filed a lawsuit against WCW for racial discrimination. Walker claimed that his Caucasian opponents were told to make him look bad and that he’d never win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Apparently these wrestlers were set to make African American wrestlers look “loud, obnoxious, pompous and shiftless.”

I’m not going to discuss racial discrimination as I’m not qualified to speak about it on so many levels. With that being said, clearly Walker did not watch this match before saying all of this. He mentioned that his “opponents” were out to make him look bad. He was in there with Brad Armstrong, who is Caucasian, and Brad was not responsible in any way for the spots screwed up in his match. That’s not even my opinion, that is pure fact. A lot of the spots where Walker coming off the top rope or doing something acrobatic, and it was down to HIM to make the spot look good. He messed it up. It wasn’t like Brad Armstrong used the force to make Walker slip. He was nowhere near these spots Walker was messing up.

I’m not going to say wrestlers were or weren’t acting discriminatory against Walker, but the idea that he believed other people were making him look bad is laughable if you watch this match. He made himself look bad in this match. As far as racial discrimination, that’s not for me to talk about.

Apparently when the WWF bought out WCW they came to a settlement with Walker and co. but my verdict on this match was Walker was guilty of crimes against wrestling in this match. He was so horrible. Minus 3 stars but this was honestly the worst match in WCW Nitro history so far. Not quite on the level of the Doomsday Cage match.

 

 

Lord Steven Regal vs Alex Wright

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This match wasn’t particular good but it felt like Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada compared to the last three matches. Wright took over for a bit. Wright did a dive to the outside as they cut to a break. Regal locked in a headlock and wore down Wright. Wright slammed Regal down for a belly-to-belly suplex.

Wright and Regal kicked and uppercut each other throughout the match, smashing away at each other. Not much to talk about with this match but eventually Regal dropped Wright on his head from the top turnbuckle. Regal pinned him with a bridge for the win.

Mean Gene interviewed Regal. Regal talked about Giant and Savage. He talked about taking out Belfast Bruiser. Regal said he’s not going anywhere and he should have his say around here. Regal made a challenge to the franchise Sting and if he won, he wanted a shot at the champion.. He said he wanted a shot at that “face painted clown.”

 

Sting vs His Good Buddy Scott Steiner

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The announcers constantly mentioned that Sting was facing “his good buddy” Scott Steiner in the main-event. Steiner took Sting down with an arm drag. Sting responded with a big hip toss. Scott did a big Gorilla Press to Sting. Sting went up high in the air as he delivered a big dropkick to Steiner.

Scott hit a tiger powerbomb and a belly to belly suplex. Scott hit a double axe handle from the top rope. Sting gave Scott a big boot as Bobby Heenan howled with laughter! Scott slammed him with a belly to belly suplex. Scott locked on the STF and an armbar onto the Stinger.

I loved the spot where Scott went for a suplex but Sting reversed into a Scorpion Death Drop. It went down smoothly as Sting turned things around. Sting fired back with a Stinger splash but when he went for another one, he missed. Scott dropped Sting with a dragon suplex.

Lex Luger came down to cheer for Sting and Rick Steiner, in the worst shorts known to man, came out to cheer on Scott. Rick was out in a big, extra-large tie dye shirt and grey cap and striped shorts, which could have actually been his ring attire underneath now that I think about it. Either way, it was not a good look for Rick. 

Scott hit an high-angle slam from the top rope. Sting locked on the Scorpion Deathlock but Scott got the rope. Sting reversed a tombstone piledriver into one of his own for a near fall. Sting went for a big splash in the ring but Scott got the knees up.

Sting suplexed Scott over the top rope but Scott landed on his feet, went for his own suplex on the floor but Luger broke that up. Rick went after Luger. A big brawl broke out between the tag teams and the match was thrown out. The babyface wrestlers tried to break everybody up.

This match was not bad and it parts was actually decent, but it was a victim of the rest of the matches on this show. Vince Russo has a theory that people don’t want to watch long wrestling matches on a television show. If you watch a lot of WWF Attitude Era stuff, a lot of the matches are short as in his eyes, crash TV angles were all the rage at the time. I don’t necessarily believe that theory but if you watch the way the show went down, we got a bunch of boring nothing matches that nobody cared about. After that, we get a long main-event MATCH at the end of a two-hour wrestling show and it just did nothing for me as a viewer. It was just a match and it ended in a typical disqualification.

Maybe in my brain, I think I conditioned myself to except a shorter match than they delivered. If you remember last week’s main-event, The Giant vs Arn Anderson, that lasted about four minutes or so.

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Scott Hall came back out and interrupted Eric Bischoff with a microphone. He said Bischoff had a big mouth and “we’re” sick of it. Bischoff constantly asked “whose we?” during this segment. Hall said: “This is where the big boys play? What a joke. Tell billionaire Ted and get three of his very best.” He named-dropped the Nacho Man or the Stinger. He told Bischoff to get anybody they want because they are taking over. He repeated the war line from earlier and they wanted to war it out in the ring where it mattered. Not on mircophones, newspapers, dirtsheets, he said let’s do it in the ring where it matters. He said they were taking over as Bischoff and Bobby looked flustered to end the show.

The closing promo I think was a little better, as at least it gave his ramblings a little direction. He mentioned a six-man tag team match, which you all know where this ended up going but the fans were still in the dark about who Hall’s two other men were in that trio. They just saw it as possibly WCW vs WWF in a match, which was big enough for them. It was left up for speculation and they had about 6-8 weeks to promote the big six man tag team match and build anticipation for “war” in WCW.

I do want to give credit to Eric Bischoff credit here. Every single week on Nitro, Bischoff had been taking shots at the WWF. I, obviously knowing the outcome of the Monday Night Wars, have questioned every single time he took shots at the WWF. It would eventually backfire on him many years later which we’ll get to when we make it to 1999 in this series. However, his shots had a storyline purpose because of this promo.

Scott Hall from the big bad WWF, after hearing all of Bischoff’s jokes and digs at the WWF, basically told him we’re sick of it. Bischoff had put his foot in his mouth as it was put-up or shut-up. This was blurring lines in reality again and when a “WWF” guy decided to take action, Bischoff’s suddenly all shaken up by it at the end of the show. I loved that aspect of this storyline.

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That was the show. It was without a doubt the worst Nitro we’ve seen so far. It feels a bit unfair to dub the first two hour Nitro the worst Nitro but it wasn’t like either hour was particularly great. It started with a decent tag team match but was filled with such horrible matches up and down the card. Even the historic angles weren’t that interesting to watch upon a rewatch many years later.

Either way, it is a completely new direction for the company in the storyline and it very much shakes up the business going forward.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #36 (MAY 20TH 1996) – RIC FLAIR STEALS THE SHOW IN THE RING AND ON COMMENTARY

Welcome to the Retro Express. This is where we’re taking a stroll down memory lane at wrestling history. This post is part of an ongoing series where we’re reviewing every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this post. We hope you enjoy.

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WCW Slamboree 1996 saw the Lethal Lottery battle bowl tournament to determine the Lord of the Ring and the number one contender for the WCW World Heayvweight title. Despite the likes of Lex Luger, Randy Savage and Ric Flair in the mix for this tournament, the final battle bowl battle royal to determine the winner did not include either of those gentlemen. A battle royal filled with the likes of Public Enemy, Ice Train, Dick Slater and Earl Robert Eaton was won by Diamond Dallas Page who went from being “homeless” to being the Lord of the Ring.

The Giant also defended the WCW title against Sting and retained the title after seemingly botched interference from Lex Luger and Jimmy Hart.

 

This episode of Nitro I’m about to review was 90 minutes long and is the very last one before Nitro goes two hours. It was sort of a test if you will to see how an “over-run” or an elongated episode would play to the WCW audience. It turns out that the fans weren’t particular turned off by this change-up of the episode length as they beat RAW in the ratings this week.

As far the show goes, I think it dragged in places because of the change but otherwise felt OK to me. They got the extra time and gave it to the likes of Eddie Guerrero vs Ric Flair, which I was so happy about. It feels like they’ve changed their minds again on the Luger/Sting tension angle as I don’t think it was brought up at all. However, the show I didn’t really have much of a problem of a whole. Anyway, let’s get into the review…

 

Date: May 20th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Monroe, Louisiana

Rating: 3.1

Commentators: Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan

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You read that correctly. Steve “Mongo” McMichael is away from the announce booth. It was just Eric and Bobby this week as Mongo was in “serious training” with Kevin Greene for their upcoming match with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. The match was booked for The Great American Bash.

They showed a replay of Ric making the challenge at Slamboree and I didn’t realise this before but they got the smallest security guards possible to hold back these big football players. It’s ridiculous on paper but by forced perspective, it made Mongo and Greene look like bigger stars when putting these puny security geeks in between them and Flair.

 

“Fire and Ice” Scott Norton and Ice Train vs “The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner

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Up until the finish, this was a better version than their last tag match on Nitro. I believe they got more time and there was more of a structure to it and then the finish just happened, which led to the fans getting screwed out of a decent finish which we’ll get to.

Some guys in the crowd actually went through the trouble of having their tops off with letters painted on themselves where they spelt out N I T R O together. I laughed about it but I was also very envious of this period of wrestling when I saw that. Wrestling used to be so popular that people would do crazy stuff like this to have fun and be a part of the show. Nowadays, nobody does this kind of thing ever. They don’t do it for RAW, SmackDown! and I’ve not heard of an incident with NXT or AEW. It’s just not that popular where people would think to do this and that sucks.

Scott and Ice Train wrestled for a bit. It was very similar from their match from a few weeks ago where hey slammed each other all over the place. Norton was screaming a lot during this match as he went to work on Rick. Norton ran wild with clotheslines but Rick turned this momentum against him and slammed him with a massive German suplex. I actually really liked that spot and I felt they pulled it off well.

Rick went for a clothesline and got a one count, from the move that got the win the last time these two teams wrestled each other. One could argue that this showed that Ice Train and Scott Norton were more prepared for Rick’s clotheslines after the last time so I could at least buy the explanation that they learned from their last match.

The two Scotts wrestled in the ring. Scott Steiner pulled off a dragon/full nelson suplex on Norton. I was surprised he pulled it off on such a broad, built guy in Norton. This was very impressive by Steiner.

Scott Steiner did double axe handle to the outside. Norton eventually got back into the match with a Samoan Drop of his own. I wrote down that Scott did a Northern Lights Suplex and I’m pretty sure that was Scott Steiner but it’s very much up for grabs with two Scotts in this match!

Ice Train and Norton really pushed Rick out of the ring with a  double shoulder tackle. Scott Norton dropped Scott with a shoulder breaker on the outside. Then the referee called for the bell as Rick and Ice train brawled and apparently things got out of control. Scott did a German suplex to Norton as the referee Nick Patrick separated them.

A lame finish to a match that was looking like it was gonna be better than their last match.

 

Ric Flair w/Woman and Elizabeth vs Eddie Guerrero

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This match was excellent. This match I think single-handedly made up for the quality of matches from Slamboree. If you read my Slamboree review, you’ll recall I mentioned that not one of those matches went longer than 10 minutes. A third of the matches were actually good and the rest of them were just absolute nothing matches or worse. On this episode of Nitro, they gave us a near 20 minute match with Eddie Guerrero and Ric Flair and it was great.

Eddie got royally screwed at Slamboree when he was the geek that was DDT’d by his own partner which led to him being eliminated from the tournament. Here, Ric was determined to get this Eddie Guerrero over. Eddie came off as such a star. Ric had a unique ability to transform mid-carders and make the fans believe that they had a chance against him in the ring. Do you remember when VK Wallstreet was briefly out-wrestling Ric Flair during one of their matches and had him on the ropes for a little bit? This was exactly the same and Eddie gained a lot more from this TV match than anything he’s been given in the last 9 months or so.

Eddie wrestled Ric down to the mat early on. Ric, realising he couldn’t out-wrestle Eddie, went for the chops and punches to take control. Eddie himself eventually went wild with punches in the corner with Eddie showing that he could trade hands with Flair.

Woman screaming on the outside was unbearable. In times, this screaming is effective, if you remember my review of Flair vs Giant from a month ago, but here it was totally not the time for it. She was screaming at a head-lock from Eddie for example and it drove me up the wall as a viewer. It didn’t add to the match and if anything, it made me want to mute my TV. I don’t want to think about doing that as a wrestling fan.

Eddie backdropped Ric and ran wild with dropkicks and dropkicked him over the top rope. Ric eventually walked all the way to his personal fancy table from and grabbed a chair.  The referee eventually pushed Ric back to disarm him with the chair. Ric was so mad that he stomped on the entrance ramp. He did a massive double foot-stomp and constantly had this big-eyed look on his face with his eyes popping out of his face!

Woman stopped screaming enough to attend to Ric on the outside. The fans chanted for EDDIE to the shock of Ric Flair. Eddie punched away at Ric and Eddie then started running away from Ric to screw with him, and even did the Ric Flair strut to Flair’s disgust and anger!

Eddie dropped Ric with some chops. I loved that Ric’s only means to get back into the match was always a poke to the eye. No matter what, Ric Flair matches are always structured the same way. The babyface will beat him in every turn and when he realised he’s outclassed, HE CHEATS and it worked every time for like 30 years or so. Ric Flair really was one of the all-time greats.

Eddie got Ric over for a sunset flip after a brief struggle for a two count. Bobby said this was 50/50 but I strongly disagreed as Eddie was shown out-classing Ric at every turn! I’m not sure if this was just Bobby being the heel or not as he usually put Eddie over a lot on commentary.

Ric turned the punches in the corner into an atomic drop. I loved Eddie putting everything into a backslide attempt, and showed intensity and determination in his eyes and Woman screaming actually did play into this struggle. Eddie eventually got him over for a two count. Eddie did his own Figure Four Leg Lock and Ric got the ropes to get out of it. Eddie went for a dive to the outside but crashed into the guard rail. Ric suplexed Eddie on the outside.

Eric Bischoff then refused to acknowledge the WWF titles as “wrestling championships” for some reason. I don’t know what was up with him on this show but they were talking about Ric being a 13 time champion I think by this point and Bischoff talked about the WWF titles not counting. I understand he wanted to bury the titles as meaningless but when Ric Flair is involved, they should count to show off that everywhere he went he was the champion. He didn’t even have to mention the WWF to get that point across.

Ric did a long vertical suplex for a 2 count. Eddie fired back and dropkicked Ric to the floor. Eddie tried a sunset flip but Ric got out of it with a simple punch. Eddie hit a big tornado DDT for a near fall. Eddie somehow just pulled off a tight rope walk hurricanrana but when he came down, he grabbed his leg.

Eddie hit a frog splash but Eddie’s leg was hurt from the hurricanrana spot as the fans urged Eddie to go for the pin. Ric tried to lock on the figure four leg lock that Eddie initially blocked but Guerrero eventually got locked in the hold. Ric grabbed the ropes for leverage to get the pin on Eddie.

This match was so awesome. This was better than anything on Slamboree. It told a great story and although Eddie was beaten, it wasn’t like he was buried like he was at Slamboree. He took Ric to the limit in this match and Ric escaped with the victory and it could be argued that if Eddie had pinned Ric after that frog splash, he could have beat him. This match was so great and it sets up a rematch nicely in my eyes.

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If you liked Ric Flair in the ring, then you were going to get a lot more of him on this episode of Nitro! Mean Gene interviewed Ric with his women. Mean Gene mentioned that Savage is in the building and the fans go crazy. Ric responded that he’d been told that Savage is locked up. Ric told Savage that he was teaching his wife a new way of life. Speaking of Elizabeth, she looked petrified on this show. She always looked nervous, even when she was with Savage in the WWF, but her nervousness wasn’t not nearly as obvious as it was here. She was grabbing her arm and looked so uncomfortable with this angle.

You know what this reminded me of? It reminded me of the angle with Matt Hardy, Edge and Lita. Every time Edge was cutting a promo or there was a segment, Lita would grab her own arm or just looked distant. She looked so uncomfortable. There was a ByteThis episode with all three people from 2005 and Lita looked like she didn’t wanna be there. This Elizabeth stuff was very similar. Obviously, Elizabeth didn’t actually cheat on Savage with Ric Flair. She and Savage divorced in 1992 and Elizabeth just was doing an angle where she was with Flair.

However, this was also a time where things like “the internet” was not attainable and not many wrestling fans could have figured out that Elizabeth wasn’t actually dating Ric Flair in real life. This isn’t like WWE with the Lana, Rusev and Bobby Lashley angle where it’s clear from the get-go that Lana didn’t actually cheat on Rusev with Lashley in real life. No, the lines between fiction and reality weren’t that clear in 1996. I assume Elizabeth must have had a hard time with keeping up this angle.

Ric said the reason Mongo isn’t here tonight is because Arn Anderson is here tonight. The fans chanted for Mongo. Ric Flair said the footballers are making a mistake thinking they can cross trade wrestling and football like he cross traded the girls. Ric basically hyped up the tag team match and takes a few glasses and left with the women.

They come back from the break and Ric Flair had joined the announce booth, with a fancy set up and Bobby setting the candles. Ric is all robed-up and said Bobby could touch the girls but told Eric to keep his hands off them! Eric says Ric was actually invited which meant that yes, we got Ric Flair on commentary for the rest of the night.

His performance on commentary was so great. It’s possible that he was actually drinking real champagne with Bobby at commentary as he was really just having a ball during this show. He went from wrestling a 20 minute classic to calling the rest of the show with likes of Bobby Heenan! This was all great!

 

 

Sting © and Lex Luger © vs “The Faces of Fear” The Barbarian and Meng for the WCW Tag Team Championship… I think

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I don’t know if you remember this but early on in the series, I cut a big promo saying that I didn’t wanna see Meng vs Lex Luger again. We did technically get Meng vs Luger again in this tag match but it felt like a better match in the confides of a tag match.

Flair called Meng the King of the Samoan Islands. Ric was actually putting everyone over and is just having a grand old time on commentary. Ric did a better job putting people over for less than an hour than WWE announcers on commentary in 2019. He was on fire. Flair started singing Get Down Tonight by KC & The Sunshine Band!

Sting ran wild on the Faces of Fear but Barbarian evades a dropkick to start the heat. Meng locked on a Boston crab and then just stopped applying the hold… and just stomped on Sting! I love how when it was clear Sting wasn’t giving up, Meng just decided to stomp the crap out of him.

Bobby claimed Sting would have had to relinquish the tag titles if he won the WCW title at Slamboree when I believe Lex Luger is still the TV champ and one half of the tag team champions. I find that very difficult to believe that Sting would relinquish the belt.

Barbarian did a belly-to-belly suplex from the top rope and Sting got catapluted high in the air. Sting went up big time for it and launched himself into near orbit for the Barbarian! I screamed at how high Sting went up here for the spot.

The Faces of Fear did a double headbutt and they went for the cover but the referee was arguing with Luger for some reason and delayed the count for the Faces of Fear. Eric was appalled at Ric and Bobby drinking champagne on commentary. I loved how Eric said that Ric was too much and Ric responds with: “that’s what they all say!”

Sting almost got the tag to Luger but Meng pulled him back to his corner. Luger eventually got the hot tag and ran wild with clotheslines and forearms. It broke off into a four way. Meng battled with Luger on the outside. Luger sends Meng into the ring post.

Sting hits a top rope splash and Luger got the pin as Sting threw himself into Meng to stop him from breaking up the pin. I enjoyed this tag match. I think Ric Flair’s commentary gold overshadowed it but for the most part, all four guys worked their asses off and I respected their effort. This gets a thumbs up and Flair’s performance on commentary gets about 16 thumbs ups!

Eric broke the news to Flair that Savage was here.

 

Mean Gene interviewed “Macho Man” Randy Savage outside of the arena, who was being stopped by police from getting in. Mean Gene says they’re not letting him in the arena and WCW officials are meeting about Savage’s future. Macho Man asked for the WCW officials to be real careful about his future. Savage told them to make the right decision and thought Mean Gene was conspiring against him! He’s so paranoid that now he’s questioning poor Mean Gene for his involvement in a grand conspiracy! Mean Gene told him that he’s not getting through the gentlemen blocking him from getting in and Macho Man goes: “is that a challenge?” When Mean Gene said that he’s not getting through, I knew where the joke was going.

It’s like if someone tells you can’t do something, your instinct tells you to prove them wrong. Someone tells you not to press the button, you can’t help but press the button. Even when Mean Gene told him he’s not getting through the police, Savage is determined to prove him wrong because he’s THE MACHO MAN! Macho Man tries to get in of course and they push him away. Flair laughed his arse off and woos away at Savage being unable to get in! I actually liked this segment a lot too.

 

Brad Armstrong vs DDP… aka Diamond Dallas according to the nameplate on the screen

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Ric and Bobby are laughing and having a ball talking about Savage’s money as DDP and Brad Armstrong come out. DDP wrestled Brad into a dragon sleeper position and Brad rolled out of it somehow.

Bobby requested another drink as they went to a commercial. Brad got a backslide pinfall attempt in and then DDP got up and hit an explosive clothesline. DDP ran into the ring post and Ric actually put over Brad Armstrong. Brad did the ten turnbuckle smash spot and Ric said he used to do that to Savage when he got into the building to wrestle! Him and Bobby were just hysterical about this line to the point where I’m 25% of the belief that they were both actually hammered by this point!

DDP hit an awesome Diamond Cutter for the win. It was the most “RKO” looking cutter I’ve seen from Page and Brad but it looked better to me than a lot of Randy Orton’s RKOs. They both moved and jumped across the ring to hit this cutter. It was a short but decent match I think.

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Mean Gene interviewed DDP in the ring. DDP said he shocked the world at Slamboree as he beat the Steiners, Road Warriors, Fire and Ice, Flair, Sting, Luger and everyone to become the Lord of the Ring. He thanked himself and gave himself a self high five. DDP said The Giant was his and Mean Gene then said he just got off the telephone. He revealed that the WCW championship committee were discussing the fact that one of his feet was on the floor earlier on in the battle royal from Slamboree. For those unaware, there was a spot where DDP was almost eliminated in the battle bowl battle royal and Tony Schiavonie was certain he was eliminated I think was being referenced here. He said the committee will not reverse the decision of the referee and won’t take the lord of the ring away from DDP but they won’t give him the WCW championship match. They have awarded the shot to Lex Luger instead as DDP was outraged.

Only one of DDP’s feet hit the floor so if you’re going by the Royal Rumble 1995 rules established, DDP was never eliminated. However, I guess WCW ruled that one foot was enough for DDP to be considered eliminated. Now I do have to question why Luger got the title shot. If you’ll recall, at Slamboree, Lex Luger was one of the first people eliminated from the Lethal Lottery as he got himself counted out. He got a title shot last week on Nitro where The Giant kicked his arse and put him through a table. Now he’s getting another title shot? What?

Shouldn’t The Barbarian be given the title shot instead since he was the runner-up of that battle bowl battle royal? They also mentioned at the PPV that Konnan could be considered the number one contender as he’s the US Champion, so why wasn’t he considered for the title shot? Either way, this feels like a daft ruling in storyline.

 

The Giant © w/Jimmy Hart vs Arn Anderson w/Taskmaster for the WCW title

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This wasn’t much of a match but it went exactly as I would have expected it to go so I wasn’t really caught off guard.

Taskmaster was with Arn Anderson, the show after the PPV where I made the comment about Jimmy and Taskmaster being together for Slamboree!

Him and Jimmy talked on the outside about it. Taskmaster said he’s with the Dungeon of Doom, but Arn had always kept his word. All he wanted was for Arn to get his chance “horsemen-style” so I guess he wanted a fair fight.

My mind assumed that there must be some kind of screwjob. I didn’t expect Arn Anderson to win the title but I expected one of two things. Either Taskmaster was gonna screw the Dungeon and attack Giant for the DQ, leading to a beatdown, or him and the Dungeon were gonna screw Arn. I figured a double cross was coming somehow and Ric was talking on commentary as if there was a plan in place.

Eric said Taskmaster was a homewrecker like Miss Elziabeth and even Ric Flair said that was very strong. Ric’s plan as he mentioned on commentary was take over WCW and then the NFL! Arn went for The Giant but Giant pushed him literally to the other side of the ring with such force. Giant scoop slammed Arn.

Giant backdropped Arn over his shoulder. Arn took over but was unable to take The Giant down with a double axe handle. He gets Giant to one knee. He tried a DDT but Giant evaded the drop and hit a chokeslam for the pin. Jimmy celebrated The Giant and Ric Flair left the booth. Eric then mentioned that the Four Horseman had a plan… what plan? Arn got a fair match and got his ass kicked and pinned, I have no idea what the plan was supposed to be for Flair, if any.

The one time where you’re almost expecting a double cross, they do a clean finish where Giant pins Anderson with a chokeslam!

Bobby left the booth as well to go to the party with Flair, taking candles, bubbly, bananas, a box of ice and champagne!

 

I enjoyed this episode of Nitro. This dragged in places but overall I was OK with it.

Next time, we get a historically significant episode of Nitro. We get the first two hour episode of Nitro as well as a historic debut in the history of World Championship Wrestling!

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order