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.
So WCW Nitro is off to… a start. PastaMania ran wild at the Mall of America. We got cruiserweight action, we’ve got Sting vs Ric Flair and we got a WCW world title match with Hulk Hogan retaining the WCW title against Big Bubba Rogers. During the show, Lex Luger made his WCW debut and made his intentions clear… he’s here to challenge for the WCW title. Both Hogan and Luger shook hands as the Hulk Hogan vs Lex Luger World title clash was signed for the next episode of WCW Nitro.
Well here we are. The destination is Miami, Florida and the eyes of the wrestling world are gazing upon the newest WCW superstar going one-on-one with the Immortal Hulk Hogan with the WCW title on the line.
Date: September 11th 1995
City: Miami, Florida
Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan
We’ve got our regular crew of Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan and, of course, Steve “Mongo” McMichael. Eric and Bobby looking really annoyed at Mongo was an early contender for highlight of the show. They hyped up the main-event as “the match of the century.” That is… quite the claim. Bit of a spoiler alert for the main-event, but I’m 99% certain that this did not go down as the match of the century.
The announcers were determined to put this show over as it was going to be an all-time classic show. Bischoff, with such fire and passion in his lungs, advised us that “you’re gonna see Scott Norton in action.” I don’t wanna bury Scott Norton or anything, but when you’ve got guys like Sting, Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan and Lex Luger on the card and you’re big selling point is that Scott Norton is here? Maybe I’m just underselling the star power of Scott Norton. I dunno.
They replayed the Hogan/Luger confrontation from last week. They announced that Vader is supposedly AWOL and out of the War Games match with Team Hogan and the Dungeon of Doom.
Bit of background to this as, for those that didn’t know what was going on at the time, you may be curious as to whether this was a storyline or a shoot. Elements of storyline and “shooting” were both involved as Vader was actually no longer with the company at the time.
I believe Vader was fired after the first episode of WCW Nitro aired. He was shown in clips hyping up the War Games match last week but this week, he was described as having gone AWOL. It’s weird because one would assume that if he’s down as AWOL, he could possibly come back on television. It’s weird because he wasn’t coming back so why wouldn’t they simple come out and say he was fired?
At the same time, you guys have go to look at this from WCW’s perspective. If they announced Vader was fired or whatever on TV, in WCW’s minds, the fans may start to tune onto a different wrestling TV show and see if he was on it. Now truthfully, it was a a few months before Vader made the jump to the WWF. He took a de-tour to NJPW first. WCW were so paranoid in the fans turning into RAW. That’s where the idea to spoil RAW was hatched by WCW. With that being said, saying he went AWOL just implies that he’ll back shortly. Maybe, they were planning to bring him back in some capacity down the road so this was kind of a cool-off period. Then Vader jumped ship to WWF. I don’t know.
By the way, 600 words into this review and I’ve not talked about a single match! I apologise but now I can rectify that….
Sabu vs Alex Wright
The DEBUT of Sabu as hyped up last week. As far as putting over Sabu as a star, I can’t say this delivered. It was just your typical Sabu match. Sabu is just doing his own thing and Alex Wright, I guess, tried to give some structure to the match.
Sabu started whipping out springboard spiral leg drops. Sabu jumped off the chair for a splash on the outside, but just went straight into the steel rail. Sabu and Wright were on the outside for the longest time and, I swear, the fact that the referee hadn’t counted to 10 at this point was ridiculous. They were outside of the ring for at least a minute, if not way more!
The crowd popped for a sweet Alex Wright superplex. Wright looked slick with a back flip into a german suplex. The finish came when Sabu hit a sloppy-looking victory roll off the top rope and won. It was possibly a botched finish as Sabu just continued to beat up Wright for no reason, which we’ll get to.
There wasn’t a lot of strong communication between Sabu and Wright. It was so evident that one of the announcers, I think it was Heenan, actually said: “both those guys don’t know where they are.”
So Sabu kept attacking him. He got a table. Sabu jumped off the top and damn near killed himself when putting Wright through the table. Sabu was DQ’d as the referee reversed the decision.
I guess the goal was to show that Sabu was so crazy that the rules meant nothing to him. I personally saw him as a geek as he threw away a victory just to beat up Wright some more.
They showed a graphic for the Sting vs Michael Wallstreet match on the show.
Mean Gene Okerlund came out and introduced RIC FLAIR. I immediately had a smile on my face! They hyped up Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson for Fall Brawl. Flair proceeded to cut a promo on Arn for being boring and a family man! Flair said that he and Arn ruled the world. He said Arn could walk down any path as he was by Flair’s side.
Then Lex Luger strolled down to the ring. Flair kissed Luger’s ass for a while and put him over like crazy. He promised Hulk Hogan that “the package takes control.” Luger simply came out and said that Flair was too much. Luger left… what was the point of Luger coming out?
I will give WCW this. They were trying to play up the idea that we didn’t know what Luger’s motivations were. Whose side was Luger on? Was he a good guy? Was he a bad guy? I guess him doing a segment with Flair at least teased that he could possibly be a heel.
Sting (c) vs VK Wallstreet for the WCW United States Championship
I knew for certain that this was for the US title this week! That being said, VK Wallstreet was making his debut IN THIS MATCH. How is he already getting a title shot? That ALSO being said, Lex Luger is also getting a WCW title shot in his first WCW match back! I guess this is just how WCW rolls!
During the entrances, Eric Bischoff revealed the RAW results. Bischoff, or any other announcer, revealing RAW results was so fascinating in hindsight. For those of you that may not know, WCW started a habit of revealing the WWF RAW results. RAW had a series of tapings to roll through so, as a means to tell the fans that there’s no need to watch RAW, WCW just told them what happened. Bischoff said: “HBK beat the big man with a superkick.” Turns out the big man was Sid by the way.
Fans loved Sting in this match. Mongo went on a big American Football rant and Heenan simply cut him off by saying “We don’t watch football. We watch wrestling as we’re wrestling fans.” Nice for Heenan to keep Mongo on track. Wallstreet looked exactly like Bo Dallas in his singlet during his match. Like father, like son.
Bischoff called WCW the only game in town. Sting pulled off a lovely vaulting clothesline into the ring. They revealed Flyin Brian vs Johnny B Bad with the winner getting the next US title shot. I actually liked that Flyin Brian’s victory against Jushin Liger last week actually led to him getting a chance at a title shot.
Sting hit the Stinger Splash and a top rope crossbody and won. There really wasn’t anything to this match. Wallstreet didn’t really mess anything up but this was not a memorable match in the slightest. It was just there. It was…. OK.
Then they showed graphics for WCW Saturday Night. This sounded like one of the worst shows I could possibly think of. This show would include the debut of DISCO INFERNO, Renegade vs Max Muscle, Big Bubba Rogers vs Dave Sullivan and Flyin Brian vs Alex Wright. What a shit-fest that sounded like.
Randy Savage vs Scott Norton
I thought this was a fine match. Savage’s music was a rock version of Pomp and Circumstance. Norton jumped Savage before the match. Norton and Savage bumped like crazy for each other, doing well to get each other over. Norton got the heat, wrecking Savage with a powerbomb. Norton was awesome working over Savage. He did a believable job in laying on a beating on the Macho Man.
Norton hitting a draping DDT off the ropes. Savage caught a flying Norton off the top with a face slam and then started the comeback. Savage ran wild when Kamala and THE SHARK ran in. They both bumbled down to the ring. Bischoff, or somebody, kept calling Shark “Avalance.” Savage fought them off and then Shark was rocked. Shark fell forward onto a floored Norton and trapped his legs. Poor Scott Norton couldn’t move his legs as the Shark had all of his weight on Norton. Norton was waving his arms as Savage went up to the top rope. Shark was knocked out and Norton lacked the strength to push Shark away. Therefore, he could do nothing as Savage hit that elbow drop for the win. I LOVED that finish!
The Dungeon of Doom stable all argued. Norton was mad at Shark and Kamala. Technically, if Shark fell on Norton, shouldn’t Norton win via DQ? Either way, I thought this match was good.
Hulk Hogan (c) w/Jimmy Hart vs Lex Luger for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship
THE MATCH OF THE CENTURY… on paper.
In fact, it actually was on paper! Some fan in the crowd actually had a “match of the century” sign. That fan had high expectations!
I’ve heard this theme song before but Luger’s WCW theme song at this time was the coolest aspect of this show! When considering this along with the “The Man Called Sting” and Hogan’s “American Made” themes, WCW had a knack for theme songs!
Hogan and Luger went for a lock-up and I was thinking that this could be easily a contender for the worst lock-up of all time. Hulk Hogan and Lex Luger doing a lock-up together? I’ll go on record to say that this wasn’t the worst lock-up I’ve ever seen but Hogan’s didn’t exactly look like a guy trying to win a lock-up battle. Luger at least appeared to be trying to push Hogan away so I guess it wasn’t THAT bad.
So right after this first lock-up, they did another one. During the second one, LUGER was the one that looked horrendous in the lock-up! From the get-go, it didn’t look like these guys were in sync!
Hogan went all technical on Luger, which is fascinating to think about. Hogan and Luger began a no-sell match. Hogan hit Luger with a suplex, but Luger no-sold it. Luger hit Hogan with a suplex, but Hogan no-sold that.
The announcers really down-played Luger here, which really isn’t what you want to do during a WCW world title match. The announcers advised that Luger was in for the match of his lifetime. Bischoff, at least I think it was Bischoff, said “Luger is just not used to this calibre of competition.” He made Luger out to be a complete non-threat. Bischoff made a comment saying Luger could only just barely get past mid-card in the WWF. Keep in mind by the way that Lex Luger was a former WCW Champion before he even went to the WWF previously!
Luger locked on the Torture Rack. Luger thought he won but the ref told him that Hogan never tapped. After arguing with the ref, Luger went for a cover but Hogan kicked out. Hogan fired back with his typical comeback. Hogan hit the leg drop when the Dungeon of Doom ran in for the DQ. I’m struggling to decide whether I liked this finish or not but we’ll get onto that later.
Sting and Savage ran down to even the odds for the babyfaces. Kamala tumbled out of the ring. Hogan and Luger started pushing each other. I don’t know why. Mean Gene ran down to do an interview, advising that Vader didn’t qualify to be a “Hulkamaniac.”
Hogan and Savage ran down Luger and accused the Total Package of not being on their side. Sting came to his defence. Sting said that Vader was out of the picture and Luger gave Hogan a run for his money. Keep in mind by the way that Hogan had Luger beat when the Dungeon of Doom ran down!
Sting said Luger should be on the team. Savage disagreed as he thought Luger was a turncoat. Savage questioned why the Dungeon of Doom attacked Hogan and Savage but not Sting, Lex Luger and Jimmy Hart. Jimmy Hart pleaded his case. So this was like a vote between the team. Savage voted against Luger. Sting voted for Luger. It all came down to the Hulkster, because of course it did. Hogan eventually decided to have Luger in the team. Luger agreed as long as Hogan would give him another title shot. This set off Hogan as Luger had ulterior motives. Mongo ended the show by saying: “they better get their collective poo-poo together.”
And that’s how Nitro ended going into Fall Brawl 1995. They better get their collective poo-poo together.
I liked the end segment with the four babyfaces arguing because all the motives for the four main guys made sense. Sting and Luger had worked together in the past in WCW so Sting trusts Luger to be an ally. Hogan and Savage, as far as I’m aware, had never worked with Luger. Not to mention, Luger was the outsider coming in from the WWF. So they DO NO trust Luger and have no idea where his head is at. Luger, because he’s a competitor, wants to win the WCW title. He has nothing against the Hulkamaniacs but he wants to be champion more than anything. I could understand why there was tension but I could understand everyone’s viewpoint.
With that being said, the finish of the match did both help and hinder the story. Out of context, Luger getting mad that he didn’t get fair title shot here made no sense considering that Hogan had him beat before the Dungeon of Doom ran in. Why should he have another title shot? However, they were playing up the angle of Lex Luger’s loyalties. He’s saying that he wanted a fair title shot but there should be no case for another title shot as Hogan had him beat. So that would make the fans hate Luger as he didn’t deserve another title shot.
Again, out of context, having Luger come in from WWF and then have Hogan all but beat him in his first match in did no favours for Luger.
A lot happened in this episode of Nitro. FOUR matches, including WCW World and US title matches. Build for the War Games match at Fall Brawl with in-fighting from the Hulkamaniacs and the Dungeon of Doom. We got good mic work from Flair. We got an odd match from the debuting Sabu. The attention of the show was focused on the Fall Brawl main-event and that’s good. This episode did what it was supposed to for a go-home show.
Next week on Nitro, we’ll have a number of “high-profile” matches. We’ve got, believe it or not, Paul Orndorff vs Johnny B Bad. We got the Nasty Boys in action. We’ve got the American Males vs the Blue Bloods. A lot of tag team action.
HOWEVER, there is a Fall Brawl PPV before that show. We’ve got the big War Games main-event with Hogan, Savage, Sting and Luger vs the Dungeon of Doom. I THINK I’ll be watching and reviewing the whole PPV. I initially was just planning to watch the Nitros exclusively. However, I do want to watch the War Games match so I’ll be watching that. There is also Arn Anderson vs Ric Flair among other matches so it’s probably in my best interest to watch the whole thing.
Thank you for reading and I’ll be back with Episode #3 of WCW Nitro as part of the Retro Express. Fall Brawl, at least the main-event, will be coming up before we get around to Episode #3. We hope you enjoyed the review of Episode #2.
WCW Nitro Episode List