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.
We’ve got to a pretty big episode of Nitro considering how the shows have been built in the last few weeks. Savage and Luger will finally face each other after weeks of not trusting each other and confrontations. Now these two are going to go at it and Lex Luger’s career is on the line. Ric Flair and Arn Anderson will face each other in the Fall Brawl rematch in the main-event as finally Ric is gonna “kick Arn’s ass” as he promised 2 weeks ago. The “double main-event” Nitro is here with Episode #5 as the build to Halloween Havoc continues….
…BEFORE we dive right into it, we’ve got some business to take care of. I promised two bonus reviews of a Sting vs Johnny B Badd for the US title from the WCW Saturday Night (September 30th, 1995) before this show and Sting and Road Warrior Hawk vs Meng and Kurasawa from Clash of the Champions a month or two before this. If you want to know why, please read our Episode #4 review for more details.
Sadly, I can only deliver on ONE of those promises and it’s not my fault! It’s not my fault because when I looked up the WCW Saturday Night episode in question, there were two issues. Issue #1 was that this particular episode is not currently on the WWE Network. They only started whacking WCW Saturday Night episodes on the network this year and they’re only up to 1993. Issue #2 is that, believe it or not, there was no Sting vs Johnny B Badd for the US title on that episode.
Allow me to explain. Johnny B Badd was supposed to receive a title shot on this episode. Sting waltzed down to the ring. He’s waiting for Johnny as Dave Penzer does the ring introductions. Johnny is nowhere to be seen so Dave declares that they’ll try this later on in the show. Brian Pillman is angry at whoever that Johnny is not here for his big US title match. He wants to be in the US title match but he’s told no. They try again but Johnny is still not here. They eventually determine that Johnny B Badd has no-showed the show so Brian gets his way and gets the title shot. Sting beats him and retains the US title.
After the match is over, Johnny B Badd arrives in the arena and claimed he had a flat tyre. Apparently, it was revealed down the road or on the show that WCW TV Champion DDP was the one responsible for it.
To recap, Johnny B Badd became the number one contender at Fall Brawl. Johnny B Badd lost to Mr Wonderful CLEAN IN THE MIDDLE on the Nitro after Fall Brawl. Johnny is given the US title match anyway and on that show, he’s unable to make it due to a flat tyre. Way to go Johnny B Badd… one of the worst booked title contenders I’ve ever seen.
Date: October 2nd 1995
City: Denver, Colorado
Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan
The announcers are hyping up the show featuring a double main-event with Lex Luger vs Randy Savage and Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson II. Ric Flair cut them off in his robe and everything, telling Arn that “I’M COMING YOUR WAY BIG BOY” as he was going nuts. He was excited to kick Arn’s ass on Nitro after all of these weeks.
I got to say that this was probably the best performances for the trio of announcers for Nitro. All three of them showed excitement for the show! Steve “Mongo” McMichael was going nuts, Eric Bischoff was going nuts and Bobby Heenan was just a tremendous heel to bounce off these two idiot babyfaces! I loved it. For this one episode anyway, they all clicked!
They recapped the whole Luger/Savage feud, with the confrontations in the last two weeks and The Giant’s rampage from last week. I couldn’t help but notice it here during the replay, as I didn’t notice it the first time. The Giant GROWLS when he grabs Alex Wright for the bearhug slam! That was a nice touch.
Lex Luger vs Randy Savage
I would be somewhat annoyed that one half of the “double main-event” for the show is going on first but it’s a hour long show and it is a great TV time to put the match on… right at the beginning.
Eric Bischoff alerted us that we could find out what happens on RAW by calling the WCW hot-line. I’m honestly surprised he didn’t tell us this week. Remember for Episode #1 when he spoiled that Shawn Michaels kicked “the big guy” in Sid? I have a feeling this may happen again in the future with a WCW commentator. Call it a hunch.
To be fair to WCW, they had a stacked card with Flair/Anderson II and Savage/Luger. Funnily, supposedly RAW and Nitro were tied this week. I was shocked. Mongo informed the fans that if they thought about turning the TV they’d be brain-dead like Bobby Heenan’s family. I swear babyface Mongo said that…
Luger and Savage get into the ring. They lock-up for about 45 seconds straight and they spill to the outside. Luger’s lock-ups are a weak point in his game judging on what I’ve seen from him since he’s arrived. Luger powered Savage into the corner and SLAPPED Savage, which was payback for what happened 2 weeks ago when Savage slapped Luger.
Savage tried a suplex on the floor and after a struggle, Luger turned it into a neckbreaker. Savage tried a small package but Luger kicked out. Luger pressed Savage over his head which is a greater feat of strength than you think. Savage may not look it compared to Luger but Savage himself was a big guy. He really was the “biggest boy” as he stated 2 weeks ago!
Luger was getting boos here as the fans don’t necessarily get behind Luger yet. Luger was way out of position for a Savage kick. They had an awesome spot where they battled for a backslide. For a full minute or so, they are trying to get the other man over for a backslide pin. Luger won the battle and got a near fall. I loved it as even a simple move like a backslide was fought for and was important to both wrestlers. There was a Booker T/Chris Benoit match I reviewed for Survivor Series 2005 where they did the same thing and I loved it. Every move should be important in a match.
Luger caught Savage off the top rope with a punch. Savage eventually hit a double axe handle on the outside. Savage threw Luger into the referee, slammed Luger and hit the elbow drop. In the latest of 101 ways to bury Lex Luger on Nitro, Savage has Luger down for a 10 count while the referee is out. Mongo is howling with laughter as the referee is taken out.
At this point, The Giant came down and choke-slammed Savage yet again for the second week in a row. Neither Luger or the referee saw it. The fans start to boo even more. Luger hurled Savage’s unconscious body up and onto his shoulders for the Torture Rack and won via submission. It looked kinda sloppy in execution but I liked the idea of Savage selling like he legitimately can’t move and Luger trying with all of his might to get him up for this move.
This actually got some serious heat with the fans as Giant helped Luger, a man who they already are not getting behind. Lex Luger has technically not done anything wrong as a babyface but a bad guy helped him win. I will say that this was a let-down as we got a screwjob finish but it did play into the storyline so I’ll allow it.
Man, this WCW Saturday Night show they advertised. They would explain what happened to Johnny B Badd in regards to his US title shot. They would have Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman vs Buckhouse Buck and Dick Slater as well as Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs Big Bubba Rogers.
Bobby Heenan hyped up that The Giant was here to get his hands on Hulk Hogan. Oh yeah, WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan was expected to be here as well! I didn’t mention that earlier but they hyped that last week!
They played Disco Inferno’s theme song and Disco came out. Eric Bischoff plays it like he doesn’t know what was going, Mongo appeared like he literally had no idea what was going on and Bobby Heenan was just sat there dancing as Disco made his entrance. Bischoff explains that we’re supposed to get Eddie Guerrero vs Dean Malenko tonight but Disco came out when he wasn’t supposed to. Eddie arrives to tell Disco to get lost. Disco obliges and leaves. That was Eddie Guerrero’s WCW Nitro debut everyone.
Eddie Guerrero vs Dean Malenko
I was so excited to see this match pop up. They explain that Eddie Guerrero beat Jushin Liger on WCW Main Event the night before to appear on Nitro. That sounds like a really fun match. For the record, WCW Main Event episodes are not available on the WWE Network so I could not review that match.
Mongo’s analysis of Dean and Eddie were that these two fly more than two vultures around a bunch of dead meat. Mongo then questioned Dean Malenko calling himself the man of a thousand holds and mentions some book called “101 sex positions” or something weird like that. Before Bobby Heenan could say anything, Bischoff immediate cut him off by saying “don’t even touch that Bobby” to which Bobby sadly obliges. So I’m watching some of the most spectacular moves in a WCW ring since I started these Nitro reviews and in the middle of all this, they cut away from it to watch Hulk Hogan arriving at the arena.
It’s not like they just showed a second screen. Hogan took up ALL of the screen time and Eddie vs Dean was an afterthought. Hogan vowed to find The Giant and sort him out as my notes read. It’s all about the Hulksters out there and he’s gonna face The Giant eye-to-eye. They then cut back to Dean vs Eddie.
I didn’t take much notes during this match. It was very fast-paced and I just wanted to sit back and enjoy these two high-flyers put on a tremendous display. They showed slick reversals, monkey flips and eventually, Eddie hit the brainbuster. He was about to follow it up with the Frog Splash but Dean got the knees up. They both went for go-behinds but Eddie eventually tripped up him, grabbed the legs and pinned him. It was a lovely little match. Dean went up to Eddie after the match to ask for a rematch and Eddie accepted.
So we finally get Hulk Hogan appearing in the ring with Jimmy Hart for an interview with Mean Gene. They talk about a man in town causing destruction and Hogan basically said there’s not a lot to talk about. Hogan said he had to go do some soul-searching after The Giant snapped his neck. He mentioned a kid doing a lung transplant who told the Hulkster to look Giant in the eye and take him down. Hogan said he’d go to the back and rip him apart but before he goes to rip the Giant apart, he makes the rounds and greets the audience with handshakes! Literally going from 0 to 100 real quick.. and then going right back to 0!
Obviously this would soon make sense as an old woman starts to beat up Hogan with a walking stick. Actually, an old woman beating up Hulk Hogan with a walking stick may not make sense! The old woman was revealed to be the Taskmaster. At this point, Mongo proclaims that this is what makes Nitro so great!
The Giant and Zodiac came down to help lay the boots to Hogan. The Giant ripped of Hogan’s neck brace and broke his neck yet again. Taskmaster then did the unthinkable… and SHAVED OFF Hogan’s moustache! It looked initially like they were gonna leave it as a Hitler moustache when they cut to The Giant chokeslamming somebody! The American Males and the Nasty Boys both came down to try and stop these miscreants but even the likes of the WCW Tag Team Champions were no match for The Giant. Throughout all of this, Bobby Heenan is laughing like a madman in the middle of all of this destruction. The heels soon left as Brian Knobbs literally crawled over to check on Hulk Hogan…
This was another great segment for the Hogan/Giant storyline. Giant destroyed the Hulkster and four other men and was a pure wrecking machine. Not many heels got this much heat on the Hulkster before so it was refreshing to see a huge threat to Hulkamania that didn’t seem like just another dude. The Giant was not like the other geeks from the Dungeon of Doom. He was his own Dungeon of Doom if you will and you were dead excited to see what would happen at Halloween Havoc. This was a thumbs up segment.
Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson
The rematch from Fall Brawl 1995. As Ric Flair was coming down to the ring, Eric Bischoff was asking the hard-hitting questions of where Luger was when The Giant and his crew attacked everybody. They excused Savage as he was on a stretcher but WHERE WAS LEX LUGER? My question was why was Lex Luger expected to be out there? They couldn’t find any other fresh dude in the back that could have tried to stop The Giant?
Arn didn’t even get an entrance as they were just going fast from the bell. Bobby was still justifying the Dungeon of Doom’s actions and their attempt to cut Hogan’s hair as well by stating that Hogan needed a haircut anyway! Bobby was on top form tonight!
Arn and Ric brawled all over the place. I love how Ric Flair appears to be the babyface in all of this but was still begging Arn off during spots! Heel tactics aren’t going away that easy for Flair! Arn hit the spinebuster but both men were spent and Flair kicked out after Arn eventually made the cover. They traded sleeper holds. Flair locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock. Arn tried a piledriver but Flair countered it. Arn tried a DDT but Flair held onto the ropes and Arn took a flat-back bump.
Arn tried a dive from the top rope but Flair cut him off with a big mid-air chop. We had a perplexing finish as I have no idea what the intention was and I personally blame the referee for it. I didn’t write down who the referee was but I think it was Nick Patrick. Brian Pillman ran down as Flair got the Figure Four Leg Lock locked in. Pillman did a dive when the referee called for the bell. It was hard to determine whether the referee was calling the bell for the DQ or if Arn Anderson had given up. It’s not like Patrick decided Arn had given up before Pillman did his dive. He rang the bell after Pillman dived so I thought Flair won by DQ. Eric Bischoff, on commentary, was the one who clarified that Flair won as Arn gave up. I think the referee miss-timed calling for the bell so that’s how the finish got screwed up.
Flair and Pillman started clawing at each other but then Arn got involved. Flair wanted to chop Pillman as hard as he could but the heels overwhelmed him 2 on 1. This actually plays into the promo Arn and Brian cut last week as Arn warned that if Ric went for Arn, Brian would have his back. The heels were men of their words as Pillman ran down to help Arn and they eventually worked together to dispose of Flair.
It was then announced that WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel booked Flair vs Anderson III to take place in a steel cage on next week’s edition of Nitro. They also announced Sting vs The Shark, Big Bubba Rogers vs Road Warrior Hawk and Sabu vs Mr JL.
I loved this little ending of the show. Eric declares that Nitro is as good as it gets to which Bobby and Mongo unleashed battle cries to end the show! Bobby goes “YEEEEAAAH” and Mongo howls at the moon as the show ends. I LOVED THAT. The announcers going crazy over the product and actually looking like their interested in it. A nice change of pace from WWE announcing in 2018.
This was a decent show. I wasn’t particular fond of the finish of the Savage/Luger match as I wanted a clean finish but the ending plays into the storyline so I’ll accept it. We got some good cruiserweight action, The Giant got to look like a dominant and big threat to Hulkamania and we had a decent match in the main-event which builds towards a big grudge match next week. Thumbs up for me. I liked it.
Before I leave you, I did also promise a bonus review of the Sting and Road Warrior Hawk vs Kurasawa and Meng match from Clash of the Champions that got a -2 star rating from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. I was shocked at this rating but I will give you a bonus review of the match and see if my interest in Kurasawa is misplaced…
…spoiler but yeah, I may have placed too much stock in him because this was not particular great work!
Sting and Road Warrior Hawk vs Kurasawa and Meng w/Col. Robert Parker
Michael Buffer did the ring introductions. The highlights from his ring introductions were that Meng was discovered by WCW as he worked as a bodyguard which appears to have been true in storyline. He then said that Kurasawa was the latest edition in Col Robert Parker’s “stud stable” because nothing says studs quite like Kurasawa and Meng!
By the way, Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan were the commentators. The heels jumped Sting and Hawk before the bell rang. It broke into a four way which was a terrible idea, as these four were brawling and everybody was in each other’s way. When the match was limited to two guys working together, it wasn’t so terrible unless Road Warrior Hawk was in there. When they had to do spots as tag teams or when all four guys were doing things, it was just a clunky mess.
It’s funny because I read up on our boy Kurasawa and he’s apparently had no martial arts background before going to WCW. It’s funny because although he had no martial arts background and he was throwing kicks all over the place anyway, Kurasawa was actually an accomplished amateur wrestler. Kurasawa actually competed in the 1992 Summer Olympics and won a bronze medal in the Asian Championship one time. He’s got this background but WCW saddle him with a gimmick of being a martial artist.
Kurasawa does these kicks and Hawk no-sells them like crazy. Hawk appeared that he did not give an ounce of care about these kicks that the deadly “martial artist” was delivering. Hawk was just on another level of bad here in this match. God bless Road Warrior Hawk, who is no longer with us, but he looked like he was on another planet and looked completely lost in the ring. Sting did an atomic drop and it looked like it went horribly wrong.
Kurasawa did some chops but Sting chopped away even more. Kurasawa and Hawk did a clothesline spot and there was no communication there at all. Kurasawa hit the clothesline and Hawk just tumbled to the ground. It was ugly. Hawk was just not reacting to anything. He didn’t try to protect himself. His arms were down, he leaned his head forward and his mouth was open as he lurched forward, and I’d hate to make this comparison, but very much like a zombie. He showed no emotion in this match.
Hawk even attempted a scoop slam and, even at this point, I was fearing the worst… from a scoop slam. Hawk almost messed this up as well as Kurasawa came very close to landing on his face. Sting eventually flew in. I had no idea if he even tagged in. Hawk had no idea what was going on. Hawk and Kurasawa had a legitimate contender for the worst brawl I’ve ever seen in my whole life. I think I made a similar comment regarding the WCW tag title match from Fall Brawl but there was nothing in that match as bad as this brawl between Hawk and Kurasawa.
Sting and Hawk hit a modified… I think a modified Doomsday Device or a Hart Attack. Either way, it was sloppy and Hawk got the pin. Kurasawa then broke Hawk’s arms and ran away.
This match was beyond bad. Out of the four wrestlers in the match, the two worst wrestlers (Kurasawa and Hawk) were the most used out of the four. Hawk looked like he had no interest in being there and Kurasawa just couldn’t get going. It was messy, it was botchy and it was no good. I’m not sure if I can go as bad as -2 stars. If I gave this match -2 stars, then I’d be saying it was as bad as Buckhouse Buck and Dick Slater vs Harlem Heat from Fall Brawl. I cannot say it was as bad as that match because at least this match was relatively short compared to that tag team title match. This was still a bad match though. I would not recommend it.
Match Rating: -*
Thank you for reading and I’ll be back with Episode #6 of WCW Nitro as part of the Retro Express. We’re getting to see Sting back in action for the first time since Fall Brawl (at least on Nitro) and we got a big steel cage showdown between Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. We’ll see you at Episode #6!
WCW Nitro Episode List
- #1 – September 4th 1995
- #2 – September 11th 1995
- WCW War Games 1995 – September 17th 1995
- #3 – September 18th 1995
- #4 – September 25th 1995