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.
WCW Fall Brawl has came and gone. We got the big War Games match between the Hulkamaniacs and the Dungeon of Doom. Despite issues between Randy Savage and Lex Luger, the Hulkamaniacs survived the battle and toppled the forces of the Taskmaster. This meant Hulk Hogan got a chance to fight Taskmaster one-on-one in the double-ringed cage. This was interrupted by THE GIANT of all people, who beat down Hogan and snapped his neck. If the Dungeon was bad enough for the Hulkster, the second coming of Andre The Giant was not going to make things any better!
As much as I loved Fall Brawl, this fallout to Fall Brawl wasn’t very good. The Shark pulling off the “jumping the shark” spot during the War Games match was very appropriate when you think about this Nitro episode. I was rather perplexed through out this show. This was the show that did the WCW tag titles no favours as we’ll get to and it made the best match of Fall Brawl mean nothing when all said and done. The structure of the show was very clunky but we did get some great stuff regarding Randy Savage, Lex Luger and Ric Flair which we’ll get to.
Date: September 18th 1995
City: Johnson City, Tennessee
Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan
Right off the bat, we get ambulance sirens which didn’t have anything to do with Scott Steiner. It had to do with the supposed murder of Hulk Hogan at Fall Brawl. Mean Gene is on the scene as The Giant arrives with the Taskmaster in an ambulance. The Giant said he’s been thinking about what it was like for Hogan to go into the back of an ambulance. The Giant said Hogan is called the “Immortal” Hulk Hogan but The Giant is the only true immortal in WCW.
At the time, The Giant was billed as (and I still can’t believe this) the SON OF ANDRE THE GIANT. For the younger fans out there, The Giant (a.k.a. Big Show) debuted in the professional wrestling business as Andre The Giant’s long-lost son. They played off that as Giant said if Andre were still alive, he’d be alongside Giant in his quest to destroy Hulk Hogan. The Giant then growled with a big grin on his face as a true villain should and he had such great presence for a guy who had only just started out in the wrestling business.
“The Blue Bloods” Lord Steven Regal and Earl Robert Eaton vs “American Males” Buff Bagwell and Scotty Riggs
The American Males were supposed to face the Blue Bloods but the Blue Bloods were jumped before the match by the new WCW Tag Team Champions Harlem Heat (see our Fall Brawl review for details). Booker T got on the mic and said the Blue Bloods shouldn’t be here as Harlem Heat are the tag champions now. I guess they had inserted themselves in the match and, while they’re at it, decided that they were gonna defend the WCW tag team titles against the American Males…
“Harlem Heat” Booker T (c) and Stevie Ray (c) w/Sensational Sherri vs “American Males” Marcus Bagwell and Scotty Riggs for the WCW Tag Team Championship
I don’t know if Harlem Heat going in there instead of the Blue Bloods was better. We missed out on seeing Lord Steven Regal in action. However, it just did not click at all with these two tag teams and there’s one guy at the centre of it. This Stevie Ray is SO HORRIBLE. In every task he was given in this match, he could not accomplish it with any level of success. He could not bump, he could not sell and he could not brawl. He tried to do all of these things and just couldn’t do anything right.
Booker, Bagwell and Riggs tried to wrestle around this big stump and they did try. Booker executed a sweet scoop powerslam on Riggs. Bagwell got the “hot tag” but this led to Stevie clobbering Bagwell from behind and then Booker hitting an axe kick just as regular move which was strange. Booker hit a Harlem sidekick which Bischoff was going nuts about as he declared this to be a wheel kick.
There was a “We Want It RAW” sign right in the front row of the hard cam which I was shocked was not confiscated. Bagwell got another “hot tag” which saw Stevie evade a dropkick by just side-stepping as Bagwell fell on his back. The finish saw Col. Robert Parker come down. If you recall at Fall Brawl, Parker and Sherri had lust in their eyes for each other as they made out. Parker wooed Sherri off the apron as they made their way up the entrance ramp. The match continued as Booker went for a pumphandle slam but Bagwell reversed it by bringing Booker down mid-move and scoring the pin.
In case anyone isn’t keeping track, allow me to clarify the WCW tag team title situation. Harlem Heat beat Buckhouse Buck and Dick Slater for the titles at Fall Brawl because of the distraction caused by their managers. On WCW Nitro the day after, Harlem Heat drop the titles to the American Males because of the distraction caused by managers. It’d be one thing if they did the title change at Fall Brawl and then Buck and Dick won the tag titles back the next night. At least it would continue the storyline. Instead a random new tag team, who didn’t even earn the tag title shots, beat Harlem Heat and they’re now the new WCW tag champs.
It was a very sloppy match. Not as horrifically bad as the tag match at the PPV but it was bad. Bad to the bone.
They showed a brief 10 second but awesome Slim Jim commercial from our boy “Macho Man” Randy Savage.
Mean Gene brings out Ric Flair for an interview. It was revealed here that Ric Flair would face Brian Pillman here tonight and judging by what happened at Fall Brawl, that makes sense. Flair was upset that Arn Anderson BROKE THE CODE. He said it’s OK for him and Arn to feud between themselves but Arn brought in an outsider into their feud. Something oddly foreshadowy about Outsider huh?
Flair said they’re gonna settle this feud within the family. Flair turned to Brian. I’m just gonna start calling him Brian Pillman in these reports. It makes life more easier for me and I don’t even think they referred to him as Flyin’ Brian in this show. So Brian Pillman it is.
Flair said he was going to chop Brian hard and that he was going to find Arn in Tennessee and kick his ass. The concerned Mean Gene insisted that you can’t say “ass” on WCW Nitro.
They showed the line up for Saturday Night, including Sting vs Regal, Craig Pittman vs Kobra in a Fall Brawl rematch, Dusty Rhodes being on the show and an update on Hulk Hogan.
“Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorff vs Johnny B Badd
The follow-up to the legendary segment shown at Fall Brawl with Paul Orndorff and Gary Spivey. Paul Orndorff, now realising that he was in fact Mr Wonderful, comes out to a theme song which was 10 times as beautiful as The Man Called Sting theme song I raved about from Episode #1. Two opera singers were singing that “THEY CALL HIM MR WONDERFUL” as Paul came down to the ring admiring himself in a mirror. Eric Bischoff and the announcers were crapping on the theme song which was unbearable to hear. Please guys… the theme was WONDERFUL.
Orndorff came out flying with rights and lefts into the corner on Johnny B Badd. This beating was so bad that Nick Patrick, THE REFEREE, had to get in Orndorff’s face to get him to knock it off.
This wasn’t much of a match in all honesty. I just like how, at this point in the show, Bischoff decides to mention that we’ve got a new WCW TV champion coming out of Fall Brawl. Diamond Dallas Page was the new WCW TV champion. We didn’t get a peep out Page throughout the show but yeah, now’s the time when we must inform you of this news. Not mentioning the fact that the WCW tag team titles have changed hands twice in the last 24 hours AND that JOHNNY B BADD is now the US title number one contender. JOHNNY B BADD, who was in this match, was not acknowledged as the number one contender for the US title.
They don’t mention that but they did mention that Badd maybe fatigued due to the intensity of the matches he’s been having as of late. Again, not mentioning the fact that Badd had a 29 minute match the night before with Brian Pillman.
Orndorff pinned Badd by, as Mongo stated it as, SITTING ON HIS HEAD. Mongo saying that would be one thing, if it we’re not for Mongo than asking him to sit on Bobby Heenan’s head at ringside.
To start the show, we had the new WCW Tag Team champions from Fall Brawl losing the tag titles to American Males. In the SECOND match on the WCW Nitro AFTER Fall Brawl, the new number one contender for the US title loses clean to Mr Wonderful. If this leads to Mr Wonderful becoming next in line for the US title shot then I’m fine with this. If this leads to Johnny B Badd still getting his US title shot, I’d be baffled.
They showed “Macho Man” Randy Savage on the set of Baywatch doing a bench press. These actors are here cheering Savage until Taskmaster runs down at presses the weights on Savage’s chest. He threw sand at Savage. He mauled at him until Baywatch geeks and RIC FLAIR came out to make the save. Flair added that Taskmaster had went too far.
I don’t really have any idea when this was supposed to have taken place. If it’d happened before Fall Brawl, Savage would have mentioned it during the big Hulkamaniacs promo at the PPV. I guess it happened just before Nitro. They flew out to the set for Baywatch (him and Ric Flair anyway) and Taskmaster was on their tail and ambushed the Macho Man.
Macho Man then shows himself in Tennessee. Macho Man talks about what happened on the Baywatch set. Macho Man told Flair “thanks, but no thanks” which was met with a lot of boos as these fans loved Ric Flair. Macho said he’d cut the head off the snake that is the Taskmaster. He said the strong survive and nobody is stronger than Hulk Hogan. However, Savage admitted that Hogan dropped the ball by picking Lex Luger for the Hulkamaniacs as Luger “cheap-shotted” him. Mean Gene pointed out that a lot of the wrestlers were behind Luger and that Luger “cheap-shotting” him was merely an accident. Savage questioned his sources as he now believed Sting, Jimmy Hart AND Lex Luger were all with the Dungeon of Doom.
This brought out Lex Luger. Luger said that Macho Man may be jealous of him. Luger said that Savage claims Luger is only looking out for himself as he wants the WCW World title but yet Savage also wants the WCW title himself. Savage says he’s got the guts to say that he does have the WCW title in mind but still insisted that Luger cheap-shotted him. Luger says he’s here to take on the big boys and Savage said there’s no bigger boy than the Macho Man. Savage was ready for a fight and even slapped Luger and as they’re about to fight… they cut to a break.
AT THE MOMENT where Luger and Savage are about to come to blows, they felt the need to show the WCW fans the words from their sponsors! They had great confrontation but they didn’t even show what happened after Savage slapped Luger. The next thing they show when they come back is the commentators talking about Hogan and The Giant. WHAT?
They showed the clip in full of The Giant destroying Hulk Hogan’s Harley Davidson motorcycle. Giant smashed right into the bike using a Monster Truck just after Hogan shows it off to all the little Hulksters out there with him. He loved this bike before Giant destroyed it. Giant reversed back into the motorcycle at the slowest speed he could and it appeared to do NO DAMAGE! Hogan clawed at Giant and yelled “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?” to which Giant just cackled!
They then replayed Giant killing Hogan at the PPV. I couldn’t help but noticed this, as they didn’t show this at the PPV, but Giant grabbed hold to the top of the cage like monkey bars as he gets in and then just launches himself into the first ring! The Giant, at this time, was ridiculously agile.
Ric Flair vs Brian Pillman
Wrestling Observer Newsletter had this match as being on par with the WCW tag team title match. I have no idea what they were thinking. This match was miles better than the tag team match. Maybe not miles but it was still pretty OK.
This match was… very much the 1995 version of a Dolph Ziggler match. Pillman’s going super fast and Flair, who is 40 at this time I think, just could not keep up and nothing was able to sink in as a move. Nothing really got much heat with the exception of Ric Flair CHOPPING Pillman like crazy from the get-go. I like how Flair still had to style and profile in the middle of this beating during a blood feud with Pillman!
By the way, they played up that Johnny B Badd was fatigued earlier. Pillman was wrestling Johnny B Badd in their 29 minute match at Fall Brawl and here is Pillman flying at 100 miles an hour against Flair. He didn’t even sell being tired. Flair locked in the figure four leg lock and won.
Flair got on the mic and called out Arn as Pillman just walks to the back. Flair then said that since Arn didn’t show up here, he vowed that Arn would get his ass kicked on next week’s Nitro instead.
The announcers close the show by randomly stating that WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel would decide the fate of the WCW tag titles. Do we really need Nick to decide if American Males are the tag team champions? They won. Why does Bockwinkel need to decide if they’re the tag team champions?
Bischoff randomly says that something’s happening in the back. Then it just cuts to the card for the next WCW Nitro episode… I have no idea what that was about. Either it was a mistake by Bischoff to say that, a WCW production error or it was a WWE Network production error. Either way, we had no idea what happened in the back.
We do know that next week’s episode of WCW Nitro includes Alex Wright vs the Debuting Disco Inferno and Randy Savage vs Taskmaster. Ric Flair also said that he would kick Arn Anderson’s ass.
I will say that upon review, this episode of Nitro was not as terrible as I remembered it being when I started writing it up. They were still some stupid stuff. I was mostly just upset at the lack of impact that Fall Brawl had on the product. Johnny B Badd became the number one contender and then lost to Mr Wonderful. Harlem Heat won the tag titles and then lost the tag titles to the American Males. We had some really sloppy matches along the way.
However, we had great stuff with Randy Savage as they built on the issues between him, Taskmaster and Lex Luger. I loved the Savage/Luger confrontation. Flair promos are always money. The Giant being all evil and diabolical was great to see too. In the undercard of WCW, there’s not much too it but the important storylines were dealt with carefully. Savage and Luger, Arn and Ric, Hogan and Giant. All these programs were dealt with brilliantly on this show. However, this was the worst out of the 3 WCW Nitro episodes I’ve seen so far. Hopefully things will improve with Episode #4 as Savage takes on the Taskmaster!
Thank you for reading and I’ll be back with Episode #4 of WCW Nitro as part of the Retro Express.
WCW Nitro Episode List