RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #4 (SEPTEMBER 25TH 1995) – RANDY SAVAGE VS THE TASKMASTER

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 had the fallout to Fall Brawl 1995. Ric Flair was out for the blood of Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman. Arn wasn’t there but Pillman was, so Flair decided to chop the hell out of Pillman. He vowed that he would get Arn on the next episode of Nitro. Mr Wonderful, who just re-discovered himself as Mr Wonderful, beat the number one contender for the US title clean as a sheet. We had a awesome segment with Randy Savage and Lex Luger. They accused each other of having personal agendas and this almost led to a brawl but they were separated.

Let’s all remember everybody that this week RIC FLAIR was gonna kick Arn Anderson’s ass on this week’s edition of WCW Nitro. Let’s all remember that as we see what happened on Nitro. We do get Randy Savage vs Taskmaster on this episode of Nitro. They set-up this match when Taskmaster attacked Savage on the set of Baywatch. We’ve got a lot to get to on this episode so let’s get down to business…

NOTE: I actually looked back at my review from WCW Nitro Episode #2. They advertised the Nasty Boys would be in action on Episode #3 of Nitro but we never got it. Fans of the Nasty Boys would have been kinda upset that we never got the advertised appearances of Brian Knobbs and Jerry Saggs.

 

Date: September 25th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Florence, South Carolina

Rating: 2.7

Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan

 

No real noteworthy notes from the commentary team this week. They weren’t as annoying as they have been in recent episodes of Nitro. Mongo is a dude I just try to zone out but it’s hard to do so. Eric is loud and proud about his product which I guess is a good thing. Bobby is there with the quick wit to combat these two dingbats at commentary! Didn’t take too much away from the product.

 

Alex Wright vs Disco Inferno

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The WCW Nitro DEBUT of the man they called Disco Inferno. Thank god he had some moves on the dance floor as his in-ring moves needed some work at this point! He was rather green but this was one of the first matches of his career as far as I’m aware. With that being said, there were a lot of things Disco did right in this match in terms of his presence in the ring that would do well for him for his WCW career.

One thing he had was the amazing DISCO FEVER theme song! Not quite at the level of Mr Wonderful’s theme song but still tremendous. Nobody could doubt that Disco knew how to bust some dance moves. He was having the time of his life as he danced down to the ring.

Alex Wright was actually a good wrestler for him to debut against considering Wright, at this point, was one of the cautious cruiserweights in WCW. This match was mostly just Wright selling for Disco and after every move, Disco would like pay attention to his hair to make sure it didn’t get messed up. Very classic but timely heel characteristic that every heel with great hair should do! Wright knocked Disco to the outside and Disco flopped like a fish out of water on the outside.

Mongo said something like no need to turn over to the NFL football as San Francisco would win the game. I learned after watching the show that apparently San Francisco actually lost that game Mongo was on about. Far be it from me to question STEVE “MONGO” MCMICHAEL on American Football but history does not lie.

Wright and Disco botched a belly-to-belly suplex to such a royal degree. Wright tried to throw him over his head but Disco decided to launch himself a bit further without realising that the ropes were there. So poor Disco crashes into this top rope and that could have easily turned ugly for Disco.

Wright won with a backslide in… I guess the best match you could have gotten from Disco Inferno in his first WCW match on Nitro. It wasn’t pretty but we all have to start somewhere. Eric proclaimed this as a big win for Alex Wright… I fail to see how that is the case considering this is Disco’s FIRST MATCH with WCW.

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They cut to Hulk Hogan, wearing a neck brace, working out with Jimmy Hart. If you recall, The Giant murdered Hogan at Fall Brawl. Here is Hogan 8 days later, thankfully not dead, working out by lifting the belt up and down by just using HIS NECK. Counter-productive after a wrestler SNAPPED Hogan’s neck!

I had to replay this several times but for the right reasons. Hogan was talking faster than the speed of sound as he cut this great promo on The Giant. He was oozing with charisma and fire even after The Giant broke his neck. He’s ready and amped up brother. Hogan says he’s not dead and he’s not even down and out. Hogan said he didn’t miss one workout and he’s not gonna miss one now… even with a broken neck and putting Kurt Angle to shame.

Hogan said The Giant tried to rip off his head at Fall Brawl but he is back on track and ready to take care of the “big nasty” Giant. Hogan challenged him to the now-infamous “Monster Truck” challenge just to embarrass him. He then decided to put his WCW title on the line after that Monster Truck match. He vowed to slam The Giant as the largest arms in the world was ready for any challenge. Hogan vowed that he would bury The Giant right next to his father which is… kind of dark now I think about it!

This was an exceptional promo. 23 years later, this kind of Monster Truck challenge would seem ridiculous but Hogan, because he’s Hulk Hogan, made you want to see him and The Giant destroy each other with monster trucks! It’s so insane but, for better or for worse, you wanted to see it. I loved it.

I also have a confession to make… I’ve never seen the monster truck deal with Hogan and Giant. My WCW knowledge is very limited, which is why I started the Nitro series in the first place. I am very much a newbie to WCW. I have no idea how I’ll react to this, although I’m aware of how the follow up WCW title match goes.

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“Macho Man” Randy Savage shows up for a new Slim Jim advert where he’s doing push-ups with a human being! They also recapped the Luger/Savage segment from last week.

Savage comes out with Mean Gene and called out Luger. Luger obliges by running down to the ring and ready for a fight. Luger advised that Savage never had any respect for Luger and had been “thumbs down” on him since day one. Luger said they’d went to war as allies but now they had to go war against each other. Luger said he fought Sting and Hogan and earned their respect. Anyone who slaps Lex Luger doesn’t have any respect so Luger challenged Savage to a match for next week’s Nitro. I believe Lex Luger said he’d put his WCW title shot on the line and then said he’d leave WCW if he lost. Savage liked that Luger was willing to put it all on the line and accepted the challenge, confirming that they had a date with destiny. Luger paid Savage back for the slap from the week before by pushing Savage away.

I loved this segment. Lex Luger came off as a smart babyface and you were still invested in the guy’s character. Luger came into WCW and every babyface except Sting didn’t trust Luger. Hogan then “went to war” with Luger, as he put it, and then Hogan respected Luger for taking it to him. Savage is still untrustworthy of Luger, mostly because he’s nuts, but because he doesn’t know what Luger is about. Luger’s solution is for them to fight and then Savage can find out first-hand what Luger is all about. This did make me want to see what happens next. I’m also certain Luger’s going to win the match because, SPOILER ALERT, Lex Luger is still with WCW for years after this match. However, you’ve got two big stars going at it and we’ll see just who is the better man and if Luger does in fact belong in WCW. This is all great.

They promoted Halloween Havoc and confirmed that the Monster Truck Challenge a.k.a MACHINE VS MACHINE would be on the show.

 

Kurasawa w/Col. Robert Parker vs Craig Pittman

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I did have a weird love for this match. It’s Kurasawa vs Pittman so I probably shouldn’t have but this was two different wrestlers fighting in different ways as a means to win. You watch a lot of indie matches and especially a lot of WWE matches where both guys will go in there and wrestle in the exact same way. Kurasawa and Pittman battled with very different styles but it was awesome. Kurasawa had the kicks and Pittman had suplexes and headbutts. It was simple.

Kurasawa kicked at Pittman for a long time and battered him. Kurasawa even ripped up the floor and hit a back-drop on the concrete just as a regular move which I didn’t particularly like. It’s concrete. That should hurt way more than they played it off as.

Kurasawa did a judo throw. Fans came alive when Pittman finally was able to back-drop Kurasawa out of the ring and fight back. Pittman hit a belly-to-belly and locked on the Code Red armbar. Kurasawa got his foot on the rope. Kurasawa went for a submission but it was reversed into a gut-wrench suplex. Kurasawa hit a german suplex and won. It sort of appeared like a screwy finish but I suspect that was supposed to be the finish. Referee Nick Patrick looked very clunky delivering the count.

This was an OK little match as it accomplished the goal of setting up Kurasawa as a killing machine. It made you want to see more of the man, which is a thumbs up. I actually want to see more of Kurasawa as I was looking through some notes on the Wrestling Observer Newsletter archives and Kurasawa’s history. Apparently, Kurasawa teamed up Meng to face Sting and Road Warrior Hawk in one of the old Clash of the Champions. The Newsletter rated this -2 stars which sort of shocked me. That match on paper sounded awesome but I’m very curious to see if it was as bad as it was graded. I will watch this match as a little bonus for Episode #5 and I’ll report back with my findings.

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Mean Gene interviewed Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman in the ring. Nothing much to this promo other than what Arn and Brian were wearing. Polo shirts, tight jeans and fanny packs all perfectly capturing the 1990s vintage look! Nobody in 2018 could get away with this!

Pillman bragged about how Ric has hit an all-time low since Arn beat him at Fall Brawl. He said he and Arn would hospitalise anyone that gets in their way. Arn said the better man won at Fall Brawl and if Flair were to go after Arn, Pillman would be there to have Arn’s back. Arn pointed out everybody Ric Flair has double-crossed in the past including Sting and Randy Savage and that nobody would dare tag with Ric Flair after every under-handed thing Flair has done in WCW. Ric did all of that with Arn by his side but now Arn’s not on his side and what goes around comes around.

I wasn’t that much of a fan of the delivery of the promo but the content was very good. It tells a great story about Ric Flair and Arn Anderson’s relationship. Flair was the dirtiest player in the game and he had aligned himself with others a lot along the way. Even when he “jumped ship” to the WWF, he aligned himself with Mr Perfect and Bobby Heenan. Now Ric Flair is all alone and he may have to pay for all of his bad deeds in the past. You live by the sword and die by the sword.

I have two main nit-picks to kind of address. #1 is that it appeared they were suddenly setting up a tag team match. Maybe I missed something from WCW Saturday Night because now Arn and Brian are talking about taking on Flair in a tag team match. I fear I may have missed something because this plays into nitpick #2. Ric Flair promised on Nitro last week that he would kick Arn’s ass on that show. He didn’t but then Ric said that he would kick Arn’s ass on Nitro this week. He teased that we would get Ric beating up Arn on this show. We didn’t even get Ric Flair on this show. Either Ric was taken out on some other show in storyline or Ric really did think twice when Arn said Flair would now have to deal with Pillman too!

By the way, Pillman saying that Ric has hit an all-time low in his career is funny considering this is one week removed from when Ric beat Pillman in 5 minutes clean!

 

So you recall last week, I was ranting about number one contender for the US title Johnny B Badd losing clean to Mr Wonderful. I said I’d be baffled if Badd still got the US title shot after all of this. Well call me baffled as they announced Sting vs Johnny B Badd for the US title at WCW Saturday Night!

They also announced American Males for WCW Saturday Night and that THE GIANT would be there with Taskmaster.

 

Randy Savage vs The Taskmaster w/Zodiac

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They recapped the Baywatch segment from last week when Taskmaster jumped Savage. The Giant was not already down with Taskmaster for this match but Taskmaster was able to get Zodiac to help him out. Savage chased Taskmaster around the ring which led to Zodiac beating up Savage. It was rather boring but I did love Taskmaster beating down Savage with simple karate chops all across the Macho Man’s body.

There’s a certain spot in wrestling where you put a guy like on the top rope or the steel rail and then someone would flying in with a clothesline to knock them down. Daniel Bryan does this spot a lot and it always looks really well done. Taskmaster tried this spot with Savage where he hung him up to dry on the steel rail and then he did the clothesline. This was the least elegant I’ve ever seen this move done!

Savage got back into the match with a back-drop and a double axe handle. As Zodiac got involved again, Savage snapped and beat Zodiac up royally. In the middle of this melee, Savage knocks down the referee causing the DQ. Savage is beating down Taskmaster and Zodiac as the fans is going nuts, even after a disqualification. Savage tries a double elbow drop but Taskmaster moves out of the way and only Zodiac gets hit with the move.

At this moment, THE GIANT emerges. The fans are concerned now as the big nasty Giant arrives and he’s coming for their hero Randy Savage. The Giant hit a chokeslam and when I mean a chokeslam, it was Giant hoisting Savage HIGH IN THE AIR and then slamming him down to the mat. The Giant/Big Show, when he was doing the chokeslam for the first 10 years of his career or so, did them so well. He held them up and had them in peril with nowhere to go, and was able to control the landing and slam them down. I loved those chokeslams.

Some geeks come down to the ring including Mark Starr to try and stop The Giant. Even these lesser-known talents coming down to help got a huge ovation. Even if The Giant was too powerful, these guys were willing to try and stop them. Sadly, The Giant just destroyed them just as easily including Alex Wright for that matter. Wright came off the top rope and Giant just grabbed him for a bear-hug and slammed him down.

Finally LEX LUGER arrives. He gets in between The Giant and Randy Savage and stands over the Macho Man’s body. Before Luger does anything, The Giant attacks Luger from behind. Luger tried to fight back but he got chokeslammed too. The Taskmaster eventually calmed The Giant down and the monster was taken to the back.

THIS WAS MONEY. The Giant left devastation in his wake. He didn’t just beat up Randy Savage. He swatted away wrestler, after wrestler, after wrestler including a fresh Lex Luger who took Hulk Hogan to the limit (in storyline anyway) two weeks ago. This is how you build up a monster in wrestling. He comes in, causes destruction and leaves. It’s awesome and it’s great build for Halloween Havoc. The Giant easily destroyed Lex Luger, who was the guy that Hogan was fighting toe-to-toe against a few weeks ago. This is the type of monster that Hogan must overcome at Halloween Havoc.

 

Lex Luger vs Meng

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That’s right. Lex Luger, who was still down in the ring following The Giant’s chokeslam, was still in the main-event of Nitro and had to overcome Meng. Meng ran down to the ring as he smelled blood in water and pounced on Luger. He didn’t let up. This Tongan monster choked Luger as Bischoff plugged Hogan being on Nitro next week.

Bischoff also mentions that Taskmaster was not out there with Meng, possibly teasing dissension within the ranks of the Dungeon of Doom. Meng hit a piledriver. The match did slow to a crawl as Meng had nerve holds and chin-locks locked in. Luger tried to fight back but Meng responded with a gut-wrench gut-buster which I’ve never seen before. It looked really cool and I wanna see a dude like Cesaro try this one day.

Funnily enough, Luger got back into the match by catching Meng off the top rope with a face slam. It’s funny because 2 weeks ago, Savage was in a match with Scott Norton where he did the same thing to Norton. Maybe this was to show that Luger was just as good as Savage… or maybe it was just a giant coincidence.

Luger stomped a mudhole on Meng but the referee pulled him away. While Luger is being pulled away, Meng grabs a spike and he hits Luger with it for the win.

It was… a match. It was nothing really special and really could not follow The Giant laying waste to 5 men on his own. My only thing with this is that Luger did not come off well as a star. Luger came in to challenge Hogan on Episode #1. In Episode #2, Hogan and Luger have their match and Hogan has LUGER beat before the Dungeon of Doom run in. Luger didn’t get the victory at War Games and here on Episode #4, Luger loses to Meng in the main-event. Luger’s not actually beaten anybody since he arrived in WCW. Meanwhile, Randy Savage beat up Zodiac and Taskmaster by himself before The Giant ran down!

Maybe Lex will profit from a BIG WIN over Randy Savage next week and we’ll see if all can be forgiven on that front.

 

That’s it for Nitro. They plugged that Hulk Hogan would be on Nitro next week, the American Males would be there, DEAN MALENKO would be there, the Nasty Boys was advertised to be on next week’s show at least and we’ve got Lex Luger vs Randy Savage.

I’m very much looking forward to next week. I’ve got to say, I think they’re doing a hell of a job with The Giant. Him coming in and wrecking all in his path was excellent in setting him up for Hogan. I’m very excited in seeing what’s more to come. The matches on Nitro weren’t all that great in this episode but I did like certain bits like Kurasawa vs Pittman. I enjoyed this show so it get’s a thumbs up!

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Thank you for reading and I’ll be back with Episode #5 of WCW Nitro as part of the Retro Express. I will actually be reviewing TWO bonus matches. I will watch the Sting/Hawk vs Kurasawa/Meng match I mentioned earlier and I will try to see if I can watch Sting vs Johnny B Badd for the US title. I don’t think Johnny B Badd is winning the belt or anything! However, I’m very much interested as we’ve built towards this for the last few weeks or so! We’ll see you at Episode #5 – as LEX LUGER AND RANDY SAVAGE COLLIDE!

 

WCW Nitro Episode List

 

 

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