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.
On the last episode of WCW Nitro, we entered CHAPTER THREE of the feud between Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. Arn won at Fall Brawl and Ric won in Episode #5. We were at 1-1 heading into a steel cage match in Chicago. Flair had things under control when Arn beat Ric at his own game. Arn smacked Ric with the brass knuckles to the face and won. An ENRAGED Ric Flair challenged Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman to a match for Episode #7 and Flair was more than happy to go at it alone if he couldn’t find a partner. One way or another, Flair was gonna get his hands on Anderson and Pillman.
We had Hulk Hogan vowing to beat The Giant at Halloween Havoc, more matches added to the Halloween Havoc card. Lex Luger and Randy Savage will face each other, as long as they get past Meng and Kamala respectively earlier in the PPV. Sting also defended the US title successfully against The Shark, Disco Inferno danced and Sabu beat up Mr JL.
So now, it’s a big week for WCW Nitro. We have Ric getting his hands on Anderson and Pillman, Johnny B Badd challenging DDP for the WCW TV title and the DEBUT of Chris Benoit as he faces Eddie Guerrero. Let’s get to it…
Date: October 16th 1995
City: Albany, Georgia
Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan
From the get-go, we suffer from the disadvantages of watching only WCW Nitro and nothing else. Because from the start of the show, they already announce that Sting will be the one to team up with Ric Flair against Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman. On an episode of WCW Pro, Flair asked Sting to be his partner. Sting agreed but vowed to leave Flair for dead if he turned on him. The commentators were still speculating as to whether Sting and Flair can team up together against Anderson and Pillman. Sting and Flair had not teamed together in years since Flair turned on him many years prior to this.
The commentators were having some banter as Bobby Heenan called Mongo’s dog a “tarantula”. Heenan asks Mongo to turn the dog around and goes “oh, there’s the batteries.”
DDP (c) w/Diamond Doll vs Johnny B Badd for the WCW Television Championship
My extra research from Episode #5 appears to have finally paid off. Allow me to break down what has happened with Mr Johnny B Badd. Johnny B Badd became the number one contender for the WCW United States Championship at Fall Brawl. We watched a 29 minute match where Johnny B Badd grabbed the victory. On the Nitro following this, “Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorff squashed this guy in a matter of minutes. I asked the question of whether he would get his title shot or not. They announced he was still getting his US title shot in a Saturday Night match with Sting.
I decided to watch this match and see what happens but what happened was Johnny B Badd NEVER got his US title match. He no-showed but it appears the explanation was that somebody had slashed his tires and he broke down. In a Saturday Night segment, WCW Television Champion DDP said something about all of Badd’s tyres being slashed. Badd asked DDP how he knew all four of his tyres were slashed when he only said one of them got slashed. Badd punched DDP and that’s how we’ve got the former US title number one contender now challenging for the WCW TV title on Nitro. GOT ALL THAT?
To put a cherry on top of the whole thing, Eric announced that Badd and DDP would wrestle each other at Halloween Havoc anyway… so what was the point of this match, even if it was for the WCW TV title? If they’re doing the TV title match at the PPV, why bother doing this match?
In the end, it didn’t even matter. What happened was DDP SMACKED Badd with the belt before the match started and Badd was out cold on the floor. DDP started attacking him some more as Diamond Doll looked on in awe and disgust. DDP did his own count but the referee disqualified him anyway.
It’s always been one of the great inconsistencies of professional wrestling with disqualifications and what warrants disqualifications in matches. The simple answer is that it’s wrestling and the rules can change at any moment to fit a narrative. It was widely accepted by a lot of fans that nothing you do before a match counts before the bell rings. Brock Lesnar hit Big Show with dozens of chair shows before their Royal Rumble 2014 match before the bell rang and they had a two minute match. Here, DDP hit Badd with the belt before the match and was DQ’d for it.
NOTE: Johnny B Badd had hurt his ribs before the match, which is why they never did the match properly on this edition of Nitro.
Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero
I’m going to give this disclaimer right now about Chris Benoit, as I don’t want any of my comments about Benoit’s work to be misinterpreted. Every comment about Chris Benoit is directed solely on his abilities as a worker. I don’t have any intention to discuss the nature of his personality and character as well as anything related to the tragedies that happened to Benoit’s family in 2007.
With that being said… I could watch Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero wrestle each other over and over again. Considering the circumstances of the deaths of the two wrestlers, it is somewhat sad to watch a match like this. However, Benoit and Guerrero were just two wrestlers who were masters of the craft. Every time they wrestled, it was quality. It was the type of matches that every wrestler should aspire to emulate. Look at the psychology of what Eddie did in the ring but especially look at the psychology of what Benoit did. I understand everything in professional wrestling is considered entertainment but everything in this match felt real for some reason.
Everything Benoit did in this match had a purpose and a goal. He was not just hitting move after move after move on Eddie Guerrero just because he could. They all mattered and Benoit would do things in the middle of the match that would play into the finish. Lance Storm has this philosophy about wrestling where he doesn’t like how matches nowadays are about the last few minutes and based on those final moments of the match, fans go on about how great these matches are. To an extent, he’s got a point and this match shows that. Benoit worked on the hand, over and over again, and it eventually led to the finish. But I’ll get onto that later…
Benoit and Guerrero traded hurricanranas earlier on. Eddie did a big dive to the outside to “Eddie” chants by the fans. Benoit tried a back suplex but Eddie reversed it, which sent them both tumbling to the floor. It looked really crisp and really well done. Eddie sent Benoit into the ring post but then Eddie went crashing into the ring post in order for Benoit to get the heat. Benoit worked over Eddie, including hitting a beautiful hammerlock suplex. He worked on Eddie’s hand, which is important when considering the finish.
The key to all of this “getting heat” on Guerrero was that it was never boring. That was the great thing about Benoit wrestling as a heel. It was never boring. Nothing ever came off as repetitive as every move mattered. It was not a 10 minute Randy Orton headlock or a Kevin Owens chin lock. However, it was also methodical… which is great.
In one motion Eddie reversed a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, bounced off the rope and hit a springboard DDT. It was pretty. Benoit chopped at Eddie as Mongo ranted about the NFL players being pussies or something. God bless Mongo and, to an extent, I feel there is a need for some creativity from the commentators. However, Mongo going on about the NFL over and over just takes away attention from the wrestling and is somewhat irrelevant as the match is going on.
There was somewhat a screwed up botch when Eddie attempted a 619 but I think that was about the only spot they screwed up in this match.
Eddie went for the Frog Splash but Benoit got the knees up. Benoit slammed Eddie, and I mean SLAMMED Eddie, with an absolutely tremendous powerbomb. Benoit went for another powerbomb but Eddie reversed it. Eddie then tried to punch Benoit, but because Benoit worked the hand over, Eddie’s hand was hurting a lot. This allowed Benoit to capitalise with a Dragon Suplex to win the match via pinfall.
This was a great match… possibly the best Nitro match we’ve seen so far. Tremendous psychology. The WCW cruiserweight division was announced by Bischoff following the match and this was a great match as a means to promote it. Benoit, I don’t think, was a cruiserweight at this time but with the likes of Eddie and Dean Malenko… suffice to say we’re in for a lot of fun.
Bischoff revealed that The Giant was here, much to the delight of Heenan as he cackled away!
Mean Gene is in the ring and we’ve got another plug of the WCW hotline. Mean Gene revealed that a top WWF executive was gone and a WWF guy got into a fight with a fan and lost. Gene said he couldn’t talk about it on Nitro but if you called the hotline for $1.49 per minute you could find out the answer. In case you were wondering, the executive that was fired was Bill Watts. I’m not particular sure who Mean Gene was on about when they mentioned the wrestler who lost a fight to a fan.
The Giant came down with the Taskmaster for a promo with Mean Gene. Taskmaster brought up that Hogan was dressed in black on the last episode and Hogan called Taskmaster evil. From the day he was born, Taskmaster said he knew he was the personification of evil. Evil, evil evil.
Taskmaster said when they shaved Hogan’s moustache, it took away his identity. He said Hogan gave up his colours but the fans had followed Hulkster for all of these years because he was a winner. After Detroit at Halloween Havoc, the fans would become followers of the Dungeon of Doom. The Giant said he was gonna push Hogan off the roof using his monster truck and then gave Mean Gene a close up of the hand that was gonna destroy Hogan by facepalming Mean Gene. Gene was shocked as The Giant cackled, vowing to destroy Hulk Hogan.
They plugged WCW Saturday Night, including Michael Wallstreet vs Jim Duggan, Disco Inferno vs Alex Wright, Hulk Hogan being there and Randy Savage vs Scott Norton in a rematch from Episode #2. So after Bischoff said he wasn’t on the roster last week, Disco Inferno is booked to face Alex Wright on WCW Saturday Night. I guess either he’s hired in storyline or they forgot he’s supposed to be a free agent.
Meng vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan
Eric called this match a “barnburner” and although I would not go that far to describe the match, the match was very fun if you wanted to see two big dudes clobbering each other for a minute.
But before all of that, the aforementioned Disco Inferno arrived in all white gear. Before Disco could really get his groove on, like he did during Hawk vs Big Bubba, Meng’s music hit and Disco knew well enough to get out of town.
Meng jumped Duggan before the bell. Hacksaw fought back in a battle where they just punched away at each other. Hacksaw got back into it with a couple of dodges as well as getting the hell away from a massive Meng top rope dive. Hacksaw fired away at Meng and even hit a scoop slam. But Meng quickly regained control with a superkick that caused Hacksaw’s body to go limp as he crashed to the floor. Meng locked on the Tongan Death Grip and won. A very basic match of brawling with not a lot of actual wrestling and somehow that’s OK with me.
Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart did a promo. They said that everyone now knows the evil in Hogan is real and Taskmaster was right when he mentioned that there was evil in Hogan. Hogan said the evil was here to protect the prayers and vitamins of the fans. Hogan said something strange like The Giant doesn’t realise that Hogan can make promoters fall to their knees in tears as Hogan is stronger than their entire promotions. These digs at WWF are just getting weirder and weirder!
Hogan said the “big stinky Giant” wants to burn down all of the trees to the ground. Jimmy is worried about what Hogan was gonna do to the Taskmaster and Giant. Hogan wanted to prove that Hulkamania was the strongest force in the world. He vowed to bury The Giant in the Motor Ciy right next to his father. He asked what The Giant was gonna do when the evil of Hogan ran wild on him. A crazy Hogan promo as usual.
Ric Flair and Sting vs Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman
There was no Sting for the opening bell of this match so this meant Flair had to go at alone by himself against Arn and Brian. It’s funny because while he was on his own, Flair was an ass-kicking machine! I think this was possibly the greatest performance of a one-on-two handicap match from a guy with the disadvantage. It was amazingly great.
He appeared to have no difficulty in absolutely obliterating Arn and Brian as he chopped away at both men throughout this match. He chopped Pillman so hard that the referee was forced back by the force of the chop. It was truly sublime.
Pillman would try getting in some chops but Flair would just chop him harder! Flair beat both of their asses and was running wild on his former buddies. I love how during the match where Flair is in control, Bischoff talks about how he had to pay the price as Sting didn’t trust him… WHEN FLAIR WAS DOMINATING ARN AND BRIAN BY HIMSELF!
The fans chanted “We Want Sting” during a match that also included Heenan comparing Hulk Hogan to Darth Vader. Flair went for the Figure Four Leg Lock on Arn but Pillman went to break it up. He tried to break it up but Flair somehow evaded Pillman from the position of having Arn in the Figure Four! It was awesome!
Flair tried a Figure Four on Pillman but that was broken up. Flair is still running wild as the ass-kicking Ric Flair was putting on a damn amazing performance. He was destroying both of these men but he was entertaining and believable at it. Flair was a believable crazy, wild mad man who you believed could smash Arn and Pillman so easily. It was awesome.
Arn hit a spinebuster and at this point, when the heels were in control… HERE COMES STING!
These fans went BONKERS for Sting has he came down to the aid of Flair. Eric went on about how Flair may have possibly earned Sting’s respect which is actually a believable statement if you saw Ric’s performance up until when Sting showed up. He wasn’t a geek that was getting beat on for 10 minutes. He was a fighter and Sting recognised that.
Sting was egging Flair to make the hot tag as the fans were going nuts and Sting eventually got the hot tag. He ran wild and even Sting running wild forced the referee to bump on every part of the mat! Sting hit Stinger Splashes all over the place and he was FIRED UP. THIS WAS A HOT TAG as the fans went crazy.
Sting was dominant and then all of a sudden, it was determined that Arn and Pillman were counted out. I never really heard a count by the referee but Sting and Flair won by count out and this did make you want to see the rematch at Halloween Havoc. Yeah, we’re getting a rematch at Halloween Havoc and I can’t wait!
Sting and Flair cut a post-match promo. Sting said there wasn’t a soul in the world that thought that he was gonna trust Flair. Sting was watching and said that Flair had a lot of guts and a lot of heart. Because Flair showed he had guts and heart, he’d earned Sting’s help. Sting and Flair did a high-five and started going nuts in the ring! This was an awesome exciting little post-match promo!
That was Episode #7 of WCW Nitro. A huge improvement on last week. We saw a tremendous Ric Flair and Sting performance in the main-event, we had an awesome Benoit vs Guerrero match and this show did a lot in getting me hyped up for WCW Halloween Havoc coming up shortly. This one gets a thumbs up!
Advertised for next week is Sting and Lex Luger vs Harlem Heat, Benoit and Dean Malenko vs Eddie and Alex Wright and Hogan will also be appearing on Nitro next week.
That’s it from the Armbar Express. We will see you with Episode #8.
WCW Nitro Episode List