RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #20 (JANUARY 15TH 1996) – HULK HOGAN VS MENG MAIN EVENTS OVER A WCW WORLD TITLE MATCH

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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The 12th world title reign of Ric Flair is underway, with the Four Horsemen looking to keep the title on the Nature Boy as their top priority. Flair and Arn Anderson teamed up to face recent former champions Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage in the tag team match main-event. Hogan and Savage picked up the win but the Four Horsemen’s planned post-match beatdown was cut-off by the Dungeon of Doom. The Dungeon of Doom and the Four Horsemen, because of past comments by Brian Pillman, were now at odds at the end of the show as they brawled to close the show

 

Date: January 15th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Miami, Florida

Rating: 3.5

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

 

The show starts with the commentators running down the card as usual and they reveal that Ric Flair will defend the WCW World title against Sting tonight and then the winner would go on to defend the title against “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Keep that in mind when you read about what went down in the first match of the evening.

 

Lex Luger vs Randy Savage

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Nothing about this match really differed it from any other Lex Luger vs Randy Savage match we’ve seen in this series so far. The announcers even point out that Luger had apparently won 3 matches in a row against Savage so he’s got his number, as Luger has been saying in a number of promos against Savage. I remember Luger beating Savage at World War III and Savage’s title defence a month ago on Nitro, but I can’t remember the third match. Unless, it was a Saturday Night show which I haven’t watched. Either way, they make it clear that Luger has been getting the better of Savage.

Luger tried to bring a chair into the ring at the start of the match. He threw it to Savage but the ref intercepted him from Savage and then Luger went to work following Savage’s tussle with the referee. A dastardly move to gain the upper-hand.

Savage battered away at Luger, smacking Luger’s head on the steps. Savage dropped a double axe handle. Some fans were actually chanting “Luger”. I have no idea why but Luger was over on this episode.

Savage choked away at Luger. Luger dropped a few elbows at about 1% of the speed of Dolph Ziggler… which to be fair, isn’t a bad thing. When Ziggler throws 10 super fast elbow drops repeatedly, it makes everyone of those elbow drops seem so useless when the guy just kicks at one or two or whatever. Luger does a few big elbow drops and, because his arms are massive as he’s Lex Luger, they hurt the ribs of the Macho Man.

Savage eventually went for the Elbow drop and when I mean he went for the elbow drop, Macho got some freaking HEIGHT on this elbow. He jumped high in the air with like 3 seconds of hang-time before coming crashing down onto this target. But in this instance, Savage crashed onto the mat and then Luger locked on the Torture Rack and beat Randy Savage CLEAN with a submission.…. WOW.

So going into a WCW World title match next week, Savage gets beat clean in the middle by Luger. Of all of the people that WCW tried to protect with DQ finishes, the one time they have a clean finish is when the #1 contender for the world title loses clean to Luger the heel. Amazing.

As my notes read… Why should Savage get a title shot after this? This is actually a relevant note going into Savage’s promo with Hulk Hogan later on.

I will say, this clean victory did come off as a legitimate big victory for Lex Luger. At the very least, it benefited someone.

 

The Taskmaster and Hugh Morrus vs Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman

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The match originally scheduled for this show was The Four Horsemen’s Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman facing off with The Dungeon of Doom’s Taskmaster and Hugh Morrus. Before anything went down though, the entirety of the Dungeon of Doom and the Four Horsemen came down together to the ring.

Bischoff said it was like something that came out of a Godfather movie. In the middle of all of this, I notice the One Man Gang is holding up the US title. Somehow, the title got switched from Kensuke Sasaki to the One Man Gang. At the very least, they put the title on a guy who is part of a big stable so at least it gives the Dungeon of Doom some credit. Mean Gene Okerlund got between the groups and interviewed them both. I loved this segment that followed.

Arn Anderson said that he and Taskmaster had a meeting of the minds. Arn reiterates that Ric Flair keeping the world title is the first order of business for the Horsemen. He said anything that gets in the way of business, they don’t want any part of it. Arn said there’s no winners and no financial gain, there’s only survivors from feuding with the Dungeon. Basically, he wants water under the bridge with the Dungeon.

Taskmaster, in response, puts over Flair as the 12 time world champion. He says no sports team can match that legacy. Apparently, Taskmaster agreed that the Horsemen will borrow “The Big Man” The Giant at Clash of Champions. It’s gonna be Hogan and Savage vs Giant and Ric Flair. Taskmaster agrees that there’s no winners and losers but Pillman, “this punk” as he called him, has gotta learn respect. Arn reminds the Taskmaster that they respect the Dungeon but they’re not afraid of them. Pillman starts to mouth off but Arn literally slaps the taste out of him.

Arn says “I TOLD YOU TO KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT.” Arn said it’s treat like a business and it’ll always be about the business as fellow Horsemen Chris Benoit stares a whole at Arn Anderson. I love this storyline… the young guns acting on emotion and not on business and Arn is trying to straighten him and Benoit out before they starts fires they don’t want. He really is the enforcer and out of the everybody in the ring, Arn came off as the coolest guy in the ring that also included Ric Flair. I loved it.

 

 

“Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock vs “The American Males” Marcus Alexander Bagwell and Scotty Riggs

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This was the debut of ECW Alumni Public Enemy in a WCW ring. I never really watched the “real” ECW if you will from the 1990s. It might be something to do once this series is over. I never watched Public Enemy in ECW so maybe they were actually really good in an extreme environment. But in the confides of a wrestling match, they looked completely lost in this match.

The American Males run wild on Public Enemy from the get-go. Riggs tried a clothesline on one of the members of Public Enemy but the Public Enemy member struggled to get over the top rope to take this clothesline.

Bagwell does a diving crossbody and smacked one of the Public Enemy members right on the face. The announcers never went through the trouble of identifying which member was which so I was trying to guess which one was which during this match.

The fans chant “ECW” of course. Riggs did a sunset flip on Grunge for a 2 count. Bagwell run wilds in the ring for the hot tag. Bagwell runs wild on both members of Public Enemy as the fans boo. Grunge got the victory. It’s just the match where the American Males win on the Public Enemy for the entire match and then Public Enemy just got the win out of nowhere. I totally forgot to write down what the finish was, I do apologise. It didn’t matter anyway as this was a nothing, mess or a match to me. The important stuff came after the match.

Rocco kicks Bagwell’s ass after the match as the Enemy get the table and even stacks the tables on top of each other. Bagwell is put on top of the tables as Rocco did a swanton bomb to a huge reaction as Riggs is also down on the floor. The fans liked Public Enemy here but this was a mess of a match to me. It just looked so out of the blue in the middle of this wrestling show to see hardcore action, like with Sabu at around the start of this series. Remember when Sabu would just win a match and then beat up the loser afterwards for no reason?

 

Ric Flair (c) w/Jimmy Hart vs Sting for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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Sting runs wild on Flair just like in any Flair vs Sting match. Sting hit Flair with a big suplerplex to which Flair acted like a fish out of water selling this move! It was pretty great.

Sting then tries a big splash to the floor, he gets high in the air, arms out, everything, and Flair just gets the knees up. You could tell these two men loved wrestling each other and they were so into their match with this energy and charisma they were they were demonstrating. It didn’t just come off like a routine thing.

Sting tries to attack Flair with a crossbody bouncing off the ropes but he crashed into the ropes. Sting locked on the sleeper but Ric reversed it into a back suplex. Sting fired back into the match with punches and eventually sent Flair crashing into the floor with Flair doing a vintage Flair flop.

Flair tried a Figure Four Leg Lock but Sting rolled it up for a near fall. Sting almost got Flair with a backslide. Sting tries a sunset slip but pulls down the trunks of Flair accidentally. What’s weird about doing this spot is that in 2017, Ric’s daughter aka Charlotte Flair did this exact same spot with Lana on an episode of SmackDown! Like the same spot where Lana accidentally pulls Charlotte’s gear down off when doing the same spot?

Jimmy Hart is yelling at Flair saying that he’s the man and all of that but yet didn’t warn Flair not to go to the top rope as he got pushed off by Sting!

Jimmy got on the apron as Luger came down to the ring. Luger got at Jimmy on the apron but Luger “accidentally” bumped Jimmy’s megaphone into Sting. Flair capitalised and locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock to retain the title. Hogan and Savage came down and cleared the ring Of Flair and Luger. Hogan and Savage tended to Sting in the ring.

 

Mean Gene talks to Hogan, Sting and Savage in the ring. Hogan talks about Luger and said that hopefully the sense has been knocked into Sting. Savage said from day one that you couldn’t trust Luger and he tells Sting to wake up. Hogan yells that Luger is the reason Sting lost that match. Sting said he didn’t remember what happened as he was knocked loopy so he went backstage to talk to Luger about it. Then Hogan and Savage start talking. Hogan brings up some legitimate good points that Savage lost to Luger tonight and Hogan said he should get a title shot… and he’s right. Hogan said he should be the champion which, if you look at the storyline, makes total sense. He didn’t even lose the title clean… The Giant screwed him out of the title with a disqualification at Halloween Havoc.

He was mad that Savage got a title shot for next week. Savage tells Hogan to back off and that he deserved the title shot. Savage says he’s gonna take that shot. Hogan said he’s on a roll… what chance does Savage have? Savage walks out and Hogan says “you can’t walk out on me like that brother, we’re friends.” I actually loved that. They’re friends at this point and Hogan saw Savage as a friend but this is about the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. The biggest prize in WCW. That I liked.

 

 

Hulk Hogan vs Meng w/Taskmaster

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In case you were wondering, yes Hulk Hogan vs Meng main-evented this show over Sting vs Ric Flair for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Say what you will about Hulk Hogan being the biggest star but a regular Hulk Hogan vs Meng match main-eventing over a Sting vs Flair world title match is ridiculous.

Meng and Taskmaster both go to work on Hogan, with Taskmaster chopping at Hogan on the outside as Meng worked on him in the ring. Meng chokes at Hogan and yells like a wild beast… like a wild Samoan if you will!

Meng locks on the nerve hold as Hogan screams in agony! Meng misses a diving headbutt. Hogan fires hay-makers at Meng, punching away  at Meng. Hogan Hulks Up, hits the Big Boot and hits the Leg Drop. Savage stops Taskmaster from interfering, Hogan punches Taskmaster and then pins Meng.

That’s pretty much what happened in a lacklustre Nitro main-event.

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A disappointing Nitro this week. I really wasn’t enthralled by this at all with the exception of the Four Horsemen/Dungeon of Doom segment. A lot of questionable booking decisions such as beating Savage clean before his world title match next week, Meng vs Hulk Hogan main-eventing over a WCW World title match and Public Enemy getting beaten up for the entire match before winning out of nowhere in their debut match. I just wasn’t into this week.

I have no plans to watch the Clash of Champions show, which I believe is after next week’s Nitro. I may watch Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair and The Giant just for storyline purposes as that’s the big storyline right now. I’ll see how I feel.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed that review and stay tuned for my Episode #21 review featuring Randy Savage challenging Ric Flair for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

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