RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #29 (MATCH 25TH 1996) – RIC FLAIR VS THE GIANT FOR THE WCW WORLD TITLE

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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WCW Uncensored came and went. We got long street fights, long title matches, a long Booty Man match, short monster matches and we got a match I’m positive will not be surpassed as the worst match I ever saw. The Doomsday Cage match saw the Mega Powers vs The Alliance to End Hulkamania. At the end of all the shenanigans within the cage, outside of the cage, in the ring, with frying pans, with Z-Gangsta, people being eliminated and then not being eliminated, Lex Luger turned on Ric Flair and Savage pinned Ric Flair as Hogan and Savage won the Doomsday Cage match.

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I have to point out a few things for this episode of WCW Nitro. If you haven’t read my review of Uncensored and specifically the Doomsday Cage match, I promise you will get more enjoyment out of it than watching a 3 hour edition of RAW in 2019. I believe this was one of my greatest match reviews of my entire life. Please read it by clicking this link .

No matter what happened, there was barely any follow up to the Doomsday Cage match. They mentioned briefly that “Hogan won” and completely ignored Savage getting the pin. They never mentioned Z-Gangsta, The Ultimate Solution or even Brian Pillman, who I guess was supposed to be in that match too but was randomly pulled out of it (or Pillman pulled out of it).

They never even tried to promote the replay. Having watched that pay-per-view in full, how could anyone have wanted to buy this replay? They were in the right to not mention it like they usually do with WCW PPVs. That match alone brought down that whole show that steering as far away from it as they could was the best thing to do.

Another thing to mention was that they revealed at the start of the show that there would be 3 title matches on this episode of Nitro. The US title, WCW World title and the WCW tag team titles would all be defended. This was after a pay-per-view, where only one title match was on the pay-per-view at all. Promoting the title matches on Nitro was great for Nitro ratings but not for PPV buys.

 

Date: March 25th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Huntsville, Alabama

Rating: 3.1 (down from last week. Yeah, Uncensored saw the ratings go down by 0.5!)

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

 

Randy Savage vs The Belfast Bruiser

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I have to get a small rant out of the way. It’s gonna be very brief as it’s not that big of a deal. They mentioned that all of a sudden, there was a cruiserweight tournament going on, I guess to crown the first WCW Cruiserweight Champion. There was no mention about it beforehand on Nitro. The last time we heard about the cruiserweights was that they were coming. They’ve been a non-factor on Nitro for a long time. Then all of a sudden, the announcers start talking about Mr JL beating Dean Malenko in the first round of the cruiserweight tournament.

This is LITERALLY the first time this tournament has been mentioned on Nitro. Was it not possible for them to mention earlier that they were doing a cruiserweight tournament to try and build anticipation for it? They randomly mentioned later on in the show too that Jushin Liger, Chris Benoit and Psychosis all advanced in the tournament. I’m just trying to put this all together. I don’t think they even showed a bracket for the tournament on Nitro. Even if these matches were happening on Saturday Night or WCW Pro or whatever was around, these guys at WCW are talking about this tournament like all the fans watching Nitro are meant to know about it.

Call it nit-picking, but this bothered me when watching this show.

Randy Savage vs The Belfast Bruiser was a match that was well suited for both men. A scrappy beat-em up fight in the confides of a wrestling match.

Spots included Bruiser slamming Savage right into the turnbuckle. Bruiser slammed Savage into the guardrail. Bruiser roughed Savage up and sent him over the guard rail and into the crowd. Bruiser was proper laying a beating in on the Macho Man and it made the Belfast Bruiser come off as a worthy opponent for Savage.

Savage would just do whatever he could to get back into the match such as grabbing the leg but Bruiser just stomped away at him. The fans rooted for Savage as he worked his way up to his feet. Bruiser went into the ring post elbow first and Savage out of nowhere hit the elbow drop for the win.

It was a little lame that Bruiser took the whole match and Savage just hit an elbow drop and won but you know what? Savage had to dig down deep to beat an opponent the announcers actually said was undefeated so I’ll allow it. It wasn’t like Bruiser was buried. It was a serious match and Bruiser came off like a threat. In a weird way, it helped the Bruiser that Savage had to resort to his biggest move to get the job done when he got the slightest opening. He wasn’t taking it easy on Bruiser so it made Bruiser come off as a problem for Savage. This was a good opener and it gets a thumbs up.

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Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed Ric Flair with Woman and Miss Elizabeth. Flair talked about how they were going to slay a real life, walking, talking, fire-breathing giant. Ric Flair was defending the title against The Giant on this show. He wanted to assure the world that he would look down at the Giant and sing that he had the whole world in his hands. Flair said it’s not easy being the Nature Boy as he’s got the women and the title! Mean Gene talked about Lex Luger, who turned on the heels the night before, and Ric said he hadn’t really looked at the package for what he was.

Flair said: “For the judgement you made last night. you are on the long list of people that won’t be able to style and profile!” According to Flair, Lex Luger lost his PARTYING privileges for attacking him! In a fascinating in hindsight moment, Ric asked Elizabeth: “who is more man? Me or Luger.” Liz responded by saying “you are Ric.” With the benefit of hindsight, that was an unbelievable moment. Remember when Edge and Christian were doing a segment with Mick Foley where Edge said Lita looked hot from a distance? These comments in hindsight are just incredible! 

Great promo from Flair as Eric Bischoff then explained Elizabeth had Savage’s money in her hands. I remember seeing money in her hands during that promo but the way it was worded suggested that on screen, she had all of Macho Man’s money in her hands! If that was the case, then that’s not a lot of money! I do think Bobby goes on to explain she had $2 million so I guess Liz had the rest of it in the back or something. Bobby does actually deliver the following joke: “What do you call a woman with $2 million? Divorced.”

 

Konnan © vs Mr JL for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship

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This match was certainly not the length of the Eddie Guerrero vs Konnan match from the night before. This one lasted less than seven minutes and it was… fine. Konnan chopped away JL to kick things off.

JL takes control of the match with the headscissors to send Konnan to the floor. Konnan takes over and works on the arm. Mr JL was coming back from an arm injury from his unfortunate match with Dean Malenko from before so this was at least good demonstration of ring psychology.

Konnan does a monkey flip but JL lands on his feet. Bischoff said they got word that Macho had went ballistic backstage. Konnan did a weird look surfboard submission. Mr JL did a top rope dropkick and Konnan held the knee.

Konnan did a Gutwrench Powerbomb. They traded roll ups. One of the announcers mentioned that Konnan was “showing signs of fatigue” which was actually true with this match as well as the match with Guerrero!

Mr JL did a top rope DDT for a near fall to which Bischoff accused referee Nick Patrick of doing a slow count. Why would you not put over the fact that the champion kicked out of such a devastating move and just nit-pick at the referee’s judgement? Was it not possible for Bischoff to say something like “I can’t believe Konnan kicked out of such an impressive top rope DDT” rather than cry about the referee? Konnan did an Alabama slam for the pin to retain the title clean.

The match just seemed like it was just there but it was still fine for what it was. Konnan at least got a clean win under his belt as champion which was fine with me.

 

The Booty Man vs Disco Inferno

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I cannot believe that after they purposely went out of their way to mention that they have talent like Chris Benoit, Jushin Liger and Dean Malenko that they then put on The Booty Man vs Disco Inferno as an actual match on Nitro. Thankfully, there wasn’t much to it. It went less than 80 seconds and Booty Man hit a poorly executed high knee for the win.

Really the story for this one was in the minor details, and I’m going to list them off and move on!

  1. Disco claimed when they cut to a close up of him that it was $49.95 to buy his CD he had around! I know he’s a heel but that’s a rip-off!
  2. This really was the battle between cheesy, bad theme songs. If Disco Fever wasn’t bad enough, we had The Booty Man’s “Shake Your Booty” theme song which is right up there with the worst theme songs of all time including Candice Michelle’s theme song from 2007. I did discuss that theme during the SummerSlam 2007 review I believe which you can find at this link.
  3. Disco went into a tantrum after Booty Man slapped his booty… weird but OK.
  4. Of course Booty Man’s offense at the start was an atomic drop to the ass of Disco Inferno.
  5. Booty Girl was now the BOOTY BABE.
  6. Booty Man rubbed his ass and then punched Disco in the face with that hand… this match was just all kinds of weird.
  7. Booty hit a crappy looking high knee for the win

That’s literally the key details and they really didn’t have anything to do with the match. It was random and it killed like 4 minutes of TV time.

 

Sting © and Lex Luger © vs “The American Males” Marcus Bagwell and Scotty Riggs for the WCW World Tag Team Championship

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Bischoff told Bobby to look out for the drop kick… great foresight into 75% of the American Males’ offense during this match against the WCW tag team champions.

Luger and Sting had this thing where Luger would go to the fans and cheer during their entrance when Sting looked at him but Luger woukd revert to his heel self when Sting wasn’t looking! Fine heel shenanigans which was weird considering I guess he was a babyface after what happened at the PPV.

It appeared that Luger and Sting were on the same page. Mongo was still untrustworthy of Luger. Riggs ran wild WITH DROPKICKS would you believe it. Luger was frustrated by this and went to work with clobbering blows. Luger took a cheap shot at Bagwell and a brawl broke out which Sting and Riggs broke up. I’m not sure where this storyline goes with Luger but I do like Luger struggling to phase out unsportmanship and heel tactics. The American Males run wild and he loses it but Sting still has to calm him down. That I like.

Bagwell got tagged in an Luger backed away from Bagwell – TINY BAGWELL that Luger beat months ago in a squash! Bagwell and Sting actually worked well together when Sting got tagged. Sting reversed a scoop slam and went to work. Bagwell applauds that Sting was the better man and tagged Riggs back in.

Luger tagged in and went to work on Riggs. A lot of frequent tags during this match which is certainly not a bad thing. Luger suddenly went crazy on Bagwell and this got a lot of heat with the fans. Luger yelled at Bagwell as Sting showed concern about his partner’s mental state during the match. Riggs and Sting did some spots.

This was the finish. Sting did a crossbody which missed Riggs by a whole foot and then makes the cover. Bagwell just stands there and watches as Sting gets the win. No effort to break up the pin, there was nothing to say this was heel move or anything. He stands there and just watches that pin and doesn’t attempt to break it up. I guess something was mistimed. Luger tried to walk off with all of the belts but Sting pulled him back saying: “Hey! Give me my belt!” Sting then gave props to the American Males and they celebrated in the ring without Luger.

This match was OK. Sting was in there with Lex Luger and the American Males. None of these men were terrible but they weren’t particular good either so… you get exactly what you’d think this match would be.

 

Ric Flair © w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth vs The Giant w/Jimmy Hart for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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In case anyone doesn’t recall, The Giant is getting this title shot because he beat Loch Ness at Uncensored.

REMEMBER when Jimmy Hart was managing Ric Flair? That was only a couple of months ago and now he’s “at odds” with Flair as his main man The Giant is getting a title shot! Hart’s also managing like 5 other heels so I guess the simple explanation is that there’s no honour among thieves!

Elizabeth threw Savage’s money away at the fans. Savage tried to get to Flair on the ramp but Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Eddie Guerrero and a few other babyfaces hold him back. Woman gets a slap in but I loved Savage going all nuts just trying to get to Flair! Savage was seething trying to get at Flair and Elizabeth!

The Giant towered over Ric and put hits hand on Flair’s throat to start the match but Flair slapped it away and got pushed away for his troubles! Savage I guess was in handcuffs and forced out by police and security according to Bischoff.

Flair couldn’t do a thing to The Giant early on. The Giant Gorilla Pressed and TOSSED Flair across the ring. It wasn’t like The Giant was just slammed him down…  he THREW Flair like a ball to the floor. Ric Flair was happy for Giant to launch him across that ring when they were putting this match together!

Flair tried to escape but he was too tired and Giant caught up and carried Flair to the ring. Flair chopped at Giant but Giant no-sold these attacks. Flair then sat down and cradled in the corner!

Pardon my French in advance but The Giant did a suplex and Flair just yelled “AH FUCK!” I laughed, and laughed, and laughed at hearing Flair yell the word FUCK uncensored… pardon the pun.

Flair did a DIVE off the top rope and Giant caught him did a backbreaker and slammed. I love that THE ONE TIME Ric actually did a successful leap off the top rope, The Giant catches him and slams him down anyway! Even when Flair pulls it off, he still fails as it accomplished nothing! THEN EVEN MORE SPECTACULARLY, THE GIANT went for a top rope splash! This was not Eddie Guerrero going for a splash… this was THE GIANT! Amazing how agile this guy was when he was younger. This put Sting to shame. Giant launched his ass across the ring and missed in amazing fashion. This was the pure definition of falling with style!

Giant repeated the over the top rope spot from the night before which I’m stunned he did again THE NEXT NIGHT after he did it the first time! Flair choked Giant with wire as the referee was distracted. Flair choked Giant over the the top rope and just hung him out to dry. Flair did the double eye poke to the big man. Giant is reduced to his knees as Flair punches and chops away but Giant continued to push him away

Flair does a direct kick to the groin to finally floor the big man! Woman choked away at Giant as the ref was distracted. A piss poor referee getting distracted during RIC FLAIR VS THE GIANT… the slowest paced match imaginable. I understand there’s three managers out there but this was not like a tag team match or whatever between cruiserweights. This was the old school methodical Ric Flair vs the lumbering Giant!

I’ll tell you what this was like. I was watching The Lucha Bros vs The Private Party from AEW and I looked at the referee who I think was Aubrey Edwards. She was calling this match or the SCU vs Dark Order match. Anyway, there’s this fast-paced match going on and I was thinking, how can a referee keep up with this match going this fast? Fenix and Pentagon are just doing these spots like poetry in motion and so fast and the referee has to keep track of all of this. This referee on Nitro, I didn’t write down who it was, was getting himself distracted during The Giant vs Ric Flair. How did he pull that off?

Giant pushed Flair off the top rope. Giant pulled down the straps as Flair begged him off. Giant chokeslammed Flair and the girls ran into the ring. Arn Anderson and Taskmaster both come out. Arn hits The Giant with the chair while the referee wasn’t looking. Taskmaster grabbed the chair from Arn. The Giant turned around and saw Taskmaster with the chair and chokeslammed him. Arn laughed at Giant so he got chokeslammed. THE REFEREE then called for the bell as Jimmy Hart, Woman and Elizabeth scream about their fallen comrades.

Bruce Buffer officially declares: “Due to things getting out of control, it is a no contest.” If The Giant ends up winning this title from Flair then why did you do this? The Giant getting a big monster moment where he unleashes hell on everyone in his path I liked but a no contest/DQ after a long match where The Giant beats up Flair just made this match seem like such a waste.

With that being said, I did like the match. Simple Ric Flair match where… he literally could have wrestled a broomstick and it would have worked. Giant was 6 months into the business and he had a good simple match with Flair that just happened to have a crappy finish in my eyes.

 

Not a bad episode of Nitro. Much better than the last couple of weeks. There wasn’t much that was great about it but there wasn’t anything like so horrible that I couldn’t bare it. There was a bunch of matches put together, cutting out illogical or convoluted stuff and sticking to the action in the ring. It wasn’t particular great action but it more felt like a wrestling show then the majority of Nitros lately. This show gets a thumbs up.

Promoted for next week was Hulk Hogan’s big return to Nitro as he would team with The Booty Man to face Arn Anderson and Taskmaster. Hogan was off of this episode for some reason. I can only speculate that maybe WCW expected the ratings for this episode for Nitro to tank because of Uncensored so maybe they were leaving Hogan for the next week to try and pull a big ratings for next week’s show, which happened to be the Nitro/RAW after WrestleMania.

We will see what they do in the next episode but in the mean time, feel free to have a look at review from previous Nitro episodes and stay tuned for my review of Episode #30 of Nitro which I’m planning to upload onto the blog in a couple of days! Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly an update whenever Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too!

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

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