RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #39 (JUNE 10TH 1996) – KEVIN NASH DEBUTS IN WCW AS SCOTT HALL’S BIG SURPRISE

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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Scott Hall had arrived in WCW 2 weeks ago but returned for a little bit more fun in the closing segments oflast week’s show. He appeared to confront Eric Bischoff once more when Sting got up in Hall’s face. Sting challenged Hall to a match but Hall responded that no-one told him what to do. Hall threw a tooth pick at Sting and Sting slapped Hall in response. The police separated both men with Scott Hall promising to bring a “big surprise” with him next time…

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This show went from being consistently good for months to suddenly just being inconsistent with the quality. When the first two hour show aired, it was pretty awful. Last week’s episode was fabulous as I worded it when I reviewed it. This week, it was back to just being awful in my opinion. Maybe that’s harsh but this show dragged and dragged and filled with lots of gutter.

The two constant good aspects of the show are Ric Flair matches and the invasion angle which we’ll get to. Everything seemed all over the place to me when watching this episode.

With that all being said, this was the go-home show for The Great American Bash 1996 and it worked as a go-home show. You know why? Because I got excited for this upcoming PPV following this show. There was a stellar card that was being put together and the big angles were being pushed very well. By that standard, this was a good show. As a regular Nitro episode, this was not a good one.

 

Date: June 10th 1996

Brand: WCW

City:Wheeling, West Virginia

Rating: 2.6

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan

 

 

Booker T vs Scott Steiner

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Booker threw Steiner around with his long hair which angered Steiner… just a reminder that Steiner had ridiculously long hair at this time before he became Big Poppa Pump. Booker was using it against Steiner and Steiner was mad about it.

Booker and Steiner battled for the backslide pin attempt. Steiner tried suplex after suplex on Booker to which Booker evaded/avoided every attempt. I love that the battle in this match was about Scott hitting a suplex on Booker which ordinarily would mean nothing, but this was Scott Steiner from the Steiner Brothers. It’s an important part of his arsenal which we’ll get onto later with the finish.

Eventually, after ducking a side kick, Steiner hit a tiger powerbomb. Steiner dropped Booker with atomic drop and clotheslined him over the top rope. Booker hit a scissors kick for a two count and it’s still weird seeing the scissors kick as just a move and not a finisher from Booker as it would become in WWE.

Booker grounded Steiner with a front face lock. Yeah Booker briefly out-wrestled college amateur wrestler SCOTT STEINER! Booker did a top rope crossbody for the two count.

Booker tried a suplex but Steiner slipped behind and hit the Scorpion Death Drop, just like Sting did to Scott himself in the last two weeks. It is actually ridiculous the detail in these matches. If you had watched the last two episodes of Nitro and seen Sting reverse a suplex into a Scorpion Deathlock twice now, for Scott to utilise that himself showed that the man learned from previous mistakes.

Steiner got back into the match and hit a belly-to-belly suplex at last. He then called for a frankensteiner but Booker evaded it. Booker followed that up with the wheel kick but Steiner kicked out. Booker missed a top rope body splash and Scott hit a belly-to-belly suplex for the win.

A good opener and told a simple and basic storyline. The suplex winning the match for Steiner was weird to see but again, more than one way to beat someone is great. The suplex battle was actually cleverly well done. After all of this time trying to hit a suplex, Scott finally hit one at the end of the match and he picked up the win. This gets a thumbs up.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Scott Steiner. He started to cut a promo when Debra McMichael cut him off. Scott gave Debra the floor and left. She was worried about her husband Steve “Mongo” McMichael. She’s worried he’s gonna hurt someone permanently. She thought it was her fault but Mean Gene assured her that it wasn’t her fault. She wanted to ask if he could set up a meeting with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson to call off the tag team match at the PPV. Mean Gene went to see what he could do.

 

DDP vs Jim Powers where apparently the Lord of the Ring was on the line according to Tony Schiavonie

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The DDP character is pretty great at the moment in terms of how is story has been told in the last 6 months or whatever. DDP has been booked as a cocky, arrogant fella that always gets his comeuppance in the eyes of the fans. Let’s take one of the first things that happenED in this match. DDP argued with a fan and almost got rolled up for the win by JIM POWERS of all people.

How many times has DDP went to mock the fans or whatever and that led to his doom or almost his doom? He’s too cocky for his own good and that makes him such a good heel. However, if you watch how he’s been booked since Slamboree, they’ve clearly demonstrated that DDP can actually be a good wrestler when he has to be.

When DDP was in that Slamboree battle bowl battle royal, he took it to everyone and was kicking out of everything The Barbarian was throwing at him near the end of that mtch. He eventually fought back and got a big babyface win. Let’s be honest about this. DDP finally won in the end and the fans actually popped.

So the story is that DDP’s own ego is getting in the way of his own success. This isn’t like Disco Inferno’s character who thinks he is better than he actually is. DDP’s ego is getting in the way of him unlocking his full potential. So when he turns babyface, this could be something he can overcome to make him more likeable to the fans.

The match itself wasn’t much of a match. Jim Powers ran wild for a bit as DDP sold and sold for the babyface, then DDP did a back elbow and dropped Powers with the Diamond Cutter to a polite applause for the pin. It gives DDP another win and this slow build push for DDP I bet will have a massive pay-off when we get to him becoming a babyface.

 

They recapped the Taskmaster/Chris Benoit feud again. Benoit vs Taskmaster was now a falls count anywhere match for The Great American Bash. Mean Gene interviewed WCW US Champion Konnan who was defending the title against El Gato at the PPV.

 

Meng vs Sting

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I feel this is the appropriate time to bring this up based on a comment made by Larry Zybszko. Larry made some misogynist comments about blonde women when talking about Debra. It was the typical “the woman should stay at home” spiel and nothing anyone could possibly get away with saying in 2019. I bring it up because in December 2019, Lana recently accused CM Punk of making misogynist comment. I guess CM Punk called her “chica” when talking about her storyline with Rusev and Lashley on WWE Backstage show and she responded with the following:

“I know you’ve been away from WWE for several years. Perhaps moving forward, you will favor WWE and FS1 by refraining from misogynistic comments like ‘chica.’ Thank you.”

I’m not going to argue whether what Punk said was worse than what Larry said because I personally think it’s down to the individual what they actually perceive as offensive.  With that being said, I’m stunned. If what Punk said was considered “misogyny” by Lana, then I wonder what her thoughts would be on this stuff from Larry SPECIFICALLY AIMED AT BLONDE WOMEN at the start of this match.

Speaking of the match, Meng beat on Sting for a while. Sting hit a hard-hitting crossbody for a 2 count which the fans popped for. Meng tried a small package. Meng dropped Sting with a shoulder breaker. Sting cut off Meng with the Tongan going to the top rope. Sting locked on the Scorpion Deathlock and tapped out Meng for the win.

Not much of a match but for what it was, it was fun.

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Mean Gene was with Debra and Bobby Heenan, with the latter managing Ric Flair and Arn Anderson at the PPV. First of, Bobby claimed Debra had been talking to Flair all week. Debra corrected him insisting that she’d been not been talking to him all NIIIIIIGHT. She said “night” in such a way to hint that she hadn’t spoken to him all night but she had been speaking to him all day!

There was something about the way she said “night” where it didn’t come off as believable. Her tone of voice indicated that she was hiding something! Maybe I’m looking too much into this and this is not an accusation of any kind but she technically didn’t say she didn’t talk to him all week. She just said she hadn’t talked to him all night. If you watch the episode and listen to the tone of her voice, it didn’t seem sincere at all to me!

Debra walked into Flair’s locker room. Bobby slammed the door which led to Debra screaming and running out. Ric Flair jumped Joe Gomez and The Renegade, their opponents for that show, as Flair locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock on Gomez as Anderson put in the boots to him.

 

Squire Dave Taylor vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan

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Hacksaw ran wild with clothesline while Taylor sold like crazy. I’m over this Hacksaw Jim Duggan push that WCW have seemingly been up to. I’m not even sure if it’s a push because he doesn’t win a lot of matches on Nitro. However, there seems to be a strong intention to protect Duggan as much as they can. If you watched Slamboree, he beat three men by himself to single-handedly win a tag team match. Last week, he lost to Lord Steven Regal after being overcome by four men. Here, Duggan is back to getting his revenge of the New Bloods.

The finish was Duggan got the tape he’d been using in his matches and punched Taylor in the face with it and got the pin. Now, every time Duggan does this, he gets the tape when the referee isn’t looking like he’s cheating. He whips it out whenever the referee’s back is turned or there is some distraction. However, he uses it and wins his matches. For this match, the referee raised his hands with tape hanging out of Duggan’s hand to suggest that there is not problem with the tape as the referee didn’t question it. This begs the question, why bother trying to hide the tape from the ref if after the match if you’re just going to throw the tape up right in the view of the referee? This tape gimmick for Hacksaw Jim Duggan SUCKED.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Big Bubba and Jimmy Hart. I think it was Jimmy that said Shark didn’t pull his weight, so he’s not part of the Dungeon of Doom. Big Bubba said he proved to the whole world that The Shark was nothing but half a man. Basically Bubba said he was gonna sweep him into the sea or something. Bubba talked at an even faster pace than Jimmy Hart if you find that hard to believe.

 

The Giant © vs “The Flash” Scott Norton for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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Didn’t I say last week that the dynamite clock/firework thing for the second hour was going to annoy me? Well this week really rubbed me the wrong way. They have this dynamite clock that was counting down for a minute until the second hour started and the fireworks go off. For a solid minute, Norton is in the ring with his music playing as they’re waiting for this clock to tick down and the fireworks to go. A FULL MINUTE of Norton just in the ring STANDING THERE before the fireworks go off.

I had to sit there as a viewer to watch ONE MINUTE of NOTHING going on as we’re waiting for the bloody countdown. It’s not even like the fireworks could have went off during The Giant’s entrance. No, the fireworks go off after a minute for about 20 seconds and then The Giant slowly saunters down to the ring and we’ve got to wait for The Giant to get in the ring. This was wasting time to an absurd degree.

So what happened after all of this pomp and circumstance? Norton tried some forearms but Giant ran wild, doing a powerslam of all moves. Norton fired back with a few clotheslines in the corner. Giant cut him off with a big boot. Norton ran into the ring post. The Giant chokeslammed Norton on the floor and then pinned him. This entire match lasted 1 minute and 42 seconds. Norton waited longer than the time of the match to wait for a countdown, fireworks to go off and The Giant coming down ot the ring. Scott Norton had to have been so furious when he saw that on the script for this episode of Nitro!

Giant tried a further beat down. Luger tried to make the save but got thrown out of the ring. Giant delivered a big super kick which sent Luger flying. Giant tried a chokeslam through the table but Luger punted him in the balls to get out of it. Luger beat up The Giant with weapons as Hugh and Taskmaster come to Giant’s aid. Giant cried with agony and then cried with rage! Luger cut a promo at the announce booth. He said he’d proven the Giant can feel pain and he’d see The Giant at Great American Bash. Lex Luger was challenging The Giant for the title at the PPV. This was a decent go-home show angle for The Great American Bash although there was more to come.

 

Billy Kidman vs Lord Steven Regal

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I understand that this match got less than a minute of time, but Billy Kidman worked at a ridiculously fast paced to get a whole bunch of spots in. This was for a match lasting LESS THAN ONE MINUTE. This was his first WCW Nitro appearance so I understand wanting to stand-out but he worked at 500 miles an hour. He did 5000 moves and I was begging for him to slow down. This put Dolph Ziggler to shame in terms of going too fast. He actually physically looked like his future tag team partner Paul London. He looked so tiny for this match that Regal actually looked massive in comparison.

Kidman dropkicked Regal in the back of the head. Kidman missed a 450 splash I think and landed on his knees. Regal locked on a Liontamer-like Boston Crab for the win. The fact that this match got a minute was actually appalling to me knowing how much time Scott Norton wasted waiting for a countdown clock and fireworks. There’s also a match that got too much time which we’ll get to.

Sting came out for the save and slapped Regal in response to the slap of doom from a few weeks ago on WCW Main Event.

 

“The Nasty Boys” Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags vs “Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock

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These four geeks are lucky that the Hardwork Bobby Walker vs Brad Armstrong match from a few weeks ago existed. If that didn’t happen, this would have easily been the worst match in Nitro history. I’m done these two teams wrestling each other over an over again. Calling this wrestling is even stretching it. I’m done with the blatant and uncalled for weapon shots to the head. I’m doing with the pointless brawling. I’m done with the lack of psychology. I am done with this second-hand garbage wrestling.

At least if this was ECW, this “garbage” wrestling or hardcore wrestling would have been more entertaining. This was not entertaining in the slightest. This sucked. They all brawled with each other as the bell didn’t even ring.

In the previous 20 minutes of the show or whatever, they tried to pack in so many things in the space of a few minutes for each match/segment. There was a run-in after The Giant match and there was a run-in after the Regal match. They gave these two tag teams about 15 minutes when you take into consideration the entrances and the post-match stuff and they did… nothing. They did nothing compelling. They did nothing but brawl with each other and I just started to think that this show sucked.

They fought. Nothing eventful happened. Rocco and Sags had an absolutely shocking brawl on the outside. Knobbs hit a middle rope clothesline which never really looked pretty, although I appreciate the effort from Knobbs. Knobbs seemed to be a wrestler who actually tried to get something out of nothing although he was never quite able to do it. Fair play to him for trying but even he couldn’t save this match.

The Nasty Boys beat up Grunge in the corner. I had no idea who the babyfaces or who the heels were in this rivalry. Sags did a double clothesline to Public Enemy. This put AEW to shame in terms of having wrestlers illegally being in the ring during a tag match but at least AEW had rules that allowed for a bit more time in the ring to do certain spots. These teams are just in the ring doing whatever and the referee did nothing about it.

Knobbs and Rocco tumbled to the floor. Bischoff called this tag match “no pretty” which had to have been the understatement of 1996.  Rocco brought out a trash can but Knobbs cut him off. Sags did a pumphandle drop.

Rocco went for a move from the top but Sags used the trash can and the referee called for the bell to finally end this match. Before we could all move on, I must talk about Knobbs again. I have no idea why he did this but Knobbs took the time after the match to launch a trash can lid at Rocco right on the top of the head SO HARD. Rocco’s back was turned and Knobbs threw this lid at his head so he didn’t know what was coming. This was not light. He threw it so hard and with such a force that I can’t imagine this being done other than to hurt Rocco legitimately. Other than that, why else did Knobbs think that was necessary?

The second worst match in Nitro history up until this point. It’s not even like the fans were going nuts for this as they booed the finish.

 

We got more Mongo and Kevin Greene stuff as “Macho Man” Randy Savage came down to wherever they were training to coach them. RANDY SAVAGE told Kevin Greene not to be too intense. Of all of the people in WCW to tell Kevin Greene not to be too intense, it’s the Macho Man? The guy who was too crazy that he was banned at the time from wrestling because he went crazy! I found that line hilarious.

 

Lex Luger and Sting vs Ric Flair and Arn Anderson

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Luger and Sting were replacing Gomez and Renegade. Apparently this was for the tag titles as the referee showed them off to the camera like he usually did. I thought Sting and Luger were just replacing Gomez and Renegade. When did it become a title match?

Ric chopped at Luger but Luger fired back and did a big Gorilla Press slam. Luger sent Ric and Arn packing. Sting and Luger beat up Ric all over the place. I love how Arn stopped himself from crashing into the corner. After this he then pointed to his brain and bragged about how smart he was, and then Sting just punched him in the face! I love that spot! Again, Arn is too cocky for his good just like DDP was earlier.

Arn and Ric sold and sold for the babyfaces all over the place. If you take every Sting vs Ric Flair match and added Lex Luger acting like Sting and Arn Anderson acting like Ric Flair, that’s what you got here. Two Stings vs Two Ric Flairs in a tag team match!

Arn called for a time-out as the heels re-grouped. This match was also very similar to every Arn and Ric tag match in the last 3 weeks. There’s not a lot to say about this other than it went exactly as you’d figure Sting and Luger vs Arn and Ric would go down.

Arn wore down Sting and Sting sold and sold for a long time. I love that Bobby tried to bribe Bischoff with $50 to go down to the ring to help Arn and Ric! Luger got the hot tag and ran wild. The Giant came down and Luger fought him as the ref rang for the bell.

Scott Steiner ran down and beat up Giant with a chair, It was three on one again with Sting, Luger and Scott battling the monster as The Giant still wanted some more but Jimmy called him off. Giant screamed on the mic that Luger was a dead man and promised Luger was going out on a stretcher at the PPV.

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Bobby yelled at Savage at the end of the show but got cut off and ran way from Scott Hall, who made his way over to Bischoff again. Eric grabbed the mic and said he didn’t want any trouble. Eric then eventually changed his tune. He gets a little confident and said Hall came out last week and said he had a big surprise so where was it? He said he heard a lot of talk but where was the walk?

So as Eric attempted to call Hall’s “bluff”, the big surprise appears from behind Eric Bischoff. The big surprise is revealed as Kevin Nash, formerly Diesel in the WWF. Nash cut a promo on Bischoff saying that Eric had been sitting out for six months running his mouth. Kevin Nash then said the following: “This is where the big boys play huh? Look at the adjective, play. We ain’t here to play.” Not the adverb play… THE ADJECTIVE play!

Nash said Hall was gonna bring someone out here and he’s here. He said WCW still doesn’t have their 3 people because they’re all afraid to face them. Nash suggested that they get a couple of palaeontologists to clean up these “fossils”. He asked: “WHERE’S HOGAN? Doing Blunder in Paradise?” Out all of the people he could have called out first, he called out Hogan? That is very interesting when you say where this storyline goes.

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Eric said he didn’t have the authority but he’ll be at WCW Headquarters in Atlanta to try and arrange something. Nash said the measuring stick just got changed around here and they were looking at it. Nash and Hall then left.

Other than the infamous adjective line, Kevin Nash cut a hell of a promo. Nash basically told Eric that we’re not playing around and things are changing around here in WCW. He cut a way better promo than Hall cut a few weeks ago. They said they were gonna be at the Great American Bash so again, more reason to watch the PPV.

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This was a bad Nitro to me. This was not as bad as the Nitro from two weeks ago but I was done with this show as soon as they got to the Public Enemy vs Nasty Boys match. The time management was spot on last week but it was all over the place this week. Why did Public Enemy and Nasty Boys get more time than anybody? Why did Regal vs Kidman get a minute? Why did Scott Norton stand in the ring for about two minutes to have a match that lasted less than two minutes.

I will say that this month they did a better job in building up the upcoming PPV which is the next show in the series. They had a stacked card for The Great American Bash:

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I’ve actually been told that this is actually a great PPV so I am very much looking forward to watching this PPV. There will be a full review of the Great American Bash 1996 here on the Armbar Express. Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly and updates whenever Retro Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I appreciate you taking the time to read this review and we hope you enjoy more of the content from the Armbar Express.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

 

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