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.
The Great American Bash 1996 was a very good WCW pay-per-view, to some one of the best WCW pay-per-views they ever did. Chris Benoit and Kevin Sullivan battered each other in a falls count anywhere match with Arn Anderson ending the relationship between the Four Horsemen and the Dungeon of Doom with a beatdown on Sullivan. Sting beat Lord Steven Regal and Dean Malenko defeated Rey Mysterio Jr. in two excellent matches. The Giant retained the WCW title and Steve “Mongo” McMichael turned on Kevin Green and became the fourth Horsemen of the Four Horsemen.
Following up The Great American Bash was this edition of WCW Nitro, with great work done to hype up the next pay-per-view Bash at the Beach. As a WCW Nitro show, it was honestly a good show. It was way better than last week’s episode and actually wasn’t half-bad. However, the thing that ruined the viewing experience of this episode to me was the WWE Network.
This is a spoiler alert for when we get to the very end of this WCW Nitro series but WWF ended up beating WCW and buying them out. When the WWE Network got up and running, they decided to put every WCW Nitro episode, every pay-per-view and a bunch of other WCW shows on the Network for fans to enjoy. This is along with a huge archive of WWE, ECW, WCCW and many other wrestling promotions throughout time.
As much as the WWE Network is value for your money when it comes to the archive, original content and monthly WWE Network specials, the service itself sucks. Watching this episode of WCW Nitro was a living hell. There isn’t one of video-streaming service that buffers as much as the WWE Network does. Not one…
I’ve got subscriptions to the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime. I’ve been able to stream off services likes Crunchyroll, NowTV, YouTube, ITV Player for AEW Dynamite, BBC iPlayer, 4oD among many many other streaming services. Not one of those services buffers at the absurd rate at the WWE Network does. As a loyal WWE Network subscriber for years, it bothers me so much how they’ve not been able to fix this.
How much does WWE make each year? Probably hundreds of millions. WWE has the money but they can’t fix this mind-numbing issue that has been the case for at least 5 years? These other services have no issues with it. Why does WWE have to be the black sheep in buffering and the quality of their streaming services? It makes this blog post series of WCW Nitros a lot harder when the episodes flat out stops the videos some times for minutes.
I’m going to go into multiple examples but there was one example near the start of the show where I just could not take anymore. I almost just skipped this review of Nitro based on this instance. However, I did complete the whole show and I will give you my full breakdown of the post-Great American Bash edition of Nitro.
Date: June 17th 1996
City: Richmond, West Virginia
Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko
Commentators (Second Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Bobby Heenan
At the start of the show, Tony Schiavonie revealed he would be calling the whole episode of Nitro this week. Eric Bischoff was destroyed by Kevin Nash at the pay-per-view and Tony actually mentioned Bischoff was still in hospital.
Speaking of Bischoff, they showed the first part of the segment where the Outsiders beat up Bischoff at the pay-per-view. They showed the line about them not being associated with WWF and then Scott Hall gut-punching Bischoff. They then teased that later on in the show, you would get to see the remainder of the incident where Nash powerbombed Bischoff. They teased this throughout the show and when they actually “revealed” it, it was still shots of the powerbomb! They didn’t actually show the actual clip of the powerbomb!
Tony and Larry spent a good five minutes at the start of the show breaking down the PPV and I’ll tie this into the Kevin Nash powerbomb thing. This is a key thing because not everyone watching WCW Nitro bought and watched that pay-per-view. They took the time here and later on in the show to update the viewers of the storylines if they didn’t watch the PPV. They did this while simultaneously encouraging them to buy the replay.
This isn’t like the WWE Network where if you don’t watch a WWE PPV live, you can watch it days or even months later or whenever you can be bothered. At the time, there was a replay and then you had to wait until they sold VHS tapes of the show.
To WCW, it was a big deal to watch the pay-per-view and the Kevin Nash powerbomb to Bischoff. This was a big angle on pay-per-view that they were determined to have people pay to see it was so shocking. By the end of this Nitro, they showed it was a rare thing to see these “outsiders” at WCW. They didn’t bring Hall and Nash back this week. Every time they were on Nitro up until this point, there was a reason for them being there. They were not rushing this storyline along. They had a plan all the way to the Bash at the Beach, and they were sticking to the plan.
Rick Steiner vs Stevie Ray
Last week, Scott Steiner and Booker had a good match on WCW Nitro. WCW decided to follow that up with their respective brothers facing each other in a singles match. Therefore, we got Rick Steiner and Stevie Ray wrestling each other. Dear god, did this miss the mark.
Rick Steiner tried his best and Stevie Ray was really not impressive. Rick almost killed Stevie with a belly-to-belly suplex. Rick went to the effort of turning himself inside out to sell a clothesline for Stevie. Of all the matches to want to do that spot for, he did it for a random two minute match with the worse half of Harlem Heat. Ray missed a fist drop and Rick hit a clothesline for the win.
Booker came out to attack Rick and apparently there was some issue with the timing. I say this because Harlem Heat overpowered Rick. Stevie had him set up for a powerbomb as he waited and waited and waited and then just hit a powerbomb. Then he went to do it again as Booker makes his way up to the top rope.
Scott Steiner came out to make the save but he basically took a double axe handle from Booker to save his brother Rick. Scott taking the bullet for his brother Rick does actually play into his match later as believe it or not, he had a WCW World title match in the main-event of Nitro! Therefore, he was willing to risk a shot at the WCW title to save his brother. That is true brotherhood being displayed there!
Disco Inferno vs Joe Gomez
Do you guys remember when WCW was in the middle of a ratings war in 1996? They were battling the WWF and they thought DISCO INFERNO VS JOE GOMEZ was an excellent idea. That’ll put butts in seats…
Speaking of putting butts in seats, although this is a bad match to mention this, this was the first week of 83 straight weeks where Nitro beat RAW in the ratings. This was the first episode in a historic streak for WCW as they would trounce WWF RAW every week. So maybe Disco Inferno and Joe Gomez were bigger draws than I figured. I dunno. Supposedly Hulk Hogan from “Hollywood” called WCW to say he wanted in for the “war” at Bash at the Beach. If that’s not foreshadowing, I don’t know what is!
Gomez beat up Disco for a while and did some arm drags. Disco bantered with the crowd and Gomez cut him off. Gomez did a dropkick and then missed a crossbody. Disco got the heat and Gomez ran wild. Disco hit a swinging neckbreaker to a shockingly big reaction. Disco did a dance and Larry Zybsko on commentary yelled at him for not making the cover. Disco went for a lazy cover and Gomez cradled Disco for the win.
After all of this, Disco didn’t care that he lost the match as his hair was still in place. I understand that this was Disco Inferno vs Joe Gomez but why would you want to have the loser Disco Inferno make it clear that he didn’t care about this match? In fact, forget WCW. Why would any company want to do a match, have a guy lose and then have the loser treat the match as no big deal? If the dudes in the ring couldn’t care less why should I as a viewer care about this?
I know I’ve got years of Disco on WCW but I’m already sick of him. I’m gonna need something from Disco for me to change my mind on him. He was also new to the business at this point so I’m able to give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s also not his fault that the match got booked this way. However, I could do with less Disco Inferno.
Ric Flair was with Debra McMichael, Elizabeth and Woman for an interview with Mean Gene Okerlund. Mean Gene said he’d never so disappointed in one person as he was in Debra. For you see, Debra and her husband Steve “Mongo” McMichael turned on Kevin Greene and sided with the Four Horsemen. Debra said it was for the money. Ric said “Macho Man” Randy Savage was gonna find why he’s on top of the world. Ric said they all think he’s afraid of him and that Savage was gonna tear him apart but that ain’t gonna happen. Savage had been reinstated to WCW and was set to wrestle Flair on this show.
“The American Males” Scotty Riggs and Marcus Bagwell vs “The Four Horsemen” Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit
I thought this was a decent match although this was the initial start of the buffering of doom which really escalated with the match that followed. Some fans boo the American Males in the front row and Bagwell, at this very point of the entrance, said: “that’s exactly what I wanna hear.”
Benoit’s face was shown bruised up following his match with Taskmaster at the pay-per-view. If that was make-up then I appreciate the commitment to show Benoit physically bruised after the falls count anywhere match from The Great American Bash.
Riggs and Arn wrestled for a bit. Arn took a cheap shot at Bagwell on the apron but whee Arn got on the floor, Bagwell got his revenge. Benoit tried a powerbomb but Bagwell rolled out of his grasp and reversed it into an arm drag.
Bagwell did a fisherman suplex but Benoit immediately broke it up. Benoit beat up Bagwell for a while and the fans were popping big for Benoit. These were fans hugely behind the Horsemen.
Benoit did a diving headbutt but Riggs broke it up. In an awesome spot, Benoit cheap-shot Riggs and after this, Bagwell cheap-shot Benoit and then after that, Arn cheap-shot Bagwell in one big sequence! I thought that was awesome!
Benoit suplexed Riggs on the ropes and got the pin. Decent match ruined in part by WWE Network buffering. Nothing the wrestlers did in the ring ruined this match for me.
Mean Gene interviewed Benoit and Arn. Arn said Mongo made the right choice and they were at full strength and also said his deal with Taskmaster went south. He said at the end of the day, it’s all about the Four Horsemen. Mean Gene talked about Benoit needing assistance at the pay-per-view… BENOIT BEAT TASKMASTER CLEAN. In storyline, there was not one time where Chris Benoit needed the help of anyone during that pay-per-view. He was kicking Taskmaster’s arse during that match, he beat him fair and square, he beat him up some more and then Arn beat Taskmaster up himself!
Benoit said Taskmaster had a quest to destroy the Horsemen but the Horsemen were about guts, glamour and glory… that’s a damn good line!
Big Bubba w/Jimmy Hart vs John Tenta
This was where my meltdown took place with the buffering on the WWE Network. Not that I was dying to see a pointless rematch between Big Bubba and John Tenta but this was where I lost my rag with this WWE Network.
During this match, it buffered here and there. It dragged out a short match into like a 15 minute viewing experience for me. Bubba tried to attack Tenta from behind but Tenta was ready for him. Larry said Tenta was the size of the national debt.
Tenta pulled off a dropkick as Bubba got mad on the outside of the ring. Bubba posted Tenta as Jimmy had the referee distracted. Tenta beat up Bubba. Jimmy tried a cheap shot but got a reverse atomic drop for his troubles. Tenta hit a powerslam but pulled himself up from the cover and hit a second one and got his foot on the ropes for the win.
At this point, the episode just became unplayable. I had buffering issues throughout watching this episode and at this point, I just had enough. The entire video stopped playing. It showed like 5 seconds of post-match stuff and then stopped entirely. It was stuck for a minute unable to do a thing. So I clicked off the show and went back in. I got back in, and it stopped entirely yet again.
I had to go through the trouble of turning off the Playstation 4 I was watching it on, start it all up again for it to work again. Before anyone says it is to do with my internet, I have no problems with Amazon Prime, no problem with ITV player, no issues with YouTube and no issues with Netflix. I use them all the same way, using the same internet on my Playstation 4. It’s just the WWE Network. This bothered the hell out of me.
Tenta chased Jimmy back into the ring and Bubba hit him with a loaded sock. He seriously whacked Tenta at one time in the head. He beat on him and beat on him. Bubba revealed coins and dropped it on Tenta. Watching all of this at a time in AEW where Pride and Powerful used a sock full of dollars as a weapon. That’s not even the biggest AEW coincidence on this show! Oh we’ll get to that!
Mean Gene interviewed Jimmy and Bubba. Jimmy said he’s gonna make examples of everyone that leaves the Dungeon of Doom.
Mean Gene interviewed “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Savage says he’s gonna take his time with Flair. He admits he’s not all there but there’s no man that can put him down. Savage said he saw a women psychiatrist during his time away from WCW and she had him down as OCD…. One Cool Dude. He’s used this line before but I still think it’s a great line!
“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs Ric Flair w/Woman, Debra McMichael and Miss Elizabeth
WCW did my idea of having the second hour fireworks going off during someone’s entrance. Savage came down and there were fireworks all over the place. It was funny because Bobby Heenan came out as he was supposed to call the second hour. Savage chased Heenan towards the ring. Heenan then did an outstanding vault out of the ring and made his way to the announce booth! It was so cartoonish and pulled off exceptionally well that only Bobby Heenan could have done this spot this well. He vaulted out of there like he was a an Olympic swimmer diving into a pool!
Ric got the mic. He said every man in life must in some point of time experience the agony and pain of defeat. He said Savage is experiencing the pain and agony of defeat and divorce. Savage said he was gonna kick Flair’s ass and the fans went nuts.
The match started and I love Flair and Savage fighting in all of their entrance gear! Flair was in his robe and Savage was in his big hat and jacket. It was only for a minute or so but it looked so funny to me! I loved it.
Elizabeth took a cheap shot at Savage with a slap. This was a fabulous old-school fight between Savage and Flair. It was bowling shoe ugly at times and then comedic at other times and the fans were into all of this. Savage took Flair up to Flair’s fancy table and shoved food in his mouth.
Then we got the AEW moment. Savage gets a champagne and I swear on a stack of bibles. I shared this on my Instagram @tomrobinson5199. Future All Elite Wrestling announcer Tony Schiavonie said “OOooh. A little bit of the bubbly.”
My jaw dropped and I am about 90% certain that AEW has the means of time travel. There’s been so many AEW references in 1996 before AEW even existed that there’s no way this is a coincidence! Tony even said it the same way Chris Jericho initially said it in 2019. Jericho goes “oooh” and in a deep voice said: “a little bit of the bubbly” and I swear Tony said it in the exact same manner on June 17th 1996 on WCW Nitro. It was… surreal.
The finish saw the referee getting bumped. Savage dropped the elbow and went for another elbow drop when the women got in front of him and Flair. It didn’t stop Savage from dropping another elbow drop on Flair. Benoit ran out and Savage gave him a piledriver. Savage then took out Arn and it was Mongo that hit Savage with a briefcase to the back and walloped Savage in the head. It sounded like a shotgun blast it was so loud. Flair pinned Savage and The Horsemen attacked Savage after the match.
Mean Gene interviewed Taskmaster, Jimmy Hart and WCW World Heavyweight Champion The Giant. I think this is the first time Mean Gene referred to Hall and Nash as “Outsiders”. Jimmy cried to Taskmaster that he knew they couldn’t trust the Horsemen. Taskmaster said there’s a legal war going on, there’s a war with Hogan when he comes back and there’s another war. Taskmaster said there’s a fine line between pain and pleasure and Giant cut him off. Giant said the Horsemen say they’re the elite but if that’s the case, why don’t they have the WCW title? He said anyone in the Dungeon is better than anyone in the Horsemen. He said they’d all fall down. Taskmaster then said he doesn’t care about the Four Horsemen and this is all about WCW…. right after cutting a promo about the Four Horsemen!
Taskmaster was at the same time preaching WCW loyalty and calling out the Four Horsemen. A lot of fires being started for the Dungeon of Doom….
Mean Gene interviewed Rey Mysterio Jr. Rey talked about Dean Malenko using the ropes during their match at The Great American Bash. Rey said he would show him what he’s made out of and he wanted the cruiserweight title. Rey said something in Spanish to “the Latinos” as Mean Gene put it.
Dean Malenko © vs Rey Mysterio Jr. for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship
Nowhere near as good as their Great American Bash match but still a good and fun cruiserweight match between Malenko and Mysterio Jr. So of course, after about 30 mins of the video being fine on the WWE Network this is the match where the buffering problems started again.
Rey did La Magistral roll-up for a 2 count to which people actually went “awwww” for as they legitimately bought this as a near fall. Rey started winning the match with the quickness factor but Dean hit him with a hard clothesline and used power moves like a backbreaker and a back suplex to turn things in his favour.
Dean did a calf crusher to work on the legs and dropped him with a brainbuster. Dean locked on the abdominal stretch. Dean hit a big powerbomb and he SLAMMED this little man with such force. Not as powerful as the infamous Benoit/Guerrero powerbomb from earlier on in the series but this sounded almost as hard as that Mongo briefcase shot from earlier.
I love how Bobby told Tony to watch his tone as he claimed Tony was gonna get punched in the face. Tony, without missing beat, simply said in a nonchalant manner “no I’m not.”
Rey did a great springboard hurricanrana to the outside. Rey got a near fall from a roll-up. Dean tried a powerslam and Rey just turned the momentum in his favour for a pin attempt. Dean reversed the bulldog attempt into a reverse DDT for the win. A very good match. I give this a thumbs up.
The Giant © w/Jimmy Hart vs Scott Steiner for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship
Scott’s chest was taped up because of the attack from Harlem Heat. Scott tried a German suplex but was unable to budge the big man. Scott tried to slam Giant but Giant was too big. The Giant actually got mad by these attempts and delivered stomps to the bad ribs, an elbow drop and even stood directly on his ribs.
It was almost exclusive rib-based offense from the champion as he did a Polish Hammer to the back of Steiner. He threw some kicks at Steiner as Bobby said “Giant kicked the life out of Scott Steiner.”
Giant, believe it or not, did a Camel Clutch on SCOTT STEINER, the man with the Steiner Recliner! Jimmy was literally jumping for joy witnessing Giant beat up this guy and pumping his fists up in the air in celebration!
Giant hit a suplex. I’m usually all for dominating performances to put a big monster over but this match was god damn boring at times. He beat on him, beat on him and beat on him. The Giant then got a chair but Scott eventually crotched him on the top rope and chop-blocked him. Scott did a sleeper hold but Giant got out of it and fired away with forearms.
Then we got one of the most unbelievable suplexes I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen Brock Lesnar German suplex guys like Braun Strowman and The Big Show. I’ve seen Brock Lesnar bend John Cena in half with German Suplexes at SummerSlam 2014. I’ve seen Kurt Angle launch Rey Mysterio with a double German Suplex with him and Randy Orton. The suplex Scott Steiner delivered to The Giant had to have been the most impressive suplexes ever delivered in the history of wrestling.
Scott hit the most unbelievable T-Bone Suplex On The Giant and the fans went NUTS for it. I was gobsmacked as I yelled JEEZUS at the top of my lungs. I’ve seen the likes of Sting, Lex Luger and Hulk Hogan doing spots where they struggle and struggle to get the big man down. Scott Steiner goes in there and suplexed this big man with seemingly such ease. He didn’t just suplex him. He THREW HIM across the ring and this is THE GIANT. It was incredible.
Scott went for a cover and The Giant lifted him off at two. Scott tried to use a wooden chair but Jimmy intercepted him. Scott shoved Jimmy off, broke the chair over The Giant’s head to no effect and Giant chokeslammed him for the win.
No matter what happened in the rest of this match, that suplex was worth all of the beating and heat that we had to sit through. He hit this suplex and the folks lost their minds as well as me! I lost my mind watching this. Scott Steiner was tremendous at this time.
Mean Gene came out to announce Team WCW for the six man tag team match at Bash at the Beach. Mean Gene claimed this was the biggest announcement Mean Gene’s ever made. He explained that they’re selecting from the six top men depending on win/loss record and “many other things”. If we’re going off win/losses alone, surely guys like WCW US Champion Konnan would have to be in the mix right? I don’t remember the last time I saw Konnan lose a match.
The six mae in the drawing for this six man tag team match were Hulk Hogan, The Giant, Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Sting and Macho Man Randy Savage. I mean I would have to assume that the “many other things” must out-weigh the win/loss records right? The Giant is an understandable option as he’s the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. Hulk Hogan is understandable but he’s not been in WCW for a month and the same goes for Randy Savage (at least not been in the ring because of a storyline suspension). Lex Luger lost at the pay-per-view. Sting and Ric Flair face each other all of the time and trade wins back and forth so surely, from a win/loss record standpoint, they were not ranked highly?
I would go with the explanation that they went with the six former WCW champions as opposed to going off recent track records. Every one of them except Sting and Luger have been the champion in the past 9 months or so. Sting and Luger are the tag champs so this list does actually do a fair job in “determining” the finalists up for selection if you want to find the biggest stars!
There was a random draw to determine who would be fighting for WCW. There’s an invasion from outsiders that are threatening your company and you’re gonna leave it to randomisation to determine who is gonna fight? That seems like a terrible idea if this were real!
The names were revealed to be Lex Luger, Sting and “Macho Man” Randy Savage and the show ends leaving you to dwell on those names.
As a WCW Nitro episode, this was actually a decent show but as a viewing experience on the WWE Network, it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I sincerely hope the WWE Network can resolve these issues for the future.
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WCW Nitro Reading Order
- #1 – September 4th 1995
- #2 – September 11th 1995
- WCW War Games 1995 – September 17th 1995
- #3 – September 18th 1995
- #4 – September 25th 1995
- #5 – October 2nd 1995
- #6 – October 9th 1995
- #7 – October 16th 1995
- #8 – October 23rd 1995
- WCW Halloween Havoc 1995 – October 29th 1995
- #9 – October 30th 1995
- #10 – November 6th 1995
- #11 – November 13th 1995
- #12 – November 20th 1995
- WCW World War III 1995 – November 26th 1995
- #13 – November 27th 1995
- #14 – December 4th 1995
- #15 – December 11th 1995
- #16 – December 18th 1995
- #17 – December 25th 1995
- WCW Starrcade 1995 – December 27th 1995
- #18 – January 1st 1996
- #19 – January 8th 1996
- #20 – January 15th 1996
- #21 – January 22nd 1996
- #22 – January 29th 1996
- #23 – February 5th 1996
- WCW Superbrawl VI – February 11th 1996
- #24 – February 12th 1996
- #25 – February 19th 1996
- #26 – February 26th 1996
- #27 – March 11th 1996
- #28 – March 18th 1996
- WCW Uncensored 1996 – March 24th 1996
- #29 – March 25th 1996
- #30 – April 1st 1996
- #31 – April 15th 1996
- #32 – April 22nd 1996
- #33 – April 29th 1996
- #34 – May 6th 1996 (Nitro)/May 6th 1996 (RAW)
- #35 – May 13th 1996
- WCW Slamboree 1996 – May 19th 1996
- #36 – May 20th 1996
- #37 – May 27th 1996
- #38 – June 3rd 1996
- #39 – June 10th 1996
- WCW The Great American Bash 1996 – June 16th 1996