RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #44 (JULY 15TH 1996) – “HOLLYWOOD” HOGAN RETURNS AFTER BASH AT THE BEACH

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 New World Order had finally arrived in WCW, with Hulk Hogan revealing his true colours at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996. The Outsiders appeared onthe night after the PPV, revealing Hulk Hogan would be appearing on Nitro the week after. Sting vowed revenge after the PPV, Randy Savage vowed revenge after the PPV, Arn Anderson was disappointed in Hogan, Taskmaster was upset at not killing Hulkamania himself, Ric Flair didn’t care and Rey Mysterio Jr won the WCW Cruiserweight title during a very solemn-like episode ofWCW Monday Nitro

 

We’re back with WCW Nitro reviews. This felt like a really mixed edition of Nitro, this July 15th 1996 edition. There weren’t many things about this that came off as plain and formulaistic. Last week saw multiple cruiserweight matches hat were both good but similar to each other in the form. Accompanying this was just a bunch of nothing matches that were interchangeable. This episode was different.

We got big men throwing each other around in the opening match, we got a cruiserweight match where Dean Malenko destroyed Billy Kidman, we got Benoit vs Guerrero again, we got women’s wrestling of all things on this episode and we got Arn Anderson vs Meng which was such a weird concept if you think about it. There were very few things on this episode that were similar to each other. Even the nWo business was unique in how it was presented but we’ll get to that. It wasn’t just Hall and Nash showing up this week either. No, they had company…

 

Date: July 15th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Disney/MGM Studios at Orlando, Florida

Rating: 3.4

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan

 

“Fire and Ice” Scott Norton and Ice Train vs “The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner

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As much as I was looking forward to this match again, two Scotts in this match always makes note-taking HARD for me! I ended up writing things like Scott did (blank) to Scott for example and it’s hard to transcribe the action when they’re not that different from each other in size and certain things they did in the ring. Maybe if it was Scott Steiner vs Scotty 2 Hotty I could at least assume it was most likely Steiner that did a belly-to-belly suplex for example!

As much as I was looking forward to this match again, this match didn’t quite have the “fire” if you will of past Fire and Ice vs Steiners matches. I said there wasn’t really a set formula with these matches on this episode but there felt more of a pattern to the Steiners vs Fire and Ice matches than there was initially. This was the first time where it felt like they were just doing stuff until they got to the finish. I wasn’t a fan.

Sting, The Giant, Ric Flair and Randy Savage apparently were not here on this episode of Nitro. They claimed they were wrestling in Japan. The only one that had felt the nWo’s wrath, according to the announcers, that was there on this show was Lex Luger. The announcers talking about “friction” within Fire and Ice and I had no idea what they were on about. I guess this was part of a WCW Saturday Night storyline.

Norton beat up Scott Steiner for a while. Scott Steiner eventually fired back and hit a big belly-to-belly on Norton, sending him to the outside. Not a lot happened prior to the first break. Teddy Long came down to ringside.

Things picked up a little as Ice Train hit a big powerslam. Rick dropped Ice Train RIGHT on his head with a belly to belly. It looked nasty. Rick hit a reverse DDT for a 2 count. The Scotts both got tagged back in but Norton threw Steiner’s arse to the floor and delivered a double axe handle.

Norton hit a middle top clothesline and tried a fist drop but Scott Steiner got the foot up. Rick got the hot tag and caught Norton and slammed him down but Ice Train broke up the pin.

Ice Train ended up hitting a big splash to his own partner as Rick hits a German suplex with a bridge. Ice Train’s foot was as clear as day under the bottom rope and referee Nick Patrick just did the three count. A very clunky match.

 

Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed the Dungeon of Doom. Taskmaster talked about living for the death of Hulkamania. Jimmy said some stuff. Big Bubba cut a promo as the Faces of Fear came out. Fire and Ice walked past the Dungeon and to the back bickering with each other. Taskmaster said Benoit got a little too personal with him at the PPV.

Then Mean Gene was with Fire and Ice. Scott Norton yelled that they were getting the best teams beat but Ice Train kept screwing it up. Teddy Long cut them off and said he didn’t wanna see them break up. Norton pushed down Teddy Long. Ice Train and Norton threatened to kick each other’s arse as Teddy laid MOTIONLESS on the ground at the sheer push of Scott Norton! This Teddy Long was quite a pro with putting over these big monsters!

 

Dean Malenko vs Billy Kidman

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Remember when I said the cruiserweight matches fromlast week were very similar to each other? This cruiserweight match was totally different to both of those matches and ironically, it included a guy in Dean Malenko who was in one of those matches last week!

Dean Malenko, if you’ll recall, lost the Cruiserweight title last week. Dean’s response to losing this championship he held so dear was to destroy poor Billy Kidman! The match happened and went along at a smooth pace and then Dean decided to decimate him with an incredible finishing sequence! This was not a match where they did a whole bunch of near falls and then Dean hit one last move and pinned Kidman. The match was fairly even and then Dean proved to be the better man by making an example out of this Kidman. Last week, he took Rey Mysterio Jr. lightly and lost the title. Here, Dean did not take Kidman lightly!

Dean tried a piledriver on the outside but Kidman reversed it. Kidman did a top rope dropkick for a 2 count. Kidman dropped Malenko with a German Suplex. Dean took over and locked on a knee bar. Dean worked on the knee.

Kidman fought back but Malenko cut him off with a big powerslam. Dean got the heat. Dean hit an Alabama Slam. The two men reversed roll-ups. Kidman did a Dudley Dog like bulldog. Kidman missed a shooting star press and then Dean Malenko made this poor young buck pay for missing this high spot.

Dean dropped him with a brainbuster and then smashed him with a powerbomb and then hit a tiger powerbomb and then did a Texas Clover Leaf for the submission win. In one big sequence, he massacred Kidman and the fans went going nuts for every move he followed up with until the match was over. Dean smashing Kidman with this finish was quite great to see. Kidman was the sacrificial lamb in Malenko’s eyes!

A decent match with an tremendous finish!

 

Mean Gene was with Kevin Greene. The last time we saw Kevin Greene was at The Great American Bash when Steve “Mongo” McMichael turned on him during their tag match. Greene proceeded to cut a very good babyface promo. He showed passion as he talked about “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan. Greene talked about growing up on eating vitamins and saying prayers only to find out that Hogan didn’t even believe what he was preaching. Greene talked about Hogan being a hero and then Hogan stabbed everybody in the back. Greene called out Mongo as he’s got 2 hours before his plane leaves. I thought Kevin Greene cut a great promo on Hogan and Mongo!

 

“Harlem Heat” Booker T and Stevie Ray w/Sister Sherri vs “Rough and Ready” Mike Enos and Dick Slater w/Col. Robert Parker for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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Of course a tag team called “Rough and Ready” had to feature two men known as Dick and Enos in WCW. Vince Russo isn’t even here yet and the innuendos are running wild on WCW Nitro.

Rough and Ready rough up Harlem Heat. Stevie wrapped his hands around Dick for the bear hug. The fans chanted for Harlem Heat as Stevie and Enos did the test of strength.

Enos fought his way out with headbutts. Stevie beat up on Enos for a while. Booker did a side kick that looked like it completely missed. Dick threw Booker out of the ring. Dick and Enos double-teamed Booker as Enos hit a scoop slam on Booker. Booker cut off Dick with a low blow.

Stevie looked gassed on the apron as Booker was in the ring. Booker hit a side kick which connected and then he followed up with a Scissors Kick. Stevie choked on Enos.

Then the match broke into a four way brawl and it just completely fell apart. It’s very sloppy stuff as I had no idea who the good guys and bad guys were. Booker missed a corner dropkick and fell on his shoulders. Dick pounded away at Booker. Enos sent Booker flying with a fallaway slam.

Stevie got the hot tag and it just completely fell apart again as referee Nick Patrick claimed Stevie never got the tag. Parker got on the apron and then, Sherri kissed Dick. Booker then rolled up Dick for the win.

Jokes aside, that match was a complete mess to me.

 

Kevin Greene was talking with Mean Gene again as Greene still wanted Mongo to come out. Greene was begging for Mongo as he took his shirt off. He eventually he gave up as he had to catch his plane. He promised to come back after the NFL season was over!

 

Madusa vs Malia Hosaka

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I thought this was a very enjoyable women’s match. Madusa hit a Northern Lights Suplex. Osaka smashed Madusa with a spinning kick Osaka tried to pin Madusa with just her knee. Larry Zybsko, of course, had to talk about women needing to be in the kitchen rather than being in the ring. At this point, I was begging for Eric Bischoff to come and get Larry out of the announce booth.

Osaka got the heat. Osaka did hair-assisted snapmares and went for the headlock. Madusa retaliated as she fired away with kicks and did her own hair snapmares. Madusa tried a powerbomb but Osaka tripped the leg and did a Boston Crab. Madusa got out of it. Osaka hit the swinging neckbreaker and then missed what was basically a coffin drop that Darby Allin does nowadays. Madusa does a top rope senton but she missed. Osaka missed a crossbody and Madusa hit a german suplex for the pin.

In short, the finish of this match was the girls trying and failing every dive they attempted until Madusa eventually tried something else… and won! That was the finish! A fun women’s match in my eyes with an interesting finish.

 

The fireworks went off for the second hour and who should show up but Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. I guess the letters W C W were up there. In response, Nash and Hall covered up the letters with sheets or blankets or something and spray-painted the letters N W O. This really did come off as really stupid. I understand that the nWo are heels and are not supposed to be liked, but this came off as the dorkiest thing ever.

As established last week when Kevin Nash and Scott Hall arrived in a limo, the nWo has money. You mean to tell me that Hall and Nash’s big idea was to go grab three blankets from like the local supermarket and spray-paint on them? This came off so bad.

 

 

Meng w/Jimmy Hart vs Arn Anderson

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Was this just like a contest to see if Arn could have a more boring match each and every week? Last week, him and Sting just had a nothing match that nobody cared about. Here, he’s wrestling Meng so there’s no heat as there is two heels fighting each other. The match was just there and then Arn got beat in the middle like it was nothing. Remember like a few months ago when Arn beat Hulk Hogan two weeks in a row? Now, the Four Horsemen are becoming the whipping boys the Dungeon of Doom to I guess set up The Giant for Hogan. A weird way to book since The Giant was not involved in this match!

Meng backed Arn into the corner with Meng trying to trade fists with him. Arn and Meng eventually got into a bit of a wrestling match. From a massive whistle going off in the crowd and fireworks CONTINUING to go off in the background, it took a lot away from the match. These fireworks went off for like 5 minutes and were very difficult to ignore. Meng got the heat and Meng choked away at Arn. Arn work on the big legs of Meng by wrapping his legs around the corner of the ring.

The Barbarian came down and I wanted Barbarian or Meng to go down and eat this person that kept blowing this whistle during the match. If there was one thing more annoying than the fireworks was this guy or girl blowing this whistle constantly. This was a pretty boring match to be fair and I’d hate to say about Arn Anderson and Meng.

Jimmy got some kicks in on the outside, mocking the Four Horsemen symbol. Meng jumped from the apron and did a diving karate chop to the head. Arn went back to working on the legs. Barbarian got up on the apron and interfered, and Meng followed this up with a super kick, walked around for a while and got the pin.

A pointless match.

 

 

Mean Gene interviewed Steve “Mongo” Michael and his wife Debra. I love how Mean Gene immediately stated that it was funny Mongo came out right after Kevin Greene had left. Mongo started to get all cocky and then Mean Gene alerted him that they had Greene right there ready for him. Then Mongo is all spooked out and turned around. Mean Gene then butted in and goes: “well I guess he’s already left.” This was such classic chickenshit heel stuff from Mongo! He was all tough when he knew Greene wasn’t there but at the first mention that Greene might be here, he turned back into a coward! Mongo avoided Kevin Greene all night and acted all tough. The slightest whiff that Greene might be in the building and Mongo is scared. Mean Gene basically called him on his bluff!

Mongo, without a beat, got all cocky again. He called out Greene. Debra, in my opinion, cut a bad promo about all the stuff Mongo did in the NFL… on a WRESTLING SHOW. As an outsider who doesn’t watch NFL, I had no idea why their NFL careers were relevant as part of the programme with Mongo and Greene. Yeah, they were both NFL players. However, the key is Mongo sold out on his friend for money. I’m not a fan of doing an angle based on another sport for a wrestling angle.

 

Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero

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The best part about seeing Benoit vs Guerrero again is that this is not like we see this match every week. It’s been months since we’ve seen Benoit vs Guerrero on a Nitro which is a big key. They may have been wrestling 10,000 times on WCW Saturday Night or WCW Pro or whatever. However, the eyeballs were on the biggest show they’ve got which is WCW Nitro. Therefore, when they show this match after months of it not being featured on Nitro, it came off fresh and exciting to the viewers who possibly only have time to watch Nitro. It’s great because it doesn’t burn out Benoit and Guerrero to the viewers either.

Benoit wanted the referee to check Eddie and then Benoit took advantage with a cheap shot. Benoit beat down Eddie. Eddie tried a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker but Benoit landed on his feet. Benoit tried a powerbomb but Eddie did an arm drag out of it. Eddie did a dive to the outside.

Eddie did a rolling senton into the ring. Eddie was running wild and finally hit a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker after a few attempts. Benoit did a back suplex. Nash and Hall eventually left. Benoit locked on a camel clutch. Eddie hit a beautiful belly to back suplex.

Benoit did a liontamer-like boston crab. Benoit hit a big powerbomb for a 2 count. Benoit got the heat for a while. Benoit eventually went up to the top rope but Eddie cut him off and hit a superplex which the fans popped for. Eric Bischoff even said “this crowd is lit”… in 1996.

Eddie punched away at Benoit in the corner and then they traded punches, chops and slaps to the chest in this true fight. Benoit tried a powerbomb but Eddie launched himself and Benoit over the top with a headscissors. All of a sudden, Dean Malenko ran out and threw Benoit into the ring post. Apparently Jimmy Hart was talking to Dean earlier, and I guess paid him off to take out Benoit.

Eddie beat the 10 count into the ring but Benoit did not as Eddie picked up the count out victory. Say what you will but a count out victory did come off as a finish that was different and new. With the exception of like double count-outs, we have rarely seen this kind of a count-out victory in a singles match, even if it’s from shenanigans by Malenko.

This was a fun Benoit vs Guerrero match as always.

 

 

Lex Luger © vs Big Bubba for the WCW Television Championship

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Bubba punched away at Luger and went to work but Luger cut Bubba off from the top rope. Luger sent Bubba to the outside. Luger wrenched Bubba’s arm but Bubba cut him off with an eye poke.

Luger hit a forearm for a 2 count. Bubba hit a ugly looking facebuster on Luger. Bubba got the heat. The black limo showed up with Nash and Hall watching on. Bubba whipped out an enziguri for a 2 count. Luger fired back up and they hit a double clothesline to knock each other down. Not a lot happened in this main-event. It honestly didn’t matter because Nash and Hall eventually made their way down to the ring for the disqualification.

Nash and Hall jumped Luger in the ring and pummelled him. It’s funny because I didn’t write down a finish! Therefore I just assume the match was thrown out and Bubba was disqualified! Yeah, god forbid that Lex Luger beats Big Bubba clean in the main-event of Nitro.

Eventually, in walked HOLLYWOOD Hulk Hogan all in black for the first time since “Evil” Hulk Hogan wrestled Sting. Nash hit the Jacknife powerbomb. Hogan slapped away at a floored Luger and shook Bubba’s hands. It turned out to be a ruse as Nash and Hall jumped Bubba as well. The fans booed unmercifully as the nWo egged on the fans to boo them even more. They really did have the fans at Disney World at the palm of their hands as they incited even more hatred! They were the baddest of the bad… and then a bunch of fans chanted “Diesel”!

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Mean Gene interviewed the nWo. Hogan said he wished he did this 2 years ago. Hogan said he was bigger than the whole world of professional wrestling. Hogan said they would rule the wrestling world. Mean Gene asked “well what about the children?” Hogan said these people had the gall to boo Hulk Hogan after he tried to lead the children down the right path? He once again told the fans to stick it. Hogan talked about Sting being a little body builder. Hogan said Macho Man blamed his divorce on Hogan. One bottle from the crowd was thrown and hit Nash right in the face and he completely no-sold it. It’s actually unbelievable. They’re in DISNEY WORLD and all these fans are pelting garbage in the ring! This isn’t even like ECW at the Hammerstein Ballroom or like the hardcorest of fans at Madison Square Garden, these were tourists and just families pelting crap in the ring at the heels! It was surreal.

Hogan said the New World Order will rule the wrestling world. Hogan said the Outsiders were the foundation and Hogan said as he will build his empire, Hogan teased some of the wrestlers and more outsiders possibly joining the group. Hogan said he’s done with the kids. He talked trash about “skinny” Macho Man and “crybaby” Sting. Hogan called The Giant out for Hog Wild and they were gonna take the WCW title and rename it the nWo title. Hogan vowed to beat up the whole of WCW right now as Hogan and the Outsiders were all fired up.

This was a money promo to say the least. If you weren’t excited about this storyline before, then you sure as hell were now. They were a group looking to take over the company and Hogan was not gonna let the kids or let anyone get in his way anymore. They have a match for Hog Wild in The Giant vs Hollywood Hogan for the title and the fans were hanging onto every word he said as a heel. It was tremendous work from the Hulkster.

Then the Steiners and the Faces of Fear came down along with Arn Anderson as they surrounded the nWo. The nWo armed themselves with weapons. They ended the show as the fight was about to start.

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I though this was a fun episode. There were some good matches. The show dragged at places but I think the ending was a fun way to continue this storyline. We have a direction for Hog Wild and this show gets a thumbs up from me!

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

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