RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #48 (AUGUST 12TH 1996) – THREE TITLE MATCHES AND THE OUTSIDERS VS STING AND LEX LUGER REMATCH

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 Hog Wild saw the next step in the New World Order’s plan to destroy WCW. The Outsiders defeated Sting and Lex Luger following shenanigans from a crooked referee in Nick Patrick. In the main-event, Hollywood Hogan and the nWo toppled The Giant in order to seize the WCW World Heavyweight Championship from WCW. The last image of the show saw Hulk Hogan spray paint “nWo” on the championship belt to deface the title and literally leave a black mark on the prestigious World Heavyweight Championship.

 

My thoughts on the post-Hog Wild edition of WCW Nitro are that there was a strong emphasis on the second hour of the show. There were a bunch of “filler” matches I guess in the first hour and then a huge line-up for the second hour. We had three title matches on the second hour, including Randy Savage vs Ric Flair and the Outsiders making their WCW Nitro debut in a rematch from Hog Wildagainst Lex Luger and Sting. Very interesting format for the show so I can only assume that Nitro were going up against RAW in that second hour and they wanted a really strong hour.

I think it worked. Firstly, Nitro won the ratings war against against RAW by 3.3 to 2.0, which I believe was the largest gap between the shows up until this point. Secondly, the second hour was actually a strong hour. We got two main-event worthy matches and they were putting in a lot of ground-work for future events, including a Hollywood Hogan vs Ric Flair match at Clash of the Champions. I thought this was a good episode as we move towards Fall Brawl.

 

Date: August 12th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Casper, Wyoming or as Larry Zbyszko called it, “in the middle of nowhere”

Rating: 3.3

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Eric Bischoff and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan

 

 

The show started with Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko’s usual introductions, where Larry called out the Four Horsemen, Sting, Lex Luger and the Dungeon of Doom, a.k.a. the “brotherhood” of WCW, for not showing up to help Giant in the main-event of Hog Wild. I guess this was to play up the angle that WCW were not truly united yet in the fight against the New World Order.

 

“High Voltage” Kenny Kaos and Robbie Rage and “Rough and Ready” Dick Slater and Mike Enos vs “Dungeon of the Doom” Taskmaster, Hugh Morrus, Meng and The Bababarian w/Big Bubba and Jimmy Hart 

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This was probably the biggest clue that WCW didn’t really care for the first hour of the show. The opening match saw whatever was left of the Dungeon of Doom take on High Voltage and Rough and Ready! This was one of a few matches on this show where all I could think was “who put this match together?” It was… insane.

Taskmaster was in street clothes for this one. I wrote there were “massive boos for these guys coming out” which I think were related to High Voltage and Rough and Ready.  Hugh did a clothesline and the fans went nuts for the Dungeon of Doom during this match.

Dudes just started running into the ring at random. I don’t even remember there being a single tag in this match. Enos was pretty bad in this. Taskmaster just ran and attacked dudes like crazy and the referee just allowed it to happen and eventually it broke into a wild brawl. Kaos missed a dive by about 1000 miles. There was like no attempt by Kaos to make it seem like he was even remotely going to hit Meng on the floor. Meng hit a superkick and won via pin fall.

Rough and Ready beat up High Voltage and Dick Slater fell down trying to stomp on them and… this was just a giant massive mess. A clear indication that the first hour was not a priority even in the midst of this weekly wrestling television war!

 

Sting and Lex Luger and came down. Luger grabbed the mic and they said they would both have a sleepless night. Sting said they didn’t care about controversy from their match at Hog Wild. Sting and Luger made a challenge towards the Outsiders for right now as the fans got amped up. They wanted to see this fight and Sting weas urging them on to make more and more noise. Sting said if the nWo had the guts, they’ll show up to the ring right now. Sting said that it’s 2 on 2 and he whined that the nWo always picked their spot. They eventually gave up and I guess the ball was left in the nWo’s court to whether they accept the challenge or not.

 

Renegade vs Diamond Dallas Page

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There was not a lot to this match but I personally think it was one of the better regular DDP matches on Nitro in the last few months. I’ll break it down shortly but I did ask myself a question during this match… was there ever a reveal of who DDP’s benefactor was?

Remember when DDP became broke after Kimberly took all of his money in a match? He was down in the dumps and became homeless and then, a “mysterious benefactor” helped DDP get back on his feet. They’ve not made a reference to this in months. I did check and there was apparently no official reveal as to the identity of the mystery benefactor. Apparently DDP has said in interviews that he believed the angle would reveal that Kimberley was the benefactor all along. There was another name rumoured but this is for someone that has yet to arrive in WCW, so I won’t mention who the man or woman was that was also rumoured to be the benefactor.

Back to the match, DDP worked on the arm for a little bit. The men bounced off each other from the shoulder tackle attempt. DDP bumped his arse off for a Renegade shove then later proceed to smack Renegade with a lariat. DDP hit a swinging neckbreaker as they revealed the nWo would respond to the challenge later on in the show.

DDP put on a chin lock for a long time. Renegade almost sneaked his way into a win with a roll up. Renegade literally kicked the gum out of DDP’s mouth and did the comeback. Out of nowhere, DDP did a counter and hit a Diamond Cutter for the win. A decent Nitro TV match. Maybe I’m in the minority on this one but I thought it was alright.

 

The New World Order are shown sitting down backstage. Kevin Nash said they’ll do the match with Sting and Luger when they feel ready. Hall said they beat WCW at Bash at the Beach and Hog Wild and Hogan won the title at Hog Wild as well. They mentioned they heard some whining and crying about Nick Patrick and called him a “FINE senior referee.” Hogan mentioned a fourth and fifth member of the nWo. Hogan complained about the belt and wanted to redesign the belt with a “Buddy in Tampa.” Nash said whatcha gonna do when the nWo runs wild on you? Hogan said the WCW faithful would disown Sting and Luger if they beat them again.

This was a pretty bland nWo backstage promo. They were just sat down talking for a long time about embarrassing WCW, accepting challenge etc. and it wasn’t particularly interesting. I think it was their attempt to make it look like a shoot but it just looked bland. It really didn’t get me invested in the rematch. Sting and Luger did a far better job at hyping up this main-event earlier on in the show.

 

Konnan vs Jim Powers

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I wrote down “A mess of a match” and this match wasn’t even the worst thing Konnan did all night.

Konnan did some horrible punches and knees and then locked on an abdominal stretch. Powers got a huge pop out of a clothesline. I laughed when the commentators claimed Jim Powers was “very successful” in WCW. I’ll say it again, I don’t remember ever seeing Jim Powers win a match on Nitro!

I guess Konnan is a heel now because of what Hogan did. Fans chanted USA. Powers bounced Konnan’s head of the turnbuckle as he ran wild on Konnan. The fans were really into Powers here. Powers did a dropkick and Konnan could not just fall down to sell the move. Konnan instead twisted in the air and just fell down on his front. For god’s sake. Just take a bump to the mat and sell the move better.

Konnan reversed Powers charging at him with a kick and got a pin with his feet on the ropes. This was a poor match.

Mean Gene Okerlund interview Mexican Heavyweight Champion Konnan after the match. Konnan cut the most bipolar promo in WCW history up until this point! Konnan said Mean Gene’s opinions are irrelevant and mentioned the nWo have been stinking up the joint. Konnan mumbled about having a bulletproof plan. Konnan then said that he was sticking for WCW and told the nWo to look out and the fans booed. He cut a heel promo and then turned it into a babyface pro-WCW rally promo against the nWo. WHAT?

Man this was a bad promo from Konnan. This promo was so bad. Konnan just got totally lost with his own promo. If there was ever a man that needed a scripted promo to follow, I think we’ve found our guy. He just completely lost focus during this promo. This was the 1996 version of the Kalisto promo after the WWE Draft 2016 where Kalisto talked about making a good lucha thing! Awful stuff!

 

Ron Studd vs Chris Benoit w/Miss Elizabeth and Woman

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This was another one. My first note from this match was: “Who fucking put this match together?” In the morning of Nitro, Eric Bischoff, Kevin Sullivan or whoever it was started thinking: “OK. We need Chris Benoit to get a big win on Nitro to capitalise on his big win at Hog Wild. Who can we put him in the ring with?” They looked around the locker room and saw the former “Yeti” Ron Studd and decided to have Chris Benoit SQUASH this giant of a man in Ron Studd! WHAT IN THE… WHA WHAT?

It was so bizarre. How many wrestlers did WCW have on the payroll at the time? It was probably in the hundreds but I know they had like 200-300 wrestlers on their payroll at one time with hundreds of them not working at all. Lanny Poffo was signed to WCW and never worked a match during his time there! They looked at all the cruiserweights, all the big dudes and all of the technical wrestlers but the man they wanted Benoit to squash was RON STUDD this seven foot tall dude. The funny thing about this selection is…. the match ended up being GOOD!

Chris Benoit took this dude, who rarely ever wrestled in his life, and got a good match out of the guy by just getting the heat and chopping down the big man. He was chopping down this giant to show that he could chop down any giant in his path as a preview of his match with THE GIANT at Clash of the Champions! It was so simple and effective.

Elizabeth was a total babyface shaking the hands of the fans while walking nervously towards the ring. Benoit talked trash up to Ron’s face. Benoit slapped him in the face and then Ron grabbed him and stomped away at him and choked away at the Canadian. Benoit looked so tiny compared to this man. This worked visually in presenting Benoit as the clear underdog and showed what type of a mountain this man had to climb to beat this mountain of a man.

He chopped Ron down with a dropkick to the knee and worked on the leg as Ron screamed and wailed. As great as a match this was, Ron Studd sounded so unauthentic as he wailed on the floor “AAHHHH AAHHH AHHH.” He screamed like he stood on Lego rather than have his leg broken or snapped by Benoit! To Studd’s credit, he sold way more than Dean Ambrose usually would have in WWE.

Benoit wrapped Studd’s leg around the ring post. Benoit tried a shin breaker but Studd did a few elbows and a scoop slam to take over. Benoit pulled off a superplex on the big man to a huge pop as the fans loved Benoit. I don’t think I’ve ever someone the size of Benoit do a superplex to someone the size of Studd. Studd went up for the superplex and Benoit did a big superplex for the pinfall and win.

This crowd was so hot for this show and for Benoit as he called out the Giant by looking at the camera saying giants can be beat. I’ve seen a lot of tall guys the size of Studd worse than him and he had a decent match with Benoit! I would mostly give the credit to Benoit but I do think this match being put together raises an excellent point…

This was such a unique match in the way it was put together and just how crazy on paper it sounded but WCW still did it. They threw two wrestlers who didn’t look like they could fit together and the wrestlers tried their best to make something of it. I’m writing this on the 5th of April 2020 having watched WrestleMania 36. The majority of matches on the show with how they wawer put together and how they was formatted (I guess with the exception of the Boneyard match and the Bray Wyatt match) was exactly the same. All the styles were exactly the same. In this match in 1996, we got two clashing styles and it somehow WORKED!

Again, I may be in the minority, but this gets a THUMBS UP from me!

 

Mean Gene interviewed Benoit, Woman and Elizabeth. Mean Gene complained about being “light-headed” due to Woman. Benoit was facing Giant at Clash of Champions. Benoit put over Dean Malenko as one of the best technical wrestlers today and respected him but Benoit was a man with an agenda. The Horsemen had a agenda and Benoit said Giant was strong and big but he vowed to knock him down to size. The promo drifted off a little at the start but I think Benoit pulled off a decent promo by the end of it. He showed passion and I think this did a good job in building up that Clash of the Champions match.

 

“Harlem Heat” Booker T © and Stevie Ray (c) w/Col. Robert Parker and Sister Sherri vs “The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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I will echo the sentiments from Brandon Stroud from the The Best And Worst Of WCW Monday Nitro series with Upprox.com. Every week there’s a Harlem Heat match, and every week they find a stupider way to finish it. They had a stupid and over-booked finish at the Hog Wild show and they did another one here.

I do actually want to mention one thing about Hog Wild which I purposely did not mention but I will address it here. If you read my Hog Wild review, I did mention the spot where the fans were honking and revving up the bikes to get under the skin of Harlem Heat and they booed the hell out of them. Allegedly the fans were shouting out all kinds of racial slurs towards the Harlem Heat tag team during that event.

I never mentioned it although it was pretty clear that the Harlem Heat tag team were the most hated people during that show. In case you were wondering why I didn’t mention it, it was because my reviews are mostly focused on the wrestling aspects of the shows and I try not to mention anything that doesn’t relate to the wrestling aspect of it. For example, I was mad at the crowd for booing during the Chris Benoit vs Dean Malenko match which was tremendous. I have a rule to not discuss political, social attitudes and sensitive matters during these reviews. In case you were wondering, that’s why I never mentioned it during the Hog Wild review.

Eric Bischoff claimed: “he was taking care of business” for last week’s episode of Nitro and completely zoomed past Heenan’s question of where he was at Nitro and Hog Wild. The Steiners wasted little time and beat up and sent the Harlem Heat packing to the outside of the ring.

Scott did a powerslam and hit a sweet belly to belly suplex. The fans were super into the match and the Steiners and I think it was Stevie Ray that cut off Rick’s momentum. Scott tripped over a fallen Booker and came very close to not connecting with a clothesline. I got flashbacks to the Test/Steiner spot from Bad Blood 2003 where Scott completely missed a double axe handle (please read my WWE Bad Blood 2003 review at this link)!

Scott tried a suplex but Sherri grabbed Scott and Booker fell on Scott but Col Robert Parker stumbled into the pin when he ran away from Rick for the disqualification. It was creative for a cheap finish but was there any need to do a rematch between the tag teams if you’re basically going to do the same concept of a finish? Harlem Heat once again retained the titles after their managers got involved. This was just a complicated way to make sure that nobody “does the job” and effectively meaning that no-one got over.

Harlem Heat get hot at Parker after the match. Nick Patrick was the referee and the disqualification apparently proved to Bischoff that Nick Patrick was a fair official! There are storyline reasons for why certain characters are acting the way they are but for the purposes of not divulging spoilers to the uninitiated, I will leave it at that. This was an OK match.

 

Rey Mysterio Jr. © vs The Ultimate Dragon w/Sonny Onoo for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship

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Think of this match like an edited version of the PPV match. Dragon did all the stuff he did at the PPV. He got the heat on Rey by basically just getting all of his stuff in and then Rey got the roll-up out of nowhere and won!

This was a return match from Hog Wild. Dragon unleashed a few side kicks which Bischoff claimed was a great showcase of martial arts. Dragon did a springboard elbow smash. Dragon smashed Rey with a running powerbomb what Bischoff called a “sprint powerbomb”.

Rey cut off a Dragon dive with a foot to the face. Rey did a nice hurricanrana and a big plancha to the outside. Dragon cut off a dive to the outside with a dropkick. Dragon did a nasty dive to the outside himself.

Dragon hit a Dragon Suplex for a 2 count. Dragon hit a moonsault from the top rope. Dragon tried a powerbomb and Rey reversed it into a roll up for the win. A fun little TV match as Rey Mysterio was so happy about being the champion and Rey called out Malenko. Didn’t they mention at the PPV that Mysterio beat Malenko in a title match on WCW Pro? I find it weird that Rey would want a rematch with Malenko after already beating him twice before in the last month or so.

 

Ric Flair © w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth vs “Macho Man” Randy Savage for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship

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Eight months ago at WCW Starrcade, these two men were fighting in the main-event for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. I don’t know how this happened but eight months later, they were fighting for the US title and it was presented as a far bigger deal than this match was presented eight months previously. These two are supposedly in line for future WCW title shot anyway but I do find that interesting.

Savage ran at Flair but Flair cut him off. Savage smashed away at Flair with some punches. Savage choked away at Flair. Savage spat at Flair and Flair responded with a poke to the eye.

Flair used Elizabeth as a human shield but Elizabeth moved out of the way as Savage ran right at Flair. Savage lunged at Elizabeth as Ric got the heat on Savage. Savage fired back at Flair with some jabs. Savage did double axe handle as the fans were going crazy for Savage. Flair cut off Savage with a punch to the gut.

Flair did the chop block that apparently he stole from Nick Patrick! Woman got a kick in at Savage and then ran for her life! Flair got a Figure Four Leg Lock locked in as Flair grabbed the ropes whenever he could. Savage tried to reverse the pressure and Flair tried one last grab of the ropes but the referee saw it and eventually kicked Flair’s hand off the ropes as Savage finally reversed the pressure.

Flair accidentally clotheslined the referee which I actually loved. We don’t see many “ref bumps” during a Ric Flair match and here’s the reason why. Ric Flair is known as the dirtiest player in the game who does everything in his power to bend the rules! However, the referee was down. Therefore there was no rules to break for himself or for his opponent too! Not only could Ric do whatever he wanted, so could the Macho Man!

Savage hit a big double axe handle to the outside. This crowd was insane as Savage was looking to end this match and win the prestigious United States Heavyweight title. Savage started tearing up the mat on the floor. Then coming down to the ring with a chair was Hollywood Hogan…

Hogan came down with a chair. I’ve made jokes about how weak Hulk Hogan chair shots were in the past. Here, this was not safe in the slightest. Savage had his back turned and Hogan walloped Savage in the back of a head with a chair. It looked ridiculously nasty.

He hit him again with the chair to the back which did not look as bad. Referee Nick Patrick ran down to the ring asking for assistance with the injured referee as Hogan walked to the back. Then as soon as Flair went for the pin, Patrick ran into the ring and counted the pin!

I love that even though Randy Savage was knocked out with two Hogan chair shots, Flair cannot help himself but put his feet on the rope with Woman holding onto his legs! Because you see, Ric Flair must get the advantage at EVERY CHANCE he can!

They mentioned on commentary saying that Hogan did not make a move towards Flair, suggesting maybe Flair is with the nWo. This to me was a really fun match.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Hollywood Hogan. Hogan said the nWo took the WCW title EASILY and turned it into the New World Order title. Hogan said there’s no stopping the nWo. Hogan said he wanted to make sure that WCW still had such a high regard for Flair and didn’t want to have a mark on his body as he doesn’t want any excuses when he beats him in Denver, Colorado. He said Outsiders are here to clear up some busy. Once they are done with “Stinky” and “Flex Lexy”, the nWo were gonna rename people and categorise them with different names. He proclaimed that Ric Flair will be known as “the stupid little man.” Hogan told Flair if he could do what he did to the Booty Man at Hog Wild imagine what he was gonna do to Flair at Clash of Champions (Booty Man allied himself with Hogan and then Hogan turned on him Hog Wild in case you weren’t aware).

I think with names like “Stinky” and “the stupid little man” that Hogan was DETERMINED to get the fans to hate him! What stupid names he came up with! They were not clever but I don’t think he intended for them to be clever. This was not like Kevin Nash where he did everything in his power to make himself appear to be cool. Hogan was trying everything in his power to get booed! It certainly didn’t work at Hog Wild brother!

 

Sting and Lex Luger vs “The Outsiders” Kevin Nash and Scott Hall

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They confirmed it was “nWo time” and the match was on but no one could find the Outsiders. The Outsiders showed up through the crowd. I do like that there was a ECW-esque vibe to them walking out through the crowd as if they were actual outsiders. That I did think was cool and it was different to what everyone else was doing in that company.

Lex Luger came out but there was no Sting. Lex Luger ran wild with a  double clothesline as he smashed both men into each other. Sting eventually came out and did a big top rope clothesline to Nash.

Sting sent Nash to the outside with a clothesline as Luger sent Hall to the outside. The Outsiders tried to surround Luger and Sting but the babyfaces were ready for them. Sting did a springboard to the outside as they beat away at the heels. Nick Patrick appeared to pull Sting off of Nash which saw Nash take a cheap shot in order for the Outsiders to get the heat. Bischoff was more concerned and questioned why a man got throw over the top rope and this was not a disqualifcation!

I think Sting was waiting for a dive but Nash wasn’t ready so he got down off the top rope and just started beating up both men. Eventually, the big spot came when Patrick pulled Hall out of the way of a Stinger Splash from Sting as it was confirmed that the Outsiders had paid off Patrick. Nick Patrick was now I guess officially the nWo referee if not already established at Hog Wild.

The Four Horsemen eventually ran off the Outsiders as the match was I guess thrown out as Bischoff claimed “this bites”.

 

Mean Gene interviewed the Four Horsemen. Ric Flair however was the only man who talked. He said doesn’t like Sting and Luger but he’ll play ball with them cause they’re WCW. Flair yelled about Hogan calling himself to be the immortal. He said the first rule of fighting is never to outmatch yourself. He said Mongo was a match for Nash which I good a good kick out of. Can you imagine if they did Kevin Nash vs Steve “Mongo” McMichael? What a specatacle that would have been!

Flair kept going by saying Arn Anderson was a match for Hall and the “bussaw” Benoit would be a match for whoever the 4th man was. Ric Flair went nuts and said they were gonna run wild and style and profile horsemen style.

 

That was WCW Nitro. I thought it was a fun show overall. Certain aspects of the show which would look bizarre on paper actually worked and there were fun matches throughout the show. It felt like an easy to watch and digest overall. I enjoyed it at the very least. This shows gets a thumbs up!

In case you are wondering, I will be reviewing the main-event of the Clash of the Champions show referenced to during Nitro. It’s Hollywood Hogan defending the WCW title against Ric Flair. Think of it like a bonus match review as part of the series. I’m gonna review that match and then we’ll back with the Nitro review. I hope you enjoyed this review and be sure to follow the Armbar Express on WordPress to get alerts to future posts…

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

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