RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #53 (SEPTEMBER 16TH 1996) – STING TURNS HIS BACK ON WCW

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 Fall Brawl 1996 finally saw WCW and nWo go to war in the War Games match. After Sting “betrayed” WCW on last week’s episode of Nitro, the doubts about where the Stinger’s loyalties lied. Sting insisted that it was not him that attacked Lex Lugerlast week but the “Total Package” said he looked into Sting’s eyes and knew it was him.

In the War Games match, a man called Sting arrived on the scene aligned with the nWo. However, the real Sting appeared as WCW’s final entrant in the match as he took care of the nWo by himself. After berating Lex for not trusting him, Sting walked out of the match and left Team WCW at a 3 on 4 disadvantage against the New World Order. The nWo won the match and laid waste to everyone after the match, including “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth as they embarrassed the previously married couple.

 

Date: September 16th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Asheville, North Carolina

Rating: 3.7

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

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

 

This post-Fall Brawl episode of Nitro started with Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko with their typical post-PPV recap. They continued to mention during the show that if WCW had trusted Sting, they would have won War Games. Tony explained that Sting was in Japan during Nitro last week which Sting actually contradicted with his own promo later. He said something about being on a flight from Atlanta but oh well. Larry Zbyszko, of course, had to berate Sting for crying that nobody trusted him.

They showed clips of people in nWo shirts politely giving out flyers to people in the arena before the show! I just love that the nWo are this evil organisation that did such things like destroying cars and spray-painting women but when it comes to the fans in the arena, they have geeks ready to act all friendly and nice to the lovely WCW wrestling fans!

 

Rey Mysterio Jr. © vs Juventud Guerrera for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship

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Tony acknowledged that WCW was in paranoid times because yes, WCW has accused everyone of being with the nWo in the last few months including Sting and Ric Flair. Even guys like the Nasty Boys and GREG VALENTINE were being questioned by the announcers!

This was a very fun cruiserweight match to open Nitro. Juvi hit a fallaway slam and Rey started working on the leg of Juvi. Rey pulled out a spin wheel kick. Juvi tried a springboard but Rey kicked Juvi out of the sky with a front dropkick.

Before going to commercials, Rey did a tremendous springboard hurricanarana to Juvi on the floor as the place went nuts heading into the break. Juvi did a springboard wheel kick, following that up with a baseball slide dropkick and then a springboard moonsault in an impressive display of consecutive moves for Guerrera.

Juvi barely caught Rey with a springboard 450. The nWo fans in the arena had a “party” with signs as they chanted nWo, which seemed more like a protest rally than anything. The finish was fabulous where Juvi tried a powerbomb but in mid-flight, Rey did a hurricanarana and got the pin. The execution of this move was so sublime and, as I have mentioned in this series, great lucha libre is some of the best wrestling out there. Great stuff to kick off Nitro and this gets a HUGE thumbs up!

 

Mike Tenay interviewed Chris Benoit and Steve “Mongo” McMichael accompanied by Mongo’s wife Debra. Mongo yelled that he made a promise that if Sting let them down of what they were gonna do. Debra told Luger and Sting to watch out. Benoit said they crossed the horsemen’s path and advised them to prepare themselves to pay the price as Mongo let out a war cry. I’ve never really been enamoured with Mongo promos but he was a very good talker when he needed to be. A lot more energy in these promos then a lot WWE promos nowadays.

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There was video package for Glacier. Last week, I mentioned that Glacier had finally debuted on WCW Pro. His in-ring debut was set for this episode of WCW Nitro so of course, we got a more elaborate promo to tell you more about what Glacier was all about. What an introduction to Glacier this was…

Glacier did a voice-over during a video package where he claimed his master gave him his name. He said he had a “burning desire” inside of him which had to have been a rib by someone! He said he travelled 1000 miles and went to Japan, and he found an old master who took him in and would become his sensei. He explained that sensei means master in Japan and he’s explaining all of this martial arts stuff in the most southern American accent imaginable!

He said he and his sensei took a bunch of styles and made a new awesome style. Glacier said he has taken experience in wrestling and martial arts to put together to make a new style. He talked about the symbols on his costume. He talked about one symbol being, and this is a quote, the “symbol of the universe.” I may have to listen this promo back because the next note I wrote was that “the symbol above his eye is a symbol of ice!” He said on his back was a symbol of honour.

This was such a bad promo, but I could listen to it over and over again! This is right in the “so bad, it’s good” category. He gave himself more character in 3-4 minutes than WWE has given its main roster in 3-4 years. He even gave himself an origin story, he talked about symbols on his gear and someone somewhere really wanted to get this guy over! Based on his match later, I’ve got a good idea who this guy was that wanted Glacier to get over but man, they went all out to tell the story of GLACIER. The best part about the promo is that he recorded all of this quietly like he recorded it with his parents asleep in the next room!

 

 

Ice Train w/Teddy Long vs DDP

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Weirdly enough, I liked this match! The match was stylistically very different. You have the tall cocky heel against the shortish and thick Ice Train. They both got wins the night before so they’re both looking to continue their winning streaks. It seemed to be a bigger match than usually for both men… until we got to the finish.

Ice Train was all pumped up following his victory over Scott Norton the night before. Ice Train ran wild on DDP for the early stages of the match. Ice Train sent DDP to the floor with a shoulder tackle. DDP did a swinging neckbreaker. 

Ice Train had burning desire inside of him as well as he fired back up to his feet but DDP floored him with a lariat. DDP tried a Diamond Cutter but Ice Train pushed him off and delivered a belly to belly suplex. Ice Train hulked up and delivered a front slam, took down the straps and hit a massive powerslam for near fall.

Ice Trian hit a big body splash and soon as that happens, they cut to the back where nWo geeks are taping themselves around the WCW merch table. These nWo guys were preventing the fans from buying WCW merchandise. They cut away from the action to show all of this… and then the bell just rings.

Tony flat out says: “I have no idea what’s going on here.” Suddenly, they cut back to the ring as Ice Train and Teddy Long are backing up referee Nick Patrick in the corner as DDP celebrates. There’s a towel in the ring as Ice Trian tried to get at Nick Patrick with Patrick all bug-eyed in fear. Patrick had great facial expressions. But again, I had no idea what was going on because Ice Train was destroying DDP during this match and then DDP was the winner all of a sudden.

So they showed the replay. Ice Train had the full nelson locked on as Teddy Long was on the apron. DDP grabbed the towel out of Teddy’s and threw it in the ring so Nick Patrick awarded the match to DDP. Nick Patrick assumed Ice Train had surrendered to his own hold that he was applying to somebody else!

This was such a stupid finish. It was such a stupid finish firstly because they didn’t even show it live. They had to show this angle with the nWo geeks at the WCW merchandise booth DURING THE FINISH OF THE MATCH. That’s stupid enough where the bell rang without the commentators paying attention and Tony even admitting he didn’t know what was going on. Then they show the replay of the finish, which actually made it worse. It made it worse because this was such a stupid finish.

I get the Nick Patrick storyline. It felt like it’s been the hottest angle in WCW for 2 months now because they bring attention to it all the time. However, Nick Patrick reached new levels of storyline incompetence with this finish. Keep in mind, this was the SENIOR OFFICIAL that referred the War Games match the night before! He saw a towel in the ring despite Ice Train APPLYING A FULL NELSON and awarded the match to DDP. In which of the infinite earths out there would any referee logically make that call?

If you wanted to screw Ice Train out of a victory, there are a million ways Ice Train could have lost this match. Patrick could have somehow missed DDP taping to the Full Nelson which leads to DDP somehow hitting the Diamond Cutter. Patrick could have prematurely counted out Ice Train for not breaking the hold. DDP could have jumped out of the ring and so Patrick thinks Ice Train threw him over the top rope and so DDP wins. THIS TOWEL THING SUCKED on so many levels.

This had to have been the worst kayfabe referring performance ever and it took away from the match. They didn’t even show the finish and then they showed the finish on a replay and it was such a dumb finish. TWO THUMBS DOWN.

 

nWo dudes are outside of the merchandise with signs of “who wants this crap”. That’s what I was thinking after the DDP/Ice Train finish. They cut to the crowd where they show, making his WCW debut… Sean Waltman, formerly 1-2-3 Kid in with the WWF, in the crowd. More on him later…

 

Konnan © w/Jimmy Hart vs Super Calo  for the AAA Americas Heavyweight Championship

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What a bizarre title ranking system. Super Calo and Juventud both lost their matches at the PPV so they just get rematches the next night for the other titles. They just switched feuds like these titles were interchangeable.

Speaking of those two matches at Fall Brawl, I mentioned Konnan looked the best he’s ever looked in that match with Juventud Guerrera. It appears Konnan was wanting to top himself tonight and Super Calo was willing to put him over. I say that because Calo destroyed his own body to get this match over. One of the first spots was Calo doing a “suicide dive into a senton” as Tenay puts it as Calo crashed into the steel guard rail, and that really set the tone for the match.

Calo tried a crucifix early on for a 2 count. Konnan does a double underhook suplex from the top rope. Konnan stretched out Calo. Konnan did a powerbomb for a 1 count. Konnan tries the power drop but Calo reverses it into a headscissors. Konnan does the reverse DDT for a 2 count.

Here’s the next big spot. I’ve never been in a wrestling ring as I’m sure many of the people reading this review haven’t either but we all know the concept of how to do a clothesline. If you had a trampoline and two friends, you could do this exact same spot if you wanted to (NOTE: The Armbar Express encourages the readers to follow WWE’s advice and please don’t try this at home unless you are a trained professional). One man will charge at another man with his arm to the side and the other man will fall on his back and take a bump to sell for it.

Calo’s idea to sell this clothesline for Konnan was to turn himself inside out and land on the side of his neck. I’ve seen many wrestlers turn themselves inside out for a clothesline. Rikishi used to do it well. Seth Rollins did it all the time for Dean Ambrose. Paul London even got heat for it when he did it with Gene Snitsky in 2005. However, this was such a naughty landing. It’s a clothesline, you don’t need to nearly paralyse yourself and do a flip. Just take a back bump to the floor, for god’s sake.

THEN, Calo tried a reverse hurricanarana and he falls down and Konnan fell right on top of him. I screamed out-loud as I saw Konnan, a much bigger man than Calo, squish Calo which can’t have been good.

Even with all of this, Calo was still doing all of these insane moves. He did a slingshot senton to the floor onto Konnan and then he followed this up with a missile dropkick to Konnan. He again CRASHED TO THE FLOOR. He was flying all over the place after nearly legitimately killing himself by overselling a clothesline.

Calo tried a dropkick in the corner but he landed right on his head. I was begging for this match to be over. Konnan did a cradle DDT FOR A TWO COUNT and I was still begging for this match to be over. The cradle DDT was such a big move but Calo still, for some reason, needed to drag this out as he just determined to destroy himself during this match.

Konnan does the alabama slam and the bridge for a 2 count. Konnan struggled but was finally able to  get Calo up and did a sit-out powerbomb for the win. How Calo survived this match is astonishing to me.

 

Mike Tenay talked to Sean Waltman. Sean said he’s been in Japan doing a bit of a deal there. He wanted to check out Nitro as the hottest thing today. Sean asked who won War Games to which Tenay said it was the nWo and Sean goes: “oh that’s too bad.” This was a complete waste of time.

 

Hugh Morrus vs Brad Armstrong

I made way too many notes for this match. All you need to know is that Brad Armstrong was criminally underrated. The finish saw Hugh do a moonsault and after a lazy pin, Brad cradled him and got the pin. I was blown away by a babyface getting a clean win over a heel on this show. What a concept.

 

Mike Tenay interviewed “Macho Man” Randy Savage. There was no Mean Gene Okerlund on this show for some reason. They showed still photos of what happened to Savage during his match with Giant at Fall Brawl. Savage said it’s gonna get really scary because he’s down to one marble and once he’s lost it, can Hogan take what he was going to do to him? Savage didn’t think so. Reviewing Randy Savage promos are difficult as I have no idea what he was saying half of the time and this was not a particularly strong Randy Savage promo from me. This was also the night after he and his ex-wife got embarrassed and spray-painted on by Hogan and his cronies. Not the fire I really wanted from the Macho Man.

 

“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs Scott Norton

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Of course, the nWo arrived right for the start of hour two in full force with their black limo. I wrote down that Hollywood Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Fake Sting and Ted DiBiase were there. I don’t remember if The Giant was here for this spot but he was there later.

Eric Bischoff mentioned Savage was the only one here for WCW for next week and Bobby Heenan was upset at Bischoff for revealing this and basically showing the nWo WCW’s hand for next week. It was explained that I guess half of the roster would be in Japan next week.

Norton and Savage brawled on the ramp as the action spilled into the ring. Savage took over until Norton cut him off with a Samoan Drop. Norton smashed Savage with a powerbomb and slammed him with a powerslam.

Savage did punches in the corner but Norton dropped him with an atomic drop. Savage worked on Norton for a while. He scoop slammed Norton on the floor. Norton dropped Savage with a DDT in the ring. Norton dropped him with a shoulder breaker

Savage sent Norton in the ring post and Savage clunked in the head multiple times with a chair and went for the referee as the referee called for the bell. This was just absolutely moronic to me.

In case you all are not aware, RANDY SAVAGE WAS CHALLENGING HOLLYWOOD HOGAN FOR THE WCW TITLE AT HALLOWEEN HAVOC. Savage is Hogan’s next challenger during WCW’s biggest ever angle and hottest period ever. To build him up for Hogan, they had him lose via count out to John Tenta last week, they had him lose to The Giant atFall Brawl and they had him lose to Scott Norton via disqualification.

What was so vital about protecting Scott Norton on this episode of Nitro? Norton lost to Ice Train clean at the PPV. Was there like a concern that if they beat Norton again, he’s gonna lose momentum? DUDE… HE’S WRESTLING THE MACHO MAN. Him losing clean to Randy Savage was never in a million years gonna hurt him. Why couldn’t Savage just beat him? He’s losing more times than Disco Inferno has in the last few months. MORONIC BOOKING AND A HUGE THUMBS DOWN.

The best part about this DQ was Savage smashed Patrick’s face into the apron for the biggest pop of the night and Patrick sold this very well. Patrick was crying his eyes out as Savage wailed on him. To Patrick’s credit, the character of Nick Patrick had a lot of potential but just not as a referee.

 

Big Bubba vs Glacier

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The amount of money they put into Glacier for this character was actually amazing when you think about what happened to him in his career. They have this big elaborate entrance for Glaicer with this armour on and snow falling into the ring as a cool visual affect as he roared. I’ve read on the reliable Wikipedia page of Glacier that the gear, made by Andre Freitas of Atlanta-based AFX Studios, cost $35,000.

I haven’t bothered to check how that compares to today’s wrestling standards. I’m sure WWE once or twice forked out big time for costumes for people like Triple H for example. I saw Will Ospreay many years ago claimed to spend $10,000 a year on wrestling gear. However, that was some serious investment from WCW when you think about how much $35,000 was worth to a lot of people at the time. Bischoff and Ted Turner ponied up the cash for ring-gear for a Mortal Kombat Sub-Zero rip-off character.

Speaking of Eric Bischoff, Bischoff when calling this match was treating Glacier the way you would imagine Vince McMahon would treat muscular men. Nobody cared about Glacier except Bischoff as he was going out of his way to put him over and all of these martial arts moves he was busting out during this match. At least in Vince McMahon’s defense, he likes big, muscular men because they have historically drawn very well for him in the past. Bischoff just liked martial arts and dudes like Glacier because he liked martial arts. There has been a lot shoot fighters that have done well in wrestling but when was the last time legitimate martial arts like karate got over in the wrestling world? The reason for that is simple…. THIS IS WRESTLING NOT MARTIAL ARTS.

Glaicer tripped Bubba as he has a stance of some kind. I have no idea what this was supposed to be or what style this was supposed to be. Bischoff put over Glacier’s “perfect control” and his martial arts skills as Glacier tried two roundhouse kicks and tried a karate chop but Bubba cowered in the corner. Then Bubba finally grabbed Glacier and all the fans cheered! Five months, $35,000 costumes and all the money you could throw at this guy and the people have already turned on him a minute into his debut Nitro match!

Bubba caught Glacier and slammed him with a spinebuster. Bubba mocks Glacier but Glacier kipped up, did a sweep and delivered some kicks. Glacier hit a spinning side kick for the win.

This came off as the fakest martial arts in the world, which is ironic because the man playing Glacier was legitimately a championship winning martial artist before joining WCW and doing “fake” martial arts in the ring! He studied Hung Ga and studied karate but the stuff he did in this Glacier get-up was horrific. Bobby’s recap of the match was: “I don’t like him”

This was a bad match but at least Bubba tried to sell and put over the match. Bischoff talked about Glacier having a bright future ahead of him… oh just you wait Easy E.

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Sting walked out to the ring and he grabbed a mic. Sting was scheduled to team with Lex Luger later on that night against Benoit and McMichael. However, Sting came out and turned his back to the hard cam to address the fans. Sting started talking as he explained  that he tuned in to Nitro last week and saw his friends doubt the Stinger. Bischoff asked quietly: “why is he not looking at the camera?” until he figured out that Stind has turned his back on the company and was directly addressing the fans.

Sting explained that because Luger threatened to kick his ass, he went into seclusion. At least this explained why Luger had waited a week to see Sting face-to-face at the PPV despite knowing where Sting lived, so at least that plot-hole was covered by the Stinger’s promo!

Sting said he went face to face with Luger at Fall Brawl and Luger refused to believe him. Sting brought up the excellent point that he has been the mediator and the babysitter for Luger for a year now. He gave Luger the benefit of the doubt every time. Sting said he gave his blood, sweat and tears for WCW. For all of the fans and wrestlers and the people that never doubted the Stinger, he vowed to stand by them if they stood by him. For all of the people, the commentators, the wrestlers and the best friends who did doubt him… he told them to STICK IT.

Sting said from now on, he considered himself a free agent. From time to time, he will come in when we least expected it. From now on, WCW were all on their own.

This was such a great promo because you could totally understand why Sting felt betrayed and this was the last straw in his eyes. How many times has Sting been betrayed by someone in WCW? During this series, how many times was he betrayed by someone? He mentioned standing by Luger, despite Luger being a heel with the Dungeon of Doom. Ric Flair double-crossed him after Ric got a bunch of kids in the ring to ask for Sting’s help. Hogan turned his back on Sting and joined the New World Order. Despite never turning on anyone himself, his name was dragged through the mud and everyone thought Sting had turned his back on the company.

This promo was basically him saying enough was enough. “You all though I turned my back on the company so now… I’M TURNING MY BACK ON THE COMPANY.” He literally turned his back to the hard camera to address the fans. This was so brilliant that it’s hard for me to believe this promo took place on this show. In a lot of ways, it was also kinda sad because…. this was the last of “Surfer” Sting. There are no more “The Man Called Sting” songs to be played when he comes out with this big smile on his face. This is the last time we will see this version of the Stinger in WCW. That to me is sad!

 

Chris Jericho and Marcus Bagwell vs “The Four Horsemen” Ric Flair and Arn Anderson

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The Horsemen don’t come out as they just show the entrance way. Ric Flair was shown arguing with Woman and Elizabeth as Elizabeth didn’t wanna come out because of what happened to her at Fall Brawl. Elizabeth didn’t wanna come out and Arn eventually said she’s nervous, so let’s leave her back here.

Waltman pressed a remote control at ringside and a bunch of leaflets fell down from the top of the building. Some dudes walk pass the hard cam with nWo signs as it is clear now that Waltman is in the nWo. Bischoff refers to him as the “sixth” one even know we already have six guys in the nWo! It’s unfortunate time for the man who would be called “Syxx” but we’re approaching the time at WCW where the stable will just be flooded with members. We’ve had four new members of the group in the space of three weeks. Don’t think it’s going to slow down from here….

The ring was littered with all kinds of garbage as Ric Flair lost his mind as they cut to a break.

The phrase: “we beat you, now you’re paying the bills” was showing on the signs among many other leaflets falling into the ring. The wrestlers all kick away the papers including referee Nick Patrick but then Patrick himself kicks away more flyers out the ring AFTER CALLING THE BELL. As a referee, shouldn’t he clear the ring of this rubbish before starting the match? At least in football, they stop the match if like a streaker or even a cat runs onto the pitch. Patrick is continuing this match in the midst of pieces of paper littered on the mat.

Bischoff said they haven’t mentioned the details but he has agreed to give the nWo their own television show. The match goes on and Ric eventually loses his mind again at the flyers on the floor. He grabbed a whole bunch of them and threw them away.

The Horsemen cut off the babyfaces with a  beautiful spinebuster by Arn as Ric worked on Jericho. Ric raked the eyes for Jericho for about half an hour as Nick Patrick talked to Bagwell in the corner. The heels work on the legs of Jericho.

They show Sean Waltman in the back with the entire nWo posse. The Giant played a boombox playing recording of Sting from WCW Monday Nitro that they used to trick WCW into thinking that was the real Sting last week. Hogan recapped all of this by saying the Sting has now stunk. Hogan called Waltman big man as Eric buries him for his size on commentary.

Bagwell gets the hot tag and ran wild. Bagwell hit a fisherman suplex on Arn but Ric broke it up. Bagwell rolled up Flair but Woman raked the eyes. Arn spiked Bagwell with the DDT and Flair pinned Bagwell with the Figure Four Leg Lock. Heenan even mentioned Bagwell was out cold and Woman still felt the need to grab Flair’s arms as he got the pin!

It’s funny Heenan said the official can only call what he can see in defense of the crooked referee Nick Patrick. It’s funny because Jim Ross uses that to defend the referee EVERY SINGLE WEEK during every heel finish like this on AEW Dynamite and JR is supposed to be a babyface.

 

Lex Luger vs “Four Horsemen” Chris Benoit and Steve “Mongo” McMichael

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Some dude from the crowd got in a great throw as he threw trash in face of Mongo as Mongo came down to the ring. Sting was obviously not coming back so Luger was going at it alone against Benoit and Mongo.

Luger ran wild for a bit with clotheslines. Luger hit a forearm on Benoit that did not look like it connected at all. Benoit beat the crap outta Luger during the match. Mongo choked and punched away at Luger on the mat. Mongo scoop slammed Luger.

Mongo did a head butt to another man’s groin right in front of his wife at ringside! Luger and Benoit floored each other with a double clothesline. Luger made his own comeback and locked on a Torture Rack but Ric Flair ran into the ring along with Arn as the referee called for the bell.

Luger fought the horsemen on his own but Mongo cut him off with a chop block. The Four Horsemen beat up Lex Luger as they then show the nWo backstage, hanging out in the back of a limo. Hogan talked about half of WCW being in Japan next week. Hogan was going arrange for the nWo to be there next week as they laughed and Luger is shown defeated on the mat.

It was here, after Sting was gone, The Giant had joined WCW two weeks ago and the Four Horsemen are back to being stone cold heels again where I realised that there are literally no babyfaces anymore except Luger. They did have “Macho Man” Randy Savage but he’s not a babyface for much longer either, which is kind of a spoiler but it feels necessary to mention it now.

Lex Luger was shown face down on the mat beaten up by four men. It was depressing to see. No Sting there to save him this time or to fight the Four Horsemen again. At the end of the day, it was Luger that caused all this to happen and not the Four Horsemen. Sting had told Lex to stick it. Savage got destroyed at the PPV and was going crazy. The last clear babyface Lex Luger, who had the temerity to call out Sting for betraying WCW, was left alone with nobody to save him.

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At the time, this was very unique to see such domination from the heels in wrestling. Even with the Four Horsemen, they lost the majority of War Games matches they had in WCW as heels. The majority of time in WWF and WCW, the biggest stars were the babyfaces. The WWF Champion at this time was Shawn Michaels, pushed as the next big babyface to the WWF’s detriment for the next year or so. The fans rejected Shawn but the fans loved Hollywood Hogan, who was the biggest star in the industry as a full-blown heel.

In a lot of ways, the nWo really did a number on the business for years to come. The nWo will prove to dominant for so many weeks in the next few years and it basically gave permission for every other company to book their shows around the biggest heels as opposed to the biggest babyfaces. The WWF would start doing it with Triple H in the 2000s, he would have his own heel group in Evolution during the “Ruthless Aggression” era and even TNA had groups like Aces and Eights and Immortal running the show. The Bullet Club took over NJPW, Brock Lesnar is dominant in WWE now and even AEW book the Inner Circle more prominently than even The Elite.

With this angle, the babyfaces were being relegated to being the nWo’s whipping boys. Guys like Lex Luger and Randy Savage and even more guys to come will pop in only to fail at the hands of Hogan before Sting reappears for his big showdown with Hogan eventually. It’s sad that although this was revolutionary with WCW at the time, watching it with modern eyes is a curse. I see so many heels booked better than babyfaces in the 2010s and 2020s and now, I get to see it all over again with the company that really just started it all off. Now, babyfaces rarely get really over in wrestling to the point of being the biggest stars of the company… ever.

I do want to comment that this was quite an elobarate plot to cause WCW to fall from the inside because they went through the effort of creating a fake Sting to drive a wedge within WCW. That I at least appreciate.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW FALL BRAWL 1996 (SEPTEMBER 15TH 1996)

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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Here we go again with WCW’s annual Fall Brawl PPV with the main-event dedicated to War Games! Only this time, the stakes were even higher with the threat of the New World Order. The nWo were going to step into the War Games structure against WCW represented by the likes of Lex Luger, Arn Anderson and Ric Flair.

The big mystery up in the air was the man called Sting. “Sting” appeared to have betrayed WCW and sided with nWo on Nitro and with a mystery fourth man on each team, where did the Stinger’s loyalties actually lie? Scott Hall promised a war when he first arrived in May 1996 and finally at last, the nWo and WCW were going to war!

 

Date: September 15th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Attendance: 11,300

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes

 

The show started with a sweet video package hyping up the entire nWo storyline and anarchy that has transpired ever since Scott Hall arrived. This also included an angle on WCW Saturday Night as the Outsiders, Giant and Ted DiBiase smashed up Lex Luger’s car. The second nWo-related incident related to Lex Luger and cars! Remember when the nWo kicked Sting’s ass when they were at Luger’s car?

 

DDP vs Chavo Guerrero Jr.

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I think this was a decent match. I would not say this was a good match. There were too many botchy looking spots that took me out of the game a little bit. The match psychology was messed up too as Chavo did a 1000 moves during this match and got no reaction but DDP did very little in the match and got more over with every move he hit. Traditionally, the heel would get all the moves in during the “heat” of the match and the babyface would fire back whenever they could with big moves as the fans get more and more into them. This would then lead to the finish. Chavo did not strike me as a good babyface in peril. He just wanted to get in as many moves as he can and none of it go over with these fans.

Chavo ran wild early with some dropkicks and then a planacha to the outside. Chavo paid DDP back for when DDP whipped him with a belt on Nitro, by whipping him back with somebody’s belt… I have no idea where he got it from! Nick Patrick certainly wasn’t out there this time!

Chavo got a 2 count from a crossbody. Chavo worked on the arm. The main attraction of this match was two guys dressed as Razor Ramon and Ric Flair posing and coming down these steps right in the view of the hard camera. These fans were having a ball on their own despite all of Chavo’s efforts.

It was Chavo getting the better of DDP for a long time. Then DDP got stuck within the ropes, Chavo tried a dropkick but DDP somehow moved and Chavo was sent crashing through the ropes and to the floor.

DDP did one top rope clothesline for a gigantic pop. Like I mentioned, Chavo did move after move after move… to barely any reaction at all. DDP hit one big move and the place went nuts! This is because sometimes less is more. Every time DDP hit a big move, it got over with the crowd. Chavo just did a bunch of moves on after another and it was as effective as a sleeper hold in terms of getting the crowd into this match.

There was one move I loved where DDP got Chavo up for a back suplex and then just threw Chavo to the mat. He got him in the back drop position and because he was so tall compared to Chavo, pushed him and launched him across the mat to a big pop. It was more of a back throw than a back suplex!

DDP got Chavo’s head and Chavo was on his knees and, this is not mincing any words, DDP thrusted into Chavo’s head and yelled BANG, BANG, BANG as the crowd roared with laughter. There’s no ambiguity about what that was supposed to suggest. DDP had control of Chavo and just made him out to be a complete joke!

Chavo did a springboard crossbody as he finally got back into the match after DDP got the heat. Chavo did a top rope dropkick for a 2 count. Chavo barely did a head scissors from the top rope for another 2 count. DDP cut him off with an elbow and he got his feet on the rope but Chavo still kicked out.

DDP threw Chavo over the top rope into the second ring which caused ambiguity with the rules. If you threw a man over the top rope in WCW, that was traditionally a disqualification. However, this referee just continued the match because they were still technically in a ring. DDP was barely able to pull off a sidewalk slam with Chavo. Chavo tried a roll-up for a 2 count.

DDP hit a tremendous gutwrench powerbomb that was so great that it should have been the finish but Chavo kicked out which was a clear sign that they needed to take the match home. DDP got this memo and slammed Chavo with a Diamond Cutter for the victory. It’s so crazy how over DDP was here.

Match Rating: **3/4. Dave Meltzer gave this 3 and a half stars at the time for the Wrestling Observer Newsletter but I can’t got that high. Too many near-blown spots to award that high of a rating. However, this was still a decent match.

 

Harlem Heat, Col Robert Parker and Sister Sherri were at the CompuServe centre with some geek as WCW plugged their CompuServe hotline thingy.

Mean Gene recapped the entire nWo storyline from Scott Hall’s first appearance and nearly every appearance since then. If you happened to not be watching WCW in the last few months, this was a tremendous summary of the entire story building up to this point and Mean Gene recapped it very well.

 

Scott Norton vs Ice Train w/Teddy Long in a submission match

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This match was “on like tree trunks” as Dusty put it. The referee had a microphone so this was like an I quit match or an “I respect you match” (please read this Superbrawl 1996 review to get this reference!).

Ice Train did a front slam to start off the match. Ice Train missed big splash and then Scott Norton planted him with a DDT. Norton struggled but was able to pull of a back suplex on the big man Ice Train. Ice Train hit a powerslam. Ice Train tried a camel clutch but it was transitioned somehow into a rest hold

Ice Train hit a big splash in the corner but Norton bounced back with a clothesline. Norton did an “code red” armbar similar to Teddy Long’s other client Sgt. Pittman. Teddy did have a towel and was considering throwing it in for his main man Ice Train but I guess the referee said only the man in the ring could give up. Therefore, towel throwing was I guess useless in this match.

Norton had this hold in for about a minute or so. It was on for a long time but Ice Train survived so Norton tried something else. Norton dropped Ice Train with a neckbreaker. Ice Train hit a scoop slam and tried his own Fujiwara Armbar like how Norton beat him at Hog Wild.

Ice Train tried a running senton but he ended up just flat out sitting on Norton for the impact!. It wasn’t like his back connected with Norton’s mid-section or shoulders. There’s no gentle way to put it but Ice Train’s arse connected with Norton’s mid-section. That can’t have been fun for Norton with this 315lbs man sitting on him.

Ice Train tried a splash but Norton got the knees up. Norton hit a big powerbomb and tried a Boston crab as Ice Train screamed with agony but refused to give. Norton gave up on this move too and tried the Fujiwara Armbar but Teddy got on the apron so he let go of the hold.

Norton then tried a submission where he stood over Ice Train and I guess put all of his weight on Ice Train. I don’t know what it was supposed to be. Norton finally got his hands on Teddy who got into the ring. Ice Train got Norton locked in a Full Nelson and lifted Norton up in the air and then he grounded him, with Norton tapping out… What was the point of the referee having a microphone if Norton just tapped out? That microphone didn’t play into the finish at all.

I thought this was a fine little battle and with the good guys finally getting the win over his dick of an old partner. Now Ice Train and his ex-partner can move onto different feuds. This was fine and a decent conclusion to the Ice Train vs Scott Norton storyline… assuming this is the end of the feud. I’ve been wrong before!

Match Rating: **1/4

 

Konnan © w/Jimmy Hart vs Juventud Guerrera for the Mexican Heavyweight Championship a.ka. AAA Americas Heavyweight Championship

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So I was able to answer my own question as to whether the Mexican Heavyweight Championship was a valid WCW Championship or not. It turns it was actually the AAA Americas Heavyweight Championship but I guess WCW was either too lazy or too possessive to call it that on television. It’s weird because WCW did do business with places like NJPW and AAA and mentioned them frequently and Mike Tenay joined the commentary team for this match, referring to AAA. However, they wouldn’t acknowledge this as an actual AAA title.

This match really turned things around, at least in my eyes, for Konnan. He was brought in as a traditional happy-go-lucky babyface and trying to be blue collar wrestler. He had some good matches but whenever he tried to be a high flyer it didn’t work and when trying to be a likeable babyface it didn’t work. So WCW brought in some new Mexican cruiserweights and so they turned Konnan into a gangsta heel. He showed a bit of character and charisma on the last episode of Nitro and here… it was like he was a totally different wrestler.

This was the best Konnan’s looked in a WCW ring so far and it was Konnan playing to his strengths as a powerhouse among the luchadors. He hit a lot of big moves that Juventud sold like crazy for and he came off as a legitimate star for what seems like the first time in his WCW career. However this was not the best night for Juventud Guerrera…

Juventud arrived on WCW and infamously cut one of the worst promos ever for his debut Monday Nitro promo where he couldn’t speak any English. Things didn’t start off well. Then he came down the isle for this title match. I’m watching Juvi come down to the ring. He was bouncing around as Mike Tenay was putting over this match. He talked about if a great little man can beat a great big man in Konnan. Juvi is all fired up, he turned around to point and pose to the camera while walking back. He turned back around and falls over the steel steps. I was reduced to tears. I had actually tears coming out of my eyes as I had to pause the show to control myself. This was unintentional comedy gold from WCW.

Not to mention, What a rib on Mike Tenay. This was his chance of glory in the announce booth to put over great intentional talent and Juvi screws it up by making himself look like a complete geek!

BOTCH RATING: *****

Then the match started, Juvi then tried to bump fists with the heel Konnan and Konnan kneed him in the gut, working him over with knees and punches. Could Juventud come off as a bigger geek than he did with his entrance and the opening fist bump attempt?

Konnan sent Juvi hurling over his shoulders with a complete flip off a German Suplex. Then this great big man Konnan picked up Juvi like he was a child and threw his arse over the top rope. We’d not seen stuff like this from Konnan before and he pulled it off on PPV and it blew people away in the crowd.

Juvi redeemed himself as he did a great triple jump into a “spin kick” for a 2 count. It was incredibly well done by the luchador. Juvi does a suicide dive to Konnan. Juvi dove off the steel guard rail and Konnan caught him and slammed him to the floor with a powerslam as he taunted with the crowd. When I say Konnan taunted with the crowd, he danced and celebrate like what a dude would do when Maury would say the words “you are not the father” as he clapped with the crowd and cheered. It was remarkable to see in 1996.

Konnan locked on an abdominal stretch on the ground to wear down the quicker man. Juvi tried a springboard but fell through the ropes and into the other ring. Juvi tried this headscissor spot into the ring again like he did with Joe Gomez. This spot increased by about 10% more with Konnan than with Joe Gomez but it didn’t really look good here.

Konnan did a throwing powerbomb from in between the rings into one of the other rings. Konnan did a heel hook of some kind for a long time. Juvi did an inadvertent springboard pele kick that appeared to be a moonsault attempt. Konnan did a big powerbomb to a big pop. Konnan did two rolling German Suplexs. Juvi then got up and just walked around the ring… doesn’t even sell these suplexes as he just walked around. It was a weird for about 90 seconds or so as I guess Juvi was trying to figure out what to do next for spots or was just upset by something in the match.

Juvi’s idea for a spot was that he started working on Konnan in the corner, he did a flip to his feet and Konnan just dropped him with a front dropkick…why did Juvi even bother with this flip? If the spot was gonna end with Konnan dropkicking him, why bother doing a cool flip if it didn’t even lead to anything?

They traded roll-ups for a number of 2 counts.  Juvi did a springboard corkscrew wheel kick for a 2 count. Konnan did one of the best looking wheel barrow suplexes I’ve ever seen. Konnan tried a cover near the ropes and the referee Nick Patrick refused to count the pin.

Juventud did a flip leg drop for a cover but Konnan this time was on the ropes so Juvi just kicked at him. Juvi did a 450 splash and looked like he landed right on the face of Konnan for the 2 count.

Juvi did a ballerina spin knee drop for a 2 count which is the best way to describe this spot. Konnan hit an alabama slam and a bridge for a near fall. Konnan did a nasty looking muscle buster for a 2 count. Konnan finally put Juvi away with a power drop for the clean victory.

A lot of the spots look really great. It was very sloppy but the right kind of sloppy. This was the best Konnan has looked. Some of this was the worst stuff of Juvi’s career but overall this was fun PPV match.

Match Rating: ***1/2

 

Chris Jericho vs Chris Benoit

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Another excellent match. If you look at three of the last four matches Chris Benoit has had on PPV, they’ve all been excellent matches. He had the legendary falls count anywhere match with Taskmaster, he had an excellent match with Dean Malenko at Hog Wild and him and Jericho had a great battle here. This felt like a NJPW-style match where they worked a fight more than they worked a performance. Jericho was fighting for his life against the rabid wolverine and it produced some excellent wrestling.

Benoit got the heat at the start of the match and ironically did a Liontamer to Chris Jericho as Jericho wailed in agony. Benoit tried a powerbomb but Jericho reversed it and it led up to a Jericho wheel kick. Jericho caught the leg and did a dragon screw leg whip. Jericho did a springboard dropkick to floor Benoit.

Jericho tried a springboard senton similar to Darby Allin’s “coffin drop” and came so close to just crashing on the apron. I hope Jericho never tried that spot again as it was so silly and could have really screwed up his back if he landed awkwardly.

Jericho smashed Benoit with a naughty powerbomb for a 2 count. Jericho did a tiger suplex but Benoit’s feet landed on the ropes. Benoit and Jericho unloaded with chops and elbows at each other as the fans got more and more into the close-up brawling from both competitors. Benoit took a page out of DDP’s book when he did a back suplex with Jericho inside of the ring and he lifted him over the top and dropped him to the floor just like DDP did with Chavo earlier.

Benoit hit Jericho with the kitchen sink. Benoit and Jericho chopped at each other again and Jericho unloaded with some ridiculously hard slaps to the chest oFF Benoit. Stiff does not even begins to describe the hits being dished out by these Canadians.

Benoit locked onan abdominal stretch but Jericho got out of it with an arm drag. Benoit did a diving headbutt. Benoit tried a German suplex but Jericho clutched onto the ropes to avoid it. Jericho did a Northern Lights suplex himself.

Jericho and Benoit traded fists and slaps and this really felt like a fight. Benoit tried a tombstone but Jericho reversed it into one of his own in what has become such an overused spot in WCW, particularly with Benoit matches. Jericho did not got for the pin as he went for the Lionsault, but Benoit got out of it so Jericho smashed him with a clothesline.

Dusty said Jericho would be a big star in WCW. Bobby made an astonishing comment where he said: “if the right man got a hold of him, he would make him something”…. that man would turn out not to be WCW President ERIC BISCHOFF. Benoit eventually hit one final back suplex for the clean victory.

This was an awesome match. This really made Jericho out to be a big star, even in defeat, and they both laid it in and really showcased the type of wrestling that should be featured more in American wrestling. AEW has matches with big spots and fast-paced action, NXT and WWE have near falls and put on performances but we need to see more FIGHTS in American wrestling. These two put on a believable fight but were also able to put on wrestling clinics when given the tools to do so. This match is worthy watching back if you can.

Match Rating: ****

 

Rey Mysteiro Jr © vs Super Calo for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship

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If you want Lucha Libre and a bunch of cool looking Lucha Libre spots, this was the match for you. Not a lot of psychology but some of the bigger move were really well executed for this match.

Calo did a rolling Braun Strowman powerslam and some fan yelled “boring” early on in the match. Calo worked on the arm. Rey wrestled rings around Calo in the early stages and did a feint 619 to throw Calo off his game.

Calo hit a powerbomb bouncing off the top rope and then into the mat. I wrote a bunch of notes which all started with off “Calo did a…” as literally a lot of what Calo did was just move after move after move. There was little effort to slow the match down or add psychology. If you’re into that type of thing and just wanted to see the spots, I guess this was the stuff for you. I’m just gonna list off my next 8 notes of my review:

  • Calo did a top rope shoulder tackle
  • Calo did a top rope dropkick from the top rope
  • Calo did a scoop slam on the floor
  • Calo did a flip senton to the outside
  • Calo did a frankensteiner for a 2 count from a “deep cover”
  • Calo did a flying clothesline which Rey got turned inside out for
  • Calo locked on the abdominal stretch
  • Calo did a surfboard submission

Rey did a crossbody which I think was supposed to send Calo over the top rope. Rey was a little man so Calo did not go over so Rey grabbed him by his shirt and dragged Calo over the rope to complete the spot and then did a dive to the outside. At times, this match was really awkward.

They just did moves forever and nobody cared and soon as I wrote that in my notes, Rey did a springboard hurricanrana to the floor which got a big pop from the crowd. At the very least, Rey Mysterio WCW matches do an excellent job in making the really big moves count and get over more with the crowd which is what wrestling is all about.

Rey did a sunset flip for a 2 count. Rey did a springboard corkscrew and then tried another move but Calo dropped him with an electric chair drop. Rey did a Frankensteiner roll-up for a 2 count. Calo tried a front dropkick but landed right on his head. Rey did a fabulous spot where he did a double bounce springboard frankensteiner roll-up for the win. That spot was so sublime and I don’t want it say it saved the match, because the match was decent enough, but it really elevated it in my eyes.

That bumped this match up to a ***1/4 rating if anything.

Match Rating: ***1/4

 

 

“Harlem Heat” Stevie Ray © and Booker T (c) w/Sister Sherri and Col Robert Parker vs “The Nasty Boys” Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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I have not been enamoured with the Nasty Boys since the WCW review series started but this match, which I was not looking forward to going in, turned out to be a good tag team match. How many sloppy hardcore matches have we seen the Nasty Boys compete in during the last year of WCW television? This match saw them in there with Harlem Heat and it was the best wrestling match they’ve pulled out so far in the Nitro series. It was a legitimately sound wrestling match put together on pay-per-view. THAT’S ALL I COULD ASK FOR!

Stevie started with Sags and punched away with some horrible punches to Sags. Nasty Boys ran wild with clubbering blows as Dusty called them the master of clubbering. Knobbs laid in some fantastic forearms as he beat up Booker as he showed such ferocity. A weird spot saw Knobbs have one of the Harlem Heat members held in position for like 30 seconds before Sherri I guess remembered her spot and broke up whatever spot the Nasty Boys were going for.

Stevie hit an awesome look crane kick to Knobbs. Booker just got into the match without a tag when the referee’s back was turned… it’s funny because this was the new referee that only debuted two weeks ago! Sherri slapped Knobbs to which Knobbs raised his hands and growled like he was like Frankenstein’s monster chasing her! Then Booker cut him off with a double axe handle as her knight in shining armour! I don’t know why but I loved that spot!

Harlem Heat got the heat. Booker tried the Harlem Side Kick but Knobbs evaded as he landed on the ropes. Sags got the hot tag as he beat down Harlem Heat. Sags threw Sherri into the ring. Sags did a roll up over the body of Sherri in the ring on Booker for a 2 count which the fans bough as the actual finish. Sags hit a piledriver but Ray broke it up. Parker tripped Sags from the top rope but Stevie cut him off and “obliterated” Sags on the outside.

Booker hit a scissor kick as Sags rolled to the outside with Sherri getting kicks and slaps in alongside Parker. Sags sold this punishment like he was dead. His body was motionless as he lounged about on the apron. Sags floored both members of the Heat. Sags crawled over Booker to make the tag to Knobbs as he was itching to get back in the match.

Knobbs ran wild on Harlem Heat. Knobbs did a “Nasty Splash” but it was broken up. Booker and Knobbs were the legal men as Knobbs hit the splash and got the cover but as the referee was distracted. Sherri hit Knobbs with the cane as Harlem Heat capitalised and got the pinfall to retain the titles.

This was a a good match all things considered. The best Nasty Boys match I’ve seen so far in WCW.

Match Rating: **3/4… I’m feeling generous. It had more psychology than DDP vs Chavo so I thought about bumping it up to 3 stars but with some blown spots didn’t warrant the full 3 stars for me.

 

Mike Tenay interviewed “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Savage said he was gonna turn the universe upside down. Savage said he was evil necessity of WCW. Savage said he was gonna rip the out the black heart out from Hogan’s chest. Savage said he was gonna walk down that isle and he was gonna send a message to the nWo that the Macho Man would not be denied.

 

“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs The Giant in a grudge match

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In a weird twist, Giant came down to the Dungeon of Doom theme song initially and then it changed to the nWo theme song. Giant tried to enter the ring but Savage held the fort in the squared circle, kinda like what the nWo did to WCW 2 weeks ago when Giant turned on WCW.

Savage tried a scoop slam on the outside but Giant was too big. Giant slammed Savage into the ring. Giant clobbered Savage with a big clothesline. Giant got Savage up HIGH for a side walk slam but slammed him down on the knee for the backbreaker.

The fans stopped paying attention as they looked to the crowd. Bobby Heenan picked up on this but they are not sure what to make of this. Then the fans turned away so I’m guessing a fight broke out or something in the crowd. No nWo involvement… at this point.

Giant did a Boston crab and then followed that up with a bear hug. This match got boring for a long time. Savage tried what appeared to be a double axe handle but Giant caught him and slammed him down.

Giant went for a knee drop but Savage moved away from it and then Savage tried to chop him down by stomping on the wounded knee. He actually got Giant down with a top rope bulldog and went for the cover but Giant threw Savage in the air off of him for the kick out. Flashbacks to the ending of the 1993 Royal Rumble began for me!

After all of these months of Savage trying to scoop slam The Giant but The Giant being too big for him to do it, Savage finally hit a scoop slam to a thunderous pop. Savage is rocking and rolling but who should come out but Hollywood Hogan to distract Savage. Savage hit the elbow drop before turning his attention to Hogan and stalking him up the ramp.

Scott Hall tried to get a punch in that Savage ducked but Kevin Nash ended up hitting Savage with a chair. The nWo did a big beat down as Nick Patrick talked to The Giant for about a minute as the nWo do their thing and drag him back to the ring. Conveniently as soon as Savage is back into the ring, Patrick goes down to count the pin for Giant.

This was a pretty standard pay-per-view Giant match but it worked big time with the crowd. Savage losing to The Giant to build up Savage to fight Hollywood Hogan for the title at Halloween Havoc seemed like a really weird call. It is possible that Savage could find some way to beat Giant before he fights Hogan at Halloween Havoc. I wouldn’t have had Savage lose to Giaant as it’s not like Savage got his revenge at the end of the night either. Savage didn’t really seem like a strong contender when the smoke cleared after Fall Brawl.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Mike Tenay interviewed “Team WCW” in Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Lex Luger. Flair yelled that the Horsemen was gonna kick ass. Arn said if you want something right do it yourself. During the promo, Sting interrupted. Luger claimed he’s been waiting 6 days for this confrontation with Sting… didn’t Luger say on Nitro he was gonna go to Sting’s house to kick his ass? He said he knew where Sting was so what exactly took Lex Luger so long to get to Sting in Venice Beach? To be fair to the storyline, at least the nWo destroying Luger’s car may explain how Luger was not able to drive to Venice Beach to proceed with kicking Sting’s ass!

Sting claimed it was not him on Monday that jumped Lex but Luger was sure it was him. He said he looked into Sting’s eyes on Nitro and knew it was him. Sting shrugged this off and said whether they believe him or not, he’ll see them out there. Flair called Luger a lean mean wrestling machine as they cut to the ring.

 

“Team WCW” Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger and ????? vs “nWo” Hollywood Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and ????? w/Ted DiBiase in a War Games match

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I’m going to start off the review with lines used from my Fall Brawl 1995 review a few years ago. War Games is such a simple concept that you can’t mess up. In 1996, it was Michael Buffer that explained the rules. One guy from each team starts the match and wrestles for five minutes. For every 2 minutes, another wrestler jumps in until all eight men were in the double cage and then the match cannot stop until someone submits or surrenders. EASY.

It is such a tragedy when you think that WCW was the company that created War Games and this was the company that was put out of business. How much money do you think WCW would have made each year if they were still in existence if these War Games continued as annual tradition year-after-year? TNA did their Lethal Lockdown but they never did it right. NXT has War Games but to me, it’s too spot-driven for me to really get invested in them like I do watching this old WCW War Games.

These matches were such a simple concept and had easy storylines for WCW to tell and this one, with the New World Order, it was elevated by the men in the ring and yes with the mystery of where Sting’s allegiances were. Everything that the New World Order did with “picking their spots” as Arn Anderson put it, Hollywood Hogan turning his back on everyone, Sting who had allegedly turned his back on everyone, the Four Horsemen who were in the first War Games 10 years before this, Lex Luger fighting for WCW and even Nick Patrick as the referee after all the shenanigans he’s put the entrie company through since Hog Wild. It all built to this where all of those storylines paid off.

I’m actually astonished that Nick Patrick was the senior referee if you look at the storyline. This is a match where WCW’s future is in jeopardy because of the nWo and the WCW Board of Directors or whoever was in charge assigned the referee who has had the storyline of being an incompetent referee. It is ridiculous that Patrick, in storyline, was able to referee this match but this was like his true testing ground as a referee as to where he stood during this conflict.

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Starting off the match for the nWo was Scott Hall and starting off for WCW was Arn Anderson. I’ve never ever mentioned this on the blog but Scott Hall delivered some of the greatest punches in the business and he delivered some excellent punches as he punched away at Arn. Arn fired back as Dusty cheered on and the announcers were in full support of WCW during this war. Bobby commanded Arn to “kick him like a dog”.

Arn chopped down Scott Hall and worked on the leg which made sense because Scott Hall was actually a tall dude, especially compared to Arn, so why not chop him down to size? I don’t remember what the spot was but Nick Patrick told Arn during the match that he could ring the bell right now, to which Dusty Rhodes, who invented War Games, screamed “no you can’t!”

Arn did a sleeper hold and wore down the big man. Arn hit a spinebuster to a big pop with less than one minute left as the nWo were revealed  by the announcers to have won the coin toss for the man advantage. The fans, of course, had no idea who won the coin toss so when Kevin Nash JOLTS down to the ring, the fans start to boo with dread. Jolt does not do Kevin Nash justice here. This was the fastest I’ve ever seen Nash move. I am prone to hyperbole and that line is somewhat cliche but Kevin Nash moved as fast as Usain Bolt coming down to save Scott Hall!

Arn ran wild on Nash but Hall simply held Arn as Nash laid in a big boot to lay the man out and get the heat. DONE. That was all Nash needed to do as the Outsiders beat down Arn for the next two minutes. This was the right type of match for guys like Hall and Nash where all they needed to do was deliver punches and brawl as this was war games. They didn’t need to out-wrestle Arn, they just beat up Arn for the next two minutes of the match. Arn got tossed into the cage as the Outsiders got the heat.

Lex Luger ran down early and ran in with 10 seconds left to spare on the clock. The announcers were OK as this was WAR! The nWo had jumped on WCW guys and “picked their spots” for months so now it was Lex’s turn! Luger ran wild on the Outsiders. He delivered a big forearm. Luger literally carried Hall around and drove him head first into the cage wall. Arn eventually recovered as all four men battled in a fair fight.

Hollywood Hogan ran down as the next nWo entrant to make things 3 for 2 as the fans boo and have dread as now the Hulkster is in. Then, in one of the greatest hope spots in wrestling history,  Luger and Arn immediately beat away at Hogan in the corner to a huge pop! They get the jump on Hogan and Hogan is briefly overwhelmed by the babyfaces but the Outsiders save his arse as we’re back to WCW being on the back-foot.

Hogan worked on Arn in one ring as the Outsiders beat up Luger in the other ring. The fans chant “WE WANT FLAIR” as Flair delivered with his entrance into the match. Ric hauled his arse down to the ring with the fans going crazy. Flair goes crazy himself as he called the nWo out to the second ring where it was just Flair on his own. Hogan took the bait as Hogan and Flair had a showdown. Hogan fired away but Flair fired back with punches. Flair whipped out the brass knuckles as hit Nash with a low blow and he kicks Hall down below as the fans roar with support. This is WAR GAMES! Do whatever you can to survive!

Flair locked Hogan in the Figure Four Leg Lock as Hogan is crying with agony. He has Hogan in this hold for a long time. Then it is time for the fourth man of the New World Order to come down to the cage… and it’s Sting. The announcers are devastated as there is no question now that Sting is with the nWo.

This Sting is not shown to be the excited Sting we all know and love as he is dressed exactly like Sting. However, “Sting” beat away at Luger and Arn in the cage and he actually wrestled like Sting. He did the bulldog like Sting. He did punches like Sting. “Sting” did the roar like him. It was at the point where he did the King Kong roar beating his chest which I think gave him away as the fans then chanted “WE WANT STING”.

Then the timer comes up for WCW’s final man. Hogan hits a big leg drop on Flair as the nWo took over with 30 seconds left. “Sting” does the Stinger Splashes to the WCW guys. The timer goes down to zero and the man who comes down for WCW… IS STING.

Sting.0

The fans goes CRAZY as a second Sting appears in the ring to fight for WCW! Sting goes face to face with the nWo’s Sting as this impostor Sting froze as he is face to face with the real deal. The real Sting ran wild and cleaned house on the nWo. He beat their arse on his on. Sting does his own Stinger Splashes to everyone. Everyone in WCW just stops and watched and that is the key. The rest of WCW are doing nothing as Sting takes care of WCW on his own. Flair started to woo as the fans look in shock but then Sting just stops.

He leaves one cage. Sting walked up to Lex Luger and yells “is that good enough for you there? Is that proof?”. He tells Luger to stick it, calling back on Hogan’s big line from Bash at the Beach, and then he walked out on Team WCW.

This storyline is so brilliant and this was such a fabulous pay-off to what honestly feels like a year of story-telling, at least with Lex Luger and Sting. I’m gonna talk about the Nitro after Fall Brawl with the next post, where Sting talked about Lex. Sting brought up up that everybody had questioned Lex Luger over the past year but Sting trusted him because he was his friend. That is all true. I complained over and over about how much time they dedicated to this Sting/Luger angle from whenLuger arrived on the first episode Nitro. Even when Luger turned heel and joined the Dungeon of Doom, Sting was still his friend. That storyline mattered and was relevant to this storyline.

Sting mentioned that everyone doubted Lex except for Sting. In the one time where Sting’s name was dragged in the mud, Lex questioned him? He believed that Sting had betrayed WCW and Lex had apparently “looked into his eyes” and saw it was Sting? All Sting could think to say was “stick it” and that he should have trusted him. We’ll get more into that promo when we actually cover it for the blog. But anyway, it was so perfect and it made it even better that Sting was not the third man of the nWo as originally intended.

Bobby pleaded with Sting that he was sorry and WCW were sorry and begged him to please come back but Sting had left the building. nWo’s Sting locked on a scorpion deathlock on Luger as Hogan had a front face lock on to Luger. Nick Patrick said he gave up and called for the bell. Luger quit on WCW, his allies and the nWo had won. Because yes, if WCW had trusted Sting, they would have won War Games. This was because Sting was kicking their arses for about 1-2 minutes on his lonesome as the WCW guys just stood there. Without him and without trusting him, WCW had doomed themselves to failure.

I love how Patrick tried to raise the nWo’s hands but ended up raising both his own hands in celebration!

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Tony talked about if everyone trusted Sting, they would have won. The nWo continued the beat down as they stood tall. Luger crawled to the back as he yells STINGER! He continued to crawl as continued to yell STINGER as Hogan then delivered some shots to the back and punched away at the head. People nowadays would call this corny but to me, it was perfect. Luger was such a tremendous character in all of this. He made a mistake in not trusting Sting and he was begging for Sting to come back… but the Stinger did not.

Arn and Ric tried to make the save and Flair actually kicks arse for a while. Savage ran down and threw Hogan to the ring and had Hogan at his mercy. Hogan rolled back to the second ring and begged again like he had before. Then The Giant marched down and the nWo take control of Savage in the ring. Giant hit a big chokeslam.

Miss Elizabeth ran down to the ring as she pleads with Hogan as Hogan berates her. Elizabeth covers Savage to save him. Hogan does not care as he raised the spray-paint can and sprays painted Elizabeth’s back. Hogan yelled as Elizabeth and Giant barked at her. This was somewhat uncomfortable . Hogan yelled that these two losers and low lives made a sacred oath. He said they made an oath as until death does them part. He said the nWo would make that happen as he spat at Elizabeth. The nWo pose together in the ring. As a means to make you hate the nWo, this did the job tremendously.

Giant spray-painted something on Savage’s back. Giant calling himself a Michelangelo or Da Vinci which was kinda funny. He and Hogan said whether you like it or you don’t like it, it’s the best thing going today as Hogan spits at the camera. Giant goes “thanks for that movie role.” The nWo take over the booth as Hogan holds up a “nWo country” sign. Ted DiBiase talked about making demands and wanting them. They all posed as the show goes off the air.

Match Rating: ***

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EDITOR’S NOTE: It was not until finding the pictures for this blog where I noticed Nick Patrick’s facial expressions when the two Stings have a showdown!

I could talk about that War Games match all day and you’d think that would make this PPV essentially a one-match show? Well think again. This entire show was great throughout. We had awesome matches with the cruiserweights, Benoit vs Jericho, Konnan being great, we had great tag team action, decent submission matches and a decent opener. This really was one of the stronger WCW PPVs I’ve seen so far. This gets an easy two thumbs up and the story told during the War Games was one of the best stories ever told during a wrestling match. If anything, watch that War Games match.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order