RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #35 (MAY 13TH 1996) – THE GIANT VS LEX LUGER FOR THE WCW WORLD TITLE

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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We’re heading into Slamboree 1996, with The Giant defending the WCW World title against Sting. Both men picked up victories last week but the show ended in a brawl where Sting was able to get The Giant in the Scorpion Death Lock briefly but this was interrupted by Jimmy Hart. Lex Luger, who was supposed to get a WCW title shot last week, arrived late to the show with the Stinger once again questioning Lex Luger’s actions.

 

This review was the go-home show for Slamboree 1996. It didn’t really do much for me other than the angle to close the show to set-up or get me excited for Slamboree. I think this was officially the show where the good-show streak ended. This wasn’t bad but this was the first Nitro I’ve watched in a while where it felt like it was just…. there. It just existed and there wasn’t lot there for me to further my interest in a number of storylines. This episode just didn’t do it for me.

We’re also two weeks away from Nitro going two hours long. Next week’s episode I’ve already found out is more than an hour long because of a weird overrun. So this will be the last episode which took me less than an hour to watch on the Network. The Network listed this as 42 minutes long.

 

Date: May 13th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Nashville, Tennesee

Rating: 2.3 (Better than last week but still lost to WWF RAW)

Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan

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Let’s start this review with the review of the opening segment with Lex Luger. The storyline has been that Lex Luger was claiming that he missed flights or whatever which has led to him missing two opportunities to face The Giant for the WCW title. This week, he had a plan. Lex Luger literally CAMPED in Nashville outside of the arena. He didn’t go to a hotel or anything. No, he was outside camping as if he were waiting for the midnight screenings of Star Wars or something.

I paused it because, this set up Lex Luger had included two bottles of water, three bananas, an orange, an apple all on top of a box which may have been like a cooler or something. He had a flashlight, duvet and pillow as he then proceeded to swat away at a fly with a fly-swatter thing he random whiped out! He then proceeds to whip out a newspaper too.

I have a few questions. Firstly, why Luger couldn’t just stay at a nearby hotel is perplexing to me! Secondly, Luger isn’t shown training or anything for his big world title match. He sits there reading the newspaper! This whole plan of Luger’s seemed to have a lot of flaws but you know what, this at least proved that Luger was willing to go the extra mile to be here for this match with Giant. So I liked it… it was goofy but it was the right kind of goofy.

 

“The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner vs “Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock

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The announcers said that Randy Savage was barred from ringside and fined $50,000 twice, after last week where he beat up two referees and choked Hugh Morrus out with his own jacket.

This tag match started with Scott hitting gorilla press and throwing Grunge I think at Rocco, which is quite a feat of strength as neither of those guys were small dudes. It may have been the other way around but that’s what was written on my notes so I’m gonna go with that order.

Rick did a great catching belly-to-belly suplex on Grunge. Scott followed up with a big belly-to-belly suplex of his own. The teams brawled on the outside. Rocco accidentally hits Grunge and this led to… nothing. It led to nothing as Rocco just started beating up Rick.

Eric Bischoff talked about Scott Norton and Ice Train a.k.a Fire and Ice looking very powerful as of late … the last time they were on Nitro, the Steiners beat them in about 3 minutes if I recall correctly.

Rick crotched Rocco and did a suplex from the top rope. This wasn’t like a superplex or anything. Rocco was sat on the top turnbuckle and Rick lifted him from that position which was quite impressive. Scott hit this fantastic tilt-a-whirl sit-out slam, Scott went for the Franksteiner but Grunge dropped him with an electric chair as Rick was distracted with the referee.

Rocco did an assisted springboard senton from the top rope for a 2 count. Public Enemy did a double elbow smash. Rocco missed a senton which led to Rick Steiner running wild with clotheslines off the hot tag.

Public Enemy eventually overpowered Rick on the outside. Rocco tried a flip senton over the top rope but hit Grunge by mistake. Scott did a Frankesteiner in the ring, pumped his hands up in the air and went for the cover for the win.

This was a decent tag match at best. I’ve seen Public Enemy have way worst tag team matches than this and this at least gave the Steiners a lot of shine. The right team won and this was OK in my books.

 

Chris Benoit vs Squire Dave Taylor w/Jeeves

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I don’t have a lot of notes for this match but this was another decent match in its own right. It’s just that not a lot happened between these two and there wasn’t a lot of heat from the fans for this one.

The announcers revealed Lord Steven Regal is teaming with Dave Taylor at Slamboree as I guess Belfast Bruiser was out of the tournament. They also mentioned DDP was also in the Lethal Lottery now, replacing Hardwork Bobby Walker. This isn’t quite WWE’s Mixed Match Challenge from 2018 where they changed up the teams DURING the tournament but this was very hard to keep up with heading into the PPV.

Benoit and Taylor grappled around the ring for a bit as there was some crackling with the audio. They wrestled for a bit and then Benoit just delivers some closed fist punches to bring some intensity into the match.

He delivered a catapult and then some chops to Taylor and Dave Taylor mostly just responded with European Uppercuts. Dave Taylor slammed Benoit to the ground with an electric chair drop. Dave hit an awesome fallaway slam which was the highlight of the match.

Dave missed a dive from the top rope and Benoit hit a Dragon Suplex for the pin. Not a lot to discuss about this one but this was another decent match.

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Mean Gene Okerlund was talking to Randy Savage outside of the arena. Savage is trying to get in when Steve “Mongo” McMichael came outside to meet with Savage. Mongo then proceeds to cut a promo on Ric Flair and tells Savage to chill out as he has a plan.

Mean Gene turns around and tells Savage that he’s lost it. Savage said Gene hadn’t seen crazy yet and he was gonna turn WCW upside down. Savage said he doesn’t care about the money and fines. He warned Gene to not tell him where he’s going because he didn’t know where he’d been, which I actually thought was a solid line. Savage said he’s gonna win the Lethal Lottery even if it meant carrying around a dead partner in Ric Flair. Savage dropped a line something along the lines of a psychiatrist said he’s OCD which stands for “One Cool Dude.” I chuckled at that.

 

Ric Flair w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth vs VK Wallstreet

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This was a weird match to see with the heel VK Wallstreet working as the babyface against Ric Flair in a match designed to see the fans cheer for Wallstreet over RIC FLAIR. Shockingly, the fans were getting behind VK Wallstreet during this match, so it wasn’t like this didn’t accomplish what it set out to do.

I love Miss Elizabeth having this big smile on her face as Flair danced around with her on the ramp. Even though she’s supposed to be a heel and she’s with the dastardly Ric Flair, Ric danced with her and she had this big smile on her face!

Wallstreet out-wrestled Flair briefly at the start of the match. Flair then dropped him with a drop toe-hold and Wallstreet reversed it into a wrist lock.

Wallstreet ran wild for a little bit and Flair retreated to the outside. I love how Ric bounced off the rope and the moment he bounced off, Wallstreet pounced and hit a drop toe-hold, going to work on the legs. It’s actually amazing how much Wallstreet got on Ric Flair in this match.

Ric Flair sold and sold for VK WALLSTREET of all people. Wallstreet went for a cover but Flair got his foot on the rope and Woman still took the time to adjust his foot on the rope a little bit anyway! No matter if he got his foot on the rope or not, his team will always try to bend the rules for the Dirtiest Player in the game!

Wallstreet tried a high knee on the outside but jumped knee first into the ring post. Flair worked on the legs and locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock. Woman grabbed the arms of Flair to get extra twerk and to emphasise this, Flair thrusted vigorously in the air to demonstrate the amount of pressure he was applying! Flair tapped him out for the win.

This was the weakest match of the show so far but this was an OK match in its own right.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Flair. Flair talked about Dolly Parton riding Space Mountain which I wouldn’t even wanna attempt to imagine. Ric talked about Savage saying he would drag a dead man to the ring. Ric then danced around with Elizabeth and asked if he looked dead to you. Ric Flair said ass during this promo and Mean Gene was appalled by this! I love how ASS was a word that was appalling and frowned upon in the eyes of the WCW announcers!  Ric Flair talked about Mongo. Flair talked about hitting touchdowns and he grabbed the women and said look at the wide receivers. I was gob-smacked by that line. The Attitude Era and Crash TV hadn’t totally arrived in WCW yet but this was not subtle language in the slightest by Flair!

 

The Giant © vs Lex Luger for the WCW title

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So they’re setting up this big angle of Lex Luger possibly showing up for his title match, with the announcers speculating whether he was going to show up or not. They come back from a break and Lex Luger is just in the ring with The Giant ready for the match. No entrances or anything for either man in this match. They didn’t even try when they come back to play up the possibility that Luger may no-show.

Luger tried shoulder blocks but Giant was too big. Luger tried a scoop slam but got thrown to the outside. Luger got out of a suplex and tried to dive on Giant but Giant caught him and slammed him into the corners. Luger tried a diving forearm but Giant was still standing. Luger was thrown outside of the ring.

Luger tried to get The Giant off the apron but The Giant held onto the rope for a long time, refusing to go but Luger eventually knocked him down with a big forearm.

Giant went over to Flair, who was sitting watching this match with his women also sitting at a table. The Giant cleared the table as Flair screamed NO, as Woman also screamed. Giant then chokeslammed Luger through the table for the DQ.

Jimmy Hart literally jumped on Giant’s back to stop him from doing anything more as Sting came out to the aid of his friend as Giant was led to the back. I guess Luger being chokeslammed through the table was enough to prove to the announcers that Lex Luger was a true babyface now. Mean Gene tried an interview but Sting told him to get out of here.

I do like that this did add a bit of weight to the Sting vs The Giant title match for Slamboree. When they did this feud, literally out of nowhere, they just randomly announced the match for Slamboree. Now it’s for the title and now The Giant has made things personal, going after Sting’s friend. Now it feels more than just a random title match as the animosity between the two is at a boiling point heading into the PPV.

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This episode was the weakest episode we’ve seen in a while on Nitro I think. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t particular good either. There were some matches that were above average and that was about it. I guess by those standards, I should consider it a good show but it really struggled in building up anticipation for the PPV. It was just a random Nitro to me that didn’t really accomplish much for a show that happened to be the go-home show for Slamboree.

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Speaking of WCW Slamboree 1996, that is the next review for the blog. We’re gonna have the Lethal Lottery tournament, a few title matches and Sting vs The Giant for the WCW title. Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly an update whenever Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too!

 

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WWF MONDAY NIGHT RAW (MAY 6TH 1996) – GOLDUST GETS TURNED ON BY THE UNDERTAKER

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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Welcome the first Retro Express review of WWF Monday Night RAW. This was dated May 6th 1996 and going up (not directly head-to-head) against WCW Monday Nitro. The review for that episode of Nitro can be viewed by clicking on the link below:

WCW Monday Nitro – May 6th 1996

The reason for this review is because when reviewing the episode of Nitro mentioned earlier as part of the WCW Nitro series, I discussed that RAW CRUSHED Nitro in the ratings for May 6th 1996. It was something along the lines of 4.1 to 1.9 in the ratings despite Nitro putting on a decent show. Therefore, I felt the RAW show was worth a watch. What was so appealing about this episode of Monday Night RAW that it got a 4.1 rating? It is extremely rare for RAW nowadays to get anything close to that in 2019. RAW’s 25th anniversary averaged about 4.5 million viewers in 2018 but other than, I can’t think of many in the past 5 years that have come close to that number.

Yet this episode from 1996 got a 4.1 to Nitro’s 1.9. I’m pretty sure WCW Nitro running an hour earlier because of an NBA game that same day was a major factor in this. The only wrestling show on the go during wrestling prime time was RAW so I assume the majority of wrestling fans just all watched RAW when nothing else in terms of wrestling was on. How it would lead to Nitro getting a 1.9 rating stills baffles me.

It baffles me because this RAW didn’t even come close to being as good as that Nitro. I’m sure someone will say that it’s unfair to compare this RAW with this Nitro when I’ve only watched Nitros up until this point which is fair. However, I’m 90% certain that if I had watched the last 33 episodes of RAW heading this episode, Nitro would have still destroyed it in my eyes.

Right now, WCW’s biggest storylines (well before the nWo arrive) are that Ric Flair has driven Randy Savage crazy and Lex Luger is trying to earn the trust of his friend Sting. These storylines are very basic but executed very well. The storyline is easy to follow and everybody’s actions make sense. What is the WWF’s response to these storylines? Their WWF Champion Shawn Michaels is in a sex scandal and Goldust has lust in his eyes fo The Undertaker. I did not make that last one up. That is the storyline and when you read the review of what happened during the main-event, it’s mind-blowing anyone ever watched a WWF show again.

Let’s get cracking with this WWF RAW review…

 

Date: May 6th 1996

Brand: WWF

City: Sioux City, Iowa

Rating: 4.1

Commentators: Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler

 

The opening video package was a small tribute to Ray “The Crippler” Stevens, who had died near that time as previously discussed during the WCW Nitro review. It didn’t feel as heart-felt as the WCW tribute but they were able to show some clips of The Crippler in action so at least the fans could get a glimpse of the man in action. Either way, they were both nice tributes to Ray Stevens.

 

1-2-3 Kid w/Ted DiBiase vs “Wild Man” Marc Mero w/Sable

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Previously known as Johnny B Badd in WCW, Marc Mero was in the ring with 1-2-3 Kid in this opening match. “The more things change, the more they stay the same” has always been a quote I’ve associated with WWE formerly known as the World Wrestling Federation. Nothing represented that notion more than this match. It was structured almost exactly like every WWE television match in 2019. Babyface runs wild earlY, the heel gets the heat, goes for a sleeper HOLD, the babyface does the comeback and then they go to the finish. Pretty much that is exactly how this match went down.

“Wild Man” Marc Mero ran wild himself early on in the match and then went for a springboard splash but 1-2-3 Kid got the knees up. 1-2-3 Kid then went for a sleeper hold, jumping on the back of Mero and bringing him DOWN to the mat. He brought him down for a chin lock, kept on the chin lock, kept on the chin lock and kept on the chin lock for a long time.

One of the announcers talked about 1-2-3 Kid putting him to sleep while this match was in real life putting me to sleep. SPEAKING of the announcers, Vince and Jerry were joined by Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Hunter Hearst Helmsley would go on to achieve amazing things in the WWF but this man did one of the worst jobs I’ve ever seen as a guest commentator since Yoshitatsu did commentary for NJPW I believe.

Helmsley’s accent changed to an absurd degree during this match. The three very distinctive accents I got out of the guy was initially the worst English accent I’ve ever heard in my whole life, Hunter talking like his usual Triple H self and then sounding like he’d been hanging out with Rob Van Dam. This was all from a guy who I believe was supposed to be French when this gimmick started!

Helmsley bantered at the fans in the crowd. Mero tries to fight out of 1-2-3 Kid’s hold but they go back to the chin lock. They got to a commercial and when they come back, Mero starts doing his comeback! Questionable decisions with the timing of these commercials. We sat through about 30 minutes of 1-2-3 Kid locking in this chin lock and we come back from the break and they’re wrapping up the match!  Mero fired back with a back drop, a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and a double axe handle.

I do love that Mero threw 1-2-3 Kid over the top rope and Lawler said that should have been a DQ! A subtle dig at WCW for doing disqualification finishes for wrestlers throwing each other over the top rope. I will say that Jerry Lawler did a much cleverer and better delivered shot at the competition than Eric Bischoff has done in 34 episodes of Nitro. Every one of Bischoff’s shots at RAW (and there have been many so far in the series) just came off so uncool and Lawler just casually goes “that should be a DQ” and I very much appreciated it.

Mero does dive to the outside. Hunter helped 1-2-3 Kid up and as the Kid distracted the referee, Helmsley crotched Mero on the top rope. 1-2-3 Kid goes for a superplex but Mero reversed in with a mid-air crossbody for the pin as Helmsley lost his mind. A slow match with a decent finish in my eyes with the babyface overcoming the odds and getting the win.

 

They showed a clip from last week where Savio Vega challenged “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to a strap match. They show Ted DiBiase cutting a promo to accept, adding a condition that if Savio lost, he would becomes his chauffeur. I guess Austin was still with DiBiase as the Ringmaster. DiBiase is with WCW shortly as part of the nWo and Austin eventually won King of the Ring 1996 in June, which I’m guessing everyone reading this would know what that would lead to for Austin!

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Let’s cut to the big “main-event program” for the WWF. There’s an affair angle going on where I guess Diana Smith, wife of the British Bulldog, was accusing WWF Champion Shawn Michaels of sexual assault. This led to a video featuring a woman obscured to protect her identity. They hid her face but made no attempt to change her voice to make sure she was not identified!

Anyway, it is said this woman was the wife of an wrestler. She said that Shawn Michaels was a homewrecker who ruined her marriage and she was going to tell us the truth about Shawn Michaels. She said her ex-husband was on the road a lot and Shawn knew about this. She claimed Shawn called her wanting to discuss a problem with this wrestler but then it was clear that all he wanted to do was talk about her. She admitted it was hot and he was so gorgeous. She said they went to bed together and it was the best she ever had. Most of these notes I made when watching the show were me writing word for word what this woman said. Some writer wanted this girl to say that Shawn Michaels was the best she ever had. This was the WWF’s idea to put over the top babyface of the company.

The woman talked about how Shawn told her how special she was which turned out to be a lie. She said the next time Shawn and her husband were in the ring, he lost because he knew what happened and it messed with his mind. The idea of the storyline to me, from merely watching this one episode, is that this woman was lying. I guess that was what they wanted to tell the fans as Shawn was the babyface. However, I love the idea that Shawn would have relations with this girl just to win a wrestling match! That is a fantastic heel plot in destroying a marriage just to win one wrestling match! She said Shawn never called again. She said Shawn didn’t need her and now she saw him doing this to someone else. He knew she couldn’t resist him and he ruined her.

All I could think was that some writer wrote all this down and told this woman to say all of this about Shawn Michaels. If they did this angle with Seth Rollins or Roman Reigns or whoever the top babyface is in 2019, it’d be a sure-fire heel move. Those two would never be cheered again. In 1996, this was their way to put Shawn Michaels over. I think it’s entirely possible Shawn Michaels wrote this whole speech himself! This woman is simultaneously trying to bury the character of this man but also rave about how hot he is and how irresistible he is. This was incredible. It was horrible but it was also incredible that this was a storyline from the wrestling promotion that WON the Monday Night Wars. This was… amazing to watch.

 

British Bulldog w/Diana Smith and Jim Cornette Vs Fatu

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They showed a clip of Shawn cutting a promo on Diana from last week I think, telling her not to flatter herself. This led to a brawl between himself and Bulldog after Diana slapped him.

Now to this next match. Seeing Fatu, who would later become Rikishi, in this good of shape blew my mind. This guy looked in good shape compared to what he’d look like about 3-4 years later. He legitimately looked likely The Rock combined with Sonny Siaki. He was able to move around pretty fast in the ring too and was a good hand in the ring during this match.

Fatu got a USA chant going which I laughed at. He danced around as he worked on the Bulldog.  Bulldog dropped Fatu on the top rope. Bulldog posed in the ring with press ups, a great-looking handstand flip and a parody of the HBK entrance.

Jim Cornette at ringside choked Fatu with the tennis racket as Bulldog took control. Fatu’d family members came out to watch the match who may have been The Samoan Gangsta Party.

Fatu got back into the match but as soon as he does, Bulldog pulls off a low blow. I assume Earl Hebner was distracted but they didn’t actually show it on-screen. Of all the replays they showed in the first match (and they showed a replay of a 1-2-3 Kid doing a dropkick for example) they didn’t show that important spot with Earl as part of the Fatu/Bulldog match.

Cornette stomped on Fatu on the outside. Bulldog missed a leg drop. Fatu ran wild and and they pulled off a sloppy back drop. Fatu hit a cutter which spiked Bulldog for a near fall. Bulldog accidentally knocked Cornette off the top rope. Bulldog pulled a big lariat turning Fatu inside out for the near fall, which I think Jerry Lawler bought as the finish. Bulldog hit the powerslam for the pin. This was an average match which picked up a little by the end but a lot of the stuff looked decent to me.

Fatu argued with his family and he talked about the WWF being his family which the nearby fans that picked up on this line loved. I actually loved that line and the way this was pulled off and Fatu’s delivery was very good.

 

“The Bodydonnas” Skip and Zip w/Sunny vs “Techno Team 2000” Travis and Troy in a non-title tag team match

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Can you imagine that WCW had Lex Luger and Sting reigning as the WCW Tag Team Champions at this time in the wrestling. In response to this, three of the tag teams involved in the WWF tag title picture were the Bodydonnas, Techno Team 2000 and the New Rockers? The levels of star power in the tag team divisions of WWF and WCW were just incredibly different at this time!

Not a lot happened in the match but a lot of the tag team stuff they did were actually pulled off moderately well. There was a double hip toss from the Techno Team for the 2 count. The Techno Team did an elevated Stinger Splash for a 2 count which actually looked decent in execution.

Harvey Wippleman was shown making notes on the WWF refereeing according to the announcers. The Bodydonnas pulled off a decent double flapjack. They cut to The New Rockers cutting a shockingly bad interview during the match where they just mumbled on through about being The Rockers and… it sucked. Jerry Lawler mentioned that Marty Jarnetty said his new partner Leif Cassidy was a better partner than SHAWN MICHAELS ever was.

I was going to make a joke about this but then I actually looked up who Leif Cassidy was… it was AL SNOW. When I Googled this guy and then figured out it was Al Snow of all people, it absolutely stunned me. If you look at everything Al Snow has done in wrestling and still does today with Ohio Valley Wrestling, I think it is safe to say that even with “The New Rockers” Marty Jarnetty was still the Marty Jarnetty of the team!

Zip from the Bodydonnas did a Northern Lights suplex for a near fall. The Bodydonnas did a double suplex for the two count. Zip positioned himself like he was gonna do a moonsault and Jerry exclaimed that he was gonna do a moonsault but then he just fell down and hit his head. It did not look pretty.

Travis got the hot tag. In the middle of this, Jerry Lawler started talking about gas prices going up. Vince asked what that had to do with anything… and then they dropped that conversation. This was actual commentary during a wrestling match.

The Bodydonnas took control. Skip did a double axe handle to a floored Travis I think for the 3 count and for the win. Sunny was the best thing about this tag match by a country mile. There was not enough of her during this match. Everything else about this match was just there and unimpressive. There were some decently executed spots here and there but that’s about it.

 

Jim Ross interviewed Jim Cornette and Vader. They showed a clip of Vader pillmanising Yokozuna. Cornette cut a promo hyping up Vader and his match with Duke “The Dumpster” Droese next week. Not a lot to this other than Jim cutting a very-fast paced promo that acknowledged that Yokozuna was a top guy but Vader was that much better. I was fine with this promo.

Goldust came down to do commentary with Vince and Jerry. Goldust got uncomfortably close up to Vince’s face. He stroked Vince a little bit. Goldust then found out he was in a casket match with Undertaker and was all mad and then he sat back down.

 

The Undertaker w/Paul Bearer vs Owen Hart w/Jim Cornette

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When I saw the match card for this episode of RAW, I actually got excited at the possibility of Undertaker vs Owen Hart. This is no disrespect to any of the wrestling credentials of either of those men but this was an absolute nothing match. I say this because their entire main-event match was secondary to the antics of Goldust on and off commentary.

Owen fired away to little effect and then Taker turned it around and ran wild with a frenzy with punches. Then after being scared out of his boots of the possibility of a casket match, Goldust then starts lusting for the Undertaker. Goldust’s commentary included him remarking about  how Taker’s so tall and he wanted to touch him. He dropped the line of “look at the death in his face.” The storyline for possibly the second biggest angle in the WWF in early May 1996 was Goldust getting turned on by THE UNDERTAKER

Goldust talked about what he wanted to do with the urn. This was all happening during the main-event of RAW effectively unopposed in the hour they were in. Goldust then got up and… they cut to a commercial.

I assume this was taped because they cut to the commercial at the exact moment Goldust was going to do something and then we they come back, Goldust is near Paul Bearer. Goldust walked up to PAUL BEARER and tried to grab the urn. He tried to frisk Paul and Lawler flat out said Bearer had been goosed. I swear to you this all happened.

Owen worked on the leg of Taker and Owen did a top rope dropkick. The announcers tried to tell this story that Undertaker was vulnerable when Paul Bearer wasn’t there with the urn, which suggested to me the viewer that Owen Hart got heat by Goldust feeling up Paul Bearer on the outside!

Owen went for the sharpshooter but Taker grabbed the throat to bring himself up. Taker lifted Owen over the top rope and threw him out with a choke. It was effectively Darth Vader choking someone with the force and then pushing them back, except there was physical contact from the Dead Man.

Goldust tried to throw Owen back in the ring, getting a good grab of the tights as he attempted to do this. Taker did a HUGE jumping tombstone for the pin. It was like the tombstone from WrestleMania 26 where he jumped HIGH in the air with Michaels and came crashing down. It looked great.

Bearer brought out a casket and Goldust ran away to end the show.

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This show did a 4.1 rating for Monday Night RAW against a 1.9 from Nitro. This was a horrendous show when compared to Nitro from May 6th 1996. I could think of possibly one Nitro that was worse than this episode of RAW but I’m sure even within the worst episodes of the Nitros I’ve reviewed so far, there were probably moments from those shows that were better than ANYTHING from this episode of RAW.

If there’s any solace from watching this episode of WWF Monday Night RAW… Nitro would go onto crush them for 83 weeks in the ratings war. If this was what turned the tide initially in the Monday Night Wars, then the WWF only had themselves to blame.

I also have to say one other thing since I know WWE always claims that WCW turned things around as they bought all of the stars from the WWF, portraying themselves as the underdogs I guess. Of course WCW had the money to hire big stars but the storytelling and the quality of the shows just didn’t compare when literally comparing their shows for one week.

This episode I think will be the last episode of Monday Night RAW we will be reviewing on the Armbar Express for a long time! Next up on the agenda for the Retro Express is WCW Monday Nitro from May 13th 1996 and then WCW Slamboree 1996.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #34 (MAY 6TH 1996) – THE GIANT AND STING BUILD MOMENTUM HEADING INTO SLAMBOREE

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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We have a new WCW World Heavyweight Champion heading into May 1996, a month which ends with the start of an angle which would have a major impact on the wrestling business. The Giant defeated Ric Flair last week in convincing fashion in one of the closest things to a squash world title match you’ll ever see. The Giant ended the night by cutting a promo challenging the likes of Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and Sting to step up and get knocked down by the new champion himself.

Date: May 6th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Daytona Beach, Florida

Rating: 1.9

Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan

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Before we get into this review, I wanna break down some of the ratings for this week’s show. WWF RAW beat WCW Monday Nitro 4.1 to 1.9 in the ratings which I believe is the largest gap between the two so far in the Monday Night Wars.

I was absolutely stunned when I saw that rating. Honestly, I looked at this episode of Nitro and I actually thought it was another good show. It’s been 4 weeks on the bounce where WCW Nitro has actually been good and felt like a really good show. Yet despite this, WCW Nitro had not beaten WWF RAW in the ratings since March 25th 1996. Funnily enough, that was the episode after Uncensored and that Doomsday Cage match which was the pinnacle of god awful wrestling.

Eric did mention on commentary that there was NBA gamer on so RAW and Nitro weren’t directly head-to-head this week. The main-event of the RAW show was Undertaker vs Owen Hart which actually sounds like a really good match but when compared this show, RAW didn’t even compared to Nitro in my eyes on paper.

Their matches included the Bodydonnas vs Techno Team 2000, Marc Mero (previously Johnny B Badd) vs 1-2-3 Kid which actually sounds like a good match and Davey Boy Smith vs Fatu. I actually may watch that show just to see how it compares. That show pulling a 4.1 rating sounds an incredible feat but maybe I’ll watch it to see what it was that brought the viewers in.

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Now, I’m going to throw up a theory which may annoy some people. However, I mentioned that the last week of the ratings wars Nitro won was the March 25th 1996 show after Uncensored. Now granted, Hulk Hogan was not on that Nitro. However, that episode followed a PPV based on a plot to end Hulkamania. Since then, there’s been little to no Hulk Hogan and RAW has been smashing them in the ratings. Hulk Hogan not being there probably did do a number on Nitro. The WCW shows are better without him but it’s not pulling in that big of an audience any more even if the likes of Ric Flair, Randy Savage and Sting are all there. We will see where it goes from here.

“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs Hugh Morrus

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I am officially over this storyline with Randy Savage. The storyline, really since Elizabeth turned on Savage in February, is that Savage is too crazy to be allowed in a wrestling ring and the WCW officials are concerned for his well-being. This week we had pretty much the same Randy Savage stuff with the opponent mocking Savage, Savage going nuts and then continuing with a post-match beatdown which is eventually stopped.

That’s pretty much what happened here. Hugh Morrus beat Savage up, Hugh Morrus put on Savage’s gear and mocked him and Savage went crazy. Savage choked Morrus over the top rope with his own jacket and wouldn’t let go, so the referee called for the bell. That’s pretty much what happened in this match.

I was mostly just distracted as they came down to the ring by Dana Brooke and Batista tweeting back-and-forth with each other on Twitter! This is tremendous stuff if you’re able to find on Twitter!

Savage punched down the referee after the match. Another referee ran down to which Savage scoop-slammed the second referee. Bischoff called him a psychopath as Savage hit the referee with an elbow drop from the top rope.

The most memorable part of this whole angle though is that while Savage is going crazy after the bell rings, the time keeper rung the bell over and over and over again as geeks eventually come down to stop Savage in security and local law enforcement. This time-keeper would not stop ringing this damn bell. I wouldn’t be surprised if the time keeper is still ringing this bell to this das! For literally 2 minutes straight, this bell-ringing kept going and I was just completely driven mad by it! No time-keeper should ring a bell as much as this guy did.

Savage’s response to the geeks trying to calm him down was to taunt to the fans! Heenan then call Savage a danger to society but despite this “psychopath” Savage going nuts, Savage was still allowed by law enforcement to high five the fans at ringside as he leaves!

I was actually doing a bit of research for another article but I saw that WWE posted up a YouTube video with an interview with Lana. In that interview, Lana called Rusev a “danger to society” as part of that storyline. The pararels between Nitro 1996 and wrestling in 2019 are just surreal and boy, is there more to come from this episode of Nitro…

They had a little tribute to Ray “The Crippler” Stevens who had past away that week. They had a donations screen up and Bischoff sounded very choked up about the passing of The Crippler.

Dean Malenko vs Jushin Liger w/Sonny Onoo

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We had a great cruiserweight match next but I do wanna touch on something before we get into the match. Right away, the announcers discuss that Shinjiro Otani is the new WCW Cruiserweight champion as he won the title in Japan. From what I understand about this though was that the tapings for all of the WCW shows were all over the place at this time. They were taping episodes of Saturday Night and Worldwide etc. to take place after this episode of Nitro.

Apparently though, the news about Otani was very much-outdated in real-time. In actuality, the WCW Cruiserweight Champion at this time was Dean Malenko. He beat Otani in an episode of Saturday Night or something and had won the title but he came out for this Nitro without the championship and he pretended to NOT BE the champion! Could you imagine if you happened to have attended one of those tapings and then came to a live Nitro with Dean Malenko not as the champion?

They did say that Otani was making his WCW debut in May 18th on an episode of Worldwide, despite already being the cruiserweight champion according to the announcers. They also said he was scheduled to defend the title at Slamboree.

Jushin forced Dean down with a wrist lock, continued to work on the wrist as they got to their feet. They traded cruiserweight spots which led to an incredible sell from Dean off an enziguri by Liger. Ric Flair in a tuxedo appeared to watch the match with his women. Usually they’d do an angle where a wrestler would come out to “watch” a match and big storyline is made out of it which makes the match seem secondary. Not tonight. They barely focused on Flair as the match was going on… which was great. They were able to tackle the Flair stuff after the match. This was fine,

Liger hit a beautiful brainbuster for a near fall. They went to the ads as Liger locked on an abdominal stretch. Flair is shown wining and dining with champagne and big candles apparently with Savage’s money I guess. Dean went for a knee bar as Liger fought out of it and grabbed the rope.

Dean worked on the injured knee with just simple knee shots to the knee of Liger. Liger, after his knee was worked on for a few minutes, suddenly whips out a perfect cartwheel elbow smash with no signs of wear to his knee!

Liger followed this up with a Liger Kick. Liger dropkicked Dean to the outside and Liger did a big dive to the outside. This was all after Dean was working on Liger’s knee for a few minutes!

Liger went for a cartwheel springboard but Dean caught him as they traded roll ups. Dean went for the top rope gutbuster, hit it and Bischoff said “never seen it before.” I don’t know if this was an insider reference from Bischoff or whatever but this was not the first time I’d seen Malenko do this. He beat Mr JL with this move if I recall correctly.

Dean went for an Alley Oop but Liger reversed into a roll-up attempt for a near fall which was a spot I thought was so great it should have been the finish. However, it wasn’t as Dean hit a sit-out powerbomb for the win. A solid match and the fans were into this one. This match worked big time.

I’m going to get my one gripe with this match out of the way. Far be it from me to critique Jushin “Thunder” Liger’s wrestling work but for a match where his knee was worked on for a long time, him doing these amazing cartwheels and these Liger Kicks during his comeback really took away from the match just a little. It was almost like they did the heat for the sake of just doing the heat and then Liger is back to normal with seemingly no sign of issues with his knees. That bothered me a little bit.

Mean Gene was with Ric Flair, Woman and Miss Elizabeth. Ric Flair said when you’re on top of your own personal world, you do what you ever you want. He said they checked into the big hotels and got on the first-class planes. Ric said a lot of people were saying Ric should be unhappy that he lost to The Giantbut he said his time was coming. Ric talked about Slamboree. Ric warned Arn not to make the wrong choice in life again as he was facing Arn Anderson in a tag team match. Ric Flair talked about the blonde in the front row, obviously Mongo’s wife. He offered her a drink and she poured it out in rejection. Flair said when it’s all over, she’s gonna learn why he’s an all-around cowboy which was a strange pick-up line. Elizabeth told Ric don’t worry as they have all of Savage’s money and Flair laughed away.

How I didn’t realise until this point that Mongo’s wife was actually Debra, the future Mrs Stone Cold Steve Austin, was beyond me. I had totally forgotten Debra and Mongo were married. Now I do believe they split up around 1998 and she goes with Austin after that but it took me a while to figure out that this was actually Debra of all women to be in this angle!

Sting vs Lord Steven Regal w/Jeeves

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This match I truly believe was the best match of the show. It told the simplest story and it was worked in such a simple manner but it worked so effectively to get both guys over. If you had watched the Parking Lot Brawl from last week, you were gifted with the knowledge for why Regal had his face all bandaged and why he was selling more than usual. Regal still struggled through the pain as he battled Sting because of how brutal that match was from last week.

This match also showed a certain sign from the crowd. As I watched this episode of Nitro 1996 in 2019 amidst the rise of AEW Dynamite on TNT, a fan on Nitro had a sign which said: “TNT is Dynamite.” AEW demonstrated their tremendous time-travelling capabilities with this sign way back in May 1996! An unbelievable sign to have been discovered during this episode of Nitro!

Sting took control early on and went for the Scorpion Death Lock but Regal got the ropes and left the ring holding his back. I love how Sting got out of an arm wrench of all moves and the fans went nuts for Sting as Regal was writhing in pain! There were a lot of a female Sting fans and these fans were going nuts for literally EVERYTHING Sting did! We need more fans like this in 2019!

Regal brought down Sting and wrenched the wrist while scraping Sting’s face with his boot. Sting got out of it and did a standing crossface, crossing both arms across Regal’s face. Regal returned the favour to which Sting powered out as Regal begged for mercy. Regal legitimately walked around like an old man selling his match from last week but it was believable. If you’re back is hurting, no matter if you’re a professional wrestler or just lifting something heavy for someone, you can’t really move that well because of the pressure on your back so yes this came off as believable that Regal acted this way.

Sting took control with Japanese Arm Drags and clotheslines as Regal begged for his life! Sting missed a Stinger Splash. The finish was awesome in this match. Regal went for a Tiger Suplex but Sting reversed it with a back drop and a bridge pinfall for the win! A simple move to win the match but I loved it. Sting out-wrestled Regal for the victory and was the better man. Not to mention, Regal was selling his back during the match so yes, it played into the finish. Even Mongo sold this like “how did he do that?” so this match was a big success. Two big thumbs up from me for this match!

The Giant © vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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The match set to be the main-event was The Giant versus Lex Luger for the title. Before this, there was a clash of music with Sting’s music and Lex Luger’s music. It sounded like the WWE Network edited Sting’s music over Luger’s real music. It makes more sense than WCW screwing up the music. The storyline was that they were expecting Luger but Hacksaw Jim Duggan wounded up taking his spot. Sting’s music being here doesn’t make sense but then again, why would they put Sting’s music over Luger’s on the Network? I’ve heard Luger’s theme song all the time on the Network. I was incredibly confused.

As I just mentioned Lex Luger was expected to come out but apparently Hacksaw Jim Duggan stepped up and wanted to take his spot. The announcers revealed Luger hadn’t arrived yet.

Duggan punched away at The Giant as Giant tried to get over the top rope into the ring. The Giant eventually pushed him away and posed the belt and Duggan jumped Giant again. Hacksaw Jim Duggan came off as the biggest cheater during these episodes of Nitros! He jumped The Giant over and over when The Giant was just minding his business!

Duggan tried to fight but Giant clobbered at him. Giant repeated the arse spot he did with Sting during that one tag match and thrusted back with his hips as Bobby Heenan talks about friction.

Duggan tried to slam The Giant but he couldn’t do it. Giant choked away at Duggan for a while which suspiciously reminded me of the likes of Ze Gangsta during this match. Sometimes it was easy to forget that The Giant was less than a year into the business by this point in his career so there were signs of him being green during this match.

Duggan tried the loaded tape he always goes for but Giant got Duggan up and slammed him down with the chokeslam for the win to the retain the title. The Giant then hits this massive chokeslam, where he gets him up, takes a step back and drives himself and Duggan down to the ground. These were the awesome chokeslams Giant/Big Show used to do back in his prime where they’d both crash to the ground. I loved it.

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Cobra of all people tried to make the save and Giant DRIVES him to the ground with a chokeslam too, twisted him in the air and slammed him. The Giant beats up the Cuban Assassin and Alex Wright before Ric Flair makes his way down to the ring. He grabbed a chair, takes off his blazer and clonks Giant in the head with the chair to a big pop. However The Giant no-sold this and cornered him.

Sting came down and attacked Giant to chop The Giant down with chop blocks. He punched out Jimmy Hart. Fans were losing their minds as Sting tried to punch Giant down and he winds up for a big punch, pokes the eye and hits a big double axe handle which knocks the big man down.
He tries a Scorpion Death Lock but The Giant is so big that he struggles to get him over. He eventually got him over but the moment he turned him over, Jimmy clobbers Sting with the megaphone. Lex Luger comes down with a suitcase and the worst fashion sense possible but then The Giant is backed away by Jimmy. I loved this segment. The fans were into every moment.

Then after this, Sting got up in Luger’s business as Mean Gene tried an interview. Sting cut him off and Sting asked where Luger was. I guess Luger missed an opportunity to fight for the title before and Sting was calling him out on it and Luger was saying he missed a flight. They argue and they end the show.

This was another storyline I was sort of sick of. I know I’ve complained about this before with this storyline but we saw the whole friction storyline dropped with Sting and Lex Luger weeks ago. Lex Luger was finally a full-blown babyface and he was a good guy and now all of a sudden, him and Sting are fighting again. I’m hoping they just move past this “can Sting trust Luger” storyline as it’s kinda getting old now.

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I thought this was a good show in general. There are some storylines that I’m hoping they’ll close the book on for good. The Randy Savage storyline is getting repetitive, the Sting/Luger storyline is getting repetitive but this felt like an easy show to watch. There were good matches in the cruiserweight match and the Sting vs Regal match and the show flowed together really well. I thought this was a thumbs up show.

I have a plan of a few blog posts in the pipeline. I was going to do the next episode of Nitro next, which would be appropriate, but I do want to watch that RAW episode from May 6th 1996. I thought this was a good show so I’m still wondering whether or not that RAW held up to justify the 4.1 rating it got. This was also the time where the WWF were struggling financially and in popularity so I’m stunned what it was that got this good a rating, at least by 2019 standards. RAW nowadays doesn’t even come close to that number. It’s been years and years since they got that big of a number.

Therefore, I think the plan is to watch the WWF Monday Night RAW episode from May 6th 1996. I did mentioned that I was doing research for an post regarding the Rusev/Lashley/Lana storyline right now which I still intend on doing. I have a few other ideas in place and of course, I will review the next episode of Nitro which is the go-home show for Slamboree.

The upcoming blog post list is below so stay tuned:

  • Review of WWF Monday Night RAW from May 6th 1996
  • Post about the Rusev/Lashley/Lana storyline
  • Review of WWF Monday Nitro from May 13th 1996
  • WCW Slamboree 1996… eventually!
  • And a few more pet projects that I’m looking to work on when I get the time!

Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly an update whenever Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I will be back with my review of Episode #35 of Nitro from May 1996.

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #33 (APRIL 29TH 1996) – RIC FLAIR VS THE GIANT IN A PERFECTLY BOOKED REMATCH FOR THE WCW WORLD TITLE

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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In thelast episode, the change in momentum of WCW Nitros continued. After what felt like months of lacklustre Nitros, we had another decent Nitro in the bag which felt fresh. We had Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero, Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs Meng and we had a tag team main-event for the WCW World, TV and Tag Team titles. The main-event ended in a disqualification which meant none of the titles changed hands. The finish saw Ric Flair accidentally throw coffee in The Giant’s face. This led to The Giant vowing to beat Flair for the title and Flair saying he was gonna kick Giant’s “big ass” before the show ended.

 

I don’t have much complaints about this week’s show either. The show felt fresh and different to what we’re used to seeing on Nitros. We got fresh faces, we got fresh matches, we got fresh match types and we got a CLEAN VICTORY in the main-event of the show which we’ll get to later on. That is the short version of my review but there’s a lot more to appreciate and we might as well get started with the review of Episode #33 of WCW Monday Nitro.

 

Date: April 29th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Albany, Georgia (It’s listed as Albany, Georgia which was the same as last week so I’m assuming this was a taped edition)

Rating: 2.1 (Down from last week)

Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan

 

Sting © and Lex Luger © vs “Harlem Heat” Booker T and Stevie Ray for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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I initially groaned at the idea of this match happening again but you know what, this was actually a really good match this week from these two tag teams. The fans were into it, I was into it and the chemistry was on point for the majority of the match.

Before I get into the match, two other matches announced for the Lethal Lottery tournament were Lex Luger and Road Warrior Hawk vs Road Warrior Animal and Booker T and The Taskmaster and Chris Benoit vs Public Enemy. The irony of those two matches are just astonishing. The Road Warriors were booked to face each other. Lex Luger and Booker T, who were squaring off on this episode and actually teamed up to BEAT UP the Road Warriors at the last PPV, are facing each other. Public Enemy were RANDOMLY teamed together and yes… CHRIS BENOIT AND KEVIN SULLIVAN were teamed together. To anyone reading this who knows who Chris Benoit was, I’m sure you know where this angle is going when it regards to Kevin Sullivan and his wife…

Apologises forlast week saying Benoit wasn’t in the Lethal Lottery as I guess they maybe changed their minds. At least Benoit beating Eddie Guerrero last week led to something for Benoit. Also, they also kept calling the Lethal Lottery tournament the… LORD OF THE RING. I’m sure J. R. R. Tolkien was thrilled about that.

Anyway, back to the opening match of Nitro. Sting and Booker feel each other out to try and get the upper hand, and then Booker just hits a side kick. Booker does this fantastic sell from a clothesline where he came very close to doing a mid-air spinaroonie to sell this move! This big man moved like a Beyblade in the sky!

I didn’t write down in my notes who said this, but one of the announcers said it was “not gonna be a pretty picture” as Lex Luger and Stevie Ray battle in the ring! I kinda laughed at that line knowing how below average these two wrestlers were but you know what, it wasn’t too bad between them in this match minus Lex Luger getting super gassed quickly.  Lex Luger punched and stomps away at Stevie Ray at a ridiculous pace and got blown up because of it.

Lex and Sting actually worked really well as a tag team, especially in this match, where Luger is just getting better as he worked with Sting. The chemistry was there most of the time for tag moves. Booker hit a side kick which Bischoff called a “jump wheel kick” at least twice. Isn’t the “jump wheel kick” what X-Pac used to do?

Stevie Ray did a crappy looking crane kick as he stumbled and lost his balance and then just fell down on his backside. Sting and Booker dropped each other with a double clothesline in the middle of the ring. In the middle of all this, the announcers also talk about Booty Man and Rick Steiner vs Scott Steiner and Craig Pittman also happening in the Lethal Lottery.

The fans went nuts for Luger getting the hot tag. Luger hit some sloppy clotheslines as he “ran wild” which is being generous. Harlem Heat eventually overpowered him and Sting and actually took control of the match. They did a powerbomb/elbow drop combination when Jimmy Hart threw in the towel as Booker grabbed the towel to intercept. I assume this had nothing to do with Luger as Jimmy’s not really been involved with Luger since the PPV.

Stevie threw Jimmy into the ring and then Sting got the roll-up on Booker for the win. Harlem Heat ran after Jimmy Hart. A fine tag team match. I was a little uneasy going in but they put together a decent TV tag match. This gets a thumbs up.

 

 

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

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We’re not even at the Lethal Lottery yet in this series, but this felt like such a bizarre match to happen in the middle of the show. We got two big men in Scott Norton and Ice Train against two other big men in the Steiner Brothers. They went in there and had a tag team hoss match and it was great. They had a three minute match where they just threw each other around in that ring. It was fun to watch, regardless of how short it was.

Mongo was more concerned that Norton and Ice Train weren’t pro American footballers because all Mongo knows how to do is put over the NFL footballers more than the professional wrestlers… during a professional wrestling television show.

Ice Train put on some decent flashes of athleticism. He had a sequence where he did a leapfrog, a powerslam and a big splash.  Rick hit a beautiful German suplex on the big man Ice Train which was… GLORIOUS. Scott Steiner did a great T-Bone suplex himself and followed up with an awesome belly to belly suplex.

Norton caught Scott Steiner off the top and did a a big Gorilla Press which was really impressive.

Norton ran wild with clotheslines but Scott Steiner caught him and dropped him with a stun gun. Rick tried a spinning elbow but just ran into the brick wall that was Scott Norton. Ice Train did a big boot but lost his footing a little bit. Scott Steiner got clotheslined over the top rope by Norton but then Rick hit Ice Train with a clothesline in the ring for the pin. A weak finish with a clothesline but a fun tag team match. I very much enjoyed it. This felt like a proper wrestling match between four of the baddest dudes they found backstage.

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Ric Flair came out with Miss Elizabeth and Woman. After all of this time on screen, Elizabeth still looks nervous as hell on TV. I’m not sure where this Miss Elizabeth angle goes but if it turns out that she was a double agent for the babyfaces, it’s perfect that she’s acting all nervous around Flair!

Mean Gene did an interview with the three of them. Ric wanted Mean Gene to look at Woman and then Woman stroked Gene’s face and Mean Gene is immediately smitten! Mean Gene was such a gem on these Nitros!

Ric Flair basically cut a promo saying The Giant is a little man compared to Ric Flair, at least he got Woman to say that. Ric Flair doing this gimmick of having his women talk about how great he is is fine on paper but with these girls, they weren’t really charismatic enough to pull this off especially not Miss Elizabeth. As good as Ric Flair is, he probably should not throw it to the girls to talk about how great he is. I’m pretty sure Ric Flair can cut a good promo talking about how great he is!

 

We got a “blood runs cold” promo as someone is coming to WCW. I believe this maybe for Glacier. This was such high quality and had such dramatic music like this was going to be a big-time star… and then it turns out to be Glacier! If you think about guys like Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Rowdy Roddy Piper that are going to be on WCW soon, this big time promo is for GLACIER of all people! It’s kinda surreal.

 

The Belfast Bruiser vs Steven Regal in a parking lot brawl

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I got so giddy when I realised this was happening again. This match happening again with The Belfast Bruiser and Steven Regal, and the fact that they’ve raised the stakes with it being a parking lot brawl, tells you how so far ahead of 2019 WWE that even WCW were in 1996. They did this match on PPV and it got over, so they did it again on Nitro to try and pop a rating because they realised this got over. WWE flat out told the audience that Baron Corbin was the reason the ratings were going down and one year later, they are still pushing the guy when it’s shown and proven that he’s not connecting with the fans.

In WCW, they at least recognised what worked and they kept going when the fans were still into it. It was great to see this again. At least in 1996, they were able to figure out what was working well and what wasn’t.

The guys are shown fighting in the parking lot. Belfast Bruiser tried a big boot early on but ended up forcing his foot through a car window. This was literally one of the first things we saw in this match was Bruiser kicking out the window of a car.

Regal rubbed Bruiser’s face on the pavement. Bruiser beat Regal up with a tyre. Bruiser even ripped apart the bumper of a car and smacked Regal with it! Bruiser did a scoop slam on a car which Regal followed up with an elbow drop of the bonnet of a car. This match far surpassed the Public Enemy stuff we’ve seen as of late on the grounds that Regal and Bruiser were actually doing wrestling moves in the middle of all of this brawling. No matter how nasty they were, they were still wrestlers at heart and wanted to out-wrestle the other guy when they could.

Bruiser strangled Regal with a seat belt and then dropped Regal on the guard rail that the fans were stood behind during this. They fought up to a pick-up truck. They got to the top of it and then Bruiser just threw him off of it! I think Regal got smacked into the wing mirror of a car during this. Regal broke another window by smashing Bruiser into it.

Bruiser tried a tombstone on the pavement but thankfully Regal got out of it. Regal tried a piledriver ton the car but Bruiser reversed it. Regal hit a low blow and eventually hit a piledriver on the roof of the car to get the pin for the win. I was fine with this until Bruiser got back up RIGHT AWAY after the match and threw a bumper into another car. Other than that, this was a hell of a parking lot brawl.

Bobby Heenan eventually realised that one of those cars were one of his rent-a-car cars!

Before I move on, it tells you how much money WCW had to blow in money when they could just destroy 4 cars in a random parking lot brawl. Cars weren’t cheap back then either! Like if I went out there and I bought 4 £500 cars for a wrestling show just so I could destroy them, that would be one thing. I’m pretty sure they must have spent a fortune on these cars and Regal and Bruiser ripped them to shreds!

 

Ric Flair © w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth vs The Giant w/Jimmy Hart for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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There was a lot of good stuff on this episode by this point. I think I liked every match they put on up until this point. Then we got my favourite match of the night and possibly my favourite wrestling match in the WCW series so far. This was Ric Flair defending the WCW title against The Giant in the epic rematch from their post-Uncensored match that ended in The Giant laying waste to all.

The reason why this match was so great was because The Giant and Ric Flair were booked perfectly based on their characters. The Giant was booked perfectly as an unstoppable Giant and Ric Flair was booked perfectly as the dastardly, cowardly heel paying for all of his crimes. It was one of the most perfectly booked title matches I’d ever seen. Not the best technically but one of the best booked in how this match was put together.

Ric Flair’s initial shoulder blocks fail as he falls down but The Giant remained standing. He does a chop and flees as The Giant yells “GET IN THE RING”. Flair tried again with a shoulder tackle but it doesn’t work. This was great because as a fan, you start to question: “What could possibly have made him think this was gonna work?” Ric Flair was a desperate man willing to try anything, even if he knew that wasn’t gonna work!

The Giant did a big Gorilla Press. Flair got Irish Whipped over the top rope and to the outside. The Giant chases him as Flair hides behind the girls. Speaking of the girls, Woman was absolutely outstanding with her performance screeching for Flair’s life on the outside which we’ll get to as we discuss the finish.

Flair does a leaping eye poke! Ric Flair had literally jump up at the chance to cheat in his match when he could!  Flair tried chops again but Giant just lurched on and no-sold them.

The Giant missed Flair as he charged at him and ran into the corner. Flair saw his opportunity to dive off the top rope but Giant cut him off. The Giant does a SUPLEX… to Ric Flair! The Giant tried a chokeslam but Flair grabbed the rope to prevent himself from going up.

As the girls distracted the referee, Flair low-blowed The Giant for the “heat.” Ric punched him twice but Giant pushed him away twice! Jimmy distracted the ref but Flair took advantage and dropped The Giant with the brass knuckles. This was actually a clever little spot because Jimmy almost caused The Giant’s downfall and this clearly demonstrates that Jimmy is holding The Giant back with his performances in the ring. If The Giant turns on Jimmy, this was a clever and subtle way to start telling that story. 

Flair goes for the Figure Four Leg Lock on Giant but Giant rose up like a zombie and grabbed Ric by the throat. Woman, who screamed during the entire match. pulled off one of the most perfectly-timed horror-movie-like screams during a wrestling match. The Giant grabbed her man and Woman screamed like she’d just witnessed Godzilla invade Albany, Georgia. Her performance in selling the monstrosity that was The Giant was simply sublime. She knew her man was in deep trouble and sold this better than every manager except Paul Heyman could have done in professional wrestling today. 

The Giant then chokeslammed and pinned Ric Flair to win the WCW World title CLEAN AS A SHEET in the middle of the ring as the fans went bonkers! This was such a tremendous moment where Jimmy leapt into the Giant. He ran around the ring and was jumping with joy. 

This title change was so great because yes, the status quo on WCW Monday Nitro was disqualifications or counts out to protect everybody in the main-event because nobody wanted to lose. Not tonight. Ric Flair and everyone else involved put The Giant over bigger than Hulk Hogan could have possibly done. This was such a one-sided affair that the fans literally could not believe their eyes when The Giant actually pinned Ric Flair. It was one man beating another man fair and square in the middle of the ring.

It wasn’t even like this was just fair and square. The Giant dominated and beat a 13-time world champion by this point and now he was the new man. I’ve been very critical of the title reigns and WCW title wins since this series began but this was top-notch. It just felt like a perfectly-timed squash match to put over The Giant big as legitimately the new man while Hogan was away. This was not quite Brock Lesnar mascaraing John Cena at SummerSlam 2014 but this was such a decisive finish and it legitimately came out of nowhere after months of interferences and disqualifications in these big matches. This RULED.

Mean Gene gets in the ring and did an interview as Flair was pulled out by the girls!

Jimmy Hart said Flair got to go home with the women but Jimmy said he got to go home with the world champ The Giant. The Giant said he knew that this belt was his since Halloween Havoc. Whether anyone likes it or not, he said he’s the world champion and a fighting champion. He said: “Sting, Savage and Hogan, you’re all gonna come and you’re all gonna fall.”

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This was a great episode of WCW Nitro. Up and down the show, we got good matches and fresh new faces and changes to the status quo. We got stars over big in The Giant and it feels we have a lot more direction towards Slamboree. This was a great episode and ranks high on the list of good episodes of Nitro so far, if not the best episode of Nitro.

Anyway, we’ve got more Nitros on the way. The build obviously will continue for the Lethal Lottery/Slamboree with a new World Champion in The Giant. The review for Episode #34 I’m hoping to upload some time this week before Sunday so stay tuned. Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly an update whenever Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I will be back with my review of Episode #34 of Nitro from May 1996.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #32 (APRIL 22ND 1996) – LEX LUGER AND STING VS THE GIANT AND RIC FLAIR FOR ALL OF THE BELTS

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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We’ve officially hit the period of WCW Nitro where things just don’t add up and make sense anymore. These last few episodes have closely resembled WWE 2019 now more than ever, where it is very clear “plans change” as things are completely turned on their heads. Yes, I did copy those words from my last review of Episode #31 of Nitro.

The Booty Man was pulled from his tag match with Hulk Hogan against Taskmaster and Arn Anderson. Hulk Hogan went at it alone and overcome the threat of six heels who all tried to destroy the Hulkster. Hogan won a handicap match against Arn and Taskmaster, he got his hands on Woman, Miss Elizabeth and Jimmy Hart after the match and then he overpowered The Giant and sent him packing.

In the main-event, The Giant teamed up with Ric Flair to challenge the WCW World Tag Team Champions Sting and Ric Flair. The match-ended in a disqualification when Sting got coffee thrown at him and the heels kicked the arses of the champions at the end of the show.

 

Before we get into the review, Episode #32 of Nitro was a massive improvement on recent Nitros. I don’t even think this episode was actually that much better than previous weeks but it felt completely different. There was more room for things taking place to hype up the PPV in May, we had different wrestlers on the show and different matches on the show. It felt fresh and different and it was also a show without Hulk Hogan. It’s not necessarily a good thing that Hogan was away from TV but in this instance, it’s a much needed break from his usual shenanigans.

Eventually, there’s gonna be a more permanent break from his usually shenanigans when the New World Order comes around but now I appreciate the change to the system. Just to see the show change up a bit is better than the show become repetitive and stale. This gets my endorsement for now.

 

Date: April 22nd 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Albany, Georgia

Rating: 2.7 (Down from last week)

Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan

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With the show changing up itself, we also got the return of Eric Bischoff’s WWF RAW results reveals during the show. To kick off the show, he mentions that the World Whining Federation had “the transvestite” Goldust beating Savio Vega, Makind beating Aldo Montoya and Vader beating Fatu. To all of this, Bischoff just goes “oh boy” in a sarcastic manner.

To be fair to Bischoff, that sounded like a god awful episode of RAW! I looked up that episode of RAW and I’m not sure if Bischoff mentioned this but there was also a match between the Godwins and the tag team of Yoshihiro Tajiri and Ken Patterson! That’s a bizarre match to say the least!

 

“Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock vs “The American Males” Marcus Alexander Bagwell and Scotty Riggs

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I was unsure how I felt about this match. The tag match itself did nothing for me as the American Males’ tag team matches were very formulastic by nature. All they’ve been shown to be able to do is dropkicks and punches. All Public Enemy were shown to be capable of doing is hardcore stuff. You got a very basic match by those standards here but… this beats Public Enemy’s match from last week against the Nasty Boys!

The heels Public Enemy jumped the males before the match. They beat on Riggs in the corner. Bagwell takes out Public Enemy with a double top rope clothesline which didn’t actually looked too bad. I thought it looked pretty decent in execution actually.

Bagwell did a dive to the outside as the Males did some clapping with the fans. Bischoff wished Pillman well after a car accident. There were dropkicks by the Males to Grunge and Rocco. Riggs went for a cover and Nick Patrick was busy chewing out Bagwell for god knows what reason. This completely disrupted the flow of the match.

For months during these Nitro reviews, I’ve been watching Nick Patrick and he looked horrible as a referee. He had a few matches where he was out of position or he called a rope break when he shouldn’t have called for a rope break. I was mostly trying to figure out what it was about Patrick that made him such a bad referee in my eyes. I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts related to these Nitros where the podcasters buried Nick Patrick and I’ve heard people bash Patrick in the past.

It really hit me during this match what the problem was with Patrick. AEW’s Aubrey Edwards is so great as a referee because she only plays a part in the match where it is necessary to do so. He will get in Chris Jericho or Pentagon Jr’s face to get heat on the heels or to actually show rules being enforced. She never does anything that takes me out of the match as it just flows as normal.

Nick Patrick went out of his way to chat to Bagwell as Riggs made the cover so he was not available to make the cover. I don’t see this as Patrick just doing a spot to get the heat on the heels because I’ve seen Patrick do this so many times before and it sucks. Pay attention to the match but don’t bring attention to yourself if you don’t need to. I’ve heard someone mention this before in an interview or something but the best referees in the business are the ones where you don’t even notice them. They don’t stick out like a sore thumb and Nick Patrick stuck out like a sore thumb during this match.

Public Enemy take over. Rocco pulled off a moonsault during this heat which seems rare nowadays. He doesn’t just punch the guys in the ring or go for a long chin-lock. He does a moonsault! They get the heat on Bagwell for a long time.. Rocco goes for a big senton bomb but completely missed which led to the hot tag which the fans went nuts for.

Riggs fired away with punches and dropkicks. Bagwell goes to save Riggs from the interfering Rocco Rock but he gets tossed over the top rope to the outside. The Public Enemy then throw Riggs over the top rope and it’s a disqualification. It was such a weird sight that of all the things to lead to a disqualification, it’s a rule about throwing people over the top rope which they mentioned once in a while since Nitro began. Seeing it in practice is so weird when it’s PUBLIC ENEMY of all the teams getting DQ’d for this. They didn’t use a weapon to get DQ’d. They threw a guy over the top rope!

Public Enemy did the same table spot they did last week to take out Riggs. So again, Public Enemy put a guy threw a table and there’s no repercussions for them from the Board of Directors or whoever is running the show in storyline. Keep that in mind when we get to Randy Savage later.

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Mean Gene Okerlund is with two women as they have the first round drawings for the WCW Slamboree Lethal Lottery. So after my big rant from the last episode where they never mentioned the Lethal Lottery once, it is suddenly all over this episode of Nitro as they did drawings for the tournament!

They introduce Emily and Cherry who were the women by Mean Gene’s side. I’m pretty sure when they came out again later, Mean Gene called Cherry “Terri” later on!

The rules of this lottery was that there would be names in a hat being pulled out and wrestlers would have to team together in the first round and then the winners of the tag matches would go into a battle royal later on in the night for a future title match. Those are the rules of this tournament anyway.

Mean Gene explained that they did some drawings before they came out. The first two matches certainly lived up to the expectation of these matches being “random!” The first two matches drawn beforehand were  the “weird combination” of Hugh Morrus and Meng facing The Barbarian and Hardwork Bobby Walker! Of course, there’s the “irony” of the Faces of Fear facing each other in a tag team match so that’s one thing. Then they announce Stevie Ray and Big Bubba vs Scott Norton and Ice Train. What a random tag team match for a possible shot at the WCW World Heavyweight title!

Emily does a horrible job in shuffling the cards up for Mean Gene as they actually pick names out of a hat. In this totally random drawing, the match is revealed to be Ric Flair and Randy Savage TEAMING UP to take on Arn Anderson and Eddie Guerrero!

Not only is it RANDOMLY decided that mortal enemies Savage and Flair are teaming up for this tournament, the WCW World champion is in a tournament where a WCW title shot is on the line!

It is possible that Ric Flair could lose the WCW World title before this tournament takes place but I love the idea that Ric Flair could have won this whole tournament and then face himself for the WCW World title!

 

Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero

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This was one of the breaths of fresh air I was talking about earlier. We’ve not seen the likes of Chris Benoit on Nitro for months and now we’ve got Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero on Nitro once again and it seems fresh. This is a pairing we’ve seen before on Nitro but this felt so different to what we’ve been getting with Hogan and the Booty Man in the last few weeks.

Benoit and Eddie start the match by playing a game of one-upmanship as they wrestle into the corner gently and then slap each other. Eddie ran wild with arm drags. Benoit won the first bit of chain wrestling. He then takes over with an eye rake OVER the referee. Benoit hits a back suplex.

Benoit goes for a chinlock and Eddie responds by doing some tremendous headscissor takedowns. Benoit hits a beautiful German suplex with a bridge for a 2 count. They reveal Savage is doing an interview after this match as Benoit throws Eddie to the floor. Eddie did a hurricanrana off the top rope but Benoit had his legs own tangled in the rope as Eddie went for the cover.

Benoit reversed a sunset flip and grabbed the ropes for the win. A decent match but I have two nit-picks which doesn’t even have anything to do with the match itself. It’s to do with WCW.

  1. I went back and checked the times for the matches for this episode of Nitro. Benoit vs Guerrero and Public Enemy vs American Males got the same amount of time. However, there was a commercial during the Benoit vs Guerrero match instead of the Public Enemy vs American Males match from earlier? From those two matches, the one match we had to see in full was Public Enemy vs The American Males? Why you’d cut from a 7 minute Eddie Guerrero vs Chris Benoit match is mind-blowing in its own right but the timing on this show was just weird.
  2. Chris Benoit defeated Eddie Guerrero but Chris Benoit himself is revealed later to NOT be in the Lethal Lottery. Eddie Guerrero was but yet Chris Benoit just beat him on Nitro. How is Chris Benoit NOT in Lethal Lottery after this? I mean… it’s possible that he’ll be added to the tournament later but as of now he’s not in the tournament.

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Mean Gene is with Vice President of WCW Rob Garner when “Macho Man” Randy Savage interrupted them. Mean Gene said Savage has been out of control. WCW in storyline were concerned about the mental well-being of Savage and that he’s out of the control, but are OK with the likes of Public Enemy putting geeks through tables? They were OK with Woman throwing hot coffee in the eyes of the wrestlers during matches? They were OK with The Giant running wild in WCW? They were cool with all of that and yet RANDY SAVAGE is the one on their radar here? Yeah, this storyline has some plot holes in it!

Garner said they were concerned with Savage’s actions. He said they understood his circumstances with Ric Flair but if the actions didn’t cease immediately, the ramifications would be severe. Savage responded that ramifications was such a sophisticated word for a man in a tie! Savage said he was the partner from the hell. Savage said he was gonna do what he wanted and he even got in Garner’s face. Garner responded that if Savage could not control his behaviour, he needed professional help. Savage said Garner needed a psychiatrist for being a stupid little man! Savage’s comebacks were so petty and sounded so pathetic but he delivered it so well that I laughed my head off!

I actually liked that he stands over Garner who, despite Savage’s comments, must have be quaking in his boots when facing an angry Savage cutting an angry promo. Savage was a tall, big guy and when he was looking down at Garner, it must be the most terrifying thing for this lad in a suit. This worked in making it clear why the WCW executives are so afraid of Savage. They brought out the Vice President of WCW and Savage towered over them and is about to explode. That I loved.

Mean Gene yelled at Savage. Savage said he’s gonna electrify WCW and walks off after teasing an open-hand slap to Garner. I actually thought this was a great segment.

 

 

Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs Meng

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Another match where it just felt different to me. We haven’t seen Hacksaw Jim Duggan wrestle on Nitro in so long. Meng we haven’t seen much of in recent months either. In this match, they had a fight that was just different to everything else on the show. It was a welcome change at the very least.

Meng had an awesome robe on as he marched down the ring. It was very colourful with Hawaiian colours. This was the best Meng has looked in the series so far! Hacksaw beat up Meng as Meng got into the ring.

Hacksaw pounced on Meng as Meng got into the ring and stomped him away. Hacksaw was beating up Meng when Meng was trying to get into the ring so the babyface Hacksaw wouldn’t allow for a fair fight which was weird!

Bischoff explained Hogan was “travelling” and he would back on Nitro soon so I guess Hogan is gone for a while, maybe until Bash At The Beach. Meng and Hacksaw got into a fight with headbutts and chops. This was ugly brawl between an old-school patriot and an Samoan savage! Hacksaw smacked Meng’s head into the turnbuckle and then Meng bounced his own head into the turnbuckle to show it had no effect. Hacksaw went for a heatbutt which Meng no-sold to get the heat! Hacksaw was the cause of his own downfall!

Meng tried a nerve hold. Hacksaw tried to fight back but Meng knocked him down again. Meng and Hacksaw traded missed elbow drops. Hacksaw did an atomic drop and a big scoop slam to get back into the match. Hacksaw ran at Meng but smacked his own head off the turnbuckle. Meng batters at Duggan relentlessly and after pushing the ref away twice,  Hacksaw tried to use his 2×4 but Meng booted him in the face! Hacksaw got the foot on the rope at two when Meng went for the cover.

Hacksaw then used the loaded tape, hit Meng and pinned Meng! I felt Hacksaw Jim Duggan was a strange babyface constantly trying to do whatever it took to win, including cheating, but there was something admirable about the fact that Duggan did whatever it took to win! Meng is a savage but Hacksaw must do all that he can to win this match which was important to him and to America! I actually thought this match wasn’t too bad. This was something different at the very least and that’s all I ask!

 

Mean Gene was back out with the girls for more match drawings. Mean Gene asked if the girls had any plans for this evening and they responded: “Yes with you Mean Gene!” Mean Gene couldn’t help but mention that had a little money if they get a little short! This all happened during an official WCW lottery draw to determine the teams for this important tournament! Mean Gene just flirts outrageously with the girls as he’s presenting this lottery!

They revealed the other matches in the lottery to be Alex Wright and Disco Inferno vs Earl Robert Eaton and Dick Slater along with Steven Regal and The Belfast Bruiser vs VK Wallstreet and Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Yes, future tag team and fellow dancers Wright and Inferno were randomly teamed together and rivals Regal and Belfast Bruiser were teamed together!

 

 

Sting © and Lex Luger © vs The Giant and Ric Flair © for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, WCW TV Championship and WCW Tag Team Championship

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I feel that maybe I’ve dropped a ball a little with not mentioning this match earlier on. It is the title of this blog post but they actually mentioned this match throughout the episode on Nitro. They discussed it at the start of the show, they threw around all of these scenarios about what could happen and it was so complicated. In the end, all of this speculation by the announcers led to nothing which we’ll get to.

The match was Sting and Lex Luger facing The Giant and Ric Flair in a rematch from last week. Sting and Lex Luger were defending the WCW Tag Team titles, Lex Luger was defending the WCW TV title and Ric Flair was defending the WCW World title. The stipulation I guess was all the titles were on the line with Arquette Rules in place although David Arquette didn’t appear in WCW until years later which is kind of ironic.

If Luger was pinned or submitted, he’d lose the WCW TV title. If Flair was pinned or submitted, he’d lose the WCW World title. I guess if Sting or Luger was pinned or submit, they’d lose the WCW tag titles to Flair and Giant. However, the announcers also mentioned the possibility of The Giant pinning Ric Flair to win the WCW title or Ric Flair holding all of the titles. I was so confused that I just to had to pack all of this in for this match review at the very end of the episode review! There’s a lot of ground to cover!

Flair hits on Mongo’s wife yet again and kisses her on the hand this week. Again, Mongo on commentary does nothing and just threatens Flair again. This isn’t exactly on the level of the Rusev/Bobby Lashley/Lana stuff on RAW in 2019 but Mongo watching RIC FLAIR kissing the hand of his wife and flirting with her every week on Nitro was somewhat distributing.

Savage appeared out of nowhere and goes after Flair again before the match. However, the POLICE handcuffed Savage as Flair then proceeded to stomp away at Savage as he is being arrested. HOW did Ric Flair not get arrested himself for assaulting a handcuffed man? Savage was defenseless after he was handcuffed and Flair got a few shots in, with no repercussions! I will give them credit that it came off as realistic like when the wrestlers would probably stomp away at a fan if the fans did the same thing. A general rule among wrestlers is that if a fan enters the ring, the wrestlers can proceed to kick their ass when they get in the ring. So Flair attacking Savage as he was handcuffed… it felt somewhat like it was a shoot so I liked it.

The Giant got Sting in the corner to start the match and Giant then just rested his ass on Sting’s cock and just stood there until the referee broke it up. I swear on a stack of bibles that is exactly what happened. I’m not trying to be lewd or anything. Everything I just explained went down exactly as written down! Don’t look at me.

Sting tried a few dropkicks and clotheslines to little effect. Luger and Sting worked together to clothesline Giant over the top rope to a roar of approval by the fans. Sting Gorilla Pressed Flair which will never not be able to get over with a WCW crowd. Sting and Flair somehow screwed up a clothesline over the top rope. It took Sting twice to do it.

Flair got pissed off in the corner. Flair chopped Luger to no effect. Luger beat up Flair and a Sting Mongolian Chop from apron sent Flair crashing face-first into the mat!

They then randomly announce Sting vs The Giant for Slamboree. It felt like this program with Sting and The Giant just came out of nowhere. They had a weird angle to kick off Nitro a few weeks ago and now they’re having a match at the PPV.

Sting hit a big superplex which sent Flair crawling on the floor on the outside as he was in that much of dire straits. Sting went for a Stinger Splash into the guardrail but Flair moved and Sting crashed and burnt. Luger rushed onto the scene to the aid of his friend on the floor. Woman clawed at Sting on the outside. The Giant stood on Sting, piling of his weight into the gut of Sting which caused Luger to be irate on the apron.

Flair did a vertical suplex to no affect. Woman had the cup of coffee in her hand again as Luger ran wild on Flair. Luger went for the cover on Flair but but then Luger got up to taunt and flex. I assume Luger forgot a spot somehow as he had Flair covered for a pin but then he just taunted. I guess possibly The Giant was out of position maybe to break up the pinfall. Either way, something got screwed.

Giant goes for a chokeslam but Sting tries to break it up by going for two top rope chop blocks to drop Giant to one knee. Sting tries to punch Giant off of Luger and finally Giant is floored to a massive pop from the crowd. I actually loved this spot where Sting and Luger tried for a solid 30 seconds to get Giant off of his feet and when The Giant finally fell down, the fans lost their minds as the good guys overcame The Giant!

Jimmy Hart got floored and Luger and Sting cornered Flair. Flair was given the coffee but he accidentally threw it at The Giant… and it’s another disqualification main-event finish on Nitro.

What happens after this is possibly my favourite moment in the Nitro series so far. Ric Flair realises that he just threw hot coffee at a seven foot Giant and so Flair runs for his life! He moved so fast to get up that ramp as Giant is near tears in the ring initially! Then he looked incensed and outraged as Flair eventually gets back in the ring.

Flair has this big bi-polar frenzy where he begged off Giant and then he switches from getting in Giant’s face and then dropping to his knees again begging for forgiveness! He  switched on and off like a switch trying to assert himself and then being reduced to his knees and being a coward!

Flair left again! Mean Gene interviewed Giant. The Giant was NOT HAPPY. He bellowed that “THE COFFEE BURNED BUT IT LIT A FIRE IN MY SOUL!” He vowed to win the WCW World title next week. Flair grabbed the mic and said he tried to apologise but now he was mad! He also added that he didn’t like how Giant’s been looking at the women anyway. Flair said Giant had until the end of the night or next week to apologise. Otherwise, Flair said he was gonna kick his big ass! I damn near choked on a drink I was drinking at the time as Flair threatened to kick his “big ass!” The delivery was tremendous and then Flair ran for his life again as Giant left the ring to chase after him. Flair literally ran at the speed of The Flash to get away from this angry Giant. This segment ruled!

I cannot wait for next week where The Giant, one week removed from Ric Flair throwing coffee on him, is going to get his hands on Flair after Flair also said he was gonna kick his big ass! There’s some strange great dynamic between The Giant and the dastardly Ric Flair characters and it is great.

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This was the best Nitro I’ve seen in a while. This was not the best Nitro I’ve seen yet I don’t think but it was so different to Nitros in the past few months and I loved it. Things were different on this show and sometimes, things being changed up is just what the doctor ordered.

I hope you enjoyed my review of Episode #32 of the Nitro series. Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly an update whenever Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I will be back with my review of Episode #33 of Nitro from April 29th 1996.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #31 (APRIL 15TH 1996) – HULK HOGAN’S REIGN OF TERROR CONTINUES AS HE CONQUERS SIX HEELS BY HIMSELF

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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We’ve officially hit the period of WCW Nitro were things just don’t add up and make sense anymore. These last few episodes have closely resembled WWE 2019 now more than ever where it is very clear “plans change” as things are completely turned on their heads. The Giant’s big babyface turn two weeks ago was completely pushed to one side as he’s back to fighting the good guys again. Lex Luger’s slow transition from heel to face sharply ended when he was just randomly an overwhelming good guy fighting by Sting’s side.

Dave Meltzer from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter always used to get this stick about when WWE, TNA or any company does a big swerve, he’d go “plans change” and people think Dave is covering his ass. If you don’t think that WWE nowadays don’t change their minds on a daily basis, think again. If you don’t think that WCW changed their minds over and over, these last two episodes demonstrated that clearly they did.

WCW have generally been good since this series started with promoting a match for the next week’s Nitro and then delivering that match. Last week, they promoted Hulk Hogan, The Booty Man and The Booty Man’s “big plan for satisfaction” going against The Taskmaster and Arn Anderson. They didn’t specifically mention what match it was but it was something where Booty Man had a plan against the heels.

This week, the Booty Man was off the show as he had “an injury” which I’m not entirely sure whether it was a work or a shoot. He’s off the show. So not only did they not deliver on Booty Man and his weird promo about getting satisfaction if you know what I mean. They did not come up with a replacement tag team partner for Hogan either. No, Hulk Hogan went at it alone with Arn Anderson and Taskmaster.

I’m going to tie this intro into this opening match where it was…

 

Hulk Hogan vs Arn Anderson and Taskmaster w/Jimmy Hart, Woman and Miss Elizabeth

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They do this match where it’s your typical Hulk Hogan vs bad guys match. Arn and Taskmaster jump him before the bell. Hogan fights them off. Hulk Hogan pulls off one of the worst Figure Four Leg Locks of all time followed by the definitive worst Figure Four Leg Lock of all time on Arn Anderson. He got Arn’s leg and was a deer in the highlights. He had no clue how to put on this move and Hogan is a guy who had been a wrestling main-eventer for at least a decade by now, maybe for 15 years by this point. Literally if you picked two random kids outside of your house, showed them the Figure Four Leg Lock on a video and told them to go do it, it would have been a 1000 times better than what Hulk Hogan did here. He didn’t know what leg to put over. He was trying to tie up the legs himself and it was a disaster.

Hogan no-sold a chair shot and ran wild until the heels somehow got the heat and everyone, including Jimmy Hart, got kicks in on the outside. Booty Babe in an exceptional outfit yet again came out to support Hogan. Hogan bonks Arn and Taskmaster into each other and hits the Leg Drop for the pin. So yes, Hulk Hogan overcame Arn Anderson and Taskmaster clean in a handicap match. It’s stupid for one man to beat two men on his own but FINE… it’s Hulk Hogan. You put your top babyfaces over so him destroying two babyfaces was tolerable to me. BUT THEN…

Hogan grabbed both of the girls at ringside in Miss Elizabeth and Woman. He dragged them both into the ring, lurked over them like he’s going to attack these women and amped up the crowd for this beating against the women. This was so uncomfortable by this point to see Hogan manhandling these women and wanting to beat him up. Yeah, this was also the same Hulk Hogan who tried to punch the ref last week. What a complete arsehole this character is!

Then he changed his mind and went after Jimmy Hart. Hart begged for his life but Hogan kicked his ass and ripped his shirt off. The Giant came down for “the save” but it had minimal affect. He chokeslammed Hogan but Hogan no-sold this chokeslam and got right back up. Hogan fought back and hit a scoop slam and sent The Giant packing.

He then cut a promo about going after the title and he actually nearly scoop slammed Mean Gene Okerlund and that was that.

So to recap, Hulk Hogan overcame the odds from having to go up against six heels. Now granted, I understand three of those people were managers. I understand to an extent that Arn Anderson and Taskmaster are beaten up all the time by Hogan so what does it matter if they get beat up again. The Giant? He had to get beaten and sent packing here?

The Giant hadn’t even been involved with Hogan since I think the lumberjack match before Uncensored and before then, the last time they crossed paths was SuperBrawl I think. The Giant went out here just to be slain by Hogan and shown to be a complete geek. This was the same Giant who Hogan was terrified off at Halloween Havoc and was fighting on par with Hogan at SuperBrawl. On this show, he was just another guy.

I figured that maybe the “Hoganisms” that caused Hulk Hogan to go over all of these heels were purged from his system at the Doomsday Cage match. Nope, he still had a bit more typical Hogan conquering left to do. The Giant paid the price here and it really indirectly buried Sting and Lex Luger later on in the show but we’ll get to that.

There was no way any of this was planned last week so whether it was Hogan changing his mind or Bischoff changing his mind, this angle did more harm than good and A HUGE THUMBS DOWN for this opening match.

Despite all of that, the fans were still going nuts for Hulk Hogan throughout this whole segment!

Now onto the rest of the show…

 

Date: April 15th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Charleston, West Virginia

Rating: 2.8

Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan

 

I do love after this match, the announcers have some banter. Mongo makes a comment about how the fans love him and Bobby Heenan, without missing a beat, responds saying: “yeah they love me.” Mongo talked about his dog wearing camouflage and that the dog didn’t wanna get hit by a stray bullet to which Heenan looked at the camera with a face of just total disgust! Heenan’s reactions to some of Mongo’s comments are some of the highlights on Nitro every week!

 

“Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock vs “The Nasty Boys” Brian Knobs and Jerry Sags in a street fight

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If you simply watched their SuperBrawl match instead of this match on this episode of Nitro, you’d find it hard to tell the difference between that match and the match that was on this Nitro. This was garbage wrestling to its very core and if you love several minutes of guys clobbering each other with trash cans and anything they could find, then you liked this match.

I wasn’t much of a fan as literally a lot of my notes were just XXXXX hit XXXXX with XXXX and for a while I just stopped taking notes. When I stopped taking notes, I look up and Johnny Grunge walloped Brian Knobs with trash can shots RIGHT to the head with purely blatant smacks to the head. He did this at least three times in the row to the head and Grunge was clearly aiming for the head as he moved his position to get a better hit of the head. DUDE. Was it really necessary to smack Knobs in the head over and over?

There was on spot earlier on in the match I liked where Knobs put the trash can on Grunge and while he then hits Grunge with like a trash can lid or something, Sags is on the other side of Grunge PUNCHING the trash can! I don’t know why but I loved that. “I’m gonna punch this trash which is shielding you and maybe I’ll connect with you inside the trash can!”

They got a table and Mongo said: “here comes the wood.” They didn’t even build up to the big table spot later. 30 seconds later after finding this table, someone is randomly thrown into the table. No big move through the table or anything no, someone is randomly thrown through the thing.

A cameraman fell over something on the outside. Rocco did a bulldog on Knobs into a chair. The big finish was there was another table and Grunge missed a top rope leg drop and went through the table. He went crashing through the table and Knobs got the pin. I remember a spot very similar to this from SuperBrawl to lead to the finish. Just like the finish to that match, there was also post-match brawl between the two tag teams!

They all still continue to the fight after the bell. Rocco did a cannonball off the top rope and hit Grunge on the apron to send him, Grunge and Sags crashing through the table. This sucked. The match was a waste of time to me and really, it accomplished nothing when these big weapon shots are shown to be ineffective after the match because they’re all still fighting with each. They all still continued fighting… so why did I bother watching this tag match if they were gonna fight afterwards anyway?

 

“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs Earl Robert Eaton w/Geaves

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An alright match which didn’t get a lot of time and the announcers completely didn’t care about. Savage starts the match on fire and then Eaton just… gets the heat somehow! I looked down for 20 seconds to write up a note and I look up and Eaton is getting the heat on Randy Savage! I had no clue and they didn’t mentioned what the move was that changed the tide in this match!

Savage tried to fight back but Eaton raked at him over and over. Eaton did a Ric Flair impersonation and then did a Figure Four Leg Lock which was 20,000 times better than Hulk Hogan’s Figure Four Leg Lock from earlier… and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. Eaton somehow got a Four Horsemen t-shirt in the ring and showed it at Randy to fire him up. I did like the storyline that Eaton was doing everything he could to piss off Savage as Savage was in a feud with Ric Flair who was with Miss Elizabeth.

Eaton was doing Flair’s move and showing off Flair’s merchandise.  Savage then turns it around and then just straight up starts choking Eaton! Savage then beat up Geaves who ran for his life. Savage did a back drop on the outside to Eaton.  Savage hit the scoop slam in the ring, hit the elbow drop and got the pin.

Then Savage threw the referee down and then goes for another elbow drop. Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Alex Wright and a few other babyfaces try to beg him off but Savage did the elbow drop anyway. The faces then hold Savage down as they handcuff the Macho Man.

To recap, nothing happened to Public Enemy when they beat up The Nasty Boys and put them through a table. Here, Randy Savage goes for another Elbow Drop and the babyfaces run to the ring begging Savage to rethink this. Savage hits the move and HE’S the one in handcuffs? You think they’ll be any follow up to Public Enemy beating up the Nasty Boys after the match? Of course not. This made no sense.

 

WCW Nitro showed a poster for I believe a movie called “The Great White Hype” and this poster showed Samuel L Jackson with a turban on and a great big cigar in his mouth.

 

Sting (c) and Lex Luger (c) vs Ric Flair w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth and The Giant for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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What a bizarre match to put on for your main-event. The parallels between the AEW shows in 2019 to the WCW shows in 1996 are absolutely remarkable. The day after AEW Full Gear, they announce that AEW World Champion Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara are challenging the SCU for the AEW Tag Team titles. In April 1996, the WCW World Champion Ric Flair is challenging for the WCW tag team titles on the Nitro episode I’m watching the day they announce that AEW show in 2019! It’s amazing the coincidences that fall into place when reviewing these shows!

Ric Flair goes to Mongo’s wife again and Mongo just SITS THERE and threatens Flair.  Lex Luger was still the WCW TV Champion, in case you’re wondering. Sting runs wild early on and even dropkicks Giant off the apron.

Sting throws Flair into Giant, Giant catches Fliar and threw him back in the ring. Flair goes: “what are you doing” and tears into The Giant, and then turns around into Lex Luger flexing and gets frightened off!

Flair gets thrown out into Giant again and Giant throws Flair back into the ring. Flair loses his mind, runs outside and chops Giant! Then Giant chases Flair up the ring as they cut to the ads. I loved this big man/little man dynamic with the heel tag team where they don’t get a long but The Giant is just mean and scary and doesn’t need to do a lot to get Flair to back off!

The Giant finally got the tag and kicked away at Luger in the ring. Ric Flair is back on the apron and after everything that happened early in on the match, he starts thrusting at the crowd and starts enjoying himself!

Woman raked at Luger while Luger was down on the outside. Flair drops a beautiful knee drop which I don’t remember seeing much from him during this Nitro series. Giant does two big Irish Whips to Luger into the corners and reduces Luger to screams of agony!

Flair does the Figure Four on Luger for a long time. Flair and referee Nick Patrick starts pushing each other. Luger finally fires away and the fans go nuts. Luger throws Flair off the top rope. Sting finally got the hot tag and ran wild on Flair as The Giant just stood there.

This hot tag included a quickfire superplex! They moved so fast to get this superplex spot over and done with during this hot tag of Sting running wild! Sting goes for a Scorpion Death Lock as Luger batters The Giant to hold him off. Woman threw the coffee at Luger again this week but Luger ducked and Sting ended up with coffee on him. This caused the ref to call for the bell.

The Giant chokeslammed the babyfaces. Flair went for a “pin” on Sting and Luger, tried to punch the ref and celebrated over the prone bodies in the ring.

This was exactly what I was mentioning earlier. Hulk Hogan ate a chokeslam after his match from The Giant, who was fresh mind you, and was totally fine but Sting and Lex Luger ate a chokeslam after their match and they were down for the count? It made Sting and Luger look so inferior to Hulk Hogan. It made The Giant looked so inferior to Hulk Hogan. The Giant overcame two men with a partner where as Hogan overcame six people earlier on in the show.

Speaking of Hulk Hogan, where was he for this beating? His friends (at least Sting was his friend anyway) were getting beat up by the heels and he’s nowhere to be seen. Do you guys remember at World War III where Hogan said Sting was his “best friend forever?” He left his friend at the mercy of The Giant KNOWING that he could kick The Giant’s ass easy as he watched him do it EARLIER ON THAT NIGHT. What a friend.

 

Bischoff managed to get Heenan handcuffed somehow as Heenan tried to wrestled himself out of it. He bit it as the headset went across his face and was having a horrible time with these handcuffs as Nitro went off the air.

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This show was horrible this week. Maybe I’m being a little harsh but I was not a fan of this episode. There was not much to enjoy throughout. The Hulk Hogan angle at the start of the show really set the tone where there’s no longer like a well though-out story-telling process. A few months ago, I could see there was a detailed plan with certain storylines, especially with Luger and Sting. They even stopped that last week and after all of that, they get their asses kicked by the heels at the end of this show.

Now the show mostly consists of just a bunch of stuff happening. They never mentioned once the May PPV or the Lethal Lottery they’re doing in May. They’ve not mentioned a thing and as a WCW fan, this must have been infuriating. They never even mentioned the WCW Cruiserweight Tournament which a few weeks ago, they could help but mention throughout that episode. This week’s episode was the worst Nitro I’ve seen so far but it is right up there.

 

I hope you enjoyed my review of Episode #31 of the Nitro series. Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly an update whenever Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I will be back with my review of Episode #32 of Nitro from April 22nd 1996.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #30 (APRIL 1ST 1996) – A BUNCH OF PLANS CHANGE AS THE GIANT TURNS FACE… AND THEN HEEL AGAIN

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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After months of programming revolved around a plot to end Hulkamania, the storylines in Nitro became centred around Ric Flair’s WCW World Heavyweight Championship once again. Ric Flair was defending the title against The Giant last week, who earned the right to fight Flair after he defeated Loch Ness at Uncensored. The Giant dominated Flair during the match and after Arn Anderson and Taskmaster both ran down and ate chokeslams from the big man, the referee called for the bell and Flair escaped with the title.

 

Now we’ve got a new episode of Nitro to review on, of all days, April 1st 1996. This show certainly felt like one big joke. This was the show where Nitro just fell complete off the rails for me. It’s clear from just looking at my review for the last episode and now writing this episode that a whole bunch of plans got changed. Storylines were dropped or changed with Lex Luger and The Giant. There was a whole bunch of messy matches, angles and promos. If things did get changed during Saturday Night or one of WCW’s other shows then they sure didn’t let the Nitro audience know.

I had no clue of what was going on for a lot of this show and it all stemmed from the opening match where The Giant and Sting are just randomly fighting. I’m going to just jump into this match from the get-go because the whole match and the whole idea of the match was just preposterous.

 

The Giant vs Sting

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There was no opening video package as there usually is for Nitro as Sting and The Giant start an impromptu match. They didn’t explain this until after the match but the original match going in was Sting and The Giant vs Harlem Heat as Lex Luger was pulled out of it for some reason. They showed a clip AFTER the match which showed Harlem Heat taking a bribe from Jimmy Hart to not do the match. They took it and I guessed The Giant was bribed to wrestle Sting and I guess the referee just OK’d it. This all happened RIGHT BEFORE the match was supposed to take place.

So the match kicks off the show. Sting goes to work but Giant eventually starts no-selling and even no-sold a crossbody. They fought to the outside and then Giant pressed Sting over the top rope. The Giant tries a chokeslam from the apron but Sting dropkicks Giant off the apron. The Giant takes this giant bump (pardon the pun) to the floor for a dropkick which, if you look at The Giant, he should never have needed to take a bump like that. It’s actually astonishing how many big bumps The Giant was willing to take at this stage of his career because this is at least the third time in as many shows I’ve reviewed where Giant took a big bump. He did the big corner spot against Loch Ness, he did that same spot against Flair last week and he did this bump off the apron for Sting.

Lex Luger runs down to “make the save” even though Sting was in control of the match. He and Sting hold control of the ring and stand their ground as the ref then calls for the bell.

The opening moments of this episode of Nitro made me think I missed a week or two of Nitros. I even exited the episode on the WWE Network to check if I was watching the right episode but no I was. After Lex Luger was still borderline babyface/heel after Uncensored, he was full-on babyface here saving Luger. No shades of grey. The Giant turned babyface last week I guess but is now back to fighting the babyfaces and working for Jimmy Hart. The infamous legacy of The Giant’s heel and face turns in professional wrestling began with this show as they changed their mind A WEEK after he beat up Taskmaster, Ric and Arn last week.

They didn’t explain what was going on and I was so confused as to why Lex Luger was a full babyface for some reason. I was so confused by the bribing thing and The Giant fighting Sting. Think about this as well. You’ve got Sting vs The Giant which I believe was the first time they did this, and it’s an impromptu match with no build.

By the way, I love the irony that in 2019, I just watched an AEW show where did something similar where they cut the ring and the Lucha Bros and Private Party are just in the ring ready for a match! No entrance or anything, just like this Sting vs The Giant deal.

 

After this, we get the Nitro opening video package.

 

Date: April 1st 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Cleveland, Ohio

Rating: 2.8 (My theory from last week of WCW saving Hulk Hogan for this week to bolster the ratings clearly wasn’t true. Their ratings went down and they lost to RAW!)

Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan

 

“The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner vs “The Road Warriors” Animal and Hawk vs “The Nasty Boys” Brian Knobs and Jerry Sags

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I have gone back and forth since watching this episode about whether or not this match was any good. My brain tells me that this match was no good. It was really hard to keep track of and it seemed a little messy. My heart tells me that this was a decent brawl with seeded hatred from all three teams that led to a clever finish. If you’ve watched this episode, please tweet the @ArmbarExpress or leave a comment below with your thoughts.

There was no ring introductions or entrances for this match either. Two men started in the ring as the four men were on the apron. Rick Steiner and Brian Knobs started off. They have a great scrap at the start, throwing hands like mad men which I enjoyed.

Rick landed a beautiful takedown but Sags broke up the pin to which Scott dropkicked Sags. Animal waltzed in with a tag and goes to work on Knobs but then crashed face first into the top rope. Scott tagged Sags by slapping his head! Good old Scotty!

Scott goes to work on Hawk. Fans popped for a Hawk neckbreaker of all things. Scott hits a belly to belly suplex but Sags takes advantage with elbow drops. So Rick tags in Scott as Nick Patrick’s back is turned and the ref just assumes the tag happened without hearing it! The rules are loose with the referees and I’ve even asked the question to Jim Ross on Twitter about this. He mentioned on an AEW Dynamite episode a few week ago that the referees can only call what they see in a match. What does this mean for what they hear? If they hear something, does they call it or ignore it? Again, tweet me @ArmbarExpress if you have an answer!

Suddenly, all hell breaks loose on the outside as the fans go crazy. There’s a huge brawl with all six guys. The three tag teams brawl on the outside but Nick Patrick is able to somewhat restore order. The match restarts and Bobby mentions that he doesn’t even know if the Steiners speak English! Clearly the Scott Steiner vs The English Language YouTube video wasn’t available back then!

Hawk barely applied a camel clutch. Knobbs goes for the cover on Hawk I think and Animal and Rick both break it up! Sags does it a big backbreaker. Knobbs goes to work as the Nasty Boys get the heat. Sags and Hawk stumble into the barricade as they brawl. Then Scott gets the heat on Jerry in the ring. I had no idea who the heels and babyfaces were. I guess the Nasty Boys are the babyfaces as I don’t remember them doing a thing wrong. I guess The Steiners are faces too but they’ve done heelish stuff on Nitro. I’m assuming the Road Warriors are the heels but they were babyfaces in peril at the PPV. Again, I had no clue what was going on with their character alignments other than… they all hated each other which I bought. Things happened that led up to this match with all three teams.

Hawk then decides to no-sell and beats up Sags. Knobbs flies in. There’s no real chemistry to this match but it was a fun brawl in my eyes. I should have hated this match but the fans are into it. I think the wrestlers were into it and I do like that there is rooted hatred that caused all of this. There’s reasons for why they’re so mad at each other.

Rick and Sags go for a belly-to-belly suplex off the top rope but the Road Warriors knock them off. Hawk gets dumped to the outside. Then Public Enemy come down. They beat up Sags and then Grunge rolls into the ring and swaps out for Brian Knobs. Grunge had a wig on and a tie-dye shirt on. He lets Scott Steiner pin him as the Steiner Brothers win the match.

Public Enemy pulling off Twin Magic was amazing to see and it worked with the storyline where they also had beef with the Nasty Boys. Bischoff explained that this proved Public Enemy attacked the Nasty Boys on the night the Steiners returned. I don’t know how it works but the finish was pretty clever. I wrote in my notes that “This show feels like a weird trip” but I will give credit where credit is due. The finish was interesting and executed well. There was some good brawling and the fans were into it so as tacky as the match seemed, I’ll give it a thumbs up. It worked with the stories they were trying to tell and the fan reactions.

 

 

Hulk Hogan and The Booty Man w/The Booty Babe vs Arn Anderson and Taskmaster w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth

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They revealed during the entrances that they were drawing the “Lethal Lottery” on WCW Saturday Night to take place in May.

Steve “Mongo” McMichael then explained during the entrances when referencing Hogan and Booty Man that: “You start from the top down.” I understand that this is like a prison mentality where you pick on the biggest guy in the yard to assert yourself but in the confides of the wrestling business, that is a terrible strategy! It’d be like if I started training for wrestling tomorrow and I decided to call out Brock Lesnar! Bad Idea!

Whoever was picking out Kimberley’s outfits each week deserved a raise. She looked tremendous in this outfit too and she looked good in whatever they were putting her in. Bobby Heenan randomly declares that he’s announcing his retirement from wrestling which seemed completely out of the blue to do it at this moment. He just randomly goes quiet and says he’s calling it a day.

Arn gets bounced around with punches from Hogan and Booty Man. Arn Anderson is the pure definition of a true worker. He had to sell his ass off for the Booty Man every week and he went out there and bumped like crazy. He even tried to bump during that Doomsday Cage match. This Arn Anderson was a great wrestler.

Booty and Hogan do a double big boot to Arn. I totally forgot that Taskmaster and Arn argued about the chair shot last week with Giant and yet here, they’re suddenly teaming together with no signs of discord. Arn set up Taskmaster to be killed by The Giant for god’s sake.

Booty Man ran wild with knee lifts. Arn wanted Hogan tagged in and Hogan obliged. Bobby accused Hogan and Booty of brainwashing Booty Girl to which Bischoff accused Bobby of losing his mind! Taskmaster accidentally elbow dropped Arn so I guess that played into what happened last week between Arn and Taskmaster. Hogan clunked their heads together.

Booty and Hogan do a double clothesline. Booty goes for a sunset flip but unbeknownst to him, Taskmaster made a blind tag and took advantage with a kick to the back to get the heat for the heels.

Woman even raked the eyes of the Booty Man. Hogan broke up a pinfall and then Hogan threatened the referee with a punch. I swear to god this happened. The ref sent Hogan to the corner and Hogan pulled his fist back to deliver a punch! WHAT? The biggest babyface in professional wrestling everyone!

Hogan gets the hot tag and runs wild on the heels. Hogan delivers two big boots to the heels. Elizabeth tried to help Arn. Woman gave Taskmaster her shoe which has been the norm for the heels as of late but in response, Booty Babe gives Hogan her shoe as Hogan used it on Taskmaster and won. I do like the faces turning the tides of the heels with the shoenanigns… I’ll let myself.

The girls went after Booty Babe after the match. but Booty Man protects her in the most gentlemanly way possible! He didn’t hit them but he got in front of Booty Babe and basically told them to back off. Booty Babe gave Booty Man a kiss, Booty Man is in a drunken state after this kiss as Hogan had a tremendous shocked face on display!

Arn and the heels goes after Booty Man in the ring as they’re showing the replays from the match but Hogan makes the save.

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Then we got a bizarre post-match promo. Mean Gene Okerlund is with Hogan and Booty Man. Hogan said it was a shoe-in… which was as cringe-worthy as my shoenanigans joke! I may have misheard this, but I could have sworn that Hogan said that Booty Babe was on top of her game “in many ways.” This caused me to raise my eyebrow a little bit. I questioned whether this was an intended euphemism or if I was just being silly. Then Booty Man said he had something on the backburner that’s gonna give them satisfaction: “if you know what I mean.” I swear to all of the gods that he said that! There’s no way this was a slip-up!

Booty Man said he can’t give it way but it’ll give them the upper hand and give them the satisfaction. Hogan said the heels were all laughing as they beat up the Booty Man. They took forever to get to the point that they were gonna get the last laugh. Hogan threw it Booty to close the promo and Booty said: “we’re gonna kick their caaaaans.”

This was a horrible promo mostly thanks to the Booty Man. Jesus Christ, he was very energetic guy but Booty Man could not cut a promo to save his life. He’s talking about satisfaction like this is the storyline for a pornographic film.

 

 

Ric Flair © w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth vs Lex Luger for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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This was exactly how you’d imagine a Ric Flair vs Lex Luger match going. In fact it seemed almost identical to their stuff together at Starrcade during their triangle match with Sting. It was very similar to Flair vs The Giant from last week from last week.

I think this was just a huge coincidence but this Ric Flair title reign is very similar to Randy Savage’s title reign from 1995 which I called the worst World title reign ever. On Nitros, Savage had back-to-back title defenses against Lex Luger and then against The Giant. In March/April 1996, Ric Flair defended the title against The Giant and now against Lex Luger! The big difference being that at least Ric Flair wound up winning this match which we’ll get to.

A fan flips off Flair in the front row and Flair just flexes right in from of them. Then Flair went up to who I believe was Mongo’s wife in the crowd. It was some blonde and some other woman yells right in his face. This fan proper lashed out at Flair and Flair just looks at her and kept walking down to the ring! We need more passionate fans like this in 2019 that are this much into the show!

Bobby gave Luger the advice that: “All he has to do is beat Flair, which is easy” which was an interesting way to bury Ric Flair. Flair’s a heel so I guess it doesn’t matter but he is the WCW Champion. Then Mongo bigs up Lex Luger! Last week, after Lex Luger turned face, Mongo was still calling him out and considered him a heel. A week later, he pulls a complete 180 and is on the Luger Bandwagon. You could say he was on a… Lex Express. 😉

OK, I’ll get back to reviewing the match!

Luger grabbed the arm of Flair and Flair sold this like it was death! Luger just grabbed his arm and Flair, screamed bloody murder and fell on the floor!

Luger Gorilla Pressed Flair and Flair rolled to the floor, grabbed his arm and was down for the count! Flair sold this like he was actually dead from this Gorilla Press, a week removed from being Gorilla Pressed all over the place by The Giant! This was one of the best Ric Flair sells I’ve ever seen!

Flair tries an Irish Whip but Luger’s arm was too big so Flair just fell down! Luger sent Flair off the top rope. Flair got mad on the floor as he does giant angry stomps on the floor, proper leaping into the air, and yells at the same fan that screamed at him earlier on! I’m sure that fan was so giddy after that segment, being on the receiving end of crazy Ric Flair!

Flair dropped to his knees to lure Luger in and then poked him in the eyes. Flair gets thrown off the top rope. Luger backs away the girls but then Elizabeth whispers something in Woman’s ears. Flair knocks Luger off the apron. Flair distracts the ref and Woman rakes the eyes of Luger. Bobby accused of Luger of making bad comments about her!

Flair’s Figure Four Leg Lock was then reversed by Luger as Woman squealed like a dying pig at ringside. Luger tries a sunset flip but Ric kicked out. Luger tries a backslide but gets a 2 count. Luger caught Flair off the top rope so the second straight week, Ric Flair actually does a dive from the top rope but the other wrestler caught him so it didn’t work!

Luger hits a big superplex and gets pumped up. Woman then grabbed a cup of coffee as Luger has Ric in the torture rack, and threw it in Luger’s eyes. Even though Luger has had hot coffee thrown at him, Flair still felt the need to get his feet on the rope as he pins Luger to retain the title! Sting comes down to chase off Flair.

I enjoyed this main-event. It’s a typical Ric Flair vs Big Powerful man match and Flair was awesome throughout and he got a big victory. So this gets a thumbs up.

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So to close the show, they cut to the announce booth. Bobby Heenan shakes Mongo’s and Bischoff’s hands as he again outlines his intention for this to be his last night. He cuts a big promo about walking away from the business. But then he goes… APRIL FOOLS!

I should have figured this out but I just saw the date being April 1st 1996 and I just ignored it. They had a show airing on Christmas Day and it wasn’t like that was a themed episode of the show, so I just figured this was going to be a regular show and when Bobby said he was gonna retire early on in the show, I thought it was just a random joke. He mentioned it once or twice during the show and it was just so obscure and out of the blue. So then they have this pay-off and Bobby cackles away, having a grand old time as he proclaims that he pulled one other everyone!

Bobby Heenan was so great and I’ll admit that it threw me off guard! Bobby still commentates for the next 6 years or so with WCW so I knew he wasn’t actually retiring as I thought this was some weird angle but yeah, this was a cracking April Fool’s Joke from Bobby “The Brain” Heenan!

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This episode of Nitro I was ready to just hate on, especially after the Sting vs The Giant thing but after reviewing the Booty Man/Hulk Hogan promo, I just learned to laugh at the silly stuff and the show became more enjoyable. I enjoyed the main-event, I enjoyed the pay-off to Bobby Heenan’s storyline during this show and I enjoyed certain aspects of the triple threat tag team match. This was not as good as last week’s show but this was OK. I can’t really give it the thumbs up but this was still not that bad.

I do believe there is another two weeks between Nitro episodes again so we will be back with the April 15th 1996 episode of Nitro as the reign of Ric Flair continues.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order