RETRO EXPRESS: WCW BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 (JULY 7TH 1996)

Welcome to the Retro Express. This is where we’re taking a stroll down memory lane at wrestling history. This post is part of an ongoing series where we’re reviewing every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this post. We hope you enjoy.

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After all of this time reviewing WCW Nitro episodes, we have finally arrived at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996. A historic event which culminated with one of the most memorable moments in wrestling history. Although WCW Monday Nitro had recently begun their 83 week streak of beating WWF Monday Night RAW in the ratings, this was really the true event that turned the tide in the Monday Night Wars.

The biggest moment from the show was in fact the main-event, so I’m guessing a lot of you may be asking me if it was worth watching the 2 hours and 30 minutes or so before that building up to the main-event. The response to that question is yes. This show featured a lot of good matches up and down the show as well as a match which may have been the best match I’ve reviewed in the history of the Armbar Express.

However, the biggest thing I loved about this show was the anticipation it built in me around 24 years after the original air date of this pay-per-view. As a wrestling show, even though I knew ahead of time who the third man that would end up teaming with the Outsiders, I was giddy and the main-event was built as a genuine historical event. Then it was the time for the main-event and the fans were buzzing for this huge six man tag team match with Sting, Lex Luger and Randy Savage facing Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and the third man. This entire pay-per-view is worth watching to relive the buzz the entire show created for this main-event.

 

Date: July 7th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Daytona Beach, Florida

Attendance: 8,300

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes

 

Psychosis vs Rey Mysterio Jr.

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I understand that people may have busy schedules or may not have the time to sit through and watch this entire wrestling pay-per-view from 24 years ago. However, for any wrestling fan out there, I command that you watch this opening match between Psychosis and Rey Mysterio Jr. This was wrestling at its very finest.

I also understand that the business has I guess “evolved” to the point where it would seem to a modern fan that what Psychosis and Rey did here wasn’t particular special compared to guys like Kenny Omega, Adam Cole and the Young Bucks. In places like NXT, PWG and AEW, it is a much more fast-paced environment where you almost have to have hundreds of spots during the match in a super choreographed manner to keep the fans hooked and engaged.

I’ve gotten annoyed at matches like that Halftime Heat match on NXT last year and the Adam Cole vs Matt Riddle match from NXT in October because those matches were in essence move after move after move after move with seemingly no space for the fans to sit back and appreciate the individual moves. Those matches moved at such a fast-pace and they hit so many big moves one after another that it felt somewhat unauthentic to me.

This Rey Mysterio vs Psychosis was a true wrestling match. These were two luchadors so of course there was a lot of high spots. However, a huge portion of the match was focused on a wrestling battle and every big spot they hit truly felt like a big spot that you would remember. People would remember them because it stood out from the wrestling. They didn’t over-do certain moves because sometimes, less is more. Few matches told the story of less is more quite like this one.

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Mike Tenay joined the commentators for this match. Sometimes, I really don’t give Mike Tenay the credit he deserves. Mike Tenay was so awesome as the professor in this match and was a great voice for putting over Japanese and Mexican talent. When you have Tony as a basic play-by-play commentator accompanied with two characters in Dusty and Bobby, having Mike as a wrestling historian basically is a great asset on the booth. As much as Bobby and Dusty were entertaining, Tenay’s contributions of educating us on lucha libre tradition played into the layout of the match. I thought he was brilliant during this match.

Rey shot for the leg and locked on a single leg boston crab. Psychosis got out of it and went for a surfboard submission.. Rey did the armbar. Psychosis delivered a unique arm scissors as both men showcased some tremendous lucha libre.

Psychosis did a big Undertaker dive over the rope and smashed his head right on the guard rail. It was a nasty landing spot for poor Psychosis. Psychosis took control with a big leg drop for which he got a 2 count and yelled at the referee. They said on commentary Rey and Pyschosis wrestled each other in Mexico the night before! That’s amazing when you think about it!

Psychosis did a guillotine leg drop from the top rope. Rey sold a clothesline like it was death as he completely flipped on his head. It was tremendous looking. Pscyhosis locked on the head scissors. Rey pushed Psychosis into the ring with his legs and followed up with a hurricanrana from the apron. It looked very slick. Rey hit a west coast pop for the near fall.

Rey dropkicked the knee then took Psychosis down and trapped the leg. Dusty kept calling Mike “Iron Mike” which was proven to be correct at how well Tenay was calling this match. Psychosis tried a headscissors and initially grabbed the ropes for leverage. Psychosis threw Rey over his shoulders and launched him into the ropes, with Rey hitting hard and bouncing off the ropes. He dropped Rey onto the guard rails.

Psychosis did an absolute crazy Senton. What it looked like to me was that he tried a leg drop but missed his target so it looked like a senton. However, I did re-watch that spot and I think he did lean his back a bit when coming crashing down and Tenay called it as a Senton. By the way, I would not recommend any wrestler take a bump like this onto the floor. Psychosis fell right on his arse after falling from 10 feet in the air. That could have really wrecked his hip if he wasn’t careful.

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Psychosis was feeling his back and he was proper banged up following that spot.  Psychosis dig an enziguiri for the 2 count. Bobby asked Tony where he got these names for the moves and Tony simply said “if you don’t know it, make it up.” At least on this night, he was accompanied for one match by a man in Tenay who did know all the names of the moves!

Psychosis did a camel clutch. Rey did an awesome cartwheel hurricanrana and the fans popped like crazy. It was fabulous in execution and they probably did the exact same spot from the night before but the fans were blown away by this on American soil.

Rey did a triangle dropkick. Rey hit a top rope hurricanrana to Pyschosis from the apron all the way down to the floor.. Rey hit a springboard moonsault for a near fall. Rey did a springboard dropkick sending Psychosis through the bottom rope. It was all Rey as they were headed towards the finish.

Rey did a springboard corkscrew dive to Psychosis on the outside. Tenay called it an Asai moonsault and Bobby was flummoxed by this as he yelled “an Asai hammer lock?” Rey tried to do a West Coast Pop but Psychosis counted into an awesome powerbomb. Psychosis tried a crucifix powerbomb but Rey somehow hit a tremendous Frankensteiner from the top rope for the pin fall win. That was absolutely tremendous spot in the finish and if you re=watch this match, the way this finish was pulled was out of this world.

This was easily the best WCW match I’ve reviewed so far in the series. Rey and Psychosis put on a wrestling clinic. The fans were into everything for this match. Everything looked fabulous in execution and I loved the finish. This… was glorious

Match Rating: ****3/4

 

Mean Gene interviewed WCW US Heavyweight Champion Konnan. Konnan explained the finish of the Psychosis/Rey Mysterio in case you didn’t just watch the finish of that match a few minutes before this interview! Konnan was defending the title against Ric Flair tonight. Konnan said maybe Ric has the right to be confident but Konnan is cautious. Konnan threatened to clothesline his women, chop block Mongo and cripple the manager. He made good on at least one of those threats which we’ll get to.

 

Big Bubba w/Jimmy Hart vs John Tenta in a sack of silver dollars on a pole match

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Tenta chased Bubba out of the ring. Tenta beat Bubba’s arse for while. Tenta tried to get the silver dollars but Bubba cut him off. Tenta did the same to Bubba. Tenta tried again but Bubba cut him off and dropped him with a back suplex to which Dusty called a load. Bubba tried to get the sack but he was too short and drops on the top rope and gets crotched. Speaking of which…

Talk about just booking yourself into the corner with this match. This wasn’t even a match booked by Vince Russo either. WCW booked a match between John Tenta and Big Bubba where one of them must grab the sack of silver dollars from the top of the pole. They booked this match and then I guess realised a few days later that none of these two big men could actually CLIMB up this pole to go get this sack.

Tenta was too big to get up that pole, it was established that Bubba was too big and too short to get up that pole… as crazy and contradictory as that sounds! Figure that one out! Not only did they book this match realising these two men were just too big, I swear they put up the biggest pole they could find and stacked the sack right on top of it.

This sack is on top of the largest pole they could have find so neither man could have reached it even if they tried. They might as well as put this sack up on the moon it was that high in the sky! Tenta realised this so he tried to unhook the pole itself from the ring post. Bubba choked Tenta with the belt from behind. I don’t remember if he was talking about Bubba or Tenta but Dusty even said “I don’t even think he can get up there.”

Bubba tied Tenta to the ropes with tape. He beats him up with a belt. Bubba gets the scissors that he had previously used to cut Tenta’s hair and beard. He goes to cut the rest of Tenta’s hair but Tenta does a low blow to Bubba.

Bubba hit a spinebuster. Bubba instructed Jimmy to get the sack as Bubba realised he can’t get it. Jimmy Hart, who is not a professional wrestler, scaled up this big pole so fast. Jimmy climbed up this pole and grabbed the sack but Tenta powerslammed Bubba as Hart was grabbing the sack. Hart slid down the pole and when he turns around he sees Tenta waiting for him. Tenta took the sack and knocked Hart down. Tenta smashed Bubba in the head with the sack and got the pin.

As absurd as the concept of this match was, I thoroughly enjoyed it! It was the right shade of so bad it’s good. It’s stupid that they did a match where Bubba and Tenta had no way of getting the sack without Hart being involved. However, I enjoyed the comedy of it all. I enjoyed Tenta getting a big babyface win after months of being humiliated by the Dungeon of the Doom and he overcame the odds.

Match Rating: ** 

 

Mean Gene interviewed “Team WCW” in Lex Luger, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Sting. Savage said he didn’t care who the third man was but they’re gonna get hurt and they were gonna take the heels down with them. Luger said these outsiders have made a lot of noise and he and Team WCW would represent WCW to the best of our ability. Luger certainly did not live up to his own hype if you see what they did WITH him in this main event!

Luger said actions speak louder than words. Sting said the unknown gave him chills up and down his spine and goosebumps and it did the same to Savage and Luger. He said they’re a team and they were ready. They were all excited and all ready for Hostile Takeover. A very fired up promo by the good guys. The announcers noteD that there was no sign of Eric Bischoff at Bash at the Beach.

 

DDP vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan in a taped fist match for the Lord of the Ring

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Calling this a “taped fist” match was pure false advertising. There was not one taped fist actually used DURING the match and this was the most basic bland match you could think of.

Duggan did the USA chants as DDP freaked out. Duggan shoulder-blocked DDP to the outside as DDP was agitated by USA chants. DDP spat at Duggan and dropped him with a jaw breaker on the top rope.

DDP taped Duggan’s feet on the ring post. DDP punched away at Duggan while he was stuck. Keep in mind, this was the only spot in the match where the tape was actually involved. DDP’s used the tape to tie up Duggan because per the stipulations of the match, you can use the tape. The referee Nick Patrick, the worst referee in the history of the world, then proceeded to free Hacksaw Jim Duggan from this tape…. IN A TAPED FIST MATCH. The ONE SPOT they had involving tape and Patrick ignores it and helped Duggan out of this predicament. Could Patrick do anything right?

Duggan did punches where DDP was stuck in the middle of the ropes and teeter-totted as Duggan repeatedly punched him with DDP selling like crazy. Duggan threw him into the guard rail.. Duggan suplexed DDP into the ring

DDP dropped with him an arm breaker. DDP went up to the top rope but Duggan dropped him on the top rope crotching him. Duggan bounced DDP’s head all over each turnbuckle. Duggan, like a dick, yelled at a cameraman to “get out of my way.” DDP hit the Diamond Cuter for the clean win…what was the point of the taped fist match stipulation?

I guess the point of the stipulation was that Duggan then hit DDP with the taped fist anyway after the match and after he lost FAIR AND SQUARE. Bobby Heenan even called it a cheap shot… AND HE’S RIGHT.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Mean Gene brought in “the little twerp” Jimmy Hart, The Giant and Taskmaster for an interview. Taskmaster and Giant were wrestling Chris Benoit and Arn Anderson of the Four Horsemen on this show. Taskmaster said they can bring all four horsemen out but there was something burning in his heart. The Giant said he’d never consider the Taskmaster the weak link as Taskmaster brought The Giant into WCW. The Giant said again about the horsemen saying they were the elite but he’s the champion. The Giant said he was gonna have horse stew.

Lee Marshall interviewed Benoit and Arn on the ramp. Arn briefly talked about the Outsiders and says they’re gonna find Sting, Luger and Savage rougher or something like that. Arn talked about Taskmaster. Benoit said the Horsemen had tolerated the Dungeon for far too long. He said they were gonna finish off what they started. Benoit eerily said he was gonna leave Taskmaster for dead.

 

“Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock vs “The Nasty Boys” Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags in a four man dog collar match

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I don’t know if this is the first time I’ve noticed it but The Nasty Boys had a shocking WCW theme song. If you want to listen to it on YouTube, it’s called “We’re The Boys” and it is rough! Pun not intended, despite this being a dog collar match!

This PPV was just on a streak of horrible match stipulations. Following the sack of silver dollars on a pole match and a taped fist match that wasn’t even a taped fist match, we had Public Enemy and Nasty Boys in dog collar match. Since this is a Nasty Boys vs Public Enemy match, it went exactly like every other match they’ve had together.

Dog collars were hooked around the necks of each wrestler so two opposing team members would be tied up. This match in the middle of a blood feud where all these teams want to do is fight each other ended up staring with all four men just STARING at each other. It was at least 30 seconds after the bell rang before they actually started to fight.

Of course, they get trash cans. Knobbs and Grunge brawled on the set which was made up like a beach. Sags hit Grunge with a rubber shark which I did laugh at. All four men fight up the stage. Sags used the surf board as a weapon (an actual surf board. Not the surfboard submission hold!)

Of course, Knobbs smashed Grunge in the head with a chair. Completely ugly weapon shots. The brawling wasn’t that bad but I’ve seen this so often from these teams in this series. If you see one match between the Public Enemy and Nasty Boys, you’ve seen all of them.

Rocco did a dive from the top of the lifeguard chair with a big senton. The brawl certainly wasn’t that bad but all of this brawling took place on the entrance ramp away from the fans! So the fans could barely see what was going on.  Rocco got thrown off the top of the lifeguard chair as the structure fell down with him.

Grunge whipped Knobbs with the chain that were linked to each other. A table was thrown at Rocco by someone. It was hard to tell with the camera angle. It could have been Grunge for all I know that threw the table at Rocco!

Sags did a piledriver on the ramp. Rocco did a dive off the guard rail, smashing into Sags and going through a table. This was all shown in a split-screen format and it was all an unpleasant viewing experience, which is putting it mildly.

Dusty said “it’s ain’t over as they don’t want it to be over” as all four men kept going for pin falls! This was not Benoit/Taskmaster in their falls count anywhere match from The Great American Bash where there was one pin fall in the entire match. They all wanted to fight each other so bad that there was constant pin fall attempts!

Grunge sent Knobbs crashing face first into the table. As Grunge choked Knobbs, Rocco went up to the top rope  but Sags used the chain to yank him off the top rope and back into the table. However, he did not crash through the table as initially. Rocco BOUNCED OFF THE TABLE. This proved to be one of the most unbreakable tables I’ve ever seen!

Saggs tried to do a double axe handle on Rocco through the table but they still weren’t able to break the table. Knobbs hung Grunge out to dry over the top rope with the chain. Sags Irish Whipped Rocco into the chain, and Rocco smashed into it as the Nasty Boys got the pin.

OF COURSE, Public Enemy beat their arses after the match to complete no-sell the affects of this match. Sags got put through a table and this whole thing sucked.

Match Rating: ¾*

There was 1% of this match that was good and it was actually after the match was over. Of course Tony asked again who the third man was for the main-event and Bobby recommended that the third man should be the table!

 

Mean Gene talked about Hostile Takeover as he was surrounded by security. In every segment involving this Hostile Takeover, there were dozens of security staff patrolling the arena!

 

Dean Malenko © vs Disco Inferno for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship

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I criminally was not looking forward to this match when I realised Disco Inferno was fighting for the title. As the opening match showcased, you have all of these cruiserweights in your arsenal and the most green cruiserweight possible is the dude fighting Dean Malenko? Say what you will about Disco Inferno, but this match put the dude over like a million bucks.

Disco got the mic and said everyone was welcome to his disco dance party. Malenko punched Disco and threw his arse out of the ring, He beat his arse and bounced him off the ring post. Dean hit a brainbuster but Disco kicked out.

Dean did the headscissors and kicked away at him. Dean hit a back suplex. Remember when Sgt Pittman locked Disco in the Code Red a month ago and he tapped out right away? Well here, Dean did a knee bar (the exact same hold) and Disco refused to give up. Disco was locked in this hold for about a minute and the dancer refused to give, even against the cruiserweight champion. He took this seriously and was determined to see this fight to the end.

Dean worked on the leg and locked on a STF. Dean tried a sunset flip but Disco kicked out. By this point, Disco had not done one move… he may have thrown a punch or a kick here and there but mostly, Dean beat the crap out of him. This was essentially an elongated squash match for a while until Disco finally fought back into the match and punched away at Dean.

Disco flapjacked Dean on the top rope. Disco hit a sloppy facebuster for a 2 count. This was a facebuster which was like the Skull Crushing Finale. Dean locked on a long submission.

Disco hit a neckbreaker and goes for the cover but Dean gets his foot on the rope. Disco tried a back drop and Disco hits another neckbreaker. He went to dance but realised what he was doing and went for the cover but Dean kicks out. He started to dance but then realised that winning this title was more important than dancing and cut out the cockiness to try to win.

Dean hit springboard dropkick. Disco tried a small package but was unable to get the win. Dean takes Disco’s head off with a clothesline. Dean then hit a tiger powerbomb and then locked on the Texas Clover Leaf for the win.

This was boring for a long time but it ended up being a really good match. They booked a very simple but effective story of Dean Malenko beating the daylights of Disco with the dancer refusing to give up. There are very few people in WCW at this point that can get the heat on someone better than Dean Malenko and who better to deliver this beating on Disco than Dean? Disco demonstrated that was he was able withstand this beating and made Dean work to retain his title. Honestly this was the best match Disco Inferno has had so far and it’s the most he’s looked as an actual star. This gets a thumbs up!

Match Rating: ***

 

Joe Gomez vs Steve “Mongo” McMichael w/Debra McMichael

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This match DOES NOT get a thumbs up! I’d watched Mongo in two matches before this one since he started wrestling in WCW. Mongo’s had this reputation for years as one of the worst wrestlers of all time and having watched those two matches at The Great American Bash and Nitro, I didn’t particularly see what was so terrible about him. He seemed as good as a man with two matches in the bag would be. He was in tag matches and he did OK in the matches that he was in. This was his first singles match in WCW… and this honestly should have been his last.

Mongo was pretty bad in this match but it was mostly down to whenever he had to sell for Joe Gomez. When he was chopping away at Joe and he was “getting the heat”, he wasn’t too bad. He wasn’t any good but he wasn’t like embarrassing or anything. Mongo barely could sell a thing or simply just didn’t wanna sell anything for poor Joe Gomez.

The best thing about this new heel Mongo character though is that previously, Mongo had a little chihuahua with him at commentary. Now, it has been noted that he’s upgraded to a poodle! It’s a small thing but I loved that.

Mongo barely sold. Gomez did a crossbody for a 2 count. Mongo went from barely selling to not-selling at all at points. The only time he did so I guess was when Gomez forced him to take the crossbody! Gomez does the head-smashing and Mongo just “mule kicked” him in the balls.

Mongo did a camel clutch and had this big grin on his face. Mongo did a sleeper hold to which Gomez got out of with a jawbreaker. Mongo sold this comically by feeling his face and then falling down as if he was just a ironing board falling over. The one time he tried to actually sell and he over-did it!

Mongo hit the reverse neckbreaker. Mongo tried a Figure Four but Gomez reversed it into a small package roll-up. Mongo did a scoop slam. Mongo tried a piledriver and Gomez reversed it by thrusting Mongo over his shoulders. However, Mongo went over too early and Gomez really had to heave and deep down to get Mongo off of him and over his shoulders. Sometimes you forget that Mongo was a massive former American Football Player. Asking Joe Gomez to hurl Mongo off his shoulders was a tall order.

Gomez did some karate chops and dropkicks but Mongo kept getting up. Gomez went for a sunset flip but Mongo fell down, tried to improvise by hooking the legs and then just went over. Mongo hit a tombstone piledriver for the win.

Match Rating: -1/4*

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This next segment had to be the best Mean Gene Okerlund interview segment so far in the Nitro series. I wouldn’t say of all time as we’ve got a moment a few years in the future also involving Ric Flair that will surely be the best! Mean Gene interviewed Ric Flair, Miss Elizabeth and Woman. Mean Gene gazed into Woman’s eyes and was lost at the train of thought. I love this mini-storyline of Mean Gene falling in love with Woman. Mean Gene had a go at Woman for distracting him from doing his job. Mean Gene blamed her for him not being professional! This is the great irony of this! I’ve really turned the corner on Woman during these shows as well. She played this heel seductive manager role very well here with Ric. Her dynamic with the Horsemen was pretty great.

Ric Flair said the Horsemen were going four and four tonight. Ric Flair was dancing and yelling and he was on fire with this promo. He did the la cucaracha. He said Konnan was the man with a 1000 holds but he was facing a man with unlimited knowledge of this business. It was somewhat confusing that he talked about Konnan being the man of 1000 holds, right after a Dean Malenko match!

Elizabeth talked about a great big party. Woman had Mean Gene stuttering as he was saying “at a p…pp… private party.” Ric told Savage to keep looking at the TV as Elizabeth will never be with him again. This was a great Ric Flair promo. Mean Gene admitted he found Woman attractive but he didn’t approve of who she hung around with in a line which didn’t age well with the benefit of hindsight. Woman called him out on it saying he wanted her bad and he didn’t care about who she hung around with. Mean Gene then nearly dropped the mic. This is the BEST! Woman, through seduction and seeming Jedi mind tricks, was able to stop Mean Gene dead in his tracks as he dropped the mic. This was… superb television!

 

Konnan © vs Ric Flair w/Miss Elizabeth and Woman for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship

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Konnan wrestled Ric to the ground to kick off the match. Ric gave Konnan a little shove to the chest and then Konnan slapped him and Ric fell down, stunned at the audacity of this man! Konnan and Ric had a good old wrestle as they grappled down to the mat exchanging holds. Konnan did a woo and a few people booed.

Konnan locked a half-surfboard on Flair, putting his foot in Flair’s back. Ric going all the way up would have been a sight to see but we only got the half-surfboard submission! Konnan was able to Gorilla Press Ric over his shoulders, which is quite impressive since Konnan is not particularly tall but he did possess a broad body at this time.

Konnan hit powerful chops and hit another Gorilla Press slam. Konnan somehow felt the need to do the clothesline over the top rope and send himself and Ric over the top. To I guess prove himself right from his promo earlier, Konnan did a clothesline to Flair from the apron and knocked down Elizabeth in the process! Say what you will about his actions, but at least Konnan followed up on a promise to hurt the women!

Woman somehow shook the bottom rope to send Konnan flying off the top rope. Ric and Konnan battled with chops and punches. Ric distracted the referee and Woman booted Konnan right in the balls and EVERYBODY LOST THEIR MINDS. The fans were going crazy for Woman booting Konnan down below and this was RIGHT AFTER Konnan sent Elizabeth crashing to the floor. To this crowd, Konnan was a complete heel getting his comeuppance by another woman!

Woman clawed at Konnan on the outside as Ric Flair went to kiss Elizabeth on the hand. Ric suplexed Konnan and after four attempts was still unable to put him away with a pin fall. Konnan fired back with chops to the point where even Bobby said that Konnan was showing him something. Konnan did a springboard dropkick to Ric. Konnan tried a sunset flip but Flair punched him down.

Flair tried a Figure Four Leg Lock which led to a Konnan doing a small package for a near fall. Konnan tried his own Figure Four Leg Lock as the fans started to buzz. Konnan did a bulldog for a 2 count. Konnan did a roll-up clothesline for another 2 count. Konnan reversed a hip toss into an abdominal stretch like cradle which I actually think was unique.

Elizabeth went up to the apron to distract referee Nick Patrick. I think Elizabeth jumped the gun a little bit because Woman then got up on the apron and the fans started to buzz again. Elizabeth argued with the referee for about 30 seconds as the dudes just continue wrestling. They don’t notice or react to what the referee, Woman and Elizabeth were all doing which was weird. Konnan continued to work in the ring and Woman was standing there with no attempt by Ric and Konnan to make their way to Woman. Finally Flair went to talk to the referee and THEN Woman made her move and hit Konnan with her shoe. I think Elizabeth was the one that screwed up for jumping her cue so I don’t put this on Nick Patrick, Konnan or anyone else but it just seemed like a complete mess.

Ric got the pin and even had to get his foot on the TOP ROPE for leverage, even after a shoe shot! The fans cheered.

Match Rating: ***1/4 This was close to 3 and a half stars but the finish and certain spots brought it down.

 

Mean Gene was shown ears-dropping on the Outsiders. He claimed he heard the 3rd man. He said he sounded familiar but it muffled! He said it was somebody that we’ve seen and heard before but it was distorted. Mean Gene recognised the voice but couldn’t put the pieces together. When it is revealed later who it is, it’s actually preposterous that Mean Gene wasn’t able to recognise this guy’s voice! This man had a distinguishable voice, which surely MEAN GENE OKERLUND of all people could immediately recognise!

 

Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit representing the Four Horsemen vs The Giant and Taskmaster representing the Dungeon of Doom. If the Four Horsemen won, one of them would get a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match on WCW Nitro

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This was such a well booked tag team match. WCW really went out of their way to put The Giant over. He was the WCW World Heavyweight Champion so he obviously need to be put over big. Well this match in particular did wonders for The Giant as building him up as a big, powerful giant.

The Dungeon jumped the Horsemen before the bell. Taskmaster clocked Anderson with the table. Mongo ran down and smacked Giant with the briefcase but Giant chased him off. The Horsemen used this to their advantage and isolated Taskmaster at ringside. Benoit and Taskmaster fought in the ring as Giant makes his way back to the ring.

I do like that they played Taskmaster up as the supposed weak link but the Horsemen felt the need to double team him before the bell as they did actually him as a threat all along! Subtle but a good way to put over Taskmaster. It’s almost like he booked it! 😉

The Horsemen beat down Taskmaster near and around their corner. The Horsemen did frequent tags to each other to stay fresh and keep Taskmaster occupied. The Giant saved Taskmaster from a DDT with an apron clothesline which the fans popped for. The Giant made his way into the ring illegally. Benoit dove into him and Giant just caught him and threw him at Arn to a thunderous pop. These fans loved The Giant wrecking havoc and destroying the Horsemen!

The Horsemen continued and continued to get the heat on Taskmaster as Giant was just begging to make the tag. The fans are begging for The Giant to make the hot tag. The Giant was such a babyface in this match. Taskmaster got in a low blow as the fans start to buzz and buzz even more at the thought of the hot tag and then Benoit like a dick just cut Taskmaster off!

Taskmaster catapulted Arn into Benoit and finally The Giant got the hot tag. The fans erupted like Eyjafjallajökull this tag was so hot. Benoit and Taskmaster fled the ring as Arn was then left alone with Giant as he was running wild. Benoit and Taskmaster brawled up the ramp and up to the announce table. Giant was suplexing and beating up Arn and eventually, Giant chokeslammed Arn and pinned him as the fans went nuts.

The booking of The Giant was perfect for this match. He was booked as a complete babyface, despite being a heel, and he was charismatic enough that he could pull it off.

I was thinking about this right before I started writing down this review but The Giant in 1996 was exactly like Braun Strowman about 20 years later when he was getting his big singles push. Both of them were shown to be destroyers of men and were basically unbeatable. They got over with the fans and the people were into them and with The Giant, WCW made that count. The Giant was booked as an actual Giant. With Braun though, they turned Braun babyface and I think Vince McMahon and WWE feel the need to book Braun not as the WCW’s Giant but more like WWE’s Big Show.

If Vince spent a bit of time re-watching what WCW did right with The Giant when they first brought him in, he could see matches like this where The Giant just being an all-conquering Giant worked on TV and worked with this crowd. The stuff they’re doing with Braun right now is really tame compared to what he could be capable of doing. I know it’s weird to talk about Braun Strowman during a WCW review but it really struck my mind. This series is also to learn about what worked in the past and see how it could be transitioned into modern wrestling so I think the comparison is justified!

Taskmaster emerged from the fight backstage I guess but then Benoit flew off a structure out of nowhere to attack Taskmaster. The Giant just left as Benoit was kicking Sullivan’s arse. Benoit dropped Taskmaster with a reverse suplex.

Suddenly, Woman came down to stop Benoit as she pleads with Benoit to stop. Woman was uncharacteristically distraught and then The Giant came back down. Benoit grabbed the hand of Woman and left with her as Arn was still laid out in the ring when all of this was going down. I think he may actually have been hurt by this match as he was down for a really long time. Giant literally carried Taskmaster to the back as the fans applauded The Giant.

This worked to get The Giant over and yes, this is the start of the infamous Chris Benoit/Woman/Kevin Sullivan love triangle angle.

Match Rating: **3/4

 

Sting, Randy Savage and Lex Luger vs Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and the third man in a hostile takeover six man tag team match

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Here we go. The hostile takeover match which, to WCW’s credit, they built it up as an historic event. They had this awesome recap video of the whole program featuring the Outsiders from when Scott Hall arrived all up to this point. What was awesome is that the third man is just built up as… a third man. He’s not revealed as the leader or he’s not supposed to be a higher power or whatever. He was just another outsider in this storyline at this point.

This video package was so awesome as the Outsiders music played really hyping this up as a history making event. Michael Buffer did the ring introductions. These Outsiders looked so cool in this gear. There was only two of them in Kevin Nash and Scott Hall without the third man as Buffer apologised as they were only two of them. The fans are going nuts for the Outsiders by the way.

Sting’s music suddenly played as Mean Gene Okerlund came down to ringside. Mean Gene talked to Buffer and then grabbed the mic. He wanted to talk to the Outsiders and confront them as he doesn’t see the third man. Scott said that “Scheme Gene” knew too much already and all he needed to know was that the third man was here and he was ready. Nash confirmed this and claimed they’ve got enough to handle it right now. Mean Gene was ushered to the back. The WCW commentators are taken back at the audacity of these Outsiders! This was all great!

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Lex Luger, Sting and Randy Savage all come out to represent WCW. There’s a WWE Mattel set with these three in this gear from Bash at the Beach. I’m gonna try to find it as I love the idea of all of three of them in matching face paint. They weren’t just three dudes fighting for WCW. They were three true allies that painted their faces to prove it!

Bobby denied being the third guy himself with the though of Bobby “The Hollywood” Heenan rushing through my brain! Hall threw the tooth pick and Luger slapped Hall to get things going.

Luger hit a running forearm and knocked down Nash. Savage and Sting stopped a 2 on 1 assault on Luger. Luger was somehow knocked out as his head was crushed in a Kevin Nash/Stinger splash sandwich. They even bring out a stretcher for Luger as Hall tried to get at Luger. Luger was already out of the match. As a viewer at the time, you would surely be wondering if this is some big swerve by Luger so he can beat up on Sting and Savage later. Is he working for the Outsiders as if you recall, Luger only returned to WCW from the WWF less than a year ago.

It’s a clever way to hype up Luger as the third man. Spoiler alert… the third man was not Luger. With the benefit of hindsight, Luger was really buried with the way this match was booked! He was knocked out in about two minutes of the main-event after claiming that we were going to get the very best of him!

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Hall suckered Sting into the ring. Sting tackled Hall and beat him up on the ground as the fans goes nuts. Sting hits the atomic drop and bulldog. Savage tried a double axe handle but got cut off. Kevin Nash did the snake eyes drop on the top turnbuckle. DUSTY REPEATS RAPIDLY “WHO BE BAD NOW” at the time where Nash was beating up Savage which was strange since Dusty was supposed to be Team WCW!

It’s insane how much the announcers were into this though. Tony, Dusty and Bobby were super pumped, cheering for WCW and calling the biggest match in WCW history! There was one screwed up spot where Nash tried an elbow drop but Savage tried to move but was not fast enough or didn’t know if he was supposed to move because Nash landed right on Savage’s head with this elbow drop.

Sting tried a sunset flip but Nash powered out and choke-lifted him up and slammed him down. Scott did a fallaway slam. Nash hit a big boot as he smashed away at Sting with straight up punches. Sting dropped him with a low dropkick to the knee as Nash mentioned on Nitrohe had “bad knees”. Yeah even in 1996, Kevin Nash had problems with his knees.

Sting tried a small package but only got a 1 count. Hall did the abdominal stretch, and grabbed Nash for the leverage spot. At least this referee Randy Anderson reacted whenever Hall exerted himself to show off the leverage, unlike Nick Patrick during that DDP match on the go-home Nitro.

Sting almost got the tag but Hall cut him off. Savage went nuts and grabbed a chair to use but the referee tried to restrain him and calm him down. Sting sold this beating like he was on the verge of death! He was wobbling, in a drunken-like state, gassed and this beating was executed really well. Sting was such a good seller.

Sting hit a big boot and fired away at Nash. He delivered lefts and rights to Nash. He knocks down Hall and he jumped over seven foot tall Kevin Nash and got to tag in Savage at last! Savage beat up the Outsiders. He fired at Nash and delivered a double axe handle to Hall on the outside. He was going super fast as Savage just exploded onto the scene.

Savage hit a double axe handle but Nash cut him off with a low blow. And then…

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Who should come out but the “Immortal” Hulk Hogan. Hogan had been away from WCW since shortly after the Doomsday Cage match. He walked down to the ring and the announcers were all excited about this. Bobby Heenan then dared to ask the question of which side Hogan was on!

People talk about that line from Bobby Heenan as people believed it spoiled what happened next. The more I think about this, the more it made complete sense for the character of Bobby Heenan to say this. He’s been feuding with Hulk Hogan for what must have been a decade now since the WWF. He never trusted Hogan so when he walked down that ring, he can’t help but question Hogan’s loyalties since he hated him.

Hogan ripped off the shirt as the Outsiders fled to the outside of the ring. They had faces of fear and cowardice at the sight of Hogan fighting for the sake of WCW. Then Hogan walked towards the top left corner (at the least the top left corner in the view of the hard cam) and he put his arms on the ropes. Hogan took a deep breath, and Hulk Hogan hit the Leg Drop on Randy Savage. Hogan stood up with this big smile on his face. The announcers and the fans all realised that Hulk Hogan… was the third man.

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Obviously, I knew everything that was going to happen so I didn’t watch much of what Hogan did as I just watched everyone else and their reactions. The fans, the referee putting his hands up in disbelief and Sting watching on. Hogan delivered a few more Leg Drops and Sting was floored with a punch by Scott Hall. Hogan made “the cover” and Hall did the count as Tony refused to even acknowledge it.

In what seems like minutes after it all happens, Sting was shown concerned for a decimated Savage as he carried him out of the ring, Savage is unmoving after these leg drops of doom as Sting and the referee helped him

The fans threw garbage at the ring as Hogan just smirked. One beer can came inches from hitting Hogan right in the head. It came so close as the trash continued to pour into the ring the fans were that appalled.

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Mean Gene came down and asked what in the world was Hogan thinking. Everything about the promo Hulk Hogan cut here was surreal to hear in all honesty. When I was watching WWE, WCW had been gone for years and Hulk Hogan was always a babyface. I’d heard this promo before but listening to it after months of campy Hulk Hogan babyface promos seem incredible.

Hogan said the first thing Mean Gene needed to do was tell the people to shut up if he wanted to hear what Hogan had to say and the fans boo more. Mean Gene said this made him sick to his stomach. Hogan said that this is the future of wrestling. He said you can call this the New World Order of wrestling. He said these two men (Nash and Hall) came from a great company up North and everyone was thinking who the third man was. Hogan said who knows more about that organisation up North than him!

He said he made people rich up there and when it all came down to pass, the name Hogan got bigger than the whole organisation. He said “Billionaire Ted” wanted to talk Turkey and he promised him millions of dollars, world calibre matches and movies. He said he was bored and the Outsiders are what he wanted as his friends. He said these two men are the new blood.

Hogan said not only were they gonna take over, they would destroy everything in their power. Hogan said all of this crap (the trash) in the ring represented the fans. He said for two years he held his head high and did everything for the charities, the kids and he finally told the fans to stick it. He said if it weren’t for Hulk Hogan, they wouldn’t be here and Eric would still be selling meat from Minneapolis. Hogan said watcha gonna do when the nWo runs wild on you. Hogan mocked the fans with the Hogan ear thing. Tony told Hogan to go straight to hell and that was the end of the show.

Segment Rating: *****

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There’s SO much I could say about all of this. With the way this was executed and the way the stars were aligned for this big reveal to go down, this was a perfect angle. I mean it is possible Sting could have been an interesting third man and there were other names like Bret Hart, Lex Luger… Mabel apparently. However, Hulk Hogan fit the bill better than anybody.

Hulk Hogan desperately needed to turn and he was the perfect man to make this angle work. The problem down the road is that this angle worked TOO well but of course, that’s a story for another time.

This to me was the greatest heel turn of all time on the grounds of the impact of it, the execution, the build towards it and really the historic nature of it. WCW and Eric Bischoff took a MASSIVE risk in turning Hulk Hogan. Vince McMahon was never going to turn Hulk in the WWF but for WCW, they had enough big stars and Hogan was at the perfect time in his career that a heel turn made all of the sense in the world.

Hulk Hogan realised it, Eric Bischoff realised it and like I said, it worked really well. The promo Hogan cut here was really well done for the initial New World Order promo and talking about how he did everything for the kids and he wanted millions of dollars. Hogan now had years with a lot more ammunition as aheel and as a fan, you would have really wanted to know what Hogan had to say after all of this time as the good guy. It was a massive coup for WCW in the ratings and a big move to turn him heel.

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Finally, we are at the nWo era of WCW if you will. It took us a long time but we’ve got a new direction for WCW and a unique changing of the way the show was booked, for better or for worse. Of course, the Retro Express will be continuing with the reviews of WCW Nitro as we get into the meat of this new big angle with the nWo. We hope you continue to join us on this big ride… to Hog Wild. XD

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #42 (JULY 1ST 1996) – THE FOUR HORSEMEN TEAM UP FOR THE FIRST TIME ON WCW NITRO

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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Last week, the Outsiders returned to interfere in the WCW tag team title match with Sting and Lex Luger defending the straps against Harlem Heat and the Steiner Brothers. The match stopped as 20 security guards enter the ring and blocked off 75% of the ring but somehow, Booker T as able to roll-up Lex Luger to win the tag titles for Harlem Heat. The Outsiders have now added a little fuel to the fire of their six man tag team match against Sting, Luger and “Macho Man” Randy Savage at Bash at the Beach. We also still have no idea who the third man is who will fight alongside Scott Hall and Kevin Nash

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This Nitro I’m about to review really wasn’t anything special, although it had Nash and Hall involved in what was seemingly a big go-home angle for the PPV. We’ll get to that but I have more pressing matters when it comes to this WWE Network.

Let me explain what happened in the weekend I watched this episode of Nitro. I watched Nitro on the Saturday Night and NXT UK: TakeOver Blackpool II on the Sunday. One of these shows was a pre-recorded event from 23 years ago and the other one was a live stream. Let’s establish that as I explain what happened.

I sit down to watch Nitro and literally 10 minutes into the show, buffering problems galore started. It was stopping every 5 seconds and I even went to the trouble of pausing it for a long period of time. This was 10 MINUTES into a 1 hour and 30 minute wrestling show. I restart the opening match and at the moment where Rick Steiner is about to get a hot tag, the video stopped ALL together.

I got so mad. I shut the PS4 off. It worked with minimal issues for the next 20 minutes or so. Then it stopped all together with Randy Savage vs Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and I simply stopped again and walked away. I gave up and I had no way around this. I walked away for a couple of hours, went for a walk, I did other things and then I came back to watch the rest of this episode many hours later.

I eventually finished the episode but this episode stopped and started OVER AND OVER AND OVER again from here on out. I just sucked it up and dealt with it. I seriously came so close to skipping this episode completely. If it weren’t for the Outsiders being involved in the main-event angle, I would have just stopped it as soon as Flair got the pin in that Horsemen main-event. This was unbearable and almost unwatchable.

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Now the day after, I watched NXT UK: TakeOver Blackpool II. I was concerned because I booked time off from work to watch the Royal Rumble live as I always do this. I’m concerned because if these problems continued for this live NXT UK show, I won’t be able to watch the Royal Rumble. Low and behold, I watched this live stream of NXT UK: TakeOver Blackpool on the WWE Network and it worked PERFECTLY.

For 90 minutes or whatever, Nitro was horrible with buffering and then for 2 and a half hours, I had zero buffering problems when watching NXT UK THE NEXT DAY. I am sure this is a concentrated WWE conspiracy against WCW, even after all of this time after WCW died. This has to be a plan to stick it to WCW by making all of the WCW content unwatchable. Every one of the last three episodes of Nitro I’ve watched had problems and yet NXT UK worked FINE LIVE.

If it’s not that, than it is a concentrated WWE conspiracy against me! YOU BE THE JUDGE.

…..let’s review Nitro.

 

Date: July 1st 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Landover, Maryland

Rating: 3.3

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan

 

DDP interrupted Tony and Larry at commentary. DDP cut them off saying the Lord of the Ring was stolen and demanded everyone got strip-searched, vowing to get to the bottom of it. He said everyone was jealous and then left.

They recapped the main-event angle from last week and Larry Zybsko cut this big promo on the Outsiders about how if he were still wrestling, the Outsiders would be no problem. Larry was really not impressive on commentary at all and honestly, had a terrible night as a commentator for the hour he was on. Larry did actually drop the line of “There will be a New World Order this Sunday” which was a sign of things to come…

 

“Harlem Heat” Booker T © and Stevie Ray (c) vs “The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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I love how Sting and Lex Luger got screwed last week out of the tag team titles. When 20 security guards were in the ring facing down the Outsiders, Booker got a roll-up and pin to win the tag titles with Stevie even holding Luger’s foot down. Sitng and Luger got royally shafted and this week, the STEINER BROTHERS get the tag title match against Harlem Heat. The Steiner Brothers weren’t even involved with the finish, but here they were getting a tag team title match before Sting and Lex Luger.

This match started with Scott showing some lovely amateur wrestling. Scott took over Booker with a fireman’s carry slam and hit a sweet belly to belly suplex. Booker got sent to the outside with a clothesline by Scott, followed up with Rick taking out Stevie.  Security was literally sat outside of the ring at ringside anticipating the Outsiders.

The Four Horsemen were shown wining and dining, watching this match. Stevie took control of Rick in the ring. Rick hit a solid German Suplex right on the shoulders of Stevie. Scott tried a backslide and eventually got the big man over for a 2 count. Stevie nearly got dropped right on the head with a over-head belly-to-belly suplex. Col Robert Parker came down to ringside.

Booker tried a leapfrog and despite landing awkwardly on Rick, Rick caught him and slammed him down. It was a tremendous jump by Booker to jump that high and good work from Rick to catch him and slam him.

Booker turned Rick inside out with a side kick. Booker hit a crossbody from the top rope for a 2 count. Rick kept getting called the dog-faced gremlin by the commentators for some reason. Rick hit a belly to belly from the top rope and Scott hit a tiger powerbomb for a 2 count.

Ray hit a kick to the back of Scott and Booker hit a super kick to take control to get the heat for Harlem Heat. Booker hit a big splash and hit the face of Scott There was a double clothesline which led to Rick getting the hot tag. Rick hit a powerslam. Scott hit the Frankesnteiner on Booker but Scott was not the legal man. Rick hits a bulldog and Steiners tried the Steinerizer but Parker took out Rick on the apron. Booker pinned Rick for the win.

It was a decent match but totally forgettable on Nitro. Col. Robert Parker suddenly with Harlem Heat seemed very weird, especially considering I think Parker was the reason they lost Sensational Sherri as a manager. Parker and Sherri got hitched and she left Harlem Heat as their manager. A very weird combination of a tag team and manager.

 

Mean Gene interviewed the Four Horsemen, Woman, Elizabeth and Debra McMichael. There were seven people gathered together for the heels and they all got a chance to talk, including the women. They showed the Joe Gomez beat-down from a month ago and Mongo interfering last week. Debra put over her husband, talking about making more money here than in the NFL. Elizabeth talked about having a great time and having Randy Savage’s money. Woman talked about having a full-time driver. Arn says they run the professional wrestling world. Benoit said he was the crippler who was “silent but violent.” Mongo said money makes the monkey dance. Ric dares Savage to comes after them and woos. That’s pretty much what each of them said. A surprisingly bland promo from the Four Horsemen.

 

Disco Inferno vs Kurasawa

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This week for Disco Inferno, there was a disco ball shining bright over the ring as they revealed Eric Bischoff was back for the second hour. He’d missed the last two weeks due to the Kevin Nash powerbomb from The Great American Bash.

Disco cut a promo, asking the fans if they wanted him to dance. He said to hit his music and so of course, Kurasawa’s music hit. I will give credit to Larry Zybsko for telling Disco Inferno to disco to this! This Kurasawa song was not for dancing!

Kurasawa kicked Disco in the head and chopped him down. He beat down Disco Inferno during the match and keep in mind, Disco Inferno is challenging for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship at Bash at the Beach!

Disco pulled off fake martial arts and the fans laughed. Kurasawa delivered kicks to the leg and smashed into Disco with a running elbow smash in the corner. I did love the comedy of Disco kicking the steel steps in frustration and then tending to his foot.

Kurasawa hit a Samoan Drop and then the Disco Fever song played in the middle of the match. Kurasawa is all distracted by the music and then a man appears on the entrance ramp dressed like Disco and dancing. The Disco Ball from above the ring is lowered down. I don’t know what was in this Disco Ball but Disco Inferno used the levitating Disco Ball and smashes it at Kurasawa, and Kurasawa sold this like he was hit with a wrecking ball. Disco threw a simple disco ball and got the pinfall. This was to build up Disco Inferno challenging for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship.

By the way, this referee didn’t see a disco ball levitating down to the ring as the Disco Fever song played? Was he that mesmerised of this random dancing dude on the ramp?

This sucked. 95% of this sucked. 5% was acceptable because at least some of Disco’s comedy was actually funny.

 

Scotty Riggs vs DDP

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DDP questioned some of the camera crew and and someone who Larry referred to as “some other geek.” DDP questioned the fans and the other staff about his ring that he’d been unable to find. Hacksaw cut an inset promo on DDP denying taking the ring.

DDP hit a back suplex. DDP locked on an abdominal stretch, grabbing the ropes whenever he could for leverage. I love how Nick Patrick doesn’t react at all when DDP bounces vigorously up and down to assert his leverage on the ropes. Then DDP stopped all together and only then does Patrick waddle over to DDP to check his hands on the rope. If not already established last week, Nick Patrick is a really bad referee.

DDP hit a big clothesline after almost being rolled up by Riggs. DDP hit a pumphandle backbreaker. DDP goes for the pumphandle slam but Riggs reverses it into a school boy for a near fall. Riggs hits a springboard splash to the outside. Riggs did a crossbody headbutt but DDP put his foot on the rope off the cover. DDP reversed a scoop slam into the Diamond Cutter and got the pin, to which Larry called a “nice block” by DDP.

This was another absolute nothing DDP match on Nitro where the only thing that gets a pop is the Diamond Cutter, which is getting more and more over each week.

Mean Gene interviewed DDP. DDP said everyone was jealous. DDP told Duggan to meet him at the Bash but he doesn’t care as he wanted the ring. DDP searched Mean Gene himself for the ring.

 

“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs Greg “The Hammer” Valentine

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The only really noteworthy thing about this match was the finish. I know the Nitro debut of Greg “The Hammer” Valentine should be a talking point but we have to talk about the finish as yes, it did play into the fireworks for the second hour of Nitro.

Greg hit a back suplex and both men were down. Greg was in control of a couple of minutes and the referee yelled at them to take it home, because the dynamite timer started at the bottom of the TV screen for the viewers. Apparently they had already set it to go off at a particular moment, so they had to get the end of the match done before the fireworks go off.

Almost as if it was voodoo or as if nothing had happened, Savage gets himself up. He rose up like the Undertaker as if he was invulnerable. He runs up to the top rope and hits the elbow drop and gets the pin conveniently before the big fireworks go off for the second hour!

It was also noteworthy that Tony and Larry were talking about who the third man was and Larry Zybsko speculates that it was funny Greg “The Hammer” Valentine came into WCW as they were speculating who the third man was. I mean never mind Sting or Lex Luger or Bret Hart or all the other names that were considered for the third man role. No, Larry thought it would end up being Greg “The Hollywood” Valentine instead!

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Eric Bischoff was shown on screen for the second hour and he talked about how he’s glad to be back. Bischoff said Nash didn’t scare anybody so who were they trying to impress? He said Savage, Sting and Luger aren’t afraid of you. He said we’re all gonna be there on Sunday and he kinda quieted down to the point where we could barely hear anything from him!

Bischoff talked about how WCW was not gonna back down when the fans popped for Scott Hall and Kevin Nash coming down the steps with popcorn and drinks. Bischoff said they’re not scaring anybody, which was PROVEN correct as the fans were cheering for the Outsiders and giving them high fives! They loved the Outsiders in the building!

The security told them to get out here. They revealed they bought tickets as Nash exclaimed “we came to see the big boys.” They offered them popcorn which made me laugh. There’s more of Nash in particular to come which we’ll get to….

 

The Giant © w/Jimmy Hart vs John Tenta for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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Could you imagine if you’re Kevin Nash and Scott Hal waltzing into Nitro to watch the “big boys” and the first match is THE GIANT VS JOHN TENTA?

The Giant headbutted and chopped Tenta. Tenta fired away with clobbering punches. Giant floored him with a big clothesline and did some stomps in the corner. The Giant scoop slammed Tenta with ease and Heenan even said he did it easily.

Giant did a nerve hold which looked like he was messaging his neck rather than actually applying a hold. Giant beat on him for a while and rammed his backside into the gut of Tenta.

Giant tried a big splash but Tenta cut him off with a big boot. Tenta tried a middle rope clothesline and dropped Giant with a dropkick. Yeah, JOHN TENTA was the house of fire near the end of this title match! He whipped out dropkicks and middle rope flying clotheslines like it was nothing!

Of course there’s shenanigans as Taskmaster, Jimmy Hart and Big Bubba run down. Tenta overcame them all but The Giant chokeslamed Tenta for the win. Say what you will but I felt a weird joy in seeing John Tenta getting the chance to run wild on the Dungeon of Doom! John Tenta of all people in WCW getting a big chance to be Hulk Hogan for a minute or so!

Bubba shaved half of Tenta’s beard. This Giant vs Tenta was better thantheir last match on Nitro together.

 

Mean Gene interviewed the Dungeon of Doom. Jimmy said that was an example of what was gonna happen to the Horsemen at Bash at the Beach. . Bubba said he was gonna hurt Tenta at Bash at the Beach. The Giant said Tenta’s first major mistake was leaving the Dungeon of Doom as the chokeslam is the price you’ll have to pay and Bubba was gonna shave the rest of his body, which was a weird threat!

The Giant said he’ll always have the title. Taskmaster started to talk and then he appeared to be looking at the Outsiders. Giant took over and said the fire burning in Taskmaster’s soul is something you should fear or something. To me this was decent delivery of nothing dialogue for The Giant. This really didn’t get me invested in the Dungeon vs Horsemen tag team match at all.

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They showed a video package of Rey Mysterio Jr featuring exclusively the two matches he’s had with Dean Malenko! Quite the highlight reel for Rey Mysterio, showing the two matches that he lost while with WCW! They stopped it as they showed a woman running from the announce booth.

They showed the Outsiders walking through the crowd and grabbing the mic. They bust through the guard rail as security surrounded them. Team WCW came out as all of them were held back. Sting, Lex Luger and Randy Savage were all there. The Steiners were there too. Even a lot of heels were there as The Giant, DDP, Big Bubba and Taskmaster were all there defending WCW too. The fans chanted DIESEL as the Outsiders eventually left.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Duggan talked about going on the toilet and relieving himself, which was a weird way of putting it! He found DDP’s ring in the bathroom and called it a feminine ring. Duggan was talking trash about this ring when HE WAS IN THE TOURNAMENT FIGHTING FOR IT at Slamboree. Hacksaw said DDP was not thinking right as DDP bust into the locker room. Duggan dropped the ring on the floor and as DDP went to pick it up, Hacksaw hit him with the loaded taped fist like a complete dick. Hacksaw Jim Duggan is a horrible babyface in my eyes! This poor man DDP is looking for this ring, which he earned fair and square, and Duggan is being a complete dick about it.

 

“The Rock N Roll Express” Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson, Joe Gomez and The Renegade vs “The Four Horsemen” Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Chris Benoit and Steve “Mongo” McMichael

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A bit of a boring match with a really sloppy finish. I love where Arn got punched in the corner from every babyface being bounced around like a ping pong ball! Watching Arn sell like crazy for the babyfaces is always fun to me!

It broke out into an eight man brawl at the start of the match that the babyfaces won. Ric and Ricky locked up. Ricky did a hurricanrana as the Rock N Roll Express did a double dropkick to Flair. Ric literally collapsed to tag in Arn!

Arn got turned inside out with a Gibson enziguiri. Benoit got a big pop when he got tagged in. Benoit chopped away at Renegade. Renegade ran wild with clotheslines and then Joe sent Flair to the outside with a punch. Gomez actually won on Flair for a while with a back drop among other moves.

Flair got back into the match with a vintage thumb to the eye. Benoit yelled at Joe “do you know who you’re missing with” as he beat on Gomez, who was the one getting beat down for the heat.

Mongo finally got tagged in and he was not too bad. He was not particularly good but he took his time. He did very little but very basic moves. Mongo smashed Joe with a clobbering blow to which Heenan laughed his head off at!

He slapped away at Joe. Arn hit the spinebuster which Eric called a side-walk slam which was broken up. Benoit eventually got fired up and punched at Gomez with fury.

Mongo wrestled for a bit. Gomez was in the ring for a long time/ Renegade didn’t look like he was tagged in but I guess he was as he started beating up the heels and running wild. The Rock N Roll Express ran in as well as the babyfaces took over.

I have no idea what happened with this finish. The Renegade is working way too fast as he usually did. Even Dolph Ziggler was telling this guy to slow down! He goes for a dive off the top rope and some kind of miscommunication happened, where either Mongo was supposed to hit Renegade in mid-air with a briefcase or Renegade was not supposed to jump and so Mongo improvised. What actually happened was Renegade went off the top rope when Mongo threw a briefcase at him while he’s in mid-flight. Mongo missed with this throw and think of the irony of that. The NFL player was unable to hit a moving target when throwing a briefcase. So Mongo missed the throw but Renegade still smashed head-first into the mat to sell for it. He didn’t fall down on his back or even on his front. He landed right on his neck as he tried to sell this briefcase shot, which didn’t even hit him. This was one of the worst screwed up finishes in the Nitro series so far.

Flair locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock for the pinfall I victory I believe.

 

Mean Gene interviewed the Four Horsemen again. I have no idea why Mean Gene felt the need to talk to these guys again. Mongo yelled about not caring about Chicago and that the Horsemen was his team and he would do whatever it took for the Horsemen to win. Benoit said the gold was coming back to where it belonged. Arn said they’re gonna get the pinfall and the Horsemen are hand-picked and hand-selected. Ric yelled at Konnan saying he was gonna be the US Champion. Ric said the party would go all night long. I do love the running gag of Woman seducing Mean Gene Okerlund during these interviewed! Mean Gene will always try to be professional but he can’t help but be smitten with Woman!

The show ended with Eric leaveing the booth as the Outsiders showed up backstage. Nash offered to buy security all a donut which I laughed out-loud at. Nash bragged about his car being worth more than what they earn in a year or something. They drove off into a car and the show ended.

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If nothing else, this show was a lot more eventful than last week. All kinds of stuff happened when you sit down and think about. There wasn’t many bright spots but there was some funny humor with Kevin Nash. I think the angle they did with the Outsiders was a great final tease before they go to war at Bash at the Beach and the rest of the show was just filler again, with some unintentionally funny moments here and there.

Next up is the review of the famous Bash at the Beach show at last! We’ll be reviewing the show in full and as well as the main-event of Sting, Lex Luger and Randy Savage facing Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and a mystery third man…

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #41 (JUNE 24TH 1996) – STING AND LEX LUGER VS HARLEM HEAT VS THE STEINER BROTHERS FOR THE WCW TAG TEAM TITLES

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 are racing towards Bash at the Beach 1996. The six-man tag team match between the Outsiders and Team WCW was set, with a few questions up in the air. Who was going to represent Team WCW and who was the third man that would team with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. We got an answer to one of those questionslast week on WCW Monday Nitro. After a randomised drawing out of the top 6 names of WCW, Sting, Lex Luger and Macho Man Randy Savage were the ones picked to fight for Team WCW.

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There actually were only three episodes of Nitro between The Great American Bash and the upcoming pay-per-view Bash at the Beach, so we are not far away from the big reveal of who the third man was alongside Hall and Nash. Last week’s episode I thought was good. This week’s episode for June 24th 1996… was alright.

There wasn’t much to this episode. The matches were OK in general and it didn’t feel like a massive drag to watch it all. It was a wrestling show and there was a bunch of matches. We’ve got some matches for the pay-per-view announced but not a lot of work done to hype up those matches with the exception of the main-event angle which we’ll get to.

 

Date: June 24th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Charlotte, North Carolina

Rating: 3.3

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Bobby Heenan

 

Eric Bischoff was still hospitalised from The Great American Bash beat down he got from the Outsiders. It’s remarkable the amount of commitment they made to this angle. If this was WWE for example, Eric Bischoff would have been back the next week. I actually remember when Brock Lesnar F5’d Michael Cole in 2015, Cole was back two weeks later like nothing happened. Not here. Bischoff was off the show again and that makes sense.

They actually showed the entire clip from The Great American Bash in full this week. I would have to assume that WCW got some complaints from the fans that the powerbomb was not shown last week when they said they would show it, so this was a kind of a course correction to show the viewer what happened. It wasn’t like they could promote the replay of the PPV again so why not?

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Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed Lex Luger, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Sting who all had face paint like Sting to show unity. Savage said WCW was their country, united by the face paint of the Stinger. He said divide and conquer is what they’ve gotta do. He high-fived Luger so it looked like buried the hatchet after feuding for months in the early days of Nitro. It is interesting that this wasn’t mentioned previously as the last time Savage and Luger were in the ring together it was theDoomsday Cage match.

Sting said he doesn’t mind anyone making a statement but a grown man does not make a statement by attacking a commentator. Sting asked why not pick on a wrestler? Sting said every time the Outsiders promise three guys, they only provide two. Luger said we’re united as a team and stand tall and stand strong. Luger said they were unified because they are the very best. Sting said this is where the big boys play when The Steiners interrupted. Scott Steiner yelled at Sting and Luger. and then Harlem Heat talked trash to both teams. All three of these teams were in a triangle tag team match for the tag titles in the main-event. They all yelled and started shoving each other as Mean Gene yelled at them to knock it off.

 

“The Blue Bloods” Lord Steven Regal and Squire Dave Taylor w/Jeeves and Earl Robert Eaton vs “Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock

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Apparently some of the music WCW used here was copyrighted as Public Enemy were muted during their promo. They were showing a pre-match promo as they were coming down to the ring live. One of the things I was able to hear them yell was something about the Nasty Boys because lord knows, we need to see that tag match again.

Suffice to say that this was a much better match than the last Nasty Boys/Public Enemy match! A large part was thanks to the dance moves of Lord Steven Regal. I reviewed the SummerSlam 2007 pay-per-view where he danced with Cryme Tyme and the same thing from that goes here. Even when he was dancing, Regal went all out. He did the Public Enemy wave dance in such a rectangular manner! Regal busted out some more moves but then received a dropkick to the face to his utter disgust! How Regal was never the world champion in either WWE or WCW blows the mind.

Rocco did the Daniel Bryan flip off the corner and then Rocco and David Taylor messed up a school boy roll up where it somehow tumbled them into the corner. It did not look pretty. There was one little spot where Rocco had Regal in a full nelson and then Regal lifted his knee up, grabbed it to free himself from the hold. I thought that was really clever.

Rocco missed a springboard moonsault and all I can think is that if I were part of a big boy tag team capable of doing big dives and athletic spots like a moonsault, I’d save those moves for like the big points of the match. Rocco does it casually to lead to the Blue Bloods getting the heat. Therefore, whenever he does it in the ring from now on it is just gonna seem as no big deal as he didn’t hype it up as a big deal.

Rocco and Regal took each other out with a double clothesline. Grunge got the hot tag and it eventually broke into a four way brawl. Eaton tripped Grunge. Regal then stomped the living daylights out of Rocco outside of the ring but as Regal was distracted, Grunge then hit Taylor with a cast for the pinfall victory. Sloppy in parts but it was fine in general. I think the wrong team won here and it is a real shame that in the space of 8 days, Regal went from wrestling Sting at the PPV to losing to Public Enemy. It sucked to be Lord Steven Regal at this time.

 

The Taskmaster w/Jimmy Hart vs Kip Abee

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This was such a bizarre segment. I’ve seen great Kevin Sullivan squash matches during this series so far but this one was just completely random. Taskmaster power-walked to the ring and took this Kip Abee dude over the guard rail. He beat his arse up the steps and tried to throw the dude into the ladies bathroom. Taskmaster beat him up all over the place and then left him laying amongst the fans. This all happened in the space of like two minutes. This was also a massive arena so Taskmaster goes all the way up the steps and beats up Kip and gets back into the ring in the space of a few minutes. Tony revealed Taskmaster got disqualified. by the way

Mean Gene interviewed Jimmy and Taskmaster. Jimmy said they came to the home of the Four Horsemen and they’re walking in and walking out alive. Taskmaster yelled that he was here in Horsemen town and now the Horsemen are coming out to where Taskmaster lived at Bash at the Beach. The fans chanted “WE WANT FLAIR” and they were thunderous. Jimmy said if Ric talked about taking a woman to space mountain one more time he was gonna choke himself to death.

This was to set up The Giant and Taskmaster vs Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit at Bash at the Beach. If the Four Horsemen won, then any member of the Horsemen would get a shot at The Giant’s WCW World title.

Kip Abee died in 2017 by the way. This was his one and only WCW Nitro appearance.

 

Hardwork Bobby Walker vs Dean Malenko

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This was the ultimate case of “be careful what you wish for” when it comes to the cruiserweights. I talked about wanting to see more of the cruiserweights on Nitro when I reviewed The Great American Bash. After the Malenko vs Mysterio Jr. rematch last week, here we have Hardwork Bobby Walker vs Dean Malenko.

Let’s be fair. Bobby Walker didn’t really do anything wrong in this match but he wasn’t impressive in the slightest. It’s easy to have a decent match when your opponent is Dean Malenko. However, then it is revealed that Dean Malenko would defend the WCW Cruiserweight title at Bash at the Beach against Disco Inferno.

Last week, Disco Inferno lost to JOE GOMEZ in a match where Disco didn’t care that he lost and was more concerned with his hair. Disco’s reward, in storyline, for this lack of interest in wrestling is a WCW Cruiserweight Championship match at the pay-per-view? Are you kidding me? Why would I want to see Disco Inferno wrestling in a pay-per-view match for the title? This is completely ridiculous.

Walker did a horrible Japanese Arm Drag. Dean did a snap suplex and locked on a crucifix submission, wrapping the legs of Walker (the same hold thatKonnan did to Gato at the pay-per-view). Dean transitioned this into a Camel Clutch

Dean powerbombed Walker and did the Texas Cloverleaf but let go as the Disco Infero came out with a framed record as one young fan flipped him off in the front row. His music was playing as Walker got back into the match and fired back. Dean was mostly beating the crap out of Walker up until this point.

Disco went into the ring to dance as Disco Fever played. Dean and Walker continued to wrestle. Walker landed on his feet off a Monkey Flip and then just looked at Disco. He just stared at this man dancing… in the middle of a wrestling match. Dean took advantage and bonked Walker into the Disco and hit the Northern Lights Suplex for the pinfall victory.

Every one in this match came off like a geek. Disco Inferno was the geek who fell to the outside of the ring. Dean Malenko was a geek who got distracted by Disco Inferno. Hardwork Bobby Walker was the geek who just stood their watching Disco which led to him getting suplexed and pin. There was no way anyone got more over with this segment. A MASSIVE THUMBS DOWN.

 

Gene interviewed Dean. Dean said he wasn’t gonna stand for it as Disco threatened to hit him with his record. Disco talked about how his record just went gold. Disco said Dean and Walker were not having a good night and it was a perfect time for him to do a dance, make a little love and get down tonight. He flat out told the viewer that these two were no-good geeks and they needed a “star” like Disco Inferno. Why do wrestling companies do this?

Disco said Dean maybe the man of 1000 holds but he’s just sold a million CDs or whatever. Dean said he’s the man of 1000 holds but it’ll only take one to win at Bash at the Beach. This segment died a 1000 deaths and it sucked. Dean’s promo to Disco wasn’t particular good either.

 

 

The Barbarian vs Eddie Guerrero

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A unique match but I don’t agree with the finish of it as we’ll get to. It’s The Barbarian, who I remind you is tall and scary, versus the tiny Eddie Guerrero. Please keep Eddie in mind when I tell you how this match went down.

Barbarian choked Eddie in the corner. Eddie hit a big dropkick for a 2 count.  Barbarian caught Eddie off a springboard and slammed him into the corner.

The Barbarbian then proceeds to destroy Eddie Guerrero. Barbarian SMASHED Eddie with a powerbomb to a big pop from the crowd but Eddie got the shoulder up. Barbarian hit a pump handle slam and the fans loved him even more. The fans loved every power move the Barbarian hit, just like the Faces of Fear’s squash match from a few weeks ago.

Eddie tried to a reverse a powerbomb into a roll up but it got royally screwed up. Eddie hit a back suplex but Barbarian took control of the match again and hit a massive belly to bell suplex from the top rope as the fans rose to their feet. Eddie got rolled all the way out of the ring. Barbarian tried a superplex but Eddie reversed it into a crossbody for the win.

I would not have done this if the objective was to get Eddie over, which seemed to be the intention when we review his post-match promo. The Barbrarian was getting more over and over during the match and was beating the crap out of Eddie but Eddie got a fluke win over the monster that was destroying him. I would have just called an audible and went with Barbarian getting the clean win. I love Eddie but he really didn’t get over when this match was over. In fact, I’d argue it’d have the opposite effect.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Eddie after the match. They explained that Eddie had been away in Japan wrestling in NJPW I guess. Mean Gene asked Eddie about the finish to the Konnan/Eddie match at Uncensored where Eddie got low-blowed. Eddie said he thinks he should deserve a title shot and the fans booed him for this opinion! They’d just watched Eddie get his arses kicked for 75% of the last match so of course they booed Eddie!

Eddie said The Outsiders had a lack of respect and wished his name was among the list of people to fight the Outsiders. This promo did Eddie no-good when all said and done.

 

Chris Benoit and Arn Anderson w/Steve “Mongo” McMichael vs “The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express” Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson

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I enjoyed this match. It was basically the Ric and Arn vs Rock N Roll Express match from a month ago. Rock and Roll Express came out to boos in Charlotte. These fans LOVED the Horsemen. It was sensational how over the Horsemen were here and keep that in mind when we get to Ric Flair. They were going crazy for everything Arn did in that ring. They loved Arn, they respected Benoit and they did pop for Steve “Mongo” McMichael too!

I got the message saying this would be played in the best presentation possible suggesting there would be technical difficulties. If I missed anything important, please let me know but it didn’t really feel like a chunk of the match was missing or anything.

Ricky reversed a powerbomb into an arm drag. The Rock N Roll Express took over for a while. Robert got a 2 count off a sunset flip. Arn got a tag and got a hell of a applause from Charlotte. Everything Arn did got a pop and that is not an exaggeration.

Robert elbowed Arn coming off the top rope. Benoit jumped Ricky on the outside and stomped at Ricky in the ring. Robert got the hot tag as the fans were very mild. They didn’t react to the Express and it was all about the Horsemen.

Robert tried a backslide but Mongo ran down, cracked Ricky in the head with his briefcase and Benoit got the pin.

Joe Gomez attacked the Horsemen and Mongo hit him with the briefcase to a big pop. Mongo slapped around Gomez but then Randy Savage and Kevin Greene chased off the Horsemen as the fans booed. I think Kevin Greene was actually playing for the Carolina Panthers too but that didn’t matter when it came to the Horsemen!

I thought this was a good match and interesting crowd reactions!

 

Mean Gene interviewed Ric Flair backstage with Miss Elizabeth, Woman and Debra McMichael. Ric Flair said the Horsemen took charge and the hat is off to Mongo. Ric said the Horsemen were mixing business with pleasure as the rest of the Horsemen showed up. Mongo yelled that nobody could stop them and Ric yelled at Konnan so I guess he’s got a shot at the US title at Bash at the Beach. The fans delivered thunderous WE WANT FLAIR chant as they cut to the announcers. These poor fans would be let down as yes, that interview was Ric Flair’s only contribution to Nitro!

NOTE: Ric Flair did wrestle Randy Savage in a dark match after the show, so it wasn’t like the fans didn’t get Flair out there at all.

 

 

DDP vs Alex Wright for the Lord of the Ring

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DDP taunted the fans as Wright charged at DDP for roll up. Finally, after my WWE Network had no problems for the first hour of this show, the buffering problems started. It stopped completely and when I tried to rewind. it crashed the app for me. I went back in and it stopped every 5 seconds. It did sort itself out so it wasn’t like I had to turn the Playstation 4 off this time.

DDP beat on Wright. Wright tried a suplex and DDP reversed it into a face buster. DDP did a big backbreaker gutbuster. DDP went for a punt but slipped in a comical manner.

Wright hit a side kick and fired away with punches to a floored Page. Wright did a double axe handle and hit a springboard dropkick sending DDP flying to the outside.  Wright did a dive and tried to follow this up with a springboard splash in the ring but DDP got the knees up. DDP hit the Diamond Cutter and got the pin.

As much as I like DDP, and it’s great to see him picking up a number of victories since his big Slamboree win, these matches he’s having as of late are nothing special. They just had a match and the fans were just bored waiting for the Diamond Cutter. That alone speaks volumes to how over the Cutter was but everything else just seems like pointless filler.

 

Mean Gene interviewed DDP. So as I have just talked about not wanting to see DDP in nothing matches, it’s revealed that it’s DDP vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan for the Lord of the Ring in a taped fist match at the Bash at the Beach. I do not look forward to that match in the slightest.

Mean Gene said that the taped fist match was Duggan’s speciality. DDP goes sarcastically, at the moment of me thinking it, “yeah right.” In what way was this a speciality for Hacksaw Jim Duggan? DDP said that if he put the Diamond Cutter on anyone, they would have the life expectancy of a house fly. DDP said everyone is trying to hold him down. DDP said if Duggan’s gotta tape his own fist, go ahead. He said he was the Lord of the Ring and this was a solid promo in my eyes.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Kevin Greene on the ramp. They showed Mongo turning on Greene at the pay-per-view. Greene had a go at Mongo for selling out for a bit of extra money. Greene said for the Carolina Panthers, he was gonna kick some ass for the rest of the NFL season. Greene said he was gonna remember Mongo’s slimey back-stabbing face. Greene said when the season is over, he, Macho Man and two WCW superstars were gonna get some revenge. I have no idea if this led anywhere as I would assume the Outsiders deal would reset a lot of stories.

 

“Macho Man” Randy Savage w/Kevin Greene vs VK Wallstreet

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Greene was at ringside in the corner of Savage as the Macho Man beat up Wallstreet. The fans chanted WE WANT FLAIR. Imagine if you are Rand Savage doing an angle where Flair has ruined your life for months, taken your ex-wife and then, if you’re Randy Savage, coming to an arena where the fans chant WE WANT FLAIR. That is… insane to think about.

Savage clawed and punched away at Walstreet during the match as Greene cheered him on. Savage hit a suplex. Wallstreet got the heat. Savage went for the elbow drop but Wallstreet moved out of the way. Wallstreet tried to punch Greene but Greene punched Wallstreet and threw him into the ringpost. Savage hit the elbow drop for the pinfall and the victory

I love how Bobby Heenan spent the entire match bashing Savage and calling him a hindrance to Team WCW and then when Savage wins this match, Heenan changed his tune and goes “YEAH SAVAGE! BRING ON HOSTILE TAKEOVER!” Heenan was the best heel commentator of all time! He was an absolute tremendous character! Keep in mind, Savage chased Bobby Heenan out of the ring last week! He was a great performer!

 

Sting © and Lex Luger © vs “Harlem Heat” Stevie Ray and Booker T vs “The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner in a triangle tag team match for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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Not a lot happened in this match and it was pretty boring until the finish. Booker and Scott started off the ring. Booker beat on Scott for a while and Scott eventually hit a tiger powerbomb but Luger broke up the pin right away.

Rick slammed Stevie Ray with one of the safest German suplexes possible, a week after nearly killing Ray with a suplex! Scott tagged Sting into the ring. Harlem Heat got the heat on Sting for a while and Booker got hung up to dry on the top rope and Sting straddled him.

Stevie got low-blowed and Booker missed a top rope splash as Luger got the hot tag. Luger hit a powerslam as who should come down to the ring but Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. They came down to the ring with baseball bats and security hauled arse down to the ring as the Steiners and Sting stand their ground. There’s about 20 security guards with GUNS in the ring. When security is in the middle of the ring about to go for theier weapons, that should stop the match right? Well Booker then rolled up Luger, with Luger all up in the ropes, and referee NICK PATRICK counts to three as Harlem Heat win the tag titles. Hall and Nash were threatening the competitors’ livelihoods with baseball bats, there was a possibility of the security shooting Hall and Nash but Patrick still must count the pin for Booker T.

I thought that was ridiculous.

Luger gets back up and stood with the babyfaces like nothing happened. The replay conveniently didn’t show the roll-up itself as just panned away to the faces standing up to the Outsiders.

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That was Nitro. Overall, not a lot happened but there wasn’t much wrong with the show. It was a show I didn’t have problem with at the time but when I stopped to review it and think about it, the show doesn’t really have a lot of positives to talk about. There were some bad finishes although the closing segment was fine with the exception of roll-up finish. It was a Nitro that was there but it was tolerable at the very least.

Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly and updates whenever Retro Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I appreciate you taking the time to read this review and we hope you enjoy more of the content from the Armbar Express.

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #40 (JUNE 17TH 1996) – THE ONE WITH THE WWE NETWORK BUFFERING, AEW REFERENCES AND SCOTT STEINER’S SUPLEX TO THE GIANT

Welcome to the Retro Express. This is where we’re taking a stroll down memory lane at wrestling history. This post is part of an ongoing series where we’re reviewing every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this post. We hope you enjoy.

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The Great American Bash 1996 was a very good WCW pay-per-view, to some one of the best WCW pay-per-views they ever did. Chris Benoit and Kevin Sullivan battered each other in a falls count anywhere match with Arn Anderson ending the relationship between the Four Horsemen and the Dungeon of Doom with a beatdown on Sullivan. Sting beat Lord Steven Regal and Dean Malenko defeated Rey Mysterio Jr. in two excellent matches. The Giant retained the WCW title and Steve “Mongo” McMichael turned on Kevin Green and became the fourth Horsemen of the Four Horsemen.

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Following up The Great American Bash was this edition of WCW Nitro, with great work done to hype up the next pay-per-view Bash at the Beach. As a WCW Nitro show, it was honestly a good show. It was way better than last week’s episode and actually wasn’t half-bad. However, the thing that ruined the viewing experience of this episode to me was the WWE Network.

This is a spoiler alert for when we get to the very end of this WCW Nitro series but WWF ended up beating WCW and buying them out. When the WWE Network got up and running, they decided to put every WCW Nitro episode, every pay-per-view and a bunch of other WCW shows on the Network for fans to enjoy. This is along with a huge archive of WWE, ECW, WCCW and many other wrestling promotions throughout time.

As much as the WWE Network is value for your money when it comes to the archive, original content and monthly WWE Network specials, the service itself sucks. Watching this episode of WCW Nitro was a living hell. There isn’t one of video-streaming service that buffers as much as the WWE Network does. Not one…

I’ve got subscriptions to the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime. I’ve been able to stream off services likes Crunchyroll, NowTV, YouTube, ITV Player for AEW Dynamite, BBC iPlayer, 4oD among many many other streaming services. Not one of those services buffers at the absurd rate at the WWE Network does. As a loyal WWE Network subscriber for years, it bothers me so much how they’ve not been able to fix this.

How much does WWE make each year? Probably hundreds of millions. WWE has the money but they can’t fix this mind-numbing issue that has been the case for at least 5 years? These other services have no issues with it. Why does WWE have to be the black sheep in buffering and the quality of their streaming services? It makes this blog post series of WCW Nitros a lot harder when the episodes flat out stops the videos some times for minutes.

I’m going to go into multiple examples but there was one example near the start of the show where I just could not take anymore. I almost just skipped this review of Nitro based on this instance. However, I did complete the whole show and I will give you my full breakdown of the post-Great American Bash edition of Nitro.

Date: June 17th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Richmond, West Virginia

Rating: 3.4

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Bobby Heenan

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At the start of the show, Tony Schiavonie revealed he would be calling the whole episode of Nitro this week. Eric Bischoff was destroyed by Kevin Nash at the pay-per-view and Tony actually mentioned Bischoff was still in hospital.

Speaking of Bischoff, they showed the first part of the segment where the Outsiders beat up Bischoff at the pay-per-view. They showed the line about them not being associated with WWF and then Scott Hall gut-punching Bischoff. They then teased that later on in the show, you would get to see the remainder of the incident where Nash powerbombed Bischoff. They teased this throughout the show and when they actually “revealed” it, it was still shots of the powerbomb! They didn’t actually show the actual clip of the powerbomb!

Tony and Larry spent a good five minutes at the start of the show breaking down the PPV and I’ll tie this into the Kevin Nash powerbomb thing. This is a key thing because not everyone watching WCW Nitro bought and watched that pay-per-view. They took the time here and later on in the show to update the viewers of the storylines if they didn’t watch the PPV. They did this while simultaneously encouraging them to buy the replay.

This isn’t like the WWE Network where if you don’t watch a WWE PPV live, you can watch it days or even months later or whenever you can be bothered. At the time, there was a replay and then you had to wait until they sold VHS tapes of the show.

To WCW, it was a big deal to watch the pay-per-view and the Kevin Nash powerbomb to Bischoff. This was a big angle on pay-per-view that they were determined to have people pay to see it was so shocking. By the end of this Nitro, they showed it was a rare thing to see these “outsiders” at WCW. They didn’t bring Hall and Nash back this week. Every time they were on Nitro up until this point, there was a reason for them being there. They were not rushing this storyline along. They had a plan all the way to the Bash at the Beach, and they were sticking to the plan.

Rick Steiner vs Stevie Ray

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Last week, Scott Steiner and Booker had a good match on WCW Nitro. WCW decided to follow that up with their respective brothers facing each other in a singles match. Therefore, we got Rick Steiner and Stevie Ray wrestling each other. Dear god, did this miss the mark.

Rick Steiner tried his best and Stevie Ray was really not impressive. Rick almost killed Stevie with a belly-to-belly suplex. Rick went to the effort of turning himself inside out to sell a clothesline for Stevie. Of all the matches to want to do that spot for, he did it for a random two minute match with the worse half of Harlem Heat. Ray missed a fist drop and Rick hit a clothesline for the win.

Booker came out to attack Rick and apparently there was some issue with the timing. I say this because Harlem Heat overpowered Rick. Stevie had him set up for a powerbomb as he waited and waited and waited and then just hit a powerbomb. Then he went to do it again as Booker makes his way up to the top rope.

Scott Steiner came out to make the save but he basically took a double axe handle from Booker to save his brother Rick. Scott taking the bullet for his brother Rick does actually play into his match later as believe it or not, he had a WCW World title match in the main-event of Nitro! Therefore, he was willing to risk a shot at the WCW title to save his brother. That is true brotherhood being displayed there!

Disco Inferno vs Joe Gomez

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Do you guys remember when WCW was in the middle of a ratings war in 1996? They were battling the WWF and they thought DISCO INFERNO VS JOE GOMEZ was an excellent idea. That’ll put butts in seats…

Speaking of putting butts in seats, although this is a bad match to mention this, this was the first week of 83 straight weeks where Nitro beat RAW in the ratings. This was the first episode in a historic streak for WCW as they would trounce WWF RAW every week. So maybe Disco Inferno and Joe Gomez were bigger draws than I figured. I dunno. Supposedly Hulk Hogan from “Hollywood” called WCW to say he wanted in for the “war” at Bash at the Beach. If that’s not foreshadowing, I don’t know what is!

Gomez beat up Disco for a while and did some arm drags. Disco bantered with the crowd and Gomez cut him off. Gomez did a dropkick and then missed a crossbody. Disco got the heat and Gomez ran wild. Disco hit a swinging neckbreaker to a shockingly big reaction. Disco did a dance and Larry Zybsko on commentary yelled at him for not making the cover. Disco went for a lazy cover and Gomez cradled Disco for the win.

After all of this, Disco didn’t care that he lost the match as his hair was still in place. I understand that this was Disco Inferno vs Joe Gomez but why would you want to have the loser Disco Inferno make it clear that he didn’t care about this match? In fact, forget WCW. Why would any company want to do a match, have a guy lose and then have the loser treat the match as no big deal? If the dudes in the ring couldn’t care less why should I as a viewer care about this?

I know I’ve got years of Disco on WCW but I’m already sick of him. I’m gonna need something from Disco for me to change my mind on him. He was also new to the business at this point so I’m able to give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s also not his fault that the match got booked this way. However, I could do with less Disco Inferno.

Ric Flair was with Debra McMichael, Elizabeth and Woman for an interview with Mean Gene Okerlund. Mean Gene said he’d never so disappointed in one person as he was in Debra. For you see, Debra and her husband Steve “Mongo” McMichael turned on Kevin Greene and sided with the Four Horsemen. Debra said it was for the money. Ric said “Macho Man” Randy Savage was gonna find why he’s on top of the world. Ric said they all think he’s afraid of him and that Savage was gonna tear him apart but that ain’t gonna happen. Savage had been reinstated to WCW and was set to wrestle Flair on this show.

“The American Males” Scotty Riggs and Marcus Bagwell vs “The Four Horsemen” Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit

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I thought this was a decent match although this was the initial start of the buffering of doom which really escalated with the match that followed. Some fans boo the American Males in the front row and Bagwell, at this very point of the entrance, said: “that’s exactly what I wanna hear.”

Benoit’s face was shown bruised up following his match with Taskmaster at the pay-per-view. If that was make-up then I appreciate the commitment to show Benoit physically bruised after the falls count anywhere match from The Great American Bash.

Riggs and Arn wrestled for a bit. Arn took a cheap shot at Bagwell on the apron but whee Arn got on the floor, Bagwell got his revenge. Benoit tried a powerbomb but Bagwell rolled out of his grasp and reversed it into an arm drag.

Bagwell did a fisherman suplex but Benoit immediately broke it up. Benoit beat up Bagwell for a while and the fans were popping big for Benoit. These were fans hugely behind the Horsemen.

Benoit did a diving headbutt but Riggs broke it up. In an awesome spot, Benoit cheap-shot Riggs and after this, Bagwell cheap-shot Benoit and then after that, Arn cheap-shot Bagwell in one big sequence! I thought that was awesome!

Benoit suplexed Riggs on the ropes and got the pin. Decent match ruined in part by WWE Network buffering. Nothing the wrestlers did in the ring ruined this match for me.

Mean Gene interviewed Benoit and Arn. Arn said Mongo made the right choice and they were at full strength and also said his deal with Taskmaster went south. He said at the end of the day, it’s all about the Four Horsemen. Mean Gene talked about Benoit needing assistance at the pay-per-view… BENOIT BEAT TASKMASTER CLEAN. In storyline, there was not one time where Chris Benoit needed the help of anyone during that pay-per-view. He was kicking Taskmaster’s arse during that match, he beat him fair and square, he beat him up some more and then Arn beat Taskmaster up himself!

Benoit said Taskmaster had a quest to destroy the Horsemen but the Horsemen were about guts, glamour and glory… that’s a damn good line!

Big Bubba w/Jimmy Hart vs John Tenta

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This was where my meltdown took place with the buffering on the WWE Network. Not that I was dying to see a pointless rematch between Big Bubba and John Tenta but this was where I lost my rag with this WWE Network.

During this match, it buffered here and there. It dragged out a short match into like a 15 minute viewing experience for me. Bubba tried to attack Tenta from behind but Tenta was ready for him. Larry said Tenta was the size of the national debt.

Tenta pulled off a dropkick as Bubba got mad on the outside of the ring. Bubba posted Tenta as Jimmy had the referee distracted. Tenta beat up Bubba. Jimmy tried a cheap shot but got a reverse atomic drop for his troubles. Tenta hit a powerslam but pulled himself up from the cover and hit a second one and got his foot on the ropes for the win.

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At this point, the episode just became unplayable. I had buffering issues throughout watching this episode and at this point, I just had enough. The entire video stopped playing. It showed like 5 seconds of post-match stuff and then stopped entirely. It was stuck for a minute unable to do a thing. So I clicked off the show and went back in. I got back in, and it stopped entirely yet again.

I had to go through the trouble of turning off the Playstation 4 I was watching it on, start it all up again for it to work again. Before anyone says it is to do with my internet, I have no problems with Amazon Prime, no problem with ITV player, no issues with YouTube and no issues with Netflix. I use them all the same way, using the same internet on my Playstation 4. It’s just the WWE Network. This bothered the hell out of me.

Tenta chased Jimmy back into the ring and Bubba hit him with a loaded sock. He seriously whacked Tenta at one time in the head. He beat on him and beat on him. Bubba revealed coins and dropped it on Tenta. Watching all of this at a time in AEW where Pride and Powerful used a sock full of dollars as a weapon. That’s not even the biggest AEW coincidence on this show! Oh we’ll get to that!

Mean Gene interviewed Jimmy and Bubba. Jimmy said he’s gonna make examples of everyone that leaves the Dungeon of Doom.

Mean Gene interviewed “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Savage says he’s gonna take his time with Flair. He admits he’s not all there but there’s no man that can put him down. Savage said he saw a women psychiatrist during his time away from WCW and she had him down as OCD…. One Cool Dude. He’s used this line before but I still think it’s a great line!

“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs Ric Flair w/Woman, Debra McMichael and Miss Elizabeth

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WCW did my idea of having the second hour fireworks going off during someone’s entrance. Savage came down and there were fireworks all over the place. It was funny because Bobby Heenan came out as he was supposed to call the second hour. Savage chased Heenan towards the ring. Heenan then did an outstanding vault out of the ring and made his way to the announce booth! It was so cartoonish and pulled off exceptionally well that only Bobby Heenan could have done this spot this well. He vaulted out of there like he was a an Olympic swimmer diving into a pool!

Ric got the mic. He said every man in life must in some point of time experience the agony and pain of defeat. He said Savage is experiencing the pain and agony of defeat and divorce. Savage said he was gonna kick Flair’s ass and the fans went nuts.

The match started and I love Flair and Savage fighting in all of their entrance gear! Flair was in his robe and Savage was in his big hat and jacket. It was only for a minute or so but it looked so funny to me! I loved it.

Elizabeth took a cheap shot at Savage with a slap. This was a fabulous old-school fight between Savage and Flair. It was bowling shoe ugly at times and then comedic at other times and the fans were into all of this.  Savage took Flair up to Flair’s fancy table and shoved food in his mouth.

Then we got the AEW moment. Savage gets a champagne and I swear on a stack of bibles. I shared this on my Instagram @tomrobinson5199. Future All Elite Wrestling announcer Tony Schiavonie said “OOooh. A little bit of the bubbly.”

My jaw dropped and I am about 90% certain that AEW has the means of time travel. There’s been so many AEW references in 1996 before AEW even existed that there’s no way this is a coincidence! Tony even said it the same way Chris Jericho initially said it in 2019. Jericho goes “oooh” and in a deep voice said: “a little bit of the bubbly” and I swear Tony said it in the exact same manner on June 17th 1996 on WCW Nitro. It was… surreal.

The finish saw the referee getting bumped. Savage dropped the elbow and went for another elbow drop when the women got in front of him and Flair. It didn’t stop Savage from dropping another elbow drop on Flair. Benoit ran out and Savage gave him a piledriver. Savage then took out Arn and it was Mongo that hit Savage with a briefcase to the back and walloped Savage in the head. It sounded like a shotgun blast it was so loud. Flair pinned Savage and The Horsemen attacked Savage after the match.

Mean Gene interviewed Taskmaster, Jimmy Hart and WCW World Heavyweight Champion The Giant. I think this is the first time Mean Gene referred to Hall and Nash as “Outsiders”. Jimmy cried to Taskmaster that he knew they couldn’t trust the Horsemen. Taskmaster said there’s a legal war going on, there’s a war with Hogan when he comes back and there’s another war. Taskmaster said there’s a fine line between pain and pleasure and Giant cut him off. Giant said the Horsemen say they’re the elite but if that’s the case, why don’t they have the WCW title? He said anyone in the Dungeon is better than anyone in the Horsemen. He said they’d all fall down. Taskmaster then said he doesn’t care about the Four Horsemen and this is all about WCW…. right after cutting a promo about the Four Horsemen!

Taskmaster was at the same time preaching WCW loyalty and calling out the Four Horsemen. A lot of fires being started for the Dungeon of Doom….

 

Mean Gene interviewed Rey Mysterio Jr. Rey talked about Dean Malenko using the ropes during their match at The Great American Bash. Rey said he would show him what he’s made out of and he wanted the cruiserweight title. Rey said something in Spanish to “the Latinos” as Mean Gene put it.

 

Dean Malenko © vs Rey Mysterio Jr. for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship

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Nowhere near as good as their Great American Bash match but still a good and fun cruiserweight match between Malenko and Mysterio Jr. So of course, after about 30 mins of the video being fine on the WWE Network this is the match where the buffering problems started again.

Rey did La Magistral roll-up for a 2 count to which people actually went “awwww” for as they legitimately bought this as a near fall. Rey started winning the match with the quickness factor but Dean hit him with a hard clothesline and used power moves like a backbreaker and a back suplex to turn things in his favour.

Dean did a calf crusher to work on the legs and dropped him with a brainbuster. Dean locked on the abdominal stretch. Dean hit a big powerbomb and he SLAMMED this little man with such force. Not as powerful as the infamous Benoit/Guerrero powerbomb from earlier on in the series but this sounded almost as hard as that Mongo briefcase shot from earlier.

I love how Bobby told Tony to watch his tone as he claimed Tony was gonna get punched in the face. Tony, without missing beat, simply said in a nonchalant manner “no I’m not.”

Rey did a great springboard hurricanrana to the outside. Rey got a near fall from a roll-up. Dean tried a powerslam and Rey just turned the momentum in his favour for a pin attempt. Dean reversed the bulldog attempt into a reverse DDT for the win. A very good match. I give this a thumbs up.

 

The Giant © w/Jimmy Hart vs Scott Steiner for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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Scott’s chest was taped up because of the attack from Harlem Heat. Scott tried a German suplex but was unable to budge the big man. Scott tried to slam Giant but Giant was too big. The Giant actually got mad by these attempts and delivered stomps to the bad ribs, an elbow drop and even stood directly on his ribs.

It was almost exclusive rib-based offense from the champion as he did a Polish Hammer to the back of Steiner. He threw some kicks at Steiner as Bobby said “Giant kicked the life out of Scott Steiner.”

Giant, believe it or not, did a Camel Clutch on SCOTT STEINER, the man with the Steiner Recliner! Jimmy was literally jumping for joy witnessing Giant beat up this guy and pumping his fists up in the air in celebration!

Giant hit a suplex. I’m usually all for dominating performances to put a big monster over but this match was god damn boring at times. He beat on him, beat on him and beat on him. The Giant then got a chair but Scott eventually crotched him on the top rope and chop-blocked him. Scott did a sleeper hold but Giant got out of it and fired away with forearms.

Then we got one of the most unbelievable suplexes I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen Brock Lesnar German suplex guys like Braun Strowman and The Big Show. I’ve seen Brock Lesnar bend John Cena in half with German Suplexes at SummerSlam 2014. I’ve seen Kurt Angle launch Rey Mysterio with a double German Suplex with him and Randy Orton. The suplex Scott Steiner delivered to The Giant had to have been the most impressive suplexes ever delivered in the history of wrestling.

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Scott hit the most unbelievable T-Bone Suplex On The Giant and the fans went NUTS for it. I was gobsmacked as I yelled JEEZUS at the top of my lungs. I’ve seen the likes of Sting, Lex Luger and Hulk Hogan doing spots where they struggle and struggle to get the big man down. Scott Steiner goes in there and suplexed this big man with seemingly such ease. He didn’t just suplex him. He THREW HIM across the ring and this is THE GIANT. It was incredible.

Scott went for a cover and The Giant lifted him off at two. Scott tried to use  a wooden chair but Jimmy intercepted him. Scott shoved Jimmy off, broke the chair over The Giant’s head to no effect and Giant chokeslammed him for the win.

No matter what happened in the rest of this match, that suplex was worth all of the beating and heat that we had to sit through. He hit this suplex and the folks lost their minds as well as me! I lost my mind watching this. Scott Steiner was tremendous at this time.

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Mean Gene came out to announce Team WCW for the six man tag team match at Bash at the Beach. Mean Gene claimed this was the biggest announcement Mean Gene’s ever made. He explained that they’re selecting from the six top men depending on win/loss record and “many other things”. If we’re going off win/losses alone, surely guys like WCW US Champion Konnan would have to be in the mix right? I don’t remember the last time I saw Konnan lose a match.

The six mae in the drawing for this six man tag team match were Hulk Hogan, The Giant, Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Sting and Macho Man Randy Savage. I mean I would have to assume that the “many other things” must out-weigh the win/loss records right? The Giant is an understandable option as he’s the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. Hulk Hogan is understandable but he’s not been in WCW for a month and the same goes for Randy Savage (at least not been in the ring because of a storyline suspension). Lex Luger lost at the pay-per-view. Sting and Ric Flair face each other all of the time and trade wins back and forth so surely, from a win/loss record standpoint, they were not ranked highly?

I would go with the explanation that they went with the six former WCW champions as opposed to going off recent track records. Every one of them except Sting and Luger have been the champion in the past 9 months or so. Sting and Luger are the tag champs so this list does actually do a fair job in “determining” the finalists up for selection if you want to find the biggest stars!

There was a random draw to determine who would be fighting for WCW. There’s an invasion from outsiders that are threatening your company and you’re gonna leave it to randomisation to determine who is gonna fight? That seems like a terrible idea if this were real!

The names were revealed to be Lex Luger, Sting and “Macho Man” Randy Savage and the show ends leaving you to dwell on those names.

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As a WCW Nitro episode, this was actually a decent show but as a viewing experience on the WWE Network, it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I sincerely hope the WWE Network can resolve these issues for the future.

Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly and updates whenever Retro Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I appreciate you taking the time to read this review and we hope you enjoy more of the content from the Armbar Express.

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW THE GREAT AMERICAN BASH 1996 (JUNE 16TH 1996)

Welcome to the Retro Express. This is where we’re taking a stroll down memory lane at wrestling history. This post is part of an ongoing series where we’re reviewing every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this post. We hope you enjoy.

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We’re creeping ever so slightly towards the big reveal of the third man joining Scott Hall and Kevin Nash for the “invasion” of WCW. Scott Hall arrived and Kevin Nash arrived on the latest edition of Nitro that we’ve reviewed. Both of those men were here to meet Eric Bischoff at The Great American Bash about the possibility of actually setting up an official match between WCW and these outsiders and their third man.

The Great American Bash also featured a stacked card of quality matches, with the WCW, WCW United States and WCW Cruiserweight titles all on the line. We also had a big grudge match in Lord Steven Regal vs Sting, a big grudge match between the Dungeon of Doom’s Taskmaster and the Four Horsemen’s Chris Benoit and we had a rubber match between the Steiner Brothers and Fire and Ice. We also had the WCW vs NFL battle with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson facing Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Kevin Greene.

People have told me that this pay-per-view was one of the greatest pay-per-views WCW ever produced. Compared to every other pay-per-view I’ve seen during this series, this is the strongest one by a huge mile. I’m not really in a position to make a claim as if to call it the greatest of all time or something as I’ve never watched WCW properly up until the start of this series.

However, this honestly felt like a normal wrestling pay-per-view. That’s not to say that it was irregular or not extraordinary but it felt a lot more like a real wrestling show. For the likes of Halloween Havoc, World War III, Starrcade 1995 and Slamboree, there was a gimmick going into each of those PPVs. There was one big aspect that WCW were encouraging the fans to watch like the World War III battle royal or the Doomsday Cage match, while everything else on the show was treated as filler.

The Great American Bash felt like nearly every match on the show mattered. WCW weren’t exclusively promoting one match. They promoted a wrestling show and a lot of stuff was pay-per-view quality stuff. There were some awesome matches on this show. There wasn’t like matches on the level of Okada vs Omega for example but it was mostly very good wrestling and very much enjoyable.

Let’s get into the review…

 

Date: June 16th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Balitmore, Maryland

Attendance: 9,000

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie and Dusty Rhodes

 

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To kick off the show, a dude came out with the American flag as Star-Spangled Banner played. It was a grand patriotic moment and granted, it was fitting on a show called “The Great American Bash”. This is also a bad show to make this point I’m about to make. As an Englishman watching professional wrestling, I find it to be a very big disconnect to anyone not American whenever they do the National Anthem or do some big USA pride angle before a show.

There’s all of these starts from AAA in Rey Mysterio Jr. and “El Gato” supposedly from South America appearing in WORLD Championship Wrestling, but WWE, WCW, Impact Wrestling or other American wrestling promotions can’t help themselves but play up the patriotic angle to a worldwide audience. That to me doesn’t belong when you’re promoting the product as a global event.

It was just Tony Schiavonie and Dusty Rhodes announcing this show. They discussed at the start of the show about how Dick Murdoch had passed away recently and they addressed it.

 

“The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner vs “Fire and Ice” Scott Norton and Ice Train in a number one contendership match for the WCW Tag Team Championship with the added stipulation where there must be a winner

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This first match with Fire and Ice facing the Steiners had the announcer Dave Penzer stress heavily that there must be a winner. The storyline going in I believe was that these two tag teams have constantly had matches but they ended with like some no contest or disqualification. I’m pretty sure the Steiners beat Fire and Ice clean one time on Nitro but I do recall they’ve had another match which ended in a no contest.

With that being said, I’ve also seen a lot Nitro main-events and matches where they almost have to have a clean finish but yet there’s shenanigans. Therefore, I was certain that the Road Warriors or someone else was going to run in. But no, WCW were true to their word and there was a clean finish which we’ll get to.

Scott Steiner and Ice Train locked up. Dusty claimed Ice Train and Scott Norton were in Mortal Kombat before they came together. Tony claimed both teams approached this match: “the same way but differently.” So… I guess they both approached the match differently then… but in the same way?

Scott Steiner ran wild with hip tosses as the Steiners took control for the ring. Norton fired away with back elbow and forearms. I love how Norton’s hard-hitting/powerhouse style gels with the wrestling styles of the Steiners. It fit really well and the Steiners were able to sell well for his offense.

Rick eventually fired back with a big clothesline. Rick hit a big belly-to-belly suplex for a 2 count. Scott Steiner dropkicked Norton bringing him to his knees. Norton hit a big Samoan Drop. Dusty criticised Fire and Ice for wasting time and Norton took a cheap shot at Scott as the referee was distracted so I guess Fire and Ice were the heels in this match. I don’t know if they were officially turned heel on Saturday Night or something but they played heels in this match anyway.

Scott hit a belly-to-belly suplex and a clothesline to get back into the match. Scott nearly dropped Norton right on his head with a teardrop suplex. Norton barely caught Scott off the top with a scoop slam. Norton dropped Scott with the shoulder-breaker after Scott I think landed on his shoulder earlier on in the match.

Norton locked on an arm lock to pounce on the wounded arm of Scott Steiner and Rick broke it up. Rick kicked Norton repeatedly in the face to try and break it up but Norton no-sold each kick.

Rick got the tag and ran wild. He hit a massive suplex dropping Norton on his head and threw Ice Train over his shoulder. These four guys were willing put over the other teams during these matches. Ice Train and Norton were willing to take every suplex the Steiners were willing to dish out and they looked like they were landing on their heads and splatting into the mat. It looked ugly but it looked effective too and probably were safer than the moves looked.

Norton hit a powerbomb and Ice Train hit a splash on Rick but Scott Steiner broke it up. Fire and Ice went for the Doomsday Device but it was broken up. Rick planted Norton with a DDT but Ice Train took advantage with a double axe handle. Steiners tried the Steinerizer/diving bulldog but Ice Train broke it up. Scott hit a botched-like Frankensteiner and got the pin.

A great fight and a fun opener. I very much enjoyed it. It was an ugly fight and somewhat a train-wreck at times but what the hell? I loved it. They also delivered on the promise that there must be a winner so this gets two thumbs up. It gets a thumbs up for the match and a thumbs up for the finish, even if it did look a little screwy with the Frankesteiner.

Match Rating: ***

 

Jimmy Hart and Taskmaster were with Mean Gene Okerlund for an interview. Jimmy said they don’t need the Four Horsemen but Taskmaster said this wasn’t an issue between the Dungeon and the Horsemen. Taskmaster said Pillman wasn’t a horsemen and talked about making him quit at Uncensored. He said he knew what a horseman smelt like. He said he wanted to show the Horsemen that they can trust the Dungeon and they were gonna take out Benoit for not being a true Horsemen. Some parts of the promo I wrote down and they didn’t make sense to me so I didn’t include them. Either way, for those unaware, this was basically a continuation of the Taskmaster vs Brian Pillman feud with Benoit taking the place of Pillman.

 

Konnan © vs El Gato for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship

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One of the weakest matches of the show. It is weird saying that because if this match was on Slamboree, the last pay-per-view we watched, it would have been one of the strongest matches on that show! This match was perfectly acceptable wrestling.

Gato started off early with some kicks and a Dragon Screw Leg Whip. Konnan caught the hand of Gator and turned it into a top rope arm drag. Konnan turned Gato inside out with a clothesline which actually looked cool. After a few leap frogs from Konnan, Gato cut him off with a side kick to the face.

Gato tried a submission which I have no idea what it was supposed to be. He wrapped his leg around Konnan’s arm and grabbed the other arm and just laid there. He kept grabbing the rope for leverage but I have no idea what this was supposed to accomplish! It was some crucifix-like headscissors or something.

Gato caught a hurricanrana and hit a sit-out powerbomb for a 2 count. Gato and Konnan traded submission attempts. Konnan’s submission attempts always look so god damn sloppy to me and they just always take me out of his matches. I’d hate to get at Konnan for actually trying some grappling and actual wrestling but it just didn’t look good. If you can’t do something effectively in wrestling, just take it out of your arsenal. Think of an alternative.

Konnan did a roll into a clothesline but was unsuccessful with the pin attempt.

Gato tried the spot where a wrestler would tease a dive to the outside but slip underneath the ropes instead. Instead, he tries to slide under the ropes but he screwed that up. He went under the ropes and then just fell down. He didn’t even land on his feet when he made his way to the floor to prepare for the next spot.

Konnan smacked Gato hard on the floor with a sunset flip powerbomb to which the fans started to get behind Konnan with big chants of his name. Konnan hit an Alabama slam and bridge for the pin to retain the title.

Perfectly acceptable wrestling is the best way to describe this match. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t particular good. It was acceptable where there weren’t many spots screwed up and most of the stuff they did look fine. It’s just that the match met my expectations exactly and that’s exactly the problem. It was a bang average wrestling match at best but when you’re wrestling on pay-per-view, the fans kinda want to see more from you. With that being said, the fans were really behind Konnan and it’s not like they lost the crowd with this match. Therefore, I’d say this match was a success.

Match Rating: **1/2

 

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Mean Gene interviewed Sting and the first thing Mean Gene basically says is that we all know Regal is a “sissy” or “prissy”. I found that line to be funny. However, then Sting cut a weird racist promo against the English. He said you don’t have to stir up the Stinger. Sting made fun of England which pissed me off and talked about Regal and Englishman being sissies. He said Regal’s on US soil and being a sissy isn’t how they do it in the US. Sting said Regal’s a fantastic wrestler but he’s a little iffy and he was gonna beat him.

Again, I understand that the show is called THE GREAT AMERICAN BASH and it’s a celebration of the United States of America. However, this promo wasn’t about fighting for American pride against the English. This was Sting basically calling out English people and calling us Englishmen sissies. This promo would not play well in the slightest in 2020. By the way, Happy New Year to everyone in 2020!

 

DDP vs Marcus Bagwell for the Lord of the Ring

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DDP cut a pre-match promo. He talked crap about Baltimore. I don’t want to keep talking about to the Patriotic nature of this show as a running discussion point in this review. However, doing a promo where the DDP buries the hometown during a show where they’re all about American Patriotism seemed very out of place. If you wanna do a burial of the hometown for heat, that’s OK. However, this would have a worked a lot better if they had a foreign heel deliver this type of promo. DDP calling out the hometown randomly just seemed weird during a hugely pro-USA PPV.

Bagwell chased DDP out of the ring but then DDP jumped Bagwell in the ring as Bagwell turned his back on him before the match started. Bagwell did a snapmare to DDP that sent him over the top rope and to the floor. Bagwell sent DDP over the barricade. DDP cut off Bagwell when he tried to get back in the ring. Bagwell hit a crossbody for a 2 count. Bagwell worked on the arm of DDP but DDP eventually got out of it.

Bagwell dropkicked DDP through the ropes as DDP got stuck in between them. Bagwell did a dive to the outside. DDP tried to cut off Bagwell again as they both got back into the ring but Bagwell was ready for him.

DDP got the heat and hit a backbreaker. DDP locked on an abdominal stretch, grabbing the rope for leverage whenever he could. DDP did it twice successfully but referee Randy Anderson (at least I think it was Randy Anderson) caught him on the third attempt and kicked the rope away from DDP’s grasp.

DDP hit the tombstone slam for the near fall. Bagwell did the atomic drop/reverse atomic drop combination and got back in the match. Bagwell did a springboard clothesline from the apron for a near fall. DDP eventually hit a Diamond Cutter to win the match clean.

There wasn’t that much heat for this match and it didn’t really do it for me. Both men tried hard but they just did moves forever and there was nothing really captivating about it to suggest this should have been a PPV match. This was a decent TV match at best but it just sucked the life out of the PPV for a little bit.

With that being said, if this match was on Slamboree too, this would have also been one of the best matches on that show! So at least it gets that feather it its cap!

Match Rating: **1/4.

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Mean Gene interviewed Jimmy Hart and The Giant. The Giant cut a promo about torture in like a quiet and creepy way. It was like some weird perverted promo which is rare from The Giant, who in 1996 is usually very loud and angry with his promos. Maybe he was trying something out briefly because he did eventually start yelling at Luger during this promo.

He said if Luger thought he was gonna put The Giant in the “rack” he’s sadly mistaken. The Giant said the “rack” is a pure fantasy and said the chokeslam is all he’s going to know. Giant said Lex should have lifted a few more weights before getting into the ring with him. A weird promo with the change in tone from going all quiet to going really loud which took away from pretty good dialogue… minus “the rack” which didn’t age well with time.

 

Dean Malenko © vs Rey Mysterio Jr. for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship

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This is what WCW has been missing so far on WCW Nitro shows. I’ve had about of month of 2 hour Nitros since Slamboree and the shows have mostly felt like a drag in places. They had an extra hour for more wrestling and better wrestling for the fans to stay tuned to watch. They needed more cruiserweight matches in those Nitros and this match was a very good reason why.

This match was so good and so different to anything else on the show and the fans were super into it by the end, even if they did go quiet in the middle. This got the division over big with them and hopefully, this will be transferred to WCW Nitro television shows.

Mike Tenay was on commentary for this match. It was unbelievable how quick Rey was here. It’s hard for me to make notes for the opening minutes for matches like this. It was fantastic lucha libre cruiserweight action. All you can do is sit back, watch and be blown away by it. Lucha Libre done really well is some of the best wrestling you’ll ever see. All I could do was marvel at their athleticism and skill.

Rey hit an awesome springboard dropkick to Dean to send him crashing on the floor. They locked up in the ring but it eventually led to Dean catapulting Rey out of the ring. Dean worked on the arm and started driving the knee in the arm of Rey.

Dean raked Rey’s arm over the guard rail. Rey eventually used Dean’s intention to work on the arm to cause separation with a dropkick. Dean turned Rey inside out with the clothesline, dropping Rey right on his head to immense applause from the crowd. It was such a fantastic sell to the clothesline and the fans appreciated it big time.

Dean worked on the arm again with an armbar. Dean suplexed Rey right on the arm and then delivered the Northern Lights suplex onto the arm.

The great thing about Dean Malenko is that he lived the “man of 1000 holds” gimmick when it came to what he did in the ring. Every move he did to work on the arm was different than the move that came before it. He didn’t do the same thing over and over again. He didn’t chin-lock after chin-lock during his matches. He didn’t do the same type of suplex working on the arm. He didn’t do the same submission. It wasn’t predictable and it worked. Tony flat out said “man of 1000 holds, living to his name” and Dean showed that to be accurate!

Rey hit a like a Boma Ye knee to try and get back into the match but Dean went back to work on the arm. Dean locked on a surfboard with the Romero submission and turned this into a pinfall attempt for a near fall.

Dean tried a somewhat Kimura lock variation right in the middle of the ring. Dean hit a teardrop suplex for the 2 count. Dean followed that up with a butterfly suplex for another 2 count. Dean went to work on the arm again with a wrist lock. The biggest problem with the match was that Dean’s “heat” segment went way too long. I think it took me out of the game watching it and, although it was really well done by Malenko, a part of me just wanted Rey to do something to breathe life into the match.

Rey eventually sent Dean crashing to the floor and hit a baseball slide dropkick to Dean and kicked him further way. Rey followed this up with a springboard somersault to Dean on the outside and Dean was really far away so Rey did well to connect with that distance to the outside.

Rey eventually started a comeback and hit a springboard dropkick. Dean tried an Alley Oop but Rey stopped the impact for a near fall as they traded roll ups. I think I’ve seen Malenko and Liger do that spot before and I really loved it again here.

Rey hit the Frankensteiner pin for a near fall. Dean went for the gutbuster off the top rope and Rey reversed it into a hurricanrana for the near fall. Dean tried a tilt-a-whirl but Rey reversed it into a crossbody. . Dean hit a big powerbomb from the corner with the feet on the rope of the pin.

Fabulous stuff from the cruiserweights.

Match Rating: ***3/4. This was almost 4 stars for me but Dean got the heat for slightly longer than I think he should have. This was still a damn great match from Malenko and Mysterio Jr.

 

Mean Gene interviewed WCW Television and Tag Team Champion Lex Luger. Luger said his mind’s a million miles way and he said he’s not gonna shout and scream about what he’s gonna do to the Giant. I guess this was to hint that he was too focused on the match to cut a promo but then he cut a big promo anyway! He said The Giant changed the landscape of wrestling and The Giant though he was invincible but that was gonna work in Luger’s favour. He said Giant was going to make mistakes and when Luger left the ring, he was gonna have another belt on his other shoulder. I thought this was a good promo.

 

Big Bubba w/Jimmy Hart vs John Tenta

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The worst match on the show but it did appear that the match on paper didn’t actually sound so bad. It was just pretty poor in execution.

Tenta came out with a video playing in the titantron of the head-shaving from a few weeks ago. There was no music for Tenta.

Bubba and Tenta brawled on the outside. Tenta caught Bubba coming from the top rope and then smashed Bubba into the steel steps. Bubba begged Tenta off and then JOHN TENTA did a standing jumping kick the chest! It was one of the most athletic things I’ve seen Tenta do so far in this series!

Tenta slammed his backside into the face of Bubba. Tenta did a running butt-slam into the chest of the heel. Bubba hit a big uppercut to get back into the match. Nick Patrick checked Bubba as I guess Bubba used a weapon when he hit Tenta but I don’t think they ever showed a replay of this. If they did and I missed it, I do apologise.

Tenta kicked out. Bubba ran wild on Tenta for a bit. Bubba tried a pin on the ropes but referee Nick Patrick caught him. Tenta tried a slam but Bubba was too big as they just fell to the ground. Bubba worked on Tenta’s arm. It looked like Bubba tried to do a “fast” paced-match that Tenta was just not built and conditioned for so it just didn’t have the chance to blossom.

Bubba slammed Tenta with a back suplex. Bubba went to the top rope but Tenta caught him and slammed him with a powerslam as Jimmy was distracted with the fans. As Jimmy was distracted, Tenta got the pin. Tenta grabbed the scissors and cut the beard of Bubba and sent him packing.

I don’t think it would have been a strong match on that Slamboree 1996 pay-per-view I keep referencing but it was pretty much what I expected out of these two. It’s a shame because I actually do think these were somewhat decent wrestlers but this match just didn’t show it. At least the good guy was able to get the win in the end after the heel had previously embarrassed him on Nitro.

Match Rating: *

 

Mean Gene interviewed Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Kevin Greene, who were accompanied by their wives. I think Mean Gene mentioned that “Macho Man” Randy Savage, who was coaching Greene and Mongo, had been reinstated into WCW. Mongo said he didn’t care about game plans and that they were coming to get Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. Greene said they were coming hard and coming heavy. He even finished the promo saying they were coming hard. There was something up with the phrasing of Greene from the penetration talk from Nitro 2 weeks to this promo about coming hard and heavy! Savage came in and said they were gonna knock Flair and Anderson into the end zone.

 

Chris Benoit vs “The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan w/Jimmy Hart in a falls count anywhere match

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This was such a great falls count anywhere match. The intensity was just there from the get-go and it was a believable, vicious fight to convince the viewers that these two hated each other. Benoit was a great all-rounder as a wrestler but Kevin Sullivan in particular came off really well as a scrappy wrestler. This match was right up his alley and he and Benoit worked wonders together in this match.

There were two referees on hand to count any pinfall or submission attempts. Taskmaster power-walked into the ring as he and Benoit brawled in an out-of-control manner on the ramp. Benoit chopped away at Taskmaster as Taskmaster responded with open hand slaps to the chest.

Fans went crazy as it went into the crowd. I want everyone to understand that everything that I say about Chris Benoit going forward is purely about his in-ring work and not his personality. With that being said, Benoit had a look of such intensity and such rage, looking like he really wanted to beat the snot out of Taskmaster as he gritted the teeth at the sight of Taskmaster. Benoit had tremendous facial expressions when he was in the ring.

They went further and further up the steps. This was a heck of brawl which led them all the way to the men’s bathroom. Taskmaster slammed the head of the bathroom door into the head of Benoit. The fans in the bathroom all huddled in one side of the ring to watch this all go down. They were all squished-up to the back of this bathroom and couldn’t get out from the looks of it!

Benoit fought back with stiff punches to the head. Taskmaster tried to shove Benoit’s face into the urinal.  Benoit responded by smacking bathroom doors into the back of Taskmaster. Dusty couldn’t help but exclaim that there was a woman in the men’s bathroom as he was super excited about this development!

Taskmaster hit Benoit with a sack of towels! Security had their work cut out for them as Benoit and Taskmaster tried to fight into the crowd of people outside of the bathroom! One guy fell over into the sea of people it was so crowded!

Benoit tumbled down the steps back into the arena. Taskmaster flat out threw Benoit down the steps. They traded punches as they got back to the guard rail. Taskmaster crotched Benoit on the guard rail as they made their way back to the ring. Taskmaster unleashed a Sabu-like chair throw at Benoit’s face.

Benoit crotched Taskmaster on the guard rail in retaliation. Benoit grabbed a table and threw it at Taskmaster’s face, I guess in response to the chair throw from Taskmaster! The announcers actually mentioned that it was a callback to Slamboree when Benoit went threw a table because of Taskmaster.

They tried to put each other through the table but both men just bounced off it rather than breaking it.  Taskmaster back-dropped Benoit to the table balanced on the top turnbuckle. They fought on top of the table and Benoit hit a big superplex to a massive pop and for the win. That was a hell of a match. They beat the crap out of each other as the fans, whether it was in the bathroom or sat at their seats, were just going nuts for all of this action!

Benoit punched away at Taskmaster after the match. Arn Anderson ran down as Benoit continued to punch away at Taskmaster. Arn threw Benoit off of Taskmaster and then took a cheap shot at Taskmaster as they beat up Sullivan. The fans became unglued and lost their minds as the Horsemen turned on The Taskmaster!

The Dungeon of Doom chased them off as the fans went bonkers. That was an absolutely awesome falls count anywhere match and a great post-match angle. They brawled all over the place and it was great. I think Malenko vs Mysterio Jr. was a technically better match but I enjoyed this Taskmaster vs Benoit match more as it just worked as a falls count anywhere match. They beat the crap out of each other and although there was possibly ONE PIN FALL in the entire match, this was a blood feud where they wanted to just destroy each other. TWO THUMBS UP!

Match Rating: ***3/4

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Mean Gene interviewed the Four Horsemen. Mean Gene is stood in between Woman and Elizabeth as they both grab his arms. Tony asked Gene if he’d ever seen anything like the match they just watched. Mean Gene said he’s not sure and he’s not sure he’s ever seen and briefly pauses. He pauses and he looks at Woman and Elizabeth and goes…. “well maybe a couple of times!” Mean Gene had to have been the greatest interviewer in wrestling history. Absolute tremendous comedy nearly ever time!

Arn Anderson said there’s people that dreamed of being able to be a Horsemen and Benoit earned the right to be a Horsemen. He said the head of the snake being severed was Taskmaster’s, who you recall kept claiming he was gonna cut the head of the snake who he believed to be Benoit. Arn said Taskmaster tried to poison the Horsemen but Benoit earned his stripes. Benoit said Taskmaster had been severed and he put him in his place. Ric yeleds at Mongo and Greene and Bobby Heenan was paranoid about Savage. When you’re cutting a promo and Ric Flair barely has anything more to add, you’ve cut a hell of a promo. Arn and Benoit cut damn good promos on Kevin Sullivan.

 

Sting vs Lord Steven Regal in a “special challenge” match

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Another superb match. There was a lot of heat from the crowd and the fans were thunderous for Sting throughout, and the action justified the response from the crowd.

Sting fired away with punches and sent Regal flying with an Irish Whip. Regal beat away at Sting with punches and European uppercuts as the fans chanted USA. Sting delivered multiple Japanese arm drags and then Regal went outside to yell at the fans, egging on the USA chants indirectly. Regal tried a handshake but Sting refused, being no-one’s fool. Regal was literally shaking in his boots as Sting cornered him!

Regal locked in a Cobra Clutch and beat away at Sting. Sting tried a sunset flip and Regal tried to punch away at the referee to get out of it! He was swinging for the fences as I guess he’d rather get disqualified than be rolled-up with a sunset flip and pinned!

Regal wore down Sting with a chin lock but Sting reversed it into the back suplex. Regal locked on an arm lock while pressing his knee on the head of the Stinger. Regal tripped the leg and went back to the head lock. Regal wore down Sting, putting his leg on the bottom rope but the referee kicked his foot off the bottom rope.

Sting got an abdominal stretched locked in out of nowhere with his face paint looking to have been wiped off. Regal locked on a head lock with the head-scissors while wrenching back on the arm. Regal did an under-hook submission which looked interesting.

Sting eventually ran wild with clotheslines and dropkicks as the fans burst into life. Regal hit a butterfly suplex from the top rope which he looked to try to do as quickly as possible. I’m not so sure what it was but Regal rushed the hell out of this spot, so maybe he just wanted to prove he was as quick as Billy Kidman was during their match together on Nitro!

Regal locked on the STF but Sting refused to give up which upset Regal. Regal smashed away with elbow smashes. Sting got fired up after a slap from Regal as he punched away at Regal in the corner. Sting went for the Stinger Splash but Regal got the knees up. Sting locked in a Scorpion Death Lock as Regal tapped out right away to a thunderous ovation.

This is a match that worked on paper, worked in execution, worked with the fans and worked in getting both men over with this crowd. Regal was hugely hated as the heel while Sting was hugely beloved as the babyface. This gets two thumbs up! I loved it.

Match Rating: ***1/2

 

They showed a WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 promo, with the show set to take place on July 7th… we’re almost there folks.

 

Ric Flair and Arn Anderson w/Bobby Heenan, Elizabeth and Woman vs Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Kevin Greene w/Macho Man Randy Savage, Debra McMichael and Tara Greene

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I’m going to be fair to everyone in this match. All four men worked their arses of for this tag team match. We all know how good Ric Flair and Arn Anderson are at making their opponents “look like a million bucks” as the old saying goes. How many tag team matches with Ric and Arn have we seen in the last month of WCW Nitro episodes? They wrestled the American Males, the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express andLex Luger and Sting. Every one of those matches had the exact same structure and each match was effective in many ways. They were both absolutely phenomenal wrestlers.

Believe it or not, Mongo and Kevin Greene both held up their end of the bargain very well. After this match was over, I was very shocked at how well they did in doing a 20 minute tag team match with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. This is not the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express or even Sting for that matter. These two guys were wrestling their FIRST EVER WRESTLING MATCH at a big WCW pay-per-view and they exceeded my expectations in the ring.

However, I think I disliked this match more than pretty much every one else who I’ve seen do reviews of the match. Dave Meltzer from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter rated this match 3 and a half stars out of fivw and I’ve seen people rate it four stars. I can’t go that high purely because this match seemed like a poor imitation of those matches I mentioned from Nitro.

Of course, Kevin Green and Steve McMichael are not going to wrestle on the same level as the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express. However, these guys worked a little slower than the dudes in the matches mentioned below. It was a little bit sloppy although it wasn’t terrible or embarrassing. I would just never in my life, even with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson, never have had Greene and Mongo go 20 minutes on a pay-per-view match. I also hated the finish which we’ll get to.

Bobby Heenan got a big pop coming down to the ring. Kevin Greene, with all of his over-the-top promos where he yelled at the top of his lungs, came down to the ring with no energy about him. He was like a moving scarecrow and he even walked in a wooden manner down to the ring like The Great Khali. For a massive pay-per-view, I expected him to come out with at least an additional 10% of life!

The announcers revealed Savage was back “because of public demand” and would be wresting on Nitro or something. Greene had a shirt on with the back saying: “SACK MACHINE IN THE RING.”

Arn briefly out-wrestled Mongo and Flair cackled with laughter like HA HA HA. Mongo took Arn out with a shoulder tackle. Arn beat up Mongo for a while until Mongo came back into the match with a top rope shoulder tackle.

Mongo and Greene stomped a mudhole on Anderson in the ring to a big pop. Savage punched Arn on the outside as the referee’s back was turned. Heenan pleaded his case but Heenan bounced back off the top rope when he saw Savage staring at him!

Greene got tagged in. I love how Dusty’s advice to Mongo and Greene was not to wrestle them. Far be it for me to question the wrestling advice of “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes but it appears not wrestling would be a bad strategy if this was a wrestling match or something!

Ric suckered in Greene and stomped him in the head to applause from the crowd. The fans were about 60% behind the heels and 40% behind the good guys. Maybe it was a bit closer than that between them.

Greene hit two powerful shoulder tackles and then did Flair’s strut in the ring to infuriate the Nature Boy. Savage went after Flair on the ramp and attacked him, throwing him back into the ring… right in front of the referee. Not a disqualification at all when Savage punches away at a tired Ric Flair!

Flair went high in the air for a Kevin Greene back drop. Greene hit a clothesline as the WWE Network buffered and I lost quality. On my screen, it looked like what WCW probably looked like on VHS tapes back in 1996. Of all the matches for the WWE Network to have issues with, it is this one!

Flair chopped Mongo to little affect. Mongo responded with chops of his own and a hip toss. Flair landed almost on his head off a back drop. Mongo locked on a Figure Four on Ric to a massive pop and Greene did his own to Arn Anderson. Mongo and Greene can take some pride in the fact that they could do better Figure Four Leg Locks than Hulk Hogan! These were OK Figure Four Leg Locks compared to some of Hogan’s attempts at the move over the years!

Woman raked the eyes of Mongo and the heel women chased off the footballer’s wives. Elizabeth chased the women away in the least athletic manner possible. I mean she was in a dress so I understand why she struggled but why bother running to try and get the wives? I also was wondering why the babyface women weren’t fighting back as I figured they were there to level the playing feel for their husbands? It made sense at the end I guess…

Heenan kicked away at Mongo as Savage chased him off. Flair chopped at Mongo and Mongo responded by grabbing him. As Arn had the referee’s attention, Ric hit a low blow. The heels did a double suplex to Mongo which I was stunned that they were able to pull of.

Ric and Arn bonked into each other as Mongo eventually made the tag to Greene. Greene ran wild with chop blocks and back drops to both men. Greene hit a powerslam and Mongo hit a big boot to Flair on the apron.

Ric went for a Figure Four Leg Lock but Greene reversed this into a roll up. Flair locked on the Figure Four grabbed Arn for leverage.

Savage attacked Arn as the ref back was turned. Chris Benoit came down to help the Horsemen and he and Savage go on to have an unbelievable brawl on the outside. They were throwing hands and just have a good old scrap in the middle of this match.

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Then suddenly, Debra reappears on stage with a pink dress on and came down with Woman and Elizabeth. Where Kevin Greene’s wife went, I have no idea. Debra went to her husband on the apron as Greene is still locked in this Figure Four Leg Lock. Debra had a briefcase with a Four Horsemen t-shirt and money. Mongo contemplates this offer as Greene is in agony being locked into the Figure Four Leg Lock.

Greene eventually turned over the hold but as he begged Mongo for the tag, Mongo whacked him in the head with the briefcase and Flair scored the pin. After months of Ric Flair hitting on his wife, Mongo sided with Flair and the Horsemen after the Horsemen offered him money.

What’s weird about the money angle of this heel turn is that the announcers briefly mentioned some interview where apparently Mongo went to the Chicago Bears for the money or something like that? It was such a random line to throw in and then Mongo turned on Greene for more Green! So at least that line gave Mongo a storyline desire and when the Horsemen were able to appease his desires, he betrayed his ally Greene.

So Savage went after Flair but then he was swarmed by Mongo, Benoit, Arn and Ric. Mongo puts on the shirt as he is revealed as the 4th Horsemen, replacing Brian Pillman.

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Do you remember when I recapped asegment with Debra and Bobby Heenan from Nitro, and I questioned the tone of her voice when she denied that she had spoke to Flair “all night” as if she was hiding something. I felt for sure that this was either Debra’s accent, bad acting or she forgot a line or something even thought I thought it was weird she said it like that. Well low and behold, Debra was not kidding in storyline. She really was talking to Flair all day in terms of negotiations for Mongo becoming a Horsemen. So there was a plan to put this into place, at least as of last week, to turn Mongo heel and some long-term booking. At the very least, it’s long term booking compared to WWE in 2019.

This match I’ve actually turned the corner on the more I think about it. I could complain about it not looking as good as if it were two other wrestlers in their with the heels but the point of the match is the fact that they were two non-wrestlers in there with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. Say what you will but they went through a lot of effort to put Mongo and Greene over. Mongo wass showing how tough he is by taking the beating, Greene is running wild and spending about a minute or so locked in the Figure Four  Leg Lock at the end. They did everything to get them over and then they pulled the trigger on Mongo.

As a match, this was booked really well. Therefore, I give this match a thumbs up.

Match Rating: ***

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Eric Bischoff came out on the ramp and talked about Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Bischoff called them out as Kevin Nash and Scott Hall strolled onto the ramp. Bischoff said he was in WCW offices debating about their request for a match and WCW had decided to give Nash and Hall their match. Bischoff said it would be at Bash at the Beach and he flat out asked if they worked for the WWF and they said no. I was reading up the Wrestling Observer Newsletter from the time by Meltzer. I guess this line was a way to avert a lawsuit as I guess WWF were going after Hall for acting like Razor Ramon during his promos. They abandoned the notion that this was WWF invading but this was still treat as an invasion.

Scott Hall grabbed the mic and said to forget about the past, let’s talk about the future. He wanted to know who their guys were that were facing them. Scott told “Billionaire Ted” to get whoever he wanted as they were gonna carve them up. Scott Hall attacked Eric and Kevin Nash hit a massive Jackknife powerbomb on Bischoff through a table. Scott Hall said the real big boys just left the building and then they just… left the building!

For a man who had never entered the ring or took a bump to my knowledge up until this point, Eric Bischoff took a big bump here, even if they did pad the hell out of that table. I give credit to the man as he was willing to put this angle over to such a degree that he took a powerbomb of all moves from Nash off of the stage. That is pure commitment right there.

 

The Giant © w/Jimmy Hart vs Lex Luger for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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Luger actually attended to Bischoff as he made his way down to the ring. Giant stomped away at Luger when the match started and Luger responded with punches and clotheslines, even clotheslining Giant out of the ring onto his feet.

Luger tried to get on Giant’s back and locked on a sleeper hold. Jimmy tried to hit Luger with a megaphone but Sting ran down and chased him off. Giant slammed Luger into the corner and hit a big backbreaker.

The commentators sounded very solemn and quiet on commentary which was exactly what LEX LUGER VS THE GIANT needed. We had a slow big man match between Luger and Giant, with the announcers all quiet for this world title match. To be fair, the match wasn’t particular compelling enough to get excited over.

Giant got Luger up for a backbreaker submission for a brief period of time. Luger tried a scoop slam but Giant was too big so they both crashed to the ground.

Giant tried a charge at Luger but Luger moved out of the way as Giant bounced off the rope. Luger kicked The Giant away and Luger hit two big clotheslines, two big forearms and two chop blocks to get The Giant down to one knee. He punched at the head of Giant but Giant pushed him away and was back on his feet after all of that.

Giant went for a splash but got stuck on the top turnbuckle. Luger kicked away and then tried a Torture rack as the fan rose to their feet. The fans erupted as he got him up in the air briefly but he collapsed due to the weight of Giant. Giant hit the chokeslam and got the pin.

Match Rating: *1/2 –  I’ve seen worse WCW main-events than this but this was by no means good or anything. At least they tried their best.

 

That was easily the best WCW pay-per-view I’ve watched so far for this series. Great matches up and down the show accompanied by a lot of other good ones. There was possibly two matches that were less than 2 stars and everything else came close to or exceeded my expectations. This was a great PPV to watch and makes me excited to see what comes next. Bash At The Beach 1996 is a pay-per-view I’ve been wanting to get to for a long time and that will be the very next pay-per-view that we watch.

If my maths is correct, there’s three episodes of Nitro until Bash at the Beach so do check out the Armbar Express for the Nitro reviews building up to a famous wrestling pay-per-view with possibly the greatest heel turn in wrestling history…

Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly and updates whenever Retro Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I appreciate you taking the time to read this review and we hope you enjoy more of the content from the Armbar Express.

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #39 (JUNE 10TH 1996) – KEVIN NASH DEBUTS IN WCW AS SCOTT HALL’S BIG SURPRISE

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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Scott Hall had arrived in WCW 2 weeks ago but returned for a little bit more fun in the closing segments oflast week’s show. He appeared to confront Eric Bischoff once more when Sting got up in Hall’s face. Sting challenged Hall to a match but Hall responded that no-one told him what to do. Hall threw a tooth pick at Sting and Sting slapped Hall in response. The police separated both men with Scott Hall promising to bring a “big surprise” with him next time…

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This show went from being consistently good for months to suddenly just being inconsistent with the quality. When the first two hour show aired, it was pretty awful. Last week’s episode was fabulous as I worded it when I reviewed it. This week, it was back to just being awful in my opinion. Maybe that’s harsh but this show dragged and dragged and filled with lots of gutter.

The two constant good aspects of the show are Ric Flair matches and the invasion angle which we’ll get to. Everything seemed all over the place to me when watching this episode.

With that all being said, this was the go-home show for The Great American Bash 1996 and it worked as a go-home show. You know why? Because I got excited for this upcoming PPV following this show. There was a stellar card that was being put together and the big angles were being pushed very well. By that standard, this was a good show. As a regular Nitro episode, this was not a good one.

 

Date: June 10th 1996

Brand: WCW

City:Wheeling, West Virginia

Rating: 2.6

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan

 

 

Booker T vs Scott Steiner

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Booker threw Steiner around with his long hair which angered Steiner… just a reminder that Steiner had ridiculously long hair at this time before he became Big Poppa Pump. Booker was using it against Steiner and Steiner was mad about it.

Booker and Steiner battled for the backslide pin attempt. Steiner tried suplex after suplex on Booker to which Booker evaded/avoided every attempt. I love that the battle in this match was about Scott hitting a suplex on Booker which ordinarily would mean nothing, but this was Scott Steiner from the Steiner Brothers. It’s an important part of his arsenal which we’ll get onto later with the finish.

Eventually, after ducking a side kick, Steiner hit a tiger powerbomb. Steiner dropped Booker with atomic drop and clotheslined him over the top rope. Booker hit a scissors kick for a two count and it’s still weird seeing the scissors kick as just a move and not a finisher from Booker as it would become in WWE.

Booker grounded Steiner with a front face lock. Yeah Booker briefly out-wrestled college amateur wrestler SCOTT STEINER! Booker did a top rope crossbody for the two count.

Booker tried a suplex but Steiner slipped behind and hit the Scorpion Death Drop, just like Sting did to Scott himself in the last two weeks. It is actually ridiculous the detail in these matches. If you had watched the last two episodes of Nitro and seen Sting reverse a suplex into a Scorpion Deathlock twice now, for Scott to utilise that himself showed that the man learned from previous mistakes.

Steiner got back into the match and hit a belly-to-belly suplex at last. He then called for a frankensteiner but Booker evaded it. Booker followed that up with the wheel kick but Steiner kicked out. Booker missed a top rope body splash and Scott hit a belly-to-belly suplex for the win.

A good opener and told a simple and basic storyline. The suplex winning the match for Steiner was weird to see but again, more than one way to beat someone is great. The suplex battle was actually cleverly well done. After all of this time trying to hit a suplex, Scott finally hit one at the end of the match and he picked up the win. This gets a thumbs up.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Scott Steiner. He started to cut a promo when Debra McMichael cut him off. Scott gave Debra the floor and left. She was worried about her husband Steve “Mongo” McMichael. She’s worried he’s gonna hurt someone permanently. She thought it was her fault but Mean Gene assured her that it wasn’t her fault. She wanted to ask if he could set up a meeting with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson to call off the tag team match at the PPV. Mean Gene went to see what he could do.

 

DDP vs Jim Powers where apparently the Lord of the Ring was on the line according to Tony Schiavonie

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The DDP character is pretty great at the moment in terms of how is story has been told in the last 6 months or whatever. DDP has been booked as a cocky, arrogant fella that always gets his comeuppance in the eyes of the fans. Let’s take one of the first things that happenED in this match. DDP argued with a fan and almost got rolled up for the win by JIM POWERS of all people.

How many times has DDP went to mock the fans or whatever and that led to his doom or almost his doom? He’s too cocky for his own good and that makes him such a good heel. However, if you watch how he’s been booked since Slamboree, they’ve clearly demonstrated that DDP can actually be a good wrestler when he has to be.

When DDP was in that Slamboree battle bowl battle royal, he took it to everyone and was kicking out of everything The Barbarian was throwing at him near the end of that mtch. He eventually fought back and got a big babyface win. Let’s be honest about this. DDP finally won in the end and the fans actually popped.

So the story is that DDP’s own ego is getting in the way of his own success. This isn’t like Disco Inferno’s character who thinks he is better than he actually is. DDP’s ego is getting in the way of him unlocking his full potential. So when he turns babyface, this could be something he can overcome to make him more likeable to the fans.

The match itself wasn’t much of a match. Jim Powers ran wild for a bit as DDP sold and sold for the babyface, then DDP did a back elbow and dropped Powers with the Diamond Cutter to a polite applause for the pin. It gives DDP another win and this slow build push for DDP I bet will have a massive pay-off when we get to him becoming a babyface.

 

They recapped the Taskmaster/Chris Benoit feud again. Benoit vs Taskmaster was now a falls count anywhere match for The Great American Bash. Mean Gene interviewed WCW US Champion Konnan who was defending the title against El Gato at the PPV.

 

Meng vs Sting

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I feel this is the appropriate time to bring this up based on a comment made by Larry Zybszko. Larry made some misogynist comments about blonde women when talking about Debra. It was the typical “the woman should stay at home” spiel and nothing anyone could possibly get away with saying in 2019. I bring it up because in December 2019, Lana recently accused CM Punk of making misogynist comment. I guess CM Punk called her “chica” when talking about her storyline with Rusev and Lashley on WWE Backstage show and she responded with the following:

“I know you’ve been away from WWE for several years. Perhaps moving forward, you will favor WWE and FS1 by refraining from misogynistic comments like ‘chica.’ Thank you.”

I’m not going to argue whether what Punk said was worse than what Larry said because I personally think it’s down to the individual what they actually perceive as offensive.  With that being said, I’m stunned. If what Punk said was considered “misogyny” by Lana, then I wonder what her thoughts would be on this stuff from Larry SPECIFICALLY AIMED AT BLONDE WOMEN at the start of this match.

Speaking of the match, Meng beat on Sting for a while. Sting hit a hard-hitting crossbody for a 2 count which the fans popped for. Meng tried a small package. Meng dropped Sting with a shoulder breaker. Sting cut off Meng with the Tongan going to the top rope. Sting locked on the Scorpion Deathlock and tapped out Meng for the win.

Not much of a match but for what it was, it was fun.

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Mean Gene was with Debra and Bobby Heenan, with the latter managing Ric Flair and Arn Anderson at the PPV. First of, Bobby claimed Debra had been talking to Flair all week. Debra corrected him insisting that she’d been not been talking to him all NIIIIIIGHT. She said “night” in such a way to hint that she hadn’t spoken to him all night but she had been speaking to him all day!

There was something about the way she said “night” where it didn’t come off as believable. Her tone of voice indicated that she was hiding something! Maybe I’m looking too much into this and this is not an accusation of any kind but she technically didn’t say she didn’t talk to him all week. She just said she hadn’t talked to him all night. If you watch the episode and listen to the tone of her voice, it didn’t seem sincere at all to me!

Debra walked into Flair’s locker room. Bobby slammed the door which led to Debra screaming and running out. Ric Flair jumped Joe Gomez and The Renegade, their opponents for that show, as Flair locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock on Gomez as Anderson put in the boots to him.

 

Squire Dave Taylor vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan

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Hacksaw ran wild with clothesline while Taylor sold like crazy. I’m over this Hacksaw Jim Duggan push that WCW have seemingly been up to. I’m not even sure if it’s a push because he doesn’t win a lot of matches on Nitro. However, there seems to be a strong intention to protect Duggan as much as they can. If you watched Slamboree, he beat three men by himself to single-handedly win a tag team match. Last week, he lost to Lord Steven Regal after being overcome by four men. Here, Duggan is back to getting his revenge of the New Bloods.

The finish was Duggan got the tape he’d been using in his matches and punched Taylor in the face with it and got the pin. Now, every time Duggan does this, he gets the tape when the referee isn’t looking like he’s cheating. He whips it out whenever the referee’s back is turned or there is some distraction. However, he uses it and wins his matches. For this match, the referee raised his hands with tape hanging out of Duggan’s hand to suggest that there is not problem with the tape as the referee didn’t question it. This begs the question, why bother trying to hide the tape from the ref if after the match if you’re just going to throw the tape up right in the view of the referee? This tape gimmick for Hacksaw Jim Duggan SUCKED.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Big Bubba and Jimmy Hart. I think it was Jimmy that said Shark didn’t pull his weight, so he’s not part of the Dungeon of Doom. Big Bubba said he proved to the whole world that The Shark was nothing but half a man. Basically Bubba said he was gonna sweep him into the sea or something. Bubba talked at an even faster pace than Jimmy Hart if you find that hard to believe.

 

The Giant © vs “The Flash” Scott Norton for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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Didn’t I say last week that the dynamite clock/firework thing for the second hour was going to annoy me? Well this week really rubbed me the wrong way. They have this dynamite clock that was counting down for a minute until the second hour started and the fireworks go off. For a solid minute, Norton is in the ring with his music playing as they’re waiting for this clock to tick down and the fireworks to go. A FULL MINUTE of Norton just in the ring STANDING THERE before the fireworks go off.

I had to sit there as a viewer to watch ONE MINUTE of NOTHING going on as we’re waiting for the bloody countdown. It’s not even like the fireworks could have went off during The Giant’s entrance. No, the fireworks go off after a minute for about 20 seconds and then The Giant slowly saunters down to the ring and we’ve got to wait for The Giant to get in the ring. This was wasting time to an absurd degree.

So what happened after all of this pomp and circumstance? Norton tried some forearms but Giant ran wild, doing a powerslam of all moves. Norton fired back with a few clotheslines in the corner. Giant cut him off with a big boot. Norton ran into the ring post. The Giant chokeslammed Norton on the floor and then pinned him. This entire match lasted 1 minute and 42 seconds. Norton waited longer than the time of the match to wait for a countdown, fireworks to go off and The Giant coming down ot the ring. Scott Norton had to have been so furious when he saw that on the script for this episode of Nitro!

Giant tried a further beat down. Luger tried to make the save but got thrown out of the ring. Giant delivered a big super kick which sent Luger flying. Giant tried a chokeslam through the table but Luger punted him in the balls to get out of it. Luger beat up The Giant with weapons as Hugh and Taskmaster come to Giant’s aid. Giant cried with agony and then cried with rage! Luger cut a promo at the announce booth. He said he’d proven the Giant can feel pain and he’d see The Giant at Great American Bash. Lex Luger was challenging The Giant for the title at the PPV. This was a decent go-home show angle for The Great American Bash although there was more to come.

 

Billy Kidman vs Lord Steven Regal

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I understand that this match got less than a minute of time, but Billy Kidman worked at a ridiculously fast paced to get a whole bunch of spots in. This was for a match lasting LESS THAN ONE MINUTE. This was his first WCW Nitro appearance so I understand wanting to stand-out but he worked at 500 miles an hour. He did 5000 moves and I was begging for him to slow down. This put Dolph Ziggler to shame in terms of going too fast. He actually physically looked like his future tag team partner Paul London. He looked so tiny for this match that Regal actually looked massive in comparison.

Kidman dropkicked Regal in the back of the head. Kidman missed a 450 splash I think and landed on his knees. Regal locked on a Liontamer-like Boston Crab for the win. The fact that this match got a minute was actually appalling to me knowing how much time Scott Norton wasted waiting for a countdown clock and fireworks. There’s also a match that got too much time which we’ll get to.

Sting came out for the save and slapped Regal in response to the slap of doom from a few weeks ago on WCW Main Event.

 

“The Nasty Boys” Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags vs “Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock

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These four geeks are lucky that the Hardwork Bobby Walker vs Brad Armstrong match from a few weeks ago existed. If that didn’t happen, this would have easily been the worst match in Nitro history. I’m done these two teams wrestling each other over an over again. Calling this wrestling is even stretching it. I’m done with the blatant and uncalled for weapon shots to the head. I’m doing with the pointless brawling. I’m done with the lack of psychology. I am done with this second-hand garbage wrestling.

At least if this was ECW, this “garbage” wrestling or hardcore wrestling would have been more entertaining. This was not entertaining in the slightest. This sucked. They all brawled with each other as the bell didn’t even ring.

In the previous 20 minutes of the show or whatever, they tried to pack in so many things in the space of a few minutes for each match/segment. There was a run-in after The Giant match and there was a run-in after the Regal match. They gave these two tag teams about 15 minutes when you take into consideration the entrances and the post-match stuff and they did… nothing. They did nothing compelling. They did nothing but brawl with each other and I just started to think that this show sucked.

They fought. Nothing eventful happened. Rocco and Sags had an absolutely shocking brawl on the outside. Knobbs hit a middle rope clothesline which never really looked pretty, although I appreciate the effort from Knobbs. Knobbs seemed to be a wrestler who actually tried to get something out of nothing although he was never quite able to do it. Fair play to him for trying but even he couldn’t save this match.

The Nasty Boys beat up Grunge in the corner. I had no idea who the babyfaces or who the heels were in this rivalry. Sags did a double clothesline to Public Enemy. This put AEW to shame in terms of having wrestlers illegally being in the ring during a tag match but at least AEW had rules that allowed for a bit more time in the ring to do certain spots. These teams are just in the ring doing whatever and the referee did nothing about it.

Knobbs and Rocco tumbled to the floor. Bischoff called this tag match “no pretty” which had to have been the understatement of 1996.  Rocco brought out a trash can but Knobbs cut him off. Sags did a pumphandle drop.

Rocco went for a move from the top but Sags used the trash can and the referee called for the bell to finally end this match. Before we could all move on, I must talk about Knobbs again. I have no idea why he did this but Knobbs took the time after the match to launch a trash can lid at Rocco right on the top of the head SO HARD. Rocco’s back was turned and Knobbs threw this lid at his head so he didn’t know what was coming. This was not light. He threw it so hard and with such a force that I can’t imagine this being done other than to hurt Rocco legitimately. Other than that, why else did Knobbs think that was necessary?

The second worst match in Nitro history up until this point. It’s not even like the fans were going nuts for this as they booed the finish.

 

We got more Mongo and Kevin Greene stuff as “Macho Man” Randy Savage came down to wherever they were training to coach them. RANDY SAVAGE told Kevin Greene not to be too intense. Of all of the people in WCW to tell Kevin Greene not to be too intense, it’s the Macho Man? The guy who was too crazy that he was banned at the time from wrestling because he went crazy! I found that line hilarious.

 

Lex Luger and Sting vs Ric Flair and Arn Anderson

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Luger and Sting were replacing Gomez and Renegade. Apparently this was for the tag titles as the referee showed them off to the camera like he usually did. I thought Sting and Luger were just replacing Gomez and Renegade. When did it become a title match?

Ric chopped at Luger but Luger fired back and did a big Gorilla Press slam. Luger sent Ric and Arn packing. Sting and Luger beat up Ric all over the place. I love how Arn stopped himself from crashing into the corner. After this he then pointed to his brain and bragged about how smart he was, and then Sting just punched him in the face! I love that spot! Again, Arn is too cocky for his good just like DDP was earlier.

Arn and Ric sold and sold for the babyfaces all over the place. If you take every Sting vs Ric Flair match and added Lex Luger acting like Sting and Arn Anderson acting like Ric Flair, that’s what you got here. Two Stings vs Two Ric Flairs in a tag team match!

Arn called for a time-out as the heels re-grouped. This match was also very similar to every Arn and Ric tag match in the last 3 weeks. There’s not a lot to say about this other than it went exactly as you’d figure Sting and Luger vs Arn and Ric would go down.

Arn wore down Sting and Sting sold and sold for a long time. I love that Bobby tried to bribe Bischoff with $50 to go down to the ring to help Arn and Ric! Luger got the hot tag and ran wild. The Giant came down and Luger fought him as the ref rang for the bell.

Scott Steiner ran down and beat up Giant with a chair, It was three on one again with Sting, Luger and Scott battling the monster as The Giant still wanted some more but Jimmy called him off. Giant screamed on the mic that Luger was a dead man and promised Luger was going out on a stretcher at the PPV.

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Bobby yelled at Savage at the end of the show but got cut off and ran way from Scott Hall, who made his way over to Bischoff again. Eric grabbed the mic and said he didn’t want any trouble. Eric then eventually changed his tune. He gets a little confident and said Hall came out last week and said he had a big surprise so where was it? He said he heard a lot of talk but where was the walk?

So as Eric attempted to call Hall’s “bluff”, the big surprise appears from behind Eric Bischoff. The big surprise is revealed as Kevin Nash, formerly Diesel in the WWF. Nash cut a promo on Bischoff saying that Eric had been sitting out for six months running his mouth. Kevin Nash then said the following: “This is where the big boys play huh? Look at the adjective, play. We ain’t here to play.” Not the adverb play… THE ADJECTIVE play!

Nash said Hall was gonna bring someone out here and he’s here. He said WCW still doesn’t have their 3 people because they’re all afraid to face them. Nash suggested that they get a couple of palaeontologists to clean up these “fossils”. He asked: “WHERE’S HOGAN? Doing Blunder in Paradise?” Out all of the people he could have called out first, he called out Hogan? That is very interesting when you say where this storyline goes.

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Eric said he didn’t have the authority but he’ll be at WCW Headquarters in Atlanta to try and arrange something. Nash said the measuring stick just got changed around here and they were looking at it. Nash and Hall then left.

Other than the infamous adjective line, Kevin Nash cut a hell of a promo. Nash basically told Eric that we’re not playing around and things are changing around here in WCW. He cut a way better promo than Hall cut a few weeks ago. They said they were gonna be at the Great American Bash so again, more reason to watch the PPV.

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This was a bad Nitro to me. This was not as bad as the Nitro from two weeks ago but I was done with this show as soon as they got to the Public Enemy vs Nasty Boys match. The time management was spot on last week but it was all over the place this week. Why did Public Enemy and Nasty Boys get more time than anybody? Why did Regal vs Kidman get a minute? Why did Scott Norton stand in the ring for about two minutes to have a match that lasted less than two minutes.

I will say that this month they did a better job in building up the upcoming PPV which is the next show in the series. They had a stacked card for The Great American Bash:

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I’ve actually been told that this is actually a great PPV so I am very much looking forward to watching this PPV. There will be a full review of the Great American Bash 1996 here on the Armbar Express. Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly and updates whenever Retro Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I appreciate you taking the time to read this review and we hope you enjoy more of the content from the Armbar Express.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #38 (JUNE 3RD 1996) – RIC FLAIR AND ARN ANDERSON VS THE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL EXPRESS

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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Last week we finally got the debut of the “outsider” himself Scott Hall to WCW television, as he interrupted the exhilarating Steve Doll vs Mauler match to declare war on WCW and “Billionaire Ted.” He re-appeared later on in the show to challenge WCW to a three on three six man tag team match, leaving the fans in the dark about who his allies are and leaving Eric Bischoff flustered and in disarray.

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In the follow-up episode of the famous Scott Hall invasion angle, I think WCW upped their game. Last week was miserable with some of worst matches we’ve seen in the entire series and an underwhelming vibe minus the Scott Hall segment. This week, it was a massive improvement.

It felt like there was more of a point to a lot of the matches they put on, we had some funny segments, some compelling television and we got a big cliffhanger at the end of the show which tied into last week’s big angle.

Mostly, it felt like they got the pacing way better this week with the two hour wrestling show. It was way better than last week’s two hour wrestling show. It felt less of a chore to watch it and the show went by quicker than it did last week.

 

Date: June 3rd 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Asheville, North Carolina

Rating: 3

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan

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This show got off to a flyer in my eyes! This opening promo from The Shark fit right into the “so bad it’s good” category of wrestling. Mean Gene was interviewing The Shark right before a match with Big Bubba, who cut Shark’s hair last week. Shark told the production team to cut the music which Mean Gene Okerlund dubbed the order of Shark! Big Bubba was shown in the ring and still kept the hair with him that he cut off The Shark last week.

Then the Shark cut this promo. He said he’s not shaving the other half of his hair and mentioned that he was embarrassed of the failure by his neighbours and other people making fun of him. He was embarrassed but despite this, he still kept his hair in the state that it was anyway? That seemed like weird motivation for the babyface.

The Shark yells the following: “I’M NOT THE SHARK, I’M NOT A FISH, I’M NOT AN AVALANCHE, I’M A MAN” as he declares himself JOHN TENTA! He rid himself of the Shark gimmick by declaring himself a man! This was very much the WCW version of Pinocchio! Tenta promised he would shave the hair of The Giant and he would feel what Tenta felt last week.

 

John Tenta vs Big Bubba w/Jimmy Hart

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I went through the trouble of making notes for this match but really, it does no justice to the level of incompetence of this match. It was one of the most bizarre refereeing in the history of wrestling refereeing. John Tenta runs wild on Bubba and hits a big powerbomb. Tenta then grabs a pair of scissors and charges Bubba with the scissors. First of all, he made a great mistake in running with scissors. Secondly, Tenta is threatening someone with scissors and referee Nick Patrick does absolutely nothing about this. HE JUST STANDS THERE. Larry Zbyszko is rightfully saying that Tenta should be DQ’d and he has a go at Nick Patrick.

Big Bubba runs to the outside of the ring and won’t get back in because this mad man John Tenta is in the ring with scissors and coming for him. NICK PATRICK then starts counting out BIG BUBBA. He doesn’t DQ Tenta for having a weapon, he doesn’t even yell at Tenta or try to get the scissors out of his hand. He counts out his opponent, who is fearing for his life, and awards the match to John Tenta. WHAT?

This was some of the worst officiating in a wrestling match I’ve seen in a long time. What happened at the Doomsday Cage match, that didn’t have any established rules in the first place so I wouldn’t really consider that. Nick Patrick condemned Big Bubba for running away from a big guy with a grudge and scissors and awarded the match to Tenta. This would be like if Tenta had brought a gun into the ring and aimed at Bubba. Would Patrick still be counting out Bubba in that scenario? Jeez Louise!

 

 

“High Voltage” Ruckus and Kaos vs “Faces of Fear” Meng and The Barbarian

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This was a fantastic squash match. They bring in High Voltage from the WCW Power Plant and effectively fed them to the Faces of Fear. The Faces of Fear were heels but they were beloved by the fans as they beat the tar out of these two geeks. This was a fabulous squash match.

They lock up and Barbarian smashes away at Kaos.  High Voltage take over briefly with a double hip toss and shoulder tackle. Then the Faces of Fear proceed to beat High Voltage’s collective arses for the rest of this match.

Barbarian hit a powerbomb and the fans went NUTS for this powerbomb. The more this team of savages murderws High Voltage, the louder and louder the fans got for the Faces of Fear. The fans loved Faces of Fear as they took control against the babyfaces. Barbarian drops Ruckus with a pumphandle drop

Barbarian sent Ruckus crashing to the floor with his top rope belly to belly suplex and the fans were in full appreciation. He went up for the move and the fans start to buzz, he delivered the move and the fans went crazy. It was amazing to witness. The heels deliver a double headbutt. Meng throws Kaos’ arse out of the ring as Meng hits the Mafia Kick for the win.

This was an awesome squash. High Voltage were so unimpressive but the Faces of Fear looked so awesome and they were over with the crowd. This gets a HUGE thumbs up. This was fun to watch!

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Mean Gene interviewed Sting and Lex Luger. Luger said things got out of hand last week as the Scott Steiner vs Sting match resulted in a big brawl for the DQ. You see, things got out of hand so the referee threw the match out. Unlike Nick Patrick, who apparently thought running around with scissors was OK.

Luger claimed the Steiners attacked him two on one. He said he’s always painted as the bad guy but hopefully cooler heads would prevail. Sting correctly mentioned the suplex that Luger broke up last week which he knew would be the Steiners’ defence. Luger said we’re all very competitive but insisted he was being a friend.

The Steiners interrupted the interview. Rick was mad that Luger took a cheap shot at Scott but Luger was mad that Scott was trying to hurt Sting on the floor with a suplex. Rick yells “he was trying to win!” and Luger responded “on the floor?” It was such a great argument!

Scott Steiner gets involved and pointed at Luger. They warn him not to stick his nose in. Scott was cutting this promo and all I heard was the future Big Poppa Pump. I realise Scott Steiner and Big Poppa Pump were the same person, but this promo felt more like one of his promos that he would be cutting in the later years as a heel and with TNA. It was surreal to listen to. Scott was all yelling and angry at the other guys.

Sting admitted that if his friend was in the same spot he may have had to intervene. Luger pushed Scott I believe which led to a big shoving match between the teams as Mean Gene lost it and threatened to not interview them anymore! I thought this was a legitimately compelling segment. The intensity was there, all four guys, even Luger, made valid points. They were all compelling and it made you wanna watch these teams go at it later. This is how you build up to a main-event tag team match. This gets two thumbs up!

 

Disco Inferno vs Sgt. Craig Pittman w/Teddy Long

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I may have to take away one of those thumbs up for this match. This match was no-good and as soon as Disco failed do an arm drag, you knew there was trouble. That was the first move of the match and it looked sloppy as hell.

Pittman manhandled Disco, throwing him arse all over the place and slamming him with a powerbomb. Disco’s punch to the face was no-sold by Pittman. Pittman then went for Code Red Armbar but Disco gave up up before the move was applied. Disco explained he wouldn’t be able to dance if Pittman broke his arm so he quit. Nothing like a wrestler who cares little about actually wrestling and more about dancing. Way to go Disco Inferno….

This sucked.

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It is now time for me to talk about a segment that didn’t actually take place on Nitro but they showed replays of it during the show. It’s actually available on YouTube to see. Remember when Steven Regal challenged Sting last week? Well on WCW Main Event, they did a press conference. I watched this segment like 2-3 weeks ago and I thought it was one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen. They showed it again twice during this show and I laughed each time!

Regal ended the contract signing saying something like he’s gonna make an example of Sting so WCW doesn’t overlook him anymore. He turned his back to Sting and Sting goes to grab him. He pushes him in the back. So Regal takes one lunge forward and delivers the greatest backhand slap I’ve ever seen. He slapped Sting right in the face and the sound was so loud in the confides of this small room that they’re having this contract signing in.

This slap must have hurt so hard they not only did they bleep what Sting said afterwards, they blurred his face too! I rewatched this about 50 times when I first saw it. I found the GIF and sent it to everyone I could find. It was the most brilliant slap you’ll ever see. People like Bully Ray and Pentagon Jr do these big slaps all of the time but I’ve seen few people in the world of wrestling do a slap like this right across the face. When I saw it again, I loved it.

That slap alone was perfect build for their match at The Great American Bash. Regal slapped Sting during this contract signing and it was so hard, Sting swore so much that it blurred his face! Sting was all kinds of pissed off about this slap. I cannot wait to watch their match at The Great American Bash.

I watched it again on YouTube and someone commented that Sting deserved the slap as he didn’t wear a shirt and a tie to a contract signing! I laughed at that.

 

Lord Steven Regal vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan

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The fans went nuts with USA chants as Hacksaw Jim Duggan egged them off and Regal was disgusted by this act of patriotism! I love how Larry claimed Regal backing away from Duggan was psychological warfare… after weeks of listening to Bobby Heenan finding 1001 ways to call Jim Duggan stupid on commentary! We’ll get to Bobby later.

Hacksaw ran wild on Regal and Regal had a good snap in the selling of the clotheslines Hacksaw delivered. Hacksaw ran wild with punches in bunches. Regal booted Duggan right in the face to take control, with Regal’s face showing such displeasure in the USA chants!

Regal went for a rolling senton but Duggan avoided it. Duggan ran wild as the Blue Bloods try to get involved. Dave Taylor intercepted the 2×4 and Regal rolled up Duggan off the distraction for the win.

The right man won here but again, they did everything in their power to protect Hacksaw Jim Duggan. This was exactly like Slamboree when they felt the need to have Duggan overcome three men by himself! If you’ll recall, one of those men was Steven Regal! Here, he lost to Regal as he should have done, but he was fighting off four men before Regal eventually beat him. Just have Regal kick his arse and send him packing as yes, Regal’s got a big match with Sting at the pay-per-view.

The match was OK but the booking infuriated me!

 

Mean Gene interviewed Regal and the Blue Bloods. Regal said he got a fine for the slap of doom which was a fine more than the peasants in the arena would make in a year. He paid double in fine so he’s in credit! They showed the clip again from WCW Main Event. Regal called out Sting for not loving anyone except himself. He said he wanted the Stinger at his best. He wanted Sting to be mean, nasty and rude. He wanted to beat Sting in the ring which Regal himself called his home. This was a solid Regal promo and an excellent way to hype up him vs Sting. He wanted the very best of Sting and he slapped him as he wanted Sting to be the meanest, nastiest and rudest he’s ever been so he could beat Sting at his best. This was superb promotion for a wrestling match.

 

They showed clips from WCW Saturday Night in the last month where Chris Benoit and “The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan kept arguing, with Benoit questioning Arn Anderson’s trust in Sullivan. Kevin Sullivan vowed to squash the serpent Benoit at Great American Bash as he figured Benoit wanted to be the enforcer of the Horseman instead of Arn. I do like that with the extra hour, they found the time to air important clips from these other shows as a means to advance my interest in those programs and storylines.

 

“The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan w/Jimmy Hart vs Prince Iaukea

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Again, this was another simple squash  match. Taskmaster went in there and beat the ever-living daylights out of the newcomer Prince Iaukea. He slammed him on the guard rail, he slapped the hell out of him as the prince got no offense at all to my knowledge. Taskmaster hit a double foot stomp and got the pin with a move I totally forgot was his finisher!

I love that this show had a lot more squash matches than we’d previously seen. Remember last week where I got so mad at the Lex Luger vs Maxx match where I said they should have just had Luger hit a bunch of clotheslines and lock on the Torture Rack to beat the guy. Taskmaster was shown here to not be playing around. He went in there, beat the Prince’s arse and won. Give me guys beating other guys to build them up strong for other matches! I realise this is a foreign concept to a lot of companies in 2019 but look at how well it did for Faces of Fear earlier on in the night.

Mean Gene interviewed Jimmy Hart and Taskmaster. Jimmy asked Taskmaster why they have to associate themselves with the Horsemen? After all, they’ve got The Giant and the WCW World title so Jimmy’s asking why they should need them. Taskmaster said two wars are going on in WCW as Hulkamania is not dead. He warned Hogan would be coming back for The Giant, Jimmy Hart and Taskmaster. Taskmaster said the only two people he respected in the wrestling business were Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. He mentioned that he told Arn about Brian Pillman. He called Pilman a quitter. He said he knows serpents and the way you get rid of the serpent is to crush the egg. He said he’s gonna get rid of Benoit in order for the Dungeon to get rid of Hogan.

 

Ric Flair and Arn Anderson w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth vs “The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express” Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson

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They mentioned earlier on in the show that Flair and Anderson were going to be facing the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express and I initially thought Tony Schiavonie had just fluffed up his words a little and they meant… the American Males or some other tag team. Well as it turned out, it was RIC FLAIR AND ARN ANDERSON VS RICKY MORTON AND ROBERT GIBSON on an episode of Nitro. During the year where the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express are making their big return in NJPW and AEW, I watched a Nitro from 1996 with these guys wrestling Flair and Anderson.

They then proceed to have a solid 18 minute tag team match. I understand this was not the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express in their prime but they had a damn decent showing in there with Flair and Anderson. Flair and Arn came out in NFL tops to mock Kevin Greene and Steve “Mongo” McMichael ahead of their match at The Great American Bash. Oh we’ll get to that later.

There was a dynamite timer on the clock as things were gonna literally explode as they were about to go into the second hour. They begin to wrestle. Conveniently at the moment they stop doing anything in the ring, fireworks went off like crazy to mark the beginning of the second hour. These fireworks were massive for celebrating THE SECOND HOUR OF A WRESTLING SHOW of all things! You could tell this company had a lot of money to blow at this point in their existence. This is gonna annoy the hell out of me in the new few weeks isn’t it?

Ric and Ricky started going nuts, throwing hands back and forth as they battled. It was like the battles of The Rock and Stone Cold when they threw these wild punches at each other. The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express took control as Woman and Miss Elizabeth drunk champagne by Ric’s fancy table set-up.

Robert locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock to thunderous applause from the fans. Then Ricky got Arn on the Figure Four Leg Lock of his own and the fans lost their minds at the sight of the double Figure Four Leg Lock by the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express. It’s insane how crazy these fans got for this spot. Even when Hogan would do his horrific Figure Four Leg Locks, the fans wouldn’t go NEARLY as batshit insane as they did here.

The ref pushed Ric around and Ric lost his mind as he and Arn re-grouped on the entrance ramp.  Ricky ran wild on Arn for a bit. I love how Ric voluntarily tagged himself into the match and then begged of Ricky Morton right away! He wanted to tag himself into the match but he wanted no business with Ricky Morton!

Ric took control with an eye poke. Ricky turned things around for a while but Ric quickly turned it back around in his favour by evading a charge into the corner and chopping Morton down. Arn worked on the arm of Ricky, utilising under-handed tactics by grabbing Flair’s arm at any opportunity he could. As the ref would turn around to try and catch them, Ric would just start strutting on the apron! This was great stuff from Flair!

Arn hit a great spinebuster on Ricky but Gibson broke it up. Ric did a suplex and hurt himself in the process… which was weird to me. Arn slowed it down by wrenching on the head of Ricky. Ricky worked his way to his feet and got a sleeper hold locked in out of nowhere, to which Arn turned that into a back suplex. Ric went for a Figure Four Leg Lock but Ricky reversed it into a small package. Ricky and Ric battled for a sunset flip spot.

Arn went for a front face lock and the fans expected the DDT from the Enforcer. Bobby Heenan left the booth and talked to the girls, as the announcers talked about Heenan possibly managing the heels at the PPV. Arn and Ricky bonked into each other as Bobby walked away with a smile on his face.

Ricky went through the legs of Arn and got the tag to Robert. Robert Gibson ran wild. The fans were surprisingly quiet for this which I’m wondering had something to do with the heat segment. I think the heels got the heat for possibly too long as the fans started zoning out possibly. After all, this was an 18 minute match on Nitro, which they weren’t used as discussed last week.

They did a double drop kick on Flair and Arn but then Woman raked the eyes of Robert as the referee was distracted. Arn hit the DDT for the win.

Slow in parts but a good tag match. I very much enjoyed it. I enjoyed seeing the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express as they held their own with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson in this match. In the end, the heels had to cheat to win and this was fun to watch. This gets a thumbs up too!

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Mean Gene interviewed the heels. Arn said he was too big and thick to play football as earlier on in the show, he couldn’t get his jersey off over his head! That I laughed at. Arn said they’re tougher and they’re way too big. Ric talked about Mongo’s wife Debra again and claimed the jerseys were from her. Ric said they were bigger, faster, sleeker and they were all night long as Ric smooched all over Woman. The Coup de grace, as Ric put it, was Bobby Heenan as Bobby came back on screen. Mean Gene suggested chicanery.

Bobby said everyone had asked him to be a manager again, which was actually shown to be true if you remember the Sgt. Pittman angle from months ago when Pittman asked Heenan to be his manager. However, Heenan said he was never gonna be manager again and was going to stay true to his word. Ric was devastated as Ric went: “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE GIRLS?” I was overcome with laughter!

Bobby then grabbed an All-Madden trophy which he got as he was listed as a coach. He said he’d never manage but he didn’t say anything about being a coach. He agreed to coach the heels. Heenan said he’d show the NFL players what coaching means. He said The Brain was back coaching and the fans popped for this. They all celebrated with champagne. I thought this was a great segment.

What was spectacular about this was Heenan cut this great promo about the NFL and he was coming back to show up these NFL players in the confides of a wrestling ring. Arn, Ric and Bobby are all talking about how wrestlers were tougher and better all around and the fans are loving all of this, even from these heels that have been hated for years by the majority of fans! They were defending wrestling, in front  a wrestling crowd, and the fans ate it up! Bobby essentially cut a babyface promo in their eyes!

Bobby reiterated when he got back to the announce booth that this was a one-time thing and planned to teach the NFL that you can’t walk over wrestling.

 

There was another Hulk Hogan video package of him whooping arse to his own theme song. I’m pretty sure there was two Hogan video packages during this episode. They showed us how he was all about the red, white and blue and he was portrayed as such a hero to his fans. I’m wondering what the point of this was, other than to remind us that they still have Hulk Hogan. I figured there was no point to these video packages. It turned out there was a point as we’ll get to The Giant’s promo later.

 

The Giant (c) vs Ice Train for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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The Giant had another title defence on Nitro, this time with Ice Train. I don’t remember ever seeing Ice Train win on Nitro yet but here he is in a title match. Anyway, I was still excited to see him as he and The Giant had this big staredown before the bell rang.

This match went 29 seconds as Ice Train got tripped by Jimmy Hart and pinned by The Giant off a chokeslam. Those were the two things that happened in this match. Ice Train came off as the biggest geek this week.

Then Ice Train’s partner Scott Norton got in the ring. He got mad at The Giant and then he got chokeslammed twice and laid out like a geek too. They mentioned that Fire and Ice are facing The Steiner Brothers at The Great American Bash. You built that match up by having The Giant destroy one of those teams by himself? Jeez Louise.

The Giant then cut a promo on Hulk Hogan. He was sick of Hulk Hogan’s video packages as mentioned earlier. He was sick of him as Hogan was not here. Giant said Luger almost got between him and Jimmy but not quite. He told Luger to come get some as Lex Luger was challenging The Giant for the title at The Great American Bash.

 

Scott Norton vs Hugh Morrus

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Norton is still laid out on the mat after Giant chokeslammed him twice and is being attended to. The announcers explained Norton was supposed to face Hugh Morrus next. Hugh came down and dropped a leg drop on him.

The bell didn’t even ring. There was no effort to stop this by referee Nick Patrick. As far as I could tell, there was no bell so there was no official start to the match! Morrus put his finger on Norton and the referee makes the 2 count. Hugh does three elbow drops. Then the referee suddenly doesn’t wanna do the count… WHAT? It wasn’t like Nick was prompted or threatened by Hugh Morrus to do the count the first time. Now all of a sudden, he doesn’t want to make the count? This is ridiculous.

So this “match” goes on. Hugh Morrus goes for a moonsault. Norton gets up. He was supposed to catch Morrus, but he’s unable to do so. Morrus falls to the ground, Norton punches him a few times and picks up a weird win in a match, that wasn’t even a match. This was a horrific mess.

Hugh Morrus came off as a massive geek too after this match was over. Scott Norton was FLAT ON HIS BACK when this match started. Morrus does a few elbow drops and after a botched moonsault spot, he gets punched in the face a few times and pinned.

Hugh Morrus was at least was a heel, so him being cocky and losing a match he should have had no problem winning was not that big of a deal. It’s fine, in most cases, for a heel to be a geek. On the other hand, Ice Train was a babyface set to have a big match at the pay-per-view and he was tripped and pinned in less than 30 seconds.

However, in the space of about 10 minutes, they buried 3 guys. They buried Ice Train for getting tripped and pinned like a loser, they buried Scott Norton for getting laid out by The Giant and then Hugh Morrus got buried for losing a match to a man who started the match on his back!

GEEK OF THE WEEK – Ice Train for getting tripped, chokeslammed and pinned in 30 seconds

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Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Kevin Greene were shown training. This was my personal favourite moment this week. The Regal slap will be an all-time favourite moment of mine but technically that happened on a different show. This video package of the NFL players training for their match with Flair and Anderson was so bad and goofy, it was tremendous. The NFL players took bumps in the ring, bragging about how tough they were while also whining about the ropes!

They cut to scene where they have a whiteboard and talk about the game plan. Greene’s plan was to treat this match as they were American Football players wanting Mongo to come in with a crossbody block! Greene has basically got a ring drawn up as it’s like the NFL play sheet or whatever. He mentioned something about wanting Mongo to penetrate the area or something and I figured maybe I misheard him saying penetrate. It was clear by the end that I didn’t mishear anything!

Greene is eating beef jerky during this as Mongo explained that thi iss wrestling not American football. Mongo said he should want to rip their head of as he ripped up a can, which I missed the first time watching it. I did watch this segment more than once by the way! Mongo talked about their finishers and avoiding them which was a great plan. In a wrestling match, you should avoid wrestler’s hitting their finishers. No shit?

Greene fired back and insisted that they’ve gotta penetrate them, they’ve gotta penetrate them. He was so excited to say penetrate as loud as he could. I laughed out loud big time. I was hysterical listening to Greene get all excited about penetrating Flair and Anderson. I’ve never cracked up many times watching a WCW but I was in bits during this segment. Greene is bouncing up and down on the chair and everything! He’s so into this wrestling business!

They both decide that there’s going to be a difference in opinion so they wanted to get Randy Savage as a coach since Savage can’t wrestle anymore. They got excited as they went to find him. This was so goofy but I found it hilarious.

If you have the WWE Network, find this segment on the Network and watch it. It was goofy and stupid but it was magnificent in execution. I was hoping the next segment next week would be them looking for Randy Savage, getting him to coach them. I was hoping for like a Empire Strikes Back/Crocodile Dundee mash-up where they’re looking for him! It appears we won’t get that due to the later segment of Savage ringing up on Nitro, which we’ll get to.

 

Sting © and Lex Luger © vs The Steiner Brothers for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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I was still trying to recover from that previous segment as the tag teams came down for this match.

As mentioned, the announcers were able to get “Macho Man” Randy Savage on the phone. Macho Man said he can’t wrestle on TV or PPV but he said he’s able to coach and agreed to be the NFL players’ coach. Scott did an awesome titlt-a-whirl slam as Savage cut this promo on Heenan.

Sting slammed Scott with a big bulldog as Heenan begged for his life on the phone! Savage said they’re gonna eat them all up and there’s nothing they can do that. Heenan got so flustered that he was shown hitting himself in the face with the headset!

Rick worked on the arm of Luger as they came back from the break. Sting ran wild, hit a Stinger Splash and locked on the Scorpion Death Lock but Scott cut him off with a Steinerline clothesline. Luger and Scott pushed each other away. Scott hit a big belly-to-belly suplex. Scott sent Sting flying with a Frankensteiner. Luger broke it up and punched away at Scott.

Sting reversed a suplex into a Scorpion Death Drop on Scott Steiner just like last week. Luger got the tag and hit a powerslam. He went for the Torture Rack but Rick broke it up. Luger raked the eyes and HE tried to suplex Scott on the outside this week but Rick broke it up. So of all of Luger’s talk this week about what a under-handed thing it was for Scott to try the suplex on the outside, Luger himself tried it this time! I do love certain storyline aspects of this show!

Sting eventually brawled with Rick, as it broke into a four way brawl. Sting tried to piledrive Rick on the floor but Rick reversed. The Giant came down and hit the worst chokeslam in the world where he reared back and got Rick in the air, getting his knee up for the slam. He came down, lost his footing and they both just fell down.

Giant went for Luger as the referee called for the bell. Luger punched away at The Giant and fired away as the fans went nuts. Scott, Sting and Luger then all went after Giant in the ring as they tripled-teamed the big man as the fans went bonkers for all of this. Giant got mad and threw a chair into the ring. I actually really liked this. A big good feel moment and the fans were really into this post-match segment.

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Bobby physically begged to Savage for him to show mercy and even offered dinner when Scott Hall came back this week. Hall pushed Bischoff back down to his chair. Hall got the mic. Hall said he had such a good time last week that he came back for more. Hall said Bischoff started it and he said again, they started it but “we’re” gonna finish it. Sting stepped up to Hall. I love that although Sting is feuding with the likes of the Steiner Brothers, Lord Steven Regal, Ric Flair and The Giant all at once, he still stepped up to Scott Hall when he was confronting Bischoff! A true hero!

Bischoff told Sting not the dignify Hall. Sting said Hall said really horrible things about WCW… did he though? I mean Hall made fun of some wrestlers but he just said that Bischoff was talking trash about the competition so they were bringing a war. He says Hall’s in the jungle. Sting mentioned that Hall wanted three of the best but all Sting saw was Hall so HE challenged him to a match. Hall said nobody told him what to do and when to do it. He threw a tooth pick at Sting and Sting slapped him. Hall said he had a big surprise for him next week as the police separated him.

What I loved about this segment was they were careful not to overexposure Hall. He came out and talked to Bischoff and they built up tension between him and Sting. He wasn’t all over the show and showed up at the very end, to tease a “big surprise” for the next show, encouraging the fans to tune in and see what it was.

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This was fabulous episode of Nitro in my eyes. It wasn’t a technically good show with the wrestling, minus the tag team match with the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express. They did some awesome squash matches, they did great angles up and down the show, they built up the pay-per-view superbly well in general. This really got me excited to see what was to come. Obviously, we all know what the big surprise was next week. If by chance you don’t know, I won’t spoil it. However, this was fun to watch and I enjoyed myself watching it.

Next week, we get Scott Hall’s “big surprise” and the Armbar Express will be back with more reviews of WCW Nitro. Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly and updates whenever Retro Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I appriciate you taking the time to read this review and we hope you enjoy more of the content from the Armbar Express.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order