RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #8 (OCTOBER 23RD 1995) – THE YETI ARRIVES ON THE GO-HOME SHOW FOR HALLOWEEN HAVOC

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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On the last episode of WCW Nitro, Ric Flair was set to go at it against Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman. Sting had agreed to be Flair’s partner but questions were raised as to whether Sting could trust Flair. Apparently, Sting had his own concerns as he was not present for the opening bell.

Flair went at it alone and massacred Arn and Brian in a chop-fest. However, when Flair was overwhelmed, the Stinger finally came to the aid of Flair. With Arn and Brian getting counted out, Sting told Flair that he was on his side as Flair proved he had a lot of guts and a lot of heart.

Other highlights included Chris Benoit’s WCW debut in a great match against Eddie Guerrero and DDP evading a WCW TV title defence against Johnny B Badd by getting himself DQ’d before the bell even rang.

Now we come to the go-home show for WCW Halloween Havoc. With Hulk Hogan on the show this week and Sting and Luger set to team up in the main event, the question remained as to what was going to happen between the heroes of WCW and the Dungeon of Doom as we are on the road to Halloween Havoc 1995 in Detroit.

Before we get to Halloween Havoc though, we’ve got a Nitro to review and… prepare yourselves for an infamous WCW debut in the closing moments of the show. You have been warned.

 

Date: October 23rd 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Huntsville, Alabama

Rating: 2.6

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

 

“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs Kurasawa

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Man, was I worried when I saw this match was set to take place. Kurasawa was a guy I was kinda high on when I first saw him. I then watched an infamous tag team match w/ him and Meng taking on Sting and Hawk and I could not believe how bad that match was. Now we had Randy Savage vs Kurasawa and even for a Randy Savage match… this was somehow boring.

This was boring because all Kurasawa did was kick away and karate chop away at Savage. When Ric Flair was chopping away at Anderson and Pillman last week, it was at least filled with fire and energy. Here, because Kurasawa was the heel, it was slow and boring. There was even a point in the match where Kurasawa was working on Savage and Savage threw Kurasawa out of the ring to buy himself some breathing room. After about 10 seconds or so, Kurasawa got back into the ring and started to work on him again.

I will say that the commentators did everything they could to put over Kurasawa, which was fine considering where this match was going on. They went on about how Kurasawa broke Hawk’s arm and defeated the undefeated Craig Pittman. That’s… fine.

So Kurasawa just kept beating on him, and beating on him, and beating on him. They went to a commercial, as the Americans put it, and then they came back and Kurasawa was STILL beating on him! This was just endless.

Actually, it wasn’t endless. Kurasawa went for a baseball slide but Savage evaded and Kurasawa fell to the outside taking a flat back bump. Kurasawa went for a head kick but accidentally kicked the ring post as Savage dodged. They got back in the ring and then Savage hit the elbow drop and won.

I can’t really hate the psychology of the match as they put Kurasawa over on route to Savage beating the guy, which is what you do. However, in terms of selling me on the idea of seeing Randy Savage wrestling twice at Halloween Havoc, this match doesn’t particular do a tremendous job when Savage was just getting beat on for about 90% of the match against Kurasawa.

Flair looked like a proper mega star when he beat the crap out of Anderson and Pillman last week. I don’t mean to keep bringing up Flair but Flair sold me on the idea that he’s a superstar and you’d want to pay to watch him smash Anderson and Pillman along with Sting. This match didn’t make wanna see Savage face Kamala and possibly Lex Luger as well as Halloween Havoc.

I will say that Dave Meltzer from Wrestling Observer gave this match minus a star and called it one of the worst matches of the year. I would not go that far. There’s been far worse matches than this since I started watching these Nitros. The first Nitro was also in like September 1995 so there’s a lot of ground we haven’t even covered. This match was certainly not at the level of badness that Sting and Hawk vs Kurasawa and Meng was.

 

I had to do some proper investigation following this next segment. The lights went out and a man was sat right on a big elaborate chair in a pre-taped video. It wasn’t until after this show where I figured out that this was Taskmaster’s father (a.k.a. The Master) and the founder of the Dungeon of Doom. Quite the lore to this Dungeon of Doom.

I swear I understood like about 10% of this promo. I actually had to rewind it in the middle of it as I was just in tears with laughter as this guy was yelling all kinds of random stuff which I didn’t even understand! He yelled that the insurance package had been delivered. As far as I’m aware, he said he found somebody that was thawed out of ice. The one they called… THE YETI. At that moment, they showed an ice block on the stage.

The Giant and Taskmaster then showed up and Taskmaster explained that his father went with the serpent guides to get the yeti. Taskmaster said that evil does dwell in Hogan’s heart. Taskmaster thought that there was no bit of goodness left as the fans chanted for Hogan. The Giant grabbed the mic and said that Hogan had many lives but the Giant would take the last life from Hogan at Halloween Havoc. Giant proclaimed that the one true immortal was himself and he cackled away. The VINTAGE Giant cackle which I wish he still did as the Big Show. I love it.

Taskmaster said the insurance package would be there at Halloween Havoc and Mean Gene advised that he would be talking to Hogan later.

I will get onto the Yeti later on as there’s a lot to explain about what was originally was supposed to happen. Nevertheless, this was a rather wacky promo as we learned more about the lore of the Dungeon of Doom.

 

We got another Randy Savage Slim Jim advert.

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Mean Gene welcomed, as he billed him, THE START OF THUNDER IN PARADISE and WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan. I’m not entirely sure of a review series but I will be watching Thunder In Paradise… eventually!

Hogan was still wearing a neck brace and I don’t remember if Mean Gene said this or one of the commentators said it, but somebody said Hogan was ready for Halloween Havoc… need I remind them that dude that Hogan was wearing A NECK BRACE?

Hogan yelled that even though he walked through the valley of the Dungeon of Doom, he feared no evil. He carried the hopes of all of the Hulkamaniacs. I mentioned how strange Hogan’s promos have gotten as of late. Here, he talked about the fact that he was wearing black gloves and said that everyone knows what a man with black gloves is capable of…. this was a reference to OJ Simpson. What a bizarre babyface this Hulk Hogan is and here I though Roman Reigns was a terrible babyface.

Hogan said that he was gonna get his big monster truck and drag The Giant around until he disintegrates and then he was gonna beat him in the middle of the ring.

He then went into some big tirade as to how Sting, Savage and Luger all wanted to pick the bones of Hogan and the bad guy Hulk Hogan is ready for them. He’d beat Savage, Sting and Luger and he vowed to destroy The Giant.

This was a crazy promo but in hindsight, this was a brilliant promo. Knowing where the Hulk Hogan character would go in a year’s time, this promo was a slight foreshadow of the Hogan that will eventually feud with Savage, Luger and Sting. That’s the first thing.

The second thing is I talked about how the Hogan babyface character is possibly even worse than Roman Reigns as a babyface. This is kinda mute point considering what’s happened to Roman with his leukaemia but it does apply to pretty much every babyface in WWE right now. Roman was a babyface that couldn’t get over as a babyface because WWE didn’t give the fans any reason to get invested in the guy at all. Hogan got people invested in him as he had the creativity to be as crazy as he could.

Even if he’s saying weird stuff like how shaving his moustache was like burning the American flag and comparing himself to OJ Simpson, Hogan was so out of his mind with his promos that you just couldn’t help but stop and listen to him. When you give the talent a means to be entertaining by just letting them be nuts, it speaks a lot more to the audience rather than talent that are just scripted to death to sound exactly like everybody else. Nobody in WWE nowadays sounds like Hulk Hogan because they sound just like each other. They don’t sound… human. That’s an issue.

Hogan didn’t have that issue because he didn’t have 28 writers writing all of his dialogue and this promo, as crazy as it sounded, it made you invested in finding out what Hogan was going to do to The Giant at Halloween Havoc.

 

They plugged WCW Saturday Night, including Hogan being there, Lex Luger vs The Shark and the American Males defending the WCW tag team titles against Harlem Heat. I actually wanted to watch these two matches as I wanted to see the long-awaited rematch from Episode #3 where American Males randomly won the WCW tag team titles. I also had a perverse desire to watch Lex Luger vs The Shark because can you imagine how bad this match had the potential to be? However, I could not find this episode of Saturday Night on my online travels and it’s not on the WWE Network yet so unfortunately I can’t watch those matches. ‘Tis a shame as I planned that as a bonus review!

 

Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko vs Eddie Guerrero and Mr JL w/Alex Wright

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As advertised last week, Alex Wright was supposed to be teaming with Eddie Guerrrero but he had injured his knees according to Bischoff. Supposedly, he did this in a match with Chris Benoit which I’m surprised the announcers didn’t bring up. I also like how Alex Wright came out in crutches for this match that he wasn’t cleared to wrestle in but he was dressed up in his gear and trunks! Mr JL took his place.

Eddie and Benoit pushed each other and stared each other down before the bell rang. The two of them started off the match.

During the match, Benoit and Dean Malenko somehow pulled off a double leapfrog. Benoit and Dean tried a double team where Benoit held Eddie in position for Dean to hit a tope suicida but Dean accidentally hit Benoit. Eddie then just THREW Mr JL into Benoit and Dean and I mean THREW him like Braun Strowman throwing some security guard geek onto a pile of men or something! It was tremendous.

Eddie hit a beautifiul tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Eddie launched Mr JL into Dean for an elevated high knee. In the middle of this, Scott Norton and The Shark were shown brawling backstage as they were pulled apart by the Dungeon of Doom. That’s at least the second time where we’ve seen WCW cut away from a cruiserweight match to show some angle involving the Dungeon of Doom during Nitro. I imagine fans of the cruiserweights were not to pleased.

By the way, I couldn’t help but notice that Bischoff said that this brawl was because of the miscommunication between the two during Norton’s match with Randy Savage on Episode #2 of Nitro. It took Norton and Shark this long to be mad about it?

The heels got the heat. Bobby’s explanation for Alex Wright’s injury was that he was trying out the dance moves of Disco Inferno! Dean hit a very good and realistic looking belly to belly on Mr JL. Eddie broke up a pin on Mr JL and Benoit’s response was to shove Eddie with enough force to send him crashing outside of the ring!

It only just occurred to me at this point of the match that Eddie beat Dean a couple of weeks ago on Nitro and the announcers made no mention of that fact. Eddie broke up another pin following a Benoit superplex. Dean and Mr JL had a good ol’ backslide battle that Mr JL won. Eddie made a hot tag and then got immediately kicked in the gut by Dean! Eddie turned it around and even dropkicked Benoit off the apron when Benoit was yelling at a fan. The finish came when Alex Wright tripped up Dean with a crutch and Mr JL rolled Dean up for the win. It was a good match with a strange finish.

So Alex Wright had blatantly cheated in a match he wasn’t even in and Bischoff’s defence of the babyfaces was stating that the heels were pulling heel shenanigans during the match. Apparently Bischoff wasn’t aware that two wrongs don’t make a right. Brian Pillman then came out and laid out Eddie which Mr JL and Alex Wright just stood there and watched. I guess this was because Pillman is a cruiserweight himself and they’ll need to crown as cruiserweight champion. I guess that’s why he did it.

 

Lex Luger and Sting vs “Harlem Heat” Booker T and Stevie Ray w/Sister Sherri

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WCW Hotline plugged once again by Bischoff, talking about an event from the night before called “In Your House”… ha ha. How clever.

I was more offended by, in response to Bobby calling Sister Sherri beautiful, Eric called him a sick, twisted and demented individual if he finds her beautiful. Nobody could get away with a line like that in 2018.

Sting started off by hip tossing Booker T over the top rope. Sting back-dropped Booker and Bischoff said he almost back-dropped him into another area code. Stevie Ray started to work on Lex Luger as we came back from the ads as Bischoff referred to Stevie as “the man in control of the total package.”

Stevie and Lex working together was not particularly eventful other than screwing up an eye rack spot so horrifically. Stevie looked like he eye-raked the sky and then Luger sold for it anyway when he wasn’t even close to Stevie!

Booker hit an axe kick. I will say, in Bischoff’s defence for the Sherri line (although I personally think beauty is subjective and nobody is truly ugly or anything), but Sherri was looking at a photos of Col. Robert Parker that she appeared to have retrieved them from her backside. I’m not making that up. She reached into her ass, whipped out the photos and then gave them both a big kiss! That was… oddly disturbing as my notes put it.

Booker went for a Houston Hangover but Luger got out of the way. Luger made the hot tag to Sting. Sting went wild as the fans went crazy. The fans always went crazy for Sting’s hot tag which made him such a tremendous babyface. Sting hit Stinger Splashes and went for the Scorpion Deathlock but Booker broke it up with a side kick.

Harlem Heat worked on Luger for a bit but Sting flew in out of nowhere and hit a top rope crossbody for the pin. This was not as boring as the Kurasawa vs Savage match but this was an absolute nothing match for me.

This match did not sell me on the idea of potentially seeing Luger in two matches either. Savage and Luger were not helped by this edition of Nitro heading into Halloween Havoc.

The Giant hit the ring to chokeslam Luger and Sting. If you remember from Episode #6 I believe, they teased the angle of Sting working with the Dungeon of Doom as The Giant had not attacked Sting yet. But now, there was no doubt as Giant just chokeslammed him. Savage came down and then Hogan came down to confront The Giant. The fans were going ABSOLUTELY CRAZY for this confrontation.

Hogan punched away at The Giant but Giant clobbered him on the back. Hogan hulked up and punched away at The Giant who started to stagger. The Dungeon of Doom came out to brawl with the babyfaces. The Head Of Security of WCW tried to calm down Hogan when all of a sudden, the ice block on the stage EXPLODED. Yes, ice had exploded.

Creepy music came on as a figure emerged from the explosion which was revealed to be the Yeti… DRESSED as a mummy as Nitro ended with a cliffhanger.

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OK… so about the Yeti. Apparently, this was supposed to be El Gigante (Giant Gonzalez when he was in the WWF). However, El Gigante apparently like wasn’t able to get down to the show in time or something to play the role. I believe it was due to his health. Therefore, someone else was dressed up as a mummy to take El Gigante’s place but he was still referred to as The Yeti!

This was a hilariously awful reveal of the Dungeon of Doom’s insurance policy. I don’t think it was as funny as the Shockmaster’s debut or as stupid as the Gobbledy Gooker’s debut but this was like the perfect balance of the two. You’d think that after all The Giant’s done to Hogan in the past couple of weeks, who could The Giant possibly need for an insurance policy against Hogan? Who The Giant apparently needed and who Taskmaster’s father and serpent guides went to the trouble of finding… was a yeti dressed as a mummy.

And you know what was the kicker to all of this is?…. this edition of WCW Nitro BEAT RAW in the ratings. That’s astounding considering this edition of Nitro.

This may have easily been the worse Nitro I’ve seen so far. I think I hated Episode #3 a lot but I think this episode was miles worse than Episode #3. Episode #3 did not have a boring Randy Savage match, a boring tag team match and THE YETI debuting. Although with that being said, I loved Hogan and The Giant’s big confrontation. It was done in such a way to make you more interested in seeing who was going to win this big WCW title match. I liked that segment.

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That’s it for WCW Nitro. I am pretty sure I’m going to be reviewing the WHOLE WCW Halloween Havoc event. Looking at the card, there’s more matches I wanna see than those I don’t wanna see so that maybe what swings it. There is a lot of horrible sounding matches in the mix as well as Road Warrior Hawk vs Kurasawa match which sounds… HORRIBLE.

However, I do think I should be as fair to this one as I was to Fall Brawl. I will mostly likely review the whole of Halloween Havoc 1995 then it is back to WCW Nitro reviews with the fallout to the show. I will definitely be reviewing Hogan vs The Giant so brace yourself! We will see you with our next WCW review here on the Retro Express.

WCW Nitro Episode List

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RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #7 (OCTOBER 16TH 1995) – RIC’S PARTNER STINGS ANDERSON AND PILLMAN, CHRIS BENOIT DEBUTS

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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On the last episode of WCW Nitro, we entered CHAPTER THREE of the feud between Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. Arn won at Fall Brawl and Ric won in Episode #5. We were at 1-1 heading into a steel cage match in Chicago. Flair had things under control when Arn beat Ric at his own game. Arn smacked Ric with the brass knuckles to the face and won. An ENRAGED Ric Flair challenged Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman to a match for Episode #7 and Flair was more than happy to go at it alone if he couldn’t find a partner. One way or another, Flair was gonna get his hands on Anderson and Pillman.

We had Hulk Hogan vowing to beat The Giant at Halloween Havoc, more matches added to the Halloween Havoc card. Lex Luger and Randy Savage will face each other, as long as they get past Meng and Kamala respectively earlier in the PPV. Sting also defended the US title successfully against The Shark, Disco Inferno danced and Sabu beat up Mr JL.

So now, it’s a big week for WCW Nitro. We have Ric getting his hands on Anderson and Pillman, Johnny B Badd challenging DDP for the WCW TV title and the DEBUT of Chris Benoit as he faces Eddie Guerrero. Let’s get to it…

 

Date: October 16th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Albany, Georgia

Rating: 2.2

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

 

From the get-go, we suffer from the disadvantages of watching only WCW Nitro and nothing else. Because from the start of the show, they already announce that Sting will be the one to team up with Ric Flair against Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman. On an episode of WCW Pro, Flair asked Sting to be his partner. Sting agreed but vowed to leave Flair for dead if he turned on him. The commentators were still speculating as to whether Sting and Flair can team up together against Anderson and Pillman. Sting and Flair had not teamed together in years since Flair turned on him many years prior to this.

The commentators were having some banter as Bobby Heenan called Mongo’s dog a “tarantula”. Heenan asks Mongo to turn the dog around and goes “oh, there’s the batteries.”

 

DDP (c) w/Diamond Doll vs Johnny B Badd for the WCW Television Championship

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My extra research from Episode #5 appears to have finally paid off. Allow me to break down what has happened with Mr Johnny B Badd. Johnny B Badd became the number one contender for the WCW United States Championship at Fall Brawl. We watched a 29 minute match where Johnny B Badd grabbed the victory. On the Nitro following this, “Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorff squashed this guy in a matter of minutes. I asked the question of whether he would get his title shot or not. They announced he was still getting his US title shot in a Saturday Night match with Sting.

I decided to watch this match and see what happens but what happened was Johnny B Badd NEVER got his US title match. He no-showed but it appears the explanation was that somebody had slashed his tires and he broke down. In a Saturday Night segment, WCW Television Champion DDP said something about all of Badd’s tyres being slashed. Badd asked DDP how he knew all four of his tyres were slashed when he only said one of them got slashed. Badd punched DDP and that’s how we’ve got the former US title number one contender now challenging for the WCW TV title on Nitro. GOT ALL THAT?

To put a cherry on top of the whole thing, Eric announced that Badd and DDP would wrestle each other at Halloween Havoc anyway… so what was the point of this match, even if it was for the WCW TV title? If they’re doing the TV title match at the PPV, why bother doing this match?

In the end, it didn’t even matter. What happened was DDP SMACKED Badd with the belt before the match started and Badd was out cold on the floor. DDP started attacking him some more as Diamond Doll looked on in awe and disgust. DDP did his own count but the referee disqualified him anyway.

It’s always been one of the great inconsistencies of professional wrestling with disqualifications and what warrants disqualifications in matches. The simple answer is that it’s wrestling and the rules can change at any moment to fit a narrative. It was widely accepted by a lot of fans that nothing you do before a match counts before the bell rings. Brock Lesnar hit Big Show with dozens of chair shows before their Royal Rumble 2014 match before the bell rang and they had a two minute match. Here, DDP hit Badd with the belt before the match and was DQ’d for it.

NOTE: Johnny B Badd had hurt his ribs before the match, which is why they never did the match properly on this edition of Nitro.

 

Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero

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I’m going to give this disclaimer right now about Chris Benoit, as I don’t want any of my comments about Benoit’s work to be misinterpreted. Every comment about Chris Benoit is directed solely on his abilities as a worker. I don’t have any intention to discuss the nature of his personality and character as well as anything related to the tragedies that happened to Benoit’s family in 2007.

With that being said… I could watch Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero wrestle each other over and over again. Considering the circumstances of the deaths of the two wrestlers, it is somewhat sad to watch a match like this. However, Benoit and Guerrero were just two wrestlers who were masters of the craft. Every time they wrestled, it was quality. It was the type of matches that every wrestler should aspire to emulate. Look at the psychology of what Eddie did in the ring but especially look at the psychology of what Benoit did. I understand everything in professional wrestling is considered entertainment but everything in this match felt real for some reason.

Everything Benoit did in this match had a purpose and a goal. He was not just hitting move after move after move on Eddie Guerrero just because he could. They all mattered and Benoit would do things in the middle of the match that would play into the finish. Lance Storm has this philosophy about wrestling where he doesn’t like how matches nowadays are about the last few minutes and based on those final moments of the match, fans go on about how great these matches are. To an extent, he’s got a point and this match shows that. Benoit worked on the hand, over and over again, and it eventually led to the finish. But I’ll get onto that later…

Benoit and Guerrero traded hurricanranas earlier on. Eddie did a big dive to the outside to “Eddie” chants by the fans. Benoit tried a back suplex but Eddie reversed it, which sent them both tumbling to the floor. It looked really crisp and really well done. Eddie sent Benoit into the ring post but then Eddie went crashing into the ring post in order for Benoit to get the heat. Benoit worked over Eddie, including hitting a beautiful hammerlock suplex. He worked on Eddie’s hand, which is important when considering the finish.

The key to all of this “getting heat” on Guerrero was that it was never boring. That was the great thing about Benoit wrestling as a heel. It was never boring. Nothing ever came off as repetitive as every move mattered. It was not a 10 minute Randy Orton headlock or a Kevin Owens chin lock. However, it was also methodical… which is great.

In one motion Eddie reversed a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, bounced off the rope and hit a springboard DDT. It was pretty. Benoit chopped at Eddie as Mongo ranted about the NFL players being pussies or something. God bless Mongo and, to an extent, I feel there is a need for some creativity from the commentators. However, Mongo going on about the NFL over and over just takes away attention from the wrestling and is somewhat irrelevant as the match is going on.

There was somewhat a screwed up botch when Eddie attempted a 619 but I think that was about the only spot they screwed up in this match.

Eddie went for the Frog Splash but Benoit got the knees up. Benoit slammed Eddie, and I mean SLAMMED Eddie, with an absolutely tremendous powerbomb. Benoit went for another powerbomb but Eddie reversed it. Eddie then tried to punch Benoit, but because Benoit worked the hand over, Eddie’s hand was hurting a lot. This allowed Benoit to capitalise with a Dragon Suplex to win the match via pinfall.

This was a great match… possibly the best Nitro match we’ve seen so far. Tremendous psychology. The WCW cruiserweight division was announced by Bischoff following the match and this was a great match as a means to promote it. Benoit, I don’t think, was a cruiserweight at this time but with the likes of Eddie and Dean Malenko… suffice to say we’re in for a lot of fun.

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Bischoff revealed that The Giant was here, much to the delight of Heenan as he cackled away!

Mean Gene is in the ring and we’ve got another plug of the WCW hotline. Mean Gene revealed that a top WWF executive was gone and a WWF guy got into a fight with a fan and lost. Gene said he couldn’t talk about it on Nitro but if you called the hotline for $1.49 per minute you could find out the answer. In case you were wondering, the executive that was fired was Bill Watts. I’m not particular sure who Mean Gene was on about when they mentioned the wrestler who lost a fight to a fan.

The Giant came down with the Taskmaster for a promo with Mean Gene. Taskmaster brought up that Hogan was dressed in black on the last episode and Hogan called Taskmaster evil. From the day he was born, Taskmaster said he knew he was the personification of evil. Evil, evil evil.

Taskmaster said when they shaved Hogan’s moustache, it took away his identity. He said Hogan gave up his colours but the fans had followed Hulkster for all of these years because he was a winner. After Detroit at Halloween Havoc, the fans would become followers of the Dungeon of Doom. The Giant said he was gonna push Hogan off the roof using his monster truck and then gave Mean Gene a close up of the hand that was gonna destroy Hogan by facepalming Mean Gene. Gene was shocked as The Giant cackled, vowing to destroy Hulk Hogan.

 

They plugged WCW Saturday Night, including Michael Wallstreet vs Jim Duggan, Disco Inferno vs Alex Wright, Hulk Hogan being there and Randy Savage vs Scott Norton in a rematch from Episode #2. So after Bischoff said he wasn’t on the roster last week, Disco Inferno is booked to face Alex Wright on WCW Saturday Night. I guess either he’s hired in storyline or they forgot he’s supposed to be a free agent.

 

Meng vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan

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Eric called this match a “barnburner” and although I would not go that far to describe the match, the match was very fun if you wanted to see two big dudes clobbering each other for a minute.

But before all of that, the aforementioned Disco Inferno arrived in all white gear. Before Disco could really get his groove on, like he did during Hawk vs Big Bubba, Meng’s music hit and Disco knew well enough to get out of town.

Meng jumped Duggan before the bell. Hacksaw fought back in a battle where they just punched away at each other. Hacksaw got back into it with a couple of dodges as well as getting the hell away from a massive Meng top rope dive. Hacksaw fired away at Meng and even hit a scoop slam. But Meng quickly regained control with a superkick that caused Hacksaw’s body to go limp as he crashed to the floor. Meng locked on the Tongan Death Grip and won. A very basic match of brawling with not a lot of actual wrestling and somehow that’s OK with me.

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Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart did a promo. They said that everyone now knows the evil in Hogan is real and Taskmaster was right when he mentioned that there was evil in Hogan. Hogan said the evil was here to protect the prayers and vitamins of the fans. Hogan said something strange like The Giant doesn’t realise that Hogan can make promoters fall to their knees in tears as Hogan is stronger than their entire promotions. These digs at WWF are just getting weirder and weirder!

Hogan said the “big stinky Giant” wants to burn down all of the trees to the ground. Jimmy is worried about what Hogan was gonna do to the Taskmaster and Giant. Hogan wanted to prove that Hulkamania was the strongest force in the world. He vowed to bury The Giant in the Motor Ciy right next to his father. He asked what The Giant was gonna do when the evil of Hogan ran wild on him. A crazy Hogan promo as usual.

 

Ric Flair and Sting vs Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman

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There was no Sting for the opening bell of this match so this meant Flair had to go at alone by himself against Arn and Brian. It’s funny because while he was on his own, Flair was an ass-kicking machine! I think this was possibly the greatest performance of a one-on-two handicap match from a guy with the disadvantage. It was amazingly great.

He appeared to have no difficulty in absolutely obliterating Arn and Brian as he chopped away at both men throughout this match. He chopped Pillman so hard that the referee was forced back by the force of the chop. It was truly sublime.

Pillman would try getting in some chops but Flair would just chop him harder! Flair beat both of their asses and was running wild on his former buddies. I love how during the match where Flair is in control, Bischoff talks about how he had to pay the price as Sting didn’t trust him… WHEN FLAIR WAS DOMINATING ARN AND BRIAN BY HIMSELF!

The fans chanted “We Want Sting” during a match that also included Heenan comparing Hulk Hogan to Darth Vader. Flair went for the Figure Four Leg Lock on Arn but Pillman went to break it up. He tried to break it up but Flair somehow evaded Pillman from the position of having Arn in the Figure Four! It was awesome!

Flair tried a Figure Four on Pillman but that was broken up. Flair is still running wild as the ass-kicking Ric Flair was putting on a damn amazing performance. He was destroying both of these men but he was entertaining and believable at it. Flair was a believable crazy, wild mad man who you believed could smash Arn and Pillman so easily. It was awesome.

Arn hit a spinebuster and at this point, when the heels were in control… HERE COMES STING!

These fans went BONKERS for Sting has he came down to the aid of Flair. Eric went on about how Flair may have possibly earned Sting’s respect which is actually a believable statement if you saw Ric’s performance up until when Sting showed up. He wasn’t a geek that was getting beat on for 10 minutes. He was a fighter and Sting recognised that.

Sting was egging Flair to make the hot tag as the fans were going nuts and Sting eventually got the hot tag. He ran wild and even Sting running wild forced the referee to bump on every part of the mat! Sting hit Stinger Splashes all over the place and he was FIRED UP. THIS WAS A HOT TAG as the fans went crazy.

Sting was dominant and then all of a sudden, it was determined that Arn and Pillman were counted out. I never really heard a count by the referee but Sting and Flair won by count out and this did make you want to see the rematch at Halloween Havoc. Yeah, we’re getting a rematch at Halloween Havoc and I can’t wait!

Sting and Flair cut a post-match promo. Sting said there wasn’t a soul in the world that thought that he was gonna trust Flair. Sting was watching and said that Flair had a lot of guts and a lot of heart. Because Flair showed he had guts and heart, he’d earned Sting’s help. Sting and Flair did a high-five and started going nuts in the ring! This was an awesome exciting little post-match promo!

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That was Episode #7 of WCW Nitro. A huge improvement on last week. We saw a tremendous Ric Flair and Sting performance in the main-event, we had an awesome Benoit vs Guerrero match and this show did a lot in getting me hyped up for WCW Halloween Havoc coming up shortly.  This one gets a thumbs up!

Advertised for next week is Sting and Lex Luger vs Harlem Heat, Benoit and Dean Malenko vs Eddie and Alex Wright and Hogan will also be appearing on Nitro next week.

That’s it from the Armbar Express. We will see you with Episode #8.

WCW Nitro Episode List

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #4 (SEPTEMBER 25TH 1995) – RANDY SAVAGE VS THE TASKMASTER

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 had the fallout to Fall Brawl 1995. Ric Flair was out for the blood of Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman. Arn wasn’t there but Pillman was, so Flair decided to chop the hell out of Pillman. He vowed that he would get Arn on the next episode of Nitro. Mr Wonderful, who just re-discovered himself as Mr Wonderful, beat the number one contender for the US title clean as a sheet. We had a awesome segment with Randy Savage and Lex Luger. They accused each other of having personal agendas and this almost led to a brawl but they were separated.

Let’s all remember everybody that this week RIC FLAIR was gonna kick Arn Anderson’s ass on this week’s edition of WCW Nitro. Let’s all remember that as we see what happened on Nitro. We do get Randy Savage vs Taskmaster on this episode of Nitro. They set-up this match when Taskmaster attacked Savage on the set of Baywatch. We’ve got a lot to get to on this episode so let’s get down to business…

NOTE: I actually looked back at my review from WCW Nitro Episode #2. They advertised the Nasty Boys would be in action on Episode #3 of Nitro but we never got it. Fans of the Nasty Boys would have been kinda upset that we never got the advertised appearances of Brian Knobbs and Jerry Saggs.

 

Date: September 25th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Florence, South Carolina

Rating: 2.7

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

 

No real noteworthy notes from the commentary team this week. They weren’t as annoying as they have been in recent episodes of Nitro. Mongo is a dude I just try to zone out but it’s hard to do so. Eric is loud and proud about his product which I guess is a good thing. Bobby is there with the quick wit to combat these two dingbats at commentary! Didn’t take too much away from the product.

 

Alex Wright vs Disco Inferno

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The WCW Nitro DEBUT of the man they called Disco Inferno. Thank god he had some moves on the dance floor as his in-ring moves needed some work at this point! He was rather green but this was one of the first matches of his career as far as I’m aware. With that being said, there were a lot of things Disco did right in this match in terms of his presence in the ring that would do well for him for his WCW career.

One thing he had was the amazing DISCO FEVER theme song! Not quite at the level of Mr Wonderful’s theme song but still tremendous. Nobody could doubt that Disco knew how to bust some dance moves. He was having the time of his life as he danced down to the ring.

Alex Wright was actually a good wrestler for him to debut against considering Wright, at this point, was one of the cautious cruiserweights in WCW. This match was mostly just Wright selling for Disco and after every move, Disco would like pay attention to his hair to make sure it didn’t get messed up. Very classic but timely heel characteristic that every heel with great hair should do! Wright knocked Disco to the outside and Disco flopped like a fish out of water on the outside.

Mongo said something like no need to turn over to the NFL football as San Francisco would win the game. I learned after watching the show that apparently San Francisco actually lost that game Mongo was on about. Far be it from me to question STEVE “MONGO” MCMICHAEL on American Football but history does not lie.

Wright and Disco botched a belly-to-belly suplex to such a royal degree. Wright tried to throw him over his head but Disco decided to launch himself a bit further without realising that the ropes were there. So poor Disco crashes into this top rope and that could have easily turned ugly for Disco.

Wright won with a backslide in… I guess the best match you could have gotten from Disco Inferno in his first WCW match on Nitro. It wasn’t pretty but we all have to start somewhere. Eric proclaimed this as a big win for Alex Wright… I fail to see how that is the case considering this is Disco’s FIRST MATCH with WCW.

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They cut to Hulk Hogan, wearing a neck brace, working out with Jimmy Hart. If you recall, The Giant murdered Hogan at Fall Brawl. Here is Hogan 8 days later, thankfully not dead, working out by lifting the belt up and down by just using HIS NECK. Counter-productive after a wrestler SNAPPED Hogan’s neck!

I had to replay this several times but for the right reasons. Hogan was talking faster than the speed of sound as he cut this great promo on The Giant. He was oozing with charisma and fire even after The Giant broke his neck. He’s ready and amped up brother. Hogan says he’s not dead and he’s not even down and out. Hogan said he didn’t miss one workout and he’s not gonna miss one now… even with a broken neck and putting Kurt Angle to shame.

Hogan said The Giant tried to rip off his head at Fall Brawl but he is back on track and ready to take care of the “big nasty” Giant. Hogan challenged him to the now-infamous “Monster Truck” challenge just to embarrass him. He then decided to put his WCW title on the line after that Monster Truck match. He vowed to slam The Giant as the largest arms in the world was ready for any challenge. Hogan vowed that he would bury The Giant right next to his father which is… kind of dark now I think about it!

This was an exceptional promo. 23 years later, this kind of Monster Truck challenge would seem ridiculous but Hogan, because he’s Hulk Hogan, made you want to see him and The Giant destroy each other with monster trucks! It’s so insane but, for better or for worse, you wanted to see it. I loved it.

I also have a confession to make… I’ve never seen the monster truck deal with Hogan and Giant. My WCW knowledge is very limited, which is why I started the Nitro series in the first place. I am very much a newbie to WCW. I have no idea how I’ll react to this, although I’m aware of how the follow up WCW title match goes.

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“Macho Man” Randy Savage shows up for a new Slim Jim advert where he’s doing push-ups with a human being! They also recapped the Luger/Savage segment from last week.

Savage comes out with Mean Gene and called out Luger. Luger obliges by running down to the ring and ready for a fight. Luger advised that Savage never had any respect for Luger and had been “thumbs down” on him since day one. Luger said they’d went to war as allies but now they had to go war against each other. Luger said he fought Sting and Hogan and earned their respect. Anyone who slaps Lex Luger doesn’t have any respect so Luger challenged Savage to a match for next week’s Nitro. I believe Lex Luger said he’d put his WCW title shot on the line and then said he’d leave WCW if he lost. Savage liked that Luger was willing to put it all on the line and accepted the challenge, confirming that they had a date with destiny. Luger paid Savage back for the slap from the week before by pushing Savage away.

I loved this segment. Lex Luger came off as a smart babyface and you were still invested in the guy’s character. Luger came into WCW and every babyface except Sting didn’t trust Luger. Hogan then “went to war” with Luger, as he put it, and then Hogan respected Luger for taking it to him. Savage is still untrustworthy of Luger, mostly because he’s nuts, but because he doesn’t know what Luger is about. Luger’s solution is for them to fight and then Savage can find out first-hand what Luger is all about. This did make me want to see what happens next. I’m also certain Luger’s going to win the match because, SPOILER ALERT, Lex Luger is still with WCW for years after this match. However, you’ve got two big stars going at it and we’ll see just who is the better man and if Luger does in fact belong in WCW. This is all great.

They promoted Halloween Havoc and confirmed that the Monster Truck Challenge a.k.a MACHINE VS MACHINE would be on the show.

 

Kurasawa w/Col. Robert Parker vs Craig Pittman

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I did have a weird love for this match. It’s Kurasawa vs Pittman so I probably shouldn’t have but this was two different wrestlers fighting in different ways as a means to win. You watch a lot of indie matches and especially a lot of WWE matches where both guys will go in there and wrestle in the exact same way. Kurasawa and Pittman battled with very different styles but it was awesome. Kurasawa had the kicks and Pittman had suplexes and headbutts. It was simple.

Kurasawa kicked at Pittman for a long time and battered him. Kurasawa even ripped up the floor and hit a back-drop on the concrete just as a regular move which I didn’t particularly like. It’s concrete. That should hurt way more than they played it off as.

Kurasawa did a judo throw. Fans came alive when Pittman finally was able to back-drop Kurasawa out of the ring and fight back. Pittman hit a belly-to-belly and locked on the Code Red armbar. Kurasawa got his foot on the rope. Kurasawa went for a submission but it was reversed into a gut-wrench suplex. Kurasawa hit a german suplex and won. It sort of appeared like a screwy finish but I suspect that was supposed to be the finish. Referee Nick Patrick looked very clunky delivering the count.

This was an OK little match as it accomplished the goal of setting up Kurasawa as a killing machine. It made you want to see more of the man, which is a thumbs up. I actually want to see more of Kurasawa as I was looking through some notes on the Wrestling Observer Newsletter archives and Kurasawa’s history. Apparently, Kurasawa teamed up Meng to face Sting and Road Warrior Hawk in one of the old Clash of the Champions. The Newsletter rated this -2 stars which sort of shocked me. That match on paper sounded awesome but I’m very curious to see if it was as bad as it was graded. I will watch this match as a little bonus for Episode #5 and I’ll report back with my findings.

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Mean Gene interviewed Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman in the ring. Nothing much to this promo other than what Arn and Brian were wearing. Polo shirts, tight jeans and fanny packs all perfectly capturing the 1990s vintage look! Nobody in 2018 could get away with this!

Pillman bragged about how Ric has hit an all-time low since Arn beat him at Fall Brawl. He said he and Arn would hospitalise anyone that gets in their way. Arn said the better man won at Fall Brawl and if Flair were to go after Arn, Pillman would be there to have Arn’s back. Arn pointed out everybody Ric Flair has double-crossed in the past including Sting and Randy Savage and that nobody would dare tag with Ric Flair after every under-handed thing Flair has done in WCW. Ric did all of that with Arn by his side but now Arn’s not on his side and what goes around comes around.

I wasn’t that much of a fan of the delivery of the promo but the content was very good. It tells a great story about Ric Flair and Arn Anderson’s relationship. Flair was the dirtiest player in the game and he had aligned himself with others a lot along the way. Even when he “jumped ship” to the WWF, he aligned himself with Mr Perfect and Bobby Heenan. Now Ric Flair is all alone and he may have to pay for all of his bad deeds in the past. You live by the sword and die by the sword.

I have two main nit-picks to kind of address. #1 is that it appeared they were suddenly setting up a tag team match. Maybe I missed something from WCW Saturday Night because now Arn and Brian are talking about taking on Flair in a tag team match. I fear I may have missed something because this plays into nitpick #2. Ric Flair promised on Nitro last week that he would kick Arn’s ass on that show. He didn’t but then Ric said that he would kick Arn’s ass on Nitro this week. He teased that we would get Ric beating up Arn on this show. We didn’t even get Ric Flair on this show. Either Ric was taken out on some other show in storyline or Ric really did think twice when Arn said Flair would now have to deal with Pillman too!

By the way, Pillman saying that Ric has hit an all-time low in his career is funny considering this is one week removed from when Ric beat Pillman in 5 minutes clean!

 

So you recall last week, I was ranting about number one contender for the US title Johnny B Badd losing clean to Mr Wonderful. I said I’d be baffled if Badd still got the US title shot after all of this. Well call me baffled as they announced Sting vs Johnny B Badd for the US title at WCW Saturday Night!

They also announced American Males for WCW Saturday Night and that THE GIANT would be there with Taskmaster.

 

Randy Savage vs The Taskmaster w/Zodiac

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They recapped the Baywatch segment from last week when Taskmaster jumped Savage. The Giant was not already down with Taskmaster for this match but Taskmaster was able to get Zodiac to help him out. Savage chased Taskmaster around the ring which led to Zodiac beating up Savage. It was rather boring but I did love Taskmaster beating down Savage with simple karate chops all across the Macho Man’s body.

There’s a certain spot in wrestling where you put a guy like on the top rope or the steel rail and then someone would flying in with a clothesline to knock them down. Daniel Bryan does this spot a lot and it always looks really well done. Taskmaster tried this spot with Savage where he hung him up to dry on the steel rail and then he did the clothesline. This was the least elegant I’ve ever seen this move done!

Savage got back into the match with a back-drop and a double axe handle. As Zodiac got involved again, Savage snapped and beat Zodiac up royally. In the middle of this melee, Savage knocks down the referee causing the DQ. Savage is beating down Taskmaster and Zodiac as the fans is going nuts, even after a disqualification. Savage tries a double elbow drop but Taskmaster moves out of the way and only Zodiac gets hit with the move.

At this moment, THE GIANT emerges. The fans are concerned now as the big nasty Giant arrives and he’s coming for their hero Randy Savage. The Giant hit a chokeslam and when I mean a chokeslam, it was Giant hoisting Savage HIGH IN THE AIR and then slamming him down to the mat. The Giant/Big Show, when he was doing the chokeslam for the first 10 years of his career or so, did them so well. He held them up and had them in peril with nowhere to go, and was able to control the landing and slam them down. I loved those chokeslams.

Some geeks come down to the ring including Mark Starr to try and stop The Giant. Even these lesser-known talents coming down to help got a huge ovation. Even if The Giant was too powerful, these guys were willing to try and stop them. Sadly, The Giant just destroyed them just as easily including Alex Wright for that matter. Wright came off the top rope and Giant just grabbed him for a bear-hug and slammed him down.

Finally LEX LUGER arrives. He gets in between The Giant and Randy Savage and stands over the Macho Man’s body. Before Luger does anything, The Giant attacks Luger from behind. Luger tried to fight back but he got chokeslammed too. The Taskmaster eventually calmed The Giant down and the monster was taken to the back.

THIS WAS MONEY. The Giant left devastation in his wake. He didn’t just beat up Randy Savage. He swatted away wrestler, after wrestler, after wrestler including a fresh Lex Luger who took Hulk Hogan to the limit (in storyline anyway) two weeks ago. This is how you build up a monster in wrestling. He comes in, causes destruction and leaves. It’s awesome and it’s great build for Halloween Havoc. The Giant easily destroyed Lex Luger, who was the guy that Hogan was fighting toe-to-toe against a few weeks ago. This is the type of monster that Hogan must overcome at Halloween Havoc.

 

Lex Luger vs Meng

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That’s right. Lex Luger, who was still down in the ring following The Giant’s chokeslam, was still in the main-event of Nitro and had to overcome Meng. Meng ran down to the ring as he smelled blood in water and pounced on Luger. He didn’t let up. This Tongan monster choked Luger as Bischoff plugged Hogan being on Nitro next week.

Bischoff also mentions that Taskmaster was not out there with Meng, possibly teasing dissension within the ranks of the Dungeon of Doom. Meng hit a piledriver. The match did slow to a crawl as Meng had nerve holds and chin-locks locked in. Luger tried to fight back but Meng responded with a gut-wrench gut-buster which I’ve never seen before. It looked really cool and I wanna see a dude like Cesaro try this one day.

Funnily enough, Luger got back into the match by catching Meng off the top rope with a face slam. It’s funny because 2 weeks ago, Savage was in a match with Scott Norton where he did the same thing to Norton. Maybe this was to show that Luger was just as good as Savage… or maybe it was just a giant coincidence.

Luger stomped a mudhole on Meng but the referee pulled him away. While Luger is being pulled away, Meng grabs a spike and he hits Luger with it for the win.

It was… a match. It was nothing really special and really could not follow The Giant laying waste to 5 men on his own. My only thing with this is that Luger did not come off well as a star. Luger came in to challenge Hogan on Episode #1. In Episode #2, Hogan and Luger have their match and Hogan has LUGER beat before the Dungeon of Doom run in. Luger didn’t get the victory at War Games and here on Episode #4, Luger loses to Meng in the main-event. Luger’s not actually beaten anybody since he arrived in WCW. Meanwhile, Randy Savage beat up Zodiac and Taskmaster by himself before The Giant ran down!

Maybe Lex will profit from a BIG WIN over Randy Savage next week and we’ll see if all can be forgiven on that front.

 

That’s it for Nitro. They plugged that Hulk Hogan would be on Nitro next week, the American Males would be there, DEAN MALENKO would be there, the Nasty Boys was advertised to be on next week’s show at least and we’ve got Lex Luger vs Randy Savage.

I’m very much looking forward to next week. I’ve got to say, I think they’re doing a hell of a job with The Giant. Him coming in and wrecking all in his path was excellent in setting him up for Hogan. I’m very excited in seeing what’s more to come. The matches on Nitro weren’t all that great in this episode but I did like certain bits like Kurasawa vs Pittman. I enjoyed this show so it get’s a thumbs up!

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Thank you for reading and I’ll be back with Episode #5 of WCW Nitro as part of the Retro Express. I will actually be reviewing TWO bonus matches. I will watch the Sting/Hawk vs Kurasawa/Meng match I mentioned earlier and I will try to see if I can watch Sting vs Johnny B Badd for the US title. I don’t think Johnny B Badd is winning the belt or anything! However, I’m very much interested as we’ve built towards this for the last few weeks or so! We’ll see you at Episode #5 – as LEX LUGER AND RANDY SAVAGE COLLIDE!

 

WCW Nitro Episode List

 

 

Retro Express: WCW Nitro #1 (September 4th 1995)

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For the first time in over 18 months, Retro Express returns to the Armbar Express! Only this time, the Retro Express is on a mission…

As long as I’ve been a wrestling fan, the biggest wrestling company I’ve ever known was World Wrestling Entertainment. I started watching wrestling in 2003, where WWE dominated the wrestling industry with no major competition at all from the sports entertainment side of things.

But there was a time, before I was a wrestling fan, where WWE did actually have huge competition. In fact, this was competition that almost drove them out of business. This competition… was World Championship Wrestling.

I’ve read Bryan Alvarez’s “The Death Of WCW” book (which, by the way, I would hugely recommend) and had heard all the stories about WCW. The narrative that WCW, a wrestling company powered by one of the richest men in the United States that crumbled as the “revolutionary” WWF Attitude Era rose to prominence. I don’t buy that narrative entirely.

Having re-watched some of the old recent WWF Attitude Era stuff recently (not covered in the Armbar Express yet), I can’t say there was a lot to praise from that era with the exceptions of like Austin vs McMahon as well as the rise of The Rock. WCW, in my opinion, were the ones that screwed WCW. I can’t go with the idea that the WWF were so great and WCW were so terrible. I don’t buy that. Obviously WCW did completely decline in their last few years but it’s not as if WWF was mind-blowingly good.

So then how is it that the WWE is still around, thriving and making hundreds of millions of dollars each year? How is that WCW are gone forever? What was it?

Well I decided to see if I can try and answer my own question. I’m not watching RAW IS WAR and Monday Night Nitro side-by-side but since I have never really watched WCW in a major capacity, I decided to watch every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. That’s right. 300+ episodes starting with an episode including Sting vs Ric Flair and ending with an episode…. including Sting vs Ric Flair.

Let’s get to it with EPISODE ONE….

 

WCW Nitro #1

Date: September 4th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rating: 2.5

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

 

We started things off with Eric Bischoff and STEVE MCMICHAEL opening the show, welcoming us to WCW Nitro. Seeing Bischoff as a babyface is extremely rare for me, knowing what’s going to happen in about a year’s time in WCW. Steve McMichael was one of the most annoying and worst announcers I’ve ever had to listen to in my life. I have no idea how long this guy will be doing commentary but I’m praying it’s a short term deal before Tony Schiavone is on the scene.

Bobby Heenan interrupts. He sucks up to McMichael after supposedly making some kind of remark about him. Very hard to figure out what he was on about.

 

Jushin Thunder Liger vs ‘Flyin Brian

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I enjoy re-watcing old things and, for the majority of the time, I don’t really have an issue with watching old stuff with modern eyes. I did have an issue with this match. I know how this is a very historic and romanticised match but time has not been kind to this one. I’m sure at the time this blew people away and the fans were going crazy for the match. That being said, this was a very sloppy match!

The match was OK for about the first minute when Liger hit a moonsault which barely connected. He went for a big boot which… barely connected. They attempted a hurricanrana spot and it completely fell apart as they both fell down. The head-scissors by Brian the second time was a vast improvement. There was some ridiculous spot where Liger tried to dump Brian over the rope but Brian ended up going through the middle rope. The crowd broke out into a USA chant because of course they did.

Steve McMichael, I don’t know who he said it to, but he gave either Liger or Brian the following advice: “Give it to him the way he wants it.” At least it’s nice to know McMichael was actually into this match. When he wasn’t invested in the match he made fun of Bobby Heenan with every pun in the book including “Bobby The Stain.” Sick burn.

Liger almost killed Brian with the powerbomb. Liger hit a Frankenstiener on Brian and PLANTED HIMSELF. I shrieked. His head dropped to the floor as he sent Brian across the ring. I’ve concluded that this was way worse than the Bayley/Sasha Frankensteiner from NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn a number of years ago. Oddly enough, Jushin Liger WRESTLED AT NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn a number of years ago. How he walked away fine after this is a mystery.

Brian rolled Liger up for the win and a HUGE POP. The crowd loved Flyin’ Brian in the first ever match of WCW Nitro. It wasn’t a terrible match but there was a lot of messy spots that could have ended way worse than it did.

 

They showed WCW US Champion Sting cutting a promo on Ric Flair basically vowing to beat Ric Flair on this episode of Nitro. Straight to the point, short and all you needed.

Then we cut to WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan… and PASTAMANIA was running wild! Now I’ve heard that Hogan did this back in the 90s… I had no idea it was like this. Hogan had a restaurant in Mall of America based in Minneapolis, which was where this particular show was based. First of, just the idea that this Nitro was based in a US Mall shopping centre. People were just doing their shopping and going down these massive escalators and watching these guys wrestle. WWE is not adventurous enough to try this in 2018 and that’s a shame.

So Bischoff interviewed Hogan with these little kids surrounding them, getting autographs with Hogan. Jimmy Hart was also there. Hogan cut this astonishing promo on PastaMania, saying PastaMania was running through his veins. He said that he was slimming trim with pasta! Yes, pasta! He said he was going to beat Big Bubba Rogers to retain the WCW title tonight. The PastaManiacs were going to help him win. Man, could you imagine WWE trying this with like “Roman Noodles” or something in 2018? PastaMania lasted less than a year, for those of you wondering.

 

Sting vs Ric Flair

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Before we actually get started, I have no idea if this match was for the WCW United States Championship or not. Pro Wrestling Wikia, who has details of almost ever show for like WWE, WCW, ECW etc., has this down as a US title match, which I though it was. However, The Internet Wrestling Database had this down as a non-title match. Either way, Sting vs Ric Flair is a match that will never get old. It never changes but it never needs to change. Ric Flair is the greatest seller in the history of pro wrestling. Sting going crazy is awesome and he’s one of the best babyfaces of all time.

Before we actually got the match, we had an invasion… LEX LUGER arrived in WCW. The fans were going nuts as Eric Bischoff played it up as if he was invading from the WWF. He said Luger wasn’t supposed to be there. Sting and Flair were confused and Luger was asked to leave, which he eventually did.

Luger debuting here was actually a pretty big deal at the time since, like the night before, he interfered in the main-event of WWF SummerSlam. There was no like internet or anything for the fans to know that Luger was coming. So when he showed up without warning, on Nitro, these fans didn’t know what to think. Are the WWF invading? Is he signed? What’s going on? Later on in the night, it was clearer as to what was going on.

Sting and Flair, after being confused for a solid minute or so, then started to fight. Sting Gorilla Pressed Flair OVER AND OVER AND OVER again. Sting ran wild. Flair turned things around with a poke to the eye. Flair and Sting somehow did the smoothest crossbody to the outside I’ve ever seen. Sting Gorilla Pressed Ric into the ring. Flair going to the top rope and then getting thrown off will never get old to me. ARN ANDERSON then came running down to the ring. It sounded as if Flair and Arn were doing a break-up angle. McMichael theorised that Arn had been down at PastaMania.

Sting made a comeback. Flair sold a clothesline on the apron as if he got shocked with a taser. Sting, like a completely doofus, distracted himself by talking to Arn when Flair did the chop block and put Sting in the Figure Four Leg Lock. This Figure Four  was awesome as Sting fought back, pumped up his chests and was ready to turn the hold around to put the pressure on Flair. Sting fought and fought but before he could turn it over, Flair got the ropes to break the hold.

So then Arn Anderson got in the ring and the bell rang. Having re-winded the show, it appears to me that Flair was DQ’d because he didn’t break on five after getting the ropes.  Arn broke up the Figure Four and he and Flair brawled to the back. Arn got in the ring to get his jacket and that was that. A very lame finish to an otherwise vintage Sting vs Ric Flair match.

 

Then almost immediately, SCOTT NORTON ran down to the ring. When I first was watching this, I had no idea who he was. Part of the problem was that they never mentioned on commentary who this guy was. He confronted Bischoff about a contract. Mongo stepped up to Scott. Randy Savage came down to say he’d fight him. Bischoff said no and then they cut to a Sabu hype promo.

This hype promo hurt my eyes but it couldn’t help but showcase that 90% of Sabu’s moves were just massive botches. This included a spot where Sabu did a moonsault onto a table which didn’t break. I assume this was all WCW Saturday Night footage or something.

Mean Gene Okerlund came down to congratulate the winner of the WCW Harley Davidson Sweepstakes they did. Congrats to Mike Hill from Alabama.

They plugged WCW Saturday Night with Sting and Randy Savage teaming up as well as WCW Fall Brawl.

They then showed ANOTHER video package. I was begging for a match. Michael Wallstreet, otherwise known as IRS, said that WCW is all about money and power. He said the “New Generation” was now the “Few Generation”. This was referencing WWF’s new change in creative direction. He said he was a real player and… Michael Wallstreet was here.

 

Hulk Hogan (c) vs Big Bubba Rogers for the WCW title

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This was every Hulk Hogan vs a big monster match you’ve ever seen. Very slow but when Hogan was attacking, the fans went crazy. PastaMania was running wild. They announced Randy Savage vs Scott Norton for next week. I’ve always thought in history that nobody threw worse punches in a match than Shane McMahon. Big Bubba, otherwise known as Big Boss Man in the WWF, threw some disgusting punches in the corner. This may not have been as bad as Shane but these were right up there. Heenan claimed Big Bubba knew martial arts which can’t have been true after watching these punches. God bless Big Bubba, who is actually not with us anymore, but these punches were that horrible.

Hogan was Irish whipped into a corner and responded with a big boot which missed Big Bubba by about 100 miles. All efforts to cover this up were fruitless including Bischoff claiming that “the heel” connected. In hindsight, that could quite possibly have been an impromptu inside joke attempt by Bischoff. Then again, I could just be overthinking this but it is WCW after all.

The referee grabbed Hogan by the hair as a means to pull him off of Big Bubba. Hogan pulled out the most heelish move in the match as he choked out Big Bubba with a jacket as Jimmy Hart ran distraction. I swear to all the gods, he did this and he’s the biggest babyface in the company. Then Hogan started stomping on his face…. how this man was a beloved babyface is mind-boggling when you see all these on-screen jerk-ass moments from Hogan.

Mongo’s jokes included “Bobby Hernia” among other lame lines. Big Bubba hit the uranage. Hogan made the comeback, hit the Leg Drop and got the pin. The crowd went batshit crazy for the guy after he won. PastaMania was truly running wild. Not particularly a tremendous in-ring match but I didn’t have high expectations going in for Hogan vs Big Bubba. The crowd loved it throughout which I guess makes all the difference so why not. This was a success for PastaMania.

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The geeks from Dungeon of Doom ran in to jump Hogan. Hogan fought them off when Luger came down to aid the Hulkster. Luger came down as Hogan was already beating on the Dungeon of Doom! The heels escaped. Hogan and Luger went face-to-face. Randy Savage and Sting came down to calm them down. Believe it or not, we got some “Luger” chants.

Mean Gene came down to interview them after they both somewhat calmed down. Hogan asked what Luger was doing here. I wish Luger actually went with what Mongo said earlier and explained that he was going to PastaMania. There was just a bunch of wrestlers in his path as he wanted to get an order in! XD

Luger actually said he was here for one thing and that was the WCW title. He confirmed that Hogan was the only world champion in wrestling right now. He said he was here to get it on with the big boys. Hogan said that he was going to be champion forever. Hogan asked Luger to shake his hand to have the match next week for the title. They shook hands. They pushed each other as Savage and Sting held them apart.

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Overall, I actually thought it was an OK show. I don’t know how long the hour-long episodes of WCW Nitro is going to last but I hope it’s like this for a whilte. I really think weekly wrestling shows need to be around an hour. If there’s one thing we can learn from wrestling’s past is that less is more. This was a very basic show to watch as it was not over the course of 3 hours and the structure for the majority of it was simple to follow.

Liger vs Flyin’ Brian didn’t really age well and was very sloppy at times but Sting vs Flair was everything it needed to be for me except the finish. Hogan vs Big Bubba got the crowd popping and the Hogan vs Luger main-event for next week was easily set up.

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That was that. Quick preview of episode #2: If the video packages are anything to go by, Michael Wallstreet and Sabu will both appear on WCW Nitro. We’ve got Randy Savage vs Scott Norton and of course, WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan vs newcomer Lex Luger for the WCW World title.

Thank you for reading and I’ll be back with Episode #2 of WCW Nitro as part of the Retro Express.

Lucha Underground: Aztec Warfare II Review

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NOTE: The following was written several months ago, days after the episode took place. Therefore, no aspects of future storylines after Aztec Warfare II will be discussed.
Season One’s Aztec Warfare match was one of my favourite matches in the first season. It saw the best in the Temple battle it out to crown the first Lucha Underground champion. When the smoke cleared, Prince Puma won the title. In Season Two they brought it back, with Lucha Underground Champion Fenix being forced to defend his title as the number one entrant. Did Aztec Warfare II deliver just like the first one?
As Catrina had declared at the end of the last episode, Fenix was the #1 entrant. He was the first entrant in the first Aztec Warfare match so this was a little case of deja vu. It was also funny, because Lucha Underground had their champion defend the title in a multi-man match that was taped in December. Fast-forward to January and the WWE had Roman Reigns defend the WWE title in a Royal Rumble! Think about that for a moment.
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#2 was the debuting Rey Mysterio. Mysterio revealed that he was in the match the week before but these fans obviously had no idea as they went nuts for Rey. As soon as Melissa Santos said “From San Diego, California,” you could hear some rumblings as if the fans started to figure out where this was going. As soon as Melissa said “Rey,” there was an eruption in the Temple!
I have to say that Rey looked in great shape during the match. Rey was very active throughout the match and he did a tremendous job in lasting the entire match. I remember watching him in the 2013 Royal Rumble and he looked blown up after like a minute. I couldn’t help but notice when I watched that particular Rumble. This Rey Mysterio was nothing like that Rey Mysterio that was in WWE a few years ago. Rey looked great and it was probably helped by the fact that this was in a taped show. If Rey was blown up at times, then Lucha did a great job in editing it out!
Fenix was, by far, the biggest mark for Rey as he came out. He showed respect for Rey and encouraged him to go up to the turnbuckles for his entrance. We started off with a great exchange between the old veteran and the young lion. Great to see and Rey was able to keep up with the pace of Fenix. Number three was King Cuerno. Mysterio, Fenix and Cuerno threw down for a while.
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Argenis was #4, making his return to the Temple as Argenis. He was actually a part of the Disciples of Death. I don’t actually think that the Disciples of Death are done yet though. I’ve seen a teaser Instagram post from Lucha that promoted a trios rematch between Ivelisse, Son of Havoc and Angelico against the Disciples of Death. They might wrap up that trios team after the rematch and let Argenis do his own thing. Argenis was fine in this match but he was really there to be the first of Rey’s victims. He was the first man eliminated after eating a 619. Johnny Mundo came out as #5 and then they went to the adverts.
There was a clever spot where Fenix used Mundo’s foot to boot Mysterio. Joey Ryan was #6 and his plan was to handcuff himself on the rail to keep himself from being pinned. It was a clever spot but all I kept thinking about when I watched this was when Big Show pinned Essa Rios on the wall in a hardcore match! Thankfully, this was not a Falls Count Anywhere match so Ryan was safe… FOR NOW!
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Prince Puma was #7. He ran wild and hit everyone (except Joey Ryan) with a Springboard Shooting Star Press. That was an incredible spot. Jack Evans was #8. King Cuerno tapped out to Rey Mysterio’s cross armbreaker to be eliminated. The luchadors (Mysterio, Puma and Fenix) then teamed up to take out the “rudos” Mundo and Evans. Rudos is another term for heels in case anyone was wondering. Evans and Mundo got together and waited for #9 to come out, who was in fact Taya. Big pop for Taya when she came out. There was awesome spot with the luchadores and the rudos faced off in a six man tag confrontation. Cage was #10 and ran wild, as we went to the adverts.
Cage beat up all the rudos until Mundo threw him into Catrina’s office. If you’ll recall, he turned heel by throwing Alberto El Patron threw the same window. Mundo has a thing for pulling a Shawn Michaels on the luchadors! Mascarita Sagrada was #11. Cage quickly re-entered the fray and hit a big discuss clothesline on Mundo. He hit the Weapon X on the outside and Prince Puma hit the standing moonsault to eliminate Mundo. Marty the Moth was #12. He dominated the match for a while. Drago came in at #13.
Drago went after the “Dragon Slayer” Jack Evans. They brawled into the crowd and Drago spit mist into Joey Ryan’s eyes. Sagrada and Mysterio teamed up to eliminate Marty. The Mack was number 14 and he hit Marty with a stunner for good measure.
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Then there was an awesome moment in the ring, with Mack and Cage having a stare down. As they started trading punches, there was a shot of the ring with the entrance steps behind them. So as Cage and Mack are fighting, Jack Evans starts rolling down the steps and to the floor! It was one of the funniest aspects of this match but it was also one of my biggest criticisms of the match too. There was so much going on during the match that it was hard to keep up. As stuff was going on in the ring, Drago and Evans were doing big spots in the crowd. At least in the Royal Rumble match, they make it clear over who the spotlight was on and who they wanted the fans to focus on at one time. In Aztec Warfare, it just seemed like there was too much going on at once. It was all great but it was all clunked together it seems.
There was also another spot where Fenix threw Mascarita Sagrada into Joey Ryan, who was obviously not in a position to catch him! It was almost like Sagrada hit one of the bouncers on a pinball machine and bounced off him and onto the ground! Poor Sagrada!
Chavo Guerrero was #15. Sometime during all of this chaos, Drago hit a powerbomb on Evans onto with outside benches. Chavo eliminated Mascarita Sagrada with a camel clutch submission, getting him his redemption for losing to Hornswoggle every week on RAW in 2009. Cage was eliminated by Taya, after Mundo hit him with a cinder block. I’m totally expecting a cinder block match between Mundo and Cage, with the winner having to a break a cinder block over the head of the other. Maybe that’s a bad idea for a gimmick match but that’s where it looks like it’s going with all of these cinder block attacks. I don’t know whether that’d work but I’m willing to give it a chance!
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PJ Black came out as #16 and Fenix eliminated Taya with a German suplex. Black double-teamed Drago with his new buddy Jack Evans. He hit a suplex to Drago on the benches. That spot and the powerbomb spot from earlier did not look pretty. Not sure whether all of this was really necessary but the crowd was going nuts for this crowd-brawling. Aerostar was #17, which lead to a tag team battle with Aerostar and Drago battling Evans and Black. There was a double elimination with Aerostar beating Evans and Black beating Drago. Aerostar put Evans away with a top rope Canadian Destroyer-looking move which got a huge reaction.
Dragon Azteca Jr was #18. Here’s the issue with the way that the Lucha Underground shows are put together. We, at home, knew who Dragon Azteca Jr was. We got the big story with Dragon Azteca Jr and Rey Mysterio and by watching the television, it’s easy to understand his stake in Aztec Warfare. However, this crowd had no clue about who this guy was and he was met with little reaction! Vampiro did mention that he recognised the mask but it was not like anybody else in the crowd did. Dragon Azteca Jr did turn the fans around with a few high spots including an awesome dive over the ring post and onto the outside.
Texano Jr was #19. He was running wild and he eliminated PJ Black. Mil Muertes was #20, as declared by Catrina in the last episode. Pentagon Jr, who was not given an invitation to compete, took out Mil with a chair. This got an incredible reaction from the Temple. He threw him back into the ring and Mil was pinned by Rey and Puma. Catrina was angry at Vampiro and slapped him. As this confrontation was going on, the timer was counting down. Then came out Dario Cueto….
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I was beaming with joy when I saw Dario come out! Dario may have possibly gotten the biggest reaction of the night! He declared that he was back in charge and that there was going to be a 21st entrant into Aztec Warfare. He revealed the entrant to be his brother… Matanza!
I like Catrina a lot but seeing Dario back in charge put the biggest smile on my face. Nobody can out-do Dario Cueto as being an authority figure in Lucha Underground.
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Matanza did the big roar spot as he came out, pushing away everybody that was left. I loved what came next. He immediately targeted the champion Fenix, hit a German suplex and pinned him. The fans were all stunned as the champion was the FIRST man to face the wrath of Matanza. It made you realise that this Matanza fellow was not someone to mess with!
The Mack took on Matanza but saw his Stunner on Matanza no-sold. Matanza eliminated Mack and Aerostar to boos from the Temple.
Texano tried to choke out Matanza with a bull rope but he was taken out with a sit-out powerbomb. Matanza then targeted Joey Ryan, who was still handcuffed on the railing. Matanza broke the steel to set Ryan free. He killed Ryan with three rolling gut-wrench suplexes and pinned him. I was impressed at how Matanza was able to pull this off as it would be a very difficult sequence to pull off.
Chavo tried to form an alliance with Puma, Rey and Dragon Azetca but then quickly turned on them all. Matanza and Dragon Azteca battled but Matanza quickly disposed of him. Chavo then tried to form an alliance with Dario Cueto but Dario told Matanza to kill Chavo. Matana eliminated Chavo and Puma until it was down to Matanza and Mysterio.
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They had a great little final two and Rey had done really well to make it this far and looked fine at this stage. Rey hit the 619 but then Matanza caught him with a running powerslam and pinned him to win Aztec Warfare.

Dario then handed the Lucha Underground title to Matanza. It’s almost like Matanza had no clear what to do with this belt until Dario told him to raise it! It would have been awesome if Matanza had tried to eat that belt or something!

I have to say that Lucha Underground knocked it out of the park with this Aztec Warfare match. Rey Mysterio’s debut was well executed. There was rarely a dull moment as there was a lot of action. There were a number of instances where there seemed to be too much action going on at one time, preventing the fans from properly keeping up with everything. Dario Cueto’s return was awesome and Matanza came out of this looking like such a star. He destroyed everyone like few monsters had dominated before. Rarely has a monster been booked as convincingly as this. Brock Lesnar was booked dominantly but it’s not like he eliminated everyone else that was left in this year’s Royal Rumble for example. Matanza eliminated the champion right off the bat and everybody else had no hope in hell of beating him.

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I’ll end this with two things. I do agree with Wrestling Observer’s Bryan Alvarez with the sentiment that “Matanza” maybe should have been a much bigger fellow. It was built up on television that Dario Cueto’s brother was a lot taller as Dario would be shown to be looking up at this monster. Maybe they were planning on having someone bigger but they changed their mind. I’m really sure what their mindset was but I was expecting someone much bigger.
With that said, Matanza was great at being Matanza. He decimated everyone. I was just in awe about this entire ending with Matanza running rough-shot on everyone left in that match. He threw everyone around like it was nothing to him. Nearly everyone was hit with one move and beaten. This dude was able to pull off standing moonsaults among other incredible feats. This guy was something else.
HUGE THUMBS UP FOR LUCHA UNDERGROUND!

2016 Royal Rumble Match Review

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How’s it going everybody? Hope you all are having a great day.

In this post, I will be reviewing last week’s Royal Rumble match. I’m not going to review the entire pay-per-view, even though it was all actually really good. The Last Man Standing match was really good. Alberto Del Rio vs Kalisto was good. The Tag Team title match had a really good finish, with Big E catching one of the Usos with the Big Ending. Charlotte and Becky Lynch was good but was mostly ruined by the finish. I also hated how Becky Lynch really got buried at the end of it, despite having built up this program for the last few months. After Sasha Banks came out to confront Charlotte, Becky was literally just thrown to one side.

However, the biggest aspect of the pay-per-view is the Royal Rumble match. If the Rumble didn’t perform, it doesn’t really matter how great those matches were. It didn’t matter that Seth Rollins, Brock Lesnar and John Cena had one of the best matches of the year, at last year’s Royal Rumble event. Every other aspect of the pay-per-view disappointed, including the Rumble. The pressure was on in 2016 and WWE really had to deliver.

Without further ado, let’s get to it….

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Roman Reigns was obviously the number one entrant. He got thunderous boos as soon as he entered the match. This crowd did not want Roman to go the distance and it was a hard night for Roman, in terms of getting a good reaction from the crowd. Rusev was number two, meaning that the final two of last year’s Rumble would start off the 2016 Royal Rumble. Sadly, it wasn’t until Rusev’s entrance was about to finish when one of the commentators actually mentioned this fact to the viewer.

I’ll actually talk about the commentators slightly. I’m usually very down on Byron Saxton as a commentator on RAW. I never really believed he added a lot to the commentary and he was really not impressive on that show. However, Byron was the MVP of the Rumble in terms of announcing. He certainly was a lot better than Michael Cole and JBL was. Michael Cole was slipping up a number of times during the show, with Byron Saxton being the one to correct him or pick up some things that Cole forgot to mention. Things like the Roman/Rusev fact should be things that Cole should be going on about as soon as Rusev’s music hits. It’s a sense of continuity, which the WWE was really trying to keep up during the Rumble. The fact that Byron Saxton had to be the one to cover for Cole in that department is pretty sad, as Cole is the journalist that should know these facts. It should be Cole, who’s the play-by-play commentator.

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So Roman and Rusev brawled for about a minute. Rusev was eliminated right away by Roman, which would suggest that Rusev is still not in good favour with WWE at the moment! Then again, he was the one that laid out Roman Reigns later, which we’ll get onto. There were reports by Dave Meltzer and even Konnan that Lana had caused a scene in an airport, where she was yelling at Rusev in front of some people. Lana apparently got a lot of heat backstage for obvious reasons, but apparently Rusev got heat too for not defending himself. It seems odd to punish Rusev for something that Lana supposedly did, but both Rusev and Lana have been getting heat for a while since their engagement was reported by TMZ. Taking away the heat and taking into account how badly Rusev’s been booked in comparison to the rest of the League of Nations (minus Wade Barrett, who’s been on and off television), it still would make sense that Rusev would be the worst booked out of the stable in this match. Sucks to be Rusev at the moment in WWE.

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However, it doesn’t suck if you’re a fan of AJ Styles. Number three was AJ, who came to a thunderous pop. I actually don’t think there’s ever been a surprise entrant pop that was as great as this one. The place went nuts for AJ. Obviously, there is AJ’s connections with Orlando and TNA to take into account. However, AJ was just the most over man of the night. Even after AJ got eliminated, people were still going crazy and chanting his name. The entrance music was really cool and is now available on iTunes. I immediately got the song as soon as it was released! It just fit AJ’s look and style.

Bryan Alvarez actually mentioned on the Bryan and Vinny show that a lot of the WWE production crew were snowed in that Sunday, and couldn’t attend the Royal Rumble event. That would make a lot of sense, as the production crew were having a nightmare with this show! When AJ was coming out, they decided that filming AJ’s titantron was not important. It was more important to get a huge close-up of Roman Reigns. This would be fine, if it were not for the titantron saying the words “I am Phenomenal.”

A major part of AJ’s WWE debut was missed by the WWE production crew! It was not the only thing they missed tonight, which we’ll get to later. AJ seemed to fit right in during this match. His style is obviously a lot more quicker than everybody in that match (except Neville maybe) but he looked fine. They did a good job to build up AJ as he lasted a long time and eliminated a number of wrestlers. They could have done a great job in building him up, as obviously AJ could have lasted longer. However, I thought the time they gave him was just fine for AJ to get a feel of how the WWE worked. It’s still wrestling but a WWE environment is like no other. This was a good taster session of AJ.

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Tyler Breeze came out at number four but was eliminated by AJ and Roman after a minute. Tyler did actually look good in the minute that he was in the match. Apparently there’s heat on him backstage too, which would explain the early elimination. However, it would have probably been cool to see him last a little bit longer.

Curtis Axel was the number five entrant. I actually had an idea for Curtis Axel before I started watching this Royal Rumble. You know how Kofi Kingston’s Royal Rumble survival spot has become an annual Royal Rumble thing? Everyone goes into the Rumble thinking “What’s Kofi going to do this year?” and it becomes like the Undertaker’s streak. I thought about Curtis Axel not getting eliminated last year and getting really over because of it. It got me thinking. Why not do an annual spot where Curtis Axel is eliminated but never ACTUALLY eliminated from the Royal Rumble match?

Think about it. Erick Rowan attacked him last year. This year, the Social Outcasts could have dragged Curtis out from under the bottom rope and he would never be seen again in the match. Next year, it could have been Curtis being pulled under the bottom rope and attacked. One year, he would flee and then come back out again! WWE trying to come up with way for Curtis to lose but avoid actually being eliminated would actually be entertaining. Also, Curtis would never lose any of these matches! You’re actually elevating him as a character as he becomes the guy that never gets eliminated. I would have loved it if they did this…

Sadly, he was eliminated by AJ Styles. I love AJ, but this made me mad. Axelmania is well and truly dead…

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Moving on. Number six was Chris Jericho. I was doubtful that Jericho was going to be in there for long. To me, Jericho didn’t really look to be in that great of shape to be able to pull it off. I don’t want to call out Jericho for being fat or anything, but you’d expect someone like AJ or another rising star to also be putting in a very long shift in the Rumble. I was surprised that he was in there for as long as he was, which was about 50 minutes. It got me wondering because why would they push Jericho that strongly in the Rumble? Was this just something Jericho wanted or is there a big match in place for him at Wrestlemania? I’ll guess we’ll see.

Number seven was Kane. Looking back in hindsight, it’s amazing to think that Kane was in a WWE World Heavyweight Championship feud in October 2015. He was main-eventing RAWs and now he’s just another guy in the Rumble. He eliminated R-Truth later but he wasn’t really there as a dominant figure or anything. Goldust was number eight and ran wild. It’s amazing to see how well Goldust can go in the ring at the age of 46. He didn’t do a lot in the Rumble but he really did hold is own in a match filled with so much talent.

Number nine was Ryback, who was heavily booed. Ryback came in to deliver running knees in the corner to everyone. Everyone noted that CM Punk did the exact same thing as a signature move. However, Ryback looked so much wilder and cooler when he was doing it! It’s kind of like when Brock Lesnar would do high jumping attacks at people during the match. His size adds to the move as it actually makes Ryback look like a guy that will do crazy moves to win matches, including hurling himself at guys in the corner.

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Number ten was Kofi Kingston. His spot this year was when he was knocked to the outside and Big E caught him on his shoulders. Big E galloped around the ring and then Kofi decided to grab a drink of coke while he was on Big E’s shoulders! It was very creative and it was really a move that put over Big E in a weird way. It’s Kofi’s spot but Big E was the one doing the heavy lifting.

I mentioned the WWE production crew earlier missing big moments in the match. They missed another big one with Kofi’s elimination. It didn’t help that the elimination happened while the League of Nations attacked the WWE Champion. However for a few minutes, all the cameras did was focus on the League of Nations attacking Roman Reigns. They made brief shots to Luke Harper and Stardust coming into the match, but no footage of the match itself was actually shown during this period. Stardust and Titus O’Neil fighting during the match is something you’d believe would have some value to WWE storylines as they’ve been feuding. Instead, it was more important to see the Leauge of Nations slowly beat up Roman Reigns. It also didn’t help matters when all the commentators could talk about was Roman Reigns as well! I understand that he was the WWE Champion but the match itself is very important!

Titus O’Neil was number eleven and eliminated Goldust. I was kind of annoyed that the commentators couldn’t help but talk about all the charity work that Titus was doing. That’s all well and good but what does that have to do with Titus entering the Royal Rumble match? He’s entering a competitive environment and it’s not good for Titus when he is being portrayed as the charity man of WWE. It’s almost as if that’s becoming his new gimmick which doesn’t help Titus. Titus is a big strong guy but it’s portrayed as if charity is much more important to Titus than wrestling. That’s a huge problem for him.

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R-Truth came out at number twelve. R-Truth had a very funny spot where he got a ladder from underneath the ring, which just happened to be there. R-Truth set up the ladder, climbed it and went to grab a WWE Championship which wasn’t there. This gimmick where R-Truth is constantly getting confused is pretty darn awesome. If there’s anyone on the main roster that could pull this off, it would be R-Truth! Kane pulled R-Truth off the ladder, threw him out, took down the ladder and threw it to the outside. This monster eliminated R-Truth in the safest way possible and managed to miss R-Truth when throwing out the ladder. That made me laugh more than anything from this segment. The amount of care Kane took to eliminate R-Truth despite being a monster!

Stardust and Luke Harper both came out as mentioned earlier. Also, as mentioned earlier, the League of Nations came out to beat up Roman Reigns. Mr McMahon’s plan was for the League of Nations to pull Roman UNDER the bottom rope, beat him up and then put him through the announce table. This would hurt Roman so much that he wouldn’t be able to continue the match.

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Here’s the thing. Mr McMahon did not want Roman Reigns to win the WWE World title. If that was the case, why didn’t he just have the League of Nations throw Roman OVER the top rope? Mr McMahon is well aware that this match is no disqualification (as he created the match) so why didn’t he just take advantage of the rules and have them dump out Roman? McMahon also knows from experience that wrestlers that are beaten up in the Royal Rumble match can come back out later when they are fresher. Why’s that? Because in the 1999 Royal Rumble match (which Mr McMahon won), he tried the exact same plan with Stone Cold Steve Austin. What happened? Austin came back out and ALMOST thwarted his plans!

As this was going on, Jericho eliminated Kofi when he dropkicked him off Big E’s shoulders. That was another spot that the production crew missed. Number fifteen was the Big Show, who was booed quite a bit. Big Show eliminated Titus and Ryback. Last year, I complained that Big Show was eliminating all the younger talent. In this match, he did it again! To be fair, this was actually rectified when a younger man actually eliminated Big Show from the Rumble. However, it’s just funny how Ryback and Titus were both just quickly eliminated. Especially Ryback, who had been kicking Big Show’s arse throughout the summer of last year!

Number sixteen was Neville. He didn’t really do a lot but it was very hard to considering all the guys he was in there with at the time. Braun Strowman was number seventeen. WWE were really trying so hard to put Braun over during this Rumble with the Wyatt Family. They were mostly just trying to get over Braun, but the group actually eliminated a lot of men in this Rumble match. Braun eliminated Kane and Big Show which I was OK with as the younger man actually eliminated the old veterans. This was fine as this would put Braun over as the new top giant in the company. I was OK with this.

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Number eighteen was Kevin Owens, who was wobbling down to the ring after being in the Last Man Standing match earlier. He came in and eliminated AJ Styles. This caused huge uproar from the crowd! To be fair, it would have been much worse if someone like Braun Strowman eliminated AJ. At least Kevin Owens is someone the fans respect enough to accept as being the one to eliminated AJ.

There’s reports that AJ is actually expected to work a program with Kevin Owens, with this being the reason why Kevin eliminated AJ. I think this would be a good program but check out my own idea for what to do with AJ going into Wrestlemania at this link. I have a different idea for AJ which actually relates to the next entrant…

Dean Ambrose was number nineteen. He targeted Kevin right away. He was selling a lot less than Kevin Owens was. Number twenty was Sami Zayn, which got a big reaction. I guess Sami did make a lot of sense as the NXT star to go into the Royal Rumble. He’s someone that the main roster audience are familiar with (as he’s been on RAW before) and it actually tied into the angle they did on a house show, where Sami attacked Kevin. Sami eliminated Kevin, which was his payback for Kevin taking him out in May 2015. Erick Rowan was number 21. This was the moment where the Wyatt Family just took over. They dumped out Neville, Sami Zayn and Stardust. Neville actually took a really hard bump on the apron, when Luke Harper clotheslined him out of the match. It was similar to the Snitsky/Paul London spot from the 2005 Royal Rumble and there were reports that Vince was very upset with London for taking that bump. Whether Neville will get heat remains to be seen. He was in the United States Championship match against Kalisto on SmackDown!, so I guess nothing was fought of it.

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Mark Henry was number 22 and he eliminated right away by the Wyatt Family. Number 23 was Brock Lesnar, who DOMINATED the match. He suplexed everyone in the ring except Braun Strowman I think. He eliminated the 24th entrant Jack Swagger. For the record, the combined time in the match for Swagger and Henry was 45 seconds. These were also the men that won the kick-off show match to earn a spot in the Rumble. If you’re going to do a match like this, you should at least try to make it seem that the qualifying match was important. I believe these two were the only men in the match that had to win a qualifying match to get into the Rumble. At least give them some credit by having them last at least a few minutes each. Why did they get eliminated right way?

Brock was dominating as mentioned earlier. He eliminated Rowan from the Wyatt Family first. There was a spot with Brock and Braun where Brock clotheslined Braun, but Braun didn’t go down. The whole gimmick on television is for Braun to never get knocked down so I guess Braun just tried to keep that gimmick up. Apparently, nobody told Brock Lesnar! After Braun didn’t go down for the first clothesline, Brock clobbered Braun with a second one and Braun went crashing down to the mat. Brock battered this poor guy.

Maybe this was actually the plan and WWE’s idea was for Braun to take a big beating from Lesnar in order to help him sell moves in the future. Braun’s selling is not that great and he’ll eventually lose his invincibility when he loses clean for the first time. When that happens, Braun’s got to know how to sell. The idea is that if you actually get beat up in the ring, that’ll help you understand how a certain spot should be sold. For example, some wrestlers are legitimately kicked in the gut or punched during their early days of wrestling school to get a feel of how to sell it. This might have been why Brock gave Braun such a beating… or Brock just did what he wanted anyway and just beat up Braun!

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Number 25 was the Miz, who simply went over to the announce table and did commentary. Miz’s plan was to wait for the right moment so he could go in and eliminate someone. Number 26 was Alberto Del Rio, who didn’t really accomplish much. It was kind of odd that Kalisto was not involved in the Royal Rumble match yet the loser of the earlier US Championship match was! There was actually reports that Del Rio injured his back during the Royal Rumble event, which means that more wrestlers are on WWE’s injury list. The thing that bothers me is that WWE have all of these wrestlers injured and yet they still continue to double book wrestlers during television shows, further increasing the risk of injuries. Alberto Del Rio was never going to win the Royal Rumble so wouldn’t it have made sense to put someone in there that HADN’T competed earlier on in the night?

Brock eliminated Braun and Luke Harper when Bray Wyatt came out at number 27. On SLTD Wrestling, I predicted that Brock would be eliminated by the man that would face him at Wrestlemania. It was clear that his Wrestlemania was set up by his elimination but the thing is, Bray didn’t even eliminate Lesnar! What happened was that Bray set the Wyatt Family on Brock but Brock fought them off. Bray took advantage and hit Sister Abigail. He then told the Wyatt Family members to eliminate Lesnar for him! How on earth could anyone take Wyatt seriously when he wasn’t even the one that eliminated Brock? He was just stood there directing traffic. Unless the Wyatt Family ends up being a big part of the build for Bray vs Brock, I don’t see why Bray couldn’t have just thrown Lesnar out himself.

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I actually want to quickly talk about Braun Strowman again. Braun ended being eliminated by Brock during the Royal Rumble. As mentioned earlier though, Brock had BATTERED Braun during the match. The idea that Braun is supposed to go from being decimated by Brock to fighting THE UNDERTAKER at Wrestlemania (as reported by some wrestling websites) is just laughable. This’ll be an easy match for Undertaker to wrestle but how could Braun seem like a legitimate threat to Undertaker after this performance?

Dolph Ziggler came out at number 28. This was a horrible night in the Royal Rumble for Dolph Ziggler. There were three moments during this matches where Ziggler was buried to an incredible degree. The first one was when The Miz’s plan was finally put into motion. As Ziggler came in, Miz took advantage and successfully hit Ziggler with the Skull Crushing Finale. Usually, the heel’s sneaky attack should backfire on him as it would be what he’d get for breaking the rules. Not here! Miz got away with his crime and was successful in taking out Dolph Ziggler!

Number 29 was Sheamus. This was where Roman Reigns came back out to clear house. He eliminated Miz and Del Rio. He ran wild for a bit until number thirty came out. Number thirty was revealed to be Triple H.

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Against my better judgement, I convinced myself that WWE weren’t planning to have Triple H to come out as the 30th entrant in the Royal Rumble match. I told myself that the WWE couldn’t possibly be going with this, as it would have been WAY too obvious. In the end, that’s what they did. The funny thing about it is the fact that the Orlando crowd didn’t seem to care.

They were ecstatic to see Triple H. A big part of that was to do with it meaning that Roman Reigns was probably not going to win. Another part though was the fact that NXT is based in Orlando. Of course, NXT is Triple H’s big project. Therefore, it made so much sense that Triple H would be cheered as heavily as he was. It was an ingenious way for WWE to put Triple H over! Even though the storyline didn’t make sense and that we’d see Triple H win the title at 46 years old, this crowd didn’t care.

Triple H and Roman Reigns did this huge stare down. Remember, Roman Reigns beat up Triple H at TLC. This was another good use of continuity by the writers. It did annoy me that Byron was the only that considered the possibility of a conspiracy by the Authority, which is a huge plot-point to overlook. It was not like the commentators were in disgust over the Authority’s abuse of power. Michael Cole and JBL were just hyping up this big return from Triple H. I understand that the commentators were excited for Triple H coming out but think about the storyline just a little.

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This was the second time during the Rumble match where Ziggler was buried. Triple H and Roman did this face-off and during the face-off, Ziggler tried to jump Triple H. Triple H just simply pedigreed Ziggler and continued to stare down Roman! This was the funniest moment of the entire match! I felt bad for Ziggler but I just laughed so hard at how Triple H laid out Ziggler with such ease and just continued to do this intense showdown with Roman.

The third and final moment where Ziggler was buried was when he was trying to eliminate Triple H. Ziggler hit the super kick, which has started to become a finisher for Ziggler. This was also the same super kick that won Triple H’s best friend Shawn Michaels so many big matches. Ziggler hit the super kick and Triple H wobbled on the apron. Ziggler tried again and Triple H just threw Ziggler out of the match. Triple H no-sold Ziggler’s finisher and just threw him over the top rope! The announcers were talking about all the great last man standing matches in the Royal Rumble earlier on in the show. Keep in mind that the first last man standing match was between Triple H and Shawn Michaels in 2004, and the finish to that match was Shawn Michaels super-kicking Hunter which lead to neither man answering the count of ten. However, Triple H just flat out no-sold this super kick from Ziggler!

There was a moment with Triple H and Bray Wyatt, where it seemed like an alliance would be formed. Wyatt instead just attacked Triple H. This would prove to be Wyatt’s undoing as HE was eventually eliminated by an alliance between Triple H and Sheamus. Dean Ambrose eliminated Chris Jericho in ANOTHER strange use of continuity. At Night Of Champions, there was a moment where Jericho and Dean had an argument following their six man tag team match. Jericho nudged Dean out of the way and this was Dean’s revenge.

 

The final four was Sheamus, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Triple H. Roman Reigns eliminated Sheamus but was then eliminated by Triple H to a HUGE reaction. This lead to a final two between Triple H and Dean Ambrose. It was a good call to have Dean Ambrose in the final two instead of Roman. If Roman was eliminated last by Triple H, the fans would have ended the night by emphatically cheering the heel authority figure. With this finish, they can still have the heel heat on Triple H as he was going up against Dean Ambrose. That night, everyone really wanted Dean to win. This got Dean over as a top babyface and Triple H was booed at the end. It got the right reaction, although there were cheers for Triple H at the end of the night too.

There was one report from Inquisitr that suggested that the WWE changed their mind on the finish in the middle of the match. The winner had already been decided but it’s suggested that Roman Reigns was attacked by the League of Nations so Vince, Roman and the rest of the powers-that-be would discuss a new finish to the match. I don’t believe that they would change the finish off the match DURING the match itself. It seems like a bit of a stretch. I thought Roman being taken out earlier on in the match was just to rest him for the finish. I don’t think it was because WWE changed their minds.

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Triple H eliminated Dean to win the Royal Rumble and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. In the weeks leading up to this event, I was hugely against Triple H winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Coming out of the event, I still believe it was the wrong decision.

Let me just ask you guys a few questions:

  • Out of Brock Lesnar and Triple H, who is the better worker?
  • Out of Brock Lesnar and Triple H, who is the bigger star in mainstream media?
  • Out of Brock Lesnar and Triple H, who is the bigger draw in terms of pay-per-view buys?
  • Out of Brock Lesnar and Triple H, who has been the most over act in the last twelve months?

The answer to all of these answers is Brock Lesnar. So why was Triple H chosen to win the Royal Rumble over Brock Lesnar? Vince McMahon.

This is NOT an accusation of nepotism. However, Vince has it in his head that they needed to put Roman over by having him beat Triple H at Wrestlemania. That’s fine. I don’t mind the “passing of the torch” booking EXCEPT when the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is on the line.

When Hulk Hogan lost the WWF Championship to the Ultimate Warrior, Hogan was on top of the world. When he lost the belt to Warrior, Warrior came off looking as the new legitimate top star of the company because he had beaten the very best.

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When Roman Reigns inevitably wins the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Triple H, he’ll have beaten a 46 year old Authority figure to do it. There might have been plans for Roman Reigns to beat John Cena at Wrestlemania but there’s a huge difference between John Cena and Triple H. John Cena has been on top of the WWE for a decade as an active wrestler. Triple H had not been champion since 2009 until right now. He is NOT in the prime of his life as a wrestler. So even when he’s NOT in the prime of his life, he’s still winning Rumbles in 2016. That’s the bottom line. How bad does that make everyone else on the roster look?

I laughed about Triple H defeating Dolph Ziggler so easily earlier. The main reason why I laughed is because Triple H should not be defeating Dolph Ziggler so easily. He eliminated Ziggler, Wyatt, Reigns and Ambrose who are among WWE’s elite stars in 2016. Again, these guys all looked so insignificant compared to Triple H.

HOWEVER, despite what I thought about the finish… the show was great. WWE had a plan and they stuck with it. I admire them for that, despite the leaks of what was going to happen. They stuck to their guns and the crowd loved it in the end. That alone should tell you just how good a Rumble this was. WWE gave it their all with this event as a whole. This match was just put together so well that it did feel like a very special Rumble. This was not the greatest Rumble of all time but this was a pretty great Rumble as a whole. WWE really did give the fans a great show and they should be proud of the show they put on.

EXTREME WARFARE REVENGE: TNA 2010 – UPDATE #1

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here once again to bring you our very first TNA EWR update, where we basically tell you were things are going in our Extreme Warfare Revenge universe and what to expect in the future.

As you will have noticed, the TNA series has returned and in full force. We returned with Bound For Glory and we’ve seen a number of posts since. We did BFG, an Impact special “Joker’s Wild”, Turning Point and Final Resolution. That’s a lot to take in so what we’re going to do is drop the links to all the parts down below…

Part 1 – Destination X

Part 2 – Lockdown

Part 3 – Sacrifice

Part 4 – Slammiversary

Part 5 – Victory Road

Part 6 – Hard Justice

Part 7 – No Surrender

Part 8 – Bound For Glory

Part 9 – Joker’s Wild Special

Part 10 – Turning Point

Part 11 – Final Resolution

Any posts you’ve missed or if you just want to go back and get yourself clued up on what’s happened in this series, there are all the links you need.

For those of you that are new to the series, TNA has changed quite a bit. Allow me to give you a bit more detail on the current storylines I’ve got running as we’ve wrapped up 2010 and are now going into 2011!

 

Plot

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AJ Styles was TNA World Heavyweight Champion at the start of the series and he went through a lot of competition including the likes of Kurt Angle. He did drop the belt to Jeff Hardy but quickly won it back. After retaining at Bound For Glory, he was met with a new challenger… AND HIS NAME IS JOHN CENA!

That joke will never get old in my mind!

Seriously, Cena did win the TNA World title from Styles and goes into 2011 strong as our top guy.

Currently running the ship is Interim General Manager Kurt Angle. Hulk Hogan had been running things since the start of the game (as well as Bischoff until Bischoff retired in the game). However, Hogan was mysteriously taken out leaving Kurt Angle to be named as the head honcho of TNA for now. The heel Sting had questioned Hogan’s intentions in the past but what will the Stinger make of Kurt Angle being in charge? What impact will Sting and Angle have on TNA in 2011?

There’s been plenty of stables on the scene as well including the likes of Reckless Ambition headed by L.A. Par-K and the British Invasion. A new stable has just emerged called “Global Supremacy” (led by Desmond Wolfe) but the most prominent group has been Extreme Coalition. Raven and Rhino have been tearing up the TNA Tag Team division as champions but will there be more additions to the group?

There’s been a number of new signings over the year. Along with John Cena has been Rey Mysterio that’s been able to mix it up with the bright X-Division stars like Jay Lethal, Christopher Daniels and the Motor City Machine Guns.

There’s also a number of developmental stars waiting for their chance to shine and also stars like El Generico, Kevin Steen and Claudio Castagnoli hoping to break out as top talents in the company.

It’s an exciting future for this game and we’ve just actually become the top promotion in the company in terms of public image (which determines where the company’s are in terms of size). We’re still behind the WWE in PPV buys though so that’ll be something we’re hoping to surpass them in.

 

Schedule

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Our last post was Final Resolution and we’ve actually done two PPVs since then which just need writing up. Both Genesis and Against All Odds have been done and graded by the game and we’re hoping to have Genesis up on the blog soon. I’m hoping to have at least one new post up by next Friday so stay tuned for that.

For the time being, I’m going to stick with just doing the TNA series. The WCW series is obviously the more developed one that has really helped the blog out but I’ve noticed that the TNA series has actually been effective in its own right. We decided that we might as well give it the chance to shine. Also, I wanted to have a break from the WCW series and it’s good to try something else! Don’t worry though WCW fans. We will be coming back to it… eventually!

 

Knockouts Division

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I know the Knockouts division hasn’t really been a big deal in the series but we do have a bit of announcement regarding its status. Our champion ODB recently jumped ship to the WWE meaning that the title has been vacated. We had a look at the roster and judging by how much we’ve not used a lot of the women, we’ve put the division on halt for a bit. The title has been suspended and we’re probably not going to crown a new champion until later on in the year when a few of the developmental female stars join the main roster. Trust me, we’ll come back stronger than ever with the TNA knockouts!

However, we do have a number of other signings that have joined us in recent months. The likes of Konnan and Primo Colon have joined the Reckless Ambition stable and the Hart Dynasty has also joined us. I mentioned DH Smith was signed to the company at Final Resolution but Tyson Kidd has also came on board. I’m hoping to do a lot with them.

There’s been a few signings but other than Cena and Mysterio, no major ones that will be a big part of the PPVs. I’ve signed independent stars like Joey Ryan but he’s not really been over enough to be featured on the main shows. Also, AAA snapped up Ryan on a written contract from under my nose just recently! -.-

I can reveal though that TWO new big signings will be revealed soon so stay tuned for that. I’ll actually give you two clues for each of the new signings.

  1. The first new signing has been a huge star in Mexico and has actually had a rare five star rated match from Dave Meltzer at Wrestling Observer.
  2. The second signing is former multi-time world champion for WWE AND has appeared in the last ten Wrestlemania events.

So there you go. There are your clues. They’ll both be revealed in due time.

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That’ll wrap things up for this update. Again, be sure to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for news on when Genesis and Against All Odds are up!