RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #27 (MATCH 11TH 1996) – THE STEINER BROTHERS DEBUT ON NITRO AND MAIN-EVENT IS A MASSIVE TRAIN WRECK

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

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In the last episode of WCW Nitro, we got our big six man tag team match with Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and THE BOOTY MAN battling Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Taskmaster. After weeks of Arn Anderson getting the best of the Hulkster, Hogan finally scored a big pinfall victory over the “Enforcer” Arn Anderson. The celebrations were short-lived as with literally 30 seconds of television to spare, Miss Elizabeth “handcuffed” Hogan to the corner as Ric Flair whipped the Hulkster to end the show.

 

 

Date: March 11th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Winston-Salem, NC

Rating: 3.2

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

 

There’s been two weeks since the last episode of WCW Nitro. There was no Nitro for March 4th 1996 so RAW was left unopposed. However, Nitro was back and it was back with a rematch from two weeks ago. Hogan, Savage and Booty Man would face Flair, Anderson and Taskmaster again but this time was different… in so many ways. They would be “wrestling” in a six man tag team double strap lumberjack match. Quite the mouthful. It was complex in writing and even more complex in execution. What a disaster this main-event would be. I think this was a pretty poor episode of Nitro accompanied by a disastrous main-event. Anyway, let’s delve into the show and see why I thought it was so bad.

 

As Eric Bischoff dubbed WCW Nitro as the “war zone”, which was ironic considering RAW would go onto call their ring “the war zone” themselves, they reveal that there is a new WCW Television Champion apparently crowned in the 2 weeks since the last episode. The new champion was in action later which we’ll get to later…

 

 

Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs The Giant w/Jimmy Hart

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I’ve listened to reviews of this match and read reviews online and I maybe the only person who actually thought this match was alright. Obviously, it’s HACKSAW JIM DUGGAN VS THE GIANT. I wasn’t expecting like a Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega classic or something. You’ve got Hacksaw Jim Duggan and you’ve got a still green Giant in there against each other. However, I think this was the best match you could have done with these two given the circumstances. The Giant I think is shown to very cautious in his matches, which is a great trait to have as a wrestler. Hacksaw got a very basic but effective match out of the guy, which worked with the crowd.

Hacksaw fired away at Giant to little effect but by god he was trying his hardest and then The Giant just hit two big gut punches to Hacksaw!

Hacksaw tried a double axe handle off the apron but Giant caught him and drove him back-first into the ring post. There was a Brian Pillman sign shown as Brian Pillman himself was in the crowd apparently. Bischoff left the booth to attend to this so, regardless of what happens with Pillman in the future as we’ve discussed before, Bischoff looked to still be pushing this angle hard with Brian Pillman.

Giant did a bearhug as Pillman was shown being dragged away by security. Bischoff gets back to the booth and said: “back to the match.” Hacksaw bit Giant to escape the bearhug. Giant did a big charge and then delivered sloppy kicks to a grounded Hacksaw. The Giant’s kicks didn’t really look like kicks. He just stuck his leg out but his leg didn’t bend at all and it stayed straight as he kicked Duggan. Giant was still rather green with 5 or so months of experience under his belt but mostly I can see just bits and bobs he needs to work on in his game. Spoiler alert, but he eventually becomes a better wrestler!

Giant did a big stinger splash to the corner but Hacksaw moved. Hacksaw actually clotheslined Giant over the top rope but Giant was still standing as the fans popped a bit. The Giant did another bearhug.

In case anyone was wondering or you did not read my Hell in a Cell review last week, I did watch NXT and AEW last week. In fact, I watched NXT, AEW and SmackDown!’s debut on FOX on the Saturday after and then I watched this episode of WCW Nitro on the Sunday. What a change of pace to go from the likes of Adam Cole vs Matt Riddle to The Giant vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan!

The Giant then lifted and placed the referee out of the way but then Hacksaw knocked Giant down with three shots to the head. Jimmy Hart got in the ring and Hacksaw punched him down to a big pop. The Giant then out of nowhere chokeslammed Duggan and pinned him for the win.

I liked this match. Hacksaw was such a great babyface even against the almighty Giant. It had some bumps in the road but it was effective with this crowd so if you judge matches by crowd reactions this was a THUMBS UP.

 

Scheduled next was The Nasty Boys vs The Road Warriors but instead, we hear motorcycle engines and no Nasty Boys. Driving down the ramp in motorcycles were in fact THE STEINER BROTHERS. The Steiner Brothers made their big WCW return as the fans went nuts with dog barks. I have to say that this was a welcome change. The tag team division for WCW has been rather lacklustre since we started reviewing WCW Nitros…. so seeing the Steiners back with WCW was a much needed shot of adrenaline to this tag team division.

 

“The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner vs “The Road Warriors” Animal and Hawk

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As luck would have it, the Steiner Brothers come back and they have a good match with the Road Warriors! It was like they showed up and the tag team division was miles better right away. The Road Warriors have had some average to below average matches since returning to WCW but they had a good match here. They sold for the Steiners’ suplexes and they worked their asses of in this match, including Hawk of all people.

Hawk chopped away at Scott Steiner and Scott Steiner sold like crazy. Like Hawk would hit a chop and Steiner would thrust his entire body back to sell the impact of this move. It was great.

Scott hit a big belly-to-belly suplex and the fans went nuts. Steiner hit a pumphandle drop, and the fans popped again. Hawk hit a big clothesline off the top rope and the fans popped again. The fans were really into this match and the Steiners especially. The fans wanted to see this match and every move was seen as a big move to them.

Hawk hit a big boot and a neckbreaker. Scott hit a big Tiger Powerbomb. Rick got tagged in as the fans barked in response! Animal got tagged in. Animal hit a powerslam and a scoop slam. Rick knocked down Animal with two clotheslines and Rick hit a huge German suplex to return the favour.

Rick actually hit a belly to belly off the top rope. Scott again delivers with another belly to belly suplex. The tag teams continued to battle. Steiner locked on the Steiner Recliner. Hawk broke this up but then Scott just went right back to work with the Steiner Recliner!

It’s a nit-picky thing with wrestling but I don’t like the part in a tag match where the partner in trouble would get hit with a big move. The tag team partner jumps in to break up the pin and then the tag team that’s winning the match would just go try something different. Like if this was WWE in 2019, after the Steiner Recliner would be broken up then the Steiners would try something different because that’s how the match would be put together.

In reality, in this match anyway in 1996, Scott knows this move is effective as Hawk broke up the submission. Hawk was concerned Animal might tap out. What does Scott do in response? He goes back to the devastating Steiner Recliner. I don’t get the need that once a move is broken, the tag team cannot possibly go for the move again. Why not try again with the Steiner Recliner? It’s a weird thing but it’s effective when a match can demonstrating wrestlers being smart in the ring.

Animal and Scott did a double clothesline and both went down. Hawk vaults into the ring off the hot tag and runs wilds on the Steiners! Yeah Hawk, who could barely do anything in the past couple of weeks, vaults into the ring and starts whooping ass!

Hawk hits a powerslam as the Road Warriors continue to run wild. They hit the doomsday device and Scott breaks up the pin. Scott sends Animal crashing into the guard rail. Rick hits a German suplex and the Steiners went for the Doomsday Device themselves but Animal broke it up.

Scott hit a top rope clothesline and so Animal followed up with his own top rope clothesline. The two tag teams continue to battle as Scott hit a Frankensteiner.  The Steiners hit a Doomsday Device bulldog, which I believe is also called the Steinerizer, but then Animal hit Rick with the spikes off their shoulder pad which led to Hawk getting the pin.

A great match with a bit of a crap finish. The Road Warriors are supposed to be babyfaces and the main-event of the show would confirm that they’re supposed to be babyfaces but yet they cheated to win here. Mixed messages but an otherwise good match.

 

Mean Gene interviewed the Steiners after the match. Scott said they’ve been hunting the Road Warriors for 4 years and they left the US for 4 years for the Road Warriors to come to them!  I was going to laugh at the idea that the Steiners have been hunting the Road Warriors for 4 years but if you think about it, the Road Warriors only arrived in WCW a couple of months ago. Therefore, the Steiners’ story adds up where you could believe “oh there they are. Let’s go to where the big boys play and face the Road Warriors!” That I least give credit for.

Scott said the way the Road Warriors won was disgraceful. Mean Gene asked about the Nasty Boys and Scott said they came where the competition was and the Road Warriors hadn’t seen the last of them. Rick complained about the cheap shot and yelled that this wasn’t the end.

 

Lex Luger (c) vs Alex Wright for the WCW Television Championship

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Yes, Lex Luger is the new WCW Television Champion. Apparently he beat Johnny B Badd for the title who is now for real out of the promotion. Apparently Johnny B Badd “didn’t feel up for it” according to Bischoff so Alex Wright is facing Luger tonight. This match happens which I’m pretty sure was just an excuse for Eric Bischoff to bury Johnny B Badd for 5 minutes. He made comment after comment about Johnny B Badd during this match.

They plugged an advertisement for the WCW hotline where Bobby Heenan and Mean Gene were creeping up on other wrestlers trying to find the scoops which came off as so creepy to me. If it was just Bobby Heenan, the advertisement would make sense as Bobby is “the weasel” according to everyone in the company. Mean Gene doing it to promote a hot line? I dunno. It kinda came off bad to me… pardon the pun.

Bischoff buried Badd for not being “up for it” as Wright does a big dive to Luger on the outside. Apparently Luger was out of the tag team title match with Sting at Uncensored so this means that Sting is without a partner for the Road Warriors match. With that being said, Sting and Luger are still the tag champs.

Wright fired up at the start of the match but Luger took control of the match after a couple of minutes. Luger gorilla pressed Wright and slammed him down.

Wright did a springboard crossbody but Luger caught him during the second attempt and dropped him on the top turnbuckle.

Luger then mocked Wright for trying again and even started bullying him, getting really angry as he did it. Wright eventually kicks away at Luger and fires back with punches and European Uppercuts to get back into the match.

Jimmy Hart ran in with the interference and Wright pushed Hart off the apron. Luger dropped Wright on the top rope for the pinfall victory. That was the finish! Luger didn’t lock on the Torture Rack. He pushed him off the top rope, got the pin and won! Your average Lex Luger vs little man wrestling match to me. Nothing special.

Luger then yelled at Jimmy as he didn’t want Jimmy out there.

 

Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and Booty Man vs Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Taskmaster in six man tag team double strap match with lumberjacks with straps at ringside

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This match was such a train wreck. On paper it sounded convoluted and over-the-top and in execution it was even worse. You got six men out there for a “double” strap match with lumberjacks on the outside also with the straps. This felt harder to keep track of than the 60 man battle royal at World War III and this was just a six man tag team match. The six men in the ring are brawling, the men on the outside are brawling with each other, Kimberley came out randomly yet again and keep in mind, they couldn’t even keep last week’s six man tag team match straight about who the legal men were. In this match, it was tornado rules and everyone got in each other’s way constantly.

I do love that the lumberjacks were actually dressed like lumberjacks including Meng of all people! I think if any wrestling promotion is going to put on a lumberjack, it should be a requirement that they are dressed as lumberjacks. Seeing Meng as a lumberjack with a big grin on his face and ready for this match was such a sight to see. For god’s sake, have some fun with the lumberjack match gimmick!

The six men in the ring all brawl to kick things off and The Giant then grabbed Hogan. Then The Giant and Loch Ness start to fight over who gets Hogan and they have a great big brawl to the back! It was an ugly brawl which did not really look good but I got so excited for like 5 seconds! Then things just completely fell apart.

There’s brawling everywhere. The six men in the match brawl and the lumberjacks are all attacking each other with straps on the outside. KIMBERLY appears again, looking like she’s smitten. Ric tried to flee but Road Warrior Animal brought him back to the lumberjacks. I got so confused as it appeared that they turned heel for cheating against the Steiners but apparently they were on Hogan’s side against the heels. WHAT?

So much stuff happened that I couldn’t keep track.  They just all fought in the ring. Again, lumberjacks brawl on the outside. Why were the lumberjacks just BRAWLING with each other on the outside? I understand it’s faces and heels on the outside so maybe they don’t like each other but their job is to throw guys back in the ring if they leave the ring and they were too busy fighting each other not to do that.

The heel lumberjacks gang up on Hogan and tried to choke them out. Kimberly is shown still standing there on the entrance ramp. Regal, Meng, DDP and Malenko all whip at Hogan and then Hogan makes his own comeback on the heels.

I’m sure Hogan whipped Savage by accident during all of this as again, everyone was just in each other’s way. The lumberjacks brawl AGAIN. Even if you’re going to do a spot where the lumberjacks brawl with each other, isn’t it best to leave that until the end of the match and build up to it? Maybe you could build tension between the two factions of lumberjacks and then after a while, they start to the brawl.

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PERFECT EXAMPLE: They did a Roman Reigns vs Erick Rowan lumberjack match on SmackDown! last week where it went as normal, they all brawled and then Roman took them all out with a big dive to take them all out and turn the attention to the ring. FINE. That’s perfectly fine in a lumberjack match where the brawling on the outside is an important part of the match. In this lumberjack match, the lumberjacks brawl for no reason and it doesn’t play into the match at all.

Hogan ties up Flair with the straps and throws Flair across the ring but Flair pokes Hogan in the eye for get out of it. Savage kicks at Steven Regal for no reason. Hogan whips at Flair. Hogan then hits a big boot and leg drop out of nowhere and pins Ric Flair as Hawk no-sells the Faces of Fear whipping him in the chest. I guess the heel lumberjacks and heel tag teams all flee. Then Flair suddenly is up on his feet on running away right after Hogan’s Leg Drop! Flair doesn’t even sell the Leg Drop of Doom and just runs away… and then he comes back to cut a promo. This was… a disaster.

 

As mentioned, Ric Flair along with Arn and Taskmaster cut a promo on the babyfaces. Taskmaster cuts a promo on Hogan. He said Hogan will have to go through 4 cages for I believe the Doomsday Cage match at Uncensored. He mentioned Hogan has to go through Arn, Taskmaster, Luger and Flair. I was so confused because they said earlier that Lex Luger was not able to team with Sting, I assumed it was because he’s the TV Champion now. But no, he can’t team with Sting because he’s in the Doomsday Cage match! Keep in mind, Lex Luger wrestled in multiple matches at Starrcade. All of a sudden, he can’t wrestle more than once at Uncensored?

Arn Anderson flat-out said: “what happened tonight doesn’t resemble professional wrestling.” That’s what he said and that’s the quote. You can quote me on the quote. Arn flat out just said that the Nitro main-event didn’t resemble wrestling… AND HE’S RIGHT.

Ric Flair warned the babyfaces not to touch Elizabeth and Woman. Flair calls out Hogan and Savage saying: “look what I got” and grabs Elizabeth. Flair sings “whole world in my hands” again. Flair yells at the announcers and Flair goes crazy as they go off the air.

 

Having finished this review, this show wasn’t actually that bad. I think if you just watched the first two matches, it was a fine show. That main-event was such a disaster that it just brought the whole show down. My interest in this Uncensored show is rapidly declining. Jesus, that main-event was atrocious. I’m not sure if it rivals the WCW tag team match from Fall Brawl as at least this match was shorter. However, this was worse in terms of the fact that this was WCW’s biggest program right now. 3 months or so until the nWo arrive but we do have the Steiner Brothers at least! It’s gonna be tough for a couple of months I think!

We will see you with our review of Episode #28 of WCW Nitro.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #20 (JANUARY 15TH 1996) – HULK HOGAN VS MENG MAIN EVENTS OVER A WCW WORLD TITLE MATCH

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

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The 12th world title reign of Ric Flair is underway, with the Four Horsemen looking to keep the title on the Nature Boy as their top priority. Flair and Arn Anderson teamed up to face recent former champions Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage in the tag team match main-event. Hogan and Savage picked up the win but the Four Horsemen’s planned post-match beatdown was cut-off by the Dungeon of Doom. The Dungeon of Doom and the Four Horsemen, because of past comments by Brian Pillman, were now at odds at the end of the show as they brawled to close the show

 

Date: January 15th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Miami, Florida

Rating: 3.5

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

 

The show starts with the commentators running down the card as usual and they reveal that Ric Flair will defend the WCW World title against Sting tonight and then the winner would go on to defend the title against “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Keep that in mind when you read about what went down in the first match of the evening.

 

Lex Luger vs Randy Savage

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Nothing about this match really differed it from any other Lex Luger vs Randy Savage match we’ve seen in this series so far. The announcers even point out that Luger had apparently won 3 matches in a row against Savage so he’s got his number, as Luger has been saying in a number of promos against Savage. I remember Luger beating Savage at World War III and Savage’s title defence a month ago on Nitro, but I can’t remember the third match. Unless, it was a Saturday Night show which I haven’t watched. Either way, they make it clear that Luger has been getting the better of Savage.

Luger tried to bring a chair into the ring at the start of the match. He threw it to Savage but the ref intercepted him from Savage and then Luger went to work following Savage’s tussle with the referee. A dastardly move to gain the upper-hand.

Savage battered away at Luger, smacking Luger’s head on the steps. Savage dropped a double axe handle. Some fans were actually chanting “Luger”. I have no idea why but Luger was over on this episode.

Savage choked away at Luger. Luger dropped a few elbows at about 1% of the speed of Dolph Ziggler… which to be fair, isn’t a bad thing. When Ziggler throws 10 super fast elbow drops repeatedly, it makes everyone of those elbow drops seem so useless when the guy just kicks at one or two or whatever. Luger does a few big elbow drops and, because his arms are massive as he’s Lex Luger, they hurt the ribs of the Macho Man.

Savage eventually went for the Elbow drop and when I mean he went for the elbow drop, Macho got some freaking HEIGHT on this elbow. He jumped high in the air with like 3 seconds of hang-time before coming crashing down onto this target. But in this instance, Savage crashed onto the mat and then Luger locked on the Torture Rack and beat Randy Savage CLEAN with a submission.…. WOW.

So going into a WCW World title match next week, Savage gets beat clean in the middle by Luger. Of all of the people that WCW tried to protect with DQ finishes, the one time they have a clean finish is when the #1 contender for the world title loses clean to Luger the heel. Amazing.

As my notes read… Why should Savage get a title shot after this? This is actually a relevant note going into Savage’s promo with Hulk Hogan later on.

I will say, this clean victory did come off as a legitimate big victory for Lex Luger. At the very least, it benefited someone.

 

The Taskmaster and Hugh Morrus vs Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman

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The match originally scheduled for this show was The Four Horsemen’s Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman facing off with The Dungeon of Doom’s Taskmaster and Hugh Morrus. Before anything went down though, the entirety of the Dungeon of Doom and the Four Horsemen came down together to the ring.

Bischoff said it was like something that came out of a Godfather movie. In the middle of all of this, I notice the One Man Gang is holding up the US title. Somehow, the title got switched from Kensuke Sasaki to the One Man Gang. At the very least, they put the title on a guy who is part of a big stable so at least it gives the Dungeon of Doom some credit. Mean Gene Okerlund got between the groups and interviewed them both. I loved this segment that followed.

Arn Anderson said that he and Taskmaster had a meeting of the minds. Arn reiterates that Ric Flair keeping the world title is the first order of business for the Horsemen. He said anything that gets in the way of business, they don’t want any part of it. Arn said there’s no winners and no financial gain, there’s only survivors from feuding with the Dungeon. Basically, he wants water under the bridge with the Dungeon.

Taskmaster, in response, puts over Flair as the 12 time world champion. He says no sports team can match that legacy. Apparently, Taskmaster agreed that the Horsemen will borrow “The Big Man” The Giant at Clash of Champions. It’s gonna be Hogan and Savage vs Giant and Ric Flair. Taskmaster agrees that there’s no winners and losers but Pillman, “this punk” as he called him, has gotta learn respect. Arn reminds the Taskmaster that they respect the Dungeon but they’re not afraid of them. Pillman starts to mouth off but Arn literally slaps the taste out of him.

Arn says “I TOLD YOU TO KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT.” Arn said it’s treat like a business and it’ll always be about the business as fellow Horsemen Chris Benoit stares a whole at Arn Anderson. I love this storyline… the young guns acting on emotion and not on business and Arn is trying to straighten him and Benoit out before they starts fires they don’t want. He really is the enforcer and out of the everybody in the ring, Arn came off as the coolest guy in the ring that also included Ric Flair. I loved it.

 

 

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

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This was the debut of ECW Alumni Public Enemy in a WCW ring. I never really watched the “real” ECW if you will from the 1990s. It might be something to do once this series is over. I never watched Public Enemy in ECW so maybe they were actually really good in an extreme environment. But in the confides of a wrestling match, they looked completely lost in this match.

The American Males run wild on Public Enemy from the get-go. Riggs tried a clothesline on one of the members of Public Enemy but the Public Enemy member struggled to get over the top rope to take this clothesline.

Bagwell does a diving crossbody and smacked one of the Public Enemy members right on the face. The announcers never went through the trouble of identifying which member was which so I was trying to guess which one was which during this match.

The fans chant “ECW” of course. Riggs did a sunset flip on Grunge for a 2 count. Bagwell run wilds in the ring for the hot tag. Bagwell runs wild on both members of Public Enemy as the fans boo. Grunge got the victory. It’s just the match where the American Males win on the Public Enemy for the entire match and then Public Enemy just got the win out of nowhere. I totally forgot to write down what the finish was, I do apologise. It didn’t matter anyway as this was a nothing, mess or a match to me. The important stuff came after the match.

Rocco kicks Bagwell’s ass after the match as the Enemy get the table and even stacks the tables on top of each other. Bagwell is put on top of the tables as Rocco did a swanton bomb to a huge reaction as Riggs is also down on the floor. The fans liked Public Enemy here but this was a mess of a match to me. It just looked so out of the blue in the middle of this wrestling show to see hardcore action, like with Sabu at around the start of this series. Remember when Sabu would just win a match and then beat up the loser afterwards for no reason?

 

Ric Flair (c) w/Jimmy Hart vs Sting for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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Sting runs wild on Flair just like in any Flair vs Sting match. Sting hit Flair with a big suplerplex to which Flair acted like a fish out of water selling this move! It was pretty great.

Sting then tries a big splash to the floor, he gets high in the air, arms out, everything, and Flair just gets the knees up. You could tell these two men loved wrestling each other and they were so into their match with this energy and charisma they were they were demonstrating. It didn’t just come off like a routine thing.

Sting tries to attack Flair with a crossbody bouncing off the ropes but he crashed into the ropes. Sting locked on the sleeper but Ric reversed it into a back suplex. Sting fired back into the match with punches and eventually sent Flair crashing into the floor with Flair doing a vintage Flair flop.

Flair tried a Figure Four Leg Lock but Sting rolled it up for a near fall. Sting almost got Flair with a backslide. Sting tries a sunset slip but pulls down the trunks of Flair accidentally. What’s weird about doing this spot is that in 2017, Ric’s daughter aka Charlotte Flair did this exact same spot with Lana on an episode of SmackDown! Like the same spot where Lana accidentally pulls Charlotte’s gear down off when doing the same spot?

Jimmy Hart is yelling at Flair saying that he’s the man and all of that but yet didn’t warn Flair not to go to the top rope as he got pushed off by Sting!

Jimmy got on the apron as Luger came down to the ring. Luger got at Jimmy on the apron but Luger “accidentally” bumped Jimmy’s megaphone into Sting. Flair capitalised and locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock to retain the title. Hogan and Savage came down and cleared the ring Of Flair and Luger. Hogan and Savage tended to Sting in the ring.

 

Mean Gene talks to Hogan, Sting and Savage in the ring. Hogan talks about Luger and said that hopefully the sense has been knocked into Sting. Savage said from day one that you couldn’t trust Luger and he tells Sting to wake up. Hogan yells that Luger is the reason Sting lost that match. Sting said he didn’t remember what happened as he was knocked loopy so he went backstage to talk to Luger about it. Then Hogan and Savage start talking. Hogan brings up some legitimate good points that Savage lost to Luger tonight and Hogan said he should get a title shot… and he’s right. Hogan said he should be the champion which, if you look at the storyline, makes total sense. He didn’t even lose the title clean… The Giant screwed him out of the title with a disqualification at Halloween Havoc.

He was mad that Savage got a title shot for next week. Savage tells Hogan to back off and that he deserved the title shot. Savage says he’s gonna take that shot. Hogan said he’s on a roll… what chance does Savage have? Savage walks out and Hogan says “you can’t walk out on me like that brother, we’re friends.” I actually loved that. They’re friends at this point and Hogan saw Savage as a friend but this is about the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. The biggest prize in WCW. That I liked.

 

 

Hulk Hogan vs Meng w/Taskmaster

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In case you were wondering, yes Hulk Hogan vs Meng main-evented this show over Sting vs Ric Flair for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Say what you will about Hulk Hogan being the biggest star but a regular Hulk Hogan vs Meng match main-eventing over a Sting vs Flair world title match is ridiculous.

Meng and Taskmaster both go to work on Hogan, with Taskmaster chopping at Hogan on the outside as Meng worked on him in the ring. Meng chokes at Hogan and yells like a wild beast… like a wild Samoan if you will!

Meng locks on the nerve hold as Hogan screams in agony! Meng misses a diving headbutt. Hogan fires hay-makers at Meng, punching away  at Meng. Hogan Hulks Up, hits the Big Boot and hits the Leg Drop. Savage stops Taskmaster from interfering, Hogan punches Taskmaster and then pins Meng.

That’s pretty much what happened in a lacklustre Nitro main-event.

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A disappointing Nitro this week. I really wasn’t enthralled by this at all with the exception of the Four Horsemen/Dungeon of Doom segment. A lot of questionable booking decisions such as beating Savage clean before his world title match next week, Meng vs Hulk Hogan main-eventing over a WCW World title match and Public Enemy getting beaten up for the entire match before winning out of nowhere in their debut match. I just wasn’t into this week.

I have no plans to watch the Clash of Champions show, which I believe is after next week’s Nitro. I may watch Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair and The Giant just for storyline purposes as that’s the big storyline right now. I’ll see how I feel.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed that review and stay tuned for my Episode #21 review featuring Randy Savage challenging Ric Flair for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #19 (JANUARY 8TH 1996) – THE MEGA POWERS VS THE HORSEMEN

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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Ric Flair currently reigns as WCW World Heavyweight Champion, winning the title at Starrcade with the assistance of the Four Horsemen. The next night on Nitro, the Horsemen had varying levels of success. Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit lost the former champion Randy Savage and Steven Regal respectively, prompting Brian Pillman to chew them both out for losing. Pillman himself was still stirring things up with the Dungeon of Doom while Ric Flair escaped with the WCW title on the same night following a typical Nitro disqualification victory against Hulk Hogan. Hogan and Savage ran wild on the Horsemen and the Dungeon of Doom at the end of the show and then the babyfaces Hogan and Savage challenged Ric Flair and Arn Anderson to a tag team match for the next episode of Nitro.

 

Date: January 8th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Charleston, South Carolina

Rating: 2.8

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

 

My troubles with the WWE Network returned. If you read my WCW Starrcade 1995 review, I had so many problems watching that show because of the WWE Network. They returned this time but it was just the buffering problems. I had buffering problems galore. This was an unpleasant viewing of Nitro with the buffering issues on the Network. It was big for me especially during the Chris Benoit vs Alex Wright match on this show and the main-event tag team match. However, I powered on with this review and now I shall break down the show.

 

Chris Benoit w/Brian Pillman vs Alex Wright

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Man, Alex Wright did not look good in this match. Wright’s usually looked OK in the ring but when he was in there with Chris Benoit, it really gave great insight to the differences in wrestling ability between the two. Wright would usually just look completely out of place a lot of time and it was up to Benoit to save the match.

Benoit, as mentioned earlier, lost his match last week with Regal. With something to prove, Benoit clotheslined Wright before the bell and stomped away and followed up with a snap suplex.

Benoit hit a Northern Lights suplex and then got the attention of the referee as Brian Pillman, at ringside. choked Wright with his shirt.

Eric Bischoff then talks and rants about WCW having more talent in 3 months than the competition has had in the last 2 years. Bischoff really was on a mission here to just go after the WWF, throughout this show. They had this whole deal where they talked about being the top wrestling promotion in America and it was just a concentrated effort to take as many jabs at the WWF as possible. Surely, this had to turn off Nitro fans even at this stage of the Monday Night Wars.

Wright did a baseball slide dropkick. Wright crashed into Benoit with a dive to the outside. This didn’t look pretty at all as Wright just crashed and burned. Bischoff talked about Nitro being the most watched wrestling show on Monday. Now just a heads up… they lost the ratings battle last week and they lost the ratings battle this week too! So I have no idea what he was on about.

Bischoff rants about the WWF charging more for PPVS. Bischoff is so cocky talking about how great WCW is and at this point, the urge was there for me to fastforward about 5 years to the last Nitro episode in 2001 after WCW were bought out by the WWF!

Wright and Benoit just seemed on different pages a lot during this match. Wright did a dive to Pillman. Wright went for a dive on Benoit but Benoit got the knees up.

Benoit tried a dragon suplex but Wright reversed it. A few reversals in fighting for the suplex. turns into European uppercuts from Wright. Benoit eventually hit the deciding suplex with a Dragon Suplex for the win. I liked this finish.

Heenan made a comment where he said “he (Benoit) may be in the dog house, but he’s still a horseman.” I don’t know why, but I loved that line.

Mongo talked about it being a tainted match. In general though, Benoit just kicked his ass and essentially beat him clean in this match so lord knows what Mongo was on about.

 

Eddie Guerrero vs Steven Regal w/Lord Robert Eaton

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This really was a basic wrestling match for a few minutes turned into an excellent wrestling match by the end. It certainly took a while for the announcers to pay attention to the match anyway. They were talking about all kinds of other storylines as this was going on.

I think part of the problem was that it was mostly just grappling and mat-based wrestling from the get-go. They just wrestled, and wrestled, very well but there was nothing more to that. I feel like that’s a stupid statement but there was nothing to me that really stood for a long time during the opening parts of the match. It was very good wrestling but they were mostly just “testing the waters” for the first few minutes and it kinda went longer than it should have.

Bischoff at this point told us to “don’t buy the Royal Fumble.” …ha ha.

Eddie picked things up with some hurricanranas. Eddie tripped up Regal and went for a bridge pin fall attempt. Regal hit a big reverse suplex and then fired away with some heavy hits.

Regal had some great facial expressions during this match of frustration, intensity and snarled as he laid a beating into Guerrero. Regal turned things around. I did like how Eddie would try to get back in the match with some quick moves and tried to fire up but Regal would cut him of with a basic move like a European uppercut. It was simple but effective wrestling and story-telling at this point.

Regal tried a dragon sleeper of some kind. I also liked how Regal didn’t like just go to like a long sleeper hold for the heat. Regal punched the crap out of him for a long time, he did the odd submission and then went back to beating up Eddie.

Eddie punched him back which only fired up Regal more. Regal then got mad. Eddie reversed the uppercut into a backslide pin for the win using Regal’s aggression against him. I loved that finish where Regal’s temper got the better of him. Eddie out-wrestled and out-smarted Regal. This get a big thumbs up from me.

 

 

Mean Gene Okerlund did an interview with Lex Luger and Sting. After all of this time, we’ve finally got tensions running between Sting and Lex Luger. Sting wanted to talk to Luger about triangle match at Starrcade where Luger grabbed his arm to prevent him from winning. Sting asked Luger: “what’s that about” to which Mean Gene stirred things up and said “that’s not the kind of friend I’d wanna have!” I loved Mean Gene providing commentary to what each man said and bouncing of these comments with questions to the other guy. He come off as a legitimate interviewer, taking interest in what these wrestlers were saying and helping with their delivery and giving questions that actually are relevant to the storyline.

Luger said he hurt his knee during the Starrcade match and he wanted Sting to help him up as he reached out to him during the match. It was the mother of all bullshit heel excuses but, to Luger’s credit, it played into the friendship part of this storyline as Luger tried to reach out to Sting who he thought of as a friend even in the heat of battle. Sting said he never thought about being a tag team but he’s up for teaming with Luger. They’re facing the New Bloods at Clash of Champions.

 

They plugged, of all matches, RIC FLAIR VS RANDY SAVAGE FOR THE WORLD TITLE AT WCW SATURDAY NIGHT! This had to be a DQ finish to book a world title match for this show!

 

Sting vs DDP

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I don’t particular know what to make of this match. This match was off in parts and they tried to turn it into a good match but it just didn’t seem to click. Especially after watching Benoit, Eddie and Regal in aciton in the first half of the show.

DDP went to work early on. DDP got Irish Whipped into the ropes and landed in the middle of them like Andrade “Cien” Almas would but Sting simply dropkicked him and did a dive to DDP onto the floor.

Sting fell to the floor as he tried a leapfrog on DDP. DDP was just to tall for him to leapfrog it seems. I don’t think that was planned just for DDP to get the heat. If it was then I don’t think it was a good idea.

So DDP got the heat. DDP hit a swinging neckbreaker. DDP locked on a sleeper hold and constantly tried to have his feet on the ropes. Sting fired up to his feet but DDP slammed him back down. Bischoff, as DDP had the sleeper holder on, decided now was the time to say: “WCW gave the fans what the fans asked for.” Lord knows that all the fans wanted at this point was a sleeper hold on Nitro.

Sting mounted a comeback, hit a Stinger Splash and tried a Scorpion Deahtlock but DDP got the ropes before it was locked in. DDP hit a neckbreaker. Sting tried a small package to which DDP responded to a poke to the eye as soon as they both got to their feet.

Sting landed on his feet from a back drop attempt, locked on the Scorpion Deathlock and Sting got DDP to tap out as the fan went nuts. The fans went nuts for Sting at the finish and he was incredibly over here.

 

Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage vs Ric Flair and Arn Anderson

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At least Savage and Hogan were colour coordinated for this match both wearing the red and yellow! Ric got tagged in from the get-go. Flair wanted Hogan in the ring so Savage obliged and tagged in the Hulkster.

God Hogan could barely do a hammerlock of all moves in this match. Flair then delivered a HUGE CHOP, a chop so hard that the ref fell out of the camera shot he sold the impact of this so well. The ref just fell backwards! It sounded like a hard hit too… and Hogan just no sells it and runs wild!

He ran wild some more with clotheslines and scoop slams to Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. Arn got tagged in. Savage got tagged in and worked on the arm. Savage nailed Arn with a double axe handle to the outside and then a double axe handle in the ring.

Hogan ran around and chased Flair, and ended up pulling down Flair’s trunks from the looks of it. Somehow, this led to Flair getting the heat on Savage. I have no idea how that worked!

Of course Flair goes to the top rope and gets pushed off. Savage does his own Figure Four Leg Lock. Hogan drops Arn and then does his own Figure Four as a fan throws trash into the ring following Hogan’s attempt in the Figure Four! Just the simple thought of Hogan doing the Figure Four seemed to disgust this one fan! Some folks were losing their mind though as Hogan did the Figure Four. Hogan did this move without like even putting his leg over. He just tied up the legs and went down for the Figure Four Leg Lock!

Arn then went to work and hit a DDT, Flair went for a cover but Hogan breaks it up. Flair threw Savage off the top rope. Arn worked on Savage on the outside.

Savage got a sleeper hold locked on Arn but Flair gouged the eyes of Savage to break it up. Savage tried some desperation small packages. Arn went for a DDT but Savage got the top rope to avoid it. Flair accidentally knocked Savage into Hogan for the tag.

Hogan ran wild on Flair. Hogan hits a big double clothesline to heels to the outside. Arn hits a beautiful spinebuster on Hogan, who just gets right back up. Hogan hits the big boot and hits the leg drop. Hogan got the pin but as the Horsemen ran down, the Dungeon of Doom attacked the Horsemen. I thought when I saw the Horsemen that they’d break it up for the DQ but no… we got a clean pin in a NITRO main-event!

The Horsemen brawled with the Dungeon. The Giant attacks Hogan and Savage in the ring. Giant barely got Hogan up for the chokeslam. He slammed Savage too but then Zodiac stops The Giant again, as he did last week, as the show goes off the air.

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I’m assuming The Four Horsemen and the Dungeon of Doom will end up working together down the road anyway but for the time being, I do love the idea of the two heel groups at odds as there’s no honour among thieves. That I liked. A decent show but not as good as last week’s show I don’t think. It’ll be interesting to see how things work out in this period before the nWo hit WCW. It’s very hard to tell how things will turn out. We’ll be back with Episode 20 on the next edition of the WCW series as part of the Armbar Express’ Retro Express.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 1995 (OCTOBER 29TH 1995)

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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At long last, we’ve managed to make it to Detroit, Michigan at the Joe Louis Arena. We’re here for a clash among men and among machines. A clash of titans for the right to be crowned king of the monster…. trucks. A clash for the right to be crowned the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. A clash for the right of revenge… revenge for a father’s greatest defeat at WrestleMania III or revenge for shaving a moustache on an episode of Nitro. These two men go head-to-head not once but TWICE on the same night. All will be terrorised when “The Giant” emerges in this ghoulishly grande event as there’s nowhere to hide for “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan. Will Hogan prove to be a mere mortal after all once this possibly deadly match comes to a close? THE GIANT VS HULK HOGAN FOR THE WCW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP.

Without further ado, let’s get on with WCW Halloween Havoc… with much filler to get through before a truly unforgettable clash between The Giant and Hulk Hogan!

 

Date: October 29th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Detroit, Michigan

Commentators: Tony Schiavone and Bobby “The Brian” Heenan

Before we get into the matches, the first clip they show is the two main-eventers in question Hulk Hogan and The Giant pacing back and forth in their monster trucks. The two snarled at each other as they revved up their engines for their monster truck match.

News also breaks that Ric Flair has been attacked by Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman ahead of his match teaming up with Sting against his former Horsemen buddies. It’s important to note right now that we don’t actually see video footage of what went down. They don’t show an angle or anything. Keep that in mind.

 

 

Diamond Dallas Page (c) w/Max Muscle and Diamond Doll vs Johnny B Badd for the WCW Television Championship

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The PPV started off strong, similar to what went down at Fall Brawl. We got a good match that the fans were into which got a good length of time. It wasn’t like a mind-blowing match or anything and it wasn’t on the level of Pillman vs Badd from Fall Brawl but it was good enough to warm up the crowd which is a good enough opener to have in their back pocket.

They recapped the entire feud between DDP vs Badd including the car tyre slashing from WCW Saturday Night and Episode #7 of Nitro where DDP laid out Badd before a scheduled title defence. Badd’s ribs were still hurt going into this one. Diamond Doll got a well-deserved pop when she came out. She looked… tremendous in her black dress.

This was the first time where I noticed this but DDP came out first in both title matches so far between these two. With that being said, Hogan would end up coming out first for the WCW title match in the main-event so I guess it’s not that rare to break tradition in WCW if this show is anything to go by.

It turns out there was method to this madness as an imposter Johnny B Badd popped up on the stage as the real Johnny B Badd flew in from behind to get the match started. ‘Twas revenge for Episode #7, where DDP flew in from behind with a title belt before their title match. Good continuity being used.

Badd ran wild on DDP and Max Muscle. Badd placed a bucket on DDP’s head and smashed him into a ring post which was strangely not a DQ. In the middle of all of this, Hogan and Giant were told to get out of their trucks as I believe they needed to get the monster trucks on top of the building they were dueling in.

Badd had a wrist lock locked on DDP to which the champion reached out to referee Nick Patrick’s shirt. Patrick simply warned DDP not to touch his shirt. DDP got the heat by dropping Badd on the top rope with a Snake Eyes. DDP apparently commanded Diamond Doll to hoist up the 10 card for that move but Diamond Doll didn’t do it. I’m pretty sure DDP yelled “come on woman” at Badd.

Bobby Heenan on commentary prophesied that DDP would become US champion some day. I’m pretty sure everybody in WCW during the final years became US champion at some time or another so DDP likely got a US title run to his name. We’ll have to wait and see if that happens.

DDP hit an early adaptation of the Styles Clash to which Tony GOD DAMN Schiavone called it The Pancake. There’s going to be an incident at Starrcade 1995 where Tony gets his comeuppance for this pet peeve of mine. The pet peeve of just giving every random move a random name as opposed to just calling the move. Call it a facebuster. If it’s a big move or a signature for the wrestler, give it a cool name. That’s fine. If it’s just a random move, just CALL THE MOVE. Thankfully, Dusty Rhodes will tear into Tony for this at Starrcade so prepare yourselves!

Tony did call Diamond Doll gorgeous… correct. Nick Patrick did send DDP cowering to the bottom rope as he yelled at him for something. I will say something, now that this is the second time Nick Patrick has stood up to a wrestler during a match. He did it to Orndorff in Episode #3. I initially was somewhat annoyed by it when I saw him do it the first time. Here, it kind of hit me that this is what we need more of in wrestling. I don’t want wrestlers to be shown as inferior to the referees or anything but referees holding a certain amount of authority and respect in a match. They’re not pushovers as they’re authority is final when it comes to the wrestling ring. I’d like to see that more in wrestling.

Badd struggled but eventually got DDP over for a backslide just for a 2 count. DDP responded with a huge clothesline. DDP tried a big boot which somehow landed on the top of Badd’s head. That’s possibly DDP’s fault for pulling the trigger too early on that spot but chances are it was just a bit of miscommunication. Heenan astutely noted that if you have money, you don’t have to make excuses. If you consider WWE’s business dealings and UFC’s business dealings in 2018, that was a pretty damn accurate statement.

Max distracted Nick as DDP choked Badd with some tape. Diamond Doll had the greatest facial expressions in the world with furious disappointment at first but then concern for her man for a brief second.. and then back to whipping out a scolding face! It was the best!

They did a spot where Badd “tripped” DDP with a roll but they weren’t even close to each other. Badd then ran wild in a frenzy where DDP somehow had his face cut up. Diamond Doll then gave JOHNNY B BADD the perfect 10 which the announcers played up big. Badd hit a sit-out powerbomb for a near fall. DDP hit a DDT which our main man Tony Schiavone referred to as the DIAMOND DREAM.

DDP went for a Diamond Cutter but Badd held onto the ropes. Badd attempted a fake-out 619 which did not look pretty in the slightest. Bad hit a flip to the outside onto DDP and DDP’s Muscle… pardon the pun. Muscle held Badd in position but DDP was somehow dropkicked into Muscle and rolled up for a big near fall.

Muscle then tried to get involved but Muscle ended up accidentally clotheslining DDP, which was shockingly also not a DQ. Muscle then throws his hands up as Badd clips in on the back of the head and his selling consisted of him doing a twirl and then slouching down on the apron like me coming in after a long day at work! Muscle clearly not in position for that spot as Badd got the pin off Muscle’s clothesline to win the WCW TV title much to Diamond Doll’s glee!

Sloppy in parts but a fun opener with a TV title change for the second PPV in a row. The fans went crazy as Badd won the title so it was a huge success. Muscle CLEARLY clotheslining DDP and it not being a DQ really bothered me, considering that it was the move that was the finish of the match. With that being said, I’m sure Muscle costing DDP the match will also be important down the road when considering his relationship with DDP. I guess we’ll see where it goes.

Match Rating: **1/2

 

If you’re a fan of very short pointless PPV matches, then feast your eyes on the following three matches…

 

Randy Savage vs Zodiac. If Randy Savage won, he would move onto a match with Lex Luger should Luger defeat Meng.

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It didn’t occur to me until just now. The build for Lex Luger vs Randy Savage at Halloween Havoc is that they must win their matches with Dungeon of Doom members before they can face each other for a future WCW World title shot. At least, that is my understanding of the storyline. Luger and Savage must win their matches to face each other. They never explained what happened if only one them won. If they both lost, they simply would not do the match but if only one them won, did that mean they got the WCW title shot automatically? I guess we never had to deal with that since both of them won… how convenient.

Now, followers of the Nitro review series may recall that it was supposed to be Randy Savage vs Kamala at Halloween Havoc. There is an explanation for this. As Dave Meltzer put it in his Wrestling Observer Newsletter at the time, “Zodiac subbed for Kamala, who decided to quit the promotion early rather than do a job here.” All due respect to Kamala but you didn’t want to job to “Macho Man” Randy Savage? My research showed that he did lose to Hacksaw Jim Duggan a couple of months before this but for some reason, he didn’t want to lose to THE MACHO MAN? That’s crazy.

So The Zodiac, the least threatening and intimidating heel in professional wrestling history, was Kamala’s replacement and the WWE Network’s editing saw Zodiac come out to Rey Mysterio’s WCW theme. It was strange.

There was nothing to this match but there is an explanation for this too. Savage was working with a detached bicep at this time. Hard to imagine that Savage worked TWICE on this PPV but at least they were both short matches and this was REALLY short… 90 seconds to be exact.

The only thing worth mentioning is that a fan ran in during the match. There was a massive reaction when they were being led out to which Heenan shouted “listen to this reaction for the Macho Man!”

Macho Man won with the elbow drop.

Match Rating: 1/10* (Honestly was not sure whether to even give it a grade… it lasted 90 seconds!)

 

Mean Gene plugged the WCW hotline when Johnny B Badd came out for an interview following his big win. Badd said if you breathe, you can achieve and that dreams can become reality. Badd said he’s never gonna quit, he’s never gonna give up as he’s a baaaaaaad man. Badd spoke at a 1000 beats per second during this promo. This was actually the kind of promo that was good for the majority of it but great for the 5 seconds where Badd spoke at the speed of light. Regardless, this was a good promo as you could sense that this title victory meant a lot to Badd.

 

Road Warrior Hawk vs Kurasawa w/Col. Robert Parker

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I had such low expectations for this match. Considering the disasterpiece that these two put on during the tag team match at Clash of the Champions, I could only imagine how bad this could get when it’s these two one on one. By WCW 1995 standards, this was fine. That’s the best praise I can give it.

They actually recapped the segment from Clash of the Champions when Kurasawa broke Hawk’s arm. An important note is that the Clash of the Champions match took place two months before this and here is Hawk all healed up from his broken arm!

Hawk smashed away at Kurasawa and hit a shoulder tackle. Hawk hit a neckbreaker and a fist drop early on into the match. Hawk stomped away at Kurasawa and roared.

Kurasawa went for the arm after Hawk ran shoulder first into the turnbuckle but Hawk was having none of that. Hawk hit a big powerbomb. Col. Robert Parker tripped Hawk to get Kurasawa back into the match. Kurasawa missed a top rope senton.

Hawk hit a beautiful flying clothesline to Parker which was a smart babyface thing to do as it took the distraction out of the equation. Kurasawa got the heat as Hawk went into the ring post. Kurasawa, out of nowhere, hit a samoan drop and Parker grabbed Kurasawa’s feet on the rope to steal the pin from Hawk.

Like I stated earlier, this was nowhere near as bad as I figured it would be and it wasn’t actually particularly bad at all. It was just… your average match.

Match Rating: *

 

Mean Gene had Savage for an interview. Savage reminded us that it was one down and one to go from him. Savage talked about Hogan’s promo on Nitro about his friends. Savage predicted that he would beat him if he was in the ring. Savage and Mean Gene ripped into each other’s facial hair. After a while of things getting heated, Mean Gene just asked “How did we get to this?” Great bit of banter!

Savage said his curiosity is killing him like it would kill a cat. Savage said friendships are friendships but business is business and he would be watching. A fine typical Savage promo.

 

Mr JL vs Sabu w/The Sheik

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A rematch from their Nitro match where Sabu beat Mr JL and then beat him up after the match for no reason. The original Sheik was there accompanying Sabu to the ring. Keep in mind that The Sheik was 70 here and he actually had a heart attack in the Spring of 1995. Keep that in mind as I explained how Sheik got involved in the match.

Sabu ran right at Mr JL and they start to fight. Mr JL tried a baseball slide but Sabu was too far away. Sabu did a springboard moonsault and hit Mr JL AND THE SHEIK. The 70 year old Sheik took a bump about 6 months or so after having a heat attack. Seems kinda dangerous.

Sabu flew at Mr JL but JL ducked and Sabu went crashing to the floor. Mr JL did a big dive to the outside. Mr JL caught Sabu with a moonsault in the ring. Mr JL hit a sit-out powerbomb. Sabu hit a springboard flip leg drop. Mr JL hit a big german suplex from the top rope.

I’m just running down the list of what they did at this point. There’s not a lot you can say other than this is your normal Sabu match. He goes at his own pace, which is usually fast, and he just goes for flashy move after flashy move with no substance to any of it. Watching Sabu matches in 2018 really doesn’t work out well. His matches have not aged well.

Mr JL hit a springboard dropkick which sent Sabu crashing to the outside. Sabu hit a springboard moonsault for the pin. The Shiek THREW A FIREBALL at Mr JL and celebrated with Sabu by carrying a sword. A very typical Sabu match. If you’re a fan of Sabu matches, this match was right down your alley. This is the best way I can describe it.

Match Rating: *3/4

 

We had a Taskmaster promo with his father “The Master” but before that, Heenan claimed The Giant watched videos of Hogan alongside HIS father Andre The Giant! That’s a vignette I would have loved to have seen.

The Master said that the stars were aligned for tonight. The Master said that Taskmaster will walk upon the galaxy because The Giant and The Yeti will destroy Hulkamania. Taskmaster said that when Hogan put on the black, the evil in Hogan was now out of control. The Dungeon of Doom’s monster truck was the strongest in the universe as Taskmaster claimed Luger, Savage and Sting were vultures. The fans booed. The Master’s speech was very hard to understand.

 

Mean Gene was with Hulk Hogan, with Mean Gene also pointing out that they may have needed an interpreter to translate what The Master just said. This was early Hollywood Hogan gear for the Hulkster. Now I think it was Episode #1 where a Mike Hill won the Harley Davidson sweepstake so this was Mike finally getting it. Hogan called Mike “Maniac Mike” as he presented the keys. They presented him with sweatshirts, t-shirts, hats and stuff. They talked about the motorcycle itself that he won and Mean Gene said something like he could use an exhaust himself! Mean Gene, the ultimate promoter of Harley Davidson gear!

Hogan touched the motorcycle and said that this motorcycle was the last thing he was gonna touch lightly. Hogan said he was gonna squash The Giant like The Giant squashed Hogan’s motorcycle from before. Mike Hill then cut a promo about the motorcycle he just won, saying that he was gonna ride this sucker right home. Then Hogan, like the world’s biggest dick, starts tensing his muscles, his 24 inch pythons, right in front of Mean Gene and the rest of the group after he was finished with his promo. He had to take up 75% of the screen by showing off his muscles!

They plugged WCW World War 3, citing that the winner of World War 3 would get a WCW World title shot.

 

Lex Luger vs Meng w/The Taskmaster, If Lex Luger won, he would move onto a match with Randy Savage for an opportunity at the WCW World title.

 

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Now we’ve just had three very short matches in a row. Savage vs Zodiac lasted 90 seconds, Hawk vs Kurasawa lasted 3 minutes and 15 seconds and Mr JL vs Sabu lasted 3 minutes and 25 seconds. So their idea of a long match to follow all of this is MENG VS LEX LUGER? This next match lasted 13 minutes and 14 seconds and it was a horrific match for 13 minutes and 14 seconds.

I’m sure there’s a pay-off to this but Taskmaster accompanied Meng down to the ring but he did not accompany The Zodiac don’t to the ring. Heenan talked about how the Dungeon of Doom has never attacked Luger, not mentioning that The Giant chokeslammed Luger a few weeks beforehand.

Luger launched Meng with a catapult. I will say that Heenan went out of his way to promote all of WCW shows, advising us that anything can happen at all their shows like Nitro, Pro, Main Event and Saturday Night. No show was never not important as you may miss something. That’s great. With that being said, I don’t plan to watch anything other than Nitro and the PPVs right now. I may watch Thunder but no promises.

Luger threw Meng into the ringpost and worked the arm. Meng bit away at Luger and Luger tried a back suplex but Meng reversed it into a splash in mid-air.

Meng hit a shouler breaker, hit a piledriver and then went to the chin lock. Nothing was happening in this match. I wrote down a few moves on my notes but nothing was going on between these two. We had long chin locks. We had Meng wanting to do a dive but Taskmaster told him not to. Meng kicked away at Luger. Luger fired back with a suplex into the ring and then followed up with three huge clotheslines.

Luger ran wild… at least by Luger’s standards. Meng hit Luger with a golden spike. Following this, Taskmaster ran in and kicked Luger for the DQ. His boy Meng was in control and after 13 horrible minutes, Taskmaster ran in for the DQ. By the end of the show, this makes a lot more sense. However, if Taskmaster’s plan was for Luger to win the match, why didn’t he slap him or hit him 10 seconds in if he wanted Luger to move on to face Savage? In fact, if Luger and Taskmaster were in cahoots at this point, why didn’t Taskmaster tell Meng to lay down for Luger?

Furthermore, the match ended in a DQ as an outsider ran in and attacked one of the other competitors. If that’s the case, why wasn’t Johnny B Badd DQ’d in the TV title match when Max Muscle hit DDP earlier on in the night? This was a bad, long and boring match followed by a dirt, horrible finish. This match did not ever need to be 13 minutes long and I never need to see this match again. Sadly, I looked it up and they will face each other again in a 1997 episode of Nitro… I may have to boycott that Nitro! I can’t handle seeing this match again after this horrible match.

Match Rating: -*

 

Mean Gene interview The Giant, who was dressed in driving gear. This was WCW branded gear too so they went through the effort to make driving gear exclusively for The Giant! I respect that.

The Giant grabbed Mean Gene’s hand as the announcer screeched in pain! The Giant said Hogan would be forced to hand him the title. The Giant cackled as Mean Gene complained about his hand. The Giant declared that if Hogan lives through the monster truck challenge, Hogan was in for the beating of his life.

 

Ric Flair and Sting vs Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman

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Before we get cracking, we’ve got another injury. Ric Flair suffered a rotator cuff earlier on in the week, which is why this match went down the way it did. I mean the finish of the match was probably planned for a while but Flair never really lifted a finger until the very end. I also felt the need to report that a dude was in the front row that looked liked the actor Scott Wilson who was Herschel in Walking Dead. I swear it was the spitting image of him. R.I.P. Scott Wilson, who passed away this year.

On Nitro a few weeks ago, Ric Flair walked down to the ring without Sting and Sting didn’t come down until later. Well, the tides were turned as Sting was forced to go at it alone as Flair was “injured” by Arn and Brian. That’s all well and good but my question is why did Sting bother to come out? This was Flair’s feud to begin with so why did Sting bother when Flair was taken out?

The fans chanted “we want Flair” as Sting ran wild on Arn and Brian. This was not at the level of Flairmania from a few weeks ago but it was still great. He was firing away from the get-go. Sting was lured out the floor but Sting was not easily suckered into a beating as Sting laid out both of the heels anyway. Sting press-slammed Brian.

Brian was gasping for breath in the corner as Arn looked frustrated that his partner was hurt and he had to do the work because Sting kicked Pillman’s ass.

Sting catapulted Arn into Pillman, who got crotched on the top rope. Tony said “Not many people can take on Arn and Brian at the same time” and was apparently not watching the last match where Flair destroyed the pair by himself. I like how when the moment Arn finally got a punch in on Sting in this match, Flair ran down to the ring!

Ric tried to get at Arn but the referee pushed him away. Flair ripped of his shirt but he still had his work slacks on! Flair had a big bandage on his head. There was a sign that said “FLAIR FOR PRESIDENT” which was actually foreshadowing of a future WCW storyline… we’ll see that develop in 1998 I believe!

Flair came in and hit Arn with one of his shoes but this was not a DQ. Arn tried to launch Brian into Sting but Sting got the knees up. Flair was fired up as he waited for the hot tag. Sting waddled over to Flair for the tag and he almost had it, but Arn attacked him and stopped the tag.

Flair chased Brian like a mad man outside of the ring. I love how the psychology of the match was very close to many WWE tag team matches nowadays in 2018 as they battled for the hot tag. At least tag teams nowadays, especially in NXT, are following the psychology of old school wrestling in establishing that it is important to fight to get or defend against a hot tag. It wasn’t just a routine part of the match. It was an important part of the match.

They beat on Sting as Flair could only watch as his new ally was getting beat on. Flair even tried to grab the hair of Pillman. That’s how much Flair wanted to get into the match. Flair couldn’t take it no more as he hit a cheap-shot at Pillman while they attacked Sting! Arn hit a spinebuster but Flair broke it up. Brian worked on the leg. Arn worked on a leg submission as Sting yelled “NATURE BOY” and Flair said “I’M HERE BROTHER” and I just loved it. Flair cheering Sting on this is just a perfect set-up for what’s about to happen…

The heels had the heat forever since Flair came down to the ring. Sting went for a tag once again but Pillman cut him off with an elbow drop. At this point, the fans were just begging for Flair to get the hot tag, as was I, but the heels stopped Sting at every turn. Sting finally clanked Arn and Brian’s heads together. I was laid down on the bed watching this PPV but as soon as Sting had a clear chance of making the tag, I sat up as RIC FLAIR GOT THE TAG.

FLAIR RAN IN. He was stylin’ and profiln’ as the fans were going crazy and in the melee… FLAIR DROPPED STING WITH A SUCKER PUNCH.

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My jaw dropped.

Flair, Arn and Pillman did a beatdown on Sting, who tried to fight them all off. Remember that Sting vowed to leave Flair for dead if Flair double-crossed him but all three men overwhelmed the one dude that had been beaten on for the entire match. The match gets thrown out. I had NO IDEA this was coming. This was an insane heel turn and as someone watching it for the first time, I could not believe my eyes after how great Flair had been in recent weeks as a babyface. However, now the old heel Ric Flair is back!

Ric eventually got on the mic and said something like he’s gonna take us all to school. Ric said the first thing you learn is that you don’t jump on Arn Anderson. The second thing you learn is that you don’t play around with Flyin’ Brian. The third thing is that you never mess around with the Nature Boy and fourth thing is that you don’t walk, talk or breathe until the Horsemen want you to. Flair said they were reunited and it feels so good.

This was sensationally great.

Match Rating: *** with a ***** heel turn and post match angle.

 

Mike Tenay interviewed Lex Luger ahead of his match with Savage after he “beat” Meng. Luger said there’s forces in WCW that wanna see Savage vs Luger tonight. He said when the bell rings, he will be there and he will be all over him. He says he is the Total Package and he would be the greatest WCW wrestler in WCW history. He said that he would be the WCW World Champion and he would make an example out of Savage. He would take apart the Macho Man piece by piece.

 

Hulk Hogan vs The Giant in a Monster Truck Sumo Challenge

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At long last, we have arrived at MACHINE VS MACHINE. We’ve built up 5 weeks of WCW programming for this showdown as these two monsters will face off in monster trucks in the mother of all sumo matches. It’s funny because as goofy as it is out of context, it is perfect for the blood feud that is The Giant vs Hulk Hogan. The Giant tried to kill Hogan twice and now these two will be trying to “drive” each other off of a platform which is pretty damn dangerous!

They recapped the feud between Hogan and The Giant and what a feud this was! Eric Bischoff came down to replace Tony for this one and joining them was Bob Chandler, who I believe was a monster truck expert. Bob claimed the motorcylces run on alcohol and 1500 horsepower. They claimed these monster trucks weighed 11,000lbs each! I’m not entirely sure I believe that considering the light body work that makes the body of the monster truck weigh a lot less! Then again, I could be underestimating the weight of the engines!

The referee told them the rules. He said the truck has to be completely out of the ring including the bumper. The Giant yelled “I’M GONNA WIN” as he and Hogan yelled at each other. They hooked the trucks together. The sumo match began as they pushed away at each other using their vehicles. The Giant pushed Hogan back but Hogan pushed back as the Hulkster was strapped to his seat!

The Giant growled at Hogan as they pushed each other. Hogan pushed away even more The Giant roared. It was very much even stevens at this point. Heenan said we always expect Hogan to be slow and he’s doing a heck of a job! The Giant pushed Hogan outside of the “ring” but he only pushed out the back wheels so the match was still going on. The Giant pushed him out again and hit one of the charges but apparently, Hogan’s truck was not fully out of the ring. Finally, Hogan pushed Giant’s truck outside of the ring as the Hulkster was the winner much to the fans’ delight.

(If any hardcore sumo monster truck fanatics out there were expecting better play-by-play reviews about this particular battle, I do apologise if I let you down. Monster truck battles are not my strong suit!)

So The Giant immediately got out of the monster truck. The Giant cornered Hogan and elevated Hogan to the top of the roof with a choke. Hogan pushed The Giant away but The Giant ended up falling off the top of the building they were battling on. Hogan, the new EVIL HULK HOGAN, was suddenly concerned when The Giant fell off the ledge.

It’s important to note that they never mentioned or showed where The Giant actually landed. Heenan asked the important question of whether The Giant actually landed in the water. Eric Bischoff’s response was to say that whether he landed in the water or in the parking lot, does it matter? My response to that is… YES IT DOES! Landing in the parking lot is instant death (unless The Giant landed on a conveniently placed tower of beds or he is in fact truly immortal) where as water can actually SAVE The Giant’s life if he can swim! Bischoff left the booth.

 

Lex Luger vs Randy Savage for a future shot at the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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I’m not going to lie, for a match that had been built up since Lex Luger arrived in WCW, this was a major disappointment. Obviously, there were circumstances that prevented this from being a big match but 5 minutes is somewhat a shame considering all the build towards it.

Tony was back as Heenan yelled that this was all Hogan’s fault for what happened to The Giant… AND HE’S RIGHT.

Luger offered a handshake but Savage was having none of it. Jimmy Hart then waltzed down to the ring as he was dressed in black. Luger stomped away at Savage. Savage swung at the referee for Christ knows what reason. If Savage turned out to be apart of the Dungeon of Doom, they’ve built it up quite well with his role in all of this. With what happened in the main event, it appears that wasn’t the case. Savage is such a heel in all of this.

Tony keeps quietly speculating “what’s going on” and “will we have a title match” to which Heenan eventually snaps and yells “DAMN IT. FIND OUT WHAT’S GOING ON!” He was sick of Tony’s quiet speculation here. HE NEEDS ANSWERS ABOUT THE GIANT.

Savage and Luger brawled on the outside. Luger tried a pin with his feet on the rope but Jimmy Hart was distracting the referee. Luger was bumped into Hart. Savage hit the elbow drop and got the pin for a huge pop.

This was another nothing match. Furthermore, this match made even less sense when you take into account the finish of the show. Anyway, it appears Randy Savage is the number one contender for the WCW world title from the sounds of it.

Match Rating: 1/4*

 

They cut to the announcers and Heenan yelled at Tony for not following up on The Giant story (no pun intended) so he left the announce booth. Heenan returned 30 seconds later as he couldn’t get outside as there were hundreds of people outside!

They showed Giant falling off of the roof. I know Paul Wright didn’t actually die in real life because of this but I love how somebody DIED on screen and WCW had no problem with showing it again! Heenan even said: “Hogan, pretending he has a heart now!”

So Heenan begged the production crew to tell him what was going on and even asked someone for a walkie talkie. Heenan was unbelievably awesome during this. He was legitimately concerned for The Giant considering his connection with Andre back in the WWF. This was great.

 

Hulk Hogan (c) vs The Giant for the WCW World title

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Michael Buffer did the ring introductions for The Giant but then Hogan came down first this time. The fans were going crazy for Hogan 20 minutes after he killed a man! Hogan said what happened to The Giant was not supposed to happen and actually confirmed that The Giant did land in the the parking lot when all of a sudden… THE GIANT INTERRUPTED.

The Giant really proved himself to be immortal, after weeks of proclaiming himself as the one true immortal! He returned to the arena without a scratch on him. Hogan look stunned as Bobby even said that he rose from the dead! Hogan’s face was incredible here as he looked like he genuinely could not believe The Giant survived. I think he survived the fall but Bobby said that The Giant rose from the dead. I actually believe The Giant just survived since Bobby had no idea what was actually going on himself anyway.

The match starts. This is for the WCW World Heavyweight title. For a man in his first WCW match, The Giant did not look too bad in this one. I can confirm that he looked better in his first match than Braun Strowman did in his first match if you want modern day comparisons!

Hogan punched away at The Giant, with The Giant sporting Taskmaster like facepaint on his forehead. So maybe the Taskmaster had something to do with reviving The Giant. I’m hoping Nitro gives me the answer as to whether he actually died and was resurrected or he survived with help from the Taskmaster.

Hogan tried to slam him but Giant just clobbered at him. This was The Giant’s FIRST EVER WRESTLING MATCH (at least on WCW television) and he had such a presence about him in the ring. He looked like a main-eventer, smashing away at Hulk Hogan. Considering he was in a WCW pay-per-view main-event with Hulk Hogan, that is an insane accomplishment. Giant was overpowering Hogan with the test-of-strength and Hogan apparently cried out to Jimmy that he’s too strong. Suddenly, the Hulkster fired up. He fired up and fired up… and then the Giant just kicked him right in the chest!

The Giant went for the leg drop but he did not land in a seated position. In a hilarious spot, he waved his arms back and crashed to the mat! Suffice to say that this was a failed attempt at a leg drop, which was probably the point of it being executed like that! Hogan fired back with 10 punches in the corner and even BIT The Giant in the middle of this blood feud. Hogan even threatened the referee as the evil of the evil Hulk Hogan poured out for this match.

Hogan clotheslined The Giant over the top rope and the fans went BONKERS. Taskmaster tried to lead The Giant to the back at this point…. FROM A WCW WORLD TITLE MATCH? I mean I sort of understand if my theory about the finish is correct which I’ll talk about later.

Hogan clobbered Giant’s and Taskmaster’s heads together which appeared to not be a disqualification. Hogan smiled as he had Giant staggering. The Giant then came back with a backbreaker. We then got a long bearhug spot from The Giant which didn’t look particularly great. I swear it looked like Giant was just cuddling Hogan like he was holding a baby at one point. I didn’t really look threatening!

This bearhug lasted a long time and Heenan said we were watching a great match. Heenan, god rest your soul, but we were not watching a great match!

Giant hit a chokeslam but Hogan kicked out and Hulked Up. So after all of these weeks of The Giant smashing geeks with a chokeslam every week, he hits it in his first match and Hogan kicks out! Way to go.

Hogan fired away with right hands and hit a big boot but The Giant was still standing. In a case of deja vu, Hogan slammed The Giant just like he did to Andre. Hogan hit the leg drop but the referee was down. We, at home, couldn’t really tell what was going on. However, fans in the front row were pointing at Jimmy Hart but Jimmy is denying his involvement. Then, all of a sudden, Jimmy hit Hogan with the belt and was caught red-handed by the Hulkster! The Giant then bearhugged Hogan as Taskmaster laid in the boots. Jimmy Hart has joined forces with the Dungeon of Doom.

Luger and Savage then both ran down but Jimmy hit Savage with the belt. OUT OF THE BLUE, Lex Luger ATTACKED Randy Savage and turned on him as The Yeti ran down. The Giant and The Yeti did an infamous double bearhug but it honestly just looked like The Yeti humped Hogan. It was like Yeti was on vibrate as Giant locked in the bearhug! It was one of the funniest double teams (I swear that was unintentional) I’ve ever seen in a wrestling ring! Two men squeezed the life out of Hogan with an erotic bearhug in the main-event of Halloween Havoc!

Luger locked on the Torture Rack on Hogan and Savage. Yeti gave Savage some love as Hogan and Savage were left laying. Heenan applauded both men for getting this beating at the hands of the Dungeon of Doom. The referee threw the match out and said that THE GIANT WON via disqualification but Michael Buffer insisted the title cannot change hands on a disqualification. The replay showed that Jimmy hit the referee with the belt, which was supposedly the disqualification. Tony re-assured us that Hulk Hogan was still champion as we went off the air.

Match Rating: *1/2

We’re gonna be talking briefly about upcoming spoilers for Nitro so if you do not want to be spoiled, skip forward to the Halloween Havoc logo further down on the post.

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There’s a lot of questions that were raised because of that finish. Lex Luger and Jimmy Hart were revealed to be in cahoots with the Dungeon of Doom but this causes a lot of issues in terms of continuity with the PPV itself.

Firstly, if the Dungeon of Doom and Luger were in cahoots, why did Luger and Meng wrestle each other for 13 minutes? Let’s just pretend that Luger joined because he wanted to make sure he got his shot at the title. If that’s the case, why not have Meng lay down for him so Lex is 100% for Randy Savage? Why didn’t the Dungeon of Doom make more of an effort to help The Zodiac beat Savage to help Luger get his shot?

Why did the Lex Luger vs Randy Savage match go down the way it did? Why did Jimmy Hart screw up Luger’s match with Savage, costing him his shot at the title? Why didn’t the Dungeon of Doom help Luger out against Savage?

Then we can talk about Luger’s motivations. Why did Luger help The Giant win the title when, in the last time they were in the ring together, The Giant laid him out like he was nothing? Like there’s a part of me that thinks that this turn was decided during the show or they were possibly gonna do the angle with Savage instead but they changed it. Otherwise, this angle makes no sense when it comes to Luger.

Then issues come with the finish of the match. The referee declared it a disqualification. I was talking about Hogan clanking Giant’s and Taskmaster’s heads together and it not being a DQ. Maybe that is what the DQ was for. I know it took a while for the DQ afterwards but why else would The Taskmaster try to remove Giant from the match unless they wanted to lure Hogan outside? What Hogan did was a DQ so unless you wanna believe the official explaination of Jimmy causing the DQ, this is what I’m going with. Because Jimmy was officially Hogan’s manager when he got him DQ’d which made sense as to why Hogan was DQ’d.

Furthermore, there’s the issue of the title changing hands. They confirmed to us over and over that the title could not change hands on a disqualification. Yet at the end of the show, The Giant is parading around with the title.

Here’s the spoiler… This was supposed to be The Giant winning the title. I think it will be revealed later that Jimmy had it in Hogan’s contract that the title could change hands on a DQ. So knowing what happens in the future, Jimmy attacking the referee makes sense as he’s just won The Giant the title. However, at the time, they played it up like Hogan was still the champion.

I don’t want to speculate but I could see a scenario where Hogan didn’t want to lose to The Giant, at least cleanly. Therefore, they did a DQ finish where Jimmy sided with the Dungeon of Doom. However, Hogan had to take a bit time away from WCW after this match. At that point, they decided to go with the angle that the title could change hands on a DQ. That way, Hogan is still protected while Giant walks away with the title.

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This PPV, in many ways, was unforgettable. It was unforgettable because of the tag team match and because of the insanity of The Giant vs Hulk Hogan. If those two things weren’t there, this would have went down as an all-time horrible pay-per-view. However, they were the two money-making angles going in and they both worked. In a lot of ways, those two angles saved this pay-per-view.

That’s it from us at the Armbar Express. It has taken a while for this review to go out but we’re back to Nitros with Episode #8 and the fall-out of WCW Halloween Havoc 1995.

We’ll see you then. This will end up being the final post of 2018 so we will see you with more WCW Nitro reviews in 2019! I wish you all a happy new year from the Armbar Express!

 

WCW Nitro Episode List

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW FALL BRAWL 1995 (September 17th 1995)

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

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WCW Fall Brawl 1995. Technically, this is not an episode of WCW Nitro. However, the last two episodes have built up to this PPV and I was sort of interested in watching it. So, we will be taking a quick detour from Nitro Avenue right into PPV boulevard. We’ve been watching some of the build towards the big War Games between the Hulkamaniacs and the Dungeon of Doom. Vader went AWOL and Hogan had to turn to the debuting Lex Luger for help, despite fears from Randy Savage that Luger cannot be trusted. After reassurances from Sting, Hogan offered Luger a spot in the team. Luger agreed but only if Hogan granted him a fair title shot down the road. Tensions were running high within the Hulkamaniacs as they had to work together to stop Taskmaster’s fearsome foursome of Meng, Shark, Zodiac and Kamala.

We’re at Asheville, North Carolina. Two title matches, a long-awaited match between best friends Ric Flair and Arn Anderson as well as the War Games main-event of the Hulkamaniacs vs the Dungeon of Doom. This is Fall Brawl.

 

 

Date: September 17th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Asheville, North Carolina

Commentators: Tony Schiavone and Bobby “The Brian” Heenan

 

We kicked things off with a tremendous old-school intro video with a great voice-over. The guy revealed that Ric Flair and Arn Anderson would “engage in hand-to-hand combat.” I loved that line. It built up the fact that Ric and Arn were going into BATTLE with each other here at Fall Brawl. The announcer would reveal that the wrestlers of WCW will fight in the “ultimate fighting arena.” I guess he knew ahead of time that Tank Abbott would be on his way to WCW!

So the announcers for the show were Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan. I guess it is an improvement on Bobby having to do commentary with Eric Bischoff and Steve “Mongo” McMichael since there’s less people to deal with. Tony actually wasn’t that bad on the show so I guess the commentary was an improvement

 

Flyin’ Brian vs Johnny B. Badd in a United States Championship Eliminator match

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I want to just establish from the get-go that it was determined that this match would have a 20 minute time limit. That is an important factor into the match as well as the finish. Keep that in the back of your mind as I break down the match.

The announcers explained that the winner would be the mandatory title contender for WCW US champion Sting.

This match was actually a pretty damn great match. It was the sort of match I would expect to go on last, considering the length of the match. I’ll delve more into that later.

It was also the sort of match you’d expect to go on last as MICHAEL BUFFER did the ring introductions. For those of you unaware, WCW had Buffer hired to sometimes do ring introductions for them. He was mostly used for world title matches which was why him doing the ring introductions for Flyin’ Brian vs Johnny B Badd seemed very weird to me.

His ring-introductions for this opening match of Fall Brawl 1995 including Michael claiming Johnny was a BAAAAAAAAAAAD man. I swear that’s what he said in his typical Buffer tone of voice!

Brian and Johnny came out. Johnny did everything in his power to get himself cheered louder and louder which actually worked while Brian just stood there. This crowd was hot for some WCW rasslin’. Brian looked exactly like Dolph Ziggler in the black tights and even had his hair all out like Ziggler used to have it.

The match kicked off with some good old fashioned chain-wrestling. I, for some reason, loved Johnny’s arm-drags as he pulled over Brian using both his arms to send Brian crashing into the mat. This started off as a fine little bout with Brian starting to show signs of frustration. Both dudes were babyfaces, as far as I’m aware. At least Brian was when he was up against Jushin Liger back in episode #1 of Nitro.

Brian began displaying heel tactics which added tension to this otherwise sound grappling match. Eventually, Brian tried walking out of the match as he was struggling to get past Badd. One fan at ringside was very upset at him for this and wanted him back in the ring! I love the passion in these fans back in the 90s. That fan wanted a finish and told Brian to get back in that ring!

Brian got back in and tried a handshake but Johnny was not buying this at all. I like a smart babyface who will not easily fall of the heel’s shenanigans. With that being said, Brian and Johnny all of a sudden arguing about a handshake came a bit too late in the match for my liking. They’re in the middle of this battle and all of a sudden, now is the time to argue about handshakes?

Brian was great at bumping like crazy for Badd but then all of a sudden, a rest hold was applied as it appears they were setting up for the finish. In a great spot, they stared trading leapfrogs and then they both anticipate that a leapfrog is needed to evade their opponent. Both guys jump in the air and they CRASH into each other in a spectacular manner.

Tony informs us that Buffer has just stated that there are 9 minutes left to go in the match. Bobby simply responds by stating he doesn’t listen to Buffer! Johnny hits a suplex on Brian to the outside and then performs a dive to the outside. Brian catches Badd in mid-air with a beautiful dropkick. I mean this was so beautiful. Brian gained some serious air-time as he caught Badd right in the chin.

Badd and Brian both whipped out some hard-hitting moves for near-falls. Badd hit a sit-out powerbomb. Brian hit a tombstone piledriver. With a minute to go on the clock, Badd hit a facebuster and a super kick that Tony called the “fruity booty” but Brian got his foot on the rope following the cover.

As Badd argues with the referee Nick Patrick about the foot on the rope, Flyin’ Brian came flying in with a springboard clothesline for one last near-fall before the clock hit zero. We got a time limit draw… at least that’s what we thought.

Nick Patrick whispers something to Buffer, who declares that Patrick has commanded this will go into sudden death. Now I was about to go into a big rant about Patrick seemingly having power to restart the match but Tony explains that the WCW board of directors have decreed that there must be a winner. Firstly, why is that important bit of detail being left out until AFTER the time limit expires? Secondly, if there must be a winner then why was there a time limit to begin with? If there needs to be a winner, just don’t put a time limit in place. Just say, whoever wins by pinfall or submission wins and gets the title shot. Easy.

The issue here was, while the action was very good, I was in my mind preparing for the match to last 20 minutes. The last 10 minutes of the original match saw me mentally preparing for the finish. When we didn’t get it and it went into overtime, I was just kinda gearing up for a finish so we can move onto the next match. This overtime last 9 minutes.

After a while, it just kind of jumped the shark. I was just thinking take it home. The action was great. We saw a weirdly put-together but satisfying double dropkick spot where Brian tried a dropkick from the top rope. They each exchanged sleeperholds, they went for sunset flips and they went for hurricanranas and frakensteiners to no avail.

Badd went for a springboard move called the “BAD MOOD” but Brian got the knees up. The finish saw a repeat of the crash-into-each other spot from earlier but the spot took more out of Brian this time as Badd rolled over and scored the pin. This finish actually made a lot of sense as Badd was the bigger man and Brian had more weight crashing into him.

I thought this was a damn great opener but I think the finish would have been more dramatic if there had not been a 20 minute time limit to begin with. You can’t sustain the drama for 10 minutes before the time limit expires and then expect the same drama for the next 9 minutes overtime or so as they just hit move after move.

It was an excellent match though. Probably the best match we’ve seen since the WCW reviews started. I gave it about four stars in my head. I went to check what Dave Meltzer gave the match and he also went four stars as well. This match has definitely aged well.

Match Rating: ****

 

Before we go any further, they briefly cut to Tony and Bobby to have their post-match reactions and there’s ring crew shown in the back actually sweeping the ring with a broom. I don’t know how I’ve never seen that in my 15 years or so as a wrestling fan. Someone just outright sweeping the ring! Bobby yelled at a kid as Tony was going on about Ric and Arn by the way. Heenan’s feathers may have been a little ruffled tonight.

 

We cut to Mean Gene interviewing Ric Flair. In terms of flat-out hyping up a match, I don’t think there’s ever been a better promo in wrestling history than Ric Flair. If you weren’t excited about Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson going in, you were after hearing this promo.

Flair mentions something about how he and Arn were the symbols of excellence. He talked about how they saw them all come and go. Flair says that they’ve lived together, bled together and cried together, bonding as they became what life’s all about. Flair turns his attention to the match saying that he and Arn will walk down that isle and Arn was about to face greatness. Mean Gene asks Flair if he hates Arn. Flair explains that he loves him but there’s only one king of the hill and it’s only going to be the Nature Boy. THIS WAS MONEY.

 

Cobra vs Craig Pittman

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Let’s all just remember that the opening match of the show went 29 MINUTES as they dive into the next match. Cobra came down and Pittman was supposed to come out but some guy comes out instead. It was hard to believe this at first but the commentators explain that this one of Pittman’s soldiers. Cobra tells the guy to get lost and as he’s doing this, Pittman abseils down in a scene straight outta Mission Impossible.

The fans cheer as Pittman, who is the heel by the way, sneaks up on Cobra. Pittman does a commando crawl under the ropes in both rings. Pittman picks his spot, chokes out Cobra as the match starts. Pittman did a diving foot stop from the apron to the outside which misses by several trenches. Cobra goes for a dive but Pittman moves out of the way. Pittman locks on the code red armbar for the victory.

This whole match lasted 1 minute and 20 seconds. It was a waste of time. Cobra came off as a complete geek and this accomplished nothing.

Match Rating: 1/4*

 

What happened next was NOT a waste of time. It was one of the all-time great segments in wrestling history. I decided I soon as I saw it. We are backstage with Paul Orndorff. He was going crazy at himself as he was upset he wasn’t wonderful anymore. He was at the end of his ropes. He kicked over a towel and was going nuts. Then out comes his saviour…. Gary Spivey.

As far as I’m aware, Gary was a famous psychic and he was big at around this time.  I assume that’s why WCW wanted to bring him in. Anyway, Spivey knocks on the door and lets himself in. Paul Orndorff is astounded to see Gary as he yells “GARY SPIVEY?” and then follows up with… “from the Psychic Companion Network?” I died. Paul Orndorff tried to make “Gary Spivey from the Psychic Companion Network” sound natural. He failed but I loved it. At this moment, Paul was so happy to see Gary Spivey.

Paul yells “what are you doing here?” Gary explains that he knew something wasn’t right as he’s a psychic and got visions of it. Not that I’m gonna question the legitimacy of psychics or anything but the idea that Gary was sent visions of “Mr Wonderful” kicking a towel over and going crazy of all things is the funniest thing to me. Paul explains that he was the greatest wrestler in the world at one time and that he had so many belts he lost count. Gary says he sees great things in Mr Wonderful as he is Mr Wonderful. Paul tries to debate with Gary but Gary just re-assures Paul that he is Mr Wonderful. They go to the mirror and Paul starts to believe in himself. Paul declares that he looks better than he’s ever looked before. He gains his confidence back. He is truly Mr Wonderful again.

I command anyone who has never seen this segment with Mr Wonderful and Gary Spivey to go on the WWE Network, put on Fall Brawl and watch it. I re-wound it and watched it over and over. This was a psychic using his powers for the greater good to make Mr Wonderful believe in himself again. This was awesome.

Bobby Heenan raves about how great Gary Spivey was in helping Mr Wonderful.

 

The Renegade (c) w/Jimmy Hart vs DDP w/Diamond Doll and Max Muscle for the WCW World TV Championship

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This was way more fun than I was expecting. This match was THE RENEGADE vs DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE. This wasn’t like a technically great match but it was a very fun one to say the least where if you don’t take it too seriously, it really doesn’t come off so bad.

Bobby claimed that DDP was worth $13 million which was rather shocking to me. If he invested that wisely, he could have been challenging the WWF and WCW! Make it a triple threat Monday Night Wars! DDP was such a great heel in the sense that, even with the beautiful Diamond Doll by his side, DDP would force her to hold the ropes open for him to enter the ring. Diamond Doll (a.ka. DDP’s wife Kimberly Page) looked lovely here.

The ULTIMATE Ultimate Warrior parody Renegade ran down to the ring and proved to be no Ultimate Warrior, as DDP just jumped him to start off the match. In one of the great all-time oversells, Renegade headbutts DDP one time and then DDP flops out of the ring, walked into a ring post and fell into the crowd. It was awesome.

In a rather dangerous spot when you think about it, Renegade had a headlock locked in and spun DDP around with Page’s legs dangling in mid-air. We had an all-time great sloppy evasion spot where Renegade went for a crossbody but DDP dodged which led to Renegade smacking into the ropes!

During the match, DDP instructed Diamond Doll to hold up a 10 sign. Right here was when Tye Dillinger got the same idea. So DDP gives the order and Diamond Doll shrugs and disappointingly says “not again” and holds up the sign. I loved that. Diamond Doll was so great as just the disappointed valet just following orders. Renegade made the comeback and ran wild. Renegade hit a shockingly bad big boot which hit DDP’s chest rather than his face.

We had a very well executed spot of Renegade going for a hip toss but DDP countering it into a DDT. Renegade knocks DDP into Max Muscle and hits a powerslam on DDP. He has the match in the bag but then he spots Max Muscle, who he decides to take out Muscle with a dive off the top rope. As Renegade got into the ring, Muscle grabbed his leg. DDP took advantage to hit a Diamond Cutter for the pin to win the WCW World Television title.

This was more fun than it had any right to be. The crowd was very much into this and this was pretty much very beneficial to DDP’s rise towards being a top guy in WCW. Bobby’s explanation that Renegade got his foot hooked into Max Muscle’s hands was something I very much enjoyed. Bobby also explained that to be rich, we must watch what poor people do and don’t do it. Perhaps WCW should have thought about that later on in the Monday Night Wars but that’s a story for another time.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

Buckhouse Buck (c) and Dick Slater (c) w/Col. Robert Parker vs “Harlem Heat” Booker T and Stevie Ray w/Sister Sherri for the WCW Tag Team Titles

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This was a 17 minute match and it felt longer than the opening match with Johnny B Badd and Flyin’ Brian. This was possibly the worst tag team match I’ve ever seen in my life as a wrestling fan. There was Booker T running on 25% and a whole lot of nothing from Buck, Dick and Stevie Ray.

I have no idea who the good guys and the bad guys were supposed to be in this match. The storyline was that Parker and Sherri had lust in their eyes for each other but these tag teams were just afterthoughts in the whole thing. Both teams were getting booed so it was hard to work out if anyone was a babyface.

Stevie Ray was absolutely horrible during this match. He had some awful brawling with Dick. Stevie no-sold an atomic drop. I initially thought Harlem Heat were the heels because they got the heat on Buck but then Buck and Dick were whipping out heel tactics like hitting Booker with cheap shots.

The fans barely cared as it was impossible to build heat with two heel tag teams… at least I think they were both heel tag teams. There was no-one to cheer except Booker, who was the only being in the ring displaying life but also the same guy that was selling for Buck and Dick during the match.

Booker finally powers out of a camel clutch and instead of going for the hot tag to Stevie, Booker goes for a corner dropkick and lands right on his neck which led to Buck and Dick getting the heat again. Stevie FINALLY makes the hot tag with Buck and Dick completely out of place during this sequence. Stevie would be hitting a move on Dick and Buck would just be standing there waiting for his spot.

In the middle of all of this, Sherri and Parker flirt in the second ring. They start to snog to a surprisingly big pop. As they’re making out, the Nasty Boys run down and hit Dick with the boot. Harlem Heat get the pin to finally end the match and win the tag titles.

Meanwhile, Sherri and Parker are still slobbering all over each other. The fans are going nuts. Buck goes nuts on Parker as they just lost the tag titles. Harlem Heat are going nuts on Sherri for some reason, even though they just won the tag titles. In a post-match interview with Mean Gene, Parker re-assures that Buck and Dick are gonna get the tag titles back. During all of this, Parker said that he felt like he was 20 years old!

So we had to sit through a horrible 17 minute tag team match and the conclusion was that Parker and Sherri are now a thing and the tag titles are secondary to the romance angle for Parker and Sherri. The romance angle worked with this crowd but the tag titles not mattering to Harlem Heat as their manager was snogging Parker is just annoying to me. You’re the tag champs. You wanted the gold suckas and now you’ve got them! ENJOY THOSE BELTS.

Match Rating: -**

 

Mean Gene interviews Arn Anderson. They showed the hype video for Ric vs Arn which was next. They cut back to Arn and Arn says that everybody has a family member that messes up. Arn said he was a nervous wreck as he had to wrestle a man he loved more than god himself. Arn says he’s gotta answer to himself and says a man must live up to his word. Arn said he’s gonna give his word to Flair that he was going to give it his all and Flair would respect him. Solid promo. The better promos are the ones that the fans can connect to which give them personal interest in the story.

 

Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson

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We were in Carolina. This resulted in the fans going CRAZY for Ric Flair. One fan had a sign that said “if God was a wrestler, his name would be Ric Flair” – factually correct.

I did like that they tried to make it seem like it was a special match as the American Males, Big Bubba Rogers, Flyin’ Brian, Col. Parker, Eddie Guerrero and Alex Wright were all at ringside. These wrestlers did not want to miss this match so they got front row seats. They actually constantly show the wrestlers during the match which was rather frustrating as I wanted to see Ric and Arn in the ring but at least there was some kind of pay-off.

Arn whipped out the power from the get-go and then just sent Flair to the floor with a good-old slap across the face. There is no man in the history of professional wrestling that sells a slap better than Ric Flair.

Arn hits a second slap and Flair teeters on one leg for a second or two and then just thunders to the ground. Simple things like Ric trying to act all cocky and confident when in a hammerlock as he told the referee “no” as if to say that he had this all under control was great to see. It was sublime because Flair would act all confident and Arn would wrench the arm a bit more and Flair would all of a sudden just go ARRRRRRRRRRGHHH as he’s in so much pain! This was so great.

There was complicated spot where Arn went to the top rope and Flair tried to cut him off. Arn knocks Flair down but then Arn just climbs down off the top rope to then just lock in a sleeper hold! Quite the ploy to lock on a sleeper hold on Ric Flair!

Ric tries to beg Arn off and Arn, who knows Ric better than anyone else, does not buy this for a second and then proceeds to kick his ass! Flair sent Arn to the floor and hit a double axe handle from the top rope to Arn on the floor. Arn makes the comeback and back-body drops Flair onto the floor which is a bump Flair has probably taken more times than anyone else in the history of wrestling. Flair responds with a suplex on the floor.

Flair getting shoved off the top rope to the  mat will never get old. There was an awesome spot where Arn went for something off the top rope but Flair LEAPED up in the air to catch him with a flying clothesline! Flair locks on the Figure Four Leg Lock but Arn turns it over to an insane reaction from the crowd.

Flair actually Irish-whipped Arn but Arn’s legs gave out because of the Figure Four and he just fell to the ground. At this point, Flyin’ Brian flies onto the apron. Flair and Brian punch each other and this leads to Brian kicking Flair in the back of the head and Arn hits the DDT for the pin.

This was a great match although Brian’s interference just seemed to come out of nowhere. Brian had an angle at the start of the show where it appeared he was about to turn heel on Johnny B Badd. Here he is helping Arn, who I THINK is the babyface. At least Flair was the heel against Sting a few weeks ago. So who knows where this is all going.

Match Rating: ***1/2

 

Taskmaster cut a strange heel promo where he proceeded to attack a Hulk Hogan action figure with a shovel, stating that the Dungeon of Doom would bury the Hulkamaniacs. Welcome the wrestling in the 1990s.

They showed a Dungeon of Doom video package and a clip of The Giant destroying Hogan’s motorcycle with a monster truck. During the video package, I believe the announcer said that Zodiac had “inner-strength like no other man” which is an amazingly ironic quote considering the finish of the main-event.

We got one of the greatest moments on the entire show. Mean Gene is with Hulkamaniacs of Hulk Hogan, Sting, Randy Savage and Lex Luger. Hogan goes CRAZY putting over his team mates. The team all goes crazy, just making you believe that they’re having the time of their lives going all goofy. Savage said there was no dissension between the group as he, Stinger and Luger had straightened out all of the differences. Savage was the one that was against Luger being a part of the team which is important as we discuss the War Games match.

Sting said that he is tired of talking as he wants to go to war INSTANTLY! Luger said War Games is on and they were as together as together can be! Hogan said he knew Luger was American Made just by looking at his eyes! I love that Hogan can just look at Luger and know he’s American! He didn’t need a birth certificate as he just KNEW his buddy stood for all that is America. Hogan said he feels sorry for anyone that gets in their way as they made it down to the ring as they were ready for a fight. THIS WAS MONEY AND FUN! THUMBS UP!

 

“Hulkamaniacs” Hulk Hogan, Sting, Randy Savage and Lex Luger vs “Dungeon Of Doom” Zodiac, Shark, Meng and Kamala w/Taskmater in a War Games match. If the Hulkamaniacs won, Hulk Hogan would get Taskmaster in the ring

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You know what was so great about this period in wrestling? Things will spiral out of control when the nWo are like a few years in but wrestling at this time was, for the most part, simple. The War Games is such a simple concept that you can’t mess up. Mean Gene explained the rules. One guy from each team starts the match and wrestles for five minutes. For every 2 minutes, another wrestler jumps in until all eight men were in the double cage and then the match cannot stop until someone submits or surrenders. EASY.

Wrestling, especially WWE nowadays, has just become so over-thought and over-booked that it’s hard for fans to get invested in. I can’t figure out with 50% of the roster nowadays about whether they should be a good guy or a bad guy. It’s clear in WCW 1995 who is a good guy or a bad guy in this War Games match (Luger obviously was ambiguous as part of a storyline) and the match was very easy to follow.

The bad guys had the man advantage so Shark and Sting would start and then a Dungeon Of Doom member would help beat down one of our heroes. A babyface would come in to make the save but then the heels run in. So on until everybody is in the ring and then we can find out who the better team really is. It’s easy to follow and it’s classic story-telling. I love it.

As I mentioned, Sting and Shark started off the match for each team. When I saw Shark march into the cage, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Out of the four guys you could have picked for the Dungeon of Doom, the BIGGEST GUY in their team is the one who will be forced to wrestle the entire match? I was astonished.

The highlight of the first five minutes was that Sting hits a dive over the top rope from one ring to the other ring to take out Shark. A few minutes later, SHARK tries the same dive but is unable to clear the ropes to get to the other side. Shark lands right on top of the ropes. The ropes don’t buckle even with all of the weight from Shark. He lands right on top of the ropes. I laughed and laughed for a long time as Shark’s gut is just hanging down from above. Sting then just proceeds to kick Shark’s ass as he’s stuck on the ropes. The Shark jumped the shark with dives over the top rope!

Sting locks on the Scorpion Deathlock when the Zodiac enters the fray. Sting uses the top of the cage like monkey bars to pull himself up and kick Zodiac away. The heels beat up Sting when Savage enters the match. The place goes crazy as Savage is just moving, scratching and clawing at the heels to get something going as they’ve got a level playing field for two minutes. Savage knows to make these two minutes count. I loved the scrappy fighting from the Macho Man. He knew how important this was.

The heels stop the momentum of Savage as Meng grabbed Savage’s leg from underneath the cage and traps him for a beating. Kamala jumps in as this happens to Savage. The three heels in the cage, Zodiac, Shark and Kamala, get a 3 on 2 advantage. They clubber our heroes until Luger comes in as the third guy for the Hulkamaniacs.

Luger goes crazy for a second and then everybody just starts brawling and fighting as they all claw at each other. Then we get a big spot as Luger inadvertently hits Savage as he was going for Zodiac. Savage goes after Luger as he thinks Luger is working with the heels. Savage and Luger are fighting as Sting tries to break it up. The Hulkamaniacs were running wild on EACH OTHER at the wrong place and MOST DEFINITELY the wrong time. As this is going on, MENG enters the fray.

The dissension has boiled over to War Games as the four heels are united in beating down the divided heroes. To make the save was the “Hulkster” himself HULK HOGAN. The fans go haywire as Hogan throws powder into everybody’s eyes. It’s a war and Hogan is pulling out all of the stops to stop the Dungeon of Doom.

Hogan does this great spot with Zodiac where they’re trapped in the middle of the two cages. Hogan  punches Zodiac, Zodiac falls into the ropes and bounces back into another Hogan punch. This kept going and going and I loved it.

After a while, Hogan locked on the camel clutch, tapped out Zodiac and won for the Hulkamaniacs! Zodiac, with the inner-strength like no other man, submitted to Hogan! The match was brilliant as a concept but these were not particular great workers we were dealing with. The heels were just big monsters that weren’t that impressive but they didn’t need to be to tell the story of the match. This was fine.

Match Rating: *1/4

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Taskmaster tries to get out of the ring but they are forcing him into the cage. Sting gets Taskmaster into the cage. Hogan bounces Taskmaster around the cage and kicks his ass. Hogan hits the big boot when THE GIANT appears.

I believe this was his first appearance in a WCW ring but he had the biggest bush of hair on his head that I’ve ever seen him have in his entire wrestling career. The Giant throws the referee out of the way and enters the cage to get at Hogan. The fans are crying out to Hogan to look out but the Hulkster gets a beating from The Giant. The Giant then BREAKS HULK HOGAN’S NECK! FALL BRAWL 1995 ENDED with THE GIANT KILLING HULK HOGAN!

I CRIED with laughter. I cried. This was the most amazing finale to a PPV I’ve ever seen. Never has a PPV ended with one heel debuting and murdering the top babyface in the company. He straight up MURDERED him and meanwhile heel Bobby Heenan is loving this as he ends the PPV with: “The Immortal Hulk hogan is…. HA HA HA HA!”

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I loved this PPV. With the exception of the Cobra/Pittman and tag title match, this was a thumbs up show. Arn/Ric was good, Badd/Brian was an excellent opener, Renegade/DDP was fun and the main-event was a whole lot of fun with a deadly conclusion as the newest big monster in WCW has taken out the WCW World Champion.

I will say that I have no idea what to expect going forward. I obviously know what happens when Hogan and Giant meets for the title but like I have no idea of the direction of the company until the nWo arrives in like 9 months or so. I look forward to seeing where this is all going.

NEXT UP… back to WCW Nitro reviews with EPISODE #3 and the fall-out to Fall Brawl.

 

WCW Nitro Episode List

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #2 (SEPTEMBER 11TH 1995) – HULK HOGAN VS LEX LUGER FOR THE WCW WORLD TITLE

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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.

 

So WCW Nitro is off to… a start. PastaMania ran wild at the Mall of America. We got cruiserweight action, we’ve got Sting vs Ric Flair and we got a WCW world title match with Hulk Hogan retaining the WCW title against Big Bubba Rogers. During the show, Lex Luger made his WCW debut and made his intentions clear… he’s here to challenge for the WCW title. Both Hogan and Luger shook hands as the Hulk Hogan vs Lex Luger World title clash was signed for the next episode of WCW Nitro.

Well here we are. The destination is Miami, Florida and the eyes of the wrestling world are gazing upon the newest WCW superstar going one-on-one with the Immortal Hulk Hogan with the WCW title on the line.

 

Date: September 11th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Miami, Florida

Rating: 2.4

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

 

We’ve got our regular crew of Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan and, of course, Steve “Mongo” McMichael. Eric and Bobby looking really annoyed at Mongo was an early contender for highlight of the show. They hyped up the main-event as “the match of the century.” That is… quite the claim. Bit of a spoiler alert for the main-event, but I’m 99% certain that this did not go down as the match of the century.

The announcers were determined to put this show over as it was going to be an all-time classic show. Bischoff, with such fire and passion in his lungs, advised us that “you’re gonna see Scott Norton in action.” I don’t wanna bury Scott Norton or anything, but when you’ve got guys like Sting, Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan and Lex Luger on the card and you’re big selling point is that Scott Norton is here? Maybe I’m just underselling the star power of Scott Norton. I dunno.

They replayed the Hogan/Luger confrontation from last week. They announced that Vader is supposedly AWOL and out of the War Games match with Team Hogan and the Dungeon of Doom.

Bit of background to this as, for those that didn’t know what was going on at the time, you may be curious as to whether this was a storyline or a shoot. Elements of storyline and “shooting” were both involved as Vader was actually no longer with the company at the time.

I believe Vader was fired after the first episode of WCW Nitro aired. He was shown in clips hyping up the War Games match last week but this week, he was described as having gone AWOL. It’s weird because one would assume that if he’s down as AWOL, he could possibly come back on television. It’s weird because he wasn’t coming back so why wouldn’t they simple come out and say he was fired?

At the same time, you guys have go to look at this from WCW’s perspective. If they announced Vader was fired or whatever on TV, in WCW’s minds, the fans may start to tune onto a different wrestling TV show and see if he was on it. Now truthfully, it was a a few months before Vader made the jump to the WWF. He took a de-tour to NJPW first. WCW were so paranoid in the fans turning into RAW. That’s where the idea to spoil RAW was hatched by WCW. With that being said, saying he went AWOL just implies that he’ll back shortly. Maybe, they were planning to bring him back in some capacity down the road so this was kind of a cool-off period. Then Vader jumped ship to WWF. I don’t know.

By the way, 600 words into this review and I’ve not talked about a single match! I apologise but now I can rectify that….

 

Sabu vs Alex Wright

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The DEBUT of Sabu as hyped up last week. As far as putting over Sabu as a star, I can’t say this delivered. It was just your typical Sabu match. Sabu is just doing his own thing and Alex Wright, I guess, tried to give some structure to the match.

Sabu started whipping out springboard spiral leg drops. Sabu jumped off the chair for a splash on the outside, but just went straight into the steel rail. Sabu and Wright were on the outside for the longest time and, I swear, the fact that the referee hadn’t counted to 10 at this point was ridiculous. They were outside of the ring for at least a minute, if not way more!

The crowd popped for a sweet Alex Wright superplex. Wright looked slick with a back flip into a german suplex. The finish came when Sabu hit a sloppy-looking victory roll off the top rope and won. It was possibly a botched finish as Sabu just continued to beat up Wright for no reason, which we’ll get to.

There wasn’t a lot of strong communication between Sabu and Wright. It was so evident that one of the announcers, I think it was Heenan, actually said: “both those guys don’t know where they are.”

So Sabu kept attacking him. He got a table. Sabu jumped off the top and damn near killed himself when putting Wright through the table. Sabu was DQ’d as the referee reversed the decision.

I guess the goal was to show that Sabu was so crazy that the rules meant nothing to him. I personally saw him as a geek as he threw away a victory just to beat up Wright some more.

 

They showed a graphic for the Sting vs Michael Wallstreet match on the show.

 

Mean Gene Okerlund came out and introduced RIC FLAIR. I immediately had a smile on my face! They hyped up Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson for Fall Brawl. Flair proceeded to cut a promo on Arn for being boring and a family man! Flair said that he and Arn ruled the world. He said Arn could walk down any path as he was by Flair’s side.

Then Lex Luger strolled down to the ring. Flair kissed Luger’s ass for a while and put him over like crazy. He promised Hulk Hogan that “the package takes control.” Luger simply came out and said that Flair was too much. Luger left… what was the point of Luger coming out?

I will give WCW this. They were trying to play up the idea that we didn’t know what Luger’s motivations were. Whose side was Luger on? Was he a good guy? Was he a bad guy? I guess him doing a segment with Flair at least teased that he could possibly be a heel.

 

Sting (c) vs VK Wallstreet for the WCW United States Championship

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I knew for certain that this was for the US title this week! That being said, VK Wallstreet was making his debut IN THIS MATCH. How is he already getting a title shot? That ALSO being said, Lex Luger is also getting a WCW title shot in his first WCW match back! I guess this is just how WCW rolls!

During the entrances, Eric Bischoff revealed the RAW results. Bischoff, or any other announcer, revealing RAW results was so fascinating in hindsight. For those of you that may not know, WCW started a habit of revealing the WWF RAW results. RAW had a series of tapings to roll through so, as a means to tell the fans that there’s no need to watch RAW, WCW just told them what happened. Bischoff said: “HBK beat the big man with a superkick.” Turns out the big man was Sid by the way.

Fans loved Sting in this match. Mongo went on a big American Football rant and Heenan simply cut him off by saying “We don’t watch football. We watch wrestling as we’re wrestling fans.” Nice for Heenan to keep Mongo on track. Wallstreet looked exactly like Bo Dallas in his singlet during his match. Like father, like son.

Bischoff called WCW the only game in town. Sting pulled off a lovely vaulting clothesline into the ring. They revealed Flyin Brian vs Johnny B Bad with the winner getting the next US title shot. I actually liked that Flyin Brian’s victory against Jushin Liger last week actually led to him getting a chance at a title shot.

Sting hit the Stinger Splash and a top rope crossbody and won. There really wasn’t anything to this match. Wallstreet didn’t really mess anything up but this was not a memorable match in the slightest. It was just there. It was…. OK.

 

Then they showed graphics for WCW Saturday Night. This sounded like one of the worst shows I could possibly think of. This show would include the debut of DISCO INFERNO, Renegade vs Max Muscle, Big Bubba Rogers vs Dave Sullivan and Flyin Brian vs Alex Wright. What a shit-fest that sounded like.

 

Randy Savage vs Scott Norton

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I thought this was a fine match. Savage’s music was a rock version of Pomp and Circumstance. Norton jumped Savage before the match. Norton and Savage bumped like crazy for each other, doing well to get each other over. Norton got the heat, wrecking Savage with a powerbomb. Norton was awesome working over Savage. He did a believable job in laying on a beating on the Macho Man.

Norton hitting a draping DDT off the ropes. Savage caught a flying Norton off the top with a face slam and then started the comeback. Savage ran wild when Kamala and THE SHARK ran in. They both bumbled down to the ring. Bischoff, or somebody, kept calling Shark “Avalance.” Savage fought them off and then Shark was rocked. Shark fell forward onto a floored Norton and trapped his legs. Poor Scott Norton couldn’t move his legs as the Shark had all of his weight on Norton. Norton was waving his arms as Savage went up to the top rope. Shark was knocked out and Norton lacked the strength to push Shark away. Therefore, he could do nothing as Savage hit that elbow drop for the win. I LOVED that finish!

The Dungeon of Doom stable all argued. Norton was mad at Shark and Kamala. Technically, if Shark fell on Norton, shouldn’t Norton win via DQ? Either way, I thought this match was good.

 

Hulk Hogan (c) w/Jimmy Hart vs Lex Luger for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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THE MATCH OF THE CENTURY… on paper.

In fact, it actually was on paper! Some fan in the crowd actually had a “match of the century” sign. That fan had high expectations!

I’ve heard this theme song before but Luger’s WCW theme song at this time was the coolest aspect of this show! When considering this along with the “The Man Called Sting” and Hogan’s “American Made” themes, WCW had a knack for theme songs!

Hogan and Luger went for a lock-up and I was thinking that this could be easily a contender for the worst lock-up of all time. Hulk Hogan and Lex Luger doing a lock-up together? I’ll go on record to say that this wasn’t the worst lock-up I’ve ever seen but Hogan’s didn’t exactly look like a guy trying to win a lock-up battle. Luger at least appeared to be trying to push Hogan away so I guess it wasn’t THAT bad.

So right after this first lock-up, they did another one. During the second one, LUGER was the one that looked horrendous in the lock-up! From the get-go, it didn’t look like these guys were in sync!

Hogan went all technical on Luger, which is fascinating to think about. Hogan and Luger began a no-sell match. Hogan hit Luger with a suplex, but Luger no-sold it. Luger hit Hogan with a suplex, but Hogan no-sold that.

The announcers really down-played Luger here, which really isn’t what you want to do during a WCW world title match. The announcers advised that Luger was in for the match of his lifetime. Bischoff, at least I think it was Bischoff, said “Luger is just not used to this calibre of competition.” He made Luger out to be a complete non-threat. Bischoff made a comment saying Luger could only just barely get past mid-card in the WWF. Keep in mind by the way that Lex Luger was a former WCW Champion before he even went to the WWF previously!

Luger locked on the Torture Rack. Luger thought he won but the ref told him that Hogan never tapped. After arguing with the ref, Luger went for a cover but Hogan kicked out. Hogan fired back with his typical comeback. Hogan hit the leg drop when the Dungeon of Doom ran in for the DQ. I’m struggling to decide whether I liked this finish or not but we’ll get onto that later.

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Sting and Savage ran down to even the odds for the babyfaces. Kamala tumbled out of the ring. Hogan and Luger started pushing each other. I don’t know why. Mean Gene ran down to do an interview, advising that Vader didn’t qualify to be a “Hulkamaniac.”

Hogan and Savage ran down Luger and accused the Total Package of not being on their side. Sting came to his defence. Sting said that Vader was out of the picture and Luger gave Hogan a run for his money. Keep in mind by the way that Hogan had Luger beat when the Dungeon of Doom ran down!

Sting said Luger should be on the team. Savage disagreed as he thought Luger was a turncoat. Savage questioned why the Dungeon of Doom attacked Hogan and Savage but not Sting, Lex Luger and Jimmy Hart. Jimmy Hart pleaded his case. So this was like a vote between the team. Savage voted against Luger. Sting voted for Luger. It all came down to the Hulkster, because of course it did. Hogan eventually decided to have Luger in the team. Luger agreed as long as Hogan would give him another title shot. This set off Hogan as Luger had ulterior motives. Mongo ended the show by saying: “they better get their collective poo-poo together.”

And that’s how Nitro ended going into Fall Brawl 1995. They better get their collective poo-poo together.

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I liked the end segment with the four babyfaces arguing because all the motives for the four main guys made sense. Sting and Luger had worked together in the past in WCW so Sting trusts Luger to be an ally. Hogan and Savage, as far as I’m aware, had never worked with Luger. Not to mention, Luger was the outsider coming in from the WWF. So they DO NO trust Luger and have no idea where his head is at. Luger, because he’s a competitor, wants to win the WCW title. He has nothing against the Hulkamaniacs but he wants to be champion more than anything. I could understand why there was tension but I could understand everyone’s viewpoint.

With that being said, the finish of the match did both help and hinder the story. Out of context, Luger getting mad that he didn’t get fair title shot here made no sense considering that Hogan had him beat before the Dungeon of Doom ran in. Why should he have another title shot? However, they were playing up the angle of Lex Luger’s loyalties. He’s saying that he wanted a fair title shot but there should be no case for another title shot as Hogan had him beat. So that would make the fans hate Luger as he didn’t deserve another title shot.

Again, out of context, having Luger come in from WWF and then have Hogan all but beat him in his first match in did no favours for Luger.

A lot happened in this episode of Nitro. FOUR matches, including WCW World and US title matches. Build for the War Games match at Fall Brawl with in-fighting from the Hulkamaniacs and the Dungeon of Doom. We got good mic work from Flair. We got an odd match from the debuting Sabu. The attention of the show was focused on the Fall Brawl main-event and that’s good. This episode did what it was supposed to for a go-home show.

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Next week on Nitro, we’ll have a number of “high-profile” matches. We’ve got, believe it or not, Paul Orndorff vs Johnny B Bad. We got the Nasty Boys in action. We’ve got the American Males vs the Blue Bloods. A lot of tag team action.

HOWEVER, there is a Fall Brawl PPV before that show. We’ve got the big War Games main-event with Hogan, Savage, Sting and Luger vs the Dungeon of Doom. I THINK I’ll be watching and reviewing the whole PPV. I initially was just planning to watch the Nitros exclusively. However, I do want to watch the War Games match so I’ll be watching that. There is also Arn Anderson vs Ric Flair among other matches so it’s probably in my best interest to watch the whole thing.

Thank you for reading and I’ll be back with Episode #3 of WCW Nitro as part of the Retro Express. Fall Brawl, at least the main-event, will be coming up before we get around to Episode #3. We hope you enjoyed the review of Episode #2.

 

WCW Nitro Episode List