RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #62 (NOVEMBER 18TH 1996) – RODDY PIPER REVEALS THAT ERIC BISCHOFF IS IN THE NWO

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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Since Halloween Havoc 1996, Eric Bischoff had been trying to sign the “match of the decade” in booking WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hollywood Hogan vs “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. Piper was not “associated” with WCW but Bischoff claimed to have met with Piper to try and sign the match. Hogan had been calling Piper a coward and Piper had not appeared on television since the PPV. However, it was promoted that “Rowdy” Roddy Piper would be on WCW Nitro this week.

…oh yeah and this is the go-home show for WCW World III. They’ve mentioned that once or twice I guess in the last few weeks.

 

I could go on a big tirade about how badly they’ve promoted their World War III PPV this year but I won’t do that. I will forgive them for that on the grounds that this was a pretty good episode of WCW Monday Nitro. This was the best one in a long time. There was not a lot wrong with the episode and it featured a legendary WCW moment as Rowdy Roddy Piper confronted Eric Bischoff at the end of the show.

 

Date: November 18th 1996

Brand: WCW

City:Florence, South Carolina

Rating: 3.2

Commentators (First Hour): Mike Tenay and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan and Mike Tenay

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First thing they show on Nitro is not even the intro video for WCW Monday Nitro. The first thing they show is the Outsiders standing in the ring with chairs and the Nasty Boys and High Voltage both laid out, sparing us from seeing that match. I think there was another luchador tag team out there was well. I think what happened was High Voltage was wrestling a dark match but the Nasty Boys beat up those guys but then Outsiders beat up the Nasty Boys. It was crazy because they do kind of explain that later but without that, we just see the Nasty Boys randomly on the show after they were barred from the show last week! It was completely upside down with the storyline.

Kevin Nash grabbed the mic and said it was nice to see Larry Zybszko dressed up this week after Nash buried him for what he wore last week. Nash and Scott Hall intimidate Tony Schiavonie as they yelled about how they can be funny or deadly. Nash mentioned Tony’s bad neck and asked if Tony ever wanted to pick up his kids? Sounds like a threat to me.

Hall said they’ve heard how scary the Faces of Fear are and they are the two toughest guys in the business but he told “those two highlanders” to come out here and they would slap the coconut crap out of them. Hall said if the Faces of Fear won’t come to us, we’ll come to them. Nash and Hall walk to the back. FIGHTING WORDS.

So out of nowhere, Meng and The Barbarian appear out of thin air and bring the fight to the Outsiders! These two tag teams had a GREAT FIGHT! Kevin Nash would garner a reputation of being lazy in the near future but at this time, he, Hall and the Faces of Fear worked their asses off to put together a wild brawl! Nash and Meng used trash cans as swords as they battled! It was a hell of a brawl as Hall goes head first into the fire exit door! The Outsiders are selling like crazy for the Faces of Fear and it was GREAT!

They explain later what happened before the show started. It was shown that I guess the Nasty Boys were beating up High Voltage and “two Mexican friends” when the Outsiders attacked with chairs. Tony berated Larry as a wrestler for not stepping in and said he can’t be dealing with this as he has a family. Therefore, he was leaving Larry to it and Tony walked out for the rest of the show.

A unique way to start the show but I think the brawl between these four huge men that spilled out to the back really made it worth it. To give WCW credit, watching this fight really made me want to watch The Outsiders vs Faces of Fear at World War III! They’re doing Outsiders vs Faces of Fear vs Nasty Boys at the PPV so this was done with that in mind and I got excited for watching this match! Therefore, this was a success! HUGE THUMBS UP for the opening segment.

 

La Parka vs Juventud Guerrera

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We got THE DEBUT OF LA PARKA as he was booked against Juventud. I liked this match. The pacing was weird but this was exactly the type of match I expected it to be with a whole bunch of lucha spots from both men. They delivered that so I was content.

This is weird to admit but when I was younger, I had a Batman buckle belt exactly like La Parka had on for this match! This was weird booking when Juventud Guerrera, the loser of last week’s match against Miguel Perez, was back this week but Miguel Perez wasn’t. Shouldn’t the winner get booked for the next Nitro rather than the loser? What’s the incentive for Juventud to win if he just gets another match the next week anyway? It felt odd.

Juvi worked on La Parka. They exchange chops with La Parka delivering a kick to the face to floor Juvi. Mike Tenay joined Larry to save his arse on commentary but to be honest, this commentary was pretty bland especially with Tenay. I didn’t get much from them for the rest of the hour.

Juvi floored Parka with a clothesline. A bunch of lucha libre spots leads to a backbreaker for a two count. La Parka does a suicide dive into the guard rail. Juvi did a springboard hurricanrana to La Parka, who was seated on the top rope. That spot was actually pulled off really well.

Juvi did a springboard moonsault which appeared to look like a springboard pele kick because his feet landed right on Parka’s face! That can’t have fun for poor La Parka!

Parka cut off Juvi with a dropkick when Juvi went for a springboard splash. Parka did a crossbody to Juvi on the floor. Parka hit a powerbomb. Parka did a Romero Special but Juvi broke it up by just raising himself up from the hold and then just falling on top of La Parka to turn the match around! It was so basic but the fans yelled “ohhh” and reacted because Juvi landed right on the gut of Parka!

Juvi smashed Parka’s head into the turnbuckle. A part of me thought I missed an episode because they just randomly bring up that Roddy Piper would be here. That just seemed to be brought up out of nowhere after weeks of “negotiations” and Eric Bischoff supposedly being stone-walled.

Juvi did a top rope frankensteiner for a 2 count. Parka did a senton of the top rope but Juvi moved out of the way. Parka got small packaged for a 2 count. In the middle of these high-flying spots and lucha libre spots, Juvi did a random DDT! A part of me thinks they were supposed to only get a few minutes like the Miguel Perez match last weekbut they ended up getting more time at the last minute, so they just ended up doing a bunch of other spots without any real plan!

Juvi did a tornado DDT or a “rolling DDT” for a 2 count. Some fans actually started booing as I think they wanted the match to be over. Juvi tried a spinning frankensteiner but he fell down and La Parka does a tremendous springboard corkscrew for the victory.

This was a fine match with a great finish. Not much in psychology but the execution for a lot of the moves were on point. The fans popped for Parka winning so I will go ahead and say this was a success.

 

 

Dean Malenko © vs Ultimo Dragon w/Sonny Onoo for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship

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This was a weird one with the timing as well. It’s the J-Crown Champion from NJPW Ultimo Dragon facing the WCW Cruiserweight Champion Dean Malenko for his title and it got… FOUR MINUTES! A few weeks ago, they had an episode of Nitro which saw Marcus Bagwell and Brad Armstrong get a long time for a match followed up by a Cruiserweight title match which lasted four minutes and got a bad ending. This show followed the exact same formula. Parka and Juventud got a lot of time and this big champion vs champion match got four minutes and a DQ finish! It was crazy with the time management for the show!

Although this match got four minutes, this was a great four minutes with Dragon and Malenko. They pulled off some amazing stuff and it was like a small teaser to what would have been a five star classic between these two at this time! This is a spoiler but apparently this match happened again at Starrcade 1996. We’ve got that to look forward to!

There was a good bit of mat wrestling to start of the match. Dragon and Maleno battled for the arm but then Dragon switched and worked on the leg of Malenko with a toe hold. Dean trying a kick but Dragon sweeping the leg was a spot that was pulled off beautifully. This was a small move but it worked out really well in execution!

Dragon did a cartwheel elbow smash. I love how after a massive exchange and a dragon suplex, Dragon tried a leapfrog and Dean just stood there and walloped him with a big clothesline! Some tremendous wrestling on display and in the middle of this, Malenko clotheslined Dragon out of his boots!

Dragon Irish-whipped Dean into the guard rail. Dragon missed a top rope moonsault. Dean tried a Texas Cloverleaf. Sonny Onoo got on the apron and got thrown in the ring. Dean then tossed Dragon over the top rope for the disqualification finish. Out of all the matches we’ve seen on Nitro in the last four weeks, this is the match with the disqualification for one man throwing another man over the top rope?

This was a lame finish to an otherwise awesome match. To be fair, they mentioned on commentary that Bobby Heenan picked Dean to win the World War III battle royal and he threw the J-Crown Champion over the top rope here. It at least demonstrated that Malenko can throw a man over the top rope so at the very least, they are teasing that Malenko may be able to do that to anyone that steps in his path at World War III to win the battle royal. That I very much appreciated.

 

They did show the finish of the Harlem Heat and Canadians match from last week where Parker was thrown into the ring by Stevie Ray but eventually, the referee just called off the match… seemingly for no reason.

 

“The Amazing French Canadians” Jacques Rogueau and Carl Ouellet w/Col Robert Parker vs “The American Males” Marcus Bagwell and Scotty Riggs

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There wasn’t much to this match other than to continue to slow build for an American Males break-up. There was no Harlem Heat there to promote the Amazing French Canadians’ match with Harlem Heat at World War III. Speaking of which, it was revealed if Harlem Heat won the match at World War III, their manager Sister Sherri will get 5 minutes in the ring with Col Robert Parker. My apologises, I guess that is the pay off to this year long storyline with Parker and Sherri. A random five minute match.

Bagwell waived the American flag coming out and gaining patriotism points with the crowd. Bagwell ran wild on the Canadians and then Riggs came in as they worked together to dispose of the Amazing French Canadians. Jacques stopped the match just so he could do some kip-ups, he encouraged Riggs to do some and then kicked him to gain control!

Riggs did a monkey flip to Jacques and Jacques almost landed right on his head. In response, a later spot see Jacques try a monkey slip but Riggs does not fall for it and punches him in the face. Of course he sees the danger in doing this spot! He damn near destroyed Jacques’ neck with the same spot earlier on in the match!

Bagwell and Riggs bump into each other for a spot and then yell at each other. To be honest, I had no idea why Bagwell was in the ring other than to crash into Riggs. It was hard to figure out what Bagwell and Riggs were going for before they crashed into each other.

Rogueau scoop slammed Ouellet into the back of Riggs which looked unpleasant for Riggs. The spot I usually see with the Amazing French Canadians is Jacques scoop-slamming Carl into an opponent who are usually laying on their back. Riggs was sitting up and so this big man was thrown right into the back of Riggs!

They do a quick double STO to Riggs as they continue to get the heat. Ouellet punched Rogueau by mistake and then Riggs was able to get the tag to Bagwell. Bagwell ran wild on the Canadians. Riggs kneed Rogueau into the head of Bagwell and then Jacques was rolled onto Bagwell for the pin by Carl.

This was a creative finish to an otherwise bland match. I didn’t think it was bad but there really wasn’t much going for it in my eyes. I love how the American Males were arguing after the match and Riggs’ big complaint was that Bagwell celebrated too much during the match! What a buzzkill this Scotty Riggs turned out to be!

 

They showed the WCW website and there was a red creepy web page they had called the WCW Dark Room. What on earth was up with that? It was like the website had suddenly changed into a website for a cult that ended up on WCW television!

 

Hugh Morrus vs Lex Luger

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This was a bad match. I don’t expect much from Lex Luger’s matches but at least they would be the Lex Luger formula for a match. They can at least accomplish the goal of getting Lex Luger over. The fans loveD the Torture Rack so you build towards that finish and then Luger delivered the move. I will get to the finish in a little bit but this match really let me down.

I love how Tenay talked up Lex Luger’s win streak when 3 weeks ago, he walked out of a match with Booker T because he saw his friend Sting in the crowd! He’s on a great roll but if he sees his friend in the crowd, he’s vulnerable. It’s like Sting is his kryptonite right now!

Hugh beat up Luger for a while as Arn cut an insert promo. Luger no-sold a slam and then taunted at Hugh by flexing his muscles. Luger hit a suplex and slammed Hugh with a hip toss.

One thing that bothered me was that Hugh did a knee to the back of Luger and Luger doesn’t feel his back to sell it. He just wobbled like a penguin to the corner and doesn’t even try to sell it. Luger really has a hard time trying to sell and usually I will try to block it out in my mind, but it really irritated me here. Then Hugh did a polish hammer and Luger fell down and became unmoving…. It was so inconsistent of how he sold during the match and it was really jarring.

Luger made a comeback with 3 clotheslines and did a back elbow to change things up! Hugh did his own clothesline but then he missed a big splash. Luger motioned of the Torture Rack, the fans went crazy as Luger is able to get another big man up in the air for this move. However, he’s unable to get Hugh properly up for the move. This is a conspiracy theory and I don’t have much evidence to go on but I’m fairly certain Hugh dead-weighted him. Luger got the man on his shoulders just like he’s done with other men way bigger than Hugh Morrus, but Morrus slid to the other side of Lex’s shoulders. Luger just then carried him like he’s about to do a shinbreaker. He dropped Hugh and then the referee decided that Hugh had given up.

Luger was pissed off in the ring that he wasn’t able to do the spot properly. I think Luger wanted to do what he did with Roadblock a month ago and try the spot again but this referee decided “he got him up, let’s take the match home” which did not sit well with Luger. This was a bad match with a horrible finish. I personally think this was the worst thing on the entire show.

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Mean Gene interviewed Lex Luger. All of a sudden, Sting showed up through the crowd with a red baseball bat. He doesn’t have the black baseball bat yet but he did have a red one. I don’t know the significance of why it was red. Luger and Sting have a stare down. He poked Luger in the chest with his bat and pushed him into the corner with the bat. He gave Luger the bat and left. Larry then goes on a weird tirade along the lines of: “even I, as brilliant as I am psychologically, can’t figure this out.” Was there any need for Larry to say that other than to get himself over?

Luger then doesn’t respond to Mean Gene’s further questioning and then just left because Luger can’t figure out what was going on with Sting either. He looked dumb-founded. This felt like a filler Sting appearance because they certainly didn’t follow up Sting attacking Jeff Jarrett last week. It’s important to continue to establish the previous Sting/Luger relationship but this just seemed to accomplish nothing in the storyline.

 

They showed an interview with Nick Patrick and the solicitor Alan Sharpe which I think was from WCW Saturday Night. Chris Jericho and Teddy Long interrupted them. Teddy called out Alan Sharpe and claimed his law firm was called “do we cheat them and how” or something. Teddy made a comment along the lines of  Jericho could beat up Nick Patrick with one arm tied behind his back and I guess it was booked. Chris Jericho with one hand tied behind his back vs Nick Patrick booked for World War III.

 

 

Johnny Grunge vs Chris Jericho

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Ever since Chris Jericho arrived in WCW, I have had the pleasure of listening to Chris Jericho’s “All the Days” first WCW theme song. It’s a tremendous song and I was always happy listening to it. I’m not sure what happened here but all of a sudden, on the WWE Network, they played Jericho’s WWE Break the Walls Down theme as he came down for this WCW match. They couldn’t just play the All the Days song again? They had to put on the clearly out-dated future WWE theme? That song doesn’t sound like it belonged on a WCW show from 1996 because it clearly didn’t fit the era. If this is going to be the case for the rest of Jericho’s WCW run while I watch Nitro on the WWE Network, I’m going to be really upset.

Jericho worked on Grunge for a while and then Nick Patrick came down, still with a neck brace and also wearing sunglasses and all black. I will get into this later but Nick Patrick wearing a neck brace and still accepting a wrestling match with Chris Jericho is unintentionally hilarious when you think about it!

Jericho tried a top rope moonsault, landed on his feet and then Grunge floored Jericho with a lariat. Jericho did a “jump spin wheel kick” to Grunge and then followed this up with a springboard dropkick.

Grunge got mad and grabbed a chair but Jericho slid between the legs and dropped Grunge face first into the apron. Grunge did a clothesline to a seated Jericho, who was sat on a chair Grunge brought into the ring.

Then we got another horrible finish. First, Grunge grabbed a table and set it up….. SINCE WHEN ARE TABLES ALLOWED IN A MATCH? I know the Dudley Boyz did spots like this for years but this is not, at least it was not announced as, a hardcore match. Grunge is just allowed to use the tables for a spot which is even more illegal than Malenko throwing a man over the top rope.

Grunge smashed Jericho’s head into the table and it’s not a disqualification. Heenan said if Patrick were in the ring he would have disqualified them and Eric Bischoff’s grand rebuttal for this excellent point was… “he hasn’t used it yet.” He said this about 5 SECONDS after watching Grunge use the table to his advantage. I’m so glad now that Eric Bischoff will be a heel from here on out because that was a ridiculously babyface defence of this referee! Goldfish memory on display by Bischoff!

Grunge tried a chair leg drop but went crashing through the table and Jericho did a top rope dropkick for the win. The match was fine minus the blatant use of weapons and I hate that this was all allowed during the same show where you can’t even from a man over the top rope without getting disqualified. This… SUCKED.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Jericho. Teddy Long came out. Teddy said the match might be too much for Jericho and it is played up that CHRIS JERICHO may lose this match to REFEREE NICK PATRICK. Even if Jericho had a hand tied behind his back, he’s wrestling a referee who was wearing a neck brace. Yes, Patrick had apparently had legitimate experience as a wrestler and it is likely that Patrick is faking his injury as part of this storyline. However, how Jericho would be so incapable in the ring against a REFEREE is absolutely ridiculous. How bad much Jericho be in storyline where as soon as he loses a hand, he cannot beat anybody? By that logic, I would have been able to beat Chris Jericho in 1996 and I was two years old at the time!

Jericho put over Teddy as a intelligent man. Jericho said the match was the only way we’d get a coward like Patrick in the ring with him and accepted the match for World War III.

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The nWo arrived with Hollywood Hogan, Miss Elizabeth, Vincent and Ted DiBiase. Heenan bailed but returned later. Hogan grabbed a mic and said it’s time for Hollywood. Hogan demanded Bischoff tell everyone that he’s the biggest star and he’s a bigger star than Piper. He demanded that he tell them that he’s a bigger icon than Rowdy Roddy Piper. Bischoff quietly said it and then Hogan demanded he tell everyone that Piper is scared of Hogan. Hogan told Bischoff to say Piper is 100 times richer than Piper which probably was true at this time! If you consider all the money that was thrown at Hogan at this time for movie roles, television and his big ass WCW contract at this time, this was most likely a true statement! Bischoff relented and said it. Hogan said now that the nWo is running the show, carry on.

…in hindsight, why did this happen? I’m gonna jump ahead to the finish of the show but Eric Bischoff was later revealed to be aligned with Hogan. Therefore, why did Hogan and Bischoff feel the need to put on this facade where Hogan forced Bischoff to talk about how great he is? If he wanted Bischoff to tell everyone how great he is… HAVE HIM TALK ABOUT HOW GREAT HE IS. It’s Bischoff’s show, so he can do what he wants! I’m sure Bischoff will spend the next 3 years talking about how great Hogan is so why not do it here on the night he’s gonna turn heel anyway?

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Then Mean Gene Okerlund popped up on the ramp to speak to Diamond Dallas Page again. Mean Gene repeated the line from last week claiming DDP would be the 8th man of nWo if DDP accepted the Outsiders’ offer so they are getting the number for the amount of members wrong. Unless Miss Elizabeth and possibly nWo Sting are not officially part of the group, I have no idea why they keep saying DDP would be the 8th man.

DDP started to cut a promo but the nWo arrive. Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, The Giant and Syxx were there. I’m guessing the Outsiders won the fight with the Faces of Fear from the start of the show because they were back on the show but the Faces of Fear weren’t. Hall asked if DDP had got his wake up call yet. DDP didn’t like the comment about Bischoff last week. Nash is talking again about how DDP didn’t get it with regards to why Bischoff was so important. Giant said we should punk him out so I’m guessing The Giant is not clued in on the plan to get Eric Bischoff in the team. Nash said something very beautiful was gonna happen tonight which was apparently a quote from Space Odyssey 2001.

 

Bobby Eaton vs Jeff Jarrett

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Bischoff’s explanation of why nWo are allowed time was that the more WCW censored them, the more people will want to hear more from them. This made little sense to me but obviously the line made a lot more sense at the end of the night.

Eaton and Jarrett wrestled and were among the dying breed of bleach blonde hair wrestlers in WCW! Jarrett worked on Eaton on the outside. Jarrett hit a suplex in the ring and went for the Figure Four Leg Lock as Ric Flair with a cast came out in a Christmas sweater as Jarrett secured the submission victory. This was short for the purposes to get Flair on the screen and to at least give Jarrett momentum heading into the rematch with The Giant at World War III.

Mean Gene interviewed Ric and Jeff Jarrett. Jarrett said we had to unite. They brought up how Sting dropped Jarrett last week. Jarrett said he chopped down Giant at Havoc to which I have no idea what was talking about. I seem to recall The Giant kicking Jarrett’s arse and Ric saving Jarrett from getting chokeslammed!

Ric got on the mic and for the first time on Nitro screamed “MEEEEAAAN GENE!” for WCW. It was glorious as Flair was so happy to be there! Ric said Jarrett is good to go. Ric said Dr Jim fixed him up and the Nature Boy will be back soon. Sting was up in the rafters watching this. Ric said Jeff Jarrett was in the Four Horsemen because the Nature Boy said so and so the other Four Horsemen members had to accept it. Ric and Jeff both strut their stuff and party and this worked with the South Carolina fans big time.

 

Big Bubba w/Jimmy Hart vs Jim Powers

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Bubba hit a Boss Man slam for the clean victory. The match was OK. Very forgettable. Bubba celebrating with Jimmy in his arms was awesome. Those were my full notes of this match!

This was a filler match if I ever saw one. It wasn’t bad but all of my other notes about it were about things not to do with the match!

With that said, it was interesting that there was no Teddy Long with Jim Powers this week so I’m assuming Teddy is with Jericho until after World War III.

Bischoff tried to downplay Piper, saying it was unlikely he was gonna be there for Nitro. He mumbled about movies and management and whatever. You could tell that the second hour meant nothing to Nitro (well except the main-event angle) as JIM POWERS VS BIG BUBBA was the semi-main-event match of Nitro!

 

Chris Benoit w/Woman vs Eddie Guerrero

This match was a big reason why I loved this show. I have seen Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero wrestle at least a thousand times by now! It’s not that much on this series but I watched this match so many times and this match was a thing of beauty. It was a wrestling clinic when it needed to be, it was a fight when it needed to be and it delivered a winner and a loser! There was no shenanigans with Woman, Taskmaster, the Guerreros or even the referee. This was a true wrestling match and these two delivered as always.

Benoit tried a crossface early on to no avail. Eddie turned things around. Benoit was able to turn things right around himself and he grabbed Eddie and started slapping him as he yelled at him. The intensity of Benoit was always high to an extent but with Eddie, the intensity from him and Guerrero was always really high for these matches and it really introduced a level of realism to an otherwise fake wrestling match.

Benoit did a Northern Lights suplex. He went for the cover and when Eddie kicked out, Benoit immediately grabbed Eddie’s wrist for a wrist lock. This was not a typical match where they do a kick out and then lay there for a minute until the next spot. Benoit went for the cover and almost RIGHT AWAY moved onto the next hold. It was sublime.

It was so clear as Benoit was working on the arm of Guerrero. Benoit tried a powerbomb but Eddie rolled him up for a near fall. Eddie fired back. Benoit and Eddie crashed to the mat with a superplex as they came back from the break.

Benoit tried a powerbomb but Eddie turned the momentum into a hurricanrana to the outside. Eddie and Benoit fired away at each other on the outside with punches as Eddie showed some Latino Heat. Woman got in the way and Benoit took advantage of this distraction.

Eddie small packaged Benoit for a  2 count and Eddie hit a belly to back suplex. Eddie went for a splash but Eddie saw Benoit move and stopped himself. Eddie did a frankensteiner which Benoit reversed into a sunset flip for the pinfall victory.

Great match as usual and a clever finish. Everything they did was on point and I would HIGHLY recommend watching this wrestling clinic displayed by Benoit and Guerrero as usual. A tremendous wrestling main-event.

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Moving on to a tremendous main-event angle! Eric Bischoff got in the ring to cut a promo. Eric apologised for what Hogan made him do tonight and WCW were gonna do everything in their power to sign Piper for a match with Hogan. He said WCW will try to reach him through his attorneys and management to get him. Then bagpipes play and it is Rowdy Roddy Piper on the stage! Eric is taken back but not overjoyed either.

Piper had a microphone as fans go crazy for him. Piper said it’s nice to be back. He came here to tell some truth. Piper said he’s never heard so many lies in his life other than when he himself was saying them! Piper said he was king of the frat house as he talked about Charlotte, North Carolina. He said he was PO’d. He understood someone was calling him a coward.

He quotes LL Cool J, who he described as a “rapping kind of guy!” The line was: “You slap Roddy Piper and you didn’t get a hassle” and then he turns around, pointed at Bischoff and declared: “you’re a liar”.

Piper wanted to talk about “jerks and lairs” and then turned to Bischoff. He shook Bischoff’s hands. He questioned Bischoff about his claims of travelling to meet with Piper. He goads him into saying that he took a coach to visit. Piper responds with a line which I always remember from when I watched this angle for the first time. I made it clear when I started this series that I’d never watched the original WCW shows at the time but I have watched angles here and there. I watch this angle and I always remember the line where Piper then asked Bischoff: “Was the road crooked, or was the road straight?”

Piper grabbed Bischoff and called him a piece of shit before the nWo arrive to save Eric. Bischoff. They grab Piper as Bischoff hugged Hollywood Hogan. Bischoff changes his swagger and Hogan reveals everyone is working for Bischoff. Hogan then said Bischoff was working for the nWo so it wasn’t particularly clearly who was actually in charge of the group! Long story short, Bischoff was working with the nWo the entire time.

Piper tried to claw at Bischoff but he wasn’t able to do it. Hogan called Piper a loser. He said he was never been anything in the business until he wrestled Hogan. Hogan called Piper a coward. Hogan took off his belt as Piper tried to get at Hogan but police and security try to pull Piper away this time. Piper breaks away from the security but he is literally pulled away by his coat. The Giant VAULTED out of the ring during all of this in an incredible feat of athleticism form the big man. The nWo leave and Piper agreed to fight, he’ll have a contract at World War III and he tells Hogan to kiss his ass.

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This was a famous segment! The reveal that Eric was in the nWo all along. It was clear that this was in the works for some time to reveal Bischoff as being a part of the group. Heenan questioned him about some of his decisions last month and him being with the group is a logically way to explain how the nWo had gotten so far with their take over of WCW. They had a man on the inside in the WCW President Bischoff.

The crazy thing is, Bischoff completely transformed into the cocky asshole Bischoff that I always remembered growing up from watching him in WWE. He was the RAW General Manager when I first started watching wrestling and for the last year and a half when doing these reviews, I’ve seen him as this regular babyface commentator. As soon as they pulled the trigger had him turn, it was almost like he fit right in. He now had the means to say whatever he wanted and act the way he wanted on television!

The one thing I wanted to add before I finish this review was this show was great in terms of actually putting together a weekly television show. When the smoke cleared, this did nothing to promote the WRESTLING PAY-PER-VIEW they had set for the Sunday. There was hardly any mention of the World War III battle royal. The Piper thing only set up a segment for World War III to sign a contact for a match on a different show. Benoit vs Guerrero, as good as it was, never played into the PPV. The Giant and the Outsiders have matches booked for World War III but there’s no other mention of nWo involvement in the World War III battle royal.

All of this stuff is great for weekly ratings but as a means to sell PPVs, I don’t think this did what it was supposed to do. I did check and apparently, there was a big dip in PPV buys for World War  III than the pay-per-view before Halloween Havoc. Of course it did. As much as I personally hated the Randy Savage/Hollywood Hogan program, they dedicated so much of Nitro to this stupid storyline that people wanted to watch that match. They put in the work to promote Halloween Havoc as a big deal. For World War III they have not done that, which is sad.

 

The next review coming up shortly is World War III on the blog. We will review the entire show including Rowdy Roddy Piper signing the contract to face Hollywood Hogan and the World War III battle royal to determine the number one contender for Hogan’s championship at a later stage. Be sure to watch out for that on the blog by following it to get updates for future Nitro reviews. Leave a comment and spread the word if you can as we’re still on this journey to review every WCW Nitro episode and pay-per-view since the very first Nitro! The WCW Nitro review reading order is available below!

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #54 (SEPTEMBER 23RD 1996) – THE NWO TAKE OVER THE SHOW AND RUINS MONDAY NITRO

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

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WCW are now on the back-foot in the war with the New World Order. Hollywood Hogan has the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, they now have seven members of their organisation, Syxx joined the pack last week and WCW suffered a loss within their own ranks.

Sting arrived for Nitro last week, declaring himself a free agent and telling everyone who doubted him to “stick it”. He was out of WCW but he would come back when everyone would least expect it. Now, WCW were on their own. Nothing symbolised this more than the ending of the show, where Lex Luger was left beaten down four on one by the Four Horsemen with no one to help him.

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This Nitro I’m about to review was so bad. This was soooo bad. I really did not like last week‘s show but this week’s episode took bad to another level. This was an episode designed to give the nWo the floor. There were legitimate plans for WCW Monday Nitro to become the nWo’s show as Eric Bischoff alluded to on commentary last week. That was not a storyline bit that Bischoff threw out as a throwaway line, that was the plan because the nWo got over so much that he wanted to cash in.

Well he gave it a try in the second hour of this show and we got unbridled garbage. This second hour was designed to make a mockery out of WCW but it made a mockery out of professional wrestling. The fans just wanted to see a wrestling show and we got a bunch of adults acting like high school bullies during what is presented as a sporting event. If this was WWF RAW IS WAR, maybe this would have worked better to that audience. However, these fans wanted to see wrestling and the best match these fans got involved MIKE ENOS of all people. More on that later as I review a wretched show.

 

Date: September 23rd 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Birmingham, Alabama

Rating: 3.4 (It went down from last week, I wonder why)

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Eric Bischoff and the nWo (and Bobby Heenan for a few minutes)

 

 

They showed an ad on USA Today newspaper for the nWo. Larry Zybszko made a weird analogy about the nWo being parasites but he and Tony make it clear that a lot of WCW talent were in Japan making it a good time for the nWo to pounce and act. I wished the nWo would have pounced at this point to stop this Larry promo. He just mumbled on and on just to get to point of calling the nWo parasites. They also showed fans I guess revolting against the nWo although it was somewhat 50/50 between fan liking nWo and some fans being disgusted by nWo.

 

Taskmaster and Konnan w/Jimmy Hart and Big Bubba vs Brad Armstrong and Juventud Guerrera

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What a weird tag team match. On one side it’s a luchador and a generic old-school babyface and on the other it’s Konnan and Taskmaster representing the Dungeon of Doom. Konnan being a part of the group I still can’t believe is something they did but more on that later.

Konnan has been going all out in recent weeks in the ring, perhaps to get himself attention with a new gimmick in the midst of the nWo bandwagon. Therefore, the first thing Konnan did in the match is LAUNCH Juvi with a German suplex over his shoulders onto his head. He was not playing around.

Juvi took control with a headscissors take over and then took out Konnan with a dive. As Juvi rolled Konnan into the ring, Taskmster got in a cheeky kick at the luchador. Konnan dropped Juvi with a cradle DDT that he used last week. Konnan slammed Juvi with a muscle buster.

Taskmaster kept refusing the tag as Konnan basically did the work for the team. Brad got the tag and ran wild on Konnan. Konnan slammed Brad with a powerbomb and then at this point, Sullivan made a tag to deliver a double foot stomp and get the pin. They told the story of a heel stable leader making one of his cronies do all the work so he gets all the glory. That’s fine and they told that story well.

Then Konnan shoved away Taskmaster but then Big Bubba blindsided Konnan which the fans started to buzz about because possibly they think Konnan was gonna turn. Bubba and Sullivan beat up Konnan as Jimmy claimed this was an initiation. Konnan declared he was Dungeon of Doom and they all leave together as part of a weird fake babyface turn where the heels actually jumped the guy! Mike Tenay, who was there for commentary, compared this to a gang initiation…. MIKE TENAY giving the fans insight into gang warfare ladies and gentlemen!

 

 

Our street insider Mike Tenay interviewed Randy Savage. Savage said if the nWo were gonna cheap shot him every night, tonight was not gonna change anything. Savage said he’s the last hope for WCW. Savage claimed he was booked in Japan but he took himself out of there as he felt the need to be on Nitro. Savage made some weird comment about him and Elizabeth swimming together and finished his thoughts by saying “things don’t make any sense”. He vowed to take the nWo out.

 

Mike Enos vs Chris Jericho

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The blow-away match of the episode was MIKE ENOS VS CHRIS JERICHO in such a weird match-up. They had such wrestlers like Juventud Guerrera available to wrestle and they put Jericho in there with Mike Enos of all people? Even with the randomness, these guys worked their asses of. They knew this match didn’t matter as the nWo would take over the show so screw it. They went out there and tried their best. This was Chris Jericho wrestling a tree and it wasn’t bad. I cannot say this was good.

Jericho got a huge pop coming out for a guy who just debuted a month ago. Girls were going CRAZY for long-haired Lionheart Chris Jericho. Enos offered a handshake and suckered Jericho in for a slap.

Jericho took control with a wheel kick. Jericho gave Enos a receipt with a slap to his face. Enos did the weirdest looking catapult shoulder tackle from the apron. Enos did a belly to belly suplex. Enos roared and did a clothesline from the apron to Jericho on the floor. Enos slammed Jericho on the apron. Enos suplexed Jericho on the side of the steel steps.

Enos did a bear hug that looked so ineffective as Jericho wrapped his legs around him. This took away from the match for me. Enos hit a powerslam. Enos grabbed Jericho’s legs and did the Boston crab… TO CHRIS JERICHO. A lot of guys, LIKE CHRIS JERICHO, will sit down to make it look like this hold could hurt somehow and try to “put weight” on his opponent but Enos just stood there like a big tree with some grip on Jericho. It didn’t look any good.

Enos did a Canadian Backbreaker but Jericho reversed this into a sunset slip. Jericho tried a frankensteiner but Enos countered it into a powerbomb which sounded cool on paper but pretty bland in execution. This came off as the laziest powerbomb off the top rope I’ve ever seen. Enos caught Jericho off the Frankensteiner attempt and he and Jericho just fell down. Enos didn’t try to slam him. He fell forward and Jericho fell backwards and they crashed to the mat. A cool finish saw Jericho counter a powerslam into a roll up for the win.

This was ultimately Jericho wrestling himself and it was the best match on the show. This is not worth going out of your way to watch. It was the best out of a bad situation.

 

Pat Tanaka vs Glacier

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This was so stupid. Glacier and Tanaka are out there for this next match and to make sure Glacier “GOT OVER” with this martial arts gimmick, he and Tanaka work a “martial arts” match with one powerbomb being thrown in by Tanaka. Even with Glacier being a legitimate martial artist and I think Tanaka doing some judo in this time, this was the lamest martial arts which did not belong in a wrestling show. Think of this as Brock Lesnar vs Cain Velasquez from the Saudi Arabia show in 2019 but shorter.

Glacier reversed a Tanaka punch into a palm strike. Tanaka tried a high pick but Glacier swept his legs to bring him down. Tanakta cut off Glacier with a powerbomb. Glacier no-sold this and hit a roundhouse kick for the win… “ALMOST IN RECORD TIME” according to Tony. Glacier hit this kick which was basically Aleister Black’s Black Mass but at 50% of the speed. THUMBS DOWN for everything about this.

Larry hyping up Glacier as the man to stop the New World Order I got a good kick out of. Could you imagine Glacier vs Hollywood Hogan for Starrcade?

 

Matt Ghaffari was shown at ringside who was an Olympic silver medallist and so Larry buried him for being a loser. Could Larry not do anything right as an announcer? He couldn’t even hype up a celebrity in the crowd properly as he had to take a shot at him despite Matt being a silver medallist in wrestling. Tony asked how many medals Larry had. Larry said none because he was too mean. This… was terrible.

 

“Harlem Heat” Booker T © and Stevie Ray (c) vs “Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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Arn Anderson vs Lex Luger and Outsiders vs Harlem Heat for the WCW tag team titles were revealed for Halloween Havoc. To build to this tag team title match at Halloween Havoc, they had the Heat scheduled to defend the titles against Public Enemy. All I know was that I was looking forward at the possibility of seeing Public Enemy vs the Outsiders which seemed silly to suggest that they would actually got with this. What a clash of styles that would have been. I will get more to that later.

Harlem Heat blindsided Public Enemy to kick off the match. Grunge took out both members of the Heat with a top rope double clothesline. Public Enemy did a drop toe hold/elbow drop combination that was the default tag team move from WWE 2K games.

Larry buried Public Enemy and Nasty Boys for not having stamina. Booker got hung out on the top rope as he missed a side kick. Grunge got the tag and beat on Booker in the corner. Stevie Ray did a big leg drop. Stevie locked on a long-ass chin lock on Grunge. Booker floored Grunge with a Harlem Side Kick. The nWo limo had arrived, with Hall, Nash and Syxx in ring gear and Giant suited and booted. Bogus Sting, Ted DiBiase and Hogan were also there.

Grunge hit the neckbreaker as he crawled his way to Rocco and got the tag. Rocco ran wild. Rocco clunked Booker and Stevie’s heads together but they no sold this and took him out with a double clothesline.

In a weird spot, Rocco was on the apron. Stevie pushed him into the ring and Rocco fell into the ring and covered Booker accidentally but Patrick stops the count as Rocco’s foot was on the ropes. It didn’t look like that was planned at all so Patrick improvised. Then there’s a cradle and a 3 count and both Rocco and Booker celebrated. Booker goes to the get the belts but Nick Patrick said “no” as PUBLIC ENEMY ARE DECLARED THE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS. WHAT?

This was such a shocker and the manner in which this was pulled off just really devalued the titles that were being set-up for the Outsiders to win. Harlem Heat’s title reign started off when Patrick pinned Luger or Sting when 20 police men were in the ring. Fast forward a few months and the title reign ended with another controversial finish, where Patrick did a pin and awarded the match to Public Enemy because…. whatever. I don’t even know if Public Enemy knew they were winning the titles!

With this title change, the WCW tag team title match for Halloween Havoc had been changed to The Outsiders vs Public Enemy which is quite a match on PPV. It’d be interesting to see what this match would be like in execution. I won’t look it up but I’d be astonished if Public Enemy make it to Halloween Havoc as the champions.

 

First hour over. Other than the title change, it’s a pretty standard Nitro right? A bunch of standard matches. Nothing particularly special but only the Glacier vs Pat Tanaka match sucked. Everything else was below par and Enos/Jericho was fine. Then the show turned into a heaping pile of horrible ideas that were actually done on national television.

 

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

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The announcers kept calling Halloween Havoc – Slim Jim’s Halloween Havoc. Savage fired away with punches in the corner to Valentine. Valentine took control and threw Savage to the outside. Valentine dropped Savage on the guard rail. Super Calo supposedly dislocated his shoulder earlier on in the show.

Savage then went crazy and hit Valentine with a chair while they were on the floor as the referee let this go but then Savage gets on the top rope and hits a top rope chair shot to then warrant a DQ. How was a chair shot to a head on the floor not a disqualification in the referee’s eyes? You can’t throw a man over the top rope in World Championship Wrestling but you can hit a man with a chair when outside of the ring? However, a top rope chair shot is where the referee drew the line? Anyway, the referee got thrown out for his trouble by Savage.

So this dick “Macho Man” Randy Savage beat up a wrestler with a chair, got himself RIGHTFULLY disqualified and beat up the referee. Then the nWo’s Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Syxx arrived to MAKE THE SAVE and attack Savage with Ted DiBiase there as well. There’s no other way to put this. Savage was beating up a helpless referee and the nWo saved him. Valentine rightfully left the ring to let the nWo beat up this guy. After all, Savage attacked him with a chair. Savage deserved this and to be honest, Savage was a horrible babyface at this time.

Hall hits the Outsiders Edge. Elizabeth came out but then ran off scared for her life. Giant came up on the apron. Nash dropped Savage with a Jackknife powerbomb. Giant got a mic and introduced WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hollywood Hogan with this elaborate introduction.

Hogan came out with the WCW title. Hogan hit a leg drop on Savage as he posed with the crowd. He hit another leg drop. Kevin Nash whipped Savage with something. I was like “what the heck was that?” Hogan explained that “he’s whipping him with a Slim Jim” which I actually enjoyed. Hogan suggested they help him with his hygiene. Hogan talked to the “nWoites” and mentioned that he’s used to being in Hollywood but the bright lights bouncing off of Savage’s bald head needed sorting out. He spray-painted Savage’s head black. Hogan making fun of someone for being bald made me laugh. Just wait until we get to Bash at the Beach 2000!

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Nash and Hall strong-armed Eric Bischoff at commentary and forced him down on the chair. Bobby Heenan fled from the booth. Hall told Bischoff to do the job well chico. Hall and Nash joined Bischoff on commentary. They ask for them to bring out VINCENT… who is revealed to be the former Virgil from WWF. Hogan and Vincent hug. Vincent grabbed Bischoff by the head.

If it was starting to feel like seven was too many people in the nWo with Syxx’s arrival last week, then it’s really gonna feel like there’s too many people with Vincent. I understand that they don’t slow down the recruitment process with the nWo but this where it really felt someone was brought into the group just to be there.

Firstly, this was a guy brought in for the sole purpose of being a shot at Vincent Kennedy McMahon from the WCW. They went through the effort of getting the cash to get Virgil? He was billed as “head of security” but the nWo already had guys like Hall and Nash and The Giant could have easily been a “head of security” guy. However, Virgil was just another guy in this group.

You could have argued that every other guy in the nWo at this point had a reason for being there. Hogan was the world champion, Nash and Hall were the tag team, The Giant was the big man (even with Kevin Nash already there), Ted DiBiase funded the group and he was the manager, Bogus Sting served the purpose of parodying Sting who was a big player in this storyline and even Syxx could have been the “cruiserweight” guy of the stable. Vincent? What a waste of a member.

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Bischoff was looking defeated as Hall welcomed us back to Nitro after the break. Hall said they could take over the NBA. Hall talked about Kevin Greene. Hall vowed to take over NASCAR. Of course, they bring out the nWo car as they have a racing team! This was a sweet looking car as Kyle Petty WAs set to be racing the Nascar racing event under the nWo banner. Say what you will about this storyline but the nWo was getting some serious mainstream publicity. I brought up USA Today mention but they had a car competing in NASCAR which is a hugely popular attraction in America. That’s quite an accomplishment.

 

Jim Powers w/Teddy Long vs VK Wallstreet

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Scott Hall called Jim Powers a “comer” as he “comes” down the ramp. The Giant did the ring introductions for the rest of the night, basically playing Dave Penzer for the show. Two months ago, The Giant was such a threat to the nWo and now he’s the ring announcer in a suit. The nWo has already completely undermined his importance to WCW. He wasn’t even allowed to actually wrestle as the stars of the shows were the Outsiders on commentary and Hollywood Hogan.

Hall called Teddy “peanut head” which did not sound alright in the slightest. Hall and Nash go down to ring as Ted DiBiase joined commentary. Nash and Hall beat up Powers. Ted goes: “boy what a fight” in a totally deadpan manner as Outsiders beat the crap out of Powers.

The referee left as of course, Nick Patrick came down to replace him. He argued with Teddy. Giant is hulking himself up and dropped Powers with a chokeslam and gets the “pin” I guess. Jim Powers vs VK Wallstreet ended up with The Giant pinning Jim Powers for the win…. OK.

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Hogan is shown spray-painting the building and bumps into the Nasty Boys. He congratulated them and he mentioned they’ve always been friends. He wanted to talk business with them. Hogan asked them to go to his suite to try and talk business. He gave them his hotel key as if he was planning a hook up of some kind with the Nasty Boys! It was such a bizarre recruitment process of the nWo! The Nasty Boy take them up on his offer as he sings “Hurrah for Hollywood”.

ARE THE NASTY BOYS FACES OR HEELS?:  HEELS

Bringing back this new game about whether the Nasty Boys were faces or heels in WCW, the Nasty Boys were clearly heels here joining Hogan in his hotel. After such a great babyface performance at Fall Brawl, they were back to possibly being heels again with Hogan.

 

Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs Syxx

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Hall kept calling guys “comers” as they came down to the ring. Duggan was set to face Ron Studd which by the way, you could tell they had no one there for this show. Of all the matches to put together on Nitro, you were gonna do Duggan vs the former Yeti Ron Studd?

Thankfully, Studd came out but Hogan stopped him in his tracks. Hogan then started punching away at Studd as he and Nash kick his ass to the nWo music! They play this song as they do this beat-down as an official beat-down theme which I laughed at! Hall said “the soundtrack to your favourite adult movie, brought to you by the nWo”. Scott Hall was on fire at commentary!

Syxx replaced Studd. Duggan went after Syxx and Nick Patrick with the 2×4. Hogan said nobody gets in the nWo’s way. Duggan punched away at Syxx as Hogan talked about WCW being about to die. Give it five years or so Hulkster. Duggan did a hip toss. Duggan did clobbering blows to the back. Duggan dropped Syxx with a clothesline

Hogan discussed possibly bring Duggan into the nWo which I would have loved to see in reality! Duggan did another clothesline but Giant grabbed him and chokeslammed Duggan on the floor while Patrick conveniently chose that time to check on Syxx. Syxx got the pin after Duggan was rolled back into the ring.

Hogan puts over that Syxx won the match fair and square and talked about how he loved his life.

 

In the first mention of Sting in the entire show is the WCW magazine advert. Speaking of which,…

 

nWo Sting vs Bo LeDuc

Bischoff talked about the fake Sting from two weeks and mentioned that “only a sucker would buy that” and correctly points out WCW bought that. DiBiase talked about the physique of this man. Sting did a Stinger Splash and Sting made Bo tap out with, according to Hogan, “the best Scorpion Deathlock he’s ever seen.”

 

“High Voltage” Kenny Kaos and Robbie Rage vs The Outsiders

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The match was supposed to be High Voltage vs the Amazing French Canadians… FOR THE MAIN EVENT OF WCW MONDAY NITRO. I love Giant was willing to give the Amazing French Canadians the floor to sing the Canandian national anthem. He respected their rights to celebrate their country… of course until the Outsiders came down!

The Outsiders did rock, paper, scissors and Hall won as they took the match with High Voltage and proceeded to have longest squash match in wrestling history. This was such death television to me. They beat on them, beat on them, beat on them, beat on them. Hall did a clothesline in the corner as they just beat up High Voltage forever. Hogan called out Mike Tyson as I watched this  DURING THE WEEK WHERE MIKE TYSON WAS SET TO BE ON AEW.

Nash hit the jackknife powerbomb and Hall stood on Kaos or Rage for the pin. I don’t remember who it was that got pinned

I love how I think Hogan said “I’m gonna get my kids a Macho Man punching bag” and they got a good laugh in “HA HA HA” like true heels. Hall had to ask Giant: “is Andre really your dad man?” before the show goes off the air. Hall was the best part about this show by a huge margin.

 

Upon reading this review back myself, what I really didn’t really suggest that this show was really bad or anything. To a point, I just started writing things down. Nothing noteworthy happened in that last hour other than the nWo taking over and being there. Every match they had in that second hour was made out to be a complete joke. Even the Savage match before the nWo shenanigans ended with Savage getting himself disqualified. Even the fans were restless as they just wanted some wrestling. I wanted some wrestling. The nWo did not present wrestling.

What they presented was raw, unrestrained nWo creative control. I know that’s a weird way to put it but this entire second hour was the nWo doing whatever they wanted and they were the only people there, so yeah they just did whatever they wanted, goofing off and not caring all about the wrestling aspect of the show. All the Outsiders did was bury Jim Powers coming down on commentary before they kicked his ass. Wallstreet vs Powers ended up with Giant getting the pin. nWo Sting got a squash victory. Virgil was just there. Hogan was bragging about how great his life was. Hall was making a joke out of this.

Now did this accomplish the goal in getting heat for the nWo? Yes. Was this a successful trial run in seeing how well an “nWo” Monday Nitro would do? No and I’ll explain why. This kinda plays into the eventual demise of WCW but the reason why WCW was popular at this time was not JUST BECAUSE OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER.

We’ve talked about this but before the famous 83 weeks that Nitro beat RAW in the ratings, WCW were already winning the majority of weeks when going up against RAW. They had a few weeks where they beat RAW, they lost one week and then the next week Nitro begun the 83 weeks where Hall and Nash were both on the show. However, Hollywood Hogan wasn’t even there. Ted DiBiase wasn’t there. The “New World Order” hadn’t even been mentioned yet.

You want to know why WCW was more popular than the WWF? It was the better show. Look at my review of the episode of RAW I watched where all Goldust did was try to get together with the Undertaker. Shawn Michaels was having a silly affair storyline. Hardly any ratings draws at hand at this time for the WWF.

Compare that to WCW. Yes, we had the New World Order angle which was the biggest thing going in WCW. However, look at everything else. Look at the Cruiserweight division and guys like Jericho getting so over so quickly in that division. Ric Flair was unbelievably great, Sting had his own great storyline of WCW not trusting him. They had all sorts before the nWo even arrived.

Eric Bischoff saw the nWo popularity rise coincide with the ratings going up and was convinced that the nWo was the main reason why he was winning the war. I’m not trying to downplay this angle but I personally think if the nWo was not there, Nitro would still be beating RAW at this time. I don’t know if they would have beat them for 83 weeks but anyway, Bischoff dedicated the next three years of the show in order to promote nWo more than even WCW itself. It was nWo shenanigans over what was more important and what the fans wanted more than anything, which was wrestling.

I wanted to see… a match in that second hour. A legitimate match between two competitors trying their hardest to win which at the very least would have seen both competitors try to be competitive. I got 10 minutes of the Outsiders beating up two twerps, I got nWo guys destroying WCW geeks and I didn’t want that. This was Crash TV and ultimately when Vince Russo tried TOO MUCH of Crash TV, it resulted in WCW ratings plummeting even more.

Is there a place for shenanigans like this? Yes. Does it need to be all over the show (or at least the second hour)? No. That is the root of the problem. Too much of a good thing can really ruin it for us all.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #48 (AUGUST 12TH 1996) – THREE TITLE MATCHES AND THE OUTSIDERS VS STING AND LEX LUGER REMATCH

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 Hog Wild saw the next step in the New World Order’s plan to destroy WCW. The Outsiders defeated Sting and Lex Luger following shenanigans from a crooked referee in Nick Patrick. In the main-event, Hollywood Hogan and the nWo toppled The Giant in order to seize the WCW World Heavyweight Championship from WCW. The last image of the show saw Hulk Hogan spray paint “nWo” on the championship belt to deface the title and literally leave a black mark on the prestigious World Heavyweight Championship.

 

My thoughts on the post-Hog Wild edition of WCW Nitro are that there was a strong emphasis on the second hour of the show. There were a bunch of “filler” matches I guess in the first hour and then a huge line-up for the second hour. We had three title matches on the second hour, including Randy Savage vs Ric Flair and the Outsiders making their WCW Nitro debut in a rematch from Hog Wildagainst Lex Luger and Sting. Very interesting format for the show so I can only assume that Nitro were going up against RAW in that second hour and they wanted a really strong hour.

I think it worked. Firstly, Nitro won the ratings war against against RAW by 3.3 to 2.0, which I believe was the largest gap between the shows up until this point. Secondly, the second hour was actually a strong hour. We got two main-event worthy matches and they were putting in a lot of ground-work for future events, including a Hollywood Hogan vs Ric Flair match at Clash of the Champions. I thought this was a good episode as we move towards Fall Brawl.

 

Date: August 12th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Casper, Wyoming or as Larry Zbyszko called it, “in the middle of nowhere”

Rating: 3.3

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

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

 

 

The show started with Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko’s usual introductions, where Larry called out the Four Horsemen, Sting, Lex Luger and the Dungeon of Doom, a.k.a. the “brotherhood” of WCW, for not showing up to help Giant in the main-event of Hog Wild. I guess this was to play up the angle that WCW were not truly united yet in the fight against the New World Order.

 

“High Voltage” Kenny Kaos and Robbie Rage and “Rough and Ready” Dick Slater and Mike Enos vs “Dungeon of the Doom” Taskmaster, Hugh Morrus, Meng and The Bababarian w/Big Bubba and Jimmy Hart 

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This was probably the biggest clue that WCW didn’t really care for the first hour of the show. The opening match saw whatever was left of the Dungeon of Doom take on High Voltage and Rough and Ready! This was one of a few matches on this show where all I could think was “who put this match together?” It was… insane.

Taskmaster was in street clothes for this one. I wrote there were “massive boos for these guys coming out” which I think were related to High Voltage and Rough and Ready.  Hugh did a clothesline and the fans went nuts for the Dungeon of Doom during this match.

Dudes just started running into the ring at random. I don’t even remember there being a single tag in this match. Enos was pretty bad in this. Taskmaster just ran and attacked dudes like crazy and the referee just allowed it to happen and eventually it broke into a wild brawl. Kaos missed a dive by about 1000 miles. There was like no attempt by Kaos to make it seem like he was even remotely going to hit Meng on the floor. Meng hit a superkick and won via pin fall.

Rough and Ready beat up High Voltage and Dick Slater fell down trying to stomp on them and… this was just a giant massive mess. A clear indication that the first hour was not a priority even in the midst of this weekly wrestling television war!

 

Sting and Lex Luger and came down. Luger grabbed the mic and they said they would both have a sleepless night. Sting said they didn’t care about controversy from their match at Hog Wild. Sting and Luger made a challenge towards the Outsiders for right now as the fans got amped up. They wanted to see this fight and Sting weas urging them on to make more and more noise. Sting said if the nWo had the guts, they’ll show up to the ring right now. Sting said that it’s 2 on 2 and he whined that the nWo always picked their spot. They eventually gave up and I guess the ball was left in the nWo’s court to whether they accept the challenge or not.

 

Renegade vs Diamond Dallas Page

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There was not a lot to this match but I personally think it was one of the better regular DDP matches on Nitro in the last few months. I’ll break it down shortly but I did ask myself a question during this match… was there ever a reveal of who DDP’s benefactor was?

Remember when DDP became broke after Kimberly took all of his money in a match? He was down in the dumps and became homeless and then, a “mysterious benefactor” helped DDP get back on his feet. They’ve not made a reference to this in months. I did check and there was apparently no official reveal as to the identity of the mystery benefactor. Apparently DDP has said in interviews that he believed the angle would reveal that Kimberley was the benefactor all along. There was another name rumoured but this is for someone that has yet to arrive in WCW, so I won’t mention who the man or woman was that was also rumoured to be the benefactor.

Back to the match, DDP worked on the arm for a little bit. The men bounced off each other from the shoulder tackle attempt. DDP bumped his arse off for a Renegade shove then later proceed to smack Renegade with a lariat. DDP hit a swinging neckbreaker as they revealed the nWo would respond to the challenge later on in the show.

DDP put on a chin lock for a long time. Renegade almost sneaked his way into a win with a roll up. Renegade literally kicked the gum out of DDP’s mouth and did the comeback. Out of nowhere, DDP did a counter and hit a Diamond Cutter for the win. A decent Nitro TV match. Maybe I’m in the minority on this one but I thought it was alright.

 

The New World Order are shown sitting down backstage. Kevin Nash said they’ll do the match with Sting and Luger when they feel ready. Hall said they beat WCW at Bash at the Beach and Hog Wild and Hogan won the title at Hog Wild as well. They mentioned they heard some whining and crying about Nick Patrick and called him a “FINE senior referee.” Hogan mentioned a fourth and fifth member of the nWo. Hogan complained about the belt and wanted to redesign the belt with a “Buddy in Tampa.” Nash said whatcha gonna do when the nWo runs wild on you? Hogan said the WCW faithful would disown Sting and Luger if they beat them again.

This was a pretty bland nWo backstage promo. They were just sat down talking for a long time about embarrassing WCW, accepting challenge etc. and it wasn’t particularly interesting. I think it was their attempt to make it look like a shoot but it just looked bland. It really didn’t get me invested in the rematch. Sting and Luger did a far better job at hyping up this main-event earlier on in the show.

 

Konnan vs Jim Powers

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I wrote down “A mess of a match” and this match wasn’t even the worst thing Konnan did all night.

Konnan did some horrible punches and knees and then locked on an abdominal stretch. Powers got a huge pop out of a clothesline. I laughed when the commentators claimed Jim Powers was “very successful” in WCW. I’ll say it again, I don’t remember ever seeing Jim Powers win a match on Nitro!

I guess Konnan is a heel now because of what Hogan did. Fans chanted USA. Powers bounced Konnan’s head of the turnbuckle as he ran wild on Konnan. The fans were really into Powers here. Powers did a dropkick and Konnan could not just fall down to sell the move. Konnan instead twisted in the air and just fell down on his front. For god’s sake. Just take a bump to the mat and sell the move better.

Konnan reversed Powers charging at him with a kick and got a pin with his feet on the ropes. This was a poor match.

Mean Gene Okerlund interview Mexican Heavyweight Champion Konnan after the match. Konnan cut the most bipolar promo in WCW history up until this point! Konnan said Mean Gene’s opinions are irrelevant and mentioned the nWo have been stinking up the joint. Konnan mumbled about having a bulletproof plan. Konnan then said that he was sticking for WCW and told the nWo to look out and the fans booed. He cut a heel promo and then turned it into a babyface pro-WCW rally promo against the nWo. WHAT?

Man this was a bad promo from Konnan. This promo was so bad. Konnan just got totally lost with his own promo. If there was ever a man that needed a scripted promo to follow, I think we’ve found our guy. He just completely lost focus during this promo. This was the 1996 version of the Kalisto promo after the WWE Draft 2016 where Kalisto talked about making a good lucha thing! Awful stuff!

 

Ron Studd vs Chris Benoit w/Miss Elizabeth and Woman

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This was another one. My first note from this match was: “Who fucking put this match together?” In the morning of Nitro, Eric Bischoff, Kevin Sullivan or whoever it was started thinking: “OK. We need Chris Benoit to get a big win on Nitro to capitalise on his big win at Hog Wild. Who can we put him in the ring with?” They looked around the locker room and saw the former “Yeti” Ron Studd and decided to have Chris Benoit SQUASH this giant of a man in Ron Studd! WHAT IN THE… WHA WHAT?

It was so bizarre. How many wrestlers did WCW have on the payroll at the time? It was probably in the hundreds but I know they had like 200-300 wrestlers on their payroll at one time with hundreds of them not working at all. Lanny Poffo was signed to WCW and never worked a match during his time there! They looked at all the cruiserweights, all the big dudes and all of the technical wrestlers but the man they wanted Benoit to squash was RON STUDD this seven foot tall dude. The funny thing about this selection is…. the match ended up being GOOD!

Chris Benoit took this dude, who rarely ever wrestled in his life, and got a good match out of the guy by just getting the heat and chopping down the big man. He was chopping down this giant to show that he could chop down any giant in his path as a preview of his match with THE GIANT at Clash of the Champions! It was so simple and effective.

Elizabeth was a total babyface shaking the hands of the fans while walking nervously towards the ring. Benoit talked trash up to Ron’s face. Benoit slapped him in the face and then Ron grabbed him and stomped away at him and choked away at the Canadian. Benoit looked so tiny compared to this man. This worked visually in presenting Benoit as the clear underdog and showed what type of a mountain this man had to climb to beat this mountain of a man.

He chopped Ron down with a dropkick to the knee and worked on the leg as Ron screamed and wailed. As great as a match this was, Ron Studd sounded so unauthentic as he wailed on the floor “AAHHHH AAHHH AHHH.” He screamed like he stood on Lego rather than have his leg broken or snapped by Benoit! To Studd’s credit, he sold way more than Dean Ambrose usually would have in WWE.

Benoit wrapped Studd’s leg around the ring post. Benoit tried a shin breaker but Studd did a few elbows and a scoop slam to take over. Benoit pulled off a superplex on the big man to a huge pop as the fans loved Benoit. I don’t think I’ve ever someone the size of Benoit do a superplex to someone the size of Studd. Studd went up for the superplex and Benoit did a big superplex for the pinfall and win.

This crowd was so hot for this show and for Benoit as he called out the Giant by looking at the camera saying giants can be beat. I’ve seen a lot of tall guys the size of Studd worse than him and he had a decent match with Benoit! I would mostly give the credit to Benoit but I do think this match being put together raises an excellent point…

This was such a unique match in the way it was put together and just how crazy on paper it sounded but WCW still did it. They threw two wrestlers who didn’t look like they could fit together and the wrestlers tried their best to make something of it. I’m writing this on the 5th of April 2020 having watched WrestleMania 36. The majority of matches on the show with how they wawer put together and how they was formatted (I guess with the exception of the Boneyard match and the Bray Wyatt match) was exactly the same. All the styles were exactly the same. In this match in 1996, we got two clashing styles and it somehow WORKED!

Again, I may be in the minority, but this gets a THUMBS UP from me!

 

Mean Gene interviewed Benoit, Woman and Elizabeth. Mean Gene complained about being “light-headed” due to Woman. Benoit was facing Giant at Clash of Champions. Benoit put over Dean Malenko as one of the best technical wrestlers today and respected him but Benoit was a man with an agenda. The Horsemen had a agenda and Benoit said Giant was strong and big but he vowed to knock him down to size. The promo drifted off a little at the start but I think Benoit pulled off a decent promo by the end of it. He showed passion and I think this did a good job in building up that Clash of the Champions match.

 

“Harlem Heat” Booker T © and Stevie Ray (c) w/Col. Robert Parker and Sister Sherri vs “The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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I will echo the sentiments from Brandon Stroud from the The Best And Worst Of WCW Monday Nitro series with Upprox.com. Every week there’s a Harlem Heat match, and every week they find a stupider way to finish it. They had a stupid and over-booked finish at the Hog Wild show and they did another one here.

I do actually want to mention one thing about Hog Wild which I purposely did not mention but I will address it here. If you read my Hog Wild review, I did mention the spot where the fans were honking and revving up the bikes to get under the skin of Harlem Heat and they booed the hell out of them. Allegedly the fans were shouting out all kinds of racial slurs towards the Harlem Heat tag team during that event.

I never mentioned it although it was pretty clear that the Harlem Heat tag team were the most hated people during that show. In case you were wondering why I didn’t mention it, it was because my reviews are mostly focused on the wrestling aspects of the shows and I try not to mention anything that doesn’t relate to the wrestling aspect of it. For example, I was mad at the crowd for booing during the Chris Benoit vs Dean Malenko match which was tremendous. I have a rule to not discuss political, social attitudes and sensitive matters during these reviews. In case you were wondering, that’s why I never mentioned it during the Hog Wild review.

Eric Bischoff claimed: “he was taking care of business” for last week’s episode of Nitro and completely zoomed past Heenan’s question of where he was at Nitro and Hog Wild. The Steiners wasted little time and beat up and sent the Harlem Heat packing to the outside of the ring.

Scott did a powerslam and hit a sweet belly to belly suplex. The fans were super into the match and the Steiners and I think it was Stevie Ray that cut off Rick’s momentum. Scott tripped over a fallen Booker and came very close to not connecting with a clothesline. I got flashbacks to the Test/Steiner spot from Bad Blood 2003 where Scott completely missed a double axe handle (please read my WWE Bad Blood 2003 review at this link)!

Scott tried a suplex but Sherri grabbed Scott and Booker fell on Scott but Col Robert Parker stumbled into the pin when he ran away from Rick for the disqualification. It was creative for a cheap finish but was there any need to do a rematch between the tag teams if you’re basically going to do the same concept of a finish? Harlem Heat once again retained the titles after their managers got involved. This was just a complicated way to make sure that nobody “does the job” and effectively meaning that no-one got over.

Harlem Heat get hot at Parker after the match. Nick Patrick was the referee and the disqualification apparently proved to Bischoff that Nick Patrick was a fair official! There are storyline reasons for why certain characters are acting the way they are but for the purposes of not divulging spoilers to the uninitiated, I will leave it at that. This was an OK match.

 

Rey Mysterio Jr. © vs The Ultimate Dragon w/Sonny Onoo for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship

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Think of this match like an edited version of the PPV match. Dragon did all the stuff he did at the PPV. He got the heat on Rey by basically just getting all of his stuff in and then Rey got the roll-up out of nowhere and won!

This was a return match from Hog Wild. Dragon unleashed a few side kicks which Bischoff claimed was a great showcase of martial arts. Dragon did a springboard elbow smash. Dragon smashed Rey with a running powerbomb what Bischoff called a “sprint powerbomb”.

Rey cut off a Dragon dive with a foot to the face. Rey did a nice hurricanrana and a big plancha to the outside. Dragon cut off a dive to the outside with a dropkick. Dragon did a nasty dive to the outside himself.

Dragon hit a Dragon Suplex for a 2 count. Dragon hit a moonsault from the top rope. Dragon tried a powerbomb and Rey reversed it into a roll up for the win. A fun little TV match as Rey Mysterio was so happy about being the champion and Rey called out Malenko. Didn’t they mention at the PPV that Mysterio beat Malenko in a title match on WCW Pro? I find it weird that Rey would want a rematch with Malenko after already beating him twice before in the last month or so.

 

Ric Flair © w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth vs “Macho Man” Randy Savage for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship

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Eight months ago at WCW Starrcade, these two men were fighting in the main-event for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. I don’t know how this happened but eight months later, they were fighting for the US title and it was presented as a far bigger deal than this match was presented eight months previously. These two are supposedly in line for future WCW title shot anyway but I do find that interesting.

Savage ran at Flair but Flair cut him off. Savage smashed away at Flair with some punches. Savage choked away at Flair. Savage spat at Flair and Flair responded with a poke to the eye.

Flair used Elizabeth as a human shield but Elizabeth moved out of the way as Savage ran right at Flair. Savage lunged at Elizabeth as Ric got the heat on Savage. Savage fired back at Flair with some jabs. Savage did double axe handle as the fans were going crazy for Savage. Flair cut off Savage with a punch to the gut.

Flair did the chop block that apparently he stole from Nick Patrick! Woman got a kick in at Savage and then ran for her life! Flair got a Figure Four Leg Lock locked in as Flair grabbed the ropes whenever he could. Savage tried to reverse the pressure and Flair tried one last grab of the ropes but the referee saw it and eventually kicked Flair’s hand off the ropes as Savage finally reversed the pressure.

Flair accidentally clotheslined the referee which I actually loved. We don’t see many “ref bumps” during a Ric Flair match and here’s the reason why. Ric Flair is known as the dirtiest player in the game who does everything in his power to bend the rules! However, the referee was down. Therefore there was no rules to break for himself or for his opponent too! Not only could Ric do whatever he wanted, so could the Macho Man!

Savage hit a big double axe handle to the outside. This crowd was insane as Savage was looking to end this match and win the prestigious United States Heavyweight title. Savage started tearing up the mat on the floor. Then coming down to the ring with a chair was Hollywood Hogan…

Hogan came down with a chair. I’ve made jokes about how weak Hulk Hogan chair shots were in the past. Here, this was not safe in the slightest. Savage had his back turned and Hogan walloped Savage in the back of a head with a chair. It looked ridiculously nasty.

He hit him again with the chair to the back which did not look as bad. Referee Nick Patrick ran down to the ring asking for assistance with the injured referee as Hogan walked to the back. Then as soon as Flair went for the pin, Patrick ran into the ring and counted the pin!

I love that even though Randy Savage was knocked out with two Hogan chair shots, Flair cannot help himself but put his feet on the rope with Woman holding onto his legs! Because you see, Ric Flair must get the advantage at EVERY CHANCE he can!

They mentioned on commentary saying that Hogan did not make a move towards Flair, suggesting maybe Flair is with the nWo. This to me was a really fun match.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Hollywood Hogan. Hogan said the nWo took the WCW title EASILY and turned it into the New World Order title. Hogan said there’s no stopping the nWo. Hogan said he wanted to make sure that WCW still had such a high regard for Flair and didn’t want to have a mark on his body as he doesn’t want any excuses when he beats him in Denver, Colorado. He said Outsiders are here to clear up some busy. Once they are done with “Stinky” and “Flex Lexy”, the nWo were gonna rename people and categorise them with different names. He proclaimed that Ric Flair will be known as “the stupid little man.” Hogan told Flair if he could do what he did to the Booty Man at Hog Wild imagine what he was gonna do to Flair at Clash of Champions (Booty Man allied himself with Hogan and then Hogan turned on him Hog Wild in case you weren’t aware).

I think with names like “Stinky” and “the stupid little man” that Hogan was DETERMINED to get the fans to hate him! What stupid names he came up with! They were not clever but I don’t think he intended for them to be clever. This was not like Kevin Nash where he did everything in his power to make himself appear to be cool. Hogan was trying everything in his power to get booed! It certainly didn’t work at Hog Wild brother!

 

Sting and Lex Luger vs “The Outsiders” Kevin Nash and Scott Hall

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They confirmed it was “nWo time” and the match was on but no one could find the Outsiders. The Outsiders showed up through the crowd. I do like that there was a ECW-esque vibe to them walking out through the crowd as if they were actual outsiders. That I did think was cool and it was different to what everyone else was doing in that company.

Lex Luger came out but there was no Sting. Lex Luger ran wild with a  double clothesline as he smashed both men into each other. Sting eventually came out and did a big top rope clothesline to Nash.

Sting sent Nash to the outside with a clothesline as Luger sent Hall to the outside. The Outsiders tried to surround Luger and Sting but the babyfaces were ready for them. Sting did a springboard to the outside as they beat away at the heels. Nick Patrick appeared to pull Sting off of Nash which saw Nash take a cheap shot in order for the Outsiders to get the heat. Bischoff was more concerned and questioned why a man got throw over the top rope and this was not a disqualifcation!

I think Sting was waiting for a dive but Nash wasn’t ready so he got down off the top rope and just started beating up both men. Eventually, the big spot came when Patrick pulled Hall out of the way of a Stinger Splash from Sting as it was confirmed that the Outsiders had paid off Patrick. Nick Patrick was now I guess officially the nWo referee if not already established at Hog Wild.

The Four Horsemen eventually ran off the Outsiders as the match was I guess thrown out as Bischoff claimed “this bites”.

 

Mean Gene interviewed the Four Horsemen. Ric Flair however was the only man who talked. He said doesn’t like Sting and Luger but he’ll play ball with them cause they’re WCW. Flair yelled about Hogan calling himself to be the immortal. He said the first rule of fighting is never to outmatch yourself. He said Mongo was a match for Nash which I good a good kick out of. Can you imagine if they did Kevin Nash vs Steve “Mongo” McMichael? What a specatacle that would have been!

Flair kept going by saying Arn Anderson was a match for Hall and the “bussaw” Benoit would be a match for whoever the 4th man was. Ric Flair went nuts and said they were gonna run wild and style and profile horsemen style.

 

That was WCW Nitro. I thought it was a fun show overall. Certain aspects of the show which would look bizarre on paper actually worked and there were fun matches throughout the show. It felt like an easy to watch and digest overall. I enjoyed it at the very least. This shows gets a thumbs up!

In case you are wondering, I will be reviewing the main-event of the Clash of the Champions show referenced to during Nitro. It’s Hollywood Hogan defending the WCW title against Ric Flair. Think of it like a bonus match review as part of the series. I’m gonna review that match and then we’ll back with the Nitro review. I hope you enjoyed this review and be sure to follow the Armbar Express on WordPress to get alerts to future posts…

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s get into the review…

 

Date: June 16th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Balitmore, Maryland

Attendance: 9,000

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie and Dusty Rhodes

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ***

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **1/2

 

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

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

 

DDP vs Marcus Bagwell for the Lord of the Ring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **1/4.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fabulous stuff from the cruiserweights.

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

 

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

 

Big Bubba w/Jimmy Hart vs John Tenta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: *

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ***3/4

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ***1/2

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ***

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #37 (MAY 27TH 1996) – “THE OUTSIDER” SCOTT HALL INVADES WCW NITRO

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

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It is entirely possible that the episode of WCW Nitro I’m about to review could be the most famous episode of WCW Nitro ever. It was easily one of the most historically significant episodes in wrestling history. It was the first two-hour episode of Monday Nitro which is significant in its own right. Along with that, we had one of the most game-changing angles in not only the Monday Night Wars but in the history of wrestling. In the first hour, we saw the debut of a wrestler that started a “war” and it just felt like a switch was turned in my brain about this show.

We’ve reviewed episodes of Nitro where The Dungeon of Doom tried to destroy Hulkamania, The Giant was cutting goofy promos about eating people and it was just as much as corny as the “golden age” of the WWF. That’s not to say that the last 36 episodes have been terrible or makes wrestling embarrassing to watch, but it felt like a completely different ball-game compared to what’s going to be in store for us. As soon as a certain angle took place, it just felt like a different show.

With that being said… this was such a horrible wrestling show. A lot of the one hour episodes of Nitro have been at least decent and obviously only watching one hour is an advantage. We got another hour of wrestling but even still, this show had some of the most dirt worst wrestling you’ve ever seen. We got three matches in a row which felt like the worst back-to-back combination of matches in a wrestling show throughout the ages. Everything else felt like it was just there… with the obvious exception of a certain angle.

While we’re on the subject of that angle, even that angle didn’t age well in terms of the quality. It seemed to just come out of nowhere and if it weren’t for the significance of it and who was involved at the time, this segment would not be revered as legendary as it has been over the years.

Let’s get to this review…

 

Date: May 27th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Macon, Georgia

Rating: 2.8

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan

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Yes, you read that correctly. We are in the era of multiple announcers across one episode of wrestling. Tony Schiavonie called the first hour with Larry Zbyszko and the usual commentary team of Bischoff and Heenan called the second hour.

As convoluted as this may sounds, this was a more practical use of certain announcers. If you watch RAW or even certain pay-per-views, the announcers are calling three hour or even five hours of wrestling without any breaks in-between. Therefore, they get exhausted throughout the show and the fire is just not there for the big main-event matches later on.

The four announcers here for Nitro were all excitable for the hour they had to call and they had a lot more life to them. At least this, for now, prevented the tiring of announcers over the course of the show.

 

“American Males” Marcus Bagwell and Scotty Riggs vs Ric Flair and Arn Anderson w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth

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A very basic but effective little tag team match. However, this was not quite as effective as Miss Elizabeth was at blowing me away with her green dress as she came down with Ric Flair. She looked absolutely stunning walking down to the ring with the Nature Boy.

Larry Zybsko buried NFL players on commentary for some reason, which is a weird way to promote two NFL players battling Ric Flair and Arn Anderson in a big tag team match at the next pay-per-view. We’ll get to that later.

This was very much a battle between quick youngsters versus methodical, dirty veterans. Ric and Arn double-teamed Riggs on the outside. Ric and Arn punched them, chopped them and poked at them all over the place. The American Males took over. Bagwell ran wild on Flair as it broke into a four way. American Males clapped with the crowd as the faces had the heels on the rope.

Ric grabbed a champagne bottle from his table but eventually got back into the ring. Arn missed a clothesline and hit the ring post a.ka. “the pole” according to Larry. Bagwell punched his way out of the heels’ corner.

Flair caught Riggs’ legs on the apron and Arn took advantage. Tony and Larry enjoyed champagne I guess Flair poured out for them. The heels got the heat as Bagwell desperately wanted to interject himself into the match.

Riggs hit an enziguri to Arn, sending him outside. Riggs crawled to Bagwell as Ric and the referee had one of the all-time great shoving matches! Ric sold like crazy for referees pushing him down which was excellent to see.

Bagwell got the hot tag and ran wild. Bagwell did a small package but Arn turned the small package over but then Riggs turned it over again on Flair. Bagwell hit a fisherman suplex. Bagwell covered Flair but Woman gauged his eyes. Arn hit the DDT and Ric rolled himself into the cover for the win, literally just resting his arm on Bagwell!

I thought this was… OK. It was very basic and they did everything right and the fans were definitely into it. The American Males I still found to be very limited to what they can do and Flair and Arn did all they could to get a good match out of these two. Maybe I was hoping for something a little bit better. Regardless, I can still see that the four men worked hard out there so this gets a thumbs up.

 

Mean Gene interviewed the heels after the match. Arn told Kevin Greene and Steve “Mongo” McMichael that he never met a football player that he couldn’t walk over. He didn’t respect anyone that had to wear protective gear. He said in this sport it was man to man and hand to hand. Ric said while they were playing football, he’d been making up lost time with Debra (Mongo’s wife). Ric called Miss Elizabeth their sugar mommy with Savage’s money.

They showed Greene and Mongo working out and preparing for The Great American Bash. I hope I never wear what these two were wearing to the gym. Despite their fashion sense, they were still looking jacked and bulky. Not gonna like. A heads up, Ric Flair and Arn Anderson were set to face Kevin Greene and Steve “Mongo” McMichael at The Great American Bash. At least, that’s the billed match at the moment.

 

Scott Hall Debuts In WCW

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As soon as I saw The Mauler and Steve Doll come down for “a match”, I figured this was “the match” that would lead to the big angle previously alluded to earlier. Even if it wasn’t, WCW were in the middle of a wrestling war and they had these two guys out there for a wrestling match in the first hour?

The announcers said Randy Savage had been banned from any WCW televised event. I wrote a bunch of spots these two did but really, none of it mattered. During the match, the fans started to buzz and turn around. A tall dude in a sleeveless blue denim jacket walked around near the seats, which is hard to miss in its own right. In the midst of this crowd, a big dude made is way down to the ring. Of course, walking across the fans and over the guard rail is in fact… Razor Ramon.

It was like time had stood still. This was the WWF’s “Razor Ramon” in the eyes of the fans at the time. He didn’t say he was Razor Ramon but the people knew who he was. They only knew of this guy as Razor Ramon and so him appearing at a WCW show and asking for a mic it was mind-blowing to see for them. He grabbed the microphone as the action just stops. There was no finish to the match

I’ve just found a transcript of the entire promo this guy cut on a Fox Sports article. I did try to take down as much as I could about the promo but here it is in full:

“You people, you know who I am. But you don’t know why I’m here. Where is billionaire Ted? Where is the Nacho Man? That punk can’t even get in the building. Me? I go where ever I want, whenever I want. And where oh where is Scheme Gene? Cause I got a scoop for you. When that Ken doll look-a-like, when that weather man wannabe comes out here later tonight, I got a challenge for him, for billionaire Ted, for the Nacho Man and for anybody else in WCW. You want to go to war? You want a war? You’re gonna get one.”

This man leaves with security and… I will talk more about the premise of this entire angle later on in the review. Suffice to say, “Razor Ramon” a.k.a Scott Hall showing up on Nitro was a pretty damn big deal at the time. With that being said, if we’re being honest… this felt so underwhelming watching it 23 years later or so!

This dude just came through past security and he just cut a below-average promo at best and let. He just interrupted a random match and cut a weird promo, where he mumbled all over the place and even repeated the line about wanting a war. He took a long time getting to the point that he was bringing a war.

With that being said as well, even though it was hard for Hall to get to the point, this worked as a means of keeping the fans guessing. He never mentioned the WWF although that was the premise of the angle. It was actually really clever with the way they had a “WWF” invasion angle without actually having the WWF. Hall was just a guy coming over the barricade, known to be coming from the WWF, invading WCW and being an “outsider” and it was effective in making people question what was going on. It blurred the lines between reality and fiction for a lot of fans in a way that hadn’t been done effectively for years by either the WWF or WCW.

Bischoff tried to do “insider” references during these Nitros and he tried the Brian Pillman angle from Uncensored but Hall coming down and declaring a war while the announcers are not referencing him at all was effective at the time. Say what you will about the promo but it did work in getting people talking.

I do love that after this big angle with Scott Hall, Tony Schiavonie can’t help but ask what happened to the match!

 

Sgt, Pittman w/Teddy Long vs Diamond Dallas Page

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Remember when DDP was the #1  contender for the WCW World Heavyweight a week ago? He won the Slamboree battle bowl battle royal, he overcame 31 other wrestlers to earn this shot and the title shot was stripped away from him, unfairly if you think about it. After all of this, on this episode, he was just breezy. To be fair to DDP, The Shark randomly got a WCW title match this week on the grounds that The Giant chokeslammed him previously so I guess title matches weren’t that hard to come by.

DDP did the worst push-ups in the world… which actually fit his gimmick! Pittman showed him up with a one armed push up. DDP knocked himself loopy with a headbutt and fell out of the ring. DDP was tied up in the television cable again. DDP hit a jawbreaker on the rope to take control of the match.

Then we got the geek of the week moment from the w/c May 27th 1996. Pittman went for Code Red armbar “upside down.” DDP grabbed Pittman’s manager Teddy Long on the outside and just grabbed him, which led to no harm to Teddy Long. Pittman looked at Long, and DDP took advantage with a Diamond Cutter for the pin. Pittman came off like a complete geek with this finish. There’s nothing like a distraction finish to bury a babyface any worse.

GEEK OF THE WEEK – Sgt. Craig Pittman for distracting himself by looking at his manager after nothing happened to him.

 

They showed a highlight video package of the Randy Savage going crazy storyline.

 

Mean Gene interviewed The Shark. Mean Gene mentioned he’s no longer with the Dungeon of Doom. I guess The Giant chokeslammed Shark during a previous angle on Saturday Night and he got kicked out of the group, which actually led to a Giant vs Shark WCW title match later on which we’ll get to it.

Shark cut a promo about he almost ended Hulkamania and he was gonna hurt Taskmaster by winning the WCW title.

 

They showed another video package of Hulk Hogan hanging around with celebrities like George Foreman, Shaq, Dennis Rodman and Kevin Greene. They talked about Hogan raising money for charity with Sugar Ray Leonard too.

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That was the end of the first hour. If you looked at just the first hour of the show, this show wouldn’t seem so bad. Then we got the second hour which had to be the worst hour of wrestling I’ve ever seen. We got five more matches and the next three matches were some of the dirt-worst wrestling in the history of wrestling. This felt like the longest hour of my life.

 

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

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I love how Eric Bischoff jumped on commentary and he talked about how they weren’t going to dignify Scott Hall’s appearance but then proceeded to spend the entire second hour of the show constantly bringing it up. Bischoff even told Hall to come down at the end of the second hour, basically promoting another appearance at the end of the show.

I had a weird desire to watch this match but this was an absolute nothing match. I’m pretty sure that The Giant vs Loch Ness had to have been better than this match. Maybe I’m over exaggerating, but this was such a dull monster battle. At least the Loch Ness match was shorter.

Shark jumped Giant but Giant fired back with a big headbutt. The Shark tried to knock down Giant but Giant wouldn’t budge. Giant hit a big clothesline. Giant forced all of his weight on the stomach on Shark by standing on him. Shark punched away at Giant but was unable to lift the big man. Giant scoop slammed Shark.

Shark gouged at the eyes of Giant. Shark pulled off a clothesline from the middle rope, just barely. Shark got his hands on Jimmy which led to Giant taking advantage and chokeslamming Shark for the pin. Previously, The Giant’s title matches were somewhat interesting and in some cases good but this one was just boring. A boring big man match that just set the tone for the second hour.

Big Bubba came down to cut Shark’s hair.

 

 

Lex Luger © vs Maxx for the WCW Television Championship

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Maxx, previously Max Muscle, was back on Nitro. The announcers talk about Maxx’s haircut. Eric goes: “nice haircut Max” and Bobby, without missing a beat, said: “yeah, if you’re going to the chair.” In their defence, that was a bad haircut Maxx was sporting. It was some weird Mohawk he had going on which thankful never caught on.

Thankfully, these types of matches never caught on in wrestling either.

Luger ran wild with clotheslines and Maxx cut him off with a powerslam. Maxx got the heat. If you liked clotheslines, then this match was the match for you. These guys could do absolutely nothing. Clotheslines, forearms, punches, powerslams. It was pretty much four or five moves on repeat and this just kept going on and on and on. A wrestling website I found listed this match as going 5 minutes and 45 seconds. I felt for sure this was 5 hours long. Luger got Maxx up but eventually locked on the Torture Rack for the win and the fans went nuts.

Speaking of which, when was the last time we saw a torture rack on Nitro? It feels like forever since Luger has just been in tag team matches with Sting.

Either way, this match was god awful and went longer than it had any right to be. Luger should have hit a few clotheslines, locked on the Torture Rack and won. Instead, we got 5 minutes of god awful wrestling and then Luger struggled to get Maxx up on his shoulders for the finish. A HUGE THUMBS DOWN.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Lex Luger. Luger said he didn’t make the matches but nobody wanted The Giant more than the Total Package. They showed The Giant chokeslam from 2 weeks ago. He talked about how Giant didn’t try to win a match, as he just wanted to take Luger out but he was still standing. He wanted every big man WCW had before he got The Giant. If these matches were anything like the Maxx match, I’d rather they didn’t give Lex these matches!

 

Hardwork Bobby Walker vs Brad Amrstrrong

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The quality of the last two matches were pretty bad. In the defence of those matches, you could at least expect a below par match out of the likes of the still-green Giant and Lex Luger. This next match was even worse and sad part was that it had nothing to do with Brad Armstrong.

This Hardwork Bobby Walker was so atrocious during this match. Literally every “spot” he attempted during this match was screwed up and every single time, it was his fault. Brad did an monkey flip and Bobby was meant to land on his feet but he stumbled. Hardwork tried a crossbody from the top but lost his footing. When they realised Hardwork could not be trusted to do any actual moves, they wrestled on the floor for about 10 hours. Walker tried a small package and a backslide for near falls.

Walker couldn’t do a lucha libe crossbody without losing his footing. It was like a Rey Fenix-like spot where he would jump from the middle rope to the top rope and then do a dive but he screwed that up. Then Walker hit a crappy looking blockbuster for the win. I wrote that “this was shit” and that is being generous. This was the second worst match I’ve seen so far in this WCW Nitro series. This was a -3 star match worse than the horrific tag team match from Slamboree I gave -2.5 stars. Remember when I reviewed Eddie Guerrero vs Ric Flair last week and it was better than anything on WCW SlamboreeWCW Slamboree? Well this match was WORSE than everything on WCW Slamboree and think of the ground that covers.

I’m going to mention this very briefly as this is a sensitive topic to a lot of people. Hardwork Bobby Walker was part of a lawsuit where he and a bunch of other wrestlers filed a lawsuit against WCW for racial discrimination. Walker claimed that his Caucasian opponents were told to make him look bad and that he’d never win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Apparently these wrestlers were set to make African American wrestlers look “loud, obnoxious, pompous and shiftless.”

I’m not going to discuss racial discrimination as I’m not qualified to speak about it on so many levels. With that being said, clearly Walker did not watch this match before saying all of this. He mentioned that his “opponents” were out to make him look bad. He was in there with Brad Armstrong, who is Caucasian, and Brad was not responsible in any way for the spots screwed up in his match. That’s not even my opinion, that is pure fact. A lot of the spots where Walker coming off the top rope or doing something acrobatic, and it was down to HIM to make the spot look good. He messed it up. It wasn’t like Brad Armstrong used the force to make Walker slip. He was nowhere near these spots Walker was messing up.

I’m not going to say wrestlers were or weren’t acting discriminatory against Walker, but the idea that he believed other people were making him look bad is laughable if you watch this match. He made himself look bad in this match. As far as racial discrimination, that’s not for me to talk about.

Apparently when the WWF bought out WCW they came to a settlement with Walker and co. but my verdict on this match was Walker was guilty of crimes against wrestling in this match. He was so horrible. Minus 3 stars but this was honestly the worst match in WCW Nitro history so far. Not quite on the level of the Doomsday Cage match.

 

 

Lord Steven Regal vs Alex Wright

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This match wasn’t particular good but it felt like Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada compared to the last three matches. Wright took over for a bit. Wright did a dive to the outside as they cut to a break. Regal locked in a headlock and wore down Wright. Wright slammed Regal down for a belly-to-belly suplex.

Wright and Regal kicked and uppercut each other throughout the match, smashing away at each other. Not much to talk about with this match but eventually Regal dropped Wright on his head from the top turnbuckle. Regal pinned him with a bridge for the win.

Mean Gene interviewed Regal. Regal talked about Giant and Savage. He talked about taking out Belfast Bruiser. Regal said he’s not going anywhere and he should have his say around here. Regal made a challenge to the franchise Sting and if he won, he wanted a shot at the champion.. He said he wanted a shot at that “face painted clown.”

 

Sting vs His Good Buddy Scott Steiner

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The announcers constantly mentioned that Sting was facing “his good buddy” Scott Steiner in the main-event. Steiner took Sting down with an arm drag. Sting responded with a big hip toss. Scott did a big Gorilla Press to Sting. Sting went up high in the air as he delivered a big dropkick to Steiner.

Scott hit a tiger powerbomb and a belly to belly suplex. Scott hit a double axe handle from the top rope. Sting gave Scott a big boot as Bobby Heenan howled with laughter! Scott slammed him with a belly to belly suplex. Scott locked on the STF and an armbar onto the Stinger.

I loved the spot where Scott went for a suplex but Sting reversed into a Scorpion Death Drop. It went down smoothly as Sting turned things around. Sting fired back with a Stinger splash but when he went for another one, he missed. Scott dropped Sting with a dragon suplex.

Lex Luger came down to cheer for Sting and Rick Steiner, in the worst shorts known to man, came out to cheer on Scott. Rick was out in a big, extra-large tie dye shirt and grey cap and striped shorts, which could have actually been his ring attire underneath now that I think about it. Either way, it was not a good look for Rick. 

Scott hit an high-angle slam from the top rope. Sting locked on the Scorpion Deathlock but Scott got the rope. Sting reversed a tombstone piledriver into one of his own for a near fall. Sting went for a big splash in the ring but Scott got the knees up.

Sting suplexed Scott over the top rope but Scott landed on his feet, went for his own suplex on the floor but Luger broke that up. Rick went after Luger. A big brawl broke out between the tag teams and the match was thrown out. The babyface wrestlers tried to break everybody up.

This match was not bad and it parts was actually decent, but it was a victim of the rest of the matches on this show. Vince Russo has a theory that people don’t want to watch long wrestling matches on a television show. If you watch a lot of WWF Attitude Era stuff, a lot of the matches are short as in his eyes, crash TV angles were all the rage at the time. I don’t necessarily believe that theory but if you watch the way the show went down, we got a bunch of boring nothing matches that nobody cared about. After that, we get a long main-event MATCH at the end of a two-hour wrestling show and it just did nothing for me as a viewer. It was just a match and it ended in a typical disqualification.

Maybe in my brain, I think I conditioned myself to except a shorter match than they delivered. If you remember last week’s main-event, The Giant vs Arn Anderson, that lasted about four minutes or so.

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Scott Hall came back out and interrupted Eric Bischoff with a microphone. He said Bischoff had a big mouth and “we’re” sick of it. Bischoff constantly asked “whose we?” during this segment. Hall said: “This is where the big boys play? What a joke. Tell billionaire Ted and get three of his very best.” He named-dropped the Nacho Man or the Stinger. He told Bischoff to get anybody they want because they are taking over. He repeated the war line from earlier and they wanted to war it out in the ring where it mattered. Not on mircophones, newspapers, dirtsheets, he said let’s do it in the ring where it matters. He said they were taking over as Bischoff and Bobby looked flustered to end the show.

The closing promo I think was a little better, as at least it gave his ramblings a little direction. He mentioned a six-man tag team match, which you all know where this ended up going but the fans were still in the dark about who Hall’s two other men were in that trio. They just saw it as possibly WCW vs WWF in a match, which was big enough for them. It was left up for speculation and they had about 6-8 weeks to promote the big six man tag team match and build anticipation for “war” in WCW.

I do want to give credit to Eric Bischoff credit here. Every single week on Nitro, Bischoff had been taking shots at the WWF. I, obviously knowing the outcome of the Monday Night Wars, have questioned every single time he took shots at the WWF. It would eventually backfire on him many years later which we’ll get to when we make it to 1999 in this series. However, his shots had a storyline purpose because of this promo.

Scott Hall from the big bad WWF, after hearing all of Bischoff’s jokes and digs at the WWF, basically told him we’re sick of it. Bischoff had put his foot in his mouth as it was put-up or shut-up. This was blurring lines in reality again and when a “WWF” guy decided to take action, Bischoff’s suddenly all shaken up by it at the end of the show. I loved that aspect of this storyline.

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That was the show. It was without a doubt the worst Nitro we’ve seen so far. It feels a bit unfair to dub the first two hour Nitro the worst Nitro but it wasn’t like either hour was particularly great. It started with a decent tag team match but was filled with such horrible matches up and down the card. Even the historic angles weren’t that interesting to watch upon a rewatch many years later.

Either way, it is a completely new direction for the company in the storyline and it very much shakes up the business going forward.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #16 (DECEMBER 18TH 1995) – WWF WOMEN’S CHAMPION ALUNDRA BLAYZE DEBUTS ON WCW NITRO

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

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The ever confusing WCW World title picture has gotten even more confusing in WCW as of late. WCW announced a triangle match between Sting, Ric Flair and Lex Luger at Starrcade with the winner facing Randy Savage at the end of the night for the WCW title. 2 weeks ago, Savage defended the title against Luger but ended in a disqualification when Hulk Hogan ran down and broke up the pin. Last week, Savage vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan was also booked for Starrcade while Luger claimed himself to be the uncrowned WCW Champion. Then, they randomly announce that Randy Savage is also set to defend the WCW title the next week against The Giant. If that’s not confusing enough….

…the on-going drama with Sting, Lex Luger, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage just kept GOING AND GOING. Sting and Hogan tagged against Ric Flair and Arn Anderson in the main-event of last week’s show. Hogan and Sting bickered, Lex Luger ran down and attacked Hogan, Savage made the save, Sting punched Savage and then they all kissed and made up. The same old storyline with Lex Luger with seemingly no end in sight.

 

Date: December 18th, 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Augusta, Georgia

Rating: 2.7

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

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We kick things off with an infamous WCW angle which was one of the bigger shots fired by WCW at the very start of the Monday Night Wars. The commentators are talking about the show and who should come out but WWF Women’s Champion Alundra Blayze…

….yup, this is THAT segment…

Alundra grabs the mic and cuts a promo. I almost got this down word for word on my notes but this was pretty much her promo for her WCW debut.

“I am Madusa. Always have been Madusa, always will be Madusa. This is the WWF Women’s Championship belt,” says the formerly known as Alundra while Bischoff goes “woah”.

Alundra grabs a trash can conveniently right next to the announce table and drops the title into the trash can.

She proceeds: “And that is what I think of the WWF women’s belt. I am WCW. I used to be called Alundra Blayze but now I’m Madusa. They call this the place where the big boys play. Now it’s the place the big girls play.”

Alundra, now going by Madusa, leaves the booth. Eric Bischoff grabs the title, shows it off… and put its back in the trash can. Then William “The Refrigerator” Perry, NFL star, makes his way to the announce booth to squeeze the hand of Bobby Heenan.

My notes after all of this reads…

“That was it?”

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In hindsight, this was an absolutely atrocious segment. Madusa comes out randomly on the start of Nitro. She cuts a god awful promo. The verbiage was just so wooden but not nearly as wooden as her delivery. She drops the title and she mentions that “that’s what I think of the WWF women’s belt” like the WWF is beneath her. She says that at a time where WCW doesn’t even have a women’s division. I’ve seen exactly two women’s matches since this Nitro series began. It was the same tag team match with the same four people and they both came over from Japanese wrestling promotions. If the WWF women’s division is so bad, what does that say about WCW?

The one thing she had coming in that would have made her like a truly big star in WCW, similar to how Ric Flair showed up on WWF TV with the WCW title, is her parading around with the women’s title. She proclaims herself as the one true champion and tells WCW to make it official, it could lead to a tournament to fight Madusa to see who is the true champion. But no, she doesn’t even have the title and she disregarded the title as meaningless… in a nothing 2 minute segment which was shortly sidetracked by William Perry.

Now maybe I’ll be wrong and this may end up into a great angle similar to what I suggested. Spoiler but we do get a women’s title in WCW and that title is retired in 1997. So my gut is that it wasn’t very successful at all… call it a hunch.

I would also call this unsuccessful on the grounds that the WWF actually filed a lawsuit as a result of this angle!

 

Ric Flair vs Eddie Guerrero

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Remember a month ago or so when they were building Ric Flair vs Eddie Guerrero on Nitro? Eddie was set to face Flair in a match but Flair pulled out and he was replaced with Brian Pillman? All of this time later, we finally get the match… and Eddie Guerrero gets no entrance as Flair makes his way down to the ring.

The fans loved Flair in this one as he played around at the start of the match. In the middle of all of this, they announce RIC FLAIR is getting a WCW title match next week?

OK….

Brief Intermission from the review of this match

So to recap, Lex Luger and The Giant both received WCW title shots in the last couple of weeks. Luger got his title shot a few weeks ago and Giant got his title shot on this episode of Nitro. Luger got a title shot because he beat Savage at World War III right before Savage won the title. The Giant got a title shot because he was the champion but got stripped off the title and never got a one on one singles rematch. FINE. Both those explanations make sense as to why they both got title shots.

Ric Flair?

Obviously, I understand that he is Ric Flair. However, based on his win/loss record since he turned heel again at Halloween Havoc, what on Earth has Ric Flair done to earn a title shot? I don’t even remember the last time he won a match on Nitro. He may have won matches on Saturday Night. However, Flair was in the Starrcade triangle match anyway and now HE’S getting a title shot?

Him and The Giant are both on probation and they’re getting title shots. If you think about it, the one person that has the greatest claim to a title shot nowadays is Hulk Hogan who is also on probation. Hogan has not been mentioned once, at least up until this point. Hulk Hogan unfairly lost the WCW title and he wasn’t even beaten for it. He was never eliminated from the World War III battle royal and Flair and Giant are both getting title shots before him.

I know I’ve made fun of Hogan’s character as just a whiner on this show but if you look at what’s happened, he has every right to be pissed!

…back to the match

In singing Flair’s praises, Bobby Heenan brings up Flair’s a 11 time champion at this point and asks the question of “how many of you humanoids did anything 11 times well?” Eddie dropkicked Ric in the back of the head and Ric did an amazing flop for the sell. Eddie slapped Ric in the face and then styled and profiled himself, to which Flair got proper bugged eyed with fury! The fans actually booed when Eddie did this.

Eddie missed a dropkick and Flair goes a Figure Four Leg Lock but Eddie reverses this into a small package for a near fall. This was turning into a very well paced match that suited Ric’s old school style and Eddie’s ability to adapt to just about any pace of a match. Flair got the heat as he chopped away at Eddie and did some knee drops. Eddie fired back as Eric Bischoff referenced some Mike Tyson fight.

Eddie hit a tornado DDT. Eddie actually managed to pull off a hurricanrana spot with RIC FLAIR of all people. It actually also looked very well executed too. Ric was dizzy and hit the ropes to send Eddie crashing onto the floor. Eddie grabbed his knee and Ric went immediately for the knee. Solid use of ring psychology which shouldn’t come as a surprise when Ric Flair and Eddie Guerrero are both involved.

Ric stomped on Eddie’s leg. Ric locked on the Figure Four as Ric grabbed the ropes for leverage but Eddie refused to give up. Ric slapped at him but Eddie yelled “Noooooo!” Eddie fought and fought and fought and fought but Eddie eventually passed out and Ric PINNED him with a Figure Four.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Flair pin somebody with the Figure Four before! I actually thought this was a clever finish. They got Eddie over as a babyface who refused to give up, even against a 11 time world champion. This was a solid match that told a good story and had an excellent finish and it definitely would have helped Eddie. Whether they follow up on this the right way remains to be seen…

 

Arn joined Ric in the ring as Mean Gene came down as well. Ric went to attack Eddie and Mean Gene yelled him “HEY KNOCK IT OFF, or I’ll cut this interview!” Arn said he respected Paul Orndorff but for every reaction, there’s an opposite or equal reaction. In case you don’t remember what happened last week, the Four Horsemen took out Paul Orndorff with a spike piledriver. Arn said the Horsemen does not put personal achievements above the group and you don’t jump the Horsemen.

Taskmaster ran down and put Arn and Ric over. Mean Gene pointed Ric towards the hard cam like a true professional! Taskmaster was upset that Brian Pillman knocked the Dungeon of Doom during his promo last week. I don’t remember Pillman knocking the Dungeon of Doom unless he’s referring to Pillman taking a shot at the Zodiac. Taskmster said they better put Brian Pillman on a short leash. Ric said no problem but Arn grabbed the mic sand said that if you come looking for Pillman, you mess with the Horsemen. Taskmaster said there are no allegiances in WCW and left.

 

Sgt. Pittman interrupted the announcers now. So that’s THREE times that the announcers have had somebody interrupt them at the booth in one episode. Pittman said he’s been doing a lot of sneaking and peaking and found that Bobby Heenan was one of the best managers of all time. He wanted Bobby to manage him. Bobby said he didn’t manage anymore as he’s a broadcast journalist but Bobby will help him find a manager. Pittman said if he doesn’t get help, he won’t be taking any prisoners.

 

Lex Luger w/Jimmy Hart vs Marcus Alexander Bagwell

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I’m gonna get the positives out of the way regarding this match… at least Lex Luger is getting some wins under his belt all of a sudden and is looking more of a threat. Remember when Luger kept getting beat on Nitro and Hogan made him look weak and the time he lost to Meng? Now he’s on a winning streak…

…that’s about where the positivity ends…

This was a typical Luger match where he gets blown up and does a horrible job with selling. Bagwell got some offense including a monkey flip. Luger got the heat. Bagwell ran wild. Bagwell went for a splash but Lex got the knees up and then hit the powerslam. Luger locked on the torture rack for the win.

That’s pretty much all you need to know.

Mean Gene does an interview with Luger and Jimmy Hart. Jimmy said Luger is the uncrowned champion. Luger said he’s breathless with anticipation… nothing to do with him completely blown up of course. Luger said he’d take the title and said Savage should give up.

 

Pittman and Cobra are set to wrestle each other for what seems like the 100th time as of late and this match is plugged for Saturday Night. How exciting…

 

Sting vs Earl Robert Eaton w/Jeeves

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So right before this match, these announcers have the temerity to plug that Sting was going to be on WCW Saturday Night to do an interview about his friendship with Lex Luger. After MONTHS and MONTHS of this storyline, they wanted you the fans to tune into WCW Saturday Night to watch Sting TALK more about this never-ending storyline.

Eaton started off with a headlock and Sting pushed him off, doing a leapfrog and then pushing Eaton high in the air with his feet.

This was a basic but rather boring match. The fans were bored and did the wave. Sting did a hip-toss which led to Eaton delivering a backbreaker. Eaton missed a top rope knee drop. This led to Sting hitting the Stinger Splash and locking on the Scorpion Deathlock for the win.

Bischoff said Sting is “on a roll like a freight town going down hill”… very much the entire story of WCW’s existence.

So after plugging that we’ve got an interview with Sting on Saturday Night, Mean Gene comes out to do an interview with Sting… ON NITRO. Again, why would I wanna watch WCW Saturday Night on TBS or whatever channel they were on.

Mean Gene said: “Sting, we’ve got to discuss what’s going down at the triangle match at Starrcade.” Sting said he’ll not forget what Flair did to him and “what he did to all of those kids,” referencing the angle where Flair got all of the fans in the ring to get Sting to team with him. Sting said he was upset by Luger not mentioning his name when talking about going through the roster during his earlier promo. Sting says he’s been a five time WCW Champion and he wants to be the six time champion.

 

Randy Savage (c) vs The Giant w/Taskmaster and Jimmy Hart for the WCW Championship

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Bischoff reminds us that Randy Savage has an injured arm which, if you’ll recall, Hogan basically claimed was fake news during World War III. So I guess, in WCW storyline, Savage is ACTUALLY injured… well he’s actually injured in real life in 1995 but now they’re properly acknowledging it.

Savage starts with the ill-advised tactic of jumping onto The Giant’s back to choke him out. Giant stumbles around the ring to fight it but Giant slams him down. Giant goes to work and locks on a bearhug. Giant tries a chokeslam but Savage rakes him in the eyes. Savage tries multiple clotheslines to take the challenge down but Giant catches him, carries him around “like a child” according to Bischoff and delivers a backbreaker. It was actually a well done spot.

The Giant misses a splash and Savage counters with an elbow drop but The Giant flings Savage in the air as a kick out. The Giant actually unleashes a dropkick during this match. The Giant tries a suplex on the floor but Savage somehow grabs the rope to avoid being slammed onto the floor. How they pulled off this spot so well is beyond me. I’ve never seen a spot like this.

Here is the Armbar Express’ Geek Of The Week sponsored by the Filthy Four Daily show from Figure Four Online! Bryan Alvarez would be proud of this one. The Giant hits a chokeslam and wastes his god damn time posing. Nobody, to my knowledge, has kicked out of this chokeslam yet. He poses and poses during a World Heayvweight Championship match. Giant does a leg drop and then Hogan runs in to hit Giant with a chair for the DQ. The Giant came off like a complete idiot.

I probably should have awarded “Geek of the Week” if you will to Randy Savage since, yet again, Savage is saved from losing the title because of Hulk Hogan running down to cause a DQ. He’s never been able to defend the title by himself yet.

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So Hogan goes crazy. He whacks the referees with a chair, attacks some kinda official as well. I have no idea who he was but Hogan laid him out too. Hogan attacks Giant, attacks Taskmaster. Fans are going CRAZY FOR THIS by the way as this is going on. Mongo and William Perry try to calm Hogan down. Hogan then goes into the ring to check on Savage. The fans chant Hogan, Hogan, Hogan. This was actually a very well done segment, other than burying Savage as the champion, that got a lot of positive reaction from the crowd. They loved Hogan going crazy. A complete 180 from last week’s show where Charlotte, North Carolina booed Hogan out of the building!

Mean Gene interviewed Hogan and Savage. Mean Gene said Hogan risked the chance of being suspended. The Giant tries to get down of the ring again as Taskmaster and two security guard are able to pull The Giant away. Hogan takes a massive swing at the head of Giant, Taskmasker and a security guard. The heels flee. Hogan said he’s sick of this probation. Hogan says Savage owes Hogan a title shot. Hogan says he knows Savage can beat Ric. Savage says he has to get past Starrcade. Savage says right after we’ll get that match the world has been waiting for in Hogan vs Savage. Hogan I think said he has respect for the NFL players in the football field. He says don’t try to step onto their turf, they will get laid out. Savage and Hogan celebrate with Hogan’s music.

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So I’m not sure what to make of this. So right after all of these matches, title shots and Starrcade main-events are set up, then Hogan gets a title shot after Starrcade, This does not help with the build to Starrcade at all. This makes Hogan’s title shot seem way more important than the triangle match and the title shot at Starrcade. If that’s the case, why should I care about Starrcade? They’re just starting too many fires or potential storylines and not focusing on the PPV in front of them. And on top of all of this, Flair is getting a title shot next week?

Now, I haven’t looked at the results for next week’s show. I don’t know who wins and loses this match but it did seem weird to me that Flair of all people is getting a title shot. Luger and Giant had legitimate claims to a title shot. Flair does not. So either Flair is being fed to Savage in order for Savage to get a legitimate title defence under his belt or… they’re putting the belt on Flair next week because Savage is injured.

Or maybe it’ll end in a disqualificaiton…

 

That was my Nitro review. Bland in part but one of the more excitable Nitros as of late. Eddie vs Flair was good and the closing segment with Hogan going crazy was good. I still think the Starrcade build is pretty poor but they do have one more week before Starrcade so maybe next week will turn things around.

Stay tuned for our review of next week’s show where Ric Flair is the next man to challenge Randy Savage for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship!

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

Retro Express – Bad Blood 2003

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Once upon a time, WWE used to be pretty big on building up interesting storylines for their wrestlers. From the opening act to the main-eventers, everyone involved in the show had a reason for being there. On Bad Blood, as amazing as it is, everyone on this show had a reason for being there. Everyone from Theodore Long at ringside for the opening match to Mick Foley as the special referee in the main-event. As simple as this show was put together, did the storyline work pay off with RAW’s first brand-exclusive US pay-per-view of 2003?

 

WWE Bad Blood 2003

Date: June 15th 2003

Brand: RAW

City: Houston, Texas

Attendance: 10,000

 

The Dudley Boyz vs Christopher Nowinski and Rodney Mack w/Teddy Long

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As mentioned earlier, this was a heavy storyline time for WWE. Every little program on Monday Night RAW in 2003 did its best to tell a storyline, including this simple tag team match with the Dudleyz facing Rodney Mack and Christopher Nowinski. Teaming up the Harvard graduate Nowinski with the new up-and-comer Rodney Mack, combined with the black supremacy advocate Teddy Long as their manager, was a bizarre combination to say the least. However, at least they got something. Not that I’d want to do an angle like this or anything, as I wouldn’t, but at least it gave the audience a reason to take notice once they got on television.

They did a backstage segment on Heat where Teddy Long pestered D-Von Dudley, questioning why his brother Bubba always told D-Von the get the tables. At least there was more to this match than just throwing two tag teams together. Giving D-Von an angle going into this match at least gets fans interested in him. Rodney Mack was also undefeated going into this event.

Mack and D-Von began angry lock-up before the match even began. We got early “we want tables” chant. Mack had a seriously hard time selling for the Dudleyz. The Dudleyz started off well and Bubba was a great babyface but then the distraction came from Teddy. Teddy was on the apron distracting Bubba and Bubba began waiting for Mack to jump him. He waits and waits and waits until Mack came in to throw a horrible clothesline.

We got a “Harvard sucks” chant directed at Nowinski. Mack hit a pretty decent spinebuster. Bubba got the hot tag, which included the big man hitting a top rope crossbody onto Nowinski! Keep in mind, this was not the slimmest guy in the world! A big man flying like that is very much a joy to see!

Nowinski, who was wearing a metal face protector worth $30,000 according to Jim Ross, tried to use it to no avail. Mack went for the “Black Out” submission but it was countered. The Dudleyz hit the “Wassup” while Teddy was yelling on the apron. Bubba told D-Von to the table but Teddy got in his way, tying into the segment from earlier. Mack attacked D-Von from behind while Nowinski hit Bubba with the metal mask and pinned him.

This was a slightly-below average tag team match with Mack being rather sloppy while the Dudleyz tried their best to get a good match out of him. Nowinski seemed to just be there. In terms of promoting new talent, the right team won. In terms of who the better workers were however, the wrong team won.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler talked about the Redneck Triathlon scheduled between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff. The Redneck Triathlon would consist of three rounds, with the first round being a burping contest and the second round being a “pie-eating” contest. Jerry was excited for the pie-eating contest. Now, I remembered the beginning and the end of this Redneck Triathlon. The pie-eating contest was what I couldn’t remember and it did strike me as odd regarding Jerry’s comment about the pie-eating contest. In hindsight, I should have known what that pie-ating contest was ACTUALLY about. More on that later.

We began with the burping contest, with JR claiming to have once won a burping contest in the eight grade. Both gladiators were stood with Terri Runnels doing the introductions while Stone Cold drank beer. Terri went over the rules as Stone Cold did starfish jumps, which is the perfect way to prepare for a burping contest. There would be three rounds of burps, with the loudest combined burps winning the contest. Bischoff went first and delivered a weak burp. This was probably the only legitimate burp in the whole thing. Then it was Austin’s turn. Some may have been upset that the majority of the burps were all sound effects pipped in by the production group and it that it was not a legitimate burping contest. However, this burp was delivered so well that you just couldn’t not laugh at it. Jim Ross’ and Jerry Lawler’s laugh after Austin “unleashed” this burp was great! This was exceptional delivery by production and by Stone Cold’s expressions.

Austin demanded another beer as Eric did his second burp. It was a decent attempt by Eric but Terri was disgusted.  Austin had a pretty weak second burp, which the Texas crowd loved. Eric was also disgusted by this and then delivered his third burp, which was slightly above average. Austin got the last laugh as he unloaded with a long final burp, with the later part of it sounding like a toilet was being flushed!

Austin won and then delivered a post-contest promo, congratulating Eric on being a good competitor and himself for winning such a competition. His UFC-like promo was actually pretty funny! Eric told Austin to see a doctor and that was that. Austin was 1-0 up in the Redneck Triathlon.

Moments like this really made me love the Austin and Bischoff co-general manager deal, with Eric almost coming off as likeable as he was involved in these funny angles with Austin. The crowd loved this burping contest as did I.

 

Test vs Scott Steiner for the managerial services of Stacy Keibler

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A lot of you reading this might not believe your eyes but Scott Steiner is probably one of my favourite wrestlers of all time. This guy was just one-of-a-kind in terms of his in-ring style, his promos and just the character as a whole. I ALWAYS paid attention whenever this guy was around.

In WWE around this time though, he hadn’t had the greatest of starts since his return at Survivor Series 2002. His program with Triple H, including a truly devastatingly bad World title match at Royal Rumble 2003, had seen Steiner’s stock drop significantly. Now he’d been put with Test and Stacy Keibler, as the two vied for the affection of the lovely Stacy.

This match was by FAR not one of the greatest technically gifted matches I’ve ever seen. I can’t even consider this a good match as far as the in-ring side of things is concerned. As far as the entertainment however, this match was in a league of its own and mostly because of Steiner.

One of the other highlights of this match was Stacy Keibler, who looked amazing on this particular show. Stacy tried to get in the ring but her “ex” Test yanked her off the apron to berate her. As amazing as it sounds, the spot that followed was one of the highlights of the entire pay-per-view and it was the mother of all botches! Scott got onto the apron as he had to save this love interest, who was in peril at the hands of the bad guy. This was Mario saving Princess Peach from Bowser. Mario would jump in and save the day. Scott Steiner ALSO decided to jump in and save the day! He leaped off the apron but didn’t have his balance right, so he slipped and plummeted down. He landed on the floor but at least he had the instinct to put his hands up for the double axe handle that had obviously been the original spot. He drops down, hits Test in the knee and Test slips as if he slipped turning around in the shower. This was one of the all-time great botches in the history of wrestling and it was actually a lot more entertaining than if he had just successfully pulled off this double axe handle!

So Scott Steiner beat up Test and when they got into the ring to start the match, Test begged off Steiner. Now, there have been many babyfaces that have fallen for this obvious trap set by the heels to lure him into trouble. These spots make the heroes seem like such fools. Scott Steiner was not like that as instead of backing off, Steiner said “Nah. Fuck You!” and beat up Test some more! Not that I’d encourage wrestlers to swear as they’re on the rampage but I laughed so hard at this. I’m just amazed that my DVD didn’t censor this moment as Steiner unloaded with swearing throughout this match. Steiner wasn’t having any of Test’s shenanigans.

Steiner did some press-ups and began yelling at the referee. Test used Stacy as a human shield to gain the advantage. Test then threw Steiner into the steps. I know a lot of people had mixed opinions about Test as a performer, who sadly passed away in 2007. All I’ll say is that he was effective in making people hate him! That’s a key part to be a good villain, having an unlikeabillity factor that even “great” in-ring work can’t get around. The douche level of Test’s character was high as he mocked Steiner and yelled “wait until tonight” at Stacy as he blew her a kiss. The fans chanted “you suck” as Test got the heat. Test did a sleeper hold as the fans rallied behind Steiner with “lets go Steiner” chants. Jim Ross had a very nice line about Stacy when he said that her heart was as beautiful as her face. He was… damn on point.

Steiner damn near killed Test when Test came off the top rope and Steiner caught him by the waist, and dropped him over his shoulder which I think was meant to be a belly-to-belly suplex. I like Steiner but Test must have been fearing for his well-being when Steiner caught him by the waist! Jim Ross called this a Northern Light suplex turned into a slam. Steiner ran wild. Test bounced off the rope and it appear that he was going up to take a back drop but he leaped up, and Steiner caught him in a powerbomb position. Steiner simply threw him over his shoulder and continued to run wild. This was NOT the best night for Steiner in terms of his in-ring wrestling.

Steiner kicked out of a Full Nelson Slam. Test missed a big boot but Scott hit a sloppy reverse DDT. This got a near fall and Steiner’s reaction was to simply yell “HUH?” at the top of his lungs! That was very funny. Steiner hit a pumphandle slam for a near fall. Test undid the turnbuckle when Stacy popped up on the apron. Test grabbed Stacy and said some very non-PG and not nice things about Stacy, calling her names. Stacy slapped him and Steiner almost bumped into Stacy. Test hit a big boot out of nowhere which I honestly thought was the finish! Steiner kicked out. Test grabbed the chair and pushed Stacy away with it. Test went to hit Steiner with the chair and instead hit the ropes, bouncing the chair back to hit his own head. Steiner hit the flatliner and won the managerial services of Stacy. Stacy was happy and leaped onto Steiner in celebration. Stacy got off Steiner and then began selling her backside, implying that Test’s chair push was a lot more mighty than we realised.

This was an entertaining match to watch but not by any means a good one! We had some very noticeable botches from Steiner but the heat was there for this match. Test was a good heel. The match picked up with the finish and the bully Test was in the end overcome as the two babyfaces stood up against him. Even Stacy was being brave as Test eventually let his cockiness get the best out of him and paid for it. This was fine, simple story-telling.

Match Rating: **

 

Bischoff and Stone Cold talked backstage. Stone Cold described burping as being an “art form” in Texas, which was a great line. Eric vowed to win the pie-eating contest. Eric said he did some research and invited Austin to meet some ladies, that were set to take part in the pie-eating. By taking part, I don’t mean actually eating real bakery. Apparently, THEY were the pie. In case you were wondering, this show was NOT PG in the slightest.

Eric wanted first dibs on eating the “pie” and Austin allowed this, as long as he decided what pie Eric was going to eat first. I can’t have been the only one that could see where this was going, and I’d never seen this pie-eating contest before.

 

Christian (c) vs Booker T for the Intercontinental Championship

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Picture this in your head. RAW had just recently reinstated the Intercontinental Championship that they inexplicably retired at No Mercy 2002. Christian won the title in a battle royal. Christian made his first defense of the title in a promising match between himself and Booker T, who happened to be from Houston, Texas where the Bad Blood pay-per-view was being held. You had all the potential in the world to make these two actual top stars on the red brand. The fans were going nuts for Booker T in one of the most heated moments in the entire show. This could have been something really special. Not like in the level of Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat from WrestleMania III but a memorable match that’ll be remembered through the ages. Well, spoiler alert, but that didn’t happen.

On a show which included MANY non-wrestling segments featuring Stone Cold and Bischoff, Booker and Christian got SEVEN MINUTES of wrestling which resulted in an incredibly rushed match between these two great workers. Lawler did have a great back-handed compliment when he claimed that “there’s a lot of suckas in Houston.” Jerry Lawler in 2003 had some of the best crack in all of WWE in 2003! With that said, Lawler was pretty bad for the large majority for this match on commentary which we’ll get to. Jim Ross claimed that Christian leaving as the champion would be a miracle, which I think probably did Christian more harm than good.

The match started off very well, as these two worked well together. Christian sold one particular back drop from Booker very well as he was thrown HIGH into the air. Lawler was hardly paying attention to any of this as he constantly made jokes about Booker’s previously convictions. Booker T was once a criminal and Lawler mentioned this ALL THE TIME while on commentary during this time. It’s not like if Jim Ross mentioned it and praised Booker for overcoming it. No, Lawler made joke after joke during this match. Did NOT make Booker come off well either.

Christian tried winning by putting his feet on the ropes. JR completely ignored Christian hitting Booker with the Book End, in Booker’s hometown. Booker hit an axe kick on the ropes. Booker hit a top rope dropkick and followed it up with a spinaroonie. Booker went for the Scissors Kick but Christian ran away and took the title with him. I was initially pretty upset at this as this would have been a match that ended in a count out in the challenger’s hometown. Then the referee Jack Doan got a microphone and told Christian that if he didn’t get back in the ring, he’d forfeit the title. This announcement got a big reaction but when I think about it, how did Jack Doan have the right to make this call that Christian would lose the title if he walked out? He’s not like an on-screen authority figure or anything.

So WWE teased the count out finish but the referee put a stop to that. The fans got excited at the thought of seeing a clear winner in this match. Instead, Christian runs into the ring and runs right back out. Booker chases him around the ring and they get back into the “squared circle” of WWE. Christian then grabbed the belt and hit Booker in the face, causing a disqualification.

The fans were irate with this finish, chanting “bullshit” and these chants were pretty much justified. They teased a count-out finish only for it to end in seven minutes via disqualification. THIS was a let down.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

We had an advertisement for Jim Ross’ cook book, which I’ve got to get a hold of one of these days! Kevin Nash was taping up his wrists as he was set to challenge Triple H for the World title in a Hell In A Cell match.

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Jerry Lawler was in the ring for the pie-eating contest. He brought out Eric and commended him for his selection of “pie” for this event. Austin came out to a BIG POP in Texas. Austin reminded Eric that he would select Eric’s pie as agreed to earlier. Austin talked about Eric being into “mature women” which further solidified that I knew what was coming. Austin questioned Eric’s ability to please a woman with Eric insisting that he would be fine. Austin called Bischoff “Eric Jerk-Off” which the crowd popped for. Austin complimented Eric’s choice of women but Austin said that Eric would not be having any of their “pie” as he brought his choice for Eric. It was revealed to be Mae Young, who was accompanied by  Fabulous Moolah. Eric had a disgusted face which almost looked like he was about to sneeze. Austin just smiled with an awesome grin on his face.

Jerry protested this decision as he claimed it was supposed to be a pie-eating contest and not “cheesecake” that would be eaten. Disgusting, Jerry. Mae stuck her tongue out and Eric insisted that Mae put her tongue back in her mouth and called her a nasty old hag. Pretty mean words from Easy E. Eric refused to eat the pie but Austin called him a chicken. Mae tried to grope Eric but he told her to get her hand off his ass. Austin called Eric a piss-ant and demanded that Lawler declare him the winner. Eric cut him off and decided to go through with it. As shocking as it was, the fans started chanting “eat the pie” to which Eric responded by kissing her. Eric thought this was enough but Austin told him that this was a pie-eating contest. Mae low-blowed Eric and she was instructed to make Eric eat the pie. Mae gave Eric the stinkface while wearing a thong. Jim Ross called this as if he’d just watched Mankind being thrown off the Hell in a Cell. Austin was laughing, with Eric being furious and demanding that Austin goes next. Austin gave Mae Young the stunner, with Mae selling this possibly even worse than when Vince McMahon sold the first stunner that Austin gave him in 1997. Austin forfeited this contest and demanded beer. It was 1-1 in the redneck triathlon.

The times certainly have changed in the “tastes” of wrestling fans! This was a NUTTY angle but I guess nothing else could be expected considering that this was an angle involving Mae Young who, god bless her soul, was willing to do ANYTHING to entertain the fans. She probably loved doing this kind of stuff and the fans seemed to love it to a degree, especially when they chanted “eat the pie” at her. Mae was an entertainer to say the least!

As for the rest of it, it’s funny how Eric won the contest but Austin still seemed like the real winner of that contest in the end. Eric won but Austin still found a way to outsmart Eric Bischoff. The fans loved it and I guess that’s all that matters.

 

We got a vignette for Gail Kim, who would be debuting soon. As a matter of fact, she actually won the Women’s Championship in her debut a few weeks later. I hope I do get to review more of Gail Kim’s matches in the near future of this Retro Express as she was a great female worker.

Jonathan Coachman interviewed La Resistance, who were Rene Dupree and Sylvain Grenier at this time. They were challenging Kane and Rob Van Dam for the World Tag Team Championship next. Sylvain said that this was a big night and that he hated Texas. They buried then-US President George W Bush, which got a lot of boos in Texas. They dedicated the match to then-French President Jacques Chirac. This is actually amazing when you think about the political situation for the likes of US and the UK in 2016. It was amazing that the countrymen of the US and the French actually liked the people that ran their country at the time. Meanwhile, the US currently have a president-elect that they apparently don’t want in the White House anymore. It’s amazing.

 

Kane (c) and Rob Van Dam (c) vs “La Resistance” Sylvain Grainer and Rene Dupree for the World Tag Team Championship

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As far as putting the new heel tag team over, this was NOT the way to do it. La Resistance came out and Jim Ross called them jackasses, which was actually pretty funny. La Resistance got some serious heat. There were some seriously angry fans in the front row. Funnily enough, they showed the graphic for the old World Tag Team title design from the Attitude Era but the champions came out with the new belts that had been around since 2002! As I watched this DVD, I was rather annoyed at WWE for editing out the original theme songs that RVD and Kane came out too. Kane actually had been coming out to “Slow Chemical” from Finger Eleven at that time, which is one of my favourite wrestling theme songs of all time, so seeing that not make the DVD very much upset me.

RVD and Kane beat up La Resistance, with the storyline going in being that the champions were not on the same page. RVD did a great springbroad crossbody as he took over early. La Resistance turned the tide for a bit by planting RVD with a DDT. Kane got the hot tag and ran SERIOUSLY wild on the two french men. I mean Kane was DESTROYING these men all on his own as his partner had been beaten up by these two. Kane was having to contend with the heels on his own while RVD simply WATCHED from the apron. He eventually got the tag while Kane was still getting the better of these two heels. He’s doing fine on his own and then RVD got in. As Kane is battling these men on the outside, RVD goes for a dive and hits Kane accidentally when there was no need for him to go for the dive at all. RVD was attacked and hit the Double Flapjack for the pin as La Resistance won the World Tag Team titles.

The booking of this match caused steam to come from my ears. The whole angle was that Kane and RVD were having issues but here in this match, Kane was completely doing fine on his own while RVD cost them the match by getting involved when Kane was coping fine. The fact was Kane could have beaten these men by himself and he would have retained the title. How could La Resistance possibly have been taking seriously at this point? I guess La Resistance are remembered nowadays so I guess they became somewhat of a memorable tag team. However, this match was pretty lame and pretty perplexing.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Goldberg vs Chris Jericho

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A common trope of mine is immediately looking up Dave Meltzer’s rating for the match I just saw during a Retro Express. Mine and Meltzer’s ratings are usually right in-line but for this match, I noticed that he gave this match three and a half stars out of a max total of five. Maybe it’s a mistake to watch old matches with modern eyes but I have NO IDEA what type of match he was watching. In case you were wondering what made me un-optimistic about the actual Goldberg/Brock Lesnar match for Survivor Series this year, THIS was the match.

I know these two had heat with each other around this time but even so, the wrestlers with the biggest heat with each other can usually put together some really good matches. Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart had some sublime matches back in the day. This Goldberg/Jericho match was NOT sublime.

Goldberg went for a lock-up and it was one of those lock-ups from a women’s match, that sees both wrestlers tumble out of the ring. Goldberg hit a World’s Strongest Slam as the fans chanted Y2J. Goldberg dominated early on, even gorilla pressing Jericho onto the ropes. Goldberg went for a spear through the wall but Jericho moved out of the way as Goldberg drove himself through the barricade. This actually played into the storyline going in, which Jericho claimed that he’d win the match by making Goldberg angry and sloppy. This was actually pretty good story-telling.

Jericho tried to get at Goldberg but referee Charles Robinson stopped him. I’m not sure why he did this as it wasn’t like the doctors came out to check on Goldberg. Jericho drove Goldberg into the ringpost. Goldberg was bleeding and his arm had been hurt from the spear, which Jericho took advantage of. Goldberg was working with one arm, actually selling the injury. Now, Goldberg rarely had to take the heat in many of his WCW matches. The idea was that Goldberg would destroy the opponent, hit his finishers and beat him early. In WWE however, he was not booked in this manner. He had to sell for Jericho so he tried to work with one arm. While he did this, his ring-work with one arm was pretty bad. If in doubt, DON’T HAVE GOLDBERG SELL.

Jericho locked on a Fujiwara Armbar. Jericho was caught off the top with a high knee. The fans started booing. Goldberg was not able to pull off working with one arm, struggling with an one armed hip toss. “Goldberg sucks” chants began to roar from the crowd. Jericho hit a dropkick and Goldberg waffled to the ground. We got more boos. Jericho hit the lionsault on the face of Goldberg for a near fall. Jericho went for a Lionsault and Goldberg was supposed to catch him but it went ALL WRONG. Goldberg hit the spear and we got even LOUDER “Goldberg sucks” chants. Goldberg went for the jackhammer but Jericho caught Charles Robinson in the eyes and hit a low-blow on Goldberg. This got a lot of cheers and big Y2J chants. Keep in mind that Goldberg was supposed to be the face and Jericho was supposed to be the heel!

Jericho tried the Walls of Jericho but Goldberg powered out, hit the spear and jackhammer, and won the match. And to put a cherry on top, Goldberg slid outside of the ring and got in the face of a fan that booed him throughout the match. A wonderful way to put over Goldberg as a babyface.

To be fair, Goldberg did actually get cheers when he won the match and Jericho tried ALL that he could but even he could not get a good match out of this man. Jericho’s on my list of greatest workers of all time as he had a reputation, in my mind, of being able to have a good match with everyone he wrestled. I remember him having a good match with Ryback at Money In The Bank 2013 for crying out loud! Ryback was mocked as being a “copy” of Goldberg, yet Goldberg couldn’t even have a good match with Jericho. This will be hard to hear for a lot of fans but Goldberg had a HORRIBLE night here.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

They showed a pig pen and Lawler questioned whether Jim Ross had brought his relatives along to the show. Terri was with Austin and Eric again. They spun the wheel for the third round and it landed on “sing-off” which Austin was upset about. Austin asked Terri if she thought that Steve was any good. She said no. Eric vowed to beat Austin in front of these rednecks.

 

Shawn Michaels vs Ric Flair

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This was probably tied with the main-event as far as the best match for the show, with these two legends going out. Despite that, I was still a little bit let down. This was certainly not at the level of their WrestleMania 24 match but I did expect something special and I really didn’t get it to be honest.

Shawn got a HUGE reaction from the Texas crowd. The two legends messed with each other with taunts but that came to an end when Shawn slapped Ric and mocked him. There was some nice mat wrestling between the two. There was a very old school feel to this match. Shawn slapped Ric and Ric came close to doing the Flair Flop but was able to keep himself up with one foot! Michaels dove onto Ric. Remember when Steiner was able to see through Test’s attempts at begging him off? Well Ric tried to beg Shawn off in this match… and it worked. I can at least accept the possibility of Shawn being conflicted as he was wrestling his idol that he respected, and not to mention that Ric is older and more experienced than Shawn so FINE.

HBK and Flair chopped the hell out of each other. Flair did the chop block. Flair worked on the legs and locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock, that Shawn was able to get the ropes for to break it up. Flair shoved referee Earl Hebner but Earl shoved back. The second time on this show where a referee stepped over his boundaries when calling a match, three if you count Charles Robinson holding off Jericho when he shouldn’t have. Ric got cocky and Shawn made him pay with an enziguri. Flair went up to the top and of course, Shawn threw him off the top turnbuckle.

There was a great exchange when Shawn went for the Super Kick but Flair countered it into the figure four leg lock. Shawn countered this into a small package and then locked on his own figure four. This was some solid professional wrestling right here. Flair poked HBK and they traded roll-ups. HBK hit a superplex and it looked like Shawn struggled to get Flair up for this superplex. HBK got a table and set it up. Flair teased suplexing Shawn through the table but Shawn got out and ended up laying Flair onto this table.

NOW, I personally was taken out of the match a little when they brought out the table. Firstly, it’s supposed to be a regular singles match. Since when are TABLES allowed in a normal match? Yes, Shawn didn’t HIT Flair with this table but he still tried to “cheat” by using a weapon to his advantage. That, to me, should be DQ but Earl let this happen. Secondly, I was very much into the regular singles match and the old-school wrestling behind all of this. Instead, when Shawn introduced the table, it just seemed so out of place to me. I just don’t think this was the time for a spot like this.

Shawn super-kicked the interfering Randy Orton and then jumped off the top and onto Ric, going through the table. Flair bled from the back. Flair was able to take the ref out by low-blowing Earl and Shawn at the same time. HBK fired back and dropped the elbow. Shawn superkicked Flair, Orton hit Shawn with the chair and RIC FLAIR PINNED SHAWN MICHAELS.

Maybe I’m in the small minority here but the table spot just completely took me out of this match. It was a great match up until that point but to me, it just negated the point of the match which was just to see who was better. Instead, Orton and the table got involved and it just became another shenanigan-filled match on RAW. I wanted a clear-cut winner and instead I got this. I think a few fans that were in that building felt a little cheated out of this finish. It was nice to see Flair get the victory over Shawn though.

Match Rating: ***1/4

 

The time had come for the sing off. Eric came out to literally NO REACTION as we’d seen him more than anyone on this show, so the fans were kind of uncaring when he came out. Eric said he’d sing his own theme song but he instead lip-synced his own theme song which I thoroughly enjoyed, as did he based on the way he “sung” this! Austin cut in and called him out on his lip-sync. They went back-and-forth on this like they were kids arguing about the smallest things. Austin told Eric that he sucked and ordered him to do it again. Eric sung badly and Austin called him pathetic. Austin suggested they re-spin the wheel and it came up with “Pig Pen Fun” which involved the pig pen from earlier on. Austin said that whoever threw their opponent into the pig pen would be the winner. Austin deputised the crowd to stop Eric from leaving. Someone threw Eric back in from the crowd.

Austin beat up Eric, stomped a mudhole and hit a Stone Cold Stunner. Eric actually sold this pretty well, with his selling of it probably being around 5000% better than Mae Young selling it earlier on in the night. Austin took Eric to the stage and threw him off it, with Eric landing in the safest way possible. Austin was declared the winner by Lilian Garcia as he drank some beer. Jim Ross had an awesome line in which he claimed that “those pigs may need counselling being so close to Eric Bischoff!” That was a serious contender for line of the night. Austin celebrated for about 30 hours but the fans didn’t seem to mind.

The fans loved all this and to be fair, I enjoyed a lot of the moments from this Redneck Triathlon. However, this went on way too long for me to care at the end. The burping contest was good and Austin had some brilliant banter but in the end, it was way too long. The ending made me feel as if this were a house show, which I don’t think was the purpose. This did not feel like it should have been on pay-per-view and it does rather upset me at how long this went, considering that Booker and Christian only went seven minutes.

 

Triple H (c) vs Kevin Nash in a Hell in a Cell match for the World Heavyweight Championship with Mick Foley as the special guest referee

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I have to say something about the video package they did for this match. They had the video package where they recapped the rivalry and did an amazing job at selling you on the idea that this type of match was important, rare and dangerous. The music, which was Headstrong by Trapt, fit right in as HHH, Foley and Nash beat the hell out of each other during a RAW segment and it was wonderful stuff. The video packages back in the “ruthless aggression era” used to be quality stuff.

I actually went through a phase with a mate of mine where he used to rave at me everyday about this song, and actually serenaded me with it everyday! And you know what… I had no problem with this. If you’ve never heard of Headstrong by Trapt, PLEASE go and listen to it. It’s fantastic stuff.

The special referee Mick Foley actually got the biggest reaction out of everyone, which should tell you how much the fans cared about Triple H and Kevin Nash. Triple H tried to poke the bear that is Mick Foley but Nash clobbered him. Nash smashed HHH’s with elbows. Nash slowly beat up HHH by driving him into the ringpost and the cell wall, as well as the corner of the cell. The fans cared little for Nash at this point. Nash threw HHH into the steel steps. Nash tried throwing the steps at HHH but thank got that Hunter ran out of the way as that would have been bad news.

In a pretty creative spot, Nash went for a Jackknife Powerbomb but Triple H used the cell itself to get out of it. HHH got out a toolbox and smashed Nash in the knee and the head with a hammer. Foley took the hammer from Triple H and pushed him down. Foley challenged HHH but HHH backed off. HHH grated Nash’s head with the cell wall. After a struggle, HHH wedged a screwdriver into Nash’s head. Foley yelled at Triple H. Triple H grabbed a bat wrapped in barbed wire and hit Nash in the gut. Nash fired back with punches and smashed Hunter in the head with the bat which got a big reaction. HHH was busted open. Nash wedged the bat into the turnbuckle and did a snake eyes onto it for a near fall.  There was a “big lazy” sign in the front row.

HHH smashed a wooden create over Nash. Triple H grabbed a sledgehammer but Foley tried to wrestle it away which got some boos. It made sense why, as it seemed for all the world at this point that Foley was screwing HHH in a no disqualification match. HHH attacked Foley which got some cheers. Nash did the drop toe hold spot onto the steel steps which felt slowly done. This got a near fall. Triple H hit Nash and Foley with a chair. Foley was bleeding as he whipped out Mr Socko. He locked on the Mandible Claw, with Triple H responding by kicking Foley below the belt. Nash accidentally hit Foley and HHH with the steel steps somehow. Nash went for the cover but Foley was out.

Nash tried to revive Foley. Foley was on the apron when HHH knocked Nash into Foley, who bounce back first into the cell wall. A very risky spot if you ask me. HHH went for the pedigree but Nash catapulted HHH into the barbed wire bat still stuck in the top turnbuckle. Nash hit the jackknife, Foley made the count but HHH kicked out. This was actually a GREAT near fall. I think a lot of people in that crowd thought that was the finish.

Triple H crawled for the sledgehammer and instead of pushing away the sledgehammer that he can see or grabbing it himself, Nash simply grabs Triple H by the hair. HHH made him pay with a sledgehammer shot to the head. HHH hit the pedigree and that was that.

The first part of this match was very much boring. Nash beating him up forever got no heat it seems but it picked up a little in the second half. The thing that was weird to me was that Nash and Foley both tried to screw Triple H, and Triple H is supposed to be the heel. In the end, the right man won. Judging on the crowd reactions, a Nash title run would not have gotten a great amount of interest from the RAW audience.

I thought this was a good match considering it’s a long match involving Kevin Nash and I personally thought this was the best match on the show.

Match Rating: ***1/3

 

This was definitely a memorable pay-per-view to say the least. Every match seemed to stand out to me, for many different reasons. I felt that the booking for a lot of these matches were really flat, although the main-event ended up being much better than I thought it was going to be. There were a lot of disappointing matches that struggled for time due to the Redneck Triathlon which took up way too much time. The Texas crowd loved this one for whatever the reason was but I can’t say that I’m too keen to watch it again.

Retro Express – Survivor Series 2005

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with a look back at Survivor Series 2005. I bought the DVD for this recently and I decided to give it a review. For me, this was an exciting time for the WWE because I was hugely invested into the SmackDown! vs RAW storylinem which was a big part of this pay-per-view. At the same time, the WWE was still saddened by the recent death of beloved wrestler Eddie Guerrero. Eddie was scheduled to be in the main event but was replaced by Randy Orton. The Survivor Series match was the main focus but there were other things to look out for as well. There was the Last Man Standing match between Triple H and Ric Flair and there was also a WWE Championship match between John Cena and Kurt Angle, with Angle’s new manager Davari as the special referee. I watched it in full and here’s my FULL review of how good I thought the show was.

 

WWE Survivor Series

Date: November 27th 2005

Brand: RAW and SmackDown!

City: Detroit, Michigan

Attendance: 15,000

Pay-Per-View buys: 400,000

 

Booker T vs Chris Benoit in Match One of the Best Of Seven Series for the Undisputed United States Championship

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This match was basically your average Booker T/Benoit match and it really was nothing special. Maybe that’s a bit harsh as this was not a bad match but Benoit and Booker were wrestling each other OVER AND OVER again at this time. Hell the two wrestled on the SmackDown! before this, to set up this match. The announcers even plugged Match Two, which would take place two days later!

Because of that and the fact that this was the first of seven matches, it really wasn’t supposed to be that big of a match. The matches would intensify as they’d go further into the series. This was kind of treated like your average TV match. There was not a lot of heat from the crowd, which is understandable as there wasn’t a lot on the line as this point in the series.

It was slow-paced which I was fine with, as it fit the purpose of the match. This match featured a lot of submissions which makes sense with the story of the series. They spent ages working on parts of the body in order to weaken their opponent for the next match in the series, which is fine.

It’s amazing how differently the matches are put together in WWE nowadays, when you watch this match back. It’s the small things like Chris Benoit fighting to avoid a simple move like a neckbreaker which added to the match. Another aspect of the match that I liked was the use of continuity, when it comes to the storyline. This series was put together after Benoit and Booker pinned each other at the same time with a roll-up. This match featured a lot of roll-ups and small packages, and even had one in the finish.

Benoit went for the three German suplexes but Booker countered after the first one. Benoit went for it again and was able to hit three, which got the crowd buzzing. Sharmell got involved to initially stop Benoit from hitting the diving headbutt. Booker won with a Oklahoma roll-up, with Sharmell holding his feet on the ropes. It was an OK match with little crowd reaction until the finish. Out of everything they could have went with as the opener, this one made the most sense.

Match Rating: **3/4

Eric Bischoff was throwing punches backstage, ahead of his match against Teddy Long. Vince McMahon showed up to wish him luck. Eric vowed that he would beat Teddy Long, RAW would beat SmackDown! in the Survivor Series match and Kurt Angle would beat John Cena to win the WWE Title. Eric said that he was going to screw Cena, which lead to John Cena showing up to make a joke about Eric screwing guys. Vince then proceeded to ask Cena the following question… “What’s good in the hood?” Amazingly, that WASN’T Vince McMahon’s most shocking line from this segment. I won’t repeat what he said next but I will say that it’s astonishing what Vince McMahon can get away with saying on pay-per-view. All I’ll say is that after Vince said this, Booker T appeared saying “Tell me he didn’t just say that.”

Trish Stratus (c) vs Melina for the Women’s Championship

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This was RAW’s Trish against SmackDown!’s Melina. SmackDown!’s Tazz and RAW’s Joey Styles were doing commentary. It was so great to see a shot of Tazz and Joey on commentary with both of them laughing. It’s funny because they had so much fun burying each other and their shows on commentary!

This storyline started after MNM abducted Trish and Melina challenged her to a match. In the match, Trish did a big dive to all of MNM and it looked like she hit her head on the barricade. Trish went for the hurricanrana but Melina forgot to catch her for it. Melina did a kick where it looked like she kicked her arm. MNM went for the Snapshot on Trish but the referee saw it and threw them out. Melina hit an awful spear on Trish. Melina was supposed to go for the clothesline while Trish arched her back but Melina was too late to do it. There was a botchy finish where Trish went for the top rope bulldog and got the pin. Either Trish jumped too far or Melina was just in the wrong position. It could have been both their faults but it did not come off well.

This was a below average women’s match, to put it nicely. Melina wasn’t really that good around this time as she was just starting up as a wrestler. With SmackDown! not having a women’s division, Melina didn’t have a lot of experience under her belt going into this. Trish tried her hardest to get a good match out of her. I can’t criticise this match too much as Trish did try hard and there wasn’t a lot you were going to be able to do with this. The match itself was an interesting concept, as SmackDown! didn’t have a women’s division and this was an inter-promotional title match. However, in execution, it wasn’t too great.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Triple H vs Ric Flair in a Last Man Standing match

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Triple H attacked Flair during his entrance. It’s weird seeing Flair get beat up while he was still in his robe! Always styling and profiling!

Flair turned things around with a kendo stick. They went into the crowd. Flair took a lot of bumps on the floor which looked pretty nasty. This also included a spinebuster onto the floor which Flair should not have been taking on the outside!

Triple H used the screwdriver on Flair’s head as Flair was bleeding like crazy. Whatever you think about Triple H, he was a tremendous heel. They showed a shot of Triple H with a sinister smile on his face and it just suited his role in the match. Triple H got on the mic and told Flair to stay down before he put him down. Flair responded by grabbing Triple H in the “family jewels.” Triple H went for a pedigree but Flair countered and put Triple H through the Spanish announce table.

Flair bit Triple H in the face and on the leg. There was a bit of clever in-ring psychology where Flair worked on Triple H’s legs which would obviously prevent Triple H for being able to stand on his feet. This may seem very small but there’s so many last man standing matches nowadays where the men involved would just hit big move after another big move until someone wins. This match saw Ric cleverly working on one of Triple H’s weak points, which meant something with regards to the stipulation of the match. Not to mention that it plays into the storyline of Triple H and Flair, as Flair obviously knew about Triple H’s quadriceps injury from before and how badly it effected “The Game.”

Flair locked on the figure four leg lock and grabbed the ropes. My feeling during this was that the referee should have started the count as Triple H’s shoulders were on the mat. Triple H made a comeback and hit THREE PEDIGREES but Flair got up each time. This infuriated Triple H who hit Flair with the sledgehammer to win the match. This gets a thumbs up. A really good last man standing match which was different in its layout. There was a genuine feeling that Triple H was going to really hurt Flair with a lot of the stuff that he did, which added to the match. I liked it. I’ve seen better Last Man Standing matches but this was great in its own way.

Match Rating: ***3/4

 

Randy Orton tried to do a team meeting with Team SmackDown!, with Batista not there. Batista had been chokeslammed through the announce table by Kane and the Big Show. Batista interrupted and there was a whole deal about who should be a leader. JBL was very loud and very awesome during this segment when coming to the support of both these men!

Edge and Lita came out. They were not booked for the show. Edge was the Money In The Bank briefcase holder at this time. Edge announced that he would be introducing the “Cutting Edge” talk show. Edge said he was going to ask the questions that nobody else would. Interestingly, there was a sign in the crowd which said “CM Punk is the next Shawn Michaels.” I actually think Punk had just been signed to the company at the time as part of its developmental territory. It’s interesting when looking back in hindsight, because Punk actually teamed with Michaels at the next year’s Survivor Series. As noted by Punk, Punk got much bigger reactions than Shawn or Triple H at that Survivor Series!

Edge ripped Detroit and ripped the Detroit Lions. Dmitri Young was in the crowd, who was playing baseball for the Detroit Tigers I believe. Edge ripped on Young. He called him fat and NFL players “over-paid” and “steroid-users.” He made me laugh when he called him “Young Mark Henry.” Also funny in hindsight as Mark Henry soon returned on SmackDown! shortly after this. Dmitri responded by calling out Edge on never winning the WWE title. Another ironic moment as shortly after this, Edge won the WWE title at New Years Revolution.

 

John Cena (c) vs Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship with Davari as the special guest referee

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The fans’ “You Suck” chants were censored. This came after a segment on RAW where Kurt got annoyed at the fans for the chant. It was an incredible segment where Kurt just completely snapped over these chants he had endured for years.

The match saw Davari constantly fast-counting John Cena. At least this made it very clear early on that Davari was attempting to screw John Cena. Motivation established right off the bat. Perfect.

Kurt worked on the legs. Davari kept Cena off of Angle. This was a very split crowd, with the fans being 50/50. This was probably not great to hear considering that Cena was the one that had the disadvantage. The crowds were approving of Davari attempting to screw Cena! This proved to be true when Cena went for a suplex and the cover, but Davari didn’t make the count and he was mostly cheered!

Angle locked on the Ankle lock and Cena got the ropes. Davari kicked Cena off the ropes to more cheers. Cena slapped Davari to try and get Davari to disqualify him but Kurt stopped him from doing so as Kurt wouldn’t have won the title if he DQd him. Davari was knocked to the outside.

A new referee came out but Angle’s cover on Cena was kicked out. There were some big “Cena Sucks” chants at this point. Cena’s comeback at this time was a shoulder barge, two clotheslines THEN a sit-out powerbomb. Cena hit the five knuckle shuffle which Coach referred to as the “Five Knuckle Waffle.”

The new referee was taken out. Angle hit the low blow and the Angle Slam but Cena kicked out. My question at this point was why didn’t the referee DQ Angle as he was coming down to the ring? I see this all the time but the new referees that come out during these matches always seem to ignore everything else that previously happened in the match. It was amazing.

Angle missed the moonsault which saw Cena roll towards the turnbuckle, so Angle wouldn’t hit him. Angle took out another referee. Angle tried to revive Davari but SmackDown! referee Charles Robinson came out. Cena took out Davari and then hit the FU on Angle for the win. This was a very TNA-like main event finish which got to the finish in an incredibly complicating way. Did we need to see Kurt taking out all those referees during this match? I was not a fan of the finish. The match was fine but the wrong man won this one. I always thought that Kurt should have won the title during this period as he was tremendous.

Match Rating: **3/4

 

Eric Bischoff vs Teddy Long

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When Jonathan Coachman and Michael Cole on commentary were one of the better aspects of the match, you knew you were in for something special!

There was two referees, one from RAW and one from SmackDown! This was a repeat from Taboo Tuesday, where there was RAW and SmackDown! referees for the tag team match that started the show.

I’m truly amazed that this match made it on a pay-per-view. This match was so bad. This wasn’t even a match. I guarantee you that if I went up to two people on the street and told them to re-enact what happened this match, they would have been able to do it much better than Eric and Teddy Long. The match got “boring” chants. Eric kept trying to attack Teddy but Teddy got out of the way of these attacks and started dancing. This went on for about a few minutes. Eric then got the advantage and did one of the worst looking sleeperholds I’ve ever seen. Teddy took his shoe out and hit Eric. The Boogeyman came out and attacked Eric with the pump-handle slam. Teddy Long pinned Bischoff.

This was SO awful that it’s not even funny. The funny thing is that Eric was supposed to be the heel in this match but to me, he came off as the babyface. Teddy kept trying to run away from Eric. Teddy had somebody in his corner that did distractions. Teddy used a weapon. Someone interfered on behalf of Teddy. What logic is this for a wrestling match?

Someone looked at Teddy Long and Eric Bischoff and thought that they needed to be in a pay-per-view match for SURVIVOR SERIES!

Match Rating: 1/4*

 

By the way, the man in Teddy’s corner was in fact Palmer Cannon. He was the representative of the “network” for SmackDown! that introduced the minis division. I did a bit of research and it turns out that Palmer was trained by Killer Kowalski! He got his first “big break” with Chaotic Wrestling, where he was called “Big League” Brian Black! He in fact won a 28-man royal rumble to win the New England Championship. He won the world title before vacating the championship when he signed with WWE.

It actually gets better as he debuted a German character for “All-Star Wrestling Association” called Otto Von Schwartz. Apparently, this was his idea. He actually had some kind of German heritage and used this for his character. With this character, he feuded with Greg “The Hammer” Valentine!

He was with WWE for about a year or so until he asked for his release. He was actually supposed to feud with the debuting Miz! He never wrestled a match while on SmackDown! He actually went into MMA a few years later and also wrestled Larry Zbyskzo in 2010!

An eventful career for Palmer Cannon. The man trained by Killer Kowalski that never wrestled on SmackDown! but wrestled Greg Valentine and Larry Zbyskzo on the independent scene and even took part in MMA. Quite a career!

 

Batista, Bobby Lashley, Rey Mysterio, JBL and Randy Orton vs Shawn Michaels, Chris Masters, Carlito, Big Show and Kane in a SmackDown! vs RAW Survivor Series elimination match

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This was a pretty great Survivor Series match. In an article for SLTD Wrestling, I actually put this as #3 in my top five Survivor Series matches of all time. I rate this one highly as I really loved the SmackDown! vs RAW storyline. When watching it back, I don’t think it was as great as I thought it was when I last watched it. However, it was still a great match which was definitely a worthy main event.

Randy Orton and Shawn Michaels started off the match. I forgot how well Michaels and Orton used to work together. There was great chemistry between the two of them. The first elimination came when Carlito ran in to get dominated by Bobby Lashley. I couldn’t help but smirk when writing that last sentence! The referee attended to Carlito when Kane chokeslammed Lashley. Shawn Michaels made the cover and got the pin. I remember listening to Michael Cole on the next few episodes of SmackDown! raving about how great a performance Lashley put on during this match! HE WAS THE FIRST MAN ELIMINATED!

Kane and Rey Mysterio had a strange exchange afterwards. Batista got the hot tag and ran wild. Batista pinned Kane with the Spinebuster. Big Show hit the chokeslam but Batista kicked out. It took a double chokeslam from Big Show and Kane to eliminate Batista. Big Show was then put over to an insane degree when he was eliminated. It took two Clotheslines from Hell, a 619, a RKO and a senton to pin the Big Show. They made it so that each move barely effected the big man!

Michaels took a hard fallaway slam on the outside which took him out of the match for a while. There was a cool spot where Rey tried a springboard moonsault but Carlito caught him. JBL made a blind tag to Mysterio and after Carlito dropped Rey for his finisher, JBL blasted Carlito with the Clothesline From Hell for the pin. That was very well executed. Thumbs up for that one.

Rey Mysterio pinned Chris Masters with the 619 which lead to a three-on-one advantage for SmackDown! It was Mysterio, JBL and Orton against Michaels, who had just been taken out with a fallaway slam. There was an awesome spot where Rey hit the 619 on Shawn. Rey went to “drop the dime” when Shawn super-kicked Rey in mid-air! It was not as great as when Shawn did it to Shelton Benjamin on RAW in 2005 but this was a great spot!

Michaels then eliminated JBL which resulted in the final two being Michaels and Orton, which is exactly how the match started. JBL went to hit Michaels with the chair but Shawn took him out with the Sweet Chin Music. Randy took advantage and hit the RKO to win the match for SmackDown!

The SmackDown! roster came out to celebrate with Randy. Undertaker’s gong went off and we saw a flaming casket on the stage. Undertaker came out of it and headed to the ring. Undertaker took out all of the roster and Randy headed to the back.

This was a really good main event to the show. I thought there was a great dynamic between RAW and SmackDown! When it was down to Shawn on his own against three members of SmackDown!, you wanted to root for Shawn. It was funny because RAW was led by a heel general manager which made RAW seem like the heels!

Match Rating: ***1/2

 

Overall, I think it was an OK show that was mostly saved by the main event and the Last Man Standing match. There was Benoit/Booker and Cena/Angle, which were both fine I guess. There was a number of questionable booking decisions like having Eric Bischoff vs Teddy Long on the show at all. However, there was a satisfying end to the biggest storyline in the company which did help. Even though there wasn’t much to the PPV other than the Survivor Series match and Triple H vs Ric Flair, I don’t really think it mattered at the end of the day. This gets a thumbs up.

Wrestling Flashback – January 4th 1999: RAW IS WAR vs Nitro

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To say that this was the day that the wrestling world turned upside down would be an understatement. The Monday Night Wars, that had been going back and forth for years, had its winner seemingly decided on this day as both the WWF and WCW put on two huge shows together in an effort to win the ratings battle.

In one corner, we had the WWF. Mankind had been feuding with the “Corporate Champion” The Rock and this lead to a no disqualification title match taking place in the main event of Monday Night RAW after Mankind threatened to break Vince’s son Shane’s arm. This was a taped show but the anticipation was building.

In the other corner, we had WCW. Kevin Nash shocked the world at Starrcade by ending the undefeated streak of Goldberg and winning the WCW World title. Eight days later, the Wolfpack leader would defend the title against Goldberg in a rematch at Goldberg’s hometown in Atlanta. These two would collide LIVE on WCW Monday Nitro. Indeed, history would be made tonight.

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January 4th 1999 would see RAW and Nitro go head to head once again as WCW looked to regain the lead as the top dogs of professional wrestling. Eric Bischoff pulled out all of the big guns. Nitro was live and up against a pre-taped RAW. He knew the results and he knew he had to counter-book. He had to bring it tonight and he thought he had the perfect main event with a huge development in the long storyline between the two nWos and Goldberg. With what he was about to put on, there was no way he could lose to something like Mick Foley fighting for the championship right?

Mick Foley actually was a former WCW wrestler but was never really the top man in the company. Why would he? He made his name as a sucker for pain. He took risks that no man should ever take, including getting launched off the top of the “Hell in a Cell.” There was no chance in hell of this guy being a ratings draw right?

He went over the plan for the night with everyone. A number of top stars were notorious for backstage politicking, and the finish to this match showed the type of pull one Hollywood Hogan had as WCW’s top star.

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Bischoff let WCW announcer Tony Schiavone know what happened on Monday Night RAW. It’d become a new feature on Nitro for Tony to reveal the results of these pre-tapings for RAW which would theoretically make sure that the viewers wouldn’t change the channel to find out what happened on RAW.

Bischoff thought this would turn the tide. He thought that this whole night could get Nitro back on form as they went back to basics and to the one force that made wrestling fans tune in…

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On Nitro, Goldberg’s title rematch was in jeopardy as he was arrested by the Atlanta police. This was a rematch from Starrcade of all events and it looks like those plans were changing. Kevin Nash suspected that nWo Hollywood leader Hollywood Hogan was responsible.

This lead to the main event of the WCW World Title match being changed to Kevin Nash defending the WCW Title againsy Hollywood Hogan. Meanwhile on RAW, they are setting up the Mankind/Rock main event.

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Before the main events happened, Tony Schiavone was ready to reveal the results for that night’s edition for RAW IS WAR and who walked out of that WWF title match as the champion. Tony said:

“Fans, if you’re even thinking about changing the channel to our competition, fans, do not. We understand that Mick Foley, who wrestled here one time as Cactus Jack, is going to win their world title. Ha! That’s gonna put some butts in the seats.”

Don’t worry folks. We got you covered. You don’t need to watch that old taped show now. You don’t need to watch Mick Foley win the WWF title. Stick around for WCW Monday Nitro as we’ve got a WCW title match later tonight LIVE.

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Bischoff truly believed that this was HIS night. Then all of a sudden, Bischoff got very quiet on commentary. After Tony revealed what was going to happen on the other show, 600,000+ people changed the channels from the live edition of Nitro to this pre-taped edition of RAW.

The WCW fans couldn’t believe what they had heard. Is this true? Did Mick Foley really win the WWF title? I have to go watch RAW to see.

Rather than stick around for Kevin Nash’s WCW title defense, these fans tuned into RAW as the stage was set for Mankind vs The Rock.

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Mankind had in fact won the title in what will forever go down as one of the most important title changes in WWF/E history. Vince McMahon looked devasted in this segment. He watched on as Mankind had beaten his handpicked champion in this angle that was taped a few days before. Wherever Vince was watching this on the day it aired, there’s no doubt that he was watching the ratings come in with a huge smile on his face.

The same can’t be said for Eric Bischoff. He must have been dejected as he heard about what happened. However, the show must go on as the fans would no doubt come back for the WCW World title match.

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For those that did, they watched on as this Atlanta crowd was ready for a fight. It didn’t feature Goldberg but it did feature Nash and Hogan. This confrontation had been building for months. Nash pushed Hogan to hype up the Hulkster. Hogan was ready to go. He was about to throw a punch when suddenly, he stopped. The clenched fist turned into a pointing motion. He fingerpoked Kevin Nash who fell down in a comical fashion. Hogan made the cover and a new champion was crowned.

It was all a ruse! The Wolfpack and nWo Hollywood were working together! What a shocker! Goldberg got screwed! The fans were irate. The nWo, the stable which had led WCW to the top of the wrestling world, was back in full swing.

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Sadly, the ratings didn’t result in the return to status quo for WCW. Up until Tony’s announcement, WCW had managed to take the lead in that week’s battle with RAW. At the end of the night though, RAW won by 5.7 to 5.0.

Never again would Nitro beat RAW in the ratings. It was not the end of the Monday Night Wars but WCW should have prayed that it was. Not only were they only able to crack a 5.0 rating just a few times afterwards, RAW’s audience began to DOUBLE Nitro’s during the year 2000.

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When I think of WCW, I think of a company that had the potential to blitz the WWF with the backing of Ted Turner. Sadly, this night only proved the theory that the key to WCW’s failures came from within.