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.
Ric Flair currently reigns as WCW World Heavyweight Champion, winning the title at Starrcade with the assistance of the Four Horsemen. The next night on Nitro, the Horsemen had varying levels of success. Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit lost the former champion Randy Savage and Steven Regal respectively, prompting Brian Pillman to chew them both out for losing. Pillman himself was still stirring things up with the Dungeon of Doom while Ric Flair escaped with the WCW title on the same night following a typical Nitro disqualification victory against Hulk Hogan. Hogan and Savage ran wild on the Horsemen and the Dungeon of Doom at the end of the show and then the babyfaces Hogan and Savage challenged Ric Flair and Arn Anderson to a tag team match for the next episode of Nitro.
Date: January 8th 1996
City: Charleston, South Carolina
Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan
My troubles with the WWE Network returned. If you read my WCW Starrcade 1995 review, I had so many problems watching that show because of the WWE Network. They returned this time but it was just the buffering problems. I had buffering problems galore. This was an unpleasant viewing of Nitro with the buffering issues on the Network. It was big for me especially during the Chris Benoit vs Alex Wright match on this show and the main-event tag team match. However, I powered on with this review and now I shall break down the show.
Chris Benoit w/Brian Pillman vs Alex Wright
Man, Alex Wright did not look good in this match. Wright’s usually looked OK in the ring but when he was in there with Chris Benoit, it really gave great insight to the differences in wrestling ability between the two. Wright would usually just look completely out of place a lot of time and it was up to Benoit to save the match.
Benoit, as mentioned earlier, lost his match last week with Regal. With something to prove, Benoit clotheslined Wright before the bell and stomped away and followed up with a snap suplex.
Benoit hit a Northern Lights suplex and then got the attention of the referee as Brian Pillman, at ringside. choked Wright with his shirt.
Eric Bischoff then talks and rants about WCW having more talent in 3 months than the competition has had in the last 2 years. Bischoff really was on a mission here to just go after the WWF, throughout this show. They had this whole deal where they talked about being the top wrestling promotion in America and it was just a concentrated effort to take as many jabs at the WWF as possible. Surely, this had to turn off Nitro fans even at this stage of the Monday Night Wars.
Wright did a baseball slide dropkick. Wright crashed into Benoit with a dive to the outside. This didn’t look pretty at all as Wright just crashed and burned. Bischoff talked about Nitro being the most watched wrestling show on Monday. Now just a heads up… they lost the ratings battle last week and they lost the ratings battle this week too! So I have no idea what he was on about.
Bischoff rants about the WWF charging more for PPVS. Bischoff is so cocky talking about how great WCW is and at this point, the urge was there for me to fastforward about 5 years to the last Nitro episode in 2001 after WCW were bought out by the WWF!
Wright and Benoit just seemed on different pages a lot during this match. Wright did a dive to Pillman. Wright went for a dive on Benoit but Benoit got the knees up.
Benoit tried a dragon suplex but Wright reversed it. A few reversals in fighting for the suplex. turns into European uppercuts from Wright. Benoit eventually hit the deciding suplex with a Dragon Suplex for the win. I liked this finish.
Heenan made a comment where he said “he (Benoit) may be in the dog house, but he’s still a horseman.” I don’t know why, but I loved that line.
Mongo talked about it being a tainted match. In general though, Benoit just kicked his ass and essentially beat him clean in this match so lord knows what Mongo was on about.
Eddie Guerrero vs Steven Regal w/Lord Robert Eaton
This really was a basic wrestling match for a few minutes turned into an excellent wrestling match by the end. It certainly took a while for the announcers to pay attention to the match anyway. They were talking about all kinds of other storylines as this was going on.
I think part of the problem was that it was mostly just grappling and mat-based wrestling from the get-go. They just wrestled, and wrestled, very well but there was nothing more to that. I feel like that’s a stupid statement but there was nothing to me that really stood for a long time during the opening parts of the match. It was very good wrestling but they were mostly just “testing the waters” for the first few minutes and it kinda went longer than it should have.
Bischoff at this point told us to “don’t buy the Royal Fumble.” …ha ha.
Eddie picked things up with some hurricanranas. Eddie tripped up Regal and went for a bridge pin fall attempt. Regal hit a big reverse suplex and then fired away with some heavy hits.
Regal had some great facial expressions during this match of frustration, intensity and snarled as he laid a beating into Guerrero. Regal turned things around. I did like how Eddie would try to get back in the match with some quick moves and tried to fire up but Regal would cut him of with a basic move like a European uppercut. It was simple but effective wrestling and story-telling at this point.
Regal tried a dragon sleeper of some kind. I also liked how Regal didn’t like just go to like a long sleeper hold for the heat. Regal punched the crap out of him for a long time, he did the odd submission and then went back to beating up Eddie.
Eddie punched him back which only fired up Regal more. Regal then got mad. Eddie reversed the uppercut into a backslide pin for the win using Regal’s aggression against him. I loved that finish where Regal’s temper got the better of him. Eddie out-wrestled and out-smarted Regal. This get a big thumbs up from me.
Mean Gene Okerlund did an interview with Lex Luger and Sting. After all of this time, we’ve finally got tensions running between Sting and Lex Luger. Sting wanted to talk to Luger about triangle match at Starrcade where Luger grabbed his arm to prevent him from winning. Sting asked Luger: “what’s that about” to which Mean Gene stirred things up and said “that’s not the kind of friend I’d wanna have!” I loved Mean Gene providing commentary to what each man said and bouncing of these comments with questions to the other guy. He come off as a legitimate interviewer, taking interest in what these wrestlers were saying and helping with their delivery and giving questions that actually are relevant to the storyline.
Luger said he hurt his knee during the Starrcade match and he wanted Sting to help him up as he reached out to him during the match. It was the mother of all bullshit heel excuses but, to Luger’s credit, it played into the friendship part of this storyline as Luger tried to reach out to Sting who he thought of as a friend even in the heat of battle. Sting said he never thought about being a tag team but he’s up for teaming with Luger. They’re facing the New Bloods at Clash of Champions.
They plugged, of all matches, RIC FLAIR VS RANDY SAVAGE FOR THE WORLD TITLE AT WCW SATURDAY NIGHT! This had to be a DQ finish to book a world title match for this show!
Sting vs DDP
I don’t particular know what to make of this match. This match was off in parts and they tried to turn it into a good match but it just didn’t seem to click. Especially after watching Benoit, Eddie and Regal in aciton in the first half of the show.
DDP went to work early on. DDP got Irish Whipped into the ropes and landed in the middle of them like Andrade “Cien” Almas would but Sting simply dropkicked him and did a dive to DDP onto the floor.
Sting fell to the floor as he tried a leapfrog on DDP. DDP was just to tall for him to leapfrog it seems. I don’t think that was planned just for DDP to get the heat. If it was then I don’t think it was a good idea.
So DDP got the heat. DDP hit a swinging neckbreaker. DDP locked on a sleeper hold and constantly tried to have his feet on the ropes. Sting fired up to his feet but DDP slammed him back down. Bischoff, as DDP had the sleeper holder on, decided now was the time to say: “WCW gave the fans what the fans asked for.” Lord knows that all the fans wanted at this point was a sleeper hold on Nitro.
Sting mounted a comeback, hit a Stinger Splash and tried a Scorpion Deahtlock but DDP got the ropes before it was locked in. DDP hit a neckbreaker. Sting tried a small package to which DDP responded to a poke to the eye as soon as they both got to their feet.
Sting landed on his feet from a back drop attempt, locked on the Scorpion Deathlock and Sting got DDP to tap out as the fan went nuts. The fans went nuts for Sting at the finish and he was incredibly over here.
Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage vs Ric Flair and Arn Anderson
At least Savage and Hogan were colour coordinated for this match both wearing the red and yellow! Ric got tagged in from the get-go. Flair wanted Hogan in the ring so Savage obliged and tagged in the Hulkster.
God Hogan could barely do a hammerlock of all moves in this match. Flair then delivered a HUGE CHOP, a chop so hard that the ref fell out of the camera shot he sold the impact of this so well. The ref just fell backwards! It sounded like a hard hit too… and Hogan just no sells it and runs wild!
He ran wild some more with clotheslines and scoop slams to Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. Arn got tagged in. Savage got tagged in and worked on the arm. Savage nailed Arn with a double axe handle to the outside and then a double axe handle in the ring.
Hogan ran around and chased Flair, and ended up pulling down Flair’s trunks from the looks of it. Somehow, this led to Flair getting the heat on Savage. I have no idea how that worked!
Of course Flair goes to the top rope and gets pushed off. Savage does his own Figure Four Leg Lock. Hogan drops Arn and then does his own Figure Four as a fan throws trash into the ring following Hogan’s attempt in the Figure Four! Just the simple thought of Hogan doing the Figure Four seemed to disgust this one fan! Some folks were losing their mind though as Hogan did the Figure Four. Hogan did this move without like even putting his leg over. He just tied up the legs and went down for the Figure Four Leg Lock!
Arn then went to work and hit a DDT, Flair went for a cover but Hogan breaks it up. Flair threw Savage off the top rope. Arn worked on Savage on the outside.
Savage got a sleeper hold locked on Arn but Flair gouged the eyes of Savage to break it up. Savage tried some desperation small packages. Arn went for a DDT but Savage got the top rope to avoid it. Flair accidentally knocked Savage into Hogan for the tag.
Hogan ran wild on Flair. Hogan hits a big double clothesline to heels to the outside. Arn hits a beautiful spinebuster on Hogan, who just gets right back up. Hogan hits the big boot and hits the leg drop. Hogan got the pin but as the Horsemen ran down, the Dungeon of Doom attacked the Horsemen. I thought when I saw the Horsemen that they’d break it up for the DQ but no… we got a clean pin in a NITRO main-event!
The Horsemen brawled with the Dungeon. The Giant attacks Hogan and Savage in the ring. Giant barely got Hogan up for the chokeslam. He slammed Savage too but then Zodiac stops The Giant again, as he did last week, as the show goes off the air.
I’m assuming The Four Horsemen and the Dungeon of Doom will end up working together down the road anyway but for the time being, I do love the idea of the two heel groups at odds as there’s no honour among thieves. That I liked. A decent show but not as good as last week’s show I don’t think. It’ll be interesting to see how things work out in this period before the nWo hit WCW. It’s very hard to tell how things will turn out. We’ll be back with Episode 20 on the next edition of the WCW series as part of the Armbar Express’ Retro Express.
WCW Nitro Reading Order
- #1 – September 4th 1995
- #2 – September 11th 1995
- WCW War Games 1995 – September 17th 1995
- #3 – September 18th 1995
- #4 – September 25th 1995
- #5 – October 2nd 1995
- #6 – October 9th 1995
- #7 – October 16th 1995
- #8 – October 23rd 1995
- WCW Halloween Havoc 1995 – October 29th 1995
- #9 – October 30th 1995
- #10 – November 6th 1995
- #11 – November 13th 1995
- #12 – November 20th 1995
- WCW World War III 1995 – November 26th 1995
- #13 – November 27th 1995
- #14 – December 4th 1995
- #15 – December 11th 1995
- #16 – December 18th 1995
- #17 – December 25th 1995
- WCW Starrcade 1995 – December 27th 1995
- #18 – January 1st 1996