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

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

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

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

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

 

Date: July 7th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Daytona Beach, Florida

Attendance: 8,300

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes

 

Psychosis vs Rey Mysterio Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ****3/4

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ** 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: *1/2

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ¾*

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

 

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

 

Dean Malenko © vs Disco Inferno for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ***

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: -1/4*

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **3/4

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Segment Rating: *****

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

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

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

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

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

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order