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

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

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

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

 

 

Date: September 17th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Asheville, North Carolina

Commentators: Tony Schiavone and Bobby “The Brian” Heenan

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ****

 

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

 

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

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

 

Cobra vs Craig Pittman

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

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

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

Match Rating: 1/4*

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **1/4

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: -**

 

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

 

Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ***1/2

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: *1/4

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

WCW Nitro Episode List

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Date: September 11th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Miami, Florida

Rating: 2.4

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sabu vs Alex Wright

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Randy Savage vs Scott Norton

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

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

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

 

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

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THE MATCH OF THE CENTURY… on paper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

WCW Nitro Episode List

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s get to it with EPISODE ONE….

 

WCW Nitro #1

Date: September 4th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rating: 2.5

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

 

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

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

 

Jushin Thunder Liger vs ‘Flyin Brian

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Sting vs Ric Flair

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EXTREME WARFARE REVENGE: TNA 2010 – UPDATE #1

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

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

Part 1 – Destination X

Part 2 – Lockdown

Part 3 – Sacrifice

Part 4 – Slammiversary

Part 5 – Victory Road

Part 6 – Hard Justice

Part 7 – No Surrender

Part 8 – Bound For Glory

Part 9 – Joker’s Wild Special

Part 10 – Turning Point

Part 11 – Final Resolution

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

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

 

Plot

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

That joke will never get old in my mind!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Schedule

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

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

 

Knockouts Division

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

EXTREME WARFARE REVENGE: TNA 2010 PART 11 – FINAL RESOLUTION

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Previously on TNA EWR…

We crowned a new TNA World Heavyweight Champion in John Cena, who defeated AJ Styles to win the championship on the first time of asking. At Final Resolution, AJ will get his rematch for the title in a steel cage match.

TNA’s newest signing Rey Mysterio was revealed at Turning Point, as he signed Hulk Hogan’s contract. Alex Shelley from the Motor City Machine Guns was the first to call out Mysterio as he and Chris Sabin jumped the luchador on Impact. It was announced that Rey’s first match in the promotion would be with Shelley at Final Resolution. Could Shelley make a name for himself by knocking off Mysterio?

On the Impact before Final Resolution, General Manager Hulk Hogan was mysteriously attacked in the back by an unknown assailant. TNA Owner Jeff Jarrett was scheduled to appear at Final Resolution to give a statement about the attack and what it means for TNA.

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Pre-show – Interview with Samoa Joe

Samoa Joe is on the pre-show. He cuts a promo about beating Matt Morgan and moving forward with his career. He feels now is the right time for him to reclaim the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. He decides to challenge whoever wins the main event to a title match for Genesis. Joe vowed to win the title and didn’t matter if it was AJ Styles or John Cena. He would be the next TNA World Champion.

 

Match 1 – Bobby Roode, James Storm and Kaz def. “Global Supremacy” Desmond Wolfe, TAKA Michinoku and David Hart Smith

Beer Money and Kaz vs the newest stable in TNA called the Global Supremacy. After I hired David Hart Smith, I decided to give Desmond Wolfe another group to run which would include himself, TAKA, David Hart Smith and Claudio Castagnoli who I’ve wanted to push for a while. Desmond’s continued to target Beer Money so Storm and Roode brought in Kaz to even the odds. The good guys won. I’d hate to have Global Supremacy lose their first PPV match as a group but they dominated the Impact shows very emphatically as of late so I had to give the good guys something.

 

Match 2 – Matt Morgan def. Hernandez

Morgan vs Hernandez. 86% is an all rating for these two. Hernandez is still really over so I decided to put him with Morgan. Morgan got the win clean and then El Mesias from Reckless Ambition attacked Morgan helped out his fellow stable member Hernandez. Not bad for this feud so far.
Angle 1 – Chris Sabin attacks Jeff Jarrett

Jeff Jarrett cut a promo about being the founder of TNA. Jarrett talks about the issues between Sting and Hogan and addresses the attack on Hogan. He calls it gutless and vowed to bring the assailant to justice. He initially stated that his prime suspect was Sting but has not been able to track him down. He declared that a new interim general manager would take over on Impact. He gave those in the back a chance to reveal themselves if any of them were the attacker(s) but out came Chris Sabin. Sabin denied attack Hogan but came out to address Jeff. Chris said he’s been with TNA almost since it began and talks about being inspired by Jeff to work hard to achieve dreams. However, he now believes that Jeff’s message of hard work is BS as Sabin was the best worker last year and has been left off the card for the final PPV of 2010. He asks Jeff Jarrett for a match at the first PPV of 2011, Genesis, but Jeff refuses. Sabin attacks Jarrett and performs a conchairto to leave the man hurt.

 
Match 3 – Jeff Hardy and Brother Devon def. Abyss and Bobby Lashley in a hardcore tag team match

At Turning Point, Abyss won Lashley’s TNA Global Title obviously causing dissension between the two. However, they decided to put their differences aside to finish off Jeff Hardy and Brother Devon. However, an opponent miscommunication caused Hardy and Devon to pick up the win. Abyss and Lashley argued afterwards. 85% which is fine I guess.

 

Match 4 – Mr Anderson def. Christopher Daniels

These two have been arguing about who is more worthy of a TNA World title shot as of late. They decided to settle it with a match at Final Resolution which Anderson won by cheating. With an overall rating of 89%, this was the start to a very solid ending to the show. Happy with this and I do want to keep it going into Genesis.

 

Match 5 – Jay Lethal and Kurt Angle def. “Deadly Sin” Raven and Rhino in a non-title match. If Jay Lethal and Kurt Angle lost, Jay Lethal would leave TNA.

Raven and Rhino have been mocking Jay Lethal for not being able to beat them for the Tag Titles. Angle came to Lethal’s aid as Lethal stated that it’s not about winning the tag titles, it’s about him proving that he was one of the best in the business. Lethal challenged Deadly Sin to one more tag team match at Final Resolution. Deadly Sin agreed as long as Lethal was the one that put something on the line this time. If Lethal’s team lost, Lethal would be forced to leave TNA for good. Lethal agreed and Lethal actually got the pin as he and Angle won. This is a big win for him as he had been losing quite a bit in the last few months. I felt he had to win this and Lethal is exceptionally over now. With the 95% rating, I think this went really well!

 

Match 6 – Rey Mysterio def. Alex Shelley

96% rating! Love it! Alex Shelley getting over big time with this feud and the in-ring work was exceptional. This is only the beginning of things with Mysterio and Shelley.

 

Match 7 – John Cena (c) def. AJ Styles in a steel cage match to retain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship

Cena stands tall as champion with this 89% rating. Cena was the most over and I want to continue his reign as champion. Cena was attacked after the match by Samoa Joe setting up our next TNA World title feud between Cena and Joe. I’m actually looking forward to this one as Cena vs Joe was a match I always thought would be cool if it ever happened. They’ve got similar power styles with Joe obviously being more of a high-flyer. I feel there’s a lot of potential with this one.

 

So that was Final Resolution. I hope you all enjoyed it. Next up is Genesis, which has already been done. I will reveal one important detail going into that event about the angle with Hulk Hogan taking out.

For the moment, Hogan’s duties as GM will be handled by Kurt Angle. Kurt Angle has just become a non-wrestler in my game so I’ve decided to make him an Authority figure as well. I think the control of the company angle has a lot of potential considering the people involved. We’ve got Hulk Hogan and Kurt Angle as the bosses for the people and we’ve got Sting, who is wanting to get Hogan from out of power because of what he’s done to WCW in the past. There’s all the ingredients for a fine little storyline.

 

TNA Bound For Glory 2015 Review – Prologue

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I’m going to tell everybody a story which begins all the way in 2006. In 2006, I was a wrestling fan that had started watching WWE programming just a few years earlier. However, this was a year in which I was really starting to lose interest in WWE. There were a lot of failed storylines and projects that was slowly sucking the enjoyment from watching RAW, SmackDown! and ECW. RAW was particular dominated by John Cena and the reunited DX, SmackDown! was ruled by King Booker, the “Animal” Batista and the underdog champion Rey Mysterio, and ECW was ruled by the Big Show. It was a very testing time to being a WWE fan. Have no fear though. On the Wrestling Channel in the UK, they were starting to show episodes of a wrestling show called TNA IMPACT.

I was interested, because it featured former WWE stars and even WCW legend Sting. I also noticed these new talents that were so exiting to watch that it was baffling why they weren’t signed with someone like WWE. This was the show I needed to regain my passion for wrestling. TNA was a hit. It was unique, it featured six sided rings and unbelievable talent. For me, this was a nice alternative from the “sports entertainment” of WWE.

TNA spread like wild-fire, even resulting in “TNA” being chanted during episodes of RAW. In a weird case of deja vu from the 1995 King Of The Ring, where ECW chants were bellowed out in Philadelphia, the fans were more interested in chanting the name of a “rival” wrestling company than the actual product in front of them. They might have good reason to do it. After all they chanted this during a miserable, and I mean MISERABLE, “Donald Trump” vs “Rosie O’Donnell” match.

What’s funny about this incident is that TNA and ECW are VERY similar in a lot of other aspects too. They were both innovative companies that brought a unique style of wrestling to the US. However, they both also had their issues that prevented them from reaching their full potential. ECW’s problem was a lack of funds which resulted in talent being stolen from WWF and WCW, which led to the company’s bankruptcy in 2001. The issues for TNA were more than just money…

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While I loved the company when I first started watching it and then for years after, this company was running itself into the ground. TNA initially had a simple but effective product which was really taking off like a rocket. While they signed high-profile wrestlers like Kurt Angle from time to time, the main attraction which really made it different from the WWE was the X-Division. They were the stars. Hell, they were the main-event in a few instances. However, TNA soon seemed to completely neglect what brought them to the dance to make room for… “sports entertainment.”

They had great wrestlers but the powers-that-be of TNA ultimately decided that the only way to beat WWE… was to BE WWE. It was not about being an alternative WRESTLING company. It was about purely booking from an “entertainment” standpoint. Therefore, a lot of product was heavily reliant on angles in order to advance the stories. It was a product heavily reliant on swerves which really didn’t need to be there. The use of storylines in wrestling is fine, as that’s one of the most important aspects of the wrestling business. It’s about telling a story, whether you do it in the ring or in an angle. However, the use of storylines OVER wrestling is what really damaged the product.

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It wasn’t just the decisions of creative that really dented the company. Many decisions by those actually RUNNING the company were very questionable. It’s almost that the company never realised the importance of the younger stars and put all their faith in the likes of Jeff Hardy in order to bring in the ratings. True, it wouldn’t hurt to have a bit of star power in their ranks. However, a BIT would do just fine. In 2010, with Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff coming in, so did dozens of new wrestlers. When I say new, I mean old. Old former WWE, WCW or ECW stars that are now part of the NEW vision of TNA!

Trust me, I’m not knocking those stars that came in. They’re stars for a reason but a lot of these stars served zero purpose in the future of TNA. What sort of contribution were the Nasty Boys supposed to bring to TNA’s future? What was the point in bringing Orlando Jordan to TNA? Why were all the ECW originals hired, other than to set up a ECW reunion show? Just… why?

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Of course, the old dudes were not why I was still watching TNA in 2012 and 2013. During those times, the shows were actually great to watch. In the early days of this blog, TNA reviews were a common feature. The storylines improved following the implosion of Immortal but a new sense of attention to younger stars was finally introduced. Finally, stars like Bobby Roode and James Storm were able to properly develop. Those two produced quite possibly the greatest feud in TNA history. Austin Aries became a star and even became TNA World Heavyweight Champion. Bully Ray had been in wrestling for decades but at least he became a singles star in his own right. They weren’t just dependent on the older main event stars to advance the shows.

The point is, the potential was ALWAYS there for TNA to succeed. We’ll get onto the financial troubles later on but from a creative standpoint, the potential was there. They had all the means to create stars easily that didn’t need to break the bank. However, they didn’t. Not only didn’t they make the stars that they could have, they also broke the bank while they were at it. Which leads me to their financial troubles…

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As mentioned earlier, TNA have splashed a fair amount of cash during their existence. As mentioned earlier, they hired a ton of wrestlers in 2010 believing that the driving force of TNA would be the stars… from TEN YEARS AGO! However, Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff’s plans with these stars was always going to fail. Not only were the stars just going to hold back the younger talent, TNA didn’t have the sufficient financial structure that could allow Bischoff, Hogan and Dixie Carter to just pluck these guys like plucking apples from a tree. According to Vince Russo he frequently warned Eric and Hogan that this was not like the days of WCW, where they could easily sign whoever they wanted. TNA’s financial structure was clearly not as great as they believed it to be.

We compared TNA to ECW, but at least Paul Heyman knew that ECW was not a great position to snap up the true stars of wrestling. He had to develop them, because there was not way that he could snap up the likes of Sting, Steve Austin and The Rock from WCW and the WWF. He was as realistic as possible, because he did not have seemingly unlimited funds like WCW. You know what’s funny, is that TNA was similar to WCW in its mindset with money. They didn’t think money would be an issue but really… it was.

There’s also the foolish decisions made by TNA which they believed would turn the product. We’re not talking about the expensive contracts. We’re talking about decisions like deciding to move TNA to Monday nights and go head-to-head with RAW. They decided to start a “Monday Night War” when they were never in a million years going to beat RAW in the ratings. It’d be like if Malta ever declared war on Germany. They would also never force Vince McMahon to change up his writing in order to beat TNA. The gap was just too big for Vince to care.

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Ultimately, TNA’s failures backstage has lead to the company’s own demise. Quite honestly, this saddens me a lot. Even though I’ve not really watched the product in a few years, I still have a strong connection and appreciation for a lot of things TNA has brought to wrestling. The X-Division, at its prime, was sublime. The likes of Bobby Roode, AJ Styles, James Storm, Samoa Joe and others have provided great match after great match. We even got one of the greatest segments of all time, with Jay Lethal confronting Ric Flair in a woo-off! I’ll have so many fond memories of TNA, which is why it is sad that I might have just watched it’s final ever PPV.

So… did TNA go out with a bang or a whimper? Join me for the TRUE review of TNA Bound For Glory, and whether there were any glorious moments to be had during TNA’s possibly final hurrah!

NEWS – Brock Lesnar And Undertaker Among Huge Names Announced For RAW In Dallas

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BREAKING NEWS!

WWE have just announced FIVE big names for a RAW in Dallas, Texas next month. To say that this is going to be a star-studded show is an understatement!

The five men announced were….

  • Brock Lesnar
  • Undertaker
  • Shawn Michaels
  • Ric Flair
  • And Stone Cold Steve Austin!

Here’s the tweet from @WWE confirming the names stated above.

Ric Flair has been doing a lot of appearances recently on WWE television, including getting involved in the John Cena/Jon Stewart business as well as supporting her daughter Charlotte in her Divas title pursuit. He did say recently that he’d love to be on as many RAWs as he can and I’m glad that we’ll see him again!

Brock Lesnar and Undertaker will obviously be there to promote their match at Hell in a Cell. I think this will be the RAW before the PPV so they might have confrontation or something to lead into the PPV.

Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin are actually great coups for WWE. Austin and Michaels are both from Texas, so it makes sense as to why they’d show up. Undertaker’s also from Texas, which explains his appearance. Austin’s actually not appeared on WWE television since Wrestlemania XXX. He’s been doing the podcasts on the WWE Network and will be a big part of WWE 2K16. He’ll also probably been brought in to plug that too. However, to see him actually on RAW or a PPV is actually a rare treat. I think he’s not been on RAW since 2011, since he wasn’t on RAW 1000 or anything.

From the names that we’ve been giving, I think they’ll do like a Legend’s Panel to talk about the Hell in a Cell match. They did it a few times with Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan before, including one for the Royal Rumble. They obviously can’t do Hogan, so Austin might be brought in to take his place.

It’s a month or so a way but you can tell that this will be quite the go-home show before Hell in a Cell.

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