RETRO EXPRESS: CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS #33 – HOLLYWOOD HOGAN (C) VS RIC FLAIR FOR THE WCW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP

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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Howdy! We’re changing things up a bit with this post. The last episode of WCW Monday Nitro I reviewed was building up the main-event of WCW Clash of the Champions XXXIII which was Hollywood Hogan vs Ric Flair. Now I never watched the last Clash of the Champions they did in January 1996 and I didn’t really wanna watch this one either. However, I did want to watch the main-event for a few reasons:

  1. Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair was a pretty big dream match at the time so whenever they wrestled each other, it was pretty much considered a big deal.
  2. This would most likely tie-in to the current New World Order storyline.
  3. This was the first ever Hogan vs Flair match where Hogan was the heel and Flair was the babyface…. that is HUGE.

I watched The Giant and Hogan from Hog Wild and I found it so surreal to see Hogan wrestle a “Hulk Hogan” match as the heel with Giant running wild on him. How is a babyface Ric Flair vs a heel Hulk Hogan going to work? I couldn’t help myself so I watched this match as part of this series.

Think of this as a bonus match review, as we’ve done before, as part of the Retro Express WCW series!

 

Hollywood Hogan (c) vs Ric Flair w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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Tony Schiavonie at commentary did an excellent job in hyping up this match. He broke down the entire storylines of both these men from the moment when Hulk Hogan arrived in WCW in 1994 up until this point. Now Ric Flair is being cheered against the “low-life” Hollywood Hogan as Bobby Heenan referred to him as. It creates the contrasts to the men these two were two years ago to the men these two are now.

Hogan was still cheered as a babyface as he came down and ripped off his shirt though. The Giant nameplate was still on the belt. Hogan slicked his forehead for some reason. Flair then responded by slicking his own hair back to big “woos” from the crowd.

They locked up as Ric took over with a confident look on his face. Hogan knocked down Flair with a shoulder block. Hogan positioned Flair on the top turnbuckle and when the referee was dealing with Hogan, Flair got in a cheeky slap to the face. Hogan wrestled Flair to the ground and worked on the arm which did not look good. Flair then chopped away and punched at him as Hogan got upset on the outside, Hogan threatened to punch a female fan who was giving him all kinds of hell!

Hogan won the test of strength and Flair bit at Hogan to take control ofthe match. They had a few spots where they were on totally different pages.

Ric Flair pulled off a big delayed suplex to Hogan which is quite a feat of strength. Hogan then HULKED UP as Flair punched away as the fans went crazy. Hogan did his whole babyface Hogan comeback. Hogan then missed the Leg Drop and Flair capitalised with the Figure Four Leg Lock as Heenan commanded that Flair breaks Hogan’s legs! Hogan threw down the referee Randy Anderson as he was locked in the hold.

Then the Outsiders ran down and the nWo beat down Flair. The Horsemen and Sting and Lex Luger chased away the nWo as Tony believed Hogan had given up. Flair was declared the winner via disqualification.

Flair and Sting pushed each other as Hogan yelled from the entrance ramp. Hogan posed with the belt as Dave Penzer officially declared Flair was the winner but was not the champion.

Exciting at times but an otherwise dull typical Nitro main-event at Clash of the Champions.

Match Rating: *3/4

 

I shouldn’t be surprised that this match was as big of a let-down despite the interest and build towards it. This is hero Ric Flair versus villain Hulk Hogan. Who could have imagined that we’d ever see this in a wrestling ring? What happens? Instead of building this up for, I dunno, Starrcade or some other big pay-per-view, they rushed towards putting it on television in this TBS special. Because WCW wanted to protect both men (for multiple reasons probably), they had a typical disqualification and it was bothersome.

If not already established by the last edition of Nitro, I guess this accomplished the goal of perhaps “tightening” the unity between the Horsemen, Luger and Sting but it didn’t really seem to accomplish anything for the future. A big match they could have built on and delivered at a bigger stage going to waste at a Clash of the Champions event and producing a non-finish.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #42 (JULY 1ST 1996) – THE FOUR HORSEMEN TEAM UP FOR THE FIRST TIME ON WCW NITRO

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

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Last week, the Outsiders returned to interfere in the WCW tag team title match with Sting and Lex Luger defending the straps against Harlem Heat and the Steiner Brothers. The match stopped as 20 security guards enter the ring and blocked off 75% of the ring but somehow, Booker T as able to roll-up Lex Luger to win the tag titles for Harlem Heat. The Outsiders have now added a little fuel to the fire of their six man tag team match against Sting, Luger and “Macho Man” Randy Savage at Bash at the Beach. We also still have no idea who the third man is who will fight alongside Scott Hall and Kevin Nash

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This Nitro I’m about to review really wasn’t anything special, although it had Nash and Hall involved in what was seemingly a big go-home angle for the PPV. We’ll get to that but I have more pressing matters when it comes to this WWE Network.

Let me explain what happened in the weekend I watched this episode of Nitro. I watched Nitro on the Saturday Night and NXT UK: TakeOver Blackpool II on the Sunday. One of these shows was a pre-recorded event from 23 years ago and the other one was a live stream. Let’s establish that as I explain what happened.

I sit down to watch Nitro and literally 10 minutes into the show, buffering problems galore started. It was stopping every 5 seconds and I even went to the trouble of pausing it for a long period of time. This was 10 MINUTES into a 1 hour and 30 minute wrestling show. I restart the opening match and at the moment where Rick Steiner is about to get a hot tag, the video stopped ALL together.

I got so mad. I shut the PS4 off. It worked with minimal issues for the next 20 minutes or so. Then it stopped all together with Randy Savage vs Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and I simply stopped again and walked away. I gave up and I had no way around this. I walked away for a couple of hours, went for a walk, I did other things and then I came back to watch the rest of this episode many hours later.

I eventually finished the episode but this episode stopped and started OVER AND OVER AND OVER again from here on out. I just sucked it up and dealt with it. I seriously came so close to skipping this episode completely. If it weren’t for the Outsiders being involved in the main-event angle, I would have just stopped it as soon as Flair got the pin in that Horsemen main-event. This was unbearable and almost unwatchable.

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Now the day after, I watched NXT UK: TakeOver Blackpool II. I was concerned because I booked time off from work to watch the Royal Rumble live as I always do this. I’m concerned because if these problems continued for this live NXT UK show, I won’t be able to watch the Royal Rumble. Low and behold, I watched this live stream of NXT UK: TakeOver Blackpool on the WWE Network and it worked PERFECTLY.

For 90 minutes or whatever, Nitro was horrible with buffering and then for 2 and a half hours, I had zero buffering problems when watching NXT UK THE NEXT DAY. I am sure this is a concentrated WWE conspiracy against WCW, even after all of this time after WCW died. This has to be a plan to stick it to WCW by making all of the WCW content unwatchable. Every one of the last three episodes of Nitro I’ve watched had problems and yet NXT UK worked FINE LIVE.

If it’s not that, than it is a concentrated WWE conspiracy against me! YOU BE THE JUDGE.

…..let’s review Nitro.

 

Date: July 1st 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Landover, Maryland

Rating: 3.3

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan

 

DDP interrupted Tony and Larry at commentary. DDP cut them off saying the Lord of the Ring was stolen and demanded everyone got strip-searched, vowing to get to the bottom of it. He said everyone was jealous and then left.

They recapped the main-event angle from last week and Larry Zybsko cut this big promo on the Outsiders about how if he were still wrestling, the Outsiders would be no problem. Larry was really not impressive on commentary at all and honestly, had a terrible night as a commentator for the hour he was on. Larry did actually drop the line of “There will be a New World Order this Sunday” which was a sign of things to come…

 

“Harlem Heat” Booker T © and Stevie Ray (c) vs “The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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I love how Sting and Lex Luger got screwed last week out of the tag team titles. When 20 security guards were in the ring facing down the Outsiders, Booker got a roll-up and pin to win the tag titles with Stevie even holding Luger’s foot down. Sitng and Luger got royally shafted and this week, the STEINER BROTHERS get the tag title match against Harlem Heat. The Steiner Brothers weren’t even involved with the finish, but here they were getting a tag team title match before Sting and Lex Luger.

This match started with Scott showing some lovely amateur wrestling. Scott took over Booker with a fireman’s carry slam and hit a sweet belly to belly suplex. Booker got sent to the outside with a clothesline by Scott, followed up with Rick taking out Stevie.  Security was literally sat outside of the ring at ringside anticipating the Outsiders.

The Four Horsemen were shown wining and dining, watching this match. Stevie took control of Rick in the ring. Rick hit a solid German Suplex right on the shoulders of Stevie. Scott tried a backslide and eventually got the big man over for a 2 count. Stevie nearly got dropped right on the head with a over-head belly-to-belly suplex. Col Robert Parker came down to ringside.

Booker tried a leapfrog and despite landing awkwardly on Rick, Rick caught him and slammed him down. It was a tremendous jump by Booker to jump that high and good work from Rick to catch him and slam him.

Booker turned Rick inside out with a side kick. Booker hit a crossbody from the top rope for a 2 count. Rick kept getting called the dog-faced gremlin by the commentators for some reason. Rick hit a belly to belly from the top rope and Scott hit a tiger powerbomb for a 2 count.

Ray hit a kick to the back of Scott and Booker hit a super kick to take control to get the heat for Harlem Heat. Booker hit a big splash and hit the face of Scott There was a double clothesline which led to Rick getting the hot tag. Rick hit a powerslam. Scott hit the Frankesnteiner on Booker but Scott was not the legal man. Rick hits a bulldog and Steiners tried the Steinerizer but Parker took out Rick on the apron. Booker pinned Rick for the win.

It was a decent match but totally forgettable on Nitro. Col. Robert Parker suddenly with Harlem Heat seemed very weird, especially considering I think Parker was the reason they lost Sensational Sherri as a manager. Parker and Sherri got hitched and she left Harlem Heat as their manager. A very weird combination of a tag team and manager.

 

Mean Gene interviewed the Four Horsemen, Woman, Elizabeth and Debra McMichael. There were seven people gathered together for the heels and they all got a chance to talk, including the women. They showed the Joe Gomez beat-down from a month ago and Mongo interfering last week. Debra put over her husband, talking about making more money here than in the NFL. Elizabeth talked about having a great time and having Randy Savage’s money. Woman talked about having a full-time driver. Arn says they run the professional wrestling world. Benoit said he was the crippler who was “silent but violent.” Mongo said money makes the monkey dance. Ric dares Savage to comes after them and woos. That’s pretty much what each of them said. A surprisingly bland promo from the Four Horsemen.

 

Disco Inferno vs Kurasawa

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This week for Disco Inferno, there was a disco ball shining bright over the ring as they revealed Eric Bischoff was back for the second hour. He’d missed the last two weeks due to the Kevin Nash powerbomb from The Great American Bash.

Disco cut a promo, asking the fans if they wanted him to dance. He said to hit his music and so of course, Kurasawa’s music hit. I will give credit to Larry Zybsko for telling Disco Inferno to disco to this! This Kurasawa song was not for dancing!

Kurasawa kicked Disco in the head and chopped him down. He beat down Disco Inferno during the match and keep in mind, Disco Inferno is challenging for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship at Bash at the Beach!

Disco pulled off fake martial arts and the fans laughed. Kurasawa delivered kicks to the leg and smashed into Disco with a running elbow smash in the corner. I did love the comedy of Disco kicking the steel steps in frustration and then tending to his foot.

Kurasawa hit a Samoan Drop and then the Disco Fever song played in the middle of the match. Kurasawa is all distracted by the music and then a man appears on the entrance ramp dressed like Disco and dancing. The Disco Ball from above the ring is lowered down. I don’t know what was in this Disco Ball but Disco Inferno used the levitating Disco Ball and smashes it at Kurasawa, and Kurasawa sold this like he was hit with a wrecking ball. Disco threw a simple disco ball and got the pinfall. This was to build up Disco Inferno challenging for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship.

By the way, this referee didn’t see a disco ball levitating down to the ring as the Disco Fever song played? Was he that mesmerised of this random dancing dude on the ramp?

This sucked. 95% of this sucked. 5% was acceptable because at least some of Disco’s comedy was actually funny.

 

Scotty Riggs vs DDP

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DDP questioned some of the camera crew and and someone who Larry referred to as “some other geek.” DDP questioned the fans and the other staff about his ring that he’d been unable to find. Hacksaw cut an inset promo on DDP denying taking the ring.

DDP hit a back suplex. DDP locked on an abdominal stretch, grabbing the ropes whenever he could for leverage. I love how Nick Patrick doesn’t react at all when DDP bounces vigorously up and down to assert his leverage on the ropes. Then DDP stopped all together and only then does Patrick waddle over to DDP to check his hands on the rope. If not already established last week, Nick Patrick is a really bad referee.

DDP hit a big clothesline after almost being rolled up by Riggs. DDP hit a pumphandle backbreaker. DDP goes for the pumphandle slam but Riggs reverses it into a school boy for a near fall. Riggs hits a springboard splash to the outside. Riggs did a crossbody headbutt but DDP put his foot on the rope off the cover. DDP reversed a scoop slam into the Diamond Cutter and got the pin, to which Larry called a “nice block” by DDP.

This was another absolute nothing DDP match on Nitro where the only thing that gets a pop is the Diamond Cutter, which is getting more and more over each week.

Mean Gene interviewed DDP. DDP said everyone was jealous. DDP told Duggan to meet him at the Bash but he doesn’t care as he wanted the ring. DDP searched Mean Gene himself for the ring.

 

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

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The only really noteworthy thing about this match was the finish. I know the Nitro debut of Greg “The Hammer” Valentine should be a talking point but we have to talk about the finish as yes, it did play into the fireworks for the second hour of Nitro.

Greg hit a back suplex and both men were down. Greg was in control of a couple of minutes and the referee yelled at them to take it home, because the dynamite timer started at the bottom of the TV screen for the viewers. Apparently they had already set it to go off at a particular moment, so they had to get the end of the match done before the fireworks go off.

Almost as if it was voodoo or as if nothing had happened, Savage gets himself up. He rose up like the Undertaker as if he was invulnerable. He runs up to the top rope and hits the elbow drop and gets the pin conveniently before the big fireworks go off for the second hour!

It was also noteworthy that Tony and Larry were talking about who the third man was and Larry Zybsko speculates that it was funny Greg “The Hammer” Valentine came into WCW as they were speculating who the third man was. I mean never mind Sting or Lex Luger or Bret Hart or all the other names that were considered for the third man role. No, Larry thought it would end up being Greg “The Hollywood” Valentine instead!

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Eric Bischoff was shown on screen for the second hour and he talked about how he’s glad to be back. Bischoff said Nash didn’t scare anybody so who were they trying to impress? He said Savage, Sting and Luger aren’t afraid of you. He said we’re all gonna be there on Sunday and he kinda quieted down to the point where we could barely hear anything from him!

Bischoff talked about how WCW was not gonna back down when the fans popped for Scott Hall and Kevin Nash coming down the steps with popcorn and drinks. Bischoff said they’re not scaring anybody, which was PROVEN correct as the fans were cheering for the Outsiders and giving them high fives! They loved the Outsiders in the building!

The security told them to get out here. They revealed they bought tickets as Nash exclaimed “we came to see the big boys.” They offered them popcorn which made me laugh. There’s more of Nash in particular to come which we’ll get to….

 

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

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Could you imagine if you’re Kevin Nash and Scott Hal waltzing into Nitro to watch the “big boys” and the first match is THE GIANT VS JOHN TENTA?

The Giant headbutted and chopped Tenta. Tenta fired away with clobbering punches. Giant floored him with a big clothesline and did some stomps in the corner. The Giant scoop slammed Tenta with ease and Heenan even said he did it easily.

Giant did a nerve hold which looked like he was messaging his neck rather than actually applying a hold. Giant beat on him for a while and rammed his backside into the gut of Tenta.

Giant tried a big splash but Tenta cut him off with a big boot. Tenta tried a middle rope clothesline and dropped Giant with a dropkick. Yeah, JOHN TENTA was the house of fire near the end of this title match! He whipped out dropkicks and middle rope flying clotheslines like it was nothing!

Of course there’s shenanigans as Taskmaster, Jimmy Hart and Big Bubba run down. Tenta overcame them all but The Giant chokeslamed Tenta for the win. Say what you will but I felt a weird joy in seeing John Tenta getting the chance to run wild on the Dungeon of Doom! John Tenta of all people in WCW getting a big chance to be Hulk Hogan for a minute or so!

Bubba shaved half of Tenta’s beard. This Giant vs Tenta was better thantheir last match on Nitro together.

 

Mean Gene interviewed the Dungeon of Doom. Jimmy said that was an example of what was gonna happen to the Horsemen at Bash at the Beach. . Bubba said he was gonna hurt Tenta at Bash at the Beach. The Giant said Tenta’s first major mistake was leaving the Dungeon of Doom as the chokeslam is the price you’ll have to pay and Bubba was gonna shave the rest of his body, which was a weird threat!

The Giant said he’ll always have the title. Taskmaster started to talk and then he appeared to be looking at the Outsiders. Giant took over and said the fire burning in Taskmaster’s soul is something you should fear or something. To me this was decent delivery of nothing dialogue for The Giant. This really didn’t get me invested in the Dungeon vs Horsemen tag team match at all.

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They showed a video package of Rey Mysterio Jr featuring exclusively the two matches he’s had with Dean Malenko! Quite the highlight reel for Rey Mysterio, showing the two matches that he lost while with WCW! They stopped it as they showed a woman running from the announce booth.

They showed the Outsiders walking through the crowd and grabbing the mic. They bust through the guard rail as security surrounded them. Team WCW came out as all of them were held back. Sting, Lex Luger and Randy Savage were all there. The Steiners were there too. Even a lot of heels were there as The Giant, DDP, Big Bubba and Taskmaster were all there defending WCW too. The fans chanted DIESEL as the Outsiders eventually left.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Duggan talked about going on the toilet and relieving himself, which was a weird way of putting it! He found DDP’s ring in the bathroom and called it a feminine ring. Duggan was talking trash about this ring when HE WAS IN THE TOURNAMENT FIGHTING FOR IT at Slamboree. Hacksaw said DDP was not thinking right as DDP bust into the locker room. Duggan dropped the ring on the floor and as DDP went to pick it up, Hacksaw hit him with the loaded taped fist like a complete dick. Hacksaw Jim Duggan is a horrible babyface in my eyes! This poor man DDP is looking for this ring, which he earned fair and square, and Duggan is being a complete dick about it.

 

“The Rock N Roll Express” Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson, Joe Gomez and The Renegade vs “The Four Horsemen” Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Chris Benoit and Steve “Mongo” McMichael

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A bit of a boring match with a really sloppy finish. I love where Arn got punched in the corner from every babyface being bounced around like a ping pong ball! Watching Arn sell like crazy for the babyfaces is always fun to me!

It broke out into an eight man brawl at the start of the match that the babyfaces won. Ric and Ricky locked up. Ricky did a hurricanrana as the Rock N Roll Express did a double dropkick to Flair. Ric literally collapsed to tag in Arn!

Arn got turned inside out with a Gibson enziguiri. Benoit got a big pop when he got tagged in. Benoit chopped away at Renegade. Renegade ran wild with clotheslines and then Joe sent Flair to the outside with a punch. Gomez actually won on Flair for a while with a back drop among other moves.

Flair got back into the match with a vintage thumb to the eye. Benoit yelled at Joe “do you know who you’re missing with” as he beat on Gomez, who was the one getting beat down for the heat.

Mongo finally got tagged in and he was not too bad. He was not particularly good but he took his time. He did very little but very basic moves. Mongo smashed Joe with a clobbering blow to which Heenan laughed his head off at!

He slapped away at Joe. Arn hit the spinebuster which Eric called a side-walk slam which was broken up. Benoit eventually got fired up and punched at Gomez with fury.

Mongo wrestled for a bit. Gomez was in the ring for a long time/ Renegade didn’t look like he was tagged in but I guess he was as he started beating up the heels and running wild. The Rock N Roll Express ran in as well as the babyfaces took over.

I have no idea what happened with this finish. The Renegade is working way too fast as he usually did. Even Dolph Ziggler was telling this guy to slow down! He goes for a dive off the top rope and some kind of miscommunication happened, where either Mongo was supposed to hit Renegade in mid-air with a briefcase or Renegade was not supposed to jump and so Mongo improvised. What actually happened was Renegade went off the top rope when Mongo threw a briefcase at him while he’s in mid-flight. Mongo missed with this throw and think of the irony of that. The NFL player was unable to hit a moving target when throwing a briefcase. So Mongo missed the throw but Renegade still smashed head-first into the mat to sell for it. He didn’t fall down on his back or even on his front. He landed right on his neck as he tried to sell this briefcase shot, which didn’t even hit him. This was one of the worst screwed up finishes in the Nitro series so far.

Flair locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock for the pinfall I victory I believe.

 

Mean Gene interviewed the Four Horsemen again. I have no idea why Mean Gene felt the need to talk to these guys again. Mongo yelled about not caring about Chicago and that the Horsemen was his team and he would do whatever it took for the Horsemen to win. Benoit said the gold was coming back to where it belonged. Arn said they’re gonna get the pinfall and the Horsemen are hand-picked and hand-selected. Ric yelled at Konnan saying he was gonna be the US Champion. Ric said the party would go all night long. I do love the running gag of Woman seducing Mean Gene Okerlund during these interviewed! Mean Gene will always try to be professional but he can’t help but be smitten with Woman!

The show ended with Eric leaveing the booth as the Outsiders showed up backstage. Nash offered to buy security all a donut which I laughed out-loud at. Nash bragged about his car being worth more than what they earn in a year or something. They drove off into a car and the show ended.

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If nothing else, this show was a lot more eventful than last week. All kinds of stuff happened when you sit down and think about. There wasn’t many bright spots but there was some funny humor with Kevin Nash. I think the angle they did with the Outsiders was a great final tease before they go to war at Bash at the Beach and the rest of the show was just filler again, with some unintentionally funny moments here and there.

Next up is the review of the famous Bash at the Beach show at last! We’ll be reviewing the show in full and as well as the main-event of Sting, Lex Luger and Randy Savage facing Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and a mystery third man…

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #33 (APRIL 29TH 1996) – RIC FLAIR VS THE GIANT IN A PERFECTLY BOOKED REMATCH FOR THE WCW WORLD TITLE

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

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In thelast episode, the change in momentum of WCW Nitros continued. After what felt like months of lacklustre Nitros, we had another decent Nitro in the bag which felt fresh. We had Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero, Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs Meng and we had a tag team main-event for the WCW World, TV and Tag Team titles. The main-event ended in a disqualification which meant none of the titles changed hands. The finish saw Ric Flair accidentally throw coffee in The Giant’s face. This led to The Giant vowing to beat Flair for the title and Flair saying he was gonna kick Giant’s “big ass” before the show ended.

 

I don’t have much complaints about this week’s show either. The show felt fresh and different to what we’re used to seeing on Nitros. We got fresh faces, we got fresh matches, we got fresh match types and we got a CLEAN VICTORY in the main-event of the show which we’ll get to later on. That is the short version of my review but there’s a lot more to appreciate and we might as well get started with the review of Episode #33 of WCW Monday Nitro.

 

Date: April 29th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Albany, Georgia (It’s listed as Albany, Georgia which was the same as last week so I’m assuming this was a taped edition)

Rating: 2.1 (Down from last week)

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

 

Sting © and Lex Luger © vs “Harlem Heat” Booker T and Stevie Ray for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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I initially groaned at the idea of this match happening again but you know what, this was actually a really good match this week from these two tag teams. The fans were into it, I was into it and the chemistry was on point for the majority of the match.

Before I get into the match, two other matches announced for the Lethal Lottery tournament were Lex Luger and Road Warrior Hawk vs Road Warrior Animal and Booker T and The Taskmaster and Chris Benoit vs Public Enemy. The irony of those two matches are just astonishing. The Road Warriors were booked to face each other. Lex Luger and Booker T, who were squaring off on this episode and actually teamed up to BEAT UP the Road Warriors at the last PPV, are facing each other. Public Enemy were RANDOMLY teamed together and yes… CHRIS BENOIT AND KEVIN SULLIVAN were teamed together. To anyone reading this who knows who Chris Benoit was, I’m sure you know where this angle is going when it regards to Kevin Sullivan and his wife…

Apologises forlast week saying Benoit wasn’t in the Lethal Lottery as I guess they maybe changed their minds. At least Benoit beating Eddie Guerrero last week led to something for Benoit. Also, they also kept calling the Lethal Lottery tournament the… LORD OF THE RING. I’m sure J. R. R. Tolkien was thrilled about that.

Anyway, back to the opening match of Nitro. Sting and Booker feel each other out to try and get the upper hand, and then Booker just hits a side kick. Booker does this fantastic sell from a clothesline where he came very close to doing a mid-air spinaroonie to sell this move! This big man moved like a Beyblade in the sky!

I didn’t write down in my notes who said this, but one of the announcers said it was “not gonna be a pretty picture” as Lex Luger and Stevie Ray battle in the ring! I kinda laughed at that line knowing how below average these two wrestlers were but you know what, it wasn’t too bad between them in this match minus Lex Luger getting super gassed quickly.  Lex Luger punched and stomps away at Stevie Ray at a ridiculous pace and got blown up because of it.

Lex and Sting actually worked really well as a tag team, especially in this match, where Luger is just getting better as he worked with Sting. The chemistry was there most of the time for tag moves. Booker hit a side kick which Bischoff called a “jump wheel kick” at least twice. Isn’t the “jump wheel kick” what X-Pac used to do?

Stevie Ray did a crappy looking crane kick as he stumbled and lost his balance and then just fell down on his backside. Sting and Booker dropped each other with a double clothesline in the middle of the ring. In the middle of all this, the announcers also talk about Booty Man and Rick Steiner vs Scott Steiner and Craig Pittman also happening in the Lethal Lottery.

The fans went nuts for Luger getting the hot tag. Luger hit some sloppy clotheslines as he “ran wild” which is being generous. Harlem Heat eventually overpowered him and Sting and actually took control of the match. They did a powerbomb/elbow drop combination when Jimmy Hart threw in the towel as Booker grabbed the towel to intercept. I assume this had nothing to do with Luger as Jimmy’s not really been involved with Luger since the PPV.

Stevie threw Jimmy into the ring and then Sting got the roll-up on Booker for the win. Harlem Heat ran after Jimmy Hart. A fine tag team match. I was a little uneasy going in but they put together a decent TV tag match. This gets a thumbs up.

 

 

“Fire and Ice” Scott Norton and Ice Train vs “The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner

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We’re not even at the Lethal Lottery yet in this series, but this felt like such a bizarre match to happen in the middle of the show. We got two big men in Scott Norton and Ice Train against two other big men in the Steiner Brothers. They went in there and had a tag team hoss match and it was great. They had a three minute match where they just threw each other around in that ring. It was fun to watch, regardless of how short it was.

Mongo was more concerned that Norton and Ice Train weren’t pro American footballers because all Mongo knows how to do is put over the NFL footballers more than the professional wrestlers… during a professional wrestling television show.

Ice Train put on some decent flashes of athleticism. He had a sequence where he did a leapfrog, a powerslam and a big splash.  Rick hit a beautiful German suplex on the big man Ice Train which was… GLORIOUS. Scott Steiner did a great T-Bone suplex himself and followed up with an awesome belly to belly suplex.

Norton caught Scott Steiner off the top and did a a big Gorilla Press which was really impressive.

Norton ran wild with clotheslines but Scott Steiner caught him and dropped him with a stun gun. Rick tried a spinning elbow but just ran into the brick wall that was Scott Norton. Ice Train did a big boot but lost his footing a little bit. Scott Steiner got clotheslined over the top rope by Norton but then Rick hit Ice Train with a clothesline in the ring for the pin. A weak finish with a clothesline but a fun tag team match. I very much enjoyed it. This felt like a proper wrestling match between four of the baddest dudes they found backstage.

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Ric Flair came out with Miss Elizabeth and Woman. After all of this time on screen, Elizabeth still looks nervous as hell on TV. I’m not sure where this Miss Elizabeth angle goes but if it turns out that she was a double agent for the babyfaces, it’s perfect that she’s acting all nervous around Flair!

Mean Gene did an interview with the three of them. Ric wanted Mean Gene to look at Woman and then Woman stroked Gene’s face and Mean Gene is immediately smitten! Mean Gene was such a gem on these Nitros!

Ric Flair basically cut a promo saying The Giant is a little man compared to Ric Flair, at least he got Woman to say that. Ric Flair doing this gimmick of having his women talk about how great he is is fine on paper but with these girls, they weren’t really charismatic enough to pull this off especially not Miss Elizabeth. As good as Ric Flair is, he probably should not throw it to the girls to talk about how great he is. I’m pretty sure Ric Flair can cut a good promo talking about how great he is!

 

We got a “blood runs cold” promo as someone is coming to WCW. I believe this maybe for Glacier. This was such high quality and had such dramatic music like this was going to be a big-time star… and then it turns out to be Glacier! If you think about guys like Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Rowdy Roddy Piper that are going to be on WCW soon, this big time promo is for GLACIER of all people! It’s kinda surreal.

 

The Belfast Bruiser vs Steven Regal in a parking lot brawl

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I got so giddy when I realised this was happening again. This match happening again with The Belfast Bruiser and Steven Regal, and the fact that they’ve raised the stakes with it being a parking lot brawl, tells you how so far ahead of 2019 WWE that even WCW were in 1996. They did this match on PPV and it got over, so they did it again on Nitro to try and pop a rating because they realised this got over. WWE flat out told the audience that Baron Corbin was the reason the ratings were going down and one year later, they are still pushing the guy when it’s shown and proven that he’s not connecting with the fans.

In WCW, they at least recognised what worked and they kept going when the fans were still into it. It was great to see this again. At least in 1996, they were able to figure out what was working well and what wasn’t.

The guys are shown fighting in the parking lot. Belfast Bruiser tried a big boot early on but ended up forcing his foot through a car window. This was literally one of the first things we saw in this match was Bruiser kicking out the window of a car.

Regal rubbed Bruiser’s face on the pavement. Bruiser beat Regal up with a tyre. Bruiser even ripped apart the bumper of a car and smacked Regal with it! Bruiser did a scoop slam on a car which Regal followed up with an elbow drop of the bonnet of a car. This match far surpassed the Public Enemy stuff we’ve seen as of late on the grounds that Regal and Bruiser were actually doing wrestling moves in the middle of all of this brawling. No matter how nasty they were, they were still wrestlers at heart and wanted to out-wrestle the other guy when they could.

Bruiser strangled Regal with a seat belt and then dropped Regal on the guard rail that the fans were stood behind during this. They fought up to a pick-up truck. They got to the top of it and then Bruiser just threw him off of it! I think Regal got smacked into the wing mirror of a car during this. Regal broke another window by smashing Bruiser into it.

Bruiser tried a tombstone on the pavement but thankfully Regal got out of it. Regal tried a piledriver ton the car but Bruiser reversed it. Regal hit a low blow and eventually hit a piledriver on the roof of the car to get the pin for the win. I was fine with this until Bruiser got back up RIGHT AWAY after the match and threw a bumper into another car. Other than that, this was a hell of a parking lot brawl.

Bobby Heenan eventually realised that one of those cars were one of his rent-a-car cars!

Before I move on, it tells you how much money WCW had to blow in money when they could just destroy 4 cars in a random parking lot brawl. Cars weren’t cheap back then either! Like if I went out there and I bought 4 £500 cars for a wrestling show just so I could destroy them, that would be one thing. I’m pretty sure they must have spent a fortune on these cars and Regal and Bruiser ripped them to shreds!

 

Ric Flair © w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth vs The Giant w/Jimmy Hart for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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There was a lot of good stuff on this episode by this point. I think I liked every match they put on up until this point. Then we got my favourite match of the night and possibly my favourite wrestling match in the WCW series so far. This was Ric Flair defending the WCW title against The Giant in the epic rematch from their post-Uncensored match that ended in The Giant laying waste to all.

The reason why this match was so great was because The Giant and Ric Flair were booked perfectly based on their characters. The Giant was booked perfectly as an unstoppable Giant and Ric Flair was booked perfectly as the dastardly, cowardly heel paying for all of his crimes. It was one of the most perfectly booked title matches I’d ever seen. Not the best technically but one of the best booked in how this match was put together.

Ric Flair’s initial shoulder blocks fail as he falls down but The Giant remained standing. He does a chop and flees as The Giant yells “GET IN THE RING”. Flair tried again with a shoulder tackle but it doesn’t work. This was great because as a fan, you start to question: “What could possibly have made him think this was gonna work?” Ric Flair was a desperate man willing to try anything, even if he knew that wasn’t gonna work!

The Giant did a big Gorilla Press. Flair got Irish Whipped over the top rope and to the outside. The Giant chases him as Flair hides behind the girls. Speaking of the girls, Woman was absolutely outstanding with her performance screeching for Flair’s life on the outside which we’ll get to as we discuss the finish.

Flair does a leaping eye poke! Ric Flair had literally jump up at the chance to cheat in his match when he could!  Flair tried chops again but Giant just lurched on and no-sold them.

The Giant missed Flair as he charged at him and ran into the corner. Flair saw his opportunity to dive off the top rope but Giant cut him off. The Giant does a SUPLEX… to Ric Flair! The Giant tried a chokeslam but Flair grabbed the rope to prevent himself from going up.

As the girls distracted the referee, Flair low-blowed The Giant for the “heat.” Ric punched him twice but Giant pushed him away twice! Jimmy distracted the ref but Flair took advantage and dropped The Giant with the brass knuckles. This was actually a clever little spot because Jimmy almost caused The Giant’s downfall and this clearly demonstrates that Jimmy is holding The Giant back with his performances in the ring. If The Giant turns on Jimmy, this was a clever and subtle way to start telling that story. 

Flair goes for the Figure Four Leg Lock on Giant but Giant rose up like a zombie and grabbed Ric by the throat. Woman, who screamed during the entire match. pulled off one of the most perfectly-timed horror-movie-like screams during a wrestling match. The Giant grabbed her man and Woman screamed like she’d just witnessed Godzilla invade Albany, Georgia. Her performance in selling the monstrosity that was The Giant was simply sublime. She knew her man was in deep trouble and sold this better than every manager except Paul Heyman could have done in professional wrestling today. 

The Giant then chokeslammed and pinned Ric Flair to win the WCW World title CLEAN AS A SHEET in the middle of the ring as the fans went bonkers! This was such a tremendous moment where Jimmy leapt into the Giant. He ran around the ring and was jumping with joy. 

This title change was so great because yes, the status quo on WCW Monday Nitro was disqualifications or counts out to protect everybody in the main-event because nobody wanted to lose. Not tonight. Ric Flair and everyone else involved put The Giant over bigger than Hulk Hogan could have possibly done. This was such a one-sided affair that the fans literally could not believe their eyes when The Giant actually pinned Ric Flair. It was one man beating another man fair and square in the middle of the ring.

It wasn’t even like this was just fair and square. The Giant dominated and beat a 13-time world champion by this point and now he was the new man. I’ve been very critical of the title reigns and WCW title wins since this series began but this was top-notch. It just felt like a perfectly-timed squash match to put over The Giant big as legitimately the new man while Hogan was away. This was not quite Brock Lesnar mascaraing John Cena at SummerSlam 2014 but this was such a decisive finish and it legitimately came out of nowhere after months of interferences and disqualifications in these big matches. This RULED.

Mean Gene gets in the ring and did an interview as Flair was pulled out by the girls!

Jimmy Hart said Flair got to go home with the women but Jimmy said he got to go home with the world champ The Giant. The Giant said he knew that this belt was his since Halloween Havoc. Whether anyone likes it or not, he said he’s the world champion and a fighting champion. He said: “Sting, Savage and Hogan, you’re all gonna come and you’re all gonna fall.”

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This was a great episode of WCW Nitro. Up and down the show, we got good matches and fresh new faces and changes to the status quo. We got stars over big in The Giant and it feels we have a lot more direction towards Slamboree. This was a great episode and ranks high on the list of good episodes of Nitro so far, if not the best episode of Nitro.

Anyway, we’ve got more Nitros on the way. The build obviously will continue for the Lethal Lottery/Slamboree with a new World Champion in The Giant. The review for Episode #34 I’m hoping to upload some time this week before Sunday so stay tuned. Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly an update whenever Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I will be back with my review of Episode #34 of Nitro from May 1996.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

Main Event 31/05/16 Review: Sasha Banks vs Summer Rae – The Return Of The Boss

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express, with a small review of the women’s match from this week’s episode of Main Event. This episode featured the return of “The Boss” Sasha Banks to television, as she defeated Summer Rae upon her return. The main point of the match was for Sasha to return in triumphant fashion and beat her former BFF Summer Rae. No mention of their previous relationship by the commentators for this match. SPEAKING OF WHICH…

The commentators for this episode of Main Event was Tom Phillips, Jerry Lawler and guest commentator Dolph Ziggler. I know that there’s a lot of fans that love Dolph Ziggler but I have to be honest – this was a pretty bad outing from the man. In a way, I do feel bad for Dolph as this was probably just a last minute deal for him to be on this show as a commentator. I also think commentary is probably a lot more difficult than people realise. With that said though, he was just so hard to deal with on commentary. He started out seemingly lost and not having a lot to say. He and Lawler started cracking jokes about the women, including about how Ziggler apparently couldn’t remember Summer Rae’s name despite the fact that Ziggler and Summer were involved in one of the most promoted angles of 2015. We all know how that turned out…

Then, as Jerry Lawler was making jokes, Ziggler started talking and becoming a lot more active. He began raising his voice more and more until the closing part of the match, where all Ziggler did was just screech at the top of his lungs. All of this was just a complete channel-changer when it came to the commentary. Tom Phillips was average, Jerry did everything but talk about the match and Ziggler was just not a fit out there in the slightest. The thing that was most alarming and worrying about all of this though was their treatment of Summer Rae…

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Summer Rae came out to cut this promo and she’s trying her best to build up anticipation for the WWE Brand Extension. Even though she’s on the fourth most important show WWE has to offer, she’s doing the best with what she’s got. While she’s cutting this promo, the Main Event commentary team couldn’t help but laugh and mock her while she was talking. You could hear all of this sniggering from Jerry Lawler and Dolph Ziggler while Summer is cutting this promo, which was not actually that bad considering that there are far worse promo-cutters on the main roster than Summer. Actually, her delivery and her poise is pretty great. She carries herself around as unique and as a star, even if she isn’t one. She’s like the women’s division’s version of the Miz, who does such a great job in playing the heel that you love to boo.

Summer claimed that mainstream media were talking about where she would be going in the draft when Sasha Banks came out. Sasha was talking about everyone talking about the other women on the roster, when they should be talking about Sasha. Summer did mess up a little when she was talking about Sasha competing in the triple threat at WrestleMania, really just in the delivery. The announcers couldn’t help but laugh in order to hurt Summer’s credibility. She claimed that she would have won the Women’s title if she was in the women’s match at Mania and Sasha claimed that Summer couldn’t even catch Sasha’s mic. Sasha threw her mic at Summer and SUMMER CAUGHT IT! This led to a brawl to kick-off the match.

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The two girls brawled on the apron which led to Summer booting Sasha off it to take control. Summer did the submission that a lot of women do, where she gets behind her opponent and traps Sasha’s arms with her legs. To make a complete joke of the situation, Dolph asked Jerry if he’d ever been in that position. Jerry’s answer was “I wish.”

Summer hit some moves including the “Super Model Kick” which got a near fall. They went back-and-forth until Sasha won with the Bank Statement.

The match itself was OK but the commentary was the real highlight of the whole ordeal, although this was quite the opposite of a highlight in all honesty. It was memorable because in case you’ve missed it, WWE have spent the last year pushing the women’s division and attempting to give the women a new-found purpose. They wanted the fans to treat this more than just filler in between the angles involving the men. They wanted to make them seem as genuine commodities to the roster. On RAW, they made this big video package about Charlotte’s supposedly shocking turn on her father Ric. They had the likes of Dean Ambrose and ironically Dolph Ziggler talking about this big angle, in an attempt to make it seem like the Flair stuff was a major angle for the product. That’s how much they wanted this to work.

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Then I listen to this commentary and any faith in the idea that WWE are giving it their all to make this division vieable again is just quickly undone. If you want to build up someone as a top star in your company, then you need other wrestlers around in order to help elevate that person. You need “stars” in order to try and make a superstar out of your proposed champion. Sasha Banks is reportedly in line for a program with Charlotte, which is expected to be for Summerslam.

I personally don’t believe that these plans will stay the same and I’ve mentioned this a few times on the blog (I’ll leave the links for these posts at the bottom of this post). If these plans are legitimate and they ended up going with Sasha, they need to build her up right. Sasha beating women cleanly is fine. However, the announcers spent the entire segment and match burying Summer and trying to make her out to be a complete joke. Perception is reality, as the old saying goes, and how the fans perceive these acts will have a bigger effect than what everyone thinks.

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If the commentators are making Summer out to be a joke, the fans will perceive Summer Rae to be a joke. If the fans perceive Summer as a joke, they will perceive Sasha as a joke for not taking out this joke a lot sooner into the match (keep in mind that Summer had the majority of the heat too). If they perceive Sasha as a joke, they will perceive Charlotte and her title reign as a joke as only jokers are competing for her championship. If they perceive Charlotte as a joke, they will perceive the entire division as a joke as their champion has no legitimate challengers to pose as a threat as the whole division is filled with jokes. In fact, the announcers were laughing at the possibility of anyone caring about Summer Rae!

THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE LEGITIMATE MAIN EVENT OF THE SHOW.

I don’t care if this is the least most important show that WWE have to offer. This match is supposed to be the main attraction for the viewers of this particular episode and the announcers are telling you not to care by laughing at these talents. If I was a commentator, I’d be doing my best to tell you that these girls… ARE STARS.

It may seem as a small match to complain about but this was just one of the greater examples about how this division cannot possibly “evolve” with the direction they are taking it.

 

Related Links

WWE Not Banking On Sasha?

16/05/2016 RAW Review – Women’s Title Contract Signing Closes RAW Once Again

SLTD: The Women’s Devolution

 

WrestleMania 32 – What If Triple H Beats Roman Reigns?

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It seems that Roman Reigns is the overwhelming favourite to win the WWE World Heavyweight title in the main event of WrestleMania 32. It is the story of a man that has been screwed out of the WWE World title over and over again, finally getting his revenge against the evil authority figure and walking out with the championship in Texas. It doesn’t seem that plans are changing this year. There’s no Money in the Bank holder around and there’s very little reason to think that there will be a different solution to this story. Roman Reigns is expected to win the WWE title.
With that being said, this article will look to see the potential consequences for WWE programming should WWE end the show with Roman Reigns NOT winning the title. We’re asking the question of what if Triple H DEFEATS Roman Reigns and retains the title.
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Again, the possibility of this happening seems very slim and it would very much catch me off-guard if it actually happened. As much as people don’t like Roman Reigns, the whole idea of WrestleMania ending with Triple H retaining the title just doesn’t seem like an idea that WWE would want to go with. You also have to take into account that a heel walked out with the championship at last year’s WrestleMania. Deja vu wouldn’t exactly be a bad thing but the whole point of WrestleMania is for the babyface to emerge victorious on the grandest stage of them all.
Also if they were to have Roman Reigns beaten in the main event, then it would basically be WWE’s way of admitting defeat in this quest to get Roman Reigns over as the top babyface in the company. I don’t think that the powers-that-be want to do that as they’ve put so much effort into Roman ahd it would be such a blow if they were forced to put Roman’s big WrestleMania win on hold for a second year in a row.
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On the other hand, it might be best to hold of the “WrestleMania win” until after the pay-per-view where a new babyface can come in and beat Triple H. Whether it’s Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles or whoever, there are other options around IF BUILT RIGHT. You don’t HAVE to put Roman over if you suddenly change their mind. If WWE are fearful about the potential extreme reaction that would follow the big Roman Reigns win, they can hold off if they want to. After all, WWE have made quite a habit of making decisions on the day of the show. They ended THE UNDERTAKER’S STREAK on the day of a WrestleMania so they could easily do the same for Roman.
If Triple H were to retain the championship at WrestleMania, what effects would it have on future programming? Well for starters, it makes things much more difficult for Roman unless WWE turned them heel. That would be my way to go as I’ve discussed a number of times, but WWE might not be up for that. If Roman doesn’t win at WrestleMania, it doesn’t mean that it’s all gloom and doom for him. They’d still be people pushing for him to win the title back EVENTUALLY. However, it’s a huge setback in the sense that he’s missed out on this big WrestleMania opportunity twice. Whether he’ll get a third chance is hard to predict.
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As mentioned, WWE should surely have someone else lined up. Dean Ambrose would be the next top babyface after Roman, so he would probably be next in line. However, it really depends on what happens in his WrestleMania match with Brock Lesnar. If Brock defeats Dean, how do you get Dean in the position to be WWE World Champion? Especially if he loses clean to Brock, it’d be difficult for Dean to get over as a major star.
Brock Lesnar would probably be your next bet but then you’d have to think about his schedule and how many dates he’s got left for the second year of his contract. If Brock wound up beating Triple H, then I doubt he’d be champion for long.
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It would be a risky decision to have Triple H beat Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 32 unless WWE had something REALLY REALLY good up their sleeves. It would make life difficult for Roman but it does open the door for other new top babyfaces.

How I Would Book… Wrestlemania 29 [Part 4] – CM Punk vs Undertaker

Alright, so here’s the very last installment in this particular How I Would Book. Firstly, make sure you check out the first three parts first before reading this last scenario as I do mention a few things related to those posts…

Part 1 – CM Punk vs The Rock vs John Cena

Part 2 – CM Punk vs Ryback

Part 3 – The Rock vs Ryback

Also do check out DenkOps “What If” video related to this particular scenario. He does a great job illustrating the storyline with WWE 2K15 and do check that out below.


In the last three parts, we’ve looked at a number of alternative main event matches for Wrestlemania 29. We’ve looked at scenarios like triple threat matches, CM Punk’s historic WWE title reign ending at the event and even Ryback walking out of the event. Now we’ve got to do ONE MORE scenario. And believe it or not, it’s actually an idea that the writers were toying with to end the show.

This is actually a match that ended up appearing on the show anyway, but it could have a totally different meaning if this idea were to have come to fruition. This match could have actually main-evented the show with the WWE Championship at stake. That’s right. CM Punk’s title reign as WWE title would continue to Wrestlemania, where he would put the title on the line against the legendary Wrestlemania streak of the Undertaker…

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There’s actually NOT a lot to say about this particular main event. CM Punk would be riding high at I think 500 days or so as WWE Champion heading into Wrestlemania. He is clearly the top heel in the company on top of his game, having beaten the likes of John Cena, Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan. And with this theory, he’ll obviously go over The Rock at the Royal Rumble which makes his title reign even more historic. Like I’ve mentioned before, The Rock’s loss at the Royal Rumble would be caused by John Cena leading into their rematch at the same event. The only difference is that CM Punk and Undertaker would be for the title and NOT Cena vs Rock II.

Undertaker on the other hand extended his Wrestlemania streak to 20-0 and may feel that he doesn’t have much else to prove. Then he sees Punk with his historic title reign and would seek to challenge. Eventually, we’ll get Undertaker putting up his undefeated streak against CM Punk’s WWE title. “Streak vs Title” has a nice ring to it don’t you think?

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Undertaker challenging Punk for the title would happen in one of two ways:

Firstly, someone OTHER than Undertaker or John Cena would win the Royal Rumble match and challenge the World Heavyweight Champion, while CM Punk would retain his WWE title against The Rock. This would lead to CM Punk retaining the title to at Elimination Chamber but his celebrations would be cut short by the Deadman, who’d tombstone Punk and pose with his title. Undertaker or Punk would make the challenge for Mania and you have your match.

While this one would prevent Undertaker from working as much and keep him fresh for their Mania match, whoever were to end the WWE title reign of CM Punk SHOULD really be the one who wins the Royal Rumble. Having Taker just call Punk out on RAW doesn’t have the same effect. Which brings me to scenario number two…

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Undertaker would return to win the Royal Rumble. While from a business-standpoint, announcing Undertaker’s participation beforehand would be the ideal solution. However, with The Rock already being the main attraction of the card, promoting Undertaker would seem rather pointless. Hype up The Rock challenging for the WWE title and keep Undertaker a surprise. Plus, it adds to the mystique of his character by having him shocking the WWE universe in this manner.

He’s the surprise #30 entrant or something and is part of the final three between himself, John Cena and Ryback. Ryback would eliminate Cena and Cena would look really down. He’s a lost a chance to potentially get his redemption back by beating The Rock after being eliminated Ryback. Cena goes to back knowing there’s only one way for him to get his redemption now. And of course, you know where that would lead to. Cena costs The Rock the title later on that night. But back to the Rumble, we’re down to Ryback and The Undertaker.

I personally think the fans would be popping for this. Feed Me More Chants, Let’s Go Taker. There’s a lot going for both these for this final two to be even more impactful. These two clobber each other and somehow, Taker eliminates Ryback. I think that makes Ryback stand out even more than he did in the real Royal Rumble match of 2013. He’s just eliminated John Cena and it took the Undertaker of all people to eliminate him. But the end-game of all of this is having Undertaker go over. Punk retains later on and we’ve got our main event already set. What happens next?

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Now, it would be OK for Taker to be away from TV for a while. He shows up on RAW maybe and the first shots are fired between him or Punk. He chokeslams Punk or whatever, unsettling the champion. Punk is a little rocked by it, but he has to focus on the Elimination Chamber. Whether he’s in the Elimination Chamber or he’s in another match or whatever, Punk walks out the champion. At the end of the night, Taker comes back to try and attack Punk. However, Punk reverses and hits the GTS. Punk had Taker scouted and it makes Punk looks just as strong as he’s ready for anything Undertaker can throw at him.

And not a lot else needs to be said. There would already be a lot going with this feud as it is. CM Punk’s WWE title and Undertaker’s streak are both on the line. And to be honest, Paul Bearer’s real-life death gives WWE even more to work with. As much as I’d hate to bring real-life incidents into storylines, it’s just another thing to add that will give this main event match even more meaning. Now to the match…

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I would ABSOLUTELY book Undertaker to win. For Undertaker it’s the good-feel Rocky Balboa like ending which sees the old-timer making one last comeback to win the WWE title from the seemingly unbeatable WWE Champion. However, there would obviously a bit of an issue with Undertaker winning the title. Undertaker’s not exactly in the best of conditions in this particular part of his career. Yeah he was able to do the matches with The Shield and Dean Ambrose later on in the month, but WWE now has a champion who’s unable to do a full-time schedule. Having Taker drop the belt back to Punk the next night on RAW would really take away from the Wrestlemania match in the first place if Punk is just going to win it back a day later.

WWE could do what they would end up doing with Brock Lesnar and have the WWE title not be defended until an event like Summerslam. But five PPVs or so with the title NOT being defended really wouldn’t be great for business. I would go with having Undertaker dropping the belt to somebody ELSE at Extreme Rules and Taker leave after that. Not to dispute Punk’s claim for a title shot, but what’s the point in him winning the title again a month later after the longest title reign in the modern era? Also, according to Punk, he’s really banged-up post Wrestlemania. So with Punk taking time off anyway, you’d have to think of someone else that could win the title.

I could go through an alternate scenario of if CM Punk WERE to break the streak, but I think I’m going to leave that for a future post and call it a day.

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That’s it for this particular series. Again, not to knock the Rock vs Cena II main event completely, but it really lacks the Wrestlemania-feel ending like the rest of these scenarios do. Whether’s it’s one more title run for Undertaker, the emergence of Ryback as the newest face of the WWE or the end of CM Punk’s historic title reign, these four hopefully provided a number of main events that would have been talked about a lot more than Rock vs Cena II.

Do vote in the poll over what YOU think should have been the main event of Wrestlemania. And please comment or tweet @ArmbarExpress with your thoughts on this particular series!

NOTE: The (c) in the poll below indicates who the champion walking into the match is. E.g. CM Punk (c) vs Undertaker would have CM Punk entering as champion.

BREAKING NEWS: AJ Lee Getting “Backstage Heat” From WWE

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Today, Boxing Day, a report came out from Wrestlezone about AJ Lee reportedly getting heat from WWE and here’s why:

According to Wrestlezone:

“AJ’s Slammy speech was focused on, and it was speculated that she first was saying a subtle goodbye to fans, but The Wrestling Observer Newsletter is reporting she was actually taking shots at the WWE Divas roster. The way she spoke was not the same way the speech was originally scripted, and AJ was very complimentary of Paige, but seemed like she slammed the rest of the Divas.”

I don’t think I mentioned this when I did the Slammys review a few weeks ago, but I had a serious bone to pick with AJ’s acceptance speech at the show. This has nothing to do with the “bashing the divas” part of it. It’s this…. why was she praising someone she had hated and feuded with all year long? Paige is still a heel and AJ is still a babyface… why AJ? Like the article said, it was clear that this was clearly not what AJ was told to say. Even the WWE would have acknowledged the little rivalry these girls had. But yet, somehow that bit of a praise slipped out.

AJ went out of her way to put over  Paige when she was supposed to be hating her. Now I don’t have a problem with Paige because I’m a huge Paige fan, but AJ was clearly not fulfilling her role as a babyface by putting over the heel. I’m sure a number of you will be like, “But Tom. It could make sense for a face to put over a heel to show his/her respect to all her opponents.” That sort of thing. Fine! Daniel Bryan used to do it all the time. That’s acceptable. But AJ is supposed to be a crazy chick! AJ needed to be all-about-herself because that’s what her character is based on. It made no sense, unless they were turning Paige face which I doubt.

Now I’m sure we were all kind of suspecting this at the time (at least I was) but AJ was also taking shots at the rest of the divas. She named off that she’d like to see Paige or Bayley or anyone of the NXT girls win this award. No mention of any current roster divas other than Paige. If this is true then it just shows just how unprofessional AJ is. She’s literally morphing into her husband’s gimmick and real-life personality. She just goes off script to praise these girls and disrespect everybody else  on the current roster. If she really cared about the WWE and where she works, she would just stick to her role, stick to the script and maybe she’d be treated better.

And please don’t give me the “Oh. She’s getting punished because of CM Punk,” because that has little to do with it. It could be a bit of a reasoning behind it, but not that much. If it was that great of a reason, she would not have regained the divas title from Paige on her first night back from her time off. WWE still sees AJ as a big part of the company because she’s still a major hit with the fans. I think she’s still in like the Top 10 merchandise sellers for the company and the only woman to be so. WWE still wants AJ around to waive the flag for the division. That’s why they’re offering her the Total Divas spot because they know girls would tune in to see it more if she was on.

Some of you might be disputing this because she was removed from the Main Event intro video a month ago. Maybe so, but not being on the Main Event intro is not exactly the greatest thing in the world to be upset about!

Here’s my stance on AJ Lee and her position in WWE right now, judging from what her husband said on the Colt Cabana podcast and everything going on…

I think if AJ Lee is unhappy at the state of the divas division and the company, the divide caused in commitments to her husband and WWE, and everything else going on… she should just quit.

I’d rather watch an AJ Lee that was excited about being the spear-heading this new generation of divas, rather than a bitter woman complaining about every other thing in WWE. Taking time off over and over, not following the script and ignoring what WWE is telling her to do isn’t a healthy outlook on life to be having. If AJ is getting punished, it’s because of her attitude towards the WWE right now. She really needs to get her act together if she wants to not “get heat” and be apart of the WWE.

However, I feel like many others that there is a lot more to the story than the Slammys or even Punk. They’ll be a lot more to come out of this and I would stay tuned.

27/3/14 Impact Wrestling Reactions – Eric Young: TNA World Champion?

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Hey guys, Armbar Express heading your way. I’m Tom Robinson.

This week’s edition of TNA Impact Wrestling saw interesting developments in the world title picture. It was announced by MVP that there would be a TNA World Championship would be defended by Magnus against not one wrestler, not two… but THREE! We got Magnus defending against The Samoan Submission Machine Samoa Joe, The Monster Abyss and last but not least… “Showtime” Eric Young!

Now one would question whether Eric Young’s character can allow him to elevate up the ranks and into the World Title picture. I think this promo can answer that question clearly. It’s time….

Now we all know Eric Young is a very entertaining guy, but this is one of the rare times where Eric is cutting a dead serious promo and he can deliver. He’s as serious as he’s entertaining and that’s saying an awful lot! But is he seriously ready to step it into the big leagues? In my opinion with his storyline with Abyss, he’s a lot more of a deal now and I like how this has lifted him up the ranks, especially considering Abyss’ affiliation with Magnus. Now there’s no guarantee that Eric will capture the title, but keep in mind Chris Sabin’s World Title reign. Out of the blue Sabin went from X-Division Champion to World Champion. It was great to see at the time, but he went absolutely nowhere after he lost. He found himself right back where he began and I don’t want that to happen to Eric. I think Eric should capture the belt, don’t get me wrong, but not right now. I think Eric needs a proper program with the champion now before he finally captures the belt at like Slammiversary or something.

By the way, in the segment why did MVP stand around for 30 seconds and THEN ask for security? Did he just have slow reflexes? XD

What do you guys think? Who should win the World Title match next week? Should the reign of Magnus continue? Should Samoa Joe recapture the title he once had? Should the monster reclaim the holy grail? Or is time for Showtime?

The Daniel Bryan Rant

What’s up guys. Tom Robinson here representing the Armbar Express. I don’t like having to make rants believe it or not. I don’t exactly go on massive rants on WWE each and every week. I’m a lot more optimistic about the future of WWE, than most internet fans out there. But I do call it as I see it. If I think WWE have done a good job, I’ll come out and say it. The Royal Rumble match last night was awesome. I have no problem with that. But I also have to speak out when things start to suck. And as amazing as this sounds… it’s not actually the company that’s making me speak out. It’s the fans.

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The majority of smarks or whatever you want to call internet fans these days who thinks they know what’s “best for business” are easily the worst fans in wrestling history. John Cena fans get stick but at least those fans stick with John and the product even if he wins or loses. Amazingly enough, them wrestling fans are acting more adult than these internet fans that bitch and moan whenever Daniel Bryan or CM Punk loses a match. I’m not going to tell you fans what you can or can’t cheer for. Everyone has that freedom of speech. You want to cheer for John Cena? Go cheer for John Cena. But what is unacceptable is hijacking the show with stupid chants about a wrestler not even involved in the match. Trying to make a wrestler a one man dynasty is not “best for business”. That’s the problem with these fans. They will constantly bitch about John Cena in the spotlight all the time, yet they try to make a show all about one man. Hypocrites much?

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Fans will forever be fans. But when you see a columnist for sites like Bleacher Report and WhatCulture go online and bitch about these stuff, you really begin to wonder why they were even allowed to write for a site like that. It’s illogical internet bitching that you could get on just about any site by any fan. I mean here’s one I found from Chris Featherstone of the Bleacher Report. The writer of this shitty article at Bleacher Report. Here’s the link 

He starts of this article by stating that:

“He (Daniel Bryan) is the most over Superstar in the WWE hands down, with one of the most organic pops in professional wrestling history. Still, the WWE continues to turn a blind eye to the obvious. Somehow, the high-decibel ovations, roof-crumbling “YES!” chants and constant “Daniel Bryan!” crowd support are not enough to make him a staple main event star.”

I love how the writer simply ignores the fact that Daniel Bryan has been featured in 4 of the last 7 RAW main event segments and basically says WWE aren’t considering him a staple main event star. They know he’s a huge asset to them. WWE knows Daniel’s influence on the WWE Universe is big for them. Hell, they hit the good old panic button and turned Bryan face TWO WEEKS after he turned heel (which was still the stupidest booking decision in the last 5 years). They did that because of the fans being so into Bryan. But Daniel Bryan is NOT the be-all-end-all of WWE. Like Vince McMahon says, “No one man is bigger than the WWE” and that’s regardless of how over they are or how many YES chants they have to their name.

Next, the writer talks about Daniel Bryan losing to Bray Wyatt. By the way, this match was a stellar match and I would find means to watch it if you haven’t yet. This match was apparently the end of the feud as Bray turned his attentions to John Cena later that evening. And because he lost cleanly that night, the writer comes to the conclusion that his lost to Bray, “did absolutely nothing for him.” Even if it did in fact do nothing for him… so what? The point of the feud was not for Daniel Bryan, it was a Bray Wyatt. Bray Wyatt being a star is one of WWE’s top priorities right now, and rightfully so. Despite a rough start in my estimate, Bray has become a huge player in WWE finally. And yeah, the big reason for that was Daniel Bryan. So Bray had to win the feud if he wanted to move on to the likes of John Cena. Daniel Bryan is still going to be a big star at the end of it, so what’s to worry about him losing to Bray clean?

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He then comments on Batista getting mixed reactions stating:

“It looks like WWE better start rewriting the scripts heading to WrestleMania 30, because it looks like we are going to have a heel vs. heel match, which will garner a number of “Boring!” chants.”

Have you ever heard the phrase “It is better to have a reaction than no reaction at all?” Even the boos John Cena gets every day are still great reactions because he plays of both reactions. But let me ask you a simple question… if the Royal Rumble match came down to John Cena and Batista, and Batista won the match, how much are you willing to bet that these fans complaining about Batista now would have been cheering for Batista at the time? Ryback is not everyone’s cup of tea. And yet when it was down to him and Cena in the final two last year, Ryback was getting “FEED ME MORE” chants all over the arena. It’s the logic of these smarks that amazes me.

The last couple of sentences of this shitty article from, yes, a Bleacher Report FEATURED Columnist reads.

“WWE Creative has one more opportunity to redeem themselves: at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. However, I am not confident that anything outside of what is already planned will take place, and Daniel Bryan will simply end up in a midcard singles match at WrestleMania 30. What a travesty.”

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First of all, how bad at writing do these people think WWE writers are? They are trying to write the stories that’s going to rake in the dole, whether you like it or not. They have to write with that in mind and so fans can actually enjoy it in the process. Sure Batista vs Randy Orton may suck, but they’re going to do their damndest to make it as good as it can be. And when they get “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair involved in this feud, I’m sure those fans aren’t going to be doing much companing!

Second, because Daniel Bryan lost a match and didn’t win the Rumble is not the end of the world. How do you know that Bryan is going to be shafted to mid-card status at Wrestlemania? What if he’s going after the Undertaker’s streak or maybe fighting Triple H? It might not be as predictable as you think. WWE want Daniel to draw big Wrestlemania reactions. And he doesn’t need to be in the main event to do so. If Daniel doesn’t get a big time match at Mania, big deal. When the big stars all fuck off after Wrestlemania, there’s going to be voids to fill in the main event scene and you can bet Daniel Bryan will be there to fill it.

What’s sad is that there are so many other articles like this. This was just the first one I wanted to use as an example. People shitting on the product because of two small factors; the fact that Daniel Bryan wasn’t in the Rumble and the fact that Batista won the entire thing. Sure, you can say whatever you want about. What you shouldn’t does is hijack the show with boos that the wrestlers in the ring are busting their asses to make good for you. I mean you had a GREAT rumble match.

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What’s worse, hardly anyone is mentioning Roman Reign’s epic performance. I mean no-one is even acknowledging the fact that Roman Reigns broke the Kane’s record of eliminations in the Rumble match. 12 eliminations he got. He was the runner up of the Royal Rumble. He basically got himself into stardom. And yet people are talking about someone NOT EVEN in the match. They’re talking about Daniel Bryan.

Now I am not shitting on Daniel Bryan in the slightest. He is a quality wrestler. He will continue to bust his ass regardless of how much he is cheered and booed and I respect him for his dedication to wrestling. But when you have the same old “Daniel Bryan” and “YES!” chants flood an arena, it sucks the life out of a show. Hey, the matches before the rumble weren’t exactly great matches (excluding Bryan vs Wyatt). But it’s not made better when the one match everyone bought the PPV for is bombarded by idiot fans making a mockery out of the Rumble because Daniel Bryan wasn’t in it. How insulted do you think the 30 wrestlers in that match felt after the match was done? You have CM Punk, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns lasting 30+ minutes in the match busting their asses, and all they can hear is fans booing because Bryan isn’t in the match.

Lastly, I want to address the petition that fans have actually started to write to have Daniel Bryan be in the main event of Wrestlemania 30 or else… THEY WILL RIOT! By turning their backs to the Wrestlemania main event! OMG! We have to cave in! A bunch internet fans are going to turn their backs on the main event? No they aren’t.

THEY… ARE… GUTLESS.

Here’s the petition link.

They wouldn’t have “rioted” if Rob Van Dam lost to John Cena in 2006. They wouldn’t have “rioted” if CM Punk lost to John Cena in 2o11. And they won’t “riot” here. And it’s disgraceful that they are resorting to a petition. If they want to turn their backs then they are not proper fans. They shouldn’t dictate how a company is run or who is going to the main event of Wrestlemania. And as for people saying Batista never deserved to be in the main event of Wrestlemania 30. Well let me say this… he’s more worthy of being in the main event than you are of deciding how WWE should be run.

Fin.