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.
We’ve got a much clearer idea of what the WCW Starrcade 1995 PPV would look like. It’s America’s best in WCW against Japan’s best in NJPW. However, the world title picture is where things get a little bit more complicated. Sting vs Lex Luger vs Ric Flair was booked for Starrcade in a triangle match, with the winner facing Randy Savage for the WCW World title later on in the same show.
The strangest thing about this Starrcade show is that Hulk Hogan is not yet scheduled for Starrcade or not featured at all in the title picture. He was never officially eliminated in the World War III battle royal to crown a new champion and then he was put on “probation” along with Flair and The Giant after a brawl from a few weeks ago. And yet, Flair could possibly earn himself a title shot if he wins the triangle match but Hogan couldn’t?
It’s also strange that Hogan is not in the title picture as Nitro is still all about the Hulkster. Last week’s show was headlined by Lex Luger challenging Randy Savage for the WCW title. Hogan broke up the pin for the DQ. A brawl broke out where Hogan accidentally clocked Sting. Savage tried to play peacemaker, and now we’ve gotten Episode #15 where Hogan and Sting must team up to face Ric Flair and Arn Anderson in the main-event.
Date: December 11th, 1995
City: Charlotte, North Carolina
Rating: 2.6 (Went up this week with an advertised Hulk Hogan main-event as opposed to a Randy Savage World title defence… make of that what you will)
Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan
Mr JL vs Eddie Guerrero
This was your typical lucha libre WCW cruiserweight match and there was nothing wrong with that. They worked well at a… fast, but not too fast pace. Eddie is one of those reserved cruiserweights where he’s fast but he’s not too fast where the audience can’t appreciate everything he does and can’t keep track of it. He’s tremendous when it comes to controlling the pace of a match.
Speaking of Eddie, the announcers plugged that Eddie would be wrestling at Starrcade against Shinjiro Otani. Bobby Heenan actually did a great job on commentary in putting Eddie over but also explaining that the Japanese were already training in the Rocky Mountains, not suffering jet lag and ready to go.
There was one botched spot where it was a tilt-a-whirl that was screwed up a little and ended up in a backbreaker. Eddie eventually rolled up Mr JL and secured the win. I did like that the fact that Eddie all so excited and joyous to have gotten the win and Mr JL was on his knees devastated and dejected to have been beaten in this match. Even if this was just an opening match on Nitro, the result of this match mattered to Eddie and Mr JL.
Mean Gene Okerlund did a promo with Jimmy Hart and Lex Luger. Jimmy told Mean Gene to shut up and he said Luger was the uncrowned WCW Champion. They recapped Luger going heel, beating Savage and then a clip from last week. Luger said if it wasn’t for Hogan stopping the count last week, Luger would be the world champion right now. He said he owns Macho Man and everyone knows it so Savage is no problem. He talked about Flair. He talked about Sting and that he and Sting talked about how it will come down to those two at Starrcade and if it does, may the best man win.
“Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorff vs Disco Inferno
To put this match and pretty much this episode of Nitro into perspective, I wanna actually mention that I watched my WrestleMania 21 DVD on the weekend before I watched this episode of Nitro. On Disc 3 of the boxset, it showed the 2005 WWE Hall Of Fame induction. I watched it… it was FABULOUS. The Iron Sheik had an absolutely incredible acceptance speech. Ric Flair and Roddy Piper told some great stories. Bobby Heenan was on form that night. And inducted among many memorable names during this ceremony, including Hulk Hogan, was “Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorff.
He didn’t particularly stand-out in this Hall of Fame, especially when the Iron Sheik of all people is inducted! However, he did talk about his love for the business. It’s the usual Hall of Fame speech. However, the WWE’s video package before Orndorff came out for his induction really didn’t do Mr Wonderful much justice. It mostly focused on his feud with Hulk Hogan and WrestleMania I where he teamed with Piper against Hogan and Mr T. It was a shame because this episode of Nitro demonstrated a lot more to what made Mr Wonderful so…. wonderful.
Mr Wonderful got this gimmick and this excellent Mr Wonderful theme song and he comes down to the ring with a mirror to look at himself, because he thinks he’s so wonderful. Bobby explains that the mirror got bigger with every show, because he wants to see more and more of himself in this mirror. Paul Orndorff really did believe, in storyline, that he really was Mr Wonderful and he lived the gimmick.
This match really was the battle of the fantastic theme songs. We had the Mr Wonderful theme song, which Bobby claimed Mean Gene sang the female part of the lyrics! We also had the Disco Fever theme song which, pretty much speaks for itself. Right in the 1990s cringe but cool category.
Disco jumped Mr Wonderful to get things underway. Disco actually beat up Orndorff while his arms were stuck in his jacket. Orndorff fired back with an atomic drop and then bonked Disco on the head with an elbow. Orndorff hit an ugly facebuster and then performed an even uglier disco dance right in front of Disco’s prone body! It was so ugly, it was beautiful! Orndorff looked all goofy as someone who was not meant to look like Disco Inferno. Orndorff hit a back suplex for the win and I actually loved this. Orndorff has the man beaten as clean as a sheet with a pinfall but because he’s a heel, he can’t help but put his feet on the ropes!
Orndorff looked kinda knackered after a 3 minute match but otherwise, this was a basic and simple match to wrestle which suited the old school Orndorff and the very green Disco Inferno. It wasn’t that bad.
Mean Gene did an interview with the Four Horsemen, in Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman. Mean Gene asked Brian what it’s like to be a part of the Four Horsemen. God bless Brian Pillman, but he was completely outta his mind when he cut this promo. He claimed Hogan wanted to be a member of the Four Horsemen and even donned the black because he wanted to be a bad guy. Brian claimed Hogan could never keep up with Flair’s lifestyle. Pillman then decides to bury a bunch of random guys on the roster. He cuts a promo on Steve “Mongo” McMichael, The Zodiac, Mr Wonderful and the American Males.
Mr Wonderful comes out after Pillman targets him. Mr Wonderful cuts a promo where he says he could be a Horsemen if he wanted to and that’s the only reason why Pillman IS a horsemen. He called Pillman a punk. Arn gets in between them. Orndorff says if Pillman thinks carrying around everybody’s bags makes him a Horsemen then he is a Horsemen, because that’s what Pillman’s doing. Wonderful and Pillman then got into a brawl. Flair and Arn helped Pillman and turned it into a 3 on 1 beatdown. Arn and Ric delivered a spike piledriver on the floor. At this point, Mongo said “I’VE SEEN THIS ON A FOOTBALL FIELD”…. WHEN DID THREE NFL PLAYERS EVER DO A SPOT LIKE THIS?
As a segment this was really well executed. As a means to write Orndorff off of TV, which is what I assume this is all about, Orndorff came off as worthy star worthy of a Horsemen beatdown. I don’t even think I’ve seen Orndorff lose a match on Nitro since THIS Mr Wonderful gimmick started. He beat Disco Inferno, he cut a great promo on Pillman and then he got taken out by Flair and Arn who were in the main-event of this episode of Nitro.
Bobby was shown going to see Orndorff who was being seen too by the medics. Not getting up real close to Orndorff but still showing concern.
Lex Luger w/Jimmy Hart vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan
I think this is the moment when writing my Nitro review where I’ve just realised just how much Lex Luger was on this show. He showed up to do a promo with Mean Gene and Jimmy Hart and now he’s got a match with another Jim in Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Spoiler alert, but he shows up later on in the show and all of the babyfaces talk about Luger at the end of the show. It’s just astonishing to think about. It’s astonishing because according to a number of stories, Bischoff was not high on Luger. And yet here is Luger all over this show so I’m not sure what changed. Maybe it was that dreaded Luger vs Meng match from Nitro a few months ago.
In a twist of fate, the babyface Duggan jumped Luger before the match. Duggan smashed Luger’s head into the turnbuckle. Hacksaw ran wild with a hip toss, a clothesline and a few elbows. They cut away to show Orndorff loaded into the ambulance. Bobby was back on commentary by the way. Jimmy Hart got on the apron and as he does, Hacksaw grabs tape to hit Luger with it. Then Hacksaw got distracted by Hart. Supposedly Duggan ran into Hart’s megaphone and Luger took advantage and locked on the torture rack for the win.
Bad finish to a well below average match. This really did not make Luger come off as a main-event star. Duggan got the heat for a long time and it took a megaphone and a distraction for Luger to get the win. So really, nobody got over after this match was over. Really, you could make the argument that the Torture Rack got over as Duggan tapped right away and Luger did hardly anything leading up to it. But that’s about it.
Mean Gene was with Macho Man. They revealed on commentary that Randy Savage is set to face Hiroyoshi Tenzan at Starrcade along with defending the WCW World title later on in the show. And then, it was revealed that he will defend the title against The Giant next week on Nitro.
So this WCW World title picture… Hogan started off this series as the champion. He loses the title to The Giant via disqualfication but then The Giant is stripped off the title. Savage wins the title in a battle royal where Hulk Hogan was never even eliminated. Now all of a sudden, The Giant is getting a WCW title match next week. If hypothetically, The Giant regains the title next week, does that mean Savage is out of the title picture all together? Why is Hogan not in the title picture at all? He didn’t even get beat properly to lose the title. He was never eliminated in the World War III battle royal. Along with all of this, Savage is wrestling Hiroyoshi Tenzan at Starrcade on the same night he may or may not be defending the title? What is going on?
Savage said he’s not even thinking of Starrcade or Tenzan or Luger, the whiner, and he’s not thinking about Flair or Sting. He’s thinking about Nitro against The Giant. He compared him to Andre The Giant. Savage said he would be like dynamite, blowing up in your face as he would do whatever it took to win.
Hulk Hogan and Sting vs Ric Flair and Arn Anderson
Sting and Hogan came out to separate entrances. Hogan came down to boos and then complained that Sting went out to the ring without him… right at the moment Sting’s song has a lyric that goes “And all the old people start to act like a child.” I mean Hogan did file a lawsuit against Vince Russo for defamation in 2000 so Hogan, if you’re reading this, no disrespect intended dude! I just think it’s hilarious that Hogan’s character whines like a child that Sting is not coming out with him right when that lyric kicks in.
At the very least, I am being more respectful of Hulk Hogan than this Charlotte crowd. Holy crap, they hated the Hulkster in Charlotte. Ric Flair was always gonna be loved in Charlotte but this was a clear defiance against Hulkamania in 1995. This made Hulk Hogan’s eventually change in character in 1996 all the more appropriate but at least up until this point, it’d been a bit more split 70/30 across the Nitro audience. Not on this night. Everyone loved Ric, they liked Arn, they respected Sting and they hated Hogan.
This was sort of like the WrestleMania 22 show where the Chicago completely booed John Cena and cheered Triple H. Up until that point, the negativity towards Cena was slightly less obvious than it was in WrestleMania 22 and then everybody turned against Cena at ECW One Night Stand. To give WCW credit, at least they turned their John Cena at a perfect time for them.
We got a Hogan sucks chant. Mongo drops the line of: “I played with guys that I didn’t particular care for.” Arn delivered a sweet looking fireman’s carry arm drag. Sting Gorilla Pressed Arn which is still a crazy feat of strength as Arn wasn’t exactly a slim guy here. Arn tried to cause issues with Hogan and Sting by goading Hogan to make the tag… to thunderous boos. I honestly kept forgetting this was Flair country and then as I finally thought of it when watching this match, Flair got tagged in.
Flair chopped away at Hogan to no affect. Hogan backdropped Flair and ran wild. As Flair was bundled over the apron, Sting gave him a Mongolian Chop.
Arn jumped Hogan as Sting and Flair brawled outside. Flair did an eye poke and the fans wooed away. The Horsemen got the heat on Hogan. We got every Sting vs Ric Flair mini-match you ever saw and I think I’ll be writing that at least a few hundred more times before this Nitro review series is over!
Sting locked on the Scorpion Death lock on Arn when Ric got involved, Hogan distracted the ref, Sting locked on the Death Lock but then Arn hit a DDT. Luger came out a brawled with Hogan and locked on the Torture Rack. The referee supposedly didn’t see ANY of this.
The heels got the heat. Mongo then blamed Hogan and Sting for not being able to work together. Oh yeah? Well what about Lex Luger running down and attacking Hogan? Mongo had a horrid night on this Nitro.
Flair locked on the Figure Four with Arn with the assistance by holding onto Flair. Sting pulled Flair to his corner with sheer leg power and made the tag to Hogan but the referee didn’t see it as the ref was distracted with Arn. Sting eventually fires up and no-sells the chop, throws Flair off the top and goes for the tag but Flair stops him. Bischoff talks about “wanting to reach out and touch somebody.” Arn got spiked by a Sting facebuster. Hogan And Sting kayfabed screwed up the tag and Arn hit the spinebuster. Hulk hulked up anyway and hit a leg drop as Sting hit a Stinger Splash for the win. A weird miscommunication spot which usually would lead to the heels getting the win in this kind of story. But no… Hogan and Sting just overcame the heels and won. It was one of the better Nitro main-events as of late. I’m not gonna lie.
Brian Pillman ran down after the match. 3 on 2 as Lex Luger stopped Pillman from attacking Sting and then instructed Pillman to beat up on Hogan instead.
Sting fought to help Hogan and by the time Savage ran down, Sting had already cleaned house. Sting punched Savage WHICH LOOKED rather intentionally but supposedly it wasn’t. Savage slapped Sting. HOGAN tried to be peacemaker as the fans chanted Hogan sucks. I got super confused as to why Sting punched Savage, I guess it’s because Sting is in the triangle match at Starrcade but perhaps there was something I missed. However, this did not look like Sting punching Savage was an accident.
Mean Gene got involved and in between Hogan, Sting and Savage. Hogan ASKED AGAIN for about the 700th time about Luger and Sting. My notes here just read “FUCK OFF”. Savage said he hated Luger. Savage wanted to know about Luger too. Mean Gene said let’s talk about it on national television Sting! Sting said it was an accident when he punched Savage. Hogan does testify for him as Sting did save him from the 3 on 1 beatdown by the Horsemen. Hogan blamed Flair and had his arms wide out to elaborate on this point! Savage said we needed to take a chill pill. Savage wants them to work together. Hogan told Savage to get his act together as he may end up losing to The Giant if he doesn’t get it together. Savage said we’ve all got giant problems to end an OK episode of Nitro but by no means exhilarating show that I should wanna watch every week. Really, these last two episodes really did seem like filler if you look at the story.
The story has mostly been about Lex Luger causing division between Sting, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage but that’s been the storyline since the very first episode of Nitro. We do not need to see this scene every week of Savage, Sting and Hogan questioning each others intentions. Their characters make sense but we don’t need to see Sting being put on the spot every week because of his friendship with Luger. Jesus.
Speaking of Lex Luger. So Lex Luger ran down in the main-even to attack Hogan. He was all over this episode of Nitro. My prediction is that Lex Luger will win the triangle match at Starrcade. Seriously, why would Lex Luger be getting pushed this much if this didn’t lead to Luger winning and facing Savage again? If you look at what happened last week, Hogan ran down and caused a DQ when Luger was fighting for the World title. He got screwed out of the title. If we want to be greedy about this convoluted WCW title storyline, Luger has a claim to a title shot himself. Savage never properly beat him to retain the title. The only problem is that I don’t wanna see Lex Luger vs Randy Savage again. They have yet to deliver since Luger arrived either on TV or on PPV. I don’t know what the appeal would be if they were to do Luger and Savage again and Savage beat him as a blow-off to that feud.
…or The Giant may end up winning the title again next week and this entire conversation may become null and void.
My analysis is that thi was an OK Nitro. Felt a lot like a filler Nitro. We got Luger winning a match, we got Orndorff getting taken out, we got your usual cruiserweight match on Nitro and we got pretty much the finish to almost every Nitro show in the last few months. However, there was nothing really wrong with it either other than just repeating angles with Sting, Hogan and Savage.
Next week, we’ve got Savage’s bit title defence against The Giant but WCW really have to put in the work to build up anticipation towards Starrcade. In the meantime, we’ll see you at Episode #16 of this review series.
WCW Nitro Reading Order
- #1 – September 4th 1995
- #2 – September 11th 1995
- WCW War Games 1995 – September 17th 1995
- #3 – September 18th 1995
- #4 – September 25th 1995
- #5 – October 2nd 1995
- #6 – October 9th 1995
- #7 – October 16th 1995
- #8 – October 23rd 1995
- WCW Halloween Havoc 1995 – October 29th 1995
- #9 – October 30th 1995
- #10 – November 6th 1995
- #11 – November 13th 1995
- #12 – November 20th 1995
- WCW World War III 1995 – November 26th 1995
- #13 – November 27th 1995
- #14 – December 4th 1995