RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #8 (OCTOBER 23RD 1995) – THE YETI ARRIVES ON THE GO-HOME SHOW FOR HALLOWEEN HAVOC

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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On the last episode of WCW Nitro, Ric Flair was set to go at it against Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman. Sting had agreed to be Flair’s partner but questions were raised as to whether Sting could trust Flair. Apparently, Sting had his own concerns as he was not present for the opening bell.

Flair went at it alone and massacred Arn and Brian in a chop-fest. However, when Flair was overwhelmed, the Stinger finally came to the aid of Flair. With Arn and Brian getting counted out, Sting told Flair that he was on his side as Flair proved he had a lot of guts and a lot of heart.

Other highlights included Chris Benoit’s WCW debut in a great match against Eddie Guerrero and DDP evading a WCW TV title defence against Johnny B Badd by getting himself DQ’d before the bell even rang.

Now we come to the go-home show for WCW Halloween Havoc. With Hulk Hogan on the show this week and Sting and Luger set to team up in the main event, the question remained as to what was going to happen between the heroes of WCW and the Dungeon of Doom as we are on the road to Halloween Havoc 1995 in Detroit.

Before we get to Halloween Havoc though, we’ve got a Nitro to review and… prepare yourselves for an infamous WCW debut in the closing moments of the show. You have been warned.

 

Date: October 23rd 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Huntsville, Alabama

Rating: 2.6

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

 

“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs Kurasawa

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Man, was I worried when I saw this match was set to take place. Kurasawa was a guy I was kinda high on when I first saw him. I then watched an infamous tag team match w/ him and Meng taking on Sting and Hawk and I could not believe how bad that match was. Now we had Randy Savage vs Kurasawa and even for a Randy Savage match… this was somehow boring.

This was boring because all Kurasawa did was kick away and karate chop away at Savage. When Ric Flair was chopping away at Anderson and Pillman last week, it was at least filled with fire and energy. Here, because Kurasawa was the heel, it was slow and boring. There was even a point in the match where Kurasawa was working on Savage and Savage threw Kurasawa out of the ring to buy himself some breathing room. After about 10 seconds or so, Kurasawa got back into the ring and started to work on him again.

I will say that the commentators did everything they could to put over Kurasawa, which was fine considering where this match was going on. They went on about how Kurasawa broke Hawk’s arm and defeated the undefeated Craig Pittman. That’s… fine.

So Kurasawa just kept beating on him, and beating on him, and beating on him. They went to a commercial, as the Americans put it, and then they came back and Kurasawa was STILL beating on him! This was just endless.

Actually, it wasn’t endless. Kurasawa went for a baseball slide but Savage evaded and Kurasawa fell to the outside taking a flat back bump. Kurasawa went for a head kick but accidentally kicked the ring post as Savage dodged. They got back in the ring and then Savage hit the elbow drop and won.

I can’t really hate the psychology of the match as they put Kurasawa over on route to Savage beating the guy, which is what you do. However, in terms of selling me on the idea of seeing Randy Savage wrestling twice at Halloween Havoc, this match doesn’t particular do a tremendous job when Savage was just getting beat on for about 90% of the match against Kurasawa.

Flair looked like a proper mega star when he beat the crap out of Anderson and Pillman last week. I don’t mean to keep bringing up Flair but Flair sold me on the idea that he’s a superstar and you’d want to pay to watch him smash Anderson and Pillman along with Sting. This match didn’t make wanna see Savage face Kamala and possibly Lex Luger as well as Halloween Havoc.

I will say that Dave Meltzer from Wrestling Observer gave this match minus a star and called it one of the worst matches of the year. I would not go that far. There’s been far worse matches than this since I started watching these Nitros. The first Nitro was also in like September 1995 so there’s a lot of ground we haven’t even covered. This match was certainly not at the level of badness that Sting and Hawk vs Kurasawa and Meng was.

 

I had to do some proper investigation following this next segment. The lights went out and a man was sat right on a big elaborate chair in a pre-taped video. It wasn’t until after this show where I figured out that this was Taskmaster’s father (a.k.a. The Master) and the founder of the Dungeon of Doom. Quite the lore to this Dungeon of Doom.

I swear I understood like about 10% of this promo. I actually had to rewind it in the middle of it as I was just in tears with laughter as this guy was yelling all kinds of random stuff which I didn’t even understand! He yelled that the insurance package had been delivered. As far as I’m aware, he said he found somebody that was thawed out of ice. The one they called… THE YETI. At that moment, they showed an ice block on the stage.

The Giant and Taskmaster then showed up and Taskmaster explained that his father went with the serpent guides to get the yeti. Taskmaster said that evil does dwell in Hogan’s heart. Taskmaster thought that there was no bit of goodness left as the fans chanted for Hogan. The Giant grabbed the mic and said that Hogan had many lives but the Giant would take the last life from Hogan at Halloween Havoc. Giant proclaimed that the one true immortal was himself and he cackled away. The VINTAGE Giant cackle which I wish he still did as the Big Show. I love it.

Taskmaster said the insurance package would be there at Halloween Havoc and Mean Gene advised that he would be talking to Hogan later.

I will get onto the Yeti later on as there’s a lot to explain about what was originally was supposed to happen. Nevertheless, this was a rather wacky promo as we learned more about the lore of the Dungeon of Doom.

 

We got another Randy Savage Slim Jim advert.

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Mean Gene welcomed, as he billed him, THE START OF THUNDER IN PARADISE and WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan. I’m not entirely sure of a review series but I will be watching Thunder In Paradise… eventually!

Hogan was still wearing a neck brace and I don’t remember if Mean Gene said this or one of the commentators said it, but somebody said Hogan was ready for Halloween Havoc… need I remind them that dude that Hogan was wearing A NECK BRACE?

Hogan yelled that even though he walked through the valley of the Dungeon of Doom, he feared no evil. He carried the hopes of all of the Hulkamaniacs. I mentioned how strange Hogan’s promos have gotten as of late. Here, he talked about the fact that he was wearing black gloves and said that everyone knows what a man with black gloves is capable of…. this was a reference to OJ Simpson. What a bizarre babyface this Hulk Hogan is and here I though Roman Reigns was a terrible babyface.

Hogan said that he was gonna get his big monster truck and drag The Giant around until he disintegrates and then he was gonna beat him in the middle of the ring.

He then went into some big tirade as to how Sting, Savage and Luger all wanted to pick the bones of Hogan and the bad guy Hulk Hogan is ready for them. He’d beat Savage, Sting and Luger and he vowed to destroy The Giant.

This was a crazy promo but in hindsight, this was a brilliant promo. Knowing where the Hulk Hogan character would go in a year’s time, this promo was a slight foreshadow of the Hogan that will eventually feud with Savage, Luger and Sting. That’s the first thing.

The second thing is I talked about how the Hogan babyface character is possibly even worse than Roman Reigns as a babyface. This is kinda mute point considering what’s happened to Roman with his leukaemia but it does apply to pretty much every babyface in WWE right now. Roman was a babyface that couldn’t get over as a babyface because WWE didn’t give the fans any reason to get invested in the guy at all. Hogan got people invested in him as he had the creativity to be as crazy as he could.

Even if he’s saying weird stuff like how shaving his moustache was like burning the American flag and comparing himself to OJ Simpson, Hogan was so out of his mind with his promos that you just couldn’t help but stop and listen to him. When you give the talent a means to be entertaining by just letting them be nuts, it speaks a lot more to the audience rather than talent that are just scripted to death to sound exactly like everybody else. Nobody in WWE nowadays sounds like Hulk Hogan because they sound just like each other. They don’t sound… human. That’s an issue.

Hogan didn’t have that issue because he didn’t have 28 writers writing all of his dialogue and this promo, as crazy as it sounded, it made you invested in finding out what Hogan was going to do to The Giant at Halloween Havoc.

 

They plugged WCW Saturday Night, including Hogan being there, Lex Luger vs The Shark and the American Males defending the WCW tag team titles against Harlem Heat. I actually wanted to watch these two matches as I wanted to see the long-awaited rematch from Episode #3 where American Males randomly won the WCW tag team titles. I also had a perverse desire to watch Lex Luger vs The Shark because can you imagine how bad this match had the potential to be? However, I could not find this episode of Saturday Night on my online travels and it’s not on the WWE Network yet so unfortunately I can’t watch those matches. ‘Tis a shame as I planned that as a bonus review!

 

Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko vs Eddie Guerrero and Mr JL w/Alex Wright

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As advertised last week, Alex Wright was supposed to be teaming with Eddie Guerrrero but he had injured his knees according to Bischoff. Supposedly, he did this in a match with Chris Benoit which I’m surprised the announcers didn’t bring up. I also like how Alex Wright came out in crutches for this match that he wasn’t cleared to wrestle in but he was dressed up in his gear and trunks! Mr JL took his place.

Eddie and Benoit pushed each other and stared each other down before the bell rang. The two of them started off the match.

During the match, Benoit and Dean Malenko somehow pulled off a double leapfrog. Benoit and Dean tried a double team where Benoit held Eddie in position for Dean to hit a tope suicida but Dean accidentally hit Benoit. Eddie then just THREW Mr JL into Benoit and Dean and I mean THREW him like Braun Strowman throwing some security guard geek onto a pile of men or something! It was tremendous.

Eddie hit a beautifiul tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Eddie launched Mr JL into Dean for an elevated high knee. In the middle of this, Scott Norton and The Shark were shown brawling backstage as they were pulled apart by the Dungeon of Doom. That’s at least the second time where we’ve seen WCW cut away from a cruiserweight match to show some angle involving the Dungeon of Doom during Nitro. I imagine fans of the cruiserweights were not to pleased.

By the way, I couldn’t help but notice that Bischoff said that this brawl was because of the miscommunication between the two during Norton’s match with Randy Savage on Episode #2 of Nitro. It took Norton and Shark this long to be mad about it?

The heels got the heat. Bobby’s explanation for Alex Wright’s injury was that he was trying out the dance moves of Disco Inferno! Dean hit a very good and realistic looking belly to belly on Mr JL. Eddie broke up a pin on Mr JL and Benoit’s response was to shove Eddie with enough force to send him crashing outside of the ring!

It only just occurred to me at this point of the match that Eddie beat Dean a couple of weeks ago on Nitro and the announcers made no mention of that fact. Eddie broke up another pin following a Benoit superplex. Dean and Mr JL had a good ol’ backslide battle that Mr JL won. Eddie made a hot tag and then got immediately kicked in the gut by Dean! Eddie turned it around and even dropkicked Benoit off the apron when Benoit was yelling at a fan. The finish came when Alex Wright tripped up Dean with a crutch and Mr JL rolled Dean up for the win. It was a good match with a strange finish.

So Alex Wright had blatantly cheated in a match he wasn’t even in and Bischoff’s defence of the babyfaces was stating that the heels were pulling heel shenanigans during the match. Apparently Bischoff wasn’t aware that two wrongs don’t make a right. Brian Pillman then came out and laid out Eddie which Mr JL and Alex Wright just stood there and watched. I guess this was because Pillman is a cruiserweight himself and they’ll need to crown as cruiserweight champion. I guess that’s why he did it.

 

Lex Luger and Sting vs “Harlem Heat” Booker T and Stevie Ray w/Sister Sherri

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WCW Hotline plugged once again by Bischoff, talking about an event from the night before called “In Your House”… ha ha. How clever.

I was more offended by, in response to Bobby calling Sister Sherri beautiful, Eric called him a sick, twisted and demented individual if he finds her beautiful. Nobody could get away with a line like that in 2018.

Sting started off by hip tossing Booker T over the top rope. Sting back-dropped Booker and Bischoff said he almost back-dropped him into another area code. Stevie Ray started to work on Lex Luger as we came back from the ads as Bischoff referred to Stevie as “the man in control of the total package.”

Stevie and Lex working together was not particularly eventful other than screwing up an eye rack spot so horrifically. Stevie looked like he eye-raked the sky and then Luger sold for it anyway when he wasn’t even close to Stevie!

Booker hit an axe kick. I will say, in Bischoff’s defence for the Sherri line (although I personally think beauty is subjective and nobody is truly ugly or anything), but Sherri was looking at a photos of Col. Robert Parker that she appeared to have retrieved them from her backside. I’m not making that up. She reached into her ass, whipped out the photos and then gave them both a big kiss! That was… oddly disturbing as my notes put it.

Booker went for a Houston Hangover but Luger got out of the way. Luger made the hot tag to Sting. Sting went wild as the fans went crazy. The fans always went crazy for Sting’s hot tag which made him such a tremendous babyface. Sting hit Stinger Splashes and went for the Scorpion Deathlock but Booker broke it up with a side kick.

Harlem Heat worked on Luger for a bit but Sting flew in out of nowhere and hit a top rope crossbody for the pin. This was not as boring as the Kurasawa vs Savage match but this was an absolute nothing match for me.

This match did not sell me on the idea of potentially seeing Luger in two matches either. Savage and Luger were not helped by this edition of Nitro heading into Halloween Havoc.

The Giant hit the ring to chokeslam Luger and Sting. If you remember from Episode #6 I believe, they teased the angle of Sting working with the Dungeon of Doom as The Giant had not attacked Sting yet. But now, there was no doubt as Giant just chokeslammed him. Savage came down and then Hogan came down to confront The Giant. The fans were going ABSOLUTELY CRAZY for this confrontation.

Hogan punched away at The Giant but Giant clobbered him on the back. Hogan hulked up and punched away at The Giant who started to stagger. The Dungeon of Doom came out to brawl with the babyfaces. The Head Of Security of WCW tried to calm down Hogan when all of a sudden, the ice block on the stage EXPLODED. Yes, ice had exploded.

Creepy music came on as a figure emerged from the explosion which was revealed to be the Yeti… DRESSED as a mummy as Nitro ended with a cliffhanger.

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OK… so about the Yeti. Apparently, this was supposed to be El Gigante (Giant Gonzalez when he was in the WWF). However, El Gigante apparently like wasn’t able to get down to the show in time or something to play the role. I believe it was due to his health. Therefore, someone else was dressed up as a mummy to take El Gigante’s place but he was still referred to as The Yeti!

This was a hilariously awful reveal of the Dungeon of Doom’s insurance policy. I don’t think it was as funny as the Shockmaster’s debut or as stupid as the Gobbledy Gooker’s debut but this was like the perfect balance of the two. You’d think that after all The Giant’s done to Hogan in the past couple of weeks, who could The Giant possibly need for an insurance policy against Hogan? Who The Giant apparently needed and who Taskmaster’s father and serpent guides went to the trouble of finding… was a yeti dressed as a mummy.

And you know what was the kicker to all of this is?…. this edition of WCW Nitro BEAT RAW in the ratings. That’s astounding considering this edition of Nitro.

This may have easily been the worse Nitro I’ve seen so far. I think I hated Episode #3 a lot but I think this episode was miles worse than Episode #3. Episode #3 did not have a boring Randy Savage match, a boring tag team match and THE YETI debuting. Although with that being said, I loved Hogan and The Giant’s big confrontation. It was done in such a way to make you more interested in seeing who was going to win this big WCW title match. I liked that segment.

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That’s it for WCW Nitro. I am pretty sure I’m going to be reviewing the WHOLE WCW Halloween Havoc event. Looking at the card, there’s more matches I wanna see than those I don’t wanna see so that maybe what swings it. There is a lot of horrible sounding matches in the mix as well as Road Warrior Hawk vs Kurasawa match which sounds… HORRIBLE.

However, I do think I should be as fair to this one as I was to Fall Brawl. I will mostly likely review the whole of Halloween Havoc 1995 then it is back to WCW Nitro reviews with the fallout to the show. I will definitely be reviewing Hogan vs The Giant so brace yourself! We will see you with our next WCW review here on the Retro Express.

WCW Nitro Episode List

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RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #7 (OCTOBER 16TH 1995) – RIC’S PARTNER STINGS ANDERSON AND PILLMAN, CHRIS BENOIT DEBUTS

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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On the last episode of WCW Nitro, we entered CHAPTER THREE of the feud between Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. Arn won at Fall Brawl and Ric won in Episode #5. We were at 1-1 heading into a steel cage match in Chicago. Flair had things under control when Arn beat Ric at his own game. Arn smacked Ric with the brass knuckles to the face and won. An ENRAGED Ric Flair challenged Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman to a match for Episode #7 and Flair was more than happy to go at it alone if he couldn’t find a partner. One way or another, Flair was gonna get his hands on Anderson and Pillman.

We had Hulk Hogan vowing to beat The Giant at Halloween Havoc, more matches added to the Halloween Havoc card. Lex Luger and Randy Savage will face each other, as long as they get past Meng and Kamala respectively earlier in the PPV. Sting also defended the US title successfully against The Shark, Disco Inferno danced and Sabu beat up Mr JL.

So now, it’s a big week for WCW Nitro. We have Ric getting his hands on Anderson and Pillman, Johnny B Badd challenging DDP for the WCW TV title and the DEBUT of Chris Benoit as he faces Eddie Guerrero. Let’s get to it…

 

Date: October 16th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Albany, Georgia

Rating: 2.2

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

 

From the get-go, we suffer from the disadvantages of watching only WCW Nitro and nothing else. Because from the start of the show, they already announce that Sting will be the one to team up with Ric Flair against Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman. On an episode of WCW Pro, Flair asked Sting to be his partner. Sting agreed but vowed to leave Flair for dead if he turned on him. The commentators were still speculating as to whether Sting and Flair can team up together against Anderson and Pillman. Sting and Flair had not teamed together in years since Flair turned on him many years prior to this.

The commentators were having some banter as Bobby Heenan called Mongo’s dog a “tarantula”. Heenan asks Mongo to turn the dog around and goes “oh, there’s the batteries.”

 

DDP (c) w/Diamond Doll vs Johnny B Badd for the WCW Television Championship

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My extra research from Episode #5 appears to have finally paid off. Allow me to break down what has happened with Mr Johnny B Badd. Johnny B Badd became the number one contender for the WCW United States Championship at Fall Brawl. We watched a 29 minute match where Johnny B Badd grabbed the victory. On the Nitro following this, “Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorff squashed this guy in a matter of minutes. I asked the question of whether he would get his title shot or not. They announced he was still getting his US title shot in a Saturday Night match with Sting.

I decided to watch this match and see what happens but what happened was Johnny B Badd NEVER got his US title match. He no-showed but it appears the explanation was that somebody had slashed his tires and he broke down. In a Saturday Night segment, WCW Television Champion DDP said something about all of Badd’s tyres being slashed. Badd asked DDP how he knew all four of his tyres were slashed when he only said one of them got slashed. Badd punched DDP and that’s how we’ve got the former US title number one contender now challenging for the WCW TV title on Nitro. GOT ALL THAT?

To put a cherry on top of the whole thing, Eric announced that Badd and DDP would wrestle each other at Halloween Havoc anyway… so what was the point of this match, even if it was for the WCW TV title? If they’re doing the TV title match at the PPV, why bother doing this match?

In the end, it didn’t even matter. What happened was DDP SMACKED Badd with the belt before the match started and Badd was out cold on the floor. DDP started attacking him some more as Diamond Doll looked on in awe and disgust. DDP did his own count but the referee disqualified him anyway.

It’s always been one of the great inconsistencies of professional wrestling with disqualifications and what warrants disqualifications in matches. The simple answer is that it’s wrestling and the rules can change at any moment to fit a narrative. It was widely accepted by a lot of fans that nothing you do before a match counts before the bell rings. Brock Lesnar hit Big Show with dozens of chair shows before their Royal Rumble 2014 match before the bell rang and they had a two minute match. Here, DDP hit Badd with the belt before the match and was DQ’d for it.

NOTE: Johnny B Badd had hurt his ribs before the match, which is why they never did the match properly on this edition of Nitro.

 

Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero

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I’m going to give this disclaimer right now about Chris Benoit, as I don’t want any of my comments about Benoit’s work to be misinterpreted. Every comment about Chris Benoit is directed solely on his abilities as a worker. I don’t have any intention to discuss the nature of his personality and character as well as anything related to the tragedies that happened to Benoit’s family in 2007.

With that being said… I could watch Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero wrestle each other over and over again. Considering the circumstances of the deaths of the two wrestlers, it is somewhat sad to watch a match like this. However, Benoit and Guerrero were just two wrestlers who were masters of the craft. Every time they wrestled, it was quality. It was the type of matches that every wrestler should aspire to emulate. Look at the psychology of what Eddie did in the ring but especially look at the psychology of what Benoit did. I understand everything in professional wrestling is considered entertainment but everything in this match felt real for some reason.

Everything Benoit did in this match had a purpose and a goal. He was not just hitting move after move after move on Eddie Guerrero just because he could. They all mattered and Benoit would do things in the middle of the match that would play into the finish. Lance Storm has this philosophy about wrestling where he doesn’t like how matches nowadays are about the last few minutes and based on those final moments of the match, fans go on about how great these matches are. To an extent, he’s got a point and this match shows that. Benoit worked on the hand, over and over again, and it eventually led to the finish. But I’ll get onto that later…

Benoit and Guerrero traded hurricanranas earlier on. Eddie did a big dive to the outside to “Eddie” chants by the fans. Benoit tried a back suplex but Eddie reversed it, which sent them both tumbling to the floor. It looked really crisp and really well done. Eddie sent Benoit into the ring post but then Eddie went crashing into the ring post in order for Benoit to get the heat. Benoit worked over Eddie, including hitting a beautiful hammerlock suplex. He worked on Eddie’s hand, which is important when considering the finish.

The key to all of this “getting heat” on Guerrero was that it was never boring. That was the great thing about Benoit wrestling as a heel. It was never boring. Nothing ever came off as repetitive as every move mattered. It was not a 10 minute Randy Orton headlock or a Kevin Owens chin lock. However, it was also methodical… which is great.

In one motion Eddie reversed a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, bounced off the rope and hit a springboard DDT. It was pretty. Benoit chopped at Eddie as Mongo ranted about the NFL players being pussies or something. God bless Mongo and, to an extent, I feel there is a need for some creativity from the commentators. However, Mongo going on about the NFL over and over just takes away attention from the wrestling and is somewhat irrelevant as the match is going on.

There was somewhat a screwed up botch when Eddie attempted a 619 but I think that was about the only spot they screwed up in this match.

Eddie went for the Frog Splash but Benoit got the knees up. Benoit slammed Eddie, and I mean SLAMMED Eddie, with an absolutely tremendous powerbomb. Benoit went for another powerbomb but Eddie reversed it. Eddie then tried to punch Benoit, but because Benoit worked the hand over, Eddie’s hand was hurting a lot. This allowed Benoit to capitalise with a Dragon Suplex to win the match via pinfall.

This was a great match… possibly the best Nitro match we’ve seen so far. Tremendous psychology. The WCW cruiserweight division was announced by Bischoff following the match and this was a great match as a means to promote it. Benoit, I don’t think, was a cruiserweight at this time but with the likes of Eddie and Dean Malenko… suffice to say we’re in for a lot of fun.

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Bischoff revealed that The Giant was here, much to the delight of Heenan as he cackled away!

Mean Gene is in the ring and we’ve got another plug of the WCW hotline. Mean Gene revealed that a top WWF executive was gone and a WWF guy got into a fight with a fan and lost. Gene said he couldn’t talk about it on Nitro but if you called the hotline for $1.49 per minute you could find out the answer. In case you were wondering, the executive that was fired was Bill Watts. I’m not particular sure who Mean Gene was on about when they mentioned the wrestler who lost a fight to a fan.

The Giant came down with the Taskmaster for a promo with Mean Gene. Taskmaster brought up that Hogan was dressed in black on the last episode and Hogan called Taskmaster evil. From the day he was born, Taskmaster said he knew he was the personification of evil. Evil, evil evil.

Taskmaster said when they shaved Hogan’s moustache, it took away his identity. He said Hogan gave up his colours but the fans had followed Hulkster for all of these years because he was a winner. After Detroit at Halloween Havoc, the fans would become followers of the Dungeon of Doom. The Giant said he was gonna push Hogan off the roof using his monster truck and then gave Mean Gene a close up of the hand that was gonna destroy Hogan by facepalming Mean Gene. Gene was shocked as The Giant cackled, vowing to destroy Hulk Hogan.

 

They plugged WCW Saturday Night, including Michael Wallstreet vs Jim Duggan, Disco Inferno vs Alex Wright, Hulk Hogan being there and Randy Savage vs Scott Norton in a rematch from Episode #2. So after Bischoff said he wasn’t on the roster last week, Disco Inferno is booked to face Alex Wright on WCW Saturday Night. I guess either he’s hired in storyline or they forgot he’s supposed to be a free agent.

 

Meng vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan

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Eric called this match a “barnburner” and although I would not go that far to describe the match, the match was very fun if you wanted to see two big dudes clobbering each other for a minute.

But before all of that, the aforementioned Disco Inferno arrived in all white gear. Before Disco could really get his groove on, like he did during Hawk vs Big Bubba, Meng’s music hit and Disco knew well enough to get out of town.

Meng jumped Duggan before the bell. Hacksaw fought back in a battle where they just punched away at each other. Hacksaw got back into it with a couple of dodges as well as getting the hell away from a massive Meng top rope dive. Hacksaw fired away at Meng and even hit a scoop slam. But Meng quickly regained control with a superkick that caused Hacksaw’s body to go limp as he crashed to the floor. Meng locked on the Tongan Death Grip and won. A very basic match of brawling with not a lot of actual wrestling and somehow that’s OK with me.

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Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart did a promo. They said that everyone now knows the evil in Hogan is real and Taskmaster was right when he mentioned that there was evil in Hogan. Hogan said the evil was here to protect the prayers and vitamins of the fans. Hogan said something strange like The Giant doesn’t realise that Hogan can make promoters fall to their knees in tears as Hogan is stronger than their entire promotions. These digs at WWF are just getting weirder and weirder!

Hogan said the “big stinky Giant” wants to burn down all of the trees to the ground. Jimmy is worried about what Hogan was gonna do to the Taskmaster and Giant. Hogan wanted to prove that Hulkamania was the strongest force in the world. He vowed to bury The Giant in the Motor Ciy right next to his father. He asked what The Giant was gonna do when the evil of Hogan ran wild on him. A crazy Hogan promo as usual.

 

Ric Flair and Sting vs Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman

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There was no Sting for the opening bell of this match so this meant Flair had to go at alone by himself against Arn and Brian. It’s funny because while he was on his own, Flair was an ass-kicking machine! I think this was possibly the greatest performance of a one-on-two handicap match from a guy with the disadvantage. It was amazingly great.

He appeared to have no difficulty in absolutely obliterating Arn and Brian as he chopped away at both men throughout this match. He chopped Pillman so hard that the referee was forced back by the force of the chop. It was truly sublime.

Pillman would try getting in some chops but Flair would just chop him harder! Flair beat both of their asses and was running wild on his former buddies. I love how during the match where Flair is in control, Bischoff talks about how he had to pay the price as Sting didn’t trust him… WHEN FLAIR WAS DOMINATING ARN AND BRIAN BY HIMSELF!

The fans chanted “We Want Sting” during a match that also included Heenan comparing Hulk Hogan to Darth Vader. Flair went for the Figure Four Leg Lock on Arn but Pillman went to break it up. He tried to break it up but Flair somehow evaded Pillman from the position of having Arn in the Figure Four! It was awesome!

Flair tried a Figure Four on Pillman but that was broken up. Flair is still running wild as the ass-kicking Ric Flair was putting on a damn amazing performance. He was destroying both of these men but he was entertaining and believable at it. Flair was a believable crazy, wild mad man who you believed could smash Arn and Pillman so easily. It was awesome.

Arn hit a spinebuster and at this point, when the heels were in control… HERE COMES STING!

These fans went BONKERS for Sting has he came down to the aid of Flair. Eric went on about how Flair may have possibly earned Sting’s respect which is actually a believable statement if you saw Ric’s performance up until when Sting showed up. He wasn’t a geek that was getting beat on for 10 minutes. He was a fighter and Sting recognised that.

Sting was egging Flair to make the hot tag as the fans were going nuts and Sting eventually got the hot tag. He ran wild and even Sting running wild forced the referee to bump on every part of the mat! Sting hit Stinger Splashes all over the place and he was FIRED UP. THIS WAS A HOT TAG as the fans went crazy.

Sting was dominant and then all of a sudden, it was determined that Arn and Pillman were counted out. I never really heard a count by the referee but Sting and Flair won by count out and this did make you want to see the rematch at Halloween Havoc. Yeah, we’re getting a rematch at Halloween Havoc and I can’t wait!

Sting and Flair cut a post-match promo. Sting said there wasn’t a soul in the world that thought that he was gonna trust Flair. Sting was watching and said that Flair had a lot of guts and a lot of heart. Because Flair showed he had guts and heart, he’d earned Sting’s help. Sting and Flair did a high-five and started going nuts in the ring! This was an awesome exciting little post-match promo!

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That was Episode #7 of WCW Nitro. A huge improvement on last week. We saw a tremendous Ric Flair and Sting performance in the main-event, we had an awesome Benoit vs Guerrero match and this show did a lot in getting me hyped up for WCW Halloween Havoc coming up shortly.  This one gets a thumbs up!

Advertised for next week is Sting and Lex Luger vs Harlem Heat, Benoit and Dean Malenko vs Eddie and Alex Wright and Hogan will also be appearing on Nitro next week.

That’s it from the Armbar Express. We will see you with Episode #8.

WCW Nitro Episode List

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #6 (OCTOBER 9TH 1995) – RIC FLAIR VS ARN ANDERSON III… INSIDE A STEEL CAGE

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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On the last episode, we had two big matches on Episode #5. The Randy Savage vs Lex Luger match ended in controversy as The Giant ran down and chokeslammed Savage when Luger and the referee were down, giving Luger the victory. We saw a Fall Brawl rematch with Arn Anderson vs Ric Flair. The match ended in Flair getting the victory… somehow. However, Arn and Brian Pillman had the last laugh as they laid out the Nature Boy two-on-one. At the end of the show, the third chapter in the Arn Anderson vs Ric Flair saga was announced for Episode #6 of WCW Nitro. This time… it would be in a steel cage.

…oh and the Dungeon of Doom shaved Hulk Hogan’s moustache!

 

 

Date: October 9th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Chicago, Illinois

Rating: 2.6

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

 

They started off the show recapping the moustache-shaving of Hulk Hogan from last week. We were in Chicago so it was a Chicago Bears themed show as apparently it was the 10 year anniversary of the Chicago Bears winning the Super Bowl. The announcers were all wearing Chicago Bears t-shirts. They announce that a restraining order had been placed but Hulk Hogan was in the building anyway. Sting arrived and said this Nitro thing was unreal. Sting had a US title defence but he said he was also here to sort this thing out with Lex Luger and Randy Savage.

 

 Sting (c) vs The Shark for the WCW United States Championship

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The Shark came down being billed as from “the tsunami” which doesn’t even appear to be grammatically correct! Shark jumped Sting from behind to kick things off and grabbed the belt, declaring he was gonna win the title. The Shark went to work on Sting, with the running powerslam, elbow drop and a leg drop. The Shark was putting in the work.

Sting hit two Stinger Splashes and the force of it elevated The Shark to the top rope! Sting hit the move and the Shark jumped right into the air and landed on the top rope somehow! Sting hit a crossbody and retained the US title in a very short US title defence. Bischoff actually did say the line of “that’s why Sting is the United States Heavyweight champion” and that’s a true statement as Sting was a winner. He does not go 50/50 with guys for months and months until one guy wins for good. He’s not Roman Reigns or Charlotte Flair with her seven title reigns. He was the champion and he was beating guys to stay champion because that’s what a true champion does. This was fine.

 

They showed the moustache segment yet again. I forgot to mention this for the last episode, but it was on my notes. I guess I missed it. There was a dude in the front, as Hogan was shaking the hands of the fans, who was the spitting image of Joseph Park from TNA! He had the haircut, the size, the suit and everything. It was crazy and he even did like a goofy smile and stuck his hand out!

 

Sabu vs Mr JL

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We were in Chicago so Sabu was heavily supported during this match. Sabu attacked Mr JL from behind to kick things off and Sabu was flying all over the place. There were audible “Hogan Sucks”” chants during this match. There was one ugly spot where Sabu did a dive and came crashing down on Mr JL’s face. Pretty ugly stuff.

They fought for a while as Chicago loved Sabu. Mr JL hit a sweet top rope elevated DDT. Sabu missed a Frankensteiner and had an ugly landing on the bottom rope. Ugly is a pretty perfect way to describe Sabu so far in WCW. It’s not particularly elegant but there’s a sense of real-life danger where you’re wondering what Sabu is going to do next.

Sabu caught Mr JL off the top rope and hit a powerbomb, locked on the camel clutch and won. We got deja vu from Episode #2 where Sabu’s beatdown on his opponent was far from over. Sabu attacked Mr JL after the match and barely just hit a sunset flip powerbomb to the floor.

Eventually they cut to the announcers as Bischoff just says that Sabu and Mr JL are still going at it. Loud Sabu chants could be heard while the commentators were doing their spiel. You could hear those chants as well as clanging and banging as the wrestlers were still brawling and that was that.

I’m not particularly enthralled by this Sabu storyline. He beats an opponent and then attacks him afterwards for no reason. Just seems completely random in the middle of an old school rasslin’ show. Then again, we’ve got Hogan and Giant battling each other with monster trucks so maybe it’s not so bad. Also, the crowd seemed to really love Sabu here so I guess it was a success if you’re judging it based of crowd reactions.

By the way, anyone care to guess the identity of Mr JL? It is in fact one of Sabu’s fellow ECW alumni members JERRY LYNN. I don’t think Jerry was actually Jerry Lynn during his WCW run but I guess we’ll see for certain down the road.

 

 

While the commentators were still talking, Sting made his way down to the ring as Luger flanked him, suited and booted. Sting said that he’s got the solution to the problem involving Luger and Randy Savage so he called out Savage. The Macho Man came down and Sting held Savage back as Mean Gene told them to settle down.

Sting asked them both to listen to him as The Giant was “winning the game” as he was taking advantage of the situation. Savage cut him off by questioning why The Giant hasn’t attacked Sting yet, to which Sting called Savage paranoid. Sting said that they all wanted to be the WCW Champion. Sting told Savage to shut up as he may slap the wrong person. Sting books two matches… yes, STING books two matches. He says it’s going to be Lex Luger vs Meng (which we saw on Episode #4) and Randy Savage vs Kamala at Halloween Havoc. If Savage and Luger beat their opponents, they would then face each other for the right to fight for the WCW World title. Savage agreed but Luger was upset that Sting was speaking for him and “putting words into his mouth.” Sting said that Luger didn’t look like a “total package” and he’s tired of being a babysitter.

Eventually, Luger agreed to take care of business. Savage reminded Luger that “we’ve got a date, don’t be late.” This was a fine segment to build Halloween Havoc but Meng vs Luger again as well as Savage vs Kamala do not sound like promising matches. It seems a bit of a complex way to get to the Luger vs Savage rematch when they could have just done Savage vs Luger again. Why did Savage and Luger have to beat Kamala and Meng first respectively? What do Kamala and Meng get out of winning the match? HOW DID STING BOOK THE MATCH? Since when does he have creative control?

…I have to ask the hard-hitting questions guys.

 

They showed a clip of a limo in Japan. Coming out of this big limo is none other than Chris Benoit. Benoit says WCW is where the big boys play. Chris Benoit is on his way to WCW folks.

 

Road Warrior Hawk vs Big Bubba Rogers

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Disco Inferno was the sole saviour of this match between Hawk vs Big Bubba Rogers. First of all, Disco Inferno comes out and he’s the right amount of great and awful at the same time! He’s dancing and getting funky as Bischoff explains that Disco isn’t even part of the roster. Disco debuted on Episode #4 and that was his debut match. So was he FIRED after this WCW Nitro debut? Because if he’s fired, how is he able to come down and how come he has a theme song?

I will concede that Disco is a much better dancer than me. Big Bubba comes out and Disco stops, grabs a boom box and continued to boogie no matter what Bubba did! Road Warrior Hawk comes down and Disco is still dancing. Hawk scares him off but then Disco grabs a kid’s hat and then places it on Hawk’s shoulder pads. A huge LOD chant breaks out when Hawk realises what Disco did.

Then Hawk and Bubba actually had to wrestle and this was quite unbearable. Big Bubba jumped Hawk. There were even louder LOD chants. Big Bubba fires away at Hawk. Hawk hit a big powerslam as Disco got back on the apron and sported a astonishingly bad Hawaiian shirt. Hawk gets sick of this and beats up Disco as the ref counts him down and Big Bubba is your winner.

Other than Disco, there was nothing to this match that resembled entertainment to me. Hawk was over in this Chicago crowd but even Hawk was not immune to the “get-beat-in-your-hometown” rule in professional wrestling.

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Mean Gene brings down WCW Champion Hulk Hogan. Chicago BOOED the living daylights out of the champion. Even in 1995, Chicago was still as hardcore as they come. It was weird because Hogan comes down wearing all black, a neck brace, a black bandanna and a cross necklace. It was very much a nWo look he was sporting and the nWo was still like approximately 9 months away. Interesting.

Hogan told Mean Gene and Jimmy Hart to shut up as the games are over. Hogan has decided to play Taskmaster and Giant’s game. If the Giant shows up, Hogan vowed to kick his ass. Mean Gene brought up a restraining order that the Giant had imposed and this led to Hogan going into a tirade about Vince McMahon and his ego… at least that’s what I gathered. It seemed to come out of nowhere.

Hogan said Taskmaster wanted to burn the trees in the forest and The Giant wanted to chop down the Hulksters but Hogan wanted to plan the seeds. Hogan asked again where Giant was. Then, in a sentence I honestly could not believe the biggest babyface in wrestling history actually said, Hogan said that shaving his moustache was like burning the American flag. SHAVING HULK HOGAN’S MOUSTACHE WAS LIKE BURNING THE AMERICAN FLAG. I was… gobsmacked.

The Giant eventually interrupted this Hulk Hogan promo. He and Zodiac showed up in a monster truck backstage as the police begged them off. Hogan went to the back as Chicago ended the segment by chanting “Hogan Sucks!”

 

Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson III in a steel cage match

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The Rosemont Police arrived to advise Bischoff that they had Giant and Hogan separated. That is good news. Mongo also insisted before this steel cage match that there would be no interference from Brian Pillman… let’s all remember that.

People are going to hate this but I’ve seen this match like 3 times since in the past month of WCW television. The appeal of the match has really gone down with them giving me it so often. Nevertheless, it was a fine match.

Flair chopped away at Arn and beat him up. Arn got the heat by slamming Flair into the cage wall and choking away at him. Arn hit a spinebuster. I’m pretty sure the fans chanted “we want blood” which I guess makes sense as this was becoming a blood feud!

They smashed each other into cage walls and in the middle of this… FLYIN’ BRIAN comes charging down. This cage was supposed to keep away Pillman but it failed miserably as he just showed up out of the blue. He got up the cage but Flair met him at the top with a punch, pacing up that cage at the speed of light. Ric then hit the kneebreaker on Arn, went for the Figure Four Leg Lock but then Arn punched him in the face and pinned him.

Eric is then baffled as he believes that Arn had something in his hand and Mongo backs up these accusations. Eventually, it is revealed that brass knuckles were in his hands disguised as the white tape on Arn’s fingers in order to fool Flair. It was a creative finish as Arn beat Flair at his own game.

This then led to Ric Flair, AN ANGRY RIC FLAIR, pouncing on Eric Bischoff at the announce table. He stole Eric’s headset and screamed that it would be himself vs Arn and Pillman next week. More wrestlers booking their own matches! If Flair couldn’t find a partner, he would do a handicap match as Flair looked INCENSED by what just went down.

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That was WCW Nitro Episode #6. They plugged DDP vs Johnny B Badd for the WCW TV title for next week’s show, as well as the debuting Chris Benoit facing Eddie Guerrero, Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs Meng and Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman were also advertised. It actually sounds like a decent show and I am looking forward to seeing where the Flair/Arn stuff goes and you know Benoit and Eddie will be a great showing.

As a whole, this episode #6 of Nitro was nothing really special. There were decent segments to build towards the PPV but the matches weren’t exactly memorable. We had another typical Sabu match, Hawk vs Big Bubba was sloppy, Sting vs The Shark was every face vs monster heel match you’ve ever seen and Ric vs Arn is a match I’ve seen 3 times in the space in a month.

That’s it from the Armbar Express. We will see you with Episode #7.

WCW Nitro Episode List

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #5 (OCTOBER 2ND 1995) – RANDY SAVAGE VS LEX LUGER, RIC FLAIR VS ARN ANDERSON II

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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We’ve got to a pretty big episode of Nitro considering how the shows have been built in the last few weeks. Savage and Luger will finally face each other after weeks of not trusting each other and confrontations. Now these two are going to go at it and Lex Luger’s career is on the line. Ric Flair and Arn Anderson will face each other in the Fall Brawl rematch in the main-event as finally Ric is gonna “kick Arn’s ass” as he promised 2 weeks ago. The “double main-event” Nitro is here with Episode #5 as the build to Halloween Havoc continues….

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…BEFORE we dive right into it, we’ve got some business to take care of. I promised two bonus reviews of a Sting vs Johnny B Badd for the US title from the WCW Saturday Night (September 30th, 1995) before this show and Sting and Road Warrior Hawk vs Meng and Kurasawa from Clash of the Champions a month or two before this. If you want to know why, please read our Episode #4 review for more details.

Sadly, I can only deliver on ONE of those promises and it’s not my fault! It’s not my fault because when I looked up the WCW Saturday Night episode in question, there were two issues. Issue #1 was that this particular episode is not currently on the WWE Network. They only started whacking WCW Saturday Night episodes on the network this year and they’re only up to 1993. Issue #2 is that, believe it or not, there was no Sting vs Johnny B Badd for the US title on that episode.

Allow me to explain. Johnny B Badd was supposed to receive a title shot on this episode. Sting waltzed down to the ring. He’s waiting for Johnny as Dave Penzer does the ring introductions. Johnny is nowhere to be seen so Dave declares that they’ll try this later on in the show. Brian Pillman is angry at whoever that Johnny is not here for his big US title match. He wants to be in the US title match but he’s told no. They try again but Johnny is still not here. They eventually determine that Johnny B Badd has no-showed the show so Brian gets his way and gets the title shot. Sting beats him and retains the US title.

After the match is over, Johnny B Badd arrives in the arena and claimed he had a flat tyre. Apparently, it was revealed down the road or on the show that WCW TV Champion DDP was the one responsible for it.

To recap, Johnny B Badd became the number one contender at Fall Brawl. Johnny B Badd lost to Mr Wonderful CLEAN IN THE MIDDLE on the Nitro after Fall Brawl. Johnny is given the US title match anyway and on that show, he’s unable to make it due to a flat tyre. Way to go Johnny B Badd… one of the worst booked title contenders I’ve ever seen.

 

Date: October 2nd 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Denver, Colorado

Rating: 2.5

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

 

The announcers are hyping up the show featuring a double main-event with Lex Luger vs Randy Savage and Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson II. Ric Flair cut them off in his robe and everything, telling Arn that “I’M COMING YOUR WAY BIG BOY” as he was going nuts. He was excited to kick Arn’s ass on Nitro after all of these weeks.

I got to say that this was probably the best performances for the trio of announcers for Nitro. All three of them showed excitement for the show! Steve “Mongo” McMichael was going nuts, Eric Bischoff was going nuts and Bobby Heenan was just a tremendous heel to bounce off these two idiot babyfaces! I loved it. For this one episode anyway, they all clicked!

They recapped the whole Luger/Savage feud, with the confrontations in the last two weeks and The Giant’s rampage from last week. I couldn’t help but notice it here during the replay, as I didn’t notice it the first time. The Giant GROWLS when he grabs Alex Wright for the bearhug slam! That was a nice touch.

 

Lex Luger vs Randy Savage

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I would be somewhat annoyed that one half of the “double main-event” for the show is going on first but it’s a hour long show and it is a great TV time to put the match on… right at the beginning.

Eric Bischoff alerted us that we could find out what happens on RAW by calling the WCW hot-line. I’m honestly surprised he didn’t tell us this week. Remember for Episode #1 when he spoiled that Shawn Michaels kicked “the big guy” in Sid? I have a feeling this may happen again in the future with a WCW commentator. Call it a hunch.

To be fair to WCW, they had a stacked card with Flair/Anderson II and Savage/Luger. Funnily, supposedly RAW and Nitro were tied this week. I was shocked. Mongo informed the fans that if they thought about turning the TV they’d be brain-dead like Bobby Heenan’s family. I swear babyface Mongo said that…

Luger and Savage get into the ring. They lock-up for about 45 seconds straight and they spill to the outside. Luger’s lock-ups are a weak point in his game judging on what I’ve seen from him since he’s arrived. Luger powered Savage into the corner and SLAPPED Savage, which was payback for what happened 2 weeks ago when Savage slapped Luger.

Savage tried a suplex on the floor and after a struggle, Luger turned it into a neckbreaker. Savage tried a small package but Luger kicked out. Luger pressed Savage over his head which is a greater feat of strength than you think. Savage may not look it compared to Luger but Savage himself was a big guy. He really was the “biggest boy” as he stated 2 weeks ago!

Luger was getting boos here as the fans don’t necessarily get behind Luger yet. Luger was way out of position for a Savage kick. They had an awesome spot where they battled for a backslide. For a full minute or so, they are trying to get the other man over for a backslide pin. Luger won the battle and got a near fall. I loved it as even a simple move like a backslide was fought for and was important to both wrestlers. There was a Booker T/Chris Benoit match I reviewed for Survivor Series 2005 where they did the same thing and I loved it. Every move should be important in a match.

Luger caught Savage off the top rope with a punch. Savage eventually hit a double axe handle on the outside. Savage threw Luger into the referee, slammed Luger and hit the elbow drop. In the latest of 101 ways to bury Lex Luger on Nitro, Savage has Luger down for a 10 count while the referee is out. Mongo is howling with laughter as the referee is taken out.

At this point, The Giant came down and choke-slammed Savage yet again for the second week in a row. Neither Luger or the referee saw it. The fans start to boo even more. Luger hurled Savage’s unconscious body up and onto his shoulders for the Torture Rack and won via submission. It looked kinda sloppy in execution but I liked the idea of Savage selling like he legitimately can’t move and Luger trying with all of his might to get him up for this move.

This actually got some serious heat with the fans as Giant helped Luger, a man who they already are not getting behind. Lex Luger has technically not done anything wrong as a babyface but a bad guy helped him win. I will say that this was a let-down as we got a screwjob finish but it did play into the storyline so I’ll allow it.

 

Man, this WCW Saturday Night show they advertised. They would explain what happened to Johnny B Badd in regards to his US title shot. They would have Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman vs Buckhouse Buck and Dick Slater as well as Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs Big Bubba Rogers.

Bobby Heenan hyped up that The Giant was here to get his hands on Hulk Hogan. Oh yeah, WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan was expected to be here as well! I didn’t mention that earlier but they hyped that last week!

 

They played Disco Inferno’s theme song and Disco came out. Eric Bischoff plays it like he doesn’t know what was going, Mongo appeared like he literally had no idea what was going on and Bobby Heenan was just sat there dancing as Disco made his entrance. Bischoff explains that we’re supposed to get Eddie Guerrero vs Dean Malenko tonight but Disco came out when he wasn’t supposed to. Eddie arrives to tell Disco to get lost. Disco obliges and leaves. That was Eddie Guerrero’s WCW Nitro debut everyone.

 

Eddie Guerrero vs Dean Malenko

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I was so excited to see this match pop up. They explain that Eddie Guerrero beat Jushin Liger on WCW Main Event the night before to appear on Nitro. That sounds like a really fun match. For the record, WCW Main Event episodes are not available on the WWE Network so I could not review that match.

Mongo’s analysis of Dean and Eddie were that these two fly more than two vultures around a bunch of dead meat. Mongo then questioned Dean Malenko calling himself the man of a thousand holds and mentions some book called “101 sex positions” or something weird like that. Before Bobby Heenan could say anything, Bischoff immediate cut him off by saying “don’t even touch that Bobby” to which Bobby sadly obliges. So I’m watching some of the most spectacular moves in a WCW ring since I started these Nitro reviews and in the middle of all this, they cut away from it to watch Hulk Hogan arriving at the arena.

It’s not like they just showed a second screen. Hogan took up ALL of the screen time and Eddie vs Dean was an afterthought. Hogan vowed to find The Giant and sort him out as my notes read. It’s all about the Hulksters out there and he’s gonna face The Giant eye-to-eye. They then cut back to Dean vs Eddie.

I didn’t take much notes during this match. It was very fast-paced and I just wanted to sit back and enjoy these two high-flyers put on a tremendous display. They showed slick reversals, monkey flips and eventually, Eddie hit the brainbuster. He was about to follow it up with the Frog Splash but Dean got the knees up. They both went for go-behinds but Eddie eventually tripped up him, grabbed the legs and pinned him. It was a lovely little match. Dean went up to Eddie after the match to ask for a rematch and Eddie accepted.

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So we finally get Hulk Hogan appearing in the ring with Jimmy Hart for an interview with Mean Gene. They talk about a man in town causing destruction and Hogan basically said there’s not a lot to talk about. Hogan said he had to go do some soul-searching after The Giant snapped his neck. He mentioned a kid doing a lung transplant who told the Hulkster to look Giant in the eye and take him down. Hogan said he’d go to the back and rip him apart but before he goes to rip the Giant apart, he makes the rounds and greets the audience with handshakes! Literally going from 0 to 100 real quick.. and then going right back to 0!

Obviously this would soon make sense as an old woman starts to beat up Hogan with a walking stick. Actually, an old woman beating up Hulk Hogan with a walking stick may not make sense! The old woman was revealed to be the Taskmaster. At this point, Mongo proclaims that this is what makes Nitro so great!

The Giant and Zodiac came down to help lay the boots to Hogan. The Giant ripped of Hogan’s neck brace and broke his neck yet again. Taskmaster then did the unthinkable… and SHAVED OFF Hogan’s moustache! It looked initially like they were gonna leave it as a Hitler moustache when they cut to The Giant chokeslamming somebody! The American Males and the Nasty Boys both came down to try and stop these miscreants but even the likes of the WCW Tag Team Champions were no match for The Giant. Throughout all of this, Bobby Heenan is laughing like a madman in the middle of all of this destruction. The heels soon left as Brian Knobbs literally crawled over to check on Hulk Hogan…

This was another great segment for the Hogan/Giant storyline. Giant destroyed the Hulkster and four other men and was a pure wrecking machine. Not many heels got this much heat on the Hulkster before so it was refreshing to see a huge threat to Hulkamania that didn’t seem like just another dude. The Giant was not like the other geeks from the Dungeon of Doom. He was his own Dungeon of Doom if you will and you were dead excited to see what would happen at Halloween Havoc. This was a thumbs up segment.

 

Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson

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The rematch from Fall Brawl 1995. As Ric Flair was coming down to the ring, Eric Bischoff was asking the hard-hitting questions of where Luger was when The Giant and his crew attacked everybody. They excused Savage as he was on a stretcher but WHERE WAS LEX LUGER? My question was why was Lex Luger expected to be out there? They couldn’t find any other fresh dude in the back that could have tried to stop The Giant?

Arn didn’t even get an entrance as they were just going fast from the bell. Bobby was still justifying the Dungeon of Doom’s actions and their attempt to cut Hogan’s hair as well by stating that Hogan needed a haircut anyway! Bobby was on top form tonight!

Arn and Ric brawled all over the place. I love how Ric Flair appears to be the babyface in all of this but was still begging Arn off during spots! Heel tactics aren’t going away that easy for Flair! Arn hit the spinebuster but both men were spent and Flair kicked out after Arn eventually made the cover. They traded sleeper holds. Flair locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock. Arn tried a piledriver but Flair countered it. Arn tried a DDT but Flair held onto the ropes and Arn took a flat-back bump.

Arn tried a dive from the top rope but Flair cut him off with a big mid-air chop. We had a perplexing finish as I have no idea what the intention was and I personally blame the referee for it. I didn’t write down who the referee was but I think it was Nick Patrick. Brian Pillman ran down as Flair got the Figure Four Leg Lock locked in. Pillman did a dive when the referee called for the bell. It was hard to determine whether the referee was calling the bell for the DQ or if Arn Anderson had given up. It’s not like Patrick decided Arn had given up before Pillman did his dive. He rang the bell after Pillman dived so I thought Flair won by DQ. Eric Bischoff, on commentary, was the one who clarified that Flair won as Arn gave up. I think the referee miss-timed calling for the bell so that’s how the finish got screwed up.

Flair and Pillman started clawing at each other but then Arn got involved. Flair wanted to chop Pillman as hard as he could but the heels overwhelmed him 2 on 1. This actually plays into the promo Arn and Brian cut last week as Arn warned that if Ric went for Arn, Brian would have his back. The heels were men of their words as Pillman ran down to help Arn and they eventually worked together to dispose of Flair.

It was then announced that WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel booked Flair vs Anderson III to take place in a steel cage on next week’s edition of Nitro. They also announced Sting vs The Shark, Big Bubba Rogers vs Road Warrior Hawk and Sabu vs Mr JL.

I loved this little ending of the show. Eric declares that Nitro is as good as it gets to which Bobby and Mongo unleashed battle cries to end the show! Bobby goes “YEEEEAAAH” and Mongo howls at the moon as the show ends. I LOVED THAT. The announcers going crazy over the product and actually looking like their interested in it. A nice change of pace from WWE announcing in 2018.

 

This was a decent show. I wasn’t particular fond of the finish of the Savage/Luger match as I wanted a clean finish but the ending plays into the storyline so I’ll accept it. We got some good cruiserweight action, The Giant got to look like a dominant and big threat to Hulkamania and we had a decent match in the main-event which builds towards a big grudge match next week. Thumbs up for me. I liked it.

Before I leave you, I did also promise a bonus review of the Sting and Road Warrior Hawk vs Kurasawa and Meng match from Clash of the Champions that got a -2 star rating from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. I was shocked at this rating but I will give you a bonus review of the match and see if my interest in Kurasawa is misplaced…

…spoiler but yeah, I may have placed too much stock in him because this was not particular great work!

 

Sting and Road Warrior Hawk vs Kurasawa and Meng w/Col. Robert Parker

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Michael Buffer did the ring introductions. The highlights from his ring introductions were that Meng was discovered by WCW as he worked as a bodyguard which appears to have been true in storyline. He then said that Kurasawa was the latest edition in Col Robert Parker’s “stud stable” because nothing says studs quite like Kurasawa and Meng!

By the way, Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan were the commentators. The heels jumped Sting and Hawk before the bell rang. It broke into a four way which was a terrible idea, as these four were brawling and everybody was in each other’s way. When the match was limited to two guys working together, it wasn’t so terrible unless Road Warrior Hawk was in there. When they had to do spots as tag teams or when all four guys were doing things, it was just a clunky mess.

It’s funny because I read up on our boy Kurasawa and he’s apparently had no martial arts background before going to WCW. It’s funny because although he had no martial arts background and he was throwing kicks all over the place anyway, Kurasawa was actually an accomplished amateur wrestler. Kurasawa actually competed in the 1992 Summer Olympics and won a bronze medal in the Asian Championship one time. He’s got this background but WCW saddle him with a gimmick of being a martial artist.

Kurasawa does these kicks and Hawk no-sells them like crazy. Hawk appeared that he did not give an ounce of care about these kicks that the deadly “martial artist” was delivering. Hawk was just on another level of bad here in this match. God bless Road Warrior Hawk, who is no longer with us, but he looked like he was on another planet and looked completely lost in the ring. Sting did an atomic drop and it looked like it went horribly wrong.

Kurasawa did some chops but Sting chopped away even more. Kurasawa and Hawk did a clothesline spot and there was no communication there at all. Kurasawa hit the clothesline and Hawk just tumbled to the ground. It was ugly. Hawk was just not reacting to anything. He didn’t try to protect himself. His arms were down, he leaned his head forward and his mouth was open as he lurched forward, and I’d hate to make this comparison, but very much like a zombie. He showed no emotion in this match.

Hawk even attempted a scoop slam and, even at this point, I was fearing the worst… from a scoop slam. Hawk almost messed this up as well as Kurasawa came very close to landing on his face. Sting eventually flew in. I had no idea if he even tagged in. Hawk had no idea what was going on. Hawk and Kurasawa had a legitimate contender for the worst brawl I’ve ever seen in my whole life. I think I made a similar comment regarding the WCW tag title match from Fall Brawl but there was nothing in that match as bad as this brawl between Hawk and Kurasawa.

Sting and Hawk hit a modified… I think a modified Doomsday Device or a Hart Attack. Either way, it was sloppy and Hawk got the pin. Kurasawa then broke Hawk’s arms and ran away.

This match was beyond bad. Out of the four wrestlers in the match, the two worst wrestlers (Kurasawa and Hawk) were the most used out of the four. Hawk looked like he had no interest in being there and Kurasawa just couldn’t get going. It was messy, it was botchy and it was no good. I’m not sure if I can go as bad as -2 stars. If I gave this match -2 stars, then I’d be saying it was as bad as Buckhouse Buck and Dick Slater vs Harlem Heat from Fall Brawl. I cannot say it was as bad as that match because at least this match was relatively short compared to that tag team title match. This was still a bad match though. I would not recommend it.

Match Rating: -*

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Thank you for reading and I’ll be back with Episode #6 of WCW Nitro as part of the Retro Express. We’re getting to see Sting back in action for the first time since Fall Brawl (at least on Nitro) and we got a big steel cage showdown between Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. We’ll see you at Episode #6!

WCW Nitro Episode List

 

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #3 (SEPTEMBER 18TH 1995) – FALLOUT TO FALL BRAWL 1995

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

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WCW Fall Brawl has came and gone. We got the big War Games match between the Hulkamaniacs and the Dungeon of Doom. Despite issues between Randy Savage and Lex Luger, the Hulkamaniacs survived the battle and toppled the forces of the Taskmaster. This meant Hulk Hogan got a chance to fight Taskmaster one-on-one in the double-ringed cage. This was interrupted by THE GIANT of all people, who beat down Hogan and snapped his neck. If the Dungeon was bad enough for the Hulkster, the second coming of Andre The Giant was not going to make things any better!

 

As much as I loved Fall Brawl, this fallout to Fall Brawl wasn’t very good. The Shark pulling off the “jumping the shark” spot during the War Games match was very appropriate when you think about this Nitro episode. I was rather perplexed through out this show. This was the show that did the WCW tag titles no favours as we’ll get to and it made the best match of Fall Brawl mean nothing when all said and done. The structure of the show was very clunky but we did get some great stuff regarding Randy Savage, Lex Luger and Ric Flair which we’ll get to.

 

Date: September 18th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Johnson City, Tennessee

Rating: 1.9

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

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Right off the bat, we get ambulance sirens which didn’t have anything to do with Scott Steiner. It had to do with the supposed murder of Hulk Hogan at Fall Brawl. Mean Gene is on the scene as The Giant arrives with the Taskmaster in an ambulance. The Giant said he’s been thinking about what it was like for Hogan to go into the back of an ambulance. The Giant said Hogan is called the “Immortal” Hulk Hogan but The Giant is the only true immortal in WCW.

At the time, The Giant was billed as (and I still can’t believe this) the SON OF ANDRE THE GIANT. For the younger fans out there, The Giant (a.k.a. Big Show) debuted in the professional wrestling business as Andre The Giant’s long-lost son. They played off that as Giant said if Andre were still alive, he’d be alongside Giant in his quest to destroy Hulk Hogan. The Giant then growled with a big grin on his face as a true villain should and he had such great presence for a guy who had only just started out in the wrestling business.

“The Blue Bloods” Lord Steven Regal and Earl Robert Eaton vs “American Males” Buff Bagwell and Scotty Riggs 

The American Males were supposed to face the Blue Bloods but the Blue Bloods were jumped before the match by the new WCW Tag Team Champions Harlem Heat (see our Fall Brawl review for details). Booker T got on the mic and said the Blue Bloods shouldn’t be here as Harlem Heat are the tag champions now. I guess they had inserted themselves in the match and, while they’re at it, decided that they were gonna defend the WCW tag team titles against the American Males…

“Harlem Heat” Booker T (c) and Stevie Ray (c) w/Sensational Sherri vs “American Males” Marcus Bagwell and Scotty Riggs for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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I don’t know if Harlem Heat going in there instead of the Blue Bloods was better. We missed out on seeing Lord Steven Regal in action. However, it just did not click at all with these two tag teams and there’s one guy at the centre of it. This Stevie Ray is SO HORRIBLE. In every task he was given in this match, he could not accomplish it with any level of success. He could not bump, he could not sell and he could not brawl. He tried to do all of these things and just couldn’t do anything right.

Booker, Bagwell and Riggs tried to wrestle around this big stump and they did try. Booker executed a sweet scoop powerslam on Riggs. Bagwell got the “hot tag” but this led to Stevie clobbering Bagwell from behind and then Booker hitting an axe kick just as regular move which was strange. Booker hit a Harlem sidekick which Bischoff was going nuts about as he declared this to be a wheel kick.

There was a “We Want It RAW” sign right in the front row of the hard cam which I was shocked was not confiscated. Bagwell got another “hot tag” which saw Stevie evade a dropkick by just side-stepping as Bagwell fell on his back. The finish saw Col. Robert Parker come down. If you recall at Fall Brawl, Parker and Sherri had lust in their eyes for each other as they made out. Parker wooed Sherri off the apron as they made their way up the entrance ramp. The match continued as Booker went for a pumphandle slam but Bagwell reversed it by bringing Booker down mid-move and scoring the pin.

In case anyone isn’t keeping track, allow me to clarify the WCW tag team title situation. Harlem Heat beat Buckhouse Buck and Dick Slater for the titles at Fall Brawl because of the distraction caused by their managers. On WCW Nitro the day after, Harlem Heat drop the titles to the American Males because of the distraction caused by managers. It’d be one thing if they did the title change at Fall Brawl and then Buck and Dick won the tag titles back the next night. At least it would continue the storyline. Instead a random new tag team, who didn’t even earn the tag title shots, beat Harlem Heat and they’re now the new WCW tag champs.

It was a very sloppy match. Not as horrifically bad as the tag match at the PPV but it was bad. Bad to the bone.

 

They showed a brief 10 second but awesome Slim Jim commercial from our boy “Macho Man” Randy Savage.

Mean Gene brings out Ric Flair for an interview. It was revealed here that Ric Flair would face Brian Pillman here tonight and judging by what happened at Fall Brawl, that makes sense. Flair was upset that Arn Anderson BROKE THE CODE. He said it’s OK for him and Arn to feud between themselves but Arn brought in an outsider into their feud. Something oddly foreshadowy about Outsider huh?

Flair said they’re gonna settle this feud within the family. Flair turned to Brian. I’m just gonna start calling him Brian Pillman in these reports. It makes life more easier for me and I don’t even think they referred to him as Flyin’ Brian in this show. So Brian Pillman it is.

Flair said he was going to chop Brian hard and that he was going to find Arn in Tennessee and kick his ass. The concerned Mean Gene insisted that you can’t say “ass” on WCW Nitro.

 

They showed the line up for Saturday Night, including Sting vs Regal, Craig Pittman vs Kobra in a Fall Brawl rematch, Dusty Rhodes being on the show and an update on Hulk Hogan.
“Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorff vs Johnny B Badd

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The follow-up to the legendary segment shown at Fall Brawl with Paul Orndorff and Gary Spivey. Paul Orndorff, now realising that he was in fact Mr Wonderful, comes out to a theme song which was 10 times as beautiful as The Man Called Sting theme song I raved about from Episode #1. Two opera singers were singing that “THEY CALL HIM MR WONDERFUL” as Paul came down to the ring admiring himself in a mirror. Eric Bischoff and the announcers were crapping on the theme song which was unbearable to hear. Please guys… the theme was WONDERFUL.

Orndorff came out flying with rights and lefts into the corner on Johnny B Badd. This beating was so bad that Nick Patrick, THE REFEREE, had to get in Orndorff’s face to get him to knock it off.

This wasn’t much of a match in all honesty. I just like how, at this point in the show, Bischoff decides to mention that we’ve got a new WCW TV champion coming out of Fall Brawl. Diamond Dallas Page was the new WCW TV champion. We didn’t get a peep out Page throughout the show but yeah, now’s the time when we must inform you of this news. Not mentioning the fact that the WCW tag team titles have changed hands twice in the last 24 hours AND that JOHNNY B BADD is now the US title number one contender. JOHNNY B BADD, who was in this match, was not acknowledged as the number one contender for the US title.

They don’t mention that but they did mention that Badd maybe fatigued due to the intensity of the matches he’s been having as of late. Again, not mentioning the fact that Badd had a 29 minute match the night before with Brian Pillman.

Orndorff pinned Badd by, as Mongo stated it as, SITTING ON HIS HEAD. Mongo saying that would be one thing, if it we’re not for Mongo than asking him to sit on Bobby Heenan’s head at ringside.

To start the show, we had the new WCW Tag Team champions from Fall Brawl losing the tag titles to American Males. In the SECOND match on the WCW Nitro AFTER Fall Brawl, the new number one contender for the US title loses clean to Mr Wonderful. If this leads to Mr Wonderful becoming next in line for the US title shot then I’m fine with this. If this leads to Johnny B Badd still getting his US title shot, I’d be baffled.

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They showed “Macho Man” Randy Savage on the set of Baywatch doing a bench press. These actors are here cheering Savage until Taskmaster runs down at presses the weights on Savage’s chest. He threw sand at Savage. He mauled at him until Baywatch geeks and RIC FLAIR came out to make the save. Flair added that Taskmaster had went too far.

I don’t really have any idea when this was supposed to have taken place. If it’d happened before Fall Brawl, Savage would have mentioned it during the big Hulkamaniacs promo at the PPV. I guess it happened just before Nitro. They flew out to the set for Baywatch (him and Ric Flair anyway) and Taskmaster was on their tail and ambushed the Macho Man.

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Macho Man then shows himself in Tennessee. Macho Man talks about what happened on the Baywatch set. Macho Man told Flair “thanks, but no thanks” which was met with a lot of boos as these fans loved Ric Flair. Macho said he’d cut the head off the snake that is the Taskmaster. He said the strong survive and nobody is stronger than Hulk Hogan. However, Savage admitted that Hogan dropped the ball by picking Lex Luger for the Hulkamaniacs as Luger “cheap-shotted” him. Mean Gene pointed out that a lot of the wrestlers were behind Luger and that Luger “cheap-shotting” him was merely an accident. Savage questioned his sources as he now believed Sting, Jimmy Hart AND Lex Luger were all with the Dungeon of Doom.

This brought out Lex Luger. Luger said that Macho Man may be jealous of him. Luger said that Savage claims Luger is only looking out for himself as he wants the WCW World title but yet Savage also wants the WCW title himself. Savage says he’s got the guts to say that he does have the WCW title in mind but still insisted that Luger cheap-shotted him. Luger says he’s here to take on the big boys and Savage said there’s no bigger boy than the Macho Man. Savage was ready for a fight and even slapped Luger and as they’re about to fight… they cut to a break.

AT THE MOMENT where Luger and Savage are about to come to blows, they felt the need to show the WCW fans the words from their sponsors! They had great confrontation but they didn’t even show what happened after Savage slapped Luger. The next thing they show when they come back is the commentators talking about Hogan and The Giant. WHAT?

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They showed the clip in full of The Giant destroying Hulk Hogan’s Harley Davidson motorcycle. Giant smashed right into the bike using a Monster Truck just after Hogan shows it off to all the little Hulksters out there with him. He loved this bike before Giant destroyed it. Giant reversed back into the motorcycle at the slowest speed he could and it appeared to do NO DAMAGE! Hogan clawed at Giant and yelled “ARE YOU OUT  OF YOUR MIND?” to which Giant just cackled!

They then replayed Giant killing Hogan at the PPV. I couldn’t help but noticed this, as they didn’t show this at the PPV, but Giant grabbed hold to the top of the cage like monkey bars as he gets in and then just launches himself into the first ring! The Giant, at this time, was ridiculously agile.

 

Ric Flair vs Brian Pillman

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Wrestling Observer Newsletter had this match as being on par with the WCW tag team title match. I have no idea what they were thinking. This match was miles better than the tag team match. Maybe not miles but it was still pretty OK.

This match was… very much the 1995 version of a Dolph Ziggler match. Pillman’s going super fast and Flair, who is 40 at this time I think, just could not keep up and nothing was able to sink in as a move. Nothing really got much heat with the exception of Ric Flair CHOPPING Pillman like crazy from the get-go. I like how Flair still had to style and profile in the middle of this beating during a blood feud with Pillman!

By the way, they played up that Johnny B Badd was fatigued earlier. Pillman was wrestling Johnny B Badd in their 29 minute match at Fall Brawl and here is Pillman flying at 100 miles an hour against Flair. He didn’t even sell being tired. Flair locked in the figure four leg lock and won.

Flair got on the mic and called out Arn as Pillman just walks to the back. Flair then said that since Arn didn’t show up here, he vowed that Arn would get his ass kicked on next week’s Nitro instead.

 

The announcers close the show by randomly stating that WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel would decide the fate of the WCW tag titles. Do we really need Nick to decide if American Males are the tag team champions? They won. Why does Bockwinkel need to decide if they’re the tag team champions?

Bischoff randomly says that something’s happening in the back. Then it just cuts to the card for the next WCW Nitro episode… I have no idea what that was about. Either it was a mistake by Bischoff to say that, a WCW production error or it was a WWE Network production error. Either way, we had no idea what happened in the back.

We do know that next week’s episode of WCW Nitro includes Alex Wright vs the Debuting Disco Inferno and Randy Savage vs Taskmaster. Ric Flair also said that he would kick Arn Anderson’s ass.

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I will say that upon review, this episode of Nitro was not as terrible as I remembered it being when I started writing it up. They were still some stupid stuff. I was mostly just upset at the lack of impact that Fall Brawl had on the product. Johnny B Badd became the number one contender and then lost to Mr Wonderful. Harlem Heat won the tag titles and then lost the tag titles to the American Males. We had some really sloppy matches along the way.

However, we had great stuff with Randy Savage as they built on the issues between him, Taskmaster and Lex Luger. I loved the Savage/Luger confrontation. Flair promos are always money. The Giant being all evil and diabolical was great to see too. In the undercard of WCW, there’s not much too it but the important storylines were dealt with carefully. Savage and Luger, Arn and Ric, Hogan and Giant. All these programs were dealt with brilliantly on this show. However, this was the worst out of the 3 WCW Nitro episodes I’ve seen so far. Hopefully things will improve with Episode #4 as Savage takes on the Taskmaster!

Thank you for reading and I’ll be back with Episode #4 of WCW Nitro as part of the Retro Express.

 

WCW Nitro Episode List

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

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

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

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

 

 

Date: September 17th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Asheville, North Carolina

Commentators: Tony Schiavone and Bobby “The Brian” Heenan

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ****

 

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

 

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

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

 

Cobra vs Craig Pittman

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

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

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

Match Rating: 1/4*

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **1/4

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: -**

 

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

 

Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ***1/2

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: *1/4

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

WCW Nitro Episode List

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Date: September 11th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Miami, Florida

Rating: 2.4

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sabu vs Alex Wright

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Randy Savage vs Scott Norton

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

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

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

 

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

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THE MATCH OF THE CENTURY… on paper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

WCW Nitro Episode List