RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #26 (FEBRUARY 26TH 1996) – HULK HOGAN, RANDY SAVAGE AND THE BOOTY MAN VS RIC FLAIR, ARN ANDERSON AND TASKMASTER

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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The Booty Man arrived on the scene at WCW…. and I think that’s all that needs to be said! He sided with Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan in the battle against Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and the Taskmaster and “kicked the can” at the end of the show. Despite overwhelming odds against the heels, Hogan and Savage have a new ally in… THE BOOTY MAN.

 

Date: February 26th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Knoxville, Tennessee

Rating: 3.2

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

 

Sting vs Big Bubba

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I thought this was a good match. I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t really seen a lot of him or whatever the deal is but I’ve never really associated Big Bubba a.k.a. The Big Boss Man as being a good worker. I had nothing against him but he didn’t really strike out to me as someone that would be any good but he’s had some really good matches on this series. I realise he was in the ring with Sting in this match but he had in-ring instincts and mannerisms that adds a little bit more to everything that he was doing. This was a good opener.

By the way, he was not Big Bubba Rogers on this show. He was merely billed as Big Bubba. Eric Bischoff mumbled through the RAW results as Big Bubba made his way down to the ring and took a shot Bob Holly saying “he’s still around?” This was actual mumbling. Last week, I wrote that he was calling the match so fast. This week, he responded by mumbling through the RAW results. This was probably by design to disregard the WWF as nothing but it didn’t make him look good as an announcer at all.

Big Bubba actually wins on Sting for a while at the start of this match. Big Bubba wasn’t really cheating. He was just overpowering and out-wrestling Sting for a long time and I actually like an opponent giving Sting a run for his money. This was not Sting just beating on someone. Big Bubba looked good as he was getting the heat on Sting.

Sting tried to fire back but Big Bubba caught Sting with a spinebuster for multiple two counts. Big Bubba worked on Sting despite Sting doing everything he can to fight back. Big Bubba argued with an old woman in the front row and Sting pops up with a right hand to a big reaction from those in the front row!

Sting hit a naughty looking reverse tombstone piledriver, with Bubba landing on top of his head. It was like a Styles Clash Piledriver. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a wrestler have complete faith with Sting in the ring delivering a piledriver! This could have went really bad but Big Bubba was literally leaving his life in Sting’s hands with this move!

Sting and Bubba go blow for blow. Sting tried a Vader Splash but Big Bubba got the knees up. Big Bubba tried a dive to the outside but Sting dropped him on the top turnbuckle and Sting hit a top rope crossbody for the win. I liked this match. It felt like a big win for Sting even if it was against Big Bubba as they showed Big Bubba was a legitimate threat to Sting. Sting had to dig deep to win. This has been shown a few times but Sting had another way to win a match with a crossbody which shows that Sting isn’t a one-trick pony with this arsenal. He’s a got a lot of moves that can get the job done. This gets a THUMBS UP!

 

Lex Luger, of all people, then started to steal the show! Sting and Lex Luger are about to be interviewed by Mean Gene before the Road Warriors interrupt. The Road Warriors asked where Sting’s head is at. The Road Warriors start cutting a promo on Luger and Sting, the WCW tag team champs by the way. They’ve been away from TV for a while but they were both back tonight. Animal said they were the masters of every match and Luger responded by saying they’ll wrestle the Road Warriors any time and any match as he poises with both belts! Luger is getting real confident now that he is a WCW tag team champion.

They start arguing about whether Lex Luger is from Chicago or not! Luger then leans on Sting and said: “tell them I’m from Chicago!” and they have this banter! Hawk said Luger reminded them of a washing machine as they really agitated them! What? In 16 years of being a wrestling fan, I’ve never seen a wrestler call another wrestler a “washing machine” before! That’s what Seth Rollins, babyface Universal Champion (as of me writing this), is missing nowadays! That’ll get him over!

I guess the Road Warriors challenged Sting and Luger to a Chicago Street Fight for the belts and Luger agreed to the match. Then, as soon as the Road Warriors leave, Luger turned to Sting and asked: “what’s a Chicago Street fight?” I laughed and I laughed and I laughed! Sting responded by saying: “why don’t you use your head and think about it?”

Lex Luger’s character was fabulous on this show. Luger is trying to be a tough guy for his best friend Sting and so he accepts any challenge that the Road Warriors dish out without even knowing what the match was! Luger’s a dumb heel trying to be a babyface and it was wonderful! And then, it got better!

 

Lex Luger vs The Renegade

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This was way better than you’d think. The Renegade, who is still with the company, was up against Lex Luger. This wasn’t particular good but this wasn’t really bad either. It was just there… but it wasn’t like a big calamity.

They show a WCW Magazine which included Madusa slamming Sherri’s head into the mat last month. These two wrestle for while. It’s nothing really special except that Renegade just no sells a couple of spots vintage Warrior style I guess. Renegade misses a crossbody and slams into the ropes as Luger goes to work. Luger gets a two count from a back suplex. The Renegade does a sunset flip but Luger kicks out and then comes back out with a clothesline.

Renegade does the pin power-up spot, like he lifts up Luger with the power off this kick out,… and then Luger just goes back onto him with a chin lock! All of that power… led to Luger locking on a chin lock!

Some fan in the front row had like a Bart Simpson mask on at the front which didn’t seem to fit his body at all! Bart has like a small neck since he’s a child but this big man stands up to cheer and he’s just a regular dude in a big coat!

Jimmy Hart comes down and pushes Renegade off the top rope. Luger does the torture rack for the submission win. Jimmy runs around the ring and jumps into the arms of Luger, who bounces his pecks up and down! Sting comes down to confront Jimmy and Luger and Luger covers up his pecs!.. like he’s just been caught in bed with another man! I loved that. He was out there half-naked anyway but Sting comes out to confront him and Luger feels the need to cover up like he’s just been up to no good. I LOVED IT! And then Luger goes after Jimmy!

Sting asked, not on the mic by the way, what Jimmy is doing out there but Luger insists he doesn’t know why he’s out there. He raises Renegades hand and tries to be babyface. Sting gets in Luger’s face and berates him for being with Jimmy Hart. I loved this segment.

Everything with Sting and Luger in on this show was great. We got two weeks without the Sting and Luger storyline and after two weeks, they’re back and there’s a big development in their storyline where Sting now is like “it’s him or me.” They don’t over-expose these two like they did before. Now, everything these two do should matter as part of the storyline where Luger and Sting are having friendship difficulties. You don’t over-do it but now it’s the time to flesh out the characters a little bit more. This was great.

 

“Harlem Heat” Booker T and Stevie Ray vs “Road Warriors” Animal and Hawk

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This was just a boring tag team match to me. Nothing really special. The teams get in each others’ faces as Nick Patrick gets between them to break it up.

Booker beats up Hawk for a while to get things going and talks trash as he does this. Hawk does a dropkick to send Booker to the floor. Hawk does a neckbreaker and follows up with a fist drop for a two count.

Animal and Stevie Ray get tagged in.  Not gonna lie: Stevie looked rather tall against Animal and as soon as I thought that, the announcers talk about the upper body of Stevie Ray!

Stevie does the release powerbomb to Hawk which I pray he stopped doing especially when he damn near killed Luger with one at Superbrawl. Booker hit an axe kick which Hawk just kicks out of… very weird to see Hawk just kick out of a move that would go on to become Booker’s finisher as a singles competitor!

Harlem Heat continues to get the heat on Hawk. Hawk tries to fight back but Hawk goes crashing into the ring post. Apparently the winners will get a shot at the tag titles according to Bischoff, right after an angle where Road Warriors and Sting and Luger agree to a Chicago Street Fight.

Animal runs wild. Animal pulls off doing a back flip off a double back suplex and does a double clothesline to a big pop! Booker breaks it up as things just quiet down all of a sudden. I got no idea what happened. Booker hits a Houston Hangover but the referee is distracted with Stevie Ray. Animal kicks a distracted Booker in the face. Hawk covers Booker as Stevie just stands there in front of it on the outside and lets it happen. Hawk pins Booker. Apparently something went awry because Stevie just stood there and didn’t even try to break it up. No storyline or anything. It was like they hit pause on Stevie Ray and he was just motionless. A sloppy finish to an otherwise boring match.

 

 

Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and Booty Man vs Ric Flair w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth, Arn Anderson and Taskmaster

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We had our big six man tag team match main-event. The six men brawled in the ring to kick things off. Eventually Booty Man and Arn are the two legal men in the ring.

Kimberley Page comes down onto the entrance ramp with roses. This came off as rather random so I would have to imagine that Johnny B Badd is out of the company. Either way, this led to nothing on this show.

Booty Man shook his booty as Savage suddenly enters the ring, tells Booty something and then leaves. I wonder if Booty Man forgot a spot because again, it just came off as so out of the blue…

Booty hits a “high knee”. I guess they ousted Zodiac as the Booty Man who was infiltrating the Dungeon of Doom on commentary. The Booty Man ran wild on the heels. I legit lost track of who was the legal man was as the announcers even lost track of who the legal man was. Everyone just kept coming into the ring and doing spots. Flair and Booty Man suddenly start wrestling.

Booty Man and Ric Flair wrestle for the upper hand in the test of strength. Savage rips his shirt after getting tagged in and throws it at Elizabeth I think… or Woman possibly. Savages fights all of the heels as they all enter the ring again but Savage stands his ground.

Ric posed as Hulk Hogan is tagged in. Hogan ran wild on Flair. Hogan overcame Arn and Taskmaster, sending them both over the top rope with a clothesline. Bobby was still confused about who the legal man was and Mongo said: “it doesn’t matter who the legal man is.” Yes Mongo… it does.

Booty Man tagged in and again, all the heels jump in the ring and Booty Man fights them off. Hard to keep track about the heel was that was the legal man as Booty Man ran wild. This was getting ridiculous.

Savage grabbed the hair of Woman and Elizabeth to ridiculous cheers which leads to the heels getting the heat on Savage. WWE could not get away with this in 2019! The 90s was just a weird time for wrestling when putting on your hands on women was endorsed by the fans!

Flair goes to wok on Savage on the outside. Taskmaster and Savage both tumble into each other and this gives Savage the chance to tag in the Booty Man yet again. Booty Man runs wild with a minute left on the show which got me concerned. This has also got me concerned when writing this review as I’ve felt I’ve written “The Booty Man runs wild” so often during this review! I’d hate to keep repeating myself but that’s what happened! Anyway… minute left – Booty Man gets the hot tag.

Booty Man throws all three heels into Hogan’s boot. Hogan got tagged in and Hogan suddenly hits the leg drop on Arn and finally pins Arn Anderson to a huge pop from the crowd! I thought… great. Hogan finally got his victory over Arn after weeks of Arn sneaking his way into victories over the Hulkster. Hogan finally beat the man and pinned him. He got a big victory. This was all fine… but then the show kept going with about 30 seconds left on the show.

The heels then take over after the bell. Elizabeth takes forever to handcuff Hogan to the corner to the point where I think Hogan just flat-out handcuffed himself to the ring post! The camera just solely focuses on this as this is going on by the way. Ric Flair whips Hogan with something as the show goes off the air.

Why couldn’t you have just ended the show with the babyfaces celebrating after a big win? Was it really necessary for the heels to get their heat back? Ric Flair didn’t even get pinned and he gets Hogan handcuffed and beaten with like 30 seconds left on the show. Why was it so important with so little time left to do that spot, not executed well at all by the way?

There was a massive issue with timing on this show, especially with the finish. The show was fine as a whole but I think the main-event was very much a train wreck to me. Too much was going on with the constant switches and tags. It was very hard to keep track of it all and then they had to rush to a quick finish and a goofy angle with 30 seconds left. The finish to the show left a bad taste in my mouth. I think the Lex Luger and Sting stuff was really the highlights of the show.

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A heads up for the next episode. There was no episode of Nitro for the week after this episode. I don’t remember what the reason was but they did mention it at some point. I think we’ll be at episode March 11th or something and with 2 weeks or so left before the Uncensored PPV.

I will see you with the review of the next edition of Nitro! If you read this review, thanks for reading and please tweet @ArmbarExpress with your thoughts!

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

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RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #25 (FEBRUARY 19TH 1996) – HULK HOGAN VS ARN ANDERSON II AND A RIC FLAIR VS RANDY SAVAGE REMATCH FOR THE TITLE

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

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WCW were coming off Superbrawl VI, with Ric Flair being the WCW World Heavyweight Champion once again and the battle between the Mega Powers, the Four Horsemen (well three horsemen for now) and the Dungeon of Doom raged on. Savage knocked off Hugh Morrus and set his sights on getting revenge on Ric Flair and the recently turned Miss Elizabeth. Hulk Hogan battled Arn Anderson in the main-event with Anderson picking up a shock pinfall victory following interference from Flair, Elizabeth and Woman.

This week’s Nitro episode will see the Hulk Hogan vs Arn Anderson rematch and the Randy Savage vs Ric Flair title rematch from Superbrawl.

 

Date: February 19th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Salisbury, Maryland

Rating: 2.9

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

 

I thought this episode was a vast improvement of the last month or so of Nitros. I don’t know what it was that made me like it. There were stuff you’d normally expect but these things were sharper this week. Hulk Hogan vs Arn Anderson was very similar to last week and it worked. Loch Ness’ squash match this week was a sharper version of his last match from last week and it worked in making Loch Ness look like a monster. I saw a good match with Fit Finlay a.k.a. The Belfast Bruiser facing Brad Armstrong. I saw a good match with Randy Savage and Ric Flair as always. There wasn’t much wrong with it and it was an easy watch.

In no way did this feel like a chore and that’s exactly what you want for a wrestling show.

 

Hulk Hogan vs Arn Anderson w/Woman

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The screen went black somehow as Hogan ran down to the ring for this one. I have no idea what the technical difficulty was with the show here. The match started with Hogan beating up Arn before he can even take off his jacket and Steve “Mongo” McMichael, babyface announcer and the voice of the good guys, said: “Hogan is doing the right thing here.” Hogan attacked a man who couldn’t even defend himself and he’s “doing the right thing” Mongo?

Bischoff’s said Hogan’s eyes were hurt “due to attacks by heels”… ha ha. Very clever Eric. Hogan caught Arn off the top rope with a clothesline which actually looked better then you’d expect it to be with Hogan and Arn Anderson of all people. Hogan choked away at Arn and raked the eyes.

Bischoff took a shot at Vader and mentioned some altercation with Paul Orndorff. I believe they had a fight before Vader was fired or whatever. I think I talked about this on the series before near the start of it.

Hogan choked Arn with a fan’s scarf right in front of Nick Patrick… NOT A DQ. He choked Arn with an illegal weapon and Nick Patrick just stood there watching it. They plugged Uncensored in March where apparently all the matches are No DQ so I guess that spot was a teaser for that PPV!

Hogan was all over Arn as the fans chanted “Hogan sucks” until Arn finally got a polish hammer in. Hogan even struggled to sell that… possibly by design. Hogan caught Arn’s foot as Arn attempted a stomp and proceeded to push Arn over the top rope.

Arn did an Irish Whip and Hogan runs, stops, waves his arms in the air and then bumps into the corner. The weirdest run off an Irish Whip I’ve ever seen by the Hulkster.

Hogan did a Figure Four Leg Lock as Arn grabbed the referee. Savage prevented a Taskmaster run-in and then the ref called for the bell. Hogan thought he won. The match awarded the match to… Arn Anderson. For what? Because Savage attacked Taskmaster who was not in the match? In fact, NEITHER MAN involved in that run-in touched Anderson or Hogan!

Arn Anderson now holds two wins in a row over Hulk Hogan but I was really confused by that finish. Savage and Taskmaster didn’t even touch Arn Anderson or anyone. They just went in the ring and did a spot together. Somehow Hogan was disqualified for this.

Again, Hogan mostly beat the crap out of Arn and Arn escaped with the victory. At the very least, in storyline, this may build up to Hulk Hogan finally getting a big win over Arn Anderson and it’s rare moment of Hogan with his back against the corner. The heels are outsmarting him left and right. Flair beat him before Superbrawl and now Arn has two victories over him after Superbrawl. Hopefully this will lead to Hogan finally scoring that big win over Arn and getting a big win leading to a match with Flair down the road. So I like this and the storytelling in these matches with Hogan and Arn. This gets a thumbs up for now!

 

Loch Ness vs Alex Wright

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A massive improvement from their last match featuring a massive man in Loch Ness. I did love though that Eric Bischoff talks about bringing you the best every single week as there’s suddenly technical difficulties as the screen goes green and fizzles a little! I found it rather hilarious!

Loch Ness could barely move as Wright tried some dropkicks. Wright tries to choke out Loch Ness and they showed a close up the ugly looking Loch Ness with teeth missing! He was a mean ugly heel as every heel should be! Loch Ness did a bear hug and Alex Wright somehow got out of it!

Loch Ness did hardly anything and was sweating buckets. He got blown up from walking, never-mind when he was doing spots. Wright came flying in and Loch Ness booted him out of the sky. Loch Ness did a massive elbow drop as the ring shook. The fans went ooooh and the announcers really sold the impact of this elbow drop. Loch Ness did a slam and they acted like it was death to the German Alex Wright! Loch Ness won a slightly better match then from last week. Loch Ness wanted Hogan… turns out he doesn’t get Hogan but we’ll get to that at another time!

 

The Belfast Bruiser vs Brad Armstrong

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We finally got the Monday Nitro debut of FIT FINLAY. Billed as The Belfast Bruiser in this match, Finlay was so great in this match and I’d forgotten just how good this guy was in the ring. As made clear at the start of the series, I never watched WCW back when it was on air. I was 1 year old when this episode aired. My only memory of Finlay was his WWE run in 2006. To get to watch Finlay in WCW is such a treat and Finlay had a fine performance against Brad Armstrong.

NOTE: Not that I’d say this to his face but Finlay was sporting a naughty looking moustache and mullet combination! Then again it was the 90s so who am I to judge?

The fans chanted USA. I’m just gonna call him Finlay as I do the review of this match. Calling him “the Belfast Bruiser” while accurate would be very hard to stick to! Finlay worked on the arm of Armstrong funnily enough. Of course if you work on an Armstrong, you work on the arm of an Armstrong! The clue is in the name!

He wrenched on the arm and then gouged the face, following up with the elbow to the face! I loved the combination of picking apart body parts of the opponent and then getting some cheap shots in once in a while!

Finlay did a standing surfboard-like arm wrench. Armstrong tries to fight back and Finlay just clobbers him down to regain the heat! It was pretty great! Armstrong finally gets back in the match with some headlock takedowns.

Armstrong kicks Finlay over the top rope and Finlay responds by taking out the legs! Finlay thinks at this point: “he thinks he can kick me? I’ll wrap his leg around the post and make sure he doesn’t kick me anymore!” Finlay was the man!

Finlay locks on a calf crusher but Armstrong refused to give up and then does a big elbow to the face to get back into the match. Armstrong and Finlay go flying over the top rope with a crossbody. Armstrong did a big face slam and hit a big back suplex as the fans start to go nuts from BRAD ARMSTRONG! If you think of all of the wrestlers in 2019 that struggle to get a reaction for the comeback and yet BRAD ARMSTRONG is being rooted on and cheered by the crowd in a match with the Belfast Bruiser!

Finlay hits a big gutwrench suplex for the pin. I thought this was a great match as the Belfast Bruiser calls out Regal. I cannot wait to watch that match as well!

 

Ric Flair (c) w/Elizabeth and Woman vs “Macho Man” Randy Savage for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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Again, you’re rarely ever gonna find a bad Randy Savage vs Ric Flair match and this was a great world title match. Also great on this show was Elizabeth’s outfit… she came out in a skirt and jacket and she looked marvellous!

Flair grabs Woman and Elizabeth, puts his arms over them before the match and sings “I got the whole world in my hands” giving us Bray Wyatt’s inspiration for when he started using that phrase!

Nick Patrick grabs the title and hoists it up at the cameraman in the corner. When I first looked at it, all I could see was “man” on the name plate. I thought “what the?”so I rewound it and it said MACHO MAN! I looked at it and thought, did they just spoil the finish? Bischoff covers it up by saying Ric Flair kept Savage’s nameplate on the title. I have no idea if they just left it on by mistake because I find it hard to believe that this was part of a storyline that RIC FLAIR would leave another man’s nameplate on his own world title belt.

Bischoff called segments of this match like he was a auctioneer, speaking at a ridiculous pace! “Savage going for the Irish whip, he hits the Irish Whip. Flair hits an elbow” he’d say for example and he said all of that in the space of like 5 seconds without catching his breath! “Nature Boy Ric Flair. The Nature Boy takes Randy Savage on the outside…” he’d say that at the speed of light to which I yelled at the TV “SLOW DOWN!” Eric Bischoff, if you’re reading this review, could have killed ya to talk a little bit slower on commentary? This put Jimmy Hart to shame in terms of fast-paced talkers!

Savage got distracted with Woman and Flair takes advantage. Woman raked the eyes of Savage as the referee was distracted with either Elizabeth or Flair. Savage fought back but Flair cut him off with an elbow and then collapses to the ground!

Savage goes for the Figure Four Leg Lock. I love that the storyline they’re trying to tell is that Flair has everything Savage holds dear and yet Savage responds by taking Ric’s own finisher and using it on Flair! “You think you can take my things Flair? I’ll take your finisher!”

Flair begged Savage off but Savage is no fool and stomps him anyway! Savage locked on a sleeper hold but Flair reversed it with a back suplex. Flair does a suplex and then grabs his head and screams “OH GOD” which I think he was just selling his head as he wouldn’t go “OH GOD” if he was legitimately hurt I don’t think.

Flair locked on his own Figure Four Leg Lock and after a while, Savage reversed the figure four to get out of it. Savage gets a near fall with a backslide, to which Mongo goes “that was a slow count.” Flair bounces off the corner with a running chop and Savage sold this like he got shot in the chest with a sniper! Tremendous selling!

Flair and Savage threw chops and punches. Savage spits at Flair and Flair doesn’t get mad and fired up like most wrestlers… he gets on his knees and begs him off! That is a spot that only Ric Flair (and I guess Eddie Guerrero) could pull off so well!

Savage did the double axe handle off the top and then Elizabeth distracted him. Woman throws her heel to Flair but Savage intercepted it and hit Flair with it.

Taskmaster and Hogan both ran down. I think Woman hit Savage in the face to break up a pin attempt or Flair kicked out. Nick Patrick goes to make the count and I don’t think that was supposed to happen. Maybe Woman thought that Patrick would turn his attention to Hogan and Taskmaster first, which he eventually did and that would allow her to break it up. No, Patrick goes for the count and I think Woman feels she has to do something to break it up and I also think Ric may have thought he needed to kick out. Either way, this particular part of the finish got screwed up.

Arn then comes out an hit a DDT on Savaeg as the referee is somehow distracted and Flair covered Savage for the pinfall win. Good match but a hugely over-complicated and over-booked finish. You had like 5 people, other than the referee, Randy Savage and Ric Flair involved in this finish:

  1. MISS ELIZABETH distracted Macho Man.
  2. WOMAN threw the shoe to Ric Flair but it was intercepted by Savage.
  3. TASKMASTER runs down.
  4. HULK HOGAN runs down after Taskmaster.
  5. ARN ANDERSON comes out and hits a DDT on Savage.

You couldn’t have just done a ref bump and then Arn comes out and DDTs Savage and then Flair gets the pin? You had to get four other people involved?

The heels gang up on Savage and Hogan and some dude makes the save! The announcers don’t say who he is but even a millennial wrestling fan like me, who has never seen Nitro before, recognises that it is BRUTUS BEEFCAKE aka THE BOOTY MAN! Yet Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan had no idea who this guy was! BOBBY HEENAN, of all people, didn’t know who it was that came out.

The Booty Man runs them off as Elizabeth tumbles off the ramp! Poor Elizabeth. The heels commandeer the announce booth as Flair cuts a promo but the babyfaces force them to flea. Hogan and Savage goes nuts on Bischoff for some reason and Hogan finally declares “Did you see him run from the Booty Man?” Yeah, this is the moment where Hogan declares this “mystery” third man to be THE BOOTY MAN.

Hogan said: “This is the Booty Booty Man. If he can’t kick the can, nobody can.” That has to be one of the worst catchphrases in wrestling history! Hogan is cutting this big promo for the BOOTY MAN and all I can think is that his name is the Booty Man! He was The Zodiac as a member of the Dungeon of Doom but now he’s THE BOOTY MAN?

Mean Gene clarifies that there’s gonna be a six man tag team match next week as Hogan, Savage and Booty takes on Flair, Taskmaster and Arn. Booty Man shakes his ass a lot on television as Bischoff agrees to get this match done so I guess Bischoff is acknowledged as the dude running the show now? Then again, he’s always listed as an Executive Producer or something for the PPVs so I guess it was always implied to the audience anyway.

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That was Nitro. It was not boring. As a matter of fact, it was kind of fun. Finlay was a breath of fresh air. Savage vs Flair matches always work for me. They worked the kinks out for Loch Ness and I like the B plot story they’re telling with Hogan and Arn. This show gets a THUMBS UP! The first good Nitro in a long time for me!

We will see you with our review of Episode #26 of WCW Monday Nitro!

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW SUPERBRAWL VI (FEBRUARY 11TH 1996)

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

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The first WCW pay-per-view of what will prove to be an eventful year for WCW. Two steel cage matches were promoted as double main-events in the middle of the conflict between The Mega Powers, The Four Horsemen and The Dungeon of Doom. Ric Flair and Randy Savage have traded the WCW World title back and forth, but Superbrawl would hopefully prove once and for all who the better man is. Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan’s battles with The Giant would continue as the two “immortals” of WCW face off inside of a steel cage. How will the forces of good and the forces of evil fair at WCW Superbrawl VI?

 

Date: February 11th, 1995

Brand: WCW

City: St Petersburg, Florida

Attendance: 7,200

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie, Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan

 

This show felt really underwhelming for the most part. I’m not sure where this show ranks when compared to the other WCW PPVs I’ve watched so far. I think the difference between those PPVs and this one was that the stakes didn’t seem as high on this show. It didn’t feel like the intensity and build to the top programs were so grand that I felt a mass surge to watch it. Two steel cage matches back-to-back didn’t seem very special, especially knowing TNA would do entire PPVs with steel cage matches about a decade later!

I guess the double steel cage match thing was a bigger deal in WCW 1996. With that being said though, I don’t know if the action was really pay-per-view level of action. The Savage vs Flair match was very good and I thought the TV title match was good but everything else was, below part at best. There was some matches that were boring beyond boring and then there were matches were I had no idea what was going on and I just could not believe that it made PPV. There was one really infamous angle on this show which was pretty much the talking point and the biggest takeaway from this show. It’s funny because one of the guys involved would end up wrestling their final WCW match on this show!

I do love that the show starts and they cut to the announce team of Tony Schiavonie, Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan. Tony would be talking while positioned in the middle of this motley crew and Bobby and Dusty are on either side of him just started staring at each other around Tony! Dusty had this big smile on his face as he does it as he and Bobby have a stare down!

 

“Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock vs “The Nasty Boys” Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags in a street fight

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We start of with a match which, without the Brian Pillman vs Taskmaster stuff, would have really stood out from the crowd. This was not a wrestling match at heart as it was a fight… a brawl. This may sound like I’m stating the obvious… but that’s EXACTLY THE POINT of a street fight. They start brawling right away and these guys batter away at each other with every weapon they could find. I usually am not enthralled with hardcore wrestling like this but I liked this match to an extent.

Public Enemy clear the ring as they brawled on the outside. Rocco Rock grabs a GINORMOUS TABLE. It’s insane how big this table looked on TV with a black cloth on top of it! Maybe it was forced perspective making me believe it was big but I just saw Rocco with this giant looking table over his head! Rocco runs into Sags with it but Sags no-sells this table charge and smashes Rocco with the table! There was barely any selling to these weapon shots but I didn’t seem to mind.

Grunge and Sags have brilliantly screwed up double clothesline spot. They do the clothesline and Grunge goes down but Sags kinda wobbles, loses his footing and then falls down! It was a way funnier version of the Barbarian/Animal double clothesline botch from a few weeks ago!

Sags brings in a trash can and smacks Grunge in the head with the lid. Sags went for a piledriver on the trash can and I figured at first that the WWE Network didn’t wanna show this because there was a random cut to Sags suddenly going for the cover and the trash can was all bent. Of all the stuff you can see on the Network, including Madusa’s German Suplex on Sherri from a weeks ago, this is the one they wanted to censor? They did end up showing this on the replay so I have no idea what happened here with the Network.

Grunge doesn’t even sell this and batters Sags with the trash can lid to the back. Knobs suplexes Rocco through the table. Knobs smack Rocco with a chair. Knobs goes for the cover but the referee was out of position, like really out of position. Grunge looked like he proper grazed Knobs with the trash can lid to the face. Grunge did a bulldog on Sags to the trash can.

They brawled, and brawled, and brawled, and brawled. Sags found another table and backdropped it onto Rocco. I think Rocco did a Diamond Cutter of some kind but I could barely see it with the lighting! Grunge looked like he proper smashed Knobs on the head with a trash can. Rocco went for a Swanton Bomb like he did on their debut but he missed the table. Rocco landed ass first on the floor. It looked like it hurt as he thudded onto the floor. Knobs picked up the win with a pin and then they continued to brawl after the match.

On paper, all of that would sound like a horrible match but in execution, it actually turned out alright. It wasn’t like these guys really hurt each other, with the exception of a few spots. There were light hits with shots to the head (the lightest you could think of anyway) and this was a match where the two tag teams just wanted to fight. They weren’t interested in winning and it was a street fight, so everything they did was to inflict punishment and it fit the styles of the tag team and the story of the match.

It wasn’t particularly a technical brilliant match but there was a charm where it was a street fight by it’s very nature. They hit each other and it wasn’t just insane hardcore stuff where they were killing each other, other than the Rocco Rock spot at the end. It wasn’t like they were all going for Bradshaw like chair shots to the head. As safe of a hardcore tag match as they could have possibly done.

Match Rating: **

 

Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed Konnan the WCW US and Mexican champion. Konnan said that he thanked all of the Latins and that he wasn’t gonna let them down. Konnan said he’d be smarter and he would leave as US champion as he was supposed to face the One Man Gang. As much as I have a go after the WCW title picture in the last few months, this US title has went from being held by Sting, to Kensuke Sasaki, to One Man Gang and now to Konnan in the space of a couple of months!

Mean Gene pointed out that One Man Gang has a lot of mass but Konnan said he’ll deal with it as he’s dealt with it before.

 

Johnny B Badd © w/Diamond Doll vs DDP for the WCW TV title, Johnny B Badd’s Diamond Doll and DDP’s $6.6million (which I guess DDP stole from Diamond Doll)

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I’ve actually been a fan of this program since I saw the first match at Halloween Havoc I believe. This has told a very basic story of the Diamond Doll initially being with DDP and eventually going with Johnny B Badd who respected her while her former man DDP simply wanted her as property. Johnny B Badd was fighting for her honour and so far, had DDP’s number in the big matches. There hasn’t been one time so far, to my knowledge, where Badd came off as a bad babyface. Here, this is the blow-off match and I’ll explain why at the end of this review…

The referee holds a cheque of the $6.6million which is on the line and it’s just a big blue cheque which says in big letters, CA$H! It didn’t include like a name of the bank, sort code or anything. It was a big blue piece of cardboard with CA$H on it and the referee hoisted it up like he was holding up the WCW World title!

DDP came out with roses in his mouth and in his hands, and then DDP eventually grabs Diamond Doll’s arms. Badd makes the save to kick things off. DDP, in this segment, represented the perfect heel. I have to hear all the time on Twitter about Baron Corbin being such a great heel. Apparently, we all hate Baron Corbin and that’s what makes him such a good heel that he’s hated. I guess Baron Corbin fans have got it into their heads that it’s all about getting the negative reaction and if you get the negative reaction, you’re automatically a good heel.

DDP was such a good heel in this program because I don’t hate DDP in this program because he’s a bad wrestler or he’s boring or whatever. He’s not a bad wrestler and he’s not boring. I don’t care about any of that. I care about how this is a sleazebag millionaire, in storyline, that wants it all and wants to own Diamond Doll as property. Baron Corbin, from a storyline, gives me no motivation to wanna care about his character. What is there to care about? He’s a tall guy who is below par in the ring and is booed because of the way he is pushed and promoted. That’s not the same as getting heat because of something your character does.

You need to be a good enough heel where I wanna see a babyface come in and kick your ass. Here, as a fan, I wanted Johnny B Badd to come in and kick DDP’s ass because I like the Diamond Doll and DDP is being a dick to her. I don’t wanna see a babyface come in a kick Corbin’s ass because simply put, I don’t wanna see Baron Corbin because he’s not any good. The RAW ratings in 2018 hit record-low numbers because people didn’t wanna see Corbin. That’s not productive television giving him such a prime position on RAW. DDP, as a mid-card talent as of early 1996, does right what RAW main-eventers in 2019 cannot or are unable to do.

Badd snapmared DDP over the top rope and then did a double axe handle. The commentators argued about the rules as I guess a rule in WCW wrestling was that throwing someone over the top rope was illegal. Badd did a nice float-over arm drag as the two men battled for the backslide pin. The men traded leapfrogs but then DDP dropped Badd on the top rope with a stun gun.

There was another random cut in this match so I guess there was issues with redeveloping this PPV on the WWE Network as I wound up getting it all over the show. DDP did a gutbuster. DDP did an Irish Whip but Badd just tumbled into the ground. Either this was really good selling by Badd or he got injured somehow.

Badd then went for a sunset flip but DDP simply punches him to knock him down. DDP taunts but then Badd almost gets him again with the sunset flip but DDP punches him. Then DDP sits on Badd out of cockiness but then Badd finally flips over DDP for the near fall! I dunno why but I loved that. DDP’s cockiness got the better of him and Badd, the babyface, never gave up with getting this roll-up! It was awesome!

DDP hits a beautiful DDT and deservingly runs around the ring to celebrate! DDP went to Diamond Doll for a rating, that Diamond Doll use to give him back when she was managing him, and Diamond Doll decided to give him a 0 this time. DDP got mad, fell over Badd liked he slipped on a banana peel, got rolled up but almost got pinned!

Badd fires back but DDP forces Badd down on the mat with a sleeper hold. DDP gets his foot on the rope, Diamond Doll goes “ref, look”, the referee turns around to see her and then DDP gets his feet off the rope like a smart heel! You know what this was. This was every pantomime where the bad guys sneaks up on the good guy, and the audience yells “he’s behind you!” That was Diamond Doll’s role in this little spot!

Badd almost catches DDP with a roll up for a near fall. Badd makes a comeback with punches, playing into his background as a boxer. Badd does a big double axe handle as Diamond Doll throws up the 10 board for Johnny B Badd! Badd does a big sunset flip off the top rope for a near fall. Badd does a big sit-out powerbomb. Badd went for so many roll-ups in this match! DDP goes for the feet on the ropes cover but Badd kicks out anyway.

DDP does the tombstone slam for a near fall. DDP goes a sleeper hold in the middle of a ring as Badd is passing out. Badd does a stunner to get out of it. Badd does his own sleeper hold getting on the back of DDP. Badd then reverses a tombstone slam from DDP into his own tombstone piledriver for the win.

I really liked this match as Badd gives Diamond Doll the money as we got a happy ending. I’ve really liked this storyline with DDP, Badd and the Diamond Doll. A simple story and the babyfaces looked good in the process. I think this was the strongest PPV match between the two in the series as things felt a little crisper between the two in the ring and thank god for that as this was the blow-off match! That the last match was the best match made for a good ending to the storyline.

This may be spoilers for future Nitros but about a month later, Johnny B Badd leaves the company. Badd apparently protested against the angle with Diamond Doll, who was actually DDP’s real-life wife Kimberley Page. Therefore, he left the company and joined the WWF as Marc Mero. Where they go with DDP and Kimberley after this angle remains to be seen but I imagine they reunite somehow on TV in the future.

Match Rating: ***1/2

 

Harlem Heat were interviewed by Mean Gene. Stevie says that Lex Luger committed grand larceny when Lex Luger and Sting won the WCW tag team titles and tonight, they were gonna get him. They said Sting was on the hit list too. Booker said: “they were pulling on us when were supposed to be pulling on them!” A bad sentence out of context! He told the champs to watch their back and watch their back hard as they refused to walk out without the titles. Harlem Heat said they were taking the tag team title picture into the future. They also mention that the Road Warriors would be facing the winners on the same night.

 

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

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There’s not a lot I can say about this match other than what I’m about to say. Out of Sting and Lex Luger, Sting should have always been the guy taking the heat as Lex Luger is waiting for the hot tag. Lex Luger, in case you weren’t aware, wasn’t very good. The idea is that if he’s not good, you don’t want to expose him and make the audience aware of this. You protect him by having him only be active when it’s the most important time for him to be active and show him to be a star. Him having to sell for Harlem Heat for seemingly the entirety of this match was unbearable.

Booker and Sting wrestled for a while. Luger gets tagged in but Ray and Booker knock him to the outside with a double back elbow. Luger initially doesn’t wanna get back into the ring until Sting talks him into it. Luger then immediately tags Sting into the ring. See, even Lex Luger didn’t wanna get tagged in and get beat on!

Sting hits a big bulldog on Booker and tags Luger back in. Booker then misses an elbow drop, but somehow transitions this into the spinaroonie and then hits a side kick! I thought that was pretty impressive actually to do all of that in one motion! Harlem Heat get the heat… which is a pun I swear was not intentional when I wrote the first draft of this review! Luger clotheslined Booker on the chest in a poorly mistimed clothsline on the part of both men.

Stevie damn near killed Luger with a Powerbomb where he got him up for position and then just let go and dropped him. Way to go Stevie. Stevie went for a nerve hold on Lex Luger and at this point in the show, I wanted a nap. Sting finally got the hot tag but the referee didn’t see it. Sting said “screw it” and started beating up Booker and Stevie anyway! As the referee is dealing with Sting I believe, The Road Warriors come out and hit Stevie in the ring with a lead pipe and Luger covers Stevie for the win. This was a really bad match which ever way you slice it. I pray that I never get to see this match again as these two tag teams can’t seem to do it right, even with Sting and Booker T on hand to idiot-proof the match. I don’t know who was booking these matches… I guess I actually got an answer later on in the show when we get to the Brian Pillman match!

The funny thing about this… this wasn’t even Sting and Lex Luger’s worst match on this show.

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Match Rating: ½*

 

Mean Gene interviewed Sting and Luger. Luger cuts a promo and said that he had held up his end of the bargain. Sting said he didn’t know what happen but he celebrated that they won the match.

 

Konnan © vs One Man Gang for the WCW United States Championship

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Apparently, I watched a totally different match to seemingly everyone else on the internet. I’ve seen a few reviews of the match calling it a dud. Dave Meltzer from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter awarded this -2 stars at the time. I saw a match where Konnan and One Man Gang tried their best for a match that nobody cared about. I didn’t think it was any good, but this was nowhere near as bad as the Sting/Luger vs Road Warriors match which we’ll get to.

I love how when they showed the name plate for One Man Gang, the name plate fades away starting from the middle towards the outside and One Man Gang throws a kick in the middle to show the affect that he kicked it in two! That I liked!

It’s weird seeing Konnan without a gangster-like gimmick! Here, he was kinda dressed like Kalisto with his mask on for his entrance. One Man Gang clobbered at Konnan and drove his foot into Konnan’s face. Konnan tried to chop the big man down with dropkicks to the knee and then does a big wheel kick.

Konnan does a crossbody that sends them both to the floor. One Man Gang does a leg drop. Dusty gave the following advice: “fist him in the head.” One Man Gang gouged at Konnan’s face. The first few minutes of this match was exciting but then it just dragged and dragged as One Man Gang got the heat. Konnan fired back and somehow did a hurricanrana to One Man Gang. One Man Gang missed a big splash. Konnan does a diving cannonball onto One Man Gang for the win.

I’m still trying to figure out what people saw in this match that made it so hated. It felt a little bit of a styles crash but it didn’t seem like they were totally on different pages or anything. One Man Gang was slow but it just seemed like a slow heatless match but there was nothing really they messed up that made me think: “oh my god why am I watching this?” Maybe if you were so offended by the crossbody spot where they both tumbled to the outside which was kinda sloppy but I’ve seen way worse executions of that spot. I dunno. Maybe I’m being generous.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Mean Gene interviewed the Road Warriors. Animal yelled that everyone saw what Luger did on Nitro, where Luger cheated to win. Luger brought this upon himself and Sting is making a big mistake of believing Luger. They faked an apology to Harlem Heat and then they walked off. Nothing really noteworthy about this promo. They were very loud and very rude to the heels.

 

“The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan w/Jimmy Hart vs Brian Pillman in an I Respect You match

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“Here we go” which is what I said to myself as they played Taskmaster’s theme song. I heard about what happened before I sat down to watch this PPV and it’s been mentioned to me before, but watching this in execution was kinda surreal. I’m not entirely sure where the reality began and ended with this whole angle and what followed. All I know is that we had another alternate reality moment where all of a sudden, we leapt into the Quantum Realm and landed into WCW 2000. The year of the ultimate insider references and “shoots” in wrestling and that type of writing was evident in this particular angle at the very least.

The rules of this match was basically that it was an I Quit match but they had to make their opponent say “I respect you” for it to end.

Taskmaster does his entrance. Brian Pillman runs down to the ring as Taskmaster and Pillman brawl to start the match. Pillman then whips Taskmaster on the back and they sounded like they hurt. I guess this was Pillman’s revenge for a few weeks ago, when Taskmaster whipped him over and over while he grabbed onto the apron. If this was a “shoot” or whatever this was, this was Pillman’s way of getting revenge. They brawl to the floor as Pillman whips Tasmaster. Taskmaster tries to shoot and take him down with shoot amateur wrestling. It felt like a real fight where they were both sloppy in trying to take each other down.

Taskmaster punches him in the face. Then we get the big moment. Pillman flies into the referee, who was holding the microphone. Pillman grabs the mic and Pillman said: “I respect you booker man” and he walked out. Pillman races out of the ring, as Taskmaster is left dumbfounded by what has happened as Pillman walked out. After 30 seconds or show of showing the ring, they cut to Pillman who is flipping off the crowd as he exits!

On many levels, this was one of the most unbelievable angles I’ve ever seen. It didn’t strike me as a brilliant angle or anything, it was just unbelievable where I could not believe it happened. If you look at the rest of the show, with the exceptions of Eric Bischoff’s constant shots at the WWF, this was a storyline driven show. There were insider references but there was never “worked shoots” at least in the early days of WCW. All of a sudden, Pillman walks out of the match and ousts Sullivan as the booker.

The story about this angle was that it was apparently all a work that only two people knew about in Eric Bischoff and Brian Pillman. If you look at the execution of the angle, Jimmy Hart had no clue what was going on. The referee had no idea what was going on as I don’t even recall him calling for the bell after Pillman said the line. Arn Anderson certainly didn’t know as we’ll get to in the next match. To be perfectly honest, I don’t even think Kevin Sullivan knew either. Pillman says the line and Sullivan stood there for an uncomfortably long time not knowing what to do which is funny because, as the “booker man” of WCW, you figured in storyline that he’d know what was going on! So I bet he had no clue either.

The idea was that Brian Pillman had been slowly transforming into the Loose Cannon as was evident by his actions since joining the Four Horsemen. Pillman I guess was trying to work everybody, including Eric Bischoff, with this gimmick. The brawl from the Nitro go-home show seemed like Pillman was just doing what he wanted. Apparently, this whole angle was just an angle to “fool the boys” into thinking that Pillman had really gone against the script. Reportedly, Pillman and Bischoff had an argument where Pillman was “fired” by Bischoff which was apparently a work to get him to ECW. The plan apparently was for Pillman to go to ECW, which he did, and then come back as a bigger star in WCW down the road.

That didn’t happen as Pillman decided to sign with the WWF instead! So effectively, this was Brian Pillman’s last ever appearance on WCW television/pay-per-view. From a storyline perspective though, what was the idea?

You’re going to have Pillman, if Bischoff was in on it, go out there and say “I respect you booker man” but what was this going to accomplish? Who in the audience, except the boys, are going to even understand what it is that Pillman was on about? This is not like 2019 where all the news and gossip is available online for these fans. A handful of people in that building were probably aware of what a “booker man” was. Everyone else in the crowd just probably thought Pillman was referencing Booker T!

This is my biggest problem with insider references where, to a hardcore audience it’s fine but, it comes off as complete random and pointless to the main-stream audience. After all of this, there was no-pay off in the end for WCW! In hindsight, this was a really stupid angle.

 

Taskmaster vs Arn Anderson

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Now let’s pick from when that last segment left of. Kevin Sullivan is standing in the ring wondering what to do. Then Arn Anderson comes out. I believe the moment Pillman said what he said, somebody, possibly Bischoff, said to Arn backstage: “right buddy, we need you out there to wrestle Kevin instead.” Arn responded: “what do you mean? I’m working Sullivan?” They told him that the fans wanted a I Respect You match so they’re gonna throw him out there and Ric Flair will break it up after 3 minutes. They told him just to go out in what he was wearing. I say this because if you look at what he was wearing, Arn Anderson did not know this was coming and was not prepared to come out.

Arn Anderson was dressed in a big shirt and PURPLE SHORTS as he comes down to the ring. I’m pretty certain on my worst day, I never dressed this badly in my life! This was a man not prepared to wrestle! Taskmaster then starts whipping Arn and then Arn takes off the shirt and prepares to fight.

They both grab the strap in the ring. Arn gets control and whips away at Taskmaster. Arn tries choking him with the strap. Taskmaster straddles Arn with the strap, which I’m sure Arn was thrilled about. Taskmaster whips away at Arn and yells at him to “say it” as he beat on him. Arn low blows Taskmaster to get his revenge for the straddling him!

Arn chokes Taskmaster on the ropes and hangs him with the strap but Taskmaster says “hell no” refusing to submit. I was so confused as all of this went down. Taskmaster whips at Arn again to which my notes read: “What was this match?”

Finally Ric Flair jogs down to the ring. He puts an end to like three minutes of Arn and Taskmaster whipping each other with this strap. Ric tries to break it up and play peacemaker telling them to snap out of it. At the same time as he’s trying to play peacemaker, Flair goes off on a fan and says: “hey if I wanted to talk to you, I’ll take your wife and make a woman out of her!” I couldn’t believe my eyes and my ears. Clearly Ric Flair was not ready for this angle either! Ric goes crazy, vowing to destroy Hulkamania and take the belt and Liz. Arn and Taskmaster eventually shake hands as they make peace. Ric goes off on a fan some more and that’s how the match ended.

Nobody said “I respect you” as they shake hands and move on. There was no finish. This was the most bizarre 5 minutes or so I’ve seen on the WCW series so far. Like, even Hulk Hogan cutting a promo with a sword was not this bizarre!

I had to go for a walk somewhere after this angle went down so I was away from the PPV for an hour and came back. It then just felt like a completely different show!

 

Mean Gene did an interview with Jimmy Hart and The Giant. Jimmy said that Hogan has one eye and time is ticking on him before Hulkamania dies forever. The Giant said that today will be a day of reckoning. He had looked into the souls of men where maggots crawl. All that is bad and evil is inside him is like a volcano that is gonna erupt all over the arena and all over Hulk Hogan. The last thing that is going to go through Hogan’s mind is his fist. He said Hulkamania is done forever as The Giant roared and ran off.

What a promo! Even The Rock or Ric Flair could not make this promo work but The Giant in 1996 was so awesome with promo delivery. There are some things only The Big Show/The Giant could say and pull off and this was one of them. He cuts a promo about looking into the souls of men where maggots crawl and a volcano erupting all over Hulk Hogan and he is dead serious and menacing with his delivery! This made me excited about seeing The Giant later! The match however, did not!

 

Sting © and Lex Luger © vs “The Road Warriors”Animal and Hawk for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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This is going to sound like the biggest contradiction in this review, but I mentioned that it would have been better for Sting to get beat on for the heat and Lex Luger to get the hot tag to run wild, rather than Luger being the one being beat on. This match was determined to prove me wrong. This match was so terrible, that it is right up there with the infamously bad WCW tag title match at Fall Brawl.

We start with Lex Luger backing away from the Road Warriors as Sting tries to convince him to get down to the ring. They teased him walking out and then coming back into the match and… for like 3 minutes! This went on for 3 minutes before the match even started where Luger wouldn’t get into the ring and Sting had to tell him to get his ass on the apron. Now granted, it is possible that the Brian Pillman angle affected this match too so I will give them the benefit of the doubt. However, you couldn’t think of anything else to do with 3 minutes to kill?

The bell finally rings. Early on, Sting and Hawk screw up a neckbreaker. Hawk goes for a chin lock. Time passes as I grow older and older. Eventually Sting finally tags in Luger but Luger is hesitant but eventually gets into the ring. Luger and Animal eventually fight. Animal does a funny big boot where he doesn’t stand up and raise a boot – he raises it and falls down himself! It was like the Rocket Kick that Karl Anderson does!

Animal does a powerslam. Tony then decides now is the time to tell us that we are watching WCW at its best… incorrect! Luger and Hawk continue to fight. Sting does a back elbow but Sting inadvertently falls into Animal’s crotch for an accidental low blow. How this was not a DQ, even if unintentional, blows my mind. Especially I’m confused why this was not a disqualification, after they talked about throwing somebody over the top rope being a disqualification earlier! That is illegal but headbutting somebody in the groin is OK?

Luger made the tag but before he gets into the ring, Hawk goes over to the corner and beats his ass. Sting and Animal both get tagged back in and LOCK UP… 10 minutes into the match. After so much of the match of the Road Warriors getting the heat on Sting, they tag Luger and then Luger tagged Sting back into the match… and it’s BACK to the lock up!

Sting locks on the Scorpion Deathlock but Hawk flies in and doesn’t do a clothesline to break it up, no, he just clobbers Sting in the head to break it up.

As I was thinking that this was a boring match, Animal decides works on Sting with a chin lock! Luger stomps away at Animal.

The finish made me really hate this show for a while, especially after the Pillman stuff. Hawk attack Luger. Sting hits a suplex but Animal no-sells and then Sting no sells Animal’s suplex. After 10+ minutes of selling, they all decide not to sell as it breaks into a fatal four way brawl. Then the match is thrown out and the match ends in a count out. After this long boring match, it ended in a count out.

Remember on Nitro where they did this match and Luger and Sting actually won the match? They decided after that finish to do a rematch at the PPV, citing that the Road Warriors got screwed. They do this match and it ends without a finish as a brawl breaks out. Keep in mind, we watched about 10 minutes of long chin locks and the Road Warriors getting the heat on Sting. All of a sudden, they all get up and start brawling as if to tell you that what you just watched was a complete waste of time.

This is right up there with the WCW tag team title match at Fall Brawl. Why would you do a rematch that just ends in a count out? Surely the story should have been told in reverse. They have their match on Nitro and a brawl breaks out for whatever reason. Then, the Road Warriors are given a rematch at the PPV because they were never beaten and there was no finish. Road Warriors screw Harlem Heat because they hate Sting and Luger and want to prove they can beat them. Then at the PPV, Luger screws the Road Warriors and Luger and Sting get the victory. What was the point of the Nitro match if you’re just going to do a DQ at the PPV?

Furthermore, this did absolute noting for these tag team titles. You know, when I saw Sting and Luger winning the belts I was totally on board. I’ve watched for 23 episodes and 5 PPVs now where the titles are treat with such disregard. Taking the titles off Harlem Heat and Stevie Ray was a start. It played into the Sting and Luger storyline so I was on board. However, these tag team matches since that title change have been so horrible that I’m just begging for some team to beat them for the tag titles. Now more than ever do WCW need the Steiner Brothers back in the fold!

Match Rating: -*3/4

 

Ric Flair and Woman do an interview with Mean Gene. Woman says what Woman wants, Woman gets. Flair says Hogan’s master plot failed again. Flair said the plan to turn Anderson and Taskmaster against each other failed. Flair promises blood, sweat, tears and a title change. Mean Gene Okerlund, professional wrestling announcer, proceeds to asks Ric Flair if he wins, will there be a little ride on space mountain? My jaw dropped to the floor! Could you imagine the hysteria in 2019 if like some geek announcer asked a wrestler: “hey, are you planning to fuck someone after the match?” That’s basically what Mean Gene asked Ric Flair! Don’t look at me like that!

And of course Ric Flair, not known for subtlety, responds: “I’ll have Woman on my left and Elizabeth on my right, but who knows who I’ll end up with tonight!” I was blown away by the content from this exchange! Evil horror music plays as the cage comes down for the WCW World title match.

Mean Gene then interviews Miss Elizabeth. She looked NERVOUS as hell during this interview. Thankfully Randy Savage interrupts to make the save and cuts a promo. He talks about the Mega Powers reuniting. Savage said that it’s going to be mental insanity. He says the Mega Powers are cool and tight. Savage says he’s gonna beat up the Nature Boy right now!

They cut back to the announcers and I love Bobby Heenan’s gimmick of not facing the hard cam when it comes to the announcers and then Bobby trying to swivel his way around to the hard cam! Ever the showman!

 

“Macho Man” Randy Savage © w/Miss Elizabeth vs Ric Flair w/Woman in a steel cage match for the WCW World Heayvweight Championship

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EDITOR’S NOTE: OK, I apologise for this picture. Very much the best picture I could find on Google!

I forgot to mention this earlier but Woman looked pretty great here too in matching purple gear to Flair. Both ladies going down to the ring looked gorgeous on this show. There was also some gorgeous wrestling here with this match. It was an old-school, classic fight inside of a steel cage for the world title. These men did everything they could and it was easily the best match on the show.

Ric grabs the mic before the match and said before he hurt Savage real bad, he’s gonna give Elizabeth one last chance to kiss a real man. Elizabeth can’t stop smiling out here while Ric is hitting on her by the way! Obviously, she was nervous and Elizabeth really just was not able to keep a straight face. However, when you read what happened in the finish of the match it made perfect sense for her to smile at Flair. She was supposed to be nervous as if she was hiding something, so she was perfect! Bobby said Elizabeth’s got so much lipstick on she looks like Ronald McDonald.

Savage rakes away and gouges at Flair to kick off the match. Savage goes for the cover and the ref is nowhere to be seen as he is closing the door. Flair drops the knee. Flair then punches out the referee and stomps at him as Savage fires back! Savage goes for a backslide but again, the referee is nowhere to be seen as he was knocked down by Flair. Savage does a backdrop.

Savage hits one of his clotheslines I think and goes for the cover. Ric kicks out as the referee, who mind you was punched in the face by Flair earlier in the match, does a normal count for Flair. As the referee still continues to be a professional after being attack, Bobby jokes: “come on ref. that was a fast count!” Bobby Heenan had a great night on this show! Everything about this little segment was perfect!

Flair goes to work with some chops and smashing Savage into the cage walls. Savage goes for the Figure Four Leg Lock but Flair continues to fight as Woman screams to urge Flair on. Flair grabs the ropes but the referee kicks the hand away. I also loved this too because grabbing the ropes did absolutely nothing in a steel cage match so the referee is abiding by the rules but also simultaneously sticking it to Flair for the punch from earlier!

This was a battle and a true fight inside of the steel cage. This had a big match feel and it felt like a world title match, like this was really important.

Savage goes to the TOP OF THE CAGE for the double axe handle but Flair punches him in mid-air. Surely a double axe handle from the TOP OF THE CAGE would be a very risky move if you were coming down on your legs. But somehow, Savage got up and was completely fine! Savage was SO lucky as an awkward landing could have easily ended his career. If he landed the wrong way, he could have broken his leg with that much pressure coming onto the mat but that didn’t stop the Macho Man!

Flair tried many many pinfalls after a suplex in a desperate attempt to win the match. Flair throws Savage into the cage wall and he landed motionless right on top of the top rope. It was rather funny how he landed!

I love how Flair puts on the Figure Four and now he goes to grab the rope leverage in a STEEL CAGE MATCH of all things! He tried to escape the Figure Four from Savage earlier by going for the ropes but was thwarted. Here, he locks on the hold and he does it again to his advantage!

Flair tries it again but Savage goes for a small package to counter this. Savage eventually gets back into the match, slamming Flair’s head into the cage wall and then grating his face into the cage wall. Tony even points out that Elizabeth is all quiet at ringside and Woman screaming her head off!

Savage keeps going with the steel cage slams as Woman screams as if King Kong grabbed a hold off her and climbed up to the top of the Empire State Building! Woman did some screaming during this match!

Flair goes to escape but Savage ends up pulling Flair’s trunks down to throw him off and then Flair gets crotched on the top rope. Flair’s bare arse gets crotched on the top rope which is even worse the more I think about it! Savage goes for the cover and Flair kicks out with a damn NEAR FALL off this spot! The time keeper even rang the bell thinking it was a 3 count!

Flair eventually gets back into it and tries again and Savage shows the crowd the full moon of Flair as all I could see was Ric Flair’s naked arse on my television! Savage throws Flair into the cage wall and like instinct, Flair gets his arse up the cage to try to escape! In one motion, he gets thrown into the cage and then immediately tries to escape!

Flair and Savage then goes blow for blow, scraping at each other as they cut to the wide shot. Flair sends Savage back into the cage off a back drop. Woman tries to throw powder into Savage’s face but Savage dodges.

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Then we get the finish. Miss Elizabeth goes for one of her shoes and she GIVES IT TO FLAIR! Savage goes for the roll up and then Flair clobbers Savage with the heel of the shoe as Flair wins his 13th WCW world title. Miss Elizabeth turned heel and sided with Ric Flair to help him win the title!

I thought this was really clever the way they pulled this heel turn off. First of all, yes they used Elizabeth’s heel as a weapon to win Ric the title! The insider reference is strong with that bit of irony. Poetically, a heel has to be what helps Ric beat Savage! I loved the nervous energy of Elizabeth, whether intentional or not, which played into the fact that she knew more than what she was letting on. Finally, I loved the match. Flair vs Savage has that Sting vs Flair feel where most times, you’re going to get great stuff from these two. I think the Starrcade match was the only bad match that we’ve seen from the pair so far!

Hulk Hogan chases off the heels after the match.

Match Rating: ***3/4

 

Then Hulk Hogan decided to scare the living daylights out of me during his interview with Mean Gene. The sound for this promo was so strange, probably by design, where Mean Gene’s mic is turned all the way down and Hogan’s mic was turned all the way. Mean Gene would just be very quiet and Hogan yells at the top of his lungs: “WELL YOU KNOW SOMETHING BROTHER?” It felt like a demon had possessed my TV! I’m prone to hyperbole but I could have sworn I saw the sound speaker proper vibrate! Hogan was so LOUD during this promo! Hogan was pissed at Miss Elizabeth as he hyped up his match with The Giant.

 

Hulk Hogan vs The Giant in a steel cage match

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Michael Buffer did the ring introductions for the two steel cage matches. For this match, he called The Giant, and I quote: “the dynamic dominator of the Dungeon of Doom!” He also billed that The Giant is the man who literally returned from the dead, which is factually correct in storyline! Michael then billed Hulk Hogan as THE KING OF HULKAMANIA! Michael Buffer… did not take this seriously at all with his ring introductions!

Hogan goes over the cage, rips off his shirt, with an eye patch over his injured eye and is ready to fight this nasty, smelly giant! Hogan fires away at The Giant and bites at him. He strangles The Giant with his tape as he doing everything he can to beat this evil Giant. The Giant works on Hogan, stomping on his hands and then powering him down with the test of strength.

The Giant raked at Hogan’s eyes as Bobby recommended Hogan keep an eye out for the Giant. Hogan tries to slam The Giant but The Giant was too big. The Giant chokes away at Hogan’s throat in the ring with his foot. The Giant tried to escape through the door but Hogan stopped him. The Giant does a big backbreaker.

The Giant does a bearhug and they cut to a close up shot of Giant grinning and vibrating as he locks on the bear hug! To say this looked suggestive is putting it mildly. Not quite at the level of the Yeti dry-humping Hulk Hogan but still did not look pretty which ever way you slice it. Then Hogan vibrates his body to try and fight out of the hold as Hogan finally punches his way out of it! All of that I just said during this paragraph happened!

The Giant does a sloppy chokeslam to put down Hogan and then Hogan fires up to his feet and no-sells this as Hogan hulks up! Hogan throws The Giant into the cage walls repeatedly. Hogan hyped up the crowd and then scoop slammed The Giant and did three leg drops in a row and sought to escape out of the cage. But then GIANT no sells the leg drops of doom and chases after Hogan! This put Ric Flair’s kick out from a few weeks ago to shame in terms of surviving Hulk Hogan’s leg drop.

They engage in a chop battle while scaling the cage. Hogan finally delivers one big punch and Giant falls to the mat, and Hogan climbs out of the cage to win. As a match, this was every Hulk Hogan vs Monster Heel type of match but it told a simple story. The Giant looked a little gassed and he worked very slowly but he didn’t look too out of his depth in there. He did the only match Hulk Hogan knows what to do and it was effective with this audience. This gets a thumbs up!

Taskmaster immediately hits Hogan in the back with a chair and then Hogan no-sells it and chases Taskmaster with the chair. He traps Taskmaster in the cage as Taskmaster and The Giant initially beg him off but then the heels figure out that it is two on one and get confident. Then that confidence immediately disappears…

The Faces of Fear, Shark, Hugh Morrus, One Man Gang and Zodiac all come out and Hogan slays them all with the chair and runs wild. As far as destroying a group’s credibility, Hulk Hogan did a number on the Dungeon of Doom. It wasn’t like Randy Savage, Sting or even the American Males were there with Hogan. Hulk Hogan, with a bad eye and after a gruelling match, destroyed all of the Dungeon of Doom members by himself!

Then coming down to the ring was… THE LOCH NESS MONSTER. This man was actually British wrestling legend Giant Haystacks, who actually did not stay in the wrestling for too long after this angle due to health problems and died a couple of years later after battling cancer. I did look it up and we will see the Loch Ness Monster in three Nitro matches and a PPV match but I will keep those matches to myself for now for the purposes for spoiling any of the storylines right now.

WCW, at this time, was clearly setting him up as Hogan’s next big opponent… literally. 

He tries to comes down to go after Hogan but the Dungeon hold back the Loch Ness Monster.

Match Rating: *

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That was the show. This review was 8000+ words long which feels like an all-time record. I’ll have to go through some of the other PPV matches to see which one was the longest but this was a hard one to find the time to write up. There was so much to talk about with the tag team matches, DDP vs Badd, Brian Pillman, the world title match and of course the main-event. There was some good stuff on this PPV but also accompanied by a fair amount of bad stuff and this felt like the first WCW PPV where it felt like a chore to watch it. With that being said though, the Randy Savage vs Ric Flair and the TV title match was worth watching this PPV for and I’d highly recommend those two matches if you’re looking to watch any matches from this PPV!

Back to Nitro reviews now where we have a new WCW World Champion once again. This is a spoiler but there’s a pretty infamous main-event set for the next PPV if a recall correctly so seeing the build for that will be something! We will see you with the Retro Express review of WCW Nitro Episode #24!

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #23 (FEBRUARY 5TH 1996) – STING AND LEX LUGER VS ROAD WARRIORS FOR THE TAG TITLES

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 took a detour into an alternate reality of WCW Nitro last week as things went completely haywire. Ric Flair defeated Hulk Hogan in one of the shockers of the series so far, getting the pinfall victory after a lot of interferences leading to Flair injuring Hogan’s eye to get the win. The Road Warriors appeared on Nitro, getting a win in a botch-filled match with the Faces Of Fear as they were shooting for a future tag title shot. The Dungeon of Doom and The Four Horsemen were at odds once more after Taskmaster double-crossed Arn Anderson. Madusa apparently decided to shoot on Sister Sherri after the latter picked up a upset win over the former WWF Women’s Champion. Finally, the scheduled Giant vs Randy Savage title match never even took place as The Giant and Ric Flair laid a beating on Savage and Hogan at the end of the show.

 

Date: February 5th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Lakeland, Florida

Rating: 2.9

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

 

This show was not as bonkers as last week’s show was but it was interesting that this show was the go-home show for Superbrawl and it certainly didn’t feel like it. This show, for me anyway, was trying to figure out what the main-events of the Superbrawl show were. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Ric Flair and The Giant have all been in a tag team like feud in the last couple of months and they announced that there was going to be “two cages” or two cage matches or whatever the deal was. That was the deal with these four men but I couldn’t figure out who was wrestling who.

I figured maybe Hogan would fight Flair and The Giant would fight Savage for the WCW World title as this show, and last week’s show really, led you to believe that this was going to happen. We do get our answers at the end of the show but it was really unclear in trying to figure out what the card was going to be for Superbrawl.

 

 

Randy Savage © w/Miss Elizabeth and Woman vs Chris Benoit for the WCW World Heavyweight title?

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This was hard to figure out whether THIS MATCH was actually a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match. It was “Macho Man” Randy Savage with Miss Elizabeth and Woman versus Chris Benoit of the Four Horsemen and Eric Bischoff casually mentions that the title is on the line. This was also the same Benoit who, a few weeks ago, lost twice in two nights to Jushin Liger at Starrcade then to Steven Regal on Nitro. Here, he got a shot at the World title. Bizarre. It’s also rather eerie to see that Woman, of all people, was accompanying Savage to the ring for a match with Benoit but the less said about that the better.

Savage and Benoit wrestled for the advantage for the headlock. Benoit took a cheap shot as the referee tried to break it up. Then Benoit went to work and got the heat.

In terms of getting the heat on a babyface, Benoit was brilliant in that role. In terms of being a babyface in peril getting beat on, Savage was brilliant in that role too. However, Randy Savage, as the WCW World Champion, should not been getting this much heat on himself going into a big world title match. If Savage is presented as a fighting underdog against Chris Benoit and not presented as a legitimate champion, I think that causes problems with getting legitimacy for your championship. Then again, this title has had at least 5 title changes since this Nitro series started so it’s not like the legitimacy of the title was top priority anyway.

At this point in the show, I’m still trying to figure out what the cage matches were for Superbrawl. Dunno if it was Flair vs Hogan or Flair vs Savage, or Hogan vs Giant or Giant vs Savage. Benoit goes the top rope diving headbutt which actually connected, as opposed to every other match in the series where he goes for the headbutt and misses for the babyface to get back in the match.

Benoit, of all the things he delivers for the heat, does a snap leg drop! Benoit wrenched on the back for the backbreaker submission. Benoit just got the heat, got the heat and got the heat for a long time until Savage eventually hits a big clothesline. Woman distracts the referee and Benoit flips over Savage over the top rope and onto the outside. Benoit does a dive to the outside and lands face first on the mat on the outside. I screamed as Benoit thudded onto the ground. This was not pretty and thinking about the long term side-effects of this head trauma was just… it was not comfortable to think about.

Savage hits the elbow. Flair comes down gets a hold of Elizabeth. Savage goes after Flair. Woman then starts choking away at Savage and turns on him as the ref calls for the DQ. Yeah, Woman, who was brought in two weeks ago as just another woman in the company (pardon the pun), has already turned heel.

I do also have to point something out. Liger and Regal beat Benoit a few weeks ago. Regal beat Benoit clean but yet Savage couldn’t beat Benoit clean in this title defence? Can you let him get a clean win just one time in his life to make him seem a little bit credible?

Arn comes out as the heels gang up on Savage. Hogan makes the save with the chair. Mean Gene goes to do an interview as Savage is down and Hogan correctly points out, “Can’t you see he’s hurt?” I mean bad timing for Mean Gene. “Hey Hogan, your friend got his ass kicked. Can I have your thoughts?” That I laughed at when Hogan pointed this out. Mean Gene even says “I don’t know whats going on!”

Hogan cuts a promo. Hogan says he’s gotta put a stop to Ric Flair. He says The Giant is right in front of him on Sunday. Ric Flair then jumps Hogan and scrapes at the busted open eye of Hogan, that Flair had damaged last week. The Giant comes out and does a big swing of the chair. Zodiac stops him and then Savage comes back and chases away Giant with a chair. Savage then yells: “what he’s gonna do to Flair he can’t say on television.” Savage lays into Elizabeth for not doing anything and I’m like: “what was Elizabeth going to do?” Was Savage expecting Elizabeth to Hulk Up and beat the crap out of The Giant?

 

Hugh Morrus and Taskmaster vs Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman

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Before we get into this next match, they plugged a Benoit vs Savage rematch at Saturday Night and the announcers say that we wouldn’t wanna miss this. Why? We had the match on this show… and there was no finish. There was a disqualification. What could possibly convince me that there would be a clear cut winner on that show?

They start this tag match. Biran Pillman out crazies Hugh Morrus who just pushes away at Pillman as they have a crazy-off. Hugh no-sells Pillman’s chops and just laughs in his face. Hugh does a gorilla press to Pillman and almost killed Arn with another Gorilla Press. He barely got him up and Arn landed hard on his back. I know Arn doesn’t last much longer as a wrestler because of injuries so I was really concerned here. Then again, he did show up at AEW’s All Out show just last week in 2019 and did a spinebuster!

Pillman rakes away at Taskmaster who does a comeback. Hugh and Arn get tagged back in. Arn Anderson, to demonstrate just what a great professional wrestler he was, was then able to deliver a great spinebuster to Hugh Morrus of all people! Arn then goes for the chinlock.

Hugh tries to fight his way free from the Horsemen corner but he is overwhelmed. Pillman runs at Hugh at the corner and Hugh doesn’t do a back elbow to push him away like any other wrestler would do. He clobbers Pillman with a clothesline. It was like if a bear had just tried to paw away at you and it must have rung his bell a little bit.

Taskmaster runs wild on Pillman. Yeah, KEVIN SULLIVAN gets the hot tag and runs wild! With that being said,  I loved this brawl between Pillman and Taksmaster. They were both throwing wild punches at each other like mad men. It was awesome and as phony as the heat appeared initially between Pillman and the Dungeon of Doom in storyline, this brawl felt real. It felt like these two men, in real life, hated each other. Now granted, there is a future “unscripted” moment between these two guys but we’ll get to that later.

To an extent, this felt a little unscripted too. They brawled on the mat and the referee completely lost control of the match as Hugh and Arn got involved. They initially broke it up and then turned it into two seperate fights. Taskmaster brawled with Arn up to the entrance ramp. Arn goes for a piledriver but someone lays out Arn with a broom! This culprit is not seen but we just see a white broom pop out of the curtain and hit Arn!

Pillman tries a powerbomb on Hugh Morrus on the outside! It did not work. Taskmaster gets a a strap as Hugh delivers a moonsault headbut. Taskmaster whips Pillman. My question was where was Chris Benoit during all of this? It was so weird because after this, Pillman just walked to the back after being repeatedly whipped in the back. Like Taskmaster whipped him a few times and then Pillman just walked to the back. I’m guessing this was like a worked shoot and it makes sense when you see where this leads to at Superbrawl.

 

Ric Flair w/Woman vs Marcus Bagwell

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Woman sided with the Four Horsemen at the start of the show and is immediately coming down to the ring with Flair. “Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorff comes down in a neck brace to the announce table. Mr Wonderful says the funny thing about payback, is that you never know when it’s going to happen. The announcers wonder that Mr Wonderful was the guy behind the broom attack. It actually makes sense because Arn and Ric did the spike piledriver to Paul Orndorff and Arn was going for a piledriver on Taskmaster. I did like that bit of story-telling.

I didn’t think this match was any good and I think it was 100% down to Bagwell. His offense was clothesline, dropkicks and punches. If you like those three moves, I guess this was the match for you. However, there wasn’t much wrestling to this guy and really he just attacked Flair more than he wrestled.

Bagwell runs wild with clotheslines and the fans actually loved Bagwell here. No matter what I say, he was over here with the crowd. He does a big clothesline on the outside and a few of the girls are going “ooowwwwwwwww!” like wolf-whistle style!

Bagwell fires away with some pretty lame punches but the fans loved it. I don’t think Bagwell did a single wrestling move other than two backdrops by this point. Everything else was dropkicks, punches and clotheslines.

Ric eventually grabs the ropes as Bagwell goes for another dropkick. It took Flair this long to figure out Bagwell’s game! Bagwell reverses a Figure Four with a small package pin. Ric and Bagwell both bounced off the ropes, they crash into each other in the middle and Bagwell tumbles and somehow falls backwards over the top rope to the floor… this was overselling done poorly as the fans were just looking at him like: “what the?”

I like how Ric used Woman to distracted the ref… just to get a kick in at Bagwell on the outside! He didn’t cheat or break any rules but he’s the dirtiest player in the game so he can’t help himself but take any advantage he can!

Bagwell’s offense was legitimately just clotheslines, punches and dropkicks as he made the comeback. They also announced Public Enemy vs Nasty Boys at Superbrawl in a street fight. That I can’t wait to see!

Bagwell does a superplex. Bagwell tries a springboard splash but Flair got the knees up. Flair does a figure four leg lock and Bagwell gave up as Flair wins. Flair punches the ref out and refuses to let go of the hold. Savage chases him off. Savage even pushes another referee down in his pursuit of Flair.

 

Sting (c) and Lex Luger (c) VS “The Road Warriors” Animal and Hawk for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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Big “LOD” chants as Sting and Animal started off with a bit of energy about them as they battled for the upper hand. Then they tagged in LEX LUGER AND HAWK. Lex Luger does a sloppy piledriver but Hawk no sells and beats up Luger. Sting hits a Stinger Splash and goes for the Scorpion Death lock but Animal immediately breaks it up. He knew well enough to break up as if it was locked in, it was over. I liked the selling that the Scorpion Deathlock was such a killer finisher at this time!

Luger draped the ropes which sent Animal crashing over the ropes to the outside. Luger drops three elbow drops. I got a flashing light and an error message from the WWE Network as apparently it was an issue with the original clip. Bischoff then explains that the power went out! I guess WWE couldn’t restore whatever the original content was as my screen went weird!

Sting does a front facelock and grounds him as the fans chant for LOD. Sting forces Animal into Luger and Sting’s corner. Animal does a big back drop, Animal goes for a clothesline but then Sting breaks up a pin I believe. Hawk then goes crazy on the outside and just beats the living hell out of Sting like a madman! Like I have no idea what brought this on but Hawk just goes nuts in attacking Sting. Luger and Animal are still wrestling as they cut to a wide shot. Then all of a sudden, Sting goes a Stinger Splash but hits the barricade like a mad man! Like Luger and Animal are in the ring and then Sting pops up in the bottom right corner of the screen and splashes onto the barricade!

Jimmy Hart comes down and gets knocked down. Luger hits Animal with something, I don’t remember what it was, but then the ref counts the pin. Sting is not happy as he doesn’t know whats going on as the fans boo the finish.

Mean Gene goes to the ring and interviews the Road Warriors. Hawk yells and demands the winner of Sting and Luger vs Harlem Heat, which I think is taking place at Superbawl. Mean Gene talks about Luger targeting the bad back of Animal. Animal acknowledges this but says they’re the men and they want the title match. Hawk vows revenge.

Finally they clear up its Ric Flair vs Savage and its Hulk Hogan vs The Giant at Superbrawl. After all of this time, I finally figured out what the two big steel cage matches were for Superbrawl!

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Not a lot to comment on for this show. It didn’t feel like it did a good enough job to hype up the PPV. Like it hyped up the main-event program well but, as mentioned, I didn’t even know what the specific matches were. I had to wait until the end of the show until they actually told the viewers outright what the matches were. Flair goes out there and attacks Hogan when Randy Savage is his opponent for the PPV. I don’t know, maybe they’re building up Hogan vs Flair again for after the PPV but it didn’t do a good enough job with the PPV at hand for me.

BUT WAIT….

BEFORE I LEAVE YOU, I promised two bonus match reviews and I’m gonna get them out of the way. Last week, they hyped up a Lex Luger vs Eddie Guerrero match for WCW Saturday Night which I wanted to watch and see, really, just how good Eddie Guerrero was. Lex Luger has had some really bad performances as of late on the Nitro series where as Eddie had some really good performances as of late on the Nitro series. I was very curious to see whether he could get a good match out of Luger.

I also discovered The One Man Gang, the new WCW United States Champion, in a match with Super Giant Ninja from January 20th 1996. Super Giant Ninja was the former Yeti that terrorised Hulk Hogan at Halloween Havoc. Repackaged as the Super Giant Ninja, him going up against The One Man Gang I though was going to be a treat! So let’s get start with these bonus match reviews!

 

One Man Gang vs Super Giant Ninja on WCW Saturday Night – January 20th 1996

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I’m going to go chronological with these reviews. Super Giant Ninja did not get an entrance as the ninja, looking exactly like Scorpion from Mortal Kombat, stretches in the ring!

Tony Schiavonie on the commentary says his name as the Super Giant Ninjaaaaaaaaaa. The two monsters both locked up as the two men trade blows. The Ninja chops One Man Gang as both men go “yaaaaarggh!” That I laughed at!

Super Ninja was a deer-in-headlights out there, completely out of his element in professional wrestling. When One Man Gang comes off as the more co-ordinated out of the two, it is something. One Man Gang did a good job here but it was just funny to me. One Man Gang wasn’t particular someone that struck me as co-ordinated!

One Man Gang clobbers Super Giant Ninja. One Man Gang scoop slams the Ninja like it’s just a regular move, when he’s just slammed like a 7 foot giant monster! One Man Gang then hits a splash and wins! All of that hype as the Yeti and here, he’s a Super Giant Ninja and he gets squashed by the One Man Gang!

A few notes about this ninja was that 2 weeks after this, he wrestled as the Yeti again on a house show! I looked up his details on the Cagematch website and notable matches included one where he wrestled WWE alumni Rodney Mack to a no contest in 2011 billed as “Vanilla Gorilla!” The Vanilla Gorilla is quite the ring name to come out too! Believe it or not, he still wrestles today! He wrestled as recently as August 2019 in a battle royal! Amazing to read these details after watching this match!

 

Eddie Guerrero vs Lex Luger on WCW Saturday Night dated Febuary 3rd 1996

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Luger made fun of the height of Eddie with the test of strength but Eddie one-upped him and played along. Eddie ran wild and Luger was taken back by the quickness of Guerrero, including a roll-up attempt.

Lex Luger TOWERED over Eddie in this match by the way. If there was nothing Eddie needed to make himlook like less of a star it’s this jacked-up Lex Luger standing in front of him!

One spot I liked was that Eddie was going to come off the ropes with the arm drag but Lex’s arms are too big so he transitions this on the fly and does a roll-up! I loved that worked improvisation by Eddie Guerrero!

Lex Luger Gorilla Presses Eddie into the top rope. Lex gets rough with Eddie and does a long vertical suplex. Luger caught Eddie off the top rope with a bearhug, Eddie eventually fought his way out with big Mongolian chops to the ears of Luger.

Luger gets the heat with boring just punches, elbow drops, just very long and drawn out. I think you could have shaved a few minutes from this match judging by all of this “non-action” by Luger.

Eddie reverses a Gorilla Press into another roll-up. Eddie fires up and delivers a big dropkick. Eddie went up and Eddie’s top rope dropkick crashed into the referee as Luger pushes the ref in the way. Luger went for a Torture Rack but Eddie landed on his feet. Eddie goes for a hurricanrana but Luger but barely had any grip as Eddie was only just able to get him over.

Luger then pulls off a reverse torture rack seemingly for the win as the second referee Randy Anderson seemingly calls for the bell. Luger thinks he won but the referee awards the match to Eddie via disqualification. Luger puts the stomps to Guerrero and… I don’t think this was the kinda finish that did any favours for Guerrero.

I do like how Eddie actually tended to the fallen referee! A honourable babyface! In short, this was an OK Eddie vs Luger match but it wasn’t like there was a lot Eddie could work with. They just worked your typical big man vs little match match.

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That about wraps up my WCW Nitro Review as well as two bonus match reviews! I will be reviewing Superbrawl! The card, when I read it, looked OK. There was some repetitive stuff. We’ve got another Johnny B Badd vs DDP match but I have liked that program and their matches, so I’m OK with that. The cage match results I think are going to be interesting but then again, everything before the nWo shows up I think will be “interesting” to see what direction they go in.

I will see you with my review of WCW SuperBrawl 1996!

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

 

 

 

 

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #22 (JANUARY 29TH 1996) – CRASH TV TAKES OVER, INCLUDING BOTCHES, “SHOOTING” AND RIC FLAIR BEATING HULK HOGAN

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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Three new champions were crowned on the last episode of WCW Nitro. Lex Luger and Sting, whose friendship with each other had been tested in the last few weeks, were able to capture the WCW Tag Team titles from Harlem Heat. Lex Luger took advantage of the fistful of dollars from Jimmy Hart and scored the tag titles for his team. Sting had no idea Luger cheated to win but was still happy that they were able to become tag team champions.

Randy Savage also won the increasingly hot-shot WCW World Heavyweight title. Arn Anderson’s interference backfired as Savage beat Ric Flair to regain the title Flair beat him for it at Starrcade. Hulk Hogan jumped in declaring his intentions to earn himself the number one contendership and his quest continued with a win over US Champion The One Man Gang in the main-event.

 

For 21 episodes and three PPVs, at its core, this was and has felt like an old-school rasslin’ show. We had old school personalities, a 1990s atmosphere, old-school wrestling abilities, larger than life personalities and everything you’d associate with when watching old school 1980s or 1990s wrestling. This was the episode where, all of a sudden, it felt like we slipped into an alternate reality.

It felt I was watching a completely different show to last week. Last week, I was disappointed with because it felt anti-climactic and uneventful. This week’s edition was certainly eventful and yet I doubt many people even remember what happened. It was the “crash tv” of professional wrestling at least 6 months before the New World Order bursts onto the scene. It wasn’t like there was any title changes but seemingly every match was noteworthy for varying reasons.

 

Date: January 29th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Canton, Ohio

Rating: 2.8

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

 

Eric Bischoff promoted this as the show started as “one of the biggest and most exciting Nitros in history.” Now in hindsight, this show didn’t have that affect but it felt like a show I’ll be remembering and referencing to for the next 6 months of this review. It was certainly a memorable show!

 

Hulk Hogan w/Elizabeth vs Ric Flair w/Jimmy Hart

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So after WEEKS of Hulk Hogan main-eventing Nitros with the likes of Meng and One Man Gang, suddenly he is in the opener with Ric Flair of all people? Ric Flair was the WCW World Heavyweight Champion a week ago and now he’s opening the show with Hogan.

Now granted, Flair was also in the opener of last week’s show defending the title but it just seemed like some weird trendy thing for WCW to try to put on the biggest match first. I know that’s kinda degrading Randy Savage, who was defending his world title later on against The Giant. But in terms of the scale of grandeur, a Giant vs Savage doesn’t compare to a Flair vs Hogan match.

The girls with Savage last week, as well as… MISS ELIZABETH, is with Hulk Hogan this week. I will say, the announcers had more energy and excitement about them for this match then all of WWE’s announcers combined in 2019.

Hulk Hogan pushes away Flair a few times from lock-up positions. Hogan no-sold the chops as Flair starts to wobble on his feet like me on a night out! Hogan runs wild and sends Flair to the outside with a clothesline over the top rope.

Hogan gets distracted with the referee Nick Patrick and Flair takes advantage with a chop block. Hogan doesn’t really sell the chop blocks as he wants to stay on his feet but instead, he just limps like he’s a 60 year old man with arthritis. Not a good look for supposedly the top superstar of WCW.

Hogan pushes Jimmy Hart into the barricade. Hogan punches away at Ric and even bites him. Hogan clotheslines Flair who lands on the apron. WWE always talked about the apron being the hardest part of the ring but yet Flair took bumps on the apron on a weekly basis on Nitro! Ric is kinda no-selling the gimmick brother!

Hogan pushes Flair off the top rope which I always loved. In Kayfabe, Ric Flair always believed that he will be totally OK when he goes up to the top rope. Even though he gets pushed off the top rope a million times, he must try it again at the one million and first attempt! He believes that he will always come off with a double axe handle or something but he is thwarted by the hero! Ric Flair was the best!

Jimmy chokes Hogan with something on the apron. I think it may have been Hogan’s bandana. Jimmy puts the boots to Hogan. Flair locks on the Figure Four Leg Lock. Hogan turns it over. Hogan reverses a suplex attempt into a suplex of his own. Flair did a backdrop. This match had an old-school feel to it and I actually liked the chemistry here between Hogan and Flair. Hulk Hogan was great at being Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair was great at being Ric Flair.

Hogan eventually Hulks Up and hits the Leg Drop. Jimmy Hart gets on the apron and gets knocked down. Arn Anderson gets down to the ring suited and booted and Hogan punches him down. Hogan goes for a cover. The referee Nick Patrick is out of position so he runs around the wrestlers to get to a cover where he can’t see the heels behind Flair. He runs around like he’s the Road Runner or something.

Arn and Jimmy abduct Elizabeth and take such a long time to take off her heels. They take her heels off and passes it to Flair but before this happens, Patrick does the count anyway off the Leg Drop as Hogan goes for the cover and then this forces Flair to kick out of the leg drop! I was absolutely god-smacked! I know like a bit time had passed from Hogan initially hitting the Leg Drop to Flair kicking out due to interference but Hogan’s Leg Drop was almost unbeatable back in the day. Flair kicking out was just insane to see.

Ric Flair hits Hogan with the heel and, even more mind-blowingly, Ric Flair pins Hulk Hogan. Ric Flair defeated Hulk Hogan. This had to have been a big deal at the time. Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan were like two polar opposites in terms of wins and losses. Flair had his moments but in general, as he was the heel, he was willing to put over just about any babyface. He even lost a few weeks in a row to Kenny Dykstra in 2007 for god’s sake. Hulk Hogan, on the other hand, barely lost to anyone. Even if he did lose to someone, the expectation was that he’d get his win back. Here, Flair just pinned Hogan like it was nothing!

 

WCW Saturday Night promoted Lex Luger vs Eddie Guerrero which I have a weird desire to watch! Eddie Guerrero would be cemented as one of the true all-time greats if he could get a good match out of Luger! I may have to watch this match to see if I am right!

 

“Faces of Fear” Meng and The Barbarian vs “Road Warriors” Animal and Hawk

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With this match, I guess this means two things for Meng and The Barbarian. Number one, I guess this means that Meng is out of the Dungeon of Doom. Then again, I’m pretty sure he came out at the end of the show so who knows what’s going on. Unless The Barbarian is part of the Dungeon of Doom now as well, that might explain it. Also, I assume The Warlord is out of the company too as he was the Super Assassin with The Barbarian.

Fans are chanting LOD. Huge buffering problems at the start of this match for me but I powered on through. Speaking of powering on through. Animal runs wild and he did look good in this match. Animal hit some brilliant powerslams back in the day and he hit a good one here. Way better than Hawk’s who we’ll get to.

Hawk gets in the ring off the tag and Meng starts to beat the ever living crap out Hawk. Like it was such a huge gap in terms of the competencies between Meng and Hawk when they were in the ring together. Hawk also look like he was me on a night out but then all of a sudden fired up on Meng.

Bischoff, at this point, wants to talk about bringing in way more new talent than the competition. He wants to talk about this when I’m watching the Road Warriors in action! Can you imagine?

The Faces Of Fear get the heat on the Road Warriors, stomping away on Animal and then as the ref is distracted, Barbarian Irish-Whipped Animal into the barricade and rammed him into the ring post. Barbarian slammed Animal with a powerbomb which was rather dangerous but it looked like it went off without a hitch.

Botchery then ensues. The Barbarian goes for a top rope shoulder tackle and I think one of the lads shouted for a clothesline spot. This appeared to be lost in translation as Animal’s counter to Barbarian’s clothesline is to do his own clothesline! My belief is that somebody called for the clothesline, possibly Barbarian, and then Animal thought that maybe he wanted Animal to deliver the clothesline! He just walks into Barbarian and they both go down. Mongo said “it was like two rhinoceroses running into each other.” which was exactly the analogy I needed!

Hawk gets the hot tag. He runs wild. It’s very sloppy stuff but the fans were going nuts for the Road Warriors. Animal gets Barbarian in position for a Doomsday Device and I feared for Barbarian’s life! It looked legit like Barbarian was gonna fall on his head backwards. Thankfully Meng broke it up and Hawk was pushed face first into the mat.

Barbarian does a piledriver and then Barbarian tries another one! I think this was also screwed up because as Barbarian goes for the second one, Hawk flies in with a flying clothesline to break it up and get the win. So maybe they were waiting for Hawk during the first time so Barbarian said “screw it” and just did the piledriver!

Bischoff said: “I wonder what Lex Luger is thinking right now!” That actually is a great question if he watched this match! Very sloppy stuff from the Road Warriors and the Faces of Fear.

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So then things really got crazy. Mean Gene Okerlund does an interview with the “Dungeon of Doom” members Taskmaster and Hugh Morrus. Taskmaster said he made a pact with the Four Horseman and he thought Arn was a man of his word. Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman ran down to interrupt this. Taskmaster said he intends on Arn to deal with the “loose cannon” in Pilman. Arn said he would take care of Pillman. Arn lays into Pillman for not being around for Flair’s match. Arn said he’s a horsemen and if Pillman’s gonna act like a child, there’s a thing called tough love. In this case, it’ll hurt him more than it’s gonna hurt Arn. So as Arn gives Pillman this browbeating, he takes off his belt as Pillman gets to his knees begging for forgiveness! Arn Anderson was gonna whip this man with his belt as punishment for I guess not being at ringside to watch Flair win. He was gonna give this young lad a lashing which is kinda extreme!

Before he could do so, Taskmaster and Hugh Morrus jumped Arn. Pardon my French but then Taskmaster whipped the living shit out of Pillman with Arn’s belt while Pillman grabs the ring apron. This was Tommy Dreamer kendo stick levels of insane stuff right here, when Tommy asked for more kendo stick shots to the back. Pillman grabbed the apron and just allowed Taskmaster to whip him over and over.

Arn eventually hits a spinebuster on Morrus and saves Pillman. Arn says he now understands what Brian said. Arn said if we have a problem, we take care of it. Arn said he knows somebody from the executive committee is back there and unless they want a bloodbath in the locker room, they’ll give him Taskmaster! A bloodbath? What kind of show has this turned to where Arn is prepared to whip Brian Pillman and then raise hell backstage and bloody people up? Pillman said he knew he got Arn into it and he’ll get them out of it. Absolute crazy segment with these two teams. The Four Horsemen and the Dungeon of Doom just completely imploded!

 

Madusa vs Sister Sherri

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If you thought that was bonkers, we’re just getting started. Sister Sherri is in the ring with Mean Gene, geared up for a match. They show Madusa and Sister Sherri brawling at Clash of Champions before Sherri’s big wedding with Col. Robert Parker. Mean Gene said he cannot believe the actions of this young lady Madusa but before he can go on any further, Gene looks up at Madusa on the top rope behind Sherri and says: “you know what forget about it!” Mean Gene flees for his life!

Madusa jumps on Sherri as the bell rings. Madusa kicks away at Sherri. Madusa Irish Whips Sherri over the steel steps. This was just a straight up brawl between these two women. Madusa suplexes Sherri. Sherri gets up right away and delivers a gut punch. Now was this some kinda shoot at this point? Sherri eats the suplex but then gets up and starts beating the crap out of Madusa. What was going on?

Madusa kicks away at the chest of Sherri and plants one on the top of her head. Sherri does the Jeff Hardy leg drop move to the crotch area of Madusa. Madusa throws Sherri off the top and Sherri reverses it into a small package for the win…the former WWF Women’s Champion Madusa is pinned in her first match on WCW Nitro.

Before we get into the post-match, there’s some explanation into this finish. Supposedly Dave Meltzer reported this story back in the day. Sister Sherri was apparently on thin ice with WCW. There was heat on her so Sherri got to the building for this show and decided not to lose to Madusa. You’d think having Madusa lose to Sherri this early into her WCW run would be crazy considering how she got into the promotion. Apparently Madusa was happy with this but wanted something to get her heat back. Sherri apparently was not expecting or ready for what was coming afterwards.

Madusa then proceeds to kick Sherri’s backside after the match. She destroys Sister Sherri with a German suplex. Sherri landed right on her head as Madusa hoisted her up in the air for this “shoot” German suplex. Madusa punches away at Sherri repeatedly, which Sherri is unable to sell as yes, the German Suplex knocked her out. She was knocked out by the German Suplex, she’s unmoving on the mat and then Madusa slams her head over and over and over and over and over and over again on the mat. Sherri was out cold and Madusa smacks her head into the mat. I was shrieking watching this go down. I shrieked at the German Suplex and I was covering my face as Madusa slammed her unconscious head into the mat.

The referees finally break this up. After what feels like a minute of Madusa beating up an unconscious Sherri they finally break it up. This was absolutely crazy. As a means to promote women’s wrestling in WCW, this barely did a thing other than knock out Sherri. It didn’t get Madusa over as she lost clean to SISTER SHERRI of all people. A complete mess and if Sherri is still in the company after this, like if she can even stomach working with this company after Madusa basically shot on her, I’d be stunned.

At this point, I realised I was not ready for this episode of Nitro.

 

“Macho Man” Randy Savage (c) w/Miss Elizabeth and a group of other women vs The Giant for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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There was no match here as Savage attacked Giant with the belt before the match and then Savage tried to choke out Giant. Flair goes to ringside as the ref calls for the bell. Flair attacks Savage with a chair. Flair chops at Savage like a madman. This was a Ric Flair who was pissed off and angry at Randy Savage for beating him for the title. A real showcase of emotion from a man who lost a championship whereas nowadays in WWE, you’re not allowed to show any emotion after losing a championship in WWE.

Giant grabs Savage and suplexes him into the ring. Flair punches away at Savage. Giant hits big multiple backbreakers. Flair directs traffic and tells him to do a chokeslam and Giant obliges, delivering a chokeslam. Ref got bumped as well. Hulk Hogan, all bandaged up, finally makes the save. He smacks Giant with the chair twice and then delivers big chair shots to the heads of Morrus, Meng, One Man Gang as the fans goes nuts. The Giant is still on his feet as Zodiac begs Giant off.

Flair grabs a mic and joins the announce booth. Flair said that he beat Hogan twice, which he had done in the last month of WCW television., The Giant said he’s gonna take Hogan’s bones and take his breath, body and soul! He said: “they’re mine forever” and then cackled! Flair talks about his cage match with Savage I believe at SuperBrawl. He talks about two cage matches. It was hard to figure out what he was trying to say.  He goes absolute crazy at the booth. Heenan puts him over as Flair just goes absolute bonkers. And by bonkers, I mean going bonkers times 1000. This was Ric Flair going from Ric Flair mode to Ric Flair times 1000!

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Man, this was a crazy episode to say the least! We’ve went from old-school rasslin’ to crash TV within a blink of an eye. All of a sudden we just saw an increasing in shooting and botching and blading apparently and beatdowns. It was like a completely different wrestling show. I don’t think it was a particular good show. The tag match was a botch-fest and the women’s match was a giant mess that could have caused some serious injuries Hogan vs Flair was fine with a strange finish compared to your average Hulk Hogan match. We got some crazy stuff with the Four Horsemen and the Dungeon of Doom and all I can think is that we’re gonna get all of this on a weekly basis in just under a year!

Anyway, we are on the road to SuperBrawl! Our next episode will be the first Nitro of February. I will also be reviewing two bonus matches from WCW Saturday Night believe it or not. I’ve tracked down the Lex Luger vs Eddie Guerrero match they’ve advertised and I’ve found One Man Gang vs Super Giant Ninja from Saturday Night early in January 1996. Super Giant Ninja was the former Yeti if you’ll recall and he worked One Man Gang. I must watch these matches!

Anyway, that’s the plan for the next review and I will see you all with bonus matches and my review of Episode #23 of WCW Nitro!

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #20 (JANUARY 15TH 1996) – HULK HOGAN VS MENG MAIN EVENTS OVER A WCW WORLD TITLE MATCH

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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The 12th world title reign of Ric Flair is underway, with the Four Horsemen looking to keep the title on the Nature Boy as their top priority. Flair and Arn Anderson teamed up to face recent former champions Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage in the tag team match main-event. Hogan and Savage picked up the win but the Four Horsemen’s planned post-match beatdown was cut-off by the Dungeon of Doom. The Dungeon of Doom and the Four Horsemen, because of past comments by Brian Pillman, were now at odds at the end of the show as they brawled to close the show

 

Date: January 15th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Miami, Florida

Rating: 3.5

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

 

The show starts with the commentators running down the card as usual and they reveal that Ric Flair will defend the WCW World title against Sting tonight and then the winner would go on to defend the title against “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Keep that in mind when you read about what went down in the first match of the evening.

 

Lex Luger vs Randy Savage

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Nothing about this match really differed it from any other Lex Luger vs Randy Savage match we’ve seen in this series so far. The announcers even point out that Luger had apparently won 3 matches in a row against Savage so he’s got his number, as Luger has been saying in a number of promos against Savage. I remember Luger beating Savage at World War III and Savage’s title defence a month ago on Nitro, but I can’t remember the third match. Unless, it was a Saturday Night show which I haven’t watched. Either way, they make it clear that Luger has been getting the better of Savage.

Luger tried to bring a chair into the ring at the start of the match. He threw it to Savage but the ref intercepted him from Savage and then Luger went to work following Savage’s tussle with the referee. A dastardly move to gain the upper-hand.

Savage battered away at Luger, smacking Luger’s head on the steps. Savage dropped a double axe handle. Some fans were actually chanting “Luger”. I have no idea why but Luger was over on this episode.

Savage choked away at Luger. Luger dropped a few elbows at about 1% of the speed of Dolph Ziggler… which to be fair, isn’t a bad thing. When Ziggler throws 10 super fast elbow drops repeatedly, it makes everyone of those elbow drops seem so useless when the guy just kicks at one or two or whatever. Luger does a few big elbow drops and, because his arms are massive as he’s Lex Luger, they hurt the ribs of the Macho Man.

Savage eventually went for the Elbow drop and when I mean he went for the elbow drop, Macho got some freaking HEIGHT on this elbow. He jumped high in the air with like 3 seconds of hang-time before coming crashing down onto this target. But in this instance, Savage crashed onto the mat and then Luger locked on the Torture Rack and beat Randy Savage CLEAN with a submission.…. WOW.

So going into a WCW World title match next week, Savage gets beat clean in the middle by Luger. Of all of the people that WCW tried to protect with DQ finishes, the one time they have a clean finish is when the #1 contender for the world title loses clean to Luger the heel. Amazing.

As my notes read… Why should Savage get a title shot after this? This is actually a relevant note going into Savage’s promo with Hulk Hogan later on.

I will say, this clean victory did come off as a legitimate big victory for Lex Luger. At the very least, it benefited someone.

 

The Taskmaster and Hugh Morrus vs Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman

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The match originally scheduled for this show was The Four Horsemen’s Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman facing off with The Dungeon of Doom’s Taskmaster and Hugh Morrus. Before anything went down though, the entirety of the Dungeon of Doom and the Four Horsemen came down together to the ring.

Bischoff said it was like something that came out of a Godfather movie. In the middle of all of this, I notice the One Man Gang is holding up the US title. Somehow, the title got switched from Kensuke Sasaki to the One Man Gang. At the very least, they put the title on a guy who is part of a big stable so at least it gives the Dungeon of Doom some credit. Mean Gene Okerlund got between the groups and interviewed them both. I loved this segment that followed.

Arn Anderson said that he and Taskmaster had a meeting of the minds. Arn reiterates that Ric Flair keeping the world title is the first order of business for the Horsemen. He said anything that gets in the way of business, they don’t want any part of it. Arn said there’s no winners and no financial gain, there’s only survivors from feuding with the Dungeon. Basically, he wants water under the bridge with the Dungeon.

Taskmaster, in response, puts over Flair as the 12 time world champion. He says no sports team can match that legacy. Apparently, Taskmaster agreed that the Horsemen will borrow “The Big Man” The Giant at Clash of Champions. It’s gonna be Hogan and Savage vs Giant and Ric Flair. Taskmaster agrees that there’s no winners and losers but Pillman, “this punk” as he called him, has gotta learn respect. Arn reminds the Taskmaster that they respect the Dungeon but they’re not afraid of them. Pillman starts to mouth off but Arn literally slaps the taste out of him.

Arn says “I TOLD YOU TO KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT.” Arn said it’s treat like a business and it’ll always be about the business as fellow Horsemen Chris Benoit stares a whole at Arn Anderson. I love this storyline… the young guns acting on emotion and not on business and Arn is trying to straighten him and Benoit out before they starts fires they don’t want. He really is the enforcer and out of the everybody in the ring, Arn came off as the coolest guy in the ring that also included Ric Flair. I loved it.

 

 

“Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock vs “The American Males” Marcus Alexander Bagwell and Scotty Riggs

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This was the debut of ECW Alumni Public Enemy in a WCW ring. I never really watched the “real” ECW if you will from the 1990s. It might be something to do once this series is over. I never watched Public Enemy in ECW so maybe they were actually really good in an extreme environment. But in the confides of a wrestling match, they looked completely lost in this match.

The American Males run wild on Public Enemy from the get-go. Riggs tried a clothesline on one of the members of Public Enemy but the Public Enemy member struggled to get over the top rope to take this clothesline.

Bagwell does a diving crossbody and smacked one of the Public Enemy members right on the face. The announcers never went through the trouble of identifying which member was which so I was trying to guess which one was which during this match.

The fans chant “ECW” of course. Riggs did a sunset flip on Grunge for a 2 count. Bagwell run wilds in the ring for the hot tag. Bagwell runs wild on both members of Public Enemy as the fans boo. Grunge got the victory. It’s just the match where the American Males win on the Public Enemy for the entire match and then Public Enemy just got the win out of nowhere. I totally forgot to write down what the finish was, I do apologise. It didn’t matter anyway as this was a nothing, mess or a match to me. The important stuff came after the match.

Rocco kicks Bagwell’s ass after the match as the Enemy get the table and even stacks the tables on top of each other. Bagwell is put on top of the tables as Rocco did a swanton bomb to a huge reaction as Riggs is also down on the floor. The fans liked Public Enemy here but this was a mess of a match to me. It just looked so out of the blue in the middle of this wrestling show to see hardcore action, like with Sabu at around the start of this series. Remember when Sabu would just win a match and then beat up the loser afterwards for no reason?

 

Ric Flair (c) w/Jimmy Hart vs Sting for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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Sting runs wild on Flair just like in any Flair vs Sting match. Sting hit Flair with a big suplerplex to which Flair acted like a fish out of water selling this move! It was pretty great.

Sting then tries a big splash to the floor, he gets high in the air, arms out, everything, and Flair just gets the knees up. You could tell these two men loved wrestling each other and they were so into their match with this energy and charisma they were they were demonstrating. It didn’t just come off like a routine thing.

Sting tries to attack Flair with a crossbody bouncing off the ropes but he crashed into the ropes. Sting locked on the sleeper but Ric reversed it into a back suplex. Sting fired back into the match with punches and eventually sent Flair crashing into the floor with Flair doing a vintage Flair flop.

Flair tried a Figure Four Leg Lock but Sting rolled it up for a near fall. Sting almost got Flair with a backslide. Sting tries a sunset slip but pulls down the trunks of Flair accidentally. What’s weird about doing this spot is that in 2017, Ric’s daughter aka Charlotte Flair did this exact same spot with Lana on an episode of SmackDown! Like the same spot where Lana accidentally pulls Charlotte’s gear down off when doing the same spot?

Jimmy Hart is yelling at Flair saying that he’s the man and all of that but yet didn’t warn Flair not to go to the top rope as he got pushed off by Sting!

Jimmy got on the apron as Luger came down to the ring. Luger got at Jimmy on the apron but Luger “accidentally” bumped Jimmy’s megaphone into Sting. Flair capitalised and locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock to retain the title. Hogan and Savage came down and cleared the ring Of Flair and Luger. Hogan and Savage tended to Sting in the ring.

 

Mean Gene talks to Hogan, Sting and Savage in the ring. Hogan talks about Luger and said that hopefully the sense has been knocked into Sting. Savage said from day one that you couldn’t trust Luger and he tells Sting to wake up. Hogan yells that Luger is the reason Sting lost that match. Sting said he didn’t remember what happened as he was knocked loopy so he went backstage to talk to Luger about it. Then Hogan and Savage start talking. Hogan brings up some legitimate good points that Savage lost to Luger tonight and Hogan said he should get a title shot… and he’s right. Hogan said he should be the champion which, if you look at the storyline, makes total sense. He didn’t even lose the title clean… The Giant screwed him out of the title with a disqualification at Halloween Havoc.

He was mad that Savage got a title shot for next week. Savage tells Hogan to back off and that he deserved the title shot. Savage says he’s gonna take that shot. Hogan said he’s on a roll… what chance does Savage have? Savage walks out and Hogan says “you can’t walk out on me like that brother, we’re friends.” I actually loved that. They’re friends at this point and Hogan saw Savage as a friend but this is about the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. The biggest prize in WCW. That I liked.

 

 

Hulk Hogan vs Meng w/Taskmaster

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In case you were wondering, yes Hulk Hogan vs Meng main-evented this show over Sting vs Ric Flair for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Say what you will about Hulk Hogan being the biggest star but a regular Hulk Hogan vs Meng match main-eventing over a Sting vs Flair world title match is ridiculous.

Meng and Taskmaster both go to work on Hogan, with Taskmaster chopping at Hogan on the outside as Meng worked on him in the ring. Meng chokes at Hogan and yells like a wild beast… like a wild Samoan if you will!

Meng locks on the nerve hold as Hogan screams in agony! Meng misses a diving headbutt. Hogan fires hay-makers at Meng, punching away  at Meng. Hogan Hulks Up, hits the Big Boot and hits the Leg Drop. Savage stops Taskmaster from interfering, Hogan punches Taskmaster and then pins Meng.

That’s pretty much what happened in a lacklustre Nitro main-event.

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A disappointing Nitro this week. I really wasn’t enthralled by this at all with the exception of the Four Horsemen/Dungeon of Doom segment. A lot of questionable booking decisions such as beating Savage clean before his world title match next week, Meng vs Hulk Hogan main-eventing over a WCW World title match and Public Enemy getting beaten up for the entire match before winning out of nowhere in their debut match. I just wasn’t into this week.

I have no plans to watch the Clash of Champions show, which I believe is after next week’s Nitro. I may watch Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair and The Giant just for storyline purposes as that’s the big storyline right now. I’ll see how I feel.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed that review and stay tuned for my Episode #21 review featuring Randy Savage challenging Ric Flair for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #19 (JANUARY 8TH 1996) – THE MEGA POWERS VS THE HORSEMEN

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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Ric Flair currently reigns as WCW World Heavyweight Champion, winning the title at Starrcade with the assistance of the Four Horsemen. The next night on Nitro, the Horsemen had varying levels of success. Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit lost the former champion Randy Savage and Steven Regal respectively, prompting Brian Pillman to chew them both out for losing. Pillman himself was still stirring things up with the Dungeon of Doom while Ric Flair escaped with the WCW title on the same night following a typical Nitro disqualification victory against Hulk Hogan. Hogan and Savage ran wild on the Horsemen and the Dungeon of Doom at the end of the show and then the babyfaces Hogan and Savage challenged Ric Flair and Arn Anderson to a tag team match for the next episode of Nitro.

 

Date: January 8th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Charleston, South Carolina

Rating: 2.8

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

 

My troubles with the WWE Network returned. If you read my WCW Starrcade 1995 review, I had so many problems watching that show because of the WWE Network. They returned this time but it was just the buffering problems. I had buffering problems galore. This was an unpleasant viewing of Nitro with the buffering issues on the Network. It was big for me especially during the Chris Benoit vs Alex Wright match on this show and the main-event tag team match. However, I powered on with this review and now I shall break down the show.

 

Chris Benoit w/Brian Pillman vs Alex Wright

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Man, Alex Wright did not look good in this match. Wright’s usually looked OK in the ring but when he was in there with Chris Benoit, it really gave great insight to the differences in wrestling ability between the two. Wright would usually just look completely out of place a lot of time and it was up to Benoit to save the match.

Benoit, as mentioned earlier, lost his match last week with Regal. With something to prove, Benoit clotheslined Wright before the bell and stomped away and followed up with a snap suplex.

Benoit hit a Northern Lights suplex and then got the attention of the referee as Brian Pillman, at ringside. choked Wright with his shirt.

Eric Bischoff then talks and rants about WCW having more talent in 3 months than the competition has had in the last 2 years. Bischoff really was on a mission here to just go after the WWF, throughout this show. They had this whole deal where they talked about being the top wrestling promotion in America and it was just a concentrated effort to take as many jabs at the WWF as possible. Surely, this had to turn off Nitro fans even at this stage of the Monday Night Wars.

Wright did a baseball slide dropkick. Wright crashed into Benoit with a dive to the outside. This didn’t look pretty at all as Wright just crashed and burned. Bischoff talked about Nitro being the most watched wrestling show on Monday. Now just a heads up… they lost the ratings battle last week and they lost the ratings battle this week too! So I have no idea what he was on about.

Bischoff rants about the WWF charging more for PPVS. Bischoff is so cocky talking about how great WCW is and at this point, the urge was there for me to fastforward about 5 years to the last Nitro episode in 2001 after WCW were bought out by the WWF!

Wright and Benoit just seemed on different pages a lot during this match. Wright did a dive to Pillman. Wright went for a dive on Benoit but Benoit got the knees up.

Benoit tried a dragon suplex but Wright reversed it. A few reversals in fighting for the suplex. turns into European uppercuts from Wright. Benoit eventually hit the deciding suplex with a Dragon Suplex for the win. I liked this finish.

Heenan made a comment where he said “he (Benoit) may be in the dog house, but he’s still a horseman.” I don’t know why, but I loved that line.

Mongo talked about it being a tainted match. In general though, Benoit just kicked his ass and essentially beat him clean in this match so lord knows what Mongo was on about.

 

Eddie Guerrero vs Steven Regal w/Lord Robert Eaton

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This really was a basic wrestling match for a few minutes turned into an excellent wrestling match by the end. It certainly took a while for the announcers to pay attention to the match anyway. They were talking about all kinds of other storylines as this was going on.

I think part of the problem was that it was mostly just grappling and mat-based wrestling from the get-go. They just wrestled, and wrestled, very well but there was nothing more to that. I feel like that’s a stupid statement but there was nothing to me that really stood for a long time during the opening parts of the match. It was very good wrestling but they were mostly just “testing the waters” for the first few minutes and it kinda went longer than it should have.

Bischoff at this point told us to “don’t buy the Royal Fumble.” …ha ha.

Eddie picked things up with some hurricanranas. Eddie tripped up Regal and went for a bridge pin fall attempt. Regal hit a big reverse suplex and then fired away with some heavy hits.

Regal had some great facial expressions during this match of frustration, intensity and snarled as he laid a beating into Guerrero. Regal turned things around. I did like how Eddie would try to get back in the match with some quick moves and tried to fire up but Regal would cut him of with a basic move like a European uppercut. It was simple but effective wrestling and story-telling at this point.

Regal tried a dragon sleeper of some kind. I also liked how Regal didn’t like just go to like a long sleeper hold for the heat. Regal punched the crap out of him for a long time, he did the odd submission and then went back to beating up Eddie.

Eddie punched him back which only fired up Regal more. Regal then got mad. Eddie reversed the uppercut into a backslide pin for the win using Regal’s aggression against him. I loved that finish where Regal’s temper got the better of him. Eddie out-wrestled and out-smarted Regal. This get a big thumbs up from me.

 

 

Mean Gene Okerlund did an interview with Lex Luger and Sting. After all of this time, we’ve finally got tensions running between Sting and Lex Luger. Sting wanted to talk to Luger about triangle match at Starrcade where Luger grabbed his arm to prevent him from winning. Sting asked Luger: “what’s that about” to which Mean Gene stirred things up and said “that’s not the kind of friend I’d wanna have!” I loved Mean Gene providing commentary to what each man said and bouncing of these comments with questions to the other guy. He come off as a legitimate interviewer, taking interest in what these wrestlers were saying and helping with their delivery and giving questions that actually are relevant to the storyline.

Luger said he hurt his knee during the Starrcade match and he wanted Sting to help him up as he reached out to him during the match. It was the mother of all bullshit heel excuses but, to Luger’s credit, it played into the friendship part of this storyline as Luger tried to reach out to Sting who he thought of as a friend even in the heat of battle. Sting said he never thought about being a tag team but he’s up for teaming with Luger. They’re facing the New Bloods at Clash of Champions.

 

They plugged, of all matches, RIC FLAIR VS RANDY SAVAGE FOR THE WORLD TITLE AT WCW SATURDAY NIGHT! This had to be a DQ finish to book a world title match for this show!

 

Sting vs DDP

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I don’t particular know what to make of this match. This match was off in parts and they tried to turn it into a good match but it just didn’t seem to click. Especially after watching Benoit, Eddie and Regal in aciton in the first half of the show.

DDP went to work early on. DDP got Irish Whipped into the ropes and landed in the middle of them like Andrade “Cien” Almas would but Sting simply dropkicked him and did a dive to DDP onto the floor.

Sting fell to the floor as he tried a leapfrog on DDP. DDP was just to tall for him to leapfrog it seems. I don’t think that was planned just for DDP to get the heat. If it was then I don’t think it was a good idea.

So DDP got the heat. DDP hit a swinging neckbreaker. DDP locked on a sleeper hold and constantly tried to have his feet on the ropes. Sting fired up to his feet but DDP slammed him back down. Bischoff, as DDP had the sleeper holder on, decided now was the time to say: “WCW gave the fans what the fans asked for.” Lord knows that all the fans wanted at this point was a sleeper hold on Nitro.

Sting mounted a comeback, hit a Stinger Splash and tried a Scorpion Deahtlock but DDP got the ropes before it was locked in. DDP hit a neckbreaker. Sting tried a small package to which DDP responded to a poke to the eye as soon as they both got to their feet.

Sting landed on his feet from a back drop attempt, locked on the Scorpion Deathlock and Sting got DDP to tap out as the fan went nuts. The fans went nuts for Sting at the finish and he was incredibly over here.

 

Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage vs Ric Flair and Arn Anderson

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At least Savage and Hogan were colour coordinated for this match both wearing the red and yellow! Ric got tagged in from the get-go. Flair wanted Hogan in the ring so Savage obliged and tagged in the Hulkster.

God Hogan could barely do a hammerlock of all moves in this match. Flair then delivered a HUGE CHOP, a chop so hard that the ref fell out of the camera shot he sold the impact of this so well. The ref just fell backwards! It sounded like a hard hit too… and Hogan just no sells it and runs wild!

He ran wild some more with clotheslines and scoop slams to Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. Arn got tagged in. Savage got tagged in and worked on the arm. Savage nailed Arn with a double axe handle to the outside and then a double axe handle in the ring.

Hogan ran around and chased Flair, and ended up pulling down Flair’s trunks from the looks of it. Somehow, this led to Flair getting the heat on Savage. I have no idea how that worked!

Of course Flair goes to the top rope and gets pushed off. Savage does his own Figure Four Leg Lock. Hogan drops Arn and then does his own Figure Four as a fan throws trash into the ring following Hogan’s attempt in the Figure Four! Just the simple thought of Hogan doing the Figure Four seemed to disgust this one fan! Some folks were losing their mind though as Hogan did the Figure Four. Hogan did this move without like even putting his leg over. He just tied up the legs and went down for the Figure Four Leg Lock!

Arn then went to work and hit a DDT, Flair went for a cover but Hogan breaks it up. Flair threw Savage off the top rope. Arn worked on Savage on the outside.

Savage got a sleeper hold locked on Arn but Flair gouged the eyes of Savage to break it up. Savage tried some desperation small packages. Arn went for a DDT but Savage got the top rope to avoid it. Flair accidentally knocked Savage into Hogan for the tag.

Hogan ran wild on Flair. Hogan hits a big double clothesline to heels to the outside. Arn hits a beautiful spinebuster on Hogan, who just gets right back up. Hogan hits the big boot and hits the leg drop. Hogan got the pin but as the Horsemen ran down, the Dungeon of Doom attacked the Horsemen. I thought when I saw the Horsemen that they’d break it up for the DQ but no… we got a clean pin in a NITRO main-event!

The Horsemen brawled with the Dungeon. The Giant attacks Hogan and Savage in the ring. Giant barely got Hogan up for the chokeslam. He slammed Savage too but then Zodiac stops The Giant again, as he did last week, as the show goes off the air.

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I’m assuming The Four Horsemen and the Dungeon of Doom will end up working together down the road anyway but for the time being, I do love the idea of the two heel groups at odds as there’s no honour among thieves. That I liked. A decent show but not as good as last week’s show I don’t think. It’ll be interesting to see how things work out in this period before the nWo hit WCW. It’s very hard to tell how things will turn out. We’ll be back with Episode 20 on the next edition of the WCW series as part of the Armbar Express’ Retro Express.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order