RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #47 (AUGUST 5TH 1996) – BAD BOOKING CAUSES BUMP ON THE ROAD TO HOG WILD

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

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Last week’s episode saw the New World Order lay waste to four men as part of a well-done viscous attack that disrupted WCW Monday Nitro. They beat down Arn Anderson and Marcus Bagwell with baseball bats as well as taking out Scotty Riggs and throwing Rey Mysterio like a dart into a trailer. They left the arena in a limo, which “Macho Man” Randy Savage chased by literally jumping on top of the moving vehicle! Good guys and bad guys put their differences aside to attend to their fallen comrades during an historic episode of WCW Monday Nitro.

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The episode we’re reviewing today is the go-home show for WCW Hog Wild. This is the card for the Hog Wild show for those of you that need a reminder:

  • Rey Mysterio Jr. (c) vs Ultimo Dragon for the WCW Cruiserweight title
  • Ice Train vs Scott Norton
  • Madusa vs Bull Nakano with the winner destroying the loser’s motorcycle
  • Dean Malenko vs Chris Benoit
  • Harlem Heat (c) vs The Steiner Brothers for the WCW Tag Team titles
  • Ric Flair (c) vs Eddie Guerrero for the WCW US title
  • Lex Luger and Sting vs “The Outsiders” Kevin Nash and Scott Hall
  • The Giant (c) vs Hollywood Hogan for the WCW World title

As for building up this card, WCW have done an excellent job with the matches involving the nWo. Lex Luger and Sting are at the forefront of this big invasion angle and the Outsiders have been destroying people left and right so obviously Sting and Luger want revenge. The Giant has been smashing guys every single week leading to his title defence against the traitor to WCW Hollywood Hogan. They’ve done such a great job building up those two matches in particular. Since they are the money matches anyway, I guess you can consider the build to this PPV good.

As far as the rest of the card, there’s a lot we need to talk about. I’ll mention them again during the review but these storylines are modelled in the same way as a lot of the WWE storylines are nowadays leading into a PPV. Traditionally, wrestling pay-per-views would have the very best wrestlers on those shows because the biggest matches possible would be taking place. The Giant has beaten challengers each week going into Hog Wild to fight the biggest star in the world Hollywood Hogan for example.

This episode of Nitro made caring for these individuals really difficult. Let’s start with Ice Train and Scott Norton. They have this big break-up angle where partner miscommunication led to them losing to the Steiner Brothers on Nitro. They accuse each other of being the weak link and then a week later, we have them both in separate singles matches. What happens? They both lose by disqualification. Why should I care about two losers that were already losing as a tag team now facing each other in a singles match at Hog Wild?

This plays into what happened this week. How many times have I talked about the way Madusa has been booked since she arrived in WCW. She arrived as the WWF Women’s Champion which caused WWF to actually sue WCW in real life. They go through all of that effort to bring her into the company and she’s away from Monday Nitro for MONTHS after a little feud with Sister Sherri. She came back a few weeks ago to have a good match with Malia Hosaka. They do the rematch on this episode of Nitro and what happens? Hosaka got the win. Why? Why is Madusa constantly losing on Nitro to set up such things as a big match with her and Bull Nakano at Hog Wild?

Eddie Guerrero. While Eddie Guerrero has been winning matches on Nitro since Bash at the Beach, I’ll give WCW props for that, I was still mad with the way he was presented him last week in his match with Big Bubba. Big Bubba beat him up for about 21 hours and Eddie got a fluke win to, in theory, set up Eddie Guerrero vs Ric Flair for the WCW US title. This week, they showed Eddie Guerrero saving Chavo Guerrero from Ric Flair during an episode at Saturday Night. Eddie turned around and Ric Flair attacked him from behind and made him look like a geek.

Would it not have been better to see Eddie face and beat all the members of the Four Horsemen leading to him vs Ric Flair at the PPV, so at the very least he is presented as someone as being on Ric Flair’s level? No. He’s presented as so vastly inferior to Ric Flair. I understand this is Ric Flair we’re talking about but they did a poor job in building up Eddie for Ric in the last few weeks.

Speaking of the Four Horsemen, then there’s Chris Benoit. They were getting Benoit over so big in his feud with Kevin Sullivan. He was the young lion of the Four Horsemen and he was putting on great performances every week. Since Bash at the Beach, I don’t think he’s won a single match on Nitro once. The Horsemen didn’t win any of the matches with Luger, Sting and Savage in the last few weeks, he lost to Eddie Guerrero about 3 weeks ago. Then on this episode of Nitro, what happens? He got distracted by Dean Malenko, he went out and attacked him and he supposedly lost by count-out to Alex Wright? ALEX WRIGHT. God forbid that we have Chris Benoit beat Alex Wright clean to build up Benoit vs Malenko.

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I realise the stuff I’m ranting about is not really that important, and with wrestling being fake, it really doesn’t matter who wins and loses. However, possibly due to the WCW backstage politicking at the time, they over-booked everybody on the mid-card on the exact same level to the point where they all stay in the same position as a means to keep to keep everyone happy. I guess nobody wanted to do the job so the lengths they had to go to in order to protect everyone is mind-blowing.

Their saving grace, at this time, was that the talent was so excellent that the ring-work made up for it. I’m sure Malenko vs Benoit at Hog Wild was a great match and I believe Eddie Guerrero vs Ric Flair ended up being a good match at Hog Wild.

….I don’t mean to start this episode review with a rant! If you see the way these wrestlers were treated as I go through this review, thank god WCW did have the New World Order at least at the start! Even with this episode though, the nWo didn’t really do anything spectacular or anything at the level of last week. I’ll get to that when I talk about the nWo’s “involvement” with this episode of Nitro.

 

Date: August 5th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Disney/MGM Studios at Orlando, Florida

Rating: 3

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

 

The show started with Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko talking about what happened last week. Larry Zybsko kept trying to coin phrase “New World Odor” like he did this last week. They actually mentioned that they were four empty chairs in the front row which was apparently where the FOUR members of the nWo were expected to sit. Big Bubba, Scott Norton, Meng and The Barbarian all come out to act as security for the show.

 

“Harlem Heat” Booker T © and Stevie Ray (c) w/Sister Sherri and Col Robert Parker vs “The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express” Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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It was so weird as in the middle of all this nWo madness, the ROCK ‘N’ ROLL EXPRESS were randomly challenging for the tag team titles on Nitro! However, we got big HEAT chants before the bell rang and Harlem Heat were very much over with this crowd.

Both teams were wearing red. Booker and Ricky started off the match. Larry pointed out the teams had their “speed men” in the ring to start the match. Booker took over early. The Express took Booker down with a double elbow smash and a double clothesline

Tony then declared that the security team had worked… TEN MINUTES INTO THE SHOW! We still had approximately 110 minutes left of the show but apparently the security was a success in the eyes of Tony Schiavonie!

The fans were into Harlem Heat as they got the heat on Ricky Morton. The Heat got distracted with the managers and almost got rolled up by Ricky. Booker yelled at Col. Rober Parker on the outside. Sherri whined about her anxiety being out here and Booker was not happy about it.

Booker did the Harlem Side Kick. Booker missed a top rope splash and Ricky literally rolled into a Robert Gibson hot tag. Gibson ran wild and hit an enziguri on Ray.

Robert went for the cover but Sherri kissed Robert or at least tried to. Gibson pushed her off the apron. Col Robert Parker got mad and took off his jacket. He riled himself up and was ready for a fight but he got punched in the face. Harlem Heat took advantage for the win with Ray hitting a big boot as Booker prevented Morton from breaking up the pin. Average Nitro tag team match to me. It was OK but was nothing particularly memorable.

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Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed the Nasty Boys. Brian Knobbs said they were getting a lot of heat just because Hogan is a friend of theirs. They make it clear that Hogan did what he wanted to do and the Nasty Boys did what they wanted to do. They expressed it’s a free country when Sting and Lex Luger interrupted. Sting wanted to know where they stood. Remember when Sting was constantly being questioned about where is loyalties lied when Lex Luger was allied with the Dungeon of Doom? Now he’s doing it to the Nasty Boys!

Sags said they stood in Nastyville. Knobbs yelled they don’t condone what Hogan did but didn’t see anything wrong with it here. Knobbs brought up a good point that WCW wanted them to step up but WCW’s guys weren’t willing to help them during their tag team matches so why should they help WCW? That is a… solid point. This was to build up the main-event of this Nitro episode of Sting and Lex Luger vs The Nasty Boys.

GLACIER is still coming. I’ve read a similar review online saying it’d been 15 weeks since the original Glacier videos started.

 

Malia Hosaka w/Sonny Onoo vs Madusa

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Apparently this women’s division consists of three women because this is a rematch from 3 weeks ago and we’ve not seen any other women wrestle on Nitro since.

Madusa did a sunset flip for a 2 count. Hosaka levelled Madusa with some kicks and with a hair-assisted snapmare. Madusa hit a spinning heel kick.

Hosaka got the leg and stood there for like 20 seconds either forgetting her spot or not making her mind up about what she wanted to do. She eventually did the Figure Four Leg Lock to literally no reaction. Even in small promotions where someone would do the figure four leg lock and at least one or two fans would go “woooooo.” Here, Hosaka does the move and nobody cared. The fans chanted “USA” to cheer on Madusa.

Then Hosaka went back to work on the knee of Madusa as they cut away from the action to show a black limo. Madusa struggled to do a gutwrench suplex. Hosaka did a sunset flip but Madusa got the ropes at one.

Madusa did a superplex . Madusa did a front drop kick to Sonny on the apron and then Madusa fell down on her back. Hosaka covered her as soon as Madusa fell down and Sonny grabbed Hosaka for leverage for the win. I already talked about the booking of this match during my introduction. But again, this is to build… MADUSA VS BULL NAKANO for the PPV. This was a pretty poor match compared to their last match.

 

They plugged WCW Saturday Night that was meant to act as a pre-show for Hog Wild. This Hog Wild, that was intended to promote the PPV, included JOHN TENTA VS BIG BUBBA as well as Hugh Morrus in action! What a show to get me excited for Hog Wild!

 

Chris Benoit w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth vs Alex Wright

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The two men locked up and then Benoit took advantage by raking the eyes and then firing away with punches. Wright fired back with his own punches and kicks. Wright then ran wild with “headscissor dropkicks” and then worked on the arm.

It’s funny Meng was out there for security when he and Benoit got into a screaming match during the nWo angle last week. I guess they buried the hatchet or they just forgot about whatever it was there were screaming about!

There was young kid in the front row that appeared to be crossing his fingers when Benoit covered Wright. This kid was clutching to his dad appearing to cheer on Alex Wright! That’s what wrestling is missing nowadays is kids crossing their fingers and rooting for their heroes. With John Cena not on the scene anymore, you don’t really get this type of reactions from young kids anymore! It’s mostly just adults upset that Goldberg beat The Fiend for example…

Wright reversed a kitchen sink into a roll up for a near fall. Benoit locked on a camel clutch. Jimmy Hart came down to talk to the girls. He yelled that Woman was wasting her time with Elizabeth as “she is useless”. Jimmy yelled that there was someone backstage she was driving crazy and she pointed to a sock with Kevin Sullivan’s face in. For those of you that are somehow unaware of this but Woman (a.k.a Nancy Sullivan) was the wife to the “Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan.

Dean Malenko ran down to take Woman backstage by force. Benoit dove on the outside and beat the crap out of Dean Malenko which I wrote down had led to the no contest. Benoit isn’t focused on the match anymore, a new fight had broken out… whatever. A no contest was fine. Then Tony called it a “count out” victory for Alex Wright. WHAT?

There was no actual count from the referee and Dean was attacking Benoit or was trying to screw Benoit out of the match. If anything, if it was not a no contest as I figured previously then shouldn’t this finish have been a disqualification victory for Benoit since Malenko was attacking him as they fought to the back.?It also sucked because this was a good match up until that point. Wright held his own and kept up with Benoit and they were making something out of this match.  

Really though, Alex Wright did not need to win this match. He’s not on the PPV. Benoit has a big match with Dean Malenko who destroyed Billy Kidman and Chavo Guerrero in recent weeks. If Benoit beat this cruiserweight, it would set up perfectly for a big cruiserweight match for the PPV. Bad booking in my eyes.

 

Lord Steven Regal w/Jeeves vs “Macho Man” Randy Savage

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OK, I’m assuming that all of the last 5 episodes of Nitro were taped because it was all bright for the two earlier matches and it was pitch black for this match. So I’m kinda assuming they taped several matches from each day in one big bunch and then just picked and chose matches for each show.  I haven’t checked to see if this was the case but that’s the only thing I can assume.

It was also weird because Malenko and Benoit brawled to the back after Benoit’s match and then for Ric Flair’s match later on in the show, Benoit was back out there and we never saw Malenko again. It was almost like nothing had happened before.

There was some in-match banter when Regal warned Savage “you better watch it or I’ll slap you” and Savage put his hands up and went “ooooh”. This was great. Simple things like that were awesome in at least showing some personality for these characters. It’s simple but effective.

It was very scrappy stuff but in a good way where Savage would choke away at Regal and Regal would try to out-wrestle Savage. It’s pretty much exactly how you’d think Regal vs Savage would go on an episode of Nitro! Regal wore down Savage and the fans chanted “Macho”.

Apparently Bobby and Eric weren’t ready yet for the second hour and Larry somehow didn’t realise that nobody was there as the fireworks went off for hour two! Great awareness from the Living Legend! In case you were wondering, Tony and Larry called the full two hours on this episode of Nitro.

Regal fired away with some great forearms as Sting and Luger came down to the ring. Sting and Luger sat at two of the four vacant seats meant for the nWo. Savage back-dropped Regal and started brawling with the Englishman on the outside. He smashed Regal into one of the chairs Sting and Luger were sat at (Luger and Sting had fortunately moved out of the way!).

Savage hit the elbow drop and got the win as Regal got up and walked away beat red with tears in his eyes! A short but decent match from Regal and Savage.

Sting and Luger went to the black limo parked near the ring and opened the door but found a bouquet saying “condolences on the death of WCW.”

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Mean Gene interviewed Randy Savage. Savage said he would be facing Giant or Hogan  after Hog Wild for the WCW World title… which actually kinda makes sense since I don’t think Savage has lost a match since Bash at the Beach. This booking made sense!

Savage said he cut a deal. Savage said The Giant would get a bigger piece of Hogan than Hogan thinks and if Giant left a little bit for Savage, Savage will finish the job. Now, this kind of plays into what I mentioned earlier but this was building up for a program, likely on Nitro, where either Hogan or Giant would face Savage. Savage wasn’t even on Hog Wild and he’s already looking past that PPV. A weird way for a PPV go-home show to play out.

Sting and Luger showed up in the ring. There was no Outsiders but they got the bouquet. Sting admired the pretty flowers but had a problem with the line saying “WCW was dead” when “WCW was alive and well”…less than five years later dude.

Savage threw down the flowers. Sting held down the bouquet and Savage booted it out of the ring. I was begging for Sting to swipe the bouquet at the last minute like Charlie Brown! That I wanted to see! This was a fun segment nevertheless.

 

Ric Flair w/Miss Elizabeth, Debra McMichael and Woman vs The Booty Man w/Booty Babe

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I do believe this will end up being the end of the Booty Man. The Horsemen beat up Booty Man after this match and it appeared to be an injury angle to write him off of television. This is a bit of a spoiler but Booty Man does not come back as the Booty Man as they repackaged him with a new gimmick. It’s sad seeing the end of the Booty era here on WCW Monday Nitro!

Booty Babe said everyone was looking “bootyful” which I’m 99% sure if I used that line when chatting to a woman it would backfire. Arn Anderson came out with a chair and his arm taped up. Now… one of the problems I had with this show is that Arn Anderson took such a vicious beating last week and here he is with a bunch of bandages like it was nothing. They showed Rey Mysterio being at WCW Saturday Night too but… I felt this was a deal they should have played out for at least another week. They should have had Arn, Rey and the American Males off of television until at least after the PPV. I was not a fan of seeing Arn this early after how big the nWo angle last week was built up.

Heck, they had Eric Bischoff away from television for 2 week after Nash powerbombed him at The Great American Bash so why not have Arn off of television for a month?

Ric Flair beat up Booty and hammered away at Booty with punches to the head. Benoit and Steve “Mongo” McMichael guarded the entrance way. Ric gouged the eyes of Booty Man. Bobby Heenan came down and yelled about making it to the show himself but Bischoff was not there. He said Bischoff doesn’t miss things so he questioned where he was. Heenan left again as again, they’re questioning where Bischoff is during all of this carnage which does have a pay off in the upcoming months…

Booty and Ric continued fighting. Booty missed a high knee and went knee first into the corner. Ric got the Figure Four Leg Lock and then Benoit and Mongo attacked Booty as Ric continued to grabbed the ropes. This match got thrown out.

The referee also got thrown out to the outside as the security did nothing about this. Keep in mind the security was there to keep away the Outsiders but did nothing as Booty Man was being obliterated by the Four Horsemen. This was such a beat down by the Horsemen as well. They didn’t hold back and even Arn was getting involved with a chair shot to the leg!

Mean Gene gets in the ring to do an interview and yelled at the Horsemen to stop it. Arn starts cutting a promo and said his life flashed before his eyeslast week. As Arn was cutting this promo, Ric was still taking cheap shots at Booty Man right behind Arn. Arn said the good book said when the New World Order is put into place it is the end of times. Arn said there’s one rule of gang fighting that is if they send one of theirs to the hospital, they must send one of theirs to the morgue.

Benoit yelled about seeing fury and vengeance unleashed. Mongo yelled that the Outsiders needed to get it together as they’re coming after them. Ric yelled at Hogan to watch this as he continued to kick away at Booty. Ric yelled at Booty to tell Hogan to send a message. Ric yelled that Hogan wanted their attention and now he’s got it. Ric said Arn was his best friend and Hogan crossed the line and now he was gonna paid the price. He yelled: “That was your best friend, come and get him big boy.” Because obviously, Booty Man was an ally to Hogan against the Dungeon of Doom…

My impression from what happened last week is that the good guys and the bad guys were all on the same page and fighting against the nWo, which would make the Horsemen the babyfaces when they go up against the nWo themselves. Here, they do a four on one beat down on Booty Man like complete arseholes. At least the nWo beat the four men last week in a fair fight. There were apparently four members of the nWo last week beating up the WCW dudes. Here, four men are beating up one and the security are doing nothing about this!

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There was another nWo announcement. Apparently they lured Luger in for the beating on Sting on WCW Saturday Night 2 weeks ago with an emergency phone call. They said Hogan would become the nWo champion. They sung happy birthday to Hogan and I loved that. You could tell Hogan was having so much fun as a heel! Nash said we’re not talking about taking over, it’s about extermination now. The video just stopped as Sting and Lex apparently ordered the production team to stop this footage.

Sting and Luger are backstage and literally bullied and intimidated the production crew into stopping the footage. They’re supposed to be good guys and they’re threatening and imposing their will on the production team. Explain to me how they are any better than the Outsiders when they did this two weeks ago? Again, they came off arseholes like the Four Horsemen! No wonder the fans started to cheer the nWo and boo WCW during this feud!

Sting and Luger accused the staff of putting the videos on the air for the money. Sting decreed no trash should go on the air. Sting cracked the joke about pork pie and mountain dew that Nash did two weeks ago and then they left.

 

The Giant (c) w/Jimmy Hart vs Sgt. Pittman w/Teddy Long for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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The Giant then no-sold two diving headbutts and then Pittman ran into a chokeslam for a pinfall victory. Pretty much the same as 90% of Giant’s match on Nitro since he arrived. However, I still love Jimmy Hart running around Giant after the match like he’d just beat Hogan clean or just won the Oscars! No matter who is in the ring, Jimmy will always celebrate like it’s the biggest win of Giant’s career! That was great. Teddy Long stopped a further beat down on Pittman but he himself ate a chokeslam from The Giant as the fans chanted “one more time.”

Think about this for a minute. We have the Four Horsemen, Sting, Lex Luger and The Giant all fighting for WCW against the New World Order. The Horsemen attacked someone four on one during this show, Sting and Luger bullied the production crew and The Giant is chokeslamming the manager Teddy Long like a complete dick! This man is the babyface champion going into the match with Hogan at the PPV! You have WCW wrestlers acting like arseholes while the nWo are coming off as cool to the fans!

I love how Larry was concerned that Teddy was going to have a heart attack and during a SmackDown! storyline more than 10 years later, Teddy Long had a on-screen heart attack during a wedding! Larry planting the seeds for a storyline 10 years later for a different wrestling company!

 

Mean Gene interviewed Giant and Jimmy Hart. Mean Gene berated Giant and called Teddy Long just a guy off the street. Hart said everyone always told Hogan what he wanted to hear. The black limo had returned as Jimmy was cutting this promo. Hart yelled Giant would be ready for Hogan. Giant said he sent a message to the world as the fans chanted for Hogan. Giant said he had one job and that was to be the champion since he was a kid. Giant said he doesn’t feel sorry for anyone that stepped in his way. He said Hogan talked his trash about how he’d take over WCW. He said Hogan’s 15 minutes were up and he dared him to show up at Hog Wild.

They showed a clip of Mongo and Debra re-gaining the money in the briefcsae from Randy Savage. Dear god, because this storyline must keep going. In case you didn’t read my review from two weeks ago, Savage regained his money that Elizabeth had gotten from him as part of their divorce. They had been flaunting it around like it was a trophy. Savage got the money back to a big pop and now the heels have the money again! You’d think Savage would have put his money in the bank by now since getting his money back! It’s ridiculous.

 

Sting and Lex Luger vs “The Nasty Boys” Jerry Sags and Brian Knobbs

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The Steiner Brothers came down to ringside with a chair. Luger ran wild on the Nasty Boys for a bit. The Nasty Boys got the heat. Knobbs did a splash in the corner and an elbow drop for a 2 count.

Knobbs got the heat for a while but then Sting got his foot up as Knobbs went for the splash. Luger literally jumped into the match for a hot tag. He ran wild with clotheslines and hit a powerslam. Luger tried a torture rack but Sags broke it up. Sags tried to hit Luger but hit Rick Steiner by accident and then Rick hit Sags with a clothesline.

Sting somehow got the tag as Sags tapped out for the win. WHEN DID STING GET THE TAG? Luger went to the outside and brawled with Knobbs I think and was outside the entire time before Sting got back in the ring. At what point did Sting get the tag back into the ring?…. did I miss something? Please leave the comment if you know when Sting got a tag back in the ring during all of this match.

This was an OK match but…. with the Nasty Boys in the main-event I was begging to see what was on the other show. I wasn’t not particularly thrilled about the possibility of this match

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They show two kids in the ring flexing with the babyfaces. Mean Gene said they must be working at the “main event fitness centre”. Mean Gene mentioned the limo was back. Sting suggested they go check out the limo. Luger thought it was another gag gift but Sting and Luger went down anyway as Mean Gene wanted to go along with them. Scott Norton also walked down alongside the rest of security.

Sting opened the door and a bag was thrown as them with a TURNER logo on the front, suggesting Turner Broadcasting was somehow involved and possibly funding this operation.

They showed an “after show” exclusive that the WWE Network had access to. They had a piece of paper inside the bag with the nWo saying they’d see them at Hog Wild.

 

This episode was a massive thumbs down for me. If you look at the quality of Nitros as of late, this really didn’t hit the mark. As the follow up to the big nWo angle it didn’t deliver, as a go-home show for Hog Wild it didn’t deliver and as a wrestling show it didn’t deliver. There was only one good match on the show in Benoit vs Wright but it had a horrible finish. The other matches were short matches, boring matches or average matches at best.

I think Hog Wild will be good based on the card I mentioned earlier on in the review. This show in particular didn’t sell me on this pay-per-view and… I’d like to think it’s going to pick up after Hog Wild. We will be reviewing WCW Hog Wild as part of the blog and I’m looking to post that on the blog at some point this week.

Stay safe everybody and follow the blog to be update on future reviews or posts we put up on the Armbar Express.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 (JULY 7TH 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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After all of this time reviewing WCW Nitro episodes, we have finally arrived at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996. A historic event which culminated with one of the most memorable moments in wrestling history. Although WCW Monday Nitro had recently begun their 83 week streak of beating WWF Monday Night RAW in the ratings, this was really the true event that turned the tide in the Monday Night Wars.

The biggest moment from the show was in fact the main-event, so I’m guessing a lot of you may be asking me if it was worth watching the 2 hours and 30 minutes or so before that building up to the main-event. The response to that question is yes. This show featured a lot of good matches up and down the show as well as a match which may have been the best match I’ve reviewed in the history of the Armbar Express.

However, the biggest thing I loved about this show was the anticipation it built in me around 24 years after the original air date of this pay-per-view. As a wrestling show, even though I knew ahead of time who the third man that would end up teaming with the Outsiders, I was giddy and the main-event was built as a genuine historical event. Then it was the time for the main-event and the fans were buzzing for this huge six man tag team match with Sting, Lex Luger and Randy Savage facing Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and the third man. This entire pay-per-view is worth watching to relive the buzz the entire show created for this main-event.

 

Date: July 7th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Daytona Beach, Florida

Attendance: 8,300

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes

 

Psychosis vs Rey Mysterio Jr.

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I understand that people may have busy schedules or may not have the time to sit through and watch this entire wrestling pay-per-view from 24 years ago. However, for any wrestling fan out there, I command that you watch this opening match between Psychosis and Rey Mysterio Jr. This was wrestling at its very finest.

I also understand that the business has I guess “evolved” to the point where it would seem to a modern fan that what Psychosis and Rey did here wasn’t particular special compared to guys like Kenny Omega, Adam Cole and the Young Bucks. In places like NXT, PWG and AEW, it is a much more fast-paced environment where you almost have to have hundreds of spots during the match in a super choreographed manner to keep the fans hooked and engaged.

I’ve gotten annoyed at matches like that Halftime Heat match on NXT last year and the Adam Cole vs Matt Riddle match from NXT in October because those matches were in essence move after move after move after move with seemingly no space for the fans to sit back and appreciate the individual moves. Those matches moved at such a fast-pace and they hit so many big moves one after another that it felt somewhat unauthentic to me.

This Rey Mysterio vs Psychosis was a true wrestling match. These were two luchadors so of course there was a lot of high spots. However, a huge portion of the match was focused on a wrestling battle and every big spot they hit truly felt like a big spot that you would remember. People would remember them because it stood out from the wrestling. They didn’t over-do certain moves because sometimes, less is more. Few matches told the story of less is more quite like this one.

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Mike Tenay joined the commentators for this match. Sometimes, I really don’t give Mike Tenay the credit he deserves. Mike Tenay was so awesome as the professor in this match and was a great voice for putting over Japanese and Mexican talent. When you have Tony as a basic play-by-play commentator accompanied with two characters in Dusty and Bobby, having Mike as a wrestling historian basically is a great asset on the booth. As much as Bobby and Dusty were entertaining, Tenay’s contributions of educating us on lucha libre tradition played into the layout of the match. I thought he was brilliant during this match.

Rey shot for the leg and locked on a single leg boston crab. Psychosis got out of it and went for a surfboard submission.. Rey did the armbar. Psychosis delivered a unique arm scissors as both men showcased some tremendous lucha libre.

Psychosis did a big Undertaker dive over the rope and smashed his head right on the guard rail. It was a nasty landing spot for poor Psychosis. Psychosis took control with a big leg drop for which he got a 2 count and yelled at the referee. They said on commentary Rey and Pyschosis wrestled each other in Mexico the night before! That’s amazing when you think about it!

Psychosis did a guillotine leg drop from the top rope. Rey sold a clothesline like it was death as he completely flipped on his head. It was tremendous looking. Pscyhosis locked on the head scissors. Rey pushed Psychosis into the ring with his legs and followed up with a hurricanrana from the apron. It looked very slick. Rey hit a west coast pop for the near fall.

Rey dropkicked the knee then took Psychosis down and trapped the leg. Dusty kept calling Mike “Iron Mike” which was proven to be correct at how well Tenay was calling this match. Psychosis tried a headscissors and initially grabbed the ropes for leverage. Psychosis threw Rey over his shoulders and launched him into the ropes, with Rey hitting hard and bouncing off the ropes. He dropped Rey onto the guard rails.

Psychosis did an absolute crazy Senton. What it looked like to me was that he tried a leg drop but missed his target so it looked like a senton. However, I did re-watch that spot and I think he did lean his back a bit when coming crashing down and Tenay called it as a Senton. By the way, I would not recommend any wrestler take a bump like this onto the floor. Psychosis fell right on his arse after falling from 10 feet in the air. That could have really wrecked his hip if he wasn’t careful.

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Psychosis was feeling his back and he was proper banged up following that spot.  Psychosis dig an enziguiri for the 2 count. Bobby asked Tony where he got these names for the moves and Tony simply said “if you don’t know it, make it up.” At least on this night, he was accompanied for one match by a man in Tenay who did know all the names of the moves!

Psychosis did a camel clutch. Rey did an awesome cartwheel hurricanrana and the fans popped like crazy. It was fabulous in execution and they probably did the exact same spot from the night before but the fans were blown away by this on American soil.

Rey did a triangle dropkick. Rey hit a top rope hurricanrana to Pyschosis from the apron all the way down to the floor.. Rey hit a springboard moonsault for a near fall. Rey did a springboard dropkick sending Psychosis through the bottom rope. It was all Rey as they were headed towards the finish.

Rey did a springboard corkscrew dive to Psychosis on the outside. Tenay called it an Asai moonsault and Bobby was flummoxed by this as he yelled “an Asai hammer lock?” Rey tried to do a West Coast Pop but Psychosis counted into an awesome powerbomb. Psychosis tried a crucifix powerbomb but Rey somehow hit a tremendous Frankensteiner from the top rope for the pin fall win. That was absolutely tremendous spot in the finish and if you re=watch this match, the way this finish was pulled was out of this world.

This was easily the best WCW match I’ve reviewed so far in the series. Rey and Psychosis put on a wrestling clinic. The fans were into everything for this match. Everything looked fabulous in execution and I loved the finish. This… was glorious

Match Rating: ****3/4

 

Mean Gene interviewed WCW US Heavyweight Champion Konnan. Konnan explained the finish of the Psychosis/Rey Mysterio in case you didn’t just watch the finish of that match a few minutes before this interview! Konnan was defending the title against Ric Flair tonight. Konnan said maybe Ric has the right to be confident but Konnan is cautious. Konnan threatened to clothesline his women, chop block Mongo and cripple the manager. He made good on at least one of those threats which we’ll get to.

 

Big Bubba w/Jimmy Hart vs John Tenta in a sack of silver dollars on a pole match

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Tenta chased Bubba out of the ring. Tenta beat Bubba’s arse for while. Tenta tried to get the silver dollars but Bubba cut him off. Tenta did the same to Bubba. Tenta tried again but Bubba cut him off and dropped him with a back suplex to which Dusty called a load. Bubba tried to get the sack but he was too short and drops on the top rope and gets crotched. Speaking of which…

Talk about just booking yourself into the corner with this match. This wasn’t even a match booked by Vince Russo either. WCW booked a match between John Tenta and Big Bubba where one of them must grab the sack of silver dollars from the top of the pole. They booked this match and then I guess realised a few days later that none of these two big men could actually CLIMB up this pole to go get this sack.

Tenta was too big to get up that pole, it was established that Bubba was too big and too short to get up that pole… as crazy and contradictory as that sounds! Figure that one out! Not only did they book this match realising these two men were just too big, I swear they put up the biggest pole they could find and stacked the sack right on top of it.

This sack is on top of the largest pole they could have find so neither man could have reached it even if they tried. They might as well as put this sack up on the moon it was that high in the sky! Tenta realised this so he tried to unhook the pole itself from the ring post. Bubba choked Tenta with the belt from behind. I don’t remember if he was talking about Bubba or Tenta but Dusty even said “I don’t even think he can get up there.”

Bubba tied Tenta to the ropes with tape. He beats him up with a belt. Bubba gets the scissors that he had previously used to cut Tenta’s hair and beard. He goes to cut the rest of Tenta’s hair but Tenta does a low blow to Bubba.

Bubba hit a spinebuster. Bubba instructed Jimmy to get the sack as Bubba realised he can’t get it. Jimmy Hart, who is not a professional wrestler, scaled up this big pole so fast. Jimmy climbed up this pole and grabbed the sack but Tenta powerslammed Bubba as Hart was grabbing the sack. Hart slid down the pole and when he turns around he sees Tenta waiting for him. Tenta took the sack and knocked Hart down. Tenta smashed Bubba in the head with the sack and got the pin.

As absurd as the concept of this match was, I thoroughly enjoyed it! It was the right shade of so bad it’s good. It’s stupid that they did a match where Bubba and Tenta had no way of getting the sack without Hart being involved. However, I enjoyed the comedy of it all. I enjoyed Tenta getting a big babyface win after months of being humiliated by the Dungeon of the Doom and he overcame the odds.

Match Rating: ** 

 

Mean Gene interviewed “Team WCW” in Lex Luger, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Sting. Savage said he didn’t care who the third man was but they’re gonna get hurt and they were gonna take the heels down with them. Luger said these outsiders have made a lot of noise and he and Team WCW would represent WCW to the best of our ability. Luger certainly did not live up to his own hype if you see what they did WITH him in this main event!

Luger said actions speak louder than words. Sting said the unknown gave him chills up and down his spine and goosebumps and it did the same to Savage and Luger. He said they’re a team and they were ready. They were all excited and all ready for Hostile Takeover. A very fired up promo by the good guys. The announcers noteD that there was no sign of Eric Bischoff at Bash at the Beach.

 

DDP vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan in a taped fist match for the Lord of the Ring

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Calling this a “taped fist” match was pure false advertising. There was not one taped fist actually used DURING the match and this was the most basic bland match you could think of.

Duggan did the USA chants as DDP freaked out. Duggan shoulder-blocked DDP to the outside as DDP was agitated by USA chants. DDP spat at Duggan and dropped him with a jaw breaker on the top rope.

DDP taped Duggan’s feet on the ring post. DDP punched away at Duggan while he was stuck. Keep in mind, this was the only spot in the match where the tape was actually involved. DDP’s used the tape to tie up Duggan because per the stipulations of the match, you can use the tape. The referee Nick Patrick, the worst referee in the history of the world, then proceeded to free Hacksaw Jim Duggan from this tape…. IN A TAPED FIST MATCH. The ONE SPOT they had involving tape and Patrick ignores it and helped Duggan out of this predicament. Could Patrick do anything right?

Duggan did punches where DDP was stuck in the middle of the ropes and teeter-totted as Duggan repeatedly punched him with DDP selling like crazy. Duggan threw him into the guard rail.. Duggan suplexed DDP into the ring

DDP dropped with him an arm breaker. DDP went up to the top rope but Duggan dropped him on the top rope crotching him. Duggan bounced DDP’s head all over each turnbuckle. Duggan, like a dick, yelled at a cameraman to “get out of my way.” DDP hit the Diamond Cuter for the clean win…what was the point of the taped fist match stipulation?

I guess the point of the stipulation was that Duggan then hit DDP with the taped fist anyway after the match and after he lost FAIR AND SQUARE. Bobby Heenan even called it a cheap shot… AND HE’S RIGHT.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Mean Gene brought in “the little twerp” Jimmy Hart, The Giant and Taskmaster for an interview. Taskmaster and Giant were wrestling Chris Benoit and Arn Anderson of the Four Horsemen on this show. Taskmaster said they can bring all four horsemen out but there was something burning in his heart. The Giant said he’d never consider the Taskmaster the weak link as Taskmaster brought The Giant into WCW. The Giant said again about the horsemen saying they were the elite but he’s the champion. The Giant said he was gonna have horse stew.

Lee Marshall interviewed Benoit and Arn on the ramp. Arn briefly talked about the Outsiders and says they’re gonna find Sting, Luger and Savage rougher or something like that. Arn talked about Taskmaster. Benoit said the Horsemen had tolerated the Dungeon for far too long. He said they were gonna finish off what they started. Benoit eerily said he was gonna leave Taskmaster for dead.

 

“Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock vs “The Nasty Boys” Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags in a four man dog collar match

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I don’t know if this is the first time I’ve noticed it but The Nasty Boys had a shocking WCW theme song. If you want to listen to it on YouTube, it’s called “We’re The Boys” and it is rough! Pun not intended, despite this being a dog collar match!

This PPV was just on a streak of horrible match stipulations. Following the sack of silver dollars on a pole match and a taped fist match that wasn’t even a taped fist match, we had Public Enemy and Nasty Boys in dog collar match. Since this is a Nasty Boys vs Public Enemy match, it went exactly like every other match they’ve had together.

Dog collars were hooked around the necks of each wrestler so two opposing team members would be tied up. This match in the middle of a blood feud where all these teams want to do is fight each other ended up staring with all four men just STARING at each other. It was at least 30 seconds after the bell rang before they actually started to fight.

Of course, they get trash cans. Knobbs and Grunge brawled on the set which was made up like a beach. Sags hit Grunge with a rubber shark which I did laugh at. All four men fight up the stage. Sags used the surf board as a weapon (an actual surf board. Not the surfboard submission hold!)

Of course, Knobbs smashed Grunge in the head with a chair. Completely ugly weapon shots. The brawling wasn’t that bad but I’ve seen this so often from these teams in this series. If you see one match between the Public Enemy and Nasty Boys, you’ve seen all of them.

Rocco did a dive from the top of the lifeguard chair with a big senton. The brawl certainly wasn’t that bad but all of this brawling took place on the entrance ramp away from the fans! So the fans could barely see what was going on.  Rocco got thrown off the top of the lifeguard chair as the structure fell down with him.

Grunge whipped Knobbs with the chain that were linked to each other. A table was thrown at Rocco by someone. It was hard to tell with the camera angle. It could have been Grunge for all I know that threw the table at Rocco!

Sags did a piledriver on the ramp. Rocco did a dive off the guard rail, smashing into Sags and going through a table. This was all shown in a split-screen format and it was all an unpleasant viewing experience, which is putting it mildly.

Dusty said “it’s ain’t over as they don’t want it to be over” as all four men kept going for pin falls! This was not Benoit/Taskmaster in their falls count anywhere match from The Great American Bash where there was one pin fall in the entire match. They all wanted to fight each other so bad that there was constant pin fall attempts!

Grunge sent Knobbs crashing face first into the table. As Grunge choked Knobbs, Rocco went up to the top rope  but Sags used the chain to yank him off the top rope and back into the table. However, he did not crash through the table as initially. Rocco BOUNCED OFF THE TABLE. This proved to be one of the most unbreakable tables I’ve ever seen!

Saggs tried to do a double axe handle on Rocco through the table but they still weren’t able to break the table. Knobbs hung Grunge out to dry over the top rope with the chain. Sags Irish Whipped Rocco into the chain, and Rocco smashed into it as the Nasty Boys got the pin.

OF COURSE, Public Enemy beat their arses after the match to complete no-sell the affects of this match. Sags got put through a table and this whole thing sucked.

Match Rating: ¾*

There was 1% of this match that was good and it was actually after the match was over. Of course Tony asked again who the third man was for the main-event and Bobby recommended that the third man should be the table!

 

Mean Gene talked about Hostile Takeover as he was surrounded by security. In every segment involving this Hostile Takeover, there were dozens of security staff patrolling the arena!

 

Dean Malenko © vs Disco Inferno for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship

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I criminally was not looking forward to this match when I realised Disco Inferno was fighting for the title. As the opening match showcased, you have all of these cruiserweights in your arsenal and the most green cruiserweight possible is the dude fighting Dean Malenko? Say what you will about Disco Inferno, but this match put the dude over like a million bucks.

Disco got the mic and said everyone was welcome to his disco dance party. Malenko punched Disco and threw his arse out of the ring, He beat his arse and bounced him off the ring post. Dean hit a brainbuster but Disco kicked out.

Dean did the headscissors and kicked away at him. Dean hit a back suplex. Remember when Sgt Pittman locked Disco in the Code Red a month ago and he tapped out right away? Well here, Dean did a knee bar (the exact same hold) and Disco refused to give up. Disco was locked in this hold for about a minute and the dancer refused to give, even against the cruiserweight champion. He took this seriously and was determined to see this fight to the end.

Dean worked on the leg and locked on a STF. Dean tried a sunset flip but Disco kicked out. By this point, Disco had not done one move… he may have thrown a punch or a kick here and there but mostly, Dean beat the crap out of him. This was essentially an elongated squash match for a while until Disco finally fought back into the match and punched away at Dean.

Disco flapjacked Dean on the top rope. Disco hit a sloppy facebuster for a 2 count. This was a facebuster which was like the Skull Crushing Finale. Dean locked on a long submission.

Disco hit a neckbreaker and goes for the cover but Dean gets his foot on the rope. Disco tried a back drop and Disco hits another neckbreaker. He went to dance but realised what he was doing and went for the cover but Dean kicks out. He started to dance but then realised that winning this title was more important than dancing and cut out the cockiness to try to win.

Dean hit springboard dropkick. Disco tried a small package but was unable to get the win. Dean takes Disco’s head off with a clothesline. Dean then hit a tiger powerbomb and then locked on the Texas Clover Leaf for the win.

This was boring for a long time but it ended up being a really good match. They booked a very simple but effective story of Dean Malenko beating the daylights of Disco with the dancer refusing to give up. There are very few people in WCW at this point that can get the heat on someone better than Dean Malenko and who better to deliver this beating on Disco than Dean? Disco demonstrated that was he was able withstand this beating and made Dean work to retain his title. Honestly this was the best match Disco Inferno has had so far and it’s the most he’s looked as an actual star. This gets a thumbs up!

Match Rating: ***

 

Joe Gomez vs Steve “Mongo” McMichael w/Debra McMichael

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This match DOES NOT get a thumbs up! I’d watched Mongo in two matches before this one since he started wrestling in WCW. Mongo’s had this reputation for years as one of the worst wrestlers of all time and having watched those two matches at The Great American Bash and Nitro, I didn’t particularly see what was so terrible about him. He seemed as good as a man with two matches in the bag would be. He was in tag matches and he did OK in the matches that he was in. This was his first singles match in WCW… and this honestly should have been his last.

Mongo was pretty bad in this match but it was mostly down to whenever he had to sell for Joe Gomez. When he was chopping away at Joe and he was “getting the heat”, he wasn’t too bad. He wasn’t any good but he wasn’t like embarrassing or anything. Mongo barely could sell a thing or simply just didn’t wanna sell anything for poor Joe Gomez.

The best thing about this new heel Mongo character though is that previously, Mongo had a little chihuahua with him at commentary. Now, it has been noted that he’s upgraded to a poodle! It’s a small thing but I loved that.

Mongo barely sold. Gomez did a crossbody for a 2 count. Mongo went from barely selling to not-selling at all at points. The only time he did so I guess was when Gomez forced him to take the crossbody! Gomez does the head-smashing and Mongo just “mule kicked” him in the balls.

Mongo did a camel clutch and had this big grin on his face. Mongo did a sleeper hold to which Gomez got out of with a jawbreaker. Mongo sold this comically by feeling his face and then falling down as if he was just a ironing board falling over. The one time he tried to actually sell and he over-did it!

Mongo hit the reverse neckbreaker. Mongo tried a Figure Four but Gomez reversed it into a small package roll-up. Mongo did a scoop slam. Mongo tried a piledriver and Gomez reversed it by thrusting Mongo over his shoulders. However, Mongo went over too early and Gomez really had to heave and deep down to get Mongo off of him and over his shoulders. Sometimes you forget that Mongo was a massive former American Football Player. Asking Joe Gomez to hurl Mongo off his shoulders was a tall order.

Gomez did some karate chops and dropkicks but Mongo kept getting up. Gomez went for a sunset flip but Mongo fell down, tried to improvise by hooking the legs and then just went over. Mongo hit a tombstone piledriver for the win.

Match Rating: -1/4*

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This next segment had to be the best Mean Gene Okerlund interview segment so far in the Nitro series. I wouldn’t say of all time as we’ve got a moment a few years in the future also involving Ric Flair that will surely be the best! Mean Gene interviewed Ric Flair, Miss Elizabeth and Woman. Mean Gene gazed into Woman’s eyes and was lost at the train of thought. I love this mini-storyline of Mean Gene falling in love with Woman. Mean Gene had a go at Woman for distracting him from doing his job. Mean Gene blamed her for him not being professional! This is the great irony of this! I’ve really turned the corner on Woman during these shows as well. She played this heel seductive manager role very well here with Ric. Her dynamic with the Horsemen was pretty great.

Ric Flair said the Horsemen were going four and four tonight. Ric Flair was dancing and yelling and he was on fire with this promo. He did the la cucaracha. He said Konnan was the man with a 1000 holds but he was facing a man with unlimited knowledge of this business. It was somewhat confusing that he talked about Konnan being the man of 1000 holds, right after a Dean Malenko match!

Elizabeth talked about a great big party. Woman had Mean Gene stuttering as he was saying “at a p…pp… private party.” Ric told Savage to keep looking at the TV as Elizabeth will never be with him again. This was a great Ric Flair promo. Mean Gene admitted he found Woman attractive but he didn’t approve of who she hung around with in a line which didn’t age well with the benefit of hindsight. Woman called him out on it saying he wanted her bad and he didn’t care about who she hung around with. Mean Gene then nearly dropped the mic. This is the BEST! Woman, through seduction and seeming Jedi mind tricks, was able to stop Mean Gene dead in his tracks as he dropped the mic. This was… superb television!

 

Konnan © vs Ric Flair w/Miss Elizabeth and Woman for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship

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Konnan wrestled Ric to the ground to kick off the match. Ric gave Konnan a little shove to the chest and then Konnan slapped him and Ric fell down, stunned at the audacity of this man! Konnan and Ric had a good old wrestle as they grappled down to the mat exchanging holds. Konnan did a woo and a few people booed.

Konnan locked a half-surfboard on Flair, putting his foot in Flair’s back. Ric going all the way up would have been a sight to see but we only got the half-surfboard submission! Konnan was able to Gorilla Press Ric over his shoulders, which is quite impressive since Konnan is not particularly tall but he did possess a broad body at this time.

Konnan hit powerful chops and hit another Gorilla Press slam. Konnan somehow felt the need to do the clothesline over the top rope and send himself and Ric over the top. To I guess prove himself right from his promo earlier, Konnan did a clothesline to Flair from the apron and knocked down Elizabeth in the process! Say what you will about his actions, but at least Konnan followed up on a promise to hurt the women!

Woman somehow shook the bottom rope to send Konnan flying off the top rope. Ric and Konnan battled with chops and punches. Ric distracted the referee and Woman booted Konnan right in the balls and EVERYBODY LOST THEIR MINDS. The fans were going crazy for Woman booting Konnan down below and this was RIGHT AFTER Konnan sent Elizabeth crashing to the floor. To this crowd, Konnan was a complete heel getting his comeuppance by another woman!

Woman clawed at Konnan on the outside as Ric Flair went to kiss Elizabeth on the hand. Ric suplexed Konnan and after four attempts was still unable to put him away with a pin fall. Konnan fired back with chops to the point where even Bobby said that Konnan was showing him something. Konnan did a springboard dropkick to Ric. Konnan tried a sunset flip but Flair punched him down.

Flair tried a Figure Four Leg Lock which led to a Konnan doing a small package for a near fall. Konnan tried his own Figure Four Leg Lock as the fans started to buzz. Konnan did a bulldog for a 2 count. Konnan did a roll-up clothesline for another 2 count. Konnan reversed a hip toss into an abdominal stretch like cradle which I actually think was unique.

Elizabeth went up to the apron to distract referee Nick Patrick. I think Elizabeth jumped the gun a little bit because Woman then got up on the apron and the fans started to buzz again. Elizabeth argued with the referee for about 30 seconds as the dudes just continue wrestling. They don’t notice or react to what the referee, Woman and Elizabeth were all doing which was weird. Konnan continued to work in the ring and Woman was standing there with no attempt by Ric and Konnan to make their way to Woman. Finally Flair went to talk to the referee and THEN Woman made her move and hit Konnan with her shoe. I think Elizabeth was the one that screwed up for jumping her cue so I don’t put this on Nick Patrick, Konnan or anyone else but it just seemed like a complete mess.

Ric got the pin and even had to get his foot on the TOP ROPE for leverage, even after a shoe shot! The fans cheered.

Match Rating: ***1/4 This was close to 3 and a half stars but the finish and certain spots brought it down.

 

Mean Gene was shown ears-dropping on the Outsiders. He claimed he heard the 3rd man. He said he sounded familiar but it muffled! He said it was somebody that we’ve seen and heard before but it was distorted. Mean Gene recognised the voice but couldn’t put the pieces together. When it is revealed later who it is, it’s actually preposterous that Mean Gene wasn’t able to recognise this guy’s voice! This man had a distinguishable voice, which surely MEAN GENE OKERLUND of all people could immediately recognise!

 

Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit representing the Four Horsemen vs The Giant and Taskmaster representing the Dungeon of Doom. If the Four Horsemen won, one of them would get a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match on WCW Nitro

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This was such a well booked tag team match. WCW really went out of their way to put The Giant over. He was the WCW World Heavyweight Champion so he obviously need to be put over big. Well this match in particular did wonders for The Giant as building him up as a big, powerful giant.

The Dungeon jumped the Horsemen before the bell. Taskmaster clocked Anderson with the table. Mongo ran down and smacked Giant with the briefcase but Giant chased him off. The Horsemen used this to their advantage and isolated Taskmaster at ringside. Benoit and Taskmaster fought in the ring as Giant makes his way back to the ring.

I do like that they played Taskmaster up as the supposed weak link but the Horsemen felt the need to double team him before the bell as they did actually him as a threat all along! Subtle but a good way to put over Taskmaster. It’s almost like he booked it! 😉

The Horsemen beat down Taskmaster near and around their corner. The Horsemen did frequent tags to each other to stay fresh and keep Taskmaster occupied. The Giant saved Taskmaster from a DDT with an apron clothesline which the fans popped for. The Giant made his way into the ring illegally. Benoit dove into him and Giant just caught him and threw him at Arn to a thunderous pop. These fans loved The Giant wrecking havoc and destroying the Horsemen!

The Horsemen continued and continued to get the heat on Taskmaster as Giant was just begging to make the tag. The fans are begging for The Giant to make the hot tag. The Giant was such a babyface in this match. Taskmaster got in a low blow as the fans start to buzz and buzz even more at the thought of the hot tag and then Benoit like a dick just cut Taskmaster off!

Taskmaster catapulted Arn into Benoit and finally The Giant got the hot tag. The fans erupted like Eyjafjallajökull this tag was so hot. Benoit and Taskmaster fled the ring as Arn was then left alone with Giant as he was running wild. Benoit and Taskmaster brawled up the ramp and up to the announce table. Giant was suplexing and beating up Arn and eventually, Giant chokeslammed Arn and pinned him as the fans went nuts.

The booking of The Giant was perfect for this match. He was booked as a complete babyface, despite being a heel, and he was charismatic enough that he could pull it off.

I was thinking about this right before I started writing down this review but The Giant in 1996 was exactly like Braun Strowman about 20 years later when he was getting his big singles push. Both of them were shown to be destroyers of men and were basically unbeatable. They got over with the fans and the people were into them and with The Giant, WCW made that count. The Giant was booked as an actual Giant. With Braun though, they turned Braun babyface and I think Vince McMahon and WWE feel the need to book Braun not as the WCW’s Giant but more like WWE’s Big Show.

If Vince spent a bit of time re-watching what WCW did right with The Giant when they first brought him in, he could see matches like this where The Giant just being an all-conquering Giant worked on TV and worked with this crowd. The stuff they’re doing with Braun right now is really tame compared to what he could be capable of doing. I know it’s weird to talk about Braun Strowman during a WCW review but it really struck my mind. This series is also to learn about what worked in the past and see how it could be transitioned into modern wrestling so I think the comparison is justified!

Taskmaster emerged from the fight backstage I guess but then Benoit flew off a structure out of nowhere to attack Taskmaster. The Giant just left as Benoit was kicking Sullivan’s arse. Benoit dropped Taskmaster with a reverse suplex.

Suddenly, Woman came down to stop Benoit as she pleads with Benoit to stop. Woman was uncharacteristically distraught and then The Giant came back down. Benoit grabbed the hand of Woman and left with her as Arn was still laid out in the ring when all of this was going down. I think he may actually have been hurt by this match as he was down for a really long time. Giant literally carried Taskmaster to the back as the fans applauded The Giant.

This worked to get The Giant over and yes, this is the start of the infamous Chris Benoit/Woman/Kevin Sullivan love triangle angle.

Match Rating: **3/4

 

Sting, Randy Savage and Lex Luger vs Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and the third man in a hostile takeover six man tag team match

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Here we go. The hostile takeover match which, to WCW’s credit, they built it up as an historic event. They had this awesome recap video of the whole program featuring the Outsiders from when Scott Hall arrived all up to this point. What was awesome is that the third man is just built up as… a third man. He’s not revealed as the leader or he’s not supposed to be a higher power or whatever. He was just another outsider in this storyline at this point.

This video package was so awesome as the Outsiders music played really hyping this up as a history making event. Michael Buffer did the ring introductions. These Outsiders looked so cool in this gear. There was only two of them in Kevin Nash and Scott Hall without the third man as Buffer apologised as they were only two of them. The fans are going nuts for the Outsiders by the way.

Sting’s music suddenly played as Mean Gene Okerlund came down to ringside. Mean Gene talked to Buffer and then grabbed the mic. He wanted to talk to the Outsiders and confront them as he doesn’t see the third man. Scott said that “Scheme Gene” knew too much already and all he needed to know was that the third man was here and he was ready. Nash confirmed this and claimed they’ve got enough to handle it right now. Mean Gene was ushered to the back. The WCW commentators are taken back at the audacity of these Outsiders! This was all great!

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Lex Luger, Sting and Randy Savage all come out to represent WCW. There’s a WWE Mattel set with these three in this gear from Bash at the Beach. I’m gonna try to find it as I love the idea of all of three of them in matching face paint. They weren’t just three dudes fighting for WCW. They were three true allies that painted their faces to prove it!

Bobby denied being the third guy himself with the though of Bobby “The Hollywood” Heenan rushing through my brain! Hall threw the tooth pick and Luger slapped Hall to get things going.

Luger hit a running forearm and knocked down Nash. Savage and Sting stopped a 2 on 1 assault on Luger. Luger was somehow knocked out as his head was crushed in a Kevin Nash/Stinger splash sandwich. They even bring out a stretcher for Luger as Hall tried to get at Luger. Luger was already out of the match. As a viewer at the time, you would surely be wondering if this is some big swerve by Luger so he can beat up on Sting and Savage later. Is he working for the Outsiders as if you recall, Luger only returned to WCW from the WWF less than a year ago.

It’s a clever way to hype up Luger as the third man. Spoiler alert… the third man was not Luger. With the benefit of hindsight, Luger was really buried with the way this match was booked! He was knocked out in about two minutes of the main-event after claiming that we were going to get the very best of him!

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Hall suckered Sting into the ring. Sting tackled Hall and beat him up on the ground as the fans goes nuts. Sting hits the atomic drop and bulldog. Savage tried a double axe handle but got cut off. Kevin Nash did the snake eyes drop on the top turnbuckle. DUSTY REPEATS RAPIDLY “WHO BE BAD NOW” at the time where Nash was beating up Savage which was strange since Dusty was supposed to be Team WCW!

It’s insane how much the announcers were into this though. Tony, Dusty and Bobby were super pumped, cheering for WCW and calling the biggest match in WCW history! There was one screwed up spot where Nash tried an elbow drop but Savage tried to move but was not fast enough or didn’t know if he was supposed to move because Nash landed right on Savage’s head with this elbow drop.

Sting tried a sunset flip but Nash powered out and choke-lifted him up and slammed him down. Scott did a fallaway slam. Nash hit a big boot as he smashed away at Sting with straight up punches. Sting dropped him with a low dropkick to the knee as Nash mentioned on Nitrohe had “bad knees”. Yeah even in 1996, Kevin Nash had problems with his knees.

Sting tried a small package but only got a 1 count. Hall did the abdominal stretch, and grabbed Nash for the leverage spot. At least this referee Randy Anderson reacted whenever Hall exerted himself to show off the leverage, unlike Nick Patrick during that DDP match on the go-home Nitro.

Sting almost got the tag but Hall cut him off. Savage went nuts and grabbed a chair to use but the referee tried to restrain him and calm him down. Sting sold this beating like he was on the verge of death! He was wobbling, in a drunken-like state, gassed and this beating was executed really well. Sting was such a good seller.

Sting hit a big boot and fired away at Nash. He delivered lefts and rights to Nash. He knocks down Hall and he jumped over seven foot tall Kevin Nash and got to tag in Savage at last! Savage beat up the Outsiders. He fired at Nash and delivered a double axe handle to Hall on the outside. He was going super fast as Savage just exploded onto the scene.

Savage hit a double axe handle but Nash cut him off with a low blow. And then…

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Who should come out but the “Immortal” Hulk Hogan. Hogan had been away from WCW since shortly after the Doomsday Cage match. He walked down to the ring and the announcers were all excited about this. Bobby Heenan then dared to ask the question of which side Hogan was on!

People talk about that line from Bobby Heenan as people believed it spoiled what happened next. The more I think about this, the more it made complete sense for the character of Bobby Heenan to say this. He’s been feuding with Hulk Hogan for what must have been a decade now since the WWF. He never trusted Hogan so when he walked down that ring, he can’t help but question Hogan’s loyalties since he hated him.

Hogan ripped off the shirt as the Outsiders fled to the outside of the ring. They had faces of fear and cowardice at the sight of Hogan fighting for the sake of WCW. Then Hogan walked towards the top left corner (at the least the top left corner in the view of the hard cam) and he put his arms on the ropes. Hogan took a deep breath, and Hulk Hogan hit the Leg Drop on Randy Savage. Hogan stood up with this big smile on his face. The announcers and the fans all realised that Hulk Hogan… was the third man.

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Obviously, I knew everything that was going to happen so I didn’t watch much of what Hogan did as I just watched everyone else and their reactions. The fans, the referee putting his hands up in disbelief and Sting watching on. Hogan delivered a few more Leg Drops and Sting was floored with a punch by Scott Hall. Hogan made “the cover” and Hall did the count as Tony refused to even acknowledge it.

In what seems like minutes after it all happens, Sting was shown concerned for a decimated Savage as he carried him out of the ring, Savage is unmoving after these leg drops of doom as Sting and the referee helped him

The fans threw garbage at the ring as Hogan just smirked. One beer can came inches from hitting Hogan right in the head. It came so close as the trash continued to pour into the ring the fans were that appalled.

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Mean Gene came down and asked what in the world was Hogan thinking. Everything about the promo Hulk Hogan cut here was surreal to hear in all honesty. When I was watching WWE, WCW had been gone for years and Hulk Hogan was always a babyface. I’d heard this promo before but listening to it after months of campy Hulk Hogan babyface promos seem incredible.

Hogan said the first thing Mean Gene needed to do was tell the people to shut up if he wanted to hear what Hogan had to say and the fans boo more. Mean Gene said this made him sick to his stomach. Hogan said that this is the future of wrestling. He said you can call this the New World Order of wrestling. He said these two men (Nash and Hall) came from a great company up North and everyone was thinking who the third man was. Hogan said who knows more about that organisation up North than him!

He said he made people rich up there and when it all came down to pass, the name Hogan got bigger than the whole organisation. He said “Billionaire Ted” wanted to talk Turkey and he promised him millions of dollars, world calibre matches and movies. He said he was bored and the Outsiders are what he wanted as his friends. He said these two men are the new blood.

Hogan said not only were they gonna take over, they would destroy everything in their power. Hogan said all of this crap (the trash) in the ring represented the fans. He said for two years he held his head high and did everything for the charities, the kids and he finally told the fans to stick it. He said if it weren’t for Hulk Hogan, they wouldn’t be here and Eric would still be selling meat from Minneapolis. Hogan said watcha gonna do when the nWo runs wild on you. Hogan mocked the fans with the Hogan ear thing. Tony told Hogan to go straight to hell and that was the end of the show.

Segment Rating: *****

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There’s SO much I could say about all of this. With the way this was executed and the way the stars were aligned for this big reveal to go down, this was a perfect angle. I mean it is possible Sting could have been an interesting third man and there were other names like Bret Hart, Lex Luger… Mabel apparently. However, Hulk Hogan fit the bill better than anybody.

Hulk Hogan desperately needed to turn and he was the perfect man to make this angle work. The problem down the road is that this angle worked TOO well but of course, that’s a story for another time.

This to me was the greatest heel turn of all time on the grounds of the impact of it, the execution, the build towards it and really the historic nature of it. WCW and Eric Bischoff took a MASSIVE risk in turning Hulk Hogan. Vince McMahon was never going to turn Hulk in the WWF but for WCW, they had enough big stars and Hogan was at the perfect time in his career that a heel turn made all of the sense in the world.

Hulk Hogan realised it, Eric Bischoff realised it and like I said, it worked really well. The promo Hogan cut here was really well done for the initial New World Order promo and talking about how he did everything for the kids and he wanted millions of dollars. Hogan now had years with a lot more ammunition as aheel and as a fan, you would have really wanted to know what Hogan had to say after all of this time as the good guy. It was a massive coup for WCW in the ratings and a big move to turn him heel.

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Finally, we are at the nWo era of WCW if you will. It took us a long time but we’ve got a new direction for WCW and a unique changing of the way the show was booked, for better or for worse. Of course, the Retro Express will be continuing with the reviews of WCW Nitro as we get into the meat of this new big angle with the nWo. We hope you continue to join us on this big ride… to Hog Wild. XD

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #41 (JUNE 24TH 1996) – STING AND LEX LUGER VS HARLEM HEAT VS THE STEINER BROTHERS FOR THE WCW TAG TEAM 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 are racing towards Bash at the Beach 1996. The six-man tag team match between the Outsiders and Team WCW was set, with a few questions up in the air. Who was going to represent Team WCW and who was the third man that would team with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. We got an answer to one of those questionslast week on WCW Monday Nitro. After a randomised drawing out of the top 6 names of WCW, Sting, Lex Luger and Macho Man Randy Savage were the ones picked to fight for Team WCW.

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There actually were only three episodes of Nitro between The Great American Bash and the upcoming pay-per-view Bash at the Beach, so we are not far away from the big reveal of who the third man was alongside Hall and Nash. Last week’s episode I thought was good. This week’s episode for June 24th 1996… was alright.

There wasn’t much to this episode. The matches were OK in general and it didn’t feel like a massive drag to watch it all. It was a wrestling show and there was a bunch of matches. We’ve got some matches for the pay-per-view announced but not a lot of work done to hype up those matches with the exception of the main-event angle which we’ll get to.

 

Date: June 24th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Charlotte, North Carolina

Rating: 3.3

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Bobby Heenan

 

Eric Bischoff was still hospitalised from The Great American Bash beat down he got from the Outsiders. It’s remarkable the amount of commitment they made to this angle. If this was WWE for example, Eric Bischoff would have been back the next week. I actually remember when Brock Lesnar F5’d Michael Cole in 2015, Cole was back two weeks later like nothing happened. Not here. Bischoff was off the show again and that makes sense.

They actually showed the entire clip from The Great American Bash in full this week. I would have to assume that WCW got some complaints from the fans that the powerbomb was not shown last week when they said they would show it, so this was a kind of a course correction to show the viewer what happened. It wasn’t like they could promote the replay of the PPV again so why not?

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Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed Lex Luger, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Sting who all had face paint like Sting to show unity. Savage said WCW was their country, united by the face paint of the Stinger. He said divide and conquer is what they’ve gotta do. He high-fived Luger so it looked like buried the hatchet after feuding for months in the early days of Nitro. It is interesting that this wasn’t mentioned previously as the last time Savage and Luger were in the ring together it was theDoomsday Cage match.

Sting said he doesn’t mind anyone making a statement but a grown man does not make a statement by attacking a commentator. Sting asked why not pick on a wrestler? Sting said every time the Outsiders promise three guys, they only provide two. Luger said we’re united as a team and stand tall and stand strong. Luger said they were unified because they are the very best. Sting said this is where the big boys play when The Steiners interrupted. Scott Steiner yelled at Sting and Luger. and then Harlem Heat talked trash to both teams. All three of these teams were in a triangle tag team match for the tag titles in the main-event. They all yelled and started shoving each other as Mean Gene yelled at them to knock it off.

 

“The Blue Bloods” Lord Steven Regal and Squire Dave Taylor w/Jeeves and Earl Robert Eaton vs “Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock

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Apparently some of the music WCW used here was copyrighted as Public Enemy were muted during their promo. They were showing a pre-match promo as they were coming down to the ring live. One of the things I was able to hear them yell was something about the Nasty Boys because lord knows, we need to see that tag match again.

Suffice to say that this was a much better match than the last Nasty Boys/Public Enemy match! A large part was thanks to the dance moves of Lord Steven Regal. I reviewed the SummerSlam 2007 pay-per-view where he danced with Cryme Tyme and the same thing from that goes here. Even when he was dancing, Regal went all out. He did the Public Enemy wave dance in such a rectangular manner! Regal busted out some more moves but then received a dropkick to the face to his utter disgust! How Regal was never the world champion in either WWE or WCW blows the mind.

Rocco did the Daniel Bryan flip off the corner and then Rocco and David Taylor messed up a school boy roll up where it somehow tumbled them into the corner. It did not look pretty. There was one little spot where Rocco had Regal in a full nelson and then Regal lifted his knee up, grabbed it to free himself from the hold. I thought that was really clever.

Rocco missed a springboard moonsault and all I can think is that if I were part of a big boy tag team capable of doing big dives and athletic spots like a moonsault, I’d save those moves for like the big points of the match. Rocco does it casually to lead to the Blue Bloods getting the heat. Therefore, whenever he does it in the ring from now on it is just gonna seem as no big deal as he didn’t hype it up as a big deal.

Rocco and Regal took each other out with a double clothesline. Grunge got the hot tag and it eventually broke into a four way brawl. Eaton tripped Grunge. Regal then stomped the living daylights out of Rocco outside of the ring but as Regal was distracted, Grunge then hit Taylor with a cast for the pinfall victory. Sloppy in parts but it was fine in general. I think the wrong team won here and it is a real shame that in the space of 8 days, Regal went from wrestling Sting at the PPV to losing to Public Enemy. It sucked to be Lord Steven Regal at this time.

 

The Taskmaster w/Jimmy Hart vs Kip Abee

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This was such a bizarre segment. I’ve seen great Kevin Sullivan squash matches during this series so far but this one was just completely random. Taskmaster power-walked to the ring and took this Kip Abee dude over the guard rail. He beat his arse up the steps and tried to throw the dude into the ladies bathroom. Taskmaster beat him up all over the place and then left him laying amongst the fans. This all happened in the space of like two minutes. This was also a massive arena so Taskmaster goes all the way up the steps and beats up Kip and gets back into the ring in the space of a few minutes. Tony revealed Taskmaster got disqualified. by the way

Mean Gene interviewed Jimmy and Taskmaster. Jimmy said they came to the home of the Four Horsemen and they’re walking in and walking out alive. Taskmaster yelled that he was here in Horsemen town and now the Horsemen are coming out to where Taskmaster lived at Bash at the Beach. The fans chanted “WE WANT FLAIR” and they were thunderous. Jimmy said if Ric talked about taking a woman to space mountain one more time he was gonna choke himself to death.

This was to set up The Giant and Taskmaster vs Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit at Bash at the Beach. If the Four Horsemen won, then any member of the Horsemen would get a shot at The Giant’s WCW World title.

Kip Abee died in 2017 by the way. This was his one and only WCW Nitro appearance.

 

Hardwork Bobby Walker vs Dean Malenko

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This was the ultimate case of “be careful what you wish for” when it comes to the cruiserweights. I talked about wanting to see more of the cruiserweights on Nitro when I reviewed The Great American Bash. After the Malenko vs Mysterio Jr. rematch last week, here we have Hardwork Bobby Walker vs Dean Malenko.

Let’s be fair. Bobby Walker didn’t really do anything wrong in this match but he wasn’t impressive in the slightest. It’s easy to have a decent match when your opponent is Dean Malenko. However, then it is revealed that Dean Malenko would defend the WCW Cruiserweight title at Bash at the Beach against Disco Inferno.

Last week, Disco Inferno lost to JOE GOMEZ in a match where Disco didn’t care that he lost and was more concerned with his hair. Disco’s reward, in storyline, for this lack of interest in wrestling is a WCW Cruiserweight Championship match at the pay-per-view? Are you kidding me? Why would I want to see Disco Inferno wrestling in a pay-per-view match for the title? This is completely ridiculous.

Walker did a horrible Japanese Arm Drag. Dean did a snap suplex and locked on a crucifix submission, wrapping the legs of Walker (the same hold thatKonnan did to Gato at the pay-per-view). Dean transitioned this into a Camel Clutch

Dean powerbombed Walker and did the Texas Cloverleaf but let go as the Disco Infero came out with a framed record as one young fan flipped him off in the front row. His music was playing as Walker got back into the match and fired back. Dean was mostly beating the crap out of Walker up until this point.

Disco went into the ring to dance as Disco Fever played. Dean and Walker continued to wrestle. Walker landed on his feet off a Monkey Flip and then just looked at Disco. He just stared at this man dancing… in the middle of a wrestling match. Dean took advantage and bonked Walker into the Disco and hit the Northern Lights Suplex for the pinfall victory.

Every one in this match came off like a geek. Disco Inferno was the geek who fell to the outside of the ring. Dean Malenko was a geek who got distracted by Disco Inferno. Hardwork Bobby Walker was the geek who just stood their watching Disco which led to him getting suplexed and pin. There was no way anyone got more over with this segment. A MASSIVE THUMBS DOWN.

 

Gene interviewed Dean. Dean said he wasn’t gonna stand for it as Disco threatened to hit him with his record. Disco talked about how his record just went gold. Disco said Dean and Walker were not having a good night and it was a perfect time for him to do a dance, make a little love and get down tonight. He flat out told the viewer that these two were no-good geeks and they needed a “star” like Disco Inferno. Why do wrestling companies do this?

Disco said Dean maybe the man of 1000 holds but he’s just sold a million CDs or whatever. Dean said he’s the man of 1000 holds but it’ll only take one to win at Bash at the Beach. This segment died a 1000 deaths and it sucked. Dean’s promo to Disco wasn’t particular good either.

 

 

The Barbarian vs Eddie Guerrero

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A unique match but I don’t agree with the finish of it as we’ll get to. It’s The Barbarian, who I remind you is tall and scary, versus the tiny Eddie Guerrero. Please keep Eddie in mind when I tell you how this match went down.

Barbarian choked Eddie in the corner. Eddie hit a big dropkick for a 2 count.  Barbarian caught Eddie off a springboard and slammed him into the corner.

The Barbarbian then proceeds to destroy Eddie Guerrero. Barbarian SMASHED Eddie with a powerbomb to a big pop from the crowd but Eddie got the shoulder up. Barbarian hit a pump handle slam and the fans loved him even more. The fans loved every power move the Barbarian hit, just like the Faces of Fear’s squash match from a few weeks ago.

Eddie tried to a reverse a powerbomb into a roll up but it got royally screwed up. Eddie hit a back suplex but Barbarian took control of the match again and hit a massive belly to bell suplex from the top rope as the fans rose to their feet. Eddie got rolled all the way out of the ring. Barbarian tried a superplex but Eddie reversed it into a crossbody for the win.

I would not have done this if the objective was to get Eddie over, which seemed to be the intention when we review his post-match promo. The Barbrarian was getting more over and over during the match and was beating the crap out of Eddie but Eddie got a fluke win over the monster that was destroying him. I would have just called an audible and went with Barbarian getting the clean win. I love Eddie but he really didn’t get over when this match was over. In fact, I’d argue it’d have the opposite effect.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Eddie after the match. They explained that Eddie had been away in Japan wrestling in NJPW I guess. Mean Gene asked Eddie about the finish to the Konnan/Eddie match at Uncensored where Eddie got low-blowed. Eddie said he thinks he should deserve a title shot and the fans booed him for this opinion! They’d just watched Eddie get his arses kicked for 75% of the last match so of course they booed Eddie!

Eddie said The Outsiders had a lack of respect and wished his name was among the list of people to fight the Outsiders. This promo did Eddie no-good when all said and done.

 

Chris Benoit and Arn Anderson w/Steve “Mongo” McMichael vs “The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express” Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson

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I enjoyed this match. It was basically the Ric and Arn vs Rock N Roll Express match from a month ago. Rock and Roll Express came out to boos in Charlotte. These fans LOVED the Horsemen. It was sensational how over the Horsemen were here and keep that in mind when we get to Ric Flair. They were going crazy for everything Arn did in that ring. They loved Arn, they respected Benoit and they did pop for Steve “Mongo” McMichael too!

I got the message saying this would be played in the best presentation possible suggesting there would be technical difficulties. If I missed anything important, please let me know but it didn’t really feel like a chunk of the match was missing or anything.

Ricky reversed a powerbomb into an arm drag. The Rock N Roll Express took over for a while. Robert got a 2 count off a sunset flip. Arn got a tag and got a hell of a applause from Charlotte. Everything Arn did got a pop and that is not an exaggeration.

Robert elbowed Arn coming off the top rope. Benoit jumped Ricky on the outside and stomped at Ricky in the ring. Robert got the hot tag as the fans were very mild. They didn’t react to the Express and it was all about the Horsemen.

Robert tried a backslide but Mongo ran down, cracked Ricky in the head with his briefcase and Benoit got the pin.

Joe Gomez attacked the Horsemen and Mongo hit him with the briefcase to a big pop. Mongo slapped around Gomez but then Randy Savage and Kevin Greene chased off the Horsemen as the fans booed. I think Kevin Greene was actually playing for the Carolina Panthers too but that didn’t matter when it came to the Horsemen!

I thought this was a good match and interesting crowd reactions!

 

Mean Gene interviewed Ric Flair backstage with Miss Elizabeth, Woman and Debra McMichael. Ric Flair said the Horsemen took charge and the hat is off to Mongo. Ric said the Horsemen were mixing business with pleasure as the rest of the Horsemen showed up. Mongo yelled that nobody could stop them and Ric yelled at Konnan so I guess he’s got a shot at the US title at Bash at the Beach. The fans delivered thunderous WE WANT FLAIR chant as they cut to the announcers. These poor fans would be let down as yes, that interview was Ric Flair’s only contribution to Nitro!

NOTE: Ric Flair did wrestle Randy Savage in a dark match after the show, so it wasn’t like the fans didn’t get Flair out there at all.

 

 

DDP vs Alex Wright for the Lord of the Ring

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DDP taunted the fans as Wright charged at DDP for roll up. Finally, after my WWE Network had no problems for the first hour of this show, the buffering problems started. It stopped completely and when I tried to rewind. it crashed the app for me. I went back in and it stopped every 5 seconds. It did sort itself out so it wasn’t like I had to turn the Playstation 4 off this time.

DDP beat on Wright. Wright tried a suplex and DDP reversed it into a face buster. DDP did a big backbreaker gutbuster. DDP went for a punt but slipped in a comical manner.

Wright hit a side kick and fired away with punches to a floored Page. Wright did a double axe handle and hit a springboard dropkick sending DDP flying to the outside.  Wright did a dive and tried to follow this up with a springboard splash in the ring but DDP got the knees up. DDP hit the Diamond Cutter and got the pin.

As much as I like DDP, and it’s great to see him picking up a number of victories since his big Slamboree win, these matches he’s having as of late are nothing special. They just had a match and the fans were just bored waiting for the Diamond Cutter. That alone speaks volumes to how over the Cutter was but everything else just seems like pointless filler.

 

Mean Gene interviewed DDP. So as I have just talked about not wanting to see DDP in nothing matches, it’s revealed that it’s DDP vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan for the Lord of the Ring in a taped fist match at the Bash at the Beach. I do not look forward to that match in the slightest.

Mean Gene said that the taped fist match was Duggan’s speciality. DDP goes sarcastically, at the moment of me thinking it, “yeah right.” In what way was this a speciality for Hacksaw Jim Duggan? DDP said that if he put the Diamond Cutter on anyone, they would have the life expectancy of a house fly. DDP said everyone is trying to hold him down. DDP said if Duggan’s gotta tape his own fist, go ahead. He said he was the Lord of the Ring and this was a solid promo in my eyes.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Kevin Greene on the ramp. They showed Mongo turning on Greene at the pay-per-view. Greene had a go at Mongo for selling out for a bit of extra money. Greene said for the Carolina Panthers, he was gonna kick some ass for the rest of the NFL season. Greene said he was gonna remember Mongo’s slimey back-stabbing face. Greene said when the season is over, he, Macho Man and two WCW superstars were gonna get some revenge. I have no idea if this led anywhere as I would assume the Outsiders deal would reset a lot of stories.

 

“Macho Man” Randy Savage w/Kevin Greene vs VK Wallstreet

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Greene was at ringside in the corner of Savage as the Macho Man beat up Wallstreet. The fans chanted WE WANT FLAIR. Imagine if you are Rand Savage doing an angle where Flair has ruined your life for months, taken your ex-wife and then, if you’re Randy Savage, coming to an arena where the fans chant WE WANT FLAIR. That is… insane to think about.

Savage clawed and punched away at Walstreet during the match as Greene cheered him on. Savage hit a suplex. Wallstreet got the heat. Savage went for the elbow drop but Wallstreet moved out of the way. Wallstreet tried to punch Greene but Greene punched Wallstreet and threw him into the ringpost. Savage hit the elbow drop for the pinfall and the victory

I love how Bobby Heenan spent the entire match bashing Savage and calling him a hindrance to Team WCW and then when Savage wins this match, Heenan changed his tune and goes “YEAH SAVAGE! BRING ON HOSTILE TAKEOVER!” Heenan was the best heel commentator of all time! He was an absolute tremendous character! Keep in mind, Savage chased Bobby Heenan out of the ring last week! He was a great performer!

 

Sting © and Lex Luger © vs “Harlem Heat” Stevie Ray and Booker T vs “The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner in a triangle tag team match for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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Not a lot happened in this match and it was pretty boring until the finish. Booker and Scott started off the ring. Booker beat on Scott for a while and Scott eventually hit a tiger powerbomb but Luger broke up the pin right away.

Rick slammed Stevie Ray with one of the safest German suplexes possible, a week after nearly killing Ray with a suplex! Scott tagged Sting into the ring. Harlem Heat got the heat on Sting for a while and Booker got hung up to dry on the top rope and Sting straddled him.

Stevie got low-blowed and Booker missed a top rope splash as Luger got the hot tag. Luger hit a powerslam as who should come down to the ring but Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. They came down to the ring with baseball bats and security hauled arse down to the ring as the Steiners and Sting stand their ground. There’s about 20 security guards with GUNS in the ring. When security is in the middle of the ring about to go for theier weapons, that should stop the match right? Well Booker then rolled up Luger, with Luger all up in the ropes, and referee NICK PATRICK counts to three as Harlem Heat win the tag titles. Hall and Nash were threatening the competitors’ livelihoods with baseball bats, there was a possibility of the security shooting Hall and Nash but Patrick still must count the pin for Booker T.

I thought that was ridiculous.

Luger gets back up and stood with the babyfaces like nothing happened. The replay conveniently didn’t show the roll-up itself as just panned away to the faces standing up to the Outsiders.

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That was Nitro. Overall, not a lot happened but there wasn’t much wrong with the show. It was a show I didn’t have problem with at the time but when I stopped to review it and think about it, the show doesn’t really have a lot of positives to talk about. There were some bad finishes although the closing segment was fine with the exception of roll-up finish. It was a Nitro that was there but it was tolerable at the very least.

Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly and updates whenever Retro Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I appreciate you taking the time to read this review and we hope you enjoy more of the content from the Armbar Express.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Date: October 16th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Albany, Georgia

Rating: 2.2

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Meng vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ric Flair and Sting vs Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WCW Nitro Episode List

Retro Express – Summerslam 2008

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Previously on the Retro Express, I talked about Summerslam 2007. I questioned whether this PPV was able to live up to the high standards that fans expect from the second biggest show of the year. Now it’s time to do it again. At Summerslam 2008, we got two world title matches as well as two major grudge matches from RAW and SmackDown! Batista faced John Cena for the first time ever while Undertaker and Edge settled their year-long feud in a Hell in a Cell battle. Did this show deliver?

 

 

WWE SummerSlam

Date: August 17th 2008

Brand: RAW, SmackDown! and ECW

City: Indianapolis, Indiana

Attendance: 15,900

 

Jeff Hardy vs MVP

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One of the biggest criticisms of WWE commentary of the last five years is that the announcers are portrayed as less intelligent than the audience they are supposed to explain things to. Jim Ross was not like these modern-day announcers. He did his research and was on the ball, especially during this pay-per-view. Small stats like Jeff Hardy’s Summerslam record up until his match with MVP can make it seem like there’s a lot more on the line, even if there isn’t. There was a lot of little things like JR thanking the UK fans for staying up to watch the event. Being aware of the struggles of international audiences and rewarding them with little facts that would make the commentary seem worthwhile.

MVP kicked it off with a bell-to-belly on Jeff into the turnbuckle. We got pretty big “MVP” chants actually. Jeff hit the neckbreaker to try and turn the match around. There was a good counter when MVP countered a wheel kick with a simple kick to the gut. No flashy counter. He kept it as simple as possible by simply kicking the man in the gut. I don’t know why I’m giving this a lot of credit but even the simplest of moves can add to a match.

MVP went for the boot but Jeff countered it into a sleeper drop. Jeff hit the Whisper In The Wind. Jeff went to the top rope but Shelton Benjamin ran out. Jeff jumped on Shelton, which gave MVP the chance to recover in the ring. Jeff went for the Swanton Bomb but MVP moved out off the way and hit the Drive-By for the win. I thought this was fine for an opener. It’s just funny looking back in hindsight, because Jeff would go on to be a major part of the world title scene on SmackDown! for the next year.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

The lovely looking Maria interviewed Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix backstage. They were set to challenge for the Intercontinental and Women’s titles in a tag team match. Early on in the year, Santino and Maria were an on-screen couple. They had broken up since then, with Santino commenting that Maria had let herself go. Maria made fun of Santino’s unibrow, to which Santino claimed that he’d grown it for Beth. Awwww.

 

We then got the first mention of this pay-per-view WWE poll, asking whether Edge and Vickie Guerrero would get a divorce. This was a very hard period for the couple’s marriage. Edge had cheated on Vickie and Vickie’s revenge was to put Edge in Hell in a Cell. Edge went nuts and messed with Vickie on SmackDown! This vote ended up with 78% of the crowd voting that they would.

 

Mickie James (c) and Kofi Kingston (c) vs Beth Phoenix and Santino Marella for the Women’s Championship and Intercontinental Championship

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Let me start off by saying that Mickie James looked absolutely lovely here, as did Beth for that matter. There was a sign in the crowd that said “Santino stole my unibrow,” which I giggled to. Unlike modern-day WWE, the men could actually wrestle the women during inter-gender tag team matches at this point. It wasn’t like nowadays, when a female being tagged in forced the opposing man to tag out.

Kofi got the hot tag and ran wild. Kofi Kingston faked a dive, which saw Santino diving into Beth’s arms. Santino had some great trash talk during this match! Mickie James then ran wild and hit the Mickie-DT on Santino. Beth hit her with the Glam Slam out of nowhere to win the match and win herself the Women’s title and win Santino the Intercontinental title.

This was an OK match but it was really the moment of Beth and Santino both becoming champions that stood out. Beth had effectively fought Santino’s own battles for him and won him the Intercontinental title. The celebrations were great as Beth piggy-backed Santino to the back! Just great post-match celebrations from the heels!

Match Rating: *3/4

 

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We got Shawn Michaels coming out with his wife Rebecca. The storyline going into this segment was that Chris Jericho really messed up Michaels’ eye during their match at The Great American Bash 2008. Shawn came out to address the fans and thanked them for their support. He told the fans that the doctor had recommended that he walked away. He admitted that it was finally time to heed the doctor’s advice and walk away from the WWE. Rebecca’s acting during this was pretty damn great as she was brought to tears in the ring. I actually looked it up and it turns out that Rebecca was actually one of the old WCW Nitro Girls, where she performed as Whisper. With her experience in wrestling, it’s kind of understandable about why Rebecca was so good… other than watching Shawn that is.

A lot of the fans were literally brought to tears. This was how well this was all performed because the fans were legitimately thinking that this was the end for Shawn. There were even “please don’t retire” signs brought to the arena. This was all interrupted by Chris Jericho…

Chris Jericho said that Shawn was leaving because of what Jericho did to him and wanted Shawn to admit it. Jericho refused to leave the ring before he did it. He said that he wanted the last moment of Michaels’ career being to admit that Jericho put him out for good. Michaels said that he would but gave Jericho some advice. Michaels told Jericho to sit his family down and tell them that “daddy would never ever be Shawn Michaels.” Shawn and Rebecca were about to leave when Jericho pulled Michaels’ arm. He went to punch Shawn and inadvertently punched Rebecca.

Michaels was shaken by what just happened. This was one of those moments that showed just how great Shawn was. Shawn was initially filled with rage as the crowd is encouraging him to attack Jericho. After about 30 seconds of pure rage, Michaels couldn’t bring himself to do anything and just went back to consoling his wife. These were all true emotions as a lot of times, when something awful happens to your loved ones, your first instincts is to unleash hell on the culprit. At the same time, you can’t help but do nothing as you are fearing for the safety of your family. This was all incredible stuff.

The fans were all into this, which helped. The funny thing is that it was later revealed that Jericho ACTUALLY punched Rebecca during the segment. He accidentally legitimately punched her and Jericho has talked about how he and Shawn were both mortified after it all happened. They both told a story on Jericho’s podcast about it as they were both backstage with Rebecca. Shawn was walking her back up the entrance ramp and asking if Rebecca was OK, and Rebecca responded by saying that at least her teeth were still in! It gets better as when the three of them were backstage as Rebecca is getting looked at, she turns to Chris and says: “Is that all you got?”

Rebecca being a total trooper about the whole thing made it so much better in hindsight! This segment was so great and it leads to a great match at Unforgiven (which will be the next PPV I review on the Retro Express) and their No Mercy match. These two just knew what to do from that point on. Michaels’ promos were all on point. Jericho’s promos were all on point. Their contract signing on RAW that followed was great. This was all amazing television and thank god that this was eventually elevated to being a title feud, as it was the best thing going in all of WWE at the time.

 

Mark Henry (c) w/Tony Atlas vs Matt Hardy for the ECW Championship

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So right after one of the best PPV talking segments of all time, we got THIS wrestling match – if you even want to call it that. This was technically a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP match as Mark Henry defended the title against Matt Hardy. What happened was that Matt Hardy hits the Twist of Fate on Mark Henry. As Matt is about to win, Tony Atlas pulls Matt out of the ring and throws him into the steel steps which causes a disqualification. This match lasted 26 seconds and ended with a disqualification.

This sort of stuff wasn’t rare with the ECW title, as Kane actually won the title in 8 seconds from Chavo Guerrero earlier on in that year. However, this benefited absolutely nobody. You hurt Mark Henry, who was apparently already beaten in 26 seconds. You hurt Matt Hardy, who was taken out by a semi-retired former wrestler in Tony Atlas. 26 seconds for supposedly the biggest program for ECW. Unbelievable.

So Jeff Hardy made the save and hit a Swanton Bomb on Tony. The Hardyz then double-teamed Mark Henry and hit him with the double suplex on the outside. This actually got a big reaction.

Match Rating: N/A (Didn’t last long enough)

 

CM Punk (c) vs JBL for the World Heavyweight Championship

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Punk kicked off the match with the control. He unloaded with suicide dives and cross bodies. The commentators mentioned that CM Punk had watched Batman five times. I don’t know if they meant the original Batman film from the 1990s or the Dark Knight film that came out shortly before this, but I approve whatever film he watched.

JBL hit a fallaway slam from the top rope in order to take control of the match. JBL was very wobbly on the ropes which could have ended badly. Punk then made the comeback. Punk hit the running knee and bulldog, which JBL went down too early for. Punk went for the GTS but JBL countered it with a simple but effective clothesline. CM Punk’s springboard attempt was countered into a powerslam. CM Punk kicked JBL in the head, which saw them both crash down to the mat and clashed heads. JBL somehow landed on top of Punk, which led to Punk’s head being busted open.

In the end, CM Punk picked up the victory with the GTS. There was a fair amount of miscommunication during this match, including the clash of the heads from earlier on. These two worked at vastly different paces. They tried hard but it was just not to be.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

The Great Khali was warming up backstage, ahead of his big WWE Championship showdown with Triple H.

 

Triple H (c) vs The Great Khali w/Ranjin Singh for the WWE ChampionshipSummerSlam_2008.29

The last time I reviewed a World Championship match that involved the Great Khali, I was critical to put it nicely. At Summerslam 2007, Khali and Batista had a REALLY bad match. This match involving Khali and Triple H was much better than that match. I don’t want that to suggest that Batista is a bad worker or anything. In fact, his match with John Cena would very much dispute that. However, it’s at least good to know that he somewhat improved in the year between world title matches at Summerslam.

There was insightful commentary from Jim Ross and Tazz, as JR was talking about the size difference between Triple H and Khali. He said something along the lines of “7’3 and 6’3 – you do the math.” Tazz’s response to JR’s height analysis was “I don’t like math.” Quite the banter from Tazz and Jim Ross…

The story of the match was that Triple H kept trying to do the Pedigree on Khali, but Khali was simply too big. Khali hit the two-handed chokeslam right off the bat. Khali tried a vice grip on Triple H to “you can’t wrestle” chants. Khali did the big chop. Khali elbowed Triple H in the face and Triple H dropped to the floor Ric Flair style. I don’t want to keep comparing this match to the Batista match mentioned earlier, but Triple H’s selling was much better than Batista’s. HHH’s selling actually did make Khali come as effective with his attack. Khali elbowed him and Hunter went down immediately. Whenever Batista sold something, he would stumble and THEN fall down. Interesting to think about. 

We got more “you can’t wrestle” chants, with Khali responding by putting Triple H in a nerve hold. Triple H fought out of it and hit his signature facebuster, which sent Khali into the ropes. Khali was tangled in the ropes but was still able to backdrop Triple H to the floor. Khali went for the Vice Grip. After Hunter fought out of it, Khali just went back to the grip. Triple H eventually successfully hit the pedigree to a big pop and he got the pin to retain the title. 

Obviously, the two world title matches on card were never meant to mean much. When you’ve got Batista vs John Cena for the first time as well as a Hell in a Cell, there wasn’t gonna be much pressure on these two matches to perform. They were two matches that featured a clash of styles, with the big man fighting the little man. The World title match was better than the WWE title match but  HHH/Khali was not terrible or anything. At least you can say that the match had a story to it, with Triple H trying to hit the pedigree on this big man. After fighting and fighting, Triple H eventually hit it and got a big reaction for it. There were “you can’t wrestle” chants to Khali but this match did a fine build-up to the big finisher spot in the end. They put over the Pedigree and the crowd were into the finish so in that sense, a thumbs up.

Match Rating: *3/4

 

John Cena vs Batista

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Anyone that has ever been a WWE fan will know that WWE are prone to hyperbole and for good reason. The WWE, in theory, have to try and convince you that the next big match coming up is an important match. In a lot of cases, to achieve this goal, they have to go completely over-board with putting the two men involved over. Even if you know that it won’t be the greatest match of all time, they will always claim that these matches will be historical matches. They did a tremendous job in trying to convince the fans that this match between John Cena and Batista would be an all-time classic. I would not go as far as to say that it was one of the best matches of all time but, after it was over, it ended up feeling like a very special match.

There was a mixed reaction for John Cena as usual. Cole and Lawler tried very hard to put this match over. The video package tried to promote the idea that these two were going to explode in their match but yet they started the match by doing a lock-up. This rivalry wasn’t that intense but a pet peeve of mine is when two guys, that supposedly hate each other, begin their big match with a regular lock-up.

Batista tried a Batista Bomb but Cena got out of it, which was followed by a big clothesline. Batista then started to work on the leg on Cena, with chop blocks, shinbreakers and Figure Four Leg Locks. It’s very strange for the big man to focus on the leg of the little man. Cena went for the FU but ended up launching Dave over the top rope. Cena did his comeback while selling his leg. Cena tried the FU again but Batista got out of it and hit a big boot. Batista unloaded with a series of shoulder blocks, followed by a clothesline. Batista hit the spinebuster. Cena got out of a Batista Bomb attempt with a simple leg DDT, following it up with an STFU. Jerry Lawler, with a rare glimpse of insight, noticed that he locked on the STFU in the same part of the ring where he made Triple H tap out at WrestleMania 22.

Batista reversed a FU attempt into a rear-naked choke, somehow giving us a foreshadowing of Batista doing MMA just before he returned to WWE in 2014! Batista hit the spear but Cena kicked out. We got an awesome spot where Cena reversed an Oklahoma Slam into a FU for a near fall. They battled on the top rope, getting the boo/yeah treatment. In a memorable moment, Cena went for the leg drop but Batista countered this into a Batista Bomb. This was the move that left Cena with a herniated disc and sidelined him for a while. Cena certainly looked in a lot of pain after the match.

Amazingly, that wasn’t the finish as Cena kicked out. Batista eventually hit one more Batista Bomb and won. A very good match between these two men. On paper, Batista and Cena really shouldn’t have been expected to have a match this good. However, they really did give it their A game. The catch powerbomb spot was pretty dangerous and led to an injury, which would be my biggest criticism. However, Cena soon came back from this and thank god that the injury wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

I don’t think the injury should take anything away from the match though and these two performed really well. A BIG THUMBS UP FROM ME! Second best match on the show by far…

Match Rating: ***1/2

 

Undertaker vs Edge in a Hell in a Cell match

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I mentioned that Cena vs Batista was the second best match on the show – this was undisputed best thing on the show. Undertaker and Edge had the final match in their really good feud from 2007 to 2008. They recapped all of this in the video package beforehand.

Undertaker took control at the start. Edge’s stable La Familia was watching backstage. Undertaker got the steel steps and leaned them on the corner, which set him up to do a snake eyes drop to Edge onto the steel steps. Very innovative stuff here. Edge then dropkicked and speared Undertaker into these steel steps. Edge got out two tables and then hit Undertaker with the steel steps. Edge stacked the tables on top of each other and tried to suplex Undertaker into them. Undertaker tried a chokeslam but Edge saved himself with a jawbreaker. Edge used a chair and got out a third table, setting it up in the ring. The stacked tables were still outside of the ring. Edge grounded Undertaker with two chair shots to the face and one to the back, which allowed him time to go get a big ladder.

The next spot was a callback to a segment on SmackDown! a few weeks before this. In the segment, Mick Foley tried to motivate Edge so he could face Undertaker in the Cell. Edge said “I understand” and then kicked Mick Foley’s arse. He ended the beating by jumping off a ladder with a chair into Foley, who was on a table. In a callback to that moment, Edge did the same spot and yelled “I understand” before crashing onto the Undertaker.

Edge tried a conchairto, but Undertaker stopped him by grabbing his throat. The two battled outside of the ring, where Edge speared Undertaker through the cell wall. That was an awesome spot as Undertaker was bleeding from the arm. They fought outside of the cell.

Undertaker took apart the announce table when Edge intervened, hitting Undertaker with the television monitors. I’ve seen the next spot several times but I always loved this. There were three announce tables for this show, for the three separate RAW, SmackDown! and ECW brands. Edge stood on one announce table, ran across to the second announce table and hit Undertaker with a spear, which sent them crashing into the third table. I thought this was a really well executed spot.

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After some brawling, they went back into the cell which got some boos. I guess a lot of fans were expecting Edge and Undertaker to go to the top off the cell after they got out of it. The funny thing is that Edge actually mentioned on Chris Jericho’s podcast that he wanted to end this match with a Tombstone on the top of the cell! What a scary spot that would have been!

Edge hit Undertaker with the ladder in the ring. Edge then hit Undertaker with a camera, which was a callback to when Edge cost Undertaker the world title during a Hell in a Cell match at Survivor Series 2007. Edge tried a spear but ran into a chokeslam. Edge hit the Edgecution for a near fall.

Undertaker tried a Last Ride into the tables on the outside but Edge got out of it and hit a spear. This got a near fall as well. Edge tried the ten punches spot in the corner, which almost never ends well when you’re facing the Undertaker! Undertaker hit the Last Ride. Undertaker tried to do some serious damage with a tombstone onto the steel steps but Edge countered. Edge tried the Undertaker’s Old School but Undertaker countered this with a chokeslam into the tables on the outside.

Then we got a bit of poetic justice, as Undertaker started using all of Edge’s own moves against him. He hit Edge with an awesome looking spear. Undertaker then hit Edge with the camera, which was revenge from earlier. Undertaker then did a conchairto of his own. Edge’s back was all cut open as Undertaker hit the tombstone and won.

Then Undertaker ended the night, when he chokeslammed Edge through the ring and into HELL! We got a weird graphic from this, as Undertaker was setting up the chokeslam from the top of the ladder which supposedly sent Edge to hell.

An absolutely incredible Hell in a Cell match. I think this will probably go down as one of my favourites. These two left it all out there and there was some great booking for this feud-ending match. I loved the callbacks to old angles featuring these two men. Undertaker got his revenge by giving Edge a bit of his own medicine. A lot of nasty spots were taken as these two ended their feud in a big way. Bravo to both men. I loved this match.

Match Rating: ****1/2

 

Overall, I thought the show was fine. If it were not for the Hell in a Cell match and Batista/Cena, I don’t think this PPV would live long in the memories of a lot of fans. There was nothing really special about the undercard, other than the Shawn Michaels segment and Santino and Beth’s double celebration. Other than that, there was not much to it. However, the final two matches of the show really bumped up the show. At the end of the day, it was a forgettable show up until the final two matches which could go down as two of the most memorable matches in Summerslam history.

Retro Express – Summerslam 2007

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Summerslam has been established as the WWE’s second biggest pay-per-view of the year, being the Summer equivalent of WrestleMania in the eyes of some. With it given the nickname of the “biggest party of the summer,” there’s clearly a lot of pressure on it to succeed. In the 2007 installment of the show, with likes of Undertaker, Shawn Michaels and Edge all out of action as well as the show’s main event riding on the first ever title match between Randy Orton and John Cena, could it live up to the high standards set by previous editions of Summerslam?

 

WWE Summerslam

Date: August 26th 2007

Brand: RAW and SmackDown!

City: East Rutherford, New Jersey

Attendance: 17,000

 

Finlay vs Kane

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The first match was a SmackDown! grudge match between Kane and Finlay. Apparently this feud started when Finlay accidentally spilled coffee on Kane. Yes, THAT’S what instigated this feud. COFFEE. This was the Kane/Chris Jericho feud from 2000 all over again, which saw Kane go crazy.

Kane’s ribs were taped up after an attack by Finlay a few weeks beforehand, which leads me into an important point I’d like to make. If you’re going into a fight against a tactical fighter like Finlay, why would you make your injuries clear by taping up whatever wounds you have as you wrestle? I know this happens all the time in wrestling but a wise tactic to employ would be to try and make your opponent think that your ribs aren’t hurt so he might not target it. It always seems to me that Kane just put a huge bullseye on his ribs.

This proved to be true as Finlay targeted Kane’s ribs throughout the match. The match showcased some decent ring psychology as a result of the rib injury as Finlay used innovative but punishing methods in order to knock the wind out of Kane. I can tell you from personal experience that a punch in the gut is more punishing that it seems.

Kane was dominating early on though while continuing to sell his injury. Finlay’s offense include dropping Kane rib-first on the turnbuckle and doing a bonzai drop to Kane’s gut. As all this was going on, JBL on commentary turned his attentions to Batista vs The Great Khali for a solid minute. Finlay then went for a single leg boston crab. I was about to write in my notes about how this seemed out of place in terms of the psychology, until Finlay actually applied pressure to the ribs by standing on them while locking on this hold. That was a nice little touch.

Kane got back to his feet and delivered an enziguri. He is a big man, so seeing him pull that off is still cool. Kane started a comeback which led to WWE Cruiserweight Champion Hornswoggle coming out to a huge pop. Kane chased Hornswoggle and threw him into the ring. In one of the biggest hope spots of the show, Kane grabbed Hornswoggle for a double chokeslam alongside Finlay but both of them were able to evade it. We were SO CLOSE to seeing Kane chokeslam Hornswoggle! What a spot that would have been!

The finish saw Finlay undoing the turnbuckle. As the referee tried to fix this, Finlay got out his shillelagh but Kane blocked the attack. Kane tried to use it but the referee stopped him. As the referee threw the first shillelagh away, Finlay got another one and whacked Kane in the gut with it. Kane kicked out, hit the chokeslam and won.

A fine opener. I liked this, although I could have done without the comedy in the end with Hornswoggle. This is supposed to be a feud between two mean tough guys. Having Hornswoggle contribute to the finish off the match just took away some of the intensity of it all. Despite that, the crowd were into it for the finish which was good. A thumbs up for the opener.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

We had a Summerslam party going on, with Vince McMahon and the general managers for RAW, SmackDown! and ECW, as well as Jonathan Coachman. RAW was ran by William Regal, SmackDown! was ran by Teddy Long and ECW was ran by Armando Estrada. As sad as it is, this was Armando’s only appearance on the entire show. Vince talked about his illegitimate son (yeah, they were running with this angle at the time) when Santino Marella came in. He claimed to be Vince’s son and then left. United States Champion MVP walked in and buried Teddy Long’s efforts as the general manager of SmackDown!, as MVP was not booked. MVP asked to make an open challenge to Matt Hardy, who he was feuding with at the time. Vince gave it the OK. After Regal hinted at himself being Vince’s son, Vince and Coach began talking about being with women from the UK. All of this was very awkward stuff and none of this “party” was really entertaining at all, with the exception of a later segment involving Cryme Tyme which we’ll get to…

 

Umaga (c) vs Mr Kennedy vs Carlito for the Intercontinental Championship

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This was during the very brief face run of Umaga, as he took on the two heels in Mr Kennedy and Carlito. There was a fan in the crowd who wore a wig and a bag over his head with a sign saying “Carlito’s embarrassed brother!” One of the best gimmicks among the crowd during this show!

I also want you all to take into account that a big main-event run was initially being planned for Kennedy as part of the “illegitimate child” storyline involving Vince McMahon. This was prior to his suspension which ended his push but Kennedy was reportedly scheduled to be taking the WWE Championship from John Cena and going on to face Triple H at WrestleMania. Remember all of this as I discussed how the match went.

Kennedy and Carlito tried to from an alliance with Umaga to take out the other guy but Umaga responded by destroying them both. They tried double-teaming him which failed. Umaga went for his hip attack on Carlito when Kennedy distracted him, which led to Carlito dropkicking Umaga. A strange attack from Kennedy was when he did a running stomp onto Umaga, when the Samoan was laid on the steel steps. I don’t know why Kennedy needed to run to do the stomp when he could have just done it up close to have the same effect.

Carlito tried a roll-up on Kennedy but the referee stopped the count when Carlito’s hands were on the rope for leverage. Now, this is one of the great inconsistencies of WWE in terms of the triple threat. The triple threat match is supposed to be no disqualification right? Well if that was the case, then surely the referee was in the wrong the prevent Carlito from grabbing the ropes? I’ve seen this happen time after time but there appears to be no official stance on whether the referees should be stopping these pinfalls. It’s similar to grabbing the ropes when locked in a submission. It’s no disqualification but the wrestlers go for the ropes anyway. I know it’s a habit-thing but it’s just interesting to think about.

Kennedy hit Jeff Jarrett’s “stroke” finisher on Carlito but Umaga pulled him to the floor. Umaga did the diving headbutt onto Carlito and went for the splash, but Carlito was moved out of the way by Kennedy. Kennedy hit Umaga with the television monitor from the announce table. Carlito and Kennedy ganged up on Umaga and attempted to do a double suplex. However, they themselves were double-teamed by Umaga. The referee started to count the three of them as they were all laid out IN A TRIPLE THREAT MATCH! Jim Ross even stated on commentary: “Referee counting – I don’t know why!” At least Jim Ross didn’t try to cover up how stupid the referee was being. He’s acknowledging the match stipulation inconsistencies head on!

Umaga ran wild until Kennedy sent him to the outside by pulling down the ropes as Umaga hit them. Kennedy hit the rolling fireman’s carry on Carlito and went for the cover but Umaga simply stopped him, hit him with the Samoan Spike and pinned KENNEDY to retain the title.

If you have a triple threat match involving a big monster like Umaga, someone else that you’re looking to push as a main-eventer like Kennedy and another dude like Carlito, why would you beat Kennedy clean in the middle. What was the point in Carlito being there, if he wasn’t supposed to be the one eating the pin? It was not like Kennedy came so close to winning and Umaga stole the victory. Umaga destroyed these two men, hit Kennedy with the Samoan Spike and pinned him. Kennedy and Carlito came off as complete losers following this destruction from Umaga.

It is possible that the reason Carlito didn’t get pinned was because he was expected to feud with Triple H for Unforgiven following this. By that logic, then this would imply that WWE believed at the time that Triple H’s next opponent was more important than protecting a man scheduled for a title run. That’s some logic.

The match itself was not that great. I was not a fan of this match and I felt it was very slow and sloppy. While it is fun watching Umaga destroying people, I felt that this match should have been a lot more competitive than it ended up being.

Match Rating: *3/4

 

Rey Mysterio vs Chavo Guerrero

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This was Mysterio’s comeback match after ten months out of action. He was written off television when Chavo defeated him in an great I Quit match on SmackDown! Rey was back in action and you could tell that this was a completely different Rey Mysterio after ten months out with an injury. As surprising as this may sound, Rey looked way bigger than usual as he came out. He was painted all in silver for his entrance, which all completely disappeared as soon as the match was over.

After a few minutes of feeling each other out, Rey fired up and targeted Chavo’s knee. This was a call-back to the way Chavo had took out Rey in the I Quit match. Chavo quickly returned the favour and went after Rey’s leg. The key to the match was that Rey kept trying to go for his 619 finisher, but his leg kept giving out. Chavo Guerrero did a tremendous job in getting heat and wrestling as the heel. That’s one of Chavo’s greatest attributes as a wrestler. When he gets the heat on a babyface, he does it effectively.

Chavo went for a single leg boston crab and JBL immediately yelled “BALL GAME!” So for the record, JBL was constantly yelling out “ball game” as early as 2007. Chavo got caught up in the tree of woe and Rey started his comeback. In a spot which I’ll always love, Rey went for a moonsault but Chavo caught him. Rey then countered this into a DDT. I’ve seen Rey (and probably Chavo for that matter) perform this spot before and it almost always looks great.

Rey went for a splash but missed. Chavo hit the Gory Bomb but Rey kicked out. This was actually a great near fall and JBL was doing this hardest to try and sell the Gory Bomb, claiming that nobody had ever kicked out of it. Chavo went for the Three Amigos and he was about the deliver the third suplex, when Rey got out of it. I thought that Chavo’s knee “gave out” which would have worked into the story of the match, as Rey worked on Chavo’s knee throughout. Rey went for a 619 and finally hit it on his third try and pinned Chavo. A good match with basic ring psychology and a great story told. Rey was coming back from an injury and had to work through the injury in order to finally put away Chavo. This was solid professional wrestling.

Match Rating: ***

 

Todd Grisham interviewed King Booker. King Booker was set to face the returning Triple H. He congratulated Rey Mysterio on his victory but he still buried Rey’s comeback story. Booker told Triple H to take in his grand entrance as it would be the high point of his night. He vowed to make Triple H bow before him.

 

Beth Phoenix vs Maria vs Mickie James vs Melina vs Michelle McCool vs Jillian Hall vs Torrie Wilson vs Victoria vs Kristal vs Layla vs Kelly Kelly vs Brooke in a inter-promotional divas battle royal for a future Women’s Championship match

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Boy, was this ever something. I know there’s been several bad women’s battle royals over the years but this an ungodly mess. The thing is that I did a review of the fulfill your fantasy battle royal at Taboo Tuesday 2005, and that was actually a decent battle royal. That was a women’s battle royal done right and it had a structure to it. In this inter-promotional battle royal, it was quite the opposite.

Candice Michelle was the women’s champion going into this and her theme was remixed version of her original “What Love Is” theme. This was proof that the original is usually always the best as this remix was a dubstep nightmare. The song featured random air horns, sirens and a woman chanting “raise your hands up” in a song put together by someone that clearly had never done dubstep before. I’ve never been a major fan of dubstep and remixes like this but I promise you that all the great DJs in the music industry would be screaming if they ever heard this attempt at a “tune.”

Candice was sat on this movie set chair in front of the announcers, completely blocking their view. The way that Candice was watching this match seemed so unnatural that it almost seemed that she was acting while watching this match when she could have just… watched the match as if she were a fan to project much more interest from your character.

So the women all came out, the bell and thus began some of the scrappiest brawling I’ve ever seen. Kelly Kelly and Kristal spent a good several minutes in the middle of the ring, brawling in the typical cat-fight style. At times, it was almost as if these girls just froze in that position. As everyone else was doing “spots,” they were just… there. I understand that these two women weren’t the greatest workers in the world, but I expected more of a showing from them considering that this was for a WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH.

Beth was dominant from the get go, eliminating Brooke (who was in fact Miss Tessmacher/Brooke while in TNA) by throwing her to the outside. Looked like it sucked for Brooke. Layla and Maria were both eliminated, with Maria being eliminated by Jillian Hall. After brawling with Kelly Kelly for what seemed like an eternity, Kristal eliminated Victoria. Pretty shocking was the treatment of Victoria in this match. It would have been great if it came down to Victoria and Beth Phoenix in the final two.

Kristal was accidentally eliminated by Michelle McCool, after McCool tried to attack Mickie James. Wasn’t exactly the smoothest of accidental elimination spots. Beth and Torrie Wilson eliminated Kelly Kelly. Mickie’s hurricanrana elimination of Jillian Hall was messed up as Jillian was hung up on the top rope, so Torrie had to intervene to eliminate Jillian. At least at this point in her career, Torrie had the experience and in-ring awareness in order to improvise when things went wrong.

Melina eliminated Mickie James. Michelle was supposed to clothesline Melina over the top rope in order to eliminate but that got botched as well, so Torrie had to intervene again. Beth then eliminated Torrie which led to the final two of Beth Phoenix and Michelle McCool. Michelle was very green at this point in her career but they were still trying to push this woman as the top diva on SmackDown! Unfortunately, she was not really up to scratch at this point. Some very sloppy stuff here in the final two. Beth dumped her out of the ring to win the battle royal.

This was very sloppy stuff, with a lot of these women being very inexperienced at this point in their career. Unfortunately, these women were given a lot of time and spots to do which really hurt their image. Michelle, in particular, was not able to work to a great level. At least there was a good winner in Beth and she really did standout from the crowd, so at least she seemed like a credible threat to the Women’s Championship.

Match Rating: 1/2*

 

MVP vs Matt Hardy in an open challenge

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To show you just how much WWE cared about the women’s match, MVP’s music hit 30 seconds after Beth won the whole thing! MVP, in fact, reminded us that no matter how many women you brought out, nobody paid to see them! MVP was an awesome promo-cutter at this time and he was great with his feud/future tag team with Matt Hardy. MVP talked about drinking drinks that were suitable for a MVP like himself. He challenged Matt to a beer-drinking contest. Matt Hardy came out and Michael Cole mentioned that Matt and MVP were scheduled to challenge for the tag team titles on SmackDown! a few days later. Spoiler alert… Matt and MVP won the belts that night.

As soon as MVP said “beer drinking contest,” the fans started to figure out where this was going and chanted “We Want Austin.” Matt mentioned that MVP brought in a substitute, Evander Holyfield, to replace him in a boxing match with Matt at Saturday Night’s Main Event. Matt said he was going to do the same thing and that his substitute would be a beer drinking champion. The Austin chants grew louder and louder which is funny, because The Sandman was still employed with WWE I believe so it could have very well been him and it would have made sense! Austin was the man that came out though to a HUGE reaction.

This segment was so great as what you expected to happen ACTUALLY happened and it was still great. Matt Hardy even had a look in his face as if to say, “this is going to be great.” Steve Austin got in the ring and prepared for this beer drinking content by warming up! He was running the ropes, doing press-ups and doing star jumps as part of his warm-up! Austin then got out the beers… and then simply hit MVP with a stunner! It was all great, with MVP selling the stunner really well! Austin drank some beer and the people were happy!

Segment Rating: ***

 

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They showed a quick advertisement for WrestleMania 24, which was one the best WrestleManias of all time in my opinion. It’s funny because the logo they used in this advert (the one above) was not the one they ended up going with for the actual show. Interesting how plans change, even with the logos!

 

Next up came a legendary segment, as Cryme Tyme interrupted the general manager party backstage. Shad called Vince McMahon “Vinny Mac,” which disgusted the chairman! The tag team talked about Vince’s illegitimate son and that it could be one of them because Vince and Cryme Tyme both love money. This led to Cryme Tyme singing and dancing to their catchphrase “money, money, yeah, yeah.” Jonathan Coachman and Teddy Long both joined in as Cryme Tyme, Coach and Teddy began a circle of dance around the disgusted Vince and William Regal. JTG then put his hat on William Regal, which was apparently the hat of dance. I say this because after a few seconds of being bewildered by this hat, Regal started dancing with the others! This was not just like a reluctant dance from Regal. He went ALL OUT with his dancing and had such joy on his face! He gave us the jazz hands, he gave us a goofy smile and he gave us the rhythm. He went nuts! After Regal went into his own solo dance, the room went silent. Regal turned around to be confronted by Ron Simmons. Ron said “DAMN” and Regal was left gloomy, having realised what he just did.

This was a FIVE STAR wrestling comedy segment if I ever saw one. This is right up there with the segment on RAW, where Ric Flair played musical chairs. The whole ordeal backstage with all the general managers having a party was hard to sit through but when Regal went through with his dance, it was almost like all went right with the world. Regal has an incredible sense of comedy, coming from his own love of old British comedy. They should have just put the WWE title on Regal for that segment alone. What a great man William Regal is!

 

John Morrison (c) vs CM Punk for the ECW Championship

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This was the only ECW-exclusive match on the night. In a way I felt kind of bad for these two, as this crowd was just dead for this match. With the crowd coming off Steve Austin’s appearance and THAT segment with William Regal, and going into Triple H’s return as well as the two other world title matches, this was really was put in the death spot for the show.

Funnily enough, we got a “15 minutes of lame” sign from the crowd! For those of you that don’t know, John Morrison was running a weekly segment on ECW called the “15 minutes of fame,” where his opponent had to beat him in 15 minutes. In a way, this was like John Cena’s US Championship Open Challenge and gave a lot of ECW talent time. A very productive means to get talent over.

Despite the crowd not really being into the match, CM Punk got a big reaction as he was coming down. Scott Armstrong was the referee for this one, although I don’t remember seeing any of his signature dramatic two counts in this match! CM Punk pulled off a springboard dropkick, which was very cool. John Morrison did a very impactful neckbreaker on the ring apron. John took over with a series of uppercuts. There was a decent spot where Punk did a sunset flip on Morrison, with Morrison catapulting Punk into the turnbuckle. Punk was able to land on the top rope though and deliver a crossbody to Morrison. Good stuff!

Punk delivered a sweet looking enziguri. Morrison followed that with a slick reversal of the Pepsi Plunge, which he turned into a backbreaker. Morrison went for the Moonlight Drive, with Punk countering it to finally hit the Pepsi Plunge. Punk did a moonsault. Punk clotheslined Morrison off the ropes, which I’m always worried will wind up going badly wrong for the one taking the bump. Punk missed a hurricanrana and Morrison rolled him up, barely putting his feet on the ropes for the pin. This was a very lame ending to a decent match but there was a little bit of sloppiness to it from both men. I do remember the ECW title match where Punk won the belt being good though, so at least the chemistry between these two improved over time.

Match Rating: **3/4

 

They showed us a side-by-side shot of The Great Khali and Batista warming up for their World Heavyweight Championship match later on. It was funny as this was NOT the next match on the card!

 

Triple H vs King Booker w/Queen Sharmell

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Being the child that I am, I did snigger at a sign in the crowd which had “King Booger” on it! Triple H had an astonishingly grand entrance for his return match against King Booker, with a video being played which claimed that Triple H had been re-built. Triple H, has in fact, lived out his dream of being the Terminator several times in the WWE over the years. For all the Terminator references WWE has done over the years, you’d think they would have done Triple H vs Arnold “The Terminator” Schwarzenegger by now!

Triple H came out to the “King of Kings” intro before going into his normal theme song. Triple H fired up and then beat him up on the outside. Booker took over when Sharmell distracted Triple H. Hunter was distracted, which allowed Booker to do a dropkick to his knee. This played into his quadricep injury which forced Triple H out of action. This was then followed by Triple H delivering a chop block to Booker! Apparently, Triple H is immune to normal ring psychology!

Triple H locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock but Sharmell raked Triple H’s eyes to get Booker out of it. Triple H did the comeback and tried a pedigree, but Booker got out of it. There was a cool spot where Booker tried the scissors kicks which was dodged by Hunter and eventually led to the Book End for a near fall. Triple H quickly followed that up with the pedigree after ducking Booker’s side kick, to pick up the win. An alright match which served nothing more than to get Triple H his big comeback victory as King Booker would soon leave the company after this match. Triple H got a standing ovation from the announcers.

Match Rating: **

 

The Great Khali (c) w/Ranjin Singh vs Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship

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When you consider how much of a draw and how much a success a Brock Lesnar match can be, it’s a constant reminder that there’s no real certain way to book a great match. Of course there are elements featured in a number of matches that make them good matches but you don’t have to be a match that flows in a similar pattern to those matches to be a success. If Brock Lesnar proves anything, it’s that him simply hitting German suplexes on wrestlers throughout a match can still give you one of the most memorable matches of the year. He had two of the best matches of 2012 and 2015 with John Cena and Roman Reigns respectively, and they were both essential squash matches up until the finish.

This Batista/The Great Khali match was also essentially a squash match up until the finish. The difference is that Brock Lesnar beating up or “getting heat” on a wrestler for several minutes can still  be entertaining and draw you into the match as there’s an ever-constant fear that Brock could hurt his opponent. The Great Khali’s offense was NOTHING like Brock Lesnar’s. This attack by The Great Khali did not look painful. It did not look exciting. It did not look coordinated. It was not fun to sit through and it just kept going and going.

Khali beat up Batista and applied the nerve hold. Batista would try to attack Khali but get dropped, which led to Khali going back to the nerve hold. This just kept going on and it was like this as soon as the match started. Batista’s selling was also not too great at this point. I will mention this on future Retro Express reviews but throughout history, Batista working as a babyface and having to sell for a long period of time was very hard to watch. God bless Batista but his selling included getting hit, putting his hands up in the air and doing a Flair flop to the mat. Khali’s attack combined with big Dave’s selling was just a recipe for disaster… and it wasn’t like Khali’s selling was that good either.

Batista got out of Khali’s vice grip and hit the spinebuster out of nowhere. Khali then powered out of the Batista Bomb attempt. Batista tried something off the top rope but Khali caught him and hit a double-handed chokeslam for a near fall. The finish saw Ranjin Singh grab a chair for Khali to use. Khali picked up the chair… and used it. This caused a disqualification for a World Heavyweight Championship match AT SUMMERSLAM. It was not like they built up the disqualification either. Khali picked up the chair and used it successfully in his first attempt to get himself disqualified. A match completely void of entertainment which received a horrible finish for it’s trouble.

Batista took over in the post-match by hitting Khali with a spear. He just kept beating him and beating him with a chair to, at least, try to send the SmackDown! fans home happy.

When I reviewed the Teddy Long vs Eric Bischoff match from Survivor Series 2005, I was so appalled at the thought of that match having made it on a pay-per-view. I initially gave that match a rating of minus one and a half stars but after watching this Khali/Batista match, I was so wrong about that match. At least that match was booked with the knowledge that Teddy and Eric weren’t active professional wrestlers. I am actually going to change that rating for Long/Bischoff to a 1/4*, because at least Teddy was doing his best to entertain the audience by dancing. This Khali/Batista did NOTHING to entertain me and this was supposed to be a World Heavyweight Championship match featuring two of the best wrestlers that SmackDown! has to offer.

Match Rating: -*

 

Vince McMahon, Jonathan Coachman and William Regal were backstage for what was the final backstage segment from this Summerslam party. Apparently the storyline going in was that Vince expected to meet the woman that had given birth to his illegitimate son. As it turned out, the women that wanted to see him was Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young. Coach revealed that Mae Young wanted to have baby with McMahon and Mae leaped onto Vince, who was sitting on a sofa. This got no reaction from the crowd, as William Regal tried to wrestle Mae Young away – and this was quite the struggle for poor Regal.

Coach got Vince up and Vince complained about the taste that was left in his mouth. After a few seconds of licking the inside of his own mouth, Vince admitted that he kind of liked the taste after all. Coach said that this was disgusting to which Vince replied: “Old chicken makes good soup.”

Old chicken makes good soup huh?

 

John Cena (c) vs Randy Orton for the WWE Championship 

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I was not going into this match with a lot of hope. This was the first ever pay-per-view match between John Cena and Randy Orton and it would be the first of many, with their last pay-per-view encounter being in October 2014. Having been subjected to many Cena/Orton matches over the years, there was a severe lack of desire from me to see them battle again. That’s probably not fair to do, as I really should be going into this match as I was when I first saw it in 2007. This was the first time that these two wrestled in a big match situation and I should have treated this as if I was a watching it for the very first time. However, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to those matches.

With that said, this was actually a pretty good match and actually one of the better Cena/Orton matches I’ve seen.

Randy Orton was coming out with his “Burn in my light” theme song, which is in my top ten list of favourite theme songs of all time. I absolutely lovely this song. Jim Ross mentioned that John Cena was WWE Champion for 24 of the last 27 months leading into this match. That is an insane amount of time for one to be champion for, and it wasn’t until Jim Ross said that did I realise just HOW MUCH Cena was in the main-event title scene from the five years since he first won the WWE Championship in 2005. That is WAY TOO LONG – even if it is John Cena.

John Cena won the starting lock-up and took Orton over with a headlock, to THUNDEROUS boos. I would say that this crowd was 70% for Orton and 30% for Cena. Cena tried a STFU early on, but Randy got out of it. Momentum shifted back and forth until  Cena missed his signature shoulder block, which led to Orton locking on one of his vintage Randy Orton sleeper holds.

There were moves in the middle but for at least ten minutes, the match was just dominated by Orton leaned on Cena and applying this sleeper hold. Orton did some stomps and locked on the sleeper hold. Orton did a powerslam and went right back to the sleeper hold. Orton did a dropkick and went right back to the sleeper hold. It just kept GOING AND GOING until Cena eventually powered out. If you’re a fan of sleeper holds, than this was the match for you.

Cena did the comeback, hit the five knuckle shuffle but Orton got out of the FU attempt by elbowing Cena twice in the face and then dropping him with the backbreaker. Orton delivered the hangman DDT for a near fall. Orton tried an RKO but Cena got out of it, with this leading to Orton Irish-whipping Cena into the steel steps. A superplex struggle led to Cena delivering a leg drop to the neck of Orton. Cena went for the FU but Orton got out of it. Orton went for the punt kick but Cena countered it into the STFU. Orton got to the ropes and then delivered a RKO OUT OF NOWHERE! This got the nearest of all near falls and at the time, I remember buying this as the finish.

Cena then hit the FU and pinned Orton for the victory. A good match when all set and done. The constant sleeper holds by Orton did drain me but at least it got Cena the big pop for his comeback. They also did their very best to preserve the finishers of both men. Cena did kick out of the RKO but that was literally the only finisher, other than the STFU, that was executed. A change from future Orton/Cena matches, where they would do nothing BUT hit each other with finishers. It was a very slow burn but the finish made it seem that it all paid off. I was happy with this match when all said and done.

Match Rating: ***

 

This was not a strong Summerslam. For what it was supposed to be, it did not live up to the standards set by past and future Summerslams. There was nothing exceptional about this pay-per-view that made it seem like this event was anything other than all the other pay-per-views you saw throughout 2007. Maybe if Randy Orton won the belt in the main event, I might have thought differently. At least if you have that big moment that everyone remembers this show for, it’d at least go down as a memorable event. Steve Austin’s return, while great, didn’t seem that memorable to me as Austin did that with everyone back in the day. Triple H’s return and his match didn’t seem that memorable to me. The World Title match was something that I’ll go out of my way to forget. The WWE Title match will go down as the first of many Orton/Cena matches and as one of the better Orton/Cena matches for that matter, which isn’t saying much. There were two good, solid matches during this show, with the other matches ranging from decent to god awful. For a Summerslam, I expected more….

 

 

… at least we got William Regal dancing.

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