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.

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WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW THE GREAT AMERICAN BASH 1996 (JUNE 16TH 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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We’re creeping ever so slightly towards the big reveal of the third man joining Scott Hall and Kevin Nash for the “invasion” of WCW. Scott Hall arrived and Kevin Nash arrived on the latest edition of Nitro that we’ve reviewed. Both of those men were here to meet Eric Bischoff at The Great American Bash about the possibility of actually setting up an official match between WCW and these outsiders and their third man.

The Great American Bash also featured a stacked card of quality matches, with the WCW, WCW United States and WCW Cruiserweight titles all on the line. We also had a big grudge match in Lord Steven Regal vs Sting, a big grudge match between the Dungeon of Doom’s Taskmaster and the Four Horsemen’s Chris Benoit and we had a rubber match between the Steiner Brothers and Fire and Ice. We also had the WCW vs NFL battle with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson facing Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Kevin Greene.

People have told me that this pay-per-view was one of the greatest pay-per-views WCW ever produced. Compared to every other pay-per-view I’ve seen during this series, this is the strongest one by a huge mile. I’m not really in a position to make a claim as if to call it the greatest of all time or something as I’ve never watched WCW properly up until the start of this series.

However, this honestly felt like a normal wrestling pay-per-view. That’s not to say that it was irregular or not extraordinary but it felt a lot more like a real wrestling show. For the likes of Halloween Havoc, World War III, Starrcade 1995 and Slamboree, there was a gimmick going into each of those PPVs. There was one big aspect that WCW were encouraging the fans to watch like the World War III battle royal or the Doomsday Cage match, while everything else on the show was treated as filler.

The Great American Bash felt like nearly every match on the show mattered. WCW weren’t exclusively promoting one match. They promoted a wrestling show and a lot of stuff was pay-per-view quality stuff. There were some awesome matches on this show. There wasn’t like matches on the level of Okada vs Omega for example but it was mostly very good wrestling and very much enjoyable.

Let’s get into the review…

 

Date: June 16th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Balitmore, Maryland

Attendance: 9,000

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie and Dusty Rhodes

 

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To kick off the show, a dude came out with the American flag as Star-Spangled Banner played. It was a grand patriotic moment and granted, it was fitting on a show called “The Great American Bash”. This is also a bad show to make this point I’m about to make. As an Englishman watching professional wrestling, I find it to be a very big disconnect to anyone not American whenever they do the National Anthem or do some big USA pride angle before a show.

There’s all of these starts from AAA in Rey Mysterio Jr. and “El Gato” supposedly from South America appearing in WORLD Championship Wrestling, but WWE, WCW, Impact Wrestling or other American wrestling promotions can’t help themselves but play up the patriotic angle to a worldwide audience. That to me doesn’t belong when you’re promoting the product as a global event.

It was just Tony Schiavonie and Dusty Rhodes announcing this show. They discussed at the start of the show about how Dick Murdoch had passed away recently and they addressed it.

 

“The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner vs “Fire and Ice” Scott Norton and Ice Train in a number one contendership match for the WCW Tag Team Championship with the added stipulation where there must be a winner

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This first match with Fire and Ice facing the Steiners had the announcer Dave Penzer stress heavily that there must be a winner. The storyline going in I believe was that these two tag teams have constantly had matches but they ended with like some no contest or disqualification. I’m pretty sure the Steiners beat Fire and Ice clean one time on Nitro but I do recall they’ve had another match which ended in a no contest.

With that being said, I’ve also seen a lot Nitro main-events and matches where they almost have to have a clean finish but yet there’s shenanigans. Therefore, I was certain that the Road Warriors or someone else was going to run in. But no, WCW were true to their word and there was a clean finish which we’ll get to.

Scott Steiner and Ice Train locked up. Dusty claimed Ice Train and Scott Norton were in Mortal Kombat before they came together. Tony claimed both teams approached this match: “the same way but differently.” So… I guess they both approached the match differently then… but in the same way?

Scott Steiner ran wild with hip tosses as the Steiners took control for the ring. Norton fired away with back elbow and forearms. I love how Norton’s hard-hitting/powerhouse style gels with the wrestling styles of the Steiners. It fit really well and the Steiners were able to sell well for his offense.

Rick eventually fired back with a big clothesline. Rick hit a big belly-to-belly suplex for a 2 count. Scott Steiner dropkicked Norton bringing him to his knees. Norton hit a big Samoan Drop. Dusty criticised Fire and Ice for wasting time and Norton took a cheap shot at Scott as the referee was distracted so I guess Fire and Ice were the heels in this match. I don’t know if they were officially turned heel on Saturday Night or something but they played heels in this match anyway.

Scott hit a belly-to-belly suplex and a clothesline to get back into the match. Scott nearly dropped Norton right on his head with a teardrop suplex. Norton barely caught Scott off the top with a scoop slam. Norton dropped Scott with the shoulder-breaker after Scott I think landed on his shoulder earlier on in the match.

Norton locked on an arm lock to pounce on the wounded arm of Scott Steiner and Rick broke it up. Rick kicked Norton repeatedly in the face to try and break it up but Norton no-sold each kick.

Rick got the tag and ran wild. He hit a massive suplex dropping Norton on his head and threw Ice Train over his shoulder. These four guys were willing put over the other teams during these matches. Ice Train and Norton were willing to take every suplex the Steiners were willing to dish out and they looked like they were landing on their heads and splatting into the mat. It looked ugly but it looked effective too and probably were safer than the moves looked.

Norton hit a powerbomb and Ice Train hit a splash on Rick but Scott Steiner broke it up. Fire and Ice went for the Doomsday Device but it was broken up. Rick planted Norton with a DDT but Ice Train took advantage with a double axe handle. Steiners tried the Steinerizer/diving bulldog but Ice Train broke it up. Scott hit a botched-like Frankensteiner and got the pin.

A great fight and a fun opener. I very much enjoyed it. It was an ugly fight and somewhat a train-wreck at times but what the hell? I loved it. They also delivered on the promise that there must be a winner so this gets two thumbs up. It gets a thumbs up for the match and a thumbs up for the finish, even if it did look a little screwy with the Frankesteiner.

Match Rating: ***

 

Jimmy Hart and Taskmaster were with Mean Gene Okerlund for an interview. Jimmy said they don’t need the Four Horsemen but Taskmaster said this wasn’t an issue between the Dungeon and the Horsemen. Taskmaster said Pillman wasn’t a horsemen and talked about making him quit at Uncensored. He said he knew what a horseman smelt like. He said he wanted to show the Horsemen that they can trust the Dungeon and they were gonna take out Benoit for not being a true Horsemen. Some parts of the promo I wrote down and they didn’t make sense to me so I didn’t include them. Either way, for those unaware, this was basically a continuation of the Taskmaster vs Brian Pillman feud with Benoit taking the place of Pillman.

 

Konnan © vs El Gato for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship

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One of the weakest matches of the show. It is weird saying that because if this match was on Slamboree, the last pay-per-view we watched, it would have been one of the strongest matches on that show! This match was perfectly acceptable wrestling.

Gato started off early with some kicks and a Dragon Screw Leg Whip. Konnan caught the hand of Gator and turned it into a top rope arm drag. Konnan turned Gato inside out with a clothesline which actually looked cool. After a few leap frogs from Konnan, Gato cut him off with a side kick to the face.

Gato tried a submission which I have no idea what it was supposed to be. He wrapped his leg around Konnan’s arm and grabbed the other arm and just laid there. He kept grabbing the rope for leverage but I have no idea what this was supposed to accomplish! It was some crucifix-like headscissors or something.

Gato caught a hurricanrana and hit a sit-out powerbomb for a 2 count. Gato and Konnan traded submission attempts. Konnan’s submission attempts always look so god damn sloppy to me and they just always take me out of his matches. I’d hate to get at Konnan for actually trying some grappling and actual wrestling but it just didn’t look good. If you can’t do something effectively in wrestling, just take it out of your arsenal. Think of an alternative.

Konnan did a roll into a clothesline but was unsuccessful with the pin attempt.

Gato tried the spot where a wrestler would tease a dive to the outside but slip underneath the ropes instead. Instead, he tries to slide under the ropes but he screwed that up. He went under the ropes and then just fell down. He didn’t even land on his feet when he made his way to the floor to prepare for the next spot.

Konnan smacked Gato hard on the floor with a sunset flip powerbomb to which the fans started to get behind Konnan with big chants of his name. Konnan hit an Alabama slam and bridge for the pin to retain the title.

Perfectly acceptable wrestling is the best way to describe this match. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t particular good. It was acceptable where there weren’t many spots screwed up and most of the stuff they did look fine. It’s just that the match met my expectations exactly and that’s exactly the problem. It was a bang average wrestling match at best but when you’re wrestling on pay-per-view, the fans kinda want to see more from you. With that being said, the fans were really behind Konnan and it’s not like they lost the crowd with this match. Therefore, I’d say this match was a success.

Match Rating: **1/2

 

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Mean Gene interviewed Sting and the first thing Mean Gene basically says is that we all know Regal is a “sissy” or “prissy”. I found that line to be funny. However, then Sting cut a weird racist promo against the English. He said you don’t have to stir up the Stinger. Sting made fun of England which pissed me off and talked about Regal and Englishman being sissies. He said Regal’s on US soil and being a sissy isn’t how they do it in the US. Sting said Regal’s a fantastic wrestler but he’s a little iffy and he was gonna beat him.

Again, I understand that the show is called THE GREAT AMERICAN BASH and it’s a celebration of the United States of America. However, this promo wasn’t about fighting for American pride against the English. This was Sting basically calling out English people and calling us Englishmen sissies. This promo would not play well in the slightest in 2020. By the way, Happy New Year to everyone in 2020!

 

DDP vs Marcus Bagwell for the Lord of the Ring

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DDP cut a pre-match promo. He talked crap about Baltimore. I don’t want to keep talking about to the Patriotic nature of this show as a running discussion point in this review. However, doing a promo where the DDP buries the hometown during a show where they’re all about American Patriotism seemed very out of place. If you wanna do a burial of the hometown for heat, that’s OK. However, this would have a worked a lot better if they had a foreign heel deliver this type of promo. DDP calling out the hometown randomly just seemed weird during a hugely pro-USA PPV.

Bagwell chased DDP out of the ring but then DDP jumped Bagwell in the ring as Bagwell turned his back on him before the match started. Bagwell did a snapmare to DDP that sent him over the top rope and to the floor. Bagwell sent DDP over the barricade. DDP cut off Bagwell when he tried to get back in the ring. Bagwell hit a crossbody for a 2 count. Bagwell worked on the arm of DDP but DDP eventually got out of it.

Bagwell dropkicked DDP through the ropes as DDP got stuck in between them. Bagwell did a dive to the outside. DDP tried to cut off Bagwell again as they both got back into the ring but Bagwell was ready for him.

DDP got the heat and hit a backbreaker. DDP locked on an abdominal stretch, grabbing the rope for leverage whenever he could. DDP did it twice successfully but referee Randy Anderson (at least I think it was Randy Anderson) caught him on the third attempt and kicked the rope away from DDP’s grasp.

DDP hit the tombstone slam for the near fall. Bagwell did the atomic drop/reverse atomic drop combination and got back in the match. Bagwell did a springboard clothesline from the apron for a near fall. DDP eventually hit a Diamond Cutter to win the match clean.

There wasn’t that much heat for this match and it didn’t really do it for me. Both men tried hard but they just did moves forever and there was nothing really captivating about it to suggest this should have been a PPV match. This was a decent TV match at best but it just sucked the life out of the PPV for a little bit.

With that being said, if this match was on Slamboree too, this would have also been one of the best matches on that show! So at least it gets that feather it its cap!

Match Rating: **1/4.

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Mean Gene interviewed Jimmy Hart and The Giant. The Giant cut a promo about torture in like a quiet and creepy way. It was like some weird perverted promo which is rare from The Giant, who in 1996 is usually very loud and angry with his promos. Maybe he was trying something out briefly because he did eventually start yelling at Luger during this promo.

He said if Luger thought he was gonna put The Giant in the “rack” he’s sadly mistaken. The Giant said the “rack” is a pure fantasy and said the chokeslam is all he’s going to know. Giant said Lex should have lifted a few more weights before getting into the ring with him. A weird promo with the change in tone from going all quiet to going really loud which took away from pretty good dialogue… minus “the rack” which didn’t age well with time.

 

Dean Malenko © vs Rey Mysterio Jr. for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship

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This is what WCW has been missing so far on WCW Nitro shows. I’ve had about of month of 2 hour Nitros since Slamboree and the shows have mostly felt like a drag in places. They had an extra hour for more wrestling and better wrestling for the fans to stay tuned to watch. They needed more cruiserweight matches in those Nitros and this match was a very good reason why.

This match was so good and so different to anything else on the show and the fans were super into it by the end, even if they did go quiet in the middle. This got the division over big with them and hopefully, this will be transferred to WCW Nitro television shows.

Mike Tenay was on commentary for this match. It was unbelievable how quick Rey was here. It’s hard for me to make notes for the opening minutes for matches like this. It was fantastic lucha libre cruiserweight action. All you can do is sit back, watch and be blown away by it. Lucha Libre done really well is some of the best wrestling you’ll ever see. All I could do was marvel at their athleticism and skill.

Rey hit an awesome springboard dropkick to Dean to send him crashing on the floor. They locked up in the ring but it eventually led to Dean catapulting Rey out of the ring. Dean worked on the arm and started driving the knee in the arm of Rey.

Dean raked Rey’s arm over the guard rail. Rey eventually used Dean’s intention to work on the arm to cause separation with a dropkick. Dean turned Rey inside out with the clothesline, dropping Rey right on his head to immense applause from the crowd. It was such a fantastic sell to the clothesline and the fans appreciated it big time.

Dean worked on the arm again with an armbar. Dean suplexed Rey right on the arm and then delivered the Northern Lights suplex onto the arm.

The great thing about Dean Malenko is that he lived the “man of 1000 holds” gimmick when it came to what he did in the ring. Every move he did to work on the arm was different than the move that came before it. He didn’t do the same thing over and over again. He didn’t chin-lock after chin-lock during his matches. He didn’t do the same type of suplex working on the arm. He didn’t do the same submission. It wasn’t predictable and it worked. Tony flat out said “man of 1000 holds, living to his name” and Dean showed that to be accurate!

Rey hit a like a Boma Ye knee to try and get back into the match but Dean went back to work on the arm. Dean locked on a surfboard with the Romero submission and turned this into a pinfall attempt for a near fall.

Dean tried a somewhat Kimura lock variation right in the middle of the ring. Dean hit a teardrop suplex for the 2 count. Dean followed that up with a butterfly suplex for another 2 count. Dean went to work on the arm again with a wrist lock. The biggest problem with the match was that Dean’s “heat” segment went way too long. I think it took me out of the game watching it and, although it was really well done by Malenko, a part of me just wanted Rey to do something to breathe life into the match.

Rey eventually sent Dean crashing to the floor and hit a baseball slide dropkick to Dean and kicked him further way. Rey followed this up with a springboard somersault to Dean on the outside and Dean was really far away so Rey did well to connect with that distance to the outside.

Rey eventually started a comeback and hit a springboard dropkick. Dean tried an Alley Oop but Rey stopped the impact for a near fall as they traded roll ups. I think I’ve seen Malenko and Liger do that spot before and I really loved it again here.

Rey hit the Frankensteiner pin for a near fall. Dean went for the gutbuster off the top rope and Rey reversed it into a hurricanrana for the near fall. Dean tried a tilt-a-whirl but Rey reversed it into a crossbody. . Dean hit a big powerbomb from the corner with the feet on the rope of the pin.

Fabulous stuff from the cruiserweights.

Match Rating: ***3/4. This was almost 4 stars for me but Dean got the heat for slightly longer than I think he should have. This was still a damn great match from Malenko and Mysterio Jr.

 

Mean Gene interviewed WCW Television and Tag Team Champion Lex Luger. Luger said his mind’s a million miles way and he said he’s not gonna shout and scream about what he’s gonna do to the Giant. I guess this was to hint that he was too focused on the match to cut a promo but then he cut a big promo anyway! He said The Giant changed the landscape of wrestling and The Giant though he was invincible but that was gonna work in Luger’s favour. He said Giant was going to make mistakes and when Luger left the ring, he was gonna have another belt on his other shoulder. I thought this was a good promo.

 

Big Bubba w/Jimmy Hart vs John Tenta

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The worst match on the show but it did appear that the match on paper didn’t actually sound so bad. It was just pretty poor in execution.

Tenta came out with a video playing in the titantron of the head-shaving from a few weeks ago. There was no music for Tenta.

Bubba and Tenta brawled on the outside. Tenta caught Bubba coming from the top rope and then smashed Bubba into the steel steps. Bubba begged Tenta off and then JOHN TENTA did a standing jumping kick the chest! It was one of the most athletic things I’ve seen Tenta do so far in this series!

Tenta slammed his backside into the face of Bubba. Tenta did a running butt-slam into the chest of the heel. Bubba hit a big uppercut to get back into the match. Nick Patrick checked Bubba as I guess Bubba used a weapon when he hit Tenta but I don’t think they ever showed a replay of this. If they did and I missed it, I do apologise.

Tenta kicked out. Bubba ran wild on Tenta for a bit. Bubba tried a pin on the ropes but referee Nick Patrick caught him. Tenta tried a slam but Bubba was too big as they just fell to the ground. Bubba worked on Tenta’s arm. It looked like Bubba tried to do a “fast” paced-match that Tenta was just not built and conditioned for so it just didn’t have the chance to blossom.

Bubba slammed Tenta with a back suplex. Bubba went to the top rope but Tenta caught him and slammed him with a powerslam as Jimmy was distracted with the fans. As Jimmy was distracted, Tenta got the pin. Tenta grabbed the scissors and cut the beard of Bubba and sent him packing.

I don’t think it would have been a strong match on that Slamboree 1996 pay-per-view I keep referencing but it was pretty much what I expected out of these two. It’s a shame because I actually do think these were somewhat decent wrestlers but this match just didn’t show it. At least the good guy was able to get the win in the end after the heel had previously embarrassed him on Nitro.

Match Rating: *

 

Mean Gene interviewed Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Kevin Greene, who were accompanied by their wives. I think Mean Gene mentioned that “Macho Man” Randy Savage, who was coaching Greene and Mongo, had been reinstated into WCW. Mongo said he didn’t care about game plans and that they were coming to get Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. Greene said they were coming hard and coming heavy. He even finished the promo saying they were coming hard. There was something up with the phrasing of Greene from the penetration talk from Nitro 2 weeks to this promo about coming hard and heavy! Savage came in and said they were gonna knock Flair and Anderson into the end zone.

 

Chris Benoit vs “The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan w/Jimmy Hart in a falls count anywhere match

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This was such a great falls count anywhere match. The intensity was just there from the get-go and it was a believable, vicious fight to convince the viewers that these two hated each other. Benoit was a great all-rounder as a wrestler but Kevin Sullivan in particular came off really well as a scrappy wrestler. This match was right up his alley and he and Benoit worked wonders together in this match.

There were two referees on hand to count any pinfall or submission attempts. Taskmaster power-walked into the ring as he and Benoit brawled in an out-of-control manner on the ramp. Benoit chopped away at Taskmaster as Taskmaster responded with open hand slaps to the chest.

Fans went crazy as it went into the crowd. I want everyone to understand that everything that I say about Chris Benoit going forward is purely about his in-ring work and not his personality. With that being said, Benoit had a look of such intensity and such rage, looking like he really wanted to beat the snot out of Taskmaster as he gritted the teeth at the sight of Taskmaster. Benoit had tremendous facial expressions when he was in the ring.

They went further and further up the steps. This was a heck of brawl which led them all the way to the men’s bathroom. Taskmaster slammed the head of the bathroom door into the head of Benoit. The fans in the bathroom all huddled in one side of the ring to watch this all go down. They were all squished-up to the back of this bathroom and couldn’t get out from the looks of it!

Benoit fought back with stiff punches to the head. Taskmaster tried to shove Benoit’s face into the urinal.  Benoit responded by smacking bathroom doors into the back of Taskmaster. Dusty couldn’t help but exclaim that there was a woman in the men’s bathroom as he was super excited about this development!

Taskmaster hit Benoit with a sack of towels! Security had their work cut out for them as Benoit and Taskmaster tried to fight into the crowd of people outside of the bathroom! One guy fell over into the sea of people it was so crowded!

Benoit tumbled down the steps back into the arena. Taskmaster flat out threw Benoit down the steps. They traded punches as they got back to the guard rail. Taskmaster crotched Benoit on the guard rail as they made their way back to the ring. Taskmaster unleashed a Sabu-like chair throw at Benoit’s face.

Benoit crotched Taskmaster on the guard rail in retaliation. Benoit grabbed a table and threw it at Taskmaster’s face, I guess in response to the chair throw from Taskmaster! The announcers actually mentioned that it was a callback to Slamboree when Benoit went threw a table because of Taskmaster.

They tried to put each other through the table but both men just bounced off it rather than breaking it.  Taskmaster back-dropped Benoit to the table balanced on the top turnbuckle. They fought on top of the table and Benoit hit a big superplex to a massive pop and for the win. That was a hell of a match. They beat the crap out of each other as the fans, whether it was in the bathroom or sat at their seats, were just going nuts for all of this action!

Benoit punched away at Taskmaster after the match. Arn Anderson ran down as Benoit continued to punch away at Taskmaster. Arn threw Benoit off of Taskmaster and then took a cheap shot at Taskmaster as they beat up Sullivan. The fans became unglued and lost their minds as the Horsemen turned on The Taskmaster!

The Dungeon of Doom chased them off as the fans went bonkers. That was an absolutely awesome falls count anywhere match and a great post-match angle. They brawled all over the place and it was great. I think Malenko vs Mysterio Jr. was a technically better match but I enjoyed this Taskmaster vs Benoit match more as it just worked as a falls count anywhere match. They beat the crap out of each other and although there was possibly ONE PIN FALL in the entire match, this was a blood feud where they wanted to just destroy each other. TWO THUMBS UP!

Match Rating: ***3/4

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Mean Gene interviewed the Four Horsemen. Mean Gene is stood in between Woman and Elizabeth as they both grab his arms. Tony asked Gene if he’d ever seen anything like the match they just watched. Mean Gene said he’s not sure and he’s not sure he’s ever seen and briefly pauses. He pauses and he looks at Woman and Elizabeth and goes…. “well maybe a couple of times!” Mean Gene had to have been the greatest interviewer in wrestling history. Absolute tremendous comedy nearly ever time!

Arn Anderson said there’s people that dreamed of being able to be a Horsemen and Benoit earned the right to be a Horsemen. He said the head of the snake being severed was Taskmaster’s, who you recall kept claiming he was gonna cut the head of the snake who he believed to be Benoit. Arn said Taskmaster tried to poison the Horsemen but Benoit earned his stripes. Benoit said Taskmaster had been severed and he put him in his place. Ric yeleds at Mongo and Greene and Bobby Heenan was paranoid about Savage. When you’re cutting a promo and Ric Flair barely has anything more to add, you’ve cut a hell of a promo. Arn and Benoit cut damn good promos on Kevin Sullivan.

 

Sting vs Lord Steven Regal in a “special challenge” match

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Another superb match. There was a lot of heat from the crowd and the fans were thunderous for Sting throughout, and the action justified the response from the crowd.

Sting fired away with punches and sent Regal flying with an Irish Whip. Regal beat away at Sting with punches and European uppercuts as the fans chanted USA. Sting delivered multiple Japanese arm drags and then Regal went outside to yell at the fans, egging on the USA chants indirectly. Regal tried a handshake but Sting refused, being no-one’s fool. Regal was literally shaking in his boots as Sting cornered him!

Regal locked in a Cobra Clutch and beat away at Sting. Sting tried a sunset flip and Regal tried to punch away at the referee to get out of it! He was swinging for the fences as I guess he’d rather get disqualified than be rolled-up with a sunset flip and pinned!

Regal wore down Sting with a chin lock but Sting reversed it into the back suplex. Regal locked on an arm lock while pressing his knee on the head of the Stinger. Regal tripped the leg and went back to the head lock. Regal wore down Sting, putting his leg on the bottom rope but the referee kicked his foot off the bottom rope.

Sting got an abdominal stretched locked in out of nowhere with his face paint looking to have been wiped off. Regal locked on a head lock with the head-scissors while wrenching back on the arm. Regal did an under-hook submission which looked interesting.

Sting eventually ran wild with clotheslines and dropkicks as the fans burst into life. Regal hit a butterfly suplex from the top rope which he looked to try to do as quickly as possible. I’m not so sure what it was but Regal rushed the hell out of this spot, so maybe he just wanted to prove he was as quick as Billy Kidman was during their match together on Nitro!

Regal locked on the STF but Sting refused to give up which upset Regal. Regal smashed away with elbow smashes. Sting got fired up after a slap from Regal as he punched away at Regal in the corner. Sting went for the Stinger Splash but Regal got the knees up. Sting locked in a Scorpion Death Lock as Regal tapped out right away to a thunderous ovation.

This is a match that worked on paper, worked in execution, worked with the fans and worked in getting both men over with this crowd. Regal was hugely hated as the heel while Sting was hugely beloved as the babyface. This gets two thumbs up! I loved it.

Match Rating: ***1/2

 

They showed a WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 promo, with the show set to take place on July 7th… we’re almost there folks.

 

Ric Flair and Arn Anderson w/Bobby Heenan, Elizabeth and Woman vs Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Kevin Greene w/Macho Man Randy Savage, Debra McMichael and Tara Greene

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I’m going to be fair to everyone in this match. All four men worked their arses of for this tag team match. We all know how good Ric Flair and Arn Anderson are at making their opponents “look like a million bucks” as the old saying goes. How many tag team matches with Ric and Arn have we seen in the last month of WCW Nitro episodes? They wrestled the American Males, the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express andLex Luger and Sting. Every one of those matches had the exact same structure and each match was effective in many ways. They were both absolutely phenomenal wrestlers.

Believe it or not, Mongo and Kevin Greene both held up their end of the bargain very well. After this match was over, I was very shocked at how well they did in doing a 20 minute tag team match with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. This is not the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express or even Sting for that matter. These two guys were wrestling their FIRST EVER WRESTLING MATCH at a big WCW pay-per-view and they exceeded my expectations in the ring.

However, I think I disliked this match more than pretty much every one else who I’ve seen do reviews of the match. Dave Meltzer from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter rated this match 3 and a half stars out of fivw and I’ve seen people rate it four stars. I can’t go that high purely because this match seemed like a poor imitation of those matches I mentioned from Nitro.

Of course, Kevin Green and Steve McMichael are not going to wrestle on the same level as the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express. However, these guys worked a little slower than the dudes in the matches mentioned below. It was a little bit sloppy although it wasn’t terrible or embarrassing. I would just never in my life, even with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson, never have had Greene and Mongo go 20 minutes on a pay-per-view match. I also hated the finish which we’ll get to.

Bobby Heenan got a big pop coming down to the ring. Kevin Greene, with all of his over-the-top promos where he yelled at the top of his lungs, came down to the ring with no energy about him. He was like a moving scarecrow and he even walked in a wooden manner down to the ring like The Great Khali. For a massive pay-per-view, I expected him to come out with at least an additional 10% of life!

The announcers revealed Savage was back “because of public demand” and would be wresting on Nitro or something. Greene had a shirt on with the back saying: “SACK MACHINE IN THE RING.”

Arn briefly out-wrestled Mongo and Flair cackled with laughter like HA HA HA. Mongo took Arn out with a shoulder tackle. Arn beat up Mongo for a while until Mongo came back into the match with a top rope shoulder tackle.

Mongo and Greene stomped a mudhole on Anderson in the ring to a big pop. Savage punched Arn on the outside as the referee’s back was turned. Heenan pleaded his case but Heenan bounced back off the top rope when he saw Savage staring at him!

Greene got tagged in. I love how Dusty’s advice to Mongo and Greene was not to wrestle them. Far be it for me to question the wrestling advice of “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes but it appears not wrestling would be a bad strategy if this was a wrestling match or something!

Ric suckered in Greene and stomped him in the head to applause from the crowd. The fans were about 60% behind the heels and 40% behind the good guys. Maybe it was a bit closer than that between them.

Greene hit two powerful shoulder tackles and then did Flair’s strut in the ring to infuriate the Nature Boy. Savage went after Flair on the ramp and attacked him, throwing him back into the ring… right in front of the referee. Not a disqualification at all when Savage punches away at a tired Ric Flair!

Flair went high in the air for a Kevin Greene back drop. Greene hit a clothesline as the WWE Network buffered and I lost quality. On my screen, it looked like what WCW probably looked like on VHS tapes back in 1996. Of all the matches for the WWE Network to have issues with, it is this one!

Flair chopped Mongo to little affect. Mongo responded with chops of his own and a hip toss. Flair landed almost on his head off a back drop. Mongo locked on a Figure Four on Ric to a massive pop and Greene did his own to Arn Anderson. Mongo and Greene can take some pride in the fact that they could do better Figure Four Leg Locks than Hulk Hogan! These were OK Figure Four Leg Locks compared to some of Hogan’s attempts at the move over the years!

Woman raked the eyes of Mongo and the heel women chased off the footballer’s wives. Elizabeth chased the women away in the least athletic manner possible. I mean she was in a dress so I understand why she struggled but why bother running to try and get the wives? I also was wondering why the babyface women weren’t fighting back as I figured they were there to level the playing feel for their husbands? It made sense at the end I guess…

Heenan kicked away at Mongo as Savage chased him off. Flair chopped at Mongo and Mongo responded by grabbing him. As Arn had the referee’s attention, Ric hit a low blow. The heels did a double suplex to Mongo which I was stunned that they were able to pull of.

Ric and Arn bonked into each other as Mongo eventually made the tag to Greene. Greene ran wild with chop blocks and back drops to both men. Greene hit a powerslam and Mongo hit a big boot to Flair on the apron.

Ric went for a Figure Four Leg Lock but Greene reversed this into a roll up. Flair locked on the Figure Four grabbed Arn for leverage.

Savage attacked Arn as the ref back was turned. Chris Benoit came down to help the Horsemen and he and Savage go on to have an unbelievable brawl on the outside. They were throwing hands and just have a good old scrap in the middle of this match.

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Then suddenly, Debra reappears on stage with a pink dress on and came down with Woman and Elizabeth. Where Kevin Greene’s wife went, I have no idea. Debra went to her husband on the apron as Greene is still locked in this Figure Four Leg Lock. Debra had a briefcase with a Four Horsemen t-shirt and money. Mongo contemplates this offer as Greene is in agony being locked into the Figure Four Leg Lock.

Greene eventually turned over the hold but as he begged Mongo for the tag, Mongo whacked him in the head with the briefcase and Flair scored the pin. After months of Ric Flair hitting on his wife, Mongo sided with Flair and the Horsemen after the Horsemen offered him money.

What’s weird about the money angle of this heel turn is that the announcers briefly mentioned some interview where apparently Mongo went to the Chicago Bears for the money or something like that? It was such a random line to throw in and then Mongo turned on Greene for more Green! So at least that line gave Mongo a storyline desire and when the Horsemen were able to appease his desires, he betrayed his ally Greene.

So Savage went after Flair but then he was swarmed by Mongo, Benoit, Arn and Ric. Mongo puts on the shirt as he is revealed as the 4th Horsemen, replacing Brian Pillman.

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Do you remember when I recapped asegment with Debra and Bobby Heenan from Nitro, and I questioned the tone of her voice when she denied that she had spoke to Flair “all night” as if she was hiding something. I felt for sure that this was either Debra’s accent, bad acting or she forgot a line or something even thought I thought it was weird she said it like that. Well low and behold, Debra was not kidding in storyline. She really was talking to Flair all day in terms of negotiations for Mongo becoming a Horsemen. So there was a plan to put this into place, at least as of last week, to turn Mongo heel and some long-term booking. At the very least, it’s long term booking compared to WWE in 2019.

This match I’ve actually turned the corner on the more I think about it. I could complain about it not looking as good as if it were two other wrestlers in their with the heels but the point of the match is the fact that they were two non-wrestlers in there with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. Say what you will but they went through a lot of effort to put Mongo and Greene over. Mongo wass showing how tough he is by taking the beating, Greene is running wild and spending about a minute or so locked in the Figure Four  Leg Lock at the end. They did everything to get them over and then they pulled the trigger on Mongo.

As a match, this was booked really well. Therefore, I give this match a thumbs up.

Match Rating: ***

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Eric Bischoff came out on the ramp and talked about Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Bischoff called them out as Kevin Nash and Scott Hall strolled onto the ramp. Bischoff said he was in WCW offices debating about their request for a match and WCW had decided to give Nash and Hall their match. Bischoff said it would be at Bash at the Beach and he flat out asked if they worked for the WWF and they said no. I was reading up the Wrestling Observer Newsletter from the time by Meltzer. I guess this line was a way to avert a lawsuit as I guess WWF were going after Hall for acting like Razor Ramon during his promos. They abandoned the notion that this was WWF invading but this was still treat as an invasion.

Scott Hall grabbed the mic and said to forget about the past, let’s talk about the future. He wanted to know who their guys were that were facing them. Scott told “Billionaire Ted” to get whoever he wanted as they were gonna carve them up. Scott Hall attacked Eric and Kevin Nash hit a massive Jackknife powerbomb on Bischoff through a table. Scott Hall said the real big boys just left the building and then they just… left the building!

For a man who had never entered the ring or took a bump to my knowledge up until this point, Eric Bischoff took a big bump here, even if they did pad the hell out of that table. I give credit to the man as he was willing to put this angle over to such a degree that he took a powerbomb of all moves from Nash off of the stage. That is pure commitment right there.

 

The Giant © w/Jimmy Hart vs Lex Luger for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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Luger actually attended to Bischoff as he made his way down to the ring. Giant stomped away at Luger when the match started and Luger responded with punches and clotheslines, even clotheslining Giant out of the ring onto his feet.

Luger tried to get on Giant’s back and locked on a sleeper hold. Jimmy tried to hit Luger with a megaphone but Sting ran down and chased him off. Giant slammed Luger into the corner and hit a big backbreaker.

The commentators sounded very solemn and quiet on commentary which was exactly what LEX LUGER VS THE GIANT needed. We had a slow big man match between Luger and Giant, with the announcers all quiet for this world title match. To be fair, the match wasn’t particular compelling enough to get excited over.

Giant got Luger up for a backbreaker submission for a brief period of time. Luger tried a scoop slam but Giant was too big so they both crashed to the ground.

Giant tried a charge at Luger but Luger moved out of the way as Giant bounced off the rope. Luger kicked The Giant away and Luger hit two big clotheslines, two big forearms and two chop blocks to get The Giant down to one knee. He punched at the head of Giant but Giant pushed him away and was back on his feet after all of that.

Giant went for a splash but got stuck on the top turnbuckle. Luger kicked away and then tried a Torture rack as the fan rose to their feet. The fans erupted as he got him up in the air briefly but he collapsed due to the weight of Giant. Giant hit the chokeslam and got the pin.

Match Rating: *1/2 –  I’ve seen worse WCW main-events than this but this was by no means good or anything. At least they tried their best.

 

That was easily the best WCW pay-per-view I’ve watched so far for this series. Great matches up and down the show accompanied by a lot of other good ones. There was possibly two matches that were less than 2 stars and everything else came close to or exceeded my expectations. This was a great PPV to watch and makes me excited to see what comes next. Bash At The Beach 1996 is a pay-per-view I’ve been wanting to get to for a long time and that will be the very next pay-per-view that we watch.

If my maths is correct, there’s three episodes of Nitro until Bash at the Beach so do check out the Armbar Express for the Nitro reviews building up to a famous wrestling pay-per-view with possibly the greatest heel turn in wrestling history…

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 #39 (JUNE 10TH 1996) – KEVIN NASH DEBUTS IN WCW AS SCOTT HALL’S BIG SURPRISE

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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Scott Hall had arrived in WCW 2 weeks ago but returned for a little bit more fun in the closing segments oflast week’s show. He appeared to confront Eric Bischoff once more when Sting got up in Hall’s face. Sting challenged Hall to a match but Hall responded that no-one told him what to do. Hall threw a tooth pick at Sting and Sting slapped Hall in response. The police separated both men with Scott Hall promising to bring a “big surprise” with him next time…

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This show went from being consistently good for months to suddenly just being inconsistent with the quality. When the first two hour show aired, it was pretty awful. Last week’s episode was fabulous as I worded it when I reviewed it. This week, it was back to just being awful in my opinion. Maybe that’s harsh but this show dragged and dragged and filled with lots of gutter.

The two constant good aspects of the show are Ric Flair matches and the invasion angle which we’ll get to. Everything seemed all over the place to me when watching this episode.

With that all being said, this was the go-home show for The Great American Bash 1996 and it worked as a go-home show. You know why? Because I got excited for this upcoming PPV following this show. There was a stellar card that was being put together and the big angles were being pushed very well. By that standard, this was a good show. As a regular Nitro episode, this was not a good one.

 

Date: June 10th 1996

Brand: WCW

City:Wheeling, West Virginia

Rating: 2.6

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan

 

 

Booker T vs Scott Steiner

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Booker threw Steiner around with his long hair which angered Steiner… just a reminder that Steiner had ridiculously long hair at this time before he became Big Poppa Pump. Booker was using it against Steiner and Steiner was mad about it.

Booker and Steiner battled for the backslide pin attempt. Steiner tried suplex after suplex on Booker to which Booker evaded/avoided every attempt. I love that the battle in this match was about Scott hitting a suplex on Booker which ordinarily would mean nothing, but this was Scott Steiner from the Steiner Brothers. It’s an important part of his arsenal which we’ll get onto later with the finish.

Eventually, after ducking a side kick, Steiner hit a tiger powerbomb. Steiner dropped Booker with atomic drop and clotheslined him over the top rope. Booker hit a scissors kick for a two count and it’s still weird seeing the scissors kick as just a move and not a finisher from Booker as it would become in WWE.

Booker grounded Steiner with a front face lock. Yeah Booker briefly out-wrestled college amateur wrestler SCOTT STEINER! Booker did a top rope crossbody for the two count.

Booker tried a suplex but Steiner slipped behind and hit the Scorpion Death Drop, just like Sting did to Scott himself in the last two weeks. It is actually ridiculous the detail in these matches. If you had watched the last two episodes of Nitro and seen Sting reverse a suplex into a Scorpion Deathlock twice now, for Scott to utilise that himself showed that the man learned from previous mistakes.

Steiner got back into the match and hit a belly-to-belly suplex at last. He then called for a frankensteiner but Booker evaded it. Booker followed that up with the wheel kick but Steiner kicked out. Booker missed a top rope body splash and Scott hit a belly-to-belly suplex for the win.

A good opener and told a simple and basic storyline. The suplex winning the match for Steiner was weird to see but again, more than one way to beat someone is great. The suplex battle was actually cleverly well done. After all of this time trying to hit a suplex, Scott finally hit one at the end of the match and he picked up the win. This gets a thumbs up.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Scott Steiner. He started to cut a promo when Debra McMichael cut him off. Scott gave Debra the floor and left. She was worried about her husband Steve “Mongo” McMichael. She’s worried he’s gonna hurt someone permanently. She thought it was her fault but Mean Gene assured her that it wasn’t her fault. She wanted to ask if he could set up a meeting with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson to call off the tag team match at the PPV. Mean Gene went to see what he could do.

 

DDP vs Jim Powers where apparently the Lord of the Ring was on the line according to Tony Schiavonie

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The DDP character is pretty great at the moment in terms of how is story has been told in the last 6 months or whatever. DDP has been booked as a cocky, arrogant fella that always gets his comeuppance in the eyes of the fans. Let’s take one of the first things that happenED in this match. DDP argued with a fan and almost got rolled up for the win by JIM POWERS of all people.

How many times has DDP went to mock the fans or whatever and that led to his doom or almost his doom? He’s too cocky for his own good and that makes him such a good heel. However, if you watch how he’s been booked since Slamboree, they’ve clearly demonstrated that DDP can actually be a good wrestler when he has to be.

When DDP was in that Slamboree battle bowl battle royal, he took it to everyone and was kicking out of everything The Barbarian was throwing at him near the end of that mtch. He eventually fought back and got a big babyface win. Let’s be honest about this. DDP finally won in the end and the fans actually popped.

So the story is that DDP’s own ego is getting in the way of his own success. This isn’t like Disco Inferno’s character who thinks he is better than he actually is. DDP’s ego is getting in the way of him unlocking his full potential. So when he turns babyface, this could be something he can overcome to make him more likeable to the fans.

The match itself wasn’t much of a match. Jim Powers ran wild for a bit as DDP sold and sold for the babyface, then DDP did a back elbow and dropped Powers with the Diamond Cutter to a polite applause for the pin. It gives DDP another win and this slow build push for DDP I bet will have a massive pay-off when we get to him becoming a babyface.

 

They recapped the Taskmaster/Chris Benoit feud again. Benoit vs Taskmaster was now a falls count anywhere match for The Great American Bash. Mean Gene interviewed WCW US Champion Konnan who was defending the title against El Gato at the PPV.

 

Meng vs Sting

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I feel this is the appropriate time to bring this up based on a comment made by Larry Zybszko. Larry made some misogynist comments about blonde women when talking about Debra. It was the typical “the woman should stay at home” spiel and nothing anyone could possibly get away with saying in 2019. I bring it up because in December 2019, Lana recently accused CM Punk of making misogynist comment. I guess CM Punk called her “chica” when talking about her storyline with Rusev and Lashley on WWE Backstage show and she responded with the following:

“I know you’ve been away from WWE for several years. Perhaps moving forward, you will favor WWE and FS1 by refraining from misogynistic comments like ‘chica.’ Thank you.”

I’m not going to argue whether what Punk said was worse than what Larry said because I personally think it’s down to the individual what they actually perceive as offensive.  With that being said, I’m stunned. If what Punk said was considered “misogyny” by Lana, then I wonder what her thoughts would be on this stuff from Larry SPECIFICALLY AIMED AT BLONDE WOMEN at the start of this match.

Speaking of the match, Meng beat on Sting for a while. Sting hit a hard-hitting crossbody for a 2 count which the fans popped for. Meng tried a small package. Meng dropped Sting with a shoulder breaker. Sting cut off Meng with the Tongan going to the top rope. Sting locked on the Scorpion Deathlock and tapped out Meng for the win.

Not much of a match but for what it was, it was fun.

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Mean Gene was with Debra and Bobby Heenan, with the latter managing Ric Flair and Arn Anderson at the PPV. First of, Bobby claimed Debra had been talking to Flair all week. Debra corrected him insisting that she’d been not been talking to him all NIIIIIIGHT. She said “night” in such a way to hint that she hadn’t spoken to him all night but she had been speaking to him all day!

There was something about the way she said “night” where it didn’t come off as believable. Her tone of voice indicated that she was hiding something! Maybe I’m looking too much into this and this is not an accusation of any kind but she technically didn’t say she didn’t talk to him all week. She just said she hadn’t talked to him all night. If you watch the episode and listen to the tone of her voice, it didn’t seem sincere at all to me!

Debra walked into Flair’s locker room. Bobby slammed the door which led to Debra screaming and running out. Ric Flair jumped Joe Gomez and The Renegade, their opponents for that show, as Flair locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock on Gomez as Anderson put in the boots to him.

 

Squire Dave Taylor vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan

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Hacksaw ran wild with clothesline while Taylor sold like crazy. I’m over this Hacksaw Jim Duggan push that WCW have seemingly been up to. I’m not even sure if it’s a push because he doesn’t win a lot of matches on Nitro. However, there seems to be a strong intention to protect Duggan as much as they can. If you watched Slamboree, he beat three men by himself to single-handedly win a tag team match. Last week, he lost to Lord Steven Regal after being overcome by four men. Here, Duggan is back to getting his revenge of the New Bloods.

The finish was Duggan got the tape he’d been using in his matches and punched Taylor in the face with it and got the pin. Now, every time Duggan does this, he gets the tape when the referee isn’t looking like he’s cheating. He whips it out whenever the referee’s back is turned or there is some distraction. However, he uses it and wins his matches. For this match, the referee raised his hands with tape hanging out of Duggan’s hand to suggest that there is not problem with the tape as the referee didn’t question it. This begs the question, why bother trying to hide the tape from the ref if after the match if you’re just going to throw the tape up right in the view of the referee? This tape gimmick for Hacksaw Jim Duggan SUCKED.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Big Bubba and Jimmy Hart. I think it was Jimmy that said Shark didn’t pull his weight, so he’s not part of the Dungeon of Doom. Big Bubba said he proved to the whole world that The Shark was nothing but half a man. Basically Bubba said he was gonna sweep him into the sea or something. Bubba talked at an even faster pace than Jimmy Hart if you find that hard to believe.

 

The Giant © vs “The Flash” Scott Norton for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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Didn’t I say last week that the dynamite clock/firework thing for the second hour was going to annoy me? Well this week really rubbed me the wrong way. They have this dynamite clock that was counting down for a minute until the second hour started and the fireworks go off. For a solid minute, Norton is in the ring with his music playing as they’re waiting for this clock to tick down and the fireworks to go. A FULL MINUTE of Norton just in the ring STANDING THERE before the fireworks go off.

I had to sit there as a viewer to watch ONE MINUTE of NOTHING going on as we’re waiting for the bloody countdown. It’s not even like the fireworks could have went off during The Giant’s entrance. No, the fireworks go off after a minute for about 20 seconds and then The Giant slowly saunters down to the ring and we’ve got to wait for The Giant to get in the ring. This was wasting time to an absurd degree.

So what happened after all of this pomp and circumstance? Norton tried some forearms but Giant ran wild, doing a powerslam of all moves. Norton fired back with a few clotheslines in the corner. Giant cut him off with a big boot. Norton ran into the ring post. The Giant chokeslammed Norton on the floor and then pinned him. This entire match lasted 1 minute and 42 seconds. Norton waited longer than the time of the match to wait for a countdown, fireworks to go off and The Giant coming down ot the ring. Scott Norton had to have been so furious when he saw that on the script for this episode of Nitro!

Giant tried a further beat down. Luger tried to make the save but got thrown out of the ring. Giant delivered a big super kick which sent Luger flying. Giant tried a chokeslam through the table but Luger punted him in the balls to get out of it. Luger beat up The Giant with weapons as Hugh and Taskmaster come to Giant’s aid. Giant cried with agony and then cried with rage! Luger cut a promo at the announce booth. He said he’d proven the Giant can feel pain and he’d see The Giant at Great American Bash. Lex Luger was challenging The Giant for the title at the PPV. This was a decent go-home show angle for The Great American Bash although there was more to come.

 

Billy Kidman vs Lord Steven Regal

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I understand that this match got less than a minute of time, but Billy Kidman worked at a ridiculously fast paced to get a whole bunch of spots in. This was for a match lasting LESS THAN ONE MINUTE. This was his first WCW Nitro appearance so I understand wanting to stand-out but he worked at 500 miles an hour. He did 5000 moves and I was begging for him to slow down. This put Dolph Ziggler to shame in terms of going too fast. He actually physically looked like his future tag team partner Paul London. He looked so tiny for this match that Regal actually looked massive in comparison.

Kidman dropkicked Regal in the back of the head. Kidman missed a 450 splash I think and landed on his knees. Regal locked on a Liontamer-like Boston Crab for the win. The fact that this match got a minute was actually appalling to me knowing how much time Scott Norton wasted waiting for a countdown clock and fireworks. There’s also a match that got too much time which we’ll get to.

Sting came out for the save and slapped Regal in response to the slap of doom from a few weeks ago on WCW Main Event.

 

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

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These four geeks are lucky that the Hardwork Bobby Walker vs Brad Armstrong match from a few weeks ago existed. If that didn’t happen, this would have easily been the worst match in Nitro history. I’m done these two teams wrestling each other over an over again. Calling this wrestling is even stretching it. I’m done with the blatant and uncalled for weapon shots to the head. I’m doing with the pointless brawling. I’m done with the lack of psychology. I am done with this second-hand garbage wrestling.

At least if this was ECW, this “garbage” wrestling or hardcore wrestling would have been more entertaining. This was not entertaining in the slightest. This sucked. They all brawled with each other as the bell didn’t even ring.

In the previous 20 minutes of the show or whatever, they tried to pack in so many things in the space of a few minutes for each match/segment. There was a run-in after The Giant match and there was a run-in after the Regal match. They gave these two tag teams about 15 minutes when you take into consideration the entrances and the post-match stuff and they did… nothing. They did nothing compelling. They did nothing but brawl with each other and I just started to think that this show sucked.

They fought. Nothing eventful happened. Rocco and Sags had an absolutely shocking brawl on the outside. Knobbs hit a middle rope clothesline which never really looked pretty, although I appreciate the effort from Knobbs. Knobbs seemed to be a wrestler who actually tried to get something out of nothing although he was never quite able to do it. Fair play to him for trying but even he couldn’t save this match.

The Nasty Boys beat up Grunge in the corner. I had no idea who the babyfaces or who the heels were in this rivalry. Sags did a double clothesline to Public Enemy. This put AEW to shame in terms of having wrestlers illegally being in the ring during a tag match but at least AEW had rules that allowed for a bit more time in the ring to do certain spots. These teams are just in the ring doing whatever and the referee did nothing about it.

Knobbs and Rocco tumbled to the floor. Bischoff called this tag match “no pretty” which had to have been the understatement of 1996.  Rocco brought out a trash can but Knobbs cut him off. Sags did a pumphandle drop.

Rocco went for a move from the top but Sags used the trash can and the referee called for the bell to finally end this match. Before we could all move on, I must talk about Knobbs again. I have no idea why he did this but Knobbs took the time after the match to launch a trash can lid at Rocco right on the top of the head SO HARD. Rocco’s back was turned and Knobbs threw this lid at his head so he didn’t know what was coming. This was not light. He threw it so hard and with such a force that I can’t imagine this being done other than to hurt Rocco legitimately. Other than that, why else did Knobbs think that was necessary?

The second worst match in Nitro history up until this point. It’s not even like the fans were going nuts for this as they booed the finish.

 

We got more Mongo and Kevin Greene stuff as “Macho Man” Randy Savage came down to wherever they were training to coach them. RANDY SAVAGE told Kevin Greene not to be too intense. Of all of the people in WCW to tell Kevin Greene not to be too intense, it’s the Macho Man? The guy who was too crazy that he was banned at the time from wrestling because he went crazy! I found that line hilarious.

 

Lex Luger and Sting vs Ric Flair and Arn Anderson

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Luger and Sting were replacing Gomez and Renegade. Apparently this was for the tag titles as the referee showed them off to the camera like he usually did. I thought Sting and Luger were just replacing Gomez and Renegade. When did it become a title match?

Ric chopped at Luger but Luger fired back and did a big Gorilla Press slam. Luger sent Ric and Arn packing. Sting and Luger beat up Ric all over the place. I love how Arn stopped himself from crashing into the corner. After this he then pointed to his brain and bragged about how smart he was, and then Sting just punched him in the face! I love that spot! Again, Arn is too cocky for his good just like DDP was earlier.

Arn and Ric sold and sold for the babyfaces all over the place. If you take every Sting vs Ric Flair match and added Lex Luger acting like Sting and Arn Anderson acting like Ric Flair, that’s what you got here. Two Stings vs Two Ric Flairs in a tag team match!

Arn called for a time-out as the heels re-grouped. This match was also very similar to every Arn and Ric tag match in the last 3 weeks. There’s not a lot to say about this other than it went exactly as you’d figure Sting and Luger vs Arn and Ric would go down.

Arn wore down Sting and Sting sold and sold for a long time. I love that Bobby tried to bribe Bischoff with $50 to go down to the ring to help Arn and Ric! Luger got the hot tag and ran wild. The Giant came down and Luger fought him as the ref rang for the bell.

Scott Steiner ran down and beat up Giant with a chair, It was three on one again with Sting, Luger and Scott battling the monster as The Giant still wanted some more but Jimmy called him off. Giant screamed on the mic that Luger was a dead man and promised Luger was going out on a stretcher at the PPV.

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Bobby yelled at Savage at the end of the show but got cut off and ran way from Scott Hall, who made his way over to Bischoff again. Eric grabbed the mic and said he didn’t want any trouble. Eric then eventually changed his tune. He gets a little confident and said Hall came out last week and said he had a big surprise so where was it? He said he heard a lot of talk but where was the walk?

So as Eric attempted to call Hall’s “bluff”, the big surprise appears from behind Eric Bischoff. The big surprise is revealed as Kevin Nash, formerly Diesel in the WWF. Nash cut a promo on Bischoff saying that Eric had been sitting out for six months running his mouth. Kevin Nash then said the following: “This is where the big boys play huh? Look at the adjective, play. We ain’t here to play.” Not the adverb play… THE ADJECTIVE play!

Nash said Hall was gonna bring someone out here and he’s here. He said WCW still doesn’t have their 3 people because they’re all afraid to face them. Nash suggested that they get a couple of palaeontologists to clean up these “fossils”. He asked: “WHERE’S HOGAN? Doing Blunder in Paradise?” Out all of the people he could have called out first, he called out Hogan? That is very interesting when you say where this storyline goes.

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Eric said he didn’t have the authority but he’ll be at WCW Headquarters in Atlanta to try and arrange something. Nash said the measuring stick just got changed around here and they were looking at it. Nash and Hall then left.

Other than the infamous adjective line, Kevin Nash cut a hell of a promo. Nash basically told Eric that we’re not playing around and things are changing around here in WCW. He cut a way better promo than Hall cut a few weeks ago. They said they were gonna be at the Great American Bash so again, more reason to watch the PPV.

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This was a bad Nitro to me. This was not as bad as the Nitro from two weeks ago but I was done with this show as soon as they got to the Public Enemy vs Nasty Boys match. The time management was spot on last week but it was all over the place this week. Why did Public Enemy and Nasty Boys get more time than anybody? Why did Regal vs Kidman get a minute? Why did Scott Norton stand in the ring for about two minutes to have a match that lasted less than two minutes.

I will say that this month they did a better job in building up the upcoming PPV which is the next show in the series. They had a stacked card for The Great American Bash:

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I’ve actually been told that this is actually a great PPV so I am very much looking forward to watching this PPV. There will be a full review of the Great American Bash 1996 here on the Armbar Express. 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 #38 (JUNE 3RD 1996) – RIC FLAIR AND ARN ANDERSON VS THE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL EXPRESS

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 we finally got the debut of the “outsider” himself Scott Hall to WCW television, as he interrupted the exhilarating Steve Doll vs Mauler match to declare war on WCW and “Billionaire Ted.” He re-appeared later on in the show to challenge WCW to a three on three six man tag team match, leaving the fans in the dark about who his allies are and leaving Eric Bischoff flustered and in disarray.

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In the follow-up episode of the famous Scott Hall invasion angle, I think WCW upped their game. Last week was miserable with some of worst matches we’ve seen in the entire series and an underwhelming vibe minus the Scott Hall segment. This week, it was a massive improvement.

It felt like there was more of a point to a lot of the matches they put on, we had some funny segments, some compelling television and we got a big cliffhanger at the end of the show which tied into last week’s big angle.

Mostly, it felt like they got the pacing way better this week with the two hour wrestling show. It was way better than last week’s two hour wrestling show. It felt less of a chore to watch it and the show went by quicker than it did last week.

 

Date: June 3rd 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Asheville, North Carolina

Rating: 3

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan

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This show got off to a flyer in my eyes! This opening promo from The Shark fit right into the “so bad it’s good” category of wrestling. Mean Gene was interviewing The Shark right before a match with Big Bubba, who cut Shark’s hair last week. Shark told the production team to cut the music which Mean Gene Okerlund dubbed the order of Shark! Big Bubba was shown in the ring and still kept the hair with him that he cut off The Shark last week.

Then the Shark cut this promo. He said he’s not shaving the other half of his hair and mentioned that he was embarrassed of the failure by his neighbours and other people making fun of him. He was embarrassed but despite this, he still kept his hair in the state that it was anyway? That seemed like weird motivation for the babyface.

The Shark yells the following: “I’M NOT THE SHARK, I’M NOT A FISH, I’M NOT AN AVALANCHE, I’M A MAN” as he declares himself JOHN TENTA! He rid himself of the Shark gimmick by declaring himself a man! This was very much the WCW version of Pinocchio! Tenta promised he would shave the hair of The Giant and he would feel what Tenta felt last week.

 

John Tenta vs Big Bubba w/Jimmy Hart

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I went through the trouble of making notes for this match but really, it does no justice to the level of incompetence of this match. It was one of the most bizarre refereeing in the history of wrestling refereeing. John Tenta runs wild on Bubba and hits a big powerbomb. Tenta then grabs a pair of scissors and charges Bubba with the scissors. First of all, he made a great mistake in running with scissors. Secondly, Tenta is threatening someone with scissors and referee Nick Patrick does absolutely nothing about this. HE JUST STANDS THERE. Larry Zbyszko is rightfully saying that Tenta should be DQ’d and he has a go at Nick Patrick.

Big Bubba runs to the outside of the ring and won’t get back in because this mad man John Tenta is in the ring with scissors and coming for him. NICK PATRICK then starts counting out BIG BUBBA. He doesn’t DQ Tenta for having a weapon, he doesn’t even yell at Tenta or try to get the scissors out of his hand. He counts out his opponent, who is fearing for his life, and awards the match to John Tenta. WHAT?

This was some of the worst officiating in a wrestling match I’ve seen in a long time. What happened at the Doomsday Cage match, that didn’t have any established rules in the first place so I wouldn’t really consider that. Nick Patrick condemned Big Bubba for running away from a big guy with a grudge and scissors and awarded the match to Tenta. This would be like if Tenta had brought a gun into the ring and aimed at Bubba. Would Patrick still be counting out Bubba in that scenario? Jeez Louise!

 

 

“High Voltage” Ruckus and Kaos vs “Faces of Fear” Meng and The Barbarian

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This was a fantastic squash match. They bring in High Voltage from the WCW Power Plant and effectively fed them to the Faces of Fear. The Faces of Fear were heels but they were beloved by the fans as they beat the tar out of these two geeks. This was a fabulous squash match.

They lock up and Barbarian smashes away at Kaos.  High Voltage take over briefly with a double hip toss and shoulder tackle. Then the Faces of Fear proceed to beat High Voltage’s collective arses for the rest of this match.

Barbarian hit a powerbomb and the fans went NUTS for this powerbomb. The more this team of savages murderws High Voltage, the louder and louder the fans got for the Faces of Fear. The fans loved Faces of Fear as they took control against the babyfaces. Barbarian drops Ruckus with a pumphandle drop

Barbarian sent Ruckus crashing to the floor with his top rope belly to belly suplex and the fans were in full appreciation. He went up for the move and the fans start to buzz, he delivered the move and the fans went crazy. It was amazing to witness. The heels deliver a double headbutt. Meng throws Kaos’ arse out of the ring as Meng hits the Mafia Kick for the win.

This was an awesome squash. High Voltage were so unimpressive but the Faces of Fear looked so awesome and they were over with the crowd. This gets a HUGE thumbs up. This was fun to watch!

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Mean Gene interviewed Sting and Lex Luger. Luger said things got out of hand last week as the Scott Steiner vs Sting match resulted in a big brawl for the DQ. You see, things got out of hand so the referee threw the match out. Unlike Nick Patrick, who apparently thought running around with scissors was OK.

Luger claimed the Steiners attacked him two on one. He said he’s always painted as the bad guy but hopefully cooler heads would prevail. Sting correctly mentioned the suplex that Luger broke up last week which he knew would be the Steiners’ defence. Luger said we’re all very competitive but insisted he was being a friend.

The Steiners interrupted the interview. Rick was mad that Luger took a cheap shot at Scott but Luger was mad that Scott was trying to hurt Sting on the floor with a suplex. Rick yells “he was trying to win!” and Luger responded “on the floor?” It was such a great argument!

Scott Steiner gets involved and pointed at Luger. They warn him not to stick his nose in. Scott was cutting this promo and all I heard was the future Big Poppa Pump. I realise Scott Steiner and Big Poppa Pump were the same person, but this promo felt more like one of his promos that he would be cutting in the later years as a heel and with TNA. It was surreal to listen to. Scott was all yelling and angry at the other guys.

Sting admitted that if his friend was in the same spot he may have had to intervene. Luger pushed Scott I believe which led to a big shoving match between the teams as Mean Gene lost it and threatened to not interview them anymore! I thought this was a legitimately compelling segment. The intensity was there, all four guys, even Luger, made valid points. They were all compelling and it made you wanna watch these teams go at it later. This is how you build up to a main-event tag team match. This gets two thumbs up!

 

Disco Inferno vs Sgt. Craig Pittman w/Teddy Long

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I may have to take away one of those thumbs up for this match. This match was no-good and as soon as Disco failed do an arm drag, you knew there was trouble. That was the first move of the match and it looked sloppy as hell.

Pittman manhandled Disco, throwing him arse all over the place and slamming him with a powerbomb. Disco’s punch to the face was no-sold by Pittman. Pittman then went for Code Red Armbar but Disco gave up up before the move was applied. Disco explained he wouldn’t be able to dance if Pittman broke his arm so he quit. Nothing like a wrestler who cares little about actually wrestling and more about dancing. Way to go Disco Inferno….

This sucked.

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It is now time for me to talk about a segment that didn’t actually take place on Nitro but they showed replays of it during the show. It’s actually available on YouTube to see. Remember when Steven Regal challenged Sting last week? Well on WCW Main Event, they did a press conference. I watched this segment like 2-3 weeks ago and I thought it was one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen. They showed it again twice during this show and I laughed each time!

Regal ended the contract signing saying something like he’s gonna make an example of Sting so WCW doesn’t overlook him anymore. He turned his back to Sting and Sting goes to grab him. He pushes him in the back. So Regal takes one lunge forward and delivers the greatest backhand slap I’ve ever seen. He slapped Sting right in the face and the sound was so loud in the confides of this small room that they’re having this contract signing in.

This slap must have hurt so hard they not only did they bleep what Sting said afterwards, they blurred his face too! I rewatched this about 50 times when I first saw it. I found the GIF and sent it to everyone I could find. It was the most brilliant slap you’ll ever see. People like Bully Ray and Pentagon Jr do these big slaps all of the time but I’ve seen few people in the world of wrestling do a slap like this right across the face. When I saw it again, I loved it.

That slap alone was perfect build for their match at The Great American Bash. Regal slapped Sting during this contract signing and it was so hard, Sting swore so much that it blurred his face! Sting was all kinds of pissed off about this slap. I cannot wait to watch their match at The Great American Bash.

I watched it again on YouTube and someone commented that Sting deserved the slap as he didn’t wear a shirt and a tie to a contract signing! I laughed at that.

 

Lord Steven Regal vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan

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The fans went nuts with USA chants as Hacksaw Jim Duggan egged them off and Regal was disgusted by this act of patriotism! I love how Larry claimed Regal backing away from Duggan was psychological warfare… after weeks of listening to Bobby Heenan finding 1001 ways to call Jim Duggan stupid on commentary! We’ll get to Bobby later.

Hacksaw ran wild on Regal and Regal had a good snap in the selling of the clotheslines Hacksaw delivered. Hacksaw ran wild with punches in bunches. Regal booted Duggan right in the face to take control, with Regal’s face showing such displeasure in the USA chants!

Regal went for a rolling senton but Duggan avoided it. Duggan ran wild as the Blue Bloods try to get involved. Dave Taylor intercepted the 2×4 and Regal rolled up Duggan off the distraction for the win.

The right man won here but again, they did everything in their power to protect Hacksaw Jim Duggan. This was exactly like Slamboree when they felt the need to have Duggan overcome three men by himself! If you’ll recall, one of those men was Steven Regal! Here, he lost to Regal as he should have done, but he was fighting off four men before Regal eventually beat him. Just have Regal kick his arse and send him packing as yes, Regal’s got a big match with Sting at the pay-per-view.

The match was OK but the booking infuriated me!

 

Mean Gene interviewed Regal and the Blue Bloods. Regal said he got a fine for the slap of doom which was a fine more than the peasants in the arena would make in a year. He paid double in fine so he’s in credit! They showed the clip again from WCW Main Event. Regal called out Sting for not loving anyone except himself. He said he wanted the Stinger at his best. He wanted Sting to be mean, nasty and rude. He wanted to beat Sting in the ring which Regal himself called his home. This was a solid Regal promo and an excellent way to hype up him vs Sting. He wanted the very best of Sting and he slapped him as he wanted Sting to be the meanest, nastiest and rudest he’s ever been so he could beat Sting at his best. This was superb promotion for a wrestling match.

 

They showed clips from WCW Saturday Night in the last month where Chris Benoit and “The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan kept arguing, with Benoit questioning Arn Anderson’s trust in Sullivan. Kevin Sullivan vowed to squash the serpent Benoit at Great American Bash as he figured Benoit wanted to be the enforcer of the Horseman instead of Arn. I do like that with the extra hour, they found the time to air important clips from these other shows as a means to advance my interest in those programs and storylines.

 

“The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan w/Jimmy Hart vs Prince Iaukea

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Again, this was another simple squash  match. Taskmaster went in there and beat the ever-living daylights out of the newcomer Prince Iaukea. He slammed him on the guard rail, he slapped the hell out of him as the prince got no offense at all to my knowledge. Taskmaster hit a double foot stomp and got the pin with a move I totally forgot was his finisher!

I love that this show had a lot more squash matches than we’d previously seen. Remember last week where I got so mad at the Lex Luger vs Maxx match where I said they should have just had Luger hit a bunch of clotheslines and lock on the Torture Rack to beat the guy. Taskmaster was shown here to not be playing around. He went in there, beat the Prince’s arse and won. Give me guys beating other guys to build them up strong for other matches! I realise this is a foreign concept to a lot of companies in 2019 but look at how well it did for Faces of Fear earlier on in the night.

Mean Gene interviewed Jimmy Hart and Taskmaster. Jimmy asked Taskmaster why they have to associate themselves with the Horsemen? After all, they’ve got The Giant and the WCW World title so Jimmy’s asking why they should need them. Taskmaster said two wars are going on in WCW as Hulkamania is not dead. He warned Hogan would be coming back for The Giant, Jimmy Hart and Taskmaster. Taskmaster said the only two people he respected in the wrestling business were Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. He mentioned that he told Arn about Brian Pillman. He called Pilman a quitter. He said he knows serpents and the way you get rid of the serpent is to crush the egg. He said he’s gonna get rid of Benoit in order for the Dungeon to get rid of Hogan.

 

Ric Flair and Arn Anderson w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth vs “The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express” Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson

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They mentioned earlier on in the show that Flair and Anderson were going to be facing the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express and I initially thought Tony Schiavonie had just fluffed up his words a little and they meant… the American Males or some other tag team. Well as it turned out, it was RIC FLAIR AND ARN ANDERSON VS RICKY MORTON AND ROBERT GIBSON on an episode of Nitro. During the year where the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express are making their big return in NJPW and AEW, I watched a Nitro from 1996 with these guys wrestling Flair and Anderson.

They then proceed to have a solid 18 minute tag team match. I understand this was not the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express in their prime but they had a damn decent showing in there with Flair and Anderson. Flair and Arn came out in NFL tops to mock Kevin Greene and Steve “Mongo” McMichael ahead of their match at The Great American Bash. Oh we’ll get to that later.

There was a dynamite timer on the clock as things were gonna literally explode as they were about to go into the second hour. They begin to wrestle. Conveniently at the moment they stop doing anything in the ring, fireworks went off like crazy to mark the beginning of the second hour. These fireworks were massive for celebrating THE SECOND HOUR OF A WRESTLING SHOW of all things! You could tell this company had a lot of money to blow at this point in their existence. This is gonna annoy the hell out of me in the new few weeks isn’t it?

Ric and Ricky started going nuts, throwing hands back and forth as they battled. It was like the battles of The Rock and Stone Cold when they threw these wild punches at each other. The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express took control as Woman and Miss Elizabeth drunk champagne by Ric’s fancy table set-up.

Robert locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock to thunderous applause from the fans. Then Ricky got Arn on the Figure Four Leg Lock of his own and the fans lost their minds at the sight of the double Figure Four Leg Lock by the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express. It’s insane how crazy these fans got for this spot. Even when Hogan would do his horrific Figure Four Leg Locks, the fans wouldn’t go NEARLY as batshit insane as they did here.

The ref pushed Ric around and Ric lost his mind as he and Arn re-grouped on the entrance ramp.  Ricky ran wild on Arn for a bit. I love how Ric voluntarily tagged himself into the match and then begged of Ricky Morton right away! He wanted to tag himself into the match but he wanted no business with Ricky Morton!

Ric took control with an eye poke. Ricky turned things around for a while but Ric quickly turned it back around in his favour by evading a charge into the corner and chopping Morton down. Arn worked on the arm of Ricky, utilising under-handed tactics by grabbing Flair’s arm at any opportunity he could. As the ref would turn around to try and catch them, Ric would just start strutting on the apron! This was great stuff from Flair!

Arn hit a great spinebuster on Ricky but Gibson broke it up. Ric did a suplex and hurt himself in the process… which was weird to me. Arn slowed it down by wrenching on the head of Ricky. Ricky worked his way to his feet and got a sleeper hold locked in out of nowhere, to which Arn turned that into a back suplex. Ric went for a Figure Four Leg Lock but Ricky reversed it into a small package. Ricky and Ric battled for a sunset flip spot.

Arn went for a front face lock and the fans expected the DDT from the Enforcer. Bobby Heenan left the booth and talked to the girls, as the announcers talked about Heenan possibly managing the heels at the PPV. Arn and Ricky bonked into each other as Bobby walked away with a smile on his face.

Ricky went through the legs of Arn and got the tag to Robert. Robert Gibson ran wild. The fans were surprisingly quiet for this which I’m wondering had something to do with the heat segment. I think the heels got the heat for possibly too long as the fans started zoning out possibly. After all, this was an 18 minute match on Nitro, which they weren’t used as discussed last week.

They did a double drop kick on Flair and Arn but then Woman raked the eyes of Robert as the referee was distracted. Arn hit the DDT for the win.

Slow in parts but a good tag match. I very much enjoyed it. I enjoyed seeing the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express as they held their own with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson in this match. In the end, the heels had to cheat to win and this was fun to watch. This gets a thumbs up too!

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Mean Gene interviewed the heels. Arn said he was too big and thick to play football as earlier on in the show, he couldn’t get his jersey off over his head! That I laughed at. Arn said they’re tougher and they’re way too big. Ric talked about Mongo’s wife Debra again and claimed the jerseys were from her. Ric said they were bigger, faster, sleeker and they were all night long as Ric smooched all over Woman. The Coup de grace, as Ric put it, was Bobby Heenan as Bobby came back on screen. Mean Gene suggested chicanery.

Bobby said everyone had asked him to be a manager again, which was actually shown to be true if you remember the Sgt. Pittman angle from months ago when Pittman asked Heenan to be his manager. However, Heenan said he was never gonna be manager again and was going to stay true to his word. Ric was devastated as Ric went: “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE GIRLS?” I was overcome with laughter!

Bobby then grabbed an All-Madden trophy which he got as he was listed as a coach. He said he’d never manage but he didn’t say anything about being a coach. He agreed to coach the heels. Heenan said he’d show the NFL players what coaching means. He said The Brain was back coaching and the fans popped for this. They all celebrated with champagne. I thought this was a great segment.

What was spectacular about this was Heenan cut this great promo about the NFL and he was coming back to show up these NFL players in the confides of a wrestling ring. Arn, Ric and Bobby are all talking about how wrestlers were tougher and better all around and the fans are loving all of this, even from these heels that have been hated for years by the majority of fans! They were defending wrestling, in front  a wrestling crowd, and the fans ate it up! Bobby essentially cut a babyface promo in their eyes!

Bobby reiterated when he got back to the announce booth that this was a one-time thing and planned to teach the NFL that you can’t walk over wrestling.

 

There was another Hulk Hogan video package of him whooping arse to his own theme song. I’m pretty sure there was two Hogan video packages during this episode. They showed us how he was all about the red, white and blue and he was portrayed as such a hero to his fans. I’m wondering what the point of this was, other than to remind us that they still have Hulk Hogan. I figured there was no point to these video packages. It turned out there was a point as we’ll get to The Giant’s promo later.

 

The Giant (c) vs Ice Train for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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The Giant had another title defence on Nitro, this time with Ice Train. I don’t remember ever seeing Ice Train win on Nitro yet but here he is in a title match. Anyway, I was still excited to see him as he and The Giant had this big staredown before the bell rang.

This match went 29 seconds as Ice Train got tripped by Jimmy Hart and pinned by The Giant off a chokeslam. Those were the two things that happened in this match. Ice Train came off as the biggest geek this week.

Then Ice Train’s partner Scott Norton got in the ring. He got mad at The Giant and then he got chokeslammed twice and laid out like a geek too. They mentioned that Fire and Ice are facing The Steiner Brothers at The Great American Bash. You built that match up by having The Giant destroy one of those teams by himself? Jeez Louise.

The Giant then cut a promo on Hulk Hogan. He was sick of Hulk Hogan’s video packages as mentioned earlier. He was sick of him as Hogan was not here. Giant said Luger almost got between him and Jimmy but not quite. He told Luger to come get some as Lex Luger was challenging The Giant for the title at The Great American Bash.

 

Scott Norton vs Hugh Morrus

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Norton is still laid out on the mat after Giant chokeslammed him twice and is being attended to. The announcers explained Norton was supposed to face Hugh Morrus next. Hugh came down and dropped a leg drop on him.

The bell didn’t even ring. There was no effort to stop this by referee Nick Patrick. As far as I could tell, there was no bell so there was no official start to the match! Morrus put his finger on Norton and the referee makes the 2 count. Hugh does three elbow drops. Then the referee suddenly doesn’t wanna do the count… WHAT? It wasn’t like Nick was prompted or threatened by Hugh Morrus to do the count the first time. Now all of a sudden, he doesn’t want to make the count? This is ridiculous.

So this “match” goes on. Hugh Morrus goes for a moonsault. Norton gets up. He was supposed to catch Morrus, but he’s unable to do so. Morrus falls to the ground, Norton punches him a few times and picks up a weird win in a match, that wasn’t even a match. This was a horrific mess.

Hugh Morrus came off as a massive geek too after this match was over. Scott Norton was FLAT ON HIS BACK when this match started. Morrus does a few elbow drops and after a botched moonsault spot, he gets punched in the face a few times and pinned.

Hugh Morrus was at least was a heel, so him being cocky and losing a match he should have had no problem winning was not that big of a deal. It’s fine, in most cases, for a heel to be a geek. On the other hand, Ice Train was a babyface set to have a big match at the pay-per-view and he was tripped and pinned in less than 30 seconds.

However, in the space of about 10 minutes, they buried 3 guys. They buried Ice Train for getting tripped and pinned like a loser, they buried Scott Norton for getting laid out by The Giant and then Hugh Morrus got buried for losing a match to a man who started the match on his back!

GEEK OF THE WEEK – Ice Train for getting tripped, chokeslammed and pinned in 30 seconds

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Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Kevin Greene were shown training. This was my personal favourite moment this week. The Regal slap will be an all-time favourite moment of mine but technically that happened on a different show. This video package of the NFL players training for their match with Flair and Anderson was so bad and goofy, it was tremendous. The NFL players took bumps in the ring, bragging about how tough they were while also whining about the ropes!

They cut to scene where they have a whiteboard and talk about the game plan. Greene’s plan was to treat this match as they were American Football players wanting Mongo to come in with a crossbody block! Greene has basically got a ring drawn up as it’s like the NFL play sheet or whatever. He mentioned something about wanting Mongo to penetrate the area or something and I figured maybe I misheard him saying penetrate. It was clear by the end that I didn’t mishear anything!

Greene is eating beef jerky during this as Mongo explained that thi iss wrestling not American football. Mongo said he should want to rip their head of as he ripped up a can, which I missed the first time watching it. I did watch this segment more than once by the way! Mongo talked about their finishers and avoiding them which was a great plan. In a wrestling match, you should avoid wrestler’s hitting their finishers. No shit?

Greene fired back and insisted that they’ve gotta penetrate them, they’ve gotta penetrate them. He was so excited to say penetrate as loud as he could. I laughed out loud big time. I was hysterical listening to Greene get all excited about penetrating Flair and Anderson. I’ve never cracked up many times watching a WCW but I was in bits during this segment. Greene is bouncing up and down on the chair and everything! He’s so into this wrestling business!

They both decide that there’s going to be a difference in opinion so they wanted to get Randy Savage as a coach since Savage can’t wrestle anymore. They got excited as they went to find him. This was so goofy but I found it hilarious.

If you have the WWE Network, find this segment on the Network and watch it. It was goofy and stupid but it was magnificent in execution. I was hoping the next segment next week would be them looking for Randy Savage, getting him to coach them. I was hoping for like a Empire Strikes Back/Crocodile Dundee mash-up where they’re looking for him! It appears we won’t get that due to the later segment of Savage ringing up on Nitro, which we’ll get to.

 

Sting © and Lex Luger © vs The Steiner Brothers for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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I was still trying to recover from that previous segment as the tag teams came down for this match.

As mentioned, the announcers were able to get “Macho Man” Randy Savage on the phone. Macho Man said he can’t wrestle on TV or PPV but he said he’s able to coach and agreed to be the NFL players’ coach. Scott did an awesome titlt-a-whirl slam as Savage cut this promo on Heenan.

Sting slammed Scott with a big bulldog as Heenan begged for his life on the phone! Savage said they’re gonna eat them all up and there’s nothing they can do that. Heenan got so flustered that he was shown hitting himself in the face with the headset!

Rick worked on the arm of Luger as they came back from the break. Sting ran wild, hit a Stinger Splash and locked on the Scorpion Death Lock but Scott cut him off with a Steinerline clothesline. Luger and Scott pushed each other away. Scott hit a big belly-to-belly suplex. Scott sent Sting flying with a Frankensteiner. Luger broke it up and punched away at Scott.

Sting reversed a suplex into a Scorpion Death Drop on Scott Steiner just like last week. Luger got the tag and hit a powerslam. He went for the Torture Rack but Rick broke it up. Luger raked the eyes and HE tried to suplex Scott on the outside this week but Rick broke it up. So of all of Luger’s talk this week about what a under-handed thing it was for Scott to try the suplex on the outside, Luger himself tried it this time! I do love certain storyline aspects of this show!

Sting eventually brawled with Rick, as it broke into a four way brawl. Sting tried to piledrive Rick on the floor but Rick reversed. The Giant came down and hit the worst chokeslam in the world where he reared back and got Rick in the air, getting his knee up for the slam. He came down, lost his footing and they both just fell down.

Giant went for Luger as the referee called for the bell. Luger punched away at The Giant and fired away as the fans went nuts. Scott, Sting and Luger then all went after Giant in the ring as they tripled-teamed the big man as the fans went bonkers for all of this. Giant got mad and threw a chair into the ring. I actually really liked this. A big good feel moment and the fans were really into this post-match segment.

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Bobby physically begged to Savage for him to show mercy and even offered dinner when Scott Hall came back this week. Hall pushed Bischoff back down to his chair. Hall got the mic. Hall said he had such a good time last week that he came back for more. Hall said Bischoff started it and he said again, they started it but “we’re” gonna finish it. Sting stepped up to Hall. I love that although Sting is feuding with the likes of the Steiner Brothers, Lord Steven Regal, Ric Flair and The Giant all at once, he still stepped up to Scott Hall when he was confronting Bischoff! A true hero!

Bischoff told Sting not the dignify Hall. Sting said Hall said really horrible things about WCW… did he though? I mean Hall made fun of some wrestlers but he just said that Bischoff was talking trash about the competition so they were bringing a war. He says Hall’s in the jungle. Sting mentioned that Hall wanted three of the best but all Sting saw was Hall so HE challenged him to a match. Hall said nobody told him what to do and when to do it. He threw a tooth pick at Sting and Sting slapped him. Hall said he had a big surprise for him next week as the police separated him.

What I loved about this segment was they were careful not to overexposure Hall. He came out and talked to Bischoff and they built up tension between him and Sting. He wasn’t all over the show and showed up at the very end, to tease a “big surprise” for the next show, encouraging the fans to tune in and see what it was.

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This was fabulous episode of Nitro in my eyes. It wasn’t a technically good show with the wrestling, minus the tag team match with the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express. They did some awesome squash matches, they did great angles up and down the show, they built up the pay-per-view superbly well in general. This really got me excited to see what was to come. Obviously, we all know what the big surprise was next week. If by chance you don’t know, I won’t spoil it. However, this was fun to watch and I enjoyed myself watching it.

Next week, we get Scott Hall’s “big surprise” and the Armbar Express will be back with more reviews of WCW Nitro. 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 appriciate 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 #36 (MAY 20TH 1996) – RIC FLAIR STEALS THE SHOW IN THE RING AND ON COMMENTARY

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

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WCW Slamboree 1996 saw the Lethal Lottery battle bowl tournament to determine the Lord of the Ring and the number one contender for the WCW World Heayvweight title. Despite the likes of Lex Luger, Randy Savage and Ric Flair in the mix for this tournament, the final battle bowl battle royal to determine the winner did not include either of those gentlemen. A battle royal filled with the likes of Public Enemy, Ice Train, Dick Slater and Earl Robert Eaton was won by Diamond Dallas Page who went from being “homeless” to being the Lord of the Ring.

The Giant also defended the WCW title against Sting and retained the title after seemingly botched interference from Lex Luger and Jimmy Hart.

 

This episode of Nitro I’m about to review was 90 minutes long and is the very last one before Nitro goes two hours. It was sort of a test if you will to see how an “over-run” or an elongated episode would play to the WCW audience. It turns out that the fans weren’t particular turned off by this change-up of the episode length as they beat RAW in the ratings this week.

As far the show goes, I think it dragged in places because of the change but otherwise felt OK to me. They got the extra time and gave it to the likes of Eddie Guerrero vs Ric Flair, which I was so happy about. It feels like they’ve changed their minds again on the Luger/Sting tension angle as I don’t think it was brought up at all. However, the show I didn’t really have much of a problem of a whole. Anyway, let’s get into the review…

 

Date: May 20th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Monroe, Louisiana

Rating: 3.1

Commentators: Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan

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You read that correctly. Steve “Mongo” McMichael is away from the announce booth. It was just Eric and Bobby this week as Mongo was in “serious training” with Kevin Greene for their upcoming match with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. The match was booked for The Great American Bash.

They showed a replay of Ric making the challenge at Slamboree and I didn’t realise this before but they got the smallest security guards possible to hold back these big football players. It’s ridiculous on paper but by forced perspective, it made Mongo and Greene look like bigger stars when putting these puny security geeks in between them and Flair.

 

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

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Up until the finish, this was a better version than their last tag match on Nitro. I believe they got more time and there was more of a structure to it and then the finish just happened, which led to the fans getting screwed out of a decent finish which we’ll get to.

Some guys in the crowd actually went through the trouble of having their tops off with letters painted on themselves where they spelt out N I T R O together. I laughed about it but I was also very envious of this period of wrestling when I saw that. Wrestling used to be so popular that people would do crazy stuff like this to have fun and be a part of the show. Nowadays, nobody does this kind of thing ever. They don’t do it for RAW, SmackDown! and I’ve not heard of an incident with NXT or AEW. It’s just not that popular where people would think to do this and that sucks.

Scott and Ice Train wrestled for a bit. It was very similar from their match from a few weeks ago where hey slammed each other all over the place. Norton was screaming a lot during this match as he went to work on Rick. Norton ran wild with clotheslines but Rick turned this momentum against him and slammed him with a massive German suplex. I actually really liked that spot and I felt they pulled it off well.

Rick went for a clothesline and got a one count, from the move that got the win the last time these two teams wrestled each other. One could argue that this showed that Ice Train and Scott Norton were more prepared for Rick’s clotheslines after the last time so I could at least buy the explanation that they learned from their last match.

The two Scotts wrestled in the ring. Scott Steiner pulled off a dragon/full nelson suplex on Norton. I was surprised he pulled it off on such a broad, built guy in Norton. This was very impressive by Steiner.

Scott Steiner did double axe handle to the outside. Norton eventually got back into the match with a Samoan Drop of his own. I wrote down that Scott did a Northern Lights Suplex and I’m pretty sure that was Scott Steiner but it’s very much up for grabs with two Scotts in this match!

Ice Train and Norton really pushed Rick out of the ring with a  double shoulder tackle. Scott Norton dropped Scott with a shoulder breaker on the outside. Then the referee called for the bell as Rick and Ice train brawled and apparently things got out of control. Scott did a German suplex to Norton as the referee Nick Patrick separated them.

A lame finish to a match that was looking like it was gonna be better than their last match.

 

Ric Flair w/Woman and Elizabeth vs Eddie Guerrero

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This match was excellent. This match I think single-handedly made up for the quality of matches from Slamboree. If you read my Slamboree review, you’ll recall I mentioned that not one of those matches went longer than 10 minutes. A third of the matches were actually good and the rest of them were just absolute nothing matches or worse. On this episode of Nitro, they gave us a near 20 minute match with Eddie Guerrero and Ric Flair and it was great.

Eddie got royally screwed at Slamboree when he was the geek that was DDT’d by his own partner which led to him being eliminated from the tournament. Here, Ric was determined to get this Eddie Guerrero over. Eddie came off as such a star. Ric had a unique ability to transform mid-carders and make the fans believe that they had a chance against him in the ring. Do you remember when VK Wallstreet was briefly out-wrestling Ric Flair during one of their matches and had him on the ropes for a little bit? This was exactly the same and Eddie gained a lot more from this TV match than anything he’s been given in the last 9 months or so.

Eddie wrestled Ric down to the mat early on. Ric, realising he couldn’t out-wrestle Eddie, went for the chops and punches to take control. Eddie himself eventually went wild with punches in the corner with Eddie showing that he could trade hands with Flair.

Woman screaming on the outside was unbearable. In times, this screaming is effective, if you remember my review of Flair vs Giant from a month ago, but here it was totally not the time for it. She was screaming at a head-lock from Eddie for example and it drove me up the wall as a viewer. It didn’t add to the match and if anything, it made me want to mute my TV. I don’t want to think about doing that as a wrestling fan.

Eddie backdropped Ric and ran wild with dropkicks and dropkicked him over the top rope. Ric eventually walked all the way to his personal fancy table from and grabbed a chair.  The referee eventually pushed Ric back to disarm him with the chair. Ric was so mad that he stomped on the entrance ramp. He did a massive double foot-stomp and constantly had this big-eyed look on his face with his eyes popping out of his face!

Woman stopped screaming enough to attend to Ric on the outside. The fans chanted for EDDIE to the shock of Ric Flair. Eddie punched away at Ric and Eddie then started running away from Ric to screw with him, and even did the Ric Flair strut to Flair’s disgust and anger!

Eddie dropped Ric with some chops. I loved that Ric’s only means to get back into the match was always a poke to the eye. No matter what, Ric Flair matches are always structured the same way. The babyface will beat him in every turn and when he realised he’s outclassed, HE CHEATS and it worked every time for like 30 years or so. Ric Flair really was one of the all-time greats.

Eddie got Ric over for a sunset flip after a brief struggle for a two count. Bobby said this was 50/50 but I strongly disagreed as Eddie was shown out-classing Ric at every turn! I’m not sure if this was just Bobby being the heel or not as he usually put Eddie over a lot on commentary.

Ric turned the punches in the corner into an atomic drop. I loved Eddie putting everything into a backslide attempt, and showed intensity and determination in his eyes and Woman screaming actually did play into this struggle. Eddie eventually got him over for a two count. Eddie did his own Figure Four Leg Lock and Ric got the ropes to get out of it. Eddie went for a dive to the outside but crashed into the guard rail. Ric suplexed Eddie on the outside.

Eric Bischoff then refused to acknowledge the WWF titles as “wrestling championships” for some reason. I don’t know what was up with him on this show but they were talking about Ric being a 13 time champion I think by this point and Bischoff talked about the WWF titles not counting. I understand he wanted to bury the titles as meaningless but when Ric Flair is involved, they should count to show off that everywhere he went he was the champion. He didn’t even have to mention the WWF to get that point across.

Ric did a long vertical suplex for a 2 count. Eddie fired back and dropkicked Ric to the floor. Eddie tried a sunset flip but Ric got out of it with a simple punch. Eddie hit a big tornado DDT for a near fall. Eddie somehow just pulled off a tight rope walk hurricanrana but when he came down, he grabbed his leg.

Eddie hit a frog splash but Eddie’s leg was hurt from the hurricanrana spot as the fans urged Eddie to go for the pin. Ric tried to lock on the figure four leg lock that Eddie initially blocked but Guerrero eventually got locked in the hold. Ric grabbed the ropes for leverage to get the pin on Eddie.

This match was so awesome. This was better than anything on Slamboree. It told a great story and although Eddie was beaten, it wasn’t like he was buried like he was at Slamboree. He took Ric to the limit in this match and Ric escaped with the victory and it could be argued that if Eddie had pinned Ric after that frog splash, he could have beat him. This match was so great and it sets up a rematch nicely in my eyes.

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If you liked Ric Flair in the ring, then you were going to get a lot more of him on this episode of Nitro! Mean Gene interviewed Ric with his women. Mean Gene mentioned that Savage is in the building and the fans go crazy. Ric responded that he’d been told that Savage is locked up. Ric told Savage that he was teaching his wife a new way of life. Speaking of Elizabeth, she looked petrified on this show. She always looked nervous, even when she was with Savage in the WWF, but her nervousness wasn’t not nearly as obvious as it was here. She was grabbing her arm and looked so uncomfortable with this angle.

You know what this reminded me of? It reminded me of the angle with Matt Hardy, Edge and Lita. Every time Edge was cutting a promo or there was a segment, Lita would grab her own arm or just looked distant. She looked so uncomfortable. There was a ByteThis episode with all three people from 2005 and Lita looked like she didn’t wanna be there. This Elizabeth stuff was very similar. Obviously, Elizabeth didn’t actually cheat on Savage with Ric Flair. She and Savage divorced in 1992 and Elizabeth just was doing an angle where she was with Flair.

However, this was also a time where things like “the internet” was not attainable and not many wrestling fans could have figured out that Elizabeth wasn’t actually dating Ric Flair in real life. This isn’t like WWE with the Lana, Rusev and Bobby Lashley angle where it’s clear from the get-go that Lana didn’t actually cheat on Rusev with Lashley in real life. No, the lines between fiction and reality weren’t that clear in 1996. I assume Elizabeth must have had a hard time with keeping up this angle.

Ric said the reason Mongo isn’t here tonight is because Arn Anderson is here tonight. The fans chanted for Mongo. Ric Flair said the footballers are making a mistake thinking they can cross trade wrestling and football like he cross traded the girls. Ric basically hyped up the tag team match and takes a few glasses and left with the women.

They come back from the break and Ric Flair had joined the announce booth, with a fancy set up and Bobby setting the candles. Ric is all robed-up and said Bobby could touch the girls but told Eric to keep his hands off them! Eric says Ric was actually invited which meant that yes, we got Ric Flair on commentary for the rest of the night.

His performance on commentary was so great. It’s possible that he was actually drinking real champagne with Bobby at commentary as he was really just having a ball during this show. He went from wrestling a 20 minute classic to calling the rest of the show with likes of Bobby Heenan! This was all great!

 

 

Sting © and Lex Luger © vs “The Faces of Fear” The Barbarian and Meng for the WCW Tag Team Championship… I think

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I don’t know if you remember this but early on in the series, I cut a big promo saying that I didn’t wanna see Meng vs Lex Luger again. We did technically get Meng vs Luger again in this tag match but it felt like a better match in the confides of a tag match.

Flair called Meng the King of the Samoan Islands. Ric was actually putting everyone over and is just having a grand old time on commentary. Ric did a better job putting people over for less than an hour than WWE announcers on commentary in 2019. He was on fire. Flair started singing Get Down Tonight by KC & The Sunshine Band!

Sting ran wild on the Faces of Fear but Barbarian evades a dropkick to start the heat. Meng locked on a Boston crab and then just stopped applying the hold… and just stomped on Sting! I love how when it was clear Sting wasn’t giving up, Meng just decided to stomp the crap out of him.

Bobby claimed Sting would have had to relinquish the tag titles if he won the WCW title at Slamboree when I believe Lex Luger is still the TV champ and one half of the tag team champions. I find that very difficult to believe that Sting would relinquish the belt.

Barbarian did a belly-to-belly suplex from the top rope and Sting got catapluted high in the air. Sting went up big time for it and launched himself into near orbit for the Barbarian! I screamed at how high Sting went up here for the spot.

The Faces of Fear did a double headbutt and they went for the cover but the referee was arguing with Luger for some reason and delayed the count for the Faces of Fear. Eric was appalled at Ric and Bobby drinking champagne on commentary. I loved how Eric said that Ric was too much and Ric responds with: “that’s what they all say!”

Sting almost got the tag to Luger but Meng pulled him back to his corner. Luger eventually got the hot tag and ran wild with clotheslines and forearms. It broke off into a four way. Meng battled with Luger on the outside. Luger sends Meng into the ring post.

Sting hits a top rope splash and Luger got the pin as Sting threw himself into Meng to stop him from breaking up the pin. I enjoyed this tag match. I think Ric Flair’s commentary gold overshadowed it but for the most part, all four guys worked their asses off and I respected their effort. This gets a thumbs up and Flair’s performance on commentary gets about 16 thumbs ups!

Eric broke the news to Flair that Savage was here.

 

Mean Gene interviewed “Macho Man” Randy Savage outside of the arena, who was being stopped by police from getting in. Mean Gene says they’re not letting him in the arena and WCW officials are meeting about Savage’s future. Macho Man asked for the WCW officials to be real careful about his future. Savage told them to make the right decision and thought Mean Gene was conspiring against him! He’s so paranoid that now he’s questioning poor Mean Gene for his involvement in a grand conspiracy! Mean Gene told him that he’s not getting through the gentlemen blocking him from getting in and Macho Man goes: “is that a challenge?” When Mean Gene said that he’s not getting through, I knew where the joke was going.

It’s like if someone tells you can’t do something, your instinct tells you to prove them wrong. Someone tells you not to press the button, you can’t help but press the button. Even when Mean Gene told him he’s not getting through the police, Savage is determined to prove him wrong because he’s THE MACHO MAN! Macho Man tries to get in of course and they push him away. Flair laughed his arse off and woos away at Savage being unable to get in! I actually liked this segment a lot too.

 

Brad Armstrong vs DDP… aka Diamond Dallas according to the nameplate on the screen

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Ric and Bobby are laughing and having a ball talking about Savage’s money as DDP and Brad Armstrong come out. DDP wrestled Brad into a dragon sleeper position and Brad rolled out of it somehow.

Bobby requested another drink as they went to a commercial. Brad got a backslide pinfall attempt in and then DDP got up and hit an explosive clothesline. DDP ran into the ring post and Ric actually put over Brad Armstrong. Brad did the ten turnbuckle smash spot and Ric said he used to do that to Savage when he got into the building to wrestle! Him and Bobby were just hysterical about this line to the point where I’m 25% of the belief that they were both actually hammered by this point!

DDP hit an awesome Diamond Cutter for the win. It was the most “RKO” looking cutter I’ve seen from Page and Brad but it looked better to me than a lot of Randy Orton’s RKOs. They both moved and jumped across the ring to hit this cutter. It was a short but decent match I think.

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Mean Gene interviewed DDP in the ring. DDP said he shocked the world at Slamboree as he beat the Steiners, Road Warriors, Fire and Ice, Flair, Sting, Luger and everyone to become the Lord of the Ring. He thanked himself and gave himself a self high five. DDP said The Giant was his and Mean Gene then said he just got off the telephone. He revealed that the WCW championship committee were discussing the fact that one of his feet was on the floor earlier on in the battle royal from Slamboree. For those unaware, there was a spot where DDP was almost eliminated in the battle bowl battle royal and Tony Schiavonie was certain he was eliminated I think was being referenced here. He said the committee will not reverse the decision of the referee and won’t take the lord of the ring away from DDP but they won’t give him the WCW championship match. They have awarded the shot to Lex Luger instead as DDP was outraged.

Only one of DDP’s feet hit the floor so if you’re going by the Royal Rumble 1995 rules established, DDP was never eliminated. However, I guess WCW ruled that one foot was enough for DDP to be considered eliminated. Now I do have to question why Luger got the title shot. If you’ll recall, at Slamboree, Lex Luger was one of the first people eliminated from the Lethal Lottery as he got himself counted out. He got a title shot last week on Nitro where The Giant kicked his arse and put him through a table. Now he’s getting another title shot? What?

Shouldn’t The Barbarian be given the title shot instead since he was the runner-up of that battle bowl battle royal? They also mentioned at the PPV that Konnan could be considered the number one contender as he’s the US Champion, so why wasn’t he considered for the title shot? Either way, this feels like a daft ruling in storyline.

 

The Giant © w/Jimmy Hart vs Arn Anderson w/Taskmaster for the WCW title

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This wasn’t much of a match but it went exactly as I would have expected it to go so I wasn’t really caught off guard.

Taskmaster was with Arn Anderson, the show after the PPV where I made the comment about Jimmy and Taskmaster being together for Slamboree!

Him and Jimmy talked on the outside about it. Taskmaster said he’s with the Dungeon of Doom, but Arn had always kept his word. All he wanted was for Arn to get his chance “horsemen-style” so I guess he wanted a fair fight.

My mind assumed that there must be some kind of screwjob. I didn’t expect Arn Anderson to win the title but I expected one of two things. Either Taskmaster was gonna screw the Dungeon and attack Giant for the DQ, leading to a beatdown, or him and the Dungeon were gonna screw Arn. I figured a double cross was coming somehow and Ric was talking on commentary as if there was a plan in place.

Eric said Taskmaster was a homewrecker like Miss Elziabeth and even Ric Flair said that was very strong. Ric’s plan as he mentioned on commentary was take over WCW and then the NFL! Arn went for The Giant but Giant pushed him literally to the other side of the ring with such force. Giant scoop slammed Arn.

Giant backdropped Arn over his shoulder. Arn took over but was unable to take The Giant down with a double axe handle. He gets Giant to one knee. He tried a DDT but Giant evaded the drop and hit a chokeslam for the pin. Jimmy celebrated The Giant and Ric Flair left the booth. Eric then mentioned that the Four Horseman had a plan… what plan? Arn got a fair match and got his ass kicked and pinned, I have no idea what the plan was supposed to be for Flair, if any.

The one time where you’re almost expecting a double cross, they do a clean finish where Giant pins Anderson with a chokeslam!

Bobby left the booth as well to go to the party with Flair, taking candles, bubbly, bananas, a box of ice and champagne!

 

I enjoyed this episode of Nitro. This dragged in places but overall I was OK with it.

Next time, we get a historically significant episode of Nitro. We get the first two hour episode of Nitro as well as a historic debut in the history of World Championship Wrestling!

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW SLAMBOREE 1996 (MAY 19TH 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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Hulk Hogan is currently away from WCW at the moment so we’ve approached the first PPV in the series without the Hulkster on deck. Instead, we have ourselves a Lethal Lottery tournament to determine the Lord of the Ring and the number one contender for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. That title is currently held by The Giant, who will defend that title against Sting merely 7 days since he chokeslammed Sting’s friend Lex Luger through a table.

I had more than a few problems with this pay-per-view. The theme with a lot of these PPVs on this series are that they’re PPVs of two halves. Half of the show would be miserable and the other half would be good. This PPV was no exception with the oe exceptation being that the misery outweighed the goodness. The good stuff on the show wasn’t particularly tremendous or pay-per-view worthy but they were fun it their own way and the bad stuff was so bad that I got angry. I usually don’t get angry during these shows but once the first round of the Lethal Lottery was over, I shut the show off and decided to watch the rest of it the next day. That’s how much I hated it.

However, as REPEATEDLY stated during this series, I believe in giving credit where credit is due. It was good if you watched everything but the tag matches as part of the Lethal Lottery tournament. The title matches were fine, the main-event was good and I even enjoyed the battle bowl battle royal to determine the Lethal Lottery winner.

However, as a pay-per-view, I feel this missed the mark. The longest match on this entire show was just over 10 minutes and it was the main-event. There were 15 matches on this show, meaning every other match would only be shorter. It didn’t particular deliver PPV quality action or anything that wasn’t alreadt available to you on Nitros anyway. Not to mention that the big tournament in the show was to see who was getting a title shot at the next PPV. In essence, this was a pre-show to The Great American Bash. This show itself didn’t feel like a real PPV.

 

Date: May 19th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Baton Rouge, Louisana

Attendance: 7,791

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes

 

Before we get started, if this your first time reading a blog post from this WCW Nitro series, I’m going to break down the structure of the Lethal Lottery/Battle Bowl/Lord of the Ring tournament.

  1. Over the last few weeks of Nitros, “random” drawings were made for tag teams to team up for the first two rounds of this tournament. These tag teams would be forced to team up each other in tag matches. The winners of the tag matches moved on to the next round.
  2. Drawings would be made after the first round to determine the next set of matches, which would be the same tag teams against the other winning tag teams from the first round. This would leave only eight people left in the tournament.
  3. The remaining eight people would face each other in a “battle bowl” battle royal (where I guess pinfalls and submissions were allowed) and the winner became the overall winner of the Lord of the Ring tournament.

I have no idea what the name of this tournament was called. There’s been literally three names thrown around for what this concept was supposed to be. It was build as the Lethal Lottery coming into the show, the Lord of the Ring is what they’re fighting to be and the battle bowl I guess is the battle royal part of the tournament. The only problem with that is that before every match, the screen specifically called them “battle bowl first round” matches. I’m going to be using these names interchangeably in case you’re wondering.

 

Road Warrior Animal and Booker T vs Road Warrior Hawk and Lex Luger in a first round battle bowl match

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The first thing to note regarding the opening match is that Lex Luger was totally fine after that supposedly devastating chokeslam from The Giant on Nitro. Maybe it’s just because I’ve become so accustomed to announce table spots that it didn’t feel devastating when I first watched it. However, table spots were rare in wrestling in the 90s with the exception of ECW and guys like Public Enemy. So when Giant chokeslammed Luger, they tried to play it up like The Giant tried to kill Luger. Yet here, Luger showed no signs of wear or tear.

Before the bell rang Hawk and Booker T got into a brawl. This eventually led to the Road Warriors temporarily standing on the same side of the ring for a few moments like they were gonna fight Luger and Booker.

Animal and Luger started but then Booker and Animal argued in the ring. Luger had a horrible lock-up with Animal. Lock ups are not Luger’s strongest attributes and he had a horrible one during this match. Luger hit a big powerslam and didn’t go for a cover: to which Tony Schiavonie correctly stated: “you gotta win to advance!” Keep that in mind, the importance of winning such an important tournament.

Luger barely went up for a big powerslam from Animal which was a move Animal had done effectively for years. With Luger, he struggled. I’ve liked Lex Luger as a character in the last few months but in the ring, he really struggled during this match.

Animal no-sold a suplex from Luger and Animal eventually tagged in Booker. Fans popped for the missed elbow drop, spinaroonie, side-kick spot by Booker. Booker then went for the rest hold. Hawk broke up a pinfall and Lex Luger got mad at Hawk.

I actually loved this. Luger and Hawk then brawled with each other. Animal made the save and started brawling with Luger. Booker started brawling with Animal. They have an actually great brawl where it legitimately felt like it was out of control and the fans were totally into it.

Then the ref just rang the bell and it was announced as a count out with a count out which I never heard delivered by the ref at all. I never heard the announcer call for count out. The referee just decided to call the match off. This won’t be the first time where this happened on the show but this was at least understandable as the whole thing felt out of control.

Road Warriors then taunted with the fans as Booker yelled at the camera. The Road Warriors both lost an opportunity at the world title, and they taunted with the fans and high-fived each other as if nothing noteworthy happened.

Match Rating: ¼* on the grounds that the brawl when it all broke down looked good. Everything else didn’t particular look good. Lex Luger had a horrible night so it’s probably a good thing he was eliminated earlier on in this tournament!

 

“Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock vs The Taskmaster w/Jimmy Hart and Chris Benoit in a first round battle bowl match

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I was actually astonished with Jimmy Hart and Taskmaster still being together. I know they never officially had a break up angle but Jimmy and Taskmaster have been so separated from each other ever since the months of constant promos involving themselves and The Giant. Them still being together was interesting to see.

Benoit started with Rocco. They got into shoving match as Taskmaaster implored for Benoit to hit him. Rocco raked the eyes and went to work in the corner. Rocco pulled off a headscissors takedown and a frankensteiner.

Bobby Heenan asked Dusty Rhodes on commentary what would he do if his partner was the most hated man in his life. Dusty goes: “well Bobby, I’d kick your ass and drop an elbow on you!” I mean he said a lot more but it’s Dusty and I wasn’t able to get all of it down on my notes but I love Heenan setting up Dusty beautiful to bury him on commentary. Heenan had some fantastic chemistry with people on commentary including Dusty Rhodes. This was great.

Benoit hit a big powerbomb on Rocco and he actually held him in the powerbomb position for a long time. It was pretty damn impressive from Benoit. Benoit did a few closed fist punches on the floor and Rocco and then slapped the living daylights out of a floored Rocco. He slapped him across the face so hard and I felt so bad for Rocco, as Benoit had his arms down. He was defenseless as Benoit took the liberty of slapping Rocco across the face!

Taskmaster got tagged in and a big massive brawl broke out. The Taskmaster used the chairs and a table that was out there and none of this was a disqualification. Keep in mind the count out from the last match just because they got into a fight on the outside. Keep in mind the further count outs in matches INCLUDING PUBLIC ENEMY and yet all of the shenanigans in this match with chairs and tables resulted in no disqualifications whatsoever.

Public Enemy went for the “Big Papa” table spot but Benoit made the save. I mean they’re literally setting up Taskmaster to be put through the table and the referee made no attempt to ring the bell. Rocco suplexed Benoit to the outside. Taskmaster just Sabu-style threw a chair at Grunge’s head I think.

Public Enemy eventually hit Benoit with the Big Papa as Taskmaster evaded danger and saved his own arse. Taskmaster then walked out on Benoit as Rocco got the pin and yes… Grunge still felt the need to hold Benoit’s foot down under the bottom rope! During a match where the referee didn’t care about about any of the wrestlers in the match using weapons. This was a thumbs down match to me.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Sgt Craig Pittman w/Teddy Long and Scott Steiner vs Booty Man w/Booty Babe and Rick Steiner in a first round battle bowl match

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In case you were wondering, there was no break at all between the first round matches. They were in and out with the competitors. There were no Mean Gene interviews to break it up or anything.

Pittman and Booty wrestled for a bit. The pace picked up with Booty and Scott of all people… that last sentence was copied word-for-word out of my notes. No need to change it!

Scott hit a big tiger powerbomb. Pittman had some horrible punches and did a shocking bump for a shoulder tackle. Pittman dropped Rick right on his head with the german suplex and then worked on the arm. Rick hit a massive forearm which clobbered into Pittman.

Eventually Scott got tagged and then it was Scott and Rick in the ring as the fans start to buzz. The Steiners were billed as facing each other for the first time and they delivered a damn great display.

Scott and Rick tried to out-wrestle each other with Scott taking over with a fireman’s carry. Rick hit a solid judo throw. There was some fantastic amateur wrestling on display from the Steiners. Scott hit a big t-bone suplex to which Rick clobbered him with a clobbering clothesline. Scott rolled up Rick with Rick’s own head gear which I thought was funny!

Scott tried a Full Nelson but Rick broke out and hit a dragon suplex. Scott hit a big t-bone suplex from the top rope. Booty got tagged in and a few fans started to boo.

Pittman went for the Code Red Armbar on Booty Man but Rick got tag to break it up and then hit a big german suplex on Pittman. Pittman shuffled himself to the rope in mid-pin but the referee still counted to three as Rick Steiner and Booty Man advanced. Pittman was literally lifting himself off the mat to adjust himself but the referee still counted to three!

The best match so far and it had a good finish on paper but poor in execution.

Match Rating: **

 

“Blue Bloods” Steven Regal and Dave Taylor w/Jeeves vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan and VK Wallstreet in a first round battle bowl match

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At this point, I don’t think they explained what happened with the guys from the first match that went to a double count out but they did explain it later.

Regal was disgusted at the USA chants! Regal said to a fan in the front row: “if I were you, I’d keep your mouth shut because I’ll give you some of that sunshine!” Regal was an absolute tremendous character on this show!

Duggan and Regal wrestled for a bit. Duggan went for a tag but Wallstreet wouldn’t make the tag. Duggan ran wild with clotheslines and then forced a tag to Wallstreet as Regal tagged Dave Taylor. Regal got tagged back in and then Wallstreet started beating REGAL of all people in a battle of European Uppercuts.

Duggan got tagged back. Duggan eventually made his own comeback on everybody including his own partner VK Wallstreet, punching him down as Wallstreet wouldn’t make the tag. Duggan pushed Regal into Dave Taylor who somehow took a backdrop from Taylor  through the momentum of Duggan’s push!

Duggan got the tape and knocked out Taylor for the win. The wrong team won in my eyes and to see Hacksaw Jim Duggan overcome three men by himself felt like the wrong thing to do. Even if it was just Dave Taylor and VK Wallstreet that he was overpowering, that’d be one thing. Steven Regal? That felt like the wrong call. Regal was getting over in the last month with the Belfast Bruiser stuff and here, Duggan buries everybody and wins the match by himself.

Taylor and Regal were in near tears and distraught to have lost this match.

Match Rating: 1/2*. I wrote that there were small bits of good wrestling so I gave this match a star initially. I don’t remember it upon reviewing this show so I’m dropping the rating down to a 1/2*. Either way, this was an absolute nothing match with a bad finish.

 

 

Dirty Dick Slater w/Col Robert Parker and Earl Robert Eaton vs Alex Wright and Disco Inferno in a first round battle bowl match

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Dick wrestled Disco down to start the match but as soon as Disco got out of it, he danced and Dick makes him pay for it by punching him down again! Disco ran wild on Eaton with head-scissors and a side kick. Dick hit a swinging neckbreaker. Wright powered out of a piledriver.

Disco made a comerback on Eaton and Dick. Parker distracted the referee as Dick clobbered a dancing Disco with a cowboy boot for the win.

Match Rating: 1/4* on the grounds that it had SOME wrestling psychology and structure to it so what the hell. It was also one of the few matches that actually didn’t involve partners turning on each other so at the very least, it flowed like a proper match without shenanigans… other than the cowboy boot spot. ¼* of a star. Take it or leave it.

 

 

DDP and The Barbarian vs Hugh Morrus and Meng in a first round battle bowl match

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DDP is randomly back in WCW after losing a match to leave WCW but he’s back now and in Lethal Lottery. There was clearly some storyline told on Saturday Night or something so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Someone actually mentioned that a mysterious benefactor was helping DDP back on his feet.

DDP toyed around with Hugh Morrus in the first 20 seconds or so in the match and Hugh just laughed along with this because he found it to be humorous. Hugh missed a springboard splash to the outside, crashing on the floor and I hated how much I laughed at this bump! It just looked so funny to me in execution seeing this big man taking a bump like that!

DDP hit a discuss clothesline for a 2 count. Barbarian and Meng both got tagged in as they wrestled to win a hip toss. Someone else did this spot later on in the show and I like the idea of a massive struggle just to hit a very basic move which was still important to these athletes. Even wild savages like The Barbarian and Meng were fighting over a hip toss!

Meng unloaded with chops. Both monsters snarled as they battled and brawled. The Barbarian scoop-slammed DDP onto Meng. Meng hit a big headbutt. Hugh hit a top rope elbow drop but didn’t go for the cover, making the same mistake Luger did earlier.

Hugh got crotched by DDP when he went for a second elbow drop. Barbarian hit a belly-to-belly suplex on HUGH MORRUS somehow but Meng broke it up. Hugh went for a moonsault but DDP made the save with a simple elbow drop of his own.

DDP and Meng started have a decent brawl until Meng superkicked DDP. Both Faces of Fear went for the cover and got the pin on their respective opponents but Barbarian was the legal man so he and DDP won the match.

I actually thought that was a clever finish where DDP got beat but still won the match at the same time. Through dumb luck, DDP made it into the next round of the tournament.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Big Bubba and Stevie Ray vs “Fire and Ice” Scott Norton and Ice Train in a first round battle bowl match

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The announcers said Big Bubba was with the Dungeon of Doom now as he came down in leather pants and a punk-rock kinda look. God bless Big Bubba, who is no longer with us, but he could not pull off this look. No mention of Scott Norton previously being with the Dungeon of Doom, and here he is against their newest member Big Bubba.

Ray and Norton battled and Ray eventually floored him with a big clothesline. Big Bubba hit a big Bubba Slam spinebuster for a two count. Ice Train got the tag and did a huge Finlay drop into the gut of Big Bubba which the fans popped for.

Ice Train and Big Bubba floored each with a double clothesline. Norton got tag but then Stevie Ray just ran in and attacked Norton but Norton floored him. Big Bubba and Stevie bumped into each other but Fire and Ice did a double shoulder tackle and got the pin.

Another nothing match.

Match Rating: 1/2*

 

By this point, I’d seen seven sloppy battle bowl matches. I saw absolutely nothing matches either filled to the brim with shenanigans or sloppy stuff in general. There was one match I gave two stars and everything else was worse. It was a bad tournament up until this point and then I got up to…

 

Ric Flair and Randy Savage vs Eddie Guerrero and Arn Anderson in a first round battle bowl match

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Ric Flair and Randy Savage teaming up together for this tournament was the most heavily-promoted angle leading into this PPV. Even the stuff with Sting and The Giant was very minimal compared to this angle with Savage and Flair. It dated back to Starrcade and it included weeks of Savage losing his mind trying to get to Flair but yet they were tag team partners. Not only were they teaming up, they’re teaming up against Ric’s friend Arn Anderson and Eddie Guerrero. You have four great competitors in there and we could had the best match on the show EASILY with these four guys.

Dusty said this was THE big match up in the first round, basically declaring that the other matches were not big matches. I mean he’s not wrong considering what the other matches were like but I had such high expectations for this match on pay-per-view. This is what they delivered:

Ric Flair’s music hit but there was no Ric Flair. Savage came out though and then Ric’s music hit again. He came running down in the ring as Arn had jumped Savage in the ring but then as Eddie argued with Arn, Ric got some stomps in at Savage as he was down and the referee’s back was turned. I did laugh at that.

Up until the main-event, this was the most heated match all night since I guess the Stieners were in the ring together. Eddie and Ric wrestled for a bit. Ric physically forced a beaten Savage to tag in and then Ric tagged Eddie into Arn. I understand that obviously Ric and Arn are on the same page but I was confused as to what their goal was during this match. I’ll talk about that late.

Savage tried to swing at Flair as he got back to his feet as Eddie reluctantly cheered Arn on. Savage fired back and fought on pure adrenaline but Arn took over. Arn hit a big spinebuster for a two count. Ric tagged Savage to beat up Savage in the corner but then Eddie tagged in to beat up Flair. I mean I’m not sure why Ric needed to tag Savage to beat up Savage. Savage was still not the legal man after Ric tagged himself in. This match got me super confused.

Eddie hit a tornado DDT. Savage literally jumped Flair and the fans went nuts as Savage finally got his hands on Flair. Savage went completely nuts. Then out of nowhere, Arn hit his own partner Eddie with a DDT. Arn smashed Savage’s head into the ring post as Flair pinned Eddie in the ring.

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THIS, is where I just completely lost it. It’d be one thing if this happened on Nitro and this was just a random tag team match with nothing at stake. Everything Ric Flair and Arn Anderson were doing would have made sense. However, think about this for a minute.

Let’s pretend that the goal of this match for the Horsemen was for Ric Flair to advance and to beat up Randy Savage to eliminate a potential threat. This literally could have been done with Arn grabbing a chair and hitting Savage with it to get disqualified, and then Flair putting the boots to Savage to take him out. Instead, they had this complicated plot where Ric and Savage are tag partners AGAINST Arn.

Therefore, you got Ric Flair randomly beating Savage in the corner when Savage wasn’t even the legal man and then randomly just doing spots with Eddie Guerrero a minute later. You have Arn jumping Savage for the start of the match and then Flair running down to “make the save” but then attacking Savage as a swerve.

None of that needed to happen for Flair and Arn’s plan to work. Arn then just randomly hits his own partner Eddie with a DDT. The whole angle was Savage and Flair not working together and then Arn randomly turns on Eddie and screws HIMSELF out of the title.

The other angle going in was Ric telling Arn on last week’s Nitro I think to do the right thing. This was not a factor at all. Ric only worked against the babyfaces and Arn only worked against the babyfaces. This begs the question, if Arn was never gonna touch Flair or turn on him, why not just do a regular tag team match with Savage and Eddie vs Arn and Flair?  Public Enemy were “randomly” teamed together so yes, you can do Arn and Flair as a tag team. It is possible to do a faces vs heels tag team match. You know why? Because wrestling… IS FAKE. It’s a storyline which they can tell however they want to tell it. It’s ENTIRELY in WCW’s hands.

WCW could have done whatever they wanted and they could have done a perfectly good match with these four competitors and they found a way to screw it up. It was just a convoluted mess to set up Flair jumping Savage again. Did we need to see this on a PPV? If this was Nitro, I may have liked it. However, this was on PPV and I hated it.

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Not to mention, Eddie Guerrero came off as the biggest geek in this match. Eddie was just minding his own business during this match and was the fourth wheel in this angle, and this led to himself being DDT’d and being pinned by Flair. Do you guys remember when Eddie was being built up big on Nitro possibly to set up a match with Flair? Here he was hit with a DDT and pinned. Eddie Guerrero was the Geek of the Week here in the w/c 13/5/1996.

Ric beat up Savage on the outside with Arn after the match. Ric literally carried Elizabeth over to Arn to slapped Savage and then Arn planted him with a DDT. Bobby suggested that Elizabeth should kick him and hit him with a chair. I liked the idea of Elizabeth going all Public Enemy on Savage! Flair went back to stomp at Savage some more.

Match Rating: N/A (I saw this more of an angle than a match so I didn’t give it a grade.)

I was going to watch the whole PPV in full on the Friday I watched it but I had to stop here. I could not take any more after the pure garbage the first round of the Lethal Lottery was. I honestly think that was the best move. I sat and watched the remainder of the show a few days later and I had a much better time watching it.

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Mean Gene was joined by three girls from Hooters, which he claimed was his favourite establishment. They were doing the second round draw, firstly deciding who got a bye because the opening match saw a no contest . Therefore, the first team drawn was going to get a bye to the battle bowl battle royal. Scott Norton and Ice Train were drawn. Dick Slater and Robert Eaton vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan and VK Wallstreet was the other match drawn in this segment.

 

Dean Malenko © vs Brad Armstrong for the Cruiserweight Championship

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This felt like the first legitimate match of the show. This felt like the first pay-per-view quality match of the show. Dean was quality during this match and Brad Armstrong held up his end of the bargain. This was a decent match for the cruiserweight championship.

Dean and Brad battled for the hip toss… reversing on each other several times similar to the Meng/Barbarian spot from earlier.

Dean suckered Brad in for the test of strength and did a dropkick to the knee. He then went on to work on that knee as Dean got the heat. He worked on the leg with simple moves just as putting pressure and all of his body weight on the knee. Everything Dean did looked like a believable attempt to wreck Brad’s knee including doing the tree of woe and then dropkicking the knee. He even did a baseball dropkick in the ring to the knee!

Dean constantly twisted the leg all over the place including standing over Brad and pulling the leg back with Brad doing everything he can to get Dean off of him.

Pedro Morales was shown doing commentary and it’s actually funny that he showed up when I watched the rest of this show on the Sunday. Over the weekend, WALTER had his WWE UK Championship stolen and that was one of the big stories of the weekend. When the story broke, I saw all of these people tweeting about how WWE were “typically” copying AEW as Chris Jericho had his AEW title stolen a few months ago.

I responded on Twitter (@ArmbarExpress if you’d like to follow me which I encourage you to do. I’d like to think I’ve got some good tweets!) by bringing up Pedro Morales who had his WWWF title stolen from him many years ago. I actually got a lot of responses, with 2 retweets and 13 likes from tweet which is a lot for me at the moment. Sure as I mention Pedro Morales, he shows up on commentary on the WCW show I’m watching conveniently on the first WCW PPV that they were showing in Mexico I believe! I believe I was destined to watch WCW right now with the many coincidences when reviewing these shows! It is… quite astonishing!

Brad eventually got one of this legs up to boot Dean in the face to get back in the match. Brad did the comeback and did a big powerslam. Brad’s no-selling of the knee was not as bad as Liger’s from Nitro but he did whip out a top rope dropkick of all moves! Brad locked Dean in the Texas Cloverleaf but Dean got out of it. Dean hit the top rope gutbuster we’ve never seen before for the pin to retain the title. This was the best match on the show I think at this point.

Dean did a fantastic job of getting the heat although I think Brad was a weak babyface in this match. He really didn’t do much with the comeback to get the fans behind him but what the hell. There was no squabbling partner BS or anything. This was just a straight up match and it got Dean over with a clean win as the champion. This gets the first thumbs up of the show.

Match Rating: ***

 

Mean Gene did more drawings. He joked about forgetting the girls’ names in some great comedy. They drew Public Enemy vs Randy Savage and Ric Flair and DDP and The Barbarian vs Rick Steiner and Booty Man. In the middle of this, Mean Gene asked the girls what they were doing do later! IN THE MIDDLE OF A TOURNAMENT DRAWING, he’s flirting with these girls! Mean Gene was the best!

 

Dick Slater w/ Col Robert Parker and Earl Robert Eaton vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan and VK Wallstreet in a second round battle bowl match

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So I was sitting down just watching this match for a while, with Hacksaw taking over and firing with punches on somebody. I wasn’t paying much attention but I figured it was either Dick or Eaton. It turned out he was punching VK Wallstreet, his own partner! I replayed it and they shoved each other which led to a brawl. All Dick and Eaton had to do was leave them at it and Tony even pointed out they were doing the right thing by not getting involved. What do they do? They end up getting involved.. FOR NO REASON.

The opposing partners are doing their jobs for them in attacking each other and randomly, Dick and Eaton just start to fight with them. This was the closest I came after the Savage/Flair stuff to losing my mind again but I just shrugged it off.

Dick hit a Russian Leg Sweep and Tony had the temerity to tell us WHAT A MATCH we’re seeing. God bless Tony but this must have been a rib! Duggan then tried beating up the referee… what in the hell was this? Duggan randomly tried to attack the referee during this random tag team match. How in the world was that not a disqualification?

Hacksaw beats up Eaton on the outside. Then in the middle of all this brawling, VK does an abdominal stretch. They are just having this big brawl, even with their own partners, and Wallstreet pulls of an abdominal stretch out of nowhere. Hacksaw ran wild on the heels despite being the illegal man. Hacksaw then gets tagged in but is upset by this tag. This is RIGHT AFTER he ran in to attack the heels anyway when he was not even tagged in. Jeez Louise. You’re OK with running in and attacking the heels but your’e upset when you’re legally tagged in by your own partner? Good god.

Hacksaw then plays to the crowd as he ran wild on the heels. Hacksaw hit a miserable looking clothesline on Dick. “Hacksaw pummelled on Dick” was what I wrote next in my notes. Dick and Duggan did the crossroads spot where Dick ducked as Duggan jumped over him. Dick gets back up. Duggan goes YARRRGH as if to signal for a spot. They then crashed into each other with some botch in communication. Duggan goes flying off to the side and Dick just keels over. It sounded ugly on paper and looked uglier in execution. Dusty Rhodes on commentary, one of the all-time greats in wrestling, just goes “well” as he does a big sigh and then just quietly says: “they’re both down.” That was a representation of how I felt watching this match!

The fans chant USA. I have no idea why when there are four Americans in the ring. Wallstreet gets the mild hot tag. VK accidentally hit Duggan twice on the apron so Hacksaw hit him back and this led to Wallstreet getting rolled up by Eaton and pinned as Duggan is mad at himself. VK and Duggan then just start to fight after the match as I was mad at myself for watching this match.

Match Rating: -**1/2

Honestly, that was the worst match of the show and yes, it was worse than Dick Slater and Bunkhouse Buck vs Harlem Heat from Fall Brawl 1995.

 

Randy Savage and Ric Flair vs “Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock in a second round battle bowl match

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Flair came out with the girls, as they threw away Savage’s money. Savage then jumped Flair as security pulled Savage back. I know I said I hated the angle earlier but the fans were going nuts every time Savage attacked Flair and Savage did a believable beat down on Flair like he really wanted to kill him. Savage was an awesome mad man character when he needed to be.

Flair and Savage started punching away at each other as a big pull-apart brawl breaks out. Guys like Eddie, Pittman and Marcus Bagwell all help the security geeks restrain Savage. Public Enemy were declared the winners by count out, when the match never even started.

That was the end to the Randy Savage/Ric Flair storyline on this PPV. Savage jumped him, they had a brawl, Savage was restrained and him and Flair were out of the tournament.

 

DDP and The Barbarian vs Rick Steiner and Booty Man w/Booty Babe in a second round battle bowl match

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DDP talked to Booty Babe as he and Booty Man start to brawl, because obviously they have history. DDP took a massive bump on the apron and got all tangled into the wires from this one punch. It’s amazing to what lengths guys like DDP and Arn Anderson were willing to go to sell for Booty Man of all people. It must have been a really good thing to be in the wrestling business and be Hulk Hogan’s friend. Booty did barely anything in the ring and the other dudes sold like crazy for him!

Rick did a massive exploder suplex to The Barbarian. Rick did a big belly to belly suplex from the top rope. To be honest, I barely paid attention to this match so the notes are a little scarce. Barbarian worked on Rick Steiner in the ring but Rick eventually did a stun gun and tagged Booty back in. Booty hit the high knee but DDP broke up the pin.

Booty went for a roll-up but DDP broke up the pin with an elbow drop. Barbarian got the pin on Booty Man… from DDP breaking up the pin with an elbow drop. I mean I can’t really complain about an elbow drop winning someone a match when The Rock would go on to do an elbow drop to win hundreds if not thousands of his matches!

Match Rating: 1/2*

 

Konnan © vs Jushin Thunder Liger w/Sonny Onoo for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship

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Mike Tenay joined the commentary team as Dusty was gonna investigate the Macho Man stuff. Tony said the man who is the US champion would be considered number one contender for the world heavyweight title… what? So Konnan has been the champion for months: when did this stipulation ever come into place where Konnan was I guess the number one contender all of this time? Why is there a battle royal to determine the number one contender for the World title if the US champion is considered the number one contender?

Sonny Onoo tried to get some kicks in but Konnan shrugged it off. Liger took advantage with a missile dropkick. Konnan was barely in position for a Liger springboard to the outside. No attempt to catch him as all he did was just push him away to I guess control the fall a little.

Liger hit a brainbuster for a two count. Konnan had a submission locked in where he puts his elbow on the head of Liger and Tony said this was like a crossface but it’s not across his face. How on earth is this like a crossface then? Tony had a bad night on commentary in my eyes. Maybe that’s harsh but he rubbed me the wrong way during this PPV.

Liger reversed this into a surfboard submission. Liger did a bow-and-arrow like surfboard on Konnan. After minutes and minutes of submissions from both men, Liger straight started punching Konnan while he laid on the mat. Liger hit the Liger Kick and followed up with a superplex. Liger hits a top rope body splash for a 2 count and then went for a dive, to which Konnan kicked him away in mid-air. Liger hit a fisherman buster for a near fall.

Konnan hit a alabama slam and a bridge for a near fall which Tony bought as the finish. Konnan tried his “Power Drop” but Liger rolled him up. The chemistry was just not there for a lot of this match. Liger hit a Liger sit-out powerbomb for a near fall.

This was a lot of the “big move, kick out, lay there” type of match similar to WWE style main-event matches nowadays. This is the big complaint people have about John Cena matches where he and his opponent would go back and forth with big moves. Cena would hit an Attitude Adjustment, the opponent would kick out and they lay there until they hit another big move and do another near fall. I think the fans would have a loved a match like this in WWE 2019 because they go nuts for those types of matches nowadays but not here in 1996. The fans in WCW were very quiet for this match and weren’t really into the near falls.

Konnan then finally hit the Power Drop for the win. It was a fine match but I think they were looking for something spectacular and it just wasn’t there.

Match Rating: **3/4

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Mean Gene did an interview with Ric Flair w/ Arn Anderson and the women. Ric has this big smile on his face right after losing his chance to regain his title. If you recall, Ric Flair cut a cheerful promo on the Nitro after he lost the title to The Giant. He, at least, addressed this during that promo as to why he was so cheerful. Here he lost his shot at the WCW title I think 20 minutes earlier where Savage cost them both the title, and Ric’s got this big smile on his face cutting a promo on Steve “Mongo” McMichael.

Ric said “the nut” Savage has got himself locked up down-town and will go in tomorrow for medical evaluation. Ric mentioned that if Savage had one more misstep, he was gone. Flair said they were gonna party tonight, right after NOT winning the Lethal Lottery and losing his shot at the WCW title. Ric Flair talked about Steve “Mongo” McMichael and his wife Debra. Flair mentioned that Mongo told him to back up and Flair said he can’t back up if he can’t get his wife outta his back pocket. Mongo came out and Flair hid behind Arn. Ric challenged him and Arn to a tag match with Mongo and anyone he wanted.

I’m thinking “OK.” Flair is all happy because he thinks he doesn’t have to deal with Savage any more. All Mongo has to do is reveal Savage as his partner, so then Ric screwed as he’s gotta to face Savage in a match. It turns out Mongo had a plan and his partner was NFL star Kevin Greene. Kevin Greene is revealed as the partner as he charged at Flair. Greene said: “come on. Let’s rock and roooooooollll.” Greene actually cut a decent promo on Flair as they aren’t here to play.

Yes, we are on the verge of Mongo having to actually wrestle in WCW. It’s the true test of Ric Flair as a worker if he can get a good match out of Mongo. I call this the “broomstick” test where an elite wrestler is in there with a green guy or a bad wrestler, to judge just how good they really are. For example, Daniel Bryan was thrown in with the likes of Big Cass and AJ Styles was thrown in there with Jinder Mahal. They’re some of the best in the world and they were put with some really terrible wrestlers and they got somewhat decent matches out of them. I’m pretty sure Jinder is better than Mongo although Big Cass is a different story. It’ll be interesting to see if RIC FLAIR of all people can get a good match out of Mongo.

 

 

Dick Slater vs Earl Robert Eaton vs Scott Norton vs Ice Train vs DDP vs The Barbarian vs Rocco Rock vs Johnny Grunge in an eight man battle royal for right to be the Lord of the Ring and for the number one contendership for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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I was just ready to go on a tear about this battle royal. When I realised after the Public Enemy/Flair and Savage match what the line-up of the battle royal was gonna be, I was shaken to my very core. You’re going to do a battle royal on pay-per-view with these eight random mid-card geeks? Now granted, they all “won” matches to get to this point. However, let’s look at the line-up.

Eaton is the understudy of Regal, Dick Slater was the manager of Col Robert Parker against Madusa at Uncensored, Norton and Ice Train I don’t think have won a match on Nitro since they became a team, The Barbarian is just part of another random tag team, Public Enemy are another random tag team and DDP’s whole storyline is that he’s a geek who has lost everything. DDP’s storyline is actually interesting to note but we’ll get to that.

Anyway, the idea that this was the ultimate finish to this big battle royal they’ve been hyping up for months blew my mind. Tony Schiavonie even said: “Did anyone think it would be these eight in this battle royal.” Truthfully, I didn’t. I figured, it was gonna come down to Savage, Flair and Luger or something. However, this ended up being a good battle royal. The first half saw an absolutely nothing match but the second half told a good story and was well executed in my eyes.

Referee Nick Patrick was actually in the ring for this battle royal. I, instinctively, questioned why a referee would in the ring for a battle royal? Shouldn’t the referee be on the outside to see if the wrestler’s feet hit the floor? Sure enough, DDP almost got knocked over the top rope but he stayed in as Tony insisted his feet touched the floor. This begged the question of why Nick Patrick was in the ring when he could have been on the outside of the ring to check if DDP’s feet hit the floor or not. Now granted, there was a reason for why he was in the ring but was it not possible for WCW to get another referee to stand on the outside of the ring?

Despite the referee being in the ring, Grunge went for a cover on Ice Train. Now, it would initially appear that it is stupid for someone to go for a cover in a battle royal right? Let’s keep this in mind for later.

Rocco was thrown out. Dick accidentally hit Eaton with the boot to eliminate him. Eaton then hit the Col Robert Parker on the outsider. Dick Slater was then outside and then attacked Eaton, with the announcers claiming that he’d been eliminated. The only problem was that they never showed Dick being eliminated.

DDP tossed out Scott Norton over the top rope and so the final four was DDP, Ice Train, Johnny Grunge and The Barbarian. Ice Train hit big powerslams on DDP, Barbarian and Grunge one after another. I actually kinda like that. Barbarian and Ice Train worked together and did a big double boot.

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DDP hit Diamond Cutters on Ice Train and Grunge. DDP then proceeded to pin and eliminate Johnny Grunge and Ice Train… in a BATTLE ROYAL. So yes, pinfalls were I guess legal in this battle royal. Which begged another question, if pinfalls were legal in this battle royal, then why did the referee not do a thing when Johnny Grunge tried to pin Ice Train earlier? Call it bad officiating or a Nick Patrick special. Or maybe I was unaware of a special ruling. I dunno.

DDP and The Barbarian then proceed to have a very good final two of the battle royal. DDP hit Barbarian for a Diamond Cutter and goes for a cover but Barbarian kicked out. Barbarian hit a clothesline for a near fall.

DDP hit a back elbow and went for a cover but Barbarian got the rope. Barbarian went for a roll up to try and shock DDP.  Barbarian hit a tombstone but DDP kicked out. DDP is kicking out of all kinds of moves Barbarian tried a sleeper hold but DDP low-blowed Barbarian.

Barbarian hit a big powerbomb for another near fall. Barbarian missed a diving headbutt and DDP then hit a Diamond Cutter to win the Lord of the Ring and earn a WCW title shot.

I’m not gonna lie… the last half of the battle royal I really enjoyed. I enjoyed the DDP storyline where despite everything he was put through, he kept going and kicking out and eventually overcome the odds to win the battle royal following a storyline where he was homeless, lost his job, his woman and it had now led to this. I actually liked that aspect of this battle royal.

It is possible that it was a TNA-like ruling with the pinfalls, where the first half of the battle royal was a battle royal and the second half was pinfall or submission. That would at least explain Patrick not doing the count for Grunge and Ice Train. They never did explain that though so… it was just a battle royal where I guess pinfalls counted and Patrick just missed a call.

Match Rating: **1/2

 

Mean Gene interviewed The Giant w/Jimmy Hart. Mean Gene talked about how Jimmy would be handcuffed to Lex Luger during the match to which Jimmy begged for his life to Lex! The Giant said he was on top of the mountain. He said Sting had been a thorn in his side, a rat under his bed and a damn cockroach in his apple pie! That last part I loved. He said he’s gonna exterminate everybody. Mean Gene said folks were putting money on Sting but Giant insisted the only way to bet is to bet big and bet on The Giant.

 

The Giant © w/Jimmy Hart vs Sting w/Lex Luger for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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I know I’ve said that the build for this program wasn’t that strong but for this main-event, the fans were going out of their minds for this match. Sting had such a huge following and they went nuts for everything he did. This was a brilliant little match where Sting was able to get the most out of very little, which is the sign of a great worker.

He had a great David vs Goliath match and it was executed very well to where Sting did not come off as a guy that stood no chance. I do love how this match was booked…. RIGHT up until the finish which we’ll get to.

The screen on the stage titantron accidentally called this a “WCW US HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH” which I laughed at! Sting tried a crossbody but he bounced off the big man. The Giant pushed the Stinger but Sting got right back in his face showing no fear. Sting got on Giant’s back and put on a sleeper which the fans went bonkers for. I was blown away by how hot this crowd was for Sting.

Sting tried dropkicks to no effect. Sting rallied the fans and it sounded electric as the fans got behind the Stinger. Sting tried a scoop slam but The Giant was too big so Giant crushed him with the weight. This got The Giant a two count. The Giant took control as he hit an elbow drop and the fans started to buzz and rally behind Sting. Fans started smacking chairs and doing whatever they could to build up the noise. It was surreal.

Sting tried to fight back up The Giant just clobbered him back down and Giant did an headbutt to the groin which not a DQ but he got a warning from referee Randy Anderson. The Giant did the leg scissors to Sting but still felt the need to grab the ropes to get extra twerk! This big giant with massive legs was squeezing the life out of Sting but he figured he might as well cheat whenever he could. Jesse Ventura had the line of “Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat” which certainly applied to The Giant!

The Giant threw Sting out of the ring and up the ramp. The Giant tried a chokeslam on Sting through the table but Luger had positioned Jimmy Hart onto the table, so The Giant got stopped in his track. If he chokeslammed Sting, he would end up hurting Jimmy so he refused. Luger warned Jimmy not to try anything.

The subtle signs that Jimmy Hart is actually holding The Giant back is such a great slow build. This is like the second time in a few weeks where Jimmy Hart inadvertently almost led to The Giant’s demise in these matches. Giant could have put Sting away for good if it were not for Jimmy Hart LITERALLY getting in the way.

Luger moved Sting out of the way of a Giant dropkick. Sting hit the referee by accident, thinking it was The Giant. Giant tried a Stinger Splash but he got stuck on the top rope and Sting fired away with kicks to thunderous cheers. Sting does a big Stinger splash himself to the belly as Giant is just stuck on the top rope.

Giant recovered and grabbed Luger on the apron but Sting just kept hitting Stinger Splashes to the back of the champion as Giant continued to choked at Luger.

Sting eventually got Giant down for a Scorpion Death lock. Bobby screamed that we were gonna get a new champion, which was a dead giveaway that this was not the finish. Jimmy Hart found himself stuck on the top rope and Sting tried a Stinger splash but hit the top rope as Luger either accidentally or on purpose pulled Jimmy down off the top rope. Sting ended falling into the groin of Giant.

Sting got top rope and did a splash but The Giant pushed Sting off of him and into the referee again. Jimmy then got the megaphone but Luger stopped Jimmy from using it. Sting tried a Scorpion Death lock on Giant and conveniently positioned himself to where Luger and Jimmy were fighting for the megaphone. They ended up hitting Sting in the head with it and Giant hit the chokeslam for the pin.

Dusty even questioned the idea that Jimmy Hart was supposedly stronger than Lex Luger to be able to break free from to Luger intervene. Jimmy pulled himself into position on the top rope to get involved which seemed pretty ridiculous on paper.

Either way, this was a good main-event in my eyes. A bit of overkill with the shenanigans with the ending but the fans were very much into this entire match. The Giant was great during this, Sting was great during this but the ending did iritate me because lord knows, we need more development on the Sting/Luger storyline.

This Lex Luger/Sting storyline has officially run its course. It feels like this is the fifth time I’ve said this but this has really been overkill. They had at least two incidents where it was established that Luger was finally a true babyface. They had the angle, which kicked off this whole thing with The Giant, where Luger made the save and there was no signs of discord. When doubts rose up again about Luger’s loyalty,he shows up to fight The Giant on Nitro and gets his ass kicked. The announcers talk about how this proved that Luger was a babyface. Now, we’re back to square one.

Luger had to cost Sting the WCW World title. This isn’t even the first time where Luger cost Sting the WCW title in this storyline. We’ve seen all of this before. What more is there to milk out of this storyline? This storyline has been going on since Lex Luger returned on the first episode of Nitro. I’ve watched 35 episodes of Nitro and multiple PPVs. The first Nitro was in September 1995 and now we’re in May 19th 1996. Jeez Louise.

What more is there?

Match Rating: ***1/4

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I officially put this in the category of a show of two halves. A horrifically bad first half of the show and a decent second half of the show. I don’t think the second half of the show was so tremendous that it made up for that first half but it is nice to know that 8 days from Slamboree, literally the entire WCW storyline scene changes up from this point. So, it is likely a lot of these storylines will be dropped or postponed when some Outsiders show up.

This is the last WCW PPV before the nWo arrives (at least Scott Hall anyway) which is actually rather significant. From here on out, things are going to change for World Championship Wrestling…

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #35 (MAY 13TH 1996) – THE GIANT VS LEX LUGER FOR THE WCW WORLD TITLE

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

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We’re heading into Slamboree 1996, with The Giant defending the WCW World title against Sting. Both men picked up victories last week but the show ended in a brawl where Sting was able to get The Giant in the Scorpion Death Lock briefly but this was interrupted by Jimmy Hart. Lex Luger, who was supposed to get a WCW title shot last week, arrived late to the show with the Stinger once again questioning Lex Luger’s actions.

 

This review was the go-home show for Slamboree 1996. It didn’t really do much for me other than the angle to close the show to set-up or get me excited for Slamboree. I think this was officially the show where the good-show streak ended. This wasn’t bad but this was the first Nitro I’ve watched in a while where it felt like it was just…. there. It just existed and there wasn’t lot there for me to further my interest in a number of storylines. This episode just didn’t do it for me.

We’re also two weeks away from Nitro going two hours long. Next week’s episode I’ve already found out is more than an hour long because of a weird overrun. So this will be the last episode which took me less than an hour to watch on the Network. The Network listed this as 42 minutes long.

 

Date: May 13th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Nashville, Tennesee

Rating: 2.3 (Better than last week but still lost to WWF RAW)

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

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Let’s start this review with the review of the opening segment with Lex Luger. The storyline has been that Lex Luger was claiming that he missed flights or whatever which has led to him missing two opportunities to face The Giant for the WCW title. This week, he had a plan. Lex Luger literally CAMPED in Nashville outside of the arena. He didn’t go to a hotel or anything. No, he was outside camping as if he were waiting for the midnight screenings of Star Wars or something.

I paused it because, this set up Lex Luger had included two bottles of water, three bananas, an orange, an apple all on top of a box which may have been like a cooler or something. He had a flashlight, duvet and pillow as he then proceeded to swat away at a fly with a fly-swatter thing he random whiped out! He then proceeds to whip out a newspaper too.

I have a few questions. Firstly, why Luger couldn’t just stay at a nearby hotel is perplexing to me! Secondly, Luger isn’t shown training or anything for his big world title match. He sits there reading the newspaper! This whole plan of Luger’s seemed to have a lot of flaws but you know what, this at least proved that Luger was willing to go the extra mile to be here for this match with Giant. So I liked it… it was goofy but it was the right kind of goofy.

 

“The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner vs “Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock

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The announcers said that Randy Savage was barred from ringside and fined $50,000 twice, after last week where he beat up two referees and choked Hugh Morrus out with his own jacket.

This tag match started with Scott hitting gorilla press and throwing Grunge I think at Rocco, which is quite a feat of strength as neither of those guys were small dudes. It may have been the other way around but that’s what was written on my notes so I’m gonna go with that order.

Rick did a great catching belly-to-belly suplex on Grunge. Scott followed up with a big belly-to-belly suplex of his own. The teams brawled on the outside. Rocco accidentally hits Grunge and this led to… nothing. It led to nothing as Rocco just started beating up Rick.

Eric Bischoff talked about Scott Norton and Ice Train a.k.a Fire and Ice looking very powerful as of late … the last time they were on Nitro, the Steiners beat them in about 3 minutes if I recall correctly.

Rick crotched Rocco and did a suplex from the top rope. This wasn’t like a superplex or anything. Rocco was sat on the top turnbuckle and Rick lifted him from that position which was quite impressive. Scott hit this fantastic tilt-a-whirl sit-out slam, Scott went for the Franksteiner but Grunge dropped him with an electric chair as Rick was distracted with the referee.

Rocco did an assisted springboard senton from the top rope for a 2 count. Public Enemy did a double elbow smash. Rocco missed a senton which led to Rick Steiner running wild with clotheslines off the hot tag.

Public Enemy eventually overpowered Rick on the outside. Rocco tried a flip senton over the top rope but hit Grunge by mistake. Scott did a Frankesteiner in the ring, pumped his hands up in the air and went for the cover for the win.

This was a decent tag match at best. I’ve seen Public Enemy have way worst tag team matches than this and this at least gave the Steiners a lot of shine. The right team won and this was OK in my books.

 

Chris Benoit vs Squire Dave Taylor w/Jeeves

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I don’t have a lot of notes for this match but this was another decent match in its own right. It’s just that not a lot happened between these two and there wasn’t a lot of heat from the fans for this one.

The announcers revealed Lord Steven Regal is teaming with Dave Taylor at Slamboree as I guess Belfast Bruiser was out of the tournament. They also mentioned DDP was also in the Lethal Lottery now, replacing Hardwork Bobby Walker. This isn’t quite WWE’s Mixed Match Challenge from 2018 where they changed up the teams DURING the tournament but this was very hard to keep up with heading into the PPV.

Benoit and Taylor grappled around the ring for a bit as there was some crackling with the audio. They wrestled for a bit and then Benoit just delivers some closed fist punches to bring some intensity into the match.

He delivered a catapult and then some chops to Taylor and Dave Taylor mostly just responded with European Uppercuts. Dave Taylor slammed Benoit to the ground with an electric chair drop. Dave hit an awesome fallaway slam which was the highlight of the match.

Dave missed a dive from the top rope and Benoit hit a Dragon Suplex for the pin. Not a lot to discuss about this one but this was another decent match.

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Mean Gene Okerlund was talking to Randy Savage outside of the arena. Savage is trying to get in when Steve “Mongo” McMichael came outside to meet with Savage. Mongo then proceeds to cut a promo on Ric Flair and tells Savage to chill out as he has a plan.

Mean Gene turns around and tells Savage that he’s lost it. Savage said Gene hadn’t seen crazy yet and he was gonna turn WCW upside down. Savage said he doesn’t care about the money and fines. He warned Gene to not tell him where he’s going because he didn’t know where he’d been, which I actually thought was a solid line. Savage said he’s gonna win the Lethal Lottery even if it meant carrying around a dead partner in Ric Flair. Savage dropped a line something along the lines of a psychiatrist said he’s OCD which stands for “One Cool Dude.” I chuckled at that.

 

Ric Flair w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth vs VK Wallstreet

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This was a weird match to see with the heel VK Wallstreet working as the babyface against Ric Flair in a match designed to see the fans cheer for Wallstreet over RIC FLAIR. Shockingly, the fans were getting behind VK Wallstreet during this match, so it wasn’t like this didn’t accomplish what it set out to do.

I love Miss Elizabeth having this big smile on her face as Flair danced around with her on the ramp. Even though she’s supposed to be a heel and she’s with the dastardly Ric Flair, Ric danced with her and she had this big smile on her face!

Wallstreet out-wrestled Flair briefly at the start of the match. Flair then dropped him with a drop toe-hold and Wallstreet reversed it into a wrist lock.

Wallstreet ran wild for a little bit and Flair retreated to the outside. I love how Ric bounced off the rope and the moment he bounced off, Wallstreet pounced and hit a drop toe-hold, going to work on the legs. It’s actually amazing how much Wallstreet got on Ric Flair in this match.

Ric Flair sold and sold for VK WALLSTREET of all people. Wallstreet went for a cover but Flair got his foot on the rope and Woman still took the time to adjust his foot on the rope a little bit anyway! No matter if he got his foot on the rope or not, his team will always try to bend the rules for the Dirtiest Player in the game!

Wallstreet tried a high knee on the outside but jumped knee first into the ring post. Flair worked on the legs and locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock. Woman grabbed the arms of Flair to get extra twerk and to emphasise this, Flair thrusted vigorously in the air to demonstrate the amount of pressure he was applying! Flair tapped him out for the win.

This was the weakest match of the show so far but this was an OK match in its own right.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Flair. Flair talked about Dolly Parton riding Space Mountain which I wouldn’t even wanna attempt to imagine. Ric talked about Savage saying he would drag a dead man to the ring. Ric then danced around with Elizabeth and asked if he looked dead to you. Ric Flair said ass during this promo and Mean Gene was appalled by this! I love how ASS was a word that was appalling and frowned upon in the eyes of the WCW announcers!  Ric Flair talked about Mongo. Flair talked about hitting touchdowns and he grabbed the women and said look at the wide receivers. I was gob-smacked by that line. The Attitude Era and Crash TV hadn’t totally arrived in WCW yet but this was not subtle language in the slightest by Flair!

 

The Giant © vs Lex Luger for the WCW title

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So they’re setting up this big angle of Lex Luger possibly showing up for his title match, with the announcers speculating whether he was going to show up or not. They come back from a break and Lex Luger is just in the ring with The Giant ready for the match. No entrances or anything for either man in this match. They didn’t even try when they come back to play up the possibility that Luger may no-show.

Luger tried shoulder blocks but Giant was too big. Luger tried a scoop slam but got thrown to the outside. Luger got out of a suplex and tried to dive on Giant but Giant caught him and slammed him into the corners. Luger tried a diving forearm but Giant was still standing. Luger was thrown outside of the ring.

Luger tried to get The Giant off the apron but The Giant held onto the rope for a long time, refusing to go but Luger eventually knocked him down with a big forearm.

Giant went over to Flair, who was sitting watching this match with his women also sitting at a table. The Giant cleared the table as Flair screamed NO, as Woman also screamed. Giant then chokeslammed Luger through the table for the DQ.

Jimmy Hart literally jumped on Giant’s back to stop him from doing anything more as Sting came out to the aid of his friend as Giant was led to the back. I guess Luger being chokeslammed through the table was enough to prove to the announcers that Lex Luger was a true babyface now. Mean Gene tried an interview but Sting told him to get out of here.

I do like that this did add a bit of weight to the Sting vs The Giant title match for Slamboree. When they did this feud, literally out of nowhere, they just randomly announced the match for Slamboree. Now it’s for the title and now The Giant has made things personal, going after Sting’s friend. Now it feels more than just a random title match as the animosity between the two is at a boiling point heading into the PPV.

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This episode was the weakest episode we’ve seen in a while on Nitro I think. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t particular good either. There were some matches that were above average and that was about it. I guess by those standards, I should consider it a good show but it really struggled in building up anticipation for the PPV. It was just a random Nitro to me that didn’t really accomplish much for a show that happened to be the go-home show for Slamboree.

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Speaking of WCW Slamboree 1996, that is the next review for the blog. We’re gonna have the Lethal Lottery tournament, a few title matches and Sting vs The Giant for the WCW title. Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly an update whenever Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too!

 

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order