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

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

maxresdefault

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

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

 

 

Date: October 9th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Chicago, Illinois

Rating: 2.6

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

 

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

 

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

hqdefault (2)

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

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

 

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

 

Sabu vs Mr JL

wwef_36834791_th_64

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Road Warrior Hawk vs Big Bubba Rogers

wwef_36834829_th_64

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

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

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

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

hollywood-hulk-hogan-first-appearance

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

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

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

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

 

Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson III in a steel cage match

maxresdefault (1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

50482d44719535.5a1dcf2f71e46

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

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

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

WCW Nitro Episode List

Advertisements

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

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

maxresdefault

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

wwef_36159357_th_64

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

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

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

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

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

 

Date: October 2nd 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Denver, Colorado

Rating: 2.5

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

 

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

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

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

 

Lex Luger vs Randy Savage

hqdefault (3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Eddie Guerrero vs Dean Malenko

19951002_eddie_dean_01_USE--7389da7a4a53ab1722d53aca366dcb9c

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

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

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

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

maxresdefault (1)

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

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

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

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

 

Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson

2cig200

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

WITW52

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: -*

50482d44719535.5a1dcf2f71e46

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

WCW Nitro Episode List

 

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #4 (SEPTEMBER 25TH 1995) – RANDY SAVAGE VS THE TASKMASTER

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

maxresdefault

We had the fallout to Fall Brawl 1995. Ric Flair was out for the blood of Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman. Arn wasn’t there but Pillman was, so Flair decided to chop the hell out of Pillman. He vowed that he would get Arn on the next episode of Nitro. Mr Wonderful, who just re-discovered himself as Mr Wonderful, beat the number one contender for the US title clean as a sheet. We had a awesome segment with Randy Savage and Lex Luger. They accused each other of having personal agendas and this almost led to a brawl but they were separated.

Let’s all remember everybody that this week RIC FLAIR was gonna kick Arn Anderson’s ass on this week’s edition of WCW Nitro. Let’s all remember that as we see what happened on Nitro. We do get Randy Savage vs Taskmaster on this episode of Nitro. They set-up this match when Taskmaster attacked Savage on the set of Baywatch. We’ve got a lot to get to on this episode so let’s get down to business…

NOTE: I actually looked back at my review from WCW Nitro Episode #2. They advertised the Nasty Boys would be in action on Episode #3 of Nitro but we never got it. Fans of the Nasty Boys would have been kinda upset that we never got the advertised appearances of Brian Knobbs and Jerry Saggs.

 

Date: September 25th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Florence, South Carolina

Rating: 2.7

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

 

No real noteworthy notes from the commentary team this week. They weren’t as annoying as they have been in recent episodes of Nitro. Mongo is a dude I just try to zone out but it’s hard to do so. Eric is loud and proud about his product which I guess is a good thing. Bobby is there with the quick wit to combat these two dingbats at commentary! Didn’t take too much away from the product.

 

Alex Wright vs Disco Inferno

wwef_36833167_th_64

The WCW Nitro DEBUT of the man they called Disco Inferno. Thank god he had some moves on the dance floor as his in-ring moves needed some work at this point! He was rather green but this was one of the first matches of his career as far as I’m aware. With that being said, there were a lot of things Disco did right in this match in terms of his presence in the ring that would do well for him for his WCW career.

One thing he had was the amazing DISCO FEVER theme song! Not quite at the level of Mr Wonderful’s theme song but still tremendous. Nobody could doubt that Disco knew how to bust some dance moves. He was having the time of his life as he danced down to the ring.

Alex Wright was actually a good wrestler for him to debut against considering Wright, at this point, was one of the cautious cruiserweights in WCW. This match was mostly just Wright selling for Disco and after every move, Disco would like pay attention to his hair to make sure it didn’t get messed up. Very classic but timely heel characteristic that every heel with great hair should do! Wright knocked Disco to the outside and Disco flopped like a fish out of water on the outside.

Mongo said something like no need to turn over to the NFL football as San Francisco would win the game. I learned after watching the show that apparently San Francisco actually lost that game Mongo was on about. Far be it from me to question STEVE “MONGO” MCMICHAEL on American Football but history does not lie.

Wright and Disco botched a belly-to-belly suplex to such a royal degree. Wright tried to throw him over his head but Disco decided to launch himself a bit further without realising that the ropes were there. So poor Disco crashes into this top rope and that could have easily turned ugly for Disco.

Wright won with a backslide in… I guess the best match you could have gotten from Disco Inferno in his first WCW match on Nitro. It wasn’t pretty but we all have to start somewhere. Eric proclaimed this as a big win for Alex Wright… I fail to see how that is the case considering this is Disco’s FIRST MATCH with WCW.

hogan-nitro-interview-1995

They cut to Hulk Hogan, wearing a neck brace, working out with Jimmy Hart. If you recall, The Giant murdered Hogan at Fall Brawl. Here is Hogan 8 days later, thankfully not dead, working out by lifting the belt up and down by just using HIS NECK. Counter-productive after a wrestler SNAPPED Hogan’s neck!

I had to replay this several times but for the right reasons. Hogan was talking faster than the speed of sound as he cut this great promo on The Giant. He was oozing with charisma and fire even after The Giant broke his neck. He’s ready and amped up brother. Hogan says he’s not dead and he’s not even down and out. Hogan said he didn’t miss one workout and he’s not gonna miss one now… even with a broken neck and putting Kurt Angle to shame.

Hogan said The Giant tried to rip off his head at Fall Brawl but he is back on track and ready to take care of the “big nasty” Giant. Hogan challenged him to the now-infamous “Monster Truck” challenge just to embarrass him. He then decided to put his WCW title on the line after that Monster Truck match. He vowed to slam The Giant as the largest arms in the world was ready for any challenge. Hogan vowed that he would bury The Giant right next to his father which is… kind of dark now I think about it!

This was an exceptional promo. 23 years later, this kind of Monster Truck challenge would seem ridiculous but Hogan, because he’s Hulk Hogan, made you want to see him and The Giant destroy each other with monster trucks! It’s so insane but, for better or for worse, you wanted to see it. I loved it.

I also have a confession to make… I’ve never seen the monster truck deal with Hogan and Giant. My WCW knowledge is very limited, which is why I started the Nitro series in the first place. I am very much a newbie to WCW. I have no idea how I’ll react to this, although I’m aware of how the follow up WCW title match goes.

september_25_1995_monday_nitro-00008

“Macho Man” Randy Savage shows up for a new Slim Jim advert where he’s doing push-ups with a human being! They also recapped the Luger/Savage segment from last week.

Savage comes out with Mean Gene and called out Luger. Luger obliges by running down to the ring and ready for a fight. Luger advised that Savage never had any respect for Luger and had been “thumbs down” on him since day one. Luger said they’d went to war as allies but now they had to go war against each other. Luger said he fought Sting and Hogan and earned their respect. Anyone who slaps Lex Luger doesn’t have any respect so Luger challenged Savage to a match for next week’s Nitro. I believe Lex Luger said he’d put his WCW title shot on the line and then said he’d leave WCW if he lost. Savage liked that Luger was willing to put it all on the line and accepted the challenge, confirming that they had a date with destiny. Luger paid Savage back for the slap from the week before by pushing Savage away.

I loved this segment. Lex Luger came off as a smart babyface and you were still invested in the guy’s character. Luger came into WCW and every babyface except Sting didn’t trust Luger. Hogan then “went to war” with Luger, as he put it, and then Hogan respected Luger for taking it to him. Savage is still untrustworthy of Luger, mostly because he’s nuts, but because he doesn’t know what Luger is about. Luger’s solution is for them to fight and then Savage can find out first-hand what Luger is all about. This did make me want to see what happens next. I’m also certain Luger’s going to win the match because, SPOILER ALERT, Lex Luger is still with WCW for years after this match. However, you’ve got two big stars going at it and we’ll see just who is the better man and if Luger does in fact belong in WCW. This is all great.

They promoted Halloween Havoc and confirmed that the Monster Truck Challenge a.k.a MACHINE VS MACHINE would be on the show.

 

Kurasawa w/Col. Robert Parker vs Craig Pittman

hqdefault (2)

I did have a weird love for this match. It’s Kurasawa vs Pittman so I probably shouldn’t have but this was two different wrestlers fighting in different ways as a means to win. You watch a lot of indie matches and especially a lot of WWE matches where both guys will go in there and wrestle in the exact same way. Kurasawa and Pittman battled with very different styles but it was awesome. Kurasawa had the kicks and Pittman had suplexes and headbutts. It was simple.

Kurasawa kicked at Pittman for a long time and battered him. Kurasawa even ripped up the floor and hit a back-drop on the concrete just as a regular move which I didn’t particularly like. It’s concrete. That should hurt way more than they played it off as.

Kurasawa did a judo throw. Fans came alive when Pittman finally was able to back-drop Kurasawa out of the ring and fight back. Pittman hit a belly-to-belly and locked on the Code Red armbar. Kurasawa got his foot on the rope. Kurasawa went for a submission but it was reversed into a gut-wrench suplex. Kurasawa hit a german suplex and won. It sort of appeared like a screwy finish but I suspect that was supposed to be the finish. Referee Nick Patrick looked very clunky delivering the count.

This was an OK little match as it accomplished the goal of setting up Kurasawa as a killing machine. It made you want to see more of the man, which is a thumbs up. I actually want to see more of Kurasawa as I was looking through some notes on the Wrestling Observer Newsletter archives and Kurasawa’s history. Apparently, Kurasawa teamed up Meng to face Sting and Road Warrior Hawk in one of the old Clash of the Champions. The Newsletter rated this -2 stars which sort of shocked me. That match on paper sounded awesome but I’m very curious to see if it was as bad as it was graded. I will watch this match as a little bonus for Episode #5 and I’ll report back with my findings.

september_25_1995_monday_nitro-00015

Mean Gene interviewed Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman in the ring. Nothing much to this promo other than what Arn and Brian were wearing. Polo shirts, tight jeans and fanny packs all perfectly capturing the 1990s vintage look! Nobody in 2018 could get away with this!

Pillman bragged about how Ric has hit an all-time low since Arn beat him at Fall Brawl. He said he and Arn would hospitalise anyone that gets in their way. Arn said the better man won at Fall Brawl and if Flair were to go after Arn, Pillman would be there to have Arn’s back. Arn pointed out everybody Ric Flair has double-crossed in the past including Sting and Randy Savage and that nobody would dare tag with Ric Flair after every under-handed thing Flair has done in WCW. Ric did all of that with Arn by his side but now Arn’s not on his side and what goes around comes around.

I wasn’t that much of a fan of the delivery of the promo but the content was very good. It tells a great story about Ric Flair and Arn Anderson’s relationship. Flair was the dirtiest player in the game and he had aligned himself with others a lot along the way. Even when he “jumped ship” to the WWF, he aligned himself with Mr Perfect and Bobby Heenan. Now Ric Flair is all alone and he may have to pay for all of his bad deeds in the past. You live by the sword and die by the sword.

I have two main nit-picks to kind of address. #1 is that it appeared they were suddenly setting up a tag team match. Maybe I missed something from WCW Saturday Night because now Arn and Brian are talking about taking on Flair in a tag team match. I fear I may have missed something because this plays into nitpick #2. Ric Flair promised on Nitro last week that he would kick Arn’s ass on that show. He didn’t but then Ric said that he would kick Arn’s ass on Nitro this week. He teased that we would get Ric beating up Arn on this show. We didn’t even get Ric Flair on this show. Either Ric was taken out on some other show in storyline or Ric really did think twice when Arn said Flair would now have to deal with Pillman too!

By the way, Pillman saying that Ric has hit an all-time low in his career is funny considering this is one week removed from when Ric beat Pillman in 5 minutes clean!

 

So you recall last week, I was ranting about number one contender for the US title Johnny B Badd losing clean to Mr Wonderful. I said I’d be baffled if Badd still got the US title shot after all of this. Well call me baffled as they announced Sting vs Johnny B Badd for the US title at WCW Saturday Night!

They also announced American Males for WCW Saturday Night and that THE GIANT would be there with Taskmaster.

 

Randy Savage vs The Taskmaster w/Zodiac

wwef_36833233_th_64

They recapped the Baywatch segment from last week when Taskmaster jumped Savage. The Giant was not already down with Taskmaster for this match but Taskmaster was able to get Zodiac to help him out. Savage chased Taskmaster around the ring which led to Zodiac beating up Savage. It was rather boring but I did love Taskmaster beating down Savage with simple karate chops all across the Macho Man’s body.

There’s a certain spot in wrestling where you put a guy like on the top rope or the steel rail and then someone would flying in with a clothesline to knock them down. Daniel Bryan does this spot a lot and it always looks really well done. Taskmaster tried this spot with Savage where he hung him up to dry on the steel rail and then he did the clothesline. This was the least elegant I’ve ever seen this move done!

Savage got back into the match with a back-drop and a double axe handle. As Zodiac got involved again, Savage snapped and beat Zodiac up royally. In the middle of this melee, Savage knocks down the referee causing the DQ. Savage is beating down Taskmaster and Zodiac as the fans is going nuts, even after a disqualification. Savage tries a double elbow drop but Taskmaster moves out of the way and only Zodiac gets hit with the move.

At this moment, THE GIANT emerges. The fans are concerned now as the big nasty Giant arrives and he’s coming for their hero Randy Savage. The Giant hit a chokeslam and when I mean a chokeslam, it was Giant hoisting Savage HIGH IN THE AIR and then slamming him down to the mat. The Giant/Big Show, when he was doing the chokeslam for the first 10 years of his career or so, did them so well. He held them up and had them in peril with nowhere to go, and was able to control the landing and slam them down. I loved those chokeslams.

Some geeks come down to the ring including Mark Starr to try and stop The Giant. Even these lesser-known talents coming down to help got a huge ovation. Even if The Giant was too powerful, these guys were willing to try and stop them. Sadly, The Giant just destroyed them just as easily including Alex Wright for that matter. Wright came off the top rope and Giant just grabbed him for a bear-hug and slammed him down.

Finally LEX LUGER arrives. He gets in between The Giant and Randy Savage and stands over the Macho Man’s body. Before Luger does anything, The Giant attacks Luger from behind. Luger tried to fight back but he got chokeslammed too. The Taskmaster eventually calmed The Giant down and the monster was taken to the back.

THIS WAS MONEY. The Giant left devastation in his wake. He didn’t just beat up Randy Savage. He swatted away wrestler, after wrestler, after wrestler including a fresh Lex Luger who took Hulk Hogan to the limit (in storyline anyway) two weeks ago. This is how you build up a monster in wrestling. He comes in, causes destruction and leaves. It’s awesome and it’s great build for Halloween Havoc. The Giant easily destroyed Lex Luger, who was the guy that Hogan was fighting toe-to-toe against a few weeks ago. This is the type of monster that Hogan must overcome at Halloween Havoc.

 

Lex Luger vs Meng

meng-masked

That’s right. Lex Luger, who was still down in the ring following The Giant’s chokeslam, was still in the main-event of Nitro and had to overcome Meng. Meng ran down to the ring as he smelled blood in water and pounced on Luger. He didn’t let up. This Tongan monster choked Luger as Bischoff plugged Hogan being on Nitro next week.

Bischoff also mentions that Taskmaster was not out there with Meng, possibly teasing dissension within the ranks of the Dungeon of Doom. Meng hit a piledriver. The match did slow to a crawl as Meng had nerve holds and chin-locks locked in. Luger tried to fight back but Meng responded with a gut-wrench gut-buster which I’ve never seen before. It looked really cool and I wanna see a dude like Cesaro try this one day.

Funnily enough, Luger got back into the match by catching Meng off the top rope with a face slam. It’s funny because 2 weeks ago, Savage was in a match with Scott Norton where he did the same thing to Norton. Maybe this was to show that Luger was just as good as Savage… or maybe it was just a giant coincidence.

Luger stomped a mudhole on Meng but the referee pulled him away. While Luger is being pulled away, Meng grabs a spike and he hits Luger with it for the win.

It was… a match. It was nothing really special and really could not follow The Giant laying waste to 5 men on his own. My only thing with this is that Luger did not come off well as a star. Luger came in to challenge Hogan on Episode #1. In Episode #2, Hogan and Luger have their match and Hogan has LUGER beat before the Dungeon of Doom run in. Luger didn’t get the victory at War Games and here on Episode #4, Luger loses to Meng in the main-event. Luger’s not actually beaten anybody since he arrived in WCW. Meanwhile, Randy Savage beat up Zodiac and Taskmaster by himself before The Giant ran down!

Maybe Lex will profit from a BIG WIN over Randy Savage next week and we’ll see if all can be forgiven on that front.

 

That’s it for Nitro. They plugged that Hulk Hogan would be on Nitro next week, the American Males would be there, DEAN MALENKO would be there, the Nasty Boys was advertised to be on next week’s show at least and we’ve got Lex Luger vs Randy Savage.

I’m very much looking forward to next week. I’ve got to say, I think they’re doing a hell of a job with The Giant. Him coming in and wrecking all in his path was excellent in setting him up for Hogan. I’m very excited in seeing what’s more to come. The matches on Nitro weren’t all that great in this episode but I did like certain bits like Kurasawa vs Pittman. I enjoyed this show so it get’s a thumbs up!

50482d44719535.5a1dcf2f71e46

Thank you for reading and I’ll be back with Episode #5 of WCW Nitro as part of the Retro Express. I will actually be reviewing TWO bonus matches. I will watch the Sting/Hawk vs Kurasawa/Meng match I mentioned earlier and I will try to see if I can watch Sting vs Johnny B Badd for the US title. I don’t think Johnny B Badd is winning the belt or anything! However, I’m very much interested as we’ve built towards this for the last few weeks or so! We’ll see you at Episode #5 – as LEX LUGER AND RANDY SAVAGE COLLIDE!

 

WCW Nitro Episode List

 

 

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

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

maxresdefault

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

 

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

 

Date: September 18th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Johnson City, Tennessee

Rating: 1.9

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

giant-september-18-1995-monday-nitro-00001

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

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

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

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

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

harlem

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

wwef_36775375_th_64

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

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

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

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

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

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

12176178_10100938159263334_1174901025_o

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

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

images

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

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

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

upqzhTRe-600x400

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

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

 

Ric Flair vs Brian Pillman

wwef_36775409_th_64

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

50482d44719535.5a1dcf2f71e46

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

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

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

 

WCW Nitro Episode List

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

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

maxresdefault (1)

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

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

 

 

Date: September 17th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Asheville, North Carolina

Commentators: Tony Schiavone and Bobby “The Brian” Heenan

 

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

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

 

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

screen-shot-2018-05-04-at-12-45-54-pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ****

 

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

 

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

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

 

Cobra vs Craig Pittman

wwef_36989843_th_64

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

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

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

Match Rating: 1/4*

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

wwef_36989881_th_64

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **1/4

 

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

wwef_36989915_th_64

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: -**

 

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

 

Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson

wwef_36990003_th_64

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ***1/2

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

Fall-Brawl-1995-War-Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: *1/4

supgroup_hulks_050112--9cc4631a447c32bef57327357b6634f9

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

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

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

hk4VZnr-600x360

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

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

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

 

WCW Nitro Episode List

 

Retro Express: WCW Nitro #1 (September 4th 1995)

maxresdefault

 

For the first time in over 18 months, Retro Express returns to the Armbar Express! Only this time, the Retro Express is on a mission…

As long as I’ve been a wrestling fan, the biggest wrestling company I’ve ever known was World Wrestling Entertainment. I started watching wrestling in 2003, where WWE dominated the wrestling industry with no major competition at all from the sports entertainment side of things.

But there was a time, before I was a wrestling fan, where WWE did actually have huge competition. In fact, this was competition that almost drove them out of business. This competition… was World Championship Wrestling.

I’ve read Bryan Alvarez’s “The Death Of WCW” book (which, by the way, I would hugely recommend) and had heard all the stories about WCW. The narrative that WCW, a wrestling company powered by one of the richest men in the United States that crumbled as the “revolutionary” WWF Attitude Era rose to prominence. I don’t buy that narrative entirely.

Having re-watched some of the old recent WWF Attitude Era stuff recently (not covered in the Armbar Express yet), I can’t say there was a lot to praise from that era with the exceptions of like Austin vs McMahon as well as the rise of The Rock. WCW, in my opinion, were the ones that screwed WCW. I can’t go with the idea that the WWF were so great and WCW were so terrible. I don’t buy that. Obviously WCW did completely decline in their last few years but it’s not as if WWF was mind-blowingly good.

So then how is it that the WWE is still around, thriving and making hundreds of millions of dollars each year? How is that WCW are gone forever? What was it?

Well I decided to see if I can try and answer my own question. I’m not watching RAW IS WAR and Monday Night Nitro side-by-side but since I have never really watched WCW in a major capacity, I decided to watch every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. That’s right. 300+ episodes starting with an episode including Sting vs Ric Flair and ending with an episode…. including Sting vs Ric Flair.

Let’s get to it with EPISODE ONE….

 

WCW Nitro #1

Date: September 4th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rating: 2.5

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

 

We started things off with Eric Bischoff and STEVE MCMICHAEL opening the show, welcoming us to WCW Nitro. Seeing Bischoff as a babyface is extremely rare for me, knowing what’s going to happen in about a year’s time in WCW. Steve McMichael was one of the most annoying and worst announcers I’ve ever had to listen to in my life. I have no idea how long this guy will be doing commentary but I’m praying it’s a short term deal before Tony Schiavone is on the scene.

Bobby Heenan interrupts. He sucks up to McMichael after supposedly making some kind of remark about him. Very hard to figure out what he was on about.

 

Jushin Thunder Liger vs ‘Flyin Brian

sneak_nitro79_thumb--9fa19e4697115c3490b5fe843813a751

I enjoy re-watcing old things and, for the majority of the time, I don’t really have an issue with watching old stuff with modern eyes. I did have an issue with this match. I know how this is a very historic and romanticised match but time has not been kind to this one. I’m sure at the time this blew people away and the fans were going crazy for the match. That being said, this was a very sloppy match!

The match was OK for about the first minute when Liger hit a moonsault which barely connected. He went for a big boot which… barely connected. They attempted a hurricanrana spot and it completely fell apart as they both fell down. The head-scissors by Brian the second time was a vast improvement. There was some ridiculous spot where Liger tried to dump Brian over the rope but Brian ended up going through the middle rope. The crowd broke out into a USA chant because of course they did.

Steve McMichael, I don’t know who he said it to, but he gave either Liger or Brian the following advice: “Give it to him the way he wants it.” At least it’s nice to know McMichael was actually into this match. When he wasn’t invested in the match he made fun of Bobby Heenan with every pun in the book including “Bobby The Stain.” Sick burn.

Liger almost killed Brian with the powerbomb. Liger hit a Frankenstiener on Brian and PLANTED HIMSELF. I shrieked. His head dropped to the floor as he sent Brian across the ring. I’ve concluded that this was way worse than the Bayley/Sasha Frankensteiner from NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn a number of years ago. Oddly enough, Jushin Liger WRESTLED AT NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn a number of years ago. How he walked away fine after this is a mystery.

Brian rolled Liger up for the win and a HUGE POP. The crowd loved Flyin’ Brian in the first ever match of WCW Nitro. It wasn’t a terrible match but there was a lot of messy spots that could have ended way worse than it did.

 

They showed WCW US Champion Sting cutting a promo on Ric Flair basically vowing to beat Ric Flair on this episode of Nitro. Straight to the point, short and all you needed.

Then we cut to WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan… and PASTAMANIA was running wild! Now I’ve heard that Hogan did this back in the 90s… I had no idea it was like this. Hogan had a restaurant in Mall of America based in Minneapolis, which was where this particular show was based. First of, just the idea that this Nitro was based in a US Mall shopping centre. People were just doing their shopping and going down these massive escalators and watching these guys wrestle. WWE is not adventurous enough to try this in 2018 and that’s a shame.

So Bischoff interviewed Hogan with these little kids surrounding them, getting autographs with Hogan. Jimmy Hart was also there. Hogan cut this astonishing promo on PastaMania, saying PastaMania was running through his veins. He said that he was slimming trim with pasta! Yes, pasta! He said he was going to beat Big Bubba Rogers to retain the WCW title tonight. The PastaManiacs were going to help him win. Man, could you imagine WWE trying this with like “Roman Noodles” or something in 2018? PastaMania lasted less than a year, for those of you wondering.

 

Sting vs Ric Flair

full-length-match-wcw-nitro-sting-vs-ric-flair-united-states-championship-match-1166577145

Before we actually get started, I have no idea if this match was for the WCW United States Championship or not. Pro Wrestling Wikia, who has details of almost ever show for like WWE, WCW, ECW etc., has this down as a US title match, which I though it was. However, The Internet Wrestling Database had this down as a non-title match. Either way, Sting vs Ric Flair is a match that will never get old. It never changes but it never needs to change. Ric Flair is the greatest seller in the history of pro wrestling. Sting going crazy is awesome and he’s one of the best babyfaces of all time.

Before we actually got the match, we had an invasion… LEX LUGER arrived in WCW. The fans were going nuts as Eric Bischoff played it up as if he was invading from the WWF. He said Luger wasn’t supposed to be there. Sting and Flair were confused and Luger was asked to leave, which he eventually did.

Luger debuting here was actually a pretty big deal at the time since, like the night before, he interfered in the main-event of WWF SummerSlam. There was no like internet or anything for the fans to know that Luger was coming. So when he showed up without warning, on Nitro, these fans didn’t know what to think. Are the WWF invading? Is he signed? What’s going on? Later on in the night, it was clearer as to what was going on.

Sting and Flair, after being confused for a solid minute or so, then started to fight. Sting Gorilla Pressed Flair OVER AND OVER AND OVER again. Sting ran wild. Flair turned things around with a poke to the eye. Flair and Sting somehow did the smoothest crossbody to the outside I’ve ever seen. Sting Gorilla Pressed Ric into the ring. Flair going to the top rope and then getting thrown off will never get old to me. ARN ANDERSON then came running down to the ring. It sounded as if Flair and Arn were doing a break-up angle. McMichael theorised that Arn had been down at PastaMania.

Sting made a comeback. Flair sold a clothesline on the apron as if he got shocked with a taser. Sting, like a completely doofus, distracted himself by talking to Arn when Flair did the chop block and put Sting in the Figure Four Leg Lock. This Figure Four  was awesome as Sting fought back, pumped up his chests and was ready to turn the hold around to put the pressure on Flair. Sting fought and fought but before he could turn it over, Flair got the ropes to break the hold.

So then Arn Anderson got in the ring and the bell rang. Having re-winded the show, it appears to me that Flair was DQ’d because he didn’t break on five after getting the ropes.  Arn broke up the Figure Four and he and Flair brawled to the back. Arn got in the ring to get his jacket and that was that. A very lame finish to an otherwise vintage Sting vs Ric Flair match.

 

Then almost immediately, SCOTT NORTON ran down to the ring. When I first was watching this, I had no idea who he was. Part of the problem was that they never mentioned on commentary who this guy was. He confronted Bischoff about a contract. Mongo stepped up to Scott. Randy Savage came down to say he’d fight him. Bischoff said no and then they cut to a Sabu hype promo.

This hype promo hurt my eyes but it couldn’t help but showcase that 90% of Sabu’s moves were just massive botches. This included a spot where Sabu did a moonsault onto a table which didn’t break. I assume this was all WCW Saturday Night footage or something.

Mean Gene Okerlund came down to congratulate the winner of the WCW Harley Davidson Sweepstakes they did. Congrats to Mike Hill from Alabama.

They plugged WCW Saturday Night with Sting and Randy Savage teaming up as well as WCW Fall Brawl.

They then showed ANOTHER video package. I was begging for a match. Michael Wallstreet, otherwise known as IRS, said that WCW is all about money and power. He said the “New Generation” was now the “Few Generation”. This was referencing WWF’s new change in creative direction. He said he was a real player and… Michael Wallstreet was here.

 

Hulk Hogan (c) vs Big Bubba Rogers for the WCW title

wwef_36774997_th_64

This was every Hulk Hogan vs a big monster match you’ve ever seen. Very slow but when Hogan was attacking, the fans went crazy. PastaMania was running wild. They announced Randy Savage vs Scott Norton for next week. I’ve always thought in history that nobody threw worse punches in a match than Shane McMahon. Big Bubba, otherwise known as Big Boss Man in the WWF, threw some disgusting punches in the corner. This may not have been as bad as Shane but these were right up there. Heenan claimed Big Bubba knew martial arts which can’t have been true after watching these punches. God bless Big Bubba, who is actually not with us anymore, but these punches were that horrible.

Hogan was Irish whipped into a corner and responded with a big boot which missed Big Bubba by about 100 miles. All efforts to cover this up were fruitless including Bischoff claiming that “the heel” connected. In hindsight, that could quite possibly have been an impromptu inside joke attempt by Bischoff. Then again, I could just be overthinking this but it is WCW after all.

The referee grabbed Hogan by the hair as a means to pull him off of Big Bubba. Hogan pulled out the most heelish move in the match as he choked out Big Bubba with a jacket as Jimmy Hart ran distraction. I swear to all the gods, he did this and he’s the biggest babyface in the company. Then Hogan started stomping on his face…. how this man was a beloved babyface is mind-boggling when you see all these on-screen jerk-ass moments from Hogan.

Mongo’s jokes included “Bobby Hernia” among other lame lines. Big Bubba hit the uranage. Hogan made the comeback, hit the Leg Drop and got the pin. The crowd went batshit crazy for the guy after he won. PastaMania was truly running wild. Not particularly a tremendous in-ring match but I didn’t have high expectations going in for Hogan vs Big Bubba. The crowd loved it throughout which I guess makes all the difference so why not. This was a success for PastaMania.

V5BMtSlh

The geeks from Dungeon of Doom ran in to jump Hogan. Hogan fought them off when Luger came down to aid the Hulkster. Luger came down as Hogan was already beating on the Dungeon of Doom! The heels escaped. Hogan and Luger went face-to-face. Randy Savage and Sting came down to calm them down. Believe it or not, we got some “Luger” chants.

Mean Gene came down to interview them after they both somewhat calmed down. Hogan asked what Luger was doing here. I wish Luger actually went with what Mongo said earlier and explained that he was going to PastaMania. There was just a bunch of wrestlers in his path as he wanted to get an order in! XD

Luger actually said he was here for one thing and that was the WCW title. He confirmed that Hogan was the only world champion in wrestling right now. He said he was here to get it on with the big boys. Hogan said that he was going to be champion forever. Hogan asked Luger to shake his hand to have the match next week for the title. They shook hands. They pushed each other as Savage and Sting held them apart.

maxresdefault (1).jpg

Overall, I actually thought it was an OK show. I don’t know how long the hour-long episodes of WCW Nitro is going to last but I hope it’s like this for a whilte. I really think weekly wrestling shows need to be around an hour. If there’s one thing we can learn from wrestling’s past is that less is more. This was a very basic show to watch as it was not over the course of 3 hours and the structure for the majority of it was simple to follow.

Liger vs Flyin’ Brian didn’t really age well and was very sloppy at times but Sting vs Flair was everything it needed to be for me except the finish. Hogan vs Big Bubba got the crowd popping and the Hogan vs Luger main-event for next week was easily set up.

50482d44719535.5a1dcf2f71e46.jpg

That was that. Quick preview of episode #2: If the video packages are anything to go by, Michael Wallstreet and Sabu will both appear on WCW Nitro. We’ve got Randy Savage vs Scott Norton and of course, WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan vs newcomer Lex Luger for the WCW World title.

Thank you for reading and I’ll be back with Episode #2 of WCW Nitro as part of the Retro Express.

Retro Express – Bad Blood 2003

badblood03

Once upon a time, WWE used to be pretty big on building up interesting storylines for their wrestlers. From the opening act to the main-eventers, everyone involved in the show had a reason for being there. On Bad Blood, as amazing as it is, everyone on this show had a reason for being there. Everyone from Theodore Long at ringside for the opening match to Mick Foley as the special referee in the main-event. As simple as this show was put together, did the storyline work pay off with RAW’s first brand-exclusive US pay-per-view of 2003?

 

WWE Bad Blood 2003

Date: June 15th 2003

Brand: RAW

City: Houston, Texas

Attendance: 10,000

 

The Dudley Boyz vs Christopher Nowinski and Rodney Mack w/Teddy Long

1280x720-ggx

As mentioned earlier, this was a heavy storyline time for WWE. Every little program on Monday Night RAW in 2003 did its best to tell a storyline, including this simple tag team match with the Dudleyz facing Rodney Mack and Christopher Nowinski. Teaming up the Harvard graduate Nowinski with the new up-and-comer Rodney Mack, combined with the black supremacy advocate Teddy Long as their manager, was a bizarre combination to say the least. However, at least they got something. Not that I’d want to do an angle like this or anything, as I wouldn’t, but at least it gave the audience a reason to take notice once they got on television.

They did a backstage segment on Heat where Teddy Long pestered D-Von Dudley, questioning why his brother Bubba always told D-Von the get the tables. At least there was more to this match than just throwing two tag teams together. Giving D-Von an angle going into this match at least gets fans interested in him. Rodney Mack was also undefeated going into this event.

Mack and D-Von began angry lock-up before the match even began. We got early “we want tables” chant. Mack had a seriously hard time selling for the Dudleyz. The Dudleyz started off well and Bubba was a great babyface but then the distraction came from Teddy. Teddy was on the apron distracting Bubba and Bubba began waiting for Mack to jump him. He waits and waits and waits until Mack came in to throw a horrible clothesline.

We got a “Harvard sucks” chant directed at Nowinski. Mack hit a pretty decent spinebuster. Bubba got the hot tag, which included the big man hitting a top rope crossbody onto Nowinski! Keep in mind, this was not the slimmest guy in the world! A big man flying like that is very much a joy to see!

Nowinski, who was wearing a metal face protector worth $30,000 according to Jim Ross, tried to use it to no avail. Mack went for the “Black Out” submission but it was countered. The Dudleyz hit the “Wassup” while Teddy was yelling on the apron. Bubba told D-Von to the table but Teddy got in his way, tying into the segment from earlier. Mack attacked D-Von from behind while Nowinski hit Bubba with the metal mask and pinned him.

This was a slightly-below average tag team match with Mack being rather sloppy while the Dudleyz tried their best to get a good match out of him. Nowinski seemed to just be there. In terms of promoting new talent, the right team won. In terms of who the better workers were however, the wrong team won.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler talked about the Redneck Triathlon scheduled between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff. The Redneck Triathlon would consist of three rounds, with the first round being a burping contest and the second round being a “pie-eating” contest. Jerry was excited for the pie-eating contest. Now, I remembered the beginning and the end of this Redneck Triathlon. The pie-eating contest was what I couldn’t remember and it did strike me as odd regarding Jerry’s comment about the pie-eating contest. In hindsight, I should have known what that pie-ating contest was ACTUALLY about. More on that later.

We began with the burping contest, with JR claiming to have once won a burping contest in the eight grade. Both gladiators were stood with Terri Runnels doing the introductions while Stone Cold drank beer. Terri went over the rules as Stone Cold did starfish jumps, which is the perfect way to prepare for a burping contest. There would be three rounds of burps, with the loudest combined burps winning the contest. Bischoff went first and delivered a weak burp. This was probably the only legitimate burp in the whole thing. Then it was Austin’s turn. Some may have been upset that the majority of the burps were all sound effects pipped in by the production group and it that it was not a legitimate burping contest. However, this burp was delivered so well that you just couldn’t not laugh at it. Jim Ross’ and Jerry Lawler’s laugh after Austin “unleashed” this burp was great! This was exceptional delivery by production and by Stone Cold’s expressions.

Austin demanded another beer as Eric did his second burp. It was a decent attempt by Eric but Terri was disgusted.  Austin had a pretty weak second burp, which the Texas crowd loved. Eric was also disgusted by this and then delivered his third burp, which was slightly above average. Austin got the last laugh as he unloaded with a long final burp, with the later part of it sounding like a toilet was being flushed!

Austin won and then delivered a post-contest promo, congratulating Eric on being a good competitor and himself for winning such a competition. His UFC-like promo was actually pretty funny! Eric told Austin to see a doctor and that was that. Austin was 1-0 up in the Redneck Triathlon.

Moments like this really made me love the Austin and Bischoff co-general manager deal, with Eric almost coming off as likeable as he was involved in these funny angles with Austin. The crowd loved this burping contest as did I.

 

Test vs Scott Steiner for the managerial services of Stacy Keibler

bad_blood_2003_-_scott_steiner_vs_t

A lot of you reading this might not believe your eyes but Scott Steiner is probably one of my favourite wrestlers of all time. This guy was just one-of-a-kind in terms of his in-ring style, his promos and just the character as a whole. I ALWAYS paid attention whenever this guy was around.

In WWE around this time though, he hadn’t had the greatest of starts since his return at Survivor Series 2002. His program with Triple H, including a truly devastatingly bad World title match at Royal Rumble 2003, had seen Steiner’s stock drop significantly. Now he’d been put with Test and Stacy Keibler, as the two vied for the affection of the lovely Stacy.

This match was by FAR not one of the greatest technically gifted matches I’ve ever seen. I can’t even consider this a good match as far as the in-ring side of things is concerned. As far as the entertainment however, this match was in a league of its own and mostly because of Steiner.

One of the other highlights of this match was Stacy Keibler, who looked amazing on this particular show. Stacy tried to get in the ring but her “ex” Test yanked her off the apron to berate her. As amazing as it sounds, the spot that followed was one of the highlights of the entire pay-per-view and it was the mother of all botches! Scott got onto the apron as he had to save this love interest, who was in peril at the hands of the bad guy. This was Mario saving Princess Peach from Bowser. Mario would jump in and save the day. Scott Steiner ALSO decided to jump in and save the day! He leaped off the apron but didn’t have his balance right, so he slipped and plummeted down. He landed on the floor but at least he had the instinct to put his hands up for the double axe handle that had obviously been the original spot. He drops down, hits Test in the knee and Test slips as if he slipped turning around in the shower. This was one of the all-time great botches in the history of wrestling and it was actually a lot more entertaining than if he had just successfully pulled off this double axe handle!

So Scott Steiner beat up Test and when they got into the ring to start the match, Test begged off Steiner. Now, there have been many babyfaces that have fallen for this obvious trap set by the heels to lure him into trouble. These spots make the heroes seem like such fools. Scott Steiner was not like that as instead of backing off, Steiner said “Nah. Fuck You!” and beat up Test some more! Not that I’d encourage wrestlers to swear as they’re on the rampage but I laughed so hard at this. I’m just amazed that my DVD didn’t censor this moment as Steiner unloaded with swearing throughout this match. Steiner wasn’t having any of Test’s shenanigans.

Steiner did some press-ups and began yelling at the referee. Test used Stacy as a human shield to gain the advantage. Test then threw Steiner into the steps. I know a lot of people had mixed opinions about Test as a performer, who sadly passed away in 2007. All I’ll say is that he was effective in making people hate him! That’s a key part to be a good villain, having an unlikeabillity factor that even “great” in-ring work can’t get around. The douche level of Test’s character was high as he mocked Steiner and yelled “wait until tonight” at Stacy as he blew her a kiss. The fans chanted “you suck” as Test got the heat. Test did a sleeper hold as the fans rallied behind Steiner with “lets go Steiner” chants. Jim Ross had a very nice line about Stacy when he said that her heart was as beautiful as her face. He was… damn on point.

Steiner damn near killed Test when Test came off the top rope and Steiner caught him by the waist, and dropped him over his shoulder which I think was meant to be a belly-to-belly suplex. I like Steiner but Test must have been fearing for his well-being when Steiner caught him by the waist! Jim Ross called this a Northern Light suplex turned into a slam. Steiner ran wild. Test bounced off the rope and it appear that he was going up to take a back drop but he leaped up, and Steiner caught him in a powerbomb position. Steiner simply threw him over his shoulder and continued to run wild. This was NOT the best night for Steiner in terms of his in-ring wrestling.

Steiner kicked out of a Full Nelson Slam. Test missed a big boot but Scott hit a sloppy reverse DDT. This got a near fall and Steiner’s reaction was to simply yell “HUH?” at the top of his lungs! That was very funny. Steiner hit a pumphandle slam for a near fall. Test undid the turnbuckle when Stacy popped up on the apron. Test grabbed Stacy and said some very non-PG and not nice things about Stacy, calling her names. Stacy slapped him and Steiner almost bumped into Stacy. Test hit a big boot out of nowhere which I honestly thought was the finish! Steiner kicked out. Test grabbed the chair and pushed Stacy away with it. Test went to hit Steiner with the chair and instead hit the ropes, bouncing the chair back to hit his own head. Steiner hit the flatliner and won the managerial services of Stacy. Stacy was happy and leaped onto Steiner in celebration. Stacy got off Steiner and then began selling her backside, implying that Test’s chair push was a lot more mighty than we realised.

This was an entertaining match to watch but not by any means a good one! We had some very noticeable botches from Steiner but the heat was there for this match. Test was a good heel. The match picked up with the finish and the bully Test was in the end overcome as the two babyfaces stood up against him. Even Stacy was being brave as Test eventually let his cockiness get the best out of him and paid for it. This was fine, simple story-telling.

Match Rating: **

 

Bischoff and Stone Cold talked backstage. Stone Cold described burping as being an “art form” in Texas, which was a great line. Eric vowed to win the pie-eating contest. Eric said he did some research and invited Austin to meet some ladies, that were set to take part in the pie-eating. By taking part, I don’t mean actually eating real bakery. Apparently, THEY were the pie. In case you were wondering, this show was NOT PG in the slightest.

Eric wanted first dibs on eating the “pie” and Austin allowed this, as long as he decided what pie Eric was going to eat first. I can’t have been the only one that could see where this was going, and I’d never seen this pie-eating contest before.

 

Christian (c) vs Booker T for the Intercontinental Championship

20030607_christian_booker

Picture this in your head. RAW had just recently reinstated the Intercontinental Championship that they inexplicably retired at No Mercy 2002. Christian won the title in a battle royal. Christian made his first defense of the title in a promising match between himself and Booker T, who happened to be from Houston, Texas where the Bad Blood pay-per-view was being held. You had all the potential in the world to make these two actual top stars on the red brand. The fans were going nuts for Booker T in one of the most heated moments in the entire show. This could have been something really special. Not like in the level of Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat from WrestleMania III but a memorable match that’ll be remembered through the ages. Well, spoiler alert, but that didn’t happen.

On a show which included MANY non-wrestling segments featuring Stone Cold and Bischoff, Booker and Christian got SEVEN MINUTES of wrestling which resulted in an incredibly rushed match between these two great workers. Lawler did have a great back-handed compliment when he claimed that “there’s a lot of suckas in Houston.” Jerry Lawler in 2003 had some of the best crack in all of WWE in 2003! With that said, Lawler was pretty bad for the large majority for this match on commentary which we’ll get to. Jim Ross claimed that Christian leaving as the champion would be a miracle, which I think probably did Christian more harm than good.

The match started off very well, as these two worked well together. Christian sold one particular back drop from Booker very well as he was thrown HIGH into the air. Lawler was hardly paying attention to any of this as he constantly made jokes about Booker’s previously convictions. Booker T was once a criminal and Lawler mentioned this ALL THE TIME while on commentary during this time. It’s not like if Jim Ross mentioned it and praised Booker for overcoming it. No, Lawler made joke after joke during this match. Did NOT make Booker come off well either.

Christian tried winning by putting his feet on the ropes. JR completely ignored Christian hitting Booker with the Book End, in Booker’s hometown. Booker hit an axe kick on the ropes. Booker hit a top rope dropkick and followed it up with a spinaroonie. Booker went for the Scissors Kick but Christian ran away and took the title with him. I was initially pretty upset at this as this would have been a match that ended in a count out in the challenger’s hometown. Then the referee Jack Doan got a microphone and told Christian that if he didn’t get back in the ring, he’d forfeit the title. This announcement got a big reaction but when I think about it, how did Jack Doan have the right to make this call that Christian would lose the title if he walked out? He’s not like an on-screen authority figure or anything.

So WWE teased the count out finish but the referee put a stop to that. The fans got excited at the thought of seeing a clear winner in this match. Instead, Christian runs into the ring and runs right back out. Booker chases him around the ring and they get back into the “squared circle” of WWE. Christian then grabbed the belt and hit Booker in the face, causing a disqualification.

The fans were irate with this finish, chanting “bullshit” and these chants were pretty much justified. They teased a count-out finish only for it to end in seven minutes via disqualification. THIS was a let down.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

We had an advertisement for Jim Ross’ cook book, which I’ve got to get a hold of one of these days! Kevin Nash was taping up his wrists as he was set to challenge Triple H for the World title in a Hell In A Cell match.

1280x720-nzx

Jerry Lawler was in the ring for the pie-eating contest. He brought out Eric and commended him for his selection of “pie” for this event. Austin came out to a BIG POP in Texas. Austin reminded Eric that he would select Eric’s pie as agreed to earlier. Austin talked about Eric being into “mature women” which further solidified that I knew what was coming. Austin questioned Eric’s ability to please a woman with Eric insisting that he would be fine. Austin called Bischoff “Eric Jerk-Off” which the crowd popped for. Austin complimented Eric’s choice of women but Austin said that Eric would not be having any of their “pie” as he brought his choice for Eric. It was revealed to be Mae Young, who was accompanied by  Fabulous Moolah. Eric had a disgusted face which almost looked like he was about to sneeze. Austin just smiled with an awesome grin on his face.

Jerry protested this decision as he claimed it was supposed to be a pie-eating contest and not “cheesecake” that would be eaten. Disgusting, Jerry. Mae stuck her tongue out and Eric insisted that Mae put her tongue back in her mouth and called her a nasty old hag. Pretty mean words from Easy E. Eric refused to eat the pie but Austin called him a chicken. Mae tried to grope Eric but he told her to get her hand off his ass. Austin called Eric a piss-ant and demanded that Lawler declare him the winner. Eric cut him off and decided to go through with it. As shocking as it was, the fans started chanting “eat the pie” to which Eric responded by kissing her. Eric thought this was enough but Austin told him that this was a pie-eating contest. Mae low-blowed Eric and she was instructed to make Eric eat the pie. Mae gave Eric the stinkface while wearing a thong. Jim Ross called this as if he’d just watched Mankind being thrown off the Hell in a Cell. Austin was laughing, with Eric being furious and demanding that Austin goes next. Austin gave Mae Young the stunner, with Mae selling this possibly even worse than when Vince McMahon sold the first stunner that Austin gave him in 1997. Austin forfeited this contest and demanded beer. It was 1-1 in the redneck triathlon.

The times certainly have changed in the “tastes” of wrestling fans! This was a NUTTY angle but I guess nothing else could be expected considering that this was an angle involving Mae Young who, god bless her soul, was willing to do ANYTHING to entertain the fans. She probably loved doing this kind of stuff and the fans seemed to love it to a degree, especially when they chanted “eat the pie” at her. Mae was an entertainer to say the least!

As for the rest of it, it’s funny how Eric won the contest but Austin still seemed like the real winner of that contest in the end. Eric won but Austin still found a way to outsmart Eric Bischoff. The fans loved it and I guess that’s all that matters.

 

We got a vignette for Gail Kim, who would be debuting soon. As a matter of fact, she actually won the Women’s Championship in her debut a few weeks later. I hope I do get to review more of Gail Kim’s matches in the near future of this Retro Express as she was a great female worker.

Jonathan Coachman interviewed La Resistance, who were Rene Dupree and Sylvain Grenier at this time. They were challenging Kane and Rob Van Dam for the World Tag Team Championship next. Sylvain said that this was a big night and that he hated Texas. They buried then-US President George W Bush, which got a lot of boos in Texas. They dedicated the match to then-French President Jacques Chirac. This is actually amazing when you think about the political situation for the likes of US and the UK in 2016. It was amazing that the countrymen of the US and the French actually liked the people that ran their country at the time. Meanwhile, the US currently have a president-elect that they apparently don’t want in the White House anymore. It’s amazing.

 

Kane (c) and Rob Van Dam (c) vs “La Resistance” Sylvain Grainer and Rene Dupree for the World Tag Team Championship

1280x720-yla

As far as putting the new heel tag team over, this was NOT the way to do it. La Resistance came out and Jim Ross called them jackasses, which was actually pretty funny. La Resistance got some serious heat. There were some seriously angry fans in the front row. Funnily enough, they showed the graphic for the old World Tag Team title design from the Attitude Era but the champions came out with the new belts that had been around since 2002! As I watched this DVD, I was rather annoyed at WWE for editing out the original theme songs that RVD and Kane came out too. Kane actually had been coming out to “Slow Chemical” from Finger Eleven at that time, which is one of my favourite wrestling theme songs of all time, so seeing that not make the DVD very much upset me.

RVD and Kane beat up La Resistance, with the storyline going in being that the champions were not on the same page. RVD did a great springbroad crossbody as he took over early. La Resistance turned the tide for a bit by planting RVD with a DDT. Kane got the hot tag and ran SERIOUSLY wild on the two french men. I mean Kane was DESTROYING these men all on his own as his partner had been beaten up by these two. Kane was having to contend with the heels on his own while RVD simply WATCHED from the apron. He eventually got the tag while Kane was still getting the better of these two heels. He’s doing fine on his own and then RVD got in. As Kane is battling these men on the outside, RVD goes for a dive and hits Kane accidentally when there was no need for him to go for the dive at all. RVD was attacked and hit the Double Flapjack for the pin as La Resistance won the World Tag Team titles.

The booking of this match caused steam to come from my ears. The whole angle was that Kane and RVD were having issues but here in this match, Kane was completely doing fine on his own while RVD cost them the match by getting involved when Kane was coping fine. The fact was Kane could have beaten these men by himself and he would have retained the title. How could La Resistance possibly have been taking seriously at this point? I guess La Resistance are remembered nowadays so I guess they became somewhat of a memorable tag team. However, this match was pretty lame and pretty perplexing.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Goldberg vs Chris Jericho

goldberg_jericho_101915

A common trope of mine is immediately looking up Dave Meltzer’s rating for the match I just saw during a Retro Express. Mine and Meltzer’s ratings are usually right in-line but for this match, I noticed that he gave this match three and a half stars out of a max total of five. Maybe it’s a mistake to watch old matches with modern eyes but I have NO IDEA what type of match he was watching. In case you were wondering what made me un-optimistic about the actual Goldberg/Brock Lesnar match for Survivor Series this year, THIS was the match.

I know these two had heat with each other around this time but even so, the wrestlers with the biggest heat with each other can usually put together some really good matches. Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart had some sublime matches back in the day. This Goldberg/Jericho match was NOT sublime.

Goldberg went for a lock-up and it was one of those lock-ups from a women’s match, that sees both wrestlers tumble out of the ring. Goldberg hit a World’s Strongest Slam as the fans chanted Y2J. Goldberg dominated early on, even gorilla pressing Jericho onto the ropes. Goldberg went for a spear through the wall but Jericho moved out of the way as Goldberg drove himself through the barricade. This actually played into the storyline going in, which Jericho claimed that he’d win the match by making Goldberg angry and sloppy. This was actually pretty good story-telling.

Jericho tried to get at Goldberg but referee Charles Robinson stopped him. I’m not sure why he did this as it wasn’t like the doctors came out to check on Goldberg. Jericho drove Goldberg into the ringpost. Goldberg was bleeding and his arm had been hurt from the spear, which Jericho took advantage of. Goldberg was working with one arm, actually selling the injury. Now, Goldberg rarely had to take the heat in many of his WCW matches. The idea was that Goldberg would destroy the opponent, hit his finishers and beat him early. In WWE however, he was not booked in this manner. He had to sell for Jericho so he tried to work with one arm. While he did this, his ring-work with one arm was pretty bad. If in doubt, DON’T HAVE GOLDBERG SELL.

Jericho locked on a Fujiwara Armbar. Jericho was caught off the top with a high knee. The fans started booing. Goldberg was not able to pull off working with one arm, struggling with an one armed hip toss. “Goldberg sucks” chants began to roar from the crowd. Jericho hit a dropkick and Goldberg waffled to the ground. We got more boos. Jericho hit the lionsault on the face of Goldberg for a near fall. Jericho went for a Lionsault and Goldberg was supposed to catch him but it went ALL WRONG. Goldberg hit the spear and we got even LOUDER “Goldberg sucks” chants. Goldberg went for the jackhammer but Jericho caught Charles Robinson in the eyes and hit a low-blow on Goldberg. This got a lot of cheers and big Y2J chants. Keep in mind that Goldberg was supposed to be the face and Jericho was supposed to be the heel!

Jericho tried the Walls of Jericho but Goldberg powered out, hit the spear and jackhammer, and won the match. And to put a cherry on top, Goldberg slid outside of the ring and got in the face of a fan that booed him throughout the match. A wonderful way to put over Goldberg as a babyface.

To be fair, Goldberg did actually get cheers when he won the match and Jericho tried ALL that he could but even he could not get a good match out of this man. Jericho’s on my list of greatest workers of all time as he had a reputation, in my mind, of being able to have a good match with everyone he wrestled. I remember him having a good match with Ryback at Money In The Bank 2013 for crying out loud! Ryback was mocked as being a “copy” of Goldberg, yet Goldberg couldn’t even have a good match with Jericho. This will be hard to hear for a lot of fans but Goldberg had a HORRIBLE night here.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

They showed a pig pen and Lawler questioned whether Jim Ross had brought his relatives along to the show. Terri was with Austin and Eric again. They spun the wheel for the third round and it landed on “sing-off” which Austin was upset about. Austin asked Terri if she thought that Steve was any good. She said no. Eric vowed to beat Austin in front of these rednecks.

 

Shawn Michaels vs Ric Flair

shawn-michaels-vs-ric-flair-bad-blood-2003-hd-49260617-orig.jpg

This was probably tied with the main-event as far as the best match for the show, with these two legends going out. Despite that, I was still a little bit let down. This was certainly not at the level of their WrestleMania 24 match but I did expect something special and I really didn’t get it to be honest.

Shawn got a HUGE reaction from the Texas crowd. The two legends messed with each other with taunts but that came to an end when Shawn slapped Ric and mocked him. There was some nice mat wrestling between the two. There was a very old school feel to this match. Shawn slapped Ric and Ric came close to doing the Flair Flop but was able to keep himself up with one foot! Michaels dove onto Ric. Remember when Steiner was able to see through Test’s attempts at begging him off? Well Ric tried to beg Shawn off in this match… and it worked. I can at least accept the possibility of Shawn being conflicted as he was wrestling his idol that he respected, and not to mention that Ric is older and more experienced than Shawn so FINE.

HBK and Flair chopped the hell out of each other. Flair did the chop block. Flair worked on the legs and locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock, that Shawn was able to get the ropes for to break it up. Flair shoved referee Earl Hebner but Earl shoved back. The second time on this show where a referee stepped over his boundaries when calling a match, three if you count Charles Robinson holding off Jericho when he shouldn’t have. Ric got cocky and Shawn made him pay with an enziguri. Flair went up to the top and of course, Shawn threw him off the top turnbuckle.

There was a great exchange when Shawn went for the Super Kick but Flair countered it into the figure four leg lock. Shawn countered this into a small package and then locked on his own figure four. This was some solid professional wrestling right here. Flair poked HBK and they traded roll-ups. HBK hit a superplex and it looked like Shawn struggled to get Flair up for this superplex. HBK got a table and set it up. Flair teased suplexing Shawn through the table but Shawn got out and ended up laying Flair onto this table.

NOW, I personally was taken out of the match a little when they brought out the table. Firstly, it’s supposed to be a regular singles match. Since when are TABLES allowed in a normal match? Yes, Shawn didn’t HIT Flair with this table but he still tried to “cheat” by using a weapon to his advantage. That, to me, should be DQ but Earl let this happen. Secondly, I was very much into the regular singles match and the old-school wrestling behind all of this. Instead, when Shawn introduced the table, it just seemed so out of place to me. I just don’t think this was the time for a spot like this.

Shawn super-kicked the interfering Randy Orton and then jumped off the top and onto Ric, going through the table. Flair bled from the back. Flair was able to take the ref out by low-blowing Earl and Shawn at the same time. HBK fired back and dropped the elbow. Shawn superkicked Flair, Orton hit Shawn with the chair and RIC FLAIR PINNED SHAWN MICHAELS.

Maybe I’m in the small minority here but the table spot just completely took me out of this match. It was a great match up until that point but to me, it just negated the point of the match which was just to see who was better. Instead, Orton and the table got involved and it just became another shenanigan-filled match on RAW. I wanted a clear-cut winner and instead I got this. I think a few fans that were in that building felt a little cheated out of this finish. It was nice to see Flair get the victory over Shawn though.

Match Rating: ***1/4

 

The time had come for the sing off. Eric came out to literally NO REACTION as we’d seen him more than anyone on this show, so the fans were kind of uncaring when he came out. Eric said he’d sing his own theme song but he instead lip-synced his own theme song which I thoroughly enjoyed, as did he based on the way he “sung” this! Austin cut in and called him out on his lip-sync. They went back-and-forth on this like they were kids arguing about the smallest things. Austin told Eric that he sucked and ordered him to do it again. Eric sung badly and Austin called him pathetic. Austin suggested they re-spin the wheel and it came up with “Pig Pen Fun” which involved the pig pen from earlier on. Austin said that whoever threw their opponent into the pig pen would be the winner. Austin deputised the crowd to stop Eric from leaving. Someone threw Eric back in from the crowd.

Austin beat up Eric, stomped a mudhole and hit a Stone Cold Stunner. Eric actually sold this pretty well, with his selling of it probably being around 5000% better than Mae Young selling it earlier on in the night. Austin took Eric to the stage and threw him off it, with Eric landing in the safest way possible. Austin was declared the winner by Lilian Garcia as he drank some beer. Jim Ross had an awesome line in which he claimed that “those pigs may need counselling being so close to Eric Bischoff!” That was a serious contender for line of the night. Austin celebrated for about 30 hours but the fans didn’t seem to mind.

The fans loved all this and to be fair, I enjoyed a lot of the moments from this Redneck Triathlon. However, this went on way too long for me to care at the end. The burping contest was good and Austin had some brilliant banter but in the end, it was way too long. The ending made me feel as if this were a house show, which I don’t think was the purpose. This did not feel like it should have been on pay-per-view and it does rather upset me at how long this went, considering that Booker and Christian only went seven minutes.

 

Triple H (c) vs Kevin Nash in a Hell in a Cell match for the World Heavyweight Championship with Mick Foley as the special guest referee

1280x720-la8

I have to say something about the video package they did for this match. They had the video package where they recapped the rivalry and did an amazing job at selling you on the idea that this type of match was important, rare and dangerous. The music, which was Headstrong by Trapt, fit right in as HHH, Foley and Nash beat the hell out of each other during a RAW segment and it was wonderful stuff. The video packages back in the “ruthless aggression era” used to be quality stuff.

I actually went through a phase with a mate of mine where he used to rave at me everyday about this song, and actually serenaded me with it everyday! And you know what… I had no problem with this. If you’ve never heard of Headstrong by Trapt, PLEASE go and listen to it. It’s fantastic stuff.

The special referee Mick Foley actually got the biggest reaction out of everyone, which should tell you how much the fans cared about Triple H and Kevin Nash. Triple H tried to poke the bear that is Mick Foley but Nash clobbered him. Nash smashed HHH’s with elbows. Nash slowly beat up HHH by driving him into the ringpost and the cell wall, as well as the corner of the cell. The fans cared little for Nash at this point. Nash threw HHH into the steel steps. Nash tried throwing the steps at HHH but thank got that Hunter ran out of the way as that would have been bad news.

In a pretty creative spot, Nash went for a Jackknife Powerbomb but Triple H used the cell itself to get out of it. HHH got out a toolbox and smashed Nash in the knee and the head with a hammer. Foley took the hammer from Triple H and pushed him down. Foley challenged HHH but HHH backed off. HHH grated Nash’s head with the cell wall. After a struggle, HHH wedged a screwdriver into Nash’s head. Foley yelled at Triple H. Triple H grabbed a bat wrapped in barbed wire and hit Nash in the gut. Nash fired back with punches and smashed Hunter in the head with the bat which got a big reaction. HHH was busted open. Nash wedged the bat into the turnbuckle and did a snake eyes onto it for a near fall.  There was a “big lazy” sign in the front row.

HHH smashed a wooden create over Nash. Triple H grabbed a sledgehammer but Foley tried to wrestle it away which got some boos. It made sense why, as it seemed for all the world at this point that Foley was screwing HHH in a no disqualification match. HHH attacked Foley which got some cheers. Nash did the drop toe hold spot onto the steel steps which felt slowly done. This got a near fall. Triple H hit Nash and Foley with a chair. Foley was bleeding as he whipped out Mr Socko. He locked on the Mandible Claw, with Triple H responding by kicking Foley below the belt. Nash accidentally hit Foley and HHH with the steel steps somehow. Nash went for the cover but Foley was out.

Nash tried to revive Foley. Foley was on the apron when HHH knocked Nash into Foley, who bounce back first into the cell wall. A very risky spot if you ask me. HHH went for the pedigree but Nash catapulted HHH into the barbed wire bat still stuck in the top turnbuckle. Nash hit the jackknife, Foley made the count but HHH kicked out. This was actually a GREAT near fall. I think a lot of people in that crowd thought that was the finish.

Triple H crawled for the sledgehammer and instead of pushing away the sledgehammer that he can see or grabbing it himself, Nash simply grabs Triple H by the hair. HHH made him pay with a sledgehammer shot to the head. HHH hit the pedigree and that was that.

The first part of this match was very much boring. Nash beating him up forever got no heat it seems but it picked up a little in the second half. The thing that was weird to me was that Nash and Foley both tried to screw Triple H, and Triple H is supposed to be the heel. In the end, the right man won. Judging on the crowd reactions, a Nash title run would not have gotten a great amount of interest from the RAW audience.

I thought this was a good match considering it’s a long match involving Kevin Nash and I personally thought this was the best match on the show.

Match Rating: ***1/3

 

This was definitely a memorable pay-per-view to say the least. Every match seemed to stand out to me, for many different reasons. I felt that the booking for a lot of these matches were really flat, although the main-event ended up being much better than I thought it was going to be. There were a lot of disappointing matches that struggled for time due to the Redneck Triathlon which took up way too much time. The Texas crowd loved this one for whatever the reason was but I can’t say that I’m too keen to watch it again.