RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #18 (JANUARY 1ST 1996) – WCW KICK OFF 1996 WITH HULK HOGAN VS RIC FLAIR

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

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WCW were victorious in the battle between themselves and NJPW at Starrcade 1995. They won the series 4-3 as Sting and Lex Luger hoisted the trophy up and celebrated with the rest of Team WCW. Sting and Luger then turned their attentions to each other and Ric Flair in a triangle match for a crack at the WCW World Title. They both lost as Flair picked up a count out victory and then, due to interference from the Four Horsemen, Flair won his 12th world title by beating the WCW World Champion “Macho Man” Randy Savage.

 

Date: January 1st 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Atlanta, Georgia

Rating: 2.5 (The first time in 3 weeks that Nitro lost to RAW in the ratings)

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

 

A brief warning to those who are unaware about wrestling history from 1996. This company is about to flipped completely on its head in terms of the type of content they would be producing. Here we start in 1996 with Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan competing for the WCW title. A year from now, big turns will take place, major signings will take place and very much the product will be nothing like what it is now.

 

Randy Savage vs Arn Anderson

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For those wondering, in the off chance you didn’t read my review for WCW Starrcade 1995, Randy Savage and Arn Anderson squared off here because Arn cost Savage the title at Starrcade. He ran down and laid out Savage with the brass knuckles and Flair covered Savage. This match was done as a blow-off if you will for that finish and it was actually a good scrappy match.

I also want you to keep this in mind because Savage was visibly shown to be seething at Arn as he attacked the man. This was a man pissed off that he lost the title and he was looking for retribution. He huffed and puffed as he beat up Arn in this match. He even ran into the ring to attack Arn for the opening bell. He raked at Arn’s eyes and Arn raked Randy’s eyes. This was a dirty, scrappy fight in its core with both men doing whatever it took to lay in punishment.

Arn worked the arm and smashed Savage’s arm into the post. He locked on an arm lock for a few minutes. He hit a big DDT out of nowhere which actually got a big pop to which Savage got his foot on the rope. I actually like that he hit the signature out of nowhere. It wasn’t like a formula where you wait for the end for the big moves to be hit. Arn wanted to win so he hit a big move at the first chance he could after working on the arm.

Arn tried to use the brass knuckles as the Horsemen ran down. Savage reversed it and used the brass knucks himself for the win. I liked the finish of Savage pulling one over on the heels by giving them a piece of their own medicine. A smart babyface being able to out-think the Four Horsemen. I liked this.

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Benoit and Pillman ran down and pleaded to the ref afterwards. By the way, the Horsemen had a t-shirt on. I’ve just put the picture on the blog and it’s such a pretty t-shirt which I’d very much wanted to track down. I was able to find it on Amazon and I’ve submitted the order, as there was a wrestling t-shirt seller that did have this shirt available in my size. I’m very much happy with this purchase.

 

Chris Benoit vs Steven Regal

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Speaking of the Horsemen, Chris Benoit had a match with Steven Regal. It was a sublime piece of professional wrestling and it told a very simple, subtle and effective story. They started off with the test of strength and soon as Benoit grounded him, Regal battered away with headbutts.

Regal went to work with European uppercuts so it had the same feel to Savage vs Arn in that it was scrappy but it was more of a defined scrappiness where both men are scrappy with the intention of just winning the match. Savage and Arn wanted to like hurt each other because of their bad blood. For Regal and Benoit, it was just business.

Benoit dropped Regal right on his head with a German suplex to which Regal responded with a beautiful butterfly suplex. Regal took even more punishment with a big electric chair drop. Regal, I don’t know what it was, but he sold and sold for Benoit in a bumpier fashion than usually. He took some hard hits for Benoit.

In terms of evening things up in terms of hurting themselves, Benoit missed a diving headbutt and then Regal wailed on him with headbutts. These were like the most realistic but safest headbutts you could possibly pull off though. This was not like Shibata levels of insanity with these headbutts.

Regal tried a tombstone but Benoit reversed it into a tombstone piledriver of his own but Regal rolled to the floor. If this had not happened the night before with Benoit and Liger, this would have probably played way better to this crowd and to me. By the way, Regal didn’t even try to wrap his arms around Benoit for protection when taking this Tombstone Piledriver. Regal waved his arms in panic as Regal had some serious faith in Benoit to deliver the move to him. In Regal’s defense, Benoit pulled it off fine from the looks of it. Eric Bischoff then said Benoit “perfected that move as of late.” I thought: “Oh yeah, how about when Benoit tried it at the PPV but Liger reversed it?” I’d say “perfecting the move” from a kayfabe point is stretching it.

Benoit missed a springboard splash to the floor and smashed into the concrete floor. Regal rolled Benoit into the ring and pinned him. A great match and you know what, it told a story where Benoit kept taking risks and in the end, he misjudged a dive and it ended up costing him the match. This was an awesome match. I’d go out of your way to go watch this ten minute perfectly sound and solid wrestling match.

 

Brian Pillman cut a promo on Benoit and Arn with Mean Gene coming down to the ring with the mic. Pillman chewed out Benoit and Arn for losing. Benoit said that the only way Benoit can be beaten is sheer luck. Benoit says he’s proven himself. Pillman goes into Arn and he talks crap about the Dungeon of Doom again. Arn talks about Pillman starting fights that they didn’t need right now. He tells them they need to protect the world title for Ric Flair. Arn tells them there’s nothing to achieve going after Mr Wonderful and the Dungeon of Doom. Zodiac, Taskmaster, The Giant and Jimmy Hart suddenly all go down to the ring. Zodiac and Taskmaster try to attack the Horsemen but THE GIANT is the one hold them back with just his two massive arms as Jimmy Hart pleads with the Dungeon of Doom.

 

Sting and Lex Luger vs The Super Assassins w/Col. Parker

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One of the true highlights of this episode was the Super Assassins. These two were in fact The Barbarian and The Warlord of all people. These were flanked by Col. Parker. These guys couldn’t have looked like bigger geeks. The Super Assassins waddled down with their arms out like robots. It was like their singlets got stuck in a frame and they walked around like the frame was still on.

They come out in this gear. I have no idea if these guys were supposed to look like super heroes, ninjas or luchadors but they did not come out looking like Super Assassins! Anyway, they come out to have a horrible match with Luger and Sting. They even had a split screen during this match because Sgt. Pittman comes down to the announce booth and ask Steve “Mongo” McMichael for help. Pittman went to Bobby Heenan previously, he went to Jimmy Hart on Nitro and now he’s resorted to going to Mongo for help!

By the way, to anyone who said they were only willing to cutaway from cruiserweight matches on Nitro, they were willing to cut away from STING AND LEX LUGER in action so they could do a segment with SGT. CRAIG PITTMAN. Mongo basically told Pittman to get lost.

Sting, as this is going on, is beating up the Assassins by himself. So when they finally cut away from Pittman and the announcers, we just catch Sting rolling out of the ring and onto the floor. I have no idea what the Assassins did to suddenly get the heat on Luger and Sting. Maybe they threw a ninja star at him. But all of a sudden, the Assassins overcame Sting and went to work.

When I mean “they went to work”, a Super Assassin gets Sting in a dominator/backbreaker position and then just… vibrates. No word of lie. He doesn’t like bounce up and down like Luger with the torture rack. He stands and vibrates like The Yeti at Halloween Havoc with Sting on top of him selling. It’s one of the funniest submission attempts I’ve ever seen.

Sting wrestles for the tag. As the Assassins distract the ref, Luger gets the hot tag but the ref didn’t see it. The Assassins did a suplex/spear combination but the ref is too busy arguing with Luger to pay attention. An Assassin hits a powerbomb. The Assassin goes on the apron, fixes his gear and goes to the top but he misses a top rope splash.

This finish was exceptionally badly executed. Luger got a hot tag to a big pop. Luger goes to work. Luger goes for the Torture Rack on an Assassin. Luger waits for the Sting to get in the ring so he turns around and spins into the second Assassin as he has the first one on his shoulders for the Torture Rack still. Sting finally wakes up and gets in, he does a chop block on the other assassin and eventually gets him into the Scorpion Deathlock so Sting and Luger can do a double submission spot. The Assassins finally tap out after all of this.

It took them forever to get to that position where both men are doing submissions on the Super Assassins. All they had to do was get the Assassins into position and it took them like 30 seconds to do this. Other wrestlers that have been locked in the torture rack by Luger lately for like 5 seconds before they tap. This move has been put over big as of late. This Assassin, because of this screw up where Luger is waiting for Sting, lasts like 20-30 seconds in the Torture Rack! They inadvertently made that Super Assassin look incredibly strong in this match!

This match was amazingly horrible!

 

Mean Gene does an interview with Jimmy Hart and The Giant. Mean Gene cracks a joke and then Jimmy Hart goes: “Are you really that short or are you just standing in a hole?” Mean Gene suddenly gets all defensive and goes “STOP IT.”

Jimmy cuts this promo as Mean Gene just keeps looking up at the Giant. Jimmy said some stuff as my notes read. The Giant yells at Hogan for costing him the title a few weeks ago and attacking him with the chair. The Giant said Hogan was gonna get his like he’s never got it before. Mean Gene concludes by saying: “I have no idea what he just said.”

 

Ric Flair (c) vs Hulk Hogan for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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It is rather astonishing to me that the WWF never did this match at WrestleMania when they had the chance. This was legitimately the biggest match you could have possibly booked between two of the biggest wrestlers in the history of wrestling. Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair. They had it RIGHT THERE, I think they even announced it on TV, and then it just… never happened.

…thankfully we had Nitro and we got it for free on TNT,

There was noticeable boos for Hogan but it was more like 60/40 in favour for the Hulkster. I don’t wanna make comments on someone’s age but man Hogan’s lack of hair was really visible here. Keep in mind that it wasn’t until Vince Russo called him bald on TV where he did a lawsuit for someone slandering his hair! Did Hogan not re-watch this match? Hogan looked so old and if there’s anything he didn’t need to make himself look any older was this hair without a bandanna and him in his traditional yellow tights. Thankfully, he’s getting a new wardrobe around 6 months from now so it’s all good!

Flair chopped away and then Hogan started no selling it. I’d say this gimmick of Flair chopping at someone but the other dude no-selling was getting old, as Luger and Sting did this the night before. However, the fans were still going nuts for this as Hogan rained in the punches. Ric Flair cuts off Hogan and Hogan does a horrible bump to the floor.

Hogan had a horrible night here. He just didn’t look impressive at all. Hogan does a big clothesline to Flair and Flair crashes onto the apron. Ric works on Hogan. Bischoff said you can hear the fans going “Hogan, Hogan” to which I didn’t hear a thing watching this on television. I then heard the fans going WOOOO and cheering as Flair locked on the figure four leg lock.

Hogan turns it over and Jimmy Hart runs down. Hogan is distracted as Flair stomps on the leg to regain the heat. Flair did a stalling suplex to Hulk Hogan which is quite a feat of strength considering how tall and big Hogan was here.

Flair goes for a cover but Hogan hulks up out of it. Hogan fires away does the big boot and Leg Drop as Jimmy gets on the apron. Arn hits Hogan with the brass knucks and Hogan NO SELLS THE BRASS KNUCKS. Of course if anyone was going to no-sell getting hit with brass knucks, it’s Hulk Hogan!

Hogan gets the brass knucks thrown at him and the referee sees Hogan with the brass knucks and calls for the DQ. At the very least, it made sense to me why the referee immediately didn’t question it as they’d had a big match at Starrcade where brass knucks were involved. Hell, the opening match on this episode of NITRO had a finish where brass knucks were involved!

Hogan then fires away at the Four Horsemen with the brass knucks as the Horsemen beg him off. I assume they begged him off because Hogan, I guess is still on probation so if Hogan wails on them with brass knucks, Hogan would be in trouble with WCW… in storyline.

The Giant runs down with a big chair stool. I have no idea in which coffee shop The Giant got this stool from but Savage stopped him and made the save too a big pop! This time Zodiac backs The Giant away.

Mean Gene did a interview with Hogan and Savage. Hogan and Savage challenged Arn and Flair to a tag team match for next week. Savage said they had a secret weapon but Hogan tells him not to spoil it. Hogan said they’re gonna go to infinity and beyond. These two were rather going nuts!

Bischoff did actually have a good line. Bobby said they should make Jimmy Hart a referee to which Bischoff goes: “Make Jimmy an appetiser.” That I liked.

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I liked this episode of Nitro. We got some really good scrappy matches with Regal vs Benoit and Arn vs Savage. We got a big world title main-event, we got our Super Assassins and it really didn’t seem like a chore to watch at all. It seemed very easy to watch the show, absorb and understand the storylines and motivations and to be prepared for next week where we have the Mega Powers reuniting to face the Four Horsemen. It was a great show.

WCW Nitro Reading Order

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RETRO EXPRESS: WCW STARRCADE 1995 (DECEMBER 27TH 1995)

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

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Starrcade 1995 is here. The World Cup of Wrestling… well at least the 1995 version of it. Not TNA’s version of the World Cup of Wrestling. Not WWE’s version of the World Cup of Wrestling from last year. Nope… WCW’s take it on it. By World Cup, they mean the USA’s WCW taking on Japan’s NJPW in a best of seven series. 7 of WCW’s best taking on 7 of NJPW’s best. Who will walk away with the honors?

Along with this, we had a triangle match between Sting, Lex Luger and Ric Flair. Whoever won this booked themselves an immediate title match against the Macho Man Randy Savage for the WCW title. Would one of the worst world title reigns of all time continue or would either Luger, Sting or Flair take the title from the Macho Man?

 

Date: December 27th, 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Nashville, Tennessee

Attendance: 8,200

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie, Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan

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Before I get into this mega review, as these PPVs always seems to be with the WCW series, I have to mention some difficulties I had watching this PPV. This was the first show I watched since they switched the format of the WWE Network. If you’re subscribed to the Network and have watched anything in the last few weeks, you’ll understand.

It now has a format very similar to Netflix where if you scroll down, at least on a PS4 console, it just has list after list of categories and stuff. When I scrolled down, not once was able to find Starrcade 1995 or anything from my watchlist of content. I had podcasts saved I wanted to watch, I had some NWA matches I wanted to watch. I even have Total Divas saved on there but that’s an entirely different story for another time…

Anyway, I couldn’t find my watchlist including the Starrcade 1995 which I’d saved. So, I had to go find it. On a positive, they did group all of the WCW stuff together now. It used to be where you’d have to find the PPVs under PPVs and all of the Nitros under Vault or whatever that section was called. Now, if you look for WCW, it’s all there. PPV, Thunders, Nitro… even the WWE’s Monday Night Wars series they did. It’s all there.

I find it. I sit down and I get ready to watch the show. Then I have another problem, which is actually not WWE’s, WCW’s or any wrestling promotion’s fault. My remote starts playing up. I try to turn up the volume and, for some reason, it turns off my TV. I have no idea what happened to it but when I tried to turn up the volume, the TV turned off with Starrcade still running. I could turn it down no problems but I could not turn it up.

I find away around it and eventually, I got settled. Then I get all the way to the Lex Luger vs Masahiro Chono match. I had to stop to go get a protein bar or whatever it was I went to get. I had to get something. I come back and the match has already started playing on my PS4. So I try to re-wind it and, if you have the WWE Network, you know where I’m going with this….

I try to re-wind and I could only re-wind back 10 seconds at a time. You could rewind back 10 seconds, you could fast-forward 10 seconds… no less. Even if you missed like one spot in particular, you’d have to rewatch the last 10 seconds just so you can see a small detail. Unbelievably annoying this was. Also, if you rewind 10 seconds and then when you want to go back a little bit further because you realise that’s not enough time to rewind, the Network crashes. It completely crashed twice during the Luger/Chono match to the point where I had to turn off my PS4 off and start over.

Another positive I guess is that points and highlights of the show are easier to get to it when skipping forward but you still have to rewatch the whole segment or match from the beginning. I saw Luger flexing at the start of that match like 3 times during one watch of this Starrcade.

I’m hoping the Network changes things back because this is gonna make watching Nitros awkward for the foreseeable future.

 

Chris Benoit vs Jushin Thunder Liger in Match #1 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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This wasn’t particular;y one of the better Benoit matches I’ve started this series but this was by no means a bad match. It was pretty solid… minus a horrible finish which I think hurt the match. I think the fundamental flaw of this match is a fundamental flaw of many wrestling matches nowadays. It was all about the moves.

The best thing about great Benoit matches was that there was always a purpose for 70% of what he did in the ring to either progress the story or to do something which would make sense in the structure of an actual wrestling match. This match didn’t really embody this that strongly. It was just a bunch of moves, executed really well, that were put together until someone ran in which led to the finish.

I mean it started off well. Benoit won the test of strength. Liger got to his feet and did a hurricanrana and a Liger kick. Benoit, the heel, did a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker to thunderous cheers. It was a common theme on the his show was that there was purely blind loyalty to the US on this show. This was to the point where even the heels Lex Luger and Benoit got thunderous babyface reactions for one night.

Liger did a great belly-to-belly suplex and followed it up with a fake out back flip. Benoit did a snap suplex and a back suplex. Benoit actually whipped out a Liontamer of all submissions!

Benoit did a crisp German suplex with a bridge to big cheers for Nashville! Liger did a bow and arrow submission to Benoit and then locked on the dragon sleeper for extra twerk.  Liger then went to work with a camel clutch.

Benoit reversed this camel clutch into an electric chair. Liger countered a back suplex into a crossbody. Benoit’s tombstone attempt reversed into a Liger tombstone slam. Benoit went up for the superplex and the crowd ERUPTED after Benoit hit this… it was astonishing how much these fans popped for this move!

Benoit missed a diving headbutt which was followed up with Liger hitting a sit-out powerbomb. Liger did a brainbuster. Benoit did one german suplex and then Benoit hit a second and he SLAMMED Liger into the mat. This was a hard hit. Benoit hit a powerbomb. Benoit went up for a diving headbutt when the Taskmaster ran down with fellow Dungeon of Doom member Jimmy Hart holding him back. Benoit was distracted and Liger did a somewhat hurricanrana roll up for the win.

Bit of a silly finish to an otherwise solid opening match.

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Match Rating: *** (Feels a bit of a low rating but there wasn’t much of a story to the match for it to be higher. The moves were done crisply well and well executed but it was just a bunch of moves and the Taskmaster interference ruined it for me.)

 

Mean Gene Okerlund did an interview with Eddie Guerrero. Eddie said Taskmaster had no business being in the match against Benoit. Eddie said it was an honour to represent WCW and he was just happy to be here. He talks about his opponent Shinjiro Otani. Eddie says Otani is a tremendous athlete but Eddie had to be on top of his game. Eddie said he hit the gym and he said he’d give it his best. Mean Gene said he saw Eddie do push-ups and getting read for the match to which Eddie smiled! This was a great promo.

 

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Koji Kanemoto vs Alex Wright in Match #2 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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They confirmed Hulk Hogan would be wrestling on Nitro which basically confirmed that Hogan was only to serve a one week suspension for going crazy with attacking officials, wrestlers and referees with chairs in the past month or so. It was like storylines emulating life with these weak punishments for WCW wrestlers. If we stick around to around the 2000s of WCW, you’ll see just how bad at punishing these wrestlers this company will get.

I liked this next match. It was Alex Wright vs Koji Kanemoto for Match #2. It was the fast, quick pace of Wright against the fast, quick but controlled pace of Kanemoto. I don’t know whether Koji was a face or a heel in NJPW at the time but here on this show, in US soil, he played the role well as the evil foreigner going as far as roaring at one fan!

Wright started off with dropkick headscissors to which Kanemoto responded by unloading chops and kicks to the leg, and then followed it up with a big wheel kick. Kanemoto gets Wright laying on the top rope, slapped him on the belly multiple times and did a dropkick to the gut! A creative little spot that I liked! Unlike anything you’d normally see in a match.

Kanemoto did a dive. I will say it bothered me when Wright ran right to the hard cam to catch Koji and just stood there as he dove on him. He didn’t even try to hide that he was waiting for Koji to catch him. Kanemoto did a tiger suplex but Wright’s feet was on the rope. Kanemoto did a moonsault but didn’t go for the cover. Wright leapfrogged Kanemoto in the corner and did a big german suplex for a near fall.

They battled for a while until Kanemoto dropped Wright face first on the top turnbuckle and followed it up with a bridge pin for the win. The right man won considering Kanemoto was the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. Wright beating him here would have just made NJPW looked very weak.

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Match Rating: ***

 

Mean Gene did an interview with Sonny Onoo, who was the spokesman for Team NJPW. Mean Gene plugged the WCW Hotline. Sonny said it should be 5-0 right now to NJPW. Sonny vowed to buy WCW and Iowa. Mean Gene said WCW is not up for sale but advised that Iowa is a whole different story! Sonny said everything is for sale to which Mean Gene replied: “well you Japanese would know that!” Sonny messed with Mean Gene and Mean Gene got confused.

 

Lex Luger vs Masahiro Chono in Match #3 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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As I mentioned, it was here when I had the WWE Network issues with it crashing. It crashed at least twice if I recall correctly. To be fair, I wasn’t missing much with regards to this match. Really, I only needed to wait until near the end of the match. We got a legendary commentary moment which I will get too in a little a bit. I actually mentioned this in one of the WCW PPV reviews I did. I can’t remember which one but I at least knew what was coming!

The one thing I wanted to say, before we even get to that, was that Luger was such a heel in the last few months and now in Starrcade, the fans WENT NUTS for him coming out to deal with the Japanese! He was so beloved and over during this match, at least in this match anyway. Bobby Heenan even brought this up that he’s only being cheered because he’s going up against New Japan… the HEEL is the voice of right here!

Luger gorilla pressed Chono,  flexed and the fans went BONKERS for Team America. Chono did a big boot to send Luger crashing to the outside. Chono did a suplex. The fans chanted USA. Chono did a sleeper and dropped him with the reverse DDT. Chono locked on the STF. Bobby got all flustered with confusion with his WCW/NJPW Support. Then we got… the moment.

Mashario Chono throws this kick, and then Tony Schiavonie, WCW Professional Wrestling Commentator, refers to this kick as the Mafia Kick. In a match between the USA’s WCW and Japan’s NJPW, he calls this move the “Mafia Kick.” The responses from fellow commentators on this night, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes, were GLORIOUS.

Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan buried him so hard. Before I watched this series, I’d seen this clip of Dusty and Bobby burying Tony before on YouTube over and over again. Here, I watched it again as part of the series and I died with laughter.

Dusty starts off by going “where do you get all of this?” to which Tony replies that this is his job. Dusty says that he kicked him right in the middle of the mush and re-iterates it has nothing to do with the Mafia. Dusty Rhodes goes: “Hell watcha talking about?” I laughed, I laughed and I laughed and I laughed. I was reduced to tears, I was laughing so hard.

Then Bobby takes over as Dusty starts laughing at Tony. He yells, at the top of his lungs, “TONY HE KICKED THE MAN IN THE HEAD!” Again, I laughed, I laughed and I laughed. Chono comes off the top and Luger hits him with the elbow and Dusty calls this saying that he hit him with the “Sicilian Elbow!” Bobby brings up a Yugoslavian Neckbreaker and he again goes… “HE KICKED THE MAN IN THE HEAD SCHIAVONIE!” He goes… “HE KICKED HIS BOSNIAN BUTT… HOW YA LIKE THAT?” My faces is red, tears are running down my face at this point! Then Luger locked on the Torture Rack for the win and to a HUGE POP by the fans. Fans went CRAZY for Luger. I was still in tears after Dusty’s promo on Tony Schiavonie.

This put Tony in his place for the way he would literally just make up names for the basic moves of the wrestlers. Remember when Johnny B Badd did a dive and he’d call it the Badd Mood? Tony came up with all of these crap names and Dusty and Bobby rightful destroyed him for it. These are professional wrestlers and Tony not calling the moves properly exposed the business and disrespects the wrestler that apply their craft in the ring. I’m paraphrasing Joey Styles’ shoot promo from 2006 but he’s right. This Chono just threw and kick and he had to call it something wacky. HE KICKED THE MAN IN THE HEAD SCHIAVONIE!

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Match Rating: *1/4

 

Sting did an interview with Mean Gene. Mean Gene reminds us that Sting lost the US title to Kensuke Sasaki, his NJPW opponent for tonight. I did mention this during the World War III review I believe. Sting cut a promo on Sonny Onoo. He talks about the triangle match. Sting talks about how Luger said he’s gonna do what’s he’s gonna do but Sting is gonna do what he’s gonna do. Sting gets all excited and Mean Gene goes YEAH. Great promo I wrote but your usual Sting promo at its very core.

 

WCW Television Champion Johnny B Badd w/Kimberley vs Masa Saito w/Sonny Onoo in Match #4 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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This was kind of a mess of a match here. Sonny Onoo cut a promo and said Kimberley should be at home cooking and that’s what is wrong with this company. Kimberley got the mic retorting with “this ain’t no Japanese bathhouse.” She says: “If this sport is just for men, then what are you doing here?”

Saito did a STO and locked on a choke from the ground position. Saito murdered Badd with some chops to the chest. Badd would slap him back but Saito battered and battered Badd in relation with chops. They sounded so hard and this was just brilliant to me.

Things kinda fell off a cliff here. Sonny choked Badd with the Japanese flag. Sonny grabbed the hair. Badd got back into a match and did a sunset flip. Badd fired back. Badd got his hands Sonny Onoo and then Saito dumped Badd over the top rope for the DQ. Badd then did the “Badd Mood” flip to the outside thing and missed by 100 yards. An absolute nothing match with one noteable spot where Masa beat the crap out of Johnny B Badd.

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Match Rating: *1/4

NOTES: Masa Saito actually passed away July 2018. R.I.P. Masa Saito as I’m not sure if we’ll see another WCW match with him during this series so I’ll say it now.

 

Lex Luger w/Jimmy Hart did an interview with Mean Gene. Luger talked about Kevin Sullivan aka The Taskmaster. He says Sullivan has a short fuse. Luger said all the top names in WCW are all after the top title. Luger said Savage is a pathetic one arm champion. He would have torn his arm out of its socket at World War III if it wasn’t for Sting. Luger says he’s going into the match by himself. Jimmy told Lex to bring home the gold and Mean Gene responded saying he has a book of clichés if he needs it! Great banter from Mean Gene! He had some great lines during this show!

 

Eddie Guerrero vs Shinjiro Otani in Match #5 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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I LOVED this match. Eddie Guerrero matches in WCW as of late have been so great. He had a great match with Johnny B Badd if I recall correctly, he had good matches with Benoit, he had a great match with Flair two weeks ago and here’s another one. Him and Otani. This was a great wrestling match and my personal favourite match of the night.

Otani took control of the arm from the get-go and raked at the face of Guerrero. Guerrero stood on Otani’s face, retribution for Otani going for the eyes. They grappled on the mat. Eddie turned things around with a hurricanrana. Eddie did a slingshot senton into the ring.

Eddie locked on the Boston Crab and followed it up with big powerbombs and brainbusters. Otani hit a nice springboard dropkick into the ring and then a springboard crossbody to the outside. Otani hit a German suplex and Eddie hit a frankensteiner for a near fall.

Eddie hit a big gory powerbomb for a near fall. Otani did a springboard dropkick to the back of the head of Guerrero. This was very much back and forth stuff.

Otani tried a dragon suplex. Eddie reversed it into a hurricanarana roll-up. A few roll-ups later, Otani picked up the win with a cradle of his own.

I probably wouldn’t have beaten Eddie here but he only barely just lot and it wasn’t like Eddie was buried here. Otani was just the better man.

A great match.

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Match Rating: ****

 

Mean Gene did ANOTHER INTERVIEW, this time with WCW Champion Randy Savage. God bless Mean Gene but he was all over this show. Savage cuts off Mean Gene. Savage said he liked being the underdog and Savage says he’s coming to get Tensan tonight. Mean Gene says he was off the phone with a suspended Hogan and Savage interrupts with “WHAT DOES HE HAVE TO SAY?” Hogan apparently asked for Savage’s mindset. Savage said he’s gonna even the score for WCW. He said: “Sting, be there for the USA.” Savage was wrestling Hiroyoshi Tenzan while Sting was wrestling Kensuke Sasaki.

 

WCW World Heavyweight Champion Savage vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan (or as the name plate called him Tensan) in Match #6 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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Another absolute nothing match. I understand Savage was injured here but at the same time, why did he work two matches on this show? You couldn’t get someone else to come in and beat Tensan in this match if Savage was working with an injury?

Tensan worked on Savage. Savage tries to fire back but Savage’s punches are no-sold by Tensan. Tensan clocked Savage with a big wheel kick. Tensan delivered a Samoan Spike to the floored Savage. Tensan did a samoan drop and a headbutt for a near fall.

Tensan missed a moonsault. After a suplex struggle, Savage only manages to lift Tensan into the ropes. Savage hit the elbow drop for the win to level things up for WCW.

Not a strong review from myself but this wasn’t a strong match to talk about. This was just another nothing match as things just kinda fell off a cliff for this PPV from this point. It really did just peak with Eddie and Otani.

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Match Rating: *

 

Mean Gene interviews Ric Flair. Flair says tonight, we’re talking about the world title. Flair says Sting and Luger need to know to be the man, you have to beat the man. Flair talks about being rested as he was literally losing his breath cutting this promo! Flair said he’d win the title. This was a fine promo.

 

Sting vs WCW United States Champion Kensuke Sasaki in a non-title match in Match #7 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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Your typical Sting match which, again, isn’t a knock on Sting but there wasn’t anything really exceptional about it. Looking at the result, it really did no favours for Sasuke as the US Champion if you look at the finish.

Sting brought the US flag to the ring. Sting hit an early Stinger Splash but this was followed by the bulldog from Sasaki. Sasaki unleashed two clotheslines, he tried a third but Sting ducked and did a dropkick.

Sasaki worked on Sting and even locked Sting in his own Scorpion Death Lock. Sting huffed, and puffed and pushed Sasuki up in the air and out of the hold. That I liked.

Sting fired back and then locked on his Scorpion Death lock but Sasaki tried to fight to the ropes but Sting pulled him back into the middle of the ring but Sasaki eventually submitted and WCW won the World Cup.

Again, Sasaki wasn’t buried TOO badly but this was also the man that also just lost clean outright to Sting when Sting had another match (possibly two) to worry about on the same night. It wasn’t like Sasaki lost to Sting at his best which is the best way I can put it.

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Match Rating: **3/4

 

Team WCW celebrated and Luger did come out. Sting and Luger hoisted up the trophy together. They showed a great promo hyping up the triangle match with Luger, Sting and Flair.

 

Sting vs Lex Luger vs Ric Flair in a triangle match to determine the number one contender for the WCW Championship

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For a match featuring Sting and Ric Flair, this was such a chore of a match to sit through. You all know how much I’ve raved about Sting vs Ric Flair matches. They would never not be good. It’s the same formula but they always found a way to work with whatever crowd they were in front of. They threw Lex Luger into this triangle match and it was easily one of the dullest long matches I’ve seen in a long time. It wasn’t technically a bad match and it wasn’t as offensive as that tag team title match from Fall Brawl but it dragged, and dragged and dragged. We got stalling, and stalling and stalling and it did this match… no favours.

The rules were two men would start in the ring and one man would be on the outside and could tag in and out. Whoever got the first pinfall or submission won. So no, it wasn’t a “traditional” triple threat or three way dance you’d see nowadays. In this match, two guys would be in the ring as one man stood outside.

I don’t think there was ever a storyline reason for why Ric never wrestled in the WCW VS NJPW thing but Savage, Sting and Luger did. I’m not surely if they’ll actually explain it but the announcers made it clear that Ric was the one with the advantage supposedly in this match! Let’s all remember that.

Dusty made a Jack Daniels joke regarding Bobby’s drinking issues. Back to my point from Episode #17 about Flair’s selling everything, Sting literally just grabbed Ric’s hand here and wrenched it and Ric went AAAAAA! It was brilliant to see Flair in such pain a minute into wrestling a man that’d already wrestled earlier on in the show.

So Sting and Flair wrestled. Tony talked about Sting’s heart in fighting two men at Halloween Havoc by himself, not remembering that Flair did the same thing two weeks before that Halloween Havoc show. Flair locked on a hammerlock and forced Sting to the ground. Flair chopped and went back to the hammerlock. Sting fired back and launched Flair with hip tosses and gorilla presses.

Sting did the punches in the corner and even bit Ric Flair. Sting  and Flair brawled on the outside. Sting no-sols being slammed into the barricade. Sting missed a dropkick as Flair grabbed the top turnbuckle. Flair went to work on Sting and kept trying to tempt Luger into the ring. Sting went for a cover but Luger tried to break it up. Flair bumped Sting into Luger and Luger made a blind tag, flexing right at Flair.

So to recap, this match started with typical Sting and Flair spots. Every spot they’ve ever done in a WCW ring. Then Luger hits the ring and Luger and Flair had to just wrestle, and stall, and wrestle and stall.

Luger brought Flair into the ring, literally CARRIED HIM into the ring after he tried to escape. As much as it was basically Flair 101 for Flair to beg off the babyfaces, he did it way too much during this match. Like over and over again. Flair Flair Flopped after the punches in the corner. Then Flair takes control of Luger. Keep in mind, Flair had just been wrestling with just Sting and now, Flair worked on Luger and Flair had essentially dominated Sting and Luger for the majority of the match up until this point… and he’s the most heel of the bunch. Sting did get a bit of offense in when he was in the ring but mostly this match was Flair getting the heat on both men.

Flair hit Luger in the knees with a chair. Flair locked on the Figure Four and Luger turned it over. Luger and Flair struggled for a suplex but Luger won and suplexed Flair into the ring. Flair is punching away at Luger and Tony said, when Flair is just punching away at Luger, “Luger is starting to mount a comeback.” Tony was so bad calling this PPV.

Flair tagged in Sting trying to stir things up between Sting and Luger. Sting and Luger are now just standing around for about 2 minutes, felt like 30 minutes. Then they LOCK UP… we had to be like 15 minutes into this match. The fans start to boo and get restless. Sting and Luger have a clean break following a lock up and the fans boo more. Luger finally starts punching away at Sting. Sting fires back. Sting no-sold an atomic drop and hits a clothesline.

Luger smashed Sting with the clothesline. Luger kicked out of the top rope crossbody by Sting. Sting tried a Vader splash but Luger got the knees up. Sting try to lock on the Scorpion Death Lock but Luger got the rope. When Luger was floored, Luger actually low blowed Sting and then Luger worked on this nut shot and did an atomic drop! Tremendous groin-based offense!

Sting fired back and did a bulldog. Sting hit a Stinger Splash. Luger locked on a Torture Rack and the ref went down as Flair chopped blocked Luger. Both Sting and Luger were sent outside.

Flair wakes up the ref and the ref counts out Luger and Sting while Luger grabs Sting’s arm to keep him outside of the ring. Therefore, that meant Ric Flair wins.

They made me sit there through a 28 minute match with Sting, Luger and Flair, a 28 minute boring-ass match between these three and Flair wins… with a count-out.  So after Ric Flair wrestles the majority of a 28 minute match, he wins and Savage is sent in to do battle with him. An injured Randy Savage vs an exhausted Ric Flair for your Starrcade main-event.

Match Rating: 1/2*

 

“Macho Man” Randy Savage (c) vs Ric Flair w/Jimmy Hart for the WCW World Championship

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Flair has about 5 minutes for a breather and then Savage comes out for the main-event. Savage starts working on Flair when MR WONDERFUL “PAUL ORNDORFF”, in a neck brace, appeared with his hands on his hips.

Savage missed a double axe handle to the outside as Doug Dillinger told Orndorff to head to the back. In hindsight, what was the point in Orndorff coming out? It’s not like he showed up in the post-match angle.

Flair worked on the arm. Flair chopped away at Savage. Flair, immediately after a 28 minute match, gets the heat and beats up Randy Savage who last wrestled more than an hour ago on this show. What a geek of a WCW Champion Randy Savage was here.

While Ric made it to the ring, Jimmy took a cheap shot kick at the gut of Savage. Ric did a hammerlock to Savage and dropped knees on the arm. Flair grabbed the wounded arm and just stretched it over his own shoulder. Savage fires back but runs into a sleeper hold. Savage does a backdrop

Jimmy threw the megaphone to Flair but Savage fought him, took the megaphone and used it on Flair which busted him up big time. Savage hit the elbow when the Four Horsemen ran down.

Benoit and Pillman ran down as Jimmy got the referee. Arn Anderson ran down and clocked Savage with the brass knuckles. Flair covers Savage to win the world title for the 12th time in his career as the fans go nuts.

The Horsemen have a big party in the ring. Pillman waffled Savage with the belt. and that’s how the show ends.

Match Rating: ¾*

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My initial reaction to this is, obviously, this pretty much solidifies Savage’s claim for one of the worst world title reigns of all time. All of Savage’s matches ended in a DQ and in the match where he loses the title, he gets his ass-kicked by an exhausted Ric Flair and gets beat. Was there shenanigans? Yes. But at the end of all of this, after Savage won what Buffer called the greatest battle royal in history last month, Savage drops the title to Flair and came off as a complete geek of a champion.

However, I will say this about the post-match celebration. Ric Flair sold this like it meant something and when you’re win your twelfth title reign and you still have to sell how much it means to you, that tells you how great Flair was. It still felt like a big deal when Flair won the title here and he sold it as if it was a big deal. The Horsemen were so happy, Pillman was going nuts and it showed legitimate passion that you don’t get from wrestlers nowadays. In a lot of ways, that was a success.

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That was Starrcade. That was an easier PPV review to do than I figured it would be. To be fair, a lot of the matches on this show were nothing matches. The big sell for the show was WCW vs NJPW but really the show-stealing matches were like Eddie vs Otani and Benoit vs Liger. Every other match was just in the area of slightly above average to an absolute nothing match and there was a lot of nothing matches where my reviews were just really short. Not a lot to say.

Going into 1995, the world title picture does have a bit of intrigue to it. Flair has the World title and Hogan apparently has a World title shot awaiting him after Starrcade. I’m pretty sure the match is happening on Nitro but this little period before the nWo arrive will be somewhat interesting to see how the world title picture shapes up before the big arrival of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the WCW Starrcade 1995 review. We are now heading into 1996 which will be an eventful year for WCW and see a major shift in the wrestling landscape.

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #17 (DECEMBER 25TH 1995) – RANDY SAVAGE AND RIC FLAIR BATTLE ON CHRISTMAS DAY

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

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We had a rather excitable edition of Nitro featuring a great, old-school Eddie Guerrero vs Ric Flair match, Sting and Lex Luger picking up victories going into Starrcade and Randy Savage retaining the World title against The Giant following interference from a wild Hulk Hogan. The show ended with Savage agreeing to give Hogan a title shot after Starrcade 1995.

Now we’ve got the go-home edition of Nitro as Starrcade is just a couple of days away… literally. This episode of Nitro, taped beforehand, aired on Christmas Day of 1995. Then on the Wednesday, WCW were taking on NJPW at Starrcade. A Wednesday PPV of all things which seems really peculiar. I mean WWE did do Taboo Tuesday on a Tuesday but it just really surreal to have a PPV two days after an episode of their flagship show.

 

Date: December 25th, 1995 (Taped the week before)

Brand: WCW

City: Augusta, Georgia

Rating: 2.5 (WCW was unopposed for this week’s Nitro as there was no Monday Night RAW on this week)

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

 

Lex Luger w/Jimmy Hart vs Scotty Riggs

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Last week, Luger squashed Marcus Bagwell from the American Males in a rather bad match. This week, he had a match with Bagwell’s partner Scotty Riggs…. this was slightly better and more competitive.

Luger hammered away at Riggs. We got a repeat of Luger’s horrible dropkick selling from last week as he tumbled to the ground with each bump while his arms were in the air. Scotty did an arm drag and actually worked on the arm, demonstrating ring psychology at the very least.

Scotty draped Luger’s arm over the top rope. Scotty did an arm drag and Luger immediately hit his hand on the match 3 times… shouldn’t that have counted as a submission?

Scotty got some offense in before Luger sent him crashing into the barrier. Riggs fired back and hit a backbody drop. Riggs got a small package. Riggs missed a top rope dropkick. Luger did a horrible powerslam and locked on the torture rack to a big pop and to win the match.

 

Mean Gene Okerlund did an interview Sting and you’ll never guess what Mean Gene asked? You’ll never guess….

…he asked about Sting’s friendship with Lex Luger.

Sting flips out and says that “enough is enough” as he’s tired of being asked about it. He said Luger was a friend of his and he’s doing everything he can to straighten him out. Sting does actually say that maybe Luger snapped for a reason. Sting does talk about Ric Flair and NJPW but then Mean Gene can’t help but ask right after the interview.. “so what’s up with you and Luger?” He asks this question and Sting is not happy… that part I loved.

 

 

Sting vs Big Bubba Rogers

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I loved the touch added to Sting’s entrance as they had light up scorpions on the ramp as he came down to the ring. That I liked.

Big Bubba actually whipped out an enziguri on Sting. Big Bubba got the heat and locked on a chin-lock. The announcers bantered about this and that but then it’s revealed that Hulk Hogan has been suspended… UNTIL THE END OF 1995!

Now let’s all remember that this episode is being shown on CHRISTMAS DAY. So Hulk Hogan has been suspended FOR A WEEK! In case anyone is wondering why he got suspended for a week, it’s because he ran wild last week with chair shots towards The Giant, Taskmaster, the referees etc. And after all of this, he’s suspended for a week? Hogan seemed more than willing to do the time for the crime!

At the very least, Heenan did say that the suspension was under review so it could be longer. With that being said though, spoiler alert, but Hulk Hogan is wrestling on next week’s episode of Nitro! I cannot wait for the explanation!

The finish to this match was Sting actually did a small package from the top rope for the win as Big Bubba looked stunned. That was actually a creative finish from Sting and the thing I like about Sting was that he had more than one way to beat somebody. It wasn’t just locking on the Scorpion Death Lock. I believe he beat IRS with a top rope crossbody before, he probably beat somebody with a Stinger Splash, he had the Scorpion Death Drop and now he’s got the small package from the top rope.

I liked that as it makes you believe that the match can end at any time and not just to zone out until the guys start hitting their finishers. This was a basic match but effective in getting Sting over. Sting and Luger both getting wins two weeks in a row is effective in building them both up for Starrcade so I was happy with this.

 

Speaking of Luger, Mean Gene interviewed him and Jimmy Hart. It turns out Luger’s got another match against NJPW as well at his Starrcade triangle match for a shot at World Champ “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Luger said there’s no deal between him and Sting. He said they’d been friends for 10 years. He said we couldn’t ask for a more premier match in the triangle match with himself, Sting and Ric Flair. Luger said he’s the uncrowned world champion and that’s the way its gonna remain until he becomes the champion… no shit? By that logic, I was also the uncrowned WCW Champion when I was one year old at the time! You’re the uncrowned champion until you win the title… what a concept.

Sgt. Pittman comes down, interrupts the interview and says he’s got no problem with Luger. Pittman wants Jimmy Hart to be his manager. Jimmy makes Pittman take off his shirt. Then he tells Pittman to now look at Luger and ask himself why Jimmy should wanna manage Pittman? He told Pittman to look for a different manager.

 

Dean Malenko vs Mr JL

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This was a very unfortunate match for Mr JL, better known as Jerry Lynn. He came in as part of the cruiserweight push from WCW. He got in the ring with Dean Malenko and his arm got broken during the match.

Now I watched this match again during this review to try and pinpoint where he actually broke his arm. At what point did he do it? There’s a few spots which I figured he might have done it in.

The match goes along fine. Dean hits a beautiful t-bone suplex. We got some great stuff. Then Mr JL tries a monkey flip but falls right on his back. I wrote in my notes that he fell on his head but after a rewatch, that doesn’t look like it was the case. I thought if he hurt himself, it would have been at this point. I say that because after JL drops to the mat. Dean went over for the bridge pin. Referee Nick Patrick counts one and then just stops despite JL’s shoulders still being on the mat. Patrick is frozen like he just doesn’t know what to do. JL seems to be trying to push Dean to the air to the air to reverse it into a backslide. Its like a 10 second struggle until he somehow pushes him up and finishes the spot.

I thought it was that spot because that spot looked so screwed up that the only thing I can conclude was that JL was hurt then because he landed HARD on the mat. However, JL keeps on going. He even hits a beautiful sit-out powerbomb for a near fall. They keep going and then Dean hit JL with an Alley-Oop which launches JL into the top rope. He kinda looked like he smashed his arm on the top rope but he still kept on going.

Then I read from somewhere that he broke his arm during the finish. Dean goes the top rope with JL on his shoulders. He presses him up and drops him down onto his knee for the gutbuster. Mr JL SCREAMS and grabs his arm as Dean quickly goes for the “Malenko Leg Lock” for the win. It seems more likely that this was actually when it happened and that when JL landed, his arm got trapped in between his body and Dean’s knee. I assume that’s when it actually happened and Dean rushed to the finish.

It’s a shame because JL is gonna be out of the picture for a while because of this.

 

Mean Gene is doing an interview with Ric Flair. Ric says Savage is about to wrestle Ric Flair on this show and that the great one cannot be denied. Jimmy Hart then walks up to him. Jimmy apologises for what Taskmaster did last week for interrupting the Horsemen as Kevin Sullivan has a short fuse. Jimmy says he owes Ric one after Savage grabbed Jimmy by the tie a few weeks ago. Jimmy asks to go down to ringside tonight with Flair as Flair becomes champion. Ric says if Jimmy wanted to be ringside when he beat Savage, he told him to knock himself out brother.

 

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

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This was easily Savage’s best match since this Nitro series started. EASILY. He and Flair went in there and had a good old scrap for the strap. An old-school fight to be the world champion and then of course… the finish happened which we’ll get to.

Savage actually spat at Flair at the start of the match which only fired up Flair. Flair missed a knee and then Savage worked on Flair’s legs with assistance of the ring post. Savage locked on a Figure Four Leg Lock of his own. Then Flair got his hands on the ropes but the referee kicked the hands away. I think possibly this was because Flair had somehow turned the tide in the Figure Four which was not really obvious during the match or even pointed out on commentary.

Jimmy kept getting shots in at Savage. He stomped away at Savage on the floor and even choked him with his tie or something during the match. Flair got the heat and Irish-Whipped Savage into a metal barricade. There was one moment I loved where Savage is laying on the barricade gasping for breath and like 5 kids in the crowd that happen to be behind the barricade all can’t help but try to touch him from a distance! It was tremendous!

Savage hit a big clothesline for a near fall. I always love how whenever anyone does like a basic move to Flair but Flair can’t help but scream at the top of his lungs! Savage goes for a backslide but Flair simply goes “AAAAAAAAAA!” It was the best. Ric Flair was and always will be the best seller of all-time, by a country mile. This backslide seemed like torture for him and that’s what wrestlers should be doing. It was great.

Flair does a low blow when the referee wasn’t looking. Bobby Heenan’s brilliant explanation is that it was accidental as it was a reaction move for his leg. Heenan explains that when Flair gets his leg in that kind of nerve position, his leg goes up in a north angle! Bobby Heenan was the man.

Savage fires back and does a backdrop. Savage locks on a sleeper hold but Flair counters it with a knee breaker. Flair locked on his own Figure Four Leg Lock and THIS TIME grabbed the ropes for leverage blatantly. Bischoff said: “We’re running out of time but I really don’t care.” I’m sure TNT executives were thrilled with that….

…they actually probably were if these over-runs were doing great and their ratings were going up every week. So who knows…

Savage runs wild and goes to work when LEX LUGER runs down for the DQ.

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OK… I know WCW had this reputation for DQ finishes on Nitro main-events but this was one which really grinded my gears. We had a great match as a main-event for the World Title.  This was the best match Savage has had in months. This was the best Nitro main-event we’ve had in months. Savage could have gotten a big clean title victory right before his big title defense at Starrcade and Luger runs down for the DQ.

EVERY ONE OF SAVAGE’S TITLE DEFENCES HAS ENDED IN A DQ. Now granted, this was at least an improvement on the Luger and Giant matches as at least Savage was about to win this time when Luger ran down. However, why did Lex Luger run down to attack Savage?  What does it matter to him if Flair gets beat? My only explanation is that possibly Jimmy Hart came up with a plan with Luger, to make peace with the Horsemen, that if Flair was in trouble Luger should run down to help him. That’s the best explanation I have for it.

I was also literally kidding when I joke for the Episode #16 review that this match would end in a DQ. I fully expected Flair to win but it really was for the best that Savage defended his title clean at least one time. If Savage drops the title at Starrcade, this must go down as one of the worst world title reigns in history. Right?

Sting runs down for the save as he beats up Flair with Savage beating up Luger. Sting clocks Savage. Sting and Savage slap each other to fire themselves up and they stare each other down as we close Nitro.

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I have to admit. With the exception of the WCW vs NJPW element of it, I’ve not really been that enamoured by this Starrcade push. Luger and Sting have both been booked strong going in, Savage has been booked weak going in and Flair just seems an outsider in this whole thing with Luger and the babyfaces. Hulk Hogan’s not even there and I’m not even sure if The Giant will be there. Both men weren’t even on this episode of Nitro. So lord knows what the WCW title picture is gonna look like after Starrcade.

Oh yeah, and no follow-up to the infamous Madusa angle from last week when Alundra Blayze put the WWF Women’s title in the trash can. What a waste of an angle…

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We’ll be doing a full review of WCW Starrcade next time. WCW vs NJPW is going down, Sting, Lex Luger and Ric Flair in a triangle match. The likes of Sting, Savage and Luger all in the multiple matches. Despite the lacklustre build to Starrcade, I’m very much looking forward to certain aspects of it. Not gonna lie. We will see you with the Armbar Express review of WCW Starrcade 1995.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #16 (DECEMBER 18TH 1995) – WWF WOMEN’S CHAMPION ALUNDRA BLAYZE DEBUTS ON WCW NITRO

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

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The ever confusing WCW World title picture has gotten even more confusing in WCW as of late. WCW announced a triangle match between Sting, Ric Flair and Lex Luger at Starrcade with the winner facing Randy Savage at the end of the night for the WCW title. 2 weeks ago, Savage defended the title against Luger but ended in a disqualification when Hulk Hogan ran down and broke up the pin. Last week, Savage vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan was also booked for Starrcade while Luger claimed himself to be the uncrowned WCW Champion. Then, they randomly announce that Randy Savage is also set to defend the WCW title the next week against The Giant. If that’s not confusing enough….

…the on-going drama with Sting, Lex Luger, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage just kept GOING AND GOING. Sting and Hogan tagged against Ric Flair and Arn Anderson in the main-event of last week’s show. Hogan and Sting bickered, Lex Luger ran down and attacked Hogan, Savage made the save, Sting punched Savage and then they all kissed and made up. The same old storyline with Lex Luger with seemingly no end in sight.

 

Date: December 18th, 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Augusta, Georgia

Rating: 2.7

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

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We kick things off with an infamous WCW angle which was one of the bigger shots fired by WCW at the very start of the Monday Night Wars. The commentators are talking about the show and who should come out but WWF Women’s Champion Alundra Blayze…

….yup, this is THAT segment…

Alundra grabs the mic and cuts a promo. I almost got this down word for word on my notes but this was pretty much her promo for her WCW debut.

“I am Madusa. Always have been Madusa, always will be Madusa. This is the WWF Women’s Championship belt,” says the formerly known as Alundra while Bischoff goes “woah”.

Alundra grabs a trash can conveniently right next to the announce table and drops the title into the trash can.

She proceeds: “And that is what I think of the WWF women’s belt. I am WCW. I used to be called Alundra Blayze but now I’m Madusa. They call this the place where the big boys play. Now it’s the place the big girls play.”

Alundra, now going by Madusa, leaves the booth. Eric Bischoff grabs the title, shows it off… and put its back in the trash can. Then William “The Refrigerator” Perry, NFL star, makes his way to the announce booth to squeeze the hand of Bobby Heenan.

My notes after all of this reads…

“That was it?”

Madusa-Nitro

In hindsight, this was an absolutely atrocious segment. Madusa comes out randomly on the start of Nitro. She cuts a god awful promo. The verbiage was just so wooden but not nearly as wooden as her delivery. She drops the title and she mentions that “that’s what I think of the WWF women’s belt” like the WWF is beneath her. She says that at a time where WCW doesn’t even have a women’s division. I’ve seen exactly two women’s matches since this Nitro series began. It was the same tag team match with the same four people and they both came over from Japanese wrestling promotions. If the WWF women’s division is so bad, what does that say about WCW?

The one thing she had coming in that would have made her like a truly big star in WCW, similar to how Ric Flair showed up on WWF TV with the WCW title, is her parading around with the women’s title. She proclaims herself as the one true champion and tells WCW to make it official, it could lead to a tournament to fight Madusa to see who is the true champion. But no, she doesn’t even have the title and she disregarded the title as meaningless… in a nothing 2 minute segment which was shortly sidetracked by William Perry.

Now maybe I’ll be wrong and this may end up into a great angle similar to what I suggested. Spoiler but we do get a women’s title in WCW and that title is retired in 1997. So my gut is that it wasn’t very successful at all… call it a hunch.

I would also call this unsuccessful on the grounds that the WWF actually filed a lawsuit as a result of this angle!

 

Ric Flair vs Eddie Guerrero

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Remember a month ago or so when they were building Ric Flair vs Eddie Guerrero on Nitro? Eddie was set to face Flair in a match but Flair pulled out and he was replaced with Brian Pillman? All of this time later, we finally get the match… and Eddie Guerrero gets no entrance as Flair makes his way down to the ring.

The fans loved Flair in this one as he played around at the start of the match. In the middle of all of this, they announce RIC FLAIR is getting a WCW title match next week?

OK….

Brief Intermission from the review of this match

So to recap, Lex Luger and The Giant both received WCW title shots in the last couple of weeks. Luger got his title shot a few weeks ago and Giant got his title shot on this episode of Nitro. Luger got a title shot because he beat Savage at World War III right before Savage won the title. The Giant got a title shot because he was the champion but got stripped off the title and never got a one on one singles rematch. FINE. Both those explanations make sense as to why they both got title shots.

Ric Flair?

Obviously, I understand that he is Ric Flair. However, based on his win/loss record since he turned heel again at Halloween Havoc, what on Earth has Ric Flair done to earn a title shot? I don’t even remember the last time he won a match on Nitro. He may have won matches on Saturday Night. However, Flair was in the Starrcade triangle match anyway and now HE’S getting a title shot?

Him and The Giant are both on probation and they’re getting title shots. If you think about it, the one person that has the greatest claim to a title shot nowadays is Hulk Hogan who is also on probation. Hogan has not been mentioned once, at least up until this point. Hulk Hogan unfairly lost the WCW title and he wasn’t even beaten for it. He was never eliminated from the World War III battle royal and Flair and Giant are both getting title shots before him.

I know I’ve made fun of Hogan’s character as just a whiner on this show but if you look at what’s happened, he has every right to be pissed!

…back to the match

In singing Flair’s praises, Bobby Heenan brings up Flair’s a 11 time champion at this point and asks the question of “how many of you humanoids did anything 11 times well?” Eddie dropkicked Ric in the back of the head and Ric did an amazing flop for the sell. Eddie slapped Ric in the face and then styled and profiled himself, to which Flair got proper bugged eyed with fury! The fans actually booed when Eddie did this.

Eddie missed a dropkick and Flair goes a Figure Four Leg Lock but Eddie reverses this into a small package for a near fall. This was turning into a very well paced match that suited Ric’s old school style and Eddie’s ability to adapt to just about any pace of a match. Flair got the heat as he chopped away at Eddie and did some knee drops. Eddie fired back as Eric Bischoff referenced some Mike Tyson fight.

Eddie hit a tornado DDT. Eddie actually managed to pull off a hurricanrana spot with RIC FLAIR of all people. It actually also looked very well executed too. Ric was dizzy and hit the ropes to send Eddie crashing onto the floor. Eddie grabbed his knee and Ric went immediately for the knee. Solid use of ring psychology which shouldn’t come as a surprise when Ric Flair and Eddie Guerrero are both involved.

Ric stomped on Eddie’s leg. Ric locked on the Figure Four as Ric grabbed the ropes for leverage but Eddie refused to give up. Ric slapped at him but Eddie yelled “Noooooo!” Eddie fought and fought and fought and fought but Eddie eventually passed out and Ric PINNED him with a Figure Four.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Flair pin somebody with the Figure Four before! I actually thought this was a clever finish. They got Eddie over as a babyface who refused to give up, even against a 11 time world champion. This was a solid match that told a good story and had an excellent finish and it definitely would have helped Eddie. Whether they follow up on this the right way remains to be seen…

 

Arn joined Ric in the ring as Mean Gene came down as well. Ric went to attack Eddie and Mean Gene yelled him “HEY KNOCK IT OFF, or I’ll cut this interview!” Arn said he respected Paul Orndorff but for every reaction, there’s an opposite or equal reaction. In case you don’t remember what happened last week, the Four Horsemen took out Paul Orndorff with a spike piledriver. Arn said the Horsemen does not put personal achievements above the group and you don’t jump the Horsemen.

Taskmaster ran down and put Arn and Ric over. Mean Gene pointed Ric towards the hard cam like a true professional! Taskmaster was upset that Brian Pillman knocked the Dungeon of Doom during his promo last week. I don’t remember Pillman knocking the Dungeon of Doom unless he’s referring to Pillman taking a shot at the Zodiac. Taskmster said they better put Brian Pillman on a short leash. Ric said no problem but Arn grabbed the mic sand said that if you come looking for Pillman, you mess with the Horsemen. Taskmaster said there are no allegiances in WCW and left.

 

Sgt. Pittman interrupted the announcers now. So that’s THREE times that the announcers have had somebody interrupt them at the booth in one episode. Pittman said he’s been doing a lot of sneaking and peaking and found that Bobby Heenan was one of the best managers of all time. He wanted Bobby to manage him. Bobby said he didn’t manage anymore as he’s a broadcast journalist but Bobby will help him find a manager. Pittman said if he doesn’t get help, he won’t be taking any prisoners.

 

Lex Luger w/Jimmy Hart vs Marcus Alexander Bagwell

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I’m gonna get the positives out of the way regarding this match… at least Lex Luger is getting some wins under his belt all of a sudden and is looking more of a threat. Remember when Luger kept getting beat on Nitro and Hogan made him look weak and the time he lost to Meng? Now he’s on a winning streak…

…that’s about where the positivity ends…

This was a typical Luger match where he gets blown up and does a horrible job with selling. Bagwell got some offense including a monkey flip. Luger got the heat. Bagwell ran wild. Bagwell went for a splash but Lex got the knees up and then hit the powerslam. Luger locked on the torture rack for the win.

That’s pretty much all you need to know.

Mean Gene does an interview with Luger and Jimmy Hart. Jimmy said Luger is the uncrowned champion. Luger said he’s breathless with anticipation… nothing to do with him completely blown up of course. Luger said he’d take the title and said Savage should give up.

 

Pittman and Cobra are set to wrestle each other for what seems like the 100th time as of late and this match is plugged for Saturday Night. How exciting…

 

Sting vs Earl Robert Eaton w/Jeeves

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So right before this match, these announcers have the temerity to plug that Sting was going to be on WCW Saturday Night to do an interview about his friendship with Lex Luger. After MONTHS and MONTHS of this storyline, they wanted you the fans to tune into WCW Saturday Night to watch Sting TALK more about this never-ending storyline.

Eaton started off with a headlock and Sting pushed him off, doing a leapfrog and then pushing Eaton high in the air with his feet.

This was a basic but rather boring match. The fans were bored and did the wave. Sting did a hip-toss which led to Eaton delivering a backbreaker. Eaton missed a top rope knee drop. This led to Sting hitting the Stinger Splash and locking on the Scorpion Deathlock for the win.

Bischoff said Sting is “on a roll like a freight town going down hill”… very much the entire story of WCW’s existence.

So after plugging that we’ve got an interview with Sting on Saturday Night, Mean Gene comes out to do an interview with Sting… ON NITRO. Again, why would I wanna watch WCW Saturday Night on TBS or whatever channel they were on.

Mean Gene said: “Sting, we’ve got to discuss what’s going down at the triangle match at Starrcade.” Sting said he’ll not forget what Flair did to him and “what he did to all of those kids,” referencing the angle where Flair got all of the fans in the ring to get Sting to team with him. Sting said he was upset by Luger not mentioning his name when talking about going through the roster during his earlier promo. Sting says he’s been a five time WCW Champion and he wants to be the six time champion.

 

Randy Savage (c) vs The Giant w/Taskmaster and Jimmy Hart for the WCW Championship

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Bischoff reminds us that Randy Savage has an injured arm which, if you’ll recall, Hogan basically claimed was fake news during World War III. So I guess, in WCW storyline, Savage is ACTUALLY injured… well he’s actually injured in real life in 1995 but now they’re properly acknowledging it.

Savage starts with the ill-advised tactic of jumping onto The Giant’s back to choke him out. Giant stumbles around the ring to fight it but Giant slams him down. Giant goes to work and locks on a bearhug. Giant tries a chokeslam but Savage rakes him in the eyes. Savage tries multiple clotheslines to take the challenge down but Giant catches him, carries him around “like a child” according to Bischoff and delivers a backbreaker. It was actually a well done spot.

The Giant misses a splash and Savage counters with an elbow drop but The Giant flings Savage in the air as a kick out. The Giant actually unleashes a dropkick during this match. The Giant tries a suplex on the floor but Savage somehow grabs the rope to avoid being slammed onto the floor. How they pulled off this spot so well is beyond me. I’ve never seen a spot like this.

Here is the Armbar Express’ Geek Of The Week sponsored by the Filthy Four Daily show from Figure Four Online! Bryan Alvarez would be proud of this one. The Giant hits a chokeslam and wastes his god damn time posing. Nobody, to my knowledge, has kicked out of this chokeslam yet. He poses and poses during a World Heayvweight Championship match. Giant does a leg drop and then Hogan runs in to hit Giant with a chair for the DQ. The Giant came off like a complete idiot.

I probably should have awarded “Geek of the Week” if you will to Randy Savage since, yet again, Savage is saved from losing the title because of Hulk Hogan running down to cause a DQ. He’s never been able to defend the title by himself yet.

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So Hogan goes crazy. He whacks the referees with a chair, attacks some kinda official as well. I have no idea who he was but Hogan laid him out too. Hogan attacks Giant, attacks Taskmaster. Fans are going CRAZY FOR THIS by the way as this is going on. Mongo and William Perry try to calm Hogan down. Hogan then goes into the ring to check on Savage. The fans chant Hogan, Hogan, Hogan. This was actually a very well done segment, other than burying Savage as the champion, that got a lot of positive reaction from the crowd. They loved Hogan going crazy. A complete 180 from last week’s show where Charlotte, North Carolina booed Hogan out of the building!

Mean Gene interviewed Hogan and Savage. Mean Gene said Hogan risked the chance of being suspended. The Giant tries to get down of the ring again as Taskmaster and two security guard are able to pull The Giant away. Hogan takes a massive swing at the head of Giant, Taskmasker and a security guard. The heels flee. Hogan said he’s sick of this probation. Hogan says Savage owes Hogan a title shot. Hogan says he knows Savage can beat Ric. Savage says he has to get past Starrcade. Savage says right after we’ll get that match the world has been waiting for in Hogan vs Savage. Hogan I think said he has respect for the NFL players in the football field. He says don’t try to step onto their turf, they will get laid out. Savage and Hogan celebrate with Hogan’s music.

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So I’m not sure what to make of this. So right after all of these matches, title shots and Starrcade main-events are set up, then Hogan gets a title shot after Starrcade, This does not help with the build to Starrcade at all. This makes Hogan’s title shot seem way more important than the triangle match and the title shot at Starrcade. If that’s the case, why should I care about Starrcade? They’re just starting too many fires or potential storylines and not focusing on the PPV in front of them. And on top of all of this, Flair is getting a title shot next week?

Now, I haven’t looked at the results for next week’s show. I don’t know who wins and loses this match but it did seem weird to me that Flair of all people is getting a title shot. Luger and Giant had legitimate claims to a title shot. Flair does not. So either Flair is being fed to Savage in order for Savage to get a legitimate title defence under his belt or… they’re putting the belt on Flair next week because Savage is injured.

Or maybe it’ll end in a disqualificaiton…

 

That was my Nitro review. Bland in part but one of the more excitable Nitros as of late. Eddie vs Flair was good and the closing segment with Hogan going crazy was good. I still think the Starrcade build is pretty poor but they do have one more week before Starrcade so maybe next week will turn things around.

Stay tuned for our review of next week’s show where Ric Flair is the next man to challenge Randy Savage for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship!

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #15 (DECEMBER 11TH 1995) – HULK HOGAN BOOED IN FLAIR COUNTRY AS HE TEAMS WITH STING

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

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We’ve got a much clearer idea of what the WCW Starrcade 1995 PPV would look like. It’s America’s best in WCW against Japan’s best in NJPW. However, the world title picture is where things get a little bit more complicated. Sting vs Lex Luger vs Ric Flair was booked for Starrcade in a triangle match, with the winner facing Randy Savage for the WCW World title later on in the same show.

The strangest thing about this Starrcade show is that Hulk Hogan is not yet scheduled for Starrcade or not featured at all in the title picture. He was never officially eliminated in the World War III battle royal to crown a new champion and then he was put on “probation” along with Flair and The Giant after a brawl from a few weeks ago. And yet, Flair could possibly earn himself a title shot if he wins the triangle match but Hogan couldn’t?

It’s also strange that Hogan is not in the title picture as Nitro is still all about the Hulkster. Last week’s show was headlined by Lex Luger challenging Randy Savage for the WCW title. Hogan broke up the pin for the DQ. A brawl broke out where Hogan accidentally clocked Sting. Savage tried to play peacemaker, and now we’ve gotten Episode #15 where Hogan and Sting must team up to face Ric Flair and Arn Anderson in the main-event.

 

Date: December 11th, 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Charlotte, North Carolina

Rating: 2.6 (Went up this week with an advertised Hulk Hogan main-event as opposed to a Randy Savage World title defence… make of that what you will)

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

 

Mr JL vs Eddie Guerrero

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This was your typical lucha libre WCW cruiserweight match and there was nothing wrong with that. They worked well at a… fast, but not too fast pace. Eddie is one of those reserved cruiserweights where he’s fast but he’s not too fast where the audience can’t appreciate everything he does and can’t keep track of it. He’s tremendous when it comes to controlling the pace of a match.

Speaking of Eddie, the announcers plugged that Eddie would be wrestling at Starrcade against Shinjiro Otani. Bobby Heenan actually did a great job on commentary in putting Eddie over but also explaining that the Japanese were already training in the Rocky Mountains, not suffering jet lag and ready to go.

There was one botched spot where it was a tilt-a-whirl that was screwed up a little and ended up in a backbreaker. Eddie eventually rolled up Mr JL and secured the win. I did like that the fact that Eddie all so excited and joyous to have gotten the win and Mr JL was on his knees devastated and dejected to have been beaten in this match. Even if this was just an opening match on Nitro, the result of this match mattered to Eddie and Mr JL.

 

Mean Gene Okerlund did a promo with Jimmy Hart and Lex Luger. Jimmy told Mean Gene to shut up and he said Luger was the uncrowned WCW Champion. They recapped Luger going heel, beating Savage and then a clip from last week. Luger said if it wasn’t for Hogan stopping the count last week, Luger would be the world champion right now. He said he owns Macho Man and everyone knows it so Savage is no problem. He talked about Flair. He talked about Sting and that he and Sting talked about how it will come down to those two at Starrcade and if it does, may the best man win.

 

“Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorff vs Disco Inferno

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To put this match and pretty much this episode of Nitro into perspective, I wanna actually mention that I watched my WrestleMania 21 DVD on the weekend before I watched this episode of Nitro. On Disc 3 of the boxset, it showed the 2005 WWE Hall Of Fame induction. I watched it… it was FABULOUS. The Iron Sheik had an absolutely incredible acceptance speech. Ric Flair and Roddy Piper told some great stories. Bobby Heenan was on form that night. And inducted among many memorable names during this ceremony, including Hulk Hogan, was “Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorff.

He didn’t particularly stand-out in this Hall of Fame, especially when the Iron Sheik of all people is inducted! However, he did talk about his love for the business. It’s the usual Hall of Fame speech. However, the WWE’s video package before Orndorff came out for his induction really didn’t do Mr Wonderful much justice. It mostly focused on his feud with Hulk Hogan and WrestleMania I where he teamed with Piper against Hogan and Mr T. It was a shame because this episode of Nitro demonstrated a lot more to what made Mr Wonderful so…. wonderful.

Mr Wonderful got this gimmick and this excellent Mr Wonderful theme song and he comes down to the ring with a mirror to look at himself, because he thinks he’s so wonderful. Bobby explains that the mirror got bigger with every show, because he wants to see more and more of himself in this mirror. Paul Orndorff really did believe, in storyline, that he really was Mr Wonderful and he lived the gimmick.

This match really was the battle of the fantastic theme songs. We had the Mr Wonderful theme song, which Bobby claimed Mean Gene sang the female part of the lyrics! We also had the Disco Fever theme song which, pretty much speaks for itself. Right in the 1990s cringe but cool category.

Disco jumped Mr Wonderful to get things underway. Disco actually beat up Orndorff while his arms were stuck in his jacket. Orndorff fired back with an atomic drop and then bonked Disco on the head with an elbow. Orndorff hit an ugly facebuster and then performed an even uglier disco dance right in front of Disco’s prone body! It was so ugly, it was beautiful! Orndorff looked all goofy as someone who was not meant to look like Disco Inferno. Orndorff hit a back suplex for the win and I actually loved this. Orndorff has the man beaten as clean as a sheet with a pinfall but because he’s a heel, he can’t help but put his feet on the ropes!

Orndorff looked kinda knackered after a 3 minute match but otherwise, this was a basic and simple match to wrestle which suited the old school Orndorff and the very green Disco Inferno. It wasn’t that bad.

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Mean Gene did an interview with the Four Horsemen, in Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman. Mean Gene asked Brian what it’s like to be a part of the Four Horsemen. God bless Brian Pillman, but he was completely outta his mind when he cut this promo. He claimed Hogan wanted to be a member of the Four Horsemen and even donned the black because he wanted to be a bad guy. Brian claimed Hogan could never keep up with Flair’s lifestyle. Pillman then decides to bury a bunch of random guys on the roster. He cuts a promo on Steve “Mongo” McMichael, The Zodiac, Mr Wonderful and the American Males.

Mr Wonderful comes out after Pillman targets him. Mr Wonderful cuts a promo where he says he could be a Horsemen if he wanted to and that’s the only reason why Pillman IS a horsemen. He called Pillman a punk. Arn gets in between them. Orndorff says if Pillman thinks carrying around everybody’s bags makes him a Horsemen then he is a Horsemen, because that’s what Pillman’s doing. Wonderful and Pillman then got into a brawl. Flair and Arn helped Pillman and turned it into a 3 on 1 beatdown. Arn and Ric delivered a spike piledriver on the floor. At this point, Mongo said “I’VE SEEN THIS ON A FOOTBALL FIELD”…. WHEN DID THREE NFL PLAYERS EVER DO A SPOT LIKE THIS?

As a segment this was really well executed. As a means to write Orndorff off of TV, which is what I assume this is all about, Orndorff came off as worthy star worthy of a Horsemen beatdown. I don’t even think I’ve seen Orndorff lose a match on Nitro since THIS Mr Wonderful gimmick started. He beat Disco Inferno, he cut a great promo on Pillman and then he got taken out by Flair and Arn who were in the main-event of this episode of Nitro.

Bobby was shown going to see Orndorff who was being seen too by the medics. Not getting up real close to Orndorff but still showing concern.

 

Lex Luger w/Jimmy Hart vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan

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I think this is the moment when writing my Nitro review where I’ve just realised just how much Lex Luger was on this show. He showed up to do a promo with Mean Gene and Jimmy Hart and now he’s got a match with another Jim in Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Spoiler alert, but he shows up later on in the show and all of the babyfaces talk about Luger at the end of the show. It’s just astonishing to think about. It’s astonishing because according to a number of stories, Bischoff was not high on Luger. And yet here is Luger all over this show so I’m not sure what changed. Maybe it was that dreaded Luger vs Meng match from Nitro a few months ago.

In a twist of fate, the babyface Duggan jumped Luger before the match. Duggan smashed Luger’s head into the turnbuckle. Hacksaw ran wild with a hip toss, a clothesline and a few elbows. They cut away to show Orndorff loaded into the ambulance. Bobby was back on commentary by the way. Jimmy Hart got on the apron and as he does, Hacksaw grabs tape to hit Luger with it. Then Hacksaw got distracted by Hart. Supposedly Duggan ran into Hart’s megaphone and Luger took advantage and locked on the torture rack for the win.

Bad finish to a well below average match. This really did not make Luger come off as a main-event star. Duggan got the heat for a long time and it took a megaphone and a distraction for Luger to get the win. So really, nobody got over after this match was over. Really, you could make the argument that the Torture Rack got over as Duggan tapped right away and Luger did hardly anything leading up to it. But that’s about it.

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Mean Gene was with Macho Man. They revealed on commentary that Randy Savage is set to face Hiroyoshi Tenzan at Starrcade along with defending the WCW World title later on in the show. And then, it was revealed that he will defend the title against The Giant next week on Nitro.

So this WCW World title picture… Hogan started off this series as the champion. He loses the title to The Giant via disqualfication but then The Giant is stripped off the title. Savage wins the title in a battle royal where Hulk Hogan was never even eliminated. Now all of a sudden, The Giant is getting a WCW title match next week. If hypothetically, The Giant regains the title next week, does that mean Savage is out of the title picture all together? Why is Hogan not in the title picture at all? He didn’t even get beat properly to lose the title. He was never eliminated in the World War III battle royal. Along with all of this, Savage is wrestling Hiroyoshi Tenzan at Starrcade on the same night he may or may not be defending the title? What is going on?

Savage said he’s not even thinking of Starrcade or Tenzan or Luger, the whiner, and he’s not thinking about Flair or Sting. He’s thinking about Nitro against The Giant. He compared him to Andre The Giant. Savage said he would be like dynamite, blowing up in your face as he would do whatever it took to win.

 

Hulk Hogan and Sting vs Ric Flair and Arn Anderson

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Sting and Hogan came out to separate entrances. Hogan came down to boos and then complained that Sting went out to the ring without him… right at the moment Sting’s song has a lyric that goes “And all the old people start to act like a child.” I mean Hogan did file a lawsuit against Vince Russo for defamation in 2000 so Hogan, if you’re reading this, no disrespect intended dude! I just think it’s hilarious that Hogan’s character whines like a child that Sting is not coming out with him right when that lyric kicks in.

At the very least, I am being more respectful of Hulk Hogan than this Charlotte crowd. Holy crap, they hated the Hulkster in Charlotte. Ric Flair was always gonna be loved in Charlotte but this was a clear defiance against Hulkamania in 1995. This made Hulk Hogan’s eventually change in character in 1996 all the more appropriate but at least up until this point, it’d been a bit more split 70/30 across the Nitro audience. Not on this night. Everyone loved Ric, they liked Arn, they respected Sting and they hated Hogan.

This was sort of like the WrestleMania 22 show where the Chicago completely booed John Cena and cheered Triple H. Up until that point, the negativity towards Cena was slightly less obvious than it was in WrestleMania 22 and then everybody turned against Cena at ECW One Night Stand. To give WCW credit, at least they turned their John Cena at a perfect time for them.

We got a Hogan sucks chant. Mongo drops the line of: “I played with guys that I didn’t particular care for.” Arn delivered a sweet looking fireman’s carry arm drag. Sting Gorilla Pressed Arn which is still a crazy feat of strength as Arn wasn’t exactly a slim guy here. Arn tried to cause issues with Hogan and Sting by goading Hogan to make the tag… to thunderous boos. I honestly kept forgetting this was Flair country and then as I finally thought of it when watching this match, Flair got tagged in.

Flair chopped away at Hogan to no affect. Hogan backdropped Flair and ran wild. As Flair was bundled over the apron, Sting gave him a Mongolian Chop.

Arn jumped Hogan as Sting and Flair brawled outside. Flair did an eye poke and the fans wooed away. The Horsemen got the heat on Hogan. We got every Sting vs Ric Flair mini-match you ever saw and I think I’ll be writing that at least a few hundred more times before this Nitro review series is over!

Sting locked on the Scorpion Death lock on Arn when Ric got involved, Hogan distracted the ref, Sting locked on the Death Lock but then Arn hit a DDT. Luger came out a brawled with Hogan and locked on the Torture Rack. The referee supposedly didn’t see ANY of this.

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The heels got the heat. Mongo then blamed Hogan and Sting for not being able to work together. Oh yeah? Well what about Lex Luger running down and attacking Hogan? Mongo had a horrid night on this Nitro.

Flair locked on the Figure Four with Arn with the assistance by holding onto Flair. Sting pulled Flair to his corner with sheer leg power and made the tag to Hogan but the referee didn’t see it as the ref was distracted with Arn. Sting eventually fires up and no-sells the chop, throws Flair off the top and goes for the tag but Flair stops him. Bischoff talks about “wanting to reach out and touch somebody.” Arn got spiked by a Sting facebuster. Hogan And Sting kayfabed screwed up the tag and Arn hit the spinebuster. Hulk hulked up anyway and hit a leg drop as Sting hit a Stinger Splash for the win. A weird miscommunication spot which usually would lead to the heels getting the win in this kind of story. But no… Hogan and Sting just overcame the heels and won. It was one of the better Nitro main-events as of late. I’m not gonna lie.

Brian Pillman ran down after the match. 3 on 2 as Lex Luger stopped Pillman from attacking Sting and then instructed Pillman to beat up on Hogan instead.

Sting fought to help Hogan and by the time Savage ran down, Sting had already cleaned house. Sting punched Savage WHICH LOOKED rather intentionally but supposedly it wasn’t. Savage slapped Sting. HOGAN tried to be peacemaker as the fans chanted Hogan sucks. I got super confused as to why Sting punched Savage, I guess it’s because Sting is in the triangle match at Starrcade but perhaps there was something I missed. However, this did not look like Sting punching Savage was an accident.

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Mean Gene got involved and in between Hogan, Sting and Savage. Hogan ASKED AGAIN for about the 700th time about Luger and Sting. My notes here just read “FUCK OFF”. Savage said he hated Luger. Savage wanted to know about Luger too. Mean Gene said let’s talk about it on national television Sting! Sting said it was an accident when he punched Savage. Hogan does testify for him as Sting did save him from the 3 on 1 beatdown by the Horsemen. Hogan blamed Flair and had his arms wide out to elaborate on this point! Savage said we needed to take a chill pill. Savage wants them to work together. Hogan told Savage to get his act together as he may end up losing to The Giant if he doesn’t get it together. Savage said we’ve all got giant problems to end an OK episode of Nitro but by no means exhilarating show that I should wanna watch every week. Really, these last two episodes really did seem like filler if you look at the story.

The story has mostly been about Lex Luger causing division between Sting, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage but that’s been the storyline since the very first episode of Nitro. We do not need to see this scene every week of Savage, Sting and Hogan questioning each others intentions. Their characters make sense but we don’t need to see Sting being put on the spot every week because of his friendship with Luger. Jesus.

Speaking of Lex Luger. So Lex Luger ran down in the main-even to attack Hogan. He was all over this episode of Nitro. My prediction is that Lex Luger will win the triangle match at Starrcade. Seriously, why would Lex Luger be getting pushed this much if this didn’t lead to Luger winning and facing Savage again? If you look at what happened last week, Hogan ran down and caused a DQ when Luger was fighting for the World title. He got screwed out of the title. If we want to be greedy about this convoluted WCW title storyline, Luger has a claim to a title shot himself. Savage never properly beat him to retain the title. The only problem is that I don’t wanna see Lex Luger vs Randy Savage again. They have yet to deliver since Luger arrived either on TV or on PPV. I don’t know what the appeal would be if they were to do Luger and Savage again and Savage beat him as a blow-off to that feud.

…or The Giant may end up winning the title again next week and this entire conversation may become null and void.

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My analysis is that thi was an OK Nitro. Felt a lot like a filler Nitro. We got Luger winning a match, we got Orndorff getting taken out, we got your usual cruiserweight match on Nitro and we got pretty much the finish to almost every Nitro show in the last few months. However, there was nothing really wrong with it either other than just repeating angles with Sting, Hogan and Savage.

Next week, we’ve got Savage’s bit title defence against The Giant but WCW really have to put in the work to build up anticipation towards Starrcade. In the meantime, we’ll see you at Episode #16 of this review series.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #10 (NOVEMBER 6TH 1995) – STING VS RIC FLAIR, THE GIANT “DEFENDS” THE WCW WORLD TITLE

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

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So we’re coming off the heels of Halloween Havoc 1995. It’s still unclear as to the fate of the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. The Giant defeated Hulk Hogan via disqualification due to shenanigans from Jimmy Hart and Lex Luger. However, the title cannot change hands on a disqualification. Throwing a monkey wrench into things, The Giant is still declaring himself the champion and vowed to defend his “title” on Nitro.

With the WCW title situation up in the air, will this show give us some clear direction in the main storyline as we head towards World War 3?

 

Date: November 6th,1995

Brand: WCW

City: Jacksonville, Florida

Rating: 2

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

 

This was INTERACTIVE WEEK in WCW. The fans could call in and vote on who they wanted in the main-event of the show. Before we get into who they could choose, I’d like to point out that The Giant is the “champion” set to “defend the WCW title” and he ended up in the opener on the show!

So there were two locker rooms to pick from – the red locker room and the blue locker room. The red locker room had all the heels and the blue locker room had all the babyfaces. The options in their respective locker rooms were:

RED LOCKER ROOM: Ric Flair, Meng, Diamond Dallas Page, “Blue Bloods” Lord Steven Regal and Earl Robert Eaton, Big Bubba Rogers, The Shark and Scott Norton

BLUE LOCKER ROOM: Sting, Johnny B Badd, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Dave Sullivan, Alex Wright, “The Nasty Boys” Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags and  Mr JL

It was so clearly set up to be Sting vs Ric Flair in the main event, to the point where Eric Bischoff was literally telling you throughout the show to vote for these guys. How miserable must it have been for the other guys back there to be back there as the Executive Producer of the show (at least I think he was) doesn’t want you in the main event of the show? With that being said, Sting vs Ric Flair was the match I would have wanted to see back in 1995! Maybe throwing in dudes like Randy Savage for example may get messy with that particular storyline.

I also like how there was a possibility that  Mr JL vs The Shark could have main-evented this show over The Giant’s WCW title defense! Bobby Heenan wanted to see Mean Gene Okerlund vs Tony Schiavonie.

 

The Giant (c) w/Jimmy Hart vs Cobra in a match apparently for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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I felt like such a massive idiot when I saw Cobra come down to the ring. We got constant, and I mean constant, high screech buzzing sounds. I had no idea if it was just part of his theme song or if it was technical difficulties with the sound. Little did I know until after the show that it was actually Morse Code!

In some ways, this is sort of clever but this got on my case real quick. I mean Jeff Farmer, the dude who was actually Cobra, got a different gimmick in 1996 so this does not last long. For spoilers sake, I won’t reveal what the new gimmick is in case you don’t know!

The idea that The Giant vowed to defend the WCW title on this show and the wrestler that WCW decided was a worthy challenger was COBRA is absolutely hilarious. You’ve got a literal immortal monster and you think Cobra is gonna beat him for the title? To their credit, Eric was still insisting that this was not a title match. However, the end of the show suggests that the WCW Championship Committee must have had some idea what was going with the title.

In the end, all of it didn’t matter. The Giant hit a chokeslam and pinned Cobra in 17 seconds to “retain” the title. I actually timed it. 17 seconds. Mongo actually had a great line where he says Bobby hadn’t seen anything end this quickly since his honeymoon. The one high spot of this match.

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Mean Gene was with the heels in the red locker room. Mean Gene talked about Interactive Nitro as the bad guys all looked mean. The Shark and Scott Norton were shoving at each other for screen time as the Blue Bloods were in the back drinking tea. Then they cut to the blue locker room…

This was an incredible sight. Tony Schiavonie was with the babyfaces and these babyfaces were so full of energy and so fired up for this interactive Nitro. There were technical difficulties this time around. The screen was going buzzy, the sound was going buzzy but that didn’t stop these guys. Charis were thrown, many promos were cut as Sting yelled that he wanted Flair. The Nasty Boys wanted the Blue Bloods, Hacksaw Jim Duggan is pacing back and forth in front of everyone. In the middle of all of this, Alex Wright, the most serious of the bunch, eventually breaks and is just reduced to giggling through it all! This… was gold.

I’ll tell you why this was gold. Here, there’s two sets of locker rooms with good guys and bad guys. Even if you’d not been watching the storylines of WCW on a weekly basis, anyone can switch on the channel and figure out easily who the good guys and bad guys were. In WWE 2019, you have no way of figuring out who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. What you need is like a police board, pointing to different characters, to let you figure out who is on whose side. That’s too much work.

Make it easy for your audience to understand all of this. The babyfaces in the blue locker room were all excited and happy. The heels in the red locker room were all acting mean and acting like dicks to one another. Is it that hard WWE? And don’t tell me that it’s not possible to have clear babyfaces and heels in wrestling anymore because that’s just a lazy excuse to let the writers have the dudes do whatever they want. Put in the work and let the actions of everyone make sense. Put in the work.

I apologise for going off in a random tangent about this during a Nitro review but Jesus. This was 23 years ago and WCW have got it all figured out… for now.

 

Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage were hanging out in Venice Beach. This was just a totally bizarre segment. They were hanging out with a bunch of geezers. They had a Jimi-Hendrix style of musician rocking the guitar while a random old guy was sandwiched between Hogan and Savage. Hogan claimed they were hanging out on the dark side as they were surrounded by people who really didn’t look like they wanted to be there!

Savage vowed to go back to Nitro and see who was friend or foe and who was in the light. This was all kinds of random.

 

The Taskmaster w/Jimmy Hart vs The Renegade

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Previously, The Renegade had Jimmy Hart as his manager. Here, the Renegade now had to go up against one of Jimmy’s new allies in the Taskmaster. This was a waste of match if we’re really being honest.

The Renegade ran down and clobbered into Taskmaster, which is the the best way I could explain it. Renegade ran wild with clotheslines and Kevin Sullivan tumbled to the mat. Jimmy distracted his former comrade which gave Taskmaster the heat. As soon as Taskmaster got the heat, Jimmy was yelling “YOU COULD HAVE BEEN THE NEXT HULK HOGAN” and hurling abuse after initially begging him of earlier on in the match.

Taskmaster slapped away at Renegade. Taskmaster went for a flip senton from the apron but Renegade got the knees up. Renegade hit a cartwheel elbow to the corner but somehow got himself caught up on the top rope. Taskmaster hit the running knee and then did the ugliest looking Coup De Grace I’ve ever seen for the pinfall.

In what turned out to be a very sad segment in hindsight, Jimmy then splashed water at Renegade and wiped away Renegade’s make-up. Jimmy yelled that Renegade was “plain old Rick” and left him beaten and broken in the ring.

If anyone is wondering whether or not this was the end of the Renegade character, it isn’t. I believe he comes back as just another guy and he loses the Ultimate Warrior gimmick because of this angle with Jimmy Hart. The tale does have a sad ending as following the release from his contract in 1998, Richard Wilson a.k.a. The Renegade takes his own life following depression about his release. In hindsight, this was an awkward angle to sit through knowing that it all goes downhill for the guy in the next few years.

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Mean Gene is shown backstage with the heels. This was also a great segment. It starts with The Shark and Scott Norton arguing again. Eventually Scott yells “WHY DON’T WE TAKE THIS OUTSIDE FISH?” and they start to fight! I laughed because upon first watching this, I have no idea what Scott Norton called him! It took me three attempts to figure out what he called him because there was a part of me that though he called him a bitch! I had to do some investigating and it did appear he called him a fish!

Then the lights went out! Technical difficulties which none of the wrestlers saw coming. THAT DID NOT STOP RIC FLAIR! He was undeterred as Ric Flair said like the lord above, he brought the lights back on and it’s up to him when the lights turn on and off! He’s in control of all of these lights! Fantastic recovery. He was just in Ric Flair crazy mode as he styled and profiled. Mean Gene actually asked the important question “who turned these lights of intentionally?” Brilliant.

Actually, now is as good of a time as ever to talk about this. This is the first review of WCW Nitro since the death of “Mean” Gene Okerlund. He died at 76 years old and within those 76 years, he gave so much to the wrestling business. As an interviewer, he was so charismatic and witty as he elevated stories and he elevated those he was speaking to by bringing out the best in them. He brought out the best in Hulk Hogan, he brought out the best in Ric Flair and he brought out the best in Randy Savage. These are not just random names either. These were the biggest names in wrestling history.

Well lemme tell ya something Mean Gene. Thank you for all that you gave to wrestling and my thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. We do have a lot more Mean Gene moments to appreciate in this series and let’s celebrate as he does stay with WCW until they go out of business. Here’s to you Mean Gene…

 

In what sounds like quite the show, they plugged WCW Saturday Night which featured Arn Anderson vs Kurasawa, Disco Inferno debuting his new music video and Hacksaw Jim Duggan going to Ireland! Not making this up!

 

Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero

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This was every bit as good as nearly every Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero match throughout time. This was also the rematch from their match on Nitro where Benoit made his in-ring debut. Benoit actually had a sweet mullet so he and his sweet mullet jumped Eddie before the bell. Eric Bischoff told us not to look away as this action was going to be hot and advised that this match was back “due to popular demand” and I want everyone to remember that….

My notes said that Benoit hit a hard spinebuster but I have no memory of this (I wrote this a week after I watched the episode so please cut me some slack)! So then the production crew, in the middle of this match that was back due to popular demand, cut to the Japanese Contingent with Jushin Thunder Liger. The fans want this match again so we’re gonna cut to somebody else during the match! Way to go….

Eddie ran wild and hit a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Eddie hit a dive and even hit a huge brainbuster as Bischoff was talking about Hulk Hogan. Benoit hit a big superplex and then hit another huge powerbomb on Eddie Guerrero. This was not as memorable as the infamous powerbomb from their first match but by god, it sounded super realistic and and looked realistic too.

Eddie did the victory roll that he beat Craig Pittman with last week but Benoit kicked out. Eddie went for a school boy roll up for a near fall. Benoit hit a German suplex for a near fall and hit a Northern Lights suplex for a near fall. A fair amount of drama at this point.

Benoit and Eddie then channelled their inner Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn by doing the KO/Zayn brawl spot on the apron. The fans were so into this and it really was great stuff. Benoit went for a back suplex into the ring but Eddie reversed it over the top rope into a crossbody. As Benoit’s feet was on the rope, Eddie scored a pin with the referee oblivious to Benoit’s feet being on the bottom rope.

Great stuff as well between these two and this was rather good storytelling too. Benoit won the first match and although Eddie won the second match, the referee missed the feet on the rope so it gives us a legitimate reason to wanna see a third match. Eddie did not beat Benoit outright and Benoit can come out and yell about that. This was awesome.

I will say, there was an annoying bit of commentary at the very end. Bobby is rightfully yelling about how this was a bad call by the referee and the babyfaces Eric Bischoff and Steve “Mongo” McMichael proceed to ignore it and claim we don’t have time for an instant replay! In their defense, they didn’t even have the technology to provide the footage from Halloween Havoc last week until the very end of the show. So maybe they don’t have the technology for instant replays.

 

Sting vs Ric Flair

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So the fans correctly chose Sting vs Ric Flair for the main event of the show. Funnily enough, Ric Flair was dressed with purple trunks (close to blue) and was representing the red locker room in this main event!

Sting started firing away at Flair to a huge reaction as Sting Gorilla Pressed Flair over his head. He went to work in the corner with the ten punches spot. Flair finally got a bit of offense in with a suplex on the floor. Sting went for a Stinger Splash on the outside but Flair evaded it as Sting went crashing into the barricade.

We come back and Flair apparently low-blowed Sting during the adverts. Flair locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock and I loved this spot. Flair has Sting doomed with this Figure Four Leg Lock and as Sting is writhing in pain, Flair is grabbing the ropes for leverage. So suddenly, Sting gets fired up and beats his chest as the fans started to lose their minds. Sting, with his sheer leg power, dragged Flair to the middle of the ring meaning that Flair could not grab the ropes any more. Flair was dejected as Sting finally turned over the Figure Four but Flair quickly got himself out of it. This was brilliant stuff.

Flair chopped Sting but Sting no-sold the crap out of it and ran wild, to the fans delight. Sting hit a huge hip toss and a dropkick before Flair cut him off with an eye poke. They were on the outside and Flair grabbed a chair and then he started running at Sting with a chair over his head like how Arthur from the Ghost N Goblins game series charge at people! The referee, however, stopped Flair from using the chair.

Flair and the referee shoved each other as Eric alerted us that we’d get a special announcement at the end of the show. Flair kept pinning Sting with his feet on the ropes but referee Randy Anderson was unable to see any of this. Sting launched Flair from the top rope, crashing down onto the mat. Sting punched away at Flair but the referee got in the way. Sting’s response to this was to lift the referee like a toddler and then place him into the opposite corner! This was awesome!

As this was going on, Flair whipped out the brass knucks and hit Sting while the referee was not in position. Flair even hit an elbow drop for good measure but Sting kicked out. Yeah, Flair used the brass knucks and hit a move but Sting was still able to kick out! I also remember people, including Sean Waltman, complaining on Twitter in 2017 when Roman Reigns kicked out of the brass knucks when Kevin Owens used it during Royal Rumble 2017! Here, Flair hit the brass knucks and hit a move and Sting was still able to kick out!

Sting fired back and Gorilla Pressed Flair for like the third time in this match. Every time Sting did this, the fans went nuts. They gave the fans just the right amount of the things they wanted to see as opposed to the things they didn’t want to see. Sting hit a superplex and went for the Scorpion Deathlock. Flair gave up and Sting won.

However, Sting would not accept just beating the Nature Boy. Sting refused to let go of the hold as the referees start pleading with Sting to let go. This Stinger, however, had been pushed to the brink. Flair screwed him over at Halloween Havoc and this was payback. He HATED Flair at this point so there was no letting go of this submission.

Sting was yelling his head off as guys like Mr JL, Eddie and Dave Sullivan all tried to plead with him. Eventually, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Johnny B Badd pried Sting away from Flair. Sting eventually went back for more of Flair as this time. Lex Luger went down to the ring. Now Lex Luger was a heel at this point but he was still Sting’s friend. He got in Sting’s face and said something to Sting which caused Sting to finally snap out of it as Sting and Luger left together.

This was all brilliant. This was put together so well and the actions of everyone involved made sense. Say what ever you want about WCW but at this point, this has been a brilliantly put together show since I started watching this. The characters for everybody, for the majority of the time, made absolute sense in WCW. It makes sense why Lex, despite being a heel, was coming down to plead with Sting. It makes sense why Sting hated Ric but also why he listened to Luger. WWE can make all the excuses that WCW stole all of their talent but this was clearly just a better show in general as opposed to what the WWF were featuring at the time. This angle didn’t really feature many old WWF talents. Sting, Luger and Flair all made their names in WCW and the story they told with this match was excellent.

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As Bischoff mentioned during Sting vs Ric Flair, we had a big announcement for the end of the show. The Giant, Taskmaster and Jimmy Hart were in the ring with Mean Gene. This show was also clever in the sense that The Giant was in there with what appears to be the three smallest people they could find to establish how big The Giant really is! It’s a subtle thing but it was clever!

Jimmy finally gave us an explanation as to the fate of the WCW World title. Jimmy explained that when Hogan was making his movies that wound up in the video stores, Jimmy was taking care of business. When Hogan was going around the world doing charity work with Macho Man, Jimmy was taking care of business. When Hogan wanted to step into the ring with The Giant, Jimmy did the contract for the match as he had the legal right to do so. Jimmy explained that he put in a stipulation that explained that if Hogan got disqualified during the Halloween Havoc 1995 match, he would lose the title. Jimmy attacking the referee, because he was Hogan’s manager, caused Hogan to be disqualified. Therefore, The Giant is the new WCW World Heavyweight Champion.

As the evil dudes cackled, a WCW attorney entered the ring. This attorney revealed that he had been talking to the WCW Championship Committee. The attorney confirmed that Jimmy was right when he said he had the legal right to make and sign the contract for Halloween Havoc. However, he whipped out an official written statement from WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel. Everybody in the ring tried to lean over the attorney’s shoulder including Mean Gene who even whipped out his glasses!

The statement read that The Giant is actually NOT the champion right now. Nick had decreed that due to the dubious nature of the disqualification at Halloween Havoc, it had been ruled that the title has been vacated and will be awarded to the winner of the World War 3 battle royal.

The Giant yelled NOOOOO! and refused to  give up the belt, but Mean Gene confirmed that Giant needed to give it up. Taskmaster said that WCW could have the belt back as The Giant would just win the battle royal at World War 3. Taskmaster said that nobody was gonna throw Giant over the top rope. This began more than two decades of Big Show telling everyone that nobody could throw him over the top rope in battle royal type matches and then him GETTING ELIMINATED in these matches! It all stemmed from this point!

Jimmy was going nuts and throwing paper as the heels weren’t happy.

Hell of a segment that finally gave clarity as to the fate of the WCW title and the overall direction for the show heading into World War 3.

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This was a heck of a show when all said and done. We got another Benoit vs Guerrero match which is always quality. We got another Sting vs Ric Flair match which is always quality. The Giant was able to look like a monster with a quick victory. We had some great angles as we now have a clear direction for the collective storylines heading towards World War 3. This show gets a thumbs up from me!

Next week, we have Randy Savage vs Meng, Johnny B Badd vs Eddie Guerrero for the WCW TV title and Sting vs Dean Malenko. Very much looking forward to those matches and I like how Eddie is rewarded for winning two matches in a row against Pittman and Benoit by getting a title shot. The winners on the show are being rewarded. This is all lovely…

We will see you with Episode #11 of Nitro.

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 1995 (OCTOBER 29TH 1995)

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

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At long last, we’ve managed to make it to Detroit, Michigan at the Joe Louis Arena. We’re here for a clash among men and among machines. A clash of titans for the right to be crowned king of the monster…. trucks. A clash for the right to be crowned the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. A clash for the right of revenge… revenge for a father’s greatest defeat at WrestleMania III or revenge for shaving a moustache on an episode of Nitro. These two men go head-to-head not once but TWICE on the same night. All will be terrorised when “The Giant” emerges in this ghoulishly grande event as there’s nowhere to hide for “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan. Will Hogan prove to be a mere mortal after all once this possibly deadly match comes to a close? THE GIANT VS HULK HOGAN FOR THE WCW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP.

Without further ado, let’s get on with WCW Halloween Havoc… with much filler to get through before a truly unforgettable clash between The Giant and Hulk Hogan!

 

Date: October 29th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Detroit, Michigan

Commentators: Tony Schiavone and Bobby “The Brian” Heenan

Before we get into the matches, the first clip they show is the two main-eventers in question Hulk Hogan and The Giant pacing back and forth in their monster trucks. The two snarled at each other as they revved up their engines for their monster truck match.

News also breaks that Ric Flair has been attacked by Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman ahead of his match teaming up with Sting against his former Horsemen buddies. It’s important to note right now that we don’t actually see video footage of what went down. They don’t show an angle or anything. Keep that in mind.

 

 

Diamond Dallas Page (c) w/Max Muscle and Diamond Doll vs Johnny B Badd for the WCW Television Championship

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The PPV started off strong, similar to what went down at Fall Brawl. We got a good match that the fans were into which got a good length of time. It wasn’t like a mind-blowing match or anything and it wasn’t on the level of Pillman vs Badd from Fall Brawl but it was good enough to warm up the crowd which is a good enough opener to have in their back pocket.

They recapped the entire feud between DDP vs Badd including the car tyre slashing from WCW Saturday Night and Episode #7 of Nitro where DDP laid out Badd before a scheduled title defence. Badd’s ribs were still hurt going into this one. Diamond Doll got a well-deserved pop when she came out. She looked… tremendous in her black dress.

This was the first time where I noticed this but DDP came out first in both title matches so far between these two. With that being said, Hogan would end up coming out first for the WCW title match in the main-event so I guess it’s not that rare to break tradition in WCW if this show is anything to go by.

It turns out there was method to this madness as an imposter Johnny B Badd popped up on the stage as the real Johnny B Badd flew in from behind to get the match started. ‘Twas revenge for Episode #7, where DDP flew in from behind with a title belt before their title match. Good continuity being used.

Badd ran wild on DDP and Max Muscle. Badd placed a bucket on DDP’s head and smashed him into a ring post which was strangely not a DQ. In the middle of all of this, Hogan and Giant were told to get out of their trucks as I believe they needed to get the monster trucks on top of the building they were dueling in.

Badd had a wrist lock locked on DDP to which the champion reached out to referee Nick Patrick’s shirt. Patrick simply warned DDP not to touch his shirt. DDP got the heat by dropping Badd on the top rope with a Snake Eyes. DDP apparently commanded Diamond Doll to hoist up the 10 card for that move but Diamond Doll didn’t do it. I’m pretty sure DDP yelled “come on woman” at Badd.

Bobby Heenan on commentary prophesied that DDP would become US champion some day. I’m pretty sure everybody in WCW during the final years became US champion at some time or another so DDP likely got a US title run to his name. We’ll have to wait and see if that happens.

DDP hit an early adaptation of the Styles Clash to which Tony GOD DAMN Schiavone called it The Pancake. There’s going to be an incident at Starrcade 1995 where Tony gets his comeuppance for this pet peeve of mine. The pet peeve of just giving every random move a random name as opposed to just calling the move. Call it a facebuster. If it’s a big move or a signature for the wrestler, give it a cool name. That’s fine. If it’s just a random move, just CALL THE MOVE. Thankfully, Dusty Rhodes will tear into Tony for this at Starrcade so prepare yourselves!

Tony did call Diamond Doll gorgeous… correct. Nick Patrick did send DDP cowering to the bottom rope as he yelled at him for something. I will say something, now that this is the second time Nick Patrick has stood up to a wrestler during a match. He did it to Orndorff in Episode #3. I initially was somewhat annoyed by it when I saw him do it the first time. Here, it kind of hit me that this is what we need more of in wrestling. I don’t want wrestlers to be shown as inferior to the referees or anything but referees holding a certain amount of authority and respect in a match. They’re not pushovers as they’re authority is final when it comes to the wrestling ring. I’d like to see that more in wrestling.

Badd struggled but eventually got DDP over for a backslide just for a 2 count. DDP responded with a huge clothesline. DDP tried a big boot which somehow landed on the top of Badd’s head. That’s possibly DDP’s fault for pulling the trigger too early on that spot but chances are it was just a bit of miscommunication. Heenan astutely noted that if you have money, you don’t have to make excuses. If you consider WWE’s business dealings and UFC’s business dealings in 2018, that was a pretty damn accurate statement.

Max distracted Nick as DDP choked Badd with some tape. Diamond Doll had the greatest facial expressions in the world with furious disappointment at first but then concern for her man for a brief second.. and then back to whipping out a scolding face! It was the best!

They did a spot where Badd “tripped” DDP with a roll but they weren’t even close to each other. Badd then ran wild in a frenzy where DDP somehow had his face cut up. Diamond Doll then gave JOHNNY B BADD the perfect 10 which the announcers played up big. Badd hit a sit-out powerbomb for a near fall. DDP hit a DDT which our main man Tony Schiavone referred to as the DIAMOND DREAM.

DDP went for a Diamond Cutter but Badd held onto the ropes. Badd attempted a fake-out 619 which did not look pretty in the slightest. Bad hit a flip to the outside onto DDP and DDP’s Muscle… pardon the pun. Muscle held Badd in position but DDP was somehow dropkicked into Muscle and rolled up for a big near fall.

Muscle then tried to get involved but Muscle ended up accidentally clotheslining DDP, which was shockingly also not a DQ. Muscle then throws his hands up as Badd clips in on the back of the head and his selling consisted of him doing a twirl and then slouching down on the apron like me coming in after a long day at work! Muscle clearly not in position for that spot as Badd got the pin off Muscle’s clothesline to win the WCW TV title much to Diamond Doll’s glee!

Sloppy in parts but a fun opener with a TV title change for the second PPV in a row. The fans went crazy as Badd won the title so it was a huge success. Muscle CLEARLY clotheslining DDP and it not being a DQ really bothered me, considering that it was the move that was the finish of the match. With that being said, I’m sure Muscle costing DDP the match will also be important down the road when considering his relationship with DDP. I guess we’ll see where it goes.

Match Rating: **1/2

 

If you’re a fan of very short pointless PPV matches, then feast your eyes on the following three matches…

 

Randy Savage vs Zodiac. If Randy Savage won, he would move onto a match with Lex Luger should Luger defeat Meng.

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It didn’t occur to me until just now. The build for Lex Luger vs Randy Savage at Halloween Havoc is that they must win their matches with Dungeon of Doom members before they can face each other for a future WCW World title shot. At least, that is my understanding of the storyline. Luger and Savage must win their matches to face each other. They never explained what happened if only one them won. If they both lost, they simply would not do the match but if only one them won, did that mean they got the WCW title shot automatically? I guess we never had to deal with that since both of them won… how convenient.

Now, followers of the Nitro review series may recall that it was supposed to be Randy Savage vs Kamala at Halloween Havoc. There is an explanation for this. As Dave Meltzer put it in his Wrestling Observer Newsletter at the time, “Zodiac subbed for Kamala, who decided to quit the promotion early rather than do a job here.” All due respect to Kamala but you didn’t want to job to “Macho Man” Randy Savage? My research showed that he did lose to Hacksaw Jim Duggan a couple of months before this but for some reason, he didn’t want to lose to THE MACHO MAN? That’s crazy.

So The Zodiac, the least threatening and intimidating heel in professional wrestling history, was Kamala’s replacement and the WWE Network’s editing saw Zodiac come out to Rey Mysterio’s WCW theme. It was strange.

There was nothing to this match but there is an explanation for this too. Savage was working with a detached bicep at this time. Hard to imagine that Savage worked TWICE on this PPV but at least they were both short matches and this was REALLY short… 90 seconds to be exact.

The only thing worth mentioning is that a fan ran in during the match. There was a massive reaction when they were being led out to which Heenan shouted “listen to this reaction for the Macho Man!”

Macho Man won with the elbow drop.

Match Rating: 1/10* (Honestly was not sure whether to even give it a grade… it lasted 90 seconds!)

 

Mean Gene plugged the WCW hotline when Johnny B Badd came out for an interview following his big win. Badd said if you breathe, you can achieve and that dreams can become reality. Badd said he’s never gonna quit, he’s never gonna give up as he’s a baaaaaaad man. Badd spoke at a 1000 beats per second during this promo. This was actually the kind of promo that was good for the majority of it but great for the 5 seconds where Badd spoke at the speed of light. Regardless, this was a good promo as you could sense that this title victory meant a lot to Badd.

 

Road Warrior Hawk vs Kurasawa w/Col. Robert Parker

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I had such low expectations for this match. Considering the disasterpiece that these two put on during the tag team match at Clash of the Champions, I could only imagine how bad this could get when it’s these two one on one. By WCW 1995 standards, this was fine. That’s the best praise I can give it.

They actually recapped the segment from Clash of the Champions when Kurasawa broke Hawk’s arm. An important note is that the Clash of the Champions match took place two months before this and here is Hawk all healed up from his broken arm!

Hawk smashed away at Kurasawa and hit a shoulder tackle. Hawk hit a neckbreaker and a fist drop early on into the match. Hawk stomped away at Kurasawa and roared.

Kurasawa went for the arm after Hawk ran shoulder first into the turnbuckle but Hawk was having none of that. Hawk hit a big powerbomb. Col. Robert Parker tripped Hawk to get Kurasawa back into the match. Kurasawa missed a top rope senton.

Hawk hit a beautiful flying clothesline to Parker which was a smart babyface thing to do as it took the distraction out of the equation. Kurasawa got the heat as Hawk went into the ring post. Kurasawa, out of nowhere, hit a samoan drop and Parker grabbed Kurasawa’s feet on the rope to steal the pin from Hawk.

Like I stated earlier, this was nowhere near as bad as I figured it would be and it wasn’t actually particularly bad at all. It was just… your average match.

Match Rating: *

 

Mean Gene had Savage for an interview. Savage reminded us that it was one down and one to go from him. Savage talked about Hogan’s promo on Nitro about his friends. Savage predicted that he would beat him if he was in the ring. Savage and Mean Gene ripped into each other’s facial hair. After a while of things getting heated, Mean Gene just asked “How did we get to this?” Great bit of banter!

Savage said his curiosity is killing him like it would kill a cat. Savage said friendships are friendships but business is business and he would be watching. A fine typical Savage promo.

 

Mr JL vs Sabu w/The Sheik

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A rematch from their Nitro match where Sabu beat Mr JL and then beat him up after the match for no reason. The original Sheik was there accompanying Sabu to the ring. Keep in mind that The Sheik was 70 here and he actually had a heart attack in the Spring of 1995. Keep that in mind as I explained how Sheik got involved in the match.

Sabu ran right at Mr JL and they start to fight. Mr JL tried a baseball slide but Sabu was too far away. Sabu did a springboard moonsault and hit Mr JL AND THE SHEIK. The 70 year old Sheik took a bump about 6 months or so after having a heat attack. Seems kinda dangerous.

Sabu flew at Mr JL but JL ducked and Sabu went crashing to the floor. Mr JL did a big dive to the outside. Mr JL caught Sabu with a moonsault in the ring. Mr JL hit a sit-out powerbomb. Sabu hit a springboard flip leg drop. Mr JL hit a big german suplex from the top rope.

I’m just running down the list of what they did at this point. There’s not a lot you can say other than this is your normal Sabu match. He goes at his own pace, which is usually fast, and he just goes for flashy move after flashy move with no substance to any of it. Watching Sabu matches in 2018 really doesn’t work out well. His matches have not aged well.

Mr JL hit a springboard dropkick which sent Sabu crashing to the outside. Sabu hit a springboard moonsault for the pin. The Shiek THREW A FIREBALL at Mr JL and celebrated with Sabu by carrying a sword. A very typical Sabu match. If you’re a fan of Sabu matches, this match was right down your alley. This is the best way I can describe it.

Match Rating: *3/4

 

We had a Taskmaster promo with his father “The Master” but before that, Heenan claimed The Giant watched videos of Hogan alongside HIS father Andre The Giant! That’s a vignette I would have loved to have seen.

The Master said that the stars were aligned for tonight. The Master said that Taskmaster will walk upon the galaxy because The Giant and The Yeti will destroy Hulkamania. Taskmaster said that when Hogan put on the black, the evil in Hogan was now out of control. The Dungeon of Doom’s monster truck was the strongest in the universe as Taskmaster claimed Luger, Savage and Sting were vultures. The fans booed. The Master’s speech was very hard to understand.

 

Mean Gene was with Hulk Hogan, with Mean Gene also pointing out that they may have needed an interpreter to translate what The Master just said. This was early Hollywood Hogan gear for the Hulkster. Now I think it was Episode #1 where a Mike Hill won the Harley Davidson sweepstake so this was Mike finally getting it. Hogan called Mike “Maniac Mike” as he presented the keys. They presented him with sweatshirts, t-shirts, hats and stuff. They talked about the motorcycle itself that he won and Mean Gene said something like he could use an exhaust himself! Mean Gene, the ultimate promoter of Harley Davidson gear!

Hogan touched the motorcycle and said that this motorcycle was the last thing he was gonna touch lightly. Hogan said he was gonna squash The Giant like The Giant squashed Hogan’s motorcycle from before. Mike Hill then cut a promo about the motorcycle he just won, saying that he was gonna ride this sucker right home. Then Hogan, like the world’s biggest dick, starts tensing his muscles, his 24 inch pythons, right in front of Mean Gene and the rest of the group after he was finished with his promo. He had to take up 75% of the screen by showing off his muscles!

They plugged WCW World War 3, citing that the winner of World War 3 would get a WCW World title shot.

 

Lex Luger vs Meng w/The Taskmaster, If Lex Luger won, he would move onto a match with Randy Savage for an opportunity at the WCW World title.

 

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Now we’ve just had three very short matches in a row. Savage vs Zodiac lasted 90 seconds, Hawk vs Kurasawa lasted 3 minutes and 15 seconds and Mr JL vs Sabu lasted 3 minutes and 25 seconds. So their idea of a long match to follow all of this is MENG VS LEX LUGER? This next match lasted 13 minutes and 14 seconds and it was a horrific match for 13 minutes and 14 seconds.

I’m sure there’s a pay-off to this but Taskmaster accompanied Meng down to the ring but he did not accompany The Zodiac don’t to the ring. Heenan talked about how the Dungeon of Doom has never attacked Luger, not mentioning that The Giant chokeslammed Luger a few weeks beforehand.

Luger launched Meng with a catapult. I will say that Heenan went out of his way to promote all of WCW shows, advising us that anything can happen at all their shows like Nitro, Pro, Main Event and Saturday Night. No show was never not important as you may miss something. That’s great. With that being said, I don’t plan to watch anything other than Nitro and the PPVs right now. I may watch Thunder but no promises.

Luger threw Meng into the ringpost and worked the arm. Meng bit away at Luger and Luger tried a back suplex but Meng reversed it into a splash in mid-air.

Meng hit a shouler breaker, hit a piledriver and then went to the chin lock. Nothing was happening in this match. I wrote down a few moves on my notes but nothing was going on between these two. We had long chin locks. We had Meng wanting to do a dive but Taskmaster told him not to. Meng kicked away at Luger. Luger fired back with a suplex into the ring and then followed up with three huge clotheslines.

Luger ran wild… at least by Luger’s standards. Meng hit Luger with a golden spike. Following this, Taskmaster ran in and kicked Luger for the DQ. His boy Meng was in control and after 13 horrible minutes, Taskmaster ran in for the DQ. By the end of the show, this makes a lot more sense. However, if Taskmaster’s plan was for Luger to win the match, why didn’t he slap him or hit him 10 seconds in if he wanted Luger to move on to face Savage? In fact, if Luger and Taskmaster were in cahoots at this point, why didn’t Taskmaster tell Meng to lay down for Luger?

Furthermore, the match ended in a DQ as an outsider ran in and attacked one of the other competitors. If that’s the case, why wasn’t Johnny B Badd DQ’d in the TV title match when Max Muscle hit DDP earlier on in the night? This was a bad, long and boring match followed by a dirt, horrible finish. This match did not ever need to be 13 minutes long and I never need to see this match again. Sadly, I looked it up and they will face each other again in a 1997 episode of Nitro… I may have to boycott that Nitro! I can’t handle seeing this match again after this horrible match.

Match Rating: -*

 

Mean Gene interview The Giant, who was dressed in driving gear. This was WCW branded gear too so they went through the effort to make driving gear exclusively for The Giant! I respect that.

The Giant grabbed Mean Gene’s hand as the announcer screeched in pain! The Giant said Hogan would be forced to hand him the title. The Giant cackled as Mean Gene complained about his hand. The Giant declared that if Hogan lives through the monster truck challenge, Hogan was in for the beating of his life.

 

Ric Flair and Sting vs Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman

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Before we get cracking, we’ve got another injury. Ric Flair suffered a rotator cuff earlier on in the week, which is why this match went down the way it did. I mean the finish of the match was probably planned for a while but Flair never really lifted a finger until the very end. I also felt the need to report that a dude was in the front row that looked liked the actor Scott Wilson who was Herschel in Walking Dead. I swear it was the spitting image of him. R.I.P. Scott Wilson, who passed away this year.

On Nitro a few weeks ago, Ric Flair walked down to the ring without Sting and Sting didn’t come down until later. Well, the tides were turned as Sting was forced to go at it alone as Flair was “injured” by Arn and Brian. That’s all well and good but my question is why did Sting bother to come out? This was Flair’s feud to begin with so why did Sting bother when Flair was taken out?

The fans chanted “we want Flair” as Sting ran wild on Arn and Brian. This was not at the level of Flairmania from a few weeks ago but it was still great. He was firing away from the get-go. Sting was lured out the floor but Sting was not easily suckered into a beating as Sting laid out both of the heels anyway. Sting press-slammed Brian.

Brian was gasping for breath in the corner as Arn looked frustrated that his partner was hurt and he had to do the work because Sting kicked Pillman’s ass.

Sting catapulted Arn into Pillman, who got crotched on the top rope. Tony said “Not many people can take on Arn and Brian at the same time” and was apparently not watching the last match where Flair destroyed the pair by himself. I like how when the moment Arn finally got a punch in on Sting in this match, Flair ran down to the ring!

Ric tried to get at Arn but the referee pushed him away. Flair ripped of his shirt but he still had his work slacks on! Flair had a big bandage on his head. There was a sign that said “FLAIR FOR PRESIDENT” which was actually foreshadowing of a future WCW storyline… we’ll see that develop in 1998 I believe!

Flair came in and hit Arn with one of his shoes but this was not a DQ. Arn tried to launch Brian into Sting but Sting got the knees up. Flair was fired up as he waited for the hot tag. Sting waddled over to Flair for the tag and he almost had it, but Arn attacked him and stopped the tag.

Flair chased Brian like a mad man outside of the ring. I love how the psychology of the match was very close to many WWE tag team matches nowadays in 2018 as they battled for the hot tag. At least tag teams nowadays, especially in NXT, are following the psychology of old school wrestling in establishing that it is important to fight to get or defend against a hot tag. It wasn’t just a routine part of the match. It was an important part of the match.

They beat on Sting as Flair could only watch as his new ally was getting beat on. Flair even tried to grab the hair of Pillman. That’s how much Flair wanted to get into the match. Flair couldn’t take it no more as he hit a cheap-shot at Pillman while they attacked Sting! Arn hit a spinebuster but Flair broke it up. Brian worked on the leg. Arn worked on a leg submission as Sting yelled “NATURE BOY” and Flair said “I’M HERE BROTHER” and I just loved it. Flair cheering Sting on this is just a perfect set-up for what’s about to happen…

The heels had the heat forever since Flair came down to the ring. Sting went for a tag once again but Pillman cut him off with an elbow drop. At this point, the fans were just begging for Flair to get the hot tag, as was I, but the heels stopped Sting at every turn. Sting finally clanked Arn and Brian’s heads together. I was laid down on the bed watching this PPV but as soon as Sting had a clear chance of making the tag, I sat up as RIC FLAIR GOT THE TAG.

FLAIR RAN IN. He was stylin’ and profiln’ as the fans were going crazy and in the melee… FLAIR DROPPED STING WITH A SUCKER PUNCH.

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My jaw dropped.

Flair, Arn and Pillman did a beatdown on Sting, who tried to fight them all off. Remember that Sting vowed to leave Flair for dead if Flair double-crossed him but all three men overwhelmed the one dude that had been beaten on for the entire match. The match gets thrown out. I had NO IDEA this was coming. This was an insane heel turn and as someone watching it for the first time, I could not believe my eyes after how great Flair had been in recent weeks as a babyface. However, now the old heel Ric Flair is back!

Ric eventually got on the mic and said something like he’s gonna take us all to school. Ric said the first thing you learn is that you don’t jump on Arn Anderson. The second thing you learn is that you don’t play around with Flyin’ Brian. The third thing is that you never mess around with the Nature Boy and fourth thing is that you don’t walk, talk or breathe until the Horsemen want you to. Flair said they were reunited and it feels so good.

This was sensationally great.

Match Rating: *** with a ***** heel turn and post match angle.

 

Mike Tenay interviewed Lex Luger ahead of his match with Savage after he “beat” Meng. Luger said there’s forces in WCW that wanna see Savage vs Luger tonight. He said when the bell rings, he will be there and he will be all over him. He says he is the Total Package and he would be the greatest WCW wrestler in WCW history. He said that he would be the WCW World Champion and he would make an example out of Savage. He would take apart the Macho Man piece by piece.

 

Hulk Hogan vs The Giant in a Monster Truck Sumo Challenge

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At long last, we have arrived at MACHINE VS MACHINE. We’ve built up 5 weeks of WCW programming for this showdown as these two monsters will face off in monster trucks in the mother of all sumo matches. It’s funny because as goofy as it is out of context, it is perfect for the blood feud that is The Giant vs Hulk Hogan. The Giant tried to kill Hogan twice and now these two will be trying to “drive” each other off of a platform which is pretty damn dangerous!

They recapped the feud between Hogan and The Giant and what a feud this was! Eric Bischoff came down to replace Tony for this one and joining them was Bob Chandler, who I believe was a monster truck expert. Bob claimed the motorcylces run on alcohol and 1500 horsepower. They claimed these monster trucks weighed 11,000lbs each! I’m not entirely sure I believe that considering the light body work that makes the body of the monster truck weigh a lot less! Then again, I could be underestimating the weight of the engines!

The referee told them the rules. He said the truck has to be completely out of the ring including the bumper. The Giant yelled “I’M GONNA WIN” as he and Hogan yelled at each other. They hooked the trucks together. The sumo match began as they pushed away at each other using their vehicles. The Giant pushed Hogan back but Hogan pushed back as the Hulkster was strapped to his seat!

The Giant growled at Hogan as they pushed each other. Hogan pushed away even more The Giant roared. It was very much even stevens at this point. Heenan said we always expect Hogan to be slow and he’s doing a heck of a job! The Giant pushed Hogan outside of the “ring” but he only pushed out the back wheels so the match was still going on. The Giant pushed him out again and hit one of the charges but apparently, Hogan’s truck was not fully out of the ring. Finally, Hogan pushed Giant’s truck outside of the ring as the Hulkster was the winner much to the fans’ delight.

(If any hardcore sumo monster truck fanatics out there were expecting better play-by-play reviews about this particular battle, I do apologise if I let you down. Monster truck battles are not my strong suit!)

So The Giant immediately got out of the monster truck. The Giant cornered Hogan and elevated Hogan to the top of the roof with a choke. Hogan pushed The Giant away but The Giant ended up falling off the top of the building they were battling on. Hogan, the new EVIL HULK HOGAN, was suddenly concerned when The Giant fell off the ledge.

It’s important to note that they never mentioned or showed where The Giant actually landed. Heenan asked the important question of whether The Giant actually landed in the water. Eric Bischoff’s response was to say that whether he landed in the water or in the parking lot, does it matter? My response to that is… YES IT DOES! Landing in the parking lot is instant death (unless The Giant landed on a conveniently placed tower of beds or he is in fact truly immortal) where as water can actually SAVE The Giant’s life if he can swim! Bischoff left the booth.

 

Lex Luger vs Randy Savage for a future shot at the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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I’m not going to lie, for a match that had been built up since Lex Luger arrived in WCW, this was a major disappointment. Obviously, there were circumstances that prevented this from being a big match but 5 minutes is somewhat a shame considering all the build towards it.

Tony was back as Heenan yelled that this was all Hogan’s fault for what happened to The Giant… AND HE’S RIGHT.

Luger offered a handshake but Savage was having none of it. Jimmy Hart then waltzed down to the ring as he was dressed in black. Luger stomped away at Savage. Savage swung at the referee for Christ knows what reason. If Savage turned out to be apart of the Dungeon of Doom, they’ve built it up quite well with his role in all of this. With what happened in the main event, it appears that wasn’t the case. Savage is such a heel in all of this.

Tony keeps quietly speculating “what’s going on” and “will we have a title match” to which Heenan eventually snaps and yells “DAMN IT. FIND OUT WHAT’S GOING ON!” He was sick of Tony’s quiet speculation here. HE NEEDS ANSWERS ABOUT THE GIANT.

Savage and Luger brawled on the outside. Luger tried a pin with his feet on the rope but Jimmy Hart was distracting the referee. Luger was bumped into Hart. Savage hit the elbow drop and got the pin for a huge pop.

This was another nothing match. Furthermore, this match made even less sense when you take into account the finish of the show. Anyway, it appears Randy Savage is the number one contender for the WCW world title from the sounds of it.

Match Rating: 1/4*

 

They cut to the announcers and Heenan yelled at Tony for not following up on The Giant story (no pun intended) so he left the announce booth. Heenan returned 30 seconds later as he couldn’t get outside as there were hundreds of people outside!

They showed Giant falling off of the roof. I know Paul Wright didn’t actually die in real life because of this but I love how somebody DIED on screen and WCW had no problem with showing it again! Heenan even said: “Hogan, pretending he has a heart now!”

So Heenan begged the production crew to tell him what was going on and even asked someone for a walkie talkie. Heenan was unbelievably awesome during this. He was legitimately concerned for The Giant considering his connection with Andre back in the WWF. This was great.

 

Hulk Hogan (c) vs The Giant for the WCW World title

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Michael Buffer did the ring introductions for The Giant but then Hogan came down first this time. The fans were going crazy for Hogan 20 minutes after he killed a man! Hogan said what happened to The Giant was not supposed to happen and actually confirmed that The Giant did land in the the parking lot when all of a sudden… THE GIANT INTERRUPTED.

The Giant really proved himself to be immortal, after weeks of proclaiming himself as the one true immortal! He returned to the arena without a scratch on him. Hogan look stunned as Bobby even said that he rose from the dead! Hogan’s face was incredible here as he looked like he genuinely could not believe The Giant survived. I think he survived the fall but Bobby said that The Giant rose from the dead. I actually believe The Giant just survived since Bobby had no idea what was actually going on himself anyway.

The match starts. This is for the WCW World Heavyweight title. For a man in his first WCW match, The Giant did not look too bad in this one. I can confirm that he looked better in his first match than Braun Strowman did in his first match if you want modern day comparisons!

Hogan punched away at The Giant, with The Giant sporting Taskmaster like facepaint on his forehead. So maybe the Taskmaster had something to do with reviving The Giant. I’m hoping Nitro gives me the answer as to whether he actually died and was resurrected or he survived with help from the Taskmaster.

Hogan tried to slam him but Giant just clobbered at him. This was The Giant’s FIRST EVER WRESTLING MATCH (at least on WCW television) and he had such a presence about him in the ring. He looked like a main-eventer, smashing away at Hulk Hogan. Considering he was in a WCW pay-per-view main-event with Hulk Hogan, that is an insane accomplishment. Giant was overpowering Hogan with the test-of-strength and Hogan apparently cried out to Jimmy that he’s too strong. Suddenly, the Hulkster fired up. He fired up and fired up… and then the Giant just kicked him right in the chest!

The Giant went for the leg drop but he did not land in a seated position. In a hilarious spot, he waved his arms back and crashed to the mat! Suffice to say that this was a failed attempt at a leg drop, which was probably the point of it being executed like that! Hogan fired back with 10 punches in the corner and even BIT The Giant in the middle of this blood feud. Hogan even threatened the referee as the evil of the evil Hulk Hogan poured out for this match.

Hogan clotheslined The Giant over the top rope and the fans went BONKERS. Taskmaster tried to lead The Giant to the back at this point…. FROM A WCW WORLD TITLE MATCH? I mean I sort of understand if my theory about the finish is correct which I’ll talk about later.

Hogan clobbered Giant’s and Taskmaster’s heads together which appeared to not be a disqualification. Hogan smiled as he had Giant staggering. The Giant then came back with a backbreaker. We then got a long bearhug spot from The Giant which didn’t look particularly great. I swear it looked like Giant was just cuddling Hogan like he was holding a baby at one point. I didn’t really look threatening!

This bearhug lasted a long time and Heenan said we were watching a great match. Heenan, god rest your soul, but we were not watching a great match!

Giant hit a chokeslam but Hogan kicked out and Hulked Up. So after all of these weeks of The Giant smashing geeks with a chokeslam every week, he hits it in his first match and Hogan kicks out! Way to go.

Hogan fired away with right hands and hit a big boot but The Giant was still standing. In a case of deja vu, Hogan slammed The Giant just like he did to Andre. Hogan hit the leg drop but the referee was down. We, at home, couldn’t really tell what was going on. However, fans in the front row were pointing at Jimmy Hart but Jimmy is denying his involvement. Then, all of a sudden, Jimmy hit Hogan with the belt and was caught red-handed by the Hulkster! The Giant then bearhugged Hogan as Taskmaster laid in the boots. Jimmy Hart has joined forces with the Dungeon of Doom.

Luger and Savage then both ran down but Jimmy hit Savage with the belt. OUT OF THE BLUE, Lex Luger ATTACKED Randy Savage and turned on him as The Yeti ran down. The Giant and The Yeti did an infamous double bearhug but it honestly just looked like The Yeti humped Hogan. It was like Yeti was on vibrate as Giant locked in the bearhug! It was one of the funniest double teams (I swear that was unintentional) I’ve ever seen in a wrestling ring! Two men squeezed the life out of Hogan with an erotic bearhug in the main-event of Halloween Havoc!

Luger locked on the Torture Rack on Hogan and Savage. Yeti gave Savage some love as Hogan and Savage were left laying. Heenan applauded both men for getting this beating at the hands of the Dungeon of Doom. The referee threw the match out and said that THE GIANT WON via disqualification but Michael Buffer insisted the title cannot change hands on a disqualification. The replay showed that Jimmy hit the referee with the belt, which was supposedly the disqualification. Tony re-assured us that Hulk Hogan was still champion as we went off the air.

Match Rating: *1/2

We’re gonna be talking briefly about upcoming spoilers for Nitro so if you do not want to be spoiled, skip forward to the Halloween Havoc logo further down on the post.

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There’s a lot of questions that were raised because of that finish. Lex Luger and Jimmy Hart were revealed to be in cahoots with the Dungeon of Doom but this causes a lot of issues in terms of continuity with the PPV itself.

Firstly, if the Dungeon of Doom and Luger were in cahoots, why did Luger and Meng wrestle each other for 13 minutes? Let’s just pretend that Luger joined because he wanted to make sure he got his shot at the title. If that’s the case, why not have Meng lay down for him so Lex is 100% for Randy Savage? Why didn’t the Dungeon of Doom make more of an effort to help The Zodiac beat Savage to help Luger get his shot?

Why did the Lex Luger vs Randy Savage match go down the way it did? Why did Jimmy Hart screw up Luger’s match with Savage, costing him his shot at the title? Why didn’t the Dungeon of Doom help Luger out against Savage?

Then we can talk about Luger’s motivations. Why did Luger help The Giant win the title when, in the last time they were in the ring together, The Giant laid him out like he was nothing? Like there’s a part of me that thinks that this turn was decided during the show or they were possibly gonna do the angle with Savage instead but they changed it. Otherwise, this angle makes no sense when it comes to Luger.

Then issues come with the finish of the match. The referee declared it a disqualification. I was talking about Hogan clanking Giant’s and Taskmaster’s heads together and it not being a DQ. Maybe that is what the DQ was for. I know it took a while for the DQ afterwards but why else would The Taskmaster try to remove Giant from the match unless they wanted to lure Hogan outside? What Hogan did was a DQ so unless you wanna believe the official explaination of Jimmy causing the DQ, this is what I’m going with. Because Jimmy was officially Hogan’s manager when he got him DQ’d which made sense as to why Hogan was DQ’d.

Furthermore, there’s the issue of the title changing hands. They confirmed to us over and over that the title could not change hands on a disqualification. Yet at the end of the show, The Giant is parading around with the title.

Here’s the spoiler… This was supposed to be The Giant winning the title. I think it will be revealed later that Jimmy had it in Hogan’s contract that the title could change hands on a DQ. So knowing what happens in the future, Jimmy attacking the referee makes sense as he’s just won The Giant the title. However, at the time, they played it up like Hogan was still the champion.

I don’t want to speculate but I could see a scenario where Hogan didn’t want to lose to The Giant, at least cleanly. Therefore, they did a DQ finish where Jimmy sided with the Dungeon of Doom. However, Hogan had to take a bit time away from WCW after this match. At that point, they decided to go with the angle that the title could change hands on a DQ. That way, Hogan is still protected while Giant walks away with the title.

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This PPV, in many ways, was unforgettable. It was unforgettable because of the tag team match and because of the insanity of The Giant vs Hulk Hogan. If those two things weren’t there, this would have went down as an all-time horrible pay-per-view. However, they were the two money-making angles going in and they both worked. In a lot of ways, those two angles saved this pay-per-view.

That’s it from us at the Armbar Express. It has taken a while for this review to go out but we’re back to Nitros with Episode #8 and the fall-out of WCW Halloween Havoc 1995.

We’ll see you then. This will end up being the final post of 2018 so we will see you with more WCW Nitro reviews in 2019! I wish you all a happy new year from the Armbar Express!

 

WCW Nitro Episode List