RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #38 (JUNE 3RD 1996) – RIC FLAIR AND ARN ANDERSON VS THE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL EXPRESS

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

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

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

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

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

 

Date: June 3rd 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Asheville, North Carolina

Rating: 3

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan

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

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

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

 

John Tenta vs Big Bubba w/Jimmy Hart

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Disco Inferno vs Sgt. Craig Pittman w/Teddy Long

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

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

This sucked.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Lord Steven Regal vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan

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

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

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

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

The match was OK but the booking infuriated me!

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Scott Norton vs Hugh Morrus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next week, we get Scott Hall’s “big surprise” and the Armbar Express will be back with more reviews of WCW Nitro. Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly and updates whenever Retro Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I appriciate you taking the time to read this review and we hope you enjoy more of the content from the Armbar Express.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #37 (MAY 27TH 1996) – “THE OUTSIDER” SCOTT HALL INVADES 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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It is entirely possible that the episode of WCW Nitro I’m about to review could be the most famous episode of WCW Nitro ever. It was easily one of the most historically significant episodes in wrestling history. It was the first two-hour episode of Monday Nitro which is significant in its own right. Along with that, we had one of the most game-changing angles in not only the Monday Night Wars but in the history of wrestling. In the first hour, we saw the debut of a wrestler that started a “war” and it just felt like a switch was turned in my brain about this show.

We’ve reviewed episodes of Nitro where The Dungeon of Doom tried to destroy Hulkamania, The Giant was cutting goofy promos about eating people and it was just as much as corny as the “golden age” of the WWF. That’s not to say that the last 36 episodes have been terrible or makes wrestling embarrassing to watch, but it felt like a completely different ball-game compared to what’s going to be in store for us. As soon as a certain angle took place, it just felt like a different show.

With that being said… this was such a horrible wrestling show. A lot of the one hour episodes of Nitro have been at least decent and obviously only watching one hour is an advantage. We got another hour of wrestling but even still, this show had some of the most dirt worst wrestling you’ve ever seen. We got three matches in a row which felt like the worst back-to-back combination of matches in a wrestling show throughout the ages. Everything else felt like it was just there… with the obvious exception of a certain angle.

While we’re on the subject of that angle, even that angle didn’t age well in terms of the quality. It seemed to just come out of nowhere and if it weren’t for the significance of it and who was involved at the time, this segment would not be revered as legendary as it has been over the years.

Let’s get to this review…

 

Date: May 27th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Macon, Georgia

Rating: 2.8

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan

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Yes, you read that correctly. We are in the era of multiple announcers across one episode of wrestling. Tony Schiavonie called the first hour with Larry Zbyszko and the usual commentary team of Bischoff and Heenan called the second hour.

As convoluted as this may sounds, this was a more practical use of certain announcers. If you watch RAW or even certain pay-per-views, the announcers are calling three hour or even five hours of wrestling without any breaks in-between. Therefore, they get exhausted throughout the show and the fire is just not there for the big main-event matches later on.

The four announcers here for Nitro were all excitable for the hour they had to call and they had a lot more life to them. At least this, for now, prevented the tiring of announcers over the course of the show.

 

“American Males” Marcus Bagwell and Scotty Riggs vs Ric Flair and Arn Anderson w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth

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A very basic but effective little tag team match. However, this was not quite as effective as Miss Elizabeth was at blowing me away with her green dress as she came down with Ric Flair. She looked absolutely stunning walking down to the ring with the Nature Boy.

Larry Zybsko buried NFL players on commentary for some reason, which is a weird way to promote two NFL players battling Ric Flair and Arn Anderson in a big tag team match at the next pay-per-view. We’ll get to that later.

This was very much a battle between quick youngsters versus methodical, dirty veterans. Ric and Arn double-teamed Riggs on the outside. Ric and Arn punched them, chopped them and poked at them all over the place. The American Males took over. Bagwell ran wild on Flair as it broke into a four way. American Males clapped with the crowd as the faces had the heels on the rope.

Ric grabbed a champagne bottle from his table but eventually got back into the ring. Arn missed a clothesline and hit the ring post a.ka. “the pole” according to Larry. Bagwell punched his way out of the heels’ corner.

Flair caught Riggs’ legs on the apron and Arn took advantage. Tony and Larry enjoyed champagne I guess Flair poured out for them. The heels got the heat as Bagwell desperately wanted to interject himself into the match.

Riggs hit an enziguri to Arn, sending him outside. Riggs crawled to Bagwell as Ric and the referee had one of the all-time great shoving matches! Ric sold like crazy for referees pushing him down which was excellent to see.

Bagwell got the hot tag and ran wild. Bagwell did a small package but Arn turned the small package over but then Riggs turned it over again on Flair. Bagwell hit a fisherman suplex. Bagwell covered Flair but Woman gauged his eyes. Arn hit the DDT and Ric rolled himself into the cover for the win, literally just resting his arm on Bagwell!

I thought this was… OK. It was very basic and they did everything right and the fans were definitely into it. The American Males I still found to be very limited to what they can do and Flair and Arn did all they could to get a good match out of these two. Maybe I was hoping for something a little bit better. Regardless, I can still see that the four men worked hard out there so this gets a thumbs up.

 

Mean Gene interviewed the heels after the match. Arn told Kevin Greene and Steve “Mongo” McMichael that he never met a football player that he couldn’t walk over. He didn’t respect anyone that had to wear protective gear. He said in this sport it was man to man and hand to hand. Ric said while they were playing football, he’d been making up lost time with Debra (Mongo’s wife). Ric called Miss Elizabeth their sugar mommy with Savage’s money.

They showed Greene and Mongo working out and preparing for The Great American Bash. I hope I never wear what these two were wearing to the gym. Despite their fashion sense, they were still looking jacked and bulky. Not gonna like. A heads up, Ric Flair and Arn Anderson were set to face Kevin Greene and Steve “Mongo” McMichael at The Great American Bash. At least, that’s the billed match at the moment.

 

Scott Hall Debuts In WCW

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As soon as I saw The Mauler and Steve Doll come down for “a match”, I figured this was “the match” that would lead to the big angle previously alluded to earlier. Even if it wasn’t, WCW were in the middle of a wrestling war and they had these two guys out there for a wrestling match in the first hour?

The announcers said Randy Savage had been banned from any WCW televised event. I wrote a bunch of spots these two did but really, none of it mattered. During the match, the fans started to buzz and turn around. A tall dude in a sleeveless blue denim jacket walked around near the seats, which is hard to miss in its own right. In the midst of this crowd, a big dude made is way down to the ring. Of course, walking across the fans and over the guard rail is in fact… Razor Ramon.

It was like time had stood still. This was the WWF’s “Razor Ramon” in the eyes of the fans at the time. He didn’t say he was Razor Ramon but the people knew who he was. They only knew of this guy as Razor Ramon and so him appearing at a WCW show and asking for a mic it was mind-blowing to see for them. He grabbed the microphone as the action just stops. There was no finish to the match

I’ve just found a transcript of the entire promo this guy cut on a Fox Sports article. I did try to take down as much as I could about the promo but here it is in full:

“You people, you know who I am. But you don’t know why I’m here. Where is billionaire Ted? Where is the Nacho Man? That punk can’t even get in the building. Me? I go where ever I want, whenever I want. And where oh where is Scheme Gene? Cause I got a scoop for you. When that Ken doll look-a-like, when that weather man wannabe comes out here later tonight, I got a challenge for him, for billionaire Ted, for the Nacho Man and for anybody else in WCW. You want to go to war? You want a war? You’re gonna get one.”

This man leaves with security and… I will talk more about the premise of this entire angle later on in the review. Suffice to say, “Razor Ramon” a.k.a Scott Hall showing up on Nitro was a pretty damn big deal at the time. With that being said, if we’re being honest… this felt so underwhelming watching it 23 years later or so!

This dude just came through past security and he just cut a below-average promo at best and let. He just interrupted a random match and cut a weird promo, where he mumbled all over the place and even repeated the line about wanting a war. He took a long time getting to the point that he was bringing a war.

With that being said as well, even though it was hard for Hall to get to the point, this worked as a means of keeping the fans guessing. He never mentioned the WWF although that was the premise of the angle. It was actually really clever with the way they had a “WWF” invasion angle without actually having the WWF. Hall was just a guy coming over the barricade, known to be coming from the WWF, invading WCW and being an “outsider” and it was effective in making people question what was going on. It blurred the lines between reality and fiction for a lot of fans in a way that hadn’t been done effectively for years by either the WWF or WCW.

Bischoff tried to do “insider” references during these Nitros and he tried the Brian Pillman angle from Uncensored but Hall coming down and declaring a war while the announcers are not referencing him at all was effective at the time. Say what you will about the promo but it did work in getting people talking.

I do love that after this big angle with Scott Hall, Tony Schiavonie can’t help but ask what happened to the match!

 

Sgt, Pittman w/Teddy Long vs Diamond Dallas Page

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Remember when DDP was the #1  contender for the WCW World Heavyweight a week ago? He won the Slamboree battle bowl battle royal, he overcame 31 other wrestlers to earn this shot and the title shot was stripped away from him, unfairly if you think about it. After all of this, on this episode, he was just breezy. To be fair to DDP, The Shark randomly got a WCW title match this week on the grounds that The Giant chokeslammed him previously so I guess title matches weren’t that hard to come by.

DDP did the worst push-ups in the world… which actually fit his gimmick! Pittman showed him up with a one armed push up. DDP knocked himself loopy with a headbutt and fell out of the ring. DDP was tied up in the television cable again. DDP hit a jawbreaker on the rope to take control of the match.

Then we got the geek of the week moment from the w/c May 27th 1996. Pittman went for Code Red armbar “upside down.” DDP grabbed Pittman’s manager Teddy Long on the outside and just grabbed him, which led to no harm to Teddy Long. Pittman looked at Long, and DDP took advantage with a Diamond Cutter for the pin. Pittman came off like a complete geek with this finish. There’s nothing like a distraction finish to bury a babyface any worse.

GEEK OF THE WEEK – Sgt. Craig Pittman for distracting himself by looking at his manager after nothing happened to him.

 

They showed a highlight video package of the Randy Savage going crazy storyline.

 

Mean Gene interviewed The Shark. Mean Gene mentioned he’s no longer with the Dungeon of Doom. I guess The Giant chokeslammed Shark during a previous angle on Saturday Night and he got kicked out of the group, which actually led to a Giant vs Shark WCW title match later on which we’ll get to it.

Shark cut a promo about he almost ended Hulkamania and he was gonna hurt Taskmaster by winning the WCW title.

 

They showed another video package of Hulk Hogan hanging around with celebrities like George Foreman, Shaq, Dennis Rodman and Kevin Greene. They talked about Hogan raising money for charity with Sugar Ray Leonard too.

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That was the end of the first hour. If you looked at just the first hour of the show, this show wouldn’t seem so bad. Then we got the second hour which had to be the worst hour of wrestling I’ve ever seen. We got five more matches and the next three matches were some of the dirt-worst wrestling in the history of wrestling. This felt like the longest hour of my life.

 

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

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I love how Eric Bischoff jumped on commentary and he talked about how they weren’t going to dignify Scott Hall’s appearance but then proceeded to spend the entire second hour of the show constantly bringing it up. Bischoff even told Hall to come down at the end of the second hour, basically promoting another appearance at the end of the show.

I had a weird desire to watch this match but this was an absolute nothing match. I’m pretty sure that The Giant vs Loch Ness had to have been better than this match. Maybe I’m over exaggerating, but this was such a dull monster battle. At least the Loch Ness match was shorter.

Shark jumped Giant but Giant fired back with a big headbutt. The Shark tried to knock down Giant but Giant wouldn’t budge. Giant hit a big clothesline. Giant forced all of his weight on the stomach on Shark by standing on him. Shark punched away at Giant but was unable to lift the big man. Giant scoop slammed Shark.

Shark gouged at the eyes of Giant. Shark pulled off a clothesline from the middle rope, just barely. Shark got his hands on Jimmy which led to Giant taking advantage and chokeslamming Shark for the pin. Previously, The Giant’s title matches were somewhat interesting and in some cases good but this one was just boring. A boring big man match that just set the tone for the second hour.

Big Bubba came down to cut Shark’s hair.

 

 

Lex Luger © vs Maxx for the WCW Television Championship

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Maxx, previously Max Muscle, was back on Nitro. The announcers talk about Maxx’s haircut. Eric goes: “nice haircut Max” and Bobby, without missing a beat, said: “yeah, if you’re going to the chair.” In their defence, that was a bad haircut Maxx was sporting. It was some weird Mohawk he had going on which thankful never caught on.

Thankfully, these types of matches never caught on in wrestling either.

Luger ran wild with clotheslines and Maxx cut him off with a powerslam. Maxx got the heat. If you liked clotheslines, then this match was the match for you. These guys could do absolutely nothing. Clotheslines, forearms, punches, powerslams. It was pretty much four or five moves on repeat and this just kept going on and on and on. A wrestling website I found listed this match as going 5 minutes and 45 seconds. I felt for sure this was 5 hours long. Luger got Maxx up but eventually locked on the Torture Rack for the win and the fans went nuts.

Speaking of which, when was the last time we saw a torture rack on Nitro? It feels like forever since Luger has just been in tag team matches with Sting.

Either way, this match was god awful and went longer than it had any right to be. Luger should have hit a few clotheslines, locked on the Torture Rack and won. Instead, we got 5 minutes of god awful wrestling and then Luger struggled to get Maxx up on his shoulders for the finish. A HUGE THUMBS DOWN.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Lex Luger. Luger said he didn’t make the matches but nobody wanted The Giant more than the Total Package. They showed The Giant chokeslam from 2 weeks ago. He talked about how Giant didn’t try to win a match, as he just wanted to take Luger out but he was still standing. He wanted every big man WCW had before he got The Giant. If these matches were anything like the Maxx match, I’d rather they didn’t give Lex these matches!

 

Hardwork Bobby Walker vs Brad Amrstrrong

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The quality of the last two matches were pretty bad. In the defence of those matches, you could at least expect a below par match out of the likes of the still-green Giant and Lex Luger. This next match was even worse and sad part was that it had nothing to do with Brad Armstrong.

This Hardwork Bobby Walker was so atrocious during this match. Literally every “spot” he attempted during this match was screwed up and every single time, it was his fault. Brad did an monkey flip and Bobby was meant to land on his feet but he stumbled. Hardwork tried a crossbody from the top but lost his footing. When they realised Hardwork could not be trusted to do any actual moves, they wrestled on the floor for about 10 hours. Walker tried a small package and a backslide for near falls.

Walker couldn’t do a lucha libe crossbody without losing his footing. It was like a Rey Fenix-like spot where he would jump from the middle rope to the top rope and then do a dive but he screwed that up. Then Walker hit a crappy looking blockbuster for the win. I wrote that “this was shit” and that is being generous. This was the second worst match I’ve seen so far in this WCW Nitro series. This was a -3 star match worse than the horrific tag team match from Slamboree I gave -2.5 stars. Remember when I reviewed Eddie Guerrero vs Ric Flair last week and it was better than anything on WCW SlamboreeWCW Slamboree? Well this match was WORSE than everything on WCW Slamboree and think of the ground that covers.

I’m going to mention this very briefly as this is a sensitive topic to a lot of people. Hardwork Bobby Walker was part of a lawsuit where he and a bunch of other wrestlers filed a lawsuit against WCW for racial discrimination. Walker claimed that his Caucasian opponents were told to make him look bad and that he’d never win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Apparently these wrestlers were set to make African American wrestlers look “loud, obnoxious, pompous and shiftless.”

I’m not going to discuss racial discrimination as I’m not qualified to speak about it on so many levels. With that being said, clearly Walker did not watch this match before saying all of this. He mentioned that his “opponents” were out to make him look bad. He was in there with Brad Armstrong, who is Caucasian, and Brad was not responsible in any way for the spots screwed up in his match. That’s not even my opinion, that is pure fact. A lot of the spots where Walker coming off the top rope or doing something acrobatic, and it was down to HIM to make the spot look good. He messed it up. It wasn’t like Brad Armstrong used the force to make Walker slip. He was nowhere near these spots Walker was messing up.

I’m not going to say wrestlers were or weren’t acting discriminatory against Walker, but the idea that he believed other people were making him look bad is laughable if you watch this match. He made himself look bad in this match. As far as racial discrimination, that’s not for me to talk about.

Apparently when the WWF bought out WCW they came to a settlement with Walker and co. but my verdict on this match was Walker was guilty of crimes against wrestling in this match. He was so horrible. Minus 3 stars but this was honestly the worst match in WCW Nitro history so far. Not quite on the level of the Doomsday Cage match.

 

 

Lord Steven Regal vs Alex Wright

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This match wasn’t particular good but it felt like Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada compared to the last three matches. Wright took over for a bit. Wright did a dive to the outside as they cut to a break. Regal locked in a headlock and wore down Wright. Wright slammed Regal down for a belly-to-belly suplex.

Wright and Regal kicked and uppercut each other throughout the match, smashing away at each other. Not much to talk about with this match but eventually Regal dropped Wright on his head from the top turnbuckle. Regal pinned him with a bridge for the win.

Mean Gene interviewed Regal. Regal talked about Giant and Savage. He talked about taking out Belfast Bruiser. Regal said he’s not going anywhere and he should have his say around here. Regal made a challenge to the franchise Sting and if he won, he wanted a shot at the champion.. He said he wanted a shot at that “face painted clown.”

 

Sting vs His Good Buddy Scott Steiner

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The announcers constantly mentioned that Sting was facing “his good buddy” Scott Steiner in the main-event. Steiner took Sting down with an arm drag. Sting responded with a big hip toss. Scott did a big Gorilla Press to Sting. Sting went up high in the air as he delivered a big dropkick to Steiner.

Scott hit a tiger powerbomb and a belly to belly suplex. Scott hit a double axe handle from the top rope. Sting gave Scott a big boot as Bobby Heenan howled with laughter! Scott slammed him with a belly to belly suplex. Scott locked on the STF and an armbar onto the Stinger.

I loved the spot where Scott went for a suplex but Sting reversed into a Scorpion Death Drop. It went down smoothly as Sting turned things around. Sting fired back with a Stinger splash but when he went for another one, he missed. Scott dropped Sting with a dragon suplex.

Lex Luger came down to cheer for Sting and Rick Steiner, in the worst shorts known to man, came out to cheer on Scott. Rick was out in a big, extra-large tie dye shirt and grey cap and striped shorts, which could have actually been his ring attire underneath now that I think about it. Either way, it was not a good look for Rick. 

Scott hit an high-angle slam from the top rope. Sting locked on the Scorpion Deathlock but Scott got the rope. Sting reversed a tombstone piledriver into one of his own for a near fall. Sting went for a big splash in the ring but Scott got the knees up.

Sting suplexed Scott over the top rope but Scott landed on his feet, went for his own suplex on the floor but Luger broke that up. Rick went after Luger. A big brawl broke out between the tag teams and the match was thrown out. The babyface wrestlers tried to break everybody up.

This match was not bad and it parts was actually decent, but it was a victim of the rest of the matches on this show. Vince Russo has a theory that people don’t want to watch long wrestling matches on a television show. If you watch a lot of WWF Attitude Era stuff, a lot of the matches are short as in his eyes, crash TV angles were all the rage at the time. I don’t necessarily believe that theory but if you watch the way the show went down, we got a bunch of boring nothing matches that nobody cared about. After that, we get a long main-event MATCH at the end of a two-hour wrestling show and it just did nothing for me as a viewer. It was just a match and it ended in a typical disqualification.

Maybe in my brain, I think I conditioned myself to except a shorter match than they delivered. If you remember last week’s main-event, The Giant vs Arn Anderson, that lasted about four minutes or so.

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Scott Hall came back out and interrupted Eric Bischoff with a microphone. He said Bischoff had a big mouth and “we’re” sick of it. Bischoff constantly asked “whose we?” during this segment. Hall said: “This is where the big boys play? What a joke. Tell billionaire Ted and get three of his very best.” He named-dropped the Nacho Man or the Stinger. He told Bischoff to get anybody they want because they are taking over. He repeated the war line from earlier and they wanted to war it out in the ring where it mattered. Not on mircophones, newspapers, dirtsheets, he said let’s do it in the ring where it matters. He said they were taking over as Bischoff and Bobby looked flustered to end the show.

The closing promo I think was a little better, as at least it gave his ramblings a little direction. He mentioned a six-man tag team match, which you all know where this ended up going but the fans were still in the dark about who Hall’s two other men were in that trio. They just saw it as possibly WCW vs WWF in a match, which was big enough for them. It was left up for speculation and they had about 6-8 weeks to promote the big six man tag team match and build anticipation for “war” in WCW.

I do want to give credit to Eric Bischoff credit here. Every single week on Nitro, Bischoff had been taking shots at the WWF. I, obviously knowing the outcome of the Monday Night Wars, have questioned every single time he took shots at the WWF. It would eventually backfire on him many years later which we’ll get to when we make it to 1999 in this series. However, his shots had a storyline purpose because of this promo.

Scott Hall from the big bad WWF, after hearing all of Bischoff’s jokes and digs at the WWF, basically told him we’re sick of it. Bischoff had put his foot in his mouth as it was put-up or shut-up. This was blurring lines in reality again and when a “WWF” guy decided to take action, Bischoff’s suddenly all shaken up by it at the end of the show. I loved that aspect of this storyline.

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That was the show. It was without a doubt the worst Nitro we’ve seen so far. It feels a bit unfair to dub the first two hour Nitro the worst Nitro but it wasn’t like either hour was particularly great. It started with a decent tag team match but was filled with such horrible matches up and down the card. Even the historic angles weren’t that interesting to watch upon a rewatch many years later.

Either way, it is a completely new direction for the company in the storyline and it very much shakes up the business going forward.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #36 (MAY 20TH 1996) – RIC FLAIR STEALS THE SHOW IN THE RING AND ON COMMENTARY

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Date: May 20th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Monroe, Louisiana

Rating: 3.1

Commentators: Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ric Flair w/Woman and Elizabeth vs Eddie Guerrero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eric broke the news to Flair that Savage was here.

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW SLAMBOREE 1996 (MAY 19TH 1996)

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

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

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

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

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

 

Date: May 19th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Baton Rouge, Louisana

Attendance: 7,791

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: *1/2

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: *1/2

 

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

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

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

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

Another nothing match.

Match Rating: 1/2*

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dean Malenko © vs Brad Armstrong for the Cruiserweight Championship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ***

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: -**1/2

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: 1/2*

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **3/4

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **1/2

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What more is there?

Match Rating: ***1/4

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

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

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Date: May 13th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Nashville, Tennesee

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Chris Benoit vs Squire Dave Taylor w/Jeeves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ric Flair w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth vs VK Wallstreet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

The Giant © vs Lex Luger for the WCW title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #33 (APRIL 29TH 1996) – RIC FLAIR VS THE GIANT IN A PERFECTLY BOOKED REMATCH FOR THE WCW WORLD TITLE

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

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In thelast episode, the change in momentum of WCW Nitros continued. After what felt like months of lacklustre Nitros, we had another decent Nitro in the bag which felt fresh. We had Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero, Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs Meng and we had a tag team main-event for the WCW World, TV and Tag Team titles. The main-event ended in a disqualification which meant none of the titles changed hands. The finish saw Ric Flair accidentally throw coffee in The Giant’s face. This led to The Giant vowing to beat Flair for the title and Flair saying he was gonna kick Giant’s “big ass” before the show ended.

 

I don’t have much complaints about this week’s show either. The show felt fresh and different to what we’re used to seeing on Nitros. We got fresh faces, we got fresh matches, we got fresh match types and we got a CLEAN VICTORY in the main-event of the show which we’ll get to later on. That is the short version of my review but there’s a lot more to appreciate and we might as well get started with the review of Episode #33 of WCW Monday Nitro.

 

Date: April 29th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Albany, Georgia (It’s listed as Albany, Georgia which was the same as last week so I’m assuming this was a taped edition)

Rating: 2.1 (Down from last week)

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

 

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

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I initially groaned at the idea of this match happening again but you know what, this was actually a really good match this week from these two tag teams. The fans were into it, I was into it and the chemistry was on point for the majority of the match.

Before I get into the match, two other matches announced for the Lethal Lottery tournament were Lex Luger and Road Warrior Hawk vs Road Warrior Animal and Booker T and The Taskmaster and Chris Benoit vs Public Enemy. The irony of those two matches are just astonishing. The Road Warriors were booked to face each other. Lex Luger and Booker T, who were squaring off on this episode and actually teamed up to BEAT UP the Road Warriors at the last PPV, are facing each other. Public Enemy were RANDOMLY teamed together and yes… CHRIS BENOIT AND KEVIN SULLIVAN were teamed together. To anyone reading this who knows who Chris Benoit was, I’m sure you know where this angle is going when it regards to Kevin Sullivan and his wife…

Apologises forlast week saying Benoit wasn’t in the Lethal Lottery as I guess they maybe changed their minds. At least Benoit beating Eddie Guerrero last week led to something for Benoit. Also, they also kept calling the Lethal Lottery tournament the… LORD OF THE RING. I’m sure J. R. R. Tolkien was thrilled about that.

Anyway, back to the opening match of Nitro. Sting and Booker feel each other out to try and get the upper hand, and then Booker just hits a side kick. Booker does this fantastic sell from a clothesline where he came very close to doing a mid-air spinaroonie to sell this move! This big man moved like a Beyblade in the sky!

I didn’t write down in my notes who said this, but one of the announcers said it was “not gonna be a pretty picture” as Lex Luger and Stevie Ray battle in the ring! I kinda laughed at that line knowing how below average these two wrestlers were but you know what, it wasn’t too bad between them in this match minus Lex Luger getting super gassed quickly.  Lex Luger punched and stomps away at Stevie Ray at a ridiculous pace and got blown up because of it.

Lex and Sting actually worked really well as a tag team, especially in this match, where Luger is just getting better as he worked with Sting. The chemistry was there most of the time for tag moves. Booker hit a side kick which Bischoff called a “jump wheel kick” at least twice. Isn’t the “jump wheel kick” what X-Pac used to do?

Stevie Ray did a crappy looking crane kick as he stumbled and lost his balance and then just fell down on his backside. Sting and Booker dropped each other with a double clothesline in the middle of the ring. In the middle of all this, the announcers also talk about Booty Man and Rick Steiner vs Scott Steiner and Craig Pittman also happening in the Lethal Lottery.

The fans went nuts for Luger getting the hot tag. Luger hit some sloppy clotheslines as he “ran wild” which is being generous. Harlem Heat eventually overpowered him and Sting and actually took control of the match. They did a powerbomb/elbow drop combination when Jimmy Hart threw in the towel as Booker grabbed the towel to intercept. I assume this had nothing to do with Luger as Jimmy’s not really been involved with Luger since the PPV.

Stevie threw Jimmy into the ring and then Sting got the roll-up on Booker for the win. Harlem Heat ran after Jimmy Hart. A fine tag team match. I was a little uneasy going in but they put together a decent TV tag match. This gets a thumbs up.

 

 

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

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We’re not even at the Lethal Lottery yet in this series, but this felt like such a bizarre match to happen in the middle of the show. We got two big men in Scott Norton and Ice Train against two other big men in the Steiner Brothers. They went in there and had a tag team hoss match and it was great. They had a three minute match where they just threw each other around in that ring. It was fun to watch, regardless of how short it was.

Mongo was more concerned that Norton and Ice Train weren’t pro American footballers because all Mongo knows how to do is put over the NFL footballers more than the professional wrestlers… during a professional wrestling television show.

Ice Train put on some decent flashes of athleticism. He had a sequence where he did a leapfrog, a powerslam and a big splash.  Rick hit a beautiful German suplex on the big man Ice Train which was… GLORIOUS. Scott Steiner did a great T-Bone suplex himself and followed up with an awesome belly to belly suplex.

Norton caught Scott Steiner off the top and did a a big Gorilla Press which was really impressive.

Norton ran wild with clotheslines but Scott Steiner caught him and dropped him with a stun gun. Rick tried a spinning elbow but just ran into the brick wall that was Scott Norton. Ice Train did a big boot but lost his footing a little bit. Scott Steiner got clotheslined over the top rope by Norton but then Rick hit Ice Train with a clothesline in the ring for the pin. A weak finish with a clothesline but a fun tag team match. I very much enjoyed it. This felt like a proper wrestling match between four of the baddest dudes they found backstage.

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Ric Flair came out with Miss Elizabeth and Woman. After all of this time on screen, Elizabeth still looks nervous as hell on TV. I’m not sure where this Miss Elizabeth angle goes but if it turns out that she was a double agent for the babyfaces, it’s perfect that she’s acting all nervous around Flair!

Mean Gene did an interview with the three of them. Ric wanted Mean Gene to look at Woman and then Woman stroked Gene’s face and Mean Gene is immediately smitten! Mean Gene was such a gem on these Nitros!

Ric Flair basically cut a promo saying The Giant is a little man compared to Ric Flair, at least he got Woman to say that. Ric Flair doing this gimmick of having his women talk about how great he is is fine on paper but with these girls, they weren’t really charismatic enough to pull this off especially not Miss Elizabeth. As good as Ric Flair is, he probably should not throw it to the girls to talk about how great he is. I’m pretty sure Ric Flair can cut a good promo talking about how great he is!

 

We got a “blood runs cold” promo as someone is coming to WCW. I believe this maybe for Glacier. This was such high quality and had such dramatic music like this was going to be a big-time star… and then it turns out to be Glacier! If you think about guys like Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Rowdy Roddy Piper that are going to be on WCW soon, this big time promo is for GLACIER of all people! It’s kinda surreal.

 

The Belfast Bruiser vs Steven Regal in a parking lot brawl

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I got so giddy when I realised this was happening again. This match happening again with The Belfast Bruiser and Steven Regal, and the fact that they’ve raised the stakes with it being a parking lot brawl, tells you how so far ahead of 2019 WWE that even WCW were in 1996. They did this match on PPV and it got over, so they did it again on Nitro to try and pop a rating because they realised this got over. WWE flat out told the audience that Baron Corbin was the reason the ratings were going down and one year later, they are still pushing the guy when it’s shown and proven that he’s not connecting with the fans.

In WCW, they at least recognised what worked and they kept going when the fans were still into it. It was great to see this again. At least in 1996, they were able to figure out what was working well and what wasn’t.

The guys are shown fighting in the parking lot. Belfast Bruiser tried a big boot early on but ended up forcing his foot through a car window. This was literally one of the first things we saw in this match was Bruiser kicking out the window of a car.

Regal rubbed Bruiser’s face on the pavement. Bruiser beat Regal up with a tyre. Bruiser even ripped apart the bumper of a car and smacked Regal with it! Bruiser did a scoop slam on a car which Regal followed up with an elbow drop of the bonnet of a car. This match far surpassed the Public Enemy stuff we’ve seen as of late on the grounds that Regal and Bruiser were actually doing wrestling moves in the middle of all of this brawling. No matter how nasty they were, they were still wrestlers at heart and wanted to out-wrestle the other guy when they could.

Bruiser strangled Regal with a seat belt and then dropped Regal on the guard rail that the fans were stood behind during this. They fought up to a pick-up truck. They got to the top of it and then Bruiser just threw him off of it! I think Regal got smacked into the wing mirror of a car during this. Regal broke another window by smashing Bruiser into it.

Bruiser tried a tombstone on the pavement but thankfully Regal got out of it. Regal tried a piledriver ton the car but Bruiser reversed it. Regal hit a low blow and eventually hit a piledriver on the roof of the car to get the pin for the win. I was fine with this until Bruiser got back up RIGHT AWAY after the match and threw a bumper into another car. Other than that, this was a hell of a parking lot brawl.

Bobby Heenan eventually realised that one of those cars were one of his rent-a-car cars!

Before I move on, it tells you how much money WCW had to blow in money when they could just destroy 4 cars in a random parking lot brawl. Cars weren’t cheap back then either! Like if I went out there and I bought 4 £500 cars for a wrestling show just so I could destroy them, that would be one thing. I’m pretty sure they must have spent a fortune on these cars and Regal and Bruiser ripped them to shreds!

 

Ric Flair © w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth vs The Giant w/Jimmy Hart for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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There was a lot of good stuff on this episode by this point. I think I liked every match they put on up until this point. Then we got my favourite match of the night and possibly my favourite wrestling match in the WCW series so far. This was Ric Flair defending the WCW title against The Giant in the epic rematch from their post-Uncensored match that ended in The Giant laying waste to all.

The reason why this match was so great was because The Giant and Ric Flair were booked perfectly based on their characters. The Giant was booked perfectly as an unstoppable Giant and Ric Flair was booked perfectly as the dastardly, cowardly heel paying for all of his crimes. It was one of the most perfectly booked title matches I’d ever seen. Not the best technically but one of the best booked in how this match was put together.

Ric Flair’s initial shoulder blocks fail as he falls down but The Giant remained standing. He does a chop and flees as The Giant yells “GET IN THE RING”. Flair tried again with a shoulder tackle but it doesn’t work. This was great because as a fan, you start to question: “What could possibly have made him think this was gonna work?” Ric Flair was a desperate man willing to try anything, even if he knew that wasn’t gonna work!

The Giant did a big Gorilla Press. Flair got Irish Whipped over the top rope and to the outside. The Giant chases him as Flair hides behind the girls. Speaking of the girls, Woman was absolutely outstanding with her performance screeching for Flair’s life on the outside which we’ll get to as we discuss the finish.

Flair does a leaping eye poke! Ric Flair had literally jump up at the chance to cheat in his match when he could!  Flair tried chops again but Giant just lurched on and no-sold them.

The Giant missed Flair as he charged at him and ran into the corner. Flair saw his opportunity to dive off the top rope but Giant cut him off. The Giant does a SUPLEX… to Ric Flair! The Giant tried a chokeslam but Flair grabbed the rope to prevent himself from going up.

As the girls distracted the referee, Flair low-blowed The Giant for the “heat.” Ric punched him twice but Giant pushed him away twice! Jimmy distracted the ref but Flair took advantage and dropped The Giant with the brass knuckles. This was actually a clever little spot because Jimmy almost caused The Giant’s downfall and this clearly demonstrates that Jimmy is holding The Giant back with his performances in the ring. If The Giant turns on Jimmy, this was a clever and subtle way to start telling that story. 

Flair goes for the Figure Four Leg Lock on Giant but Giant rose up like a zombie and grabbed Ric by the throat. Woman, who screamed during the entire match. pulled off one of the most perfectly-timed horror-movie-like screams during a wrestling match. The Giant grabbed her man and Woman screamed like she’d just witnessed Godzilla invade Albany, Georgia. Her performance in selling the monstrosity that was The Giant was simply sublime. She knew her man was in deep trouble and sold this better than every manager except Paul Heyman could have done in professional wrestling today. 

The Giant then chokeslammed and pinned Ric Flair to win the WCW World title CLEAN AS A SHEET in the middle of the ring as the fans went bonkers! This was such a tremendous moment where Jimmy leapt into the Giant. He ran around the ring and was jumping with joy. 

This title change was so great because yes, the status quo on WCW Monday Nitro was disqualifications or counts out to protect everybody in the main-event because nobody wanted to lose. Not tonight. Ric Flair and everyone else involved put The Giant over bigger than Hulk Hogan could have possibly done. This was such a one-sided affair that the fans literally could not believe their eyes when The Giant actually pinned Ric Flair. It was one man beating another man fair and square in the middle of the ring.

It wasn’t even like this was just fair and square. The Giant dominated and beat a 13-time world champion by this point and now he was the new man. I’ve been very critical of the title reigns and WCW title wins since this series began but this was top-notch. It just felt like a perfectly-timed squash match to put over The Giant big as legitimately the new man while Hogan was away. This was not quite Brock Lesnar mascaraing John Cena at SummerSlam 2014 but this was such a decisive finish and it legitimately came out of nowhere after months of interferences and disqualifications in these big matches. This RULED.

Mean Gene gets in the ring and did an interview as Flair was pulled out by the girls!

Jimmy Hart said Flair got to go home with the women but Jimmy said he got to go home with the world champ The Giant. The Giant said he knew that this belt was his since Halloween Havoc. Whether anyone likes it or not, he said he’s the world champion and a fighting champion. He said: “Sting, Savage and Hogan, you’re all gonna come and you’re all gonna fall.”

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This was a great episode of WCW Nitro. Up and down the show, we got good matches and fresh new faces and changes to the status quo. We got stars over big in The Giant and it feels we have a lot more direction towards Slamboree. This was a great episode and ranks high on the list of good episodes of Nitro so far, if not the best episode of Nitro.

Anyway, we’ve got more Nitros on the way. The build obviously will continue for the Lethal Lottery/Slamboree with a new World Champion in The Giant. The review for Episode #34 I’m hoping to upload some time this week before Sunday so stay tuned. Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly an update whenever Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I will be back with my review of Episode #34 of Nitro from May 1996.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #32 (APRIL 22ND 1996) – LEX LUGER AND STING VS THE GIANT AND RIC FLAIR FOR ALL OF THE BELTS

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 officially hit the period of WCW Nitro where things just don’t add up and make sense anymore. These last few episodes have closely resembled WWE 2019 now more than ever, where it is very clear “plans change” as things are completely turned on their heads. Yes, I did copy those words from my last review of Episode #31 of Nitro.

The Booty Man was pulled from his tag match with Hulk Hogan against Taskmaster and Arn Anderson. Hulk Hogan went at it alone and overcome the threat of six heels who all tried to destroy the Hulkster. Hogan won a handicap match against Arn and Taskmaster, he got his hands on Woman, Miss Elizabeth and Jimmy Hart after the match and then he overpowered The Giant and sent him packing.

In the main-event, The Giant teamed up with Ric Flair to challenge the WCW World Tag Team Champions Sting and Ric Flair. The match-ended in a disqualification when Sting got coffee thrown at him and the heels kicked the arses of the champions at the end of the show.

 

Before we get into the review, Episode #32 of Nitro was a massive improvement on recent Nitros. I don’t even think this episode was actually that much better than previous weeks but it felt completely different. There was more room for things taking place to hype up the PPV in May, we had different wrestlers on the show and different matches on the show. It felt fresh and different and it was also a show without Hulk Hogan. It’s not necessarily a good thing that Hogan was away from TV but in this instance, it’s a much needed break from his usual shenanigans.

Eventually, there’s gonna be a more permanent break from his usually shenanigans when the New World Order comes around but now I appreciate the change to the system. Just to see the show change up a bit is better than the show become repetitive and stale. This gets my endorsement for now.

 

Date: April 22nd 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Albany, Georgia

Rating: 2.7 (Down from last week)

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

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With the show changing up itself, we also got the return of Eric Bischoff’s WWF RAW results reveals during the show. To kick off the show, he mentions that the World Whining Federation had “the transvestite” Goldust beating Savio Vega, Makind beating Aldo Montoya and Vader beating Fatu. To all of this, Bischoff just goes “oh boy” in a sarcastic manner.

To be fair to Bischoff, that sounded like a god awful episode of RAW! I looked up that episode of RAW and I’m not sure if Bischoff mentioned this but there was also a match between the Godwins and the tag team of Yoshihiro Tajiri and Ken Patterson! That’s a bizarre match to say the least!

 

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

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I was unsure how I felt about this match. The tag match itself did nothing for me as the American Males’ tag team matches were very formulastic by nature. All they’ve been shown to be able to do is dropkicks and punches. All Public Enemy were shown to be capable of doing is hardcore stuff. You got a very basic match by those standards here but… this beats Public Enemy’s match from last week against the Nasty Boys!

The heels Public Enemy jumped the males before the match. They beat on Riggs in the corner. Bagwell takes out Public Enemy with a double top rope clothesline which didn’t actually looked too bad. I thought it looked pretty decent in execution actually.

Bagwell did a dive to the outside as the Males did some clapping with the fans. Bischoff wished Pillman well after a car accident. There were dropkicks by the Males to Grunge and Rocco. Riggs went for a cover and Nick Patrick was busy chewing out Bagwell for god knows what reason. This completely disrupted the flow of the match.

For months during these Nitro reviews, I’ve been watching Nick Patrick and he looked horrible as a referee. He had a few matches where he was out of position or he called a rope break when he shouldn’t have called for a rope break. I was mostly trying to figure out what it was about Patrick that made him such a bad referee in my eyes. I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts related to these Nitros where the podcasters buried Nick Patrick and I’ve heard people bash Patrick in the past.

It really hit me during this match what the problem was with Patrick. AEW’s Aubrey Edwards is so great as a referee because she only plays a part in the match where it is necessary to do so. He will get in Chris Jericho or Pentagon Jr’s face to get heat on the heels or to actually show rules being enforced. She never does anything that takes me out of the match as it just flows as normal.

Nick Patrick went out of his way to chat to Bagwell as Riggs made the cover so he was not available to make the cover. I don’t see this as Patrick just doing a spot to get the heat on the heels because I’ve seen Patrick do this so many times before and it sucks. Pay attention to the match but don’t bring attention to yourself if you don’t need to. I’ve heard someone mention this before in an interview or something but the best referees in the business are the ones where you don’t even notice them. They don’t stick out like a sore thumb and Nick Patrick stuck out like a sore thumb during this match.

Public Enemy take over. Rocco pulled off a moonsault during this heat which seems rare nowadays. He doesn’t just punch the guys in the ring or go for a long chin-lock. He does a moonsault! They get the heat on Bagwell for a long time.. Rocco goes for a big senton bomb but completely missed which led to the hot tag which the fans went nuts for.

Riggs fired away with punches and dropkicks. Bagwell goes to save Riggs from the interfering Rocco Rock but he gets tossed over the top rope to the outside. The Public Enemy then throw Riggs over the top rope and it’s a disqualification. It was such a weird sight that of all the things to lead to a disqualification, it’s a rule about throwing people over the top rope which they mentioned once in a while since Nitro began. Seeing it in practice is so weird when it’s PUBLIC ENEMY of all the teams getting DQ’d for this. They didn’t use a weapon to get DQ’d. They threw a guy over the top rope!

Public Enemy did the same table spot they did last week to take out Riggs. So again, Public Enemy put a guy threw a table and there’s no repercussions for them from the Board of Directors or whoever is running the show in storyline. Keep that in mind when we get to Randy Savage later.

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Mean Gene Okerlund is with two women as they have the first round drawings for the WCW Slamboree Lethal Lottery. So after my big rant from the last episode where they never mentioned the Lethal Lottery once, it is suddenly all over this episode of Nitro as they did drawings for the tournament!

They introduce Emily and Cherry who were the women by Mean Gene’s side. I’m pretty sure when they came out again later, Mean Gene called Cherry “Terri” later on!

The rules of this lottery was that there would be names in a hat being pulled out and wrestlers would have to team together in the first round and then the winners of the tag matches would go into a battle royal later on in the night for a future title match. Those are the rules of this tournament anyway.

Mean Gene explained that they did some drawings before they came out. The first two matches certainly lived up to the expectation of these matches being “random!” The first two matches drawn beforehand were  the “weird combination” of Hugh Morrus and Meng facing The Barbarian and Hardwork Bobby Walker! Of course, there’s the “irony” of the Faces of Fear facing each other in a tag team match so that’s one thing. Then they announce Stevie Ray and Big Bubba vs Scott Norton and Ice Train. What a random tag team match for a possible shot at the WCW World Heavyweight title!

Emily does a horrible job in shuffling the cards up for Mean Gene as they actually pick names out of a hat. In this totally random drawing, the match is revealed to be Ric Flair and Randy Savage TEAMING UP to take on Arn Anderson and Eddie Guerrero!

Not only is it RANDOMLY decided that mortal enemies Savage and Flair are teaming up for this tournament, the WCW World champion is in a tournament where a WCW title shot is on the line!

It is possible that Ric Flair could lose the WCW World title before this tournament takes place but I love the idea that Ric Flair could have won this whole tournament and then face himself for the WCW World title!

 

Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero

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This was one of the breaths of fresh air I was talking about earlier. We’ve not seen the likes of Chris Benoit on Nitro for months and now we’ve got Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero on Nitro once again and it seems fresh. This is a pairing we’ve seen before on Nitro but this felt so different to what we’ve been getting with Hogan and the Booty Man in the last few weeks.

Benoit and Eddie start the match by playing a game of one-upmanship as they wrestle into the corner gently and then slap each other. Eddie ran wild with arm drags. Benoit won the first bit of chain wrestling. He then takes over with an eye rake OVER the referee. Benoit hits a back suplex.

Benoit goes for a chinlock and Eddie responds by doing some tremendous headscissor takedowns. Benoit hits a beautiful German suplex with a bridge for a 2 count. They reveal Savage is doing an interview after this match as Benoit throws Eddie to the floor. Eddie did a hurricanrana off the top rope but Benoit had his legs own tangled in the rope as Eddie went for the cover.

Benoit reversed a sunset flip and grabbed the ropes for the win. A decent match but I have two nit-picks which doesn’t even have anything to do with the match itself. It’s to do with WCW.

  1. I went back and checked the times for the matches for this episode of Nitro. Benoit vs Guerrero and Public Enemy vs American Males got the same amount of time. However, there was a commercial during the Benoit vs Guerrero match instead of the Public Enemy vs American Males match from earlier? From those two matches, the one match we had to see in full was Public Enemy vs The American Males? Why you’d cut from a 7 minute Eddie Guerrero vs Chris Benoit match is mind-blowing in its own right but the timing on this show was just weird.
  2. Chris Benoit defeated Eddie Guerrero but Chris Benoit himself is revealed later to NOT be in the Lethal Lottery. Eddie Guerrero was but yet Chris Benoit just beat him on Nitro. How is Chris Benoit NOT in Lethal Lottery after this? I mean… it’s possible that he’ll be added to the tournament later but as of now he’s not in the tournament.

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Mean Gene is with Vice President of WCW Rob Garner when “Macho Man” Randy Savage interrupted them. Mean Gene said Savage has been out of control. WCW in storyline were concerned about the mental well-being of Savage and that he’s out of the control, but are OK with the likes of Public Enemy putting geeks through tables? They were OK with Woman throwing hot coffee in the eyes of the wrestlers during matches? They were OK with The Giant running wild in WCW? They were cool with all of that and yet RANDY SAVAGE is the one on their radar here? Yeah, this storyline has some plot holes in it!

Garner said they were concerned with Savage’s actions. He said they understood his circumstances with Ric Flair but if the actions didn’t cease immediately, the ramifications would be severe. Savage responded that ramifications was such a sophisticated word for a man in a tie! Savage said he was the partner from the hell. Savage said he was gonna do what he wanted and he even got in Garner’s face. Garner responded that if Savage could not control his behaviour, he needed professional help. Savage said Garner needed a psychiatrist for being a stupid little man! Savage’s comebacks were so petty and sounded so pathetic but he delivered it so well that I laughed my head off!

I actually liked that he stands over Garner who, despite Savage’s comments, must have be quaking in his boots when facing an angry Savage cutting an angry promo. Savage was a tall, big guy and when he was looking down at Garner, it must be the most terrifying thing for this lad in a suit. This worked in making it clear why the WCW executives are so afraid of Savage. They brought out the Vice President of WCW and Savage towered over them and is about to explode. That I loved.

Mean Gene yelled at Savage. Savage said he’s gonna electrify WCW and walks off after teasing an open-hand slap to Garner. I actually thought this was a great segment.

 

 

Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs Meng

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Another match where it just felt different to me. We haven’t seen Hacksaw Jim Duggan wrestle on Nitro in so long. Meng we haven’t seen much of in recent months either. In this match, they had a fight that was just different to everything else on the show. It was a welcome change at the very least.

Meng had an awesome robe on as he marched down the ring. It was very colourful with Hawaiian colours. This was the best Meng has looked in the series so far! Hacksaw beat up Meng as Meng got into the ring.

Hacksaw pounced on Meng as Meng got into the ring and stomped him away. Hacksaw was beating up Meng when Meng was trying to get into the ring so the babyface Hacksaw wouldn’t allow for a fair fight which was weird!

Bischoff explained Hogan was “travelling” and he would back on Nitro soon so I guess Hogan is gone for a while, maybe until Bash At The Beach. Meng and Hacksaw got into a fight with headbutts and chops. This was ugly brawl between an old-school patriot and an Samoan savage! Hacksaw smacked Meng’s head into the turnbuckle and then Meng bounced his own head into the turnbuckle to show it had no effect. Hacksaw went for a heatbutt which Meng no-sold to get the heat! Hacksaw was the cause of his own downfall!

Meng tried a nerve hold. Hacksaw tried to fight back but Meng knocked him down again. Meng and Hacksaw traded missed elbow drops. Hacksaw did an atomic drop and a big scoop slam to get back into the match. Hacksaw ran at Meng but smacked his own head off the turnbuckle. Meng batters at Duggan relentlessly and after pushing the ref away twice,  Hacksaw tried to use his 2×4 but Meng booted him in the face! Hacksaw got the foot on the rope at two when Meng went for the cover.

Hacksaw then used the loaded tape, hit Meng and pinned Meng! I felt Hacksaw Jim Duggan was a strange babyface constantly trying to do whatever it took to win, including cheating, but there was something admirable about the fact that Duggan did whatever it took to win! Meng is a savage but Hacksaw must do all that he can to win this match which was important to him and to America! I actually thought this match wasn’t too bad. This was something different at the very least and that’s all I ask!

 

Mean Gene was back out with the girls for more match drawings. Mean Gene asked if the girls had any plans for this evening and they responded: “Yes with you Mean Gene!” Mean Gene couldn’t help but mention that had a little money if they get a little short! This all happened during an official WCW lottery draw to determine the teams for this important tournament! Mean Gene just flirts outrageously with the girls as he’s presenting this lottery!

They revealed the other matches in the lottery to be Alex Wright and Disco Inferno vs Earl Robert Eaton and Dick Slater along with Steven Regal and The Belfast Bruiser vs VK Wallstreet and Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Yes, future tag team and fellow dancers Wright and Inferno were randomly teamed together and rivals Regal and Belfast Bruiser were teamed together!

 

 

Sting © and Lex Luger © vs The Giant and Ric Flair © for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, WCW TV Championship and WCW Tag Team Championship

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I feel that maybe I’ve dropped a ball a little with not mentioning this match earlier on. It is the title of this blog post but they actually mentioned this match throughout the episode on Nitro. They discussed it at the start of the show, they threw around all of these scenarios about what could happen and it was so complicated. In the end, all of this speculation by the announcers led to nothing which we’ll get to.

The match was Sting and Lex Luger facing The Giant and Ric Flair in a rematch from last week. Sting and Lex Luger were defending the WCW Tag Team titles, Lex Luger was defending the WCW TV title and Ric Flair was defending the WCW World title. The stipulation I guess was all the titles were on the line with Arquette Rules in place although David Arquette didn’t appear in WCW until years later which is kind of ironic.

If Luger was pinned or submitted, he’d lose the WCW TV title. If Flair was pinned or submitted, he’d lose the WCW World title. I guess if Sting or Luger was pinned or submit, they’d lose the WCW tag titles to Flair and Giant. However, the announcers also mentioned the possibility of The Giant pinning Ric Flair to win the WCW title or Ric Flair holding all of the titles. I was so confused that I just to had to pack all of this in for this match review at the very end of the episode review! There’s a lot of ground to cover!

Flair hits on Mongo’s wife yet again and kisses her on the hand this week. Again, Mongo on commentary does nothing and just threatens Flair again. This isn’t exactly on the level of the Rusev/Bobby Lashley/Lana stuff on RAW in 2019 but Mongo watching RIC FLAIR kissing the hand of his wife and flirting with her every week on Nitro was somewhat distributing.

Savage appeared out of nowhere and goes after Flair again before the match. However, the POLICE handcuffed Savage as Flair then proceeded to stomp away at Savage as he is being arrested. HOW did Ric Flair not get arrested himself for assaulting a handcuffed man? Savage was defenseless after he was handcuffed and Flair got a few shots in, with no repercussions! I will give them credit that it came off as realistic like when the wrestlers would probably stomp away at a fan if the fans did the same thing. A general rule among wrestlers is that if a fan enters the ring, the wrestlers can proceed to kick their ass when they get in the ring. So Flair attacking Savage as he was handcuffed… it felt somewhat like it was a shoot so I liked it.

The Giant got Sting in the corner to start the match and Giant then just rested his ass on Sting’s cock and just stood there until the referee broke it up. I swear on a stack of bibles that is exactly what happened. I’m not trying to be lewd or anything. Everything I just explained went down exactly as written down! Don’t look at me.

Sting tried a few dropkicks and clotheslines to little effect. Luger and Sting worked together to clothesline Giant over the top rope to a roar of approval by the fans. Sting Gorilla Pressed Flair which will never not be able to get over with a WCW crowd. Sting and Flair somehow screwed up a clothesline over the top rope. It took Sting twice to do it.

Flair got pissed off in the corner. Flair chopped Luger to no effect. Luger beat up Flair and a Sting Mongolian Chop from apron sent Flair crashing face-first into the mat!

They then randomly announce Sting vs The Giant for Slamboree. It felt like this program with Sting and The Giant just came out of nowhere. They had a weird angle to kick off Nitro a few weeks ago and now they’re having a match at the PPV.

Sting hit a big superplex which sent Flair crawling on the floor on the outside as he was in that much of dire straits. Sting went for a Stinger Splash into the guardrail but Flair moved and Sting crashed and burnt. Luger rushed onto the scene to the aid of his friend on the floor. Woman clawed at Sting on the outside. The Giant stood on Sting, piling of his weight into the gut of Sting which caused Luger to be irate on the apron.

Flair did a vertical suplex to no affect. Woman had the cup of coffee in her hand again as Luger ran wild on Flair. Luger went for the cover on Flair but but then Luger got up to taunt and flex. I assume Luger forgot a spot somehow as he had Flair covered for a pin but then he just taunted. I guess possibly The Giant was out of position maybe to break up the pinfall. Either way, something got screwed.

Giant goes for a chokeslam but Sting tries to break it up by going for two top rope chop blocks to drop Giant to one knee. Sting tries to punch Giant off of Luger and finally Giant is floored to a massive pop from the crowd. I actually loved this spot where Sting and Luger tried for a solid 30 seconds to get Giant off of his feet and when The Giant finally fell down, the fans lost their minds as the good guys overcame The Giant!

Jimmy Hart got floored and Luger and Sting cornered Flair. Flair was given the coffee but he accidentally threw it at The Giant… and it’s another disqualification main-event finish on Nitro.

What happens after this is possibly my favourite moment in the Nitro series so far. Ric Flair realises that he just threw hot coffee at a seven foot Giant and so Flair runs for his life! He moved so fast to get up that ramp as Giant is near tears in the ring initially! Then he looked incensed and outraged as Flair eventually gets back in the ring.

Flair has this big bi-polar frenzy where he begged off Giant and then he switches from getting in Giant’s face and then dropping to his knees again begging for forgiveness! He  switched on and off like a switch trying to assert himself and then being reduced to his knees and being a coward!

Flair left again! Mean Gene interviewed Giant. The Giant was NOT HAPPY. He bellowed that “THE COFFEE BURNED BUT IT LIT A FIRE IN MY SOUL!” He vowed to win the WCW World title next week. Flair grabbed the mic and said he tried to apologise but now he was mad! He also added that he didn’t like how Giant’s been looking at the women anyway. Flair said Giant had until the end of the night or next week to apologise. Otherwise, Flair said he was gonna kick his big ass! I damn near choked on a drink I was drinking at the time as Flair threatened to kick his “big ass!” The delivery was tremendous and then Flair ran for his life again as Giant left the ring to chase after him. Flair literally ran at the speed of The Flash to get away from this angry Giant. This segment ruled!

I cannot wait for next week where The Giant, one week removed from Ric Flair throwing coffee on him, is going to get his hands on Flair after Flair also said he was gonna kick his big ass! There’s some strange great dynamic between The Giant and the dastardly Ric Flair characters and it is great.

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This was the best Nitro I’ve seen in a while. This was not the best Nitro I’ve seen yet I don’t think but it was so different to Nitros in the past few months and I loved it. Things were different on this show and sometimes, things being changed up is just what the doctor ordered.

I hope you enjoyed my review of Episode #32 of the Nitro series. Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly an update whenever Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I will be back with my review of Episode #33 of Nitro from April 29th 1996.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order