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.
We took a detour into an alternate reality of WCW Nitro last week as things went completely haywire. Ric Flair defeated Hulk Hogan in one of the shockers of the series so far, getting the pinfall victory after a lot of interferences leading to Flair injuring Hogan’s eye to get the win. The Road Warriors appeared on Nitro, getting a win in a botch-filled match with the Faces Of Fear as they were shooting for a future tag title shot. The Dungeon of Doom and The Four Horsemen were at odds once more after Taskmaster double-crossed Arn Anderson. Madusa apparently decided to shoot on Sister Sherri after the latter picked up a upset win over the former WWF Women’s Champion. Finally, the scheduled Giant vs Randy Savage title match never even took place as The Giant and Ric Flair laid a beating on Savage and Hogan at the end of the show.
Date: February 5th 1996
City: Lakeland, Florida
Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan
This show was not as bonkers as last week’s show was but it was interesting that this show was the go-home show for Superbrawl and it certainly didn’t feel like it. This show, for me anyway, was trying to figure out what the main-events of the Superbrawl show were. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Ric Flair and The Giant have all been in a tag team like feud in the last couple of months and they announced that there was going to be “two cages” or two cage matches or whatever the deal was. That was the deal with these four men but I couldn’t figure out who was wrestling who.
I figured maybe Hogan would fight Flair and The Giant would fight Savage for the WCW World title as this show, and last week’s show really, led you to believe that this was going to happen. We do get our answers at the end of the show but it was really unclear in trying to figure out what the card was going to be for Superbrawl.
Randy Savage © w/Miss Elizabeth and Woman vs Chris Benoit for the WCW World Heavyweight title?
This was hard to figure out whether THIS MATCH was actually a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match. It was “Macho Man” Randy Savage with Miss Elizabeth and Woman versus Chris Benoit of the Four Horsemen and Eric Bischoff casually mentions that the title is on the line. This was also the same Benoit who, a few weeks ago, lost twice in two nights to Jushin Liger at Starrcade then to Steven Regal on Nitro. Here, he got a shot at the World title. Bizarre. It’s also rather eerie to see that Woman, of all people, was accompanying Savage to the ring for a match with Benoit but the less said about that the better.
Savage and Benoit wrestled for the advantage for the headlock. Benoit took a cheap shot as the referee tried to break it up. Then Benoit went to work and got the heat.
In terms of getting the heat on a babyface, Benoit was brilliant in that role. In terms of being a babyface in peril getting beat on, Savage was brilliant in that role too. However, Randy Savage, as the WCW World Champion, should not been getting this much heat on himself going into a big world title match. If Savage is presented as a fighting underdog against Chris Benoit and not presented as a legitimate champion, I think that causes problems with getting legitimacy for your championship. Then again, this title has had at least 5 title changes since this Nitro series started so it’s not like the legitimacy of the title was top priority anyway.
At this point in the show, I’m still trying to figure out what the cage matches were for Superbrawl. Dunno if it was Flair vs Hogan or Flair vs Savage, or Hogan vs Giant or Giant vs Savage. Benoit goes the top rope diving headbutt which actually connected, as opposed to every other match in the series where he goes for the headbutt and misses for the babyface to get back in the match.
Benoit, of all the things he delivers for the heat, does a snap leg drop! Benoit wrenched on the back for the backbreaker submission. Benoit just got the heat, got the heat and got the heat for a long time until Savage eventually hits a big clothesline. Woman distracts the referee and Benoit flips over Savage over the top rope and onto the outside. Benoit does a dive to the outside and lands face first on the mat on the outside. I screamed as Benoit thudded onto the ground. This was not pretty and thinking about the long term side-effects of this head trauma was just… it was not comfortable to think about.
Savage hits the elbow. Flair comes down gets a hold of Elizabeth. Savage goes after Flair. Woman then starts choking away at Savage and turns on him as the ref calls for the DQ. Yeah, Woman, who was brought in two weeks ago as just another woman in the company (pardon the pun), has already turned heel.
I do also have to point something out. Liger and Regal beat Benoit a few weeks ago. Regal beat Benoit clean but yet Savage couldn’t beat Benoit clean in this title defence? Can you let him get a clean win just one time in his life to make him seem a little bit credible?
Arn comes out as the heels gang up on Savage. Hogan makes the save with the chair. Mean Gene goes to do an interview as Savage is down and Hogan correctly points out, “Can’t you see he’s hurt?” I mean bad timing for Mean Gene. “Hey Hogan, your friend got his ass kicked. Can I have your thoughts?” That I laughed at when Hogan pointed this out. Mean Gene even says “I don’t know whats going on!”
Hogan cuts a promo. Hogan says he’s gotta put a stop to Ric Flair. He says The Giant is right in front of him on Sunday. Ric Flair then jumps Hogan and scrapes at the busted open eye of Hogan, that Flair had damaged last week. The Giant comes out and does a big swing of the chair. Zodiac stops him and then Savage comes back and chases away Giant with a chair. Savage then yells: “what he’s gonna do to Flair he can’t say on television.” Savage lays into Elizabeth for not doing anything and I’m like: “what was Elizabeth going to do?” Was Savage expecting Elizabeth to Hulk Up and beat the crap out of The Giant?
Hugh Morrus and Taskmaster vs Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman
Before we get into this next match, they plugged a Benoit vs Savage rematch at Saturday Night and the announcers say that we wouldn’t wanna miss this. Why? We had the match on this show… and there was no finish. There was a disqualification. What could possibly convince me that there would be a clear cut winner on that show?
They start this tag match. Biran Pillman out crazies Hugh Morrus who just pushes away at Pillman as they have a crazy-off. Hugh no-sells Pillman’s chops and just laughs in his face. Hugh does a gorilla press to Pillman and almost killed Arn with another Gorilla Press. He barely got him up and Arn landed hard on his back. I know Arn doesn’t last much longer as a wrestler because of injuries so I was really concerned here. Then again, he did show up at AEW’s All Out show just last week in 2019 and did a spinebuster!
Pillman rakes away at Taskmaster who does a comeback. Hugh and Arn get tagged back in. Arn Anderson, to demonstrate just what a great professional wrestler he was, was then able to deliver a great spinebuster to Hugh Morrus of all people! Arn then goes for the chinlock.
Hugh tries to fight his way free from the Horsemen corner but he is overwhelmed. Pillman runs at Hugh at the corner and Hugh doesn’t do a back elbow to push him away like any other wrestler would do. He clobbers Pillman with a clothesline. It was like if a bear had just tried to paw away at you and it must have rung his bell a little bit.
Taskmaster runs wild on Pillman. Yeah, KEVIN SULLIVAN gets the hot tag and runs wild! With that being said, I loved this brawl between Pillman and Taksmaster. They were both throwing wild punches at each other like mad men. It was awesome and as phony as the heat appeared initially between Pillman and the Dungeon of Doom in storyline, this brawl felt real. It felt like these two men, in real life, hated each other. Now granted, there is a future “unscripted” moment between these two guys but we’ll get to that later.
To an extent, this felt a little unscripted too. They brawled on the mat and the referee completely lost control of the match as Hugh and Arn got involved. They initially broke it up and then turned it into two seperate fights. Taskmaster brawled with Arn up to the entrance ramp. Arn goes for a piledriver but someone lays out Arn with a broom! This culprit is not seen but we just see a white broom pop out of the curtain and hit Arn!
Pillman tries a powerbomb on Hugh Morrus on the outside! It did not work. Taskmaster gets a a strap as Hugh delivers a moonsault headbut. Taskmaster whips Pillman. My question was where was Chris Benoit during all of this? It was so weird because after this, Pillman just walked to the back after being repeatedly whipped in the back. Like Taskmaster whipped him a few times and then Pillman just walked to the back. I’m guessing this was like a worked shoot and it makes sense when you see where this leads to at Superbrawl.
Ric Flair w/Woman vs Marcus Bagwell
Woman sided with the Four Horsemen at the start of the show and is immediately coming down to the ring with Flair. “Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorff comes down in a neck brace to the announce table. Mr Wonderful says the funny thing about payback, is that you never know when it’s going to happen. The announcers wonder that Mr Wonderful was the guy behind the broom attack. It actually makes sense because Arn and Ric did the spike piledriver to Paul Orndorff and Arn was going for a piledriver on Taskmaster. I did like that bit of story-telling.
I didn’t think this match was any good and I think it was 100% down to Bagwell. His offense was clothesline, dropkicks and punches. If you like those three moves, I guess this was the match for you. However, there wasn’t much wrestling to this guy and really he just attacked Flair more than he wrestled.
Bagwell runs wild with clotheslines and the fans actually loved Bagwell here. No matter what I say, he was over here with the crowd. He does a big clothesline on the outside and a few of the girls are going “ooowwwwwwwww!” like wolf-whistle style!
Bagwell fires away with some pretty lame punches but the fans loved it. I don’t think Bagwell did a single wrestling move other than two backdrops by this point. Everything else was dropkicks, punches and clotheslines.
Ric eventually grabs the ropes as Bagwell goes for another dropkick. It took Flair this long to figure out Bagwell’s game! Bagwell reverses a Figure Four with a small package pin. Ric and Bagwell both bounced off the ropes, they crash into each other in the middle and Bagwell tumbles and somehow falls backwards over the top rope to the floor… this was overselling done poorly as the fans were just looking at him like: “what the?”
I like how Ric used Woman to distracted the ref… just to get a kick in at Bagwell on the outside! He didn’t cheat or break any rules but he’s the dirtiest player in the game so he can’t help himself but take any advantage he can!
Bagwell’s offense was legitimately just clotheslines, punches and dropkicks as he made the comeback. They also announced Public Enemy vs Nasty Boys at Superbrawl in a street fight. That I can’t wait to see!
Bagwell does a superplex. Bagwell tries a springboard splash but Flair got the knees up. Flair does a figure four leg lock and Bagwell gave up as Flair wins. Flair punches the ref out and refuses to let go of the hold. Savage chases him off. Savage even pushes another referee down in his pursuit of Flair.
Sting (c) and Lex Luger (c) VS “The Road Warriors” Animal and Hawk for the WCW Tag Team Championship
Big “LOD” chants as Sting and Animal started off with a bit of energy about them as they battled for the upper hand. Then they tagged in LEX LUGER AND HAWK. Lex Luger does a sloppy piledriver but Hawk no sells and beats up Luger. Sting hits a Stinger Splash and goes for the Scorpion Death lock but Animal immediately breaks it up. He knew well enough to break up as if it was locked in, it was over. I liked the selling that the Scorpion Deathlock was such a killer finisher at this time!
Luger draped the ropes which sent Animal crashing over the ropes to the outside. Luger drops three elbow drops. I got a flashing light and an error message from the WWE Network as apparently it was an issue with the original clip. Bischoff then explains that the power went out! I guess WWE couldn’t restore whatever the original content was as my screen went weird!
Sting does a front facelock and grounds him as the fans chant for LOD. Sting forces Animal into Luger and Sting’s corner. Animal does a big back drop, Animal goes for a clothesline but then Sting breaks up a pin I believe. Hawk then goes crazy on the outside and just beats the living hell out of Sting like a madman! Like I have no idea what brought this on but Hawk just goes nuts in attacking Sting. Luger and Animal are still wrestling as they cut to a wide shot. Then all of a sudden, Sting goes a Stinger Splash but hits the barricade like a mad man! Like Luger and Animal are in the ring and then Sting pops up in the bottom right corner of the screen and splashes onto the barricade!
Jimmy Hart comes down and gets knocked down. Luger hits Animal with something, I don’t remember what it was, but then the ref counts the pin. Sting is not happy as he doesn’t know whats going on as the fans boo the finish.
Mean Gene goes to the ring and interviews the Road Warriors. Hawk yells and demands the winner of Sting and Luger vs Harlem Heat, which I think is taking place at Superbawl. Mean Gene talks about Luger targeting the bad back of Animal. Animal acknowledges this but says they’re the men and they want the title match. Hawk vows revenge.
Finally they clear up its Ric Flair vs Savage and its Hulk Hogan vs The Giant at Superbrawl. After all of this time, I finally figured out what the two big steel cage matches were for Superbrawl!
Not a lot to comment on for this show. It didn’t feel like it did a good enough job to hype up the PPV. Like it hyped up the main-event program well but, as mentioned, I didn’t even know what the specific matches were. I had to wait until the end of the show until they actually told the viewers outright what the matches were. Flair goes out there and attacks Hogan when Randy Savage is his opponent for the PPV. I don’t know, maybe they’re building up Hogan vs Flair again for after the PPV but it didn’t do a good enough job with the PPV at hand for me.
BEFORE I LEAVE YOU, I promised two bonus match reviews and I’m gonna get them out of the way. Last week, they hyped up a Lex Luger vs Eddie Guerrero match for WCW Saturday Night which I wanted to watch and see, really, just how good Eddie Guerrero was. Lex Luger has had some really bad performances as of late on the Nitro series where as Eddie had some really good performances as of late on the Nitro series. I was very curious to see whether he could get a good match out of Luger.
I also discovered The One Man Gang, the new WCW United States Champion, in a match with Super Giant Ninja from January 20th 1996. Super Giant Ninja was the former Yeti that terrorised Hulk Hogan at Halloween Havoc. Repackaged as the Super Giant Ninja, him going up against The One Man Gang I though was going to be a treat! So let’s get start with these bonus match reviews!
One Man Gang vs Super Giant Ninja on WCW Saturday Night – January 20th 1996
I’m going to go chronological with these reviews. Super Giant Ninja did not get an entrance as the ninja, looking exactly like Scorpion from Mortal Kombat, stretches in the ring!
Tony Schiavonie on the commentary says his name as the Super Giant Ninjaaaaaaaaaa. The two monsters both locked up as the two men trade blows. The Ninja chops One Man Gang as both men go “yaaaaarggh!” That I laughed at!
Super Ninja was a deer-in-headlights out there, completely out of his element in professional wrestling. When One Man Gang comes off as the more co-ordinated out of the two, it is something. One Man Gang did a good job here but it was just funny to me. One Man Gang wasn’t particular someone that struck me as co-ordinated!
One Man Gang clobbers Super Giant Ninja. One Man Gang scoop slams the Ninja like it’s just a regular move, when he’s just slammed like a 7 foot giant monster! One Man Gang then hits a splash and wins! All of that hype as the Yeti and here, he’s a Super Giant Ninja and he gets squashed by the One Man Gang!
A few notes about this ninja was that 2 weeks after this, he wrestled as the Yeti again on a house show! I looked up his details on the Cagematch website and notable matches included one where he wrestled WWE alumni Rodney Mack to a no contest in 2011 billed as “Vanilla Gorilla!” The Vanilla Gorilla is quite the ring name to come out too! Believe it or not, he still wrestles today! He wrestled as recently as August 2019 in a battle royal! Amazing to read these details after watching this match!
Eddie Guerrero vs Lex Luger on WCW Saturday Night dated Febuary 3rd 1996
Luger made fun of the height of Eddie with the test of strength but Eddie one-upped him and played along. Eddie ran wild and Luger was taken back by the quickness of Guerrero, including a roll-up attempt.
Lex Luger TOWERED over Eddie in this match by the way. If there was nothing Eddie needed to make himlook like less of a star it’s this jacked-up Lex Luger standing in front of him!
One spot I liked was that Eddie was going to come off the ropes with the arm drag but Lex’s arms are too big so he transitions this on the fly and does a roll-up! I loved that worked improvisation by Eddie Guerrero!
Lex Luger Gorilla Presses Eddie into the top rope. Lex gets rough with Eddie and does a long vertical suplex. Luger caught Eddie off the top rope with a bearhug, Eddie eventually fought his way out with big Mongolian chops to the ears of Luger.
Luger gets the heat with boring just punches, elbow drops, just very long and drawn out. I think you could have shaved a few minutes from this match judging by all of this “non-action” by Luger.
Eddie reverses a Gorilla Press into another roll-up. Eddie fires up and delivers a big dropkick. Eddie went up and Eddie’s top rope dropkick crashed into the referee as Luger pushes the ref in the way. Luger went for a Torture Rack but Eddie landed on his feet. Eddie goes for a hurricanrana but Luger but barely had any grip as Eddie was only just able to get him over.
Luger then pulls off a reverse torture rack seemingly for the win as the second referee Randy Anderson seemingly calls for the bell. Luger thinks he won but the referee awards the match to Eddie via disqualification. Luger puts the stomps to Guerrero and… I don’t think this was the kinda finish that did any favours for Guerrero.
I do like how Eddie actually tended to the fallen referee! A honourable babyface! In short, this was an OK Eddie vs Luger match but it wasn’t like there was a lot Eddie could work with. They just worked your typical big man vs little match match.
That about wraps up my WCW Nitro Review as well as two bonus match reviews! I will be reviewing Superbrawl! The card, when I read it, looked OK. There was some repetitive stuff. We’ve got another Johnny B Badd vs DDP match but I have liked that program and their matches, so I’m OK with that. The cage match results I think are going to be interesting but then again, everything before the nWo shows up I think will be “interesting” to see what direction they go in.
I will see you with my review of WCW SuperBrawl 1996!
WCW Nitro Reading Order
- #1 – September 4th 1995
- #2 – September 11th 1995
- WCW War Games 1995 – September 17th 1995
- #3 – September 18th 1995
- #4 – September 25th 1995
- #5 – October 2nd 1995
- #6 – October 9th 1995
- #7 – October 16th 1995
- #8 – October 23rd 1995
- WCW Halloween Havoc 1995 – October 29th 1995
- #9 – October 30th 1995
- #10 – November 6th 1995
- #11 – November 13th 1995
- #12 – November 20th 1995
- WCW World War III 1995 – November 26th 1995
- #13 – November 27th 1995
- #14 – December 4th 1995
- #15 – December 11th 1995
- #16 – December 18th 1995
- #17 – December 25th 1995
- WCW Starrcade 1995 – December 27th 1995
- #18 – January 1st 1996
- #19 – January 8th 1996
- #20 – January 15th 1996
- #21 – January 22nd 1996
- #22 – January 29th 1996