RETRO EXPRESS: WCW WORLD WAR III 1995 (NOVEMBER 26TH 1995)

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

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Are you all ready for the biggest battle royal in the history of professional wrestling? 60 men will battle for the vacated World Heavyweight Championship. The title was held up after the controversial finish from Halloween Havoc‘s main-event title match between The Giant and Hulk Hogan. While The Giant won via disqualification, and Jimmy Hart had secretly signed a “title-can-change-on-DQs” stipulation, the big man was ruled to not be the WCW World Champion. WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel determined that the vacated title will be awarded to the winner of their World War III 60 man battle royal.

This is a battle royal that included giants such as The Giant and The Yeti, Immortals like Hulk Hogan, all the members of the Dungeon of Doom including the recent turncoat Lex Luger, all the Four Horsemen including Ric Flair, other stars like Sting, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Kensuke Sasaki, Eddie Guerrero and many, MANY more….

 

Date: November 26th, 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Norfolk, Virginia

Attendance: 12,000 (WCW said it was sold out)

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie and Bobby Heenan

(NOTE: Eric Bischoff, Dusty Rhodes, Chris Cruise and Larry Zybsko were also commentators for the battle royal. Mike Tenay was a commentator for the women’s tag team match)

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I had to watch this opening promo twice because I was clearly not paying enough attention to it the first time around. Hulk Hogan promos are always entertaining but he has a habit, especially during this period, of just being batshit crazy. There’s no other way to describe it and I apologise for the language but it’s true. We’ve had promos of Hogan wearing black gloves and comparing himself to OJ Simpson, he talked about being on the dark side, he cut a promo with a big sword two weeks ago. At this point, I was kinda numb to it as I just enjoyed them despite how crazy and exciting they were. There’s real no point analysing every little detail.

Here, it took me two attempts and several trips to the internet to figure out what he was on about. If Hulk Hogan would have cut this promo in 2019, where WWE have a weird obsession with making insider references to “dirtsheets” and the internet and all that crap, it probably would have worked out better. In 1995, this was just the most random promo I’ve ever heard.

I’ll break it down. He comes out with Sting and “Macho Man” Randy Savage. He says that out of everything bad, there’s always something good. The Hulkamaniacs have stuck by him even when he was on the dark side. He said he knows who his friends are and that the dark side of Hulk Hogan will be no more. He ripped off the black gear as he vowed to burn the Dungeon of Doom. He actually set the gear on fire in this bin. He vowed he’s gonna stand by Sting’s side and that he would never question Sting again. He flat out said “I WANNA BE YOUR FRIEND FOREVER STING.” Let’s all remember that for the main-event.

Savage apologised and called Sting the coolest dude in the world as he was questioning Sting too during these run-ins with the Dungeon of Doom. Then Hogan went on an incredibly insane tirade. He was mad that people were saying that Randy Savage actually had a legitimate arm injury. Hogan laughed and suggested that it was part of the plan and there was nothing wrong with Savage.

On the second attempt of watching promo, I had to transcribe the next part of this promo. He grabs a piece of paper and says the following:

“OBSERVE THIS. This is what we call a rag sheet. They said The Giant would win the battle royal. They said Randy Savage was injured. This is like a dinosaur compared to the the internet and that the internet has all the scoops. We’re gonna steal the world title.”

Now… this was aimed at the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Apparently, they “revealed” that The Giant was gonna win the battle royal and win the title and mentioned something about Savage’s injury. Hogan was a man here with creative control and a platform to complete bitch about Dave Meltzer and “rag sheets” and he laughed off this newsletter and literally burned it. He laughed at the idea that Savage was actually hurt (and he was actually hurt which you could tell by the matches we’ve watched him in as of late).

All I could think on the second attempt of watching this is what were the fans thinking during this promo? All I could think is they’re like “what is Hogan on about?” In 2019, this promo might have worked better since the majority of wrestling fans are hardcore fans nowadays. Here, there was a lot of fans who didn’t read Wrestling Observer Newsletter that had no idea what Hogan was on about. Surreal.

 

They recapped a DDP promo with Diamond Doll and Mean Gene. I think this may have been from WCW Saturday Night. DDP tells Diamond Doll to shut up and Diamond Doll says no and stands up for herself. Mean Gene gets all flustered and declares to the world that they’re in the middle of an argument! Lovely insight from WCW journalist Mean Gene Okerlund

Diamond Doll said that she will put herself on the line for this TV title match at World War III as DDP doesn’t appreciate everything she does for him. She said he wouldn’t know a 10 if it was staring him in the face.

 

Johnny B Badd (c) vs DDP w/Kimberly the Diamond Doll for the WCW Television Championship

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If there’s not much to the review of this match, it’s only because we saw this exact same match at Halloween Havoc. This was slightly better if anything. They wrestled for a bit. Heenan drove home that DDP was worth $13 million and that’s why Diamond Doll should stay with him! Badd tried a 619 but DDP evaded and Badd responded by doing a big dive to the outside.

Badd tried to get to DDP but DDP used Diamond Doll as a human shield. He then threw Diamond Doll at Badd to get a sucker punch in on Badd. There was a weird spot that saw Badd go for a hurricanrana but DDP countered into a tombstone slam. Yeah, not a tombstone piledriver. He got Badd into a tombstone position and then just slammed him down.

Badd’s method of getting back into things was just collapsing out of the corner as DDP drove himself into the ring post. We saw an awesome spot when DDP went for a full on kick to the gut but he missed and slipped as if he actually slipped on a banana peel! DDP was a tremendous seller.

Tony explained that these two men had a disadvantage going into the battle royal later but Heenan explained that at least they’re on first. Heenan actually kinda contradicted this point later but we’ll get to that.

Diamond Doll gave Badd the 10+ sign just as she did at Halloween Havoc. Badd hit a sit-out powerbomb for a near fall that the fans went nuts for. DDP tried a pin with his feet on the rope but Badd kicked out. Badd went for the “Badd Mood” springboard splash but DDP got the knees up. I think they screwed up a gut-wrench spot as DDP just dropped him with a gutbuster. This was kinda confirmed by the fact that they went for the spot again.

Badd reversed a tombstone piledriver for one of his own for a near fall. Badd hit a dive to the outside which Tony also called the “Badd Mood” and he got the pin to retain the title.

I actually loved Kimberly’s facial expressions. She’s on the outside as Badd hits this Badd Mood. She actually shows concern for her man DDP and when Badd gets the pin, she actually looks stunned. She’s not like super happy about it… she’s just stunned. It wasn’t until she actually got into the ring where she showed joy about Badd’s win as it took a long time for it to sink in. She was getting sick of DDP, which is why she put herself on the line in the match and thinking that it may motivate DDP, but he lost and it completely took her off guard. After all, Badd won the match at Halloween Havoc because of Max Muscle. Here, despite being happy to be with Badd she still showed concern for the ex. This was great story-telling.

Match Rating: **3/4

 

Mean Gene plugged the WCW hotline about the WWF steroid scandal. They actually name-dropped WWF this time which is an important and we’ll also come back to it later. Mean Gene interviewed Badd and Diamond Doll. Badd said he was gonna show DDP what respect is all about. Mean Gene was about to ask the question about how Diamond Doll felt about this but before she could give an answer, Badd offered her the chance to be his manager and wanted her to take some time to think about it. Diamond Doll appreciated the offer for her to think about it but respects the fact that the better man won tonight. Badd was excited for the battle royal.

This really hits home how good the story-telling was in this program. Badd’s not really shown to be a bad guy… pardon the pun. He allows Diamond Doll time to think about the offer and he’s not treating her like property. He’s treating her as a person and is giving her a choice of what to do. Even though she put herself up on the line, she’s got to be 100% cool with it for Badd to be cool with it. Diamond Doll is gonna think it over and I think in a week’s time, we’ll find out if she’s truly cool with this. This was awesome.

 

Big Bubba Rogers vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan in a “taped fist match”

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God, this was a bad match. I think if this would have been miles better if it wasn’t as long as this was. It was ten minutes long and in no circumstances should Big Bubba Rogers and Hacksaw Jim Duggan wrestle for ten minutes.

Duggan jumped Big Bubba from behind to get things going. Hacksaw tried to hit Big Bubba with the 2×4 but Big Bubba begged him off.

Hacksaw tried to clothesline him down with two attempts but he eventually sent him crashing to the outside with a third clothesline and then got a USA chant going.

I kinda feel bad for Tony and Bobby as their announce table was positioned right in the corner of two of the rings set up. It seemed unsafe as hell as Big Bubba nearly crashed right into it during the match.

Hacksaw and Big Bubba started scrapping in another ring. Hacksaw went for something off the apron but Big Bubba moved and Hacksaw crashed and burned. It didn’t occur to me until this match just how great a gig Hacksaw had in wrestling. This USA chant is so timeless that all he needs to do is yell USA and the whole crowd bursts out into USA chants and it gets them into the match and cheering for Duggan because he’s such a patriot in their eyes. He is even wrestling a fellow American from Georgia!

They tumbled into each other in another ring. Big Bubba whipped out possibly the only enziguri I’ve ever seen him do. Big Bubba whipped out tape and Tony asks “I don’t know what this is gonna do.” Isn’t the whole match a “taped fist match” for a reason? Isn’t the whole storyline that they’re constantly knocking each other out with these taped fists?

Hacksaw sent Big Bubba to the outside with an ugly looking tackle. Tony initially asked a legitimate question. They’re wrestling in all of these other rings. Why isn’t the referee technically counting him out if they’re supposed to be in one ring? In a standard singles match, this would be a good point. About a minute later though, Tony explained that this match can only be won via pinfall or knock out. Well then WHY WOULD THE REFEREE COUNT THESE GUYS OUT?

This really grinds my gears about the commentators. These commentators should be the smartest people in the WCW world. THEY should be the ones with all the scoops. Not the internet as Hogan alluded to earlier. This Tony Schiavonie doesn’t even know the rules of the match!

This also explains why Big Bubba taped Hacksaw’s arm to the rope and punches away at him and it’s not a disqualification. To be perfectly honest, they never even explained what the rules were until Tony mentioned the match can only be won via pinfall and knock out.

Hacksaw dumped Big Bubba to the outside and Big Bubba’s lower back SMACKED into the apron. It was one of the worst apron bumps I’ve ever seen and it wasn’t even intentional. Big Bubba was clearly not moving right afterwards. It looked so nasty that the fans all yelled oooowwww. Nasty.

Of course, then Hacksaw proceeds to slam away at Big Bubba’s back onto the mat.

Hacksaw hit a big clothesline as VK Wallstreet ran down with a taped fist of his own. Hacksaw hit Wallstreet with a 2×4 for a big pop. Big Bubba hits Hacksaw with a chain and knocked him out. By the way, this referee seemed so bored by this match just purely based on the delivery of his ten count. He looked like this was just a waste of his time. One arm up and looked half asleep. No that I blame him. This was a pointless match that went too long as they just brawled everywhere to no heat except when Hacksaw chanted USA. This was a bad match.

Match Rating: 1/2* and that is actually being generous. This match barely evaded a minus rating!

 

They plugged WCW stars being on CompuServe chatting with folks on the internet.

They cut to Mean Gene with Ric Flair. Flair was on form as usual. Flair says the whole wrestling world knows the Nature Boy is gonna style and profile. For what happened on Nitro a few weeks ago, the great one is back one more time to get Sting. Flair calls himself the best thing going today. Flair says it’s been his master plan as he’s got all the babyfaces in the same building and said that Flair would rule WCW one more time. Typical Flair promo.

 

Cutie Suzuki and Mayumi Ozaki representing JWP vs Bull Nakano and Akira Hokuto w/Sonny Onoo repreesnting AJPW

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Before I watched this show, I took a quick peep at the card for the show since they never advertised anything on Nitro. I saw Bull Nakano’s name as part of a women’s tag team match and I got giddy. Oh, I have no idea how good I was gonna get it.

Mike Tenay joined Tony and Bobby on commentary supposedly as the Japanese expert in WCW. This was great from the get-go as Bull and Akira whooped ass from the start of the match. Bull threw Ozaki around like a ragdoll. Akira had a hold of her arm and Bull started biting the other arm as Ozaki had nowhere to go as her hands were tied with these heel wrestlers!

They did a lovely spot where Bull choked and hoisted Ozaki up and Akira caught Ozaki from the elevated position for like a modified Hart Attack.

Ozaki fired back but Bull dropped her with a big right hand sending her crashing to the ground. Ozaki finally was able to get free by hitting a big DDT. Cutie got the hot tag and what followed was an awesome spot. I can’t remember who got the lock in on who but Cutie locked on a Single Leg Boston Crab. Ozaki locked on a Single Leg Boston Crab herself as they had both had stereo Single Leg Boston Crabs locked on to the heels as the fans ate this up. They were going nuts for this spot and it was truly well executed spot.

Bull eventually got mad and turned things around. There was miscommunication as Suzuki crashed into Ozaki and sent her onto the floor. Bull tried a moonsault but missed. Then Ozaki and Cutie went absolutely crazy as they unleashed top rope foot stomps on the big bad Bull. One after another after another as the fans were going crazy. They went for the cover but Bull STILL kicked out at two. This was great.

So much was going on as it was insanely difficult for me to take notes! They tried a double suplex on Bull but the clearly much bigger Bull reversed it into her own double suplex! Akira went for a dive but missed. The heels went for double powerbombs but they were countered into roll-ups for near falls. This was tremendous.

Ozaki and Suzuki both went off the top for top rope crossbodies. Ozaki hit a beautiful dragon suplex for a near fall. Akira then decided enough with these babyfaces and proceeded to commit attempted murder. She almost DESTROYED Ozaki with a German Suplex. One of the most dangerous looking German suplexes I’ve ever seen in my whole life. I saw Brock Lesnar hurl everybody in WWE with German suplexes across the ring. One of my memories was Brock killing Big E with a suplex at Beast of the East. This looked so much more brutal than any suplex I’ve ever seen.

Akira hit a double front dropkick from the top and did a flip to the outside on babyfaces. Bull and Akira did a Doomsday Device for a near fall. Bull did a big leg drop from the top for the pin in an awesome, AWESOME match.

I just saw two great women’s matches at the 2019 Royal Rumble. Ronda Rousey faced Sasha Banks and Asuka faced Becky Lynch. I was debating all week in my head about which one of these matches were best. This tag team match from 1995 was miles ahead of both of them. I’m not sure I’m gonna go as far as to say these women were better wrestlers than the likes of Asuka and Becky etc. (especially not Asuka) but there was just a sense of excitement in this one that was missing in those two matches. This was not a routine WWE match. This was not even a routine WCW 1995 match. This was these four women doing whatever the hell they wanted to do and it got over with this crowd that’d never seen these girls before. This was amazing.

Match Rating: **** (Exactly like Dave Meltzer from Wrestling Observer at the time and I have no problem agreeing with that rating. Everybody go watch this match on the WWE Network!)

 

OK, Mean Gene plugs the hotline AGAIN. He said there was more comings and goings from another promotion, they can’t talk about here but if you call the hotline you can find out… YOU GUYS named-dropped the WWF specifically earlier and the steroid scandal.

He brought Jimmy Hart and Lex Luger and Mean Gene flat out called Jimmy a little twerp. That made me laugh. Jimmy said you might just be seeing the next WCW World champion in Lex Luger. Luger said that they’re looking at the flagship and the future of WCW wrestling. He was gonna smash Savage into the pieces and he was gonna stand there as the WCW Champion.

 

Kensuke Sasaki (c) w/Sonny Onoo vs Chris Benoit representing the Four Horsemen for the WCW United States Championship

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You remember a couple of weeks ago when Benoit beat Sasaki in a 2 minute 40 second match on Nitro? This was like a couple of weeks ago and they’re here at World War 3 with Kensuke Sasaki as the United States Champion defending the title against Chris Benoit! What a twist of fate!

Since I don’t think I touched on this during my review of their first match, allow me to explain what happened. On the same week as the Benoit match, they did a big WCW and Japan supershow. This is not on the WWE Network before you ask. On that show, Sasaki challenged Sting for the US title and beat him to win the title. It’s hard to believe with the finish of the Benoit match on Nitro but yeah, Sasaki was the new US champion of WCW.

Sonny Onoo had a great line where he looked straight at the camera and said “this Chris Benoit thinks he’s an American wannabe” and proceeded to laugh like Waluigi! It really went like “wahahahahaha!” We need more heel managers like this in 2019!

There was some great technical wrestling going on in this one and all you could do was just sit back and watch. There was some small details about this which I liked. Benoit was dominating the technical game so Sasaki’s response was to bring brute force into things with a couple of scoop slams and knocking the wind out of the faster Benoit.

Benoit hit a big dive which almost saw Benoit crashed head first into the barricade. This was a very scary spot and even scarier with the “benefit” of hindsight (which really isn’t a benefit all things considered).

Onoo got on commentary for a little bit and mentioned some deal about Starrcade. Apparently, the story was that he got kicked out of WCW but supposedly he’s got a deal set up for Starrcade.

Sasaki hit a big powerslam during all of this. Benoit hit two German suplexes but he went for the third and Sasaki got out of it and just flat out hit a big clothesline. Sasaki tried a tombstone piledriver but Benoit reversed it into one of his own, which would have been a more special spot if I hadn’t seen it in the opening match with DDP and Badd. Those two did the exact same spot.

Benoit hit a diving headbutt. I don’t want to talk about this for too long but I couldn’t help but notice this. Benoit hits the diving headbutt here and then just goes towards the next spot in these 1995 matches. If you watch an older Chris Benoit in action, he’d hit the headbutt and then he’d be down clutching his head for a while before doing whatever spot was next. It’s not nice to think about but I could not help but think about this. How much can change in the span of a decade.

Benoit did a Frankensteiner for a near fall. Sasaki tried an armbar variation but Benoit got the rope. Sasaki then finished things off with a big clothesline and a Northern Lights bomb to retain the title.

Not as exciting as the women’s match but a very well-done technically proficient match.

Match Rating: ***1/2

 

I almost just left the room for the next segment. For what feels like the millionth time in my life, MEAN GENE OKERLUND DOES A PROMO WITH THE TASKMASTER, JIMMY HART AND THE GIANT!

HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO SEE THIS? At least with Ric Flair, you know it’s going to be entertaining every time you see it as you have no idea what he’s gonna say. Here, the Dungeon of Doom are just rambling and babbling about the same old stuff. No substance to any of this other than The Giant’s excellent facial expressions.

Taskmaster blabbed about taking no prisoners and called The Giant the uncrowned champion. The Giant had his eyes laser-focused on the hard cam for the majority of this. Then the fans burst out into Hogan chants and the Giant roared and it got Jimmy Hart fired up with his promo. Taskmaster refused to believe that the Dungeon of Doom would implode as the Dungeon of Doom would win. The Giant vowed to throw Hogan over the top rope. He graced us with a poem: “Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m gonna kick you’re butt to Calamazo.” This was definitely one of the more livelier promos from the Dungeon of Doom.

 

They plugged Starrcade, which was set to air on a Wednesday.

Mean Gene was with Savage again. Savage said what it is is what it is. Mean Gene asked if Savage was jittery to which Savage responded by saying that he’s always jittery. Savage said he was the total package and he was gonna get Lex. Savage insisted that he was a million percent which he clarified was better that hundred percent! He is mathematically correct! He said he and Luger had a date with destiny.

 

Randy Savage vs Lex Luger w/Jimmy Hart

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This was the 3rd match in the series between these two. Luger won the first match and Savage won the second match at Halloween Havoc so this was the rubber match. Bobby talked about losing his voice for Nitro but insisted that he’d be there as he needed this job as he’s supporting an orphanage in Guam!

These cameramen had no problem with constant shots of the Hooters girls in the front row.

I know the line between reality and fiction is very fishy with WCW. At Halloween Havoc, Savage was in kayfabe 100% against Lex Luger but worked very slow as he was working with a legitimate injury. Here, in storyline, the announcers played up that Savage’s arm was actually injured but Savage was working the match as if he was a million percent as he claimed earlier! Apparently, he still had the injury according to Wrestling Observer Newsletter so who actually knows how he was feeling.

He didn’t really add much to this match and it wasn’t like they did anything that they hadn’t done before. They did some stuff. Savage hit a scoop slam and hit an elbow drop but Jimmy Hart distracted the referee. Savage tried to throw Luger at Jimmy but Jimmy moved out of the way as Luger went crashing onto the floor.

It was here where we learned Sting and Luger were gonna team up on Nitro. Lex Luger locked on the Torture Rack on the outside as the referee was counting them down. As a true manager, Jimmy got on the megaphone and yelled at Luger what number the referee was at with his count!

Luger locked on an arm lock as Savage passed out in an odd finish. Luger refused to let go off the arm when Sting ran down. He got in Luger’s face just as Luger did for Sting when Sting locked on the Scorpion Deathlock on Flair on Nitro. Luger relented and Sting went to care for Savage. So even after they did the opening promo where Hogan and Savage had faith in Sting, they’re still playing up the nature of this friendship between Luger and Sting and that Sting is not totally on the babyfaces’ side.

Match Rating: *

 

They recapped the Sting/Ric Flair feud. Sting vowed that if he ever got Flair in the Scorpion Deathlock again, he would never let go.

 

Sting vs Ric Flair

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Tony plugged that Hogan would face Hugh Morrus on Nitro.

We had an awesome spot in this match where Flair was punched by Sting. The Nature Boy rolled out, rolled into another ring and started to style and profile in another ring! Flair even got a good thrust in towards one of the male fans who were outraged as the women cheered!

The fans were very hot for this match. Flair was dropkicked and rolled all the way into the third ring! Sister Sherri and Col Robert Parker randomly came out to watch the match and smooch. It’s every Sting vs Ric Flair match you’ve ever seen except Flair was able to flop and roll into three different rings during the match!

Flair got in the ring and tried a test of strength. Sting literally had hold of one arm and Flair yelled ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGH!

Sting tried a Stinger Splash but crashed into the barricade. In a spot I’ve seen at least twice in the series so far, Flair went for a chair but the referee Nick Patrick interjected himself and grabbed the chair. Sting grabbed Flair by the throat but as Nick was trying to yell at Sting, Flair got a cheeky low blow for the heat!

Flair worked on the leg of Sting and then went for the Figure Four Leg Lock. Flair was so desperate that he actually clawed and punched away at Sting’s leg! Flair then made the mistake of slapping Sting. Sting roared as Flair went bug-eyed and screamed as Sting turned it over!

Sting did a backslide for a near fall. Flair pushed Nick Patrick but the referee was having none of it and pushed Flair to the ground as the fans went crazy for it. Flair ran into another ring which the commentators clarified was ring #1. Sting did a comeback but Flair cut him off with an eye poke. Sting threw Flair from the top rope. Again, every Sting vs Ric Flair match you ever saw and all of the same spots will never get old!

Sting hit a big superplex and locked on the Scorpion Deathlock as Flair gave up. It’s actually funny. Sting let go shortly after he got the win despite claiming he wouldn’t let go. I watched this and thought this was a point blank plot-hole. However, I though about it when I reviewed the Lex Luger vs Randy Savage match. Sting ordered Luger to let tgo and not make the same mistake he did. So maybe, with that in mind, he decided to learn from his mistakes and not stoop to Flair’s level by trying to end his career. That at least makes sense to me.

Match Rating: ***1/4

 

Bobby actually predicted that none of the men that already wrestled at World War III would win. I said earlier that this was kinda a contradiction, since earlier he said Badd and DDP wouldn’t be at a disadvantage as they were wrestling first. Now he’s changing his tune and saying that they’re not gonna win. I dunno. It seemed like a weird lIne.

They revealed the three giants of the battle ring in each ring to be The Yeti, The Giant and HULK HOGAN. THAT GIANT… Hulk Hogan.

Speaking of Hogan, he was brought out for another interview with Mean Gene. Hogan said he smelt the stench of the smelly Giant. Hogan vowed to rip and tear his way all the way to the WCW title as he ripped his shirt off. Hogan said it’s every man for himself which actually turned out to be very accurate in the battle royal. Hogan said he had a chance to prove Hulkamania was the greatest force on earth. Hogan flexed as Mean Gene was so taken back by these physique to the soundtrack of the fans booing in the background!

I couldn’t help but notice, when they showed the WCW title, that Hogan’s name was still on the name plate. My question is how has it taken so long for that nameplate to be taken off the belt? I actually thought it was a spoiler about who would win the battle royal!

They showed the two other announce teams for this battle royal. Ring #1 was the announce team of Tony and Bobby. Ring #2 was the announce team of Eric Bischoff and Dusty Rhodes. Ring #3 was Chris Cruise and Larry Zybsko. God bless all of these commentators, but they had no hope in hell of successfully calling this battle royal!

 

The WCW World War III Battle Royal for the vacated WCW World Heavyweight Championship

Alex Wright vs. Arn Anderson vs. Big Bubba Rogers vs. Big Train Bart vs. Bobby Walker vs. Booker T vs. Brian Knobbs vs. Brian Pillman vs. Bunkhouse Buck vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Kanyon vs. Cobra vs. Dave Sullivan vs. Diamond Dallas Page vs. Dick Slater vs. Disco Inferno vs. Earl Robert Eaton vs. Eddie Guerrero vs. Fidel Sierra vs. Hugh Morrus vs. Hulk Hogan vs. Jerry Sags vs. Jim Duggan vs. Joey Maggs vs. Johnny B. Badd vs. Kensuke Sasaki vs. Kurasawa vs. Lex Luger vs. Lord Steven Regal vs. Lt. James Earl Wright vs. Marcus Alexander Bagwell vs. Mark Starr vs. Maxx Muscle vs. Meng vs. Mike Winner vs. Mr. JL vs. Paul Orndorff vs. Pez Whatley vs. Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair vs. Ricky Santana vs. Road Warrior Hawk vs. Scott Armstrong vs. Scott Norton vs. Scotty Riggs vs. Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker vs. Sgt. Craig Pittman vs. Shark vs. Squire David Taylor vs. Steve Armstrong vs. Stevie Ray vs. Sting vs. Super Assassin #1 vs. Super Assassin #2 vs. The Giant vs. The One Man Gang vs. The Taskmaster vs. The Yeti vs. VK Wallstreet vs. Zodiac

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Now I’m sure you’re all wondering why I listed all 60 men in this battle royal! Because WCW actually went through the effort of introducing all 60 men separately into this battle royal! They all came out at completely random times (except Hogan coming out last) and they call came down in a single file row. Nobody was out of position. They call trecked down to the ring. Harlem Heat came out separately. THE SUMO ASSASSINS came out and were introduced separately as Sumo Assassin #1 and Sumo Assassin #2. The Barrio Brothers.

Scott Armstrong, future WWE referee, looked like the biggest geek in the world as he came out with a mullet and pointed to the camera! Some guys, when I wrote down their names, I just wrote THAT GUY and THAT OTHER GUY! It wasn’t until I looked it up where I could clarify their names. I could not catch the name but I wrote like three different versions of Big Train Bart’s name! Cobra, with the most “charisma” I’ve ever seen with the most serious face imaginable looked at the camera and went… woo. No umph to it. Just… woo.

Let’s talk about The Yeti. The last time we saw this… thing, he came out as a mummy and dry-humped Hulk Hogan with The Giant. He came back here and he was dressed as a giant version of Scorpion from Mortal Kombat. I have no idea as the man built as a Yeti transformed into a Mummy and then transformed into a ninja! I’d love to know what Eric Bischoff, Executive President I believe of WCW, was thinking when he thought of the Yeti’s very gimmick!

I wrote on my notes that this was going to be the worst review of my life! So here goes nothing!

Michael Buffer finished the introductions and after all the fireworks in the world… all 60 men in the three rings started to fight!

There were three rings with 20 men in each ring. Once one of the rings were down to ten men, they’d go into another ring (I think ring #1 was the one they had to go into). So when it was down to 30 people, the camera focused on the one ring they were all in. By the way it took like 10-20 minutes in for them to get to 30 people in the ring!

I literally wrote on my notes: “You cannot keep up with any of this shit as there’s 3 screens.”

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Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair start to fight from the start of the match and the announcers are unable to call it. The fans are going crazy but because 60 people are all brawling at the same time, the announcers cannot see this thing.

Everybody was fighting. It’s hard to call what happened. My notes are mostly just these two men fought on the outside, Disco Inferno was on the outside, Lex Luger was on the outside, this guy tried an elimination, this guy tried elimination etc. Reviewing a battle royal is weird. I had no idea how to grade it when it was over.

A notable thing to note was that The Yeti was eliminated almost immediately. All the fanfare on Nitro before Halloween Havoc and on Halloween Havoc itself to hype up The Yeti and this ninja was thrown out early on in the match. One of the three giants was already eliminated!

Big Bubba Rogers was the Dolph Ziggler of this battle royal. Ziggler has this thing in battle royals where, I think as a means to show how athletic he is at staying in, he’s thrown out all the time but is able to hang on. Big Bubba did the exact same thing. The Shark and Hogan both tried to eliminate this guy but he stayed in by like hanging on the ropes or something. It was astonishing to see BIG BUBBA ROGERS of all people do this!

These announcers missed eliminations left and right and you really couldn’t blame them. I didn’t realise until like a third into the match that the referees were also in the ring during all of this! WHY EVEN BOTHER? One skinny referee is in there with all of these big bodybuilders, with 20 men in each ring, just squished. Why bother if there’s two much action for them to call?

5 minutes in and we had two eliminations – The Yeti and a dude called Mike Winner. Mike was actually the first one eliminated so he was not a winner. There was WAY TOO MUCH brawling outside of the rings. Hogan and Flair were brawling on the outside, Orndorff and Luger, Savage and Luger. Lex Luger is actually a key in all of this, He was on the outside for like 95% of this match. At what point do they start DQ’ing guys who stay outside of the ring in battle royals? I know this still goes on in 2019 but Luger was barely in the ring while everybody else was getting beat on. Why doesn’t everybody just wrestle on the outside so they can’t get eliminated? This bothered me way too much.

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Guys like Mark Starr, Big Train Bart were eliminated in the melee. Arn tried a piledriver on Luger on the outside but Luger somehow countered it. A Barrio Brother was eliminated. Scott Armstrong was eliminated and was left unmoving on the floor. It looked like he landed hard. Bobby Walker was thrown out. The Giant after like ten minutes decided to run wild. He tossed out Stevie Ray, the other Barrio brother and Brian Knobbs. Alex Wright was tossed out, somebody else was tossed out.

Randy Savage eliminated Lord Eaton. Dirty Dick Slater LEFT according to Tony! Ring #2 was down to 10 men so they all moved to Ring #1. VK Wallstreet was thrown out by Savage. Scott Norton was eliminated by fellow Dungeon of Doom member Hugh Morrus. Hulk Hogan and The Giant finally come to blows but this is barely touched upon by the announcers as they probably had no idea it was going on.

Finally, 31 people are left and are all fighting in one ring according to the announcers. The Dungeon of Doom all tried to attack Hogan. Pittman locked on an armbar on Joey Maggs and then threw him out. It was like he snapped his arm and they threw him out. It was kinda cool looking.

Eric Bischoff claimed Kurasawa was eliminated but it was never shown. It eventually emerged later that Kurasawa was still in the ring so Bischoff couldn’t even keep up. The man in charge of running the show could not keep up with this battle royal.

Somebody was stretchered out as Big Bubba and Hacksaw eliminated each other. Disco Inferno was eliminated and Dave Taylor was eliminated. The Dungeon of Doom then all turn on each other… FOR NO REASON. They’re dominating the match and then The Giant and One Man Gang start to fight. Then Hugh Morrus got involved and he started fighting with them. This was a complete mess of a match but I loved it. A train wreck of the most tremendous type!

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Jerry Saggs and Booker T were both eliminated. Hogan eliminated Taskmaster to a big pop. Steven Regal was eliminated. Hogan and Giant had a terrible lock up in the middle of the ring. DDP and Badd eliminated each other and fought to the back. Pittman was thrown out.

Benoit was eliminated. Savage tried to eliminate The Giant but Giant escaped and then headbutted Macho Man in his groin. Meng was thrown out. Flair and Sting fought again. Morrus eliminated another Dungeon of Doom member in The Zodiac. Sasaki finally got rid of Hugh Morrus.

Hawk eliminated Pillman. Hogan burst onto the scene and eliminated Hawk and Kensuke Sasaki. We were down to ten men. Sting almost eliminated Eddie Guerrero accidentally but Eddie stayed largely due to his legs leaving him hung out to dry. Hogan dumped out Mr Wonderful and as Orndorff rolled out, his legs got stuck up by the barricade and was propped like a doll on the barricade.

Ric and Arn Anderson worked together on Eddie Guerrero. Arn hit a spinebuster and threw him out. For a cruiserweight, Eddie Guerrero was given a lot in this big WCW PPV main-event. He made it to the final ten. Sting and Hogan worked together on Flair. Sting catapulted Arn into Flair on the top rope to eliminate Flair and then Hogan eliminated Arn in a matter of seconds.

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Fans are going crazy now they can finally see what was going on. Flair ran into another ring and was IRATE about this development.

The final six were Hulk Hogan, Sting, Randy Savage, Lex Luger, One Man Gang and The Giant. It was mostly babyfaces vs heels when it came down to the final six. Eventually, Sting and Luger worked together to try and eliminate The Giant. Just as they had him on the verge of elimination, HULK HOGAN eliminated all three men from behind.

So after all the talk about how he’d always be Sting’s friend and he’d always stand by Sting’s side, he eliminated Sting from behind. What an absolute cock this Hulk Hogan is! He eliminated his friend when his back was turned. He didn’t even wait until the end to have a fair fight. Hogan was totally a heel at this point!

Eventually The Giant pulled Hogan from underneath the bottom rope. They begin to fight and Hogan even slams The Giant but as this is going on, Savage eliminated One Man Gang in the ring. We couldn’t see it  but the bell rings as Savage was declared the winner.

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Savage declared the winner actually got a lot of boos. An irate Hogan, even more irate than Ric Flair, pleaded his case to the referees. He even went as far as to motion himself as if to show what happened. He was pulled underneath the bottom rope by The Giant. Hogan was such a great friend to Savage that after his friend Savage won the title, Hogan is trying to upstage him. He mockingly laughs at Savage being given the belt, he whines while Mean Gene insists this is gonna stand.

In Hogan’s defense, he was screwed. He was never technically eliminated and this match being such a train wreck actually plays into the story. As I mentioned how the referees must have no idea what was going on, the referees didn’t see HOW Hogan was suddenly out of the ring. So many people were going outside of the ring that they may have just been going over the top rope and the referees wouldn’t have known. Here, they saw the only two people left in the ring were Savage and One Man Gang. Hell, we had at least two occasions where rivals eliminated each other and then fought to the back. They may have seen Giant and Hogan fighting and figured, Giant eliminated him.

Savage is in the ring and said he valued Hogan’s opinions but he saw nothing. However, Savage lives by what it is is what it is. Hogan even went as far as to ask the fans if he went under the bottom rope. Mean Gene was unsure as to whether this would stand up in court.

Hogan said there was a dark cloud as neither man went over the top rope. Savage said that he wanted to see the film and Hogan said he wanted a title shot if it was shown he went under the bottom rope.

After a while, Hogan eventually calmed down and shook Savage’s hands. He gave congrats to his friend despite the fact that he was screwed in this battle royal.

Match Rating: **

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If you think about it, this finish was just the ultimate poetic justice for Hulk Hogan. At Royal Rumble 1992, Sid Justice eliminated Hogan from behind and Hogan was outraged by this. He was so outraged that he helped Ric Flair eliminate Sid. EVERYBODY except Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon (and I guess Gorilla Monsoon if you listen to the commentary) saw Hogan as the heel. He helped a heel eliminate a babyface when he was FAIRLY thrown out of the Royal Rumble.

Here in this battle royal, he eliminates his friend Sting from behind after doing the big promo about he’d never leave Sting’s side and he wanted to be his friend forever. So he completely does a flip-flop from the Royal Rumble 1992 and eliminates Sting. This time, HOGAN is robbed of the Battle Royal and his other friend Savage wins the title. It’s the karma to end all karmas and if you want to look at this with that incident in mind, Hogan got what he deserved here.

Regardless, this was a great finish. This sets up three big matches. It sets ups Randy Savage vs Hulk Hogan as when it’s proven Hogan went under the bottom rope, he will get the title shot that he wanted. It sets ups Randy Savage vs The Giant as he was technically never beaten for the title and Savage never even eliminated him in the battle royal. It also sets up Randy Savage vs Lex Luger again as Luger beat him earlier on in the night.

I’d say this PPV was a thumbs up. The wrestling up and down the card was great with the exception of I guess the Big Bubba/Hacksaw match and the Savage/Luger match. The battle royal was a MESS of a match and extremely difficult to follow but I had a fun time watching it. It was a complete train wreck for the first half and in the second half it was more co-ordinated. This PPV gets a THUMBS UP.

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I am 7500 words into this review and I am pooped. We hope you enjoyed that review as I had a lot of fun writing it. I usually hate doing the PPV reviews as they’re longer but this one was a lot of fun to write. I hope everybody liked it and I will be back for more Nitro. Back for fallout from World War 3 as we’re on the road to Starrcade!

WCW Nitro Reading Order

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RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #12 (NOVEMBER 20TH 1995) – HULK HOGAN VS STING

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

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We’re on the road to World War III and tensions are running high both in the forces of good and the forces of evil. Factions like The Dungeon of Doom are cracking from within with internal conflicts between the likes of Scott Norton and The Shark. The forces of good has been divided by suspicion as the “Evil” Hulk Hogan has suspected foul play from the Stinger due to his friendship with the Dungeon of Doom’s Lex Luger. Hulk Hogan has thrown down the challenge and Sting accepted the challenge.

So now, main-eventing this episode of Nitro, is Sting vs Hulk Hogan. Who will gain momentum on the go-home edition of Nitro as we head towards war…. WORLD WAR III?

 

Date: November 20th, 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Macon, Georgia

Rating: 2.5

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

 

This episode was decreed as the “Superbowl of Wrestling” by Eric Bischoff, with the other commentators looking stunned as Bobby Heenan admitted he was cheering for Sting. Bobby then clarified that he would cheer for Sting to win… but then wished for Sting to fall down some stairs.

 

Scott Norton vs The Shark

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This feud kind of “jumped the Shark” for me this week. Pun always intended when it comes to The Shark! Bischoff then said, and I quote, “this man will flash you” as Scott Norton came down.

The Shark came down to brawl with Norton. The fans actually booed at this point so maybe they were sick of this feud too. They got into the ring and rang the bell. The Shark hit a big belly-to-belly slam and an elbow drop as Bobby revealed that you’d see these “two men pound each other tonight.”

Norton then began to fire up as Bischoff plugged the WCW hotline. Norton then simply picked up Shark, slammed him and pinned him. Then the two started pushing each other again after the match so this feud must continue. I was all for this feud at first but I think this was the point where the life was sucked out of this feud. I’d hate to be so negative about this feud but this act can only get good for so long.

 

Mean Gene Okerlund did another god damn interview with the Taskmaster and Jimmy Hart. It is the exact same thing every week since Jimmy Hart sided with the Dungeon of Doom.  Mean Gene called Jimmy the original Benedict Arnold and Jimmy thanked him for the compliment. Jimmy tried to stir the pot between Sting and Hogan. Jimmy’s idea to stir the pot was to make Sting jealous that Hogan was doing a Baywatch episode with “Macho Man” Randy Savage instead of Sting! In Jimmy’s eyes, this was an act of betrayal as Sting was brought in for Thunder in Paradise one time!

Taskmaster said there’s strength in numbers and Taskmaster has waited a long time for Hogan to be in the ring with all the members of the Dungeon of Doom. Mean Gene called them the two biggest pieces of garbage he knows. At the end of this Mongo said Bobby’s opinions are like his feet… they both stink.

 

Eddie Guerrero vs Ric Flair

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Disco Inferno came down to dance while promoting a CD of this. I have no idea if this was a real CD but I pray that it is and somewhat available on eBay! Eddie stopped him in his tracks anyway.

Ric Flair came out in street clothes. He looked SLICK indeed as Slick Ric got on the mic. He came out with Brian Pillman who was actually dressed to compete himself. Ric got on the mic and said WCW made a mistake when they said Eddie was gonna wrestle him tonight. Ric said he decided to let the great flyin’ Brian take care of business. Flair told Pillman to take care of his line of work for him and he’d get the plane ready. Eddie was upset as apparently he’d trained “all week” to face Ric Flair!

 

Eddie Guerrero vs Brian Pillman

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Pillman waved his red jacket in front of Eddie as if it was a bull fighting show. Brian slapped him and then hit some hard chops. Eddie hit a lovely teardrop suplex but Pillman soon caught Eddie off the top with a dropkick. Brian got in front of the camera and yelled “I LOVE YOU MAN.”

Eddie tried a roll-up but Pillman regained the heat with a face slam. Bobby did play up Eddie as a big star saying that “everybody’s talking about Eddie this and Eddie that” and even if Heenan is a heel that’s a good thing to subtlety play up the babyfaces if you’re a heel. Therefore, if Eddie is being prepared for a big match with Flair or whoever, this is a good way to build him up.

Eddie eventually fired back with a little “Latino heat” as he speared and threw punches at Pillman. Pillman suplexed Eddie to the outside and tried a double axe handle but he smashed right into the barricade.

Eddie did a big dive off the top rope. I love how Bobby suggested that Eddie’s real name is Clark Kent as he came off the top rope like Superman. In case you weren’t aware, Bobby Heenan was a really good commentator.

Eddie hit a brainbuster. Brian tried a superplex but Eddie pushed him off the top rope, hit a frog splash and got the pin. The commentators asked the questions of where the Horsemen were. Bischoff actually explained that they were on Flair’s plane but it does play up the storyline that Pillman’s doing the heavy lifting while the Horsemen were partying on a plane.

Bobby talked about how Eddie might be a future star and he really did go all out on commentary to put Eddie over as a top star.

 

They plugged WCW Saturday Night with Lex Luger being in the main-event, Disco Inferno in action, VK Wallstreet in action and Hugh Morrus who they described as, and this is a quote (as a rewound it several times to make sure it was true)… “a really exciting wrestler.” HUGH MORRUS IS A REALLY EXCITING WRESTLER.

We then cut to the crowd and these kids in the crowd were holding up peace signs and the teenagers to their right looked utterly disgusted with these cheerful kids!

 

Road Warrior Hawk vs Big Bubba Rogers

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So as these two were coming down to the ring, Bischoff asks the hard-hitting questions again of “what if that injury was not what we thought it was and Savage was gonna turn on Hogan at World War 3?”

Bischoff also suggested that someone that may not be expected to show up may show up at World War 3. This was just the part of the show where Eric Bischoff was one of the most annoying people alive, Bischoff was giving it the “big ‘un” about how wrestlers from wrestling organisations from around the world are looking to get involved in World War 3.

Now I know the idea is to build up the PPV but is it not possible to state that WCW have the biggest stars in the wrestling world instead of spearing rumour wildfire with the hope of possible last-minute PPV buys? Eric should be trying to establish that they’ve got the literal biggest stars in the wrestling world and that they’ve got a battle that everyone in wrestling will want to get involved in this big event. Outright suggesting that someone from the WWF will show up is a big sell unless a big star like Bret Hart or Diesel or Shawn Michaels is actually showing up. Spoiler alert but none of these men turn up.

Big Bubba and Hawk botched a spot where Big Bubba did a big splash but Hawk wasn’t able to move fast enough so he ended up shoulder-barging the guy instead. Big Bubba hit a spinebuster as Bobby said “THE HAWK IS GROUNDED, TWEET, TWEET, TWEET.” Big Bubba Irish whipped Hawk but tumbles out of the corner backwards at the speed of light and crashed into Big Bubba.

Hawk missed a dive. Big Bubba taped up his fist and went to hit Hawk but Hacksaw Jim Duggan came out of nowhere and tripped Big Bubba and Hawk got the pin. It was revealed that Big Bubba landed on his own taped hand but this was absolute dirt horrible wrestling. Keep in mind that Bischoff said two weeks ago that they didn’t have instant replay when Benoit got screwed out of the match with Eddie. Here, these WCW jerks magically have replays on hand to show clips of the horrible match we just watched. This was horrible.

 

Hulk Hogan vs Sting

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To say that WCW had money to blow at this time was never more clear than when you saw the pyro displays for the big stars of the company. Stinger is coming out and a flame pyro shot up right near him to which Sting even said “that was too close for comfort,” which is incredibly accurate. I screamed at this part for the safety of the man called Sting.

Interesting note about Sting, when it relates to this storyline… Sting was dressed in the red and yellow as he came out. In comparison, Hogan came out and he was all in black. Very interesting story-telling just based on what they were wearing which is pretty clever for a wrestling company. So Hogan’s music played and the fans just boo this man. But as they’re waiting for Hogan, Savage comes down to the ring with his arm in a sling.

The arm in a sling was as a result of Luger’s beatdown from last week. He’s out there, with his arm in a sling mind you, and more pyro sparks right in Savage’s face. We got firework after firework as Savage was waiting for Hogan. WWE in 2018 recently stopped doing fireworks for their talent as a cost-cutting measure but I’m glad they’ve stopped just as a safety measure for these guys. All the fireworks in the world are shot right at the talent in WCW. It’s scary.

Finally, Hogan “sneaks” into the ring. When I say sneak to the ring, I’m fairly certain Kamala could have done a more elegant job at this. Hogan tried getting over this barricade not at the speed of sound but at the speed of silence. Sting is looking away as Hogan and his broken down body struggle to get over this barricade.

Hogan, with the Batman mask on from last week, finally gets in the ring and plays to the crowd like “do you want me to get this guy?” and then he gets him.

So Eric Bischoff, who has been hyping this match up for the entirety of the show, then suddenly declares that he doesn’t want to see this match. You as a promoter, when the match finally starts, pick right when the match starts to say “on second thought, I don’t want to see this match”? Eric Bischoff got my nerves during this episode, in case you hadn’t figured it out.

Hogan could barely move. He even tripped when going for a clothesline. Sting tried his hardest to get the best out of Hogan, selling like crazy for the Hulkster. This was like their Starrcade 1997 match in reverse. We’ll talk about it whenever we get to it in the series but in their Starrcade match, Sting was out of shape so when he fired up, Hogan sold like crazy for Sting. This was remarkable to watch.

I think I figured out at this point that this was Hogan’s first match on Nitro since his match with Luger on Episode #2. You could see why he was so limited with this match. Hogan was barely in position for a crossbody as the two of them were on complete different pages of different books for a clothesline spot.

Then Hulk Hogan whipped out an ARMBAR. Paying homage to the name of the blog, Hogan does what is possible the worst armbar I’ve ever seen. It seemed Hogan had never watched a mixed martial arts fight in his life. I can tell you for a fact that UFC was around at this time and I confidentially tell you that even me, with possibly weeks worth of martial arts experience in my whole life, can do an armbar better than Hulk Hogan here in this match. That’s right ME.

Sting hit a Stinger Splash but Hogan grabbed Sting by the waist and locked on a bearhug which was actually a clever spot. The fans booed Hogan like crazy and they were all cheering for Sting. It appeared Sting went for a toe hold but Hogan didn’t register with the spot and stayed on his feet as Eric tried to convince us that this is where the action was at. Sting locked on the Scorpion Deathlock and Hogan fired up much to the fans’ dismay.

Hogan did the punches and a big boot but started selling his leg after he missed the leg drop. Sting went for a Scorpion Deathlock as Hogan grabbed the referee and yelled “HELP ME” but this was shortly broken up by the Dungeon of Doom for the DQ. Everybody was out there and then The Giant came down. The Giant grabbed Hogan and Sting for a double chokeslam but Savage hit Giant with a chair.

Giant chokeslammed Savage. Sting and Hogan both used a chair to send Giant over the top rope with an ugly spot as The Giant was held back by the Dungeon who had a hard time holding back this monster of a man.

Taskmaster and Jimmy then harassed the announcers, specifically Bobby Heenan their fellow heel. Heenan astutely pointed out that if this is how they’re gonna treat Heenan, who they like, imagine what they’re gonna do to everyone during World War 3.

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That was Nitro. I was not to high on this one this week. The end segment was sort of the only thing that really made me want to watch this World War 3 PPV. In fact, I think the battle royal for the title is the only match they’ve promoted since Halloween Havoc. That’s not good.

We will see you with our World War 3 review as WCW goes to war. After giving it some thought, it’ll be another whole PPV review. I’ve actually watched the PPV already as the time of writing this post and prepare for one of the most wackiest battle royals in wrestling history!

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

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

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

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

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

 

Date: November 6th,1995

Brand: WCW

City: Jacksonville, Florida

Rating: 2

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

The Taskmaster w/Jimmy Hart vs The Renegade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sting vs Ric Flair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We will see you with Episode #11 of Nitro.

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #9 (OCTOBER 30TH 1995) – ….SO WHO IS THE WCW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION?

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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Previously on the Retro Express…

WCW Halloween Havoc took place. We got short matches, we got long matches, we got monster trucks, we got betrayal after betrayal after betrayal… and we may have a new WCW World Heavyweight Champion.

The title match between The Giant and Hulk Hogan ended with a disqualification when Jimmy Hart attacked the referee. Hart turned on Hulk Hogan and this was quickly followed by Lex Luger double-crossing Randy Savage as the Dungeon of Doom welcomed two new members into the fold. With The Giant holding the title like he’d won it and Michael Buffer insisting The Giant wasn’t the champion, questions were raised about who the champion was…

…this episode of WCW Nitro didn’t do a particularly good job in explaining it either!

 

Date: October 30th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Dayton, Ohio

Rating: 2.3

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

 

Funnily enough, this week’s rating was down from last week. Usually, the ratings go up following a PPV but not here. Interesting stat.

 

Craig Pittman vs Eddie Guerrero

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I’ll explain the storyline to this one because there were a few dark matches on WCW Halloween Havoc that were shown on Main Event instead. One of them was Craig Pittman vs VK Wallstreet and I was able to watch it. The announcers explained that the winner would face Randy Savage on this episode of Nitro. Pittman won but Savage ended up getting taken out at the end of the PPV. Therefore, Eddie replaced Savage in the match. This type of storyline does make it seem that wrestling on Nitro was worth fighting for. I guess that’s a good way to put the show over.

Bobby Heenan said Halloween Havoc changed the course of professional wrestling. I’m not sure I’d go that far as I don’t believe The Yeti and The Giant humping Hogan changed the course of professional wrestling. I mean Viscera humped wrestlers in the ring but nowadays, not many people do. :/

Eddie tried to take down Pittman at the start of the match but Pittman was simply too big for the cruiserweight Eddie. Eddie was actually able to take Pittman down as it started off as a very much shoot-style grappling match. Pittman soon turned it into a brawl.

Bischoff claimed President Bill Clinton and his wife Hilary were watching Halloween Havoc… I’m about 99% certain that didn’t happen. Pittman hit a belly-to-belly suplex. Eddie hit a beautiful springboard crossbody. After Eddie found some fire, some Latino Heat if you will, Pittman went back to hitting belly-to-belly suplexes! Pittman hit a powerbomb. There was actually a smooth finish were Eddie reversed a hip toss into a victory roll for the pin. A fine little opener for Nitro.

 

They showed The Shark accidentally costing Scott Norton the match against Randy Savage in Episode #2 and then Norton and The Shark brawling last week.

 

Scott Norton vs The Shark

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Bobby Heenan left the announce booth and was later showed to be eating sushi with Sonny Onoo. This blood feud between The Shark and Scott Norton starts with a lock-up, which could be explained away as these two were part of a stable after all. There’s just cracks in the Dungeon of Doom. They’re still allies at the end of the day.

Nevertheless, this ended up being a hard-hitting fight. The Shark hit a belly-to-belly and then hit a big elbow drop. Scott tried to get Shark down with clotheslines but the Shark would not go down. Even with a diving shoulder tackle, Scott could not take down the Shark. Then out of nowhere, Scott just hoisted him up for a scoop slam and slammed him! After all of that effort, he just slams him! The fans did pop for that.

Scott and Shark took each other out with a clothesline. They brawled on the outside and it ended in a double count-out. They brawled to the back and Norton rammed Shark into the WCW logo on the ramp. Bischoff claimed it was solid steel which I find hard to believe as the logo was light enough to be moved by the apparent sheer force of Shark and Scott Norton! If it was steel, it wouldn’t have moved so easily!

I will give WCW credit in the sense that they did a double count-out but the brawling itself did make you want to see more of these two beating the crap out of each other. Therefore, this gets my endorsement for now.

 

Tony Schiavonie makes a rare Nitro appearance as they showed photos from WCW Magazine of what happened with Ric and Sting vs Anderson and Pillman at the PPV.

So out comes the newly re-united Horsemen with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman. Yes, Flair turned on Sting at Halloween Havoc. Pillman called it a thing of beauty as Flair cut Sting’s throat. The group said the incident saw them one step closer to excellence. Pillman really was having the time of his life out there.

Arn gave Sting props for taking the beating. Flair styled and profiled and stated that the Horsemen were back. Whether you like it or you don’t like it, learn to love it because it’s the best thing going today. Those were words straight out of his WWF title victory speech from Royal Rumble 1992. Flair said that on next week’s Nitro, the Horsemen were ready to go to work as Flair went nuts in the ring.

This really was great stuff to get you amped up for a Four Horsemen reunion.

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So they then run down the WCW Saturday Night card as usual. Chris Benoit vs Alex Wright was supposed to take place. They announced RIC FLAIR AND ARN ANDERSON VS THE RENEGADE AND COBRA. What a vast difference in skill in these tag teams! They then announced Harlem Heat would defend the WCW tag team titles against the Blue Bloods.

Now… on Episode #3, the American Males won the WCW tag team titles. The American Males… have done nothing since then. Then, on Nitro, they randomly mention that Harlem Heat are defending the tag team titles on Saturday Night. It turns out that the title change only took place in late October anyway (taped in September) but this really does devalue the tag titles when this is the first time the Nitro audience had heard about the titles changing hands.

 

Sabu vs Disco Inferno

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The more I think about it, the more I’m amazed that this match took place. The crazed Sabu vs the Disco Inferno on Nitro. Sabu went for a takedown but Disco was just jumping over him and dancing. Sabu eventually just smacked Disco in the mouth. Sabu did his usual spiel including a springboard front dropkick.

Both men traded blows in the ring and then Sabu hit a springboard flip leg drop for the pin. The most noteworthy thing about this was the aftermath. Sabu continues his gimmick of jumping wrestlers after the match after he’s beaten them. Sabu did a dive to the outside where he landed on Disco’s shoulders which can’t have been good for Disco.

Sabu threw a table at Disco. Sabu then tried a dive through the table with Disco laid on top but Disco moved out of the way. Sabu lands right on the table that didn’t break and he probably felt way worse than Disco did in the earlier dive spot. He landed right on an unbreakable table and after this happened, a young kid in the front row is laughing tremendously for a solid minute as Sabu was having a temper tantrum. This was pointless, other than that one fan howling with laughter at this idiot Sabu for this failure of a beatdown on Disco.

 

Lex Luger and Meng w/Jimmy Hart and Taskmaster vs “The American Males” Marcus Bagwell and Scotty Riggs

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How bad was the WCW tag team division at this time? Let’s think about this for a second. Last week, Harlem Heat were beaten by Sting and Lex Luger in the main-event. Harlem Heat then won the WCW tag team titles. The former champions American Males are now in the main-event and were squashed by the newly turned Lex Luger and Meng. Mere fodders for the main-event talent of WCW.

I love how a running gag during this show is that WCW are promising to show us what happened at Halloween Havoc with exclusive footage. They’ve not mentioned explicitly what happened with the Dungeon of Doom but promised to show us later on in the show. And yet, before that point, Lex Luger and Jimmy Hart are already shown to have been aligned with the Dungeon of Doom!

Eric Bischoff actually implied that Luger, Meng and the Dungeon of Doom had been in cahoots all along. If you look at the storyline, that statement makes no sense. Meng hit Luger with a golden spike at least twice up until this point and they had the second-longest match at Halloween Havoc. However, we’re supposed to believe that they were working together all along?

Lex Luger could not even take a backdrop from Scotty Riggs. This was so poorly executed from these two men. The referee was somehow distracted as Luger and Meng hit a double move on Riggs I believe. Bischoff claimed the fans were chanting for Hogan. I could barely hear any chants for Hogan. Maybe the equipment just couldn’t pick it up but no Hogan chants were picked up on TV anyway.

Bagwell got the hot tag and ran wild. He went VERY, VERY FAST in this match. He was at least fast compared to everybody else in the match. Bagwell was at least able to get Luger up for the back drop. Bagwell had Luger pinned but the referee was distracted. Meng hit a kick to the back of the head as Luger locked on the torture rack for the victory.

A usual main-event that did the American Males no favour and did very little for Lex Luger and Meng.

 

The announcers goofed around as Mongo sprayed silly spray at Bobby Hennan, who did not look happy about this. They FINALLY showed the Halloween Havoc footage where Jimmy Hart and Lex Luger joined the Dungeon of Doom and The Yeti humped Hulk Hogan.

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Tony Schiavonie interviewed The Dungeon of Doom with The Giant having the WCW World title. Jimmy Hart explained he would give his explanation for why he turned on Hogan next week. Jimmy did say that the evil that was in Hulk Hogan was in fact Jimmy all along.

This was such a perplexing segment. Tony starts of by insisting that The Giant is not the WCW World Champion. Then The Giant is talking about how nobody would knock him off the hill and then says he’ll defend the WCW title on Nitro, vowing never to lose it. Tony then says… alright, he’s defending the title next week.

It’s one thing if you want to tell me that The Giant is just delusional in declaring himself the WCW World champion. That would be fine, except that Tony then just declares that The Giant is defending the title next week so the announcers are going along with the delusions of this Giant. As of right now, my understanding is that Hulk Hogan is still the champion.

I’m really hoping we get some clarity about this for next week’s show. This thing with the WCW World title just confuses me. I think they may not have figured out the actual explanation for why The Giant is “the champion” right now, so they can’t just say that he’s the champion. Rather confusing times.

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When I first watched it, I really was not high on this Nitro. However, I’ve somewhat had a change of heart about how bad it was. The show was actually not bad if you just look at the first half of the show. The Dungeon of Doom stuff here was a real let-down on this show. In short, half an OK show and half a bad show. That’s the best way I can describe it.

 

 

BONUS MATCHES

I have two bonus matches to quickly review. As I mentioned earlier, Halloween Havoc had four dark matches used for WCW Main Event I believe. WCW Main Event is not on the WWE Network but I was able to find two of them on YouTube and DailyMotion and I did watch them. So here’s some bonus match reviews to wrap up this edition of the Retro Express.

 

Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko vs “Blue Bloods” Lord Steven Regal and Earl Robert Eaton

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It’s actually almost shocking that Lex Luger and Meng got such a long match for the PPV and yet this match wasn’t even on the PPV. This match was great. Benoit, Malenko and Regal were all exceptional wrestlers. Eaton was a little slow in this match but he was able to work well with these great workers.

The announcers actually mentioned that Lord Steven Regal had a knee injury and was sporting a knee brace. Benoit and Regal showcased a lovely bit of chain wrestling as Regal was forced outside of the ring.

I started watching wrestling in 2003 so seeing a much faster Benoit in 1995 was almost surreal to me. I’d hate to make a comment like this considering the circumstances of Benoit’s death but he almost seemed like a completely different wrestler compared to the type of wrestler he was 10 years later. Here, Benoit was flying around all over the place like a cruiserweight. 10 years later or so, he’s much more slower and methodical.

There’s a lot that contributed to Benoit working at a slower pace down the road but I’ll just say that it was really weird in the change of wrestling styles in the space of 10 years. John Cena, for example, has not changed at all from the wrestler he was 10 years ago other than being a little slower nowadays. Benoit in 1995 was totally different to Benoit in 2005.

Eaton was a little slow to breaking up a pin following a Northern Lights Suplex. Dean hit a somewhat missed-time bulldog. Eaton then hit a gorilla press into a backbreaker which looked sweet.

They then go to do a spot. I believe the spot was Benoit was going to get Eaton up for a powerbomb and then Dean was going to clothesline Eaton from that position. Even with Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko on the scene, this spot was so horrendously screwed up and I sort of put the blame on Eaton. Benoit tried to lift this guy up and Eaton just could not get himself up. I believe either Eaton dead-weighted Benoit or Eaton just couldn’t lift himself up because Benoit was ridiculously strong back then. He usually did not have much issues with slamming big men so that leads me to believe that it was Eaton’s fault.

As great as Benoit and Regal were together in the ring, Dean and Regal were tremendous in the ring too. They did a spot where Dean had a submission locked in and Regal tried to lift Dean up for a Rampage Jackson like slam using one arm. However, Regal is still having to use one arm so it is a struggle for Regal to get Dean up! It was brilliant.

Regal went for a Regal Stretch but Benoit broke it up by booting Regal in the face. Regal tried a tombstone but Benoit reversed it for his own tombstone in a beautiful transition. Benoit hit a diving head-butt but Eaton broke up the pin. Dean sent Eaton to the outside with a crossbody. Regal hit a double-underhook suplex for near-falls, a move that Eric Bischoff proclaimed to be a double-armbar suplex.

I liked the finish of the match. Eaton broke up a pin but as the referee is dealing with Eaton, Benoit and Dean pull off a dropkick into a Dragon Suplex combo on Regal. Eaton is forced onto the apron and is fixing his attire when the referee starts to count the pin on the Regal. The light-bulb then suddenly switched on for Eaton as he was sprung into action. But before he could act, Benoit had his partner pinned.

I liked this match but in hindsight, knowing that the Blue Bloods are getting a future WCW tag team title shot, why did they get beat here by Benoit and Dean? With Eddie beating Pittman on Nitro, the goal was to get the cruiserweights over for the new division. With that being said, why were the number one contenders for the WCW tag titles sacrificed for them?

Seems weird.

Match Rating: ***

 

Craig Pittman vs VK Wallstreet for the right to face Macho Man Randy Savage on the 30th October 1995 edition of WCW Nitro (In a match that ended up not happening anyway since Randy Savage was taken out at the end of Halloween Havoc!)

 

I’m reviewing these matches in the order in which I watched them. Therefore, it does pain me to end this blog post on such a sour note. This was a complete waste of my life with the exception of one spot.

To give people some context, I was eating some porridge for my breakfast when watching this match. Pittman’s offense was mostly big standing head-butts when he leaps at a guy. Wallstreet is in the corner. Pittman goes for the move and smashes himself into the middle rope. I laughed so hard that I almost choked! I had to rewind it. Seeing this guy going face first into the turnbuckle of this failed headbutt! Definitely rewind worthy.

Yes, that was what led to VK Wallstreet getting the heat.

They do a bunch of moves when Big Bubba Rogers runs out with his hands taped. He punched Pittman in the face and fled. Then Hacksaw Jim Duggan, with his hands taped, comes down and punches Wallstreet in the face. Pittman rolls over onto Wallstreet and gets the win.

WHAT WAS THAT FINISH? Two men, who weren’t in the match, punches the two men in the match in their faces. Despite those two doing all of the work, Pittman gets the pin and the opportunity to be on Nitro. What a clown show of a match this was.

Match Rating: -*

 

That’s about it from us at the Armbar Express. Next time on WCW Nitro Episode #10, The Giant will supposedly defend the WCW title despite not technically being the champion! Be sure to check out for that next episode review and be sure to read up on up to two months worth of reviews regarding WCW Nitros and WCW PPVS!

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

Date: October 29th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Detroit, Michigan

Commentators: Tony Schiavone and Bobby “The Brian” Heenan

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **1/2

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Macho Man won with the elbow drop.

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

 

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

 

Road Warrior Hawk vs Kurasawa w/Col. Robert Parker

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: *

 

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

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

 

Mr JL vs Sabu w/The Sheik

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: *3/4

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: -*

 

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

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

 

Ric Flair and Sting vs Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My jaw dropped.

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

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

This was sensationally great.

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

 

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

 

Hulk Hogan vs The Giant in a Monster Truck Sumo Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: 1/4*

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: *1/2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

WCW Nitro Episode List

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #8 (OCTOBER 23RD 1995) – THE YETI ARRIVES ON THE GO-HOME SHOW FOR HALLOWEEN HAVOC

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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On the last episode of WCW Nitro, Ric Flair was set to go at it against Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman. Sting had agreed to be Flair’s partner but questions were raised as to whether Sting could trust Flair. Apparently, Sting had his own concerns as he was not present for the opening bell.

Flair went at it alone and massacred Arn and Brian in a chop-fest. However, when Flair was overwhelmed, the Stinger finally came to the aid of Flair. With Arn and Brian getting counted out, Sting told Flair that he was on his side as Flair proved he had a lot of guts and a lot of heart.

Other highlights included Chris Benoit’s WCW debut in a great match against Eddie Guerrero and DDP evading a WCW TV title defence against Johnny B Badd by getting himself DQ’d before the bell even rang.

Now we come to the go-home show for WCW Halloween Havoc. With Hulk Hogan on the show this week and Sting and Luger set to team up in the main event, the question remained as to what was going to happen between the heroes of WCW and the Dungeon of Doom as we are on the road to Halloween Havoc 1995 in Detroit.

Before we get to Halloween Havoc though, we’ve got a Nitro to review and… prepare yourselves for an infamous WCW debut in the closing moments of the show. You have been warned.

 

Date: October 23rd 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Huntsville, Alabama

Rating: 2.6

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

 

“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs Kurasawa

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Man, was I worried when I saw this match was set to take place. Kurasawa was a guy I was kinda high on when I first saw him. I then watched an infamous tag team match w/ him and Meng taking on Sting and Hawk and I could not believe how bad that match was. Now we had Randy Savage vs Kurasawa and even for a Randy Savage match… this was somehow boring.

This was boring because all Kurasawa did was kick away and karate chop away at Savage. When Ric Flair was chopping away at Anderson and Pillman last week, it was at least filled with fire and energy. Here, because Kurasawa was the heel, it was slow and boring. There was even a point in the match where Kurasawa was working on Savage and Savage threw Kurasawa out of the ring to buy himself some breathing room. After about 10 seconds or so, Kurasawa got back into the ring and started to work on him again.

I will say that the commentators did everything they could to put over Kurasawa, which was fine considering where this match was going on. They went on about how Kurasawa broke Hawk’s arm and defeated the undefeated Craig Pittman. That’s… fine.

So Kurasawa just kept beating on him, and beating on him, and beating on him. They went to a commercial, as the Americans put it, and then they came back and Kurasawa was STILL beating on him! This was just endless.

Actually, it wasn’t endless. Kurasawa went for a baseball slide but Savage evaded and Kurasawa fell to the outside taking a flat back bump. Kurasawa went for a head kick but accidentally kicked the ring post as Savage dodged. They got back in the ring and then Savage hit the elbow drop and won.

I can’t really hate the psychology of the match as they put Kurasawa over on route to Savage beating the guy, which is what you do. However, in terms of selling me on the idea of seeing Randy Savage wrestling twice at Halloween Havoc, this match doesn’t particular do a tremendous job when Savage was just getting beat on for about 90% of the match against Kurasawa.

Flair looked like a proper mega star when he beat the crap out of Anderson and Pillman last week. I don’t mean to keep bringing up Flair but Flair sold me on the idea that he’s a superstar and you’d want to pay to watch him smash Anderson and Pillman along with Sting. This match didn’t make wanna see Savage face Kamala and possibly Lex Luger as well as Halloween Havoc.

I will say that Dave Meltzer from Wrestling Observer gave this match minus a star and called it one of the worst matches of the year. I would not go that far. There’s been far worse matches than this since I started watching these Nitros. The first Nitro was also in like September 1995 so there’s a lot of ground we haven’t even covered. This match was certainly not at the level of badness that Sting and Hawk vs Kurasawa and Meng was.

 

I had to do some proper investigation following this next segment. The lights went out and a man was sat right on a big elaborate chair in a pre-taped video. It wasn’t until after this show where I figured out that this was Taskmaster’s father (a.k.a. The Master) and the founder of the Dungeon of Doom. Quite the lore to this Dungeon of Doom.

I swear I understood like about 10% of this promo. I actually had to rewind it in the middle of it as I was just in tears with laughter as this guy was yelling all kinds of random stuff which I didn’t even understand! He yelled that the insurance package had been delivered. As far as I’m aware, he said he found somebody that was thawed out of ice. The one they called… THE YETI. At that moment, they showed an ice block on the stage.

The Giant and Taskmaster then showed up and Taskmaster explained that his father went with the serpent guides to get the yeti. Taskmaster said that evil does dwell in Hogan’s heart. Taskmaster thought that there was no bit of goodness left as the fans chanted for Hogan. The Giant grabbed the mic and said that Hogan had many lives but the Giant would take the last life from Hogan at Halloween Havoc. Giant proclaimed that the one true immortal was himself and he cackled away. The VINTAGE Giant cackle which I wish he still did as the Big Show. I love it.

Taskmaster said the insurance package would be there at Halloween Havoc and Mean Gene advised that he would be talking to Hogan later.

I will get onto the Yeti later on as there’s a lot to explain about what was originally was supposed to happen. Nevertheless, this was a rather wacky promo as we learned more about the lore of the Dungeon of Doom.

 

We got another Randy Savage Slim Jim advert.

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Mean Gene welcomed, as he billed him, THE START OF THUNDER IN PARADISE and WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan. I’m not entirely sure of a review series but I will be watching Thunder In Paradise… eventually!

Hogan was still wearing a neck brace and I don’t remember if Mean Gene said this or one of the commentators said it, but somebody said Hogan was ready for Halloween Havoc… need I remind them that dude that Hogan was wearing A NECK BRACE?

Hogan yelled that even though he walked through the valley of the Dungeon of Doom, he feared no evil. He carried the hopes of all of the Hulkamaniacs. I mentioned how strange Hogan’s promos have gotten as of late. Here, he talked about the fact that he was wearing black gloves and said that everyone knows what a man with black gloves is capable of…. this was a reference to OJ Simpson. What a bizarre babyface this Hulk Hogan is and here I though Roman Reigns was a terrible babyface.

Hogan said that he was gonna get his big monster truck and drag The Giant around until he disintegrates and then he was gonna beat him in the middle of the ring.

He then went into some big tirade as to how Sting, Savage and Luger all wanted to pick the bones of Hogan and the bad guy Hulk Hogan is ready for them. He’d beat Savage, Sting and Luger and he vowed to destroy The Giant.

This was a crazy promo but in hindsight, this was a brilliant promo. Knowing where the Hulk Hogan character would go in a year’s time, this promo was a slight foreshadow of the Hogan that will eventually feud with Savage, Luger and Sting. That’s the first thing.

The second thing is I talked about how the Hogan babyface character is possibly even worse than Roman Reigns as a babyface. This is kinda mute point considering what’s happened to Roman with his leukaemia but it does apply to pretty much every babyface in WWE right now. Roman was a babyface that couldn’t get over as a babyface because WWE didn’t give the fans any reason to get invested in the guy at all. Hogan got people invested in him as he had the creativity to be as crazy as he could.

Even if he’s saying weird stuff like how shaving his moustache was like burning the American flag and comparing himself to OJ Simpson, Hogan was so out of his mind with his promos that you just couldn’t help but stop and listen to him. When you give the talent a means to be entertaining by just letting them be nuts, it speaks a lot more to the audience rather than talent that are just scripted to death to sound exactly like everybody else. Nobody in WWE nowadays sounds like Hulk Hogan because they sound just like each other. They don’t sound… human. That’s an issue.

Hogan didn’t have that issue because he didn’t have 28 writers writing all of his dialogue and this promo, as crazy as it sounded, it made you invested in finding out what Hogan was going to do to The Giant at Halloween Havoc.

 

They plugged WCW Saturday Night, including Hogan being there, Lex Luger vs The Shark and the American Males defending the WCW tag team titles against Harlem Heat. I actually wanted to watch these two matches as I wanted to see the long-awaited rematch from Episode #3 where American Males randomly won the WCW tag team titles. I also had a perverse desire to watch Lex Luger vs The Shark because can you imagine how bad this match had the potential to be? However, I could not find this episode of Saturday Night on my online travels and it’s not on the WWE Network yet so unfortunately I can’t watch those matches. ‘Tis a shame as I planned that as a bonus review!

 

Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko vs Eddie Guerrero and Mr JL w/Alex Wright

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As advertised last week, Alex Wright was supposed to be teaming with Eddie Guerrrero but he had injured his knees according to Bischoff. Supposedly, he did this in a match with Chris Benoit which I’m surprised the announcers didn’t bring up. I also like how Alex Wright came out in crutches for this match that he wasn’t cleared to wrestle in but he was dressed up in his gear and trunks! Mr JL took his place.

Eddie and Benoit pushed each other and stared each other down before the bell rang. The two of them started off the match.

During the match, Benoit and Dean Malenko somehow pulled off a double leapfrog. Benoit and Dean tried a double team where Benoit held Eddie in position for Dean to hit a tope suicida but Dean accidentally hit Benoit. Eddie then just THREW Mr JL into Benoit and Dean and I mean THREW him like Braun Strowman throwing some security guard geek onto a pile of men or something! It was tremendous.

Eddie hit a beautifiul tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Eddie launched Mr JL into Dean for an elevated high knee. In the middle of this, Scott Norton and The Shark were shown brawling backstage as they were pulled apart by the Dungeon of Doom. That’s at least the second time where we’ve seen WCW cut away from a cruiserweight match to show some angle involving the Dungeon of Doom during Nitro. I imagine fans of the cruiserweights were not to pleased.

By the way, I couldn’t help but notice that Bischoff said that this brawl was because of the miscommunication between the two during Norton’s match with Randy Savage on Episode #2 of Nitro. It took Norton and Shark this long to be mad about it?

The heels got the heat. Bobby’s explanation for Alex Wright’s injury was that he was trying out the dance moves of Disco Inferno! Dean hit a very good and realistic looking belly to belly on Mr JL. Eddie broke up a pin on Mr JL and Benoit’s response was to shove Eddie with enough force to send him crashing outside of the ring!

It only just occurred to me at this point of the match that Eddie beat Dean a couple of weeks ago on Nitro and the announcers made no mention of that fact. Eddie broke up another pin following a Benoit superplex. Dean and Mr JL had a good ol’ backslide battle that Mr JL won. Eddie made a hot tag and then got immediately kicked in the gut by Dean! Eddie turned it around and even dropkicked Benoit off the apron when Benoit was yelling at a fan. The finish came when Alex Wright tripped up Dean with a crutch and Mr JL rolled Dean up for the win. It was a good match with a strange finish.

So Alex Wright had blatantly cheated in a match he wasn’t even in and Bischoff’s defence of the babyfaces was stating that the heels were pulling heel shenanigans during the match. Apparently Bischoff wasn’t aware that two wrongs don’t make a right. Brian Pillman then came out and laid out Eddie which Mr JL and Alex Wright just stood there and watched. I guess this was because Pillman is a cruiserweight himself and they’ll need to crown as cruiserweight champion. I guess that’s why he did it.

 

Lex Luger and Sting vs “Harlem Heat” Booker T and Stevie Ray w/Sister Sherri

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WCW Hotline plugged once again by Bischoff, talking about an event from the night before called “In Your House”… ha ha. How clever.

I was more offended by, in response to Bobby calling Sister Sherri beautiful, Eric called him a sick, twisted and demented individual if he finds her beautiful. Nobody could get away with a line like that in 2018.

Sting started off by hip tossing Booker T over the top rope. Sting back-dropped Booker and Bischoff said he almost back-dropped him into another area code. Stevie Ray started to work on Lex Luger as we came back from the ads as Bischoff referred to Stevie as “the man in control of the total package.”

Stevie and Lex working together was not particularly eventful other than screwing up an eye rack spot so horrifically. Stevie looked like he eye-raked the sky and then Luger sold for it anyway when he wasn’t even close to Stevie!

Booker hit an axe kick. I will say, in Bischoff’s defence for the Sherri line (although I personally think beauty is subjective and nobody is truly ugly or anything), but Sherri was looking at a photos of Col. Robert Parker that she appeared to have retrieved them from her backside. I’m not making that up. She reached into her ass, whipped out the photos and then gave them both a big kiss! That was… oddly disturbing as my notes put it.

Booker went for a Houston Hangover but Luger got out of the way. Luger made the hot tag to Sting. Sting went wild as the fans went crazy. The fans always went crazy for Sting’s hot tag which made him such a tremendous babyface. Sting hit Stinger Splashes and went for the Scorpion Deathlock but Booker broke it up with a side kick.

Harlem Heat worked on Luger for a bit but Sting flew in out of nowhere and hit a top rope crossbody for the pin. This was not as boring as the Kurasawa vs Savage match but this was an absolute nothing match for me.

This match did not sell me on the idea of potentially seeing Luger in two matches either. Savage and Luger were not helped by this edition of Nitro heading into Halloween Havoc.

The Giant hit the ring to chokeslam Luger and Sting. If you remember from Episode #6 I believe, they teased the angle of Sting working with the Dungeon of Doom as The Giant had not attacked Sting yet. But now, there was no doubt as Giant just chokeslammed him. Savage came down and then Hogan came down to confront The Giant. The fans were going ABSOLUTELY CRAZY for this confrontation.

Hogan punched away at The Giant but Giant clobbered him on the back. Hogan hulked up and punched away at The Giant who started to stagger. The Dungeon of Doom came out to brawl with the babyfaces. The Head Of Security of WCW tried to calm down Hogan when all of a sudden, the ice block on the stage EXPLODED. Yes, ice had exploded.

Creepy music came on as a figure emerged from the explosion which was revealed to be the Yeti… DRESSED as a mummy as Nitro ended with a cliffhanger.

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OK… so about the Yeti. Apparently, this was supposed to be El Gigante (Giant Gonzalez when he was in the WWF). However, El Gigante apparently like wasn’t able to get down to the show in time or something to play the role. I believe it was due to his health. Therefore, someone else was dressed up as a mummy to take El Gigante’s place but he was still referred to as The Yeti!

This was a hilariously awful reveal of the Dungeon of Doom’s insurance policy. I don’t think it was as funny as the Shockmaster’s debut or as stupid as the Gobbledy Gooker’s debut but this was like the perfect balance of the two. You’d think that after all The Giant’s done to Hogan in the past couple of weeks, who could The Giant possibly need for an insurance policy against Hogan? Who The Giant apparently needed and who Taskmaster’s father and serpent guides went to the trouble of finding… was a yeti dressed as a mummy.

And you know what was the kicker to all of this is?…. this edition of WCW Nitro BEAT RAW in the ratings. That’s astounding considering this edition of Nitro.

This may have easily been the worse Nitro I’ve seen so far. I think I hated Episode #3 a lot but I think this episode was miles worse than Episode #3. Episode #3 did not have a boring Randy Savage match, a boring tag team match and THE YETI debuting. Although with that being said, I loved Hogan and The Giant’s big confrontation. It was done in such a way to make you more interested in seeing who was going to win this big WCW title match. I liked that segment.

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That’s it for WCW Nitro. I am pretty sure I’m going to be reviewing the WHOLE WCW Halloween Havoc event. Looking at the card, there’s more matches I wanna see than those I don’t wanna see so that maybe what swings it. There is a lot of horrible sounding matches in the mix as well as Road Warrior Hawk vs Kurasawa match which sounds… HORRIBLE.

However, I do think I should be as fair to this one as I was to Fall Brawl. I will mostly likely review the whole of Halloween Havoc 1995 then it is back to WCW Nitro reviews with the fallout to the show. I will definitely be reviewing Hogan vs The Giant so brace yourself! We will see you with our next WCW review here on the Retro Express.

WCW Nitro Episode List

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #7 (OCTOBER 16TH 1995) – RIC’S PARTNER STINGS ANDERSON AND PILLMAN, CHRIS BENOIT DEBUTS

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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On the last episode of WCW Nitro, we entered CHAPTER THREE of the feud between Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. Arn won at Fall Brawl and Ric won in Episode #5. We were at 1-1 heading into a steel cage match in Chicago. Flair had things under control when Arn beat Ric at his own game. Arn smacked Ric with the brass knuckles to the face and won. An ENRAGED Ric Flair challenged Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman to a match for Episode #7 and Flair was more than happy to go at it alone if he couldn’t find a partner. One way or another, Flair was gonna get his hands on Anderson and Pillman.

We had Hulk Hogan vowing to beat The Giant at Halloween Havoc, more matches added to the Halloween Havoc card. Lex Luger and Randy Savage will face each other, as long as they get past Meng and Kamala respectively earlier in the PPV. Sting also defended the US title successfully against The Shark, Disco Inferno danced and Sabu beat up Mr JL.

So now, it’s a big week for WCW Nitro. We have Ric getting his hands on Anderson and Pillman, Johnny B Badd challenging DDP for the WCW TV title and the DEBUT of Chris Benoit as he faces Eddie Guerrero. Let’s get to it…

 

Date: October 16th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Albany, Georgia

Rating: 2.2

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

 

From the get-go, we suffer from the disadvantages of watching only WCW Nitro and nothing else. Because from the start of the show, they already announce that Sting will be the one to team up with Ric Flair against Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman. On an episode of WCW Pro, Flair asked Sting to be his partner. Sting agreed but vowed to leave Flair for dead if he turned on him. The commentators were still speculating as to whether Sting and Flair can team up together against Anderson and Pillman. Sting and Flair had not teamed together in years since Flair turned on him many years prior to this.

The commentators were having some banter as Bobby Heenan called Mongo’s dog a “tarantula”. Heenan asks Mongo to turn the dog around and goes “oh, there’s the batteries.”

 

DDP (c) w/Diamond Doll vs Johnny B Badd for the WCW Television Championship

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My extra research from Episode #5 appears to have finally paid off. Allow me to break down what has happened with Mr Johnny B Badd. Johnny B Badd became the number one contender for the WCW United States Championship at Fall Brawl. We watched a 29 minute match where Johnny B Badd grabbed the victory. On the Nitro following this, “Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorff squashed this guy in a matter of minutes. I asked the question of whether he would get his title shot or not. They announced he was still getting his US title shot in a Saturday Night match with Sting.

I decided to watch this match and see what happens but what happened was Johnny B Badd NEVER got his US title match. He no-showed but it appears the explanation was that somebody had slashed his tires and he broke down. In a Saturday Night segment, WCW Television Champion DDP said something about all of Badd’s tyres being slashed. Badd asked DDP how he knew all four of his tyres were slashed when he only said one of them got slashed. Badd punched DDP and that’s how we’ve got the former US title number one contender now challenging for the WCW TV title on Nitro. GOT ALL THAT?

To put a cherry on top of the whole thing, Eric announced that Badd and DDP would wrestle each other at Halloween Havoc anyway… so what was the point of this match, even if it was for the WCW TV title? If they’re doing the TV title match at the PPV, why bother doing this match?

In the end, it didn’t even matter. What happened was DDP SMACKED Badd with the belt before the match started and Badd was out cold on the floor. DDP started attacking him some more as Diamond Doll looked on in awe and disgust. DDP did his own count but the referee disqualified him anyway.

It’s always been one of the great inconsistencies of professional wrestling with disqualifications and what warrants disqualifications in matches. The simple answer is that it’s wrestling and the rules can change at any moment to fit a narrative. It was widely accepted by a lot of fans that nothing you do before a match counts before the bell rings. Brock Lesnar hit Big Show with dozens of chair shows before their Royal Rumble 2014 match before the bell rang and they had a two minute match. Here, DDP hit Badd with the belt before the match and was DQ’d for it.

NOTE: Johnny B Badd had hurt his ribs before the match, which is why they never did the match properly on this edition of Nitro.

 

Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero

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I’m going to give this disclaimer right now about Chris Benoit, as I don’t want any of my comments about Benoit’s work to be misinterpreted. Every comment about Chris Benoit is directed solely on his abilities as a worker. I don’t have any intention to discuss the nature of his personality and character as well as anything related to the tragedies that happened to Benoit’s family in 2007.

With that being said… I could watch Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero wrestle each other over and over again. Considering the circumstances of the deaths of the two wrestlers, it is somewhat sad to watch a match like this. However, Benoit and Guerrero were just two wrestlers who were masters of the craft. Every time they wrestled, it was quality. It was the type of matches that every wrestler should aspire to emulate. Look at the psychology of what Eddie did in the ring but especially look at the psychology of what Benoit did. I understand everything in professional wrestling is considered entertainment but everything in this match felt real for some reason.

Everything Benoit did in this match had a purpose and a goal. He was not just hitting move after move after move on Eddie Guerrero just because he could. They all mattered and Benoit would do things in the middle of the match that would play into the finish. Lance Storm has this philosophy about wrestling where he doesn’t like how matches nowadays are about the last few minutes and based on those final moments of the match, fans go on about how great these matches are. To an extent, he’s got a point and this match shows that. Benoit worked on the hand, over and over again, and it eventually led to the finish. But I’ll get onto that later…

Benoit and Guerrero traded hurricanranas earlier on. Eddie did a big dive to the outside to “Eddie” chants by the fans. Benoit tried a back suplex but Eddie reversed it, which sent them both tumbling to the floor. It looked really crisp and really well done. Eddie sent Benoit into the ring post but then Eddie went crashing into the ring post in order for Benoit to get the heat. Benoit worked over Eddie, including hitting a beautiful hammerlock suplex. He worked on Eddie’s hand, which is important when considering the finish.

The key to all of this “getting heat” on Guerrero was that it was never boring. That was the great thing about Benoit wrestling as a heel. It was never boring. Nothing ever came off as repetitive as every move mattered. It was not a 10 minute Randy Orton headlock or a Kevin Owens chin lock. However, it was also methodical… which is great.

In one motion Eddie reversed a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, bounced off the rope and hit a springboard DDT. It was pretty. Benoit chopped at Eddie as Mongo ranted about the NFL players being pussies or something. God bless Mongo and, to an extent, I feel there is a need for some creativity from the commentators. However, Mongo going on about the NFL over and over just takes away attention from the wrestling and is somewhat irrelevant as the match is going on.

There was somewhat a screwed up botch when Eddie attempted a 619 but I think that was about the only spot they screwed up in this match.

Eddie went for the Frog Splash but Benoit got the knees up. Benoit slammed Eddie, and I mean SLAMMED Eddie, with an absolutely tremendous powerbomb. Benoit went for another powerbomb but Eddie reversed it. Eddie then tried to punch Benoit, but because Benoit worked the hand over, Eddie’s hand was hurting a lot. This allowed Benoit to capitalise with a Dragon Suplex to win the match via pinfall.

This was a great match… possibly the best Nitro match we’ve seen so far. Tremendous psychology. The WCW cruiserweight division was announced by Bischoff following the match and this was a great match as a means to promote it. Benoit, I don’t think, was a cruiserweight at this time but with the likes of Eddie and Dean Malenko… suffice to say we’re in for a lot of fun.

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Bischoff revealed that The Giant was here, much to the delight of Heenan as he cackled away!

Mean Gene is in the ring and we’ve got another plug of the WCW hotline. Mean Gene revealed that a top WWF executive was gone and a WWF guy got into a fight with a fan and lost. Gene said he couldn’t talk about it on Nitro but if you called the hotline for $1.49 per minute you could find out the answer. In case you were wondering, the executive that was fired was Bill Watts. I’m not particular sure who Mean Gene was on about when they mentioned the wrestler who lost a fight to a fan.

The Giant came down with the Taskmaster for a promo with Mean Gene. Taskmaster brought up that Hogan was dressed in black on the last episode and Hogan called Taskmaster evil. From the day he was born, Taskmaster said he knew he was the personification of evil. Evil, evil evil.

Taskmaster said when they shaved Hogan’s moustache, it took away his identity. He said Hogan gave up his colours but the fans had followed Hulkster for all of these years because he was a winner. After Detroit at Halloween Havoc, the fans would become followers of the Dungeon of Doom. The Giant said he was gonna push Hogan off the roof using his monster truck and then gave Mean Gene a close up of the hand that was gonna destroy Hogan by facepalming Mean Gene. Gene was shocked as The Giant cackled, vowing to destroy Hulk Hogan.

 

They plugged WCW Saturday Night, including Michael Wallstreet vs Jim Duggan, Disco Inferno vs Alex Wright, Hulk Hogan being there and Randy Savage vs Scott Norton in a rematch from Episode #2. So after Bischoff said he wasn’t on the roster last week, Disco Inferno is booked to face Alex Wright on WCW Saturday Night. I guess either he’s hired in storyline or they forgot he’s supposed to be a free agent.

 

Meng vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan

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Eric called this match a “barnburner” and although I would not go that far to describe the match, the match was very fun if you wanted to see two big dudes clobbering each other for a minute.

But before all of that, the aforementioned Disco Inferno arrived in all white gear. Before Disco could really get his groove on, like he did during Hawk vs Big Bubba, Meng’s music hit and Disco knew well enough to get out of town.

Meng jumped Duggan before the bell. Hacksaw fought back in a battle where they just punched away at each other. Hacksaw got back into it with a couple of dodges as well as getting the hell away from a massive Meng top rope dive. Hacksaw fired away at Meng and even hit a scoop slam. But Meng quickly regained control with a superkick that caused Hacksaw’s body to go limp as he crashed to the floor. Meng locked on the Tongan Death Grip and won. A very basic match of brawling with not a lot of actual wrestling and somehow that’s OK with me.

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Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart did a promo. They said that everyone now knows the evil in Hogan is real and Taskmaster was right when he mentioned that there was evil in Hogan. Hogan said the evil was here to protect the prayers and vitamins of the fans. Hogan said something strange like The Giant doesn’t realise that Hogan can make promoters fall to their knees in tears as Hogan is stronger than their entire promotions. These digs at WWF are just getting weirder and weirder!

Hogan said the “big stinky Giant” wants to burn down all of the trees to the ground. Jimmy is worried about what Hogan was gonna do to the Taskmaster and Giant. Hogan wanted to prove that Hulkamania was the strongest force in the world. He vowed to bury The Giant in the Motor Ciy right next to his father. He asked what The Giant was gonna do when the evil of Hogan ran wild on him. A crazy Hogan promo as usual.

 

Ric Flair and Sting vs Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman

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There was no Sting for the opening bell of this match so this meant Flair had to go at alone by himself against Arn and Brian. It’s funny because while he was on his own, Flair was an ass-kicking machine! I think this was possibly the greatest performance of a one-on-two handicap match from a guy with the disadvantage. It was amazingly great.

He appeared to have no difficulty in absolutely obliterating Arn and Brian as he chopped away at both men throughout this match. He chopped Pillman so hard that the referee was forced back by the force of the chop. It was truly sublime.

Pillman would try getting in some chops but Flair would just chop him harder! Flair beat both of their asses and was running wild on his former buddies. I love how during the match where Flair is in control, Bischoff talks about how he had to pay the price as Sting didn’t trust him… WHEN FLAIR WAS DOMINATING ARN AND BRIAN BY HIMSELF!

The fans chanted “We Want Sting” during a match that also included Heenan comparing Hulk Hogan to Darth Vader. Flair went for the Figure Four Leg Lock on Arn but Pillman went to break it up. He tried to break it up but Flair somehow evaded Pillman from the position of having Arn in the Figure Four! It was awesome!

Flair tried a Figure Four on Pillman but that was broken up. Flair is still running wild as the ass-kicking Ric Flair was putting on a damn amazing performance. He was destroying both of these men but he was entertaining and believable at it. Flair was a believable crazy, wild mad man who you believed could smash Arn and Pillman so easily. It was awesome.

Arn hit a spinebuster and at this point, when the heels were in control… HERE COMES STING!

These fans went BONKERS for Sting has he came down to the aid of Flair. Eric went on about how Flair may have possibly earned Sting’s respect which is actually a believable statement if you saw Ric’s performance up until when Sting showed up. He wasn’t a geek that was getting beat on for 10 minutes. He was a fighter and Sting recognised that.

Sting was egging Flair to make the hot tag as the fans were going nuts and Sting eventually got the hot tag. He ran wild and even Sting running wild forced the referee to bump on every part of the mat! Sting hit Stinger Splashes all over the place and he was FIRED UP. THIS WAS A HOT TAG as the fans went crazy.

Sting was dominant and then all of a sudden, it was determined that Arn and Pillman were counted out. I never really heard a count by the referee but Sting and Flair won by count out and this did make you want to see the rematch at Halloween Havoc. Yeah, we’re getting a rematch at Halloween Havoc and I can’t wait!

Sting and Flair cut a post-match promo. Sting said there wasn’t a soul in the world that thought that he was gonna trust Flair. Sting was watching and said that Flair had a lot of guts and a lot of heart. Because Flair showed he had guts and heart, he’d earned Sting’s help. Sting and Flair did a high-five and started going nuts in the ring! This was an awesome exciting little post-match promo!

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That was Episode #7 of WCW Nitro. A huge improvement on last week. We saw a tremendous Ric Flair and Sting performance in the main-event, we had an awesome Benoit vs Guerrero match and this show did a lot in getting me hyped up for WCW Halloween Havoc coming up shortly.  This one gets a thumbs up!

Advertised for next week is Sting and Lex Luger vs Harlem Heat, Benoit and Dean Malenko vs Eddie and Alex Wright and Hogan will also be appearing on Nitro next week.

That’s it from the Armbar Express. We will see you with Episode #8.

WCW Nitro Episode List