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.
Hulk Hogan is currently away from WCW at the moment so we’ve approached the first PPV in the series without the Hulkster on deck. Instead, we have ourselves a Lethal Lottery tournament to determine the Lord of the Ring and the number one contender for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. That title is currently held by The Giant, who will defend that title against Sting merely 7 days since he chokeslammed Sting’s friend Lex Luger through a table.
I had more than a few problems with this pay-per-view. The theme with a lot of these PPVs on this series are that they’re PPVs of two halves. Half of the show would be miserable and the other half would be good. This PPV was no exception with the oe exceptation being that the misery outweighed the goodness. The good stuff on the show wasn’t particularly tremendous or pay-per-view worthy but they were fun it their own way and the bad stuff was so bad that I got angry. I usually don’t get angry during these shows but once the first round of the Lethal Lottery was over, I shut the show off and decided to watch the rest of it the next day. That’s how much I hated it.
However, as REPEATEDLY stated during this series, I believe in giving credit where credit is due. It was good if you watched everything but the tag matches as part of the Lethal Lottery tournament. The title matches were fine, the main-event was good and I even enjoyed the battle bowl battle royal to determine the Lethal Lottery winner.
However, as a pay-per-view, I feel this missed the mark. The longest match on this entire show was just over 10 minutes and it was the main-event. There were 15 matches on this show, meaning every other match would only be shorter. It didn’t particular deliver PPV quality action or anything that wasn’t alreadt available to you on Nitros anyway. Not to mention that the big tournament in the show was to see who was getting a title shot at the next PPV. In essence, this was a pre-show to The Great American Bash. This show itself didn’t feel like a real PPV.
Date: May 19th 1996
City: Baton Rouge, Louisana
Commentators: Tony Schiavonie, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes
Before we get started, if this your first time reading a blog post from this WCW Nitro series, I’m going to break down the structure of the Lethal Lottery/Battle Bowl/Lord of the Ring tournament.
- Over the last few weeks of Nitros, “random” drawings were made for tag teams to team up for the first two rounds of this tournament. These tag teams would be forced to team up each other in tag matches. The winners of the tag matches moved on to the next round.
- Drawings would be made after the first round to determine the next set of matches, which would be the same tag teams against the other winning tag teams from the first round. This would leave only eight people left in the tournament.
- The remaining eight people would face each other in a “battle bowl” battle royal (where I guess pinfalls and submissions were allowed) and the winner became the overall winner of the Lord of the Ring tournament.
I have no idea what the name of this tournament was called. There’s been literally three names thrown around for what this concept was supposed to be. It was build as the Lethal Lottery coming into the show, the Lord of the Ring is what they’re fighting to be and the battle bowl I guess is the battle royal part of the tournament. The only problem with that is that before every match, the screen specifically called them “battle bowl first round” matches. I’m going to be using these names interchangeably in case you’re wondering.
Road Warrior Animal and Booker T vs Road Warrior Hawk and Lex Luger in a first round battle bowl match
The first thing to note regarding the opening match is that Lex Luger was totally fine after that supposedly devastating chokeslam from The Giant on Nitro. Maybe it’s just because I’ve become so accustomed to announce table spots that it didn’t feel devastating when I first watched it. However, table spots were rare in wrestling in the 90s with the exception of ECW and guys like Public Enemy. So when Giant chokeslammed Luger, they tried to play it up like The Giant tried to kill Luger. Yet here, Luger showed no signs of wear or tear.
Before the bell rang Hawk and Booker T got into a brawl. This eventually led to the Road Warriors temporarily standing on the same side of the ring for a few moments like they were gonna fight Luger and Booker.
Animal and Luger started but then Booker and Animal argued in the ring. Luger had a horrible lock-up with Animal. Lock ups are not Luger’s strongest attributes and he had a horrible one during this match. Luger hit a big powerslam and didn’t go for a cover: to which Tony Schiavonie correctly stated: “you gotta win to advance!” Keep that in mind, the importance of winning such an important tournament.
Luger barely went up for a big powerslam from Animal which was a move Animal had done effectively for years. With Luger, he struggled. I’ve liked Lex Luger as a character in the last few months but in the ring, he really struggled during this match.
Animal no-sold a suplex from Luger and Animal eventually tagged in Booker. Fans popped for the missed elbow drop, spinaroonie, side-kick spot by Booker. Booker then went for the rest hold. Hawk broke up a pinfall and Lex Luger got mad at Hawk.
I actually loved this. Luger and Hawk then brawled with each other. Animal made the save and started brawling with Luger. Booker started brawling with Animal. They have an actually great brawl where it legitimately felt like it was out of control and the fans were totally into it.
Then the ref just rang the bell and it was announced as a count out with a count out which I never heard delivered by the ref at all. I never heard the announcer call for count out. The referee just decided to call the match off. This won’t be the first time where this happened on the show but this was at least understandable as the whole thing felt out of control.
Road Warriors then taunted with the fans as Booker yelled at the camera. The Road Warriors both lost an opportunity at the world title, and they taunted with the fans and high-fived each other as if nothing noteworthy happened.
Match Rating: ¼* on the grounds that the brawl when it all broke down looked good. Everything else didn’t particular look good. Lex Luger had a horrible night so it’s probably a good thing he was eliminated earlier on in this tournament!
“Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock vs The Taskmaster w/Jimmy Hart and Chris Benoit in a first round battle bowl match
I was actually astonished with Jimmy Hart and Taskmaster still being together. I know they never officially had a break up angle but Jimmy and Taskmaster have been so separated from each other ever since the months of constant promos involving themselves and The Giant. Them still being together was interesting to see.
Benoit started with Rocco. They got into shoving match as Taskmaaster implored for Benoit to hit him. Rocco raked the eyes and went to work in the corner. Rocco pulled off a headscissors takedown and a frankensteiner.
Bobby Heenan asked Dusty Rhodes on commentary what would he do if his partner was the most hated man in his life. Dusty goes: “well Bobby, I’d kick your ass and drop an elbow on you!” I mean he said a lot more but it’s Dusty and I wasn’t able to get all of it down on my notes but I love Heenan setting up Dusty beautiful to bury him on commentary. Heenan had some fantastic chemistry with people on commentary including Dusty Rhodes. This was great.
Benoit hit a big powerbomb on Rocco and he actually held him in the powerbomb position for a long time. It was pretty damn impressive from Benoit. Benoit did a few closed fist punches on the floor and Rocco and then slapped the living daylights out of a floored Rocco. He slapped him across the face so hard and I felt so bad for Rocco, as Benoit had his arms down. He was defenseless as Benoit took the liberty of slapping Rocco across the face!
Taskmaster got tagged in and a big massive brawl broke out. The Taskmaster used the chairs and a table that was out there and none of this was a disqualification. Keep in mind the count out from the last match just because they got into a fight on the outside. Keep in mind the further count outs in matches INCLUDING PUBLIC ENEMY and yet all of the shenanigans in this match with chairs and tables resulted in no disqualifications whatsoever.
Public Enemy went for the “Big Papa” table spot but Benoit made the save. I mean they’re literally setting up Taskmaster to be put through the table and the referee made no attempt to ring the bell. Rocco suplexed Benoit to the outside. Taskmaster just Sabu-style threw a chair at Grunge’s head I think.
Public Enemy eventually hit Benoit with the Big Papa as Taskmaster evaded danger and saved his own arse. Taskmaster then walked out on Benoit as Rocco got the pin and yes… Grunge still felt the need to hold Benoit’s foot down under the bottom rope! During a match where the referee didn’t care about about any of the wrestlers in the match using weapons. This was a thumbs down match to me.
Match Rating: *1/2
Sgt Craig Pittman w/Teddy Long and Scott Steiner vs Booty Man w/Booty Babe and Rick Steiner in a first round battle bowl match
In case you were wondering, there was no break at all between the first round matches. They were in and out with the competitors. There were no Mean Gene interviews to break it up or anything.
Pittman and Booty wrestled for a bit. The pace picked up with Booty and Scott of all people… that last sentence was copied word-for-word out of my notes. No need to change it!
Scott hit a big tiger powerbomb. Pittman had some horrible punches and did a shocking bump for a shoulder tackle. Pittman dropped Rick right on his head with the german suplex and then worked on the arm. Rick hit a massive forearm which clobbered into Pittman.
Eventually Scott got tagged and then it was Scott and Rick in the ring as the fans start to buzz. The Steiners were billed as facing each other for the first time and they delivered a damn great display.
Scott and Rick tried to out-wrestle each other with Scott taking over with a fireman’s carry. Rick hit a solid judo throw. There was some fantastic amateur wrestling on display from the Steiners. Scott hit a big t-bone suplex to which Rick clobbered him with a clobbering clothesline. Scott rolled up Rick with Rick’s own head gear which I thought was funny!
Scott tried a Full Nelson but Rick broke out and hit a dragon suplex. Scott hit a big t-bone suplex from the top rope. Booty got tagged in and a few fans started to boo.
Pittman went for the Code Red Armbar on Booty Man but Rick got tag to break it up and then hit a big german suplex on Pittman. Pittman shuffled himself to the rope in mid-pin but the referee still counted to three as Rick Steiner and Booty Man advanced. Pittman was literally lifting himself off the mat to adjust himself but the referee still counted to three!
The best match so far and it had a good finish on paper but poor in execution.
Match Rating: **
“Blue Bloods” Steven Regal and Dave Taylor w/Jeeves vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan and VK Wallstreet in a first round battle bowl match
At this point, I don’t think they explained what happened with the guys from the first match that went to a double count out but they did explain it later.
Regal was disgusted at the USA chants! Regal said to a fan in the front row: “if I were you, I’d keep your mouth shut because I’ll give you some of that sunshine!” Regal was an absolute tremendous character on this show!
Duggan and Regal wrestled for a bit. Duggan went for a tag but Wallstreet wouldn’t make the tag. Duggan ran wild with clotheslines and then forced a tag to Wallstreet as Regal tagged Dave Taylor. Regal got tagged back in and then Wallstreet started beating REGAL of all people in a battle of European Uppercuts.
Duggan got tagged back. Duggan eventually made his own comeback on everybody including his own partner VK Wallstreet, punching him down as Wallstreet wouldn’t make the tag. Duggan pushed Regal into Dave Taylor who somehow took a backdrop from Taylor through the momentum of Duggan’s push!
Duggan got the tape and knocked out Taylor for the win. The wrong team won in my eyes and to see Hacksaw Jim Duggan overcome three men by himself felt like the wrong thing to do. Even if it was just Dave Taylor and VK Wallstreet that he was overpowering, that’d be one thing. Steven Regal? That felt like the wrong call. Regal was getting over in the last month with the Belfast Bruiser stuff and here, Duggan buries everybody and wins the match by himself.
Taylor and Regal were in near tears and distraught to have lost this match.
Match Rating: 1/2*. I wrote that there were small bits of good wrestling so I gave this match a star initially. I don’t remember it upon reviewing this show so I’m dropping the rating down to a 1/2*. Either way, this was an absolute nothing match with a bad finish.
Dirty Dick Slater w/Col Robert Parker and Earl Robert Eaton vs Alex Wright and Disco Inferno in a first round battle bowl match
Dick wrestled Disco down to start the match but as soon as Disco got out of it, he danced and Dick makes him pay for it by punching him down again! Disco ran wild on Eaton with head-scissors and a side kick. Dick hit a swinging neckbreaker. Wright powered out of a piledriver.
Disco made a comerback on Eaton and Dick. Parker distracted the referee as Dick clobbered a dancing Disco with a cowboy boot for the win.
Match Rating: 1/4* on the grounds that it had SOME wrestling psychology and structure to it so what the hell. It was also one of the few matches that actually didn’t involve partners turning on each other so at the very least, it flowed like a proper match without shenanigans… other than the cowboy boot spot. ¼* of a star. Take it or leave it.
DDP and The Barbarian vs Hugh Morrus and Meng in a first round battle bowl match
DDP is randomly back in WCW after losing a match to leave WCW but he’s back now and in Lethal Lottery. There was clearly some storyline told on Saturday Night or something so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Someone actually mentioned that a mysterious benefactor was helping DDP back on his feet.
DDP toyed around with Hugh Morrus in the first 20 seconds or so in the match and Hugh just laughed along with this because he found it to be humorous. Hugh missed a springboard splash to the outside, crashing on the floor and I hated how much I laughed at this bump! It just looked so funny to me in execution seeing this big man taking a bump like that!
DDP hit a discuss clothesline for a 2 count. Barbarian and Meng both got tagged in as they wrestled to win a hip toss. Someone else did this spot later on in the show and I like the idea of a massive struggle just to hit a very basic move which was still important to these athletes. Even wild savages like The Barbarian and Meng were fighting over a hip toss!
Meng unloaded with chops. Both monsters snarled as they battled and brawled. The Barbarian scoop-slammed DDP onto Meng. Meng hit a big headbutt. Hugh hit a top rope elbow drop but didn’t go for the cover, making the same mistake Luger did earlier.
Hugh got crotched by DDP when he went for a second elbow drop. Barbarian hit a belly-to-belly suplex on HUGH MORRUS somehow but Meng broke it up. Hugh went for a moonsault but DDP made the save with a simple elbow drop of his own.
DDP and Meng started have a decent brawl until Meng superkicked DDP. Both Faces of Fear went for the cover and got the pin on their respective opponents but Barbarian was the legal man so he and DDP won the match.
I actually thought that was a clever finish where DDP got beat but still won the match at the same time. Through dumb luck, DDP made it into the next round of the tournament.
Match Rating: *1/2
Big Bubba and Stevie Ray vs “Fire and Ice” Scott Norton and Ice Train in a first round battle bowl match
The announcers said Big Bubba was with the Dungeon of Doom now as he came down in leather pants and a punk-rock kinda look. God bless Big Bubba, who is no longer with us, but he could not pull off this look. No mention of Scott Norton previously being with the Dungeon of Doom, and here he is against their newest member Big Bubba.
Ray and Norton battled and Ray eventually floored him with a big clothesline. Big Bubba hit a big Bubba Slam spinebuster for a two count. Ice Train got the tag and did a huge Finlay drop into the gut of Big Bubba which the fans popped for.
Ice Train and Big Bubba floored each with a double clothesline. Norton got tag but then Stevie Ray just ran in and attacked Norton but Norton floored him. Big Bubba and Stevie bumped into each other but Fire and Ice did a double shoulder tackle and got the pin.
Another nothing match.
Match Rating: 1/2*
By this point, I’d seen seven sloppy battle bowl matches. I saw absolutely nothing matches either filled to the brim with shenanigans or sloppy stuff in general. There was one match I gave two stars and everything else was worse. It was a bad tournament up until this point and then I got up to…
Ric Flair and Randy Savage vs Eddie Guerrero and Arn Anderson in a first round battle bowl match
Ric Flair and Randy Savage teaming up together for this tournament was the most heavily-promoted angle leading into this PPV. Even the stuff with Sting and The Giant was very minimal compared to this angle with Savage and Flair. It dated back to Starrcade and it included weeks of Savage losing his mind trying to get to Flair but yet they were tag team partners. Not only were they teaming up, they’re teaming up against Ric’s friend Arn Anderson and Eddie Guerrero. You have four great competitors in there and we could had the best match on the show EASILY with these four guys.
Dusty said this was THE big match up in the first round, basically declaring that the other matches were not big matches. I mean he’s not wrong considering what the other matches were like but I had such high expectations for this match on pay-per-view. This is what they delivered:
Ric Flair’s music hit but there was no Ric Flair. Savage came out though and then Ric’s music hit again. He came running down in the ring as Arn had jumped Savage in the ring but then as Eddie argued with Arn, Ric got some stomps in at Savage as he was down and the referee’s back was turned. I did laugh at that.
Up until the main-event, this was the most heated match all night since I guess the Stieners were in the ring together. Eddie and Ric wrestled for a bit. Ric physically forced a beaten Savage to tag in and then Ric tagged Eddie into Arn. I understand that obviously Ric and Arn are on the same page but I was confused as to what their goal was during this match. I’ll talk about that late.
Savage tried to swing at Flair as he got back to his feet as Eddie reluctantly cheered Arn on. Savage fired back and fought on pure adrenaline but Arn took over. Arn hit a big spinebuster for a two count. Ric tagged Savage to beat up Savage in the corner but then Eddie tagged in to beat up Flair. I mean I’m not sure why Ric needed to tag Savage to beat up Savage. Savage was still not the legal man after Ric tagged himself in. This match got me super confused.
Eddie hit a tornado DDT. Savage literally jumped Flair and the fans went nuts as Savage finally got his hands on Flair. Savage went completely nuts. Then out of nowhere, Arn hit his own partner Eddie with a DDT. Arn smashed Savage’s head into the ring post as Flair pinned Eddie in the ring.
THIS, is where I just completely lost it. It’d be one thing if this happened on Nitro and this was just a random tag team match with nothing at stake. Everything Ric Flair and Arn Anderson were doing would have made sense. However, think about this for a minute.
Let’s pretend that the goal of this match for the Horsemen was for Ric Flair to advance and to beat up Randy Savage to eliminate a potential threat. This literally could have been done with Arn grabbing a chair and hitting Savage with it to get disqualified, and then Flair putting the boots to Savage to take him out. Instead, they had this complicated plot where Ric and Savage are tag partners AGAINST Arn.
Therefore, you got Ric Flair randomly beating Savage in the corner when Savage wasn’t even the legal man and then randomly just doing spots with Eddie Guerrero a minute later. You have Arn jumping Savage for the start of the match and then Flair running down to “make the save” but then attacking Savage as a swerve.
None of that needed to happen for Flair and Arn’s plan to work. Arn then just randomly hits his own partner Eddie with a DDT. The whole angle was Savage and Flair not working together and then Arn randomly turns on Eddie and screws HIMSELF out of the title.
The other angle going in was Ric telling Arn on last week’s Nitro I think to do the right thing. This was not a factor at all. Ric only worked against the babyfaces and Arn only worked against the babyfaces. This begs the question, if Arn was never gonna touch Flair or turn on him, why not just do a regular tag team match with Savage and Eddie vs Arn and Flair? Public Enemy were “randomly” teamed together so yes, you can do Arn and Flair as a tag team. It is possible to do a faces vs heels tag team match. You know why? Because wrestling… IS FAKE. It’s a storyline which they can tell however they want to tell it. It’s ENTIRELY in WCW’s hands.
WCW could have done whatever they wanted and they could have done a perfectly good match with these four competitors and they found a way to screw it up. It was just a convoluted mess to set up Flair jumping Savage again. Did we need to see this on a PPV? If this was Nitro, I may have liked it. However, this was on PPV and I hated it.
Not to mention, Eddie Guerrero came off as the biggest geek in this match. Eddie was just minding his own business during this match and was the fourth wheel in this angle, and this led to himself being DDT’d and being pinned by Flair. Do you guys remember when Eddie was being built up big on Nitro possibly to set up a match with Flair? Here he was hit with a DDT and pinned. Eddie Guerrero was the Geek of the Week here in the w/c 13/5/1996.
Ric beat up Savage on the outside with Arn after the match. Ric literally carried Elizabeth over to Arn to slapped Savage and then Arn planted him with a DDT. Bobby suggested that Elizabeth should kick him and hit him with a chair. I liked the idea of Elizabeth going all Public Enemy on Savage! Flair went back to stomp at Savage some more.
Match Rating: N/A (I saw this more of an angle than a match so I didn’t give it a grade.)
I was going to watch the whole PPV in full on the Friday I watched it but I had to stop here. I could not take any more after the pure garbage the first round of the Lethal Lottery was. I honestly think that was the best move. I sat and watched the remainder of the show a few days later and I had a much better time watching it.
Mean Gene was joined by three girls from Hooters, which he claimed was his favourite establishment. They were doing the second round draw, firstly deciding who got a bye because the opening match saw a no contest . Therefore, the first team drawn was going to get a bye to the battle bowl battle royal. Scott Norton and Ice Train were drawn. Dick Slater and Robert Eaton vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan and VK Wallstreet was the other match drawn in this segment.
Dean Malenko © vs Brad Armstrong for the Cruiserweight Championship
This felt like the first legitimate match of the show. This felt like the first pay-per-view quality match of the show. Dean was quality during this match and Brad Armstrong held up his end of the bargain. This was a decent match for the cruiserweight championship.
Dean and Brad battled for the hip toss… reversing on each other several times similar to the Meng/Barbarian spot from earlier.
Dean suckered Brad in for the test of strength and did a dropkick to the knee. He then went on to work on that knee as Dean got the heat. He worked on the leg with simple moves just as putting pressure and all of his body weight on the knee. Everything Dean did looked like a believable attempt to wreck Brad’s knee including doing the tree of woe and then dropkicking the knee. He even did a baseball dropkick in the ring to the knee!
Dean constantly twisted the leg all over the place including standing over Brad and pulling the leg back with Brad doing everything he can to get Dean off of him.
Pedro Morales was shown doing commentary and it’s actually funny that he showed up when I watched the rest of this show on the Sunday. Over the weekend, WALTER had his WWE UK Championship stolen and that was one of the big stories of the weekend. When the story broke, I saw all of these people tweeting about how WWE were “typically” copying AEW as Chris Jericho had his AEW title stolen a few months ago.
I responded on Twitter (@ArmbarExpress if you’d like to follow me which I encourage you to do. I’d like to think I’ve got some good tweets!) by bringing up Pedro Morales who had his WWWF title stolen from him many years ago. I actually got a lot of responses, with 2 retweets and 13 likes from tweet which is a lot for me at the moment. Sure as I mention Pedro Morales, he shows up on commentary on the WCW show I’m watching conveniently on the first WCW PPV that they were showing in Mexico I believe! I believe I was destined to watch WCW right now with the many coincidences when reviewing these shows! It is… quite astonishing!
Brad eventually got one of this legs up to boot Dean in the face to get back in the match. Brad did the comeback and did a big powerslam. Brad’s no-selling of the knee was not as bad as Liger’s from Nitro but he did whip out a top rope dropkick of all moves! Brad locked Dean in the Texas Cloverleaf but Dean got out of it. Dean hit the top rope gutbuster we’ve never seen before for the pin to retain the title. This was the best match on the show I think at this point.
Dean did a fantastic job of getting the heat although I think Brad was a weak babyface in this match. He really didn’t do much with the comeback to get the fans behind him but what the hell. There was no squabbling partner BS or anything. This was just a straight up match and it got Dean over with a clean win as the champion. This gets the first thumbs up of the show.
Match Rating: ***
Mean Gene did more drawings. He joked about forgetting the girls’ names in some great comedy. They drew Public Enemy vs Randy Savage and Ric Flair and DDP and The Barbarian vs Rick Steiner and Booty Man. In the middle of this, Mean Gene asked the girls what they were doing do later! IN THE MIDDLE OF A TOURNAMENT DRAWING, he’s flirting with these girls! Mean Gene was the best!
Dick Slater w/ Col Robert Parker and Earl Robert Eaton vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan and VK Wallstreet in a second round battle bowl match
So I was sitting down just watching this match for a while, with Hacksaw taking over and firing with punches on somebody. I wasn’t paying much attention but I figured it was either Dick or Eaton. It turned out he was punching VK Wallstreet, his own partner! I replayed it and they shoved each other which led to a brawl. All Dick and Eaton had to do was leave them at it and Tony even pointed out they were doing the right thing by not getting involved. What do they do? They end up getting involved.. FOR NO REASON.
The opposing partners are doing their jobs for them in attacking each other and randomly, Dick and Eaton just start to fight with them. This was the closest I came after the Savage/Flair stuff to losing my mind again but I just shrugged it off.
Dick hit a Russian Leg Sweep and Tony had the temerity to tell us WHAT A MATCH we’re seeing. God bless Tony but this must have been a rib! Duggan then tried beating up the referee… what in the hell was this? Duggan randomly tried to attack the referee during this random tag team match. How in the world was that not a disqualification?
Hacksaw beats up Eaton on the outside. Then in the middle of all this brawling, VK does an abdominal stretch. They are just having this big brawl, even with their own partners, and Wallstreet pulls of an abdominal stretch out of nowhere. Hacksaw ran wild on the heels despite being the illegal man. Hacksaw then gets tagged in but is upset by this tag. This is RIGHT AFTER he ran in to attack the heels anyway when he was not even tagged in. Jeez Louise. You’re OK with running in and attacking the heels but your’e upset when you’re legally tagged in by your own partner? Good god.
Hacksaw then plays to the crowd as he ran wild on the heels. Hacksaw hit a miserable looking clothesline on Dick. “Hacksaw pummelled on Dick” was what I wrote next in my notes. Dick and Duggan did the crossroads spot where Dick ducked as Duggan jumped over him. Dick gets back up. Duggan goes YARRRGH as if to signal for a spot. They then crashed into each other with some botch in communication. Duggan goes flying off to the side and Dick just keels over. It sounded ugly on paper and looked uglier in execution. Dusty Rhodes on commentary, one of the all-time greats in wrestling, just goes “well” as he does a big sigh and then just quietly says: “they’re both down.” That was a representation of how I felt watching this match!
The fans chant USA. I have no idea why when there are four Americans in the ring. Wallstreet gets the mild hot tag. VK accidentally hit Duggan twice on the apron so Hacksaw hit him back and this led to Wallstreet getting rolled up by Eaton and pinned as Duggan is mad at himself. VK and Duggan then just start to fight after the match as I was mad at myself for watching this match.
Match Rating: -**1/2
Honestly, that was the worst match of the show and yes, it was worse than Dick Slater and Bunkhouse Buck vs Harlem Heat from Fall Brawl 1995.
Randy Savage and Ric Flair vs “Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock in a second round battle bowl match
Flair came out with the girls, as they threw away Savage’s money. Savage then jumped Flair as security pulled Savage back. I know I said I hated the angle earlier but the fans were going nuts every time Savage attacked Flair and Savage did a believable beat down on Flair like he really wanted to kill him. Savage was an awesome mad man character when he needed to be.
Flair and Savage started punching away at each other as a big pull-apart brawl breaks out. Guys like Eddie, Pittman and Marcus Bagwell all help the security geeks restrain Savage. Public Enemy were declared the winners by count out, when the match never even started.
That was the end to the Randy Savage/Ric Flair storyline on this PPV. Savage jumped him, they had a brawl, Savage was restrained and him and Flair were out of the tournament.
DDP and The Barbarian vs Rick Steiner and Booty Man w/Booty Babe in a second round battle bowl match
DDP talked to Booty Babe as he and Booty Man start to brawl, because obviously they have history. DDP took a massive bump on the apron and got all tangled into the wires from this one punch. It’s amazing to what lengths guys like DDP and Arn Anderson were willing to go to sell for Booty Man of all people. It must have been a really good thing to be in the wrestling business and be Hulk Hogan’s friend. Booty did barely anything in the ring and the other dudes sold like crazy for him!
Rick did a massive exploder suplex to The Barbarian. Rick did a big belly to belly suplex from the top rope. To be honest, I barely paid attention to this match so the notes are a little scarce. Barbarian worked on Rick Steiner in the ring but Rick eventually did a stun gun and tagged Booty back in. Booty hit the high knee but DDP broke up the pin.
Booty went for a roll-up but DDP broke up the pin with an elbow drop. Barbarian got the pin on Booty Man… from DDP breaking up the pin with an elbow drop. I mean I can’t really complain about an elbow drop winning someone a match when The Rock would go on to do an elbow drop to win hundreds if not thousands of his matches!
Match Rating: 1/2*
Konnan © vs Jushin Thunder Liger w/Sonny Onoo for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship
Mike Tenay joined the commentary team as Dusty was gonna investigate the Macho Man stuff. Tony said the man who is the US champion would be considered number one contender for the world heavyweight title… what? So Konnan has been the champion for months: when did this stipulation ever come into place where Konnan was I guess the number one contender all of this time? Why is there a battle royal to determine the number one contender for the World title if the US champion is considered the number one contender?
Sonny Onoo tried to get some kicks in but Konnan shrugged it off. Liger took advantage with a missile dropkick. Konnan was barely in position for a Liger springboard to the outside. No attempt to catch him as all he did was just push him away to I guess control the fall a little.
Liger hit a brainbuster for a two count. Konnan had a submission locked in where he puts his elbow on the head of Liger and Tony said this was like a crossface but it’s not across his face. How on earth is this like a crossface then? Tony had a bad night on commentary in my eyes. Maybe that’s harsh but he rubbed me the wrong way during this PPV.
Liger reversed this into a surfboard submission. Liger did a bow-and-arrow like surfboard on Konnan. After minutes and minutes of submissions from both men, Liger straight started punching Konnan while he laid on the mat. Liger hit the Liger Kick and followed up with a superplex. Liger hits a top rope body splash for a 2 count and then went for a dive, to which Konnan kicked him away in mid-air. Liger hit a fisherman buster for a near fall.
Konnan hit a alabama slam and a bridge for a near fall which Tony bought as the finish. Konnan tried his “Power Drop” but Liger rolled him up. The chemistry was just not there for a lot of this match. Liger hit a Liger sit-out powerbomb for a near fall.
This was a lot of the “big move, kick out, lay there” type of match similar to WWE style main-event matches nowadays. This is the big complaint people have about John Cena matches where he and his opponent would go back and forth with big moves. Cena would hit an Attitude Adjustment, the opponent would kick out and they lay there until they hit another big move and do another near fall. I think the fans would have a loved a match like this in WWE 2019 because they go nuts for those types of matches nowadays but not here in 1996. The fans in WCW were very quiet for this match and weren’t really into the near falls.
Konnan then finally hit the Power Drop for the win. It was a fine match but I think they were looking for something spectacular and it just wasn’t there.
Match Rating: **3/4
Mean Gene did an interview with Ric Flair w/ Arn Anderson and the women. Ric has this big smile on his face right after losing his chance to regain his title. If you recall, Ric Flair cut a cheerful promo on the Nitro after he lost the title to The Giant. He, at least, addressed this during that promo as to why he was so cheerful. Here he lost his shot at the WCW title I think 20 minutes earlier where Savage cost them both the title, and Ric’s got this big smile on his face cutting a promo on Steve “Mongo” McMichael.
Ric said “the nut” Savage has got himself locked up down-town and will go in tomorrow for medical evaluation. Ric mentioned that if Savage had one more misstep, he was gone. Flair said they were gonna party tonight, right after NOT winning the Lethal Lottery and losing his shot at the WCW title. Ric Flair talked about Steve “Mongo” McMichael and his wife Debra. Flair mentioned that Mongo told him to back up and Flair said he can’t back up if he can’t get his wife outta his back pocket. Mongo came out and Flair hid behind Arn. Ric challenged him and Arn to a tag match with Mongo and anyone he wanted.
I’m thinking “OK.” Flair is all happy because he thinks he doesn’t have to deal with Savage any more. All Mongo has to do is reveal Savage as his partner, so then Ric screwed as he’s gotta to face Savage in a match. It turns out Mongo had a plan and his partner was NFL star Kevin Greene. Kevin Greene is revealed as the partner as he charged at Flair. Greene said: “come on. Let’s rock and roooooooollll.” Greene actually cut a decent promo on Flair as they aren’t here to play.
Yes, we are on the verge of Mongo having to actually wrestle in WCW. It’s the true test of Ric Flair as a worker if he can get a good match out of Mongo. I call this the “broomstick” test where an elite wrestler is in there with a green guy or a bad wrestler, to judge just how good they really are. For example, Daniel Bryan was thrown in with the likes of Big Cass and AJ Styles was thrown in there with Jinder Mahal. They’re some of the best in the world and they were put with some really terrible wrestlers and they got somewhat decent matches out of them. I’m pretty sure Jinder is better than Mongo although Big Cass is a different story. It’ll be interesting to see if RIC FLAIR of all people can get a good match out of Mongo.
Dick Slater vs Earl Robert Eaton vs Scott Norton vs Ice Train vs DDP vs The Barbarian vs Rocco Rock vs Johnny Grunge in an eight man battle royal for right to be the Lord of the Ring and for the number one contendership for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship
I was just ready to go on a tear about this battle royal. When I realised after the Public Enemy/Flair and Savage match what the line-up of the battle royal was gonna be, I was shaken to my very core. You’re going to do a battle royal on pay-per-view with these eight random mid-card geeks? Now granted, they all “won” matches to get to this point. However, let’s look at the line-up.
Eaton is the understudy of Regal, Dick Slater was the manager of Col Robert Parker against Madusa at Uncensored, Norton and Ice Train I don’t think have won a match on Nitro since they became a team, The Barbarian is just part of another random tag team, Public Enemy are another random tag team and DDP’s whole storyline is that he’s a geek who has lost everything. DDP’s storyline is actually interesting to note but we’ll get to that.
Anyway, the idea that this was the ultimate finish to this big battle royal they’ve been hyping up for months blew my mind. Tony Schiavonie even said: “Did anyone think it would be these eight in this battle royal.” Truthfully, I didn’t. I figured, it was gonna come down to Savage, Flair and Luger or something. However, this ended up being a good battle royal. The first half saw an absolutely nothing match but the second half told a good story and was well executed in my eyes.
Referee Nick Patrick was actually in the ring for this battle royal. I, instinctively, questioned why a referee would in the ring for a battle royal? Shouldn’t the referee be on the outside to see if the wrestler’s feet hit the floor? Sure enough, DDP almost got knocked over the top rope but he stayed in as Tony insisted his feet touched the floor. This begged the question of why Nick Patrick was in the ring when he could have been on the outside of the ring to check if DDP’s feet hit the floor or not. Now granted, there was a reason for why he was in the ring but was it not possible for WCW to get another referee to stand on the outside of the ring?
Despite the referee being in the ring, Grunge went for a cover on Ice Train. Now, it would initially appear that it is stupid for someone to go for a cover in a battle royal right? Let’s keep this in mind for later.
Rocco was thrown out. Dick accidentally hit Eaton with the boot to eliminate him. Eaton then hit the Col Robert Parker on the outsider. Dick Slater was then outside and then attacked Eaton, with the announcers claiming that he’d been eliminated. The only problem was that they never showed Dick being eliminated.
DDP tossed out Scott Norton over the top rope and so the final four was DDP, Ice Train, Johnny Grunge and The Barbarian. Ice Train hit big powerslams on DDP, Barbarian and Grunge one after another. I actually kinda like that. Barbarian and Ice Train worked together and did a big double boot.
DDP hit Diamond Cutters on Ice Train and Grunge. DDP then proceeded to pin and eliminate Johnny Grunge and Ice Train… in a BATTLE ROYAL. So yes, pinfalls were I guess legal in this battle royal. Which begged another question, if pinfalls were legal in this battle royal, then why did the referee not do a thing when Johnny Grunge tried to pin Ice Train earlier? Call it bad officiating or a Nick Patrick special. Or maybe I was unaware of a special ruling. I dunno.
DDP and The Barbarian then proceed to have a very good final two of the battle royal. DDP hit Barbarian for a Diamond Cutter and goes for a cover but Barbarian kicked out. Barbarian hit a clothesline for a near fall.
DDP hit a back elbow and went for a cover but Barbarian got the rope. Barbarian went for a roll up to try and shock DDP. Barbarian hit a tombstone but DDP kicked out. DDP is kicking out of all kinds of moves Barbarian tried a sleeper hold but DDP low-blowed Barbarian.
Barbarian hit a big powerbomb for another near fall. Barbarian missed a diving headbutt and DDP then hit a Diamond Cutter to win the Lord of the Ring and earn a WCW title shot.
I’m not gonna lie… the last half of the battle royal I really enjoyed. I enjoyed the DDP storyline where despite everything he was put through, he kept going and kicking out and eventually overcome the odds to win the battle royal following a storyline where he was homeless, lost his job, his woman and it had now led to this. I actually liked that aspect of this battle royal.
It is possible that it was a TNA-like ruling with the pinfalls, where the first half of the battle royal was a battle royal and the second half was pinfall or submission. That would at least explain Patrick not doing the count for Grunge and Ice Train. They never did explain that though so… it was just a battle royal where I guess pinfalls counted and Patrick just missed a call.
Match Rating: **1/2
Mean Gene interviewed The Giant w/Jimmy Hart. Mean Gene talked about how Jimmy would be handcuffed to Lex Luger during the match to which Jimmy begged for his life to Lex! The Giant said he was on top of the mountain. He said Sting had been a thorn in his side, a rat under his bed and a damn cockroach in his apple pie! That last part I loved. He said he’s gonna exterminate everybody. Mean Gene said folks were putting money on Sting but Giant insisted the only way to bet is to bet big and bet on The Giant.
The Giant © w/Jimmy Hart vs Sting w/Lex Luger for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship
I know I’ve said that the build for this program wasn’t that strong but for this main-event, the fans were going out of their minds for this match. Sting had such a huge following and they went nuts for everything he did. This was a brilliant little match where Sting was able to get the most out of very little, which is the sign of a great worker.
He had a great David vs Goliath match and it was executed very well to where Sting did not come off as a guy that stood no chance. I do love how this match was booked…. RIGHT up until the finish which we’ll get to.
The screen on the stage titantron accidentally called this a “WCW US HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH” which I laughed at! Sting tried a crossbody but he bounced off the big man. The Giant pushed the Stinger but Sting got right back in his face showing no fear. Sting got on Giant’s back and put on a sleeper which the fans went bonkers for. I was blown away by how hot this crowd was for Sting.
Sting tried dropkicks to no effect. Sting rallied the fans and it sounded electric as the fans got behind the Stinger. Sting tried a scoop slam but The Giant was too big so Giant crushed him with the weight. This got The Giant a two count. The Giant took control as he hit an elbow drop and the fans started to buzz and rally behind Sting. Fans started smacking chairs and doing whatever they could to build up the noise. It was surreal.
Sting tried to fight back up The Giant just clobbered him back down and Giant did an headbutt to the groin which not a DQ but he got a warning from referee Randy Anderson. The Giant did the leg scissors to Sting but still felt the need to grab the ropes to get extra twerk! This big giant with massive legs was squeezing the life out of Sting but he figured he might as well cheat whenever he could. Jesse Ventura had the line of “Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat” which certainly applied to The Giant!
The Giant threw Sting out of the ring and up the ramp. The Giant tried a chokeslam on Sting through the table but Luger had positioned Jimmy Hart onto the table, so The Giant got stopped in his track. If he chokeslammed Sting, he would end up hurting Jimmy so he refused. Luger warned Jimmy not to try anything.
The subtle signs that Jimmy Hart is actually holding The Giant back is such a great slow build. This is like the second time in a few weeks where Jimmy Hart inadvertently almost led to The Giant’s demise in these matches. Giant could have put Sting away for good if it were not for Jimmy Hart LITERALLY getting in the way.
Luger moved Sting out of the way of a Giant dropkick. Sting hit the referee by accident, thinking it was The Giant. Giant tried a Stinger Splash but he got stuck on the top rope and Sting fired away with kicks to thunderous cheers. Sting does a big Stinger splash himself to the belly as Giant is just stuck on the top rope.
Giant recovered and grabbed Luger on the apron but Sting just kept hitting Stinger Splashes to the back of the champion as Giant continued to choked at Luger.
Sting eventually got Giant down for a Scorpion Death lock. Bobby screamed that we were gonna get a new champion, which was a dead giveaway that this was not the finish. Jimmy Hart found himself stuck on the top rope and Sting tried a Stinger splash but hit the top rope as Luger either accidentally or on purpose pulled Jimmy down off the top rope. Sting ended falling into the groin of Giant.
Sting got top rope and did a splash but The Giant pushed Sting off of him and into the referee again. Jimmy then got the megaphone but Luger stopped Jimmy from using it. Sting tried a Scorpion Death lock on Giant and conveniently positioned himself to where Luger and Jimmy were fighting for the megaphone. They ended up hitting Sting in the head with it and Giant hit the chokeslam for the pin.
Dusty even questioned the idea that Jimmy Hart was supposedly stronger than Lex Luger to be able to break free from to Luger intervene. Jimmy pulled himself into position on the top rope to get involved which seemed pretty ridiculous on paper.
Either way, this was a good main-event in my eyes. A bit of overkill with the shenanigans with the ending but the fans were very much into this entire match. The Giant was great during this, Sting was great during this but the ending did iritate me because lord knows, we need more development on the Sting/Luger storyline.
This Lex Luger/Sting storyline has officially run its course. It feels like this is the fifth time I’ve said this but this has really been overkill. They had at least two incidents where it was established that Luger was finally a true babyface. They had the angle, which kicked off this whole thing with The Giant, where Luger made the save and there was no signs of discord. When doubts rose up again about Luger’s loyalty,he shows up to fight The Giant on Nitro and gets his ass kicked. The announcers talk about how this proved that Luger was a babyface. Now, we’re back to square one.
Luger had to cost Sting the WCW World title. This isn’t even the first time where Luger cost Sting the WCW title in this storyline. We’ve seen all of this before. What more is there to milk out of this storyline? This storyline has been going on since Lex Luger returned on the first episode of Nitro. I’ve watched 35 episodes of Nitro and multiple PPVs. The first Nitro was in September 1995 and now we’re in May 19th 1996. Jeez Louise.
What more is there?
Match Rating: ***1/4
I officially put this in the category of a show of two halves. A horrifically bad first half of the show and a decent second half of the show. I don’t think the second half of the show was so tremendous that it made up for that first half but it is nice to know that 8 days from Slamboree, literally the entire WCW storyline scene changes up from this point. So, it is likely a lot of these storylines will be dropped or postponed when some Outsiders show up.
This is the last WCW PPV before the nWo arrives (at least Scott Hall anyway) which is actually rather significant. From here on out, things are going to change for World Championship Wrestling…
WCW Nitro Reading Order