RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #41 (JUNE 24TH 1996) – STING AND LEX LUGER VS HARLEM HEAT VS THE STEINER BROTHERS FOR THE WCW TAG TEAM TITLES

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 are racing towards Bash at the Beach 1996. The six-man tag team match between the Outsiders and Team WCW was set, with a few questions up in the air. Who was going to represent Team WCW and who was the third man that would team with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. We got an answer to one of those questionslast week on WCW Monday Nitro. After a randomised drawing out of the top 6 names of WCW, Sting, Lex Luger and Macho Man Randy Savage were the ones picked to fight for Team WCW.

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There actually were only three episodes of Nitro between The Great American Bash and the upcoming pay-per-view Bash at the Beach, so we are not far away from the big reveal of who the third man was alongside Hall and Nash. Last week’s episode I thought was good. This week’s episode for June 24th 1996… was alright.

There wasn’t much to this episode. The matches were OK in general and it didn’t feel like a massive drag to watch it all. It was a wrestling show and there was a bunch of matches. We’ve got some matches for the pay-per-view announced but not a lot of work done to hype up those matches with the exception of the main-event angle which we’ll get to.

 

Date: June 24th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Charlotte, North Carolina

Rating: 3.3

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Bobby Heenan

 

Eric Bischoff was still hospitalised from The Great American Bash beat down he got from the Outsiders. It’s remarkable the amount of commitment they made to this angle. If this was WWE for example, Eric Bischoff would have been back the next week. I actually remember when Brock Lesnar F5’d Michael Cole in 2015, Cole was back two weeks later like nothing happened. Not here. Bischoff was off the show again and that makes sense.

They actually showed the entire clip from The Great American Bash in full this week. I would have to assume that WCW got some complaints from the fans that the powerbomb was not shown last week when they said they would show it, so this was a kind of a course correction to show the viewer what happened. It wasn’t like they could promote the replay of the PPV again so why not?

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Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed Lex Luger, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Sting who all had face paint like Sting to show unity. Savage said WCW was their country, united by the face paint of the Stinger. He said divide and conquer is what they’ve gotta do. He high-fived Luger so it looked like buried the hatchet after feuding for months in the early days of Nitro. It is interesting that this wasn’t mentioned previously as the last time Savage and Luger were in the ring together it was theDoomsday Cage match.

Sting said he doesn’t mind anyone making a statement but a grown man does not make a statement by attacking a commentator. Sting asked why not pick on a wrestler? Sting said every time the Outsiders promise three guys, they only provide two. Luger said we’re united as a team and stand tall and stand strong. Luger said they were unified because they are the very best. Sting said this is where the big boys play when The Steiners interrupted. Scott Steiner yelled at Sting and Luger. and then Harlem Heat talked trash to both teams. All three of these teams were in a triangle tag team match for the tag titles in the main-event. They all yelled and started shoving each other as Mean Gene yelled at them to knock it off.

 

“The Blue Bloods” Lord Steven Regal and Squire Dave Taylor w/Jeeves and Earl Robert Eaton vs “Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock

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Apparently some of the music WCW used here was copyrighted as Public Enemy were muted during their promo. They were showing a pre-match promo as they were coming down to the ring live. One of the things I was able to hear them yell was something about the Nasty Boys because lord knows, we need to see that tag match again.

Suffice to say that this was a much better match than the last Nasty Boys/Public Enemy match! A large part was thanks to the dance moves of Lord Steven Regal. I reviewed the SummerSlam 2007 pay-per-view where he danced with Cryme Tyme and the same thing from that goes here. Even when he was dancing, Regal went all out. He did the Public Enemy wave dance in such a rectangular manner! Regal busted out some more moves but then received a dropkick to the face to his utter disgust! How Regal was never the world champion in either WWE or WCW blows the mind.

Rocco did the Daniel Bryan flip off the corner and then Rocco and David Taylor messed up a school boy roll up where it somehow tumbled them into the corner. It did not look pretty. There was one little spot where Rocco had Regal in a full nelson and then Regal lifted his knee up, grabbed it to free himself from the hold. I thought that was really clever.

Rocco missed a springboard moonsault and all I can think is that if I were part of a big boy tag team capable of doing big dives and athletic spots like a moonsault, I’d save those moves for like the big points of the match. Rocco does it casually to lead to the Blue Bloods getting the heat. Therefore, whenever he does it in the ring from now on it is just gonna seem as no big deal as he didn’t hype it up as a big deal.

Rocco and Regal took each other out with a double clothesline. Grunge got the hot tag and it eventually broke into a four way brawl. Eaton tripped Grunge. Regal then stomped the living daylights out of Rocco outside of the ring but as Regal was distracted, Grunge then hit Taylor with a cast for the pinfall victory. Sloppy in parts but it was fine in general. I think the wrong team won here and it is a real shame that in the space of 8 days, Regal went from wrestling Sting at the PPV to losing to Public Enemy. It sucked to be Lord Steven Regal at this time.

 

The Taskmaster w/Jimmy Hart vs Kip Abee

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This was such a bizarre segment. I’ve seen great Kevin Sullivan squash matches during this series so far but this one was just completely random. Taskmaster power-walked to the ring and took this Kip Abee dude over the guard rail. He beat his arse up the steps and tried to throw the dude into the ladies bathroom. Taskmaster beat him up all over the place and then left him laying amongst the fans. This all happened in the space of like two minutes. This was also a massive arena so Taskmaster goes all the way up the steps and beats up Kip and gets back into the ring in the space of a few minutes. Tony revealed Taskmaster got disqualified. by the way

Mean Gene interviewed Jimmy and Taskmaster. Jimmy said they came to the home of the Four Horsemen and they’re walking in and walking out alive. Taskmaster yelled that he was here in Horsemen town and now the Horsemen are coming out to where Taskmaster lived at Bash at the Beach. The fans chanted “WE WANT FLAIR” and they were thunderous. Jimmy said if Ric talked about taking a woman to space mountain one more time he was gonna choke himself to death.

This was to set up The Giant and Taskmaster vs Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit at Bash at the Beach. If the Four Horsemen won, then any member of the Horsemen would get a shot at The Giant’s WCW World title.

Kip Abee died in 2017 by the way. This was his one and only WCW Nitro appearance.

 

Hardwork Bobby Walker vs Dean Malenko

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This was the ultimate case of “be careful what you wish for” when it comes to the cruiserweights. I talked about wanting to see more of the cruiserweights on Nitro when I reviewed The Great American Bash. After the Malenko vs Mysterio Jr. rematch last week, here we have Hardwork Bobby Walker vs Dean Malenko.

Let’s be fair. Bobby Walker didn’t really do anything wrong in this match but he wasn’t impressive in the slightest. It’s easy to have a decent match when your opponent is Dean Malenko. However, then it is revealed that Dean Malenko would defend the WCW Cruiserweight title at Bash at the Beach against Disco Inferno.

Last week, Disco Inferno lost to JOE GOMEZ in a match where Disco didn’t care that he lost and was more concerned with his hair. Disco’s reward, in storyline, for this lack of interest in wrestling is a WCW Cruiserweight Championship match at the pay-per-view? Are you kidding me? Why would I want to see Disco Inferno wrestling in a pay-per-view match for the title? This is completely ridiculous.

Walker did a horrible Japanese Arm Drag. Dean did a snap suplex and locked on a crucifix submission, wrapping the legs of Walker (the same hold thatKonnan did to Gato at the pay-per-view). Dean transitioned this into a Camel Clutch

Dean powerbombed Walker and did the Texas Cloverleaf but let go as the Disco Infero came out with a framed record as one young fan flipped him off in the front row. His music was playing as Walker got back into the match and fired back. Dean was mostly beating the crap out of Walker up until this point.

Disco went into the ring to dance as Disco Fever played. Dean and Walker continued to wrestle. Walker landed on his feet off a Monkey Flip and then just looked at Disco. He just stared at this man dancing… in the middle of a wrestling match. Dean took advantage and bonked Walker into the Disco and hit the Northern Lights Suplex for the pinfall victory.

Every one in this match came off like a geek. Disco Inferno was the geek who fell to the outside of the ring. Dean Malenko was a geek who got distracted by Disco Inferno. Hardwork Bobby Walker was the geek who just stood their watching Disco which led to him getting suplexed and pin. There was no way anyone got more over with this segment. A MASSIVE THUMBS DOWN.

 

Gene interviewed Dean. Dean said he wasn’t gonna stand for it as Disco threatened to hit him with his record. Disco talked about how his record just went gold. Disco said Dean and Walker were not having a good night and it was a perfect time for him to do a dance, make a little love and get down tonight. He flat out told the viewer that these two were no-good geeks and they needed a “star” like Disco Inferno. Why do wrestling companies do this?

Disco said Dean maybe the man of 1000 holds but he’s just sold a million CDs or whatever. Dean said he’s the man of 1000 holds but it’ll only take one to win at Bash at the Beach. This segment died a 1000 deaths and it sucked. Dean’s promo to Disco wasn’t particular good either.

 

 

The Barbarian vs Eddie Guerrero

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A unique match but I don’t agree with the finish of it as we’ll get to. It’s The Barbarian, who I remind you is tall and scary, versus the tiny Eddie Guerrero. Please keep Eddie in mind when I tell you how this match went down.

Barbarian choked Eddie in the corner. Eddie hit a big dropkick for a 2 count.  Barbarian caught Eddie off a springboard and slammed him into the corner.

The Barbarbian then proceeds to destroy Eddie Guerrero. Barbarian SMASHED Eddie with a powerbomb to a big pop from the crowd but Eddie got the shoulder up. Barbarian hit a pump handle slam and the fans loved him even more. The fans loved every power move the Barbarian hit, just like the Faces of Fear’s squash match from a few weeks ago.

Eddie tried to a reverse a powerbomb into a roll up but it got royally screwed up. Eddie hit a back suplex but Barbarian took control of the match again and hit a massive belly to bell suplex from the top rope as the fans rose to their feet. Eddie got rolled all the way out of the ring. Barbarian tried a superplex but Eddie reversed it into a crossbody for the win.

I would not have done this if the objective was to get Eddie over, which seemed to be the intention when we review his post-match promo. The Barbrarian was getting more over and over during the match and was beating the crap out of Eddie but Eddie got a fluke win over the monster that was destroying him. I would have just called an audible and went with Barbarian getting the clean win. I love Eddie but he really didn’t get over when this match was over. In fact, I’d argue it’d have the opposite effect.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Eddie after the match. They explained that Eddie had been away in Japan wrestling in NJPW I guess. Mean Gene asked Eddie about the finish to the Konnan/Eddie match at Uncensored where Eddie got low-blowed. Eddie said he thinks he should deserve a title shot and the fans booed him for this opinion! They’d just watched Eddie get his arses kicked for 75% of the last match so of course they booed Eddie!

Eddie said The Outsiders had a lack of respect and wished his name was among the list of people to fight the Outsiders. This promo did Eddie no-good when all said and done.

 

Chris Benoit and Arn Anderson w/Steve “Mongo” McMichael vs “The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express” Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson

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I enjoyed this match. It was basically the Ric and Arn vs Rock N Roll Express match from a month ago. Rock and Roll Express came out to boos in Charlotte. These fans LOVED the Horsemen. It was sensational how over the Horsemen were here and keep that in mind when we get to Ric Flair. They were going crazy for everything Arn did in that ring. They loved Arn, they respected Benoit and they did pop for Steve “Mongo” McMichael too!

I got the message saying this would be played in the best presentation possible suggesting there would be technical difficulties. If I missed anything important, please let me know but it didn’t really feel like a chunk of the match was missing or anything.

Ricky reversed a powerbomb into an arm drag. The Rock N Roll Express took over for a while. Robert got a 2 count off a sunset flip. Arn got a tag and got a hell of a applause from Charlotte. Everything Arn did got a pop and that is not an exaggeration.

Robert elbowed Arn coming off the top rope. Benoit jumped Ricky on the outside and stomped at Ricky in the ring. Robert got the hot tag as the fans were very mild. They didn’t react to the Express and it was all about the Horsemen.

Robert tried a backslide but Mongo ran down, cracked Ricky in the head with his briefcase and Benoit got the pin.

Joe Gomez attacked the Horsemen and Mongo hit him with the briefcase to a big pop. Mongo slapped around Gomez but then Randy Savage and Kevin Greene chased off the Horsemen as the fans booed. I think Kevin Greene was actually playing for the Carolina Panthers too but that didn’t matter when it came to the Horsemen!

I thought this was a good match and interesting crowd reactions!

 

Mean Gene interviewed Ric Flair backstage with Miss Elizabeth, Woman and Debra McMichael. Ric Flair said the Horsemen took charge and the hat is off to Mongo. Ric said the Horsemen were mixing business with pleasure as the rest of the Horsemen showed up. Mongo yelled that nobody could stop them and Ric yelled at Konnan so I guess he’s got a shot at the US title at Bash at the Beach. The fans delivered thunderous WE WANT FLAIR chant as they cut to the announcers. These poor fans would be let down as yes, that interview was Ric Flair’s only contribution to Nitro!

NOTE: Ric Flair did wrestle Randy Savage in a dark match after the show, so it wasn’t like the fans didn’t get Flair out there at all.

 

 

DDP vs Alex Wright for the Lord of the Ring

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DDP taunted the fans as Wright charged at DDP for roll up. Finally, after my WWE Network had no problems for the first hour of this show, the buffering problems started. It stopped completely and when I tried to rewind. it crashed the app for me. I went back in and it stopped every 5 seconds. It did sort itself out so it wasn’t like I had to turn the Playstation 4 off this time.

DDP beat on Wright. Wright tried a suplex and DDP reversed it into a face buster. DDP did a big backbreaker gutbuster. DDP went for a punt but slipped in a comical manner.

Wright hit a side kick and fired away with punches to a floored Page. Wright did a double axe handle and hit a springboard dropkick sending DDP flying to the outside.  Wright did a dive and tried to follow this up with a springboard splash in the ring but DDP got the knees up. DDP hit the Diamond Cutter and got the pin.

As much as I like DDP, and it’s great to see him picking up a number of victories since his big Slamboree win, these matches he’s having as of late are nothing special. They just had a match and the fans were just bored waiting for the Diamond Cutter. That alone speaks volumes to how over the Cutter was but everything else just seems like pointless filler.

 

Mean Gene interviewed DDP. So as I have just talked about not wanting to see DDP in nothing matches, it’s revealed that it’s DDP vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan for the Lord of the Ring in a taped fist match at the Bash at the Beach. I do not look forward to that match in the slightest.

Mean Gene said that the taped fist match was Duggan’s speciality. DDP goes sarcastically, at the moment of me thinking it, “yeah right.” In what way was this a speciality for Hacksaw Jim Duggan? DDP said that if he put the Diamond Cutter on anyone, they would have the life expectancy of a house fly. DDP said everyone is trying to hold him down. DDP said if Duggan’s gotta tape his own fist, go ahead. He said he was the Lord of the Ring and this was a solid promo in my eyes.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Kevin Greene on the ramp. They showed Mongo turning on Greene at the pay-per-view. Greene had a go at Mongo for selling out for a bit of extra money. Greene said for the Carolina Panthers, he was gonna kick some ass for the rest of the NFL season. Greene said he was gonna remember Mongo’s slimey back-stabbing face. Greene said when the season is over, he, Macho Man and two WCW superstars were gonna get some revenge. I have no idea if this led anywhere as I would assume the Outsiders deal would reset a lot of stories.

 

“Macho Man” Randy Savage w/Kevin Greene vs VK Wallstreet

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Greene was at ringside in the corner of Savage as the Macho Man beat up Wallstreet. The fans chanted WE WANT FLAIR. Imagine if you are Rand Savage doing an angle where Flair has ruined your life for months, taken your ex-wife and then, if you’re Randy Savage, coming to an arena where the fans chant WE WANT FLAIR. That is… insane to think about.

Savage clawed and punched away at Walstreet during the match as Greene cheered him on. Savage hit a suplex. Wallstreet got the heat. Savage went for the elbow drop but Wallstreet moved out of the way. Wallstreet tried to punch Greene but Greene punched Wallstreet and threw him into the ringpost. Savage hit the elbow drop for the pinfall and the victory

I love how Bobby Heenan spent the entire match bashing Savage and calling him a hindrance to Team WCW and then when Savage wins this match, Heenan changed his tune and goes “YEAH SAVAGE! BRING ON HOSTILE TAKEOVER!” Heenan was the best heel commentator of all time! He was an absolute tremendous character! Keep in mind, Savage chased Bobby Heenan out of the ring last week! He was a great performer!

 

Sting © and Lex Luger © vs “Harlem Heat” Stevie Ray and Booker T vs “The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner in a triangle tag team match for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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Not a lot happened in this match and it was pretty boring until the finish. Booker and Scott started off the ring. Booker beat on Scott for a while and Scott eventually hit a tiger powerbomb but Luger broke up the pin right away.

Rick slammed Stevie Ray with one of the safest German suplexes possible, a week after nearly killing Ray with a suplex! Scott tagged Sting into the ring. Harlem Heat got the heat on Sting for a while and Booker got hung up to dry on the top rope and Sting straddled him.

Stevie got low-blowed and Booker missed a top rope splash as Luger got the hot tag. Luger hit a powerslam as who should come down to the ring but Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. They came down to the ring with baseball bats and security hauled arse down to the ring as the Steiners and Sting stand their ground. There’s about 20 security guards with GUNS in the ring. When security is in the middle of the ring about to go for theier weapons, that should stop the match right? Well Booker then rolled up Luger, with Luger all up in the ropes, and referee NICK PATRICK counts to three as Harlem Heat win the tag titles. Hall and Nash were threatening the competitors’ livelihoods with baseball bats, there was a possibility of the security shooting Hall and Nash but Patrick still must count the pin for Booker T.

I thought that was ridiculous.

Luger gets back up and stood with the babyfaces like nothing happened. The replay conveniently didn’t show the roll-up itself as just panned away to the faces standing up to the Outsiders.

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That was Nitro. Overall, not a lot happened but there wasn’t much wrong with the show. It was a show I didn’t have problem with at the time but when I stopped to review it and think about it, the show doesn’t really have a lot of positives to talk about. There were some bad finishes although the closing segment was fine with the exception of roll-up finish. It was a Nitro that was there but it was tolerable at the very least.

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WCW Nitro Reading Order

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Date: May 20th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Monroe, Louisiana

Rating: 3.1

Commentators: Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ric Flair w/Woman and Elizabeth vs Eddie Guerrero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eric broke the news to Flair that Savage was here.

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Date: May 19th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Baton Rouge, Louisana

Attendance: 7,791

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: *1/2

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: *1/2

 

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

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

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

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

Another nothing match.

Match Rating: 1/2*

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dean Malenko © vs Brad Armstrong for the Cruiserweight Championship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ***

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: -**1/2

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: 1/2*

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **3/4

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **1/2

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What more is there?

Match Rating: ***1/4

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

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

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #34 (MAY 6TH 1996) – THE GIANT AND STING BUILD MOMENTUM HEADING INTO SLAMBOREE

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 have a new WCW World Heavyweight Champion heading into May 1996, a month which ends with the start of an angle which would have a major impact on the wrestling business. The Giant defeated Ric Flair last week in convincing fashion in one of the closest things to a squash world title match you’ll ever see. The Giant ended the night by cutting a promo challenging the likes of Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and Sting to step up and get knocked down by the new champion himself.

Date: May 6th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Daytona Beach, Florida

Rating: 1.9

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

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Before we get into this review, I wanna break down some of the ratings for this week’s show. WWF RAW beat WCW Monday Nitro 4.1 to 1.9 in the ratings which I believe is the largest gap between the two so far in the Monday Night Wars.

I was absolutely stunned when I saw that rating. Honestly, I looked at this episode of Nitro and I actually thought it was another good show. It’s been 4 weeks on the bounce where WCW Nitro has actually been good and felt like a really good show. Yet despite this, WCW Nitro had not beaten WWF RAW in the ratings since March 25th 1996. Funnily enough, that was the episode after Uncensored and that Doomsday Cage match which was the pinnacle of god awful wrestling.

Eric did mention on commentary that there was NBA gamer on so RAW and Nitro weren’t directly head-to-head this week. The main-event of the RAW show was Undertaker vs Owen Hart which actually sounds like a really good match but when compared this show, RAW didn’t even compared to Nitro in my eyes on paper.

Their matches included the Bodydonnas vs Techno Team 2000, Marc Mero (previously Johnny B Badd) vs 1-2-3 Kid which actually sounds like a good match and Davey Boy Smith vs Fatu. I actually may watch that show just to see how it compares. That show pulling a 4.1 rating sounds an incredible feat but maybe I’ll watch it to see what it was that brought the viewers in.

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Now, I’m going to throw up a theory which may annoy some people. However, I mentioned that the last week of the ratings wars Nitro won was the March 25th 1996 show after Uncensored. Now granted, Hulk Hogan was not on that Nitro. However, that episode followed a PPV based on a plot to end Hulkamania. Since then, there’s been little to no Hulk Hogan and RAW has been smashing them in the ratings. Hulk Hogan not being there probably did do a number on Nitro. The WCW shows are better without him but it’s not pulling in that big of an audience any more even if the likes of Ric Flair, Randy Savage and Sting are all there. We will see where it goes from here.

“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs Hugh Morrus

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I am officially over this storyline with Randy Savage. The storyline, really since Elizabeth turned on Savage in February, is that Savage is too crazy to be allowed in a wrestling ring and the WCW officials are concerned for his well-being. This week we had pretty much the same Randy Savage stuff with the opponent mocking Savage, Savage going nuts and then continuing with a post-match beatdown which is eventually stopped.

That’s pretty much what happened here. Hugh Morrus beat Savage up, Hugh Morrus put on Savage’s gear and mocked him and Savage went crazy. Savage choked Morrus over the top rope with his own jacket and wouldn’t let go, so the referee called for the bell. That’s pretty much what happened in this match.

I was mostly just distracted as they came down to the ring by Dana Brooke and Batista tweeting back-and-forth with each other on Twitter! This is tremendous stuff if you’re able to find on Twitter!

Savage punched down the referee after the match. Another referee ran down to which Savage scoop-slammed the second referee. Bischoff called him a psychopath as Savage hit the referee with an elbow drop from the top rope.

The most memorable part of this whole angle though is that while Savage is going crazy after the bell rings, the time keeper rung the bell over and over and over again as geeks eventually come down to stop Savage in security and local law enforcement. This time-keeper would not stop ringing this damn bell. I wouldn’t be surprised if the time keeper is still ringing this bell to this das! For literally 2 minutes straight, this bell-ringing kept going and I was just completely driven mad by it! No time-keeper should ring a bell as much as this guy did.

Savage’s response to the geeks trying to calm him down was to taunt to the fans! Heenan then call Savage a danger to society but despite this “psychopath” Savage going nuts, Savage was still allowed by law enforcement to high five the fans at ringside as he leaves!

I was actually doing a bit of research for another article but I saw that WWE posted up a YouTube video with an interview with Lana. In that interview, Lana called Rusev a “danger to society” as part of that storyline. The pararels between Nitro 1996 and wrestling in 2019 are just surreal and boy, is there more to come from this episode of Nitro…

They had a little tribute to Ray “The Crippler” Stevens who had past away that week. They had a donations screen up and Bischoff sounded very choked up about the passing of The Crippler.

Dean Malenko vs Jushin Liger w/Sonny Onoo

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We had a great cruiserweight match next but I do wanna touch on something before we get into the match. Right away, the announcers discuss that Shinjiro Otani is the new WCW Cruiserweight champion as he won the title in Japan. From what I understand about this though was that the tapings for all of the WCW shows were all over the place at this time. They were taping episodes of Saturday Night and Worldwide etc. to take place after this episode of Nitro.

Apparently though, the news about Otani was very much-outdated in real-time. In actuality, the WCW Cruiserweight Champion at this time was Dean Malenko. He beat Otani in an episode of Saturday Night or something and had won the title but he came out for this Nitro without the championship and he pretended to NOT BE the champion! Could you imagine if you happened to have attended one of those tapings and then came to a live Nitro with Dean Malenko not as the champion?

They did say that Otani was making his WCW debut in May 18th on an episode of Worldwide, despite already being the cruiserweight champion according to the announcers. They also said he was scheduled to defend the title at Slamboree.

Jushin forced Dean down with a wrist lock, continued to work on the wrist as they got to their feet. They traded cruiserweight spots which led to an incredible sell from Dean off an enziguri by Liger. Ric Flair in a tuxedo appeared to watch the match with his women. Usually they’d do an angle where a wrestler would come out to “watch” a match and big storyline is made out of it which makes the match seem secondary. Not tonight. They barely focused on Flair as the match was going on… which was great. They were able to tackle the Flair stuff after the match. This was fine,

Liger hit a beautiful brainbuster for a near fall. They went to the ads as Liger locked on an abdominal stretch. Flair is shown wining and dining with champagne and big candles apparently with Savage’s money I guess. Dean went for a knee bar as Liger fought out of it and grabbed the rope.

Dean worked on the injured knee with just simple knee shots to the knee of Liger. Liger, after his knee was worked on for a few minutes, suddenly whips out a perfect cartwheel elbow smash with no signs of wear to his knee!

Liger followed this up with a Liger Kick. Liger dropkicked Dean to the outside and Liger did a big dive to the outside. This was all after Dean was working on Liger’s knee for a few minutes!

Liger went for a cartwheel springboard but Dean caught him as they traded roll ups. Dean went for the top rope gutbuster, hit it and Bischoff said “never seen it before.” I don’t know if this was an insider reference from Bischoff or whatever but this was not the first time I’d seen Malenko do this. He beat Mr JL with this move if I recall correctly.

Dean went for an Alley Oop but Liger reversed into a roll-up attempt for a near fall which was a spot I thought was so great it should have been the finish. However, it wasn’t as Dean hit a sit-out powerbomb for the win. A solid match and the fans were into this one. This match worked big time.

I’m going to get my one gripe with this match out of the way. Far be it from me to critique Jushin “Thunder” Liger’s wrestling work but for a match where his knee was worked on for a long time, him doing these amazing cartwheels and these Liger Kicks during his comeback really took away from the match just a little. It was almost like they did the heat for the sake of just doing the heat and then Liger is back to normal with seemingly no sign of issues with his knees. That bothered me a little bit.

Mean Gene was with Ric Flair, Woman and Miss Elizabeth. Ric Flair said when you’re on top of your own personal world, you do what you ever you want. He said they checked into the big hotels and got on the first-class planes. Ric said a lot of people were saying Ric should be unhappy that he lost to The Giantbut he said his time was coming. Ric talked about Slamboree. Ric warned Arn not to make the wrong choice in life again as he was facing Arn Anderson in a tag team match. Ric Flair talked about the blonde in the front row, obviously Mongo’s wife. He offered her a drink and she poured it out in rejection. Flair said when it’s all over, she’s gonna learn why he’s an all-around cowboy which was a strange pick-up line. Elizabeth told Ric don’t worry as they have all of Savage’s money and Flair laughed away.

How I didn’t realise until this point that Mongo’s wife was actually Debra, the future Mrs Stone Cold Steve Austin, was beyond me. I had totally forgotten Debra and Mongo were married. Now I do believe they split up around 1998 and she goes with Austin after that but it took me a while to figure out that this was actually Debra of all women to be in this angle!

Sting vs Lord Steven Regal w/Jeeves

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This match I truly believe was the best match of the show. It told the simplest story and it was worked in such a simple manner but it worked so effectively to get both guys over. If you had watched the Parking Lot Brawl from last week, you were gifted with the knowledge for why Regal had his face all bandaged and why he was selling more than usual. Regal still struggled through the pain as he battled Sting because of how brutal that match was from last week.

This match also showed a certain sign from the crowd. As I watched this episode of Nitro 1996 in 2019 amidst the rise of AEW Dynamite on TNT, a fan on Nitro had a sign which said: “TNT is Dynamite.” AEW demonstrated their tremendous time-travelling capabilities with this sign way back in May 1996! An unbelievable sign to have been discovered during this episode of Nitro!

Sting took control early on and went for the Scorpion Death Lock but Regal got the ropes and left the ring holding his back. I love how Sting got out of an arm wrench of all moves and the fans went nuts for Sting as Regal was writhing in pain! There were a lot of a female Sting fans and these fans were going nuts for literally EVERYTHING Sting did! We need more fans like this in 2019!

Regal brought down Sting and wrenched the wrist while scraping Sting’s face with his boot. Sting got out of it and did a standing crossface, crossing both arms across Regal’s face. Regal returned the favour to which Sting powered out as Regal begged for mercy. Regal legitimately walked around like an old man selling his match from last week but it was believable. If you’re back is hurting, no matter if you’re a professional wrestler or just lifting something heavy for someone, you can’t really move that well because of the pressure on your back so yes this came off as believable that Regal acted this way.

Sting took control with Japanese Arm Drags and clotheslines as Regal begged for his life! Sting missed a Stinger Splash. The finish was awesome in this match. Regal went for a Tiger Suplex but Sting reversed it with a back drop and a bridge pinfall for the win! A simple move to win the match but I loved it. Sting out-wrestled Regal for the victory and was the better man. Not to mention, Regal was selling his back during the match so yes, it played into the finish. Even Mongo sold this like “how did he do that?” so this match was a big success. Two big thumbs up from me for this match!

The Giant © vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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The match set to be the main-event was The Giant versus Lex Luger for the title. Before this, there was a clash of music with Sting’s music and Lex Luger’s music. It sounded like the WWE Network edited Sting’s music over Luger’s real music. It makes more sense than WCW screwing up the music. The storyline was that they were expecting Luger but Hacksaw Jim Duggan wounded up taking his spot. Sting’s music being here doesn’t make sense but then again, why would they put Sting’s music over Luger’s on the Network? I’ve heard Luger’s theme song all the time on the Network. I was incredibly confused.

As I just mentioned Lex Luger was expected to come out but apparently Hacksaw Jim Duggan stepped up and wanted to take his spot. The announcers revealed Luger hadn’t arrived yet.

Duggan punched away at The Giant as Giant tried to get over the top rope into the ring. The Giant eventually pushed him away and posed the belt and Duggan jumped Giant again. Hacksaw Jim Duggan came off as the biggest cheater during these episodes of Nitros! He jumped The Giant over and over when The Giant was just minding his business!

Duggan tried to fight but Giant clobbered at him. Giant repeated the arse spot he did with Sting during that one tag match and thrusted back with his hips as Bobby Heenan talks about friction.

Duggan tried to slam The Giant but he couldn’t do it. Giant choked away at Duggan for a while which suspiciously reminded me of the likes of Ze Gangsta during this match. Sometimes it was easy to forget that The Giant was less than a year into the business by this point in his career so there were signs of him being green during this match.

Duggan tried the loaded tape he always goes for but Giant got Duggan up and slammed him down with the chokeslam for the win to the retain the title. The Giant then hits this massive chokeslam, where he gets him up, takes a step back and drives himself and Duggan down to the ground. These were the awesome chokeslams Giant/Big Show used to do back in his prime where they’d both crash to the ground. I loved it.

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Cobra of all people tried to make the save and Giant DRIVES him to the ground with a chokeslam too, twisted him in the air and slammed him. The Giant beats up the Cuban Assassin and Alex Wright before Ric Flair makes his way down to the ring. He grabbed a chair, takes off his blazer and clonks Giant in the head with the chair to a big pop. However The Giant no-sold this and cornered him.

Sting came down and attacked Giant to chop The Giant down with chop blocks. He punched out Jimmy Hart. Fans were losing their minds as Sting tried to punch Giant down and he winds up for a big punch, pokes the eye and hits a big double axe handle which knocks the big man down.
He tries a Scorpion Death Lock but The Giant is so big that he struggles to get him over. He eventually got him over but the moment he turned him over, Jimmy clobbers Sting with the megaphone. Lex Luger comes down with a suitcase and the worst fashion sense possible but then The Giant is backed away by Jimmy. I loved this segment. The fans were into every moment.

Then after this, Sting got up in Luger’s business as Mean Gene tried an interview. Sting cut him off and Sting asked where Luger was. I guess Luger missed an opportunity to fight for the title before and Sting was calling him out on it and Luger was saying he missed a flight. They argue and they end the show.

This was another storyline I was sort of sick of. I know I’ve complained about this before with this storyline but we saw the whole friction storyline dropped with Sting and Lex Luger weeks ago. Lex Luger was finally a full-blown babyface and he was a good guy and now all of a sudden, him and Sting are fighting again. I’m hoping they just move past this “can Sting trust Luger” storyline as it’s kinda getting old now.

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I thought this was a good show in general. There are some storylines that I’m hoping they’ll close the book on for good. The Randy Savage storyline is getting repetitive, the Sting/Luger storyline is getting repetitive but this felt like an easy show to watch. There were good matches in the cruiserweight match and the Sting vs Regal match and the show flowed together really well. I thought this was a thumbs up show.

I have a plan of a few blog posts in the pipeline. I was going to do the next episode of Nitro next, which would be appropriate, but I do want to watch that RAW episode from May 6th 1996. I thought this was a good show so I’m still wondering whether or not that RAW held up to justify the 4.1 rating it got. This was also the time where the WWF were struggling financially and in popularity so I’m stunned what it was that got this good a rating, at least by 2019 standards. RAW nowadays doesn’t even come close to that number. It’s been years and years since they got that big of a number.

Therefore, I think the plan is to watch the WWF Monday Night RAW episode from May 6th 1996. I did mentioned that I was doing research for an post regarding the Rusev/Lashley/Lana storyline right now which I still intend on doing. I have a few other ideas in place and of course, I will review the next episode of Nitro which is the go-home show for Slamboree.

The upcoming blog post list is below so stay tuned:

  • Review of WWF Monday Night RAW from May 6th 1996
  • Post about the Rusev/Lashley/Lana storyline
  • Review of WWF Monday Nitro from May 13th 1996
  • WCW Slamboree 1996… eventually!
  • And a few more pet projects that I’m looking to work on when I get the time!

Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly an update whenever Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I will be back with my review of Episode #35 of Nitro from May 1996.

WCW Nitro Reading Order

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

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

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

 

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

 

Date: April 29th 1996

Brand: WCW

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

Rating: 2.1 (Down from last week)

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

The Belfast Bruiser vs Steven Regal in a parking lot brawl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Date: April 22nd 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Albany, Georgia

Rating: 2.7 (Down from last week)

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs Meng

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #31 (APRIL 15TH 1996) – HULK HOGAN’S REIGN OF TERROR CONTINUES AS HE CONQUERS SIX HEELS BY HIMSELF

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

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We’ve officially hit the period of WCW Nitro were things just don’t add up and make sense anymore. These last few episodes have closely resembled WWE 2019 now more than ever where it is very clear “plans change” as things are completely turned on their heads. The Giant’s big babyface turn two weeks ago was completely pushed to one side as he’s back to fighting the good guys again. Lex Luger’s slow transition from heel to face sharply ended when he was just randomly an overwhelming good guy fighting by Sting’s side.

Dave Meltzer from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter always used to get this stick about when WWE, TNA or any company does a big swerve, he’d go “plans change” and people think Dave is covering his ass. If you don’t think that WWE nowadays don’t change their minds on a daily basis, think again. If you don’t think that WCW changed their minds over and over, these last two episodes demonstrated that clearly they did.

WCW have generally been good since this series started with promoting a match for the next week’s Nitro and then delivering that match. Last week, they promoted Hulk Hogan, The Booty Man and The Booty Man’s “big plan for satisfaction” going against The Taskmaster and Arn Anderson. They didn’t specifically mention what match it was but it was something where Booty Man had a plan against the heels.

This week, the Booty Man was off the show as he had “an injury” which I’m not entirely sure whether it was a work or a shoot. He’s off the show. So not only did they not deliver on Booty Man and his weird promo about getting satisfaction if you know what I mean. They did not come up with a replacement tag team partner for Hogan either. No, Hulk Hogan went at it alone with Arn Anderson and Taskmaster.

I’m going to tie this intro into this opening match where it was…

 

Hulk Hogan vs Arn Anderson and Taskmaster w/Jimmy Hart, Woman and Miss Elizabeth

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They do this match where it’s your typical Hulk Hogan vs bad guys match. Arn and Taskmaster jump him before the bell. Hogan fights them off. Hulk Hogan pulls off one of the worst Figure Four Leg Locks of all time followed by the definitive worst Figure Four Leg Lock of all time on Arn Anderson. He got Arn’s leg and was a deer in the highlights. He had no clue how to put on this move and Hogan is a guy who had been a wrestling main-eventer for at least a decade by now, maybe for 15 years by this point. Literally if you picked two random kids outside of your house, showed them the Figure Four Leg Lock on a video and told them to go do it, it would have been a 1000 times better than what Hulk Hogan did here. He didn’t know what leg to put over. He was trying to tie up the legs himself and it was a disaster.

Hogan no-sold a chair shot and ran wild until the heels somehow got the heat and everyone, including Jimmy Hart, got kicks in on the outside. Booty Babe in an exceptional outfit yet again came out to support Hogan. Hogan bonks Arn and Taskmaster into each other and hits the Leg Drop for the pin. So yes, Hulk Hogan overcame Arn Anderson and Taskmaster clean in a handicap match. It’s stupid for one man to beat two men on his own but FINE… it’s Hulk Hogan. You put your top babyfaces over so him destroying two babyfaces was tolerable to me. BUT THEN…

Hogan grabbed both of the girls at ringside in Miss Elizabeth and Woman. He dragged them both into the ring, lurked over them like he’s going to attack these women and amped up the crowd for this beating against the women. This was so uncomfortable by this point to see Hogan manhandling these women and wanting to beat him up. Yeah, this was also the same Hulk Hogan who tried to punch the ref last week. What a complete arsehole this character is!

Then he changed his mind and went after Jimmy Hart. Hart begged for his life but Hogan kicked his ass and ripped his shirt off. The Giant came down for “the save” but it had minimal affect. He chokeslammed Hogan but Hogan no-sold this chokeslam and got right back up. Hogan fought back and hit a scoop slam and sent The Giant packing.

He then cut a promo about going after the title and he actually nearly scoop slammed Mean Gene Okerlund and that was that.

So to recap, Hulk Hogan overcame the odds from having to go up against six heels. Now granted, I understand three of those people were managers. I understand to an extent that Arn Anderson and Taskmaster are beaten up all the time by Hogan so what does it matter if they get beat up again. The Giant? He had to get beaten and sent packing here?

The Giant hadn’t even been involved with Hogan since I think the lumberjack match before Uncensored and before then, the last time they crossed paths was SuperBrawl I think. The Giant went out here just to be slain by Hogan and shown to be a complete geek. This was the same Giant who Hogan was terrified off at Halloween Havoc and was fighting on par with Hogan at SuperBrawl. On this show, he was just another guy.

I figured that maybe the “Hoganisms” that caused Hulk Hogan to go over all of these heels were purged from his system at the Doomsday Cage match. Nope, he still had a bit more typical Hogan conquering left to do. The Giant paid the price here and it really indirectly buried Sting and Lex Luger later on in the show but we’ll get to that.

There was no way any of this was planned last week so whether it was Hogan changing his mind or Bischoff changing his mind, this angle did more harm than good and A HUGE THUMBS DOWN for this opening match.

Despite all of that, the fans were still going nuts for Hulk Hogan throughout this whole segment!

Now onto the rest of the show…

 

Date: April 15th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Charleston, West Virginia

Rating: 2.8

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

 

I do love after this match, the announcers have some banter. Mongo makes a comment about how the fans love him and Bobby Heenan, without missing a beat, responds saying: “yeah they love me.” Mongo talked about his dog wearing camouflage and that the dog didn’t wanna get hit by a stray bullet to which Heenan looked at the camera with a face of just total disgust! Heenan’s reactions to some of Mongo’s comments are some of the highlights on Nitro every week!

 

“Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock vs “The Nasty Boys” Brian Knobs and Jerry Sags in a street fight

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If you simply watched their SuperBrawl match instead of this match on this episode of Nitro, you’d find it hard to tell the difference between that match and the match that was on this Nitro. This was garbage wrestling to its very core and if you love several minutes of guys clobbering each other with trash cans and anything they could find, then you liked this match.

I wasn’t much of a fan as literally a lot of my notes were just XXXXX hit XXXXX with XXXX and for a while I just stopped taking notes. When I stopped taking notes, I look up and Johnny Grunge walloped Brian Knobs with trash can shots RIGHT to the head with purely blatant smacks to the head. He did this at least three times in the row to the head and Grunge was clearly aiming for the head as he moved his position to get a better hit of the head. DUDE. Was it really necessary to smack Knobs in the head over and over?

There was on spot earlier on in the match I liked where Knobs put the trash can on Grunge and while he then hits Grunge with like a trash can lid or something, Sags is on the other side of Grunge PUNCHING the trash can! I don’t know why but I loved that. “I’m gonna punch this trash which is shielding you and maybe I’ll connect with you inside the trash can!”

They got a table and Mongo said: “here comes the wood.” They didn’t even build up to the big table spot later. 30 seconds later after finding this table, someone is randomly thrown into the table. No big move through the table or anything no, someone is randomly thrown through the thing.

A cameraman fell over something on the outside. Rocco did a bulldog on Knobs into a chair. The big finish was there was another table and Grunge missed a top rope leg drop and went through the table. He went crashing through the table and Knobs got the pin. I remember a spot very similar to this from SuperBrawl to lead to the finish. Just like the finish to that match, there was also post-match brawl between the two tag teams!

They all still continue to the fight after the bell. Rocco did a cannonball off the top rope and hit Grunge on the apron to send him, Grunge and Sags crashing through the table. This sucked. The match was a waste of time to me and really, it accomplished nothing when these big weapon shots are shown to be ineffective after the match because they’re all still fighting with each. They all still continued fighting… so why did I bother watching this tag match if they were gonna fight afterwards anyway?

 

“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs Earl Robert Eaton w/Geaves

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An alright match which didn’t get a lot of time and the announcers completely didn’t care about. Savage starts the match on fire and then Eaton just… gets the heat somehow! I looked down for 20 seconds to write up a note and I look up and Eaton is getting the heat on Randy Savage! I had no clue and they didn’t mentioned what the move was that changed the tide in this match!

Savage tried to fight back but Eaton raked at him over and over. Eaton did a Ric Flair impersonation and then did a Figure Four Leg Lock which was 20,000 times better than Hulk Hogan’s Figure Four Leg Lock from earlier… and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. Eaton somehow got a Four Horsemen t-shirt in the ring and showed it at Randy to fire him up. I did like the storyline that Eaton was doing everything he could to piss off Savage as Savage was in a feud with Ric Flair who was with Miss Elizabeth.

Eaton was doing Flair’s move and showing off Flair’s merchandise.  Savage then turns it around and then just straight up starts choking Eaton! Savage then beat up Geaves who ran for his life. Savage did a back drop on the outside to Eaton.  Savage hit the scoop slam in the ring, hit the elbow drop and got the pin.

Then Savage threw the referee down and then goes for another elbow drop. Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Alex Wright and a few other babyfaces try to beg him off but Savage did the elbow drop anyway. The faces then hold Savage down as they handcuff the Macho Man.

To recap, nothing happened to Public Enemy when they beat up The Nasty Boys and put them through a table. Here, Randy Savage goes for another Elbow Drop and the babyfaces run to the ring begging Savage to rethink this. Savage hits the move and HE’S the one in handcuffs? You think they’ll be any follow up to Public Enemy beating up the Nasty Boys after the match? Of course not. This made no sense.

 

WCW Nitro showed a poster for I believe a movie called “The Great White Hype” and this poster showed Samuel L Jackson with a turban on and a great big cigar in his mouth.

 

Sting (c) and Lex Luger (c) vs Ric Flair w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth and The Giant for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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What a bizarre match to put on for your main-event. The parallels between the AEW shows in 2019 to the WCW shows in 1996 are absolutely remarkable. The day after AEW Full Gear, they announce that AEW World Champion Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara are challenging the SCU for the AEW Tag Team titles. In April 1996, the WCW World Champion Ric Flair is challenging for the WCW tag team titles on the Nitro episode I’m watching the day they announce that AEW show in 2019! It’s amazing the coincidences that fall into place when reviewing these shows!

Ric Flair goes to Mongo’s wife again and Mongo just SITS THERE and threatens Flair.  Lex Luger was still the WCW TV Champion, in case you’re wondering. Sting runs wild early on and even dropkicks Giant off the apron.

Sting throws Flair into Giant, Giant catches Fliar and threw him back in the ring. Flair goes: “what are you doing” and tears into The Giant, and then turns around into Lex Luger flexing and gets frightened off!

Flair gets thrown out into Giant again and Giant throws Flair back into the ring. Flair loses his mind, runs outside and chops Giant! Then Giant chases Flair up the ring as they cut to the ads. I loved this big man/little man dynamic with the heel tag team where they don’t get a long but The Giant is just mean and scary and doesn’t need to do a lot to get Flair to back off!

The Giant finally got the tag and kicked away at Luger in the ring. Ric Flair is back on the apron and after everything that happened early in on the match, he starts thrusting at the crowd and starts enjoying himself!

Woman raked at Luger while Luger was down on the outside. Flair drops a beautiful knee drop which I don’t remember seeing much from him during this Nitro series. Giant does two big Irish Whips to Luger into the corners and reduces Luger to screams of agony!

Flair does the Figure Four on Luger for a long time. Flair and referee Nick Patrick starts pushing each other. Luger finally fires away and the fans go nuts. Luger throws Flair off the top rope. Sting finally got the hot tag and ran wild on Flair as The Giant just stood there.

This hot tag included a quickfire superplex! They moved so fast to get this superplex spot over and done with during this hot tag of Sting running wild! Sting goes for a Scorpion Death Lock as Luger batters The Giant to hold him off. Woman threw the coffee at Luger again this week but Luger ducked and Sting ended up with coffee on him. This caused the ref to call for the bell.

The Giant chokeslammed the babyfaces. Flair went for a “pin” on Sting and Luger, tried to punch the ref and celebrated over the prone bodies in the ring.

This was exactly what I was mentioning earlier. Hulk Hogan ate a chokeslam after his match from The Giant, who was fresh mind you, and was totally fine but Sting and Lex Luger ate a chokeslam after their match and they were down for the count? It made Sting and Luger look so inferior to Hulk Hogan. It made The Giant looked so inferior to Hulk Hogan. The Giant overcame two men with a partner where as Hogan overcame six people earlier on in the show.

Speaking of Hulk Hogan, where was he for this beating? His friends (at least Sting was his friend anyway) were getting beat up by the heels and he’s nowhere to be seen. Do you guys remember at World War III where Hogan said Sting was his “best friend forever?” He left his friend at the mercy of The Giant KNOWING that he could kick The Giant’s ass easy as he watched him do it EARLIER ON THAT NIGHT. What a friend.

 

Bischoff managed to get Heenan handcuffed somehow as Heenan tried to wrestled himself out of it. He bit it as the headset went across his face and was having a horrible time with these handcuffs as Nitro went off the air.

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This show was horrible this week. Maybe I’m being a little harsh but I was not a fan of this episode. There was not much to enjoy throughout. The Hulk Hogan angle at the start of the show really set the tone where there’s no longer like a well though-out story-telling process. A few months ago, I could see there was a detailed plan with certain storylines, especially with Luger and Sting. They even stopped that last week and after all of that, they get their asses kicked by the heels at the end of this show.

Now the show mostly consists of just a bunch of stuff happening. They never mentioned once the May PPV or the Lethal Lottery they’re doing in May. They’ve not mentioned a thing and as a WCW fan, this must have been infuriating. They never even mentioned the WCW Cruiserweight Tournament which a few weeks ago, they could help but mention throughout that episode. This week’s episode was the worst Nitro I’ve seen so far but it is right up there.

 

I hope you enjoyed my review of Episode #31 of the Nitro series. Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly an update whenever Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I will be back with my review of Episode #32 of Nitro from April 22nd 1996.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order