RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #48 (AUGUST 12TH 1996) – THREE TITLE MATCHES AND THE OUTSIDERS VS STING AND LEX LUGER REMATCH

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 Hog Wild saw the next step in the New World Order’s plan to destroy WCW. The Outsiders defeated Sting and Lex Luger following shenanigans from a crooked referee in Nick Patrick. In the main-event, Hollywood Hogan and the nWo toppled The Giant in order to seize the WCW World Heavyweight Championship from WCW. The last image of the show saw Hulk Hogan spray paint “nWo” on the championship belt to deface the title and literally leave a black mark on the prestigious World Heavyweight Championship.

 

My thoughts on the post-Hog Wild edition of WCW Nitro are that there was a strong emphasis on the second hour of the show. There were a bunch of “filler” matches I guess in the first hour and then a huge line-up for the second hour. We had three title matches on the second hour, including Randy Savage vs Ric Flair and the Outsiders making their WCW Nitro debut in a rematch from Hog Wildagainst Lex Luger and Sting. Very interesting format for the show so I can only assume that Nitro were going up against RAW in that second hour and they wanted a really strong hour.

I think it worked. Firstly, Nitro won the ratings war against against RAW by 3.3 to 2.0, which I believe was the largest gap between the shows up until this point. Secondly, the second hour was actually a strong hour. We got two main-event worthy matches and they were putting in a lot of ground-work for future events, including a Hollywood Hogan vs Ric Flair match at Clash of the Champions. I thought this was a good episode as we move towards Fall Brawl.

 

Date: August 12th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Casper, Wyoming or as Larry Zbyszko called it, “in the middle of nowhere”

Rating: 3.3

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Eric Bischoff and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan

 

 

The show started with Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko’s usual introductions, where Larry called out the Four Horsemen, Sting, Lex Luger and the Dungeon of Doom, a.k.a. the “brotherhood” of WCW, for not showing up to help Giant in the main-event of Hog Wild. I guess this was to play up the angle that WCW were not truly united yet in the fight against the New World Order.

 

“High Voltage” Kenny Kaos and Robbie Rage and “Rough and Ready” Dick Slater and Mike Enos vs “Dungeon of the Doom” Taskmaster, Hugh Morrus, Meng and The Bababarian w/Big Bubba and Jimmy Hart 

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This was probably the biggest clue that WCW didn’t really care for the first hour of the show. The opening match saw whatever was left of the Dungeon of Doom take on High Voltage and Rough and Ready! This was one of a few matches on this show where all I could think was “who put this match together?” It was… insane.

Taskmaster was in street clothes for this one. I wrote there were “massive boos for these guys coming out” which I think were related to High Voltage and Rough and Ready.  Hugh did a clothesline and the fans went nuts for the Dungeon of Doom during this match.

Dudes just started running into the ring at random. I don’t even remember there being a single tag in this match. Enos was pretty bad in this. Taskmaster just ran and attacked dudes like crazy and the referee just allowed it to happen and eventually it broke into a wild brawl. Kaos missed a dive by about 1000 miles. There was like no attempt by Kaos to make it seem like he was even remotely going to hit Meng on the floor. Meng hit a superkick and won via pin fall.

Rough and Ready beat up High Voltage and Dick Slater fell down trying to stomp on them and… this was just a giant massive mess. A clear indication that the first hour was not a priority even in the midst of this weekly wrestling television war!

 

Sting and Lex Luger and came down. Luger grabbed the mic and they said they would both have a sleepless night. Sting said they didn’t care about controversy from their match at Hog Wild. Sting and Luger made a challenge towards the Outsiders for right now as the fans got amped up. They wanted to see this fight and Sting weas urging them on to make more and more noise. Sting said if the nWo had the guts, they’ll show up to the ring right now. Sting said that it’s 2 on 2 and he whined that the nWo always picked their spot. They eventually gave up and I guess the ball was left in the nWo’s court to whether they accept the challenge or not.

 

Renegade vs Diamond Dallas Page

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There was not a lot to this match but I personally think it was one of the better regular DDP matches on Nitro in the last few months. I’ll break it down shortly but I did ask myself a question during this match… was there ever a reveal of who DDP’s benefactor was?

Remember when DDP became broke after Kimberly took all of his money in a match? He was down in the dumps and became homeless and then, a “mysterious benefactor” helped DDP get back on his feet. They’ve not made a reference to this in months. I did check and there was apparently no official reveal as to the identity of the mystery benefactor. Apparently DDP has said in interviews that he believed the angle would reveal that Kimberley was the benefactor all along. There was another name rumoured but this is for someone that has yet to arrive in WCW, so I won’t mention who the man or woman was that was also rumoured to be the benefactor.

Back to the match, DDP worked on the arm for a little bit. The men bounced off each other from the shoulder tackle attempt. DDP bumped his arse off for a Renegade shove then later proceed to smack Renegade with a lariat. DDP hit a swinging neckbreaker as they revealed the nWo would respond to the challenge later on in the show.

DDP put on a chin lock for a long time. Renegade almost sneaked his way into a win with a roll up. Renegade literally kicked the gum out of DDP’s mouth and did the comeback. Out of nowhere, DDP did a counter and hit a Diamond Cutter for the win. A decent Nitro TV match. Maybe I’m in the minority on this one but I thought it was alright.

 

The New World Order are shown sitting down backstage. Kevin Nash said they’ll do the match with Sting and Luger when they feel ready. Hall said they beat WCW at Bash at the Beach and Hog Wild and Hogan won the title at Hog Wild as well. They mentioned they heard some whining and crying about Nick Patrick and called him a “FINE senior referee.” Hogan mentioned a fourth and fifth member of the nWo. Hogan complained about the belt and wanted to redesign the belt with a “Buddy in Tampa.” Nash said whatcha gonna do when the nWo runs wild on you? Hogan said the WCW faithful would disown Sting and Luger if they beat them again.

This was a pretty bland nWo backstage promo. They were just sat down talking for a long time about embarrassing WCW, accepting challenge etc. and it wasn’t particularly interesting. I think it was their attempt to make it look like a shoot but it just looked bland. It really didn’t get me invested in the rematch. Sting and Luger did a far better job at hyping up this main-event earlier on in the show.

 

Konnan vs Jim Powers

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I wrote down “A mess of a match” and this match wasn’t even the worst thing Konnan did all night.

Konnan did some horrible punches and knees and then locked on an abdominal stretch. Powers got a huge pop out of a clothesline. I laughed when the commentators claimed Jim Powers was “very successful” in WCW. I’ll say it again, I don’t remember ever seeing Jim Powers win a match on Nitro!

I guess Konnan is a heel now because of what Hogan did. Fans chanted USA. Powers bounced Konnan’s head of the turnbuckle as he ran wild on Konnan. The fans were really into Powers here. Powers did a dropkick and Konnan could not just fall down to sell the move. Konnan instead twisted in the air and just fell down on his front. For god’s sake. Just take a bump to the mat and sell the move better.

Konnan reversed Powers charging at him with a kick and got a pin with his feet on the ropes. This was a poor match.

Mean Gene Okerlund interview Mexican Heavyweight Champion Konnan after the match. Konnan cut the most bipolar promo in WCW history up until this point! Konnan said Mean Gene’s opinions are irrelevant and mentioned the nWo have been stinking up the joint. Konnan mumbled about having a bulletproof plan. Konnan then said that he was sticking for WCW and told the nWo to look out and the fans booed. He cut a heel promo and then turned it into a babyface pro-WCW rally promo against the nWo. WHAT?

Man this was a bad promo from Konnan. This promo was so bad. Konnan just got totally lost with his own promo. If there was ever a man that needed a scripted promo to follow, I think we’ve found our guy. He just completely lost focus during this promo. This was the 1996 version of the Kalisto promo after the WWE Draft 2016 where Kalisto talked about making a good lucha thing! Awful stuff!

 

Ron Studd vs Chris Benoit w/Miss Elizabeth and Woman

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This was another one. My first note from this match was: “Who fucking put this match together?” In the morning of Nitro, Eric Bischoff, Kevin Sullivan or whoever it was started thinking: “OK. We need Chris Benoit to get a big win on Nitro to capitalise on his big win at Hog Wild. Who can we put him in the ring with?” They looked around the locker room and saw the former “Yeti” Ron Studd and decided to have Chris Benoit SQUASH this giant of a man in Ron Studd! WHAT IN THE… WHA WHAT?

It was so bizarre. How many wrestlers did WCW have on the payroll at the time? It was probably in the hundreds but I know they had like 200-300 wrestlers on their payroll at one time with hundreds of them not working at all. Lanny Poffo was signed to WCW and never worked a match during his time there! They looked at all the cruiserweights, all the big dudes and all of the technical wrestlers but the man they wanted Benoit to squash was RON STUDD this seven foot tall dude. The funny thing about this selection is…. the match ended up being GOOD!

Chris Benoit took this dude, who rarely ever wrestled in his life, and got a good match out of the guy by just getting the heat and chopping down the big man. He was chopping down this giant to show that he could chop down any giant in his path as a preview of his match with THE GIANT at Clash of the Champions! It was so simple and effective.

Elizabeth was a total babyface shaking the hands of the fans while walking nervously towards the ring. Benoit talked trash up to Ron’s face. Benoit slapped him in the face and then Ron grabbed him and stomped away at him and choked away at the Canadian. Benoit looked so tiny compared to this man. This worked visually in presenting Benoit as the clear underdog and showed what type of a mountain this man had to climb to beat this mountain of a man.

He chopped Ron down with a dropkick to the knee and worked on the leg as Ron screamed and wailed. As great as a match this was, Ron Studd sounded so unauthentic as he wailed on the floor “AAHHHH AAHHH AHHH.” He screamed like he stood on Lego rather than have his leg broken or snapped by Benoit! To Studd’s credit, he sold way more than Dean Ambrose usually would have in WWE.

Benoit wrapped Studd’s leg around the ring post. Benoit tried a shin breaker but Studd did a few elbows and a scoop slam to take over. Benoit pulled off a superplex on the big man to a huge pop as the fans loved Benoit. I don’t think I’ve ever someone the size of Benoit do a superplex to someone the size of Studd. Studd went up for the superplex and Benoit did a big superplex for the pinfall and win.

This crowd was so hot for this show and for Benoit as he called out the Giant by looking at the camera saying giants can be beat. I’ve seen a lot of tall guys the size of Studd worse than him and he had a decent match with Benoit! I would mostly give the credit to Benoit but I do think this match being put together raises an excellent point…

This was such a unique match in the way it was put together and just how crazy on paper it sounded but WCW still did it. They threw two wrestlers who didn’t look like they could fit together and the wrestlers tried their best to make something of it. I’m writing this on the 5th of April 2020 having watched WrestleMania 36. The majority of matches on the show with how they wawer put together and how they was formatted (I guess with the exception of the Boneyard match and the Bray Wyatt match) was exactly the same. All the styles were exactly the same. In this match in 1996, we got two clashing styles and it somehow WORKED!

Again, I may be in the minority, but this gets a THUMBS UP from me!

 

Mean Gene interviewed Benoit, Woman and Elizabeth. Mean Gene complained about being “light-headed” due to Woman. Benoit was facing Giant at Clash of Champions. Benoit put over Dean Malenko as one of the best technical wrestlers today and respected him but Benoit was a man with an agenda. The Horsemen had a agenda and Benoit said Giant was strong and big but he vowed to knock him down to size. The promo drifted off a little at the start but I think Benoit pulled off a decent promo by the end of it. He showed passion and I think this did a good job in building up that Clash of the Champions match.

 

“Harlem Heat” Booker T © and Stevie Ray (c) w/Col. Robert Parker and Sister Sherri vs “The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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I will echo the sentiments from Brandon Stroud from the The Best And Worst Of WCW Monday Nitro series with Upprox.com. Every week there’s a Harlem Heat match, and every week they find a stupider way to finish it. They had a stupid and over-booked finish at the Hog Wild show and they did another one here.

I do actually want to mention one thing about Hog Wild which I purposely did not mention but I will address it here. If you read my Hog Wild review, I did mention the spot where the fans were honking and revving up the bikes to get under the skin of Harlem Heat and they booed the hell out of them. Allegedly the fans were shouting out all kinds of racial slurs towards the Harlem Heat tag team during that event.

I never mentioned it although it was pretty clear that the Harlem Heat tag team were the most hated people during that show. In case you were wondering why I didn’t mention it, it was because my reviews are mostly focused on the wrestling aspects of the shows and I try not to mention anything that doesn’t relate to the wrestling aspect of it. For example, I was mad at the crowd for booing during the Chris Benoit vs Dean Malenko match which was tremendous. I have a rule to not discuss political, social attitudes and sensitive matters during these reviews. In case you were wondering, that’s why I never mentioned it during the Hog Wild review.

Eric Bischoff claimed: “he was taking care of business” for last week’s episode of Nitro and completely zoomed past Heenan’s question of where he was at Nitro and Hog Wild. The Steiners wasted little time and beat up and sent the Harlem Heat packing to the outside of the ring.

Scott did a powerslam and hit a sweet belly to belly suplex. The fans were super into the match and the Steiners and I think it was Stevie Ray that cut off Rick’s momentum. Scott tripped over a fallen Booker and came very close to not connecting with a clothesline. I got flashbacks to the Test/Steiner spot from Bad Blood 2003 where Scott completely missed a double axe handle (please read my WWE Bad Blood 2003 review at this link)!

Scott tried a suplex but Sherri grabbed Scott and Booker fell on Scott but Col Robert Parker stumbled into the pin when he ran away from Rick for the disqualification. It was creative for a cheap finish but was there any need to do a rematch between the tag teams if you’re basically going to do the same concept of a finish? Harlem Heat once again retained the titles after their managers got involved. This was just a complicated way to make sure that nobody “does the job” and effectively meaning that no-one got over.

Harlem Heat get hot at Parker after the match. Nick Patrick was the referee and the disqualification apparently proved to Bischoff that Nick Patrick was a fair official! There are storyline reasons for why certain characters are acting the way they are but for the purposes of not divulging spoilers to the uninitiated, I will leave it at that. This was an OK match.

 

Rey Mysterio Jr. © vs The Ultimate Dragon w/Sonny Onoo for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship

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Think of this match like an edited version of the PPV match. Dragon did all the stuff he did at the PPV. He got the heat on Rey by basically just getting all of his stuff in and then Rey got the roll-up out of nowhere and won!

This was a return match from Hog Wild. Dragon unleashed a few side kicks which Bischoff claimed was a great showcase of martial arts. Dragon did a springboard elbow smash. Dragon smashed Rey with a running powerbomb what Bischoff called a “sprint powerbomb”.

Rey cut off a Dragon dive with a foot to the face. Rey did a nice hurricanrana and a big plancha to the outside. Dragon cut off a dive to the outside with a dropkick. Dragon did a nasty dive to the outside himself.

Dragon hit a Dragon Suplex for a 2 count. Dragon hit a moonsault from the top rope. Dragon tried a powerbomb and Rey reversed it into a roll up for the win. A fun little TV match as Rey Mysterio was so happy about being the champion and Rey called out Malenko. Didn’t they mention at the PPV that Mysterio beat Malenko in a title match on WCW Pro? I find it weird that Rey would want a rematch with Malenko after already beating him twice before in the last month or so.

 

Ric Flair © w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth vs “Macho Man” Randy Savage for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship

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Eight months ago at WCW Starrcade, these two men were fighting in the main-event for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. I don’t know how this happened but eight months later, they were fighting for the US title and it was presented as a far bigger deal than this match was presented eight months previously. These two are supposedly in line for future WCW title shot anyway but I do find that interesting.

Savage ran at Flair but Flair cut him off. Savage smashed away at Flair with some punches. Savage choked away at Flair. Savage spat at Flair and Flair responded with a poke to the eye.

Flair used Elizabeth as a human shield but Elizabeth moved out of the way as Savage ran right at Flair. Savage lunged at Elizabeth as Ric got the heat on Savage. Savage fired back at Flair with some jabs. Savage did double axe handle as the fans were going crazy for Savage. Flair cut off Savage with a punch to the gut.

Flair did the chop block that apparently he stole from Nick Patrick! Woman got a kick in at Savage and then ran for her life! Flair got a Figure Four Leg Lock locked in as Flair grabbed the ropes whenever he could. Savage tried to reverse the pressure and Flair tried one last grab of the ropes but the referee saw it and eventually kicked Flair’s hand off the ropes as Savage finally reversed the pressure.

Flair accidentally clotheslined the referee which I actually loved. We don’t see many “ref bumps” during a Ric Flair match and here’s the reason why. Ric Flair is known as the dirtiest player in the game who does everything in his power to bend the rules! However, the referee was down. Therefore there was no rules to break for himself or for his opponent too! Not only could Ric do whatever he wanted, so could the Macho Man!

Savage hit a big double axe handle to the outside. This crowd was insane as Savage was looking to end this match and win the prestigious United States Heavyweight title. Savage started tearing up the mat on the floor. Then coming down to the ring with a chair was Hollywood Hogan…

Hogan came down with a chair. I’ve made jokes about how weak Hulk Hogan chair shots were in the past. Here, this was not safe in the slightest. Savage had his back turned and Hogan walloped Savage in the back of a head with a chair. It looked ridiculously nasty.

He hit him again with the chair to the back which did not look as bad. Referee Nick Patrick ran down to the ring asking for assistance with the injured referee as Hogan walked to the back. Then as soon as Flair went for the pin, Patrick ran into the ring and counted the pin!

I love that even though Randy Savage was knocked out with two Hogan chair shots, Flair cannot help himself but put his feet on the rope with Woman holding onto his legs! Because you see, Ric Flair must get the advantage at EVERY CHANCE he can!

They mentioned on commentary saying that Hogan did not make a move towards Flair, suggesting maybe Flair is with the nWo. This to me was a really fun match.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Hollywood Hogan. Hogan said the nWo took the WCW title EASILY and turned it into the New World Order title. Hogan said there’s no stopping the nWo. Hogan said he wanted to make sure that WCW still had such a high regard for Flair and didn’t want to have a mark on his body as he doesn’t want any excuses when he beats him in Denver, Colorado. He said Outsiders are here to clear up some busy. Once they are done with “Stinky” and “Flex Lexy”, the nWo were gonna rename people and categorise them with different names. He proclaimed that Ric Flair will be known as “the stupid little man.” Hogan told Flair if he could do what he did to the Booty Man at Hog Wild imagine what he was gonna do to Flair at Clash of Champions (Booty Man allied himself with Hogan and then Hogan turned on him Hog Wild in case you weren’t aware).

I think with names like “Stinky” and “the stupid little man” that Hogan was DETERMINED to get the fans to hate him! What stupid names he came up with! They were not clever but I don’t think he intended for them to be clever. This was not like Kevin Nash where he did everything in his power to make himself appear to be cool. Hogan was trying everything in his power to get booed! It certainly didn’t work at Hog Wild brother!

 

Sting and Lex Luger vs “The Outsiders” Kevin Nash and Scott Hall

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They confirmed it was “nWo time” and the match was on but no one could find the Outsiders. The Outsiders showed up through the crowd. I do like that there was a ECW-esque vibe to them walking out through the crowd as if they were actual outsiders. That I did think was cool and it was different to what everyone else was doing in that company.

Lex Luger came out but there was no Sting. Lex Luger ran wild with a  double clothesline as he smashed both men into each other. Sting eventually came out and did a big top rope clothesline to Nash.

Sting sent Nash to the outside with a clothesline as Luger sent Hall to the outside. The Outsiders tried to surround Luger and Sting but the babyfaces were ready for them. Sting did a springboard to the outside as they beat away at the heels. Nick Patrick appeared to pull Sting off of Nash which saw Nash take a cheap shot in order for the Outsiders to get the heat. Bischoff was more concerned and questioned why a man got throw over the top rope and this was not a disqualifcation!

I think Sting was waiting for a dive but Nash wasn’t ready so he got down off the top rope and just started beating up both men. Eventually, the big spot came when Patrick pulled Hall out of the way of a Stinger Splash from Sting as it was confirmed that the Outsiders had paid off Patrick. Nick Patrick was now I guess officially the nWo referee if not already established at Hog Wild.

The Four Horsemen eventually ran off the Outsiders as the match was I guess thrown out as Bischoff claimed “this bites”.

 

Mean Gene interviewed the Four Horsemen. Ric Flair however was the only man who talked. He said doesn’t like Sting and Luger but he’ll play ball with them cause they’re WCW. Flair yelled about Hogan calling himself to be the immortal. He said the first rule of fighting is never to outmatch yourself. He said Mongo was a match for Nash which I good a good kick out of. Can you imagine if they did Kevin Nash vs Steve “Mongo” McMichael? What a specatacle that would have been!

Flair kept going by saying Arn Anderson was a match for Hall and the “bussaw” Benoit would be a match for whoever the 4th man was. Ric Flair went nuts and said they were gonna run wild and style and profile horsemen style.

 

That was WCW Nitro. I thought it was a fun show overall. Certain aspects of the show which would look bizarre on paper actually worked and there were fun matches throughout the show. It felt like an easy to watch and digest overall. I enjoyed it at the very least. This shows gets a thumbs up!

In case you are wondering, I will be reviewing the main-event of the Clash of the Champions show referenced to during Nitro. It’s Hollywood Hogan defending the WCW title against Ric Flair. Think of it like a bonus match review as part of the series. I’m gonna review that match and then we’ll back with the Nitro review. I hope you enjoyed this review and be sure to follow the Armbar Express on WordPress to get alerts to future posts…

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #47 (AUGUST 5TH 1996) – BAD BOOKING CAUSES BUMP ON THE ROAD TO HOG WILD

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

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Last week’s episode saw the New World Order lay waste to four men as part of a well-done viscous attack that disrupted WCW Monday Nitro. They beat down Arn Anderson and Marcus Bagwell with baseball bats as well as taking out Scotty Riggs and throwing Rey Mysterio like a dart into a trailer. They left the arena in a limo, which “Macho Man” Randy Savage chased by literally jumping on top of the moving vehicle! Good guys and bad guys put their differences aside to attend to their fallen comrades during an historic episode of WCW Monday Nitro.

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The episode we’re reviewing today is the go-home show for WCW Hog Wild. This is the card for the Hog Wild show for those of you that need a reminder:

  • Rey Mysterio Jr. (c) vs Ultimo Dragon for the WCW Cruiserweight title
  • Ice Train vs Scott Norton
  • Madusa vs Bull Nakano with the winner destroying the loser’s motorcycle
  • Dean Malenko vs Chris Benoit
  • Harlem Heat (c) vs The Steiner Brothers for the WCW Tag Team titles
  • Ric Flair (c) vs Eddie Guerrero for the WCW US title
  • Lex Luger and Sting vs “The Outsiders” Kevin Nash and Scott Hall
  • The Giant (c) vs Hollywood Hogan for the WCW World title

As for building up this card, WCW have done an excellent job with the matches involving the nWo. Lex Luger and Sting are at the forefront of this big invasion angle and the Outsiders have been destroying people left and right so obviously Sting and Luger want revenge. The Giant has been smashing guys every single week leading to his title defence against the traitor to WCW Hollywood Hogan. They’ve done such a great job building up those two matches in particular. Since they are the money matches anyway, I guess you can consider the build to this PPV good.

As far as the rest of the card, there’s a lot we need to talk about. I’ll mention them again during the review but these storylines are modelled in the same way as a lot of the WWE storylines are nowadays leading into a PPV. Traditionally, wrestling pay-per-views would have the very best wrestlers on those shows because the biggest matches possible would be taking place. The Giant has beaten challengers each week going into Hog Wild to fight the biggest star in the world Hollywood Hogan for example.

This episode of Nitro made caring for these individuals really difficult. Let’s start with Ice Train and Scott Norton. They have this big break-up angle where partner miscommunication led to them losing to the Steiner Brothers on Nitro. They accuse each other of being the weak link and then a week later, we have them both in separate singles matches. What happens? They both lose by disqualification. Why should I care about two losers that were already losing as a tag team now facing each other in a singles match at Hog Wild?

This plays into what happened this week. How many times have I talked about the way Madusa has been booked since she arrived in WCW. She arrived as the WWF Women’s Champion which caused WWF to actually sue WCW in real life. They go through all of that effort to bring her into the company and she’s away from Monday Nitro for MONTHS after a little feud with Sister Sherri. She came back a few weeks ago to have a good match with Malia Hosaka. They do the rematch on this episode of Nitro and what happens? Hosaka got the win. Why? Why is Madusa constantly losing on Nitro to set up such things as a big match with her and Bull Nakano at Hog Wild?

Eddie Guerrero. While Eddie Guerrero has been winning matches on Nitro since Bash at the Beach, I’ll give WCW props for that, I was still mad with the way he was presented him last week in his match with Big Bubba. Big Bubba beat him up for about 21 hours and Eddie got a fluke win to, in theory, set up Eddie Guerrero vs Ric Flair for the WCW US title. This week, they showed Eddie Guerrero saving Chavo Guerrero from Ric Flair during an episode at Saturday Night. Eddie turned around and Ric Flair attacked him from behind and made him look like a geek.

Would it not have been better to see Eddie face and beat all the members of the Four Horsemen leading to him vs Ric Flair at the PPV, so at the very least he is presented as someone as being on Ric Flair’s level? No. He’s presented as so vastly inferior to Ric Flair. I understand this is Ric Flair we’re talking about but they did a poor job in building up Eddie for Ric in the last few weeks.

Speaking of the Four Horsemen, then there’s Chris Benoit. They were getting Benoit over so big in his feud with Kevin Sullivan. He was the young lion of the Four Horsemen and he was putting on great performances every week. Since Bash at the Beach, I don’t think he’s won a single match on Nitro once. The Horsemen didn’t win any of the matches with Luger, Sting and Savage in the last few weeks, he lost to Eddie Guerrero about 3 weeks ago. Then on this episode of Nitro, what happens? He got distracted by Dean Malenko, he went out and attacked him and he supposedly lost by count-out to Alex Wright? ALEX WRIGHT. God forbid that we have Chris Benoit beat Alex Wright clean to build up Benoit vs Malenko.

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I realise the stuff I’m ranting about is not really that important, and with wrestling being fake, it really doesn’t matter who wins and loses. However, possibly due to the WCW backstage politicking at the time, they over-booked everybody on the mid-card on the exact same level to the point where they all stay in the same position as a means to keep to keep everyone happy. I guess nobody wanted to do the job so the lengths they had to go to in order to protect everyone is mind-blowing.

Their saving grace, at this time, was that the talent was so excellent that the ring-work made up for it. I’m sure Malenko vs Benoit at Hog Wild was a great match and I believe Eddie Guerrero vs Ric Flair ended up being a good match at Hog Wild.

….I don’t mean to start this episode review with a rant! If you see the way these wrestlers were treated as I go through this review, thank god WCW did have the New World Order at least at the start! Even with this episode though, the nWo didn’t really do anything spectacular or anything at the level of last week. I’ll get to that when I talk about the nWo’s “involvement” with this episode of Nitro.

 

Date: August 5th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Disney/MGM Studios at Orlando, Florida

Rating: 3

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

 

The show started with Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko talking about what happened last week. Larry Zybsko kept trying to coin phrase “New World Odor” like he did this last week. They actually mentioned that they were four empty chairs in the front row which was apparently where the FOUR members of the nWo were expected to sit. Big Bubba, Scott Norton, Meng and The Barbarian all come out to act as security for the show.

 

“Harlem Heat” Booker T © and Stevie Ray (c) w/Sister Sherri and Col Robert Parker vs “The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express” Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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It was so weird as in the middle of all this nWo madness, the ROCK ‘N’ ROLL EXPRESS were randomly challenging for the tag team titles on Nitro! However, we got big HEAT chants before the bell rang and Harlem Heat were very much over with this crowd.

Both teams were wearing red. Booker and Ricky started off the match. Larry pointed out the teams had their “speed men” in the ring to start the match. Booker took over early. The Express took Booker down with a double elbow smash and a double clothesline

Tony then declared that the security team had worked… TEN MINUTES INTO THE SHOW! We still had approximately 110 minutes left of the show but apparently the security was a success in the eyes of Tony Schiavonie!

The fans were into Harlem Heat as they got the heat on Ricky Morton. The Heat got distracted with the managers and almost got rolled up by Ricky. Booker yelled at Col. Rober Parker on the outside. Sherri whined about her anxiety being out here and Booker was not happy about it.

Booker did the Harlem Side Kick. Booker missed a top rope splash and Ricky literally rolled into a Robert Gibson hot tag. Gibson ran wild and hit an enziguri on Ray.

Robert went for the cover but Sherri kissed Robert or at least tried to. Gibson pushed her off the apron. Col Robert Parker got mad and took off his jacket. He riled himself up and was ready for a fight but he got punched in the face. Harlem Heat took advantage for the win with Ray hitting a big boot as Booker prevented Morton from breaking up the pin. Average Nitro tag team match to me. It was OK but was nothing particularly memorable.

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Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed the Nasty Boys. Brian Knobbs said they were getting a lot of heat just because Hogan is a friend of theirs. They make it clear that Hogan did what he wanted to do and the Nasty Boys did what they wanted to do. They expressed it’s a free country when Sting and Lex Luger interrupted. Sting wanted to know where they stood. Remember when Sting was constantly being questioned about where is loyalties lied when Lex Luger was allied with the Dungeon of Doom? Now he’s doing it to the Nasty Boys!

Sags said they stood in Nastyville. Knobbs yelled they don’t condone what Hogan did but didn’t see anything wrong with it here. Knobbs brought up a good point that WCW wanted them to step up but WCW’s guys weren’t willing to help them during their tag team matches so why should they help WCW? That is a… solid point. This was to build up the main-event of this Nitro episode of Sting and Lex Luger vs The Nasty Boys.

GLACIER is still coming. I’ve read a similar review online saying it’d been 15 weeks since the original Glacier videos started.

 

Malia Hosaka w/Sonny Onoo vs Madusa

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Apparently this women’s division consists of three women because this is a rematch from 3 weeks ago and we’ve not seen any other women wrestle on Nitro since.

Madusa did a sunset flip for a 2 count. Hosaka levelled Madusa with some kicks and with a hair-assisted snapmare. Madusa hit a spinning heel kick.

Hosaka got the leg and stood there for like 20 seconds either forgetting her spot or not making her mind up about what she wanted to do. She eventually did the Figure Four Leg Lock to literally no reaction. Even in small promotions where someone would do the figure four leg lock and at least one or two fans would go “woooooo.” Here, Hosaka does the move and nobody cared. The fans chanted “USA” to cheer on Madusa.

Then Hosaka went back to work on the knee of Madusa as they cut away from the action to show a black limo. Madusa struggled to do a gutwrench suplex. Hosaka did a sunset flip but Madusa got the ropes at one.

Madusa did a superplex . Madusa did a front drop kick to Sonny on the apron and then Madusa fell down on her back. Hosaka covered her as soon as Madusa fell down and Sonny grabbed Hosaka for leverage for the win. I already talked about the booking of this match during my introduction. But again, this is to build… MADUSA VS BULL NAKANO for the PPV. This was a pretty poor match compared to their last match.

 

They plugged WCW Saturday Night that was meant to act as a pre-show for Hog Wild. This Hog Wild, that was intended to promote the PPV, included JOHN TENTA VS BIG BUBBA as well as Hugh Morrus in action! What a show to get me excited for Hog Wild!

 

Chris Benoit w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth vs Alex Wright

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The two men locked up and then Benoit took advantage by raking the eyes and then firing away with punches. Wright fired back with his own punches and kicks. Wright then ran wild with “headscissor dropkicks” and then worked on the arm.

It’s funny Meng was out there for security when he and Benoit got into a screaming match during the nWo angle last week. I guess they buried the hatchet or they just forgot about whatever it was there were screaming about!

There was young kid in the front row that appeared to be crossing his fingers when Benoit covered Wright. This kid was clutching to his dad appearing to cheer on Alex Wright! That’s what wrestling is missing nowadays is kids crossing their fingers and rooting for their heroes. With John Cena not on the scene anymore, you don’t really get this type of reactions from young kids anymore! It’s mostly just adults upset that Goldberg beat The Fiend for example…

Wright reversed a kitchen sink into a roll up for a near fall. Benoit locked on a camel clutch. Jimmy Hart came down to talk to the girls. He yelled that Woman was wasting her time with Elizabeth as “she is useless”. Jimmy yelled that there was someone backstage she was driving crazy and she pointed to a sock with Kevin Sullivan’s face in. For those of you that are somehow unaware of this but Woman (a.k.a Nancy Sullivan) was the wife to the “Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan.

Dean Malenko ran down to take Woman backstage by force. Benoit dove on the outside and beat the crap out of Dean Malenko which I wrote down had led to the no contest. Benoit isn’t focused on the match anymore, a new fight had broken out… whatever. A no contest was fine. Then Tony called it a “count out” victory for Alex Wright. WHAT?

There was no actual count from the referee and Dean was attacking Benoit or was trying to screw Benoit out of the match. If anything, if it was not a no contest as I figured previously then shouldn’t this finish have been a disqualification victory for Benoit since Malenko was attacking him as they fought to the back.?It also sucked because this was a good match up until that point. Wright held his own and kept up with Benoit and they were making something out of this match.  

Really though, Alex Wright did not need to win this match. He’s not on the PPV. Benoit has a big match with Dean Malenko who destroyed Billy Kidman and Chavo Guerrero in recent weeks. If Benoit beat this cruiserweight, it would set up perfectly for a big cruiserweight match for the PPV. Bad booking in my eyes.

 

Lord Steven Regal w/Jeeves vs “Macho Man” Randy Savage

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OK, I’m assuming that all of the last 5 episodes of Nitro were taped because it was all bright for the two earlier matches and it was pitch black for this match. So I’m kinda assuming they taped several matches from each day in one big bunch and then just picked and chose matches for each show.  I haven’t checked to see if this was the case but that’s the only thing I can assume.

It was also weird because Malenko and Benoit brawled to the back after Benoit’s match and then for Ric Flair’s match later on in the show, Benoit was back out there and we never saw Malenko again. It was almost like nothing had happened before.

There was some in-match banter when Regal warned Savage “you better watch it or I’ll slap you” and Savage put his hands up and went “ooooh”. This was great. Simple things like that were awesome in at least showing some personality for these characters. It’s simple but effective.

It was very scrappy stuff but in a good way where Savage would choke away at Regal and Regal would try to out-wrestle Savage. It’s pretty much exactly how you’d think Regal vs Savage would go on an episode of Nitro! Regal wore down Savage and the fans chanted “Macho”.

Apparently Bobby and Eric weren’t ready yet for the second hour and Larry somehow didn’t realise that nobody was there as the fireworks went off for hour two! Great awareness from the Living Legend! In case you were wondering, Tony and Larry called the full two hours on this episode of Nitro.

Regal fired away with some great forearms as Sting and Luger came down to the ring. Sting and Luger sat at two of the four vacant seats meant for the nWo. Savage back-dropped Regal and started brawling with the Englishman on the outside. He smashed Regal into one of the chairs Sting and Luger were sat at (Luger and Sting had fortunately moved out of the way!).

Savage hit the elbow drop and got the win as Regal got up and walked away beat red with tears in his eyes! A short but decent match from Regal and Savage.

Sting and Luger went to the black limo parked near the ring and opened the door but found a bouquet saying “condolences on the death of WCW.”

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Mean Gene interviewed Randy Savage. Savage said he would be facing Giant or Hogan  after Hog Wild for the WCW World title… which actually kinda makes sense since I don’t think Savage has lost a match since Bash at the Beach. This booking made sense!

Savage said he cut a deal. Savage said The Giant would get a bigger piece of Hogan than Hogan thinks and if Giant left a little bit for Savage, Savage will finish the job. Now, this kind of plays into what I mentioned earlier but this was building up for a program, likely on Nitro, where either Hogan or Giant would face Savage. Savage wasn’t even on Hog Wild and he’s already looking past that PPV. A weird way for a PPV go-home show to play out.

Sting and Luger showed up in the ring. There was no Outsiders but they got the bouquet. Sting admired the pretty flowers but had a problem with the line saying “WCW was dead” when “WCW was alive and well”…less than five years later dude.

Savage threw down the flowers. Sting held down the bouquet and Savage booted it out of the ring. I was begging for Sting to swipe the bouquet at the last minute like Charlie Brown! That I wanted to see! This was a fun segment nevertheless.

 

Ric Flair w/Miss Elizabeth, Debra McMichael and Woman vs The Booty Man w/Booty Babe

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I do believe this will end up being the end of the Booty Man. The Horsemen beat up Booty Man after this match and it appeared to be an injury angle to write him off of television. This is a bit of a spoiler but Booty Man does not come back as the Booty Man as they repackaged him with a new gimmick. It’s sad seeing the end of the Booty era here on WCW Monday Nitro!

Booty Babe said everyone was looking “bootyful” which I’m 99% sure if I used that line when chatting to a woman it would backfire. Arn Anderson came out with a chair and his arm taped up. Now… one of the problems I had with this show is that Arn Anderson took such a vicious beating last week and here he is with a bunch of bandages like it was nothing. They showed Rey Mysterio being at WCW Saturday Night too but… I felt this was a deal they should have played out for at least another week. They should have had Arn, Rey and the American Males off of television until at least after the PPV. I was not a fan of seeing Arn this early after how big the nWo angle last week was built up.

Heck, they had Eric Bischoff away from television for 2 week after Nash powerbombed him at The Great American Bash so why not have Arn off of television for a month?

Ric Flair beat up Booty and hammered away at Booty with punches to the head. Benoit and Steve “Mongo” McMichael guarded the entrance way. Ric gouged the eyes of Booty Man. Bobby Heenan came down and yelled about making it to the show himself but Bischoff was not there. He said Bischoff doesn’t miss things so he questioned where he was. Heenan left again as again, they’re questioning where Bischoff is during all of this carnage which does have a pay off in the upcoming months…

Booty and Ric continued fighting. Booty missed a high knee and went knee first into the corner. Ric got the Figure Four Leg Lock and then Benoit and Mongo attacked Booty as Ric continued to grabbed the ropes. This match got thrown out.

The referee also got thrown out to the outside as the security did nothing about this. Keep in mind the security was there to keep away the Outsiders but did nothing as Booty Man was being obliterated by the Four Horsemen. This was such a beat down by the Horsemen as well. They didn’t hold back and even Arn was getting involved with a chair shot to the leg!

Mean Gene gets in the ring to do an interview and yelled at the Horsemen to stop it. Arn starts cutting a promo and said his life flashed before his eyeslast week. As Arn was cutting this promo, Ric was still taking cheap shots at Booty Man right behind Arn. Arn said the good book said when the New World Order is put into place it is the end of times. Arn said there’s one rule of gang fighting that is if they send one of theirs to the hospital, they must send one of theirs to the morgue.

Benoit yelled about seeing fury and vengeance unleashed. Mongo yelled that the Outsiders needed to get it together as they’re coming after them. Ric yelled at Hogan to watch this as he continued to kick away at Booty. Ric yelled at Booty to tell Hogan to send a message. Ric yelled that Hogan wanted their attention and now he’s got it. Ric said Arn was his best friend and Hogan crossed the line and now he was gonna paid the price. He yelled: “That was your best friend, come and get him big boy.” Because obviously, Booty Man was an ally to Hogan against the Dungeon of Doom…

My impression from what happened last week is that the good guys and the bad guys were all on the same page and fighting against the nWo, which would make the Horsemen the babyfaces when they go up against the nWo themselves. Here, they do a four on one beat down on Booty Man like complete arseholes. At least the nWo beat the four men last week in a fair fight. There were apparently four members of the nWo last week beating up the WCW dudes. Here, four men are beating up one and the security are doing nothing about this!

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There was another nWo announcement. Apparently they lured Luger in for the beating on Sting on WCW Saturday Night 2 weeks ago with an emergency phone call. They said Hogan would become the nWo champion. They sung happy birthday to Hogan and I loved that. You could tell Hogan was having so much fun as a heel! Nash said we’re not talking about taking over, it’s about extermination now. The video just stopped as Sting and Lex apparently ordered the production team to stop this footage.

Sting and Luger are backstage and literally bullied and intimidated the production crew into stopping the footage. They’re supposed to be good guys and they’re threatening and imposing their will on the production team. Explain to me how they are any better than the Outsiders when they did this two weeks ago? Again, they came off arseholes like the Four Horsemen! No wonder the fans started to cheer the nWo and boo WCW during this feud!

Sting and Luger accused the staff of putting the videos on the air for the money. Sting decreed no trash should go on the air. Sting cracked the joke about pork pie and mountain dew that Nash did two weeks ago and then they left.

 

The Giant (c) w/Jimmy Hart vs Sgt. Pittman w/Teddy Long for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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The Giant then no-sold two diving headbutts and then Pittman ran into a chokeslam for a pinfall victory. Pretty much the same as 90% of Giant’s match on Nitro since he arrived. However, I still love Jimmy Hart running around Giant after the match like he’d just beat Hogan clean or just won the Oscars! No matter who is in the ring, Jimmy will always celebrate like it’s the biggest win of Giant’s career! That was great. Teddy Long stopped a further beat down on Pittman but he himself ate a chokeslam from The Giant as the fans chanted “one more time.”

Think about this for a minute. We have the Four Horsemen, Sting, Lex Luger and The Giant all fighting for WCW against the New World Order. The Horsemen attacked someone four on one during this show, Sting and Luger bullied the production crew and The Giant is chokeslamming the manager Teddy Long like a complete dick! This man is the babyface champion going into the match with Hogan at the PPV! You have WCW wrestlers acting like arseholes while the nWo are coming off as cool to the fans!

I love how Larry was concerned that Teddy was going to have a heart attack and during a SmackDown! storyline more than 10 years later, Teddy Long had a on-screen heart attack during a wedding! Larry planting the seeds for a storyline 10 years later for a different wrestling company!

 

Mean Gene interviewed Giant and Jimmy Hart. Mean Gene berated Giant and called Teddy Long just a guy off the street. Hart said everyone always told Hogan what he wanted to hear. The black limo had returned as Jimmy was cutting this promo. Hart yelled Giant would be ready for Hogan. Giant said he sent a message to the world as the fans chanted for Hogan. Giant said he had one job and that was to be the champion since he was a kid. Giant said he doesn’t feel sorry for anyone that stepped in his way. He said Hogan talked his trash about how he’d take over WCW. He said Hogan’s 15 minutes were up and he dared him to show up at Hog Wild.

They showed a clip of Mongo and Debra re-gaining the money in the briefcsae from Randy Savage. Dear god, because this storyline must keep going. In case you didn’t read my review from two weeks ago, Savage regained his money that Elizabeth had gotten from him as part of their divorce. They had been flaunting it around like it was a trophy. Savage got the money back to a big pop and now the heels have the money again! You’d think Savage would have put his money in the bank by now since getting his money back! It’s ridiculous.

 

Sting and Lex Luger vs “The Nasty Boys” Jerry Sags and Brian Knobbs

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The Steiner Brothers came down to ringside with a chair. Luger ran wild on the Nasty Boys for a bit. The Nasty Boys got the heat. Knobbs did a splash in the corner and an elbow drop for a 2 count.

Knobbs got the heat for a while but then Sting got his foot up as Knobbs went for the splash. Luger literally jumped into the match for a hot tag. He ran wild with clotheslines and hit a powerslam. Luger tried a torture rack but Sags broke it up. Sags tried to hit Luger but hit Rick Steiner by accident and then Rick hit Sags with a clothesline.

Sting somehow got the tag as Sags tapped out for the win. WHEN DID STING GET THE TAG? Luger went to the outside and brawled with Knobbs I think and was outside the entire time before Sting got back in the ring. At what point did Sting get the tag back into the ring?…. did I miss something? Please leave the comment if you know when Sting got a tag back in the ring during all of this match.

This was an OK match but…. with the Nasty Boys in the main-event I was begging to see what was on the other show. I wasn’t not particularly thrilled about the possibility of this match

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They show two kids in the ring flexing with the babyfaces. Mean Gene said they must be working at the “main event fitness centre”. Mean Gene mentioned the limo was back. Sting suggested they go check out the limo. Luger thought it was another gag gift but Sting and Luger went down anyway as Mean Gene wanted to go along with them. Scott Norton also walked down alongside the rest of security.

Sting opened the door and a bag was thrown as them with a TURNER logo on the front, suggesting Turner Broadcasting was somehow involved and possibly funding this operation.

They showed an “after show” exclusive that the WWE Network had access to. They had a piece of paper inside the bag with the nWo saying they’d see them at Hog Wild.

 

This episode was a massive thumbs down for me. If you look at the quality of Nitros as of late, this really didn’t hit the mark. As the follow up to the big nWo angle it didn’t deliver, as a go-home show for Hog Wild it didn’t deliver and as a wrestling show it didn’t deliver. There was only one good match on the show in Benoit vs Wright but it had a horrible finish. The other matches were short matches, boring matches or average matches at best.

I think Hog Wild will be good based on the card I mentioned earlier on in the review. This show in particular didn’t sell me on this pay-per-view and… I’d like to think it’s going to pick up after Hog Wild. We will be reviewing WCW Hog Wild as part of the blog and I’m looking to post that on the blog at some point this week.

Stay safe everybody and follow the blog to be update on future reviews or posts we put up on the Armbar Express.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 (JULY 7TH 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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After all of this time reviewing WCW Nitro episodes, we have finally arrived at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996. A historic event which culminated with one of the most memorable moments in wrestling history. Although WCW Monday Nitro had recently begun their 83 week streak of beating WWF Monday Night RAW in the ratings, this was really the true event that turned the tide in the Monday Night Wars.

The biggest moment from the show was in fact the main-event, so I’m guessing a lot of you may be asking me if it was worth watching the 2 hours and 30 minutes or so before that building up to the main-event. The response to that question is yes. This show featured a lot of good matches up and down the show as well as a match which may have been the best match I’ve reviewed in the history of the Armbar Express.

However, the biggest thing I loved about this show was the anticipation it built in me around 24 years after the original air date of this pay-per-view. As a wrestling show, even though I knew ahead of time who the third man that would end up teaming with the Outsiders, I was giddy and the main-event was built as a genuine historical event. Then it was the time for the main-event and the fans were buzzing for this huge six man tag team match with Sting, Lex Luger and Randy Savage facing Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and the third man. This entire pay-per-view is worth watching to relive the buzz the entire show created for this main-event.

 

Date: July 7th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Daytona Beach, Florida

Attendance: 8,300

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes

 

Psychosis vs Rey Mysterio Jr.

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I understand that people may have busy schedules or may not have the time to sit through and watch this entire wrestling pay-per-view from 24 years ago. However, for any wrestling fan out there, I command that you watch this opening match between Psychosis and Rey Mysterio Jr. This was wrestling at its very finest.

I also understand that the business has I guess “evolved” to the point where it would seem to a modern fan that what Psychosis and Rey did here wasn’t particular special compared to guys like Kenny Omega, Adam Cole and the Young Bucks. In places like NXT, PWG and AEW, it is a much more fast-paced environment where you almost have to have hundreds of spots during the match in a super choreographed manner to keep the fans hooked and engaged.

I’ve gotten annoyed at matches like that Halftime Heat match on NXT last year and the Adam Cole vs Matt Riddle match from NXT in October because those matches were in essence move after move after move after move with seemingly no space for the fans to sit back and appreciate the individual moves. Those matches moved at such a fast-pace and they hit so many big moves one after another that it felt somewhat unauthentic to me.

This Rey Mysterio vs Psychosis was a true wrestling match. These were two luchadors so of course there was a lot of high spots. However, a huge portion of the match was focused on a wrestling battle and every big spot they hit truly felt like a big spot that you would remember. People would remember them because it stood out from the wrestling. They didn’t over-do certain moves because sometimes, less is more. Few matches told the story of less is more quite like this one.

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Mike Tenay joined the commentators for this match. Sometimes, I really don’t give Mike Tenay the credit he deserves. Mike Tenay was so awesome as the professor in this match and was a great voice for putting over Japanese and Mexican talent. When you have Tony as a basic play-by-play commentator accompanied with two characters in Dusty and Bobby, having Mike as a wrestling historian basically is a great asset on the booth. As much as Bobby and Dusty were entertaining, Tenay’s contributions of educating us on lucha libre tradition played into the layout of the match. I thought he was brilliant during this match.

Rey shot for the leg and locked on a single leg boston crab. Psychosis got out of it and went for a surfboard submission.. Rey did the armbar. Psychosis delivered a unique arm scissors as both men showcased some tremendous lucha libre.

Psychosis did a big Undertaker dive over the rope and smashed his head right on the guard rail. It was a nasty landing spot for poor Psychosis. Psychosis took control with a big leg drop for which he got a 2 count and yelled at the referee. They said on commentary Rey and Pyschosis wrestled each other in Mexico the night before! That’s amazing when you think about it!

Psychosis did a guillotine leg drop from the top rope. Rey sold a clothesline like it was death as he completely flipped on his head. It was tremendous looking. Pscyhosis locked on the head scissors. Rey pushed Psychosis into the ring with his legs and followed up with a hurricanrana from the apron. It looked very slick. Rey hit a west coast pop for the near fall.

Rey dropkicked the knee then took Psychosis down and trapped the leg. Dusty kept calling Mike “Iron Mike” which was proven to be correct at how well Tenay was calling this match. Psychosis tried a headscissors and initially grabbed the ropes for leverage. Psychosis threw Rey over his shoulders and launched him into the ropes, with Rey hitting hard and bouncing off the ropes. He dropped Rey onto the guard rails.

Psychosis did an absolute crazy Senton. What it looked like to me was that he tried a leg drop but missed his target so it looked like a senton. However, I did re-watch that spot and I think he did lean his back a bit when coming crashing down and Tenay called it as a Senton. By the way, I would not recommend any wrestler take a bump like this onto the floor. Psychosis fell right on his arse after falling from 10 feet in the air. That could have really wrecked his hip if he wasn’t careful.

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Psychosis was feeling his back and he was proper banged up following that spot.  Psychosis dig an enziguiri for the 2 count. Bobby asked Tony where he got these names for the moves and Tony simply said “if you don’t know it, make it up.” At least on this night, he was accompanied for one match by a man in Tenay who did know all the names of the moves!

Psychosis did a camel clutch. Rey did an awesome cartwheel hurricanrana and the fans popped like crazy. It was fabulous in execution and they probably did the exact same spot from the night before but the fans were blown away by this on American soil.

Rey did a triangle dropkick. Rey hit a top rope hurricanrana to Pyschosis from the apron all the way down to the floor.. Rey hit a springboard moonsault for a near fall. Rey did a springboard dropkick sending Psychosis through the bottom rope. It was all Rey as they were headed towards the finish.

Rey did a springboard corkscrew dive to Psychosis on the outside. Tenay called it an Asai moonsault and Bobby was flummoxed by this as he yelled “an Asai hammer lock?” Rey tried to do a West Coast Pop but Psychosis counted into an awesome powerbomb. Psychosis tried a crucifix powerbomb but Rey somehow hit a tremendous Frankensteiner from the top rope for the pin fall win. That was absolutely tremendous spot in the finish and if you re=watch this match, the way this finish was pulled was out of this world.

This was easily the best WCW match I’ve reviewed so far in the series. Rey and Psychosis put on a wrestling clinic. The fans were into everything for this match. Everything looked fabulous in execution and I loved the finish. This… was glorious

Match Rating: ****3/4

 

Mean Gene interviewed WCW US Heavyweight Champion Konnan. Konnan explained the finish of the Psychosis/Rey Mysterio in case you didn’t just watch the finish of that match a few minutes before this interview! Konnan was defending the title against Ric Flair tonight. Konnan said maybe Ric has the right to be confident but Konnan is cautious. Konnan threatened to clothesline his women, chop block Mongo and cripple the manager. He made good on at least one of those threats which we’ll get to.

 

Big Bubba w/Jimmy Hart vs John Tenta in a sack of silver dollars on a pole match

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Tenta chased Bubba out of the ring. Tenta beat Bubba’s arse for while. Tenta tried to get the silver dollars but Bubba cut him off. Tenta did the same to Bubba. Tenta tried again but Bubba cut him off and dropped him with a back suplex to which Dusty called a load. Bubba tried to get the sack but he was too short and drops on the top rope and gets crotched. Speaking of which…

Talk about just booking yourself into the corner with this match. This wasn’t even a match booked by Vince Russo either. WCW booked a match between John Tenta and Big Bubba where one of them must grab the sack of silver dollars from the top of the pole. They booked this match and then I guess realised a few days later that none of these two big men could actually CLIMB up this pole to go get this sack.

Tenta was too big to get up that pole, it was established that Bubba was too big and too short to get up that pole… as crazy and contradictory as that sounds! Figure that one out! Not only did they book this match realising these two men were just too big, I swear they put up the biggest pole they could find and stacked the sack right on top of it.

This sack is on top of the largest pole they could have find so neither man could have reached it even if they tried. They might as well as put this sack up on the moon it was that high in the sky! Tenta realised this so he tried to unhook the pole itself from the ring post. Bubba choked Tenta with the belt from behind. I don’t remember if he was talking about Bubba or Tenta but Dusty even said “I don’t even think he can get up there.”

Bubba tied Tenta to the ropes with tape. He beats him up with a belt. Bubba gets the scissors that he had previously used to cut Tenta’s hair and beard. He goes to cut the rest of Tenta’s hair but Tenta does a low blow to Bubba.

Bubba hit a spinebuster. Bubba instructed Jimmy to get the sack as Bubba realised he can’t get it. Jimmy Hart, who is not a professional wrestler, scaled up this big pole so fast. Jimmy climbed up this pole and grabbed the sack but Tenta powerslammed Bubba as Hart was grabbing the sack. Hart slid down the pole and when he turns around he sees Tenta waiting for him. Tenta took the sack and knocked Hart down. Tenta smashed Bubba in the head with the sack and got the pin.

As absurd as the concept of this match was, I thoroughly enjoyed it! It was the right shade of so bad it’s good. It’s stupid that they did a match where Bubba and Tenta had no way of getting the sack without Hart being involved. However, I enjoyed the comedy of it all. I enjoyed Tenta getting a big babyface win after months of being humiliated by the Dungeon of the Doom and he overcame the odds.

Match Rating: ** 

 

Mean Gene interviewed “Team WCW” in Lex Luger, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Sting. Savage said he didn’t care who the third man was but they’re gonna get hurt and they were gonna take the heels down with them. Luger said these outsiders have made a lot of noise and he and Team WCW would represent WCW to the best of our ability. Luger certainly did not live up to his own hype if you see what they did WITH him in this main event!

Luger said actions speak louder than words. Sting said the unknown gave him chills up and down his spine and goosebumps and it did the same to Savage and Luger. He said they’re a team and they were ready. They were all excited and all ready for Hostile Takeover. A very fired up promo by the good guys. The announcers noteD that there was no sign of Eric Bischoff at Bash at the Beach.

 

DDP vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan in a taped fist match for the Lord of the Ring

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Calling this a “taped fist” match was pure false advertising. There was not one taped fist actually used DURING the match and this was the most basic bland match you could think of.

Duggan did the USA chants as DDP freaked out. Duggan shoulder-blocked DDP to the outside as DDP was agitated by USA chants. DDP spat at Duggan and dropped him with a jaw breaker on the top rope.

DDP taped Duggan’s feet on the ring post. DDP punched away at Duggan while he was stuck. Keep in mind, this was the only spot in the match where the tape was actually involved. DDP’s used the tape to tie up Duggan because per the stipulations of the match, you can use the tape. The referee Nick Patrick, the worst referee in the history of the world, then proceeded to free Hacksaw Jim Duggan from this tape…. IN A TAPED FIST MATCH. The ONE SPOT they had involving tape and Patrick ignores it and helped Duggan out of this predicament. Could Patrick do anything right?

Duggan did punches where DDP was stuck in the middle of the ropes and teeter-totted as Duggan repeatedly punched him with DDP selling like crazy. Duggan threw him into the guard rail.. Duggan suplexed DDP into the ring

DDP dropped with him an arm breaker. DDP went up to the top rope but Duggan dropped him on the top rope crotching him. Duggan bounced DDP’s head all over each turnbuckle. Duggan, like a dick, yelled at a cameraman to “get out of my way.” DDP hit the Diamond Cuter for the clean win…what was the point of the taped fist match stipulation?

I guess the point of the stipulation was that Duggan then hit DDP with the taped fist anyway after the match and after he lost FAIR AND SQUARE. Bobby Heenan even called it a cheap shot… AND HE’S RIGHT.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Mean Gene brought in “the little twerp” Jimmy Hart, The Giant and Taskmaster for an interview. Taskmaster and Giant were wrestling Chris Benoit and Arn Anderson of the Four Horsemen on this show. Taskmaster said they can bring all four horsemen out but there was something burning in his heart. The Giant said he’d never consider the Taskmaster the weak link as Taskmaster brought The Giant into WCW. The Giant said again about the horsemen saying they were the elite but he’s the champion. The Giant said he was gonna have horse stew.

Lee Marshall interviewed Benoit and Arn on the ramp. Arn briefly talked about the Outsiders and says they’re gonna find Sting, Luger and Savage rougher or something like that. Arn talked about Taskmaster. Benoit said the Horsemen had tolerated the Dungeon for far too long. He said they were gonna finish off what they started. Benoit eerily said he was gonna leave Taskmaster for dead.

 

“Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock vs “The Nasty Boys” Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags in a four man dog collar match

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I don’t know if this is the first time I’ve noticed it but The Nasty Boys had a shocking WCW theme song. If you want to listen to it on YouTube, it’s called “We’re The Boys” and it is rough! Pun not intended, despite this being a dog collar match!

This PPV was just on a streak of horrible match stipulations. Following the sack of silver dollars on a pole match and a taped fist match that wasn’t even a taped fist match, we had Public Enemy and Nasty Boys in dog collar match. Since this is a Nasty Boys vs Public Enemy match, it went exactly like every other match they’ve had together.

Dog collars were hooked around the necks of each wrestler so two opposing team members would be tied up. This match in the middle of a blood feud where all these teams want to do is fight each other ended up staring with all four men just STARING at each other. It was at least 30 seconds after the bell rang before they actually started to fight.

Of course, they get trash cans. Knobbs and Grunge brawled on the set which was made up like a beach. Sags hit Grunge with a rubber shark which I did laugh at. All four men fight up the stage. Sags used the surf board as a weapon (an actual surf board. Not the surfboard submission hold!)

Of course, Knobbs smashed Grunge in the head with a chair. Completely ugly weapon shots. The brawling wasn’t that bad but I’ve seen this so often from these teams in this series. If you see one match between the Public Enemy and Nasty Boys, you’ve seen all of them.

Rocco did a dive from the top of the lifeguard chair with a big senton. The brawl certainly wasn’t that bad but all of this brawling took place on the entrance ramp away from the fans! So the fans could barely see what was going on.  Rocco got thrown off the top of the lifeguard chair as the structure fell down with him.

Grunge whipped Knobbs with the chain that were linked to each other. A table was thrown at Rocco by someone. It was hard to tell with the camera angle. It could have been Grunge for all I know that threw the table at Rocco!

Sags did a piledriver on the ramp. Rocco did a dive off the guard rail, smashing into Sags and going through a table. This was all shown in a split-screen format and it was all an unpleasant viewing experience, which is putting it mildly.

Dusty said “it’s ain’t over as they don’t want it to be over” as all four men kept going for pin falls! This was not Benoit/Taskmaster in their falls count anywhere match from The Great American Bash where there was one pin fall in the entire match. They all wanted to fight each other so bad that there was constant pin fall attempts!

Grunge sent Knobbs crashing face first into the table. As Grunge choked Knobbs, Rocco went up to the top rope  but Sags used the chain to yank him off the top rope and back into the table. However, he did not crash through the table as initially. Rocco BOUNCED OFF THE TABLE. This proved to be one of the most unbreakable tables I’ve ever seen!

Saggs tried to do a double axe handle on Rocco through the table but they still weren’t able to break the table. Knobbs hung Grunge out to dry over the top rope with the chain. Sags Irish Whipped Rocco into the chain, and Rocco smashed into it as the Nasty Boys got the pin.

OF COURSE, Public Enemy beat their arses after the match to complete no-sell the affects of this match. Sags got put through a table and this whole thing sucked.

Match Rating: ¾*

There was 1% of this match that was good and it was actually after the match was over. Of course Tony asked again who the third man was for the main-event and Bobby recommended that the third man should be the table!

 

Mean Gene talked about Hostile Takeover as he was surrounded by security. In every segment involving this Hostile Takeover, there were dozens of security staff patrolling the arena!

 

Dean Malenko © vs Disco Inferno for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship

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I criminally was not looking forward to this match when I realised Disco Inferno was fighting for the title. As the opening match showcased, you have all of these cruiserweights in your arsenal and the most green cruiserweight possible is the dude fighting Dean Malenko? Say what you will about Disco Inferno, but this match put the dude over like a million bucks.

Disco got the mic and said everyone was welcome to his disco dance party. Malenko punched Disco and threw his arse out of the ring, He beat his arse and bounced him off the ring post. Dean hit a brainbuster but Disco kicked out.

Dean did the headscissors and kicked away at him. Dean hit a back suplex. Remember when Sgt Pittman locked Disco in the Code Red a month ago and he tapped out right away? Well here, Dean did a knee bar (the exact same hold) and Disco refused to give up. Disco was locked in this hold for about a minute and the dancer refused to give, even against the cruiserweight champion. He took this seriously and was determined to see this fight to the end.

Dean worked on the leg and locked on a STF. Dean tried a sunset flip but Disco kicked out. By this point, Disco had not done one move… he may have thrown a punch or a kick here and there but mostly, Dean beat the crap out of him. This was essentially an elongated squash match for a while until Disco finally fought back into the match and punched away at Dean.

Disco flapjacked Dean on the top rope. Disco hit a sloppy facebuster for a 2 count. This was a facebuster which was like the Skull Crushing Finale. Dean locked on a long submission.

Disco hit a neckbreaker and goes for the cover but Dean gets his foot on the rope. Disco tried a back drop and Disco hits another neckbreaker. He went to dance but realised what he was doing and went for the cover but Dean kicks out. He started to dance but then realised that winning this title was more important than dancing and cut out the cockiness to try to win.

Dean hit springboard dropkick. Disco tried a small package but was unable to get the win. Dean takes Disco’s head off with a clothesline. Dean then hit a tiger powerbomb and then locked on the Texas Clover Leaf for the win.

This was boring for a long time but it ended up being a really good match. They booked a very simple but effective story of Dean Malenko beating the daylights of Disco with the dancer refusing to give up. There are very few people in WCW at this point that can get the heat on someone better than Dean Malenko and who better to deliver this beating on Disco than Dean? Disco demonstrated that was he was able withstand this beating and made Dean work to retain his title. Honestly this was the best match Disco Inferno has had so far and it’s the most he’s looked as an actual star. This gets a thumbs up!

Match Rating: ***

 

Joe Gomez vs Steve “Mongo” McMichael w/Debra McMichael

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This match DOES NOT get a thumbs up! I’d watched Mongo in two matches before this one since he started wrestling in WCW. Mongo’s had this reputation for years as one of the worst wrestlers of all time and having watched those two matches at The Great American Bash and Nitro, I didn’t particularly see what was so terrible about him. He seemed as good as a man with two matches in the bag would be. He was in tag matches and he did OK in the matches that he was in. This was his first singles match in WCW… and this honestly should have been his last.

Mongo was pretty bad in this match but it was mostly down to whenever he had to sell for Joe Gomez. When he was chopping away at Joe and he was “getting the heat”, he wasn’t too bad. He wasn’t any good but he wasn’t like embarrassing or anything. Mongo barely could sell a thing or simply just didn’t wanna sell anything for poor Joe Gomez.

The best thing about this new heel Mongo character though is that previously, Mongo had a little chihuahua with him at commentary. Now, it has been noted that he’s upgraded to a poodle! It’s a small thing but I loved that.

Mongo barely sold. Gomez did a crossbody for a 2 count. Mongo went from barely selling to not-selling at all at points. The only time he did so I guess was when Gomez forced him to take the crossbody! Gomez does the head-smashing and Mongo just “mule kicked” him in the balls.

Mongo did a camel clutch and had this big grin on his face. Mongo did a sleeper hold to which Gomez got out of with a jawbreaker. Mongo sold this comically by feeling his face and then falling down as if he was just a ironing board falling over. The one time he tried to actually sell and he over-did it!

Mongo hit the reverse neckbreaker. Mongo tried a Figure Four but Gomez reversed it into a small package roll-up. Mongo did a scoop slam. Mongo tried a piledriver and Gomez reversed it by thrusting Mongo over his shoulders. However, Mongo went over too early and Gomez really had to heave and deep down to get Mongo off of him and over his shoulders. Sometimes you forget that Mongo was a massive former American Football Player. Asking Joe Gomez to hurl Mongo off his shoulders was a tall order.

Gomez did some karate chops and dropkicks but Mongo kept getting up. Gomez went for a sunset flip but Mongo fell down, tried to improvise by hooking the legs and then just went over. Mongo hit a tombstone piledriver for the win.

Match Rating: -1/4*

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This next segment had to be the best Mean Gene Okerlund interview segment so far in the Nitro series. I wouldn’t say of all time as we’ve got a moment a few years in the future also involving Ric Flair that will surely be the best! Mean Gene interviewed Ric Flair, Miss Elizabeth and Woman. Mean Gene gazed into Woman’s eyes and was lost at the train of thought. I love this mini-storyline of Mean Gene falling in love with Woman. Mean Gene had a go at Woman for distracting him from doing his job. Mean Gene blamed her for him not being professional! This is the great irony of this! I’ve really turned the corner on Woman during these shows as well. She played this heel seductive manager role very well here with Ric. Her dynamic with the Horsemen was pretty great.

Ric Flair said the Horsemen were going four and four tonight. Ric Flair was dancing and yelling and he was on fire with this promo. He did the la cucaracha. He said Konnan was the man with a 1000 holds but he was facing a man with unlimited knowledge of this business. It was somewhat confusing that he talked about Konnan being the man of 1000 holds, right after a Dean Malenko match!

Elizabeth talked about a great big party. Woman had Mean Gene stuttering as he was saying “at a p…pp… private party.” Ric told Savage to keep looking at the TV as Elizabeth will never be with him again. This was a great Ric Flair promo. Mean Gene admitted he found Woman attractive but he didn’t approve of who she hung around with in a line which didn’t age well with the benefit of hindsight. Woman called him out on it saying he wanted her bad and he didn’t care about who she hung around with. Mean Gene then nearly dropped the mic. This is the BEST! Woman, through seduction and seeming Jedi mind tricks, was able to stop Mean Gene dead in his tracks as he dropped the mic. This was… superb television!

 

Konnan © vs Ric Flair w/Miss Elizabeth and Woman for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship

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Konnan wrestled Ric to the ground to kick off the match. Ric gave Konnan a little shove to the chest and then Konnan slapped him and Ric fell down, stunned at the audacity of this man! Konnan and Ric had a good old wrestle as they grappled down to the mat exchanging holds. Konnan did a woo and a few people booed.

Konnan locked a half-surfboard on Flair, putting his foot in Flair’s back. Ric going all the way up would have been a sight to see but we only got the half-surfboard submission! Konnan was able to Gorilla Press Ric over his shoulders, which is quite impressive since Konnan is not particularly tall but he did possess a broad body at this time.

Konnan hit powerful chops and hit another Gorilla Press slam. Konnan somehow felt the need to do the clothesline over the top rope and send himself and Ric over the top. To I guess prove himself right from his promo earlier, Konnan did a clothesline to Flair from the apron and knocked down Elizabeth in the process! Say what you will about his actions, but at least Konnan followed up on a promise to hurt the women!

Woman somehow shook the bottom rope to send Konnan flying off the top rope. Ric and Konnan battled with chops and punches. Ric distracted the referee and Woman booted Konnan right in the balls and EVERYBODY LOST THEIR MINDS. The fans were going crazy for Woman booting Konnan down below and this was RIGHT AFTER Konnan sent Elizabeth crashing to the floor. To this crowd, Konnan was a complete heel getting his comeuppance by another woman!

Woman clawed at Konnan on the outside as Ric Flair went to kiss Elizabeth on the hand. Ric suplexed Konnan and after four attempts was still unable to put him away with a pin fall. Konnan fired back with chops to the point where even Bobby said that Konnan was showing him something. Konnan did a springboard dropkick to Ric. Konnan tried a sunset flip but Flair punched him down.

Flair tried a Figure Four Leg Lock which led to a Konnan doing a small package for a near fall. Konnan tried his own Figure Four Leg Lock as the fans started to buzz. Konnan did a bulldog for a 2 count. Konnan did a roll-up clothesline for another 2 count. Konnan reversed a hip toss into an abdominal stretch like cradle which I actually think was unique.

Elizabeth went up to the apron to distract referee Nick Patrick. I think Elizabeth jumped the gun a little bit because Woman then got up on the apron and the fans started to buzz again. Elizabeth argued with the referee for about 30 seconds as the dudes just continue wrestling. They don’t notice or react to what the referee, Woman and Elizabeth were all doing which was weird. Konnan continued to work in the ring and Woman was standing there with no attempt by Ric and Konnan to make their way to Woman. Finally Flair went to talk to the referee and THEN Woman made her move and hit Konnan with her shoe. I think Elizabeth was the one that screwed up for jumping her cue so I don’t put this on Nick Patrick, Konnan or anyone else but it just seemed like a complete mess.

Ric got the pin and even had to get his foot on the TOP ROPE for leverage, even after a shoe shot! The fans cheered.

Match Rating: ***1/4 This was close to 3 and a half stars but the finish and certain spots brought it down.

 

Mean Gene was shown ears-dropping on the Outsiders. He claimed he heard the 3rd man. He said he sounded familiar but it muffled! He said it was somebody that we’ve seen and heard before but it was distorted. Mean Gene recognised the voice but couldn’t put the pieces together. When it is revealed later who it is, it’s actually preposterous that Mean Gene wasn’t able to recognise this guy’s voice! This man had a distinguishable voice, which surely MEAN GENE OKERLUND of all people could immediately recognise!

 

Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit representing the Four Horsemen vs The Giant and Taskmaster representing the Dungeon of Doom. If the Four Horsemen won, one of them would get a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match on WCW Nitro

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This was such a well booked tag team match. WCW really went out of their way to put The Giant over. He was the WCW World Heavyweight Champion so he obviously need to be put over big. Well this match in particular did wonders for The Giant as building him up as a big, powerful giant.

The Dungeon jumped the Horsemen before the bell. Taskmaster clocked Anderson with the table. Mongo ran down and smacked Giant with the briefcase but Giant chased him off. The Horsemen used this to their advantage and isolated Taskmaster at ringside. Benoit and Taskmaster fought in the ring as Giant makes his way back to the ring.

I do like that they played Taskmaster up as the supposed weak link but the Horsemen felt the need to double team him before the bell as they did actually him as a threat all along! Subtle but a good way to put over Taskmaster. It’s almost like he booked it! 😉

The Horsemen beat down Taskmaster near and around their corner. The Horsemen did frequent tags to each other to stay fresh and keep Taskmaster occupied. The Giant saved Taskmaster from a DDT with an apron clothesline which the fans popped for. The Giant made his way into the ring illegally. Benoit dove into him and Giant just caught him and threw him at Arn to a thunderous pop. These fans loved The Giant wrecking havoc and destroying the Horsemen!

The Horsemen continued and continued to get the heat on Taskmaster as Giant was just begging to make the tag. The fans are begging for The Giant to make the hot tag. The Giant was such a babyface in this match. Taskmaster got in a low blow as the fans start to buzz and buzz even more at the thought of the hot tag and then Benoit like a dick just cut Taskmaster off!

Taskmaster catapulted Arn into Benoit and finally The Giant got the hot tag. The fans erupted like Eyjafjallajökull this tag was so hot. Benoit and Taskmaster fled the ring as Arn was then left alone with Giant as he was running wild. Benoit and Taskmaster brawled up the ramp and up to the announce table. Giant was suplexing and beating up Arn and eventually, Giant chokeslammed Arn and pinned him as the fans went nuts.

The booking of The Giant was perfect for this match. He was booked as a complete babyface, despite being a heel, and he was charismatic enough that he could pull it off.

I was thinking about this right before I started writing down this review but The Giant in 1996 was exactly like Braun Strowman about 20 years later when he was getting his big singles push. Both of them were shown to be destroyers of men and were basically unbeatable. They got over with the fans and the people were into them and with The Giant, WCW made that count. The Giant was booked as an actual Giant. With Braun though, they turned Braun babyface and I think Vince McMahon and WWE feel the need to book Braun not as the WCW’s Giant but more like WWE’s Big Show.

If Vince spent a bit of time re-watching what WCW did right with The Giant when they first brought him in, he could see matches like this where The Giant just being an all-conquering Giant worked on TV and worked with this crowd. The stuff they’re doing with Braun right now is really tame compared to what he could be capable of doing. I know it’s weird to talk about Braun Strowman during a WCW review but it really struck my mind. This series is also to learn about what worked in the past and see how it could be transitioned into modern wrestling so I think the comparison is justified!

Taskmaster emerged from the fight backstage I guess but then Benoit flew off a structure out of nowhere to attack Taskmaster. The Giant just left as Benoit was kicking Sullivan’s arse. Benoit dropped Taskmaster with a reverse suplex.

Suddenly, Woman came down to stop Benoit as she pleads with Benoit to stop. Woman was uncharacteristically distraught and then The Giant came back down. Benoit grabbed the hand of Woman and left with her as Arn was still laid out in the ring when all of this was going down. I think he may actually have been hurt by this match as he was down for a really long time. Giant literally carried Taskmaster to the back as the fans applauded The Giant.

This worked to get The Giant over and yes, this is the start of the infamous Chris Benoit/Woman/Kevin Sullivan love triangle angle.

Match Rating: **3/4

 

Sting, Randy Savage and Lex Luger vs Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and the third man in a hostile takeover six man tag team match

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Here we go. The hostile takeover match which, to WCW’s credit, they built it up as an historic event. They had this awesome recap video of the whole program featuring the Outsiders from when Scott Hall arrived all up to this point. What was awesome is that the third man is just built up as… a third man. He’s not revealed as the leader or he’s not supposed to be a higher power or whatever. He was just another outsider in this storyline at this point.

This video package was so awesome as the Outsiders music played really hyping this up as a history making event. Michael Buffer did the ring introductions. These Outsiders looked so cool in this gear. There was only two of them in Kevin Nash and Scott Hall without the third man as Buffer apologised as they were only two of them. The fans are going nuts for the Outsiders by the way.

Sting’s music suddenly played as Mean Gene Okerlund came down to ringside. Mean Gene talked to Buffer and then grabbed the mic. He wanted to talk to the Outsiders and confront them as he doesn’t see the third man. Scott said that “Scheme Gene” knew too much already and all he needed to know was that the third man was here and he was ready. Nash confirmed this and claimed they’ve got enough to handle it right now. Mean Gene was ushered to the back. The WCW commentators are taken back at the audacity of these Outsiders! This was all great!

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Lex Luger, Sting and Randy Savage all come out to represent WCW. There’s a WWE Mattel set with these three in this gear from Bash at the Beach. I’m gonna try to find it as I love the idea of all of three of them in matching face paint. They weren’t just three dudes fighting for WCW. They were three true allies that painted their faces to prove it!

Bobby denied being the third guy himself with the though of Bobby “The Hollywood” Heenan rushing through my brain! Hall threw the tooth pick and Luger slapped Hall to get things going.

Luger hit a running forearm and knocked down Nash. Savage and Sting stopped a 2 on 1 assault on Luger. Luger was somehow knocked out as his head was crushed in a Kevin Nash/Stinger splash sandwich. They even bring out a stretcher for Luger as Hall tried to get at Luger. Luger was already out of the match. As a viewer at the time, you would surely be wondering if this is some big swerve by Luger so he can beat up on Sting and Savage later. Is he working for the Outsiders as if you recall, Luger only returned to WCW from the WWF less than a year ago.

It’s a clever way to hype up Luger as the third man. Spoiler alert… the third man was not Luger. With the benefit of hindsight, Luger was really buried with the way this match was booked! He was knocked out in about two minutes of the main-event after claiming that we were going to get the very best of him!

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Hall suckered Sting into the ring. Sting tackled Hall and beat him up on the ground as the fans goes nuts. Sting hits the atomic drop and bulldog. Savage tried a double axe handle but got cut off. Kevin Nash did the snake eyes drop on the top turnbuckle. DUSTY REPEATS RAPIDLY “WHO BE BAD NOW” at the time where Nash was beating up Savage which was strange since Dusty was supposed to be Team WCW!

It’s insane how much the announcers were into this though. Tony, Dusty and Bobby were super pumped, cheering for WCW and calling the biggest match in WCW history! There was one screwed up spot where Nash tried an elbow drop but Savage tried to move but was not fast enough or didn’t know if he was supposed to move because Nash landed right on Savage’s head with this elbow drop.

Sting tried a sunset flip but Nash powered out and choke-lifted him up and slammed him down. Scott did a fallaway slam. Nash hit a big boot as he smashed away at Sting with straight up punches. Sting dropped him with a low dropkick to the knee as Nash mentioned on Nitrohe had “bad knees”. Yeah even in 1996, Kevin Nash had problems with his knees.

Sting tried a small package but only got a 1 count. Hall did the abdominal stretch, and grabbed Nash for the leverage spot. At least this referee Randy Anderson reacted whenever Hall exerted himself to show off the leverage, unlike Nick Patrick during that DDP match on the go-home Nitro.

Sting almost got the tag but Hall cut him off. Savage went nuts and grabbed a chair to use but the referee tried to restrain him and calm him down. Sting sold this beating like he was on the verge of death! He was wobbling, in a drunken-like state, gassed and this beating was executed really well. Sting was such a good seller.

Sting hit a big boot and fired away at Nash. He delivered lefts and rights to Nash. He knocks down Hall and he jumped over seven foot tall Kevin Nash and got to tag in Savage at last! Savage beat up the Outsiders. He fired at Nash and delivered a double axe handle to Hall on the outside. He was going super fast as Savage just exploded onto the scene.

Savage hit a double axe handle but Nash cut him off with a low blow. And then…

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Who should come out but the “Immortal” Hulk Hogan. Hogan had been away from WCW since shortly after the Doomsday Cage match. He walked down to the ring and the announcers were all excited about this. Bobby Heenan then dared to ask the question of which side Hogan was on!

People talk about that line from Bobby Heenan as people believed it spoiled what happened next. The more I think about this, the more it made complete sense for the character of Bobby Heenan to say this. He’s been feuding with Hulk Hogan for what must have been a decade now since the WWF. He never trusted Hogan so when he walked down that ring, he can’t help but question Hogan’s loyalties since he hated him.

Hogan ripped off the shirt as the Outsiders fled to the outside of the ring. They had faces of fear and cowardice at the sight of Hogan fighting for the sake of WCW. Then Hogan walked towards the top left corner (at the least the top left corner in the view of the hard cam) and he put his arms on the ropes. Hogan took a deep breath, and Hulk Hogan hit the Leg Drop on Randy Savage. Hogan stood up with this big smile on his face. The announcers and the fans all realised that Hulk Hogan… was the third man.

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Obviously, I knew everything that was going to happen so I didn’t watch much of what Hogan did as I just watched everyone else and their reactions. The fans, the referee putting his hands up in disbelief and Sting watching on. Hogan delivered a few more Leg Drops and Sting was floored with a punch by Scott Hall. Hogan made “the cover” and Hall did the count as Tony refused to even acknowledge it.

In what seems like minutes after it all happens, Sting was shown concerned for a decimated Savage as he carried him out of the ring, Savage is unmoving after these leg drops of doom as Sting and the referee helped him

The fans threw garbage at the ring as Hogan just smirked. One beer can came inches from hitting Hogan right in the head. It came so close as the trash continued to pour into the ring the fans were that appalled.

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Mean Gene came down and asked what in the world was Hogan thinking. Everything about the promo Hulk Hogan cut here was surreal to hear in all honesty. When I was watching WWE, WCW had been gone for years and Hulk Hogan was always a babyface. I’d heard this promo before but listening to it after months of campy Hulk Hogan babyface promos seem incredible.

Hogan said the first thing Mean Gene needed to do was tell the people to shut up if he wanted to hear what Hogan had to say and the fans boo more. Mean Gene said this made him sick to his stomach. Hogan said that this is the future of wrestling. He said you can call this the New World Order of wrestling. He said these two men (Nash and Hall) came from a great company up North and everyone was thinking who the third man was. Hogan said who knows more about that organisation up North than him!

He said he made people rich up there and when it all came down to pass, the name Hogan got bigger than the whole organisation. He said “Billionaire Ted” wanted to talk Turkey and he promised him millions of dollars, world calibre matches and movies. He said he was bored and the Outsiders are what he wanted as his friends. He said these two men are the new blood.

Hogan said not only were they gonna take over, they would destroy everything in their power. Hogan said all of this crap (the trash) in the ring represented the fans. He said for two years he held his head high and did everything for the charities, the kids and he finally told the fans to stick it. He said if it weren’t for Hulk Hogan, they wouldn’t be here and Eric would still be selling meat from Minneapolis. Hogan said watcha gonna do when the nWo runs wild on you. Hogan mocked the fans with the Hogan ear thing. Tony told Hogan to go straight to hell and that was the end of the show.

Segment Rating: *****

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There’s SO much I could say about all of this. With the way this was executed and the way the stars were aligned for this big reveal to go down, this was a perfect angle. I mean it is possible Sting could have been an interesting third man and there were other names like Bret Hart, Lex Luger… Mabel apparently. However, Hulk Hogan fit the bill better than anybody.

Hulk Hogan desperately needed to turn and he was the perfect man to make this angle work. The problem down the road is that this angle worked TOO well but of course, that’s a story for another time.

This to me was the greatest heel turn of all time on the grounds of the impact of it, the execution, the build towards it and really the historic nature of it. WCW and Eric Bischoff took a MASSIVE risk in turning Hulk Hogan. Vince McMahon was never going to turn Hulk in the WWF but for WCW, they had enough big stars and Hogan was at the perfect time in his career that a heel turn made all of the sense in the world.

Hulk Hogan realised it, Eric Bischoff realised it and like I said, it worked really well. The promo Hogan cut here was really well done for the initial New World Order promo and talking about how he did everything for the kids and he wanted millions of dollars. Hogan now had years with a lot more ammunition as aheel and as a fan, you would have really wanted to know what Hogan had to say after all of this time as the good guy. It was a massive coup for WCW in the ratings and a big move to turn him heel.

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Finally, we are at the nWo era of WCW if you will. It took us a long time but we’ve got a new direction for WCW and a unique changing of the way the show was booked, for better or for worse. Of course, the Retro Express will be continuing with the reviews of WCW Nitro as we get into the meat of this new big angle with the nWo. We hope you continue to join us on this big ride… to Hog Wild. XD

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

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.

Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly and updates whenever Retro Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I appreciate you taking the time to read this review and we hope you enjoy more of the content from the Armbar Express.

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #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