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

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

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

 

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

 

Date: April 29th 1996

Brand: WCW

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

Rating: 2.1 (Down from last week)

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

The Belfast Bruiser vs Steven Regal in a parking lot brawl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #21 (JANUARY 22ND 1996) – TWO TITLE CHANGES BUT HULK HOGAN IS STILL THE MAIN-EVENT

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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Attentions are turned to the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Ric Flair currently holds the gold but defended it last week against The Man Called Sting. The encounter ended when Lex Luger got himself involved in the match and “inadvertently” cost Sting the title so Ric Flair retained. Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage were both eyeing up the title as well, with the Macho Man set to challenge for the World Title on Episode #21. However, Hogan felt that he should have had the title shot instead with evidence in Macho Man LOSING clean to Lex Luger last week. Savage still wanted to take his shot but despite being at odds, Savage still helped Hogan beat Meng in the main-event of Nitro.

 

Date: January 22nd 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Las Vegas, Nevada

Rating: 2.7

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

 

The shows starts with Konnan who is, and I quote, the “Mexican Heavyweight Champion” interrupting the announcers. He cuts a promo on Psicosis, who he is facing at Clash of Champions. This was literally over in like 30 seconds. It also didn’t seem to matter considering Alundra Blayze did this exact same promo a month ago and this has so far led to nothing. I mean Konnan ends up becoming a main-stay in WCW but still… there’s little reason for me to care about the Mexican Heavyweight Champion being on Nitro.

 

Ric Flair (c) w/Jimmy Hart vs “Macho Man” Randy Savage w/a bunch of women for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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Believe it or not, this match OPENED WCW Nitro. This match was like Savage and Flair’s title match the week before Starrcade as it was very good brawling on the most part. I think, in its self, that was a big part of the problem that it felt like a repeat. However, I think the finish played off really well here but had its underlining problems which we’ll get to later.

There was a massive line of beautiful women that came down to the ring before Macho Man came down to the ring. Funnily enough, supposedly one these girls was Linda Hogan and another one was in fact Woman… a.k.a Nancy Sullivan at the time I believe. In fact, during the match, Flair went up to Woman and tried to woo her but Woman slapped him and Flair has a tremendous sell as he crashes down to the floor!

Before Savage can make his entrance, Mean Gene Okerlund and Hulk Hogan cuts him off! All I can think is of all the times this journalist and friend can go up to Savage to ask this question, they both decide to do it RIGHT BEFORE his WCW World title match? I found that kinda hilarious.

Hogan wanted to wish Savage luck tonight but still wanted the first shot at the title. Yeah, Hulk Hogan is bargaining and asking for the first shot at a championship that Randy Savage hasn’t even won yet! Savage tells his lady friends to get down to the squared circle and let’s strip Flair of his belt.

Before we get into the match itself, they revealed a lot of big returns coming at Clash of Champions. They revealed that Miss Elizabeth would be accompanying Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan down to the ring for their match with Ric Flair and the Giant at Clash of Champions and the Road Warriors would be returning for a tag team match.

It’s actually astonishing how many old stars WCW were plugging and promoting for this Clash of Champions show. For a company that were bragging and boasting about how they were bringing in fresh new talent and they were the hottest wrestling promotion in the world. The reason I find that funny is because for a promotion so determined to boast about how great they are, they come off as panicky with this “plucking” of stars. Not from WWF, but just from old stars of the past. But hell, why would they have any reason to panic?

Savage and Ric brawl on the outside and then Savage hits a clothesline with his good arm and goes to work. His injured arm was still taped up. Flair cuts him off with a back elbow. Flair goes to work on the bad arm. Both men brawl on the outside which leads to Savage doing a back drop on the floor. Bischoff said they’re gonna go to a commercial break to which Savage gets on the top rope for the double axe handle. Bischoff goes “oh don’t do it!” and then Savage just misses, hits the metal barricade and then they go to commercial!

WCW promotes WCW Magazine during this commercial.

Savages does the punches in the corner. This was just a whole bunch of brawling and Flair and Savage were really good in that department so not a lot of complaints. This was a very old school scrappy match like the Savage vs Flair match from a month ago. Savage battles for the backslide.

Flair locks on the Figure Four Leg Lock and Savage screams in agony as Flair grabs the ropes for leverage. Eventually the referee Randy Anderson does the 5 count after he catches Flair in the act. Randy literally drags Flair off of Savage and pushes him backwards and he was not putting up with Flair’s shenanigans! This was great stuff from Randy and from Flair of course.

Savage delivers two double axe handles and goes for the elbow drop but Jimmy Hart gets on the apron. Arn gets on the apron too and he tries to use the brass knuckles but accidentally hits Flair. Hogan knocks down Arn. Savage hits the elbow drop for the win as the fans go CRAZY for this finish, absolute crazy, as the title changes hands. Randy Savage is once again the WCW World Heavyweight Champion.

Hogan celebrates with Savage which was both poetic and really undermined Savage as the champion. There’s two reasons from a storyline point though why this title change was great.

  1. Arn has been cutting all of these promos in the last month about how keeping the title on Flair was the most important thing for the Four Horsemen and he buries the new guys for starting fires they don’t want. Yet in this scenario, HE’S the one responsible for costing Flair the title.
  2. At World War III, when Savage won the title, Hogan cut off his celebration and kicked off about the finish of that battle royal. Here, he’s all happy for his friend, despite feeling he should be the champion. He was happy for his friend Macho Man for winning the title and bringing home the gold to the good guys.

Then Savage got the mic and said “STOP THE MUSIC.” Mean Gene got in the ring. Savage said Hogan is celebrating like he won the title himself. Savage reminded Hogan that he won it and he is the WCW World Champion. Hogan congratulates Savage but reminds Savage that he Hulk Hogan helped him out, his best friend helped him out. Hogan said he’s coming for that belt. Hogan said he would do whatever it took for the Hulkamaniacs to him get to that position as fans boo Hogan! Savage said if Hogan beats him, Savage said he’s gonna shake his hands. Savage said when he beats Hogan, Hogan better shake his hands. They shook hands on it and celebrated after taking care of the world title business. Both of them were going OOOOOH YEEAAH and going crazy. A nice celebration.

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As good as a feel-good moment this title change was, I must discuss something. I’ve talked for years and years and years about hot-shotting titles. They are one of my most biggest wrestling pet-peeves, the lack of care taken to these titles that are supposed to be the cornerstone of these promotions. So many title changes which would further the title’s reputation. WWE does this ALL the time will literally all of their titles except for the top two titles. Every month, there’s a new United States Champion it seems or new RAW Tag Team Champions.

If this was WWE 2019, I’d be rightfully laying into them if they booked the world title like this. Here, for WCW 1996, I must do the same. When I started this series, I started from September 1995:

  1. Hulk Hogan was the original champion.
  2. The Giant “won” that title after winning a match via disqualification at Halloween Havoc in October because Jimmy Hart screwed with the contract.
  3. The title was vacated after this controversy on an episode of Nitro.
  4. Randy Savage won the title at World War III in a match where Hulk Hogan was never officially eliminated.
  5. Ric Flair won the title at Starrcade after shenanigans and interference from the Four Horsemen
  6. Randy Savage regained the title on this episode of Nitro after shenanigans and interference from Hulk Hogan, Arn Anderson and Jimmy Hart.

In every one of these episodes following Starrcade, they’ve promoted SuperBrawl and they try to promote how everybody wants to be the WCW Champion. If this title changes hands so frequently, nobody is gonna gain anything from holding this supposedly prestigious belt.

What did The Giant gain from winning this title? Other than having “the rub” of beating Hulk Hogan, did this get The Giant any more over? Not really. Did winning the title get Randy Savage more over, especially after 3 DQ finishes on Nitro episodes? Not really. Did winning the title get Ric Flair over? No. He’s at the exact same position as a main-eventer.

I understand sometimes backstage politics does influence all of this and, from what I’ve heard, this affected these title changes. Supposedly, Flair didn’t wanna drop the title clean to Hogan so they put the belt on Savage. However, none of that matters and has no real long term gain for anyone of these guys in the long term. Maybe you could argue that The Giant gained something long term but again, he’s still an afterthought after so many guys now.

Like, will this really do anything more for Savage for the time being? Not really. At least I don’t think so. I mean this hot-shot problem will eventually sort itself out shortly as spoiler… Hulk Hogan will win the WCW title. However, Hulk Hogan was already the biggest star on the show anyway. If the title is presented as anything less important than one particular individual, why should I care about who the champion is?

 

Dean Malenko vs Brian Pillman

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I hated not liking this match but at the very core, this was an OK cruiserweight match that really didn’t do anything for either of these men and it had a somewhat botched finish.

Dean Malenko tried early Texas Cloverleaf but Brian Pillman avoided it and escaped under the ropes. Pillman goes “I’m the shooter because I have a Full Metal Jacket”… that I loved considering the story of that film in particular with a guy going crazy while training for the army. Had some oddly fitting parallels to Pillman!

Pillman gets the heat early on but Malenko hits some big moves such as a brainbuster to get back into the match. Pillman hits a beautifully controlled tornado DDT but doesn’t go for the cover and gets cocky. Pillman chops away at Malenko but Malenko hits a Tiger Powerbomb for a 2 count. Pillman tries another Tornado DDT but Malenko pushes him off.

Malenko hits a great gutbuster and locks on the rolling kneebar but Pillman got the ropes. Malenko’s foot gets trapped in the ropes, Pillman covers Malenko and even with one of Malenko’s shoulders up, referee Nick Patrick still counts the pin. Patrick could easily see the foot but still counted the pin anyway.

 

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

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I’m pretty sure we had a situation like this before but of all the people to start of this match, it was Stevie Ray and Lex Luger? Sting and Booker could have put some good work in there to bring life into the match from the get-go but we had to see Stevie Ray and Lex Luger squaring off in this tag team title match?

As expected, both men were horrible. Stevie has some horrible clobbering blows to which Luger demonstrates some horrible selling to. Luger does a double clothesline and soon makes the hot tag to Sting. Sting runs wild with Stinger Splashes. Sting locks on the Scorpion Death Lock but the ref stops Luger from getting into the ring for some reason as Booker does a scissors kick to break it up as the ref is distracted. This axe kick bonks Sting right in the head for the heat.

The heat was not tremendous in the slightest but the heels getting the heat on Sting while Luger waits for the hot tag would at least be better than getting the heat on Luger while Sting waits for the hot tag. Booker got in the ring and delivered an arm lock, putting pressure on the Stinger. Sting fires away and breaks free but Booker drops Sting with a top rope face smash. Luger breaks up the pin.

Sting eventually finds a second wind but while the ref talks to Stevie for some reason, Booker drops Sting with a jawbreaker on the rope.

Fans go “LETS GO STING” as Stevie goes a bloody nerve hold and he couldn’t even do this move and sell the fact that it hurt. He just got on top of him and put his hand on his shoulder in a lazily fashion.

Sting gets his arm up at three when the referee checks out Sting. In fact, Sting actually sold this as if he was gassed and out of it so kudos to Sting with how he sold and he was a good seller in his own right. Harlem Heat does a poorly coordinated double gourdbuster.

Booker misses the Harlem Hangover. Sting eventually makes the tag to Luger. This was rather confusing. Luger goes to work. Then Jimmy Hart got on the apron, gave something to Luger and ran out like at the speed of the Flash. It’s weird because Luger gets back on the apron and all of the sudden, Sting is back in the ring! He’s in there as if the hot tag never happened! I wonder if Jimmy missed his queue so maybe Luger was like, “I gotta make the tag” and do something while Jimmy goes down to the ring. Because Luger is weirdly on the apron again and then Sting tags him back in.

Luger got the tag, used a fistful of dollars, knocked out the Harlem Heat member to score the pin and win the tag team titles. I can’t remember who Luger KO’d but either way, a second title change on the same night.

Luger celebrates like crazy as Sting doesn’t know at first whats going on. Luger goes “we won! “but Sting then just goes “yeah alright” and kinda doesn’t question it as they’re the tag team champions as the two celebrates. Very similar to the TV title rematch the night after World War III, where Kimberley and Johnny B Badd does something very similar to this. Either way, Lex Luger and Sting are the new WCW Tag Team Champions.

 

Hulk Hogan vs WCW United States Champion One Man Gang

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So to recap, Luger and Sting are contenders to the WCW tag team titles. Randy Savage is a contender to the WCW title. However, Hulk Hogan is not considered a title contender for the WCW US Championship despite having a match with him? Odd.

Hogan and One Man Gang start the match basically ballroom dancing around the ring with a lock up. It really didn’t look aggressive in the slightest. Hogan fights dirty in this match with pokes in the eye and biting at the One Man Gang. Hogan no sells a big body splash from the One Man Gang.

Hogan does three Irish Whips, big boots which doesn’t knock him down, slams him like he did with Andre and nobody cared, Hogan then did a leg drop and won. Basically that was the match.

I will say that Hogan decided on his own to test One Man Gang’s speed during this match, with Irish Whip after Irish Whip and One Man Gang ran and ran and by the end of the match he was goosed! I don’t know if Hogan was on a quest to expose the One Man Gang but he looks miles behind Hogan in terms of fitness which is a pretty bad thing!

Zodiac, Chris Benoit, Arn Anderson, Randy Savage, Pillman all come out. They all brawl. Zodiac backs away The Giant yet again as I guess Flair is trying to stop the Horsemen while Pillman tries to egg The Giant on.

Hogan says afterwards he’s gonna do everything he can to get to that #1 contender spot. Hogan talks about the secret weapon again which I guess was KEVIN GREENE who will also be there at Clash of Champions. I guess that’s who they were referencing to a few weeks ago when they talked about the secret weapon. Hogan talks about Miss Elizabeth. Savage simply said that Giant and Ric Flair were MEAT! I loved Hogan’s and Savage’s facial expressions as they both cut promos. I just love the larger than life aspects of these characters where they were just allowed to go absolute bonkers with their promos!

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There were moments I liked about this show but the whole show in general was just uneventful to me. Obviously, the two title changes were newsworthy! But I feel it would have felt more so if they weren’t so seemingly unimportant with Hulk Hogan’s position on the card. Luger and Sting winning the tag titles obviously advances that story but Hulk Hogan beating One Man Gang in a random match just seemed anti-climatic when Savage winning the title would be more climatic. Even if Sting and Luger won the titles as the main-event, the fans would go off the air wondering what is Sting going to think after that finish.

This show just didn’t do it for me this week. I will not be watching Clash of Champions so the next Nitro review will be for the show after Clash of Champions. If enough people do wish for me to review Clash of Champions I will consider it. Really the only noteworthy match for that show will be Hogan and Savage vs Flair and Giant. Looking at that card for that show, it doesn’t look like a show I’ll regret missing.

I will see you all again with the review of episode #22 of WCW Monday Nitro!

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW STARRCADE 1995 (DECEMBER 27TH 1995)

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

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Starrcade 1995 is here. The World Cup of Wrestling… well at least the 1995 version of it. Not TNA’s version of the World Cup of Wrestling. Not WWE’s version of the World Cup of Wrestling from last year. Nope… WCW’s take it on it. By World Cup, they mean the USA’s WCW taking on Japan’s NJPW in a best of seven series. 7 of WCW’s best taking on 7 of NJPW’s best. Who will walk away with the honors?

Along with this, we had a triangle match between Sting, Lex Luger and Ric Flair. Whoever won this booked themselves an immediate title match against the Macho Man Randy Savage for the WCW title. Would one of the worst world title reigns of all time continue or would either Luger, Sting or Flair take the title from the Macho Man?

 

Date: December 27th, 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Nashville, Tennessee

Attendance: 8,200

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie, Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan

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Before I get into this mega review, as these PPVs always seems to be with the WCW series, I have to mention some difficulties I had watching this PPV. This was the first show I watched since they switched the format of the WWE Network. If you’re subscribed to the Network and have watched anything in the last few weeks, you’ll understand.

It now has a format very similar to Netflix where if you scroll down, at least on a PS4 console, it just has list after list of categories and stuff. When I scrolled down, not once was able to find Starrcade 1995 or anything from my watchlist of content. I had podcasts saved I wanted to watch, I had some NWA matches I wanted to watch. I even have Total Divas saved on there but that’s an entirely different story for another time…

Anyway, I couldn’t find my watchlist including the Starrcade 1995 which I’d saved. So, I had to go find it. On a positive, they did group all of the WCW stuff together now. It used to be where you’d have to find the PPVs under PPVs and all of the Nitros under Vault or whatever that section was called. Now, if you look for WCW, it’s all there. PPV, Thunders, Nitro… even the WWE’s Monday Night Wars series they did. It’s all there.

I find it. I sit down and I get ready to watch the show. Then I have another problem, which is actually not WWE’s, WCW’s or any wrestling promotion’s fault. My remote starts playing up. I try to turn up the volume and, for some reason, it turns off my TV. I have no idea what happened to it but when I tried to turn up the volume, the TV turned off with Starrcade still running. I could turn it down no problems but I could not turn it up.

I find away around it and eventually, I got settled. Then I get all the way to the Lex Luger vs Masahiro Chono match. I had to stop to go get a protein bar or whatever it was I went to get. I had to get something. I come back and the match has already started playing on my PS4. So I try to re-wind it and, if you have the WWE Network, you know where I’m going with this….

I try to re-wind and I could only re-wind back 10 seconds at a time. You could rewind back 10 seconds, you could fast-forward 10 seconds… no less. Even if you missed like one spot in particular, you’d have to rewatch the last 10 seconds just so you can see a small detail. Unbelievably annoying this was. Also, if you rewind 10 seconds and then when you want to go back a little bit further because you realise that’s not enough time to rewind, the Network crashes. It completely crashed twice during the Luger/Chono match to the point where I had to turn off my PS4 off and start over.

Another positive I guess is that points and highlights of the show are easier to get to it when skipping forward but you still have to rewatch the whole segment or match from the beginning. I saw Luger flexing at the start of that match like 3 times during one watch of this Starrcade.

I’m hoping the Network changes things back because this is gonna make watching Nitros awkward for the foreseeable future.

 

Chris Benoit vs Jushin Thunder Liger in Match #1 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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This wasn’t particular;y one of the better Benoit matches I’ve started this series but this was by no means a bad match. It was pretty solid… minus a horrible finish which I think hurt the match. I think the fundamental flaw of this match is a fundamental flaw of many wrestling matches nowadays. It was all about the moves.

The best thing about great Benoit matches was that there was always a purpose for 70% of what he did in the ring to either progress the story or to do something which would make sense in the structure of an actual wrestling match. This match didn’t really embody this that strongly. It was just a bunch of moves, executed really well, that were put together until someone ran in which led to the finish.

I mean it started off well. Benoit won the test of strength. Liger got to his feet and did a hurricanrana and a Liger kick. Benoit, the heel, did a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker to thunderous cheers. It was a common theme on the his show was that there was purely blind loyalty to the US on this show. This was to the point where even the heels Lex Luger and Benoit got thunderous babyface reactions for one night.

Liger did a great belly-to-belly suplex and followed it up with a fake out back flip. Benoit did a snap suplex and a back suplex. Benoit actually whipped out a Liontamer of all submissions!

Benoit did a crisp German suplex with a bridge to big cheers for Nashville! Liger did a bow and arrow submission to Benoit and then locked on the dragon sleeper for extra twerk.  Liger then went to work with a camel clutch.

Benoit reversed this camel clutch into an electric chair. Liger countered a back suplex into a crossbody. Benoit’s tombstone attempt reversed into a Liger tombstone slam. Benoit went up for the superplex and the crowd ERUPTED after Benoit hit this… it was astonishing how much these fans popped for this move!

Benoit missed a diving headbutt which was followed up with Liger hitting a sit-out powerbomb. Liger did a brainbuster. Benoit did one german suplex and then Benoit hit a second and he SLAMMED Liger into the mat. This was a hard hit. Benoit hit a powerbomb. Benoit went up for a diving headbutt when the Taskmaster ran down with fellow Dungeon of Doom member Jimmy Hart holding him back. Benoit was distracted and Liger did a somewhat hurricanrana roll up for the win.

Bit of a silly finish to an otherwise solid opening match.

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Match Rating: *** (Feels a bit of a low rating but there wasn’t much of a story to the match for it to be higher. The moves were done crisply well and well executed but it was just a bunch of moves and the Taskmaster interference ruined it for me.)

 

Mean Gene Okerlund did an interview with Eddie Guerrero. Eddie said Taskmaster had no business being in the match against Benoit. Eddie said it was an honour to represent WCW and he was just happy to be here. He talks about his opponent Shinjiro Otani. Eddie says Otani is a tremendous athlete but Eddie had to be on top of his game. Eddie said he hit the gym and he said he’d give it his best. Mean Gene said he saw Eddie do push-ups and getting read for the match to which Eddie smiled! This was a great promo.

 

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Koji Kanemoto vs Alex Wright in Match #2 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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They confirmed Hulk Hogan would be wrestling on Nitro which basically confirmed that Hogan was only to serve a one week suspension for going crazy with attacking officials, wrestlers and referees with chairs in the past month or so. It was like storylines emulating life with these weak punishments for WCW wrestlers. If we stick around to around the 2000s of WCW, you’ll see just how bad at punishing these wrestlers this company will get.

I liked this next match. It was Alex Wright vs Koji Kanemoto for Match #2. It was the fast, quick pace of Wright against the fast, quick but controlled pace of Kanemoto. I don’t know whether Koji was a face or a heel in NJPW at the time but here on this show, in US soil, he played the role well as the evil foreigner going as far as roaring at one fan!

Wright started off with dropkick headscissors to which Kanemoto responded by unloading chops and kicks to the leg, and then followed it up with a big wheel kick. Kanemoto gets Wright laying on the top rope, slapped him on the belly multiple times and did a dropkick to the gut! A creative little spot that I liked! Unlike anything you’d normally see in a match.

Kanemoto did a dive. I will say it bothered me when Wright ran right to the hard cam to catch Koji and just stood there as he dove on him. He didn’t even try to hide that he was waiting for Koji to catch him. Kanemoto did a tiger suplex but Wright’s feet was on the rope. Kanemoto did a moonsault but didn’t go for the cover. Wright leapfrogged Kanemoto in the corner and did a big german suplex for a near fall.

They battled for a while until Kanemoto dropped Wright face first on the top turnbuckle and followed it up with a bridge pin for the win. The right man won considering Kanemoto was the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. Wright beating him here would have just made NJPW looked very weak.

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Match Rating: ***

 

Mean Gene did an interview with Sonny Onoo, who was the spokesman for Team NJPW. Mean Gene plugged the WCW Hotline. Sonny said it should be 5-0 right now to NJPW. Sonny vowed to buy WCW and Iowa. Mean Gene said WCW is not up for sale but advised that Iowa is a whole different story! Sonny said everything is for sale to which Mean Gene replied: “well you Japanese would know that!” Sonny messed with Mean Gene and Mean Gene got confused.

 

Lex Luger vs Masahiro Chono in Match #3 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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As I mentioned, it was here when I had the WWE Network issues with it crashing. It crashed at least twice if I recall correctly. To be fair, I wasn’t missing much with regards to this match. Really, I only needed to wait until near the end of the match. We got a legendary commentary moment which I will get too in a little a bit. I actually mentioned this in one of the WCW PPV reviews I did. I can’t remember which one but I at least knew what was coming!

The one thing I wanted to say, before we even get to that, was that Luger was such a heel in the last few months and now in Starrcade, the fans WENT NUTS for him coming out to deal with the Japanese! He was so beloved and over during this match, at least in this match anyway. Bobby Heenan even brought this up that he’s only being cheered because he’s going up against New Japan… the HEEL is the voice of right here!

Luger gorilla pressed Chono,  flexed and the fans went BONKERS for Team America. Chono did a big boot to send Luger crashing to the outside. Chono did a suplex. The fans chanted USA. Chono did a sleeper and dropped him with the reverse DDT. Chono locked on the STF. Bobby got all flustered with confusion with his WCW/NJPW Support. Then we got… the moment.

Mashario Chono throws this kick, and then Tony Schiavonie, WCW Professional Wrestling Commentator, refers to this kick as the Mafia Kick. In a match between the USA’s WCW and Japan’s NJPW, he calls this move the “Mafia Kick.” The responses from fellow commentators on this night, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes, were GLORIOUS.

Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan buried him so hard. Before I watched this series, I’d seen this clip of Dusty and Bobby burying Tony before on YouTube over and over again. Here, I watched it again as part of the series and I died with laughter.

Dusty starts off by going “where do you get all of this?” to which Tony replies that this is his job. Dusty says that he kicked him right in the middle of the mush and re-iterates it has nothing to do with the Mafia. Dusty Rhodes goes: “Hell watcha talking about?” I laughed, I laughed and I laughed and I laughed. I was reduced to tears, I was laughing so hard.

Then Bobby takes over as Dusty starts laughing at Tony. He yells, at the top of his lungs, “TONY HE KICKED THE MAN IN THE HEAD!” Again, I laughed, I laughed and I laughed. Chono comes off the top and Luger hits him with the elbow and Dusty calls this saying that he hit him with the “Sicilian Elbow!” Bobby brings up a Yugoslavian Neckbreaker and he again goes… “HE KICKED THE MAN IN THE HEAD SCHIAVONIE!” He goes… “HE KICKED HIS BOSNIAN BUTT… HOW YA LIKE THAT?” My faces is red, tears are running down my face at this point! Then Luger locked on the Torture Rack for the win and to a HUGE POP by the fans. Fans went CRAZY for Luger. I was still in tears after Dusty’s promo on Tony Schiavonie.

This put Tony in his place for the way he would literally just make up names for the basic moves of the wrestlers. Remember when Johnny B Badd did a dive and he’d call it the Badd Mood? Tony came up with all of these crap names and Dusty and Bobby rightful destroyed him for it. These are professional wrestlers and Tony not calling the moves properly exposed the business and disrespects the wrestler that apply their craft in the ring. I’m paraphrasing Joey Styles’ shoot promo from 2006 but he’s right. This Chono just threw and kick and he had to call it something wacky. HE KICKED THE MAN IN THE HEAD SCHIAVONIE!

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Match Rating: *1/4

 

Sting did an interview with Mean Gene. Mean Gene reminds us that Sting lost the US title to Kensuke Sasaki, his NJPW opponent for tonight. I did mention this during the World War III review I believe. Sting cut a promo on Sonny Onoo. He talks about the triangle match. Sting talks about how Luger said he’s gonna do what’s he’s gonna do but Sting is gonna do what he’s gonna do. Sting gets all excited and Mean Gene goes YEAH. Great promo I wrote but your usual Sting promo at its very core.

 

WCW Television Champion Johnny B Badd w/Kimberley vs Masa Saito w/Sonny Onoo in Match #4 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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This was kind of a mess of a match here. Sonny Onoo cut a promo and said Kimberley should be at home cooking and that’s what is wrong with this company. Kimberley got the mic retorting with “this ain’t no Japanese bathhouse.” She says: “If this sport is just for men, then what are you doing here?”

Saito did a STO and locked on a choke from the ground position. Saito murdered Badd with some chops to the chest. Badd would slap him back but Saito battered and battered Badd in relation with chops. They sounded so hard and this was just brilliant to me.

Things kinda fell off a cliff here. Sonny choked Badd with the Japanese flag. Sonny grabbed the hair. Badd got back into a match and did a sunset flip. Badd fired back. Badd got his hands Sonny Onoo and then Saito dumped Badd over the top rope for the DQ. Badd then did the “Badd Mood” flip to the outside thing and missed by 100 yards. An absolute nothing match with one noteable spot where Masa beat the crap out of Johnny B Badd.

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Match Rating: *1/4

NOTES: Masa Saito actually passed away July 2018. R.I.P. Masa Saito as I’m not sure if we’ll see another WCW match with him during this series so I’ll say it now.

 

Lex Luger w/Jimmy Hart did an interview with Mean Gene. Luger talked about Kevin Sullivan aka The Taskmaster. He says Sullivan has a short fuse. Luger said all the top names in WCW are all after the top title. Luger said Savage is a pathetic one arm champion. He would have torn his arm out of its socket at World War III if it wasn’t for Sting. Luger says he’s going into the match by himself. Jimmy told Lex to bring home the gold and Mean Gene responded saying he has a book of clichés if he needs it! Great banter from Mean Gene! He had some great lines during this show!

 

Eddie Guerrero vs Shinjiro Otani in Match #5 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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I LOVED this match. Eddie Guerrero matches in WCW as of late have been so great. He had a great match with Johnny B Badd if I recall correctly, he had good matches with Benoit, he had a great match with Flair two weeks ago and here’s another one. Him and Otani. This was a great wrestling match and my personal favourite match of the night.

Otani took control of the arm from the get-go and raked at the face of Guerrero. Guerrero stood on Otani’s face, retribution for Otani going for the eyes. They grappled on the mat. Eddie turned things around with a hurricanrana. Eddie did a slingshot senton into the ring.

Eddie locked on the Boston Crab and followed it up with big powerbombs and brainbusters. Otani hit a nice springboard dropkick into the ring and then a springboard crossbody to the outside. Otani hit a German suplex and Eddie hit a frankensteiner for a near fall.

Eddie hit a big gory powerbomb for a near fall. Otani did a springboard dropkick to the back of the head of Guerrero. This was very much back and forth stuff.

Otani tried a dragon suplex. Eddie reversed it into a hurricanarana roll-up. A few roll-ups later, Otani picked up the win with a cradle of his own.

I probably wouldn’t have beaten Eddie here but he only barely just lot and it wasn’t like Eddie was buried here. Otani was just the better man.

A great match.

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Match Rating: ****

 

Mean Gene did ANOTHER INTERVIEW, this time with WCW Champion Randy Savage. God bless Mean Gene but he was all over this show. Savage cuts off Mean Gene. Savage said he liked being the underdog and Savage says he’s coming to get Tensan tonight. Mean Gene says he was off the phone with a suspended Hogan and Savage interrupts with “WHAT DOES HE HAVE TO SAY?” Hogan apparently asked for Savage’s mindset. Savage said he’s gonna even the score for WCW. He said: “Sting, be there for the USA.” Savage was wrestling Hiroyoshi Tenzan while Sting was wrestling Kensuke Sasaki.

 

WCW World Heavyweight Champion Savage vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan (or as the name plate called him Tensan) in Match #6 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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Another absolute nothing match. I understand Savage was injured here but at the same time, why did he work two matches on this show? You couldn’t get someone else to come in and beat Tensan in this match if Savage was working with an injury?

Tensan worked on Savage. Savage tries to fire back but Savage’s punches are no-sold by Tensan. Tensan clocked Savage with a big wheel kick. Tensan delivered a Samoan Spike to the floored Savage. Tensan did a samoan drop and a headbutt for a near fall.

Tensan missed a moonsault. After a suplex struggle, Savage only manages to lift Tensan into the ropes. Savage hit the elbow drop for the win to level things up for WCW.

Not a strong review from myself but this wasn’t a strong match to talk about. This was just another nothing match as things just kinda fell off a cliff for this PPV from this point. It really did just peak with Eddie and Otani.

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Match Rating: *

 

Mean Gene interviews Ric Flair. Flair says tonight, we’re talking about the world title. Flair says Sting and Luger need to know to be the man, you have to beat the man. Flair talks about being rested as he was literally losing his breath cutting this promo! Flair said he’d win the title. This was a fine promo.

 

Sting vs WCW United States Champion Kensuke Sasaki in a non-title match in Match #7 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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Your typical Sting match which, again, isn’t a knock on Sting but there wasn’t anything really exceptional about it. Looking at the result, it really did no favours for Sasuke as the US Champion if you look at the finish.

Sting brought the US flag to the ring. Sting hit an early Stinger Splash but this was followed by the bulldog from Sasaki. Sasaki unleashed two clotheslines, he tried a third but Sting ducked and did a dropkick.

Sasaki worked on Sting and even locked Sting in his own Scorpion Death Lock. Sting huffed, and puffed and pushed Sasuki up in the air and out of the hold. That I liked.

Sting fired back and then locked on his Scorpion Death lock but Sasaki tried to fight to the ropes but Sting pulled him back into the middle of the ring but Sasaki eventually submitted and WCW won the World Cup.

Again, Sasaki wasn’t buried TOO badly but this was also the man that also just lost clean outright to Sting when Sting had another match (possibly two) to worry about on the same night. It wasn’t like Sasaki lost to Sting at his best which is the best way I can put it.

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Match Rating: **3/4

 

Team WCW celebrated and Luger did come out. Sting and Luger hoisted up the trophy together. They showed a great promo hyping up the triangle match with Luger, Sting and Flair.

 

Sting vs Lex Luger vs Ric Flair in a triangle match to determine the number one contender for the WCW Championship

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For a match featuring Sting and Ric Flair, this was such a chore of a match to sit through. You all know how much I’ve raved about Sting vs Ric Flair matches. They would never not be good. It’s the same formula but they always found a way to work with whatever crowd they were in front of. They threw Lex Luger into this triangle match and it was easily one of the dullest long matches I’ve seen in a long time. It wasn’t technically a bad match and it wasn’t as offensive as that tag team title match from Fall Brawl but it dragged, and dragged and dragged. We got stalling, and stalling and stalling and it did this match… no favours.

The rules were two men would start in the ring and one man would be on the outside and could tag in and out. Whoever got the first pinfall or submission won. So no, it wasn’t a “traditional” triple threat or three way dance you’d see nowadays. In this match, two guys would be in the ring as one man stood outside.

I don’t think there was ever a storyline reason for why Ric never wrestled in the WCW VS NJPW thing but Savage, Sting and Luger did. I’m not surely if they’ll actually explain it but the announcers made it clear that Ric was the one with the advantage supposedly in this match! Let’s all remember that.

Dusty made a Jack Daniels joke regarding Bobby’s drinking issues. Back to my point from Episode #17 about Flair’s selling everything, Sting literally just grabbed Ric’s hand here and wrenched it and Ric went AAAAAA! It was brilliant to see Flair in such pain a minute into wrestling a man that’d already wrestled earlier on in the show.

So Sting and Flair wrestled. Tony talked about Sting’s heart in fighting two men at Halloween Havoc by himself, not remembering that Flair did the same thing two weeks before that Halloween Havoc show. Flair locked on a hammerlock and forced Sting to the ground. Flair chopped and went back to the hammerlock. Sting fired back and launched Flair with hip tosses and gorilla presses.

Sting did the punches in the corner and even bit Ric Flair. Sting  and Flair brawled on the outside. Sting no-sols being slammed into the barricade. Sting missed a dropkick as Flair grabbed the top turnbuckle. Flair went to work on Sting and kept trying to tempt Luger into the ring. Sting went for a cover but Luger tried to break it up. Flair bumped Sting into Luger and Luger made a blind tag, flexing right at Flair.

So to recap, this match started with typical Sting and Flair spots. Every spot they’ve ever done in a WCW ring. Then Luger hits the ring and Luger and Flair had to just wrestle, and stall, and wrestle and stall.

Luger brought Flair into the ring, literally CARRIED HIM into the ring after he tried to escape. As much as it was basically Flair 101 for Flair to beg off the babyfaces, he did it way too much during this match. Like over and over again. Flair Flair Flopped after the punches in the corner. Then Flair takes control of Luger. Keep in mind, Flair had just been wrestling with just Sting and now, Flair worked on Luger and Flair had essentially dominated Sting and Luger for the majority of the match up until this point… and he’s the most heel of the bunch. Sting did get a bit of offense in when he was in the ring but mostly this match was Flair getting the heat on both men.

Flair hit Luger in the knees with a chair. Flair locked on the Figure Four and Luger turned it over. Luger and Flair struggled for a suplex but Luger won and suplexed Flair into the ring. Flair is punching away at Luger and Tony said, when Flair is just punching away at Luger, “Luger is starting to mount a comeback.” Tony was so bad calling this PPV.

Flair tagged in Sting trying to stir things up between Sting and Luger. Sting and Luger are now just standing around for about 2 minutes, felt like 30 minutes. Then they LOCK UP… we had to be like 15 minutes into this match. The fans start to boo and get restless. Sting and Luger have a clean break following a lock up and the fans boo more. Luger finally starts punching away at Sting. Sting fires back. Sting no-sold an atomic drop and hits a clothesline.

Luger smashed Sting with the clothesline. Luger kicked out of the top rope crossbody by Sting. Sting tried a Vader splash but Luger got the knees up. Sting try to lock on the Scorpion Death Lock but Luger got the rope. When Luger was floored, Luger actually low blowed Sting and then Luger worked on this nut shot and did an atomic drop! Tremendous groin-based offense!

Sting fired back and did a bulldog. Sting hit a Stinger Splash. Luger locked on a Torture Rack and the ref went down as Flair chopped blocked Luger. Both Sting and Luger were sent outside.

Flair wakes up the ref and the ref counts out Luger and Sting while Luger grabs Sting’s arm to keep him outside of the ring. Therefore, that meant Ric Flair wins.

They made me sit there through a 28 minute match with Sting, Luger and Flair, a 28 minute boring-ass match between these three and Flair wins… with a count-out.  So after Ric Flair wrestles the majority of a 28 minute match, he wins and Savage is sent in to do battle with him. An injured Randy Savage vs an exhausted Ric Flair for your Starrcade main-event.

Match Rating: 1/2*

 

“Macho Man” Randy Savage (c) vs Ric Flair w/Jimmy Hart for the WCW World Championship

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Flair has about 5 minutes for a breather and then Savage comes out for the main-event. Savage starts working on Flair when MR WONDERFUL “PAUL ORNDORFF”, in a neck brace, appeared with his hands on his hips.

Savage missed a double axe handle to the outside as Doug Dillinger told Orndorff to head to the back. In hindsight, what was the point in Orndorff coming out? It’s not like he showed up in the post-match angle.

Flair worked on the arm. Flair chopped away at Savage. Flair, immediately after a 28 minute match, gets the heat and beats up Randy Savage who last wrestled more than an hour ago on this show. What a geek of a WCW Champion Randy Savage was here.

While Ric made it to the ring, Jimmy took a cheap shot kick at the gut of Savage. Ric did a hammerlock to Savage and dropped knees on the arm. Flair grabbed the wounded arm and just stretched it over his own shoulder. Savage fires back but runs into a sleeper hold. Savage does a backdrop

Jimmy threw the megaphone to Flair but Savage fought him, took the megaphone and used it on Flair which busted him up big time. Savage hit the elbow when the Four Horsemen ran down.

Benoit and Pillman ran down as Jimmy got the referee. Arn Anderson ran down and clocked Savage with the brass knuckles. Flair covers Savage to win the world title for the 12th time in his career as the fans go nuts.

The Horsemen have a big party in the ring. Pillman waffled Savage with the belt. and that’s how the show ends.

Match Rating: ¾*

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My initial reaction to this is, obviously, this pretty much solidifies Savage’s claim for one of the worst world title reigns of all time. All of Savage’s matches ended in a DQ and in the match where he loses the title, he gets his ass-kicked by an exhausted Ric Flair and gets beat. Was there shenanigans? Yes. But at the end of all of this, after Savage won what Buffer called the greatest battle royal in history last month, Savage drops the title to Flair and came off as a complete geek of a champion.

However, I will say this about the post-match celebration. Ric Flair sold this like it meant something and when you’re win your twelfth title reign and you still have to sell how much it means to you, that tells you how great Flair was. It still felt like a big deal when Flair won the title here and he sold it as if it was a big deal. The Horsemen were so happy, Pillman was going nuts and it showed legitimate passion that you don’t get from wrestlers nowadays. In a lot of ways, that was a success.

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That was Starrcade. That was an easier PPV review to do than I figured it would be. To be fair, a lot of the matches on this show were nothing matches. The big sell for the show was WCW vs NJPW but really the show-stealing matches were like Eddie vs Otani and Benoit vs Liger. Every other match was just in the area of slightly above average to an absolute nothing match and there was a lot of nothing matches where my reviews were just really short. Not a lot to say.

Going into 1995, the world title picture does have a bit of intrigue to it. Flair has the World title and Hogan apparently has a World title shot awaiting him after Starrcade. I’m pretty sure the match is happening on Nitro but this little period before the nWo arrive will be somewhat interesting to see how the world title picture shapes up before the big arrival of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the WCW Starrcade 1995 review. We are now heading into 1996 which will be an eventful year for WCW and see a major shift in the wrestling landscape.

WCW Nitro Reading Order

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

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

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

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

 

Date: November 26th, 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Norfolk, Virginia

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

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie and Bobby Heenan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **3/4

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ***1/2

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Randy Savage vs Lex Luger w/Jimmy Hart

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: *

 

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

 

Sting vs Ric Flair

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Tony plugged that Hogan would face Hugh Morrus on Nitro.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ***1/4

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **

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

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

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

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

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

WCW Nitro Reading Order

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

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

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

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

 

Date: November 6th,1995

Brand: WCW

City: Jacksonville, Florida

Rating: 2

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

The Taskmaster w/Jimmy Hart vs The Renegade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sting vs Ric Flair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We will see you with Episode #11 of Nitro.

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

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

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

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

 

Date: October 29th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Detroit, Michigan

Commentators: Tony Schiavone and Bobby “The Brian” Heenan

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **1/2

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Macho Man won with the elbow drop.

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

 

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

 

Road Warrior Hawk vs Kurasawa w/Col. Robert Parker

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: *

 

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

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

 

Mr JL vs Sabu w/The Sheik

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: *3/4

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: -*

 

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

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

 

Ric Flair and Sting vs Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My jaw dropped.

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

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

This was sensationally great.

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

 

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

 

Hulk Hogan vs The Giant in a Monster Truck Sumo Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: 1/4*

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: *1/2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

WCW Nitro Episode List

Lucha Underground: Ultima Lucha Dos Review

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Following the successful first season of Lucha Underground, anticipation for the second chapter of this arc certainly ran wild. With the ending of season one tying up loose ends but also preparing the show for a future season, you could tell that something big was on the horizon for these stars.

So far this season, we had our fair share of big moments. The reign of Mil Muetres and Catrina followed by the return of Dario Cueto and the debut of Matanza showed the struggle for power between wrestlers. Rey Mysterio making his way to the promotion also provided the star power that the lucha libre promotion was looking for while new stars like El Dragon Azteca quickly became prominent figures.

For me, the storyline aspect of the show was the most compelling thing about it. However, there were a lot of matches that really stood out during the course of season two. Matanza and Cage had one of the best big man matches I’ve seen in a long time, Rey Mysterio was still able to hang with even the greatest of wrestlers at the promotion while Aztec Warfare II was an incredible episode to sit through as well.

However, this four hour extravaganza would be the culmination of another season of storylines and drama. Pentagon Jr would challenge the monster Matanza, hoping to get revenge for Matanza almost breaking his back in their last match. Prince Puma wanted to prove that he was even better than arguably the greatest luchador of all time. There were a lot of matches that was very much looked forward to by the fans, but could the three part show deliver?

 

Part One

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The first episode in this trilogy saw Dario Cueto’s “Tournament 4 A Unique Opportunity” which saw a four man tournament take place. In the first round, Cage faced The Mack in a rematch from last year’s Ultima Lucha while Son Of Havoc took on Texano. Both matches were hardcore matches, with Cage and Mack having a falls count anywhere match as well as Son Of Havoc and Texano having a bar room brawl. I thought the Cage and Mack match was really good, which was expected when considering how great their match from last year was. I don’t think this match was better than last year’s but it was still good. The Son Of Havoc/Texano match was also not bad but I can’t help but think that it would have been a much better match without the hardcore stipulation.

Let me get the big criticism out of the way. I’m sure that hardcore fans loved all of this innovation with weapons but these stipulations took away from the lucha libre style of wrestling that lucha fans tuned in to see. Not to mention that having so many hardcore matches on the first show left the fans feeling less excited for hardcore angles down the line, like the Death match with Mil Muetres and King Cuerno. Regardless, The Mack and Son Of Havoc won. They faced off in a short falls count anywhere match, which Son Of Havoc won.

Dario Cueto came out with two briefcases and gave Son Of Havoc one of two options. Son Of Havoc could choose between $250,000 or a Lucha Underground title shot at Ultima Lucha Tres. Son Of Havoc then claimed that it wouldn’t matter if there were $250 MILLION in that briefcase, he would want the title shot. Now, I understand putting the title over as if this was the most important thing in the world to a wrestler. However, would anyone really pass up on $250 MILLION just for a title shot? It seemed like a ludicrous claim to me, that the Lucha Underground title was worth more than $250 million. That’s probably more than what Lucha Underground is worth. Heck, I’m sure you could start a very strong wrestling promotion with $250 million and make YOURSELF a champion!

Havoc takes the title shot, which of course sprung a trap. Dario revealed that Havoc would only get the title shot if he won one more match. If his opponent won, that opponent would get the $250,000. Famous B then came out to reveal the opponent, who was his new client. It was a pretty big client for Famous B as it was revealed that Son Of Havoc’s opponent was Dr Wagner Jr.

This was a pretty big reveal. Dr Wagner Jr won in about two minutes, much to the delight of Famous B and his girl Brenda. I liked the whole culmination of Famous B’s quest to find the right client and in the end, he found a client that was already famous. I was kind of let down by the fact that I was expecting him to actually show up with a lesser-known name. I get the reveal that he found a client that was already famous, but Famous B’s whole service was about GETTING people famous. Dr Wagner Jr contradicting that was a little disappointing. I guess that’s a heel for you!

 

Part Two

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The “main attraction” of part two was the Gift of the Gods championship match, which was a seven person elimination match. Cage cashed in his title shot a few weeks before so a new champion had to be crowned. Sexy Star, Marty the Moth, Mariposa, Killshot, Night Claw, Daga and Sinestro de la Muerte were the seven entrants. The one thing which really got to me about the match was that the very best wrestlers in this match were eliminated the earliest. Killshot, Night Claw and Daga are all tremendous workers, so seeing them eliminated before the likes of Sexy Star and Marty the Moth felt like a slap in the face to those talents. Night Claw, who was debuting, looked awesome in this match. He eliminated two men and probably was the most over out of the bunch, before being eliminated.

It was down to Marty The Moth, Mariposa and Sexy Star, with the heels ganging up on Sexy Star. Mariposa was eliminated after Marty accidentally punched her in the face. I love how Mariposa’s origin story, according to Marty, was that she was part of a tribe of great warriors, yet she was eliminated her from a mere punch from her brother. Unless Marty has a punch that is equal in power to the Big Show’s WMD, I find it very hard to believe that Mariposa would be done after just one punch.

Sexy beat Marty to win the Gift of the Gods title. I know Lucha Underground wants to promote the idea of the women being just as good as the men, with two of the final three of this match being women. I’m also not totally against the idea of inter-gender wrestling, although I would go forward with extreme caution when booking such a program. If a woman is over enough and talented enough, she can wrestle the very best male athletes for all I care. That’s if the woman IS over enough and talented enough. Sexy Star wasn’t over enough, I don’t think. Sexy Star is not talented enough either. She’s an OK female wrestler but there’s only a handful of male wrestlers on the roster worse than Sexy Star. Every one else is miles ahead, so the idea that Sexy is supposed to be on par with these men is pretty unbelievable… even for Lucha Underground.

Next up was a “death match” between Mil Muertes and King Cuerno, which was essentially a no disqualification match. There was no murdering going on, but Mil sure did destroy King Cuerno. They brawled, with the heel Cuerno being more of a showboater while Mil was all about bringing the power game. Cuerno took a lot of punishment in this match, including rolling down the stairs. Their fight led them to the stage where the band that was playing were hanging out. Mil no-sold his head being thrown into a window. Cuerno put his hands on Catrina, which was the beginning of the end for Cuerno. Muertes put Cuerno through three tables with powerbombs, hit him with a crowbar, hit a tombstone and won. This was a fun no disqualification match, which did a great job with the two characters. Muertes was allowed to be a big, badass heavy hitter and Cuerno sold like crazy during the onslaught.

During the show, Mr Cisco was wired by Cortez Castro and Joey Ryan to meet with Dario Cueto. Cortez re-assued him by telling Cisco that Dario wasn’t going to kill… all the motivation one needs to meet with an sociopath! Cisco was doing this in order to clear himself of all charges. So Cisco meets with Dario, with Joey and Cortez listening in. Cisco claimed that he wanted to be in on whatever Dario was planning. It almost kind of worked with the storyline, as Cisco was so bad when acting here that Dario saw right through him. He asked if Cisco was wearing a wire and it was revealed. He grabs the mic and asks the cops to come get him. He asks if the cops wanted him for murder, quickly following up by saying if they weren’t before they would now. He grabbed the red bull from his office and killed Cisco with it by bashing him in the head. A very good scene which I’ll get more into later when I discuss the final scene of the season.

 

Part Three

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At the start of part three, Vampiro gave Pentagon Jr some last minute training before his match with Matanza. In a scene similar to the Empire Strikes Back moment where Luke goes into the cave, Pentagon Jr went into a similar cave and fought his own demons. He eventually bested Vampiro, who told him that he was ready.

The two-hour final part began with Drago, Fenix and Aero Star challenging Johnny Mundo, PJ Black and Jack Evans for the Trios Championship. A very fun and action-packed trios match as usual. When you put six wrestlers as good as these six together, a lot of great stuff will happen. I would argue that it was a bit too much, especially with Angelico’s return to get revenge on Mundo, but it didn’t bother me too much. Everyone worked well with each other and Drago, Fenix and Aero Star ended up winning the belts. Fenix became the first person to achieve the Lucha Underground Grand Slam, winning the Lucha Underground, Trios and Gift Of The Gods titles. I think that Fenix accomplishing the feat in two seasons, as well as winning all of the belts in the same season for that matter, hurts the prestige of the titles a little. However, at least there were good stories told in the build up to each of his title reigns. Therefore, I don’t really have a problem with it. It wasn’t like complete title hot-shots or anything. A great opener to the show.

El Dragon Azteca faced Black Lotus. Initially, this was a really weird match. It started off as a normal match and then El Dragon Azteca took control. He was the aggressor in this inter-gender match and the fans died down a little. Trying to promote the idea of a babyface male against a heel female in a match is really hard to do, as how are the fans supposed to root for the heroes in that situation? Heck, El Dragon Azteca was shown to be vastly superior to Black Lotus. Then Pentagon came into beat up both wrestlers, causing a no contest. He broke both their arms, and that was the end of this grudge match between Black Lotus and El Dragon Azteca. No satisfying conclusion to their entire program AT ALL. Ended in four minutes by a man that hadn’t had any interaction with either character up until this point. This led to Vampiro announcing that this was not Pentagon Jr, but now Pentagon Dark.

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Pentagon Dark cut an awesome promo in Spanish, which was thankfully subtitled. Even if it wasn’t, you can tell that Pentagon always shows some serious passion in his promos and the fans hang on to every word he says. He told the crowd that he was Pentagon Dark and wanted to fight Matanza now. Matanza came out, meaning that the Lucha Underground title match was the third match on the five-match card for this final part. I personally would have put this in the main-event although at least the position of the match made more sense with the ending of the show in mind.

This was a really great match to watch and I’ll explain why. The whole idea behind this transformation of Pentagon Dark was to show that this was not the same man as before. After training from Vampiro, he has become a totally different person to the man that fought Matanza and got destroyed. Therefore, the rematch was structured much differently than the first match. It’s not like when John Cena gets angry and the announcers say that this was a new John Cena, even though he wrestles exactly the same. Pentagon destroyed Matanza this time around as the training of Vampiro paid off. He destroyed Matanza, had the match won until Vampiro whipped out a bat wrapped in barbed-wire. This barbed wire bat would end up being Pentagon’s undoing as Dario’s involvement caused Matanza to grab the bat and use it on Pentagon. He hit him in the back with the bat, hit his finishing powerslam and just pinned him. I will criticise the ending just a little, as the series had previously shown Pentagon being able to take Negan-like barbed-wire bat shots TO THE HEAD from Vampiro. He took a hit from the back, was hit with Matanza’s finisher and beaten. I thought, after taking 90% of the match, that Pentagon getting beat like that was rather underwhelming. Other than that, it was a great match. Vampiro, who stopped taking his meds after part two to train Pentagon a little more, went back on them after this match.

Taya wrestled Ivelisse. A decent women’s match which saw Taya win and Catrina attack Ivelisse with a jawbreaker of some type. It appears that Catrina will be wrestling during season three, which I’m a little worried about. Catrina, as Maxine in WWE, was still a part of the worst women’s match I’ve ever seen in NXT along with Kaitlyn in 2010. How far Maxine has progressed in more than five years is unknown, but I do pray to all the Aztec gods that she’s good enough to be able to do decent work with the likes of Ivelisse.

The main-event was Rey Mysterio vs Prince Puma. This was an incredible match, with magnificent chemistry and great story-telling aspects to it. It was the up-and-comer Prince Puma needing to do whatever he could to beat the legend Mysterio. The crowd was into every move and the drama was there. This is a legitimate contender for the best Lucha Underground match of all time. There’s just one small complaint I have and it’s Matt Striker on commentary. He was not suited to call a match like this. Firstly, there were a lot of times when he was calling the match more like a fan than a legitimate commentator. Him calling a particular spot the “I’m sorry, I love you” moment felt so tacky and almost unprofessional if you will. Did you really need to tell the audience what was going on between Mysterio and Puma, when Puma found it hard to find the strength to put away this legend? Secondly, after Mysterio won, Matt Striker made an absurd claim about this being the future of Lucha Libre. If Prince Puma won the match, I could buy that line. However, the veteran Mysterio beat the future in Prince Puma! If Rey Mysterio is the future of Lucha Libre, then Lucha Libre is not going to be great shape should Rey retire in the next few years!

At the end of the show, Pentagon Dark attacked Vampiro. Vampiro was off his meds, so Pentagon just simply beat him up effortlessly. It was a pretty bloody beatdown. He did this because Vampiro introduced the barbed-wire bat in his match when he didn’t need to. Along with that, after telling Pentagon that he was ready, Vampiro introducing the bat proved that he still didn’t have enough faith in him so Pentagon was angry. Pentagon came off as such a star after Ultima Lucha Dos was finished.

The big ending saw Dario Cueto arrested and taken away in a police van. While in the back of the van, Dario simply smiled. And that was that…

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Overall, it was a good four hour event. We didn’t get any really good stuff until the Death Match but we did get some really great matches following that. The Pentagon Dark/Matanza match was great and the Rey Mysterio/Prince Puma match was a wondrous match. I thought the ending of the season fell flat to me, considering how great the finale of last season was as it tied up the loose ends. Following this, there’s still a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of stuff that needs explaining. Let’s hope that we get some answers in season three, which begins in September.