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.
We’ve officially hit the period of WCW Nitro were things just don’t add up and make sense anymore. These last few episodes have closely resembled WWE 2019 now more than ever where it is very clear “plans change” as things are completely turned on their heads. The Giant’s big babyface turn two weeks ago was completely pushed to one side as he’s back to fighting the good guys again. Lex Luger’s slow transition from heel to face sharply ended when he was just randomly an overwhelming good guy fighting by Sting’s side.
Dave Meltzer from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter always used to get this stick about when WWE, TNA or any company does a big swerve, he’d go “plans change” and people think Dave is covering his ass. If you don’t think that WWE nowadays don’t change their minds on a daily basis, think again. If you don’t think that WCW changed their minds over and over, these last two episodes demonstrated that clearly they did.
WCW have generally been good since this series started with promoting a match for the next week’s Nitro and then delivering that match. Last week, they promoted Hulk Hogan, The Booty Man and The Booty Man’s “big plan for satisfaction” going against The Taskmaster and Arn Anderson. They didn’t specifically mention what match it was but it was something where Booty Man had a plan against the heels.
This week, the Booty Man was off the show as he had “an injury” which I’m not entirely sure whether it was a work or a shoot. He’s off the show. So not only did they not deliver on Booty Man and his weird promo about getting satisfaction if you know what I mean. They did not come up with a replacement tag team partner for Hogan either. No, Hulk Hogan went at it alone with Arn Anderson and Taskmaster.
I’m going to tie this intro into this opening match where it was…
Hulk Hogan vs Arn Anderson and Taskmaster w/Jimmy Hart, Woman and Miss Elizabeth
They do this match where it’s your typical Hulk Hogan vs bad guys match. Arn and Taskmaster jump him before the bell. Hogan fights them off. Hulk Hogan pulls off one of the worst Figure Four Leg Locks of all time followed by the definitive worst Figure Four Leg Lock of all time on Arn Anderson. He got Arn’s leg and was a deer in the highlights. He had no clue how to put on this move and Hogan is a guy who had been a wrestling main-eventer for at least a decade by now, maybe for 15 years by this point. Literally if you picked two random kids outside of your house, showed them the Figure Four Leg Lock on a video and told them to go do it, it would have been a 1000 times better than what Hulk Hogan did here. He didn’t know what leg to put over. He was trying to tie up the legs himself and it was a disaster.
Hogan no-sold a chair shot and ran wild until the heels somehow got the heat and everyone, including Jimmy Hart, got kicks in on the outside. Booty Babe in an exceptional outfit yet again came out to support Hogan. Hogan bonks Arn and Taskmaster into each other and hits the Leg Drop for the pin. So yes, Hulk Hogan overcame Arn Anderson and Taskmaster clean in a handicap match. It’s stupid for one man to beat two men on his own but FINE… it’s Hulk Hogan. You put your top babyfaces over so him destroying two babyfaces was tolerable to me. BUT THEN…
Hogan grabbed both of the girls at ringside in Miss Elizabeth and Woman. He dragged them both into the ring, lurked over them like he’s going to attack these women and amped up the crowd for this beating against the women. This was so uncomfortable by this point to see Hogan manhandling these women and wanting to beat him up. Yeah, this was also the same Hulk Hogan who tried to punch the ref last week. What a complete arsehole this character is!
Then he changed his mind and went after Jimmy Hart. Hart begged for his life but Hogan kicked his ass and ripped his shirt off. The Giant came down for “the save” but it had minimal affect. He chokeslammed Hogan but Hogan no-sold this chokeslam and got right back up. Hogan fought back and hit a scoop slam and sent The Giant packing.
He then cut a promo about going after the title and he actually nearly scoop slammed Mean Gene Okerlund and that was that.
So to recap, Hulk Hogan overcame the odds from having to go up against six heels. Now granted, I understand three of those people were managers. I understand to an extent that Arn Anderson and Taskmaster are beaten up all the time by Hogan so what does it matter if they get beat up again. The Giant? He had to get beaten and sent packing here?
The Giant hadn’t even been involved with Hogan since I think the lumberjack match before Uncensored and before then, the last time they crossed paths was SuperBrawl I think. The Giant went out here just to be slain by Hogan and shown to be a complete geek. This was the same Giant who Hogan was terrified off at Halloween Havoc and was fighting on par with Hogan at SuperBrawl. On this show, he was just another guy.
I figured that maybe the “Hoganisms” that caused Hulk Hogan to go over all of these heels were purged from his system at the Doomsday Cage match. Nope, he still had a bit more typical Hogan conquering left to do. The Giant paid the price here and it really indirectly buried Sting and Lex Luger later on in the show but we’ll get to that.
There was no way any of this was planned last week so whether it was Hogan changing his mind or Bischoff changing his mind, this angle did more harm than good and A HUGE THUMBS DOWN for this opening match.
Despite all of that, the fans were still going nuts for Hulk Hogan throughout this whole segment!
Now onto the rest of the show…
Date: April 15th 1996
City: Charleston, West Virginia
Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan
I do love after this match, the announcers have some banter. Mongo makes a comment about how the fans love him and Bobby Heenan, without missing a beat, responds saying: “yeah they love me.” Mongo talked about his dog wearing camouflage and that the dog didn’t wanna get hit by a stray bullet to which Heenan looked at the camera with a face of just total disgust! Heenan’s reactions to some of Mongo’s comments are some of the highlights on Nitro every week!
“Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock vs “The Nasty Boys” Brian Knobs and Jerry Sags in a street fight
If you simply watched their SuperBrawl match instead of this match on this episode of Nitro, you’d find it hard to tell the difference between that match and the match that was on this Nitro. This was garbage wrestling to its very core and if you love several minutes of guys clobbering each other with trash cans and anything they could find, then you liked this match.
I wasn’t much of a fan as literally a lot of my notes were just XXXXX hit XXXXX with XXXX and for a while I just stopped taking notes. When I stopped taking notes, I look up and Johnny Grunge walloped Brian Knobs with trash can shots RIGHT to the head with purely blatant smacks to the head. He did this at least three times in the row to the head and Grunge was clearly aiming for the head as he moved his position to get a better hit of the head. DUDE. Was it really necessary to smack Knobs in the head over and over?
There was on spot earlier on in the match I liked where Knobs put the trash can on Grunge and while he then hits Grunge with like a trash can lid or something, Sags is on the other side of Grunge PUNCHING the trash can! I don’t know why but I loved that. “I’m gonna punch this trash which is shielding you and maybe I’ll connect with you inside the trash can!”
They got a table and Mongo said: “here comes the wood.” They didn’t even build up to the big table spot later. 30 seconds later after finding this table, someone is randomly thrown into the table. No big move through the table or anything no, someone is randomly thrown through the thing.
A cameraman fell over something on the outside. Rocco did a bulldog on Knobs into a chair. The big finish was there was another table and Grunge missed a top rope leg drop and went through the table. He went crashing through the table and Knobs got the pin. I remember a spot very similar to this from SuperBrawl to lead to the finish. Just like the finish to that match, there was also post-match brawl between the two tag teams!
They all still continue to the fight after the bell. Rocco did a cannonball off the top rope and hit Grunge on the apron to send him, Grunge and Sags crashing through the table. This sucked. The match was a waste of time to me and really, it accomplished nothing when these big weapon shots are shown to be ineffective after the match because they’re all still fighting with each. They all still continued fighting… so why did I bother watching this tag match if they were gonna fight afterwards anyway?
“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs Earl Robert Eaton w/Geaves
An alright match which didn’t get a lot of time and the announcers completely didn’t care about. Savage starts the match on fire and then Eaton just… gets the heat somehow! I looked down for 20 seconds to write up a note and I look up and Eaton is getting the heat on Randy Savage! I had no clue and they didn’t mentioned what the move was that changed the tide in this match!
Savage tried to fight back but Eaton raked at him over and over. Eaton did a Ric Flair impersonation and then did a Figure Four Leg Lock which was 20,000 times better than Hulk Hogan’s Figure Four Leg Lock from earlier… and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. Eaton somehow got a Four Horsemen t-shirt in the ring and showed it at Randy to fire him up. I did like the storyline that Eaton was doing everything he could to piss off Savage as Savage was in a feud with Ric Flair who was with Miss Elizabeth.
Eaton was doing Flair’s move and showing off Flair’s merchandise. Savage then turns it around and then just straight up starts choking Eaton! Savage then beat up Geaves who ran for his life. Savage did a back drop on the outside to Eaton. Savage hit the scoop slam in the ring, hit the elbow drop and got the pin.
Then Savage threw the referee down and then goes for another elbow drop. Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Alex Wright and a few other babyfaces try to beg him off but Savage did the elbow drop anyway. The faces then hold Savage down as they handcuff the Macho Man.
To recap, nothing happened to Public Enemy when they beat up The Nasty Boys and put them through a table. Here, Randy Savage goes for another Elbow Drop and the babyfaces run to the ring begging Savage to rethink this. Savage hits the move and HE’S the one in handcuffs? You think they’ll be any follow up to Public Enemy beating up the Nasty Boys after the match? Of course not. This made no sense.
WCW Nitro showed a poster for I believe a movie called “The Great White Hype” and this poster showed Samuel L Jackson with a turban on and a great big cigar in his mouth.
Sting (c) and Lex Luger (c) vs Ric Flair w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth and The Giant for the WCW Tag Team Championship
What a bizarre match to put on for your main-event. The parallels between the AEW shows in 2019 to the WCW shows in 1996 are absolutely remarkable. The day after AEW Full Gear, they announce that AEW World Champion Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara are challenging the SCU for the AEW Tag Team titles. In April 1996, the WCW World Champion Ric Flair is challenging for the WCW tag team titles on the Nitro episode I’m watching the day they announce that AEW show in 2019! It’s amazing the coincidences that fall into place when reviewing these shows!
Ric Flair goes to Mongo’s wife again and Mongo just SITS THERE and threatens Flair. Lex Luger was still the WCW TV Champion, in case you’re wondering. Sting runs wild early on and even dropkicks Giant off the apron.
Sting throws Flair into Giant, Giant catches Fliar and threw him back in the ring. Flair goes: “what are you doing” and tears into The Giant, and then turns around into Lex Luger flexing and gets frightened off!
Flair gets thrown out into Giant again and Giant throws Flair back into the ring. Flair loses his mind, runs outside and chops Giant! Then Giant chases Flair up the ring as they cut to the ads. I loved this big man/little man dynamic with the heel tag team where they don’t get a long but The Giant is just mean and scary and doesn’t need to do a lot to get Flair to back off!
The Giant finally got the tag and kicked away at Luger in the ring. Ric Flair is back on the apron and after everything that happened early in on the match, he starts thrusting at the crowd and starts enjoying himself!
Woman raked at Luger while Luger was down on the outside. Flair drops a beautiful knee drop which I don’t remember seeing much from him during this Nitro series. Giant does two big Irish Whips to Luger into the corners and reduces Luger to screams of agony!
Flair does the Figure Four on Luger for a long time. Flair and referee Nick Patrick starts pushing each other. Luger finally fires away and the fans go nuts. Luger throws Flair off the top rope. Sting finally got the hot tag and ran wild on Flair as The Giant just stood there.
This hot tag included a quickfire superplex! They moved so fast to get this superplex spot over and done with during this hot tag of Sting running wild! Sting goes for a Scorpion Death Lock as Luger batters The Giant to hold him off. Woman threw the coffee at Luger again this week but Luger ducked and Sting ended up with coffee on him. This caused the ref to call for the bell.
The Giant chokeslammed the babyfaces. Flair went for a “pin” on Sting and Luger, tried to punch the ref and celebrated over the prone bodies in the ring.
This was exactly what I was mentioning earlier. Hulk Hogan ate a chokeslam after his match from The Giant, who was fresh mind you, and was totally fine but Sting and Lex Luger ate a chokeslam after their match and they were down for the count? It made Sting and Luger look so inferior to Hulk Hogan. It made The Giant looked so inferior to Hulk Hogan. The Giant overcame two men with a partner where as Hogan overcame six people earlier on in the show.
Speaking of Hulk Hogan, where was he for this beating? His friends (at least Sting was his friend anyway) were getting beat up by the heels and he’s nowhere to be seen. Do you guys remember at World War III where Hogan said Sting was his “best friend forever?” He left his friend at the mercy of The Giant KNOWING that he could kick The Giant’s ass easy as he watched him do it EARLIER ON THAT NIGHT. What a friend.
Bischoff managed to get Heenan handcuffed somehow as Heenan tried to wrestled himself out of it. He bit it as the headset went across his face and was having a horrible time with these handcuffs as Nitro went off the air.
This show was horrible this week. Maybe I’m being a little harsh but I was not a fan of this episode. There was not much to enjoy throughout. The Hulk Hogan angle at the start of the show really set the tone where there’s no longer like a well though-out story-telling process. A few months ago, I could see there was a detailed plan with certain storylines, especially with Luger and Sting. They even stopped that last week and after all of that, they get their asses kicked by the heels at the end of this show.
Now the show mostly consists of just a bunch of stuff happening. They never mentioned once the May PPV or the Lethal Lottery they’re doing in May. They’ve not mentioned a thing and as a WCW fan, this must have been infuriating. They never even mentioned the WCW Cruiserweight Tournament which a few weeks ago, they could help but mention throughout that episode. This week’s episode was the worst Nitro I’ve seen so far but it is right up there.
I hope you enjoyed my review of Episode #31 of the Nitro series. Don’t forget to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for tweets from yours truly an update whenever Express posts are uploaded. Alternatively, follow us on WordPress for updates too! I will be back with my review of Episode #32 of Nitro from April 22nd 1996.
WCW Nitro Reading Order
- #1 – September 4th 1995
- #2 – September 11th 1995
- WCW War Games 1995 – September 17th 1995
- #3 – September 18th 1995
- #4 – September 25th 1995
- #5 – October 2nd 1995
- #6 – October 9th 1995
- #7 – October 16th 1995
- #8 – October 23rd 1995
- WCW Halloween Havoc 1995 – October 29th 1995
- #9 – October 30th 1995
- #10 – November 6th 1995
- #11 – November 13th 1995
- #12 – November 20th 1995
- WCW World War III 1995 – November 26th 1995
- #13 – November 27th 1995
- #14 – December 4th 1995
- #15 – December 11th 1995
- #16 – December 18th 1995
- #17 – December 25th 1995
- WCW Starrcade 1995 – December 27th 1995
- #18 – January 1st 1996
- #19 – January 8th 1996
- #20 – January 15th 1996
- #21 – January 22nd 1996
- #22 – January 29th 1996
- #23 – February 5th 1996
- WCW Superbrawl VI – February 11th 1996
- #24 – February 12th 1996
- #25 – February 19th 1996
- #26 – February 26th 1996
- #27 – March 11th 1996
- #28 – March 18th 1996
- WCW Uncensored 1996 – March 24th 1996
- #29 – March 25th 1996
- #30 – April 1st 1996