RETRO EXPRESS: WWF MONDAY NIGHT RAW (NOVEMBER 4TH 1996) – PILLMAN’S GOT A GUN!

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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IT’S RAW VS NITRO TIME! This is a WCW exclusive review series but this week, we’re reviewing WCW Monday Nitro as well as WWF Monday Night RAW from November 4th 1996 as they go head-to-head. I will review both shows as they went down and then I will pick a winner and a loser! We’re changing it up for this week but there is a reason as to why we are watching RAW this week…

…this is the week where RAW actually moved its time slot to an hour earlier. They were head-to-head with Nitro’s second hour for years and remember, RAW was still a one hour show at this point.  They were getting creamed by Nitro in the ratings during the second hour so they changed it up. The direct head-to-head competition between RAW and Nitro would happen during hour one instead.

I wonder if the idea was that previously, Nitro were destroying them because they had an hour advantage leading into the second hour clash with RAW. Therefore, the Nitro fans would either stay or switch over the channel and if they’re hooked enough they would stick around for the second hour. Alternatively, something big would be promoted for the second hour on Nitro so they would feel the need to stick around to see what it is rather than watch RAW.

So now with RAW starting at the same time as Nitro, perhaps it would convince some fans to watch RAW and then watch the second hour of Nitro once the big angles of RAW are done. There’s a lot of ratings stuff to consider when they got that time slot. They got the time slot and they wanted to start off with a big angle. As I will get into when I review the RAW review, they ended up producing one of the most controversial segments in wrestling history!

To read my review of the Nitro episode also from this week click on the link below:

WCW Monday Nitro – November 4th 1996

 

Date: November 4th 1996

Brand: WWF

City: Fort Wayne, Indiana

Rating: 2.3

Commentators: Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler

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I’ll do a bit of a recap as to the main storyline on RAW at this point. They did show a recap video themselves from last week where they showed Stone Cold Steve Austin and Bret “The Hitman” Hart having a studio face-to-face confrontation and Sid and Shawn Michaels not being able to trust each other. What happened on this show is sort of a B Plot to the build for Austin vs Bret Hart at Survivor Series 1996.

A few weeks before this episode of RAW, Austin broke the ankle of Brian Pillman with a chair which coined the wrestling term “pillmainising” for when a wrestler breaks another wrestler’s leg/ankle in an angle. Pillman was initially aligned with Austin but after showing some favouritism towards Bret, Austin turned on him. Brian Pillman had an interview in his house scheduled for the November 4th 1996 edition of RAW which Austin had vowed to interrupt, promising to go to Pillman’s house and finish what he started.

I hope that pretty much gets everyone up to scene. If you’re new to the series, I’ve not been watching RAW regularly alongside Nitro so this is going off what I remember of the story and what they explained on RAW.

 

RAW started with a cut to WWF Interviewer Kevin Kelly who was outside of Brian Pillman’s home in Walton, Kentucky. He said he would be doing an interview with Brian Pillman. They mention again that Austin had threatened to show up to Brian Pillman’s home so Pillman’s children been sent to their grandparents but Pillman’s wife stayed by her husband’s side. I guess behind every great man is a great woman so kudos to his wife for staying at his side I guess!

The way the show was shot saw the matches being taped while Vince cut in to live feeds of what was going on with Pillman and Austin. It was very weird because there’s an incident where either Austin or Pillman’s livelihoods are at risk but they have these segments with Shawn Michaels and Sid where the wrestlers are completely oblivious to what was going on.

 

Goldust w/Marlena, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Curt Hennig and Crush vs “The Stalker” Barry Windham w/Rocky Maivia, Marc Mero and Mark Henry

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I’m hoping I got everybody who was at ringside for this match when writing that heading explaining what the matc wash. There was literally everybody that was in the Survivor Series match between these two teams (as well as Mr Perfect and Marlena who were managers) out there supporting either Windham or Goldust. Jerry Lawler at one point left the announce booth to be with his team.

It is really understated but this match is very historic in its own right for having the first live WWF appearance of Rocky Maivia, who would later become The Rock. He was amongst a large crowd of men that surrounded the ring for this match.

Before we get into the match, what a weird heel stable heading into this Survivor Series the WWF had put together. Working together as a team was Goldust, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Jerry Lawler and Crush! You have the creepy Jerry Lawler character who is into the women, you have the creepy Goldust character who is into anything that moves and you have Hunter Hearst Helmsley who was a high class snob. These guys are working together as part of a team? Quite a mismatch!

Goldust and Windham throw hands to start of the match. It is clearly from Windham’s alignment with guys like Rocky and Mark Henry that Windham was I guess the babyface with Goldust as the heel. Did the WWF not see a problem with Barry Windham, whose nickname was “the STALKER”, being a babyface?

Windham takes Goldust down with an arm drag. We get an update where Stone Cold phoned in to talk to Vince. Austin said this was all Pillman’s fault, taking this interview and he will strike down upon his ass with great vengeance.

Windham locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock. I think Marlena blew smoke in Windham’s face as she was smoking at ringside. Goldust was in worse condition in 1996 than he is in 2020. I honestly, on the day of me writing this review, watched Goldust in a tag title match with Kenny Omega and Hangman Page and his energy blew me away. Goldust in 1996 was a clear far cry to the worker he would eventually become.

Goldust got thrown outside but the babyfaces threw him back in the ring, despite this not officially being a lumberjack match. Windham hit a gutwrench suplex as Lawler came to ringside from the announce booth.

Goldust and Windham battled on the top rope, with Goldust doing a kiss to knock the Stalker down. The wrestlers suddenly fight on the outside and get into a big brawl. Crush gets into the ring and the referee threw out the match with a double disqualification. This match was best match of the show but it set the bar very low. I would not call this a decent match or anything. It was just… a match and everything else could only get worse.

The key spot was Rocky took out Crush and Goldust with the double crossbody from the top rope to turn the tide in the fight as the babyfaces cleared the ring. So yes, the intent was there very early to have Rocky break out as the new big star in the WWF.

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They showed a great video package in black and white of Austin cutting a promo on Bret Hart. Austin vowed to kick Bret’s ass, saying Bret only left because he got beat by a “boy toy” in reference to Shawn Michaels. He reminded Bret that Austin ain’t a boy toy and Bret’s gonna fight a real man. My review of the video probably will not do this justice. This was a brilliant means to build up a big match for a big event. The big angle of this episode of RAW was obviously a memorable moment in wrestling television history but at the end of the day, it did nothing in terms of hyping up the big Steve Austin and Bret Hart Survivor Series match.

To the WWF’s credit, this video package did more in one minute than WCW had done in six weeks or so far to hype up Hollywood Hogan vs “Macho Man” Randy Savage for Halloween Havoc. At the very least, this demonstrates that the talent was there, like Austin. to be able to put together gritty rivalries to lead to promoting a big time PPV match. There was potential there at this point by the WWF to be able to build up a star like Austin.

 

Dok Hendrix was doing cut-ins during the show, doing things such things as hyping up the Survivor Series card. They showed a replay of Mankind cutting a promo on Undertaker. Mankind was at this time aligned with Paul Bearer and The Executioner…. what a stable! As crazy as it sounds, this stable seemed more of a fit together than the Goldust, Hunter and Lawler team for Survivor Series! Taker interrupted and presented a lowered down cage with a stuffed Paul Bearer hanging upside down from inside the cage.

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Back to Pillman’s house. Kevin Kelly conducted his interview with Pillman, which is really giving Kelly too much credit. Kelly was sat there, asked one question and then Vince from the arena chimed in and completely steamrolled Kevin. Kevin, at this point, was just there to hold a microphone.

Pillman said he’s alive and well. He said he’s been in bitter feuds before and there’s a difference in business and private life and Austin crossed the line. Vince interrupted that Austin is in the neighbourhood. Pillman said Austin’s rage has blinded him. He said Steve was a dead man walking. Then comes the big moment: he said “When Austin 3:16 meets Pillman’s 9mm, he’s gonna blast his sorry ass straight to hell!” Yes, Pillman whipped out a gun, started acting manically and cocked his gun as everybody in the room freaks out. His wife’s hands are shaking behind. To say things went from 0 to 100 real quick is an understatement.

It was so strange to see how much this escalated. Pillman was just cutting a quiet and standard promo. It was like a backstage nWo segment where Hall, Nash and Hogan would be chilling out talking all quiet. Then Pillman started screaming and all of a sudden THERE’S A GUN ON LIVE TELEVISION! This feels very hokey watching it 20+ years later but this was a pretty big deal at the time. Never had guns been used in a wrestling angle like this and it stopped being a wrestling show for like a good part of this show.

 

They showed Marleena and Sid in battle of a game Karate Fighters. I guess there’s  a tournament going on. Sid won the match.

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They come back from the break and they showed Austin outside Pillman’s house whooping ass! The first thing we see is Austin fighting a bunch of guys outside of his house. I guess in storyline, they were Brian Pillman’s friends. I did laugh that we had all of these Karate Fighters tournaments and goofy angles as part of the “golden era” I guess of the WWF if you will and then Austin is beating up random dudes on the street! It was like one half of the show was WWF in the 1980s and the other half was the Attitude Era! It was such a drastic tone change.

Stone Cold just started beating up people. Ausitn tried to drown one of them. He threw around the dustbins. Austin squeezed another dude’s head with a car door. He wins the fight and yells at them to never mess with him. Austin calls out to Brian. The door is locked so he’s looking for ways to break into his house. 

This is so crazy to write out in a wrestling review and I’m still somewhat confused as to who we as the viewer should be rooting for! Austin is fighting all odds and was being the usual Stone Cold that we all remember him as but he was on a mission to basically beat up a cripple! Am I missing something?

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THEY CUT BACK TO THE ARENA for the next match as this big incident is going down. THINK ABOUT THIS. Austin was trying to kick Pillman’s arse. Pillman just pulled out a gun ON LIVE TELEVISION. They cut away from this to show this next match between the geeks Sultan and Pug? Remember when OJ Simpson was in the police chase and they literally stopped every football match just to show it? That’s how big of a deal that event was when a high profile personality like OJ Simpson was in a car chase!

Let’s take like a real life example like the Pillman/Austin angle. Let’s say UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov got attacked and his leg broken by Conor McGregor. Then they do a video interview and Conor has tweeted that he’s gonna finish what he started, so Khabib whipped out a gun. Well it would never come down to this in the first place for several reasons but let’s just pretend it got that far. Do you think during like an MMA show or whatever, the TV stations would not show all of this going down as a matter of public interest?

The idea that in storyline, Vince McMahon or whoever is kayfabe running the show thought Pug vs Sultan was more important than sticking with Pillman and Austin is the craziest thing to me. “Oh Austin is trying to break into another man’s house. But first, let’s see The Sultan vs The Pug on a taped wrestling show!” That’ll put butts in seats.

 

The Pug vs The Sultan W/Iron Sheik

Bob Backlund got in the ring and hyped up Sultan, who he said would bring us in the 21st century as the WWF Champion… he did not. I will concede that WCW’s Glacier looked way cooler than this Sultan guy so at least WCW had won the war of pathetic ninja characters!  Sultan sweeps the legs a few times and then does a belly to back suplex. Sultan did back suplex, a backbreaker and the Camel Clutch to get the win. Absolute nothing match and a waste of time.

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I wanted to write that Pillman was standing his ground but he was sat down so I guess he was sitting his ground! Pillman’s getting more and more agitated as Austin was about to burst through the door. Where the cops were when all of this was going down, I couldn’t even begin to tell you. Again, if this were real, it would never get to this point.

Austin finally broke in through a door, through the glass and let himself in. This is a bit of spoiler but this angle was completely dropped for next week’s RAW. However, the sound of the glass breaking as Austin arrived would then be incorporated into his wrestling theme song! I don’t think it was the exact recording from this angle but the glass shattering sound would soon debut as part of Austin’s theme song as he came out!

Pillman’s wife was screaming, Kevin Kelly was freaking out. Pillman has a crazed look in his eyes as he points the gun at Austin and before anything happens… they lose the feed as they go to the break. Therefore, we have no idea as to what actually happened and we would have to stay tuned to get updates as to what actually happened between Pillman and Austin.

I’ll leave my thoughts on the whole deal later on in the review but I do want to mention that there were a lot of other ideas that was thrown around that I guess were turned down by the network. The network pre-approved the angle but in the original script, Pillman’s wife was supposed to take a bump which would lead to Pillman inadvertently set off the gun. Pillman would not just be standing there pointing the gun at Austin sas he was. However, the network turned that down because man on woman violence was frowned upon on television at this time.

It’s weird because this was the genesis of the attitude era and yet, we got way more man on woman spots in wrestling in the last 10 years during the “PG Era” of WWE. Baron Corbin did an End of Days to Becky Lynch last year for god’s sake. However, the network had a problem with it here.

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Jim Ross was in the ring apparently oblivious to what happened to Austin and Pillman. This was weird for me to figure out because JR acted like he has no idea what was going on, despite his best friend Austin vowing to beat up Pillman and Pillman having a gun on national television. With certain aspects of the show being taped, that’s all fine. However, JR himself mentioned the Pillman/Austin incident when he’s commentating Fake Razor Ramon’s match later.

JR brought out Sycho Sid and WWF Champion Shawn Michaels. As Shawn was coming out, they showed a little girl petrified in the front row right after a segment where Pillman pulled a gun on Austin. Vince casually just pointed out that this was a change of tone. You have silly karate fighters tournaments and goofy characters up and down this show and in the middle of this, Austin and Pillman have a confrontation where a gun is involved? Who was this show targeted towards at this time! It certainly wasn’t working with children. Reportedly, there was a massive shift in children tuning the channel to Nitro at this point of the show on November 4th. I wonder why?

JR conducted an interview between Michaels and Sid, who would fight for the title at Survivor Series. They show an episode of RAW April 3rd 1995 where Sid powerbombed Shawn over and over. Shawn acknowledged him as his best friend and that he forgive him for attacking him. Sid flat out said this was BULLSHIT. Sid yelled that Shawn was stupid. Shawn said he got him out the loony bin or something.

They showed a clip from last week where Sid elbowed Shawn in the back to which Sid claimed was a mistake. Sid apologised, Shawn accepted. The audio goes silent when Vince says we got footage from Cinnicanti and then says: “no we don’t.” Vince was very much doing a parody of Tony Schiavonie in WCW where I guess he had no idea what was going. It’s one thing if Tony doesn’t know what’s going on during a Live WCW Nitro. This was a TAPED RAW with the exception of the Austin/Pillman stuff.

Sid yelled he’s the favourite not just because of his size but his ability. Shawn says Sid is not in his league. Sid said Shawn was in the little league and vowed the belt will be around his waist. Shawn threw down the podium. Sid and HBK started pushing each other but when Jim Cornette with Vader, Owen Hart and British Bulldog arrived. The heels surrounded the two men. Jim yelled at them. Shawn fought Bulldog and Sid attacked Vader. Owen hit Sid with a chair, HBK makes the save and the heels bailed as Shawn grabbed the chair himself. Sid got up and thought Shawn hit him with the chair. They argued. The babyfaces whoop arse so more. HBK and Sid square off again as referees and officials pull them apart.

Considering that Sid was presented as this paranoid, crazy character, doing an angle with Sid thinking Shawn hit him with the chair is actually pretty clever actually! The babyfaces got a chance to beat up some heels and look strong heading into the title match. This was a fine segment… at least to me it was.

 

 

“The Wild Man” Marc Mero w/Sable vs Fake Razor Ramon w/Fake Diesel

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These nicknames from 1996, The Wild Man, The Pug, The Sultan and on and on, are exactly like 2020. They couldn’t just call Marc Mero “Marc Mero” at this point, he had to be the WILD MAN. Barry Windham was “The Stalker” and we got characters like the Sultan and the Pug. God forbid we actually use people’s real life name on a wrestling show.

We got the arrivals of Fake Razor Ramon accompanied by Fake Diesel, who were introduced by heel Jim Ross into the WWF. These two came off as such geeks and I honestly have no good explanation as to why the WWF did this, other than to cash in on the Diesel and Razor Ramon trademarks.

You have Scott Hall and Kevin Nash as the biggest stars and the biggest names on Nitro, and in a move which basically promoted WCW Nitro, you’re gonna have knock off copies to remind the fans that the real Razor Ramon and Diesel are on a different show? It wasn’t even like these two were good versions of Razor and Diesel either. This Fake Razor who wrestled was awful. The man who played Fake Diesel ended up having a great career in the WWF but he was no Diesel at this point. These were two geeks playing dress-up.

Jim Ross joined commentary and he said Austin told him what he was gonna do but never told anybody. Isn’t JR an accessory to breaking and entering if he knew Austin was gonna invade Pillman’s house to kick his ass.? He knew Austin was gonna beat up an injured Pillman and said nothing? I got so lost as to what JR knew or didn’t know as part of this angle. I guess if Austin vowed to go down to Pillman’s house, everybody else knew so I guess everybody could have warned the police to arrest Stone Cold or put some measure in place to prevent this from happening.

Mero and Razor wrestled. WWF Director Kerwin Silfies called in. He said he doesn’t know what happened with Austin and Pillman. Everything went dead but he heard a couple of things that sounded like explosions and that everybody was spooked by what happened. Mero worked on the arm of Razor for a while. Kerwin phoned in again and said that the authorities aren’t there. Vince looses it and yells “why aren’t they there?” and Kerwin basically shrugs (without actually been shown to shrug) and said: “I dunno”. I have to imagine conversations like this happen all the time between Vince and the producers and writers of WWE television nowadays!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Kerwin Silfies was actually a long time employee of the WWE but was also furloughed as part of the Covid-19 releases WWE (which I did discuss and you can find by clicking on this link). I think his name was the inspiration for the Kerwin White character portrayed by Chavo Guerrero in 2005, an angle which was dropped following the real life death of Chavo’s uncle Eddie Guerrero.

JR then had the audacity to blame Vince for what happened. Razor got the heat. Mero made a comeback, did a top rope dropkick. Mero did a top rope frankensteiner for a 2 count. Mr Perfect and Hunter Hearst Helmsley came down.

Mero did a Samoan Drop to this large man Razor as Perfect got on the apron. Hunter pushed Mero. Razor hit Razor’s Edge and won.

So they just mentioned Mero lost the Intercontinental title to Hunter. He’s just lost the title and he’s now on a losing streak, losing to fake Razor Ramon of all people. This just tells you the type of man Marc Mero was at this point. He was in WCW and pushed with a big angle involving Kimberly, a smoking hot woman, and pushed and presented as a big star. He was able to be himself and he had these great matches with DDP and Brian Pilllman ironically on WCW PPVs. Now, he’s just another guy on the WWF roster. He gave up this comfortable WCW life because he was uncomfortable doing an angle with DDP’s wife which is admirable enough but now he’s paying the price for it.

 

They show Pillman live as they are able to establish a connection. Pillman is trying to get up but his friends are pushing him down. Pillman is growling. They confirm nobody had been shot.  Austin came back and Pillman yelled to let him go as he’s gonna kill that son of a bitch. Pillman swore in the original broadcast which was not bleeped and the network was apparently very unhappy with this! His wife is distraught. Pillman followed in pursuit and wobbles forward as they go off the air.

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This is going to be crazy to write but thank god that the Brian Pillman angle happened for this episode of RAW. This is not to say that the Brian Pillman angle was good or saved the show but without that segment, this would have been one of the worst wrestling shows of all time. Every match was miserable on this show. I guess it didn’t matter because of what the big storyline was but this was an absolute miserable show when you think about what was going on during WCW Nitro.

WWF RAW was now going up against the first hour of WCW Nitro. What happened on the first hour of Nitro? Brad Armstrong wrestled Marcus Bagwell in a great match, DDP and Ice Train had a decent match, Chris Benoit and Hector Guerrero started wrestling each other just before the second hour and the Outsiders made an appearance as part of a hot wrestling show on TNT.

WWF’s response, other than the Brian Pillman angle, was to have a fake Razor Ramon, a Karate Fighters Tournament, The Sultan and The Pug as part of an absolute waste of a wrestling.

WCW Nitro won and the gap between these two wrestling shows was not even close. I’d say Nitro was a 1000 times better than RAW but I don’t even think that is mathematically correct. It surely had to have been more than that.

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My closing thoughts will be regarding the big Brian Pillman/Stone Cold angle. If you want to find the true genesis of the Attitude Era, I think this show was that genesis. You can make the argument of the Austin 3:16 promo from King of the Ring 1996 being the true genesis but this was way more edgier than that promo. Austin’s promo on his own wouldn’t really have been enough on its own to completely change up the WWF format but this angle right here was the whole focus on this supposedly wrestling show.

With the change of time slot, Vince and the WWF had put everything into this angle as part of a big angle to take viewers away from Nitro. It didn’t work because Nitro crushed them in that first hour still. Not only that, this almost led to the cancellation of WWF Monday Night RAW.

Executives were MAD at the WWF for this angle because there was a gun involved and some executives called for RAW to be taken off the air. Fortunately for the WWF, RAW remained on the air and the Monday Night Wars raged on. This was such a risky move and this was the culmination of what was an insane 1996 for Brian Pillman.

The Armbar Express has been reviewing 1996 episodes of Nitro for about a year now so yes, we have been reviewing some of the “Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman and his adventures on Nitro. He was a part of the Four Horsemen, he had an infamous feud with Kevin Sullivan where he dropped the “I respect you booker man” line. He left WCW and went to ECW where he tried to whip out his “Johnson” and piss in the ring? Then he went to the WWF and it led to this angle where Pillman pulled out a gun on live television.

This was not like this was the last segment Pillman ever did or anything in case you’re wondering. He was aligned with the Hart Foundation in 1997 and did a program with Goldust before he passed away in 1997. However, this was the year that defined Brian Pillman in professional wrestling. People will always remember the “booker man” line, people will remember Pillman in ECW (even if he didn’t wrestle a match) and this segment will live in infamy and will be the very first thing people associated with Brian Pillman. This was inadvertently one of the greatest inter-promotional character arcs of all time!

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #56 (OCTOBER 7TH 1996) – JEFF JARRETT MAKES HIS WCW NITRO DEBUT

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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The storyline for the New World Order has suddenly become centred around Miss Elizabeth and her feelings for the “Macho Man” Randy Savage. She was not able to accompany Arn Anderson and Woman down to the ringside for his match with Chris Jericho last week and left the building early. The end of last week’s episode saw Elizabeth arriving at the nWo’s party to discuss deals and movie roles as Savage arrived to express his disgust at his ex-wife, who appears to now be with the nWo.

The drama continues with Macho Man and Liz this week as part of a slicker WCW Monday Nitro than last week. A lot of people might see this differently but I thought this was one of the best Nitro shows in a while. We got a lot of matches to digest, we got a rematch of the Rick Steiner vs Chris Benoit from last week which was actually better the second time around and there just felt like there was more life to Nitro this week. There was typical moments of nWo getting heat especially with the ending of this episode but there were other things going that got a lot more development. They developed the Lex Luger/Arn Anderson storyline a bit more for example. There was a lot to like about this episode.

 

Date: October 7th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Savannah, Georgia

Rating: 3.5

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan and Mike Tenay

 

There were really cool effects with the Nitro logo spinning as part of the lights on the ramp and these lights were shooting up to the Nitro set at the top of the ramp. It was very flashy and very elaborate as usual for WCW Monday Nitro. Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zybszko talked about what happened last week and Larry immediately came to the conclusion that Elizabeth was with the nWo – did Larry not learn anything from what happened with Sting when they accused him of being with the nWo? They made a big deal last week as to offer Sting a car to say they were sorry for doubting him and here is Larry already concluding that Elizabeth was with the nWo when it’s not even clear what’s going on.

There were new WCW tag team champions as Harlem Heat defeated Public Enemy on WCW Saturday Night to regain the tag team championship, capitalising on Johnny Grunge’s knee injury caused by the Faces of Fear last week. Therefore, we’re back to Harlem Heat vs Outsiders at Halloween Havoc for the WCW tag teams titles as previously advertised.

 

“Harlem Heat” Booker T and Stevie Ray w/Sister Sherri and Col. Robert Parker vs “Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock in a non-title grudge match

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Harlem Heat got the “jobber entrance” despite being the WCW tag team champions, with the former champions getting the big entrance to kick off the show as Harlem Heat were already in the ring! Referee Nick Patrick, with a disgusted look on this face and still wearing a neck brace, was refereeing this match. This was ironic as Patrick was the referee when Public Enemy won the tag team titles 2 weeks ago.

Public Enemy did the drop toe-hold/elbow drop combination early on in the match. Stevie Ray stomped on Rocco on the floor as Sherri screamed at him. Rocco grabbed Sherri to a huge pop but Booker saved her. Elizabeth was shown at the locker room of Randy Savage as she wanted to explain herself but I guess he wasn’t there as she looked disappointed coming out of his locker room.

They cut back to the match where Harlem Heat have got the heat on Public Enemy. Ray hit a sidewalk slam and Booker hit a side kick to a big pop. Ray held Rocco and Sherri clocked him with a punch to the face. This was a straight up punch to the face as opposed to a slap which was different for a female manager and I actually thought was pretty cool.

They get a good close-up of Nick Patrick at exact moment he is adjusting his trousers! Bad timing from the WCW production crew! Heat beat up Rocco in the corner as I guess Patrick missed Grunge getting the tag as he stopped him from getting in the ring.

The nWo arrived in the arena with Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Ted DiBiase, Syxx and Vincent all there within the crowd. Hall cut a promo, calling Harlem Heat “hillbillies” and saying if they want some of the Outsiders they’re gonna get it. Nash said they were gonna get the belts. Hall said it was gonna be awfully scary. Nash said he smelt the fear. DiBiase said he smelt the money and it was gonna get real real hot. Then they left.

Booker then missed a dive as the Harlem Heat had completely ignored the Outsiders during their promo and continued to wrestle. The nWo’s words had fell upon deaf ears. It is a change to have guys come out to distract their rivals but the rivals not listening to them or not allowing themselves to get distracted. At the very least, that’s something different where the story is Harlem Heat are not letting the nWo get to them. That I like.

Grunge got the tag and Rocco pulled off a double bulldog as the Public Enemy ran wild. Rocco got knocked off the top rope by Parker as Rocco went crashing through the table. Stevie hit Grunge with a chair to the knee. Sherri was talking to Patrick for about 30 minutes as Harlem Heat place a chair on the knee and Booker did a top rope knee drop to the knee of Grunge and Harlem Heat got the pin.

It’s the same finish EVERY SINGLE WEEK from Harlem Heat. I am begging for something different but no, there has to be some over-complicated spot involving the managers or some shenanigans that is completely bookeed. That’s why I groaned at the start of the show when I realised Harlem Heat were the champions again. Was it so hard to have Grunge awkwardly land on his leg and then Harlem Heat capitalising to get the win? Did we need Parker to get involved and two different leg-based attacks with a chair before Harlem Heat got the pin?

This was an OK match with a hugely over-complicated finish as usual with Harlem Heat.

 

Jeff Jarrett debuted on WCW Monday Nitro dressed all in white with sunglasses on and a black jacket as he mentioned he’s got something to say. It would be later revealed he would be wrestling Hugh Morrus later on in the show.

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Tony did an interview with Nick Patrick on WCW Saturday Night which they showed along with the clip of Savage putting his hands on Patrick. Patrick said Randy Savage was being fined $1 million for putting his hands on Patrick and wanted him suspended. He mentioned he’s assured by his lawyers that he’s got a strong case and he hoped WCW got on his side.

There’s actually a bit of lore to this whole Elizabeth storyline particularly with the big fine Patrick has planned. If Patrick is in the pocket of the nWo, as alluded to in recent months, they could have had him goad Savage into striking him and then issued out this fine. How Patrick was able to lobby such a large fine and what authority he has to do that has yet to be explained! However, this fine makes it easier to lure Elizabeth to their side with things like movie deals because she wanted the money to help out Savage. It was explained Flair spent all of his money apparently so she’s joining the nWo to help him out financially. I find that interesting but more on Savage and Liz later.

 

DDP vs Jim Powers w/Teddy Long

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Nick Patrick was referring two matches in a row which, if you think about, is completely ludicrous. He’s “injured” with a neck brace on, and he’s refereeing two matches in a row which I feel is somewhat unfair! Tony also talked about Patrick wanting Savage suspended right before his big match with Hogan at Halloween Havoc so this would put WCW in a big disadvantage ahead of such an important match.

I love how Patrick patted down the babyface Jim Powers right before the match but not the heel Diamond Dallas Page! That subtle detail from this heel referee I appreciated.

Powers broke out of a Full Nelson attempted by Page and kicked Page into the ropes. They showed an inset promo from DDP where he called Eddie “Borito Boy” ahead of their match at Halloween Havoc. That’s certainly not nice.

Powers tried a few roll-ups on DDP but to no avail. Powers did a crossbody for a 2 count. DDP hit an absolute solid Diamond Cutter where he countered a full nelson into a Diamond Cutter which looked excellent. A great finish in my eyes to an average television match. CLEAN victory for DDP.

DDP kicked down Teddy Long after the match and pushed him into the corner. Then Teddy yelled at Patrick in the ring for something DDP did…. why? There’s no controversy here regarding the finish as DDP beat Powers clean. I know it was a dick-move for DDP to push around Teddy but how was that Nick Patrick’s fault? Hasn’t Teddy Long learned with the likes of his run-ins with Scott Norton to try and stay out of the ring like a good manager should do?

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Mike Tenay tried another interview and this time Randy Savage WAS THERE to be interviewed as he was followed down by a driver sporting Slim Jim gear called Jason Killer. Killer was the driver of the Slim Jim race car. It was mentioned nWo talked about nWo running through the competition at the Nascar event hyped up in recent weeks. It was revealed that the nWo car did not finish the race as it hit the wall as the Slim Jim guy Jason finished in 10th. Savage said Hogan was gonna crash and burn like the nWo car. Elizabeth interrupted him but he yelled what’s done is done and told her to save it. He left and Elizabeth followed him. A wacky promo from Savage regarding this NASCAR business.

 

“High Voltage” Kenny Kaos and Robbie Rage vs “Faces of Fear” The Barbarian and Meng w/Jimmy Hart

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The Faces of Fear attacked High Voltage from behind to kick off the match as Tony revealed Jeff Jarrett was making his in-ring WCW debut tonight. Chris Benoit, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Debra all came out as the Four Horsemen were facing the Faces of Fear at Halloween Havoc.

High Voltage did a spot where I think they tried a double springboard shoulder tackle. This sounded clunky on paper and looked horrible in execution. What ended up happening was Kaos crashed into Meng as planned (although looked completely un-coordinated doing so) and Rage landed right on his feet making contact with nobody. It made these guys look so horrible.

Barbarian and Meng beat up Rage in the ring. Meng hit a sit out powerbomb with Rage not even landing on his shoulders properly so it look nasty. In response, Barbarian hit a big powerbomb of his own and Rage landed right on his shoulders for the second powerbomb!

Faces of Fear did a catapult into a big boot for the clean pin as they posed in the ring with Jimmy Hart. Jimmy declared that the Faces of Fear were ready for Benoit, Mongo and “that bimbo of yours!” An easy way to put over Faces of Fear ahead of their PPV match with Benoit and Mongo. This gets a thumbs up.

 

Glacier vs Mike Wenner

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This was the first I’d ever heard of Mike Wenner but apparently, he was in World War III battle royal in 1995 which I did review, but I have no memory of him actually being in the match last year! He was back for this squash match against Glaicer.

There was a mix of cheers and loud boos from the crowd. Glacier was still undefeated in WCW. Glacier did some kicks and a leg sweep. Glacier rolled out of an Irish Whip and Glacier somehow pulled off a gutwrench flapjack which I’d never seen before.

Some fans chanted boring. Glacier dropkicked Winner out of the ring. To liven up the match a little, Glacier did a springboard dive to the outside. Glacier did a roundhouse kick or “spin side kick” for the win. This was the best Glacier’s looked so far in WCW.

Then we get the longest two minutes of my entire life. Glacier posed in the ring for about a minute or so as they’re waiting for the second hour dynamite timer to go off. What would happen, if you paid close attention to what he was doing in the ring, was that he’d strike a few fighting poses and then bow. He’d do more fighting poses and then he bows to the crowd. He kept doing this to waste time before the second hour countdown hits zeroes and the fireworks would then go off.

Even after the timer went down to zero, Glacier was continuing to do poses in the ring in the same manner. He’d do a few moves and then he bows and just did that on repeat.  He just kept bowing and doing all kinds of kicks in the ring as I guess he couldn’t LEAVE THE RING despite his match being over! He spent more time for his post-match celebration then actually wrestling on this episode of Nitro! This was… mind-boggling!

 

Jeff Jarrett vs Hugh Morrus

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This was one of the worst babyface performances I’ve ever seen from Jeff Jarrett. Eric Bischoff tried to play up that Jarrett was maybe with the nWo as he was an “outsider” from the WWF, so of course they had reasons to doubt him. So Jarrett was supposed to be a babyface despite this.

In this match, he did almost everything in his power to get himself booed! Jarrett continued to strut around the ring and laid on the top rope as he bragged about this being too easy. He strutted after every other move he did and the fans turned on him quickly. Hugh eventually cut him off with a big clothesline to a big pop. Hugh mocked him as the fans popped even more!

Jarrett got back in the match. Jeff missed an enziguiri. Jarrett did an atomic drop and a clothesline. Jarret hit a swinging neckbreaker for a 2 count. Hugh missed a top rope leg drop and Jarrett did a figure four leg lock as Hugh gave up. As a match, it wasn’t bad. As a means to get Jeff Jarrett over as a babyface, this failed big time.

 

Tony interviewed Jeff Jarrett. It was revealed that Jarrett was in the “nWo” black limo which explained the connection to nWo Bischoff made. Jarrett said Hogan said he was bigger than the wrestling industry itself and if it wasn’t for Hogan, his father Jerry Jarrett wouldn’t be here. Jarrett retorted to this claim saying Hogan started in Tennessee. Jarrett said history doesn’t mean anything to Hogan but it means a lot to Jeff so Hogan and the nWo could STICK IT as another callback to the infamous Hogan line from Bash at the Beach.

Speaking of that “stick it” line, it’s weird how overlooked that line appears to be in the history books. Everyone remembers the big heel turn from Hogan and people remember the promo but line WCW has attempted to put over in the past few months since he turned heel is the “stick it” line. Hogan told the fans to stick it, Sting told Hogan to stick it, Bischoff told Sting to stick it one time, Sting told Luger to stick it and now Jarrett was telling Hogan to stick it. That line is forever repeated on this show and Bash at the Beach was about four months ago!

 

Arn Anderson w/Woman vs Renegade

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Arn tried a piledriver but Renegade reversed it and chased Arn out of the ring. Arn caught Renegade coming back into the ring with a boot to the head. Arn did a knee drop and worked on Renegade with punches to the head.

Renegade tried a sunset flip on Arn but Arn cut him off with a punch to the head. Arn choked away at Renegade. Fans chanted for the DDT. Arn worked on the arm of Renegade as he slowed down the pace of the match as Tenay alluded that Arn would earlier on in the show.

Renegade fired back. Renegade did a handspring elbow smash and he tried this move a second time but Arn smashed him in the back of the head as the fans popped. Arn then signalled for the DDT, he hit it and the fans went bonkers as he got the clean win.

This was such an effective finish. This was a high-risk move that Renegade tried one too many times, Anderson made him pay, he got the fans riled up for the DDT and then he delivered and got the pin. It’s so easy and basic wrestling psychology. This finish gets a thumbs up and I actually thought this was a good match.

Arn beat on Renegade after the match but Lex Luger chased him off.

 

Lex Luger vs Squire David Taylor w/Jeeves

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Squire David Taylor literally kicked Jeeves in the arse and slapped him down as he called him a “stupid little person” when coming down to the ring. Bischoff laughed off Patrick’s claim at a fine towards Savage.

All you need to know about this match was Taylor missed an elbow drop from the top rope and Luger locked on the torture rack for the clean submission victory. There’s nothing more I can really add to that although I will talk a bit about the torture rack.

The Torture Rack was so over and it was so over because at this time, there were so few clean victories that when he locked on the Torture Rack and it got the job done, the fans went nuts. There was so many shenanigans in WCW, particularly with the nWo, so when Luger was setting up for the Torture Rack the fans would buzz because they knew the match would be over!

This is a bad show to actually make that analogy about too any screwjob finishes because there were a lot more clean victories than usual this week! However, you will see how much that points stands in a few years’ time!

Arn attacked Luger with a chair from behind as Luger made his way to the back as the referee begged Arn off. I think they did a great job with this Luger vs Arn build towards Halloween Havoc. The seeds of the feud were already in place at Fall Brawl and the Nitro after with the Horsemen beat down. This week, both Arn and Luger won their respective matches clean and then Arn laid out Luger from behind like a coward. Now Luger will want revenge a lot more, leading to their match at the PPV. This was solid booking.

 

 

Rick Steiner w/Scott Steiner vs Chris Benoit w/Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Debra

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This was a way better match than last week and last week’s match was good. They got a lot more time which was key and there was a good pay-off to this two-week storyline between Benoit and Rick Steiner.

They mentioned Rick’s brother Scott had two ruptured discs on his back which was why he’s not been in action recently and he wasn’t there last week. However, he was back to have his brother’s Rick’s back against the Four Horsemen. As much as I feel bad for Scott and his injury, an injury does not excuse this outfit that Scott was wearing on this episoe! He was wearing the same outfit that all the announcers were wearing at Hog Wild. It looked terrible!

Rick got distracted with Mongo and Debra which led to Benoit getting the jump on him to kick off the match. Rick hit an absolutely perfect slam where Benoit jumped at him and Rick slammed him down with such finesse and precision. Great stuff.

They punched away at each other as part of this fight between the two suplex machines. Rick did a belly to belly suplex as Eric mentioned Rick was teaming with The Great Muta in the NJPW tag team tournament in October, with Muta filling in for Scott Steiner.

Rick hit a solid looking german suplex with Benoit landing perfectly on his shoulders. Benoit got the heat on Rick for a while. Bischoff called out Patrick on the neck brace saying he’s not buying. Bobby asked “are you calling him a liar?” to which Bischoff said no and Bobby said: “well you just did”.

The nWo limo arrived with WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hollywood Hogan and The Giant coming out of the limo. Hogan said he’s got business to take care of and told Giant to watch his back.

Benoit continued to work on Rick and hit a back suplex. This was a huge suplex match where they threw each other all of the place and it was great. Rick eventually hit a big flying forearm to get himself back into the match temporarily but Benoit went back to work by throwing Rick into the corner.

Benoit hit a diving headbutt for a 2 count which Benoit was outraged by as he yelled at Patrick. Benoit was caught jumping off the top rope by Rick who did a big belly to belly suplex. Rick did a bulldog from the middle rope for a 2 count as Scott questioned Patrick for doing a slow count. Rick and Benoit took each other out with a double clothesline.

The finish was great as Debra distracted the referee. Mongo tried to use the briefcase but Scott cut him off and confronted him. Mongo tried to use the briefcase but Rick grabbed it like “yoink”, hit Mongo directly in the head in a funny cartoon manner and then hit Benoit with it in the head for the victory. I loved this match and I loved the finish where the heel shenanigans backfire and the good guys win! It felt like a big win for Rick Steiner and a good-feel moment overall. I give this three thumbs up! This was brilliant!. The fans went nuts with the brothers hugging! I’D RECOMMEND WATCHING THIS MATCH.

 

Ric Flair © vs “Macho Man” Randy Savage for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship

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Flair vs Savage was the scheduled main-event for Monday Nitro, clearly inspired by the Halloween Havoc Sweepstake commercial from last week!

Hogan was shown hanging out with the Nasty Boys and Ted DiBiase backstage. DiBiase had the “nWo paperwork” as Hogan wanted them to watch his back. He left the contracts with them as Hogan had a big evil grin on his face. I also love the idea of despite being an evil organisation, you still had to sign paperwork and agree to contracts in order to officially join the nWo! I guess there had to be some honour among theives, even with the big bad nWo!

In case you haven’t figured it out by this point, the main-event never took place. The nWo attacked Ric Flair backstage, as Hall, Nash, Giant, Syxx and everybody was back there beating up Flair as Vincent held the US title for like two minutes! It’s weird that Vincent held that title in his hands when the US title match at Halloween Havoc at this point was Ric Flair vs The Giant. I guess Vincent just really wanted to hold a title in his hands!

Miss Elizabeth was backstage just watching on all nervous as to what was going on. Giant stalked Elizabeth up towards the entrance ramp as she begged him off. Savage came out and had a standoff with Giant with a chair but Hogan blindsided Savage. Hogan threw down a referee and then dropped Savage on the guard rail.

Hogan choked Savage with a chair but Elizabeth begged him off. Hogan grabbed her by the hair and then the arm as he bragged about owning her. Giant carried Savage down to the ring but, in a dangerous and awkward, moment, he lost his footing as he makes way onto the steps. Giant then slips on the steps as he’s holding Savage like a baby and Savage landed on the steps in an awkward manner. This was a bad botch although my big question was why Giant felt the need to go up the steps to throw Savage into the ring.

Giant was about to chokeslam Savage but Hogan stopped him to get a good punch in. Hogan punched away at Savage. Hogan clotheslined the back of Savage in the corner as Giant grabbed the face of Elizabeth.

Hogan did a leg drop on Savage and spat at him as he made Elizabeth watch this beating. He did another leg drop as fans throw more trash into the ring. Someone got a good throw of a box of Slim Jims right into the face of Hogan as he’s yelled at Savage! He spray-painted around Savage’s body like this was a crime scene.. Someone else got a good throw with a cup of beer or something at Giant’s arm as he was holding Elizabeth.

Hall and Nash came down. Hogan grabbed the mic and said: “by the power vested in me, I deem this consummation of Savage and Elizabeth null and void because I own you, I own your body, your soul, your heart as it was etched in stone. Ooooh yeah.” Hogan continued to yell as he said they should destroy the broadcast booth.

Eric Bischoff was adamant about not moving but then he and the announcers bailed as the nWo unveil the nWo monster truck with Syxx in the passenger seat! This was a big monster truck with Hogan’s arms on the side all kitted out in black and white. Despite claiming that he was not gonna leave, this big monster truck was there and Bischoff, Heenan and Tenay were nowhere to be found. They ran for their lives! The monster truck was being revved up near the announce table as they go off the air.

….so yes. They got this big monster truck to destroy the announce table… and they didn’t even do it! They just revved the engine and that was that!

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This was best episode of Nitro in a while. I very much enjoyed this episode although the Elizabeth stuff was super uncomfortable but this was a better show than usual. The Elizabeth stuff is hard to watch through but this does strengthen the resolve of the babyface in question Randy Savage. If the plan was for Savage to beat Hogan for the title, then this was effective way to build up a massive threat in Hogan, have him do every despicable thing in the book and have Savage, the knight in shining armour, save Elizabeth from this evil organisation.

The only problem with that is I’m fairly certain Hogan retained the title at Halloween Havoc! Therefore, all the evil shenanigans we’re watching is even worse in hindsight knowing that Savage won’t even get his revenge! It’s like the Triple H/Booker T storyline from 2003 heading into WrestleMania 19. Everything was in place for Booker to beat Triple H. They even went as far as to have Triple H dismiss Booker as a threat because of his race as “people like him” couldn’t be world champion. The stars were aligned for Booker to become the first ever African-American world champion and beat this bigot Triple H… and then he just lost. So in hindsight, all of this awkward and negative led to nothing.

The exact same thing is happening here, knowing Savage isn’t going to get his revenge. With that being said, there were still a fair amount of clean victories and happy endings to at least provide a bit light during this dark time with the New World Order take over.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #50 (AUGUST 26TH 1996) – TED DIBIASE AND CHRIS JERICHO DEBUT IN THE WACKIEST EPISODE OF NITRO SO FAR

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

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Last week saw the main-event of WCW Fall Brawl 1996 officially put together, where Sting and Lex Luger asked to team alongside Ric Flair and Arn Anderson to fight the New World Order in a war games match. Fellow Four Horsemen members Chris Benoit and Steve “Mongo” McMichael stepped aside to let Sting and Luger fight alongside Flair and Arn. The Giant and Randy Savage got into a heated brawl in the main-event of the show where Savage left to fight another day while Giant chased him.

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This was such a fun and wacky episode of WCW Nitro. This episode was by no means the greatest episode of WCW Nitro ever. However, this is what people think of when people think of WCW. There was a lot of good action which was interrupted by outsiders (literally), there were some all-time horrible wrestling finishes, a disqualification finish in the main-event, trash being thrown into the ring, horrible promos, Ric Flair going crazy during a promo, Nick Patrick’s heel tactics, overbooked finishes to protect everyone and goofy angles up and down the show. The weirdest thing was… I loved it.

The show was far from perfect but it felt like a fun show where they tried out things and there was a lot of new types of angles they tried. Some of it worked for me, some of it missed the mark but it all came off so interesting that I could not turn away. It’s the type of a train-wreck where you can’t help but stick around and continue to watch. This show was not necessarily a train-wreck but it was all kinds of wacky. I like things to be unpredictable and, with the exception of the main-event finish, this was unpredictable.

This was also a huge success in terms of ratings and it was the highest rated episode of WCW Monday Nitro up until this point. They had no competition from RAW this week but WCW really took advantage of being the only show around for the next two Monday nights.

 

Date: August 26th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Palmetto, Florida

Rating: 4.2

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

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

 

 

Billy Kidman vs Juventud Guerrera

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There were multiple notable debuts on this episode of WCW Monday Nitro and we kicked things off with the debut of Juventud Guerrera. This man would become a mainstay in WCW for the rest of their existance. However, they put Juventud in there with Kidman for a 3 minute match and it was a fun three minute match.

Kidman hit a pretty sweet looking powerslam at the start of the match and then ate a NASTY powerbomb from the apron onto the floor. This was a hard, HARD landing for such a small man at the time in Kidman.

If you’re a fan of springboard moves and dives, this match was the match for you. Juventud did a springboard leg drop to the floor. Juventud did a slick looking springboard corkscrew for a 2 count. Juventud was caught by Kidman for a powerbomb for a 2 count which got a good pop. I like that the springboards were eventually backfiring on this luchador. He was a great luchador and the early parts of the match showed that but he was wrestling in the US where the style had changed. Therefore, he had to adapt if he wanted to win.

Kidman did a springboard leg drop. Kidman reversed a suplex for a 2 count. Kidman set himself up on the top rope and the fans know a big move is coming as he goes up and hit a shooting star press. He hits this move and it gets a two count. It didn’t come off like a near fall. He just hit the move and Juventud kicked out like Kidman had just hit a scoop slam.

Juventud did a “victory roll reverse hurricanrana” for the victory as Tony described it. That was a sweet cruiserweight match. Every big move looked very slick and Kidman and Juventud were just as quick as each other so the chemistry was there. I very much enjoyed this. Fans booed the finish but the right man won I think. This gets a thumbs up.

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Juventud was then interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund. I tore into Konnan a few weeks ago for a promo he cut where he was a babyface and a heel at the same time, and I deemed it as a “Kalisto-like” promo (a reference to the infamous promo Kalisto cut in 2016 during the WWE draft). Compared to this promo, I was not giving Konnan enough credit for his mic skills. Juventud Guerrera, through no fault of his own, cut one of the worst promos I’ve ever heard on his debut for WCW.

I’m a huge fan of Mean Gene Okerlund and I have a Funko Pop Vinyl sitting at my desk at work. I’ve admired his work on Nitro so far but he had a horrible night at the office tonight. I don’t know if this was just Mean Gene being a character or what the deal was but he did not help Juventud out at all. Gene mentioned that he “no comprande” Spanish and Juventud does not speak English well at all but he was going to let Juventud try to cut a promo in English anyway. This was a recipe for disaster.

Mean Gene mentioned an injury of Psychosis that we apparently all knew about the injury of Pyschosis. I have no idea about it. This is the first time I’m hearing about it and it’s not like the announcers mentioned Psychosis’ injury on commentary. What was this all about? Guerrera then tried a promo in English but then roared in Mexican as the fans started to boo as they could not understand him.

One should not really boo a man for speaking a different language than them but why WCW even let Guerrera near a microphone at this time blew my mind. The man could barely speak English as Mean Gene said and he was not going to get himself over by just speaking in Spanish and then randomly yelling I’M THE GREATEST WRESTLER IN MEXICA.” The fans booed the hell out of this man. If it was Asuka yelling in Japanese in an intense manner for example, maybe it would work. But no, he just starts talking in Spanish and the American fans aren’t able to engage with him.

Juventud kept trying and trying and Mean Gene let this all happen until he just gave up and they cut to a break. A bigger train wreck than that Konnan promo from 2 weeks ago which I’m amazed was even possible. Konnan was Ric Flair compared to this promo by Juventud Guerrera which is a shame for Juvi.

 

“Powerful Males” Marcus Bagwell and Jim Powers w/Teddy Long vs “Dungeon of Doom” Taskmaster and Big Bubba w/Jimmy Hart

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They mentioned Scotty Riggs was injured. I mean he wrestled a week ago so I find it hard to believe that was a work so Riggs was out and Jim Powers became a part of the American Males for one night at least!

They put over the Taskmaster as “one of the most dangerous men we’ve seen in this sport” according to Tony as they show a video package of Taskmaster doing the running knee to an opponent in a tree of woe, teasing the possibility that we may see it again. Well wouldn’t you know it, he did that move during this match!

Taskmaster and Powers fight with Larry commentating that Powers was FIGHTING FOR HIS LIFE. A four way brawl broke out in the ring. The babyfaces somehow gain control. Bagwell’s offence is literally dropkicks and punches. Calling him a wrestler at this point is a bit of a stretch and I know we’ve discussed this before with Bagwell but there doesn’t appear to be any signs of improvement yet.

Bubba caught Bagwell and slammed him with a spinebuster-like drop. Bubba hooked Bagwell in the tree of woe and Taskmaster smashed into Bagwell with the running knee. Bubba hit the laziest looking shoulder tackle ever. It was like accidentally bumping into someone in the street and Bagwell sold this!

Powers got the tag and ran wild. He smashed all the heels with turnbuckle smashes including Jimmy Hart and the fans were going nuts for Powers as he takes it to the Dungeon of Doom. The dude was getting over. Powers hit a crossbody and got the pin and the fans actually went crazy for this huge upset! I was stunned and I figured this is a great way to get a guy over. It was a clean win and they got such a big pop for the babyfaces. Jim Powers can now slowly build a rapport with the crowd and maybe they can do something with the guy. But of course, this was WCW and they couldn’t even let Jim have this….

Referee NICK PATRICK restarted the match claiming that Bubba got the shoulder up, which was preposterous when they showed the replay of it. It was as clean of a pin as any! So Patrick decided that the match must go on. The heels takeover and Bubba hits a spinning side slam and gets the pin.

This was a big opportunity to get over some lower-card guys that was squandered and sacrificed for this stupid Nick Patrick storyline. Did WCW really have to go out of their way to protect Big Bubba during this tag team match? For one night, they could have got Jim Powers over and given him a big win but they took it away. Last week, Chavo actually got a clean win but DDP laid him out and a referee made the save. Why can’t the babyfaces have anything nice on this show?

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Mean Gene interviewed the Dungeon of Doom after the match. Bubba said he should be getting the title shots and the main-events and he was not gonna be looked over any more after tonight. Bubba then called out Glacier! Yeah, Glacier was this big character they were building up that was becoming a joke because he hadn’t even arrived yet and Bubba was calling him out! We had to protect Bubba so he could go onto feud with GLACIER.

Jimmy mentioned Glacier saying blood runs cold but when he arrived, the only one running would be him. Taskmaster questioned that Mean Gene was apparently spotted around Hogan’s place. Mean Gene said “did the man have hair” and Taskmaster responded: “yeah, he had bald hair!” I loved that exchange! Taskmaster talks about the nWo and Gene questioned him about greasing the pole with Patrick or something weird like that. Basically he was implying that Nick Patrick is just “the heel referee” of WCW now, not necessarily with the nWo but an ally to the heels in general.

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Mean Gene interviewed Sting and Luger backstage. I guess Mean Gene TELEPORTED to the backstage area to do this promo. I was watching WCW Nitro on the WWE Network so we didn’t get any adverts. Therefore, we cut from one Mean Gene interview in the ring to an interview backstage! Mean Gene was all over this show.

Chris Benoit and Steve “Mongo” McMichael had called out Luger and Sting for a tag team match for their spots in the War Games match. Luger said he accepted Mongo and Benoit’s challenge. Luger said they’re in the right frame of mind to kick some behind. Sting claimed the Horsemen wanted to “test” them which suggested that the Horsemen didn’t trust Luger and Sting and they were making a mistake.

Last week, Benoit and Mongo stepped aside to let Sting and Luger fight with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson but I guess they had a change of heart this week. This feels like a really sudden change in attitude from last week.

 

 

Mike Enos vs Chavo Guerrero Jr.

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Having looked back in my notes, I still can’t believe they did this match. You could tell that there was no competition from RAW in the first hour because in the middle of this Monday Night Wars, they did Mike Enos vs Chavo Guerrero Jr! What a star-studded match with a noteworthy finish!

They already had Hollywood Hogan booked to defend the WCW title at Halloween Havoc in October against “Macho Man” Randy Savage. That is some serious long-term booking right there with Fall Brawl already a few weeks away.

Enos caught Chavo coming from the top rope and hit a fallaway slam. This was basically Mike Enos playing the big-man role like DDP last week. Enos was basically The Giant as he carried Chavo in like a powerslam position and threw him back into the ring.

Enos did a backbreaker and Chavo was slipping off like he was slipping down a greasy pole. He barely had him in position as he was sliding all over the place while draped over his knee. It didn’t look like Enos was applying a hold at all. Konnan was in the audience and looked SOUND ASLEEP as he was wearing sunglasses and appeared to be in a lawn chair or something.

Enos hit a powerslam, Enos hit a northern light suplex. Enos was just doing moves forever on Chavo and nobody cared. He tried a powerbomb and Chavo just fell down on him and landed on Enos’ ankle. Chavo locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock but Randy Anderson gog knocked down.

What happened next has to be a contender or the leading contender to being the dumbest finish to a match in the history of WCW matches. The referee was down and Dirty Dick Slater, who is in a towel and has his head covered in this towel, his an elbow drop and broke up the Figure Four Leg Lock. Dick threw Enos to the outside. I want to stress to everybody that Dick had a full head of long hair and Enos has a short haircut. KEEP THAT IN MIND when I explain what the spot was they attempted.

Dick put the towel over Enos’ head and Dick went back in the ring as Dick started wrestling with Chavo. Yes… Rough and Ready’s Dick Slater and Mike Enos tried “twin magic” on WCW Monday Nitro. The signature move that would become the trademark spot for the Bella Twins, who is ironically being inducted into the Hall of Fame this year if they still do it, which those girls could pull off BECAUSE THEY LOOKED ALIKE. Slater and Enos looked nothing alike during this match!

Dick hit the swinging neckbreaker and he goes for the Figure Four Leg Lock and Chavo reversed it for a roll-up and the ref counted the pin. Dick popped up with this full bush of hair right in front of the referee and the decision just stood as Rough and Ready are frustrated in the ring.

Tony then talked about the team were gonna complain that the wrong man was in the ring which they had every right to do… THE WRONG MAN WAS IN THE RING. We just saw a referee restart a match for the hell of it so Randy Anderson could have noticed the wrong man was in the ring and restarted the match. That is apparently in his powers as a WCW referee and he stood there and did nothing. He could have called for a disqualification at least but… this is the dumbest finish I’ve ever seen.

They tried the twin magic spot with two men who clearly looked NOTHING LIKE EACH OTHER and it backfired to such a monstrous proportion. This was a HUGE THUMBS DOWN.

Mean Gene interviewed Chavo where Chavo just yelled rapidly about DDP. Chavo cut a promo about DDP not accepting losing to Eddie and someone had to teach him how to lose with respect. He said when someone messes with one Guerrero, they mess with all of us as the fans boo. The format was talk really fast, yell and talk about the Guerrero family. Welcome to what would be the template for every Chavo Guerrero promo for the next 20 years of his career.

 

Rey Mysterio Jr. © vs J.L. for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship

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I don’t know how this was possible but they brought out the WCW Cruiserweight Champion for a title match on Nitro and they found away to turn it into the slowest match of the show. They did give them a lot of it but a lot of it didn’t really matter when we see what happened during it.

Tony claimed J.L. was very mysterious but he could confirm he was not from Mexico! I mean he can’t have been that mysterious can he if Tony has already deduced that he was at least not from Mexico!

I do kinda like the spot of J.L. trying to bounce off the ropes with the headlock but Rey just let his body collapse to the mat to stopping JL’s momentum. It’s like if you’re trying to get your toddler up from the floor but he collapses to the floor because he doesn’t wanna stand up! It’s great because trying to move someone who doesn’t wanna move is difficult! This made sense

THEN THEY CUT TO nWo shenanigans…

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Hollywood Hogan is with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. They take a cameraperson to the video production truck where they spray paint nWo 4 LIFE on the side of this truck. Hogan asked if they thought “they” would get the message. I love how one of the Outsiders have spray paint that wasn’t particularly any good. The reason I say this is because someone wrote nWo in black and it looked like it was going to fade. Just to be sure that it could be seen, because the spray paint wasn’t that strong, Hogan does spray paint over spray paint over the faded-looking nWo spray paint. I wrote down that it was Nash that did the weak spray paint but I don’t remember if that’s right. Hogan bragged that this was gonna wake them up. Rey did a camel clutch as they cut to a break.

Obviously, the nWo was such a popular act at the time but this was another silly angle where they really did not come off as cool at all. You cut away from this title match to show a bunch of GROWN ASS ADULTS acting like teenagers as they did graffiti on the side of a production truck? This was lame.

It worked in getting the nWo HEAT, at least from me!, because they came off as such dorks to me and they interrupted the cruiserweights in action but they ended up coming off as the coolest things on the show for a lot of people. It’s surreal.

Dean Malenko came down to watch the match and emotionless doesn’t do Malenko’s expression justice. This is the closest one man can look to being sleep if that man was stood up and his eyes were open.

J.L. and Rey did weird spots where they each got on all fours and waited for the other man to do a move. J.L. did it and went down on all fours, and Rey grapples him on the ground! Rey then goes on all fours… and J.L. just kicks him! These were the stupidest spots! Why were both men going down to allow the other man to do a move on them? This was void of logic.

J.L. hit a sit-out powerbomb for a 2 count. Mysterio reversed an attempt at a second one with a roll-up for a 2 count. The commentators even compared Hogan and the nWo to a bunch of kids. J.L. locked on a Boston crab and Rey sold this by flat out saying “ow my back”. J.L. just got the heat forever and it sucked the life out of this match. I mean they were interrupted by the nWo so maybe they just half-arsed it because they knew the nWo and fireworks would interrupt them.

Speaking of which, the fireworks literally just went off in the middle of the match. Rey did a sweet diving hurricanrana from the steel steps. Rey then almost spiked himself with a West Coast Pop and picked up the win. Rey called out Dean for a match right now and then celebrated with the crowd.

The match wasn’t bad but if you look at the the first three matches of the show. We got three short matches which were 3-4 minutes each. You put the cruiserweights out there and have them wrestle for 15 minutes as J.L. is slowing it down, the people are just gonna zone out. If it was the opening match on the show and if the nWo didn’t show up, maybe it could have been a good way to open the show. Here, the placement of this type of match was not right after three short matches.

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Mean Gene did ANOTHER INTERVIEW this time with Chris Benoit and Steve “Mongo” McMichael who were accompanied by Elizabeth, Woman and Debra McMichael. Mongo said he’s here for the match they demanded. They wanted to prove to WCW and the good guys they were ready for War Games. Benoit said they didn’t relinquish their spot as it was a decision made by the Horsemen. I know they were heels so it doesn’t really matter but Ric Flair flat out said it’s up to Benoit and Mongo about whether they would give up the spots last week! He had that much faith in the Horsemen that he left it to Mongo and Benoit to decide whether they would abdicate the spots or not. As mentioned earlier, this felt like a completely random 180 by Mongo and Benoit. Benoit said tonight was about security but it was not about security for the Horsemen but for WCW.

They recapped Hogan’s chair shot to “Macho Man” Randy Savage from 2 weeks ago and then Savage’s promo from last week. By the way I did not exaggerate this last week, Savage did say he had 15,000 stitches in his head last week when he was cutting his promo on Hogan! They also showed Savage and Giant’s fight from last week. I still can’t get over that big leap over the top rope from the Giant last week. He jumped CLEAN over the top rope in such a fabulous manner for a big man!

Mean Gene interviewed Savage. Savage said it’s for all the marbles. Savage said he’s only got one marble in his head but it’ll be the scariest match in history at Halloween Havoc against Hogan. Savage said he’s in the zone as he was shown to be super intense with this promo. He was a man of little words as he said he was gonna kick Hogan and Giant’s asses and then he stormed off.

 

 

Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs The Giant w/Jimmy Hart

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Duggan walked right through fireworks for his entrance which seemed rather dangerous! It’s funny Bischoff said The Giant could be the man who decides the balance of power, which is a very interesting choice of words when you see where this nWo storyline goes…

Jimmy grabbed the leg of Duggan. Duggan chased him and Duggan threw Jimmy’s jacket at Giant and fired away with punches.

God bless The Giant but he did a running charge into the ring post. He didn’t just run into this ring post and kinda control the impact a little bit better. He ran and shoulder barged into it and smashes his arm right into the post! That looked so nasty and I hope The Giant learned to never do that again. It looked nasty, even for The Giant.

Giant did a bear hug as Eric Bischoff hyped up the debut of Chris Jericho. Speaking of debuts but who should come down to ringside but THE MILLION DOLLAR MAN TED DIBIASE. Bischoff even reminded us and mentioned that: “we’ve seen this before” in reference to Scott Hall’s WCW debut. He just mades his way to the front row dressed in black.

Duggan used the tape to no affect and he even wound up the taped fist punch and nailed Giant and he still was not able knock him down. What a way to kill off Duggan’s tape gimmick. They played it up like it was such a deadly thing to be hit with the taped fist and The Giant just takes two of them and no-sold them! Way to go Duggan…

Duggan and Hart wrestled over the 2×4. Giant then goes for the chokeslam and Duggan can barely get up. Some guys like Benoit, as discussed last week, will jump high into the air for The Giant to slam him down. Duggan didn’t jump at all as he clearly didn’t wanna take the bump. He tried to go up only barely and it almost led to Giant dropping him. However, this was THE GIANT, and he was able to hold him in place and got Duggan high in the air as if to say “you’re going up for this chokeslam whether you like it or not!” Giant controlled Duggan, he got him up and he slammed Duggan and got the pin. Duggan had an expression on his face like his life flash before his eyes after taking that bump! It was inadvertently the best struggle of the entire show!

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Ted DiBiase then put up a four horsemen sign to the camera then raised his thumb as a fan yells “next week 5” and the announcers play this up as if Ted DiBiase could be the fifth horsemen or that he could be the fourth or fifth member of the nWo….

The Giant was interviewed by Mean Gene. Giant yelled that Savage talked about Giant letting the WCW down and he rightfully questioned where Savage was for “us” during the match match at Hog Wild. Giant mentioned he will be there at Fall Brawl and mentioned Savage doesn’t deserve a shot at the title.

He yelled right at the camera and saliva and sweat landed right on the camera lens which was like a great comic book effect! Mean Gene, like a pro, whips out a handkerchief from his pocket, wipes the camera lens as he complained that these guys are very messy! I mentioned that I wasn’t a fan of Mean Gene earlier on but this was a great moment! He was literally the Alfred to these WCW wrestlers, cleaning up after their messes as a true ally to the wrestlers! I thought that was a nice touch.

 

“The Four Horsemen” Ric Flair and Arn Anderson w/Woman and Elizabeth vs “Rock and Roll Express” Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson

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I don’t have many notes about this match as it is exactly the type of match you’d think Ric Flair and Arn Anderson vs the Rock and Roll Express would be on Nitro in 1996 with these guys. The heels got the heat, the heel women take cheap shots at ringside, they get the heat on Robert Gibson, Ricky Morton gets the hot tag, the heels cheat and win. That’s all you need to know and it wasn’t bad but somewhat predictable.

The finish itself was rather something. Bischoff cut a big promo about referee Randy Anderson being in control of things during this match unlike Nick Patrick. Then Randy Anderson’s back is turned to chew out Gibson. As the referee is distracted, Flair dropped Morton crotch first with an atomic drop and Arn hit a DDT to streal the win. SUCH CONTROL demonstrated from this senior official!

Ric Flair yelled at the camera to Hogan mentioning that he heard Hogan quit, referring to their Clash of the Champions match.

Mean Gene interviewed the Four Horsemen minus Benoit and Mongo. Arn yelled about the nWo picking their spots but when they step into the cage and this will be the one and last War Games for the Outsiders. Arn said if you’re gonna be a man you gotta jump a man eye to eye, nose to nose. Ric yelled about the Clash match and claimed that Hogan said, and this is a quote, “OH GREAT NATURE BOY, I GIVE UP. IIIII QUIT. YOU’RE TOO MUCH MAN TODAY!” I love how elaborate and detailed Ric was with what he claimed Hogan said during their Clash of the Champions match! When I imagined Hogan saying that in my head, I died!

Ric told the nWo to get ready as they’re in North Carolina, the home of the Horsemen, for War Games. Elizabeth was laughing her arse off as she just watches Flair lose this mind. It must be like the most surreal thing in the world to just be standing right next to Flair in front of a live crowd as he cuts this crazy promo and is being Ric Flair. I would either be just constantly getting goosebumps or just in hysterics like Elizabeth!

 

Chris Jericho vs Alex Wright

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At last, THE DEBUT OF CHRIS JERICHO! As I watched this in 2020, Chris Jericho in 2020 currently has his Fozzy song “Judas” as his entrance for AEW and when he wrestled in NJPW too. That song got so over that every crowd for Dynamite was singing that song as Jericho was coming out as it’s revered as one of the best theme songs in the business today. In 1996, Jericho came out with one of my favourite WCW theme songs ever!

The song was “All The Days” by Mammoth and it was such a fabulous song and I popped like crazy when I heard it again for this episode of Nitro. It’s glorious…

The cruiserweights shake hands and Jericho looked so short compared to Alex Wright. The last cruiserweight Jericho needed to be in the ring was to DWARF him in the ring was Alex Wright. Wright was so tall compared to Jericho, it was like a 10 year old wrestling with his 20 year old brother!

They wrestle for a bit and Jericho’s busting out moves that would become vintage Jericho spots like the wheel kick and springboard drop kick to the floor. Jericho suplexed Wright back into the ring. Wright did a huge dropkick to Jericho coming off the top rope. The German got some major air time on this dropkick. Say what you will about Alex Wright but this was an athletic man at this time.

Then Wright’s athleticism becomes his downfall as he tries a springboard crossbody and smashes right into the face of Jericho in a horribly executed spot. Jericho does a running clothesline and he does WILHELM SCREAM as he runs right into Wright. It was one of the funniest voices I’ve heard Jericho do during his entire career. I’ve watched him since I started watching wrestling in 2003 so think of the ground that covers for me!

Wright crashed into the steel guard rail and then Jericho went to the referee and said he didn’t wanna win like this so this match was ruled a no contest as Jericho tended to Wright. The announcer officially declared that Chris Jericho does not wanna win this way so it is a no contest. That’s a new one!

Mean Gene interviewed Jericho. Jericho mentioned that he wanted to fight to the best of his ability. He said to accept that win would not have been to the best of their abilities. Jericho trash-talked the nWo and of course he gets booed, because the nWo came off as so much cooler than WCW. I mentioned that the nWo came off as dorks but if you look at the promos that the likes of Konnan, Juventud Guerrera, Chris Jericho and even NICK PATRICK have all cut about the nWo, they all come off as such geeks in comparison to these edgy heels. Wright goes to talk and Mean Gene said: “we’re out of time!” and completely cut off the German and denied him the chance to talk. What a cock Gene was being on this show!

 

“The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner vs “The Blue Bloods” Dave Taylor and Earl Robert Eaton

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The Blue Bloods argued about who start the match because it was established last week that there was issues within the Blue Bloods. Rick bonked their heads together to get the match going.

Then Taylor tried to tag himself in and Eaton pushed him off. Rick ran wild on the Blue Bloods by himself and then Scott just entered the ring fresh as a daisy and posed with Rick! I dunno why but I found that hilarious that they did the Steiner pose when Rick did all the work by himself! Rick was kicking their arses 2 on 1 during this match!

Scott tagged himself in. Taylor commanded that Rick is tagged back in so RICK IS TAGGED IN. I’m pretty sure Rick Steiner did about 99% of the work during this match for the Steiners!

There was miscommunication from the Blue Bloods. Taylor recovered as The Blue Bloods tried a crossbody Doomsday Device but Rick reversed this and got the pin. Scott’s contributions to this entire match was he did one eblow smash and shoulder blocked Taylor at the very end to stop him from breaking up the pin! What a contribution and a great win for Rick Steiner and thank you to Scott Steiner for his 1% contribution to the win for the Steiners!

Taylor eventually attacked Eaton and the Blue Bloods got into a brawl in the ring after the match, which was actually a decent brawl. The Steiners urge them on as Rick stirred the poop as the Blue Bloods brawl some more! The Steiners were basically kids watching a school fight and egging them on! The Steiners yelled at Harlem Heat as they’re wrestling AGAIN at Fall Brawl. I am sick of this Steiners vs Harlem Heat feud…

 

Sting and Lex Luger vs “The Four Horsemen” Chris Benoit and Steve “Mongo” McMichael w/Woman, Debra McMichael and Elizabeth

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Let’s talk about the opening sequence of this match. So the match descended into a big brawl in the ring between all four men. I don’t know who put this match together but they pair up Sting and Benoit together to fight and they pair LEX LUGER AND MONGO TOGETHER FOR A FIGHT. Who came up with that decision and figured all was gonna end well at all?

It didn’t end well and to say chemistry was not there for Mongo and Luger is an understatement. They just bumbled around this ring while Benoit and Sting actually had a good looking fight.

Benoit got in the ring to increase the match quality with Luger. Benoit and Luger dropped each other with a clothesline. I don’t know why I thought about this during this match but seeing Lex Luger, Elizabeth, Woman and Chris Benoit all out there in some capacity made this somewhat uncomfortable to watch when you considered how those respective relationships ended up in real life.

Sting got the hot tag as the fans don’t pay attention and they all look at something that has happened in the crowd. I figured at first that a fight had broken out in the crowd. It turned out to be Hollywood Hogan coming through the crowd!

Mongo threw Luger into the ring post. Sting missed a dive. Benoit missed a diving headbutt. Then out came the Hulkster as he made his way down to the ring with a can of spray pain in his hand. He comes across Mongo and then Hogan backed away from Mongo! I don’t think that match ever happened but them teasing babyface Mongo versus Hollywood Hogan for a big match is unbelievable to think about!

Of course, the Outsiders fly in before anything happened. Scott Hall literally flew in as him and Nash beat up Mongo. They spray paint the back of Mongo. Hall dropped Benoit with what would be called the Outsiders Edge and Nash does the Jackknife powerbomb to Sting. They spray paint the nWo letters on Sting and Benoit’s backs. Ric and Arn run wild on the Outsiders for a brief period, kick their arses for a while but Hogan sprayed the face of Flair and actually spray painted Flair’s hair black which I’m sure Flair was thrilled about.

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The nWo celebrate as trash is thrown into the ring. There was water thrown into the ring and all kinds of stuff, so I wonder what the production team or whoever was taking down the rings must have thought when they saw all of this trash being thrown into the ring. That can’t have been fun to deal with.

Hogan actually spray-painted Nash’s white shirt. I didn’t understand what the significance of that was. Hogan raised his arms in victory as nWo have literally laid waste to the ring!

For the first time ever, the nWo take over the announce booth. Nash and Hall take over the announcers’ headsets as Hogan spray painted the WCW Nitro logo. I actually thought this was a hot segment to end the show as the nWo demonstrate that WCW needed to be united. The nWo were united and kicked WCW’s arse as WCW were literally fighting from within. I thought this was a great end to a wacky episode of Nitro. Not all of it bad wacky but some stupid stuff alongside some quality stuff. Wacky is probably the appropriate word for it.

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We hope you enjoyed that review from the Armbar Express. The Armbar Express currently does not have a social media presence but please feel free to spread the word about this series and follow the blog on WordPress to get notifications of future posts from this blog!

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #37 (MAY 27TH 1996) – “THE OUTSIDER” SCOTT HALL INVADES WCW NITRO

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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It is entirely possible that the episode of WCW Nitro I’m about to review could be the most famous episode of WCW Nitro ever. It was easily one of the most historically significant episodes in wrestling history. It was the first two-hour episode of Monday Nitro which is significant in its own right. Along with that, we had one of the most game-changing angles in not only the Monday Night Wars but in the history of wrestling. In the first hour, we saw the debut of a wrestler that started a “war” and it just felt like a switch was turned in my brain about this show.

We’ve reviewed episodes of Nitro where The Dungeon of Doom tried to destroy Hulkamania, The Giant was cutting goofy promos about eating people and it was just as much as corny as the “golden age” of the WWF. That’s not to say that the last 36 episodes have been terrible or makes wrestling embarrassing to watch, but it felt like a completely different ball-game compared to what’s going to be in store for us. As soon as a certain angle took place, it just felt like a different show.

With that being said… this was such a horrible wrestling show. A lot of the one hour episodes of Nitro have been at least decent and obviously only watching one hour is an advantage. We got another hour of wrestling but even still, this show had some of the most dirt worst wrestling you’ve ever seen. We got three matches in a row which felt like the worst back-to-back combination of matches in a wrestling show throughout the ages. Everything else felt like it was just there… with the obvious exception of a certain angle.

While we’re on the subject of that angle, even that angle didn’t age well in terms of the quality. It seemed to just come out of nowhere and if it weren’t for the significance of it and who was involved at the time, this segment would not be revered as legendary as it has been over the years.

Let’s get to this review…

 

Date: May 27th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Macon, Georgia

Rating: 2.8

Commentators (First Hour): Tony Schiavonie and Larry Zbyszko

Commentators (Second Hour): Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan

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Yes, you read that correctly. We are in the era of multiple announcers across one episode of wrestling. Tony Schiavonie called the first hour with Larry Zbyszko and the usual commentary team of Bischoff and Heenan called the second hour.

As convoluted as this may sounds, this was a more practical use of certain announcers. If you watch RAW or even certain pay-per-views, the announcers are calling three hour or even five hours of wrestling without any breaks in-between. Therefore, they get exhausted throughout the show and the fire is just not there for the big main-event matches later on.

The four announcers here for Nitro were all excitable for the hour they had to call and they had a lot more life to them. At least this, for now, prevented the tiring of announcers over the course of the show.

 

“American Males” Marcus Bagwell and Scotty Riggs vs Ric Flair and Arn Anderson w/Woman and Miss Elizabeth

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A very basic but effective little tag team match. However, this was not quite as effective as Miss Elizabeth was at blowing me away with her green dress as she came down with Ric Flair. She looked absolutely stunning walking down to the ring with the Nature Boy.

Larry Zybsko buried NFL players on commentary for some reason, which is a weird way to promote two NFL players battling Ric Flair and Arn Anderson in a big tag team match at the next pay-per-view. We’ll get to that later.

This was very much a battle between quick youngsters versus methodical, dirty veterans. Ric and Arn double-teamed Riggs on the outside. Ric and Arn punched them, chopped them and poked at them all over the place. The American Males took over. Bagwell ran wild on Flair as it broke into a four way. American Males clapped with the crowd as the faces had the heels on the rope.

Ric grabbed a champagne bottle from his table but eventually got back into the ring. Arn missed a clothesline and hit the ring post a.ka. “the pole” according to Larry. Bagwell punched his way out of the heels’ corner.

Flair caught Riggs’ legs on the apron and Arn took advantage. Tony and Larry enjoyed champagne I guess Flair poured out for them. The heels got the heat as Bagwell desperately wanted to interject himself into the match.

Riggs hit an enziguri to Arn, sending him outside. Riggs crawled to Bagwell as Ric and the referee had one of the all-time great shoving matches! Ric sold like crazy for referees pushing him down which was excellent to see.

Bagwell got the hot tag and ran wild. Bagwell did a small package but Arn turned the small package over but then Riggs turned it over again on Flair. Bagwell hit a fisherman suplex. Bagwell covered Flair but Woman gauged his eyes. Arn hit the DDT and Ric rolled himself into the cover for the win, literally just resting his arm on Bagwell!

I thought this was… OK. It was very basic and they did everything right and the fans were definitely into it. The American Males I still found to be very limited to what they can do and Flair and Arn did all they could to get a good match out of these two. Maybe I was hoping for something a little bit better. Regardless, I can still see that the four men worked hard out there so this gets a thumbs up.

 

Mean Gene interviewed the heels after the match. Arn told Kevin Greene and Steve “Mongo” McMichael that he never met a football player that he couldn’t walk over. He didn’t respect anyone that had to wear protective gear. He said in this sport it was man to man and hand to hand. Ric said while they were playing football, he’d been making up lost time with Debra (Mongo’s wife). Ric called Miss Elizabeth their sugar mommy with Savage’s money.

They showed Greene and Mongo working out and preparing for The Great American Bash. I hope I never wear what these two were wearing to the gym. Despite their fashion sense, they were still looking jacked and bulky. Not gonna like. A heads up, Ric Flair and Arn Anderson were set to face Kevin Greene and Steve “Mongo” McMichael at The Great American Bash. At least, that’s the billed match at the moment.

 

Scott Hall Debuts In WCW

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As soon as I saw The Mauler and Steve Doll come down for “a match”, I figured this was “the match” that would lead to the big angle previously alluded to earlier. Even if it wasn’t, WCW were in the middle of a wrestling war and they had these two guys out there for a wrestling match in the first hour?

The announcers said Randy Savage had been banned from any WCW televised event. I wrote a bunch of spots these two did but really, none of it mattered. During the match, the fans started to buzz and turn around. A tall dude in a sleeveless blue denim jacket walked around near the seats, which is hard to miss in its own right. In the midst of this crowd, a big dude made is way down to the ring. Of course, walking across the fans and over the guard rail is in fact… Razor Ramon.

It was like time had stood still. This was the WWF’s “Razor Ramon” in the eyes of the fans at the time. He didn’t say he was Razor Ramon but the people knew who he was. They only knew of this guy as Razor Ramon and so him appearing at a WCW show and asking for a mic it was mind-blowing to see for them. He grabbed the microphone as the action just stops. There was no finish to the match

I’ve just found a transcript of the entire promo this guy cut on a Fox Sports article. I did try to take down as much as I could about the promo but here it is in full:

“You people, you know who I am. But you don’t know why I’m here. Where is billionaire Ted? Where is the Nacho Man? That punk can’t even get in the building. Me? I go where ever I want, whenever I want. And where oh where is Scheme Gene? Cause I got a scoop for you. When that Ken doll look-a-like, when that weather man wannabe comes out here later tonight, I got a challenge for him, for billionaire Ted, for the Nacho Man and for anybody else in WCW. You want to go to war? You want a war? You’re gonna get one.”

This man leaves with security and… I will talk more about the premise of this entire angle later on in the review. Suffice to say, “Razor Ramon” a.k.a Scott Hall showing up on Nitro was a pretty damn big deal at the time. With that being said, if we’re being honest… this felt so underwhelming watching it 23 years later or so!

This dude just came through past security and he just cut a below-average promo at best and let. He just interrupted a random match and cut a weird promo, where he mumbled all over the place and even repeated the line about wanting a war. He took a long time getting to the point that he was bringing a war.

With that being said as well, even though it was hard for Hall to get to the point, this worked as a means of keeping the fans guessing. He never mentioned the WWF although that was the premise of the angle. It was actually really clever with the way they had a “WWF” invasion angle without actually having the WWF. Hall was just a guy coming over the barricade, known to be coming from the WWF, invading WCW and being an “outsider” and it was effective in making people question what was going on. It blurred the lines between reality and fiction for a lot of fans in a way that hadn’t been done effectively for years by either the WWF or WCW.

Bischoff tried to do “insider” references during these Nitros and he tried the Brian Pillman angle from Uncensored but Hall coming down and declaring a war while the announcers are not referencing him at all was effective at the time. Say what you will about the promo but it did work in getting people talking.

I do love that after this big angle with Scott Hall, Tony Schiavonie can’t help but ask what happened to the match!

 

Sgt, Pittman w/Teddy Long vs Diamond Dallas Page

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Remember when DDP was the #1  contender for the WCW World Heavyweight a week ago? He won the Slamboree battle bowl battle royal, he overcame 31 other wrestlers to earn this shot and the title shot was stripped away from him, unfairly if you think about it. After all of this, on this episode, he was just breezy. To be fair to DDP, The Shark randomly got a WCW title match this week on the grounds that The Giant chokeslammed him previously so I guess title matches weren’t that hard to come by.

DDP did the worst push-ups in the world… which actually fit his gimmick! Pittman showed him up with a one armed push up. DDP knocked himself loopy with a headbutt and fell out of the ring. DDP was tied up in the television cable again. DDP hit a jawbreaker on the rope to take control of the match.

Then we got the geek of the week moment from the w/c May 27th 1996. Pittman went for Code Red armbar “upside down.” DDP grabbed Pittman’s manager Teddy Long on the outside and just grabbed him, which led to no harm to Teddy Long. Pittman looked at Long, and DDP took advantage with a Diamond Cutter for the pin. Pittman came off like a complete geek with this finish. There’s nothing like a distraction finish to bury a babyface any worse.

GEEK OF THE WEEK – Sgt. Craig Pittman for distracting himself by looking at his manager after nothing happened to him.

 

They showed a highlight video package of the Randy Savage going crazy storyline.

 

Mean Gene interviewed The Shark. Mean Gene mentioned he’s no longer with the Dungeon of Doom. I guess The Giant chokeslammed Shark during a previous angle on Saturday Night and he got kicked out of the group, which actually led to a Giant vs Shark WCW title match later on which we’ll get to it.

Shark cut a promo about he almost ended Hulkamania and he was gonna hurt Taskmaster by winning the WCW title.

 

They showed another video package of Hulk Hogan hanging around with celebrities like George Foreman, Shaq, Dennis Rodman and Kevin Greene. They talked about Hogan raising money for charity with Sugar Ray Leonard too.

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That was the end of the first hour. If you looked at just the first hour of the show, this show wouldn’t seem so bad. Then we got the second hour which had to be the worst hour of wrestling I’ve ever seen. We got five more matches and the next three matches were some of the dirt-worst wrestling in the history of wrestling. This felt like the longest hour of my life.

 

The Giant © w/Jimmy Hart vs The Shark for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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I love how Eric Bischoff jumped on commentary and he talked about how they weren’t going to dignify Scott Hall’s appearance but then proceeded to spend the entire second hour of the show constantly bringing it up. Bischoff even told Hall to come down at the end of the second hour, basically promoting another appearance at the end of the show.

I had a weird desire to watch this match but this was an absolute nothing match. I’m pretty sure that The Giant vs Loch Ness had to have been better than this match. Maybe I’m over exaggerating, but this was such a dull monster battle. At least the Loch Ness match was shorter.

Shark jumped Giant but Giant fired back with a big headbutt. The Shark tried to knock down Giant but Giant wouldn’t budge. Giant hit a big clothesline. Giant forced all of his weight on the stomach on Shark by standing on him. Shark punched away at Giant but was unable to lift the big man. Giant scoop slammed Shark.

Shark gouged at the eyes of Giant. Shark pulled off a clothesline from the middle rope, just barely. Shark got his hands on Jimmy which led to Giant taking advantage and chokeslamming Shark for the pin. Previously, The Giant’s title matches were somewhat interesting and in some cases good but this one was just boring. A boring big man match that just set the tone for the second hour.

Big Bubba came down to cut Shark’s hair.

 

 

Lex Luger © vs Maxx for the WCW Television Championship

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Maxx, previously Max Muscle, was back on Nitro. The announcers talk about Maxx’s haircut. Eric goes: “nice haircut Max” and Bobby, without missing a beat, said: “yeah, if you’re going to the chair.” In their defence, that was a bad haircut Maxx was sporting. It was some weird Mohawk he had going on which thankful never caught on.

Thankfully, these types of matches never caught on in wrestling either.

Luger ran wild with clotheslines and Maxx cut him off with a powerslam. Maxx got the heat. If you liked clotheslines, then this match was the match for you. These guys could do absolutely nothing. Clotheslines, forearms, punches, powerslams. It was pretty much four or five moves on repeat and this just kept going on and on and on. A wrestling website I found listed this match as going 5 minutes and 45 seconds. I felt for sure this was 5 hours long. Luger got Maxx up but eventually locked on the Torture Rack for the win and the fans went nuts.

Speaking of which, when was the last time we saw a torture rack on Nitro? It feels like forever since Luger has just been in tag team matches with Sting.

Either way, this match was god awful and went longer than it had any right to be. Luger should have hit a few clotheslines, locked on the Torture Rack and won. Instead, we got 5 minutes of god awful wrestling and then Luger struggled to get Maxx up on his shoulders for the finish. A HUGE THUMBS DOWN.

 

Mean Gene interviewed Lex Luger. Luger said he didn’t make the matches but nobody wanted The Giant more than the Total Package. They showed The Giant chokeslam from 2 weeks ago. He talked about how Giant didn’t try to win a match, as he just wanted to take Luger out but he was still standing. He wanted every big man WCW had before he got The Giant. If these matches were anything like the Maxx match, I’d rather they didn’t give Lex these matches!

 

Hardwork Bobby Walker vs Brad Amrstrrong

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The quality of the last two matches were pretty bad. In the defence of those matches, you could at least expect a below par match out of the likes of the still-green Giant and Lex Luger. This next match was even worse and sad part was that it had nothing to do with Brad Armstrong.

This Hardwork Bobby Walker was so atrocious during this match. Literally every “spot” he attempted during this match was screwed up and every single time, it was his fault. Brad did an monkey flip and Bobby was meant to land on his feet but he stumbled. Hardwork tried a crossbody from the top but lost his footing. When they realised Hardwork could not be trusted to do any actual moves, they wrestled on the floor for about 10 hours. Walker tried a small package and a backslide for near falls.

Walker couldn’t do a lucha libe crossbody without losing his footing. It was like a Rey Fenix-like spot where he would jump from the middle rope to the top rope and then do a dive but he screwed that up. Then Walker hit a crappy looking blockbuster for the win. I wrote that “this was shit” and that is being generous. This was the second worst match I’ve seen so far in this WCW Nitro series. This was a -3 star match worse than the horrific tag team match from Slamboree I gave -2.5 stars. Remember when I reviewed Eddie Guerrero vs Ric Flair last week and it was better than anything on WCW SlamboreeWCW Slamboree? Well this match was WORSE than everything on WCW Slamboree and think of the ground that covers.

I’m going to mention this very briefly as this is a sensitive topic to a lot of people. Hardwork Bobby Walker was part of a lawsuit where he and a bunch of other wrestlers filed a lawsuit against WCW for racial discrimination. Walker claimed that his Caucasian opponents were told to make him look bad and that he’d never win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Apparently these wrestlers were set to make African American wrestlers look “loud, obnoxious, pompous and shiftless.”

I’m not going to discuss racial discrimination as I’m not qualified to speak about it on so many levels. With that being said, clearly Walker did not watch this match before saying all of this. He mentioned that his “opponents” were out to make him look bad. He was in there with Brad Armstrong, who is Caucasian, and Brad was not responsible in any way for the spots screwed up in his match. That’s not even my opinion, that is pure fact. A lot of the spots where Walker coming off the top rope or doing something acrobatic, and it was down to HIM to make the spot look good. He messed it up. It wasn’t like Brad Armstrong used the force to make Walker slip. He was nowhere near these spots Walker was messing up.

I’m not going to say wrestlers were or weren’t acting discriminatory against Walker, but the idea that he believed other people were making him look bad is laughable if you watch this match. He made himself look bad in this match. As far as racial discrimination, that’s not for me to talk about.

Apparently when the WWF bought out WCW they came to a settlement with Walker and co. but my verdict on this match was Walker was guilty of crimes against wrestling in this match. He was so horrible. Minus 3 stars but this was honestly the worst match in WCW Nitro history so far. Not quite on the level of the Doomsday Cage match.

 

 

Lord Steven Regal vs Alex Wright

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This match wasn’t particular good but it felt like Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada compared to the last three matches. Wright took over for a bit. Wright did a dive to the outside as they cut to a break. Regal locked in a headlock and wore down Wright. Wright slammed Regal down for a belly-to-belly suplex.

Wright and Regal kicked and uppercut each other throughout the match, smashing away at each other. Not much to talk about with this match but eventually Regal dropped Wright on his head from the top turnbuckle. Regal pinned him with a bridge for the win.

Mean Gene interviewed Regal. Regal talked about Giant and Savage. He talked about taking out Belfast Bruiser. Regal said he’s not going anywhere and he should have his say around here. Regal made a challenge to the franchise Sting and if he won, he wanted a shot at the champion.. He said he wanted a shot at that “face painted clown.”

 

Sting vs His Good Buddy Scott Steiner

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The announcers constantly mentioned that Sting was facing “his good buddy” Scott Steiner in the main-event. Steiner took Sting down with an arm drag. Sting responded with a big hip toss. Scott did a big Gorilla Press to Sting. Sting went up high in the air as he delivered a big dropkick to Steiner.

Scott hit a tiger powerbomb and a belly to belly suplex. Scott hit a double axe handle from the top rope. Sting gave Scott a big boot as Bobby Heenan howled with laughter! Scott slammed him with a belly to belly suplex. Scott locked on the STF and an armbar onto the Stinger.

I loved the spot where Scott went for a suplex but Sting reversed into a Scorpion Death Drop. It went down smoothly as Sting turned things around. Sting fired back with a Stinger splash but when he went for another one, he missed. Scott dropped Sting with a dragon suplex.

Lex Luger came down to cheer for Sting and Rick Steiner, in the worst shorts known to man, came out to cheer on Scott. Rick was out in a big, extra-large tie dye shirt and grey cap and striped shorts, which could have actually been his ring attire underneath now that I think about it. Either way, it was not a good look for Rick. 

Scott hit an high-angle slam from the top rope. Sting locked on the Scorpion Deathlock but Scott got the rope. Sting reversed a tombstone piledriver into one of his own for a near fall. Sting went for a big splash in the ring but Scott got the knees up.

Sting suplexed Scott over the top rope but Scott landed on his feet, went for his own suplex on the floor but Luger broke that up. Rick went after Luger. A big brawl broke out between the tag teams and the match was thrown out. The babyface wrestlers tried to break everybody up.

This match was not bad and it parts was actually decent, but it was a victim of the rest of the matches on this show. Vince Russo has a theory that people don’t want to watch long wrestling matches on a television show. If you watch a lot of WWF Attitude Era stuff, a lot of the matches are short as in his eyes, crash TV angles were all the rage at the time. I don’t necessarily believe that theory but if you watch the way the show went down, we got a bunch of boring nothing matches that nobody cared about. After that, we get a long main-event MATCH at the end of a two-hour wrestling show and it just did nothing for me as a viewer. It was just a match and it ended in a typical disqualification.

Maybe in my brain, I think I conditioned myself to except a shorter match than they delivered. If you remember last week’s main-event, The Giant vs Arn Anderson, that lasted about four minutes or so.

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Scott Hall came back out and interrupted Eric Bischoff with a microphone. He said Bischoff had a big mouth and “we’re” sick of it. Bischoff constantly asked “whose we?” during this segment. Hall said: “This is where the big boys play? What a joke. Tell billionaire Ted and get three of his very best.” He named-dropped the Nacho Man or the Stinger. He told Bischoff to get anybody they want because they are taking over. He repeated the war line from earlier and they wanted to war it out in the ring where it mattered. Not on mircophones, newspapers, dirtsheets, he said let’s do it in the ring where it matters. He said they were taking over as Bischoff and Bobby looked flustered to end the show.

The closing promo I think was a little better, as at least it gave his ramblings a little direction. He mentioned a six-man tag team match, which you all know where this ended up going but the fans were still in the dark about who Hall’s two other men were in that trio. They just saw it as possibly WCW vs WWF in a match, which was big enough for them. It was left up for speculation and they had about 6-8 weeks to promote the big six man tag team match and build anticipation for “war” in WCW.

I do want to give credit to Eric Bischoff credit here. Every single week on Nitro, Bischoff had been taking shots at the WWF. I, obviously knowing the outcome of the Monday Night Wars, have questioned every single time he took shots at the WWF. It would eventually backfire on him many years later which we’ll get to when we make it to 1999 in this series. However, his shots had a storyline purpose because of this promo.

Scott Hall from the big bad WWF, after hearing all of Bischoff’s jokes and digs at the WWF, basically told him we’re sick of it. Bischoff had put his foot in his mouth as it was put-up or shut-up. This was blurring lines in reality again and when a “WWF” guy decided to take action, Bischoff’s suddenly all shaken up by it at the end of the show. I loved that aspect of this storyline.

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That was the show. It was without a doubt the worst Nitro we’ve seen so far. It feels a bit unfair to dub the first two hour Nitro the worst Nitro but it wasn’t like either hour was particularly great. It started with a decent tag team match but was filled with such horrible matches up and down the card. Even the historic angles weren’t that interesting to watch upon a rewatch many years later.

Either way, it is a completely new direction for the company in the storyline and it very much shakes up the business going forward.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WWF MONDAY NIGHT RAW (MAY 6TH 1996) – GOLDUST GETS TURNED ON BY THE UNDERTAKER

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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Welcome the first Retro Express review of WWF Monday Night RAW. This was dated May 6th 1996 and going up (not directly head-to-head) against WCW Monday Nitro. The review for that episode of Nitro can be viewed by clicking on the link below:

WCW Monday Nitro – May 6th 1996

The reason for this review is because when reviewing the episode of Nitro mentioned earlier as part of the WCW Nitro series, I discussed that RAW CRUSHED Nitro in the ratings for May 6th 1996. It was something along the lines of 4.1 to 1.9 in the ratings despite Nitro putting on a decent show. Therefore, I felt the RAW show was worth a watch. What was so appealing about this episode of Monday Night RAW that it got a 4.1 rating? It is extremely rare for RAW nowadays to get anything close to that in 2019. RAW’s 25th anniversary averaged about 4.5 million viewers in 2018 but other than, I can’t think of many in the past 5 years that have come close to that number.

Yet this episode from 1996 got a 4.1 to Nitro’s 1.9. I’m pretty sure WCW Nitro running an hour earlier because of an NBA game that same day was a major factor in this. The only wrestling show on the go during wrestling prime time was RAW so I assume the majority of wrestling fans just all watched RAW when nothing else in terms of wrestling was on. How it would lead to Nitro getting a 1.9 rating stills baffles me.

It baffles me because this RAW didn’t even come close to being as good as that Nitro. I’m sure someone will say that it’s unfair to compare this RAW with this Nitro when I’ve only watched Nitros up until this point which is fair. However, I’m 90% certain that if I had watched the last 33 episodes of RAW heading this episode, Nitro would have still destroyed it in my eyes.

Right now, WCW’s biggest storylines (well before the nWo arrive) are that Ric Flair has driven Randy Savage crazy and Lex Luger is trying to earn the trust of his friend Sting. These storylines are very basic but executed very well. The storyline is easy to follow and everybody’s actions make sense. What is the WWF’s response to these storylines? Their WWF Champion Shawn Michaels is in a sex scandal and Goldust has lust in his eyes fo The Undertaker. I did not make that last one up. That is the storyline and when you read the review of what happened during the main-event, it’s mind-blowing anyone ever watched a WWF show again.

Let’s get cracking with this WWF RAW review…

 

Date: May 6th 1996

Brand: WWF

City: Sioux City, Iowa

Rating: 4.1

Commentators: Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler

 

The opening video package was a small tribute to Ray “The Crippler” Stevens, who had died near that time as previously discussed during the WCW Nitro review. It didn’t feel as heart-felt as the WCW tribute but they were able to show some clips of The Crippler in action so at least the fans could get a glimpse of the man in action. Either way, they were both nice tributes to Ray Stevens.

 

1-2-3 Kid w/Ted DiBiase vs “Wild Man” Marc Mero w/Sable

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Previously known as Johnny B Badd in WCW, Marc Mero was in the ring with 1-2-3 Kid in this opening match. “The more things change, the more they stay the same” has always been a quote I’ve associated with WWE formerly known as the World Wrestling Federation. Nothing represented that notion more than this match. It was structured almost exactly like every WWE television match in 2019. Babyface runs wild earlY, the heel gets the heat, goes for a sleeper HOLD, the babyface does the comeback and then they go to the finish. Pretty much that is exactly how this match went down.

“Wild Man” Marc Mero ran wild himself early on in the match and then went for a springboard splash but 1-2-3 Kid got the knees up. 1-2-3 Kid then went for a sleeper hold, jumping on the back of Mero and bringing him DOWN to the mat. He brought him down for a chin lock, kept on the chin lock, kept on the chin lock and kept on the chin lock for a long time.

One of the announcers talked about 1-2-3 Kid putting him to sleep while this match was in real life putting me to sleep. SPEAKING of the announcers, Vince and Jerry were joined by Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Hunter Hearst Helmsley would go on to achieve amazing things in the WWF but this man did one of the worst jobs I’ve ever seen as a guest commentator since Yoshitatsu did commentary for NJPW I believe.

Helmsley’s accent changed to an absurd degree during this match. The three very distinctive accents I got out of the guy was initially the worst English accent I’ve ever heard in my whole life, Hunter talking like his usual Triple H self and then sounding like he’d been hanging out with Rob Van Dam. This was all from a guy who I believe was supposed to be French when this gimmick started!

Helmsley bantered at the fans in the crowd. Mero tries to fight out of 1-2-3 Kid’s hold but they go back to the chin lock. They got to a commercial and when they come back, Mero starts doing his comeback! Questionable decisions with the timing of these commercials. We sat through about 30 minutes of 1-2-3 Kid locking in this chin lock and we come back from the break and they’re wrapping up the match!  Mero fired back with a back drop, a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and a double axe handle.

I do love that Mero threw 1-2-3 Kid over the top rope and Lawler said that should have been a DQ! A subtle dig at WCW for doing disqualification finishes for wrestlers throwing each other over the top rope. I will say that Jerry Lawler did a much cleverer and better delivered shot at the competition than Eric Bischoff has done in 34 episodes of Nitro. Every one of Bischoff’s shots at RAW (and there have been many so far in the series) just came off so uncool and Lawler just casually goes “that should be a DQ” and I very much appreciated it.

Mero does dive to the outside. Hunter helped 1-2-3 Kid up and as the Kid distracted the referee, Helmsley crotched Mero on the top rope. 1-2-3 Kid goes for a superplex but Mero reversed in with a mid-air crossbody for the pin as Helmsley lost his mind. A slow match with a decent finish in my eyes with the babyface overcoming the odds and getting the win.

 

They showed a clip from last week where Savio Vega challenged “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to a strap match. They show Ted DiBiase cutting a promo to accept, adding a condition that if Savio lost, he would becomes his chauffeur. I guess Austin was still with DiBiase as the Ringmaster. DiBiase is with WCW shortly as part of the nWo and Austin eventually won King of the Ring 1996 in June, which I’m guessing everyone reading this would know what that would lead to for Austin!

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Let’s cut to the big “main-event program” for the WWF. There’s an affair angle going on where I guess Diana Smith, wife of the British Bulldog, was accusing WWF Champion Shawn Michaels of sexual assault. This led to a video featuring a woman obscured to protect her identity. They hid her face but made no attempt to change her voice to make sure she was not identified!

Anyway, it is said this woman was the wife of an wrestler. She said that Shawn Michaels was a homewrecker who ruined her marriage and she was going to tell us the truth about Shawn Michaels. She said her ex-husband was on the road a lot and Shawn knew about this. She claimed Shawn called her wanting to discuss a problem with this wrestler but then it was clear that all he wanted to do was talk about her. She admitted it was hot and he was so gorgeous. She said they went to bed together and it was the best she ever had. Most of these notes I made when watching the show were me writing word for word what this woman said. Some writer wanted this girl to say that Shawn Michaels was the best she ever had. This was the WWF’s idea to put over the top babyface of the company.

The woman talked about how Shawn told her how special she was which turned out to be a lie. She said the next time Shawn and her husband were in the ring, he lost because he knew what happened and it messed with his mind. The idea of the storyline to me, from merely watching this one episode, is that this woman was lying. I guess that was what they wanted to tell the fans as Shawn was the babyface. However, I love the idea that Shawn would have relations with this girl just to win a wrestling match! That is a fantastic heel plot in destroying a marriage just to win one wrestling match! She said Shawn never called again. She said Shawn didn’t need her and now she saw him doing this to someone else. He knew she couldn’t resist him and he ruined her.

All I could think was that some writer wrote all this down and told this woman to say all of this about Shawn Michaels. If they did this angle with Seth Rollins or Roman Reigns or whoever the top babyface is in 2019, it’d be a sure-fire heel move. Those two would never be cheered again. In 1996, this was their way to put Shawn Michaels over. I think it’s entirely possible Shawn Michaels wrote this whole speech himself! This woman is simultaneously trying to bury the character of this man but also rave about how hot he is and how irresistible he is. This was incredible. It was horrible but it was also incredible that this was a storyline from the wrestling promotion that WON the Monday Night Wars. This was… amazing to watch.

 

British Bulldog w/Diana Smith and Jim Cornette Vs Fatu

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They showed a clip of Shawn cutting a promo on Diana from last week I think, telling her not to flatter herself. This led to a brawl between himself and Bulldog after Diana slapped him.

Now to this next match. Seeing Fatu, who would later become Rikishi, in this good of shape blew my mind. This guy looked in good shape compared to what he’d look like about 3-4 years later. He legitimately looked likely The Rock combined with Sonny Siaki. He was able to move around pretty fast in the ring too and was a good hand in the ring during this match.

Fatu got a USA chant going which I laughed at. He danced around as he worked on the Bulldog.  Bulldog dropped Fatu on the top rope. Bulldog posed in the ring with press ups, a great-looking handstand flip and a parody of the HBK entrance.

Jim Cornette at ringside choked Fatu with the tennis racket as Bulldog took control. Fatu’d family members came out to watch the match who may have been The Samoan Gangsta Party.

Fatu got back into the match but as soon as he does, Bulldog pulls off a low blow. I assume Earl Hebner was distracted but they didn’t actually show it on-screen. Of all the replays they showed in the first match (and they showed a replay of a 1-2-3 Kid doing a dropkick for example) they didn’t show that important spot with Earl as part of the Fatu/Bulldog match.

Cornette stomped on Fatu on the outside. Bulldog missed a leg drop. Fatu ran wild and and they pulled off a sloppy back drop. Fatu hit a cutter which spiked Bulldog for a near fall. Bulldog accidentally knocked Cornette off the top rope. Bulldog pulled a big lariat turning Fatu inside out for the near fall, which I think Jerry Lawler bought as the finish. Bulldog hit the powerslam for the pin. This was an average match which picked up a little by the end but a lot of the stuff looked decent to me.

Fatu argued with his family and he talked about the WWF being his family which the nearby fans that picked up on this line loved. I actually loved that line and the way this was pulled off and Fatu’s delivery was very good.

 

“The Bodydonnas” Skip and Zip w/Sunny vs “Techno Team 2000” Travis and Troy in a non-title tag team match

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Can you imagine that WCW had Lex Luger and Sting reigning as the WCW Tag Team Champions at this time in the wrestling. In response to this, three of the tag teams involved in the WWF tag title picture were the Bodydonnas, Techno Team 2000 and the New Rockers? The levels of star power in the tag team divisions of WWF and WCW were just incredibly different at this time!

Not a lot happened in the match but a lot of the tag team stuff they did were actually pulled off moderately well. There was a double hip toss from the Techno Team for the 2 count. The Techno Team did an elevated Stinger Splash for a 2 count which actually looked decent in execution.

Harvey Wippleman was shown making notes on the WWF refereeing according to the announcers. The Bodydonnas pulled off a decent double flapjack. They cut to The New Rockers cutting a shockingly bad interview during the match where they just mumbled on through about being The Rockers and… it sucked. Jerry Lawler mentioned that Marty Jarnetty said his new partner Leif Cassidy was a better partner than SHAWN MICHAELS ever was.

I was going to make a joke about this but then I actually looked up who Leif Cassidy was… it was AL SNOW. When I Googled this guy and then figured out it was Al Snow of all people, it absolutely stunned me. If you look at everything Al Snow has done in wrestling and still does today with Ohio Valley Wrestling, I think it is safe to say that even with “The New Rockers” Marty Jarnetty was still the Marty Jarnetty of the team!

Zip from the Bodydonnas did a Northern Lights suplex for a near fall. The Bodydonnas did a double suplex for the two count. Zip positioned himself like he was gonna do a moonsault and Jerry exclaimed that he was gonna do a moonsault but then he just fell down and hit his head. It did not look pretty.

Travis got the hot tag. In the middle of this, Jerry Lawler started talking about gas prices going up. Vince asked what that had to do with anything… and then they dropped that conversation. This was actual commentary during a wrestling match.

The Bodydonnas took control. Skip did a double axe handle to a floored Travis I think for the 3 count and for the win. Sunny was the best thing about this tag match by a country mile. There was not enough of her during this match. Everything else about this match was just there and unimpressive. There were some decently executed spots here and there but that’s about it.

 

Jim Ross interviewed Jim Cornette and Vader. They showed a clip of Vader pillmanising Yokozuna. Cornette cut a promo hyping up Vader and his match with Duke “The Dumpster” Droese next week. Not a lot to this other than Jim cutting a very-fast paced promo that acknowledged that Yokozuna was a top guy but Vader was that much better. I was fine with this promo.

Goldust came down to do commentary with Vince and Jerry. Goldust got uncomfortably close up to Vince’s face. He stroked Vince a little bit. Goldust then found out he was in a casket match with Undertaker and was all mad and then he sat back down.

 

The Undertaker w/Paul Bearer vs Owen Hart w/Jim Cornette

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When I saw the match card for this episode of RAW, I actually got excited at the possibility of Undertaker vs Owen Hart. This is no disrespect to any of the wrestling credentials of either of those men but this was an absolute nothing match. I say this because their entire main-event match was secondary to the antics of Goldust on and off commentary.

Owen fired away to little effect and then Taker turned it around and ran wild with a frenzy with punches. Then after being scared out of his boots of the possibility of a casket match, Goldust then starts lusting for the Undertaker. Goldust’s commentary included him remarking about  how Taker’s so tall and he wanted to touch him. He dropped the line of “look at the death in his face.” The storyline for possibly the second biggest angle in the WWF in early May 1996 was Goldust getting turned on by THE UNDERTAKER

Goldust talked about what he wanted to do with the urn. This was all happening during the main-event of RAW effectively unopposed in the hour they were in. Goldust then got up and… they cut to a commercial.

I assume this was taped because they cut to the commercial at the exact moment Goldust was going to do something and then we they come back, Goldust is near Paul Bearer. Goldust walked up to PAUL BEARER and tried to grab the urn. He tried to frisk Paul and Lawler flat out said Bearer had been goosed. I swear to you this all happened.

Owen worked on the leg of Taker and Owen did a top rope dropkick. The announcers tried to tell this story that Undertaker was vulnerable when Paul Bearer wasn’t there with the urn, which suggested to me the viewer that Owen Hart got heat by Goldust feeling up Paul Bearer on the outside!

Owen went for the sharpshooter but Taker grabbed the throat to bring himself up. Taker lifted Owen over the top rope and threw him out with a choke. It was effectively Darth Vader choking someone with the force and then pushing them back, except there was physical contact from the Dead Man.

Goldust tried to throw Owen back in the ring, getting a good grab of the tights as he attempted to do this. Taker did a HUGE jumping tombstone for the pin. It was like the tombstone from WrestleMania 26 where he jumped HIGH in the air with Michaels and came crashing down. It looked great.

Bearer brought out a casket and Goldust ran away to end the show.

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This show did a 4.1 rating for Monday Night RAW against a 1.9 from Nitro. This was a horrendous show when compared to Nitro from May 6th 1996. I could think of possibly one Nitro that was worse than this episode of RAW but I’m sure even within the worst episodes of the Nitros I’ve reviewed so far, there were probably moments from those shows that were better than ANYTHING from this episode of RAW.

If there’s any solace from watching this episode of WWF Monday Night RAW… Nitro would go onto crush them for 83 weeks in the ratings war. If this was what turned the tide initially in the Monday Night Wars, then the WWF only had themselves to blame.

I also have to say one other thing since I know WWE always claims that WCW turned things around as they bought all of the stars from the WWF, portraying themselves as the underdogs I guess. Of course WCW had the money to hire big stars but the storytelling and the quality of the shows just didn’t compare when literally comparing their shows for one week.

This episode I think will be the last episode of Monday Night RAW we will be reviewing on the Armbar Express for a long time! Next up on the agenda for the Retro Express is WCW Monday Nitro from May 13th 1996 and then WCW Slamboree 1996.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #28 (MATCH 18TH 1996) – THE ALLIANCE TO END HULKAMANIA RECRUITS ZEUS FROM NO HOLDS BARRED

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

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Last week saw the rivalry between the Mega Powers and the Dungeon of Doom continue, with a six man tag team double strap lumberjack match. Confusing on paper and even worse in execution, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and The Booty Man defeated Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Taskmaster once again to get more momentum going into a big Doomsday Cage match at Uncensored.

This week, we’ve got the go-home show for Uncensored 1996. It turned out to be a rather infamous event but this show was a horrible preview of things to come. I thought last week’s show was pretty bad but this was worse. I will make it perfectly clear that the main-event from last week was worse than anything on this week’s episode of Nitro. However, at least last week had some redeeming qualities about it. I liked The Steiner Brothers’ big return and The Giant vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan. There were hardly any redeeming qualities on this show. Nothing worth going back to watch and the closing segment was just… it felt really flat to me. As a closing segment to hype up Uncensored, this didn’t do it for me.

Anyway, let’s run-down the show…

 

Date: March 18th 1996

Brand: WCW

City:Chattanooga, Tennessee

Rating: 3.6

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

 

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The show does not start with WCW cutting the announcers as they usually. It cut to Loch Ness and The Giant having a “brawl” and when I say a brawl, it was the equivalent to Godzilla slowly beating up a building. Loch Ness can barely moved and he is just leaning and grabbing the handrail as The Giant threw kicks and punches (better than his kicks from last week). Jimmy Hart, the smallest guy imaginable in this scenario, tried to get between them. The Giant threw knees as Lex Luger comes out. Lex Luger walks by as Giant continues to kick Loch Ness’ arse. It turned out that Lex Luger was actually supposed to be defending the WCW TV title against Loch Ness!

 

Lex Luger © vs Loch Ness for the WCW TV title.

Loch Ness is exhausted leaning on the handrail as the referee starts counting him out. Lex Luger implores the referee to count him out and Loch Ness is unable to move at all, so he gets counted out and Lex Luger retained the title!

This led to an awesome Lex Luger moment! Lex Luger has been pretty great in the last few weeks. He starts celebrating like he just won a gold medal. Then Jimmy Hart jumps into the ring and is all excited, RIGHT AFTER two of his guys have had this massive brawl! I don’t know why, but I found that hilarious. He managed every heel so even though two of these monsters are killing each other, he’ll go celebrate with Luger when he retains his title!

Luger backs Jimmy Hart away again. Luger comes to the booth and cuts a great promo. Luger grabs a mic and says he’s on a roll! Lex Luger says he’s ready and he’s peaking at the right time, calling out Hulk Hogan. I thought Luger had a great little moment here.

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Eric Bischoff then reveals they have a stand-by match. I love the idea that they even had a stand-by match because this implies that in storyline, they expected LEX LUGER and LOCH NESS to go like 10 minutes or something! Loch Ness I don’t even think has wrestled 10 minutes in his combined WCW career yet by this point!

Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage are being interviewed by Tony Schiavonie. Hogan said this place was on fire. Hogan predicted the same momentum as the last few weeks. Savage and Hogan said they’re gonna go to the top together and they’re gonna go to dust together. Savage cuts a crazy promo himself. Hogan said there’s no titles on the line at Uncensored as they’ll wreck havoc wherever they go. Hogan said he heard what Taskmaster said… they never during the promo what Taskmaster actually said. I had no idea what Hogan was on about. Hogan says bring all of your horses, bring all of your men and the Mega Powers will kick your ass again. I actually loved that line to close the promo and Hogan and Savage had tremendous tag team promo chemistry. They were both so crazy with their delivery that they played off each other very well.

 

“Public Enemy” Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge vs “The Steiner Brothers” Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner

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The closest thing to an average match on the entire show. Public Enemy does this stupid wave dance as they make their entrance… and it’s over with the crowd. The fans in the building are all doing this wave and going nuts for Public Enemy. It’s almost astonishing what was considered cool in 1996!

With that being said, I was at an England Rugby match against Italy right before the Rugby World Cup this year. I think it may have been the match before the World Cup for England and there’s 50,000 people there for this match. In the middle of it, a wave breaks out. This wave breaks out and it does a complete lap of the crowd four times it went on so long. Maybe it’s a crowd thing that they just felt the need to entertain themselves!

Public Enemy grabbed tables. Rocco did a beautiful arm drag reversal from a tilt-a-whirl which I actually thought was pulled off well. Scott was about to put Rocco through a table with an elbow drop but Rocco moved out of the way. Rick Steiner did a suplex as Bischoff breaks the news that NBA star Dennis Rodman has been suspended for 6 games… whoop de doo.

Grunge did a bulldog to Rick Steiner onto a chair which was not a disqualification. There are bigger fishes to fry with this later on in the show but, why not try to enforce the rules a little bit?

Booker T is revealed as Sting’s partner against the Road Warriors for their match at Uncensored. Rocco did a DDT. Rocco flew off the top rope and Rick BARELY caught him with a powerslam. Rocco pulled off a springboard moonsault.

Scott hit a big belly-to-belly suplex and made the tag to Rick Steiner. Rick and Rocco brawled to the floor. Scott does the punches in the corner. Rocco goes for a dive through the table but Rick moves and Rocco goes right through the table as Scott and Rick hit their finish the Steinerizer for the win.

Now, I get Public Enemy are the hardcore tag team in WCW… but when are tables allowed in a match? I understand they didn’t hit the Steiners with tables and chairs but they used them to their advantage when it is against the rules in a tag match to use them. No matter if you hit them with it or you just use it, it is against the rules of a regular tag match to use a weapon to your advantage. END OF STORY.

Rick and Scott yelled at the Road Warriors as Bischoff refers to WCW Nitro as “the hottest show on the planet”… incorrect. Unless the standards of television were really bad in 1996, I find this very hard to believe.

 

Arn Anderson w/Woman vs The Booty Man w/The Booty Girl

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Arn Anderson tried so hard to get a good match out of the Booty Man. He tried his hardest to sell for the guy but it was hard to care. The Booty Man didn’t do a thing for me as a babyface. He was very bang average as a wrestler. I found it hard to get into him. This was the second closest thing to an average match on the show.

I will say that I loved that Arn went to throw a punch during the match but then he just collapsed to the mat Flair-style. Arn was trying really hard to get this guy over. Kimberley is with The Booty Man as… THE BOOTY GIRL. I’ve said this a few times but what a strange time the 1990s was for professional wrestling. The edgy content hasn’t even arrived for the WWF or WCW yet and they’re just casually dropping the name BOOTY GIRL as a name for Kimberley.

Arn got the heat. Arn worked on the arm of Booty. Booty runs wild as some fans actually boo.

I’m going to recap the finish but I’m going to leave in the notes as exactly as I wrote them. After I wrote what happened next, I could not believe my eyes as to what I wrote. As a wrestling blogger for about 7 years now, this was one of my crowning moments for the Armbar Express.

Booty throws punches when the Booty Girl arrives. Woman grabs the shoe and goes towards Booty. Booty gets in between them as Arn flies in with a double axe handle. Booty hits the high knee for the win.

In these notes, I would often refer to Booty Man as Booty for short. Writing THE BOOTY MAN over and over is just hard to do fast. So yeah, I just call him booty. Just that it led to the sentence “Woman grabs the shoe and goes towards Booty” is just remarkable. The only problem is that those notes are completely accurate. That’s what happened!

 

They broke down the Uncensored card during this match by the way. Booty Man is facing DDP at Uncensored. Eddie Guerrero is facing Konnan for the US title. Sting and Booker T are facing the Road Warriors. Madusa is facing Col Robert Parker. The Giant is battling Loch Ness. The main-event, of course, is the Doomsday Cage match.

 

“The Road Warriors” Animal and Hawk vs “The Nasty Boys” Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags

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I’m 90% certain this was the worst match on the show. After the Road Warriors have their best tag team match in a long time against the Steiner Brothers last week, they had a tag team match that completely fell apart against the Nasty Boys. The tag teams brawled from the get-go. Knobbs goes for a double axe handle to Animal on the floor and just falls down. The least elegant double axe handle I’ve ever seen and that set the tone for this match in many ways.

Bsichoff advised that the Nasty Boys were FIGHTING FOR THEIR LIVES against the Road Warriors… IN A REGULAR TAG MATCH? I mean this was not a regular tag match. They were brawling but I don’t even know why they were brawling. It was very sloppy stuff as they just brawled. Knobbs goes to the top rope but Hawk pushes him off. Knobbs bumped all over the place and bumped into the guard rail. It looked like it really hurt Knobbs as he was grabbing his gut during the match. The tag teams smack each other with those chairs again as Nick Patrick tries to get in between them.

It was here where I started to question whether every match on this episode of Nitro was No DQ because the refs aren’t doing a thing about any of this. They use weapons and there are no disqualifications at all… at least in the first two tag team matches.

They eventually get into the ring and start to wrestle for a change! There is some huge miscommunication between Knobbs and Hawk in the ring. I don’t think they had a clue what to do or Knobbs was hugely injured from the guard rail spot from earlier so they had to think of stuff on the fly.

They mentioned on commentary that Mean Gene Okerlund was off with a flu. Hawk kicked Knobbs I think in the groin or what Mongo called them: the groin muscles. Again, this was not a disqualification. Animal hits a powerslam. Animal goes for a big splash but Knobbs gets the knees up. Saggs gets the tag and this leads to nothing.  They all brawl in the ring. Knobbs looked like he could barely move.

The Steiners come out to brawl with both tag teams I think… RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE REFEREE. The ref doesn’t even call for the bell. They all fight each other and in the middle of this melee, Animal hits  Knobbs with the spike shoulder pads while the ref gets distracted. The ref then comes over and counts for three. Again… a massive mess of a match.

I have a few problems with this match other then how bad it was. Firstly, The Road Warriors couldn’t beat The Nasty Boys clean going into the tag team match with Sting and Booker T? It was so important to protect the Nasty Boys here? Why bother doing a run in during this match?

Secondly, WCW were promoting Uncensored to be no disqualification all over the PPV. To build to a PPV where there are “no rules”, they had a number of matches where the wrestlers did what they wanted and the referees didn’t care. Why would people want to watch the PPV when they could watch No DQ matches all the time on free WCW television? This sucked.

 

 

 

Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage vs Ric Flair w/Woman and Taskmaster in a tornado tag team match

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I hadn’t even got to the main-event and this review was hard to write. This show was just so draining to talk about and then we got this main-event.  If you take the messy and sloppy aspects of the six man tag team matches as of late with these two factions and made it into a tag team match, you basically got this match. Not a lot of wrestling and hard to keep track of what everyone was doing. As shown later, the announcers couldn’t even keep track of what everyone was doing.

The match started. Hogan and Savage take over as Hogan chased Flair to the outside. Flair cuts him off with the eye poke. Hogan grabbed a big green hat, pulls it over Flair’s head and smashes Flair’s head into the turnbuckle.

For like 90% of the match, they only showed Flair and Hogan on television while Taskmaster and Savage are just brawling elsewhere. Hogan and Flair brawl. Hogan pushes Flair off the top rope as Savage and Taskmaster brawl on the outside. Savage eventually holds Taskmaster up in the ring and Hogan delivers a big right hand to knock him down.

Hogan chokes Taskmaster with some wire as Woman rakes the eyes of Savage as they had a split screen on the go. Hogan ran wild on Taskmaster and Flair. Savage then floors Flair with a clothesline. Savage punches away at the Nature Boy. Tornado tag matches are fine to do but these guys really aren’t having a tag match. There’s just a bunch of stuff happening as they all took turns brawling with each other. To borrow Arn’s line from last week, this match did not resemble professional wrestling at all.

Flair goes for the Figure Four on Savage as Hogan doesn’t even try to save Savage. Hogan just goes for his own Figure Four Leg Lock on Taskmaster as the battle of the Figure Four Leg Locks begin! Eventually Savage reverses Flair’s Figure Four and gets out of harm. Flair pushes the ref and the ref pushes back which is a spot only Ric Flair can pull off this well.

Savage goes to choke Taskmaster’s neck but he ends up grabbing his shoulders so it looked like he was given him a back massage instead! Flair does a back suplex but Hogan no-sold this. Hogan sends Flair over the top with an Irish Whip. Then Flair hits Hogan with a low blow while they were fighting on the outside. and of course, the announcers miss this. Not one of the three announcers were able to see Ric doing this.

I was begging for this match to be over as this was no good. Hogan fired back. Taskmaster gets knocked into Flair. Flair hit Hogan with Woman’s shoe again. This time Hogan kicks out and powers up!

Hogan Hulks up on Ric Flair as Savage and Taskmaster are just in the way. Then Arn Anderson comes down. Hogan hits the big boot. Arn trips Hogan. Then BRIAN PILLMAN runs in and attacks Hogan and Savage as the ref calls for the bell. After everything we saw in the earlier tag team matches, we got a disqualification in the Nitro main-event.

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I understand it just becomes like the gimmick of WCW Nitro where all the main-events ended in a disqualification. However, we had a show where all the tag teams did whatever they wanted with chairs and tables and it was no disqualification. In fact, the Steiner Brothers did a run in and it wasn’t a disqualification. Brian Pillman runs in and suddenly it’s a disqualification.

You know what. I’m going to establish this now… this was the worst episode of Nitro I’ve seen so far. There was no sense in the finishes, there was no consistency and the talent was just not there to pull this off. You have guys like Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit on the payroll but first, we gotta make sure that The Booty Man is in there instead. This show needed some serious change.

I will say that Savage and Pillman go on to have a hell of a brawl where they just claw at each other, which I think ended up busting up Savage a little bit. Speaking of The Booty Man, he runs down. Who should make the save for the heels but ZEUS and some other big guy. This was Zeus from the No Holds Barred movie with Hulk Hogan and he was back in professional wrestling with the Dungeon of Doom.

The babyfaces then leave the ring. Rather than staying and fighting, these three cowards walk out at the mere presence Zeus and this other guy, which we’ll get to. I loved Zeus’ face which… you could not take seriously but it was cartoon-like and it fit right in! The babyfaces FLED from the ring as Flair calls out Hogan but Savage backs Hogan off as they leave.

Tony Schavione interviews the group of heels. Taskmaster said they’ve upped the ante. Jimmy Hart said Hogan and Savage were Dumb and Dumber. All the heels said some stuff and rambled on. Arn had some statement where he said he was undefeated on Nitro before The Booty Man beat him. I call B.S. on that one based on the fact that Hogan pinned him 3 weeks ago. Now granted, Arn is a heel so his lies would make a bit more sense when you consider that he’s a heel that’s supposed to be delusional. That at least makes sense to me!

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OK, so as for the new two recruits to the heels’ stable. This stable I believe was officially called the Alliance to End Hulkamania. The two guys introduced here were set to face Hogan and Savage at Uncensored. I’ve lost track of all the guys that Hogan and Savage were meant to be fighting at Uncensored. Apparently, Brian Pillman was supposed to be in that match as well but he ends up not showing up. Anyway, the thing with these two are that these would be wrestling their final wrestling matches in their careers on this show.

Believe it or not, Zeus was going by Z-Gangsta in WCW! He wrestled exactly five times in his wrestling career. He wrestled in tag matches against Hulk Hogan for WWF as part of the No Holds Barred movie build. He wrestled this match in WCW. Believe it or not, he wrestled ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER IN 1990. In WWC Puerto Rico, they had a match. This match is on YouTube so I do plan on watching this match! I am a glutton for punishment but I must see this match! Zeus in his prime I guess!

The other guy’s name was Jeep Swenson. As unbelievable as some of you may find this to believe, he was initially called the Final Solution. This was actually the name of Adolf Hitler’s plan in World War 2 to destroy the Jews so, as you could imagine, this caused some complaints so they ended up changing the name. He then became the Ultimate Solution for this match.

Swenson actually passed away a year later with heart failure. He actually had a role as Bane in the also infamous Batman and Robin movie too. These guys were right up Hogan’s street in terms of big, mean dudes for Hogan to conquer. I think this doomsday cage match could turn out to be one of the worst matches I ever watch. If this show is anything to go by or if any of the previous six man tag team matches in recent weeks are anything to guy, this will be nothing short of a disaster. Keep in mind that those matches that came beforehand did not include Z-Gangsta, Ultimate Solution and Lex Luger who would also be in this match.

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The plan is to watch WCW Uncensored in full although I did consider watching just the main-event. However, I am going to watch the PPV and try to stick to watching every PPV as I’ve done before. The real attraction will be this Doomsday Cage match main-event. I will see you with my review of WCW Uncensored 1996.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

 

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #16 (DECEMBER 18TH 1995) – WWF WOMEN’S CHAMPION ALUNDRA BLAYZE DEBUTS ON WCW NITRO

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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The ever confusing WCW World title picture has gotten even more confusing in WCW as of late. WCW announced a triangle match between Sting, Ric Flair and Lex Luger at Starrcade with the winner facing Randy Savage at the end of the night for the WCW title. 2 weeks ago, Savage defended the title against Luger but ended in a disqualification when Hulk Hogan ran down and broke up the pin. Last week, Savage vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan was also booked for Starrcade while Luger claimed himself to be the uncrowned WCW Champion. Then, they randomly announce that Randy Savage is also set to defend the WCW title the next week against The Giant. If that’s not confusing enough….

…the on-going drama with Sting, Lex Luger, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage just kept GOING AND GOING. Sting and Hogan tagged against Ric Flair and Arn Anderson in the main-event of last week’s show. Hogan and Sting bickered, Lex Luger ran down and attacked Hogan, Savage made the save, Sting punched Savage and then they all kissed and made up. The same old storyline with Lex Luger with seemingly no end in sight.

 

Date: December 18th, 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Augusta, Georgia

Rating: 2.7

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

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We kick things off with an infamous WCW angle which was one of the bigger shots fired by WCW at the very start of the Monday Night Wars. The commentators are talking about the show and who should come out but WWF Women’s Champion Alundra Blayze…

….yup, this is THAT segment…

Alundra grabs the mic and cuts a promo. I almost got this down word for word on my notes but this was pretty much her promo for her WCW debut.

“I am Madusa. Always have been Madusa, always will be Madusa. This is the WWF Women’s Championship belt,” says the formerly known as Alundra while Bischoff goes “woah”.

Alundra grabs a trash can conveniently right next to the announce table and drops the title into the trash can.

She proceeds: “And that is what I think of the WWF women’s belt. I am WCW. I used to be called Alundra Blayze but now I’m Madusa. They call this the place where the big boys play. Now it’s the place the big girls play.”

Alundra, now going by Madusa, leaves the booth. Eric Bischoff grabs the title, shows it off… and put its back in the trash can. Then William “The Refrigerator” Perry, NFL star, makes his way to the announce booth to squeeze the hand of Bobby Heenan.

My notes after all of this reads…

“That was it?”

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In hindsight, this was an absolutely atrocious segment. Madusa comes out randomly on the start of Nitro. She cuts a god awful promo. The verbiage was just so wooden but not nearly as wooden as her delivery. She drops the title and she mentions that “that’s what I think of the WWF women’s belt” like the WWF is beneath her. She says that at a time where WCW doesn’t even have a women’s division. I’ve seen exactly two women’s matches since this Nitro series began. It was the same tag team match with the same four people and they both came over from Japanese wrestling promotions. If the WWF women’s division is so bad, what does that say about WCW?

The one thing she had coming in that would have made her like a truly big star in WCW, similar to how Ric Flair showed up on WWF TV with the WCW title, is her parading around with the women’s title. She proclaims herself as the one true champion and tells WCW to make it official, it could lead to a tournament to fight Madusa to see who is the true champion. But no, she doesn’t even have the title and she disregarded the title as meaningless… in a nothing 2 minute segment which was shortly sidetracked by William Perry.

Now maybe I’ll be wrong and this may end up into a great angle similar to what I suggested. Spoiler but we do get a women’s title in WCW and that title is retired in 1997. So my gut is that it wasn’t very successful at all… call it a hunch.

I would also call this unsuccessful on the grounds that the WWF actually filed a lawsuit as a result of this angle!

 

Ric Flair vs Eddie Guerrero

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Remember a month ago or so when they were building Ric Flair vs Eddie Guerrero on Nitro? Eddie was set to face Flair in a match but Flair pulled out and he was replaced with Brian Pillman? All of this time later, we finally get the match… and Eddie Guerrero gets no entrance as Flair makes his way down to the ring.

The fans loved Flair in this one as he played around at the start of the match. In the middle of all of this, they announce RIC FLAIR is getting a WCW title match next week?

OK….

Brief Intermission from the review of this match

So to recap, Lex Luger and The Giant both received WCW title shots in the last couple of weeks. Luger got his title shot a few weeks ago and Giant got his title shot on this episode of Nitro. Luger got a title shot because he beat Savage at World War III right before Savage won the title. The Giant got a title shot because he was the champion but got stripped off the title and never got a one on one singles rematch. FINE. Both those explanations make sense as to why they both got title shots.

Ric Flair?

Obviously, I understand that he is Ric Flair. However, based on his win/loss record since he turned heel again at Halloween Havoc, what on Earth has Ric Flair done to earn a title shot? I don’t even remember the last time he won a match on Nitro. He may have won matches on Saturday Night. However, Flair was in the Starrcade triangle match anyway and now HE’S getting a title shot?

Him and The Giant are both on probation and they’re getting title shots. If you think about it, the one person that has the greatest claim to a title shot nowadays is Hulk Hogan who is also on probation. Hogan has not been mentioned once, at least up until this point. Hulk Hogan unfairly lost the WCW title and he wasn’t even beaten for it. He was never eliminated from the World War III battle royal and Flair and Giant are both getting title shots before him.

I know I’ve made fun of Hogan’s character as just a whiner on this show but if you look at what’s happened, he has every right to be pissed!

…back to the match

In singing Flair’s praises, Bobby Heenan brings up Flair’s a 11 time champion at this point and asks the question of “how many of you humanoids did anything 11 times well?” Eddie dropkicked Ric in the back of the head and Ric did an amazing flop for the sell. Eddie slapped Ric in the face and then styled and profiled himself, to which Flair got proper bugged eyed with fury! The fans actually booed when Eddie did this.

Eddie missed a dropkick and Flair goes a Figure Four Leg Lock but Eddie reverses this into a small package for a near fall. This was turning into a very well paced match that suited Ric’s old school style and Eddie’s ability to adapt to just about any pace of a match. Flair got the heat as he chopped away at Eddie and did some knee drops. Eddie fired back as Eric Bischoff referenced some Mike Tyson fight.

Eddie hit a tornado DDT. Eddie actually managed to pull off a hurricanrana spot with RIC FLAIR of all people. It actually also looked very well executed too. Ric was dizzy and hit the ropes to send Eddie crashing onto the floor. Eddie grabbed his knee and Ric went immediately for the knee. Solid use of ring psychology which shouldn’t come as a surprise when Ric Flair and Eddie Guerrero are both involved.

Ric stomped on Eddie’s leg. Ric locked on the Figure Four as Ric grabbed the ropes for leverage but Eddie refused to give up. Ric slapped at him but Eddie yelled “Noooooo!” Eddie fought and fought and fought and fought but Eddie eventually passed out and Ric PINNED him with a Figure Four.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Flair pin somebody with the Figure Four before! I actually thought this was a clever finish. They got Eddie over as a babyface who refused to give up, even against a 11 time world champion. This was a solid match that told a good story and had an excellent finish and it definitely would have helped Eddie. Whether they follow up on this the right way remains to be seen…

 

Arn joined Ric in the ring as Mean Gene came down as well. Ric went to attack Eddie and Mean Gene yelled him “HEY KNOCK IT OFF, or I’ll cut this interview!” Arn said he respected Paul Orndorff but for every reaction, there’s an opposite or equal reaction. In case you don’t remember what happened last week, the Four Horsemen took out Paul Orndorff with a spike piledriver. Arn said the Horsemen does not put personal achievements above the group and you don’t jump the Horsemen.

Taskmaster ran down and put Arn and Ric over. Mean Gene pointed Ric towards the hard cam like a true professional! Taskmaster was upset that Brian Pillman knocked the Dungeon of Doom during his promo last week. I don’t remember Pillman knocking the Dungeon of Doom unless he’s referring to Pillman taking a shot at the Zodiac. Taskmster said they better put Brian Pillman on a short leash. Ric said no problem but Arn grabbed the mic sand said that if you come looking for Pillman, you mess with the Horsemen. Taskmaster said there are no allegiances in WCW and left.

 

Sgt. Pittman interrupted the announcers now. So that’s THREE times that the announcers have had somebody interrupt them at the booth in one episode. Pittman said he’s been doing a lot of sneaking and peaking and found that Bobby Heenan was one of the best managers of all time. He wanted Bobby to manage him. Bobby said he didn’t manage anymore as he’s a broadcast journalist but Bobby will help him find a manager. Pittman said if he doesn’t get help, he won’t be taking any prisoners.

 

Lex Luger w/Jimmy Hart vs Marcus Alexander Bagwell

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I’m gonna get the positives out of the way regarding this match… at least Lex Luger is getting some wins under his belt all of a sudden and is looking more of a threat. Remember when Luger kept getting beat on Nitro and Hogan made him look weak and the time he lost to Meng? Now he’s on a winning streak…

…that’s about where the positivity ends…

This was a typical Luger match where he gets blown up and does a horrible job with selling. Bagwell got some offense including a monkey flip. Luger got the heat. Bagwell ran wild. Bagwell went for a splash but Lex got the knees up and then hit the powerslam. Luger locked on the torture rack for the win.

That’s pretty much all you need to know.

Mean Gene does an interview with Luger and Jimmy Hart. Jimmy said Luger is the uncrowned champion. Luger said he’s breathless with anticipation… nothing to do with him completely blown up of course. Luger said he’d take the title and said Savage should give up.

 

Pittman and Cobra are set to wrestle each other for what seems like the 100th time as of late and this match is plugged for Saturday Night. How exciting…

 

Sting vs Earl Robert Eaton w/Jeeves

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So right before this match, these announcers have the temerity to plug that Sting was going to be on WCW Saturday Night to do an interview about his friendship with Lex Luger. After MONTHS and MONTHS of this storyline, they wanted you the fans to tune into WCW Saturday Night to watch Sting TALK more about this never-ending storyline.

Eaton started off with a headlock and Sting pushed him off, doing a leapfrog and then pushing Eaton high in the air with his feet.

This was a basic but rather boring match. The fans were bored and did the wave. Sting did a hip-toss which led to Eaton delivering a backbreaker. Eaton missed a top rope knee drop. This led to Sting hitting the Stinger Splash and locking on the Scorpion Deathlock for the win.

Bischoff said Sting is “on a roll like a freight town going down hill”… very much the entire story of WCW’s existence.

So after plugging that we’ve got an interview with Sting on Saturday Night, Mean Gene comes out to do an interview with Sting… ON NITRO. Again, why would I wanna watch WCW Saturday Night on TBS or whatever channel they were on.

Mean Gene said: “Sting, we’ve got to discuss what’s going down at the triangle match at Starrcade.” Sting said he’ll not forget what Flair did to him and “what he did to all of those kids,” referencing the angle where Flair got all of the fans in the ring to get Sting to team with him. Sting said he was upset by Luger not mentioning his name when talking about going through the roster during his earlier promo. Sting says he’s been a five time WCW Champion and he wants to be the six time champion.

 

Randy Savage (c) vs The Giant w/Taskmaster and Jimmy Hart for the WCW Championship

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Bischoff reminds us that Randy Savage has an injured arm which, if you’ll recall, Hogan basically claimed was fake news during World War III. So I guess, in WCW storyline, Savage is ACTUALLY injured… well he’s actually injured in real life in 1995 but now they’re properly acknowledging it.

Savage starts with the ill-advised tactic of jumping onto The Giant’s back to choke him out. Giant stumbles around the ring to fight it but Giant slams him down. Giant goes to work and locks on a bearhug. Giant tries a chokeslam but Savage rakes him in the eyes. Savage tries multiple clotheslines to take the challenge down but Giant catches him, carries him around “like a child” according to Bischoff and delivers a backbreaker. It was actually a well done spot.

The Giant misses a splash and Savage counters with an elbow drop but The Giant flings Savage in the air as a kick out. The Giant actually unleashes a dropkick during this match. The Giant tries a suplex on the floor but Savage somehow grabs the rope to avoid being slammed onto the floor. How they pulled off this spot so well is beyond me. I’ve never seen a spot like this.

Here is the Armbar Express’ Geek Of The Week sponsored by the Filthy Four Daily show from Figure Four Online! Bryan Alvarez would be proud of this one. The Giant hits a chokeslam and wastes his god damn time posing. Nobody, to my knowledge, has kicked out of this chokeslam yet. He poses and poses during a World Heayvweight Championship match. Giant does a leg drop and then Hogan runs in to hit Giant with a chair for the DQ. The Giant came off like a complete idiot.

I probably should have awarded “Geek of the Week” if you will to Randy Savage since, yet again, Savage is saved from losing the title because of Hulk Hogan running down to cause a DQ. He’s never been able to defend the title by himself yet.

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So Hogan goes crazy. He whacks the referees with a chair, attacks some kinda official as well. I have no idea who he was but Hogan laid him out too. Hogan attacks Giant, attacks Taskmaster. Fans are going CRAZY FOR THIS by the way as this is going on. Mongo and William Perry try to calm Hogan down. Hogan then goes into the ring to check on Savage. The fans chant Hogan, Hogan, Hogan. This was actually a very well done segment, other than burying Savage as the champion, that got a lot of positive reaction from the crowd. They loved Hogan going crazy. A complete 180 from last week’s show where Charlotte, North Carolina booed Hogan out of the building!

Mean Gene interviewed Hogan and Savage. Mean Gene said Hogan risked the chance of being suspended. The Giant tries to get down of the ring again as Taskmaster and two security guard are able to pull The Giant away. Hogan takes a massive swing at the head of Giant, Taskmasker and a security guard. The heels flee. Hogan said he’s sick of this probation. Hogan says Savage owes Hogan a title shot. Hogan says he knows Savage can beat Ric. Savage says he has to get past Starrcade. Savage says right after we’ll get that match the world has been waiting for in Hogan vs Savage. Hogan I think said he has respect for the NFL players in the football field. He says don’t try to step onto their turf, they will get laid out. Savage and Hogan celebrate with Hogan’s music.

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So I’m not sure what to make of this. So right after all of these matches, title shots and Starrcade main-events are set up, then Hogan gets a title shot after Starrcade, This does not help with the build to Starrcade at all. This makes Hogan’s title shot seem way more important than the triangle match and the title shot at Starrcade. If that’s the case, why should I care about Starrcade? They’re just starting too many fires or potential storylines and not focusing on the PPV in front of them. And on top of all of this, Flair is getting a title shot next week?

Now, I haven’t looked at the results for next week’s show. I don’t know who wins and loses this match but it did seem weird to me that Flair of all people is getting a title shot. Luger and Giant had legitimate claims to a title shot. Flair does not. So either Flair is being fed to Savage in order for Savage to get a legitimate title defence under his belt or… they’re putting the belt on Flair next week because Savage is injured.

Or maybe it’ll end in a disqualificaiton…

 

That was my Nitro review. Bland in part but one of the more excitable Nitros as of late. Eddie vs Flair was good and the closing segment with Hogan going crazy was good. I still think the Starrcade build is pretty poor but they do have one more week before Starrcade so maybe next week will turn things around.

Stay tuned for our review of next week’s show where Ric Flair is the next man to challenge Randy Savage for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship!

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

How I Would Book… Who Ran Over Stone Cold?

SPOILER ALERT from fifteen years ago, but I think it’s a safe bet to assume that nearly every wrestling fan on earth knows that Rikishi ran over Stone Cold with a car. Even if you were not watching wrestling during the attitude era, the WWE have referenced the storyline several times on WWE YouTube videos, the WWE Network and even on episodes of RAW and SmackDown! Many fans and wrestling experts over the years have criticised the WWF’s decision to have Rikishi be behind the attempted murder of the top wrestler in the company. With that said, are there many other solutions that would have been better than Rikishi? Could I have booked the “Who Ran Over Stone Cold” storyline better than WWE? Well, let’s find out!

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Before we dive into the analysis of Rikishi as the culprit, let’s run down the storyline itself from Survivor Series 1999 to Survivor Series 2000.

Stone Cold Steve Austin had been embroiled in a triple threat WWF Championship feud with the champion Triple H and The Rock. A triple threat match was promoted for Survivor Series 1999 and a triple threat match was ended up what we got. Unfortunately, it did not include the Texas Rattlesnake. Triple H provoked Austin during a backstage interview before the match. This led Austin towards the parking lot, where he was ran down by an unidentified assailant.

Austin was sidelined for nearly a year, to take care of actually injuries that he was working with at the time. He returned at Backlash 2000 for a one-off appearance to help The Rock against Triple H and made his full return to the WWF at Unforgiven 2000. He was on a quest to track down the man who had ran him over, even not pressing charges as a means to lure the man out. Austin’s methods of tracking down the attempted killer included interfering in several matches, getting on the bad side of Commissioner Mick Foley. Foley suspended Austin, conducting his own investigation into the crime.

After major suspects like Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Kurt Angle and The Rock were called out, Foley eventually got to the bottom of the case. Stone Cold Steve Austin was actually ran over… by Rikishi.

Rikishi, who had not appeared on WWF television yet when Austin was ran down, admitted to the crime. He claimed that he did it for The Rock, as the WWF had been keeping down Samoans like himself and The Rock for years. Austin was getting in the way of The Rock’s success, leading to Rikishi doing what he did. This led to Austin getting his revenge on Rikishi, destroying the big man in a No Holds Barred match and then trying to hit RIKISHI with a truck.

The plot thickened for the Austin mystery, as it would later be revealed that Triple H was secretly the one that had orchestrated the hit-and-run and put Rikishi up to do it.

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The biggest problem with the official solution is that it almost seemed like the culprit was too random to be a legitimate suspect. Mick Foley even mentioned it during the reveal that Rikishi wasn’t even in the WWF at the time of the hit-and-run. Therefore, it’s likely to assume that the WWF had no idea who the suspect would end up being when they shot the angle. Rikishi’s initial reasoning  for running down Austin seemed very out-of-place, as it didn’t seem enough of a justification to explain Rikishi going after Austin. Rikishi wanting to help out The Rock could be viable but the whole Samoans being held down story had nothing to do with Austin. Yeah, Austin is one of the most successful wrestlers of all time and is a 100% American. However, it’d still seem odd that Rikishi would resort to murder because of this.

Now obviously, Triple H being thrown in as the mastermind behind of the whole thing did sort of write out this explanation a little. Rikishi still could have theoretically felt how he did about The Rock and the Samoan lineage, but Triple H does give Rikishi more of a valid reason for running down Austin. After all, Triple H was the one that led Austin out into the parking lot and hated his guts. Him getting Rikishi to run down Austin makes a lot more sense than Rikishi doing it for his Samoan lineage.

While Triple H being the mastermind does involve someone that was a big part of the story at the time of the attack, Rikishi played no part in the story at all. Rikishi was a joyful babyface that got over with his dance moves more than his ruthless aggression. There seemed to be no hint of Rikishi possibly having a dark side to him, so him all of a sudden being an attempted murder does seem a bit unfathomable. It’s actually funny when watching back Rikishi’s run ins with Triple H and the McMahon-Helmsley regime in 2000. Rikishi feuded with Triple H, and even faced him for the WWF Championship one time, while secretly having conspired with him to commit attempted murder! Then again, Rikishi running down Austin would explain why Triple H would give Rikishi a title shot in the first place. I guess that was Rikishi’s grand reward.

In a way, Rikishi being the culprit was good for attempting to get over the next big star in WWE. Rikishi did get elevated as a main-event heel but ultimately ended up flopping in that role. Sticking your backside in people’s faces doesn’t exactly come off as an evil thing to do. Considering it’s Rikishi’s rear end though, I guess it kind of is! Rikishi really didn’t work as a badass, monster heel and quickly turned back into a babyface just before the Invasion angle kicked off.

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When coming up with an alternative solution, we need to think of people that not only were relevant to the story but were also strong enough to be able to work as a top heel. As much as someone like Kurt Angle being the culprit would make sense, as he would have been someone that would gain from Austin being out of the picture, he would have no real motivation other than that. It’s not like he would have met Austin at the time, as he made his in-ring debut at Survivor Series 1999 itself. As much as fans would believe this to be a fitting irony-pleasing solution, Angle doesn’t work in this role for me.

Then you’ve got to think about the other big culprits that were highlighted as the two prime suspects by Mick Foley. Triple H would have been too obvious of a culprit, even though he wounded up being written into the official solution anyway. Right after Austin was ran down, Vince McMahon immediately accused Triple H and D-Generation X of committing the crime. Him being the culprit would be rather anti-climatic.

The Rock, on the other hand, became the top babyface when Austin wasn’t around. As outlined by Mick Foley, The Rock (as well as Triple H) had the most to gain from Austin being out of the picture. At the time of Austin’s return, The Rock was the WWF Champion. Being the top babyface, his popularity rose to new heights. With The Rock being suspected so heavily leading into the official solution, him also being the suspect would be another anti-climatic reveal. Another reason for the Brahma Bull not being culprit is that the WWF would be passing up on some serious merch sales with The Rock now being viewed as a villain.

Really, we’re looking for someone that you’d least suspect. Someone that had been shown to be sinister enough to pull off devious acts like this in the past. We’re looking for someone that would do something as a means to fulfil a much grander master plan. Who would fill this role? Why it is someone that did feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin in 1999. It is someone that wasn’t actually there at Survivor Series 1999 and was unaccounted for. It was someone that has a history for making his foes rest in peace. The man that should have been the culprit was… the Undertaker.

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This may be a tough pill to swallow. The Undertaker did only come back as a babyface American Badass in May 2000. It would be somewhat of a letdown to see this new babyface run down our beloved Stone Cold. Then again, considering Undertaker would turn heel just a year later anyway, I think we can work a turn into this angle without hurting the Undertaker.

If you think about it, Undertaker is one of the rare people in the Attitude Era that would actually resort to murder so casually. He’s set his brother on fire repeatedly and even hanged Big Boss Man following their WrestleMania 15 Hell in a Cell match. Heck, he’s even faced Steve Austin in a Buried Alive match. I think it’s safe to say that he’d be willing to run over Austin with a corner.

The biggest issue with this is simple, and it’s actually what Kurt Angle mentioned on an edition of SmackDown! when HE was accused of running over Austin. One of the biggest parts of a murder mystery is motive. What’s the Undertaker’s motive? Why would he turn his attentions to Steve Austin? Well I have a question for you in response… why does the culprit’s motivation have to necessarily be focused at the victim? Obviously, some sort of disdain has to be present in order to consider attempting murder and Taker did feud with Austin that same year. However, what if Undertaker’s motivation was not to solely eliminate AUSTIN from the equation. While taking out Steve Austin was an added bonus, Undertaker’s real end-game was to mess with the man that had forced him to leave the WWF. Undertaker’s real end-game was in fact to remove Mr McMahon from power.

In September 1999, Undertaker “left” the WWF after refusing to take part in a Casket match with Triple H. Mr McMahon threatened to take away Undertaker’s spot in the WWF title match at Unforgiven, leading to the Undertaker walking out of the company. Jim Ross specifically stated when Undertaker made his return at Judgement Day 2000 that he was “going after McMahon” when challenging the Faction. Clearly, some hostility still exists between the two men. After all, McMahon losing power in the WWF in 1999 led to the Undertaker losing the WWF Championship and never gaining an opportunity to get it back. This could have been Undertaker’s ultimate revenge, especially after blindly following Vince’s orders when he was the “higher power” of the Corporate Ministry.

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Picture it like this. Mr McMahon was the first one shown to be outraged after Austin was run over… other than Jim Ross I guess. McMahon lashes out at DX following the incident. Knowing how much McMahon hated Triple H at the time and with Triple H’s title match with two other men coming up later that night, obviously Vince would come to the conclusion that DX was behind it. This is the Undertaker being the puppet-master, pulling McMahon’s strings by taking out one of the competitors in the running to dethrone Triple H as WWF Champion. In response, McMahon inserts the Big Show into the WWF Championship match and Big Show wins the title because of Vince. Just prior to his departure from the WWF, Undertaker had been teaming with the Big Show as part of an unholy alliance. It makes perfect sense that Taker would reward Big Show by manipulating events in order to get the title on the big man.

From behind the scenes, Undertaker is causing dysfunction within the McMahon family. Let’s start of with Stephanie, who turned on her dad and aligned with Triple H at Armageddon. Undertaker was the one that had abducted Stephanie, following the orders of Mr McMahon. Little work needed to be done on Taker’s end, with Mr McMahon having pushed Triple H’s buttons by costing him the championship at Survivor Series. McMahon made things personal with Triple H, so Triple H retaliated. Of course, Triple H hatches a master plan with Stephanie. Stephanie wanted to get revenge at her father for the abduction plan from before so she went with the man that Mr McMahon hated the most. Vince is being torn apart as daddy’s little girl has been taken away from him by the enemy.

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Shane and Linda would also get involved, leading to the WrestleMania 2000 fatal four way match with the McMahons in every corner. McMahon would be emotionally torn by having to compete with three members of his family. Not a lot can be said about the Undertaker during this period as he really can’t do much else to mess with McMahon until he comes back. Why not have McMahon regain control with Triple H and Stephanie? If he’s in charge by the time Undertaker comes back, Undertaker can be there to personally remove him from power again. At Judgement Day, his crusade with McMahon begins. He attacks him and the McMahon-Helmsley regime during the big Triple H/Rock Iron Man match. His main intentions when he comes back is to fight the regime, oust McMahon from power and win the WWF Championship. At King Of The Ring, The Rock wins the WWF Championship instead of him during a big six man tag team match but it’s not too much of a loss as at least the regime didn’t win. Undertaker will get back at The Rock, which I will get to later.

Following King Of The Ring, Vince left to become a “genetic jackhammer” while Mick Foley took over. It would have been better to say that the beatings from Undertaker, Rock etc. would force him to leave but as long as McMahon is gone. Now Undertaker can try to win back some gold. He does this initially by going after the tag team titles with Kane and then feuding with his brother. Not a lot happens for the Undertaker at this point, but he does get involved in the WWF title picture at Unforgiven 2000. How ironic, considering that he was initially barred by Mr McMahon from getting a title shot at Unforgiven last year. Here’s where I would change things up. Instead of Undertaker failing to win the championship, he wins the title in a fatal four way match also involving the champion Rock, Kane and Chris Benoit. On the very same night that Taker wins the title, Austin makes his return to WWF.

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Austin coming back is an unexpected and unwanted situation for the Undertaker. With his title reign only just getting started, Mick Foley and Austin beginning their investigations, and The Rock getting his rematch at No Mercy, how does the Undertaker turn the attention and suspicion away from himself? Why simple. Turn The Rock and Austin against each other. It is suddenly played up by Undertaker and a number of other wrestlers about how The Rock had to most to gain from Austin being ran over. This builds up all the way to No Mercy, where The Rock challenges Undertaker for the WWF Championship. Austin was initially suspended by Mick Foley, but Foley reinstates Austin after getting an anonymous tip that the culprit would reveal himself at the pay-per-view.

Up until the main event, we get no word from the culprit. Nobody comes clean. Ausitn doesn’t hear anything. Then the main-event comes around, with Austin coming down and going crazy. He pulls the referee out of the ring and grabs a chair. He sees and targets Taker, going for a chair shot but accidentally nailing The Rock. Undertaker then hits Austin with a chokeslam. Undertaker takes advantages and retains the title when the referee awakes. Undertaker then picks up a chair and unleashes hell on Austin and The Rock. Undertaker grabs the mic and laughs. He then asks the question of who had the most to gain from Austin being run over. He simply replies by saying “me” and that Austin’s search was over. Undertaker was the one that ran over Austin.

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Austin initially challenges Taker for the title at Survivor Series 2000, with it ending in a no contest after Austin takes out Taker in a similar fashion to Triple H in real life. Undertaker retains the title at Armageddon 2000. Then Mick Foley resigns as Commissioner which changes everything. Undertaker would have mentioned in an explanation that he did what he did to remove Austin and McMahon out of the equation and win the WWF title. Now Vince is back and in charge. Therefore, McMahon is going to make Undertaker pay. Undertaker vs The Rock is booked for Royal Rumble, with Vince’s reasoning being to make amends with The Rock after Vince turned on him at WrestleMania 2000. Sure. Whatever works. Undertaker loses the championship following interference from Stone Cold. Stone Cold wins the Royal Rumble itself, leading to No Way Out. Instead of Triple H, Undertaker is the one that faces and beats Stone Cold in a three stages of hell match.

That effectively is when the storyline ends. However, with Steve Austin and Mr McMahon’s alliance after WrestleMania 17, there is a lot more potential with the dynamic of Undertaker, McMahon and Austin. Imagine Stone Cold Steve Austin working with the boss to take out the man that tried to kill him. You could do the Power Trip angle if you’d like, having Undertaker and Kane battle Austin and Triple H. This could also add a lot to the Invasion angle, especially when it comes to Austin and Taker. You could have Austin and Taker initially not trust each and then eventually bury the hatchet (well bury the hatchet as much as you could, considering Taker tried to kill the man). Alternatively, you could have Austin join the Alliance and led the group against the WWF led by the Undertaker. The possibilities are endless.

Or if you’d prefer for the storyline to finish at WrestleMania 17, simply have Undertaker hold the championship all the way to WrestleMania. Austin wins the Rumble and Undertaker is the WWF Champion. This leads to the ultimate showdown in Texas between Austin and the man that ran him over more than a year ago. In the ultimate act of revenge for Undertaker running him over, Austin makes a deal with the devil himself Vince McMahon. McMahon was manipulated by Undertaker for so long, so Vince helped Austin DEFEAT the Undertaker at WrestleMania. The streak and Undertaker’s title reign is ended by Stone Cold Steve Austin.

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That about wraps up this edition of How I Would Book. I have to admit, this one was rather fun to write. I’d seen many different solutions but after thinking of a number of different options, Undertaker being the mastermind actually fits in with the storyline well. I’d love to hear of any other alternative solutions from fans so feel free to leave a comment or tweet me @TomRobinson5199. Don’t just do it for me. Do it… for The Rock. Thanks for reading everyone.

Have any suggestions for a How I Would Book? Simply tweet me at either @ArmbarExpress or @TomRobinson5199 on Twitter with your suggestions. Do also check out the rest of the content on my blog. I do a lot of other cool fantasy booking blog posts with my playthroughs of fantasy booking game Extreme Warfare Revenge. And there’s all sorts of other wrestling content as well. You never know, you might just like what you see!

 

EXTREME WARFARE REVENGE: Random Moment – Rob Van Dam On Dan Severn

This was something class that made me laugh looking back! Basically in an old WWF game I did, Rob Van Dam had to work Dan Severn on an episode of RAW. Sadly, Van Dam didn’t take too kindly to former WWF star and UFC fighter Dan Severn working to stiff!

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Hehe! There’s gonna be some backstage heat on that blue chipper Dan Severn!

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So yeah! A bit of an update. EWR content coming soon! Watch this space!

Follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter!

EXTREME WARFARE REVENGE: WCW 1998 PART 5 – UNCENSORED

Previously on WCW EWR….

Raven finally fulfilled his prophecy and defeated Sting to become the NEW WCW World Heavyweight Champion at Superbrawl. But he didn’t do it alone… he had the help of Sting’s arch-nemesis from a couple of months ago the “Macho Man” Randy Savage. This dawned a new era in WCW as Savage, his manager Sable and The Big Bossman joined forces with Raven and Public Enemy to form the Exiles!

Benoit and Jericho retained the United States and TV Championships respectively. The Outsiders FINALLY won the feud involving themselves, WCW President Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. The Steiners turned heel and began feuding with Rey Mysterio and Rob Van Dam. The Guerreros started feuding with each other to determine who was the best Guerrero. Hogan beat DDP at the PPV while Mutoh def. Roddy Piper…

 

 

SO… UNCENSORED!

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Pre-Show – The Big Bossman and Perry Saturn def. Chris Benoit and Jushin Thunder Liger

As much as I’d hate to put my United States Champion in the pre-show, Benoit at this time never had a feud. He had just wrapped up his feud with Randy Savage (which he won) and Savage was feuding with DDP. So I figured why not team him with Jushin Thunder Liger (who, as you know, has history with Benoit on my game) and put them against two members of the Exiles. The Big Bossman (who started off as the bodyguard of Savage) and Perry Saturn, who I had just resigned after firing him and put him with the group. Saturn got the victory in this pre-show and he and Bossman gained overness which is good news for the stable. For those of you unsure about where this leaves Benoit, don’t worry. Big plans were in place for him…

 

Match 1 – The Steiners def. Rey Mysterio and Rob Van Dam, and the nWo’s Curt Hennig and Bam Bam Bigelow to become the number one contenders for the WCW Tag Team Championship

The Steiners and RVD/Mysterio both continued to give me good ratings for their feud and I figured why not shot in another team in there and make it a three-way match at Uncensored? Bam Bam and Hennig had become a tag team within the nWo so they were selected. I decided to make this for a WCW Tag Title shot and the Steiners went over on RVD/Mysterio because they’re feuding. Also, RVD/Mysterio beat the Steiners at our last PPV, so I had to give the Steiners the win here. They never won the tag titles though when they had their title shot on Nitro…

 

Match 2 – Eddie Guerrero def. Chavo Guerrero in a Falls Count Anywhere match

The ending to the feud between the Guerreros. After months of costing each other matches and trying to prove their superiority, these two finally settled things once and for all at Uncensored. Eddie got the win and had a HUGE feud coming his way! This match got 100% match quality which I was thrilled with but I kinda wanted a higher overall… 😦

 

Match 3 – Keiji Mutoh def. Rowdy Roddy Piper

I don’t remember this being the feud-ending match, and I think I ended it a couple of weeks later on Nitro. Either way, Mutoh still won the match and the feud. I didn’t really give Piper any big wins in this feud but I really wanted Mutoh and his faction to go over.

 

Match 4  – The Outsiders (c) def. Big Show and Booker T in a Cage Match to retain the WCW Tag Team Championship

The end to a very short feud which started right after The Outsiders beat Flair and Anderson at Superbrawl. Being the two biggest faces available for a feud, Show and Booker were put together for a short but good feud for the tag titles. These two had tagged before so it made sense. However, they were never going to win the belts or the feud. The Outsiders retained but these teams gave me some surprisingly good ratings in the feud.

 

Match 5 – Diamond Dallas Page def. Randy Savage

So yeah, this feud was a very successful one. This was the first one-on-one match of the feud between the Exiles’ Savage and DDP. DDP got the win CLEANLY in the match between the two which kept DDP’s overness up after he lost the feud to Hollywood Hogan. By the way, I legitimately tried to have DDP go over in the feud with Hogan but Hogan’s Creative Control messed up those plans. So I made it up to DDP by giving him the first win in the feud with Savage. Joint-second highest rating of the show for this match and things only got better from here!

 

Match 6 – Hollywood Hogan def. Ric Flair (If Ric Flair won, the nWo would disband. If Hollywood Hogan won, Ric Flair would be removed as WCW President)

This was a high-stakes match as the Hogan/Flair feud began. WCW President Ric Flair was on a crusade to end the nWo and had been feuding with the Outsiders before this. Hogan took a stand against Flair by attacking him the Nitro after Superbrawl. Flair responded by firing Hogan, but Hogan was brought back by Eric Bischoff. Hogan and Flair fought at Uncensored with big stakes. If Flair won, the nWo would be history. If Hogan won, Flair was done as WCW President. Hogan won the match after interference from Bischoff, who took charge of the show after Flair’s dismissal. However, Flair was nowhere near done with Hogan and Bischoff…

 

Match 7 – Chris Jericho (c) def. Bret Hart via disqualification to retain the WCW Television Championship

If Screwjob was an option in this game, I would have ended this match like that. Here’s the situation. I wanted Jericho to win the feud tonight but I didn’t want Bret to lose overness by losing clean. I had done Jericho retaining the title by interferences, count outs etc so many times. So I decided to have Bret Hart get DQ’d by the referee after hitting Jericho with the belt. Bret would get pissed and be like “THIS IS BULLSHIT!” and proceed to attack the referee. This would be the last match in the feud and it ended with a bang… 95% OVERALL! 100% MATCH QUALITY! I think it’s safe to say this feud was a success because both Bret and Jericho had 100% overness after it!

 

Match 8 – Raven (c) def. Sting in a Last Man Standing match to retain the WCW World Championship

This was the highly-anticipated rematch between former champion Sting and the reigning champion and Exiles leader Raven for the WCW Title. These two ended their feud here and I wanted them to go all out with some kinda screwy finish in which Raven retained. I know I’ve done a number of interferences in this card but this one needed an interference. I was going to have Savage interfere, but he had already interfered in the Superbrawl match. So I instead made a major swerve… I had Eddie Guerrero interfere! Eddie was highly-over at this point and he had wrapped up his feud with Chavo. So why not have him target Sting? Eddie wasn’t going to be joining the Exiles, but him and Sting was going to be fun to watch!

88% overall and this PPV might have been my highest PPV at that point. Fun fact. We were competing against Wrestlemania on the same day and we WON the buy-rate wars! Uncensored beat the WWF’s flagship PPV! HAHA!

Uncensored ended a bunch of feuds and we had a couple of exciting feuds on the way and some title changes at our next PPV, which I believe was Spring Stampede! So stay tuned!