Monday Nitro #32
Date: April 22, 1996
Location: Albany Civic Center, Albany, New York
Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan, Steve McMichael
Well after last week’s horrible show we’re back with a very similar card. However on this one we have Benoit vs. Guerrero so this should be better already. The main event is the same though with Flair/Giant challenging Sting/Luger for the tag titles. Apparently if Flair gets pinned tonight he loses the world title to the pinner and if Luger gets pinned he loses the tag and TV Titles. Interesting I guess. Let’s get to it.
McMichael’s dog has the glasses where the eyes are on springs. Oh my aching head.
Public Enemy vs. American Males
Bischoff gives away the results of Raw which is always an interesting thing to see. Also of course next week would be a taped Nitro but who cares? Public Enemy puts a table up at ringside pre-match. Bagwell is going to be in a movie apparently. I wonder if it’s hard or soft. We actually talk about Slamboree a bit which is a first I believe. The Males clear the ring and hits some decent dives to further their advantage.
We talk about Brian Pillman who has been in a car wreck, which is what kind of led to his death. Grunge vs. Riggs is the official starting match. Dropkick puts Grunge on the floor and a double dropkick puts Rocco down for no cover. Off to Bagwell for all of four seconds and a wristlock before Riggs comes back in. Grunge vs. Bagwell again with Grunge choking away.
Now Rocco in with a Lionsault for two. These teams are tagging in and out very quickly. After a brief beatdown, Bagwell gets a cross body out of the corner for two. This hasn’t been much of a match at all. Swanton Bomb (kind of) by Rocco misses and it’s time for Riggs to come in. He and Grunge come in at the same time and Riggs gets a forearm for two. Everything breaks down and Public Enemy throws Riggs over the top which is a DQ this week so that’s it. Egads.
Rating: F. The match was boring and then the ending made it even worse. This company changed the rules for over the top every week and here it happened to be a DQ. It’s a weak DQ and a cheap ending to give Public Enemy the loss. If you want a DQ then let the hardcore crazy people be hardcore and crazy. Not that hard.
Bagwell goes through a table post match.
We get the first round draw for Lethal Lottery at Slamboree. Hooters Girls help out here for some reason. This is “random” mind you.
Barbarian/Bobby Walker vs. Meng/Hugh Morrus
Big Bubba/Stevie Ray vs. Fire and Ice (yes a regular team was “randomly” drawn. That’s the second one drawn)
Ric Flair/Randy Savage vs. Arn Anderson/Eddie Guerrero (awesome pairings there)
Slamboree sucked if you didn’t get that.
Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero
Benoit charges him into the corner and taps him on the jaw like a little boy. Eddie, ever the showman, does exactly the same thing. Benoit hits the floor and Eddie teases a big dive so Benoit backs off. Smart psychopath. Back in the ring for some nice technical stuff as you would expect. Benoit hits a chinlock and we take a break. Back and we’re still in the chinlock which is always a weird thing to see. Bischoff swears it’s live so it’s hard to say.
We hear about the Cruiserweight Title tournament which is mainly happening in Japan (allegedly) because WCW wasn’t that smart. Belly to back by Eddie gets him out of the hold, only for a suplex to hit him for two also. Apparently Savage is being restrained in the back by cops. They slug it out as we talk about Savage some more. Eddie is sent to the floor and comes back in with a top rope rana for two. In the corner Eddie tries a sunset flip but Benoit kneels down on it and grabs the ropes for the pin.
Rating: C+. Well they had better ones, that’s for sure. Not a bad match and the lack of time due to the commercial hurt it a lot. The only think I can say here isn’t Benoit vs. Guerrero. I don’t think they’re capable of having a bad match so what were you really expecting here?
Some WCW suit comes out and says Savage needs to play nice. Savage gets in his face and says something about blowing up city hall. The suit says get a therapist. This was, in a word, pointless.
Meng vs. Jim Duggan
Apparently in the main event partners can pin partners. Oh dear. After a break before the match, Meng is on the floor hiding a bit. Back in and Duggan hammers away, only to have Meng run away again. Dude, Meng used to be a monster and unstoppable and now he’s running from Jim Duggan who punches him in the head. I give up. Duggan hammers him down and Meng goes to the floor again.
Bischoff runs down the WWF results again as Heenan FREAKS over the idea of Flair having the world, tag and TV titles. Bischoff talks about Hogan for no apparent reason as they’re really trying not to talk about this all punches all the time match. Duggan starts no selling until Meng finally beats him down a bit. Now Meng’s head hardens about 10 times in the middle of the match and we hit the nerve hold.
Duggan fights up and we go right back to the nerve hold. This is basically turning into a match by who wants to sell less. Duggan hammers away as Meng gets back up. Three Point Clothesline misses and Meng pounds even more. Big boot gets two for the Tongan and Duggan hits the floor to wrap his hand up in tape. A shot with that is enough to get the pin.
Rating: D. I wanted to hate this but there’s something kind of fun about two big guys just hammering away on each other until one goes down. It’s a horrible match and the selling is laughable but there’s something kind of fun about it for some weird reason. I think you’d have to see it to get the appeal.
More Slamboree stuff.
Dick Slater/Robert Eaton vs. Disco Inferno/Alex Wright
Steven Regal/Belfast Bruiser vs. VK Wallstreet/Jim Duggan
Yes, there were two regular teams, two teams of people that hated each other, and other opposite pairings. And this was legitimately said to be random. I have no idea how to respond to that but it’s great.
TV Title/Tag Titles/World Title: Ric Flair/The Giant vs. Sting/Lex Luger
All titles on the line, whoever is pinned loses the title to whomever. Flair is world champion, Luger is TV champion, Sting/Luger are tag champions. Flair hits on Debra one more time. Savage pops up to chase after Flair but gets arrested of course. Sting and Giant start us off. Apparently Giant has been offered a tryout with the Detroit Lions. Not a bad idea actually.
Luger and Sting double up to clear the ring and the challengers take a breather. Back to Luger vs. Flair as Luger shows off his arms. Luger takes over with clotheslines and it’s Flair Flop time. Sting vs. Giant is announced in a grudge match which hasn’t really been a grudge. Off to Sting who has his usual good mini match with Flair.
Slam off the top sends Flair flying. Superplex sends Flair out to the floor again as a kid that is maybe 8 wants to punch him. Stinger Splash against the railing misses though (of course. You would think he’d learn after awhile) and it’s off to Sting vs. Giant again. Why in the world would Flair want to be in the room against Sting? Have Giant go in there to try to win the tag titles and don’t run the risk of losing the world title.
Mini-hot tag to Luger who cleans house. Giant grabs him for a chokeslam but Sting comes off the top with a chop block. Giant still has the grip on Luger so Sting hammers away which FINALLY breaks the grip. Woman slips hot coffee to Flair again and it goes into Giant’s eyes for the CHEAP DQ.
Rating: D+. I hate matches like these where the whole thing is set up and they use a back door to avoid having to do something major. Not a horrible match but I hate the ending which is going to drive me crazy in the coming year. Also having the same ending two weeks in a row is just lazy booking.
Flair begs off Giant as Gene comes in for a chat with the big man. Giant wants the title and Flair says apologize or else. The Giant goes after him and the champion bails.
The announcers say the title match is on for next week and talk a lot to wrap things up.
Overall Rating: F+. Other than Eddie vs. Benoit, this was awful. It was incredibly clear that they had no clue what they were doing from week to week. Thank goodness some things would change the next week and then about five weeks from here everything would change forever. Terrible show and quite possibly the worst in the entire series to date. That would of course get shattered later, but this was pretty bad.
Monday Nitro #33
Date: April 29, 1996
Location: Albany Civic Center, Albany, New York
Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve McMichael, Bobby Heenan
We’re taped here so I better not hear Bischoff say this is a live one at all. Anyway tonight we’re finally getting closer to the arrival of Hall (May 27) and Slamboree (May 19) and also we have an important moment which we’ll get to later in the show. The main event is Flair vs. Giant for the title. Let’s get to it.
The announcers run down the show and this is also the show with Finlay vs. Regal in the parking lot which is a rather well known brawl.
Tag Titles: Sting/Lex Luger vs. Harlem Heat
I guess this is the title match Harlem Heat got at Uncensored. And never mind as this is a rematch from Saturday Night. They wait for a bit before they get started officially with Sting vs. Booker thank goodness. Sting takes him down and actually hits his big elbow. Double tag brings in Stevie to hammer on Luger as we talk about Slamboree over and over again.
The champs (Luger and Sting if you didn’t get that) change again as do the challengers. Sting pretends to play Ricky Morton for a bit but it’s Booker in trouble as we take a break. Back with Sting fighting out of a chinlock but Booker takes him down again. Unnamed Spinarooni sets up a side kick to put Sting down. Off to Stevie who hits a bicycle kick for no cover.
Both guys go down as we talk about Slamboree (show SUCKED) even more. Hot tag to Luger who comes in and beats up Stevie and Booker with relative ease. Everything breaks down and Luger gets caught in a powerbomb/top rope elbow combo. Jimmy Hart comes in to try to throw in the towel but it’s not accepted. The distraction lets Sting grab a rollup for the pin.
Rating: C. Just a TV tag match here and the Hart interference was kind of odd here. Apparently they did something similar on Saturday Night but since I’m not watching that show that doesn’t help me here. That’s one thing WWF has always gotten right: they always update stuff every show and it makes things far easier to keep track of.
Steiner Brothers vs. Fire and Ice
Scott Norton and Ice Train in case you’re not familiar. Rick vs. Ice Train to start us off. Rick is tentative to start and gets caught in a big old powerslam. He wakes up a bit and hits a big German suplex to bring in Scott. Uh make that both Scotts come in. Norton gets caught in a belly to belly as this is a physical match. Scott Steiner jumps off the top but gets caught in midair in a slam by Norton. Rick comes in and Norton no sells an elbow to bring in Train. Everything breaks down and Rick gets a Steiner Line to Train to end it. Far better than it sounds.
Rating: C+. This was a nice hard hitting and physical match with Fire and Ice working rather well. Not a great match or anything as it didn’t even run 3:30 but for a TV match this was fast paced enough to make things fun and give us a decent little show. Fire and Ice went nowhere of course but the Steiners were always awesome.
Here’s Flair to say he’s not afraid of Giant because he has women with him. Ok then. The women praise the champ a bit and that’s it.
Belfast Brawler vs. Steven Regal
This is joined in progress and is in the parking lot with a circle of cars around them. It’s a rematch from Uncensored and they fight over a cinder block. A bumper comes off a car and it goes into Regal’s stomach. Very stiff shots here. It’s so weird to see Regal being all young and flexible. Finlay gets choked by a seatbelt and Regal does as well.
I know this probably sounds commonplace by today’s standards but this was unheard of at the time. It helps that it’s a very stiff fight also and feels more like a street fight than a match called a street fight. Finlay goes through a windshield and the throw punches until Regal grabs a bumper. Tombstone (Finlay’s finisher) on the concrete doesn’t work so Regal tries a Piledriver of his own on the car. They’re on a wide shot here as Regal manages to get the Piledriver on the hood for the pin. Brain: “He’s out of gas!”
Rating: B. Like I said by today’s standards this isn’t a great match but for its time this was awesome stuff. They were pounding on each other out there and it made people want to watch WCW and find out what was going on here. Good stuff overall and a rather fun match which is still talked about today.
WCW World Title: Ric Flair vs. The Giant
Flair hits on Debra again which would eventually set up a tag match at the Great American Bash where Mongo joined the Horsemen. Giant shoves him around to start as the camera pans up at him. Flair charges at him and literally bounces off of him with a shoulder block. We hit the floor and Flair runs. Flair gets a jumping thumb to the eye but Giant shrugs a chop off.
There’s your standard slam off the top for Flair and Giant gets a suplex for no cover. Giant tries a chokeslam but Flair holds onto the ropes and gets a low blow. Foreign object to the head of Giant and he’s out….not cold as the Figure Four goes on and it means nothing. Giant grabs him by the throat, pulls him to his feet, breaks the hold in the process and a chokeslam gives Giant his first non-shenanigan world title. For you trivia people out there, yes, Jimmy Hart did manage a legit world champion.
Rating: C-. Can’t really give this a fair grade as it was more or less a squash but they were trying at least. Giant looked great which is the best thing they could have done. Never let it be said that Flair doesn’t put people over. Giant getting the title was fine and they would protect him for months, which is the right idea indeed. Fine for a squash, bad match otherwise.
To say Jimmy is happy is an understatement. Giant shows that he’s getting better on the mic and says he’s a fighting champion and anyone can bring it on. He would hold the title until August when heel Hogan beat him.
Sting vs. Giant for the title at Slamboree is made for the PPV to end the show.
Overall Rating: C+. Well from a historical perspective this is one of the bigger ones they’ve head in a long time. The wrestling isn’t all that important but at the same time that certainly wasn’t the point. We’re finally getting ready to Slamboree which more or less had no plot at all other than the really bad Lethal Lottery. Anyway at least we’re a step closer to the Outsiders.
Monday Nitro #34
Date: May 6, 1996
Location: Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, Florida
Commentators: Steve McMichael, Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan
It’s another week closer to the Outsiders and yes I know I say that a lot but at the same time there’s nothing at all to talk about otherwise. There isn’t really a main event tonight as we’re in a holding pattern until the PPV. There really isn’t anything else to say here so let’s get to it.
Hugh Morrus vs. Randy Savage
We’re already talking about the PPV in August of all things. No one ever said that Bischoff didn’t push his ideas. Morrus jumps Savage on the floor and the fight is on early. He controls early as Savage is in trouble. Morrus (Bill DeMott) puts the hat and glasses on and even the jacket just to make sure he’s going to die. Savage snaps (into it) and choeks Morrus over the top with the jacket and it’s a DQ very quickly.
No rating here but the match was more of pushing the Savage is nuts angle than a match. Down goes the referee and it’s an elbow for him. Cops take Savage out. Shame this was all dropped for the NWO as it was something I wanted to see an ending to.
Crippler Ray Stevens passed away and donations can be sent to the Cauliflower Alley Club. Now there’s something you won’t hear referenced more than once a year on TV.
Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Dean Malenko
Apparently Otani has won the Cruiserweight Title and he’ll debut on May 18 against Malenko on the PPV (switched to Worldwide where Malenko won to really start the division. Still don’t get the decision to put it on the Japanese dude at all). Naturally it’s technical stuff to start us off with Liger controlling for the most part. Flair comes out with the women for no apparent reason so we go split screen to look at him.
Now let’s look at the crowd so we don’t see these two talented guys wrestle. We take a quick break and Flair is having a VIP dinner with the women on Macho Man’s money. Anyway Malenko throws on a leg lock as we actually see some of the match. The camera is really weird here as it keeps changing every few seconds, almost like TNA or ECW. Liger gets a big dive to the floor and both guys get two in the ring.
Malenko hits his top rope gutbuster for no cover. A powerbomb is countered into a kind of odd looking cover for Liger for two. I would have thought the gutbuster would have ended it but this has been an odd match all around so I guess it fits just fine. Either way a tiger bomb ends this a few seconds later with Malenko getting the pin.
Rating: C-. Uh…yeah. Not that it was bad but this was just an incredibly odd match. The camera was all over the place, it had more or less no flow to it and neither guy looked on his game at all. Most odd indeed and not a great or even particularly good match at all, which is rather surprising given who was in there.
Flair and the females talk for a bit. What was the deal with Woman and Gene? That never made a ton of sense to me. Flair says he’s going to get the title back and talks about Lethal Lottery a bit. Woman says Flair is awesome and will be on top. Flair goes over to talk to Debra as apparently two women aren’t enough for him. He sends her a drink which is poured out. Liz says it’s ok because Randy has plenty of money.
Glacier is coming. Oh my indeed. Sign of the times to put it mildly.
Steven Regal vs. Sting
So we have a guy that is banged up from a brawl last week and the #1 contender. Who do you think is going to win here? Regal is all taped up and Sting takes him down with ease and almost gets the Scorpion immediately but Regal gets the rope. We take a break with Regal overacting as only he can. Back with Sting running over Regal who backs off.
Steven (still sound weird to call him that) grabs the arm and takes over with it, putting Sting on the mat. More talk about Slamboree as Regal chokes away. Sting has the minor league NASCAR number on his leg for no apparent reason. He finally gets going and counters out of a Pedigree position into a pin with a backdrop.
Rating: D+. Just another match here as this whole show has felt a bit off. Not much of note here as both guys felt a bit off the entire time. Sting would kind of coast for a long time and this was no exception at all. Regal would kind of sit around for the rest of WCW other than his time in WWF and never really changed.
Luger has a title match but isn’t here yet so here’s your replacement.
WCW World Title: Jim Duggan vs. Giant
Duggan jumps Giant as he comes in and nothing happens. Giant rams into him in the corner but Duggan moves from the third one. Slam of course fails and after a quick bit on the floor the chokeslam ends this quick. Too short to grade but was there any doubt here?
Various face jobbers come out and get destroyed by Giant. Flair, now a face I guess, comes out with a wooden chair which is broken over Giant’s head which does nothing. Sting comes out and takes out Giant’s leg. Double axe off the top finally puts Giant down and the Scorpion is on for about half a second as Hart saves. Here’s Luger with two minutes left in the show with a briefcase. Hart calls Giant off Luger as it’s time for another conspiracy angle. Sting wants to know what’s up and they argue a lot to end the show.
Overall Rating: D. Very awkward show here as they were setting up what they could for Slamboree but at the same time they had very little to do due to the Lethal Lottery aspect of the PPV. Not much of a show as far as advancing anything but they had such a long time between PPVs that they didn’t have many other options. Bad show overall but just two more to go.
Monday Nitro #35
Date: May 13, 1996
Location: Nashville Municipal Auditorium, Nashville, Tennessee
Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan, Steve McMichael
Giant is world champion now and it’s the go home show before the rather weak Slamboree show. Anyway other than that we’re a mere two weeks away from Hall jumping the railing which is exactly what needed to be done to breathe some life into this promotion. Other than that there isn’t much to this show so let’s get to it.
Since Luger has missed his last two title shots he camped out in front of the arena to make sure he didn’t miss this one which is kind of funny.
Steiner Brothers vs. Public Enemy
Savage is barred from the arena apparently. Rock vs. Scotty to start us off here with Freakzilla taking over rather quickly. The ring is cleared out quickly and there’s the Steiner pose. The referee isn’t paying attention at all when Scott tags in Rick but they’re faces so it’s ok I guess. We’re out on the floor almost immediately after that and it’s a big brawl. Rick gets double teamed as we talk about Slamboree a lot.
Rock gets crotched on the top rope and backdropped off in a decent move. Back to Scott as this has almost been all Steiner Brothers. Some double teaming lets the PE take over as we hear about Mongo arguing with Flair over something or other. And apparently Mongo can’t talk about it but that would wind up being the awful Great American Bash feature match with football players vs. wrestlers.
Rock hits a front flip (kind of a Swanton) off the top for two. That more or less ends their chances of winning here though as it was one of their signature moves and Scott kicked out of it with relative ease. An attempt at a second one misses completely as Bischoff suggests that Slamboree is weighing on their minds which is why they’re a step off. Starting 5/27 it’s two hours per show. I’ll still do them two at a time though for the sake of getting through them with any kind of speed. Rock is sent to the floor for a bit and back in the Frankensteiner ends this clean.
Rating: C. Just a brawl for the most part as no one expected the Steiners to go down here. Public Enemy just didn’t fit in WCW in the slightest. Either way, this didn’t really set up anything for the PPV as only Public Enemy would be teamed together at he PPV while the Steiners would fight each other. Not bad but just kind of there really.
Dave Taylor vs. Chris Benoit
This should be ok. Finlay is gone now apparently. After a break before the bell we’re back with technical stuff to start which shouldn’t surprise you at all. Taylor uses his usual hard shots as Bischoff says hi to Hogan because that has to happen right? The problem becomes apparent rather quickly as there’s no point to this match other than two foreigners going at it.
It’s kind of entertaining but at the same time there isn’t much to it at all. Finlay is out of Lethal Lottery with no replacement announced. HARD WORK Bobby Walker is out and being replaced by some guy named Diamond Dallas Page who now has a benefactor who would never be revealed. Savage is here apparently and Mongo runs off to go talk to him. That would mean something in about a month and a half. Benoit grabs the Dragon Suplex for the quick pin. Another match where for the most part they were too busy to talk about the match itself.
Rating: C+. Very stiff match which is always fun and it’s hard to complain about a Benoit match. Fun stuff here but at the same time it’s very annoying to have the guys be more or less ignored to push the awful show that was Slamboree. Anyway, pretty decent match here with both guys working hard, only to get no reward for it.
Gene goes to talk to Savage and Mongo pops up to say he sympathizes with him. Mongo doesn’t want to ignore Flair which would lead to the Bash also. Savage does some more insane ranting and doesn’t mind beating up Flair and winning Lethal Lottery at the same time.
Glacier is still coming.
VK Wallstreet vs. Ric Flair
It’s IRS if you’re not familiar. Kevin Greene is mentioned and yeah we really do have to do Great American Bash in awhile. Blast it. Liz looks great in short black leather dresses. Heel vs. heel here which is always kind of weird. Technical stuff to start us off and Wallstreet is wrestling face for the most part here. Flair heads to the floor to stall and back in gets his leg worked over by Wallstreet as we take a break.
Back with Wallstreet hammering away which is really surprising. Who in the world is VK Wallstreet that he gets to hammer away on Ric Flair??? Wasn’t Flair world champion the previous week? Powerslam gets two. Sunset flip and backslide both get two and Flair hits the floor. And then VK rams his own knee into the post and you can measure this in seconds now. Figure Four goes on, the girls help, we’re done.
Rating: C+. This was more competitive than it had any right to be and that’s always a good sign. Flair was still more than able to go at this point and the match showed off as a good result. I don’t get why VK Wallstreet of all people was thrown in there but they were trying I guess. Fun little match and better than expected.
Flair talks to Gene and rants about Savage for a bit. He’s going to wear a tuxedo and win at Slamboree apparently. Let’s talk about Debra a bit which results in various football analogies and Flair being Joe Namath apparently.
WCW World Title: Lex Luger vs. The Giant
And there are no entrances of course here for no apparent reason at all. Giant shoves him around to start and literally bounces off of him a few times. Luger tries to get something going but jumps into Giant who rams him into the buckles a few times. Forearm hits Giant and gets shrugged off as we get a Yokozuna reference. Flair is having a party at a table near the ring with the girls.
Luger gets some shoulders into the ribs and a running big boot all while Giant is on the apron. He just shakes him though and we hit the floor. They go over to Flair’s party table and Luger is chokeslammed through it, resulting in a double countout instead of a DQ but it doesn’t really matter either way.
Rating: D+. Just a quick match here with nothing of note going on. Luger had no chance of getting the title here as they weren’t going to change the title match of a PPV six days before the show. This isn’t TNA after all. Anyway weak match as it was more or less all Giant but they had to keep it short to keep things from getting dull which is the right idea for sure with Giant at this point.
LONG stretcher segment ends the show. Sting is there defending Luger and yells at Gene for trying to get a word.
Overall Rating: D+. They didn’t really build for Slamboree as the whole thing was about the random matches which meant that there was no point to the show. Giant and Sting is the title match which isn’t really built on either other than a little bit at the end which is why the show absolutely sucked. Well that and DDP retiring the month prior to winning the #1 contender spot the next PPV. Weak show that set up a horrible PPV.
Here’s Slamboree if you’re interested.
Monday Nitro #36
Date: May 20, 1996
Location: Monroe Civic Center, Monroe, Louisiana
Commentators: Bobby Heenan, Eric Bischoff
It’s the night after Slamboree and the final one hour show in the history of Nitro. It’s also the final show in the pre-NWO era. That being said, not a lot has changed at the previous show other than Great American Bash was set up with Mongo bringing out Kevin Greene to help him fight Anderson and Flair which shocked Flair for some reason despite Mongo talking about him on the previous Nitro. The Bash is only four weeks away so at least the build isn’t that long. Anyway let’s get to it.
We open with a clip of the same thing I just recapped.
Steiner Brothers vs. Fire and Ice
Scott Norton and Ice Train so for the sake of this I’ll go with Norton to call Scott Norton and Scott for Scott Steiner. Train and Scott start us off as I continue to try to figure out what I liked about Ice Train. I think these two had a match at the Bash also. Scott hits a belly to belly and it’s off to Norton and Rick. Norton adds a middle rope splash for no cover. Rick is like whatever and hits a German to bring in Scott.
To the floor and Scott drops a forearm off the top to Norton. Samoan Drop by Norton gets two as momentum shifts a bit. Rick and Train come in and it’s a double clothesline to put both guys down again. Everything breaks down as apparently this is a 90 minute long broadcast. Maybe this is a preview show for the two hour variety? Not that it matters for this match as the referee just throws it out.
Rating: C-. Not awful here as they did ok for a battle of power. Their match at the PPV had almost twice as long which helped them a bit but at the same time there wasn’t much to go on here. Fire and Ice wasn’t all that good and no one really cared when they split in the fall. Norton went to the NWO and Train went into obscurity. Not much to talk about here but not bad.
Eddie Guerrero vs. Ric Flair
This should be good. Eddie grabs a headlock to start and takes Flair down with relative ease. They slug it out a bit as Eddie fires away with right hands and Flair of course chops away. Eddie speeds things up and sends Flair to the floor and Flair wisely gets away from any and all corners. Flair goes to his party table and grabs a chair which is taken away from him by the referee of course.
After a quick chase around the ring we come back for a staredown. BIG chops in the corner by Eddie and down goes Flair. We take a break with Flair firing a thumb into the eye. Back and they speed things up a bit with Eddie hitting clotheslines and a top rope sunset flip for two. Eddie actually grabs the Figure Four and Flair is in trouble. Eddie is no Jay Lethal apparently though and there’s the rope. Out to the floor and Flair takes over, landing a suplex as I think he wants to damage Guerrero.
Bobby talks about Flair being a 15 time champion and Bischoff says 13, because we’re not counting THOSE championships because they’re not WRESTLING championships. This guy is a walking comedy show. Flair hammers away but gets caught in an O’Connor Roll for two. Eddie gets a cross body but his knee gives out so he can’t cover. Flair Flip in the corner and Eddie dropkicks him off the apron to the floor.
Flair takes over on the floor as this has been a really good match so far. Eddie gets pounded in the corner but grabs a tornado DDT. He grabs him by the hand, walks up the ropes, walks across the ropes and gets a rana for two. Slam sets up the Frog Splash but Eddie hurt his leg again.
Flair…..tries a nip up? What weird parallel universe have I slipped into? Now we go to school and it’s Figure Four time. Eddie blocked it for a bit but now he’s caught. He tries to turn it over but the women help Flair out and Eddie can’t get his shoulders up and he’s out for a pin. That was AWESOME.
Rating: A-. This might be the best Nitro match in the history of the show and I’ve never heard anyone mention it. It’s Flair vs. Eddie for nearly 20 minutes, making it one of the longest matches in the history of the show so far. Very good match and totally awesome as Eddie gave Flair all he wanted. I loved this.
Flair and the girls come up to Gene at his VIP table and Savage is mentioned to a big pop. That’s not an issue apparently so Flair talks about football players for awhile and it’s the same stuff he’s said for months now. Flair takes the champagne and leaves with it and the ladies.
Back from a break and there are candles, champagne and fruit at the announce table with Flair, Bischoff and Heenan.
Tag Titles: Faces of Fear vs. Sting/Lex Luger
During the challengers’ entrance Flair is ranting about how we need a waiter. Luger vs. Meng to start us off. Apparently Liz likes Luger’s pec dance. That won’t lead to her eventual death or anything right? Meng actually does a drop toehold as Flair praises him. Bischoff shows his lack of historical wrestling as he asks if Flair has even wrestled a football player, apparently never having heard of Wahoo McDaniel so Flair goes off on him a bit.
Flair is having a ball on commentary, singing and making jokes about Debra. Back with Barbarian vs. Sting and down goes the painted one. Bischoff shills the replay of the PPV which was absolutely terrible. Barbarian gets a BIG kick of fear for two. That looked great if nothing else. Belly to belly release suplex off the top which looked AWESOME also. Barbarian is looking great here.
Double top rope headbutt and I think Sting may be dead. Luger comes in for the delay so Sting somehow kicks out at two. Heenan and Flair are cracking me up here as they’re debating which party to go to and having sandwiches. Sting dives for a tag but still can’t reach it either. He finally avoids a top rope headbutt from Barbarian and dives at Luger for the hot tag and everything breaks down. Sting knocks Barbarian off the top and a top rope splash by Sting sets up Luger for the pin.
Rating: C+. Pretty good little tag match here as Sting sold like a master and it allowed for a decent match to come out of it. Luger’s sneakiness was dropped in favor of other stuff in about a week which is fine because I couldn’t handle another backstabbing angle. Anyway pretty good match here and fine for what it was.
Flair is told Savage is here and isn’t exactly happy.
Savage is still trying to get in so Flair laughs a bit. Apparently Savage’s future is being discussed by WCW officials. Savage says make the right decision and is thinking about running through the cops to get at Flair. They shove him back again with ease and that’s about it for this part.
Glacier is still coming.
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Brad Armstrong
Page has his normal music here now minus the Self High Five part. Oh and he’s Diamond Dallas at this point for some reason. He won Battlebowl the previous night and has a benefactor and a ring now apparently. Armstrong tries some basic stuff to start so Page bails into the corner. Considering there’s no way that Armstrong can win here we’re kind of wasting time at this point.
Nitro moves to two hours next week apparently. Page stomps away and we take a break. Back with Page holding onto a chinlock as I have a feeling this is going to be rather boring here. Backslide gets two for Armstrong and that’s about it at the moment. Page hits a spear in the corner but the second misses and the arm hits the post. Flair praises Armstrong actually as he rams Page into the buckles and then the mat. Top rope cross body by Armstrong gets two and there’s the Diamond Cutter to end this. He didn’t have it mastered yet though so he kind of ran with it at this point. He’d get better though.
Rating: D+. Pretty weak match here but at the same time Page was still getting better. That’s why they put him with Eddie later to give him some real experience like they did here but Eddie was an actual feud. Anyway, not much of a match here but they had to get him on the show, if nothing else for this next part.
Gene talks to Page who praises himself for a good while. His foot was on the floor at one point so they’re taking the title shot from him and giving it to Luger. Page keeps the ring though for no adequately explained reason. Page rants a bit and wouldn’t get the title shot for like two years.
WCW World Title: Arn Anderson vs. The Giant
I could listen to Anderson’s Horsemen music forever. Kevin Sullivan is with him for some reason. When do you ever see him getting world title shots anyway? Jimmy Hart and Sullivan argue a lot before the match. Anderson tries a go behind to start and Giant is just like dude, no.
Arn hammers away in the corner and that goes about as well as you would expect it to. Slam puts Arn down and Giant isn’t even sweating. Anderson is sent to the floor and this somehow goes even more slowly. Giant gets crotched on the rope as he comes back in and Anderson manages to take him down. DDT is attempted and Giant is again like dude, no. He lifts him up and the chokeslam ends this clean.
Rating: D+. I’d go with an N/A here if I used those anymore but that’s really all there is to say here. It ran about 3:40 and had about two minutes of action in it. Giant destroyed him here other than a few shots. The problem was Giant was a guy that was totally awesome in theory but he was green beyond belief. He was slowly getting better but it took a few more years before he could work a match longer than five minutes without someone great in there with him. He was trying though and he actually improved slowly though, which is what made him worth the time.
Heenan tries to steal all the stuff Flair brought him to end the show.
Overall Rating: B. This was a pretty good show overall but they didn’t know how to fill in an hour and a half show yet, which is why the NWO was absolutely required when they made the move to two hours the next week. This had a great match and another decent one on there as a lot of stuff started to shift. Anyway, next week is probably the most famous moment in WCW history so this doesn’t mean much in comparison.
Monday Nitro #37
Date: May 27, 1996
Location: Macon Coliseum, Macon, Georgia
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Larry Zbyszko, Bobby Heenan, Eric Bischoff
We’re FINALLY here as we reach probably the most important TV show in wrestling history. First and foremost, tonight Scott Hall is going to debut by jumping the guardrail, more or less shattering the idea that things are predictable on wrestling. That’s the huge deal so I’ll go into detail on how awesome and shocking it was later. Also this is the first two hour Nitro and there’s a new announce team. Let’s get to it.
Theme song opens us up.
Tony and Larry are the first hour commentators while Heenan and Bischoff will come in later. NO MORE MONGO!!!!! This is a great show so far!
American Males vs. Arn Anderson/Ric Flair
Gee I wonder what’s going to happen. Larry calls the Males the young and the useless. That might be the only funny line he has all year so enjoy it while it lasts. Liz looks awesome in blue. Flair vs. Riggs to get us started here. Larry seems like the heel commentator here which wouldn’t last that long. The Horsemen get him on the floor and work him over like the Horsemen are known to do.
Yep Larry certainly is because he complains about how the football players that the Horsemen are facing at the next PPV are losers. Everything breaks down and the Males actually clean the ring for a bit. Flair runs over to his VIP table and grabs come champagne for a shot. Well that’s a new one. Things calm down again and it’s Arn vs. Bagwell at the moment.
Arn accidently clotheslines the pole and we take a break. Back with Bagwell fighting out of the corner but he doesn’t tag. And never mind as he brings in Riggs for awhile as Flair chills in the corner. Tony and Larry have been given champagne by Flair. Shame Heenan isn’t there for this one. Flair works on the knee of Riggs as does Arn. Riggs manages to get an enziguri to send Anderson to the floor but as he goes for the tag, Flair and the referee get into a shoving match. Oh never mind as Bagwell gets the tag anyway.
Missile dropkick takes down Flair for two and they do the small package bit where the partners keep rolling them over. I love that as the guys don’t kick out for like twenty seconds and just lay there. Fisherman’s suplex hits Flair but Anderson makes the save. Woman saves another pin attempt and Anderson kills Bagwell with a DDT and Flair gets the pin. Quick ending.
Rating: C. This was kind of sloppy but for the most part it was fine. No one expected the Males to win here and that’s fine. They weren’t supposed to win anything here and they had a decent match out of it instead. This is what veterans are supposed to do: give the young guys experience and help bring them up slowly. For some reason that rarely happens in most companies and the young guys are seen as weaker when they come up. Either way, just an average match here but it was fine.
Anderson isn’t afraid of football players. Flair says his women are attractive and he’ll get Debra. Liz is the Sugar Mama using Savage’s money apparently.
Kevin Greene and Mongo are training for their match. This is a waste of time.
Steve Doll vs. The Mauler
And here it is. Why would this be on TV you ask? The same reason a guy named Steve Gatorwolf was on SNME once: to allow something else to happen. Mauler is Mike Enos and has Colonel Parker with him. Doll means nothing. Crowd is DEAD and the Mauler squashes him for awhile. They both go to the floor and Doll goes into the post. We take a break and come back and you can see him in the crowd.
Scott Hall comes over the railing and wants a mic. He says the famous line of you know who I am but you don’t know why I’m here. He calls out some of the big WCW names and has a challenge for Bischoff, Turner, Savage and anyone else that is here in WCW. “You want a war? You gonna get one.” The match of course just ends.
Ok so as you likely know, this completely changed wrestling forever for a lot of reasons.
1. No one, I mean NO ONE, saw this coming. Hall had literally wrestled less than two weeks prior on a WWF show. Today the 90 day no compete clauses exist because of this moment. If three months had gone by, first of all people would have noticed Hall was missing and there would be a good chance the word could have gotten out that he had signed with WCW. It made things seem like anything could happen on Nitro at the drop of a hat and that made you want to see the show. This was dabbled in with Luger on the debut episode but this blows Luger away.
2. Hall’s line about a war made people think that WWF was in on this which was unthinkable. People had jumped before but when they arrived there was fanfare to it and all that jazz. Hall came in through the crowd (by the way if I remember correctly he wouldn’t be named until Bash at the Beach) in street clothes, making it look totally unplanned. The idea of breaking the walls of kayfabe was also unthinkable coming up to this point, which shook everything up.
3. This would be the main story for the next three years minimum with all kinds of twists and turns in there. Everything was about Hall and eventually Nash and Hogan, but at this time everything was blown away by what the potential of this could be and it definitely had huge potential to be one of the biggest storylines of all time and it definitely was. It also set up the WWF because they had to respond to it. Granted they didn’t do that for almost 18 months but the idea was there.
4. I can’t emphasize this enough but this changed everything. The model before this had been to just go out there and do your thing week in and week out with the same structure every time. This made it look like the script had been thrown out the window and that there was this rogue guy and later this rogue group that didn’t care about the rules and were going to take things over whether you liked it or not. Having it look like the other company is involved in it is a brilliant idea as it looks like something is completely unprepared, which makes you want to see it at the same time. Brilliant.
5. Finally, this more or less marks the end of the athletics being the focus of the show. Everything became about drama from this point on. The matches got worse, the young guys got pushed to the back, the storylines and a lot of the face/heel dynamics were abandoned and everything was focused on drama. It wouldn’t really kick in until late July, but from this point on you could see the line of demarcation and how everything would change afterwards. It certainly worked for awhile, but eventually people got tired of it which is what brought the company down, along with about a thousand other things but we’ll get to that later.
Craig Pittman vs. Diamond Dallas Page
Guy that won a major PPV competition vs. a guy that hasn’t been on Nitro in months. Gee what do you think is going to happen here? No mention of the Hall incident post break. Teddy Long manages Pittman here. Page makes fun of him to start and imitates a soldier. Pittman does one armed pushups and Page thinks for once and tries to jump him. Pittman moved but the idea was nice at least.
There’s a slight reference to Hall but it’s not mentioned specifically at all. Page gets choked on the floor by a cord and then gets almost caught in the Code Red (Pittman’s cross armbreaker finisher). Teddy goes down and the distraction sets up the Diamond Cutter to end it. Barely even a match.
Video on Randy Savage and how he’s insane now.
Shark says he’s out of the Dungeon of Doom. Somehow he has a world title match tonight. They were a lot more liberal with those back then I guess.
Video on Hogan and how he’s been chilling with “celebrities” from Hollywood recently. He’s done some charity work too, which is always cool. He’s also been on Baywatch. It’s really funny seeing how big a deal they’re trying to make a guest appearance on Baywatch seem when Rock is a legit big star now.
Hour #2 starts. Bischoff says they’re not going to dignify the guy jumping the rail as he dignifies the guy jumping over the rail.
WCW World Title: Shark vs. Giant
That sounds like a bad Syfy channel movie. Shark is listed from Tsunami. No country or anything. He’s just from a tsunami apparently. Shark (Earthquake) hammers away on Giant. This is somehow fallout from Slamboree as Giant is replacing Shark or something. Shark keeps ramming into him and Giant eventually gets bored and clotheslines him down.
Giant chokes with the boot but Shark actually comes off the middle rope with a double axe. The future Big Show is like dude, you’re old and slams him with ease. He held him up there too which looked awesome. They exchange some more big man stuff and I wouldn’t look for this to last much longer at all. Eric says the second hour will start weekly at 8:50 or so. This bothered me back in the day. How can you start the second hour when the first hour isn’t even a complete hour? Jimmy gets up on the apron and the distraction lets Giant hit the chokeslam to end this.
Rating: C. Just a battle of the big men here so how much can you really complain? It’s not that bad but another win for Giant is never a bad thing. He needed all the ring time he could get and that’s what he did here. Shark would feud with the Dungeon briefly before just kind of leaving.
Post match Big Bubba comes in to cut half of Shark’s hair. This led to a bad match at the Bash.
Bischoff keeps talking about Hall without actually talking about him you know.
TV Title: Maxx vs. Lex Luger
Maxx used to be DDP’s bodyguard so he’s now #1 contender for the TV Title. Don’t you get the connection there? We talk about the Great American Bash where some guy named Rey Mysterio is going to debut. Maxx uses some very basic power stuff as we pad this out since there’s no point in even making fun of Maxx’s lack of a chance here. More babbling about Hall follows as he’s going to get a chance to talk at the end of the hour.
Maxx hammers away as Luger stumbles around a lot. Side slam gets two. Make that four which only in wrestling doesn’t get enough for three. Elbow drop gets two. Falls count anywhere between Sullivan and Benoit is mentioned. Awesome match there. Luger hits a powerslam and there’s the Rack out of almost nowhere to end this.
Rating: D+. Just kind of there for the most part as just like Giant did with Shark, Luger gets a workout here that doesn’t mean anything. Their title match went nowhere for the most part because the whole thing was about Bischoff getting jumped by the Outsiders. Anyway, nothing of note here but that was the point.
Luger says he earned the title shot even though it was taken from DDP and given to Luger. We get a clip of Giant chokeslaming Luger through the table a few weeks back. Luger wants all the big men WCW has before the title match.
Bobby Walker vs. Brad Armstrong
Just….why? Walker is a no name guy called Hard Work. See what I mean here? Bischoff still won’t say Hall’s name “due to legal reasons” and still won’t dignify him as he mentions him for the fourth time tonight. Walker takes him down with the arm and Armstrong does the same to Walker. Walker botches a few moves before hitting a cross body off the top for two.
We hit the mat for some more basic stuff. Headscissors goes on while they’re on the mat as this is pure filler. They didn’t have the whole two hour concept down yet I wouldn’t think. Walker gets a backslide for two. He goes up and slips again before hitting a top rope shoulder block for the pin.
Rating: D. So in a four minute match he noticeably botched three moves. Walker would later be part of a racial discrimination lawsuit against WCW, saying that they held him back because he was black. Based on this, I think it was more due to a high level of suck. Armstrong was always around but never really did anything. We did hear about the Cruiserweight Title being in America now, which is definitely a good thing overall.
Steven Regal vs. Alex Wright
Time to talk about Hulk! Or the Nasty Boys! Or Dennis Rodman! I never got this. It’s not like they’re talking about something major. They’re talking about random stuff that is there to avoid talking about the matches. That makes no sense but they always did it. Wright speeds things up a bit and takes him to the floor. He dives over the top to take out Regal as we take a break.
Back with Wright holding his arm as Regal takes over apparently. Headlock on the mat goes on which is a lot worse from Regal than most people. Belly to belly gets two for Wright. Bischoff actually calls Wright green. When do you ever hear that word being used? That’s another thing that started to be added around this time: random insider terms. European uppercut gives Wright some momentum and a rollup gets two. Pretty sweet pinfall reversal sequence ends with Wright hitting a nice dropkick to take over again. Monkey flip is countered and Regal gets a jackknife cover for the pin.
Rating: C+. Pretty nice match here as both guys worked rather hard to give us a nice crisp match. Unfortunately neither guy would really mean anything because they couldn’t talk that well but at the same time they were good backdrops for the amount of talking about WCW vs. NWO. Not much here but a decent little TV match.
Regal goes on a rant about Quasimodo and makes a semi-Hitler reference, calling Wright a mini-Adolf. Regal says WCW is nuts here and actually references Hall and says it’s time he has his say in what goes on in WCW. He challenges Sting who he would lose to at the Bash in a good match.
Scott Steiner vs. Sting
Odd main event here but whatever. They shake hands to start us off. Scott overpowers Sting to start as this is the always weird face vs. face match. Sting sends him to the floor with a dropkick and then dives over the top with a plancha. Back in and Scott gets a butterfly powerbomb for no cover. There’s the belly to belly for no cover again. Scott gets a double axe to the floor as he keeps control.
That gets two back in the ring as we make fun of WWF again because that’s just how we roll around here right? Sting gets a big boot up to block a charge in the corner as momentum balances out a bit. Scott hits another belly to belly for two. STF goes on. I guess that makes four moves for him right? He just lets it go and hits a cross armbreaker. Sting starts a comeback but the splash misses.
Scott gets a dragon suplex and here comes Luger as a second I guess. Rick comes out also and you might as well just paint a big sign that says DOUBLE DQ IS COMING in big letters on the screen. Samoan Drop from the middle rope gets no cover from Scott again. Sting avoids the Frankensteiner but can’t get the Scorpion. Scott tries a Tombstone which is reversed into one by Sting for two. Sting suplexes Scott to the floor and Luger interferes as does Rick and it’s a double DQ even though Luger hit first.
Rating: B-. Pretty good match here and the ending was there to protect Scott I think. They always wanted to push him hard but they couldn’t do it for another four years. The tag match that you would expect would happen next week in a show I missed because I was in a garage hiding from a severe thunderstorm. Anyway, pretty good stuff here with a predictable ending.
Hall comes up to the booth and says that “we” are tired of WCW’s big mouths. He tells Billionaire Ted to get three guys for a fight because they’re coming for a war. Hall wants to do it in the ring where it matters. Good line there.
Overall Rating: C. Industry changing moment aside, this was a pretty weak show. The matches seemed rather inconsequential for the most part but it’s clear they’re setting up for the Bash. On the other hand you have the 800 pound gorilla in the room known as Scott Hall. The show other than him means nothing as he was just the first step in a huge story that was coming. Anyway, from a historical standpoint this is huge and that’s the only one that really matters.
I've long said that the Flair-Eddie Match was terrific and I'm pleased it's FINALLY on a DVD (the new Best Of Nitro Set). I was surprised when the chose a different Flair-Edie match from 1997 for the EG Retrospective DVD a few yrs ago (a good match, but this was fantastic).
I forgot how much they emphasized Hogan, even though Flair and Savage were there. I do remember Hogan not getting good responses to his tag matches vs Flair & Friends and thinking it was repeptitve each week to see Hogan triumph over the same set of guys.
Of course, Hogan probably thought he was being a "team player" letting Flair dominate the title during this time, but how much could Flair, or Savage or Sting for that matter, shine when everytime something big happens it's all about Hogan ?
It's a testament to the popularity of those guys (and how bad WWE RAW sucked at this time) that these shows were basically neck and neck ratings wise during this time and WCW won plenty of quarter hours for their main events.
Monday Nitro #38
Date: June 3, 1996
Location: Ashville Civic Center, Ashville, North Carolina
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Larry Zbyszko, Bobby Heenan, Eric Bischoff
We’re in week two of the invasion here and things really haven’t picked up all that much yet. Hall will probably be talked about tonight but the main event is fallout from last week: Steiners vs. Sting/Luger. Other than that we’re still pretty much in regular mode as we approach the Bash. Not much other than that going on. Not much other than the NWO in other words, which would be the case for years to come. Let’s get to it.
Theme song opens us up as always.
Tony and Larry tell us about the show.
Shark says he’s no longer Shark but rather Big John Tenta. He still only has half of his hair at this point. We get the semi-famous “I am not a fish. I am a man” line here.
John Tenta vs. Big Bubba
No entrance for Bubba. Bubba has Tenta’s hair in his hand as we get going here. Tenta jumps him and hits a powerslam almost immediately. Apparently there was a USA Today ad for this show featuring ads for Johnny B. Badd and Vader. Badd was around about three months ago but Vader was like 9 months ago. Tenta gets the scissors and Bubba bails for a quick countout. Hang on let me check….yeah this was pointless.
Faces of Fear vs. High Voltage
High Voltage were face jobbers named Kenny Kaos and Robbie Rage. This is their debut apparently. Oh they’re Ruckus and Kaos at this point. Their names would change soon. Kaos and Barbarian start us off but High Voltage double teams to take the Tongan down. And never mind as Barbarian hits a big old powerbomb to put Ruckus down and brings in Meng. Pumphandle slam by Barbarian puts Ruckus down and a top rope belly to belly half kills him. Double top rope headbutt and a superkick (called a Mafia Kick) ends this slaughter. Just a squash here as Kaos was totally worthless.
Sting and Luger say they they’ll win tonight. Luger says he’s not evil and implies that the Steiners started it. The Steiners come in and says Luger started it. Sting defends Luger and the Steiners say bring it on tonight. They get into a shoving contest and that’s about it.
Craig Pittman vs. Disco Inferno
Pittman goes straight for the arm and Disco is in trouble early on. He takes Disco down with ease and from the mat pulls him up into a gutwrench powerbomb for two. Disco actually hurts his hand punching Pittman in the head. Pittman sets for his Code Red, which is a cross armbreaker and Disco literally taps before the hold goes on but intentionally. He says to the camera that if he had gone into that hold he couldn’t dance anymore. Funny ending. Stupid, but funny.
Jim Duggan vs. Steven Regal
This is basically a warmup for Regal for his match at the Bash with Sting. He stalls a lot on the floor and then does the same in the ring. Equal opportunity staller I guess. After about 90 seconds of wasting time we get some contact in the form of some Duggan clotheslines, sending Regal back to the floor for more stalling. Duggan pounds away but Regal gets in a boot to take over. Duggan sets for his horrible finisher, the three point stance clothesline, but the Blue Bloods come out for the distraction, allowing Regal to get the rollup for the pin. Oh and they steal the 2x4, which is clearly irreplaceable.
Rating: D. Yeah this was bad. I’m not sure what the point is in trying to make Regal look good if you’re just going to have him get beaten up and look like an idiot for the majority of the time. Duggan had a tendency to get way too much offense in against guys that were getting pushes as he would do this again in a few years to Berlyn.
We get a clip of Regal slapping Sting on Saturday which got him fined. He says he’s awesome and is ready for Sting.
Video on Benoit vs. Sullivan, which involves Arn possibly being in league with the Dungeon. This would turn out to be a huge test for Benoit and his official induction into the Horsemen which he was at least partially in on. Sullivan and Benoit were the focal points of this and we got a great match at the Bash out of it. We also got the same match for about 8 months and it never got better than the first one but who cares?
Kevin Sullivan vs. Prince Iaukea
This is Prince’s debut on Nitro. Total and complete squash we go to the floor a bit and then the Tree of Woe and Double Stomp end this in less than 90 seconds. Nothing else to say here.
Sullivan says he’s not afraid of Benoit and actually references the Hall interruption. Oh and Hogan will come back so we need to take care of him. Sullivan, who is shorter than Gene, says he respects Flair and Anderson. We actually get a clip of the Pillman I Quit match.
Rock N Roll Express vs. Ric Flair/Arn Anderson
If this was 1986, this would be able to sell out every arena in the south. Flair and Anderson come out in football…….GOOD FREAKING GRIEF Liz looks good in red leather. Her hotness went WAY up around this time and this is no exception. The audio is messed up here so it sounds like the announcers are about a mile away. Flair teases throwing his jersey to the crowd and then hands it to Liz on the floor. Classic.
Morton and Anderson start us off, despite no one caring about the Express here. WCW’s infinite brilliance continues as they have a countdown clock going in the corner to the second hour and then in the middle of the match pyro and fireworks go off because THE HOUR CHANGED!!! It makes Arn visibly jump. Good thing he was standing by himself and not like, piledriving someone right? For the life of me I never got why that was such a big deal.
Flair vs. Morton now and Morton can’t throw convincing punches at all. Gibson vs. Anderson as I have a feeling we’re in for a long one here. Cross body gets two for Gibson and we’re off to Flair again, who is caught in the figure four rather quickly. Anderson gets caught in one by Morton in a spot we saw very often with these two over the years. Flair gets in the referee’s face and gets shoved to the floor by the striped shirt guy.
After a break the audio is fixed and Morton hits an armdrag to Anderson. Bischoff shows off his ability to tell us what we’re seeing and it’s back to Flair again. Morton hammers away as we talk about the football thing to no end. We actually hear about a WCW charity show in Buffalo. That’s rather awesome. There’s the hammerlock slam by Anderson and it’s arm working time.
Off to Flair and the Horsemen keep their awesome tag work going. Powerslam gets two. The idea here is that Heenan might be managing the Horsemen at the PPV but he won’t say it. Chinlock time which eats up a good while. Morton grabs a sleeper which gets him nowhere. Figure four is reversed for two and a sunset flip gets the same for Morton.
Back to Anderson and Heenan strolls down to ringside to talk to Woman and Liz. And now, back to the match. Morton takes down Anderson with something we don’t see and it’s off to Flair and Gibson. Double dropkick to Flair as Heenan is apparently sitting at Flair’s VIP table. Woman pops up for the distraction and a rake of the eyes, allowing Arn to hit the DDT on Gibson to end this.
Rating: C+. It’s the Rock N Roll Express using the Rock N Roll Express formula. Were you expecting anything different here? Not much to complain about here as it’s nearly 20 minutes of these four. These practice matches are working rather well and this was no exception. Fun stuff here but a bit long for modern wrestling.
Anderson and Flair bash the football players a bit more. Heenan says he won’t manage them at the PPV and leaves. And here he is again with a briefcase and a trophy in it. He won’t manage again, but he’ll coach Arn and Ric at the PPV.
Glacier is still coming.
WCW World Title: Ice Train vs. The Giant
Seriously, who picks these challengers? Literally one move in the entire match and it’s a chokeslam. Scott Norton, Train’s partner comes out and takes a pair of chokeslams too.
Giant says he’ll dominate Luger.
Scott Norton vs. Hugh Morrus
Morrus is Bill DeMott and Norton is still dead from the chokeslams. Morrus, ever the psycho, puts a finger on Norton’s chest and pulls it off at two. He goes a bit crackers and drops elbows on Norton but won’t cover him. Eric of course declares that Norton is having a seizure. In one of the weirdest endings you’ll ever see, Morrus goes for the moonsault and Norton just stands up. Morrus tries a moonsault press instead and Norton just staggers a bit. He hits like three forearms to the face of Morrus as he’s down and gets the pin. The whole thing was less than two minutes and was just bizarre at the end.
The football players train more. They have a dry erase board now. Savage is offered the job of their coach but there’s no answer yet.
Tag Titles: Sting/Lex Luger vs. Steiner Brothers
Superbrawl I rematch. Something tells me it won’t be nearly as good. Savage is apparently trying to call into the show. Sting and Scott start and Savage is on the phone so we go split screen to show Bischoff TALKING ON THE PHONE. Savage is talking here so there’s no commentary and you can barely see the match going on. Shame too because it looks pretty fast paced.
Savage takes the job as this eats up like two minutes. Heenan begs Savage not to take the job and we go single screen again. This company astounds me at times, it truly does. We take a break, meaning we’ll go about five minutes with no focus on the match at all. My head hurts again.
Back with Rick working on Lex’s arm. Rick beats on him for awhile and hits a sweet belly to back superplex. Sting comes in and casually hits the Splash and puts the Deathlock on Rick. Scott comes in and hammers on him, hitting a top rope Frankensteiner for two. Bobby keeps wanting Savage back on the phone. Sting hits what would become known as the Scorpion Death Drop and tags in Luger.
Luger racks Scott but Rick breaks it up. Scott and Lex go to the floor and the brawl is on. I can’t imagine they’ll have an actual ending to this whole thing. Back in the ring and everything breaks down. Sting gets backdropped on the floor and here’s Giant for no apparent reason to chokeslam Rick. The match is thrown out and Luger tries to hammer on him. Sting, Scott and Luger triple team Giant and knock him to the floor.
Rating: C+. Well what I saw was good but given that it only lasted like ten minutes and about half of that was a commercial and the rest was on the stupid split screen. These two teams are both awesome and it’s not like they have to do much to have a great match. I fail to see the point in the stuff pre-match because you could, you know, NOT HAVE HUGH MORRUS VS. NORTON! Good match, stupid programming.
Heenan pleads to Savage some more and here’s Hall. He talks about a war again and says that “we’re gonna finish it.” Sting comes up and says this is the jungle baby. He wants to know why Hall wants three of the best when there’s only one of them. Sting wants to go RIGHT NOW and Hall says it’s on but on his time. Toothpick to the face and Sting slaps him. Cops arrive and Hall says he has a big surprise for Sting next week. I’m all tingly over this. That ends the show.
Overall Rating: C+. They’re still getting the kinks ironed out but this worked pretty well. The first hour is pretty weak but the second is solid stuff as the Bash got built up well and the Hall thing at the end was a great ending. Things are just warming up with that and the good stuff is yet to come. Anyway, fun show for the most part but they would get the talent they needed to make this two hour thing work very soon.
Monday Nitro #39
Date: June 10, 1996
Location: Wheeling Civic Center, Wheeling, West Virginia
Commentators: Bobby Heenan, Tony Schiavone, Eric Bischoff, Larry Zbyszko
It’s the go home show for the Great American Bash and other than that there isn’t much. The PPV was focused on the football players vs. wrestlers match and the world title was on the side. However, last week the invader (Hall) had promised a BIG surprise for tonight which we’ll get to later. With Sting having confronted him, it was pretty clear that this was going to be a huge angle. Let’s get to it.
On the theme song and opening video, there are six shots of people total. Three are Hogan.
We get a clip of Hall and Sting last week and them almost going at it.
Scott Steiner vs. Booker T
This would be huge about four years later. Basic anything you can do I can do greater match to start as I think this is face vs. heel but I’m not sure. Both escape belly to back suplexes but Scott gets a double underhook suplex for no cover. Booker manages to get a boot up in the corner kind of like a superkick to put Scott down. Scissors kick gets two.
Off to a front facelock and Booker controls. Spinning cross body off the top gets two. Larry Z giving wrestling advice to Booker is really weird for some reason. Scott gets something like a DDT to break the momentum though and here comes Steiner. We speed things up and Scott gets a belly to belly to put Booker down. Frankensteiner is avoided which gets two for Booker. A top rope splash misses and Scott hits another belly to belly to end it.
Rating: B-. Not bad at all here with two guys that were still (kind of) young and motivated and could give you a good match at this point. Also nice to see some young guys out there having some time to show off. Booker wouldn’t mean much of anything for like two years though and Steiner would be about 18 months away, so call this a very early preview.
Scott is talking about the match when Debra of all people interrupts him. She wants to talk about her husband and Scott leaves. Nice chick indeed. She talks about how this feud with the Horsemen is her fault. Gene says no it isn’t. She wants to call this off before Sunday and Gene says he’ll try to get something set up with Heenan. It’s not like this mattered because she and Mongo joined the Horsemen on Sunday.
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Jim Powers
This is for the Battlebowl ring. Naturally we talk about the football thing the entire time because that’s all that matters. To be fair this is going to be a squash so it’s not like it’s as bad as usual. This is Powers’ debut and he’s wearing something similar to leopard print. Page hits a gutwrench gutbuster and stands around a lot. Page’s gum is kicked out and Powers gets some jobber offense in. The crowd does not care in the slightest about him. Powerslam gets two. Not that it matters because there’s the Diamond Cutter and we’re done.
Rating: D+. Just a long squash here and by long I mean four minutes. Bagwell faced Page for the ring on Sunday in a match I don’t remember in the slightest. Powers was just a jobber that didn’t mean anything as most jobbers tend to be. Nothing to see here as Page was far from meaning much at this point.
Recap of Benoit vs. Sullivan which entails Anderson and paranoia. Anderson said everyone would know where everyone stood on Sunday. The match was great too.
Video on Konnan who was pretty different back in the day and in a good way.
Konnan, the US Champion at this point, says that he’ll keep the title when he fights El Gato on Sunday. He’s such a legend that no one has ever heard of him.
Sting vs. Meng
This is more or less just a tune up for Sting for his match with Regal on Sunday. Meng be clubberin to start us off but Sting gets a backdrop to break that up. Meng does his monster that you can’t hurt thing as Sting hits the ropes for a bunch of clotheslines. Face jam puts Meng down but he gets a small package of all things for two. Shoulder breaker puts Sting down so Meng goes up. Sting manages to crotch him and put on the Scorpion for the kind of surprising tap. Not enough to grade but it was exactly what you would expect.
Heenan takes Flair to the Horsemen dressing room and shuts the door. Screaming is heard and here they come, beating up a guy named Joe Gomez who is supposed to team with Renegade to face them later.
Jim Duggan vs. Dave Taylor
Taylor is buddies with Regal. Renegade and Gomez have replacements apparently. The fans like Duggan of course. Oh and those replacements: the world tag team champions Luger and Sting and the titles are on the line. The match of course means little but at least it’s got a point. Taylor cost Duggan a match last week so here you are. After some basic stuff it’s more basic stuff in the form of kicking and punching. There’s the taped fist which is hanging from his hand as the referee counts the pin. Freaking blind idiot. Short and more or less nothing.
Video on the Cruiserweight Title which is finally in America. Malenko defends against some guy that is debuting on Sunday. Mysterio I think his name is.
We recap Tenta vs. Bubba which is something no one really wanted to see other than them but whatever. Hart says Tenta wasn’t pulling his weight. Bubba says he’ll win and that’s that.
Here’s Scott Norton to talk for some reason that no one knows. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him speak. He didn’t like getting chokeslammed last week so he’s coming for revenge tonight.
Scott Norton vs. The Giant
We get the stupid countdown to the second hour as we wait on Giant’s entrance. Don’t think this is for the title. Norton goes right at him and gets powerslammed for his efforts. Norton comes back and hammers away but we go to the floor and he misses a splash into the post. Chokeslam out there and we’re done. Less than a minute and a half but Norton was impressive here as he took it to Giant. It didn’t work but points for trying at least.
Luger comes out post match and Giant massacres him. Luger kicks him low to prevent a chokeslam through the table. A champagne bucket to the head just ticks Giant off and Luger heads to the announce table. He says throw the rules out on Sunday because he’s ready for the big man.
Video of the Nasty Boys on some TV show with Dennis Rodman, who is made an official Nasty Boy.
Kevin Greene was on the Tonight Show and talked about the match. He picked the name Shallow Grave apparently.
Steven Regal vs. Billy Kidman
Kidman is a total rookie here. I think this is his WCW debut. Regal kills him for a bit but Kidman gets some stuff in and busts out a 450 (kind of) which misses. Regal puts on the start of a Liontamer but steps on Kidman’s head instead for the tap in less than a minute.
Sting comes out for the save post match.
Public Enemy vs. Nasty Boys
Please….be gentle. Public Enemy runs out during the Nasties’ entrance and the fight is on. There’s the WCW trademark for tag team brawls: split screens where all four guys can be seen on one screen. Knobbs and Grunge are in the ring so we’ll say they’re legal. Middle rope clothesline takes Grunge to the floor as the Nasties are the big faces here. Ok finally into a regular match.
Grunge has a broken hand. Sags takes both of them down with a double clothesline and it breaks down into a brawl quickly again. Sags hits a Piledriver as we take a break. Back with Public Enemy in control. Knobbs takes down Grunge but can’t bring Sags back in. There’s Jerry who hits a World’s Strongest Slam on Rocco for two and it breaks down again.
Rocco tries to leave as Grunge unbandages his bad hand/arm. Oh ok Rocco left to get a garbage can. Pumphandle slam by Sags looks to set up a middle rope splash from Knobbs but Rocco breaks it up. The trashcan is brought in and the Nasties get caught using it for the DQ. Kind of a stretch given what they had done before that but I can live with it.
Rating: D+. Yeah it was bad but it could have been a lot worse. They know how to make brawls decent and they had the right idea here to not make them act like they could work a competent technical match. I wanted to hate this but I really couldn’t do it in good faith. The Public Enemy would actually be tag champions later in the year.
Video on Hogan who punches a lot.
We recap the coaches being added to the football player match. This is set to a bad country song.
Tag Titles: Sting/Lex Luger vs. Ric Flair/Arn Anderson
This should be good and there’s a lot of time left. Flair and Luger start us off as the bell rings twice. Luger beats him up and tosses him with ease and does the same to Anderson. Big old gorilla press puts Flair down again. Flair does the Flair Flip in the corner but runs into a right hand from Sting to put him down. Bischoff mentions the concept of Nitro Parties. I never got the appeal of those but they became a big deal.
Sting comes in to beat up Anderson for a bit as the champions have dominated the entire time so far. Sting does his double nipup both times he’s pulled down by the hair. Anderson and Flair both get taken down so Flair runs off to grab a chair. The Horsemen chill in the aisle as we take a break.
Back with Anderson being pinballed between the champions before Flair comes in to face Sting. Hard to screw this one up. Flair gets a slight advantage and then goes up top. If you don’t know what happens here, go somewhere else. Top rope clothesline gets two for Sting. There’s a superplex for two. Ric goes to the classic thumb to the eye and it’s off to the Enforcer.
Spinebuster gets two. Arn does his jump into the air when the other guy is on the mat and Anderson jumps into the legs between his balls for a funny reaction spot. Off to Flair instead who can’t suplex Sting. Sting gets an O’Connor Roll for two and a weird small package for the same. Off to Anderson as we take another break.
Back with Flair sending Sting into the guardrail. Back in Sting gets the backslide but Flair makes a blind tag to bring Anderson back in. Sting gets a knee to the nether regions and falls into the tag to Luger. Powerslam gets two on Luger. Luger hits a double clothesline to put both guys on the floor and here’s Giant for the DQ.
Rating: B-. Eh it’s Sting/Luger vs. Flair/Anderson for about 18 minutes. This is one of those matches that is going to be good due to just sheer talent in the ring. They know what they’re doing and they’ve fought so many times over the years that they know each other perfectly, which often helps with matches. Flair and Anderson would win at the PPV and the Horsemen would be back.
Giant gets beaten up by Sting, Luger and Scott Steiner but just gets mad because of it. Giant says Luger is dead to Gene.
Heenan starts to rant about Savage and here’s Hall in black this week. For some reason the screen splits here into two identical images. Bischoff asks where the surprise is and turns around to run into Nash’s chest. He says they’re not here to play and wants WCW’s three guys. Nash blasts the old guys in the company and wants to know where Hogan and Savage are. Bischoff invites them to the Bash and says he’ll try to have their fight there. That would result in Bischoff being powerbombed off the stage.
Overall Rating: C+. Well the Bash was a two match show and they built those up quite well. Anything else you get out of it was a bonus and you had a decent main event and a story running through the entire show so this wasn’t too bad really. The Bash wasn’t all that good but considering what happened a month later it’s not like it really mattered. Pretty decent show this week.
Here’s the Bash if you’re interested. Please note that this is one of the first reviews I ever did and I really didn’t know what I was doing yet.
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