Its a new year of Nitro. This year really doesnt kick off until May when Hall debuts. Once that happens though, the War is officially on and its all WCW for about a year and a half. Other than that there isnt much to say as that completely dominated Nitro and WCW. Until then its more of the same stuff from 95. Lets get to it. Monday Nitro #18 Date: January 1, 1996 Location: The Omni, Atlanta, Georgia Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan, Steve McMichael Were having a live show on January 1. Thats different if nothing else. The main event is Hogan vs. Flair. Take a guess as to who wins. Its for the title too. This is the post Starrcade show so of course Hogan gets the first title shot. Benoit vs. Regal and Anderson vs. Savage tonight too. This should be good. Lets get to it. Arn Anderson vs. Randy Savage Damn from main eventing Starrcade to opening the show in 5 days. Thats quite the roller coaster. Basically Anderson cost Savage the title at the PPV so theres your reason for this. Anderson jumps him to start and Savage is in trouble. Ok scratch that as Arn is out on the floor already. Bischoff talks about college football and mentions the Smoking Guns winning a football themed match on Raw. And so it begins. Savage still has a bad arm which is like offering a starving man a Christmas turkey. All Savage so far other than the opening flurry Anderson had. Anderson finally wakes up and goes after the arm. We head to the floor and so much for that as were already back in. Arn takes the tape off as Mongo points out that were having PPV quality matches on free TV. Steve McMichael is predicting the problems this company would be killed by. Thats amusing. Arn destroys the arm with all kinds of armbars and rams it into the post. Savages arm was legitimately hurt so this is more painful than it seems. They point out that Savage never taps out so this might be kind of pointless. In a NICE move, Arn fakes a punch so Savage ducks and Arn drops him with the DDT. It gets two and that more or less seals the ending. Down goes the referee and Arn gets a foreign object like he had at the PPV. Savage gets it and the shot with it ends the match. Rating: C. Not bad here but the ending came out of nowhere. Granted it fits the story so I cant get that upset about it. This wasnt much of a match but the arm work made sense and seeing Arn going after the arm is always a good thing. Savage was more or less just there for months on end as he didnt really do anything other than get finishing moves for a very long time and this is no exception. Nothing special here but its not bad. Benoit and Pillman come out to do nothing at all. Steven Regal vs. Chris Benoit I think you know who Regal is. Bischoff again says the Smoking Guns win as Regal comes out. Naturally they start on the mat with technical stuff and chain wrestling until Regal hits him with a headbutt, making Benoit snap a bit. Hank Aaron is here. Regal Stretch goes on but it doesnt mean anything yet. Solid technical match here as we fill in the wrestling quotient for the week. Benoit gets an electric chair drop on Regal and goes up for the headbutt. It eats mat and Regal takes over again. He throws some STIFF punches to Benoit but has a tombstone reversed. Benoit has perfected it apparently. Plancha misses Regal though and the crash is enough for Regal to get the pin actually. Thats a bit surprising. Rating: C+. Again pretty good stuff here with Regal getting the upset win. I think Benoit might have been legitimately hurt there given that ending which was more than a bit odd. These two would have more good matches in the future so this was no shock. Decent little match here with a surprise at the end. Cant ask for more than that. Pillman and Benoit argue a bit about Benoit losing. Anderson gets on Pillman for starting problems. Their job is to protect the world title unless theres something good at the end of it for them. The Dungeon comes out and the Giant pulls them back. Super Assassins vs. Sting/Lex Luger The Super Assassins are more commonly known as the Powers of Pain but in masks. Sting takes a minute to come out. Craig Pittman comes up to the announce table again and asks Mongo to be his manager for no apparent reason. Nice to see this getting more attention than a pair of former world champions that had a major issue at the biggest show of the year. Colonel Parker manages the masked dudes. They have yellow masks and black shirts and pants. Theyre as generic as they sound. And now lets talk about Hogan and Flair because this match still means nothing at all. Big powerbomb by the one well say is Barbarian because I cant tell them apart. A top rope headbutt confirms my guess. Hot tag to Luger and the Rack ends the Barbarian soon thereafter. Sting adds a Scorpion Deathlock for fun. They would get the tag titles soon. Rating: D+. Glorified and extended squash with the wrestling being a backdrop to the talking to Pittman and the build up for Hogan/Flair. Notice that they have THREE angles being talked about here: Sting and Luger, the Pittman thing and the main event. This is a good look at the way the whole company would look for years. The problem is that it would stop being interesting and start being bad. Match was just a step above a squash. Giant and Jimmy Hart. Jimmy says hell be jumping around a lot. Giant complains about Hogan costing him a lot, setting up Giant vs. Hogan in a cage at Superbrawl which was AWFUL. WCW World Title: Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan Bischoff says that Hogan rules the wrestling world. That sums up WCW in a single sentence: the non-champion rules the world. Screw that whole the champion is the top guy thing. Theres the bell just after a break. The WCW Atlanta crowd is ALL Hogan according to Eric. Other than when Flair does, well, anything. They try to treat this like the biggest match ever and it just doesnt work. Hogan Hulks Up and no sells the chops. Flair of course keeps hammering because this is Hogans WCW so Flair is a complete idiot. Flair goes up and is slammed off as Hogan continues to control. He goes to the eyes to slow Hogan down though as hes actually getting some offense! And its working! We now praise Hogan for getting Flair out of retirement. Id assume the success of the 80s and early 90s can be credited to hulk too right? Flair goes for the knee and Hogan is pretending to be in trouble. You know, because he could never be in REAL trouble right? Figure Four goes on and Im sure this is a REAL threat to Hogan. Theres the reversal and Jimmy Hart runs down to manage Flair. Hogan shakes like a fish on the mat after a suplex. The Hulk Up begins to a VERY lukewarm reaction. Leg drop hits and Arn runs in to pop him with the object. Hogan of course no sells it and the referee thinks Hogan used the object on Flair because I guess seeing the big boot and legdrop didnt convince him well enough or something. Its a DQ win for Hogan ..somehow. Whatever. Rating: D- Well lets see. In about 8 minutes, Hogan dominated Flair for about six, Flair got in the Figure Four and had it reversed in maybe 15 seconds, Hogan was praised throughout and he no sold a foreign object shot from perhaps the strongest average size guy in WCW history. Oh and he managed to win. Well of course he did. The Horsemen, the most elite group ever, run out and Hogan, ALL BY HIMSELF, manages to fight them off and hold them at bay with a chair. As in theyre all on their knees, cowering before him. Giant runs out to hit him with a stool but Savage stops that and Hogan sends Giant running after ONE, count it ONE, punch. After a break, Hogan makes a challenge for a tag match between Hogan/Savage vs. Anderson/Flair. They have secret weapons apparently. Overall Rating: D+. Well the first hour was good but after that the whole thing just kind of fell apart at the seams. There wasnt much going on at all really but the Hogan worship was insane tonight and was just painful to watch. Flair looks like a JOKE here compared to Hogan which is never good for the world champion to do. The crowd reactions are very telling here with them not being happy about this at all. Pretty weak show but this was a bad time for them so that explains a lot.