The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 01.01.96 Fuck the waiting game. Let’s play Hungry Hungry Hippos and go back to Nitro for a while. I wanna review stuff and if they’re not gonna update RAW on any kind of regular schedule, I’ll give my virtual money to WCW instead. So after we left our heroes, Ric Flair had regained the WCW World title for the 12th time at Starrcade, and Randy Savage is none too happy about it. Live from Atlanta, GA Your hosts are Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan & Mongo Arn Anderson v. Randy Savage Arn immediately works him over in the corner, but Savage takes the brawl to the floor and TOSSES HIS JACKET AT HIM. Hey, that fringe can get into someone’s eye and do serious damage! That’s reckless. Eric notes that there’s some stupid thing going on over on RAW, but the Smoking Gunns won it anyway and no one cares. Ah, the RAW Bowl. Well, it WAS different. Back in the ring, Macho with an atomic drop and he hits Double A with a Double A(xehandle) for two and chokes him out in the corner. Arn takes him down with an armbreaker and goes to work on the giant bandaged arm with a hammerlock slam. Brain notes that Arn can “break every bone in a chicken leg and never touch the skin.” That’s a, uh, very specific skill set. Arn grinds on the arm while Savage tries a comeback, and gets the DDT for two. Ref is bumped and AA quickly grabs his trust brass knuckles, but Savage snatches them and knocks him out for the pin at 7:52. **1/2 The Horsemen are outraged and protest, but Savage is protected by double jeopardy laws. I think. Lord Steven Regal v. Chris Benoit They fight over the knucklelock and Regal throws forearms and grabs a cravat, and they do a nice little wrestling sequence that ends with Benoit suplexing him on his head for two. Oh, they’re frisky today. They fight over a suplex and Regal gets the butterfly suplex for two before Benoit clotheslines him down. Regal fights to the top, but Benoit takes him down with the electric chair, then misses the flying headbutt. They fight over a tombstone and Benoit spikes him with that for two, but Regal bails to escape. Benoit follows with a dive, SPLATS on the concrete, and Regal rolls him in for the pin at 5:50. Jesus, no wonder he had brain damage. This was quite the strong style super-stiff fight, with the added realism of them battling for every little move. Felt way too short, though. *** Brian Pillman bitches out Benoit and AA for losing tonight, wearing his BADASS leather duster right out of Undertaker’s closet. Arn tries to make peace, and the Dungeon storms the ring, but the Giant keeps them from attacking. Notable here: Brian Pillman pointing out that Benoit was always able to perform with the limo full of naked women. That was apparently part of his “pretending to get fired” persona that ended up getting him fake fired for real. It’s very confusing, admittedly. Lex Luger & Sting v. The Super Assassins The Assassins are Warlord and Barbarian under masks, in case you’re wondering. Warlord works on Luger’s back, but Sting comes in and cleans house while Craig Pittman tries to convince Mongo to be his manager. He doesn’t succeed. Barbarian with an over the shoulder backbreaker on Sting and they give him a double shoulderblock for two. The Assassins cut off the ring for a bit, but Sting fights them off and makes the hot tag to Luger, who quickly finishes Barbarian with the rack at 5:47 while Sting puts Warlord into the scorpion. That was quite the visual for the finish. *1/2 Who the hell watched this and thought “Well, Warlord sucked, but we’ll give Barbarian a job for the next 5 years?” WCW World title: Ric Flair v. Hulk Hogan And the dance continues. Hogan overpowers him to start and Flair throws chops, but Hulk no-sells it, so Flair pokes him in the eyes and goes up. Hulk of course slams him off and clotheslines him to the floor, with Flair going up for the move before Hulk was even in contact with him. KAYFABE, Ric! They fight on the floor and back in for the Flair Flip, but he clips the knee to take over. Figure-four in the middle as the supposedly pro-Hogan crowd goes nuts for Flair, but Hogan reverses it. This prompts Jimmy Hart to come out and distract Hulk and Flair goes back to the knee again and follows with a suplex. Hulk is CONVULSING, but Flair makes the mistake of going for the pin and it’s comeback time. The crowd is openly hostile to that, but the big boot and legdrop follow anyway. This brings Arn in, but Hulk no-sells the brass knuckles and that’s a DQ at 8:00. Hulk threatens to beat up the entire Four Horsemen by himself, but thankfully Giant saves them from a vicious 1-on-4 beatdown. Have I mentioned how much I hate Hogan recently? This was every Hogan-Flair match you’ve ever seen in your life. ** The Megapowers promise to destroy Flair & Giant next week while forcing in all sorts of pop culture references. Hogan threatens to take on the entire Horsemen team and the Giant by himself if need be. Hey now, that’s not until the NEXT PPV. The Pulse: This was a relief after the last few dour RAW shows I’ve been sitting through. Fun and breezy with a few different styles of match, which is what they were best at.