The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 10.28.96
Taped from Ft. Wayne, IN
Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler
The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 10.28.96
Taped from Ft. Wayne, IN
Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler
The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 09.30.96
Hey, thanks to James Dixon for the shout-out in Titan Shattered. I didn’t even know that was coming. Even better that it was positive and not the usual “Thanks for setting the bar really low with your own books, jerk.”
Taped from Hershey, PA
Your hosts are Jim Ross, Kevin Kelly and Jerry Lawler
The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 09.23.96
There are few times where you can point to one segment as the nadir of an entire wrestling promotion, but this one is truly the bottom of the barrel. Watching this one, I was really worried that the WWF wasn’t going to be around for much longer.
Live from Hershey, PA
Your hosts are Kevin Kelly, Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler
Hello, Scott, while wondering how the late 90s could have gone differently and rewatching the the early months of Nitro, I found myself thinking about what happened with Marc Mero.
1) at the beginning of the year, he won a decent feud with DDP as TV champ and thing seemed to be going well for him in the mid card until he abruptly dropped the title the Luger and was gone. I recall on two deeper are Nitros where Eric Bischoff takes a shot at Mero and how he headed north or couldn’t handle it on wcw. They even blacked out his face in the old WCW Hotline ads (which I noticed in Nitro viewings since they still have the vintage WCW ads in them). Why did Mero leave wcw, or was he fired for some reason? He seemed to have it set, at least as a midcarder goes.
2) not long after, he is introduced during Wrestlemania XII (something of a marquee intro) and they even tease a feud with Triple H (presumably when he was still on the rise prior to the curtain call) which carries over to Raw. According to Foley’s book, he was signed for a high price. My question is why did WWF sign him so quickly and for so much? Did Vince see the ridiculous Johnny B Badd gimmick (which seemed to be popular due to Mero’s performance) and think ‘this guy is the kind of entertainer we need’ (despite giving him the somewhat lame Wildman gimmick)? Were there other people pushing for Mero to be signed by WWF?
Just seems like an interesting situation as Mero seems to be the first Jump (from WCW to WWF) during the Monday Night Wars era yet played mostly a footnote in the larger story, mostly by his association with Sable.
1) The Mero-Bischoff relationship deteriorated pretty fast at the end and there was a lot of name-calling and accusations both ways, but the upshot from the WCW side was that Bischoff accused Mero of missing a bunch of mandated publicity jobs and fired him. Mero’s side is that his contract expired and he quit after getting lowballed. Most suspect there was some contract tampering from the WWF involved because he had a three-year deal lined up basically the moment he left. Either way, his contract had expired at the end of his WCW run, so there was no non-compete window needed and he was able to jump right away. There was a lot of confusion at the time because the rift came so suddenly and without warning, and got ugly really fast. Bischoff buried him on Nitro on a regular basis afterwards, while Mero openly criticized the company for forcing him to do things that contradicted his religious beliefs. It was a weird deal.
2) WWE absolutely saw big money in him, and more specifically in his wife, and he was really on track in 1997 to break through, but injuries just destroyed him. In particular that stretch between Feb 97 where he got injured as Wildman Mero and then returned months later with a totally different look as Marvellous Marc Mero really derailed his momentum as a potential top guy. The boxer gimmick was a good midcard dick heel one, but not one for a guy who aspired to face Steve Austin.
The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 09.16.96
As a reminder, this rant will be immediately available in the Rant Archives link on OneDrive, available now for only $20 via Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Hopefully there’s not too much Hogan on this show so it doesn’t have to get awkward. God help us if he’s interacting with Booker T.
Live from Asheville, NC
Your hosts are Tony & Larry
The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 09.09.96
OK, now we’re back on track after the Friday RAW and unopposed Nitro episode. Back to the Intercontinental title tournament that will seemingly never fucking end. How long CAN they stretch an 8 man tournament out for? Until SEPTEMBER 23! This tournament is decidedly not awesome.
Taped from Wheeling, WV
Your hosts are Jim Ross, Kevin Kelly & Jerry Lawler
The SmarK Rant for WCW Great American Bash 96 – 06.16.96 Upgraded from my Roku Streaming Stick to the brand new version of the Roku 3 today, and everything is blazingly fast now. Except for the WWE Network, which immediately crashed the Roku when I tried to fast-forward something. Because of course. Live from Baltimore, MD Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Dusty Rhodes. I totally forgot about the goofy SNME-style promos before the show, actually. They were definitely ripping off aspects of the WWF presentation style around this point. Fire & Ice v. The Steiner Brothers Ice Train overpowers Scott for two, but the Steiners clean house. Norton works on Rick, but he gets suplexed for two and Scott adds a dropkick. Norton of course is merely inconvenienced and beats Scott down, allowing Ice Train to come in for more punishment. Corner splash misses and Scott suplexes him out of the corner, then he suplexes Norton and nearly breaks his neck. He’s got a pretty thick neck anyway, I’m sure he wouldn’t have even noticed. Norton bails and Scott tries a flying bodypress in the ring, but Norton catches him with a powerslam for two. Train comes in and works on the shoulder, with Norton adding a shoulderbreaker into an armbar. Rick repeatedly kicks Norton in the face to break that up and I’m sensing some tensions here. Another shoulderbreaker, but Scott manages to tag Rick while on Norton’s back and Rick runs wild with clotheslines. Fire & Ice double-team Rick with a powerbomb into a splash, however, and they try a Doomsday Device, but Scott breaks it up and they get the flying bulldog on Norton for two. Scott with the Frankensteiner on Norton to finish at 10:31. Kudos to Flash for taking that thing. Good hard-hitting match to start. *** US Title: Konnan v. El Gato Gato is no Joe Gomez as far as challengers go. As always, I remind you that El Gato is Spanish for “Pat Tanaka”. This was typical WCW weirdness, as they decided to book a match between Konnan and a masked man named El Gato, but had no real idea of who would play the part. So instead of getting any actual Mexicans, they found Tanaka at whatever waffle house he was wrestling out of in 1996 and gave him the gig instead. And they’re not even TRYING, as Tanaka is just wearing his usual gear with a Tiger Mask gimmick stuck over his trademark hair. Gato uses his South American martial arts to take Konnan down with armdrags, but Konnan puts him down with a clothesline for two. Gato gets a superkick for two and a sunset flip for two, but Konnan takes him down and works on the leg. Konnan puts him on the floor with a powerbomb, and then finishes with a jackknife slam back in the ring at 5:57 to retain. Just a Nitro match. ** Sting goes on a huge rant against Steven Regal and his prissy mannerisms, but then completely loses his train of thought mid-promo in a funny goof and Gene has to give him a minute and jumpstart him again. That was definitely live. Lord of the Ring match: Diamond Dallas Page v. Marcus Bagwell They immediately fight to the floor and Bagwell sends Page into the front row, but DDP cuts him off on the way back in. Bagwell starts working on the arm as Tony relates a backstory about a film student finding DDP homeless on the campus of his college and then giving him the money to enter WCW again. So was that the payoff the benefactor angle? Bagwell dumps him and follows with a dive, but goes up and gets crotched as DDP takes over. Backbreaker gets two. Backdrop suplex gets two. Page with the abdominal stretch and some sort of half-hearted piledriver for two. Bagwell comes back with a pair of atomic drops and a slingshot clothesline for two, but a blind charge misses and DDP gets two. Bagwell comes back again with a headscissors, but DDP drops him with the Cutter at 9:36. You can see them building up the “out of nowhere” aspect of that move and really getting it over. **1/4 Pretty dull stuff here. WCW Cruiserweight title: Dean Malenko v. Rey Mysterio Jr. For those keeping track, this is where the show really takes off. This is of course Rey’s PPV debut, on par with a Joe Gomez although without the longevity or career highs to follow. They do the stalemate sequence to start and start pulling out the awesome lucha gymnastics as Dean bumps to the floor. Rey with the springboard dropkick, and back in for a sunset flip out of a knucklelock. Dean dumps him and tries a baseball slide, but Rey casually slides back in to avoid it. Back in, Dean goes to work on the arm with some vicious stuff, but Rey walks the ropes and dropkicks out of it. Dean puts him down with a clothesline out of the corner for two and goes back to the arm with a hammerlock slam for two. Dean really cranks on the arm as this stays on the mat for way too long. Dean stomps him down and starts on the arm again. What an odd choice of a match style for REY MYSTERIO to debut with. Even WWE knew enough to have him go out there and fly all over the ring when he started. Butterfly suplex gets two. Dean goes back to the arm, but Rey finally makes the comeback and puts Dean on the floor before following with an insane somersault plancha halfway up the aisle. Back in with a springboard dropkick for two. They trade pinfall reversals for two and the West Coast Pop gets two. They fight to the top and Rey takes him down with a rana for two, and reverses a backbreaker attempt for two. Dean blocks another rana attempt with a powerbomb and pins him with his feet on the ropes to retain at 17:55, however. Those last few minutes were CRAZY. **** Meltzer kind of buried the match, despite giving it the same rating, noting that Rey’s cred was pretty much shot now because he lost his debut to a midcard guy. BURIED. And he spelled his name wrong, listing it as “Oscar Gonzales”. DOUBLE BURIED. Big Bubba v. John Tenta They brawl outside to start and Tenta throws him into the stairs and then works him over in the corner. Bubba finds an international object and slugs Tenta down for two, then follows with an enzuigiri for two. Tenta tries a slam and falls back, and Bubba smothers him for a while. Bubba goes up, however, and Tenta powerslams him for the pin at 5:31. Unfortunately, this feud MUST CONTINUE. DUD Falls Count Anywhere: Chris Benoit v. Kevin Sullivan They immediately do a crazy brawl into the crowd and up the stairs, ending up in the men’s bathroom. Dusty is just in his glory here, as this is literally the greatest thing he’s ever seen, culminating with them fighting over a urinal and a woman in the men’s bathroom. Sullivan shoves Benoit’s head into the extra toilet paper and they get into a vicious slugfest before heading down into the arena again. Sullivan just dumps him down the stairs and chucks a chair at him at ringside. Benoit retrieves a table and they take turns whipping each other into it, but Benoit sets it on the top rope and they fight on top of it. And then from there, Benoit finally puts him away with a superplex at 9:52 to a huge pop. Can’t really go with the full monty any more, but it was still a great brawl with non-stop action, that set a template for Vince Russo for years afterwards. Not to mention it was Dusty’s finest hour as a commentator, even as he lost one of his oldest friends the day before. Now that’s a pro. ****1/4 Benoit goes for the beatdown, but Arn Anderson makes the save…and then turns on Sullivan and kicks the shit out of him as well. And that was an awesome payoff, too. Meanwhile, the newly rejuvenated Horsemen cut their victory promo, and they wouldn’t be done yet tonight. Apparently Benoit has now “earned his stripes” with the Horsemen and is set for life with them. Sting v. Lord Steven Regal At this point I switch to the iPad for various reasons, and the quality is pretty iffy on it tonight. Also, has anyone commented recently how “The Man Called Sting” and “Steinerized” are basically the same song? Because they totally are. This was actually a pretty fantastic little feud built up on Nitro and WCWSN, with Regal being all kinds of a British super-dick and Sting being all “America is awesome, derp derp” and damn if it didn’t work great. Sting attacks to start, but Regal takes him down and pounds him with forearms, but Sting fights him off and Regal goes to argue with the front row for a bit. Thankfully the crowd is aware of their location in the USA and informs Mr. Regal. Back in, Steve offers a heartfelt handshake and smile, Sting THRUSTS HIS CROTCH at him. Is this how America treats visiting dignitaries and great men like Mr. Regal? No wonder he hates all the fans. Regal takes him down and rubs his knee in his face, then goes into a cobra clutch and pounds away with forearms. Regal controls him with a full nelson, but Sting takes him down with a sunset flip for two. Regal, who is a great professional wrestler, makes faces while fighting the move and threatens to take out his frustrations by punching the referee in the face at the same time. Regal was on another level of greatness at this point. Unfortunately we’re getting close to the point where he indulged in the drink and got fat and lazy for a long time. Regal with a dropkick for two and he goes to a headlock, but Sting suplexes out. Regal stays on him with a wacky armbar while yelling at the bloody fools in the front row and using the ropes. MULTITASKING~! Sting comes back with an abdominal stretch, but Regal slugs him down and shows his dance moves. Regal puts him in a headscissors and gets two off that, and he goes back to cranking on the arm. Sting fights up, so Regal hits him with rabbit punches (Dusty: “He needs to hit him with that open hand…NO NOT YOU, REGAL!”) and Sting goes down again. Regal goes for a crossbody out of the corner and Sting hits him with a dropkick with AWESOME timing and makes the comeback. They fight to the top and Regal takes him down with a butterfly suplex for two and hooks in the Regal Stretch, giving him the quality demoralizing trashtalk at the same time. Finally he just beats on Sting in the corner with backhands, and Sting has HAD ENOUGH. Sting beats the hell out of him with an awesome camera angle in the corner, but Regal blocks the Stinger splash with double knees. Sting isn’t taking more of Regal’s shit, however, and just hooks him in the Deathlock (with Regal kicking and screaming the whole way) to finish for good at 17:10. LOVED IT. Regal was just an insufferable dick the whole time and Sting got his revenge. FOR MURICA. **** Ric Flair & Arn Anderson v. Steve McMichael & Kevin Greene Most people were expecting a by-the-numbers celebrity trainwreck, which makes what we got all the better. The crowd already hates Mongo and some dudes managed to bring in a huge “Mongo Sucks” sign on a bedsheet. They’re not wrong. Arn does some football drills with Mongo and that goes badly for him. Tony relates a conversation with the football players, where he learns that rattlesnake hunting is a profession in Texas. Dusty is flabbergasted. “Of course! We all hunt rattlesnakes in Texas!” The football team does a beatdown on Arn in the corner at Savage’s behest and the Horsemen regroup, and Kevin Greene comes in for his debut. Greene is having a blast and Flair comes in and matches energy with him, then waits for Greene to go into the three-point stance and kicks him in the face. Greene comes back with shoulderblocks, however, and the Horsemen run away again. And this time Savage kicks Flair’s ass and tosses him back in. Flair is so great that he actually makes two green rookies look like killers and makes the crowd cheer for them. Mongo tags in and Arn pulls back from Flair’s tag in a funny bit. Mongo keeps overpowering Flair as they keep it simple and effective, and Mongo no-sells the chops and does his own, then adds a backdrop as Flair is just bumping like crazy here. Flair goes up and gets slammed off, and we get stereo figure-fours from the football players as the crowd goes crazy for it. The women all head back to the dressing room after an argument and Arn finally turns the tide with a cheapshot on Mongo, and the Horsemen go to work. Mongo gets dumped and Bobby gets his shots in, and back in Flair goes low and drops the knee to make sure the heels get no sympathy from the crowd. Kevin Greene as the babyface who is incredulously angry at the rampant cheating is just amazing for someone having his first match. The Horsemen cut off the tag to continue building sympathy for Mongo as face in peril, but he rams the Horsemen together off an atomic drop and makes the hot tag to Greene. Powerslam on Flair and you can see Flair leading him through the positioning for the next spot, but doing it totally naturally. Greene suplexes him in from the apron, but Arn clips him from behind like a dick and goes after the knee. The Horsemen cut off the ring and Flair tries the figure-four, but Greene reverses into a small package for two. Flair stays on him with the kneecrusher and this time gets the move, complete with help from Arn in the corner. Finally Savage can take no more of these shenanigans, but Chris Benoit joins us and beats on him. And then the evil women return with newly glammed out Debra and the Halliburton case filled with cash, which Mongo considers carefully…and then hits Greene in the face with it. Flair gets the pin at 20:50 of an insanely entertaining tag match. ***1/2 And the Four Horsemen are complete again! We get an epic beatdown of Randy Savage and Kevin Greene for good measure. Mongo was a terrible worker but fit in perfectly with the group as a character. Given that everyone assumed it would be the usual goofy match and celebrity going over Flair formula, this was awesome. This would have been the capper on any other PPV as it is. But wait, there’s MORE! Eric Bischoff brings out the invading Hall and Nash, so that WCW can formally answer their challenge. Bischoff still won’t use their names, which is another nice touch. So the match will happen at Bash at the Beach, and Bischoff specifically asks if they work for the WWF, trying to get the lawyers off his back. Bischoff promises the reveal the WCW team on Nitro, so Hall kicks him in the gut and Nash powerbombs him off the stage and through a table, which has the crowd freaking out. This was amazing on so many levels, not the least of which was that Bischoff had never been touched to that point, and it was the first acknowledgement that Bischoff was the guy in charge of the company, a year before Vince came out as owner of the WWF on TV. Needless to say, I was losing my shit at this point and this was one of the biggest angles in the history of the company. It was suddenly a totally different atmosphere, with two guys who weren’t playing by the arbitrary rules of the wrestling “universe” coming in and just doing what they wanted in ways that fans didn’t know how to react to yet. It was DIFFERENT and off-putting and suddenly made everything must-see and dangerous. Really, the World title match should have been stuck in the middle of the show somewhere because nothing was going to top that, but they go ahead with it anyway. WCW World title: The Giant v. Lex Luger Really, these guys have no hope of following anything that came before. Luger slugs away on the Giant to start and clotheslines him to the floor, then does a clumsy leap onto Giant’s back with a sleeper. Jimmy Hart tries to break it up with the megaphone, but Sting comes out and chases Jimmy to the back. Giant beats Luger down in the corner to escape and whips Luger around the ring, as Luger somehow grunts even louder when he’s selling than when he’s on offense. Giant puts him in a body vice and tosses him down for a surfboard and the crowd is just totally dead. Can’t even blame them. Giant slowly pounds away on the back. Lex makes the comeback with the offense grunts instead of the defense grunts and pounds away on the Giant, who charges and ends up laying on the top rope somehow. Luger uses that contrived position to put him in the Rack, but Giant falls on top of him and finishes with the chokeslam to retain cleanly at 9:30. I think with hindsight they should have put the title on Luger here and passed it to Hogan that way, since it would have ripped the hearts out of the fans that much more and Luger had earned it anyway. *1/2 The Pulse If not for the main event, this is the greatest PPV in WCW history and probably one of the greatest of all-time, period. As it is, it sits comfortably below Bash 89 on my list. Taken with Bash at the Beach three weeks later, it’s a hell of a one-two punch that nearly destroyed the WWF in the process and really, probably should have. Strongest recommendation!
(2015 Scott sez: I actually don’t have the original file for this one stored on OneDrive for some reason, so I had to use Google-Fu and find it on 411 from the original 2003 posting. Thankfully I created a new Word document for posterity as well. For those of you who care about that sort of minutia of my life. Also, to those who want a full re-rant, fuck you. In the most loving way. That is all.) The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW Uncensored ‘96 – I decided to finally redo the rant for this one when I was sick, so that it couldn’t do any more damage to me than it already has. The way I figure it, the cold medication should be enough to fight off any mental or physical illness I may suffer from watching it again. I may, however, need to stop and vomit at various points, so I’ll be sure to give you fair warning before I do. By the way, in a kind of cosmic warning to me, the tape arrived broken, probably as a way for the universe to try to keep me from sacrificing myself by watching this again, but I was able to transplant the reels into a fresh casing, because that’s the kind of thing you learn to do after years of trading tapes on the ‘net. (Man, those were the days. Thankfully the Great VHS Purge of 2004 was coming and I would soon convert everything over to DVD once and for all.) – Live from Tupalo, MS. – Your hosts are Tony, Dusty & Bobby. – Opening match, US title: Konnan v. Eddie Guerrero. It’s full blown mulletude for Eddie here. They fight over a lockup to start and head to the mat, where Konnan rides him with an armbar and stays on it. Eddie escapes with the flying wristlock and Konnan bails. Back in, Eddie starts working on the leg with a toehold, and then a figure-four, after teasing a headstand on the ankle. Konnan makes the ropes. They exchange rollups and each get two. Eddie takes him down into a chinlock and quickly into a surfboard, but Konnan takes him down into a kneebar. He turns it into a Boston Crab, which the crowd can better understand, but Eddie makes the ropes. Back up, Konnan counters an armdrag, but Eddie gets one of his own, and they do another stalemate sequence. Really nice. They back off and work the crowd, but Eddie’s attempts work better. Eddie dropkicks him down and they go up, as Eddie brings him down with a rana for two. Camel clutch, but Konnan powers out. He grabs a headlock, but Eddie counters out, and they do another stalemate sequence that ends with Eddie on the floor, but he evades a highspot attempt. Back in, Eddie grabs a headlock, but Konnan escapes with an armbar. Eddie comes back with a monkey flip and a headscissors to put Konnan out, and he follows with a plancha. This is the type of match where Mike Tenay would have been invaluable. Back in, Eddie slingshots in for two. Eddie uses a headscissors on the mat, but Konnan rolls over into a leglock, and then hits him with rolling germans, but Eddie reverses to a rollup for two. Another rollup is reversed by Konnan for two. Clothesline puts Eddie down as Konnan is obviously blown up by this point. Eddie gets a rana for two. Konnan gets Splash Mountain for two. He’s got NOTHING left. He goes up and Eddie follows, but Eddie ends up on the floor and Konnan follows with a weak tope suicida. Back in, Eddie reverses a suplex, but gets clotheslined for two. Konnan goes up again, but Eddie brings him down with a superplex for two. Eddie goes up to finish, but Konnan slams him off, which Eddie reverses into a cradle for two. Awesome. Konnan slugs away, but Eddie tries a leapfrog, so Konnan hits him in the nuts and pins him at 18:26 to retain. This was ALL Eddie after about the 10 minute point. ***1/2 (I obviously had much less hatred for Konnan in my heart even 12 years ago. I guess time does heal all wounds and shitty booking.) – Lord Steven Regal v. Fit Finlay. Finlay was just The Belfast Bruiser at this point. Fit pounds away with STIFF forearms in the corner to start, but Regal takes him down and gets his own. He runs into a knee and Finlay drops an elbow for two. He stomps away with glee and gets a short-arm clothesline for two. Vicious kick to the back, but Regal fires back with a forearm and grabs a cravat on the mat. Regal pounds the palm into his nose, but Fit rams a knee into his forehead to escape and drives another knee before tossing him. He drops Regal on the railing and then wraps the arm around the post. He keeps working the arm as Regal comes in, and cranks on an armbar. Regal knees out of it and slugs away with forearms, then blocks a rollup attempt with a dropkick for two. He grinds a forearm into Fit’s head on the mat, but Fit takes him down with another armbar, but Regal knees out of it and controls on the mat again. He chokes away and fires off more forearms, but Fit headbutts him down and drops a knee. Slam and senton gets two. He hits the chinlock, but Regal fights out, so Fit drops him with a lariat for two. He brings Regal to the apron and rams the throat into it, then sends him into the railing again. They keep brawling and end up back in the ring again, fighting over a suplex on the apron, which ends with Fit hitting the floor. Regal follows with a Cactus elbow and heads back in, then pounds him with boots on the way in. Elbow gets two. Regal goes to the headlock, but Fit kicks in the shoulder to escape in super-stiff fashion. Regal takes him to the corner and gives him a soccer kick to the nuts to retaliate, then drops an elbow for two. More kicks to the back, but Fit goes to the eyes and drives a knee to the back of the neck to block a sunset flip. Regal goes back to the arm and crossfaces him a few times, but Fit backdrops him out of the corner and pounds the kidneys with forearms. Regal takes him down for two. Regal slugs him down and keeps pounding on the apron, but Fit gives him a straight shot to the jaw to drop him. Good lord. Fit takes him into the apron and they brawl on the floor, won by Fit. Back in, Fit sends him into the turnbuckle, but Regal alley-oops him to the floor as a defense mechanism. They slug it out on the floor and Regal sends him into the Doomsday Cage, and then they head back, but the Bluebloods run out for the DQ at 17:30. Really bad finish to a horrifically stiff match. It wasn’t GREAT as a wrestling match or anything, but as a total war of attrition, it was amazing, something out of a UFC almost. *** (I’m pretty pumped that the Nitro rematch is coming up soon too!) – Col. Rob Parker v. Madusa. (That’s Hall of Famer Alundra Blayze, you know.) Parker gives a clean break out of the corner to start, which has Dusty in amazement. Another try, but Madusa takes him down with an armdrag. Parker comes back with an airplane spin, but she reverses to a sunset flip for two. Slam and he bails, getting advice from Dick Slater (who was Debbie Micelli’s real-life husband at that point). (What, no secret advice joke? I really must have been feeling shitty that day. Here, I’ll throw in a freebie: “That advice? Never do a southern rebel gimmick in a New York-based wrestling promotion.”) Back in, he takes her down with the choke, but misses an elbow and gets dropkicked. He bails again and she follows with a bad plancha. Back in, she gets a german suplex for two, but Slater puts Parker on top for the pin at 3:43. Total freakshow. DUD – Retirement match: Diamond Dallas Page v. The Booty Man. OK, quick word of explanation. This was supposed to be the blowoff of the DDP-Johnny B Badd feud, which had been going for the past million PPVs, but Marc Mero got fired from WCW (on purpose) and jumped to the WWF, leaving the storyline without an ending, so they repackaged Ed Leslie again, into The Booty Man (a kind of disco version of Brutus Beefcake) and suddenly had him fighting for Kimberly’s honor. (Longer and more accurate story: Mero’s contract expired at the end of February while still champion and he agreed to sign a new deal, but wanted assurances that he would make his usual salary while working without a contract instead of the job-guy money that other free agents made per show. Bischoff jerked him around on the details of the talks as well as some personal apperances, and then wanted to continue the Kimberly angle that Badd hated so much. Finally Mero basically said “Screw you, I’m going to the WWF” and Bischoff terminated him after he dropped the title to Lex Luger and told him not to come back.) Tony buries Mero before the match, and then in the same breath they talk about how Booty Man was actually a spy in the Dungeon of Doom on behalf of Hulk Hogan, which is how they explain his sudden face turn. I wonder if that would work in real life. “Um, I wasn’t trying to deal cocaine out of a subway terminal, I was spying for internal security” Maybe not. (Eh, Brutus Beefcake drug bust jokes don’t hold up very well, unfortunately.) This match also proved to be a major problem for DDP, because he likes planning out his matches in advance and improvising something with ED LESLIE of all people is just asking for trouble. Mucho stallo to start. Page starts with a wristlock and they reverse off that, but Page goes to the ropes. Booty goes to a headlock and overpowers Page, and he bails. Back in, Booty slugs him down and goes to the armbar, as Dusty claims that he’s “very skilled at mat wrestling”. I can’t make this stuff up. Page charges and misses, ending up on the floor. This match is going nowhere. Page stalls forever outside, so Booty Man follows him out and they brawl. Back in, Page gets rammed into the turnbuckle a few times and Page bails AGAIN. He stumbles around on the floor like a clown and Kimberly joins us at ringside, dressed as a cheerleader. HOOCHIE MAMA. Back in, Page grabs a headlock, but Booty powers out, so they criss-cross and stall. Booty slugs him out to the apron again. They manage to fuck up a shoulderblock and then Booty whiffs on a crossbody attempt, and Page chokes away. Even Tony gave a disgusted “What was THAT?” before catching himself. (Ed Leslie was a special kind of terrible in his WCW run.) Page gets a backdrop suplex and stalls, but gets two. We hit the chinlock, but Booty fights out, so Page knees him down for two. Back to the chinlock, and Page uses the ropes as the match drags on. Soon I fear that I will die of old age before this chinlock ends. Finally Booty fights out, but Page drops him on the top rope as Kimberly turns to the camera and says with a straight face “I want him to be my boyfriend”. And people wonder why her acting career didn’t take off. Page goes after her, but gets slapped, and Booty Man hits him with a high knee to finish at 16:00. Absolutely horrible. -* Poor Kimberly has to sell a kiss from steroid-bloated, balding Ed Leslie as the sexiest thing since Ricky Martin or whatever was sexy in 1996. (Hey wow, that joke got funnier in hindsight.) But then she sleeps with DDP in real life, so who knows what weird stuff she’s into. – The Giant v. Loch Ness. Suddenly I yearn for the salad days of Booty Man v. DDP, all those minutes ago. When Paul Wight is the skinny one, you’ve got a problem. Although he WAS really lean at this point. Giant chops away in the corner to start and uses the Nash choke, but Loch Ness hammers back with the CLUBBING FOREARMS. Giant fires back with boots in the corner, but misses a charge and takes a nice bump to the floor. Back in, Loch Ness slaps him down and drops the elbow, but misses another one, and Giant makes the comeback, booting him down. Legdrop finishes at 2:34. Well, at least it was short. DUD Giant would win the World title the next night on Nitro. (Nope, another month yet. Never seen that match, either!) – Chicago Street Fight: The Road Warriors v. Sting & Booker T. How you have a Chicago street fight in Tupelo is a mystery unsolved to this day. (I really feel like we were robbed off the payoff with Luger having to participate in the street fight he unknowingly agreed to.) They brawl outside to start and head into the ring for a slugfest, but Sting runs into Animal’s boot. Animal pounds away in the corner while Hawk backdrops Booker on the floor, and back in the ring it’s another donnybrook. Booker hits Animal with the ax kick for two, while Hawk & Sting fight outside. Animal powerslams Booker and drops an elbow for two. Sting comes back in, but Animal necksnaps him on the top rope and posts him. Sting returns the favor as the split screen is helpfully labeled “Chicago Street Fight” in case we’ve forgotten what we’re watching. (I was heavily medicated at that point. So it could have happened. God knows I’ve fallen asleep watching boring wrestling shows late at night.) In the ring, Sting hits Animal with a fistdrop, but gets clotheslined for two. Elbow misses and Sting bulldogs him, but Hawk chokes Sting down. Everyone brawls outside and Booker covers Animal for two on the floor. Back in, Booker gets caught with a shot coming down, and Animal dropkicks him for two. Sting retreats to the back, while Booker gets a lazy cross-armbreaker on Hawk in the ring. Sting chairs Animal over by the back, and heads to the ring for a chairshot on Hawk. But then Animal gets it and uses it in incredibly weak fashion, getting two on Booker. Booker comes back with a sidekick on Animal and Sting piledrives Hawk, and of course he no-sells that. Since when does Sting ever use a piledriver? Hawk powerbombs Sting and goes to the chinlock, then tosses him and it’s more dull brawling outside. This match has ZERO flow. It’s all “two guys do stuff in the ring while the other two brawl, switch off, repeat.” Hawk hits them with some wussy chairshots and tries a powerbomb on Sting, but it’s reversed. Animal clubs on Sting with the forearms, but Booker breaks it up, and it’s more dull brawling. Back in with Sting and Hawk, as Sting hits him with a shot off the top that Hawk doesn’t sell, but misses the Stinger splash. Hawk drops a fist and Animal goes up, but Booker crotches him, so Hawk covers Sting for two. Booker hits Animal with a flying clothesline for two. Once again the mystery of falls count anywhere matches arises, as you can pin somewhere anywhere in the arena, except when he has his foot on the ropes. Sting gets a headbutt low on Animal, and Hawk hits Booker with a backdrop suplex. Booker comes back with a weak sideslam on Hawk, but misses an elbow, and they do a sloppy collision in the corner. Sting goes up and misses a splash on Animal. Hawk goes up and gets dropkicked by Booker coming down. Animal chokes away in the corner, but Booker goes low, and they fight outside again. Oh, joy. Meanwhile, Hawk hits Sting with a move I can only jokingly call a gutwrench suplex for two. Sting and Booker finally get organized and double-team Hawk with a clothesline, then Sting suplexes him on the top rope while Animal suplexes Booker. Sooooooo slow and boring. Hawk & Sting brawl outside again while Booker crotches himself on the top rope, and they switch off for no reason in particular, with Animal taking on Sting outside and Hawk beating on Booker inside. Booker comes back with a spinkick on Hawk for two. Hawk boots him down for two. Back to the floor as Sting goes up on Animal, but gets caught with a powerslam. Animal works the count, but Sting comes back with a clothesline and both guys are out. The boredom of this match is crushing my soul. Hawk and Booker head back into the ring, but Hawk misses a fistdrop and Booker misses an elbow. He comes back with a sidekick, however, and both guys are out. On the floor, Animal goes nuts with a chair (as nuts as anyone can go in this snoozefest) and the Warriors double-team Booker, but Sting heads to the back again and returns with BROOMS. Now I’m scared. The Warriors choke them down, but Booker comes back with his own choking on Animal, but he gets tossed by Animal and decides to leave. In the ring, Hawk gets two on Sting. We follow Animal and Booker to the back, where Luger is posing in front of a mirror in a bizarre moment, but Animal interrupts and gets beat up by Luger and Stevie Ray as a result. Some things you just don’t mess with. Back in the ring, Hawk dumps Sting and they brawl, but now Booker T returns as Sting misses his charge into the railing. Booker sends Hawk into the stairs and brings him back in, getting a sideslam and going up with the Harlem Hangover, but misses it. Stevie Ray runs out and adds a chairshot for good measure, and Booker FINALLY pins Hawk to end it at 29:35. Not a terrible brawl, but ridiculously long and dull. It did foreshadow Booker’s single career, however, as he managed to outwork both of the washed-up Road Warriors and held his own with the unmotivated Sting. ** (Meltzer actually gave this one ***1/2 and called it the best match on the show. Sorry, I just don’t see it.) – DOOMSDAY CAGE: Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage v. Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Z Gangsta, The Ultimate Solution, Kevin Sullivan, Lex Luger, Meng and the Barbarian. I wish I could be making up that listing, but I’m not. They really did book Hogan & Savage 8-on-2. The heels are The Alliance to End Hulkamania, or TAEH. That of course is the opposite of heat. The idea here, if you can wrap your head around it, is that there’s a three-story cage, with Hogan & Savage starting at the top with Flair & Anderson and moving downwards. Now keep in mind there’s no actual RULES for this announced, only vague notations about Hogan & Savage having to “fight their way down”. (Original plan was to re-use the triple cage thing from Bash 88, because apparently it was still stored in Kevin Sullivan’s garage or something.) Michael Buffer actually has to introduce this mess with a straight face. Well, I guess that’s why they pay him the big bucks. Hogan starts with Arn in the top cage and they fight it out, with Flair chopping Savage, and Arn clubbing on Hogan. The lighting is terrible and you can’t see anything. They keep brawling and Hogan rams Flair into a pole and chokes him down. Flair & Anderson stop and work over Savage, however. Anderson goes after Hogan and gets a figure-four, so Flair does the same to Savage. Hogan and Savage use powder to escape, however, and move down to the next cage. Uh huh. So now it’s 4-on-2, as it’s Sullivan, Luger, Meng and Barbarian to contend with. Hogan fights with Luger & Sullivan, while Savage takes on the Faces of Fear. (I should also note what a giant waste of Luger this was, as they had spent weeks masterfully building up the Sting storyline and creating this awesome slimy heel character for him before suddenly turning him into cartoon villain again for the sake of having an eighth guy in this mess.) The heels control, but Hogan fights off Sullivan and saves Savage, and then locks the Faces of Fear in their own cage, leaving it 2-on-2. Oh, such strategy. Flair and Anderson head down into the lower cage to try and help, and Hogan and Sullivan fight out to the scaffolding while Luger continues the thrilling brawl with Savage in the cage. However, soon all four end up on the floor, and into the ring. Hogan hits Sullivan with the big boot and stomps away. They switch off, with Hogan hitting Luger with a bucket and Sullivan ramming Savage into the cage. Tony, in an actual quote, says “This has been spectacular.” Well, people describe car crashes the same way. Hogan brings Luger to the ring and gets a corner clothesline, then hammers away while Savage & Sullivan fight on the floor. Wasn’t the point supposed to be that they were fighting in the CAGE? Hence the name, DOOMSDAY CAGE? Luger hits Savage with the STAINLESS STEEL FOREARM OF DEATH, but brawls out with Hogan again. You have to wonder what exactly the Horsemen and Faces of Fear are DOING while trapped in that other ring. Luger clubs Savage down with a chair and then goes after Hogan, but he makes the comeback and the heels get whipped together. And now the other heels, Jeep “Painful Constipation” Swenson and Z Gangsta (Zeus) head out and drag our heroes back to the DOOMSDAY CAGE, and into the ring on the bottom of that cage. Was there something wrong with the ring they were in before? Somehow, the match gets WORSE, as Permanent Vacation overpowers Hogan and Gangsta chokes Savage down. He pops up with a double axehandle, however, while Hogan goes to the eyes of Traffic Citation and then turns his attention to Gangsta. He gets choked down, which to Tony is the most thrilling thing to happen all match, and Notable Quotation press-slams Savage. Hogan comes back on Gangsta, but now the Horsemen rejoin the match (which of course makes no sense, but god forbid either of THESE goofs do the job when Flair is available) and things look bleak for the Megapowers. The heels pound away, as Catalytic Conversion uses the CLUBBING FOREARMS, but now Booty Man gives them powder (oh man, this stuff just writes itself) and frying pans. That’s how you cook the crack old-school, I guess. Now Luger runs in as well and turns the tide, using a loaded glove, but it hits Flair by mistake and Savage pins him at 25:09. This would prove to be the last hurrah for Hulkamania, as fan reaction to this mess was so overwhelmingly negative that his heel turn was necessary to keep his career alive. Without a doubt the WORST PPV main event ever, lacking not only internal logic and interesting action, but the entertainment value of Heroes of Wrestling. This one gets the full negative monty. –***** (I stand by that one.) The Bottom Line: You may stumble across this show and accidentally watch it, then, like a victim of prison rape, blame yourself for the pain, humiliation, and rectal bleeding, but DON’T. This was WCW’S fault, not yours! There are support groups for survivors of this PPV out there to help you, and I would advise you to make use of them. Other people have been through the same thing. We can help you. Strongest recommendation to avoid humanly possible. (Or, you know, get really drunk and watch it for free on the WWE Network. Whatevs.)
Long time reader, second time e-mailer. I've been watching early Raw & Nitros from March 1996 on the Network. One thing I've noticed during the Raw intro is a shot of President Piper slapping Goldust… yet this is in the opening credits weeks before he even showed up. Any guess as to why such an odd edit? It looks like (according to Youtube) that it replaced a shot of someone (Jarrett?) hitting Ahmed Johnson with something (a gold record?) from behind while he was talking to Lawler at ringside.
Also… this is (obviously) from Raw in March of 1996.
Isn't that Lex Luger's WCW theme playing? How'd they get away with that?!?
PS: Is it white and gold, or blue and black?
Have noticed that you've stopped you're reviews of the 1996 Raws & Nitros. I was under the impression that you had been enjoying the shows (at least the Nitros). Had that changed, or did life get in the way? They were a cool little peek into the past, and I hope they're not gone for good, especially with how important '96 was in the big picture. Take care.
With all of the 1996 WCW reviews and whatnot, I figured why not get some insight from the Bookerman himself, Kevin Sullivan. This was originally posted in July of 2013 but figured why the hell not read it again tonight.
This was released on June 25th, 2013.