Monday Night Raw – July 8, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: July 8, 2002
Location: First Union Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

Raw is actually picking up a bit at the moment as they’re making some efforts to push the younger talent. Brock Lesnar is moving up the card and it’s clear that Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit are becoming the top heels. Unfortunately that leaves the NWO, who are promising that HHH will be joining tonight. Let’s get to it.

Read more…

Monday Night Raw – July 1, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: July 1, 2002
Location: Verizon Wireless Arena, Manchester, New Hampshire
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

We’re starting the second half of the year as things aren’t exactly the most thrilling at the moment. The big story here though is Jeff Hardy challenging Undertaker for the Undisputed Title in a ladder match. Now this match is really, really fondly remembered but I wasn’t blown away when I saw it a few months back. Maybe another viewing will change that so let’s get to it.

Read more…

Monday Night Raw – June 17, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: June 17, 2002
Location: The Arena in Oakland, Oakland, California
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

It’s the go home show for King of the Ring and that means we’re getting the first two quarterfinal matches tonight. Unfortunately it means we’re also getting more of the mess that Raw has become. However, with WWE having to hit a big reset button last week, it should be interesting to see where things go from here. Let’s get to it.

Read more…

Monday Night Raw – June 10, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: June 10, 2002
Location: Phillips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Attendance: 8,000
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

Steve Austin is gone and he’s not coming back for a long time. Austin walked out of the company earlier in the day before this show due to not wanting to lose to Brock Lesnar in a King of the Ring qualifying match with no build. He had been unhappy for a long time and this was the breaking point, meaning most of the show had to be rewritten at the last minute. There’s not much of a point in recapping most of what’s going on because everything is changing here so let’s get to it.

Read more…

Monday Night Raw – June 3, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: June 3, 2002
Location: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Attendance: 7,800
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

We’re at an interesting place here as it seems that we’re gearing up for Steve Austin/Rob Van Dam vs. Eddie Guerrero/Chris Benoit though Benoit isn’t quite ready to get back in the ring after his neck injury. Unfortunately the NWO is still running around and that’s not good for anyone, especially the people actually on the team. Let’s get to it.

Read more…

Monday Night Raw – May 27, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: May 27, 2002
Location: Skyreach Centre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Attendance: 9,500
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

Things are getting a bit more interesting around here but there’s a lot of bad still going on as well. Possibly above all else though, it seems that people like Eddie Guerrero and Rob Van Dam are moving up towards the top of the card, which is the most important thing that could happen at the moment. Let’s get to it.

Read more…

Monday Night Raw – May 20, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: May 20, 2002
Location: Pyramid, Memphis, Tennessee
Attendance: 8,000
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

It’s the first night of the Undertaker regime and that means we’re getting closer to King of the Ring. In addition to that, I’m sure there’s a good chance that we’re going to get more of Austin vs. the NWO, which is now adding names for Austin to beat up from week to week. As long as it’s not Austin vs. Big Show, I think we’re good. Let’s get to it.

Read more…

Monday Night Raw – May 13, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: May 13, 2002
Location: Air Canada Center, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

Since when does a city get Wrestlemania in March and Raw in May? It’s the final Raw before Judgment Day and the big question is what can possibly happen to Hogan and Undertaker now? Last week was a total disaster and I can’t imagine things are going to get any better here. Let’s get to it.

Read more…

Monday Night Raw – May 6, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: May 6, 2002
Location: Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, Connecticut
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

Maybe a new month will help things out a little bit. I know I say this every week but it almost can’t get worse than last week with Undertaker very slowly beating Hulk Hogan down because Hogan can barely move at this point in his career. The pay per view really can’t get here soon enough as I can’t imagine they’ll keep the title on Hogan any longer. Let’s get to it.

Read more…

Monday Night Raw – April 29, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: April 29, 2002
Location: HSBC Arena, Buffalo, New York
Attendance: 8,500
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

The question at this point is how bad can things get. The wrestling has been horrible but the stories have been some of the worst of all time with uninspired main eventers who look like they’re about to collapse from old age. Maybe things can start to pick up soon because it can’t get much worse. Let’s get to it.

Read more…

Monday Night Raw – April 22, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: April 22, 2002
Location: Savvis Center, St. Louis, Missouri
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

It’s the night after Backlash and due to reasons of pure nostalgia, Hulk Hogan is the Undisputed WWF World Champion. That means he’s gearing up for a title defense against Undertaker at the next pay per view, which leaves Steve Austin to feud with Ric Flair because Austin feuds with authority figures. Let’s get to it.

Read more…

Monday Night Raw – April 15, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: April 15, 2002
Location: Reed Arena, College Station, Texas
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

It’s the final show before Backlash and the big Raw main event is the fresh matchup of Undertaker vs. Steve Austin for a title shot at the next pay per view. Raw has been dying in its first few shows and I don’t see that getting any better for a long time. They really need to figure out something with this Brand Split in a hurry because it’s getting bad quickly. Let’s get to it.

Read more…

Monday Night Raw – April 8, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: April 8, 2002
Location: America West Arena, Phoenix, Arizona
Attendance: 13,500
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

Hopefully things pick up a little bit after last week’s mess of a debut for the solo red show. Backlash is in thirteen days and it’s really not clear what we should be expecting from either brand, save for some of the top matches. Steve Austin is officially on Raw though and you know he’s going to do something big. Let’s get to it.

Read more…

Monday Night Raw – April 1, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: April 1, 2002
Location: Pepsi Arena, Albany, New York
Attendance: 9,000
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

It’s time for the first show of a new generation as Ric Flair is officially in charge of Raw with a roster all its own. I’m really not sure what to expect here as almost all of the stories are restarting, save for Kane vs. the NWO for reasons that I don’t want to understand. Oh and Raven won the Hardcore Title to bring that “division” to Raw. Let’s get to it.

Read more…

Smackdown – March 28, 2002

Smackdown
Date: March 28, 2002
Location: First Union Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Attendance: 13,600
Commentators: Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler

With the Draft out of the way, this is the final regular episode of Smackdown with the full roster before things split up next week. That means it’s also the last chance for the wrestlers to make one last good impression against their interpromotional rivals. In other words it’s a lame duck show that they’re trying to pass off as something important. Let’s get to it.

Read more…

Monday Night Raw – March 25, 2002 (First WWF Draft)

This seemed appropriate given what we’re seeing now.  Starting tonight, I’ll be putting up alternating reviews from the original Brand Split with Raw going up on Wednesday and Smackdown/pay per views going up on Saturdays.  There’s no better place to start than on the original Draft so let’s get to it.

Monday Night Raw
Date: March 25, 2002
Location: Bryce Jordan Center, State College, Pennsylvania
Attendance: 15,550
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

This seemed due for a second look since they’re doing it all again this year. We’re just after Wrestlemania XVIII and things are kind of in a lull. With so many wrestlers and no big evil for the WWF to fight (since the WCW/ECW Invasion just had to be started and wrapped up by Thanksgiving), it was decided to split the rosters in two. This was a really cool idea at the time but it should be interesting to see how it worked when the initial Brand Extension isn’t the most fondly remembered concept. Let’s get to it.

Read more…

WCW Wednesday: Part XXVI – the Bad Guy Edition!

On May 27, 1996, during a match between Steve Doll (a.k.a. Steven Dunn) and the Mauler (Mike Enos) on the first 2-hour episode of Nitro, Scott Hall, fresh off the WWF curtain call, came through the Macon crowd and interrupted the match. Neither Tony Schiavone nor Larry Zbyszko name-dropped him, but they questioned his reason for being there.

Read more…

New E-Book: KB’s Complete Monday Nitro Reviews Volume IV

We continue through the history of one of the biggest wrestling companies of all time with the second half of Monday Nitro and Thunder from 1998. It’s a bad time for WCW as the Monday Night Wars are starting to swing in the other direction. Monday Night Raw started winning again in April 1998 and WCW has been scrambling for a way to get back on top. However, their strategy seems to be a combination of quick fixes and going back to ideas that worked before. These methods don’t have the most successful track records in wrestling history but maybe they’ll work here.

In this book, I’ll be looking at every Monday Nitro and Thunder from July 1998 through December 1998, breaking down each show match by match and segment by segment. This is a very important time in WCW’s history and it should be interesting looking back and seeing what was working, what wasn’t working, but most importantly why it wasn’t working. As usual I’ll be providing play by play, context and analysis of every show.

The books is my longest ever at over 400 pages on a Kindle and only costs $3.99, or the equivalent in other currencies. If you don’t have a Kindle or e-book reader, there are several FREE apps you can use to read it on pretty much any electronic device. You can find those from Amazon here.

You can pick up the book from Amazon here.

From the UK Amazon here.

From the Canadian Amazon here.

Or if you’re in another country with its own Amazon page, just search “KB Nitro Volume 4” and my book will be the first thing that pop up.

Also you can still get any of my previous books on the WWE Championship, Monday Night Raw from 1997, 1998 and 2001, Monday Nitro from 1995-June 1998, In Your House, Summerslam, Starrcade, ECW Pay Per Views, Royal Rumble, Saturday Night’s Main Event, the WWF and WCW pay per views from 1998, Wrestlemania and Clash of the Champions at my author’s page here.

I hope you like it and shoot me any questions you might have.

Thomas Hall

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–09.23.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 09.23.96

For those wondering about the slowdown in getting these 96 shows out, it’s mostly because the Network’s archived content is getting so brutally slow to watch that it literally took me two hours to watch that September 23 episode of RAW with all the stuttering and buffering. Nitro is frequently even worse, and it’s getting to the point where this might be the last episode I do for a long while, because RAW at least works smoother most of the time. We’ll see how this one goes.

Live from somewhere, which turns out to be Birmingham, AL.

Your hosts are Tony & Larry

Read more…

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 09.16.96

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 skeith@gmail.com!

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

Read more…

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–08.26.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 08.26.96

The skip weeks for RAW really threw off my recapping mojo, so now we had back a couple of weeks to an unopposed Nitro to get us caught up again.

From Palmetto, FL. Really, THAT city warranted a mention? It’s only a 1500 seat building, too.

Your hosts are Tony & Larry.

Read more…

2015 Scott Sez: Hog Wild 1996

The SK Retro Rant for WCW Hog Wild 96. (So I gotta say, I have no idea why I didn’t buy this show back in 1996, unless I had something else going on that Saturday, but that seems pretty unlikely.  I mean, have you MET me?)  Lots of requests recently for this one. Dunno why. I guess with the diminishing number of shows I haven’t done yet the law of averages says that this one had to come up sometime. (Of course now there’s like a whole DECADE of shows I’ve never watched, but there was a time in the early 2000s when I could lay claim to reviewing every PPV ever!)  Quick Oscar thoughts: Steve Martin was really funny and charming, but the actual awards were so predictable and subpar that I was able to sit there and pick the major ones with a 95% accuracy rate, even while flipping over to “Goodfellas” on Bravo at the same time. (Goodfellas is a movie where I am physically unable to resist watching it in full whenever it’s on TV, along with Shawshank Redemption and Men In Black.)  Ooo, Julia wins Best Actress, what a shock. Gladiator wins Best Picture despite Traffic being RIGHT THERE, but when the Academy gets an epic in it’s sights, you might as well settle in for the sweep. (Good god what a terrible decision that one was in retrospect) I don’t know that I’d agree with it winning the big award or even Russell Crowe winning Best Actor despite having nothing but cliches and grunts to spew for 3 hours, but I certainly liked the movie, so I can’t really complain all that much. (I can totally complain.  IT WAS A STUPID DECISION) I’m totally heartened to see Del Toro take Best Supporting at least and Steven Soderburgh upset Ang Lee for Best Director, so the night wasn’t a total writeoff. Still, let’s hope for a better crop of movies this year so that we don’t get The Mummy Returns winning Best Picture in March 2002, okay? Live from Sturgis, NC.  (I believe “South Dakota” is what I meant there.)  Your hosts are Tony, Bobby & Dusty. Just for the sake of those curious, I’m including matches I felt like watching from the two-hour WCW Saturday Night / pre-game show that preceded this show on TBS. (Forever lost to history now.  Or Chris Fothergill-Brown’s hard drive.  Same thing.)  I start by fast-forwarding through Enos & Slater v. The Public Enema.  (I’m glad to see Rough & Ready sticking it out at least after the problems they’ve been having.)  Konnan v. Chavo Guerrero, Jr. Konnan controls with an armbar takedown and works a wristlock. Chavo comes back with a headscissor takedown and Konnan bails to the dirt. The ring is on a platform, which is in turn on plain old dirt. The distance from ring to dirt is pretty big, and the space on the platform where the mats are is pretty small. Ah, WCW, the smartest promotion no longer alive. Chavo gets a vicious deathlock variation and works the knee. Konnan roughs him up and dropkicks him in the corner. DDT gets two. Chavo gets a lariat and dropkick, and Konnan hides in the ropes. He comes out and cheapshots Chavo from behind, then the rolling clothesline and Splash Mountain finish at 4:24. *1/4 We skip over Nasty Boys v. High Voltage, for obvious reasons. Alex Wright v. Bobby Eaton. Wright wins with a bodypress before I even finish writing the participants, at 0:35. Eep. DUD We skip over the Dungeon of Doom squashing some jobbers. Squire Dave Taylor v. Mr. JL. JL gets a dropkick and armdrag to start, and Taylor bails. Back in, Taylor gets some forearms and dodges a blind charge. Standing neckbreaker and Taylor pounds away. JL gets a bulldog and goes up with a bodypress for two. Fallaway slam from Taylor finishes at 2:39. Just a squash. ½* DDP v. Renegade. Diamond Cutter, goodbye at 0:52. DUD Arn Anderson v. Hugh Morrus. No Laughing Matter misses, DDT doesn’t, goodbye at 0:35. DUD (How can this be a pre-show without Bad News Barrett doing a job?)  PPV Begins: Opening match, Cruiserweight title: Rey Mysterio Jr. v. Ultimo Dragon. Wristlock sequence to start, won by Rey. Dragon gets a rollup for two, but Rey works the leg. Dragon gets a leg lariat and they fight over a german suplex and go to a gymnastic exhibition. Dragon with the kick combo and a dropkick. The handspring elbow sets up a running powerbomb, but he stalls and won’t cover. He goes into a figure-four for god-knows-what reason. Spinning backbreaker and again he won’t cover. They screw up a bow-and-arrow spot, with Rey slipping free unintentionally, and Rey comes back with a springboard dropkick, baseball slide to put him out, and springboard plancha from the top rope to the dirt. To give you an idea of how suicidal that was, consider that standing on the ground, the wrestlers were generally eye-level with the bottom rope thanks to the raised platform. And there’s no mats down there. Back in, Rey gets a rana from the top, but gets dropkicked while trying another. Rey bails and Dragon follows with a pescado. Back in, Dragon gets a german suplex for two. Quebrada, no cover. Moonsault gets two. Powerbomb reversed to a rana by Rey, and they go up. Dragon blocks a rana, but can’t block a second one, and Rey gets the pin at 11:38. Too spotty and just all over the map. Still good, though. ***  (Sounds about right.)  Scott Norton v. Juice Train. Train was dumb enough to lip off to Giant in the pre-game show and got his arm beat up as a result. Norton works on it for a bit, Ice Train comes back with a powerslam, but Norton applies an armbar for the submission at 5:05. Standard power stuff here. ¾*  (After watching weeks of buildup on Nitro lately, that sounds like exactly the kind of horrendous disappointment you’d expect.)  Bull Nakano v. Madusa. Winner gets to smash up the loser’s motorcycle. Nakano attacks with nunchuks and biels her by the hair a few times, for two. Slam gets two, but Madusa comes back with her flying hair slam things. Nakano hooks a Sharpshooter, then a DDT gets two. We hit the chinlock. Madusa kicks at the legs and gets a rana for two. Leg lariat, but Nakano hits her own clothesline for two. Madusa’s GERMAN SUPLEX OF DOOM gets two. Nakano hits a backdrop suplex for two. Another one gets the pin, but Madusa LIFTS HER SHOULDER and wins at 5:53. Gosh, what an original and totally enthralling ending. ½* (On the bright side, the 5000 redneck bikers in attendance would have likely never seen a wrestling match in their lives anyway and so this was a totally fresh and new finish for all of them!)  Madusa’s surgically enhanced funbags were seriously messing with her workrate by then. They had a way better match at Summerslam 94. Madusa does a job of smashing up the bike with a sledgehammer that would make HHH hang his head in shame. Dean Malenko v. Chris Benoit. Mmmmm…Liz in leather. Deano Machino has been paid off by the Dungeon of Dumb at this point, with the goal being to take Benoit out. (God, I sound like Jericho at his worst.) Benoit takes him down and pounds him, Dean responds in kind. Chris gets some CANADIAN VIOLENCE, and a kneelift. Dean elbows back and pounds him in the corner. Suplex gets two. Standing neckbreaker and elbow gets two, and we hit the chinlock. Benoit pounds him and lays the badmouth on him, then chokes him out. Legdrop gets one. More Canadian Violence, and a back elbow gets two. Dean bridges out and they go into a mind-blowingly awesome pinfall reversal sequence that totally goes over the redneck biker crowd’s head. It ends with Dean getting a short-arm scissor. Chris rolls him over and powers out. Elbowdrop gets two. Snap suplex gets two. Benoit goes into an abdominal stretch, then hits the chinlock. Both go for a bodypress and collide in mid-air. Benoit misses a blind charge, but Dean walks into a snap suplex to set up Benoit’s diving headbutt for two. Tombstone attempt is reversed by Dean for two. He keeps covering for two. Cloverleaf attempt is reversed for two by Benoit. Both guys hit the floor, and Benoit gets the worst of it. Back in, Dean goes up and gets crotched. Benoit superplex gets two. Dean gets a vicious release german suplex, where you can almost see Benoit floating in slow motion before hitting the mat square on his neck. Now THAT’S wrestling. Crowd doesn’t care, but fuck ‘em if they can’t appreciate art. Benoit comes back with a small package for two. Short clothesline gets two, and Dean responds in kind for two. Overhead belly to belly gets two for Dean, and Chris comes back with a Northern Lights suplex for two. Bridging german suplex gets two for Benoit. He goes into a Liontamer, but Dean makes the ropes and bails. Benoit follows with a pescado, and gets a bridging rollup back in for two. Dean gets a forward rollup for two. Backslide battle is won by Malenko, for two. Rollup gets two. Benoit takes him down for two. Powerbomb gets two. Benoit goes up but gets superplexed for two. Oklahoma roll gets two for Dean. Powerbomb gets two for Dean as the time limit expires at 20:00. So we go another 5:00, and the crowd BOOS. Hey, FUCKWADS, it’s Benoit v. Malenko, so sit on your bikes and LIKE IT. Benoit gets a backdrop suplex for two. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker gets two. Benoit uses a Cloverleaf, but Malenko makes the ropes. Enzuigiri puts Benoit down and they collide in the corner. Benoit stomps on the knee and hooks a kneebar. He destroys the knee and goes back to the kneebar with 30 seconds left. Dean gets a rollup as time expires. Another overtime prompts a bigger round of boos from the idiot rednecks. Any other city in America or Canada and the crowd would going batshit for this, and these morons are booing because they want to see Hulk Hogan. And WCW actually came back here THREE MORE YEARS after this. Dean gets a legwhip, but Benoit hits a dragon suplex for two. Rollup gets two. Dropkick misses and Dean gets his own Cloverleaf. Benoit goes for the ropes, but Dean stops him with an STF. Woman runs interference, however, and Benoit gets a rollup for the pin at 28:10. God-awful ending to a fabulous match. ****1/2 And a hearty “fuck you” to the ignorant crowd. (There was a whole debate that was triggered by this rant, actually, with people on the opposite, which is to say wrong, side arguing that the match wasn’t actually any good because if it WAS good, then the idiot bikers in the crowd would have gotten into it or something.) WCW World tag title match: Harlem Heat v. The Steiner Brothers. Speaking of the crowd’s intellectual deficiency, racial harmony is set back 50 years here as they immediately boo Harlem Heat out of the building for being black and hurl various insults at them. God bless South Dakota, y’all should be so proud. (Is South Dakota really even in the South?  Or is it like a Sons of Anarchy thing where the clubs don’t discriminate against color as long as your color isn’t black?)  Mega-stall to start, literally lasting 4 minutes. Scott gets a butterfly powerbomb on Booker T, and the Heat retreats. Back in, Booker misses the sidekick and gets press-slammed. Heat regroups again. Stevie Ray gives it a go and gets the upper hand. Scott t-bones him and Rick comes in to kick away and hit the chinlock. Blind charge hits boot, but Rick no-sells and gets a Steinerline for two. Scott comes in and headbutts Stevie low, and Booker sideslams him in retaliation. Blind charge hits Scott’s boot, however, and he gets the belly-to-belly for two. Rick suplexes him for two. Cheapshot from the apron and Rick is YOUR dogface-in-peril. He catches Booker with a slam, and briefly tags in Scott, but he comes back in and gets dumped. Back in, Stevie goes to the chinlock. As does Booker. Stevie gets a backbreaker and a suplex gets two. He utilizes the dreaded VULCAN NERVE PINCH OF DOOM, but Booker misses an elbow, hot tag Scott. Overhead belly-to-belly gets two on Booker, but Robert Parker tosses powder at them and hits Booker by mistake. Sherri tosses more powder and hits Scott, however, and Parker breaks the cane over his head for the Booker pin at 17:53. Just a WEE bit screwy on the ending there. Match was the usual snoozefest from these two. ** Crowd was REALLY pissed at the finish. (Yeah, in retrospect they should have just pulled the Heat from the card completely.)  US title match: Ric Flair v. Eddy Guerrero. Eddy grabs a headlock and shoves Flair around, prompting an argument with the ref. Flair bails for a while and consults with the dev’lish wom’n (© Dusty Rhodes) and stalls. Back in, Eddy works another headlock, but gets dropped on his shoulder with a suplex. They exchange chops and Flair runs again. Back in, Eddy goes back to the headlock. Slugfest, won by Guerrero. Flair goes to the eyes and unloads with a chop. Some cheapshots put him down, and Flair lays in the chops. Eddy comes back and Flair does the Flair Flip and gets dropkicked out. Back in, backdrop and Eddy dumps him. Back in again, Eddy’s chops lead to the Flair Flop. Eddy is getting a pretty exceptional amount of offense in here. Flair goes low, but Eddy gets a crossbody for two. He goes up for a sunset flip, but Flair fights him off and escapes. Eddy goes to a figure-four, but Flair makes the ropes. A rana gets two. Tornado DDT gets two. Blind charge misses and Flair goes up, and of course gets slammed for two. Sunset flip gets two. Eddy goes to the eyes, and hits the Frog splash. He hurts his knee, however, and can’t cover. Uh oh…and indeed Flair hooks the figure-four dead centre and gets the pin at 14:16. Rather odd to see Guerrero completely dominate the match like that, but it worked well. ***1/4  (Flair did a LOT to try and get Guerrero over, actually.)  The Outsiders v. Sting & Lex Luger. (I maintain to my dying day that it was a total waste to switch the tag titles off the Super Best Buddies beforehand and not have this be for the belts.  Waiting until October to switch them to the Outsiders was a complete waste of time and they were clearly the top team in the promotion at this point, bar none.)  The Outsiders play rock-paper-scissors for first man in, and Hall wins to start. He works on Luger’s arm, then stalls. Luger comes back with a kneelift and slam, and more stalling follows. Nash wants Sting, NOW. More stalling results. Nash blocks a slam, but Sting beats on him and finishes the move. Nash hits Snake Eyes, however, and Hall nails him to take over. Standard Outsider stuff as Sting is YOUR Christian-in-peril. Fun fact: Everyone in this match is now unemployed. (Ironically, a few months after I wrote that, the Outsiders got jobs in WWE again.)  Hall’s fallaway slam gets two. Running clothesline and Nash comes in with the LEGLIFT OF DEATH. Sting fights back but gets avalanched. Sting falls on Nash’s crotch, however, and…Hall cuts off the hot tag. Nash gets the big boot and Hall wants the Outsider Edge. Sting escapes, hot tag Luger. Stinger splash for Nash and they fight outside, and Luger racks Hall. Nick Patrick gets bumped, however, and “accidentally” falls onto Luger’s knee, giving Hall the pin at 14:37 of boredom. This began the epic Evil Nick Patrick storyline. ¾* WCW World title match: The Giant v. Hollywood Hulk Hogan. (Fun fact!  Sean Waltman was supposed to be the fourth man and was at this show ready to debut in this match, but the WWF deliberately “lost” his release in the mail to screw with WCW, and left him hanging out to dry.  Bischoff was gun-shy about messing with Titan’s legal team at this point, so Ted Dibiase had to be introduced as the fourth man instead a week later.)   Hogan stalls to start. No, really, I’m as shocked as you. (This was a real uphill battle for him as a heel because the biker crowd was all cheering him anyway)  He slugs away, gets nowhere, and runs. Apparently the crowd is a few months behind the storyline, because Hogan is a HUGE babyface here. Back in, and he runs again. Back in, he runs again. Back in, and a lengthy discussion about hair-pulling follows. Hogan keeps begging off, until a test of strength that feels like it takes two years to complete, which is won by the Giant, of course. Giant goes to a wristlock, but Hogan takes him down and gets his own. And THAT takes forever. This is like watching Jerry Lawler in the late stages of his career. Giant gets some headbutts, Hogan runs. Giant follows and posts him, and back in he gets a big boot and backbreaker for two. Big elbow misses, but he hulks up (in an act he would resurrect 4 years later for the Showster). Big foot! Scott Hall comes in and it’s AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH THECHOKESLAM! Same for Kevin Nash! Hogan nails him with the belt, however, to win it at 14:55. This was supposed to be one of those “Sgt. Slaughter beating Ultimate Warrior groan of disappointment” moments, but it got the biggest babyface pop of the night. Match was about as painfully horrible as you’d expect. -*** Hogan’s lapdog Ed Leslie brings out a birthday cake to suck up to the nWo, but Hogan turns on him (before bringing him back two years later as the Disciple, oddly enough) and does the famous spraypaint job on the title belt, end of show. By the way, the 1996 Best Actor award should have gone to Paul Wight for laying there and playing dead while Hogan and the nWo enacted their little soap opera for 10 minutes after the match. Never mind that he’d be legally braindead with that kind of injury in real life, you have to admire the conviction required to lay motionless without bursting into tears of laughter every time Hogan tried to give a serious heel interview. The Bottom Line: Well, I don’t think anyone could argue that they shouldn’t have put the title on Hogan, I just wish they had a better transitional champion than the Giant. The whole thing would have worked out better in the long run if Sting had been the guy to pass the belt along, but hindsight is 20/20 and all that. Some good stuff in the undercard from the vanilla midgets and a historic main event make this one an easy choice, but dear god that crowd is a mass of stupidity that nearly kills the show at points. Recommended show.  (Errrrrrrrrrrr…I don’t know about that.  It’s certainly a unique visual, but I really HATE the dynamic with the bikers and the dirt under the ring and all that.  It’s really not much more than a thumbs in the middle for me when I think about it now.) 

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–08.05.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 08.05.96 Live from Orlando, FL. I thought they were done with this? It was a nice change of pace, but it’s been five weeks now. Your hosts are Tony & Larry WCW World tag team titles: Harlem Heat vs. The Rock N Roll Express So tonight Scott Norton, Big Bubba, Meng and Barbarian will be acting as ringside security in case the nWo decides to attack again. But what if DX drives a tank up to the show? They’ll be HELPLESS! So I feel like this is gonna be a weird style clash. So the first 2:00 or so is stalling, and we take a break and return with the RNR getting a brief advantage on Stevie Ray before Morton gets caught in the corner and double-teamed. Stevie with a press slam and elbow for two. Stevie goes to the chinlock while Booker gets distracted by Sherri and Parker doing their weird act at ringside. Clearly everyone is just dying from the humidity out there. Finally Morton gets the hot tag to Gibson (which Tony actually calls as such!) and they hit Booker with the double dropkick for two, but Sherri distracts Robert Gibson, allowing Booker to recover and pin him after a big boot from Stevie at 10:43. Yeah, this was no good. 1/2* The Nasty Boys clarify that they stand where they’ve always stood: Right here in Nastyville. Good to know. Malia Hosaka vs. Madusa Madusa sweeps the leg and gets a sunset flip for two, but Hosaka uses the hair to take over. She gets a TERRIBLE figure-four, but Madusa fights back with a powerbomb for two. Superplex and she goes after Sonny Onoo, allowing Hosaka to get a cheap pin with Onoo holding the legs at 4:50. This led to absolutely nothing. * Alex Wright vs. Chris Benoit Benoit beats on Wright in the corner until the ref pulls him off, so Wright fires back and gets a dropkick to send Benoit out of the ring. Back in, they trade headlocks and Wright gets a pair of flying headscissors, but misses a blind charge in dramatic fashion. Benoit takes over with a back elbow for two and a backdrop suplex for two. Benoit chokes him out and drops him on the top rope for two. Wright with a rollup for two, but Benoit puts him down with a snap suplex for two. Abdominal stretch, but Wright escapes with a hiptoss, so Benoit rides him down and goes to a camel clutch. Larry is a big fan of the suffering involved here. And then Jimmy Hart comes out to rant at the women, and Dean Malenko wants to haul Woman to the back, so Benoit attacks and gets counted out at 8:24. What a lame finish. Match was OK. ** Randy Savage vs. Lord Steven Regal They trade armbars to start and Savage quickly snaps and chokes Regal down in the corner, but he gets tossed as Tony makes the shocking announcement that Eric and Bobby are in fact not here. So it’s still Tony and Larry for a second hour. So now Luger and Sting joins us at ringside and take a seat in the mysterious vacant front row chairs while Savage takes over and slugs Regal down. They brawl outside and Savage runs him into the chairs, and back in to finish with the flying elbow at 6:15. Nothing match that was basically a squash for Savage, which is a shame because this could have been awesome. *1/2 Speaking of Savage, one of the most hilarious real life running gags in WCW history begins this week in the Observer: “Add Lanny Poffo to the list who are under contract, although there are no plans of using him. Must be nice to be a nephew or brother to a top wrestler in WCW.” Poffo would of course remain under contract for the next FOUR YEARS without ever being used once. Also, they spend this entire show hyping up the main event for next week, which will be Randy Savage challenging the winner of the World title match at Hog Wild. And of course, Randy Savage does not wrestle the winner of the World title match on next week’s show, he wrestles Ric Flair. That kind of stuff drives me nuts. Meanwhile, Sting and Luger investigate the mysterious nWo limo, and they find a wreath saying “Condolences on the death of WCW” in the back. According to Meltzer, that was a rib on Jim Cornette, who actually sent one of those for real to Jim Herd years before. They cut a promo with Savage in the ring and boot the wreath. This show has not exactly been a game-changer like last week’s. Ric Flair vs. The Booty Man Flair attacks Booty and beats on him outside, then back in for a blatant low blow. And now Bobby Heenan joins us at ringside while Booty Man makes a comeback, and he claims that Bischoff is still missing. Flair goes to finish with the figure-four at 3:00 and then Horsemen come in and lay a beatdown on him for good measure, so I guess it’s a DQ or something. DUD That’s pretty much it for the Booty Man character, in fact, as I believe his last appearance was getting punked out by Hogan at Hog Wild. The Following Announcement Has Been Paid For By The New World Order The Outsiders and Hogan make fun of Lex Luger and rant about the Giant until suddenly the tape is cut off in the control room. Sting and Luger bully the poor tech geeks and censor the nWo’s right to free speech! FASCISM! Tony’s assessment of the situation: “In defense of Craig Leathers, it WAS a paid announcement from the nWo, but Sting has a good point, throw ’em off the air!” Uh…touche? The Giant vs. Craig Pittman Giant clubs Pittman around and chokes away in the corner, but Pittman throws headbutts to the gut before Giant chokeslams him like a piece of garbage at 2:30. Your Tony line of the night: Craig Pittman is apparently “one of the greatest amateur wrestlers of all time”. Just…no. Poor Teddy Long gets chokeslammed afterwards! I hope Hogan beats that big bully now. Giant cuts a really good promo afterwards, which is still kind of mind-blowing since he was less than a year into the sport at this point. Sting & Lex Luger vs. The Nasty Boys This show is so long that it feels like Glacier will be here before it’s over. No, that’s a ridiculous exaggeration, nothing could be longer than the wait for Glacier to debut. Luger quickly cleans house on the Nasties and Sting bulldogs Knobs for two, but he quickly gets caught in the corner and double-teamed. Sting gets worked over in a lengthy heat segment, but makes the hot tag to Luger and it’s BONZO GONZO, leading to a brawl on the floor that quickly involves the Steiners. Sting finishes Sags with the Deathlock at 7:04. *1/2 Sting and Luger head down to a second nWo limo and check inside, but someone slams the door and leaves him with a note promising four or even five people. Kind of cool because the Network kept things going after the end of the show and gave us the extra footage of Sting reading the note. The Pulse Definitely gotta give the win to RAW this week, as Nitro was a meandering show with no good matches and no real developments.