Monday Nitro #53
Date: September 16, 1996
Location: Ashville Civic Center, Ashville, North Carolina
Commentators: Bobby Heenan, Larry Zbyszko, Tony Schiavone, Eric Bischoff
Reviewed by Tommy Hall
It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these. We’re done with Fall Brawl now and Sting is public enemy #1 in WCW, even though he showed up in WarGames and proved that he was innocent. The card is nothing special tonight but we do have a debut of a pretty big name which we’ll get to later on tonight. Let’s get to it.
Is there a reason why Hogan, the NWO leader and top heel for over two months now is still in the red and yellow and the first three pictures you see in the intro to a WCW show?
We open with some shots from last night with Larry and Tony talking about how it was all about Sting. At the end of the show, Liz came out to save the beaten down Savage and got her dress spraypainted.
Tony apologizes to Sting because we were supposed to know he was in Japan. Larry says if Sting is so sensitive he should get another job.
Apparently there were NWO guys at the entrance handing out papers with their logo on it.
Cruiserweight Title: Rey Mysterio vs. Juventud Guerrera
The announcers are talking about Sting as soon as the bell rings. Rey grabs a weird looking backbreaker hold and Juvy grabs a DDT. The NWO wants their own TV show now. Glacier debuts tonight. GLACIER DEBUTS TONIGHT! Well kind of as for absolutely no apparent reason his debut match was on some Sunday show instead of here. WCW never thought things through.
We’re 90 seconds in and there has been absolutely zero nothing said about this match or the guys in it. I mean that literally. They have talked about everything else. Not even saying that was almost it on a two count. At 95 seconds, we start talking about the match with Juvy whipping Rey in. They speed things up and Rey kicks his head off with a spinwheel kick.
Scratch that momentum as Juvy takes over again and goes up for a springboard dive, only to see Rey dropkick him in the stomach to the floor. Rey hits a springboard rana as we take a break. During the break, we get an NWO t-shirt ad. Back with Juvy getting two off something we didn’t see. A springboard spinwheel kick and a baseball slide send Rey to the floor and an Asai Moonsault puts him down again.
Back in a springboard 450 gets two. Well he’s no AJ Styles. Top rope rana gets two…and here’s an NWO rally instead of the match. Back in the ring (that place with that wrestling stuff), Rey counters a top rope powerbomb into a mid-air rana (SWEET) for the pin to retain. We saw that move by about 4 seconds. I can’t wait for them to mess up something like that which I’m sure they will for the sake of nothing of note at all.
Rating: B. Oh come on were you expecting something other than a fast paced and fun match with these two at a combined age of 42? The lack of talking about it got annoying but that’s to be expected. Either way, very fun match even if the crowd didn’t care about Juvy. These two would have more classics.
Mongo and Benoit say how they should have been in WarGames instead of Luger/Sting so tonight they’ll take revenge on them. Now that sounds like something a Horseman would say.
We get a video on Glacier who talks in this. His Georgia accent ruins the image. I get why I never heard him talk other than this. Well not for several years at least. He talks about going to Japan to train and being taken in by an old master who is his sensei. His mask is a tribute to gladiators or something. This goes on WAY too long, clocking in at almost two and a half minutes. The accent absolutely killed this.
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Ice Train
Train shoves him around a bit as I begin to think of a really bad tag team in the form of Ice Train and Glacier. They do a weird spot where it looks like they’re supposed to collide but they stop like an inch ahead of each other to eliminate all of the momentum. Weird. Page hits a top rope clothesline to take over and there’s a discus punch. Discus lariat follows it up but Page won’t cover.
The Cutter is countered and Ice gets a belly to belly to put both guys down. Train gets going with a spinebuster and powerslam for two as Teddy Long, Train’s manager, gets on the apron. Now let’s cut to the back for a shot of “fans” in NWO gear taking over the merchandise stand. While this is being shown, THE BELL RINGS AND WE HAVE A PIN.
Yes, they actually missed the end of the match to show “fans” putting caution tape around the merchandise stuff. Who won? Not mentioned. What did he win with? Not mentioned. We didn’t even cut back immediately and the stuff in the back kept going on even longer. Apparently Ice Train had a full nelson and Page grabbed Teddy Long’s towel to throw it in for a forfeit on Train’s part. We see that on a replay, but that’s beside the point. We didn’t see enough to rate it but it was fine.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the point where wrestling has officially stopped meaning anything. The match wasn’t much, but the company decided that showing people in the back (not wrestlers mind you, just “fans”) were more important. This is what the Attitude Era would become defined on over the next few years and would become the foundation of what Sports Entertainment was. We aren’t focusing on wrestling and competition anymore. We’re focusing on drama.
This kind of thing gets on my nerves. It’s one thing if there’s something of note to show, but this is saying to the wrestlers “Yeah, we know you’ve trained for years to do this and we know you’re working hard out there, but we have something more important than you to put on screen.”
If this was Hall and Nash beating people up or something, that’s one thing but that isn’t what’s happening here. It’s fans taking over a merchandise stand and it’s the second match this has happened in. Is there ANY reason this couldn’t have waited another two minutes? No, there isn’t and everyone in WCW is cool with that, which is why people stopped watching (in part): it stopped being about wrestling. This will become huge later on when we eventually hit the late 90s.
Anyway the fans take over the stand and put up NWO stuff.
Sean Waltman, formerly known as the 1-2-3 Kid, is in the front row and his release from WWF is acknowledged.
Konnan vs. Super Calo
Konnan is sent to the floor so Calo hits a flip dive (mostly) to take him out. Tony invites Mike Tenay to sit on his lap. Ok then. Back in Konnan hooks a top rope butterfly superplex before hooking a backbreaker kind of hold for a bit. We go back to the floor and Calo tries another spinning dive but leaves it short again, more or less slapping Konnan instead of landing on him.
Konnan takes over again and drops Calo with the Scorpion Death Drop. Here’s something you don’t see something every day: Calo hooks a headscissors/ankle rana off the top and Konnan lands on him. This is a really sloppy match. A missile dropkick to the floor mostly misses as does a regular one in the corner. Konnan drops him with what would later be called the 187 (fisherman’s brainbuster) for two and a powerbomb into a victory roll gets the same. The Power Drop (Razor’s Edge into a sitout powerbomb) gets the pin.
Rating: F+. The plus is for the speed of the match, but there’s no excuse for a match having this many misses and mistakes out there. Calo never got over at all for the most part despite being on TV pretty often. This was a horrible match from an execution perspective and I don’t think they knew if it was a squash or not.
The 1-2-3 Kid says he’s here because Nitro is hot. He asks Tenay who won WarGames and Tenay isn’t impressed. Waltman seems surprised the NWO won. Total “I’m in the NWO but I’m not saying I’m in the NWO” promo.
Hugh Morrus vs. Brad Armstrong
Nothing of note in the first minute. I have no idea why this match is happening. Armstrong takes over with a dropkick and we talk about Liz last night. Larry thinks Flair went through her alimony from Savage and dumped her. Tony: “How do you know how much she had?” Larry: “No matter how much she had, Flair could spend it.” Preach it brother! Morrus takes over and hits No Laughing Matter (moonsault) but makes a very casual cover, allowing Armstrong to quickly roll him up and steal a pin.
Rating: D+. What in the world was this? I really don’t get this: it’s the most random wrestling match and ending I’ve ever seen. It looked like a squash but we get that ending? It didn’t go anywhere or anything, so what was the point here? It wasn’t bad or anything, but why did it happen? I don’t understand this at all.
Hour #2 begins.
Here’s Savage for an interview. We get some shots of last night where the NWO beat Savage down and left him laying. Savage says he’s ready for Hogan and that’s all he’s got left.
The NWO arrives, including the fake Sting. They’re going to beat up someone tonight.
Randy Savage vs. Scott Norton
This starts in the aisle with Savage being all crazy again. A knee to the back puts Norton back on the floor and it’s Crazy Macho again. There’s the double axe off the top to the floor and we talk about the NWO wanting to beat him to death next week because there’s going to be no WCW guys around as they’ll be in Japan. Eric talks about how Sting was in Japan promoting the tour that he (Eric) set up but he didn’t realize it was the impostor last week. That’s either foreshadowing or really stupid.
Norton takes over with power and it’s the traditional Randy Savage beating. That’s more or less one third of what he did around this time: get beaten up, get disqualified, or hit one move, a slam and the elbow to end it. Savage takes over and we go to the floor with Norton getting sent into the barricade a few times. Norton gets slammed on the floor but grabs a DDT for two back in the ring. There’s the shoulderbreaker and Macho goes to the floor. He avoids being sent into the post and then WHACKS Norton with the chair for the DQ.
Rating: C. Pretty fun brawl while it lasted and it accomplished the goal that it needed to get through: making Savage look like a crazy lunatic that could kill Hogan if given the chance. They managed to kill the heat on the match because we needed to have Hogan vs. Piper for some reason. Anyway though, this was more fun than I expected.
Glacier vs. Big Bubba
Let’s get this over with. Glacier has his infamous overblown intro which cost thousands of dollars per time I believe. Bubba doesn’t get an entrance and it’s snowing in the arena. They have the blue lights ala Sin Cara/early Kane matches too. Glacier fights like a Power Ranger. Bubba finally gets in a punch and a big spinebuster but Glacier pops up and fires off a bunch of kicks because that’s all he knows how to do. A big spin kick ends this. More or less just an exhibition by Glacier.
Sting (the real one) is here and Eric says this wasn’t expected. This is a very famous moment. He wants to explain last week. Last Monday, he was on a plane coming back from Los Angeles. Important note to this: his back is to the camera and he won’t turn around. He talks about how Luger hasn’t come to see him and he’s tired of all the doubt. The fans are kind of booing him here.
That brings us to Fall Brawl where he was going to tell Lex to his face. Luger didn’t believe him there either. After everything he’s done, how dare no one believe him after everything Lex has done over the last year. That’s a really good point. He’ll stand by all the wrestlers and fans that stood behind the Stinger, but as for everyone that doubted him, you all can stick it. From now on, he’s a free agent. He’s going to pop in when you least expect him. With that, he walks out of the ring and leaves. That’s the last time he would speak on camera for about 16 months.
Ric Flair/Arn Anderson vs. Chris Jericho/Marcus Bagwell
Think this is going to get any attention from the announcers? Before the Horsemen come out we cut to the back where Liz is too scared to come to the ring with them. Before the match starts, Waltman stands up in his chair and holds up a box with a button on it. He presses a button and a ton of leaflets fall from the ceiling with NWO on it. Bischoff says Waltman is the 6th one (Hogan, Hall, Nash, DiBiase, Giant, Fake Sting makes six without him but I guess math is too hard for WCW).
After a break the papers are still falling. We at least get a bell. Arn vs. Jericho gets us going. The Canadian takes over with a dropkick for two to start as we’ll be lucky to hear 5 words about the match. Spinwheel kick puts Arn onto the floor as the papers keep following. Eric admits that he’s the Executive Vice President of WCW and admits he agreed to give the NWO their own TV show if they won last night or they wouldn’t fight. That would wind up being a segment on Saturday Night that was done for comedy.
Flair comes in to chop away at Bagwell but Buff (not yet Buff but who cares) fires back and it’s about what you would expect. The Horsemen double team a bit as there is zero heat on this match. Flair is crawling around on all fours outside and is mad about the papers. I’d be mad too if the fans kept throwing the papers at me. Anderson gets a spinebuster on Jericho for no cover. Tenay starts questioning Eric’s decision and it’s covered up well by Bischoff. It’s interesting to look for the hints to the swerves that would come.
Jericho gets beaten down by both guys and Heenan enjoys it way too much. As the Canadian gets his leg worked on Horsemen-style, we cut to the back where Giant is arriving and Waltman is with them with a small boom box. At least it’s split screen so we can see the match, as boring as it is. And there goes the splitting. They play a tape of “Sting” running his mouth about not trusting anyone. After about a minute of that, back to your regularly scheduled match.
Hot tag brings in Bagwell and he’s still Marcus so no one cares. They tried forever to get people to care about him and it didn’t work ever with him as a face. Woman interferes to allow Anderson to knock Bagwell out dead with a DDT. The Figure Four goes on and Bagwell gets beaten by the rare pin in the submission.
Rating: D. Not an entertaining match at all. It was ok but with all of the distractions going on in it, there’s only so much you can get out of it. The papers and then cutting away from it for about a minute took way too much out of it. To be fair to the bad ideas though, the match wasn’t going to be interesting no matter what they tried with it.
Buy this Horsemen t-shirt for $22! This is back in the days of $30 PPVs. That would be the equivalent of about a $35 t-shirt today.
Chris Benoit/Steve McMichael vs. Lex Luger
No Sting for Luger to tag with. Benoit start with Luger and I guess they’re still going with the idea of the other Horsemen being upset about not being in WarGames. There’s the snap suplex. You know for a guy that went through WarGames last night and passed out from the pain of a double submission, Luger looks pretty good. Mongo comes in for his usual boring stuff.
A forearm/elbow gets two for Benoit. We’re told that more or less EVERYONE ON THE ROSTER other than Savage is going to be in Japan next week. Heenan: “QUIT TELLING EVERYONE THAT!” Listen to Brain. He knows his stuff it seems. A double clothesline puts both Benoit and Luger down as we’re waiting on the screwy finish. Luger makes his comeback and Racks Benoit but here are Flair and Anderson for the DQ.
Rating: D+. Another weak match here but it was around to set up what the lack of Sting means for Luger and for just the big beatdown post match. Not a horrible match again, but at the same time they were really just wasting time here until the ending and everyone knew it, which is one of the most boring kind of matches you can have.
During the beatdown, Eric gives us the word that Waltman is officially to be called Syxx.
Outside the NWO is watching Nitro in a limo. They hear that no one will be here but Savage next week, so they’ll beat him up. Thanks Eric.
Overall Rating: C-. The wrestling was terribly boring here but they have like six weeks before Halloween Havoc so they have plenty of time left. Not the worst show ever but it was really more about transitioning things, including the start of the REALLY big part of the NWO angle, which is saying a lot. Sting’s speech is huge and the rest is just there.
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