Monday Nitro – December 30, 1996

Monday Nitro #68
Date: December 30, 1996
Location: Knoxville Civic Auditorium, Knoxville, Tennessee
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, Bobby Heenan, Larry Zbyszko

Reviewed by Tommy Hall

We close out the 1996 series with this. It’s the night after
Starrcade and the NWO is about the same. Piper beat Hogan via sleeper
but the title wasn’t on the line after Piper GOT TO WRITE THE CONTRACT
HIMSELF. Eddie won the US Title and that’s about it. The idea here is to
set up the main event of Souled Out. Now the logical idea would be to
have Hogan vs. Piper II but that would be insane in WCW. Let’s get
to
it.

The NWO arrives to open the show, bragging about how awesome they
are. Hogan brags about life in general but Giant doesn’t look that
happy. He points out that the name plate on the world title says The
Giant. Hogan has been champion FOUR MONTHS at this point and they never
changed the plate?

Giant dropped the ball last night (Luger beat him, I believe in the
first WCW win over an NWO wrestler) but Hogan says it’s all ok because
the NWO is awesome. Giant wants a title shot but Hogan tries to talk him
out of it. Hogan says that Giant’s title shot means a bye for the NWO.
Giant wants to be lead dog. This goes on for awhile.

Theme song opens us up.

Tony and Larry talk about how great last night was for WCW. We get
stills of Luger vs. Giant. Sting came in and whispered to Luger as well
as Giant. He left his bat there and Luger hit Giant with it for the win.

Amazing French Canadians vs. Public Enemy

The Canadians beat them down on the apron and the Enemy has to chill
on the floor. Once they do get into the ring they clear out the
Canadians and single out Oulette. Now the Enemy won’t let the Canadians
in the ring. The Canadians try to leave but get beaten down by their own
flags which isn’t a DQ somehow. The Public Enemy tries to put Jacques
through a table but go through it themselves. We FINALLY get to a
traditional match structure as the Canadians win with the Cannonball.
This wasn’t a match so no rating but it was kind of fun.

Cruiserweight Title: Ultimo Dragon vs. Jushin Thunder Liger

I’ll pause to let the internet explode. Dragon holds the J Crown and
the Cruiserweight Title while Liger beat Rey last night with the Liger
Bomb. Dragon kicks away to start but Liger speeds things up. They both
hit clotheslines but no one goes anywhere. There’s the surfboard by Liger and a suplex for two. Rolling Thunder gets two.
Dragon grabs a backbreaker out of nowhere to send Liger to the floor,
following up with a suicide dive. Dragon goes up but jumps into two
feet. At least he was trying a splash there. Brainbuster and superplex
get two for Liger. Out of nowhere Dragon hits a super rana and tiger
suplex to retain.

Rating: C+. Good match but short. At this point,
Dragon had TEN championships including a title from Mexico. Think about
that for a few seconds. It’s a big deal when people have two and Dragon
had ten. These two would have a great 18 minute match in Tokyo less than
a week after this where Liger won the J Crown.

Big Bubba vs. Konnan

This is a strap match. And there’s no Bubba but he has a replacement.

Mr. Wallstreet vs. Konnan

This is the touch the corners variety. Wallstreet, who has no issues
with Konnan, jumps him and whips Konnan down. Konnan does the get the
strap between the other guy’s legs and pull spot. We get the same finish
that you almost always get for this: Wallstreet drags him around,
Konnan hits it at the same time, Konnan dives to win it. WHAT WAS THE
POINT OF THIS??? It lasted like two minutes and there was no issue
between these two.

Hogan and Bischoff come out. Hogan is all perky because he still has
the title. Bischoff says that Hogan won last night and Hogan says that
he knew he’d win the whole time. This is a really basic “Hogan is
awesome” promo with nothing happening after it’s over.

Hugh Morrus vs. Kensuke Sasaki

Both are big power guys. They hit the ropes and no one moves. A
double clothesline puts both guys down but then they pop up. Sasaki
chops away but Morrus punches. There’s no selling at all here. Morrus
elbows him down and hooks a chinlock. Eric comes up on commentary and
says they won’t show the ending to the PPV last night because he has the
tape. Sasaki hits a powerslam and there is NO reaction. No one knows
who Sasaki is and there’s no point to this match as far as stories go,
so why should they care? Top rope elbow misses and Morrus hits the
moonsault but Sonny comes in for the DQ.

Rating: D-. Why did this match happen? I mean, no
one knows who Sasaki is so a win over him doesn’t matter. Morrus didn’t
even get the pin because they did the DQ ending. This was Sasaki’s first
WCW match in a year and his last ever with the company. But hey, he’s
Japanese so we’re supposed to care I guess? I don’t get it.

We get stills of Piper’s win last night which is supposed to be some big deal.

Harlem Heat vs. Faces of Fear

The announcers rave on and on about how great and important and
inspiring the Piper win was. Larry says that it was huge because people
had wondered who would win if they fought for years. So we’re supposed
to remember Wrestlemania but not all of the other matches they had. Got
it. Tony plugs Souled Out which was on a Saturday. Stevie and Barbarian
start but it’s off to Booker for some kicks quickly.

Booker goes up but is quickly belly to belly superplexed off. Off to
Meng who stomps away and works on the back. And get this: THERE’S A
MIDGET MATCH LATER!!! I know they like going back to the 80s but can’t
they steal some good ideas? Colonel Parker comes out and spanks Sherri
with his riding crop so they get in their 9000th fight. A Rougeau comes
out to throw salt in Stevie’s eyes. Kick of Fear takes Stevie down but
Booker jumps off the top and clocks Meng so Stevie can get the
unconscious cover.

Rating: D. This match sucked too. I don’t get what
they’re thinking with half of this card as its like they had no idea
that Nitro was happening tonight and threw together a bunch of matches
to fill in two hours. This was probably the longest match too, clocking
in at about 4 minutes. The fans just don’t care at all either, and can
you blame them?

DDP says he’ll fix things with the NWO and move on. He won’t go into
details though. It’s implied that he’s going to join them but he hates
that he has to.

Hour #2 begins. This one has to be more interesting than that first
hour which would work well as an informercial for putting a screwdriver
into your head.

We recap Hogan and Giant from earlier, as well as Hogan lying about winning.

 Piper has arrived.

Disco Inferno vs. Glacier

There’s a big black spot all over the ring from the stuff that
Jacques threw at Stevie in the previous match. After the bell, Disco
says drop out of the match or face the wrath of his new leg lock.
Glacier flips him over and we’re ready to go. Disco gets kicked a lot so
he hides behind the referee and comes back with a clothesline. He sets
for his new leg hold but can’t remember how to do it. Instead he hits a
pretty good neckbreaker but Glacier pops up and hits a superkick to end
it.

Rating: D+. Ice > Fire I guess. The match was,
again, pointless and nothing interesting. Glacier would stay undefeated
until roughly July while Disco would stay a joke for years to come. At
the end of the day though, he took a stupid gimmick and kept a job out
of it for how many years? That proves something, although it might be
that WCW is stupid enough to keep him around.

Stills of Benoit vs. Jarrett where about 5 people interfered and Jeff got the pin while unconscious.

Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho

Ok, this HAS to be good right? Woman looks pretty good here. Benoit
controls to start and Jericho has more rainbowish tights. Huge powerbomb
and an elbow gets two for Benoit. Another powerbomb attempt is
countered into a backslide. Jericho doesn’t mean much yet so this would
be a huge upset. Rollup gets two for Jericho. Jericho gets sent face
first into the middle buckle but Jericho comes out with an atomic drop
and superkick. Lionsault (not yet named) misses so he goes up top for a
cross body. Jericho charges into the corner but gets tied up so that a
belly to back superplex from Benoit gets the pin.

Rating: C+. Again, these two getting some time means
a good match. Jericho still didn’t mean much but he was rapidly gaining
steam. Well whatever steam he was able to get in WCW before they turned
him into nothing. The heel turn worked far better for him than the face
run did.

The Horsemen minus Arn have an interview but Debra is all nice to
Woman. She’ll have none of the lies though and yells at Mongo. Jarrett
comes out and says he wants to be a Horseman and lead WCW. He wants to
know where Arn is but Flair says he’s off partying. Benoit says Jarrett
isn’t a Horseman. PREACH IT BROTHER!!! Flair wants to go party. Can you
imagine the REAL Horsemen against the NWO? As in them kidnapping say
Wallstreet and breaking his leg then saying they’re coming for the gold?
WarGames: Horsemen vs. NWO. Think that might work? Instead we
get….this. Thanks Benoit.

Lee Marshall does his phone thing.

Octagoncito/Mascarita Sagrada vs. Jerito Estrada/Piratita Morgan

Again, I get that this is a huge deal in Mexico, but this means
NOTHING to American audiences and are a comedy act here. Jerito is
taller than the top rope if that tells you anything. He and Sagrada have
a small vs. big match and this is going nowhere. The others come in and
Octagoncito cleans house. Sagrada pins Jerito with a rollup. This was
short and not terrible, but it’s totally out of place here in Tennessee.

Dean Malenko vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.

Neither gets an entrance as we start immediately after returning from
a break. Dean quickly takes him to the mat to control early. Rey sends
him to the floor to make sure nothing speeds up all night. Back in and
Dean hooks another hold but Rey reverses into one of his own. Dean
throws him into the air and then hits his gutbuster for no cover. Half
crab by Dean keeps things slow.

Rey speeds things up by running the corner and hitting a dropkick.
Dean stays on the back then forearms Rey in the corner. Rey comes back
with some of his own but Dean tries to throw him onto the top. Rey was
supposed to land on his feet on top but can’t get it so he crotches
himself to improvise. That’s much better than trying to stand and making
it look stupid.

Dean counters a rana into a big powerbomb for two. Rey comes back
with a rolling cradle for the same. Another powerbomb is countered into a
sunset flip for two. Mysterio knocks him to the floor and hits a BIG
seated senton to the floor, sending his own face into the floor at the
same time. West Coast Pop is countered into a Boston Crab and we get a
nice pinfall reversal sequence out of it. Rey goes up top for a rana but
the bell rings at 9:24 for a draw.

Rating: C+. Another good match which actually means
something but the fans DO NOT react at all. Can you really blame them
though? They’ve had to sit through an hour and a half of totally
worthless matches with guys most of them have never seen before which
aren’t getting any kind of time to get anything going with. Now all of a
sudden they’re supposed to get fired up? It doesn’t work that way. The
match was pretty good (time issues aside) but the dead crowd holds it
back.

Lex Luger vs. Greg Valentine

This is exactly what you would expect: Valentine gets in some early
offense and pounds away for maybe two minutes or so. Then Luger makes
his comeback and the Rack gets the submission.

Here’s Piper for the talk to close the show. He reminds us that he
won last night and that it’s his last fight. Hogan and Bischoff come out
and talk about how Piper is lying to them. Hollywood says he didn’t end
Piper last night because of Piper’s son begging. Piper wants to do it
again right now but here’s the NWO. Giant comes out very slowly. Even
Nick Patrick is finally in the NWO shirt.

They give Piper a big shoulderbreaker and hit his bad hip with a
chair. The tell Giant to chokeslam him and he reluctantly puts Piper in
position for it. Giant drops him though and never picked him up off the
mat. Giant stands off by himself while the NWO huddles. Hogan says
that’s strike three and slaps Giant. Giant grabs him by the throat while
the NWO backs off. He says he wants the gold and Hogan promises him a
title shot. Giant lets Hogan go and Hogan says he’s got the shot. He
gets on the floor and then says get him.

The NWO runs in and Giant beats up all of their low level guys but
everyone eventually gangs up on him, allowing Hogan to take him down
with belt shots to the back. They rip the NWO shirt off of him and Hogan
hits him in the head with the belt as the NWO stands tall to end the
show. Oh and Piper is taken away in an ambulance.

Overall Rating: D. Where do I even begin? Ok first
and foremost, the ending is the typical problem with WCW at this point:
the NWO isn’t allowed to look weak. Giant defecting should have been a
big moment, especially with him choking Hogan into giving him a title
shot. So what happened? He was beaten down like EVERYONE else has been
two minutes later. Why should I buy Giant as being any different than
the other guys when the same thing happens to him? There was no reason
to and it didn’t work.

As for the rest of the show, it sucked. The crowd was dead (with good
reason) and there was no interest in anything on the rest of the card,
because WCW put no effort into anything else on the card. Where was
Eddie? The guy won the US Title last night but can’t be booked here? We
can get Public Enemy vs. Canadians and a midget match but no US
Champion? This show has taken a BIG downturn in the past 6-7 shows and I
don’t think it’s going to get any better soon.

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