The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–06.03.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 06.03.96 Live from somewhere. HOUR #1! Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Larry Z. Big Bubba v. John Tenta Before the match, Tenta clarifies that he’s not a fish or an avalanche, but a real live man! A man with a stupid looking haircut now. Bubba still has his hair for some reason, so Tenta attacks and then RUNS WITH SCISSORS. Bubba wisely runs away at 1:00. Amazingly this feud would get worse from here. DUD HIGH VOLTAGE v. The Faces of Fear It’s the epic debut of future WCW tag champion Kenny Kaos, although his partner was dubbed “Ruckus” here instead of Rage, as the world would soon come to know and love and remember forever. And yet, still better names than Konnor and Viktor. High Testosterone double-teams Barbarian, but he gets sick of that shit and powerbombs Robbie Ruckus to a big pop. Ruckus gets repeatedly slammed by Barbarian and he hits a top rope belly to belly, and DOUBLE FLYING HEADBUTTS and the mafia kick from Meng finish at 3:20. Consider those geeks SQUASHED. * Meanwhile, Sting and Luger accuse the Steiner Brothers of taking cheapshots last week. This was obviously all leading to something that never was going to pay off due to the dramatic change in direction of the company a month later. Disco Inferno v. Sgt. Craig Pittman Pittman goes for the arm immediately and Disco freaks out and makes the ropes, but Pittman suplexes him for two. Pittman goes for the armbar, so Disco gives up before he can lock in the move at 1:40. That would be a smart move in MMA. Plus, as Disco notes, if he suffered a broken arm he couldn’t disco dance. DUD There were some spectacularly ugly people dancing along with Disco here. Just saying. Lord Steven Regal v. Hacksaw Jim Duggan Regal walking around reacting to the bottom-feeding hicks at ringside is worth the price of admission. This show HAS to be in the South given the toothless morons cheering for Duggan tonight. There’s literally a guy in coveralls at ringside! A quick check of the Observer confirms that this was in Asheville, North Carolina, which has to be the least surprising thing I’ve read all day. Duggan quickly overpowers Regal and he bails, and back in for more abuse from Duggan as Regal bumps all over the place. This brings the Bluebloods out to surround the ring while Duggan tapes his fist, but Regal rolls him up for the pin at 4:24. * for Regal’s facial expressions. Not exactly a stellar way to get him ready for Sting at the Bash. Regal cuts a great promo afterwards, however, detailing how he wants Sting mean and nasty and rude for the match. Kevin Sullivan v. Prince Iaukea A video package before the match helpfully recaps the Sullivan-Benoit feud thus far. This is Iaukea’s debut, by the way. Sullivan blitzes the poor guy and hangs him in the Tree of Woe, then finishes with the double stomp at 1:20. Meltzer at the time clarifies that this isn’t “Rocky Iaukea” but might be his younger brother because he kind of looks like him. Ric Flair & Arn Anderson v. The Rock N Roll Express Jesus, the Road Warriors leave and they bring in the Rock N Roll Express to replace them? We almost had the greatest tag team division in history! We almost had Sting & Luger, The Steiners, The Road Warriors, The Faces of Fear, The Four Horsemen, The Nasty Boys, Public Enemy, The Rock N Roll Express, Harlem Heat and the Outsiders all in the same promotion at one time. For some reason they do the second hour pyro a minute into this match, complete with countdown on the screen, and switch to the Bischoff/Heenan announce team. After the frou-frou, Flair gets down to beating on Morton, but the RNR double-team him in the corner and the Horsemen bail. Gibson hits a flying bodypress on Arn for two and puts Flair in the figure-four, and we get double figure-fours because it’s apparently 1986 every day in this arena. Flair and Randy Anderson even do the shoving gag for old time’s sake. Flair and Arn bail again and we take a break. Back with Morton controlling Arn in the corner, but Flair comes in and chops Morton for some dramatic selling. Finally a blind charge misses and Ricky Morton is face-in-peril. Arn stomps on his head and Flair runs him in the railing on the floor. Back in, Arn goes to work on the arm and Flair gets a suplex. We actually get Morton on camera appealing to a fan in the front row to help him, as he just pulls out every trick in the book here. Speaking of which, Morton comes back with a sleeper, but AA drops him with a backdrop suplex and Flair comes in for the figure-four, which Morton reverses for two. Sunset flip is blocked by Flair and they cut off the ring as Bobby Heenan heads down to ringside to give some advice to the women. I’ll skip the advice gag because otherwise it’ll get pretty dark. Hot tag Gibson and the RNR hit the double dropkick, but Woman pokes Gibson in the eye and Arn finishes with the DDT at 18:02. This should have been really entertaining and stolen the show, but it just felt like a sad retread of the 80s for the RNR and completely lost steam at the end. **1/2 Still, for the most part I enjoyed it for what it was. Bobby Heenan confirms the rumors that he will indeed be managing the Horsemen at the Bash. This was pretty great. Hulk Hogan is still a thing that exists. WCW World title: The Giant v. Ice Train Ice Train yells at Jimmy Hart like a moron, and Giant chokeslams him at 0:30. DUD Scott Norton comes out to defend his partner, so Giant chokeslams him twice as well. Scott Norton v. Hugh Morrus Norton is still out, so Morrus legdrops him for two and drops elbows while talking trash. Morrus goes up to finish, but Norton catches the moonsault and pins him after…something…at 1:10. Kind of looked like a powerslam, maybe, sorta? Gotta keep Norton strong. Because reasons. DUD Meanwhile, Mongo and Kevin Greene discuss strategy at the Power Plant and decide to hire Randy Savage as their coach. Well that decision didn’t exactly work out well for them, did it? WCW World tag titles: Sting & Lex Luger v. The Steiner Brothers Randy Savage calls in as they split-screen the match with the announcers for some stupid reason, so we basically lose the first two minutes of the match and take a break. Back with Luger getting double-teamed by the Steiners and Rick hits the bulldog for two. Sting comes in with the Stinger splash and Scorpion, but Scott saves and suplexes Sting. Top rope ran gets two, but Sting gets the Deathdrop and Luger comes in with the Rack. It breaks down again and everyone brawls for the no-contest when Giant chokeslams everyone at 8:40. But then everyone teams up and fights back on Giant, allowing Luger to clothesline him out of the ring. Lots of action but the match didn’t go anywhere. ** Scott Hall interrupts the wrap-up (amidst vicious legal threats from Titan) and his accent is already changing. Sting tries to save and challenges him RIGHT NOW, but hall doesn’t like to be told what to do. So next week, a BIG SURPRISE for Sting. And for once, that would be a surprise that would pay off. And we’re out. The Pulse A much better-paced show than the first two-hour effort, although the wrestling was still crap outside of a pretty decent Horsemen v. Rock N Roll match. The booking just feels like on-the-fly nonsense at its worst, though.