The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 06.17.96 Live from Richmond, VA. Finally, back in a city big enough to warrant inclusion in the opening! Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Larry Zbyszko, now seated at the announcer’s desk to replace the injured Eric Bischoff. Was that it for Bischoff as the announcer on this show? Must be fun to be the fans in attendance who have to sit there for 5 minutes at the beginning of the show while they recap the PPV. Oddly, the Bash PPV on the Network doesn’t have “WWF” muted when Bischoff asks the Outsiders if that’s who they work for, but the clip on this show does. So I’d assume that means this was originally produced for WWE 24/7, then. Stevie Ray v. Rick Steiner I was kind of afraid we’d get this trainwreck after the great Booker v. Scott match last week. Stevie attacks and boots Rick down in the corner and follows with a BLACK DYNAMITE CLOTHESLINE, complete with kung fu pose. That gets two. That about exhausts Stevie’s moveset, so Rick takes over with an overhead suplex and the flying bulldog for two. Stevie comes back with a powerslam, but misses some ridiculous bullshit off the middle rope and the Steinerline finishes at 2:18. Wisely, this was booked to be short. *1/2 The Heat do the beatdown afterwards and Scott sacrifices himself to save his brother. The crowd was ridiculously excited for all of this. Disco Inferno v. JOE GOMEZ The Desperado debuts! Finally my life is complete again! Apparently Gomez is very outspoken about the Horsemen situation, and when Joe Gomez talks, people fucking LISTEN. Gomez dominates Disco with a bodyslam and beats him up on the floor, and then hits a dropkick back in the ring. Sadly, he misses a bodypress and clotheslines himself on the top rope and Disco takes over. My wife is HORRIFIED that Disco is messing up Gomez’s beautiful hair. I know, right? Luckily, Gomez makes the comeback while constantly touching his hair, but Disco hits the neckbreaker and stops to dance. It gets two, but Gomez rolls him over for the pin at 3:32 to complete the greatest Nitro debut in history! ******, plus another ½* for the hair. Meanwhile, Mean Gene interviews Ric Flair and his newly expanded harem, thus beginning many long years of Debra never shutting up. Arn Anderson & Chris Benoit v. The American Males Arn casually punches Bagwell off the apron in an awesome moment, but gets rolled up by Riggs for two. Arn evades a speedy Riggs and just kicks him in the gut to a big pop, but Riggs dropkicks him for two. Over to Bagwell, who gets to face a pissed off Benoit (who is also made up like he has a black eye to sell the brawl from the Bash). Bagwell uses his fancy wrestling stuff, but a splash hits the knees and the Horsemen go to work on him. Bagwell gets a backslide on Arn, but Benoit comes in with chops to take over. Backdrop suplex sets up the diving headbutt for two, and then Arn cuts off a comeback to a GIANT babyface pop. Hot tag to Riggs regardless as there’s a clear division in the crowd tonight, but Benoit suplexes Riggs on the top rope to finish at 5:48. Probably should have been even more of a slaughter to really sell the return of the Horsemen. ** Big Bubba v. John Tenta The feud too big for the Bash to contain! Bubba runs away from a slugfest and trips Tenta up to post him, and slugs him down for two. We hit the chinlock as Tony is hyping the countdown to the second hour. So we’re now counting down to the countdown? But I guess this was the start of the 82 week ratings dominance, so maybe it worked. Tenta makes the comeback with some splashes and the powerslam for two, and then a second one (with feet on the ropes) finishes at 4:30. But then we take it up ANOTHER notch to notches unheard of before, as Bubba gets his revenge with a sock full of silver dollars, as he’s apparently an old-timey prospector now in addition to wannabe biker gang member. * Hopefully it wasn’t his…private sock, if you know what I mean. Because that would be painful AND unhygienic. Meanwhile, Macho Man is ready to kick off the second hour, and gives a promo about how he’ll be out shortly to be on the second hour. He has seen a psychiatrist, and she diagnosed him with OCD: One Cool Dude. I don’t think that’s an actual medical diagnosis. Randy Savage, as promised, joins us to kick off the second hour, and thankfully it can’t be much worse than the first hour. He chases Bobby Heenan around while poor Bobby tries to join the commentary team. Randy Savage v. Ric Flair Savage attacks like some sort of vicious, primal…guy, and we immediately take a break. Back with Flair dumping him into the crowd, but Savage runs him over to the VIP table and assaults him with various high-priced food items and associated dips. That table has been an awesome running gag for months now. Back in, Savage slugs him down for two and pounds away in the corner, which gives us a Flair Flop and a Flair Flip. Savage follows with a dive and lands facefirst on the railing, and we take another break. Back with Flair throwing chops and fighting off a Savage comeback, but he goes up and gets slammed off. Flair keeps slugging and finds a foreign object, which gets two, but Savage goes low after a ref bump and drops the big elbow. Savage wants another one and the women all shield Flair, but Savage drops it anyway. Benoit runs in and gets piledriven, but Mongo gets to be the Horsemen hero and clobbers Savage with the HALIBURTON OF DOOM and puts Flair on top for the pin at 13:00. Hell of a match, with Savage just crazy intense the whole time. I know, who would have thought? ***1/2 Glacier is totally coming, you guys! We recap the Bash PPV, including a detail I had missed before: The briefcase of money given to Mongo was Macho Man’s alimony money! That’s actually pretty great. Cruiserweight title: Dean Malenko v. Rey Mysterio Rey works a headlock and does some nice flying into a moonsault press, and a rolling cradle gets two. Dean puts him down with a short clothesline and works on the back with a half-crab. Brainbuster gets two. Rey escapes to the floor, but Dean brings him back in and goes up. Rey blocks, but Malenko puts him down with an electric chair for two. He continues working on the back with wacky holds on the mat, and then MURDERS him with a powerbomb for two. Overhead throw gets two. They head to the floor and Rey whips him into the railing and then follows with a rana from the apron to the floor, which draws a gasp from the crowd. Back in, they head up top again and Rey comes down with a sunset flip for two. Rey with a crazy spinning rollup for two. He counters a slam for two, but Dean puts him down with the inverted DDT for the pin at 8:44. Dean guzzled him slightly less here, but they still had yet to grasp that “LET REY DO WHATEVER THE HELL HE WANTS” was the best way to book his matches. ***1/2 Meltzer, in the Observer, was still unimpressed with Rey’s showing at this point. The Giant v. Scott Steiner For the person who was asking on the blog previously, Dave mentions in the Observer here that the current plan is to run Giant v. Hogan for the title at Hog Wild, so that’s where they were going before the heel turn. Giant goes after Scott’s ribs, which were injured in the opener when Scott saved his brother from certain doom at the hands of Harlem Heat. Giant works him over and we take a break, returning with Giant still working on the ribs. The match is so boring they’ve even killed Super-Crowd. Suplex and Giant puts him on the floor and grabs a wooden chair. Back in, he misses a charge and Scott gets a mind-blowing backdrop suplex on Giant to wake up the crowd, for two. Scott grabs the chair and breaks it on Giant’s back, but he ignores it and chokeslams Scott to finish at 8:15. Terrible match up until the finish. * Glacier is coming…but now we have a date! July 1996! Still didn’t happen, of course, but I appreciate the effort. Mean Gene announces the three men who will face the Outsiders at Bash at the Beach: Lex Luger, Sting and Randy Savage. The Pulse A great show made all the better by JOE GOMEZ.