The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 11.04.96
Live from Grand Rapids, MI. If nowhere has a middle, we’re dead center, notes Larry. That’s really nice of him to say, given this was Nitro’s biggest ever gate to that point with over $100,000.
Your hosts are Tony and Larry, with Sting brooding in the rafters.
Eric Bischoff is not here this week, off in Portland to sign Roddy Piper. Of course, this would prove to be untrue. Larry, meanwhile, goes on a rant about gas prices, raging about how gas is super-expensive at $1.40/gallon. Here in Canada we pay about $4.00/gallon today if you convert pricing. Oh, 1996, you so wacky.
Brad Armstrong v. Marcus Bagwell
I presume this is the start of the Buff Bagwell turn that is coming soon. Man, that turned out to be a shockingly effective character change for him. They trade armdrags and Bagwell takes him down with a headscissors, but gets increasingly frustrated by Brad’s reversals. And we take a break with the nWo watching from the stands. We return with Bagwell finally snapping and firing off a slap, which the crowd goes CRAZY for. Armstrong dropkicks him to the floor for being such a dick, and Bagwell comes back in with a slingshot clothesline and sarcastically does the American Males clap. And then he clotheslines Brad to the floor as Riggs is a tad confused as to what’s going on. Bagwell with a dive, but Armstrong gets a DDT for two. Bagwell catches him with a forearm to the head, and then gets a crossbody to finish at 10:05. Usual good match from Armstrong, but this crowd was JACKED for everything and made it more effective. ***1/4 The Bagwell turn was actually really well done.
Diamond Dallas Page v. Ice Train
Page quickly tries a full nelson and gets overpowered, but takes over with a clothesline and flapjack piledriver for two. This crowd is just losing it for everything. Neckbreaker gets two, and Page accidentally hits Patrick’s neck on the kick out, sending him into fits of agony. Ice Train makes the comeback as a result, with a powerslam for two. A pair of splashes gets two and he puts Page on the floor, but the Outsiders walk in and just completely destroy Train while Nick Patrick deliberately argues with Teddy Long on the floor and misses everything. However, cleverly, DDP also misses everything and doesn’t realize what caused his good fortune. Diamond Cutter finishes at 7:11. **
WCW Saturday Night gives us some quality snark from Tony, as he notes that the show is now beating “some other prime time wrestling shows” in the ratings. Ouch.
WCW Cruiserweight title: Dean Malenko v. Scotty Riggs
Riggs gets a series of near-falls while Syxx poses in the audience and leads his parade of nWo geeks. Malenko takes over with a corner clothesline, but Riggs dropkicks him to the floor and follows with a dive. Back in with a double axehandle for two. Riggs goes up again and Malenko knocks him to the floor, so Bagwell disgustedly tosses him back in and Malenko finishes with a rollup at 3:20. Well, you can’t win the title on the floor, Riggs. Not much to this one. *1/2 I should point out, however, that there is an actual story being told here with Bagwell’s slow burn heel turn instead of the t-shirt swapping nonsense that they would resort to just a few months later.
Chris Benoit v. Hector Guerrero
Eddie’s still out with a broken rib, so his brother steps in. Sullivan does an inset promo where he promises to give it to Benoit hard in the bathroom in Baltimore. Good to know. Hector quickly dumps Benoit and hits him with a pump splash from the apron, which I’m shocked no one else has stolen. Back in, Hector with a pumphandle backbreaker and he works on the injured arm (which is the left one, so it’s kind of odd to see in an American match) but Benoit slugs back. Hector takes him down again and we take a break. Back with Benoit in control as he beats the hell out of poor Hector with chops. Abdominal stretch, but Hector escapes, so Benoits puts him down with a gutbuster for two. Hector with a small package for two, but Benoit puts him down with a clothesline for two. We move to hour #2 as Hector rolls up Benoit for two. Small package gets two and they slug it out, but Hector comes back with a flying headscissors and beats on him in the corner. Hector with that cool Kiwi roll for two, but Woman distracts him and Benoit rolls him up in the corner for the pin at 12:52. A very cool and different match. ***
Meanwhile, Benoit and Mongo chase off Jeff Jarrett during an interview, because no one asked THEM if Jeff could join. Jarrett, completely clueless, keeps on cutting his promo and talks shit about Sting, who is of course standing in the rafters listening to him.
WCW Women’s title tournament: Reina Jubuki v. Madusa
Jubuki is clearly Akira Hokuto under a mask. Why didn’t they just go with her name, when Tenay spends the match putting over her history anyway? Jubuki takes her down and chokes her out, then follows with a spinkick while “Zero” (Chigusa Nagayo) watches with Sonny Onoo at ringside. Jubuki with a missile dropkick for two, but Madusa finishes with the german suplex at 3:13. * Now, given the finals of tournament end up being Madusa v. Akira Hokuto, obviously she unmasks and gets another shot in the first round. Did they just have that much trouble finding 8 women for this thing?
M. Wallstreet v. Chris Jericho
Man, this Jericho v. Wyatts feud goes all the way back to Nitro! Wallstreet slugs away, but Jericho gets a bodypress and kicks Wallstreet down for two. Wallstreet dumps him to take over while Bobby does a funny bit about how Patrick’s lawyer chases ambulances. Abdominal stretch and elbowdrop get two. We hit the chinlock as I notice that Wallstreet is now wrestling in pants again. How can that possibly be comfortable? Jericho comes back and slugs away in the corner while Wallstreet keeps getting distracted by his pants falling down, and Jericho puts him on the floor with a missile dropkick. Wallstreet lures him into the post, but Jericho catches him with a small package to finish at 6:38. *
Nick Patrick and his legal representation continue the comedy routine with Jericho, as Chris once again accuses them of working for the nWo. So Alan Sharpe accuses Jericho’s father of being a GOON. Not THE Goon, thankfully. This draws out Teddy Long, who calls Patrick a PLAYA-HATER, which is the worst thing you can be in Teddy’s world. Sharpe then brings up Teddy’s own checkered past as a referee. This was pretty much the same thing as last week.
Booker T v. Lex Luger
Lex overpowers Booker, and asks for “just one minute” to apologize to Sting in an inset promo. Lex dumps him and we take a break. Back with Luger getting a powerslam for two, but Booker hotshots him to take over. Sidekick gets two, but Luger comes back as Col. Parker joins us for a distraction. Booker puts him down with an enzuigiri and gives Booker guidance, but Booker nails Parker and Luger rolls him up for the pin at 8:57. *1/2
Meanwhile, in Portland, Eric Bischoff joins us via phone interview, but he can’t yet announce a match between Piper and Hogan. It’s those damn agents, holding things up again!
So with 15 minutes left in the show, we get the entire Piper interview at Halloween Havoc AGAIN, and then another Hogan interview to close the show as he talks about nothing as usual. What a waste of airtime. Dave notes in the Observer this week that Nitro will be experimenting with a three-hour show coming up, and he has no idea how they’ll be able to pull that off. I will note, by the way, that when we hit that point in the Monday Night Wars, I’m dropping out of Nitro and sticking with RAW because I just won’t have time. So fair warning. Thankfully the shows go back to 89 minutes next week instead of 100 like they have been.
RAW was of course a far more historic show, but Nitro entertained me much more in the short-term this week, so it’s point to WCW this time.