The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 11.25.96
Live from Salisbury, MD. World War 3 ’96 was such a boring show that I can’t even be bothered to Scott Sez it, so let’s just proceed to this one. Clearly WCW cared very little about actually doing that PPV and just wanted to skip to Starrcade. I will relate the Because WCW story of the week from the Observer: WCW ran a special promotion for the local Norfolk market where anyone who ordered Halloween Havoc on PPV would get a free pair of tickets for World War 3. Which was great, but then they forgot that they offered that deal, and nearly 3000 people in the city ordered the Havoc show, after they already sold the building out! So they had to rearrange the sets and managed to open up 1500 additional seats, which luckily was enough to cover the people who actually cashed in the Havoc special.
Your hosts are Tony & Larry
US title tournament first round: Arn Anderson v. Lex Luger
So Flair has now officially been stripped of the US title due to injury, giving us one of the few tournaments I’ve never seen! Well, I mean, obviously I’ve seen the finals, but none of the other matches. Was there even a bracket? Oh well, a tournament’s a tournament. And you know how I love tournaments. Luger dumps Arn and works on the arm to start, even though Arn literally has a giant bandage around his abdomen. I mean, that MIGHT be a more obvious area to work on, but I guess the arm works as well. Nothing like Lex Luger working a body part to crank up the excitement. We take a break and return with Luger fighting out of a chinlock, but they fight to the floor and Luger runs the injured ribs into the post. Back in, Luger makes his comeback, but Giant pops up in the crowd to declare the whole tournament a SHAM because he’s the real US champion anyway. This leads to nothing and Luger keeps working on the ribs and clotheslines Arn to the floor again, and they fight out there for the double countout at 15:13. This was really stupid because Lex put Arn in the rack out there and just kept doing it even while the ref was counting them out. A major snooze. *
Eric Bischoff and the nWo are out to explain his motivations, and he’s actually got a hell of a reason for the heel turn: The day after he got powerbombed by Nash, he asked himself if he wanted to be consumed by the power or be part of the force? And since he’s the boss of WCW, he gives everyone in the company 30 days to join the nWo or else. That was pretty much the beginning of the end for the nWo as a cohesive angle, with every two-bit midcarder suddenly wearing the shirts. So the American Males come out, and Marcus Bagwell takes them up on their offer and turns on Riggs. I’ll let this one slide because Buff Bagwell was pretty great until the neck injury. But everyone after THAT was just watering down the concept.
Diamond Dallas Page v. Disco Inferno
Page attacks him and pounds away, but Disco gets a neckbreaker, but stops to dance and Page slugs him down. Diamond Cutter OUTTA NOWHERE finishes at 2:05. Just a squash.
Lord Steven Regal v. Tony Pena
Pena is one of the Villanos without a mask, and if only he had a giant roman numeral somewhere on his tights to tip me off as to which one. Oh wait, he does! They do some nice mat wrestling to start as Pena hangs with Regal, but Regal pounds him in the corner and hits a butterfly suplex for two. Pena fights back, but Regal takes him down with the Regal Stretch at 2:58. **
Rick Steiner wants to assure us that the Steiner Brothers are 110% WCW.
US title tournament, round one: Eddie Guerrero v. Konnan
Eddie quickly puts Konnan on the floor with a headscissors and follows with a dive as we transition to HOUR #2!
Your hosts are Tony, Mike and Bobby. What was the point of having Tony be ringside for hour one and then making him move to the other table for hour two?
Back in the ring, Konnan takes over with a fisherman’s suplex for two and a powerbomb for two. Fisherman’s buster gets two. Powerbomb gets two. Konnan goes up and gets dropkicked on the way down, allowing Eddie to make the comeback. They fight to the top rope and Konnan brings him down with a superplex for two, but Eddie reverses Splash Mountain for the pin at 5:23. **1/2
Big Bubba v. Rick Steiner
Rick badmouths Sting on the way to the ring, because he’s kind of an idiot, which sets up a later beating. So I guess there was kind of an internal logic to the Sting thing early on before they kind of stopped caring. Steiner puts Bubba on the floor to start and drops an elbow for two, then follows with a german suplex for two. Bulldog off the middle rope while Sting makes his way through the crowd and lays out Rick with the Scorpion Deathdrop, and Bubba gets the easy pin at 3:14. Well really, Rick called him out as a traitor on national TV, what did he expect would happen? *
Rey Mysterio v. Psicosis
Psi faceplants Rey and dumps him to the floor, and he follows with a top rope legdrop for two. Back up, but Rey reverses him into a top rope rana for the pin at 2:15. Well that was pretty quick. *
Chris Benoit and Woman have words for Kevin Sullivan, working an angle that, as Meltzer noted at the time, only Nancy and Kevin actually understood. Although he did point out that Benoit and Nancy had some good chemistry together for some reason. Now, for those wondering, at this point Woman was only cheating on Kevin in the storyline, not real life, although they kept pushing this storyline over and over and encouraged Benoit and Nancy to keep kayfabe as a “couple” until life imitated art and the marriage disintegrated for real. And of course this set the precedent that many, MANY, wrestling relationships fell victim to. Of course, in this case it was even funnier in a dark way because Kevin Sullivan actually booked his own divorce! At least these days Rusev and Lana were smart enough to make sure that Lana wasn’t travelling alone without Rusev.
Meanwhile, at the PPV last night, Roddy Piper finally signs the contract with Hogan, and the nWo beat him down very gently. This should have just been on Nitro, especially since they replay the segment in its entirety here anyway. 20 minutes!
Alex Wright v. Jeff Jarrett
Well now there’s like 10 minutes left in the show so this doesn’t figure to be an epic main event. Wright works the arm, but Jarrett slugs away in the corner and drops him on the top rope. Wright comes back with a leg lariat and a pump splash for two, but a blind charge misses and Jarrett wraps it up with the figure-four at 2:18. ½*
Meanwhile, the Giant wins the World War 3 battle royale for reasons I’m still not entirely clear on. Luger was 100% the most logical choice to win and get the shot at Hogan. Meltzer’s take on the match: “Conceptually, for pro wrestling to flourish, risks from time-to-time have to be taken. The idea of taking risks is that sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t. A good promotion learns from both those that do work and those that don’t. Unless that promotion has a bottomless pit of money and doesn’t need to learn.” Ouch.
Harlem Heat v. The Faces of Fear
The Heat has been on an epic run of sucking the past few months and it’s probably best that they got Booker T away from his brother when they did. So they hit each other with kicks for a bit and it’s all a big trainwreck with nothing going on in particular and finally the nWo just runs in for the DQ at 4:08 and that’s that. DUD
Not much to this one, especially for the night after a PPV. The Bagwell turn was refreshingly straightforward and created a much better character, at least, so I enjoyed that.