What the World Was Watching: Monday Nitro – September 25, 1995

Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan, and Steve McMichael are in the booth and they are live from Florence, South Carolina.  According to thehistoryofwwe.com, the show drew 5,000 fans, of which only 2,000 paid.

Opening Contest:  Alex Wright (46-7-2) pins the Disco Inferno (3-0) after a backslide at 4:01:

Florence is hyped for Wright, who gets fireworks in his entrance and amazes them with a springboard dropkick to Disco’s back and flattening him with a plancha.  The crowd hates Disco so much that it also gets Wright over by default.  Disco slows things down on offense, but when he goes for the swinging neckbreaker, Wright reverses into a backslide to hand Disco his first loss.  This was a fun blitz match to open the broadcast.  Rating:  **½

WCW Champion Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart cut a taped promo where Hogan uses the WCW title as a workout tool for his neck.  Hogan indicts the Giant’s personal hygiene and offers him a match for the title at Halloween Havoc.  The champion pledges to lay the Giant right next to his father, who he also beat in Michigan.

Gene Okerlund interviews Randy Savage, who calls out Lex Luger.  Luger runs out to a mixed reaction, challenging Savage to a match next week, willing to give up his title shot against Hulk Hogan that is owed to him from WarGames.  Luger sweetens the pot further by saying if he does not beat Savage then he will leave WCW.  Savage accepts.

Eric Bischoff announces that the Giant will face Hulk Hogan for the WCW title at Halloween Havoc.

Kurasawa (w/Colonel Robert Parker) (4-0) beats Sergeant Craig Pittman (36-4) with a German suplex at 4:26:

Both men have legit amateur wrestling backgrounds and according to Dave Meltzer, they had at least one shoot match at the WCW Power Plant with Kurasawa unable to take Pittman off his feet.  Even though Pittman is a heel, the crowd cheers for him by default since he is a former Marine.  And the battle of armbars has some exciting moments, with Kurasawa taking off mats at ringside and slamming Pittman on the floor.  Pittman screws up by backdropping Kurasawa over the top rope, which should be a disqualification, but referee Nick Patrick lets the match continue.  Kurasawa gets to the ropes to escape a Code Red, but Pittman uses a gutwrench suplex to avoid a Fujiwara armbar.  A German suplex battle ends the bout, with Kurasawa going behind Pittman and hitting the move to stay undefeated in singles competition.  Like the opener, this was two guys throwing everything they could at each other in a short amount of time, and it was incredibly entertaining.  Rating:  ***

Okerlund interviews Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman.  Pillman hypes Anderson’s abilities, while Anderson chides Ric Flair’s inability to find a teammate.  Anderson says that Flair reaped what he sowed since he turned on everyone in the promotion and no one is dumb enough to work with him now.

Kevin Sullivan (w/the Zodiac) (17-5) beats Randy Savage (15-1) via disqualification when Savage tosses the referee aside at 2:59:

Sullivan and the Zodiac take turns beating up Savage until Savage gives Sullivan a backdrop on the floor.  Savage hits a flying axhandle and the Zodiac fails to make a heel miscommunication sequence on the apron look convincing between he and Sullivan.  But nevermind that as Savage throws him into the ring and when the referee tries to separate them, Savage tosses him aside to get disqualified.  This was a mess.

After the bell, Savage slams Sullivan on top of Zodiac and goes for the flying elbow but Sullivan moves as the Zodiac takes the finisher.  Then the Giant comes out and gives Savage a chokeslam.  With the Giant’s height that was an excellent finisher choice, especially with the Giant falling to the canvas as he did the move.  Frankie Lancaster and Mark Starr come out and get chokeslammed and then Alex Wright dives off the top rope, but the Giant catches him and slams him.  Lex Luger takes his time coming to the ring as Savage takes a second chokeslam and he stares over his rival, but the Giant does a sneak attack.  Luger tries to fight him off, but a slam attempt goes nowhere – a nice parallel to what Luger did to Yokozuna in the WWF – and he eats a chokeslam as well.  THIS is how to get a monster talent over as the crowd ate all of this up.  The announcers say that Sullivan was displeased that the Giant attacked Luger.

Meng (25-2-1) pins Lex Luger (0-1) after hitting him with the golden spike at 6:45:

Bischoff tells fans that Hulk Hogan will be on Monday Nitro next week after seeing the Giant wipe out five guys in the last segment.  Luger is still selling the previous beating as Meng rushes the ring to get this one started, having no abandoned the face paint he wore after joining the Dungeon of Doom (and the same with the dragon mask).  Meng works a lot of rest holds before some errant blind charges.  That is not fatal, though, as the referee pulls Luger away from Meng in the corner and Meng FINALLY uses the golden spike WCW hyped endlessly before Fall Brawl to prevail.  Luger was trying to show WCW that he was a team player doing some of these jobs early in his run, but he was still heavily protected as it took a Giant beatdown AND a foreign object to put him down for the count.  Rating:  ½*

The Last Word:  WCW found something special in the Giant and they were doing a great job making him look like a force.  The Lex Luger-Randy Savage interactions were carrying the show in Hulk Hogan’s absence and guys in the midcard were putting on more serviceable matches than their WWF counterparts during this period.  However, the last two matches on the show were dreadful compared to the opening bouts and that would illustrate a pattern in WCW booking in the years to come.  Nevertheless, the show was a success for WCW as they outdrew Monday Night RAW in the first live head-to-head battle of the Monday Night Wars and notched their first decisive win.

Monday Night War Rating:  2.7 (vs. 1.9 for RAW – The Undertaker vs. the British Bulldog)

Up Next:  WCW Pro for September 30!