What the World Was Watching: WCW Monday Nitro – November 20, 1995

Eric Bischoff, Steve McMichael, and Bobby Heenan are in the booth and they are live from Macon, Georgia.  The venue gives away how WCW’s decision to do Hulk Hogan-Sting was last minute.  This is also our go home episode for World War 3.

Opening Contest:  Scott Norton (4-1-1) beats the Shark (5-3-1) after a powerslam at 1:42

Neither of these men have a lot of fan support, so WCW’s decision to make this feud a staple of Monday Nitro over the last few months is odd.  The Shark attacks Norton before the bell, but Norton shrugs off some blows and catches the Shark with a powerslam out of nowhere to prevail.  At this point John Tenta was just collecting checks while losing some of his dignity every night.

Gene Okerlund interviews Kevin Sullivan and Jimmy Hart.  Hart tells Sting that he has been displaced by Randy Savage in Hulk Hogan’s circle of friendship, noting that Savage got to be on Baywatch instead of Sting.  Sullivan gives some generic comments about World War 3, losing his train of thought a couple of times.

Heenan tells Hogan that he cannot rely on the Phantom of the Opera to help him tonight.

Eddie Guerrero (10-2-4) beats Brian Pillman (34-7) after a frog splash at 6:25:

This match was scheduled to be Guerrero against Flair, but Flair was nursing a shoulder injury and cannot compete.  He gives a pre-match promo that says Guerrero is not on his level, saying that he is letting Pillman take his place.  Guerrero owes Pillman payback from the October 23 Monday Nitro where Pillman attacked Guerrero and DDT’d him on the arena floor.  Sadly, this story is lost on the broadcast team.  After a slow start high-risk moves dominate the middle of the match, with Pillman suplexing Guerrero to the floor, Pillman crashing into the guardrail on a dive to the floor, and Guerrero following up with a dive of his own.  After crotching Guerrero when he tries a frog splash, Pillman gets overconfident, is pushed off the top when he tries a superduperplex, and Guerrero hits the frog splash for the upset, as many fans would have expected some interference from the Four Horsemen.  The win is Guerrero’s biggest since coming into the company, doing a lot to elevate him in the eyes of fans.  Rating:  **½

Road Warrior Hawk (7-2-1) defeats Big Bubba Rogers (29-10-2) after Hacksaw Jim Duggan interferes at 3:45:

These two wrestled last month on Nitro, with Rogers winning after the Disco Inferno interfered and got Hawk counted out.  The supposed Disco-Hawk feud was never resolved.  To quote Jim Ross, this match is “bowling shoe ugly” until Rogers tapes a roll of quarters to his fist and tries to run the ropes, only to have Hacksaw Jim Duggan run out and trip him, causing Rogers head to hit his own fist on the way down and lose.  Rating:  ¼*

Sting (35-2) wrestles Hulk Hogan (w/Randy Savage) (6-1) to a no contest when the Dungeon of Doom interferes at 9:31:

One of the great color contrasts of this match is that Sting is wearing Hogan’s babyface red and yellow colors, while Hogan is wearing all black.  Heenan says Sting is waging psychological warfare, while Bischoff makes the ridiculous claim that Sting is wearing the colors to bring Hogan back from the dark side.  The Macon crowd is totally behind Sting, hardly surprising because it was a WCW hotbed.  Hogan works a headlock for a long time before trapping Sting in a bearhug when Sting goes for the Stinger’s Splash.  He also hulks out of a Scorpion Deathlock, earning the ire of all the fans in the arena.  However, a leg drop misses and Sting reapplies the Scorpion, with Hogan yelling to Savage that his leg is going to be broken and begging referee Randy Anderson for help.  Before Hogan can submit, though, the Dungeon of Doom run in and attack both men, producing the predictable non-finish.  By itself, the match was average but the fan response and teased Sting win bump it up a little.  And it was a much better bout than these two would have at Starrcade in 1997.  Rating:  **½

After the bell, the Giant attempts to chokeslam Sting and Hogan, only to have Savage break that up with a chair.  The Giant plants Savage with a chokeslam, but Sting and Hogan grab a chair and send the Giant over the top rope.

The Last Word:  Giving Sting-Hulk Hogan away on free television was madness, even if it failed to declare a true winner.  That was a match that WCW could have heavily booked for Starrcade and made millions, but they aired it to hurt Monday Night RAW’s anticipated bump from Survivor Series that took place the night before.  And even with this big match, WCW still barely won the night as the WWF loaded their show with a great Diesel promo and Shawn Michaels collapsing in the ring against Owen Hart to kickoff his “boyhood dream” storyline for WrestleMania XII.  It is an interesting question of what WCW might have looked like in 1996 if Hogan leaned more into his a darkish, heel persona well before he joined the New World Order.  Fans were already booing him across the country and Hogan was already portraying a paranoid character, so it would have been a natural progression for his character.

Monday Night War Rating:  2.5 (vs. 2.3 for RAW – Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart)

Up Next:  WCW Pro for November 25!