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

If you have not already, do not forget to vote for the Doomies.

Eric Bischoff, Steve McMichael, and Bobby Heenan are in the booth for this Christmas edition of Monday Nitro and they are taped from Augusta, Georgia.  This is also the go-home show for Starrcade, which takes place in two days.

Opening Contest:  Lex Luger (w/Jimmy Hart) (16-3) defeats Scotty Riggs via submission to the Torture Rack at 7:05:

Luger beat one-half of the American Males last week, so Riggs defends the team’s honor in this contest.  He fares better than Marcus Bagwell, dazing Luger with dropkicks, a flying forearm, and arm dragging him all over the ring.  That is surprising because Riggs gets a jobber entrance and fans assumed Bagwell was the more valued member of the Males.  Riggs scores near-falls from a body press off the ropes and a small package.  However, a missile dropkick misses and the fans pop when Luger racks Riggs for the submission win.  Standard TV fare, which became entertaining in the closing moments.  Rating:  **

Gene Okerlund interviews Sting, who is irritated by Okerlund’s inquiry about his relationship with Luger.  He says he looks forward to putting Ric Flair in the Scorpion Deathlock at Starrcade and that New Japan will lose the World Cup because they are on WCW territory.

Sting (42-2-1) beats Big Bubba Rogers (30-12-2) with a small package at 5:11:

Rogers is one of two men to beat Sting this year, but the announcers never note it, a clear signal that Rogers heel turn after the January Clash of the Champions did not live up to expectations.  The match lacks flow, with a lot of stops and starts after energetic bursts from both guys.  When Sting goes to the top rope, Rogers rakes his eyes but when Rogers goes to throw Sting off, Sting small packages him on the way down for the pin.  Rating:  *½

Okerlund interviews Lex Luger and Jimmy Hart.  Luger says he is better than Sting, which causes Sting, who is still at ringside, to laugh.  Sergeant Craig Pittman breaks into the segment to ask Jimmy Hart to manage him.  Hart body shames the former Marine and says that he should use a quarter to call “a manager who needs a few good men.”  That was a sick burn from Hart.

Dean Malenko (4-3) beats Mr. J.L. (2-5) via submission to a kneebar at 3:40:

There have not been a lot of appearances for Malenko since WCW decided to put Chris Benoit in the Four Horsemen.  He has also had Japanese commitments, so that kept him off the World War 3 card and important television tapings.  One of the commentary highlights of this match is that Bischoff accidentally reveals J.L.’s identity by calling him “Jerry Lynn” in the early going.  The crowd facing the hard camera love the big moves, which includes a J.L. sit out powerbomb and a stomachbreaker off the top rope from Malenko.  Shortly after that last move, Malenko applies a kneebar and that secures the submission victory.  Rating:  **½

Okerlund interviews Ric Flair.  Before he can say much, Jimmy Hart interrupts and apologizes for Kevin Sullivan crashing his interview last week.  Hart says that he owes Flair a favor for saving his life from Randy Savage when they were in Phoenix, so he asks to manage him in the main event.  Flair agrees.

WCW Championship Match:  Randy Savage (Champion) (22-6) defeats Ric Flair (w/Jimmy Hart) (19-6) via disqualification when Lex Luger interferes at 15:09 shown:

A good story for this match would be that Savage is vulnerable because Hulk Hogan is suspended so he has little chance of keeping the title.  Unfortunately, that is a match build for a heel champion, which shows how badly Savage has been booked since World War 3.  Savage puts Flair in the figure-four in the early going but the fans are tired and do not react.  Heenan makes a good point about how Savage is not taking full advantage of his arm injury and how he would encourage a wrestler to put a piece of iron in his bandaging to get an edge.  Flair wears Savage down, but he does little leg work before applying the figure-four so Savage makes the ropes after laying down for some near-falls.  Hart finally gets involved by grabbing Savage’s leg during a late rally and then hopping on the apron and in the mess that follows, Luger runs out and attacks Savage to get Flair disqualified.  So that makes three Savage title defenses since World War 3 and all three ended in disqualifications.  At least Savage won this time!  Bad ending aside, these two had their usual fun match.  A more energetic crowd would have brought it up a notch.  Rating:  ***½

After the bell, Sting runs into the ring and brawls with Flair as the announcers wonder if he was going into the ring to help Savage or Luger.  Sting and Savage clear the ring and get into a shoving match as the show goes off the air.

The Last Word:  As with most taped shows, this broadcast lacked energy.  At least things picked up at the end by teasing Randy Savage and Sting, which would a fun way to book the Starrcade main event.  WCW has done a good job making it seem like any of the participants in the triangle match could win and challenge Savage, so it will be interesting what direction they choose in Nashville.  Oh, and the World Cup concept?  It was barely touched on during this show.  WCW knew by this point the angle was a flop but you have to at least TRY to get fans excited to buy the pay-per-view in a couple of days.

Monday Night War Rating:  2.5 (unopposed)

Up Next:  Starrcade ’95!

My second book was recently published on Amazon, chronicling WCW action from January to September 1995 before the debuted of Monday Nitro.  The book includes reviews, angle breakdowns, win-loss totals and breakdowns, and other relevant information about the period.  You can buy it in ebook or paperback format.