Wrestling Observer Flashback – 09.11.95
…WCW MONDAY NITRO!
– Lex Luger reached an agreement with WCW and shockingly debuted on the first episode WCW Monday Nitro, in a deal so secret that wrestlers in both companies were surprised to see it happen.
– Both Lex and Bischoff are claiming that Luger had been working without a contract for weeks, which makes it all the weirder that he was pushed in a serious position around Summerslam. It was previously thought that Luger’s contract expired in October, which would mean that Vince would have had to release Luger from a valid contract and let him go to WCW. Either way, it makes the people in charge of talent relations look stupid.
– So as previously reported, WCW had only been offering Luger $1000 per night with no guarantee, but then everything suddenly changed due to the firing of Vader following a locker room fight with Paul Orndorff. (Ah! There’s the missing piece. They don’t mention that one in the Monday Night War documentaries.) Vader was actually going to face Hogan for the title on the 9/11 Nitro and could have won the belt to make Nitro “must see” TV for wrestling fans.
– If Vader can be fired without having to pay him off, then getting rid of his contract frees up $750,000 annually that can spent on Luger. And then they can plug Luger into that title match and also into Vader’s spot in War Games. They could even put Luger into the Four Horsemen when they reform, although it’s more likely to be Chris Benoit.
– Dave continues to be impressed by Luger’s record of making more money in wrestling than anyone else in history while accomplishing less. In fact, WWF thought so little of Luger by the end of this run that they didn’t even do the Bulldog turn on him out of fear that it wouldn’t get over since no one cares about Luger. (OUCH! Hurtful.)
– Dave is also impressed at the job that Nitro did in building a big rating for the 9/11 show, noting that there was no possible way they could have been more effective. Although he does note that in three months, the new car smell will have worn off with Luger and they’ll be stuck with the same old Luger and a big contract.
– But good for Luger, he adds.
– Anyway, onto the Vader-Orndorff fight. It took place several hours before the Center Stage tapings, with Vader showing up late and Orndorff ordering him out to the set for interviews with Mean Gene. The show was already running behind and the producers didn’t want to cover dinner for the crew, so Orndorff was barking at Vader to hurry up and get out there, which turned into curse words and Orndorff calling Vader a “fat prima-donna”. Finally they got at each other with Orndorff telling him to bring it on, and Vader brought it, only to be knocked out by a left from Mr. Wonderful’s atrophied arm. And then Orndorff put the boots to Vader on the ground before it was finally broken up, although it should be noted that Orndorff was wearing sandals instead of the usual cowboy boots so Vader made it out fairly unscathed.
– And then, ROUND TWO, as Vader recovered from his beating and then went to confront Orndorff in the office, which led to another brawl that gave Orndroff a black eye and bloody lip. (Vader’s really coming out of this one looking like a fucking hero, isn’t he?) Orndorff actually went out after taking the beating and worked his scheduled squash match on the tapings, turning himself into a “John Wayne type hero” with the boys as a result.
– Orndorff later said that he would have no problem with Vader coming back once everything cooled down and Vader is apologetic. However, with Luger now taking his place on the major shows and Vader himself being erased from WCW programming, that’s not looking likely. If Vader does leave for the WWF, this will look like an all-time dumbass business move on his part, since he had used his UWFI job to leverage himself into a giant contract for very few dates with WCW. And he’s certainly not going to be making that kind of money in the WWF and he’ll be working far more dates.
– Dave does concede that he’ll be far more recognized in airports, though. So there’s that.
– OK, onto the main event: The debut of WCW Monday Nitro drew 2000 fans to the Mall of America and was a huge success. Except for Mongo McMichael, who is terrible and needs to be dropped sooner rather than later. (Unfortunately it was MUCH later.) Also, the matches were rushed, even with only three of them on the show. (Yeah that wouldn’t get any better over the years either.)
In the dark match, The American Males won a really bad non-title match over Bunkhouse Buck & Dick Slater.
- Brian Pillman pinned Jushin Liger in 6:53 by reversing a german suplex into a cradle. Had some missed spots and was rushed but turned into a very good match by the end. ***1/2
- Ric Flair and Sting went to a no-contest in 11:31. Typical Flair-Sting match we’ve all seen except it was also rushed. This was the match with the famous Luger spot. Ended with Arn Anderson coming in to tease that he had made up with Flair, before attacking Flair to trigger a brawl. ***1/4
Scott Norton then showed up and Mongo nearly killed him out of the gate by laughing at the supposed scary heel.
Next up, Mike Rotunda returned as Michael Wallstreet, doing a Million Dollar Man ripoff, and he quipped that “The IRS will be watching him.”
- Hulk Hogan beat Big Bubba Rogers to retain the WCW title in 7:08. It wasn’t great but Hogan was motivated. Legdrop for the pin. Afterwards the Dungeon of Doom attacked and Luger made the save before going nose-to-nose with Hulk, setting up the title match next week.
– Meanwhile, the lineup for the third In Your House is out and Dave isn’t impressed. Shawn and Owen are gonna have to carry that tag match. (Joke’s on Dave, then. Owen didn’t even end up working that match!)
– To Japan, where people are really hyped for the UWFI v. New Japan show at the Tokyo Dome on 10/9, with 30,000 tickets sold before any matches are even announced. Once they actually determine the main event, it’ll likely be a sellout far in advance. As a part of the storyline behind the show, the New Japan bookers were supposedly “on vacation” and left it up to the UWFI bookers to make the matches.
– Wrestle Dream Factory had a show at Korakuen Hall that didn’t draw very well, but featured a tournament with representation from six different promotions. Sort of. See, one of the wrestlers was supposed to be Devon Storm from the NWA in the US, but he got turned around in Customs. See, normally wrestlers avoid getting a work visa by just showing up and claiming to be tourists there for a week and then work for a week and go home. However, no one smartened Devon up to the scam in advance, and he stupidly told the Customs agent that he was there to work a show, when he only had a tourist visa, and he was denied entry and sent home. (Rookie move.)
– To Memphis, where the Roadie changed his name again, this time to Jesse James Armstrong, which is setting up a big push for him against Lawler.
– Dave would also like to put over Billy Jack Haynes for “Most Improved Wrestler of the Year” for his work in the USWA, since he’s considerably better here at 42 years old than he was during his “prime” in the 80s when he wasn’t any good.
– The feud between Downtown Bruno and the local radio DJ inexplicably continues, as Bruno gave him a photo of Elvis to make up for the one that was previously broken, and the DJ broke it over his head. At this point the angle appears to be going absolutely nowhere.
– ECW put on what Dave called the best TV show of the year in the US thus far, with the final Guerrero-Malenko match seeming like a huge deal. Sign Guy had a “91 days and counting” sign in reference to their 90 day contracts with WCW. (Yeah, don’t hold your breath there ECW nerds.)
– Ian Rotten is gone after crappy payoffs, and the Eliminators are coming in, although likely with a different gimmick.
– The Sportatorium was redone yet again and opened for business with a show promoted by Sam Houston and Grizzly Smith, including new paint and sound system. However, the matches still sucked and it was all the same guys doing the same shitty matches as before.
– To WCW, where the corporate rumor mill is flying about Time Warner possibly buying the entire Turner empire. (Ted Turner would never sell!) No idea what this would mean for WCW if it happens. (Unlikely as it is.)
– Guerrero and Malenko actually debuted on the 8/30 Center Stage tapings, going on last with a 17:00 match that was ****, even though no one in the crowd knew who they were.
– There’s talk of bringing in Jerry Lynn from Minneapolis to work with the new signees. (Too obvious. They should put him under a mask so no one knows his identity.)
– The Scorpio deal is dead.
– Hulk Hogan might be doing a movie called “Secret Agent Club”, about a bumbling secret agent who is constantly rescued from jams by his children. (Isn’t that the basic concept of Inspector Gadget?)
– To the WWF, where Diesel is out with an injury from Mabel’s ass. When Mabel did the sitdown splash at Summerslam, it severly bruised Diesel’s abdomen and he’ll be out until mid-September. Goldust already injured his hip and hasn’t worked since his debut on 8/29 as well.
– Tatanka is suspended, with no word on why but it’s not drugs.
– Finally, Dave is amazed that Unabom and Isaac Yankem are the same person, as Jacobs has seemingly changed his body completely and lost all his aggressiveness. (Well hopefully he finds a gimmick he can stick with for a while.)