The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 05.27.96
LIVE from somewhere. Kind of funny that the show which changed wrestling forever wasn’t important enough to warrant a mention of the city.
Hour #1! Hosted by Tony Schiavone and Larry Z. They’re at ringside, which immediately gives the show a different look and feel. Tony is LEAGUES above Bischoff as an announcer at this point, and immediately the show feels more important and sportlike.
The American Males v. Ric Flair & Arn Anderson
Fun fact: My favorite color is teal, and Liz’s dress tonight makes it even more so my favorite color. Riggs overpowers Flair to start, but the Horsemen quickly double-team him on the floor to take over. Another great touch from the classic heels: They specifically make sure NOT to tag, just to be dicks and force the referee to do his job. Bagwell quickly has enough of these shenanigans and it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA as the Males clear the ring. Flair bails and goes for a bottle of champagne from the VIP table (paid for the Macho Man’s money, in case you forgot) to regroup, but Arn accidentally punches the post and Bagwell is in control as we take a break. Back with Bagwell fighting off both Horsemen. His timing and presence were improving by leaps and bounds at this point, actually. Over to Riggs, who quickly gets clipped by AA because he’s not very smart. Arn works on the knee and Flair serves the announcers some champagne in between beating up Riggs. That’s class out the ass. The Horsemen continue flagrantly disregarding the rulebook and working Riggs’ knee, but Scotty comes back with an enzuigiri to put Arn on the floor. Hot tag Bagwell, who gets a missile dropkick on Flair for two and a small package, but Arn rolls him over and Flair gets two. Riggs rolls them over again and Bagwell gets two. Perfectplex on Flair, but Arn comes in and kicks Bagwell in the face to break, and then Woman pokes him in the eye and Arn hits a DDT to finish at 11:46. That was some glorious cheating at the end there. *** Flair is so excited that he dumps champagne all over himself and poor Elizabeth can’t help but crack up at it. Afterwards, Arn lets us know that he has no respect for anyone who wears protective gear, and Flair sings “Afternoon Delight” in tribute of the women. Also, he clarifies that Savage’s money makes Liz his Sugar Mama. I’m impressed that Liz was able to keep it together as good as she could with that maniac cutting a nutty promo.
Meanwhile, Mongo and Kevin Greene lift some weights in preparation for the Horsemen. They’re coming hard all day long! Sure, anything sounds incredibly homoerotic out of context, I guess.
Steve Doll v. The Mauler
That’s right, Colonel Parker is now managing Mike Enos, which must be the earth-shattering thing that changed wrestling. Half of Well Dunn clashing with half of the Beverly Brothers! Mauler beats on Doll and hits a fallaway slam from the top, and they fight to the floor where Mauler runs him into the post. And we take a break. Back with the crowd all distracted by Razor Ramon coming into the ring in his Canadian tuxedo, and we know who he is, but we don’t why he’s here. The match just stops as Hall declares war on Billionaire Ted and “dubya see dubya” and promises to return tonight to issue a challenge to “weatherman wannabe” Eric Bischoff. I can see where Titan’s lawyers would take issue with this, because this was clearly Hall playing the Razor Ramon character and insinuating that he was representing the WWF. This was pretty brilliant as an angle, though, because Hall referenced “Scheme Gene” and “The Nacho Man” and all the “characters” that the WWF themselves used as their cheapshots at WCW, and here’s WCW turning it around and making actual money off it. Meltzer’s take on all this: “However, amidst the attempt at a cure for insomnia was the debut of Hall, done in a manner that is almost certain to be one of the biggest money angles of the year.” Even that ended up being a massive understatement.
Diamond Dallas Page v. Sgt. Craig Pittman
Page and Pittman exchange pushups to start and Pittman overpowers him for two. Pittman has now found his manager in the form of Teddy Long, for those of you who were wondering if that angle ever paid off. Pittman headbutts Page and he bumps to the floor off that, but comes back with a necksnap on the way back in to take over. Pittman quickly takes him down and hooks the armbar, but Page makes the ropes and shoves Long down in the process. Pittman is concerned, and that proves to be his weakness as Page finishes with the Diamond Cutter at 3:00. Fulfilling managerial relationship = loser. Got it. ½*
Meanwhile, The Shark has to cut a serious promo against the Giant while wearing a shark costume with his face painted like a shark. HE’S A SHARK!
Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan is more than just the greatest champion in history! Well that’s a relief.
HOUR #2! The only hour tougher than Chuck Norris.
Your hosts are Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan. Eric is not even going to dignify the previous attempt at an invasion with a response.
WCW World title: The Giant v. The Shark
Am I watching a Syfy original movie now? Shark attacks in the corner and fires away with a jumping double sledge, but Giant no-sells it and slams him. They wander slowly around the ring and Giant runs into a boot in the corner, but Shark goes after Jimmy Hart and gets chokeslammed at 4:00. This brings out Big Bubba, who has been repackaged yet again into a cleaner version of a SAMCRO prospect, and he shaves off half of Shark’s hair. DUD
World TV title: Lex Luger v. Maxx (Muscle)
I’d say that Maxx must be off steroids and has lost his Muscle, but clearly that would be the furthest thing from the truth. Luger is 100% babyface now, finally, and Maxx grabs a headlock and flexes a lot. Luger comes back with clotheslines as Bischoff notes that he’ll have to be careful or Maxx will “eat him up like yesterday’s lunch”. I miss Tony already. Maxx gets a slam for two as you hear Bischoff telling a stage hand off-camera that someone “can wait until the end of the hour” if he wants to talk to him. Oo, nice touch. This boring shitfest continues with Maxx on what you might laughably call offense, reminding me a lot of what Sting and Warrior were like as rookies. Without the potential. Luger comes back with the STAINLESS STEEL FOREARM OF DEATH (which took out Yokozuna, Eric points out) and finishes this goof with the Rack at 5:44. This might have been the worst match I’ve seen in about two months. Maxx literally looked like some guy they found on Venice Beach lifting weights and decided to make into a wrestler. -** Afterwards, Lex points out to Mean Gene that he doesn’t make the matches and didn’t steal DDP’s title shot at the Bash, and also he’s gonna beat the shit out of every big guy WCW has to offer while tuning up for the Giant. Sound strategy.
Hardwork Bobby Walker v. Brad Armstrong
Clearly this show is already desperately in need of the cruiserweights to fill up the running time if this is what we’re putting out there. Bischoff notes that he’s not going to use any names of any interlopers, so as not to incur the wrath of the WWF’s legal team. TOO LATE! So these guys do some armbars and stuff and no one gives a shit, as the arena is quieter than a Roman Reigns main event. (Well THAT one didn’t age well!) I’m really not seeing the hard work evident in Bobby Walker’s name here. Perhaps WCW should have countersued his racism claim with a false advertising one. Brad with a small package for two, but Walker gets a backslide for two. Walker jumps up to the top rope, nearly slips and breaks his neck and does it again, and finishes with a shitty Buff Blockbuster or shoulderblock or whatever at 4:44. -*
Lord Steven Regal v. Alex Wright
Wright uses a headscissors to put Regal on the floor and we take a break. Back with Regal working the arm, and pounding away with forearms. Wright fires back as the Bischoff/Heenan commentary duo continues getting worse before our eyes. I think Heenan was pretty loaded on this show, actually. They continue having a boring match and Wright gets a comeback with a heel kick for two, but Regal takes him down in the corner with a bridge for the pin at 10:00. Bischoff and Heenan would NOT SHUT UP about their stupid bullshit for this whole thing and ruined an already marginal match. * Afterwards, Regal notes that here on Memorial Day, his father would be proud of him beating “Junior Adolf” out there. He throws out a challenge to Sting, so that he can get a shot at the circus freak we call a champion.
Sting v. Scott Steiner
Sting’s hair is fully un-dyed and growing out now. Scott pounds him down and gets a press slam, but Sting recovers with a nice dropkick and an elbow out of the corner that puts Steiner on the floor. He follows with a dive. Back in, Scott catches him with the butterfly bomb and follows with the belly to belly, and Sting bails to escape. Scott follows with a double axehandle to the floor, and gets two. Scott misses a charge, but keeps coming with an overhead suplex for two. STF, which is slightly worse than Cena’s, and then he switches to a cross armbreaker. Heenan is just on some other planet here, mixing up names and completely forgetting the history between them. Scott tries a suplex and Sting reverses into what I believe would be the first Scorpion Death Drop, but the Stinger splash misses. Scott comes back with the dragon suplex as Lex Luger joins us at ringside, as does Rick Steiner. Scott with a samoan drop off the middle rope, but the Frankensteiner misses and Sting hooks the Scorpion. Scott makes the ropes and they trade tombstones, and Sting gets two. They fight to the apron and suplex each other to the floor, which triggers a big brawl between the two teams for the double DQ at 10:18. Really dull stuff. **
Eric and Bobby wrap things up, but Scott Hall interrupts a second time, and he wants WCW to find three of their best guys and have a match. WE’RE TAKING OVER! How true it was.
Aside from the biggest angle in the history of history launching here, the rest was pretty crappy this week. However, once the luchadors started finding their way into the midcard, the pacing of these shows would get much better.