The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–04.01.96

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 04.01.96 It’s the post-Wrestlemania edition of RAW, as requested! From 1996, sure, but it’s the thought that counts. Live from San Bernadino, CA, as the Shawn Michaels era has begun! Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler Mankind v. Bob Holly And so Mrs. Foley’s baby boy debuts on RAW. Mankind attacks in the corner and beats Holly down, but Bob fights back with a dropkick. Mankind dumps him and follows with a hotshot into the apron. Back in, Holly gets hung in the Tree of Woe and dropkicked, and Mankind finishes with the MANDIBLE CLAW at 4:00. This was a case where everyone was dismissive of the character beforehand (“Oh, it’s just Cactus Jack in the WWF, big deal”) and then Mick Foley came in and hit the character out of the park in his first shot, using a new finisher (lifted from the real life doctor that The Fugitive was based on) and playing a totally different kind of psychopath. Also, Bob Holly chewing an Alka Seltzer to foam at the mouth and really sell the move was badass. ** Meltzer just COMPLETELY undersold this one in the Observer at the time. His summation: “They opened with Mankind, who got no reaction except for a half-dozen ECW fans in the front row chanting “he’s hardcore,” beating Bob Holly with the finishing move of sticking his fingers down Holly’s throat.” Come on, 1996 Dave, be cool. This was the debut of one of the most successful characters in wrestling history! Isaac Yankem v. “Wildman” Marc Mero So this gives us the RAW debuts of Marc Mero, as well as Sable at ringside. Mero quickly dropkicks Yankem to the floor and follows with a dive, and a slingshot legdrop gets two. Flying headscissors and a double axehandle gets two. This brings Hunter Hearst Helmsley out to harass Sable, and Mero is distracted enough for Yankem to take over with a backdrop suplex. It’s an Authority conspiracy! Mero comes back with a crucifix for two and a reverse rollup for two. The knockout punch puts Yankem down and a flying sunset flip finishes at 4:55. ** The Bodydonnas v. Barry Horowitz & Aldo Montoya The Donnas the new tag team champions, having defeated the Godwinns in the tournament final at Wrestlemania…in the pre-game show no less. If you had said even a year before that Chris Candido and Tom Pritchard would be tag team champions, you probably couldn’t have imagined a dumber way for them to end up in that spot. And of course it would get worse. So I should note at this point the combination of a shitty internet connection and Network problems combine to make the show unwatchable, so we are now picking things up a day later after I shut it off in frustration and played Path of the Warrior DLC on WWE 2K15 instead. That was pretty rad, I will say. Even as shitty at the game as I am thus far, I still managed to make it all the way through to Macho King before getting my ass irrevocably kicked. I’m sure Honky Tonk Man is flattered that you literally only have to do two Quicktime events to unlock him. The Hogan match is also really, really fun. Anyway, back to this match, as this kicks off the epic “Sunny as tag title whore” storyline which culminated in the Smoking Gunns’ heel turn. Aldo dominates with his high flying Portuguese martial arts and headlocks and shit, as Vince has trouble telling Skip and Zip apart. As a hint, if Ahmed Johnson is banging his girlfriend in exchange for coke, it’s probably Skip. The Bodydonnas double-team Aldo to take over, much like the double-teaming that occurred when…never mind, let’s just leave it alone. Aldo gets beat up in the corner, but comes back with a sick suplex on Skip from the apron to the floor, and he follows with a dive on both heels. Didn’t he get the note that TV jobbers didn’t need to give a shit? Barry Horowitz gets the hot tag and runs wild with a rollup on Skip for two, but that train has sailed. Aldo comes in and gets caught with a german suplex for two and Skip powerbombs him, then follows with a top rope rana into a Zip cannonball for the pin at 5:31. This was like a real match and everything. **1/2 After the break, we get a big ol’ RSPW sign on camera. How about that. Shawn Michaels joins us as the WWF champion for the first time, and he’s going to have to wrestle Jerry Lawler next week and then Diesel at the next PPV. Shawn’s use of “the Kliq” for his fanbase is about as forced and obnoxious as “WWE Universe” today and about as effective. This was kind of a bland, bad start for Shawn as champion. Undertaker v. Justin Hawk Bradshaw Baby JBL attacks and beats on his future cult leader, into a powerslam for two. Taker immediately sits up, so Bradshaw drops him with a lariat and puts him on the floor as we take a break. Back with UT making the comeback until a sideslam gets two for Bradshaw. Bradshaw goes aerial with a shoulderblock for two. Another try is reversed into a powerslam for two, but Bradshaw just levels him with another lariat. If he didn’t have the body of Chris Hero at this point he probably would have been World champion by Summerslam. A third lariat misses and Taker puts him away with the chokeslam and tombstone at 6:20, as Mankind runs in and attacks Undertaker. Fun, hard-hitting match. **1/2 And then Mankind just completely destroys him, dropping the Cactus elbow off the apron and putting him out with the Mandible Claw. This was pretty big for Undertaker, as the feud really humanized him and finally gave him something to do that wasn’t just “goofy heel steals the urn and something something magic powers” over and over. The Pulse This was a pretty awesome and historic post-WM show. Hopefully it doesn’t turn to dogshit again for a while.

The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania 31

The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania 31 – 03.29.15 Live from San Francisco, CA Your hosts are Michael Cole, JBL & Jerry Lawler I’m trying the live stream tonight, so hopefully it doesn’t die on me. The picture is already heavily pixelated early on, though. Intercontinental title: Bad News Barrett v. Dolph Ziggler v. Daniel Bryan v. Luke Harper v. R-Truth v. Stardust v. Dean Ambrose So Daniel Bryan goes from winning the World title in the main event to curtain-jerking as the seventh guy in the opener this year. If only he had been born a Samoan. Giant brawl to start, as expected, and guys start hitting dives immediately. Truth, who is apparently a geek that fears heights, tries to climb first but is terrified to do so. Bryan sandwiches some guys behind a ladder and dropkicks it a few times, but that backfires on him. Harper climbs and ends up hanging upside down on the ladder, and Bryan climbs until Ziggler makes the save. Stardust takes out a few guys as the feed jumps around a bit, and he discovers a sparkly ladder under the ring that is apparently his own personal one. And then Barrett immediately breaks it. Well that’s kind of a waste. Harper and Ambrose have a ladder duel and Dean gets dropped on a ladder with Snake Eyes. I can only presume that it was a tribute to Hall of Famer Kevin Nash. Truth clears the ring but is unable to overcome his crippling acrophobia again, which leads to Barrett superplexing Cody off the ladder. Everyone climbs and we get another trainwreck with everyone falling off, leading to Ambrose taking a powerbomb from Harper through a ladder. Jesus. Harper climbs, but Ziggler is on his back with a sleeper and thus both guys fall off. Ziggler climbs alone, but Barrett saves with the Bullhammer. Truth climbs and he takes one too. Bryan hits Barrett with the flying knee, clears the ring, and slugs it out with Ziggler on the ladder with insane headbutts until Ziggler finally drops, to win the IC title at 13:31. That also puts Bryan in elite company as one of the few to hold the WWE Grand Slam (WWE, World, IC, US and tag titles). The match was a crazy, non-stop trainwreck with little else going on, but that’s what we wanted out of it. ***3/4 Randy Orton v. Seth Rollins Orton with a dropkick early and Seth bails, but catches him with a necksnap to take over. Orton slugs away in the corner and goes after J&J as the feed bugs out a bit, but Rollins hits him with a dive. Back in, Seth gets two. Suplex gets two and we hit the chinlock. Seth pounds away in the corner, but Orton comes back with clotheslines and the powerslam. Rollins bails to the apron and fights out of the draping DDT, and follows with a quebrada. Back in, they fight on the top rope and Seth goes down first, but he rolls through a flying bodypress for two. Orton with the draping DDT, but Rollins rolls him up for two. RKO gets two. I really wish I could mute JBL on this show. HE’S GOING TO THAT PLACE, MAGGLE! HE’S HEARING VOICES, MAGGLE! And then the feed buffers like crazy again on me. RKO on J&J, but Seth gets the curb stomp for two. Moonsault misses and they trade finish attempts, but Orton manages to reverse the curb stomp mid-move into the RKO at 13:10. That was quite the finish and should probably be a GIF for the next 15 years. Nothing special as a match, however. *** HHH v. Sting Sting’s entrance just lacks something in the bright sunlight. Hard to be mysterious at four in the afternoon, I guess. Meanwhile, HHH’s entrance is a literal commercial for the new Terminator movie. And the announcers are making fun of WCW?!? Well, credit to HHH for being willing to go out and embarrass himself with this shit. They trade shoulderblocks to start and Sting dropkicks him into the corner, but HHH slugs him down. Sting no-sells the facebuster, but HHH bails as JBL continues randomly bouncing between heel and babyface. Back in, Sting dumps him, but debuts the “dive at the railing and miss” spot. Back in, HHH with a suplex for two. The announcers constantly burying WCW on commentary is really irritating. You won the war FIFTEEN YEARS AGO. Get over it. HHH with the chinlock and some really loud spot-calling, and a spinebuster gets two. HHH has some kind of really ugly bruise on his thigh and it’s kind of scary. Sting fights back and the feed suddenly jumps to the Scorpion Deathlock, but now D-X (New Age Outlaws & X-Pac) runs in and Sting fights them off. I think it would be more awesome if DX was played by the chicks in the Max Landis video. And then Sting hits them with a dive from the top, which is a sight to behold. Back in, KICK WHAM PEDIGREE gets two. HHH grabs his trusty sledgehammer, but now the New World Order (Hogan, Nash and Hall) does the world’s slowest run-in and the Scorpion Deathdrop gets two. Scorpion Deathlock while the senior citizens battle at ringside, but HHH makes the ropes. And then Shawn Michaels comes in to superkick Sting in the name of DX, but that only gets two. So it’s the sledgehammer v. bat showdown, and the hammer breaks under the awesome force of WCW’s bat. Stinger splash, but HHH manages one last sledgehammer for the pin at 18:16. Everyone who thought HHH was laying down here were being very naïve. This was more of a wacky spectacle than a match, but it was fine for what it was. ** I suspect it’ll get a lot of love for all the nostalgia stuff, which is also fine. I’m not saying it wasn’t neat to have D-X facing off against the nWo at Wrestlemania, but let’s not get silly about it. Coming to WWE Network: A whole bunch of stupid bullshit that no one in their right mind would want to watch. A prank show? Diva Search 2015? Really? Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan gets the endorsement of a bunch of former IC champions. Hopefully they actually follow through on that and don’t just have him do a bunch of jobs to build up title matches. And now the concert portion of our show, which is where I break for dinner and pause the stream for a while to hopefully let the buffering catch up. I’ve heard of Travis Barker before, but that’s about it. And why you need a drummer for a chick who’s lip-syncing is a mystery to me. And wasn’t there supposed to be an LL Cool J concert, too? AJ Lee & Paige v. The Bella Twins Nikki takes out AJ quickly and Brie works Paige over with a running knee for two. Bellas with a double slingshot suplex for two. Paige manages a rollup on Boobs Bella for two, but the Rack Attack gets two. Paige makes her own comeback while AJ is still old cold on the floor for some reason. WHERE ARE THE MEDICAL PERSONNEL? Suddenly AJ pops up again and gets the hot tag, but Nikki rolls through a flying bodypress. It’s breaking loose in Tulsa and AJ gets a really shitty DDT on Nikki for two. Another brawl and Nikki lays out AJ with the forearm for two. The feed jumps to AJ putting Nikki into the Black Widow at 6:32. I have no idea what the point of AJ having to sell on the floor for four minutes was about. *1/2 Commercial, commercial, Hall of Fame ceremony, commercial, commercial. You can pretty much cut out an hour of stuff on fast-forward thus far and this whole series of stuff has really sucked the momentum out of the show. US title: Rusev v. John Cena Thankfully Lana is back, and Rusev gets to ride a tank. I thought that was D-X’s gimmick? John Cena of course gets the most over-the-top jingoistic video package (complete with Vince heroes George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan) to show everyone that he’s fighting for freedom everywhere. As long as you’re an American who votes Republican. And the crowd STILL boos him. Oh man, this crowd is gonna destroy Roman Reigns. And Rusev also gets booed, so I guess they just hate everyone. Cena immediately attacks and gets one, but Rusev hits him with a spinkick for two. Rusev busts out some sambo (well, he’s playing a Russian, so I can only assume) with a rolling throw for two and follows with a rolling dive into the corner for two. Rusev stops to wave the Russian flag, but this enrages the American blood of John Cena, who comes back with VINTAGE CENA, including getting booed. Rusev escapes the FU and gets a backdrop suplex for two. Uranage gets two. They head to the top and Cena comes off with the guillotine for two. The crowd now resorts to cheering for Lana as Rusev comes back with a superkick for two. Cena with a tornado DDT for two. They slug it out and Rusev gets a whiplash slam for two as the crowd is increasingly bored by this. Cena takes him down with the STF, but Lana throws a shoe in the ring. Honestly, who throws a shoe? This somehow allows Rusev to escape the hold as foot fetishists everywhere lose their minds, and Rusev hits a diving headbutt for two. JBL notes that Rusev is discovering that John Cena does not give up. Except for last month. Cena reverses the Accolade and hits a stunner for two. Oh sure, they bring that move back after 12 years and it’s for JOHN FUCKING CENA? Cena with a rollup for two, but Rusev superkicks him into the Accolade. And Cena powers out of it and reverses into the STF. Lana distracts the ref, however, and Cena lets a charging Rusev knock her off and hits the FU for the pin and the title at 14:34. Nowhere near as good as last month. *** So now Cena can travel the world and inspire United Statesians everywhere. And now, the pre-show panel discusses the stirring victory for Big Show in the battle royale. So much for Hideo Itami’s big Wrestlemania debut. The Authority is out to announce a new fake attendance record of 76,000 people! Way to go, 20000 phantom people! Like really, it’s 2015, do they really think people are stupid enough to just believe WWE would have an exact count of people two hours into the show? What if another 100 still want to show up late? HHH takes credit for all of it, but the Rock interrupts. Good, I was thinking that this show was moving at too much of a breakneck pace and needed an interview segment to breathe. Rock lays down the challenge and Stephanie gets in his face and claims that the McMahons made him, then slaps him and sends him packing. But Rock would never hit a woman, so he heads to the crowd, finds RONDA ROUSEY, and invites her to kick Stephanie’s ass instead. And Stephanie can’t resist talking shit to her, which the Rock warns is a bad idea. HHH has had enough and get his ass handed to him, but Steph makes the mistake of going after Rousey and gets chased from the ring under threat of armbar. Obviously she couldn’t actually finish the job due to legal stuff with UFC. Which is too bad because it would have been legendary. See now, Rock v. HHH at WM in Dallas makes way more sense than Rock v. Brock, because there was already a backstory and people would actually want to see that match again. Myself included. If they could pull off Rock & Ronda v. HHH & Stephanie, more power to them. Although once again, how sad is it that these guys just blow away everyone on the roster and make them all look like a bunch of indy chumps by comparison in the span of 20 minutes? Bray Wyatt v. The Undertaker We are apparently running long and skip the video package for this match, which is kind of astonishing. Undertaker has reverted to Zombie Cowboy with hair after a few years of the demonic wizard with Mohawk look. Apparently Undertaker’s 21-1 is now the “greatest record in sports history” and I don’t even know where to begin with that one. Like, I’m pretty sure the Patriots going undefeated that one year was a bit more impressive. Somehow, Undertake has used his magic powers to generate 30 pounds of muscle since those photos of him surfaced a couple of months ago, and he’s looking much better than the last couple of years. Bray charges and gets beat up in the corner, and Taker goes old school. Bray comes back with a clothesline, but Taker continues kicking his ass and legdrops him on the apron. Back in, Taker hits Snake Eyes, but Bray comes back with a back elbow and pounds away in the corner. He grabs a hold on the mat and does some sort of charge on the floor to run Taker’s head into the post. That didn’t really translate very well and just kind of looked like Bray taking a bump into the stairs for no reason. Back in, Taker catches him in the gogoplata, but Bray slugs out of it. The announcers now suddenly bring up the storyline of Undertaker doubting himself and contemplating mortality, which would have been nice to bring up TWO MONTHS AGO. Like, did we ever have any followup from Undertaker about how he felt after the Streak ended? Nope. Bray puts him down with a uranage and senton for two. Sister Abigail is reversed into the chokeslam, and the tombstone…gets two. I’m gonna have to call bullshit on that one. A second try is reversed into Sister Abigail for two. I kind of get what they’re going for here, but it’s not working, like at all. We get the crab walk v. zombie showdown, and Bray freaks out. They do the slugfest and Bray tries Sister again, but this time Taker reverses to the tombstone to finish at 15:07. Not at the low level of last year’s match, but there was a lot of laying around and clearly this wasn’t the right opponent for Undertaker. **1/2 Chris Jericho brings his podcast to the WWE Network with super-controversial guest John Cena. I bet Cena will stir up headlines by talking about how fans might love him or hate him but he always shows up. WWE World title: Brock Lesnar v. Roman Reigns And so it’s come to this. Don’t you tell Roman that he can’t do something! Because he’ll just go ahead and do it anyway, but to half the crowd reaction he otherwise he would have received. He enters through the crowd and security has to actively fight off people trying to tell him what he can’t do on the way to the ring. DON’T YOU FUCKING TELL HIM WHAT HE CAN’T DO! He summons the anger of people telling him what he can’t do and punches the ring so hard that he sets off fireworks. Brock is so the clear babyface here, and the crowd even sings along with Paul Heyman’s ring introduction of him. Brock shrugs off Roman’s attack, quickly suplexes him, and follows with the F5. The crowd loved that. Brock is bleeding from one of Reigns’s wussy shots. WHY WOULD YOU MAKE BROCK BLEED?! He’s going to murder you! Reigns tries to fight back and Brock suplexes his dumb ass again and beats the shit out of him. Another suplex and Brock is having fun with this. A sixth german suplex and then Brock changes it up by dropping him on the top rope and throwing knees to his face. He punches him right to the railing as the crowd breaks out the “This is awesome” chant for the supposed top babyface getting beaten like a red-headed stepchild. Reigns comes back with a knee and the crowd boos him out of the stadium, and then Brock clotheslines his head off to send him flying off the apron again. Brock should win Wrestler of the Year for this shit. Back in, another suplex sends Reigns out of the ring again, and Brock suplexes him right back in. The crowd is now keeping count of the suplexes that their hero is taking. F5 gets two. Brock is now gloveless, I repeat, gloveless, and personally bitchslaps Reigns with his bare hands. Another pair of suplexes, another F5 gets two. Oh come on. Brock takes him outside to the ringpost, but Reigns reverses him into it. Why would you make this man angrier!? Your continued kicking out has already angered him enough! Back in, Reigns hits the superman punch twice and Brock won’t go down because he’s a real man. A third one finally drops him and Reigns follows with the spear, twice, but it only gets two. One last charge and Brock hits the F5…but Seth Rollins cashes in and it’s now a three-way. Curb stomp, but Brock catches him, so Reigns hits the spear and Rollins curb stomps him and pins him at 16:37 to win the WWE title! So…that was quite the ridiculous finish, but damn if I wasn’t jumping up and down with excitement at it. And really, they found a brilliant way to get out of the corner they were painted into with Reigns. Brock Lesnar has to be some kind of superhuman wrestling machine to carry Roman Reigns to that kind of match. ****1/2 The Pulse I actually liked this show better than last year, even if the middle dragged a lot for me. The ladder match / Rollins v. Orton / Sting v. HHH spectacle to open the show was a fantastic start and the Rousey angle was incredible TV. And then Brock showed why he’s worth whatever the fuck he wants to be paid with a finish that will probably go down in WM history. Reigns is dead in the water, but who gives a shit about him anyway? Big thumbs up here, especially given low expectations.

The SmarK Rant for NXT–03.25.15

The SmarK Rant for NXT – 03.25.15 Well since this is something of a mini-special, I figured I’d give it a review. So was this taped before or after the Columbus show last week that set this show up? Taped from Orlando, FL Your hosts are Rich Brennan & Corey Graves NXT Women’s title: Sasha Banks v. Alexa Bliss Bliss gets the quick rollup for two and a crucifix for two, and she controls with a dropkick for two. Sasha boots her out of the corner and smacks her down for two, and the double knees get two. Straitjacket hold on the mat, but Bliss reverses out and into a small package for two. Bliss dumps her and makes a sloppy comeback in the ring, but gets a nice legsweep into the standing moonsault for two. Flip powerbomb out of the corner gets two. That was nice. She goes up and misses a dive, and Sasha finishes with the Bank Statement at 5:35 to retain. Bliss is getting better and there’s definitely potential there. **1/4 Meanwhile, Emma doesn’t want to say I told you so, but she told Bailey so. Bailey disagrees, so Emma fires off a slap. Meanwhile, Tyler Breeze wants another title shot, but Hideo wants a 2/3 falls match next week. Dana Brooke is coming at some point. Perhaps by the time all these interviews and video packages are over. Meanwhile, the Dubstep Cowboys have a gift for Carmella, but Cass and Enzo think they’re giving her a fugazi. “Who are these guys, Donnie Brasco?” NXT title: Kevin Owen v. Finn Balor We’ve gone close to 30 minutes without a match after the opener, so this has not been the best-paced show thus far. Owen grinds on a headlock to start, but Balor dropkicks him out of the ring. And we take a break. Back with Finn working on the arm and Owens bails to the apron, necksnapping Finn to take over. We hit the chinlock and Owens gets an elbow for two. Back to the chinlock and we take ANOTHER break. Back with more of the chinlock and they fight to the floor, but Owens gets a samoan drop off a crucifix attempt for two. Senton gets two. And back to the chinlock. Overhead suplex gets two, and it’s back to the chinlock as we take a THIRD break. Oh come on now. Back with Balor putting Owens on the floor and following with a dive. Back in, a flying curb stomp gets two. Pele Kick as the crowd finally wakes up. Sling Blade sets up an Impaler DDT for two. The corner dropkick misses and Finn hurts his knee, so Owens goes to work on it with a half-crab. Finn makes the ropes and double-stomps him right in the face, and they fight to the top rope, where Owens takes him down with a crazy cradle superplex, which gets two. Finn fights back with a high kick from the apron, but Owens clips the knee again and cannonballs him in the corner. Another one, right to the knee, and Balor is in a bad situation. Third one misses and Balor comes back with the corner dropkick and goes up with the double stomp, but his knee is shot. Well, shit. Pop Up Powerbomb finishes at 27:35. Felt like it needed a stronger finish for Owens, but it was a hell of a match and sounds like the swan song for Balor in NXT. **** The Pulse This was literally a one match show, but I have no earthly idea why they felt compelled to stretch it out to a full hour instead of just doing 45 minutes like they usually do. The rest of the show was a whole lot of nothing, just video packages and Wrestlemania commercials basically.

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 03.25.96

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 03.25.96
Taped from San Antonio, TX
Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler
There’s a sexual content warning on this show. Man, Vince’s love of Shawn Michaels is really getting out of hand.
Shawn Michaels v. Leif Cassidy
Amazingly, Al Snow’s super-dork persona actually was the one that stuck for a while. Shawn introduces Jose Lothario officially here and all the audience members have to pretend to be excited to have a bald old Mexican guy with the hot new babyface star. Also, he appears to be wearing a referee’s shirt. Bret joins us on commentary (and Lawler runs away) as Shawn controls with armdrags. Both guys try a bodyblock and Shawn ends up on top for two, and he goes back to the arm. Kind of funny to hear Vince actually trying to call the match before going back to his usual stream of nonsense. Shawn tries a leapfrog and gets powerbombed, and Cassidy gets a uranage for two. And now Marty comes to ringside for moral support as we take a break. We return with Shawn somehow bleeding now as Cassidy gets a suplex and goes to the chinlock. Bret wins the internet by noting “Shawn’s at a disadvantage after taking a vicious beating from nine cheerleaders in Syracuse”. Leif tries to hotshot Shawn from the powerbomb position and nearly breaks his neck, and that was nearly a giant disaster on a lot of levels. Holy crap, I’m surprised Vince didn’t stop the match and scream at him right there. Leif gets a superplex for two, but tries another one and gets blocked. Bret’s take: “I have a lot of respect for Mexican wrestlers, but rolling around in a ball doesn’t mean you’re tough.” Shawn comes back with a flying clothesline and a pretty nasty atomic drop, but Marty trips him up with spectacular timing. Cassidy misses a charge, however, and Shawn puts him away with a superkick at 10:44. Really good TV match, with things getting a bit nasty at the end. ***1/4
Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Aldo Montoya
In hyping the Ultimate Warrior’s return, the graphic for Wrestlemania VIII shows attendance of 62,000. In what universe?! HHH pounds on Aldo and drops a knee for two. More irony as Vince says Wrestlemania will be tons of action, without some guy beaking about making $30 million and only having an 8 minute match. Instead we got Warrior beaking about making a bunch of money and then doing a 30 second squash. Aldo fights back with a bodypress for two and uses the PORTUGESE MARTIAL ARTS for two, and a flying bodypress gets two. Pedigree finishes at 5:01, however. Dull match. *
Meanwhile, somewhere in Hollywood, Goldust molests a Roddy Piper mannequin and then smashes it. Well, you always hurt the one you love.
Next week: MANKIND
Undertaker has words for Diesel, as you can see him start to get more comfortable without Paul Bearer talking for him.
Bret Hart v. Shawn Michaels: The Hard Sell. I would like to point out that there is nothing remotely as interesting or compelling hyping up this year’s show. Between this and the previous Undertaker segment they were trying their darnedest to talk you into buying that show. It still flopped, but they TRIED.
Owen Hart v. Ahmed Johnson
Vince fights a two-front war on commentary, noting that you’re not going to get ripped off like that yucky boxing stuff, and you’re not going to watch the over-the-hill gang like WCW. WWF is everything to everyone, apparently. Ahmed overpowers Owen, but Bulldog heads down to ringside and Owen uses the distraction to attack. Owen goes up and gets caught in something vaguely resembling a spinebuster and we take a break. Back with Bulldog running in for the DQ at 5:45. Nothing match, which seemed to happen frequently with this feud. ½* Vader comes in to complete the heel beatdown, but Yoko and Jake make the save and we will see YOU at Wrestlemania 12!
The Pulse
Well, they tried.

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–03.18.96

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 03.18.96 We’re on the Road to Wrestlemania…12. Hopefully the PS3 won’t let me down like Roku and XBone have been doing with the Network as of late. Oddly it’s the only device that gives me chapter breaks for RAW replays. Taped from San Antonio, TX Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler The British Bulldog v. Jake Roberts How can they seriously gripe about “washed up” stars like Hogan and Savage while putting these two 80s leftovers out there as “New Generation” stars? Vince bitches about the latest Tyson boxing match only going 8 minutes on PPV and how “boring” that is. You’re right, who would want to watch spectacular knockouts in a boxing match? Jake tries for the DDT a few times, but Bulldog escapes and pounds him in the corner. Bulldog chokes and stomps away, but he misses an elbow and Jake comes back with the kneelift, but Bulldog catches him from behind with the powerslam, which Jake turns into the DDT. Cornette pulls Jake out at two, and Jake chases after Cornette and gets counted out at 4:50. Jake was worthless here. ½* Lawler hypes up a match he’s having on Superstars this weekend, which turned out to be him squashing a jobber while doing his own commentary, and it was pretty hilarious. Meanwhile, Bret and Shawn continue their respective training. Bret feels like he’s a better role model. Man, you can really see the seeds of that heel turn planted here. Goldust v. Fatu I seem to recall Bischoff burying this RAW on the Nitro opposite it, come to think of it. Goldust is wearing a kilt in honor of Piper, and Fatu attacks him and pounds away. He gives Goldust a low blow behind the ref’s back and we take a break. Back with Fatu hitting a Diamond Cutter and going up, but a dive misses and Goldust finishes with the Curtain Call at 4:35. The announcers totally ignored the match while talking with Piper on the phone. Nothing match. * Camp Cornette is out to accept the challenge for the six-man at Wrestlemania. Cornette insinuates that he pushed Mr. Fuji down the stairs to explain his disappearance. That’s pretty funny. Yokozuna pops up on the video wall and now he’s a thug life Samoan after years of only saying “Bonzai”. That’s quite the change. If the babyfaces win, Yoko gets five minutes with Cornette. Which of course did not happen. Meanwhile, at MSG on the weekend, we got Bret Hart & Undertaker v. Shawn Michaels & Diesel in a match that actually sold out the arena for a house show for the first time in many years. And Diesel turned on Shawn once and for all to set up the first post-WM program. Diesel v. Barry Horowitz Diesel throws up the Kliq sign on the way to the ring…could this be a secret alliance with the Young Bucks? Does Shawn Michaels throw Superkick Parties? CALL THE HOTLINE TO FIND OUT! Diesel beats on Horowitz as expected, but a casket gets wheeled down to ringside and Horowitz gets some shots on the distracted Diesel. Diesel casually puts him down with a big boot, gets two, and then punches him in the head for the pin at 2:09 while literally paying no attention to him. Poor Barry looked like the geek jobbers of all geek jobbers after that finish. Diesel opens the casket to find a creepy Diesel mannequin in there. Man, if Nash had died young like many of his contemporaries that would have been one of the most incredibly oogy segments in history. As it is, it was still pretty poor taste, especially for a show that was supposed to be family friendly. Bret Hart v. Tatanka Bret takes over quickly with a clothesline from the middle and works on the arm, and a bodypress gets two. The Kid heads down to ringside and Tatanka gets a cheapshot to take over. His big plan: Choke Bret out in the corner. THAT FIEND. Sideslam gets two. I should note that Tatanka is getting pretty fat at this point, like past the usual “cycling off steroids” bloat. Tatanka drops an elbow and throws chops in the corner, and he’s clearly blown up like Brock Lesnar in the third round of a title fight already. We take a break and return with Tatanka holding a chinlock. Bret makes the comeback with the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM, but Kid interferes, only to collide with Tatanka and allow Bret to get the rollup for the pin at 9:00. Was this official “every match must have a shitty finish” night? Nowadays we just call that “Monday”. **1/4 And NOW the stream starts dying on me. Well at least I made it through the actual show. The Federal Turner Commission sees the WWF in full court press whine mode, as Billionaire Ted defends himself against accusations of creating a monopoly in the TV industry. All this was even more ridiculous considering that Ted was forced out of the industry less than 5 years after this. Some “omnipotent” billionaire. And then they have the balls to ask fans to write to the real FTC because of concerns over the Time-Warner merger. Fuck right off with this. The Pulse Another shit week.

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–03.11.96

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 03.11.96 Content warning this week? WTF? Also, I unlocked an achievement for watching a bunch of episodes of RAW on the Network. It’s an eventful show and I haven’t even started it yet! Live from San Antonio, TX, in an actual ARENA. Holy crap. Dave’s summation from that week’s WON: “Raw on 3/11 in San Antonio before a sellout 9,364 paying $75,672 opened with Skip beating Craig or Duane Johnson. Not sure who the guy was but it was a try-out match and he looked green but okay.” Well that’s a pretty big undersell of one of the more historical debuts in wrestling history. Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler Savio Vega v. STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN So just like that, Vince notes that Austin’s peers may have dubbed him the Ringmaster, but now he’s Stone Cold Steve Austin. Savio escapes a headlock and gets some armdrags to start, but Austin sucker punches him and pounds him down with elbows. Savio comes back with a clothesline, but Austin puts him down with an axe bomber and a suplex for two. Apparently some weightlifter named Mark Henry is at ringside watching this. Vega misses a splash as Vince McMahon says “Stone Cold Steve Austin” as many times as humanly possible to get the name over. You do what you gotta do. We take a break and return with Austin hitting a clothesline to the back and choking away. Vega comes back with the leg lariat in the corner and they fight to the floor for the double countout at 8:12. Austin was actually showing fire and charisma here and it was a huge improvement over what he had been doing as the Ringmaster. **1/2 Rowdy Roddy Piper confronts Goldust, calling him “creampuff” and pointing out that he’s never actually seen him anywhere in Hollywood. And he already beat Adrian Adonis half to death with a baseball bat and he’ll do the same to Goldust. Piper just goes off on this awesome rant against Goldust and there’s no real issue but he makes it sound like an IMPORTANT match. And then Goldust tries to see what’s under Piper’s kilt, which doesn’t go well for him. The Godwinns v. Alex Porteau & Jerry Meed Phineas does the “crazy retarded hillbilly” act on the jobbers, freaking out in the corner and mule kicking them. Porteau comes in with a bodypress attempt and PIG slams him, then HOG finishes with a slop drop at 1:00. This was already the third repackage of Henry Godwinn and thankfully this one sort of worked enough that they stopped tinkering for a while. Speaking of tinkering, Alex Porteau would get a look as a JTTS guy later on, and that went nowhere. Meanwhile, Shawn Michaels introduces us to Jose Lothario, who has apparently been training him all this time and we just never met him before now. This was the wrestling equivalent of Cousin Oliver on the Brady Bunch. Meanwhile, Bret makes fans all over by declaring that he’s never met any really tough Mexican wrestlers. WHO IS HE TO DOUBT EL DANDY? Also, Shawn only bounces around the ring like a tennis ball and his big move is a kick. Bret rates him about a 4/10, in other words. Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Ben Greer They’re slipping back into squash matches, I see. HHH with the Pedigree at 0:90 and we learn that he will be facing Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania. Geriatric Control Center with Scheme Gene. They’re giving away the Huckster v. Nacho Man match for free because even he can’t figure out a way to make a buck off it. Special stip: No handcuffs or ladies’ shoes allowed at ringside. Call his hotline now for a scoop about the sun possibly setting tonight! 1-900-LYING BALDY. This was pretty funny. Yokozuna & Undertaker v. British Bulldog & Owen Hart This seems like a bit of a mismatch. The babyfaces destroy Camp Cornette to start and Yoko letdrops Bulldog, and everyone evacuates while Diesel heads down and beats on Paul Bearer. So Undertaker walks away from the match to chase Diesel, leaving Yokozuna alone while we take a break. Back with the heels working him over, and now Vader heads out for the DQ at 5:36. There was literally almost nothing to this match. DUD And then Ahmed and Jake hit the ring and we get a giant six-man pull-apart brawl to end the show. The Pulse It’s getting to be a real drain constantly having to switch between devices and find the one that will stream these damn shows without crashing all the time. This episode took me nearly three hours to get through with the stopping and starting. They really need to get their shit together.

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–03.04.96

The Smark Rant for Monday Night RAW – 03.04.96 Hey Scott
Hey e-mailer. I am normally a big fan of the original content on the network.  The wrestlemania rewind and rivalries especially.  But it seems like they haven’t had any new content outside of the occasional old raw or nitro.  With the current product so bad you would think they would want to keep pumping out new episodes of those types of shows.
Any reason for this outside of no one knows what they are doing?
Calling the upload schedule for old RAW and Nitro shows “occasional” is being rather liberal with the term, I think. I’d lean towards “few and far between”. But hey, they’ve managed to slash costs to almost nothing while getting almost the number of subscribers they need to break even over the course of two years, so I guess we’re the ones who don’t know what we’re doing, right? Besides, as I’ve said many times, my $10 a month is justified many, many times over by NXT, pumping out old TV show reviews as content for the blog for you suckers (I watch shitty TV shows for an hour each night and MAKE MONEY OFF IT!), and any PPV that isn’t total garbage, so I’m way ahead on the deal even $120 into this thing. Speaking of which… Taped from Cincinnati, OH Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler Shawn Michaels v. The 1-2-3 Kid Sadly, we enter the last hurrah for the Clique, as Kevin Nash gives notice the day after this show airs and signs with that stinky Billionaire Ted. Kid works a headlock and puts Shawn down with a spinkick for two, but stops to mock him and Shawn rolls him up for two. Shawn with a PRESS SLAM and he puts Kid on the floor with a clothesline. Shawn with the headlock and a powerslam for two as the Xbone gets so unwatchable that I actually have to stop the match and switch to the Roku, which thankfully plays without incident. Kid with another spinkick and he puts Shawn out with a dropkick, then follows with a springboard bodyblock, and even Ted Dibiase gets involved with some cheapshots! Man, he typically doesn’t make any physical contact around this point in his career. Shawn heads back in and goes to the corner, so Kid dropkicks him into the turnbuckle for two and we take a break. Back with Kid in control with the chinlock, and he puts Shawn down with another spinkick for two. Vince notes that there’s no such thing as waltzing through a match on RAW. Fandango of course being the exception. Collision and both guys are out, but Shawn makes the comeback with a moonsault press and the flying forearm. Flying elbow sets up the superkick as you can really see Shawn establishing his rhythm that he would maintain for the next 20 years. Kid ducks the superkick and goes up for the flying legdrop, but that misses and the superkick finishes at 12:43. Good finish. ***1/2 Shawn dancing with a little girl in the ring afterwards is just the kind of pandering crap that killed his babyface run, though. Well, that and Jose Lothario. Piper’s Pit, starring Goldust, as he and Marlena take over the old set and this feud gets increasingly weird. Not just because the initial challenge was thrown down by Razor Ramon on the live show two weeks ago, and now they’re crafting this Goldust-Piper feud out of nothing via pre-taped bits like this and inset phone interviews. Ultimate Warrior will return at Wrestlemania! Hakushi v. Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw And here’s another notable RAW debut for a guy you wouldn’t have suspected would still be around two decades later. Young Mr. Layfield is in fact almost a dead ringer for Chris Hero here. Body-wise as well. Bradshaw pounds away and no-sells Hakushi’s comeback attempt while doing his best Stan Hansen impression. He pounds away in the corner and cuts off Hakushi with a big boot, then powerslams him on the floor as he just brutally squashes the poor schmuck. Back in, the Clothesline from Hell finishes at 4:00. I’d like to say Bradshaw got better, but really he didn’t. Future WWE champion, ladies and gentlemen. * Speaking of Stan Hansen, your funny story from this week in history sees Johnny Ace sending Titan a tape of a match involving himself and Hansen and Misawa, looking for a job as a Texas Ranger character, and getting turned down cold. Maybe he should have stuck with the Dynamic Dudes footage. Speaking of future WWE champions, Mankind wants us all to have a nice day, even though it appears he himself is not having one. Bret Hart v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley Hunter’s arm candy seems particularly vacuous and oh-so-thrilled to be there. Hunter attacks in the corner and slugs away, but Bret clotheslines him out of the corner and goes to a top wristlock. Shawn comes to ringside and has a seat as we take a break. Back with Bret working on the arm as I suspect they didn’t actually edit anything out of the match. Hunter tosses Bret, who has words with Shawn, and Vince suspects that Shawn and Hunter might be in cahoots together. WHAT? No way. Puh-leaze. As if. Hunter whips Bret into the corner to take over, and he USES THE KNEE for two. And we take a break, returning with Hunter on top before landing on Bret’s foot. Bret comes back with the atomic drop and bulldog, and middle rope elbow for two. Hunter with a rollup for two, but Bret dumps him and they brawl on the floor. Back in, Hunter stupidly dives into a Sharpshooter and submits at 12:20. I’d give the match a 4/10, but it was a pretty good one. *** And wasn’t Hunter supposed to be undefeated going against Warrior at Wrestlemania? Tee Vee Trivia with Billionaire Ted. And we’re back to the mean-spirited Ted Turner stuff, as they take out of context quotes from him and make him sound like a racist. This does have the home run gag, however, as they question where the Huckster is and we cut to him in an abandoned arena, still handcuffed from that episode of Nitro! Now THAT’S comedy. The Pulse Much better show this week, to say the least. Two good matches and the historic debut of JBL as Stan Hansen’s Mini Me.

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–02.26.96

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 02.26.96 Taped from Cincinnati, OH Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler Isaac Yankem v. Jake Roberts This would be Jake’s first appearance on RAW, no? Yankem works on a headlock, but Jake puts him down with a hiptoss, so Yankem pounds him down and chokes away in the corner. Yankem uses the clubbing forearms and calls for the DDS, but Jake blocks it and gets the DDT instead at 3:30. Awful and embarrassing for Jake. -* Ultimate Warrior returns at Wrestlemania! Maybe. Diesel v. Bob Holly This would be the match that Bischoff was bashing on Nitro at the same time. Holly attacks in the corner and Diesel pounds him down, then follows with a side slam. Diesel’s all paranoid and checks for Undertaker’s secret trap door, which is kind of a cool touch. Holly makes the comeback as we take a break, but we return with Diesel powerbombing him for the pin at 5:10. Why would you edit 2:00 out of a 5:00 TV match? ½* Diesel feels much more confident about his chances, but Undertaker appears in the ring and then vanishes when Diesel goes to chase him. No wonder Nash went to WCW…no one there had supernatural powers! Ahmed Johnson v. Shinobi Yup, it’s another attempt at finding a gimmick for Al Snow, this time as a ninja. Ahmed looks like he literally bathed himself in baby oil before the match. Ahmed tosses Shinobi around, and the evil ninja blows a springboard spot, slipping on the top rope and falling into a spinebuster and Pearl River Plunge at 1:50. Another winner for Snow. DUD And then immediately after this match, they announce that the Godwinns will be meeting the New Rockers in the tag title tournament, giving us ANOTHER loser gimmick for Al Snow in the same SEGMENT. Mankind is still talking to the rats in a dungeon somewhere. The Observer notes that the rat is the trained pet of Jim Cornette’s girlfriend. Shawn Michaels joins us and Jerry Lawler screams about how he’s getting “the biggest reaction since the Beatles” when clearly fans aren’t reacting. Bret Hart also comes out and they do the mutual respect interview, which goes nowhere. Roddy Piper comes out and chastises the crowd for booing both guys, and announces that the Wrestlemania main event will be an Iron Man match. Yokozuna v. Owen Hart & British Bulldog Yoko manages to fight off both heels, but Owen comes off the top with a missile dropkick and they double-team him as we take a break. Yoko slowly makes the comeback as the Man They Call Vader wanders down to ringside and comes in for the DQ at 6:05. DUD Ahmed and Snake make the save, which sets up their six-man at Wrestlemania. Vince is still selling it as Vader v. Yokozuna, however, so I guess plans changed. Larry Fling Live with the Huckster and Nacho Man, and this one is actually pretty funny. Fling asking “How’s Liz doing?” and then both guys answering before sharing a shocked look is a great bit, and Huckster threatens Fling with a steel chair before backing down from a woman’s shoe. Huckster demands that he win their match to keep up his merchandise sales, and then attacks the crew with incredibly fake chairshots as a tribute to the ending of Uncensored. Ok, THIS was hilarious, and if they had stuck to this kind of cheap satire instead of swinging above their pay grade with the “predatory practices” nonsense it would have been totally harmless fun. The Pulse Probably one of the worst RAW shows I can recall. Next week is Bret v. HHH and Shawn v. Kid, so that should at least be better in the ring.

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–02.13.96

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 02.13.96 Nitro’s getting so boring that I just feel like I need to go back and catch up on RAW again before I resume. There was literally nothing exciting to look forward to and it was about to go to two hours on the next episode?! No thanks. Probably more Hogan upcoming or something. I think you’ll all enjoy another three months’ worth of RAW much more than anything that might be happening on the May 27 episode of Nitro. As a note for those keeping track, archival videos on Roku now crash to the main screen with an error message that says “Video not available, we are working on it.” Well, that’s encouraging two weeks before the biggest show of the year. If I thought anyone in customer service actually gave a shit, I’d be more encouraged. Luckily PS3 still works reasonably well, even if Xbox One is unusable. Live?…I think? from somewhere, I forget really. Later confirmed to be live from Cincinnati. Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler Intercontinental title: Goldust v. Razor Ramon Razor clotheslines him to the floor to start and works on the arm, but tries the Edge near the ropes and gets backdropped to the floor as usual. We take a break and return with Goldust in control with a sleeper, as Vince notes that he’s RAISED THE IRE of the crowd. Is that some kind of racist thing about Ireland? Goldust goes up and Ramon catches him with a superplex and then dumps him to the floor with an impressive fallaway slam over the top. Goldust has had enough and walks out at 7:26. *1/2 Razor is unhappy with the situation and unhappy with the kind of smut that Goldust is perpetrating on TV. So he wants a rematch once and for all. Dok Hendrix runs down all the excitement of In Your House VI, and then Vader comes out and beats the crap out of Aldo Montoya to spare us a Bodydonnas match. The Ringmaster v. Marty Jannetty Vince notes that the newly-bald Steve Austin is a STONE COLD man. With the bad hair and goatee Austin is basically now sporting the look he’d become famous for. Meltzer had a funny line in the Observer about his new look, noting that he shaved his hair off and shaved his charisma away as well. Yeah, that Austin, what a spectacularly boring dud he was. Marty gets a cross-body and Austin rolls through for two and dumps him. Vince keeps hitting the STONE COLD description as Jannetty comes back with a dropkick for two. Austin with a stungun as we take a break. And now the Network starts the buffering and skipping bullshit. Marty makes a boring comeback until Austin finishes with the Million Dollar Dream at 7:21, appropriate because everyone in the audience was snoring at that point. 1/2* Look into his eyes, he’s STONE COLD, sez Vince. Meanwhile, let’s meet Mankind, and this dude has some issues. Undertaker v. Tatanka So yeah, this is the main event. Tatanka throws chops and Taker no-sells them, but the Papoose To Go puts UT down. And Diesel wanders out and threatens a cameraman with an Ax, which he uses to Smash the Undertaker’s casket backstage in an act of total Demolition. They just don’t make particle board like they used to. We take a break and return with Diesel’s contruction project having better workrate than the match in the ring, and I think the pieces of the casket are slightly less wooden than Tatanka. So Taker comes back and casually chokeslams Tatanka and finishes with a tombstone at 6:15. DUD Larry Fling Live with Billionaire Ted. We take calls from “Randy from Sarasota” and he’s got problems with thinning hair. The Huckster needs next Monday off because of a vicious woman’s shoe injury. And then the somewhat funny skit goes off the cliff when they start with the mean-spirited attacks again about FTC investigations and all that bullshit. If they had ended with the caption “Owns a Sears Charge Card”, it would have been golden. The Pulse I’m about as excited for Wrestlemania 12 as I am for Wrestlemania 31 after this show.

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–05.20.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 05.20.96 Live from somewhere. Running time is listed as 70 minutes, although I thought the two hour thing didn’t start until next week’s show? Since I’m watching early Sunday morning, the network load appears to be light enough that there’s no issues with buffering today. Your hosts are Eric Bischoff & Bobby Heenan. Mongo is now a wrestler as of Slamboree, so he’s done as an announcer. Good riddance. Fire & Ice v. The Steiner Brothers Juice Train throws Scott around to start, but gets clotheslined for two. Train comes back with his own suplex for two, and then Scott shows him up with an overhead suplex. Well that was fun. Norton comes in to pound on Rick, and hits a semi-flying splash off the middle rope, but Rick returns fire with a release german suplex for two. Scott tosses Norton and follows with an axehandle to the floor as they’re letting it all hang out here. Back in, Norton catches him with a samoan drop for two, but Rick and Train clothesline each other and it’s BONZO GONZO. Bischoff clarifies that it’s a 90 minute show as the ref calls for the double DQ at 5:26. Much better than last week’s mess. **1/4 Ric Flair v. Eddie Guerrero Pretty impressive cleavage on Woman tonight, especially since that’s not usually her strong suit. Eddie works a headlock and slugs it out with Flair in the corner, taking some vicious chops in the process. And you know damn well he told Flair to lay them in there. Eddie fights back with a dropkick to put Flair on the floor. Flair stops for a tantrum by his table and an argument with the ref. How sad is it that everyone in the match except Flair is now dead? Not that Randy Anderson led a particularly high-risk lifestyle or anything, but geez. Back in the ring, we get a Flair Flop and take a break. Back with Eddie on top with a sunset flip for two and he pounds on Flair in the corner until Flair puts him down with atomic drop. Eddie gets a backslide for two, and a small package for two. Flair tries the figure-four and Eddie cradles for two and then trips him up and gets his own figure-four. Flair quickly makes the ropes, but he bails and suckers Eddie into a dive that goes badly. Eddie blows out his knee on the landing and Flair goes to work with a suplex on the floor as we get a funny bit from the announcers: Bobby notes “Flair knows how to win as a 13-time World champion…well, 15 if you count…” before Bischoff cuts him off with a curt “We’re not talking about those titles.” Flair works on the leg, but Eddie fights off the figure-four and comes back with a sunset flip, which Flair blocks by punching him in the face. That works. They trade chops in the corner and Eddie suddenly gets a tornado DDT for two out of the corner. A ropewalk into a rana ends up hurting Eddie’s knee even more, but he goes up with the frog splash…and blows out his OTHER knee in the process. Flair recovers and finishes with the figure-four by positioning Eddie away from the ropes and getting the pin at 20:09. But again he makes sure to grab the ropes and the women’s hands at the same time, so Eddie looks good in the loss. ****1/4 Was this on any of the DVD releases thus far? Because it was pretty fucking great. Ric Flair cuts his victory promo about how Kevin Greene came into Carolina without his permission, and then made a mistake by trying to cross-train football and wrestling like Flair “cross-trains the girls”, and even Elizabeth is unable to keep from cracking up on camera. WCW World tag titles: Sting & Lex Luger v. The Faces of Fear Meng stomps Luger down, but Lex gets a powerslam for two and we take a break. Back with Sting missing a dropkick as Meng goes to work on the back. Meng with an atomic drop into the Barbarian’s KICK OF FEAR for two. Barbarian takes him to the top for an impressive belly to belly that gets two. DOUBLE DIVING HEADBUTTS follow, but Luger distracts the ref and Meng is ROBBED of the tag titles. Sting fights back and Meng cuts off the tag with a dramatic atomic drop, and Barbarian gets a backbreaker for two. Finally Sting dives for the hot tag and Luger runs wild. STAINLESS STEEL FOREARM OF DOOM gets two on Barbie. It’s breaking loose in Tulsa and Meng eats the post, allowing Sting to hit Barbarian with a flying splash that gives Luger the pin at 10:52. Where did THIS come from? *** BLOOD RUNS COLD. In the Observer, Dave clarifies that Bryan Clark probably won’t be a ninja after all, and all we know for sure is that Chris Champion is the main guy. Meanwhile, security still won’t let Randy Savage into the building, and in fact he may never be allowed to wrestle again! Diamond Dallas Page v. Brad Armstrong DDP works on the arm to start, but gets dropkicked to the floor. He comes back with a neckbreaker and we take a break. Back with Brad getting a backslide for two as there’s already talk from Bischoff about taking the title shot away from DDP. So why even book him to win the match at Slamboree? Why not just have Savage or Luger win it? That never made any sense. Brad with a flying bodypress for two, but he walks into the Diamond Cutter at 7:34. Most of this took place during the break and never really got going. *1/2 And then Mean Gene announces that DDP is stripped of his title shot and Lex Luger gets the shot instead, because reasons. WEAK. WCW World title: The Giant v. Arn Anderson Arn tries to throw hands on the Giant and gets nowhere, and Giant removes him from the ring. Arn goes low and gets a pair of axehandles off the middle rope, but Giant counters a DDT attempt into the chokeslam at 3:38. Turrible. ½* The Pulse Check out Flair v. Guerrero, and the rest is pretty much a wash. Geez, I hope they have some giant game-changing development next week…

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–05.13.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 05.13.96 Desperation time, as I’m trying the PS3 to find SOMETHING that will play the Network properly. Aside from stuttering at the beginning and two “Cannot play this video” errors before it would load, it appears to be functional tonight. NJPW World 1, WWE Network 0 thus far, though. Live from Nashville, TN. Lex Luger is CAMPED OUT in the building so that he doesn’t miss his title shot tonight! Your hosts are Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan & Mongo. The Steiner Brothers v. The Public Enemy The Steiners quickly clean house and chase TPE out of the ring. Back in, Rick beats on Grunge with a powerslam and elbowdrop for two, and Scott tosses him with an overhead suplex for two. They fight on the floor and Rock accidentally hits Grunge, but finally gets it together and takes over on Rick. Scott comes in and the Enemy double-teams him as well, with Rock hitting a flying headbutt for two. They team up with the Rougeau senton for two, but Rock misses a flying senton and it’s hot tag Rick. Belly to belly puts Rock on the floor as Bischoff announces that Nitro will go to TWO HOURS starting May 27. Man, they better have one hell of an angle planned to kick that off. Frankensteiner finishes Rock at 6:55. This was decent. ** Chris Benoit v. Dave Taylor Bischoff hypes up DDP’s return due to a mysterious benefactor, who was obviously supposed to be Ted Dibiase before they came up with the nWo role for him instead. Taylor tries to grab a toehold, and Benoit drops him with an enzuigiri. Taylor comes back with forearms and boots Benoit down, but Benoit catapults him into the turnbuckles. Taylor gets a fallaway slam for two, but misses a crossbody while Mongo leaves the broadcast position to find Macho Man. Benoit finishes with a dragon suplex at 4:16. This was a bit of a style clash to say the least, with Taylor trying to do some kind of a strong style stiff match and Benoit doing a mat-based wrestling match. * Meanwhile, Savage is barred from the building and unable to penetrate Doug Dellinger’s wall of security. Mongo butts in and lets Savage know that he’ll deal with the situation himself. BLOOD RUNS COLD. Dave’s running theory at the time was that it would be the Outsiders, but this week in the Observer he amends it to a “team of ninjas” which will feature Bryan Clark. Getting closer. Ric Flair v. VK Wallstreet This is a weird combination. Wallstreet controls on the mat and they exchange chops in the corner, which results in Flair bailing to the floor. Back in, Wallstreet works the leg as we take a break. Really, you expect people to stay tuned through two minutes of commercials for MIKE ROTUNDO? As a babyface? Back with Wallstreet slugging away on the floor and seeming to be shockingly motivated here for some reason. Back in, he backdrops Flair into the samoan drop for two. I was kind of hoping he’d bust out the old airplane spin there. Flair would be all over that. Wallstreet with a sunset flip for two. Backslide for two. He clotheslines Flair to the floor, but charges and accidentally knees the post instead of Flair. You know, if he was wearing kneepads, he’d be fine. But he’s not and he looks weird without them, so fuck him. Figure-four finishes at 7:51. Well, Rotunda was sure game for a fight this week. **3/4 Meanwhile, Flair gives his victory speech from his table (which apparently follows him from show to show now) and he’s sick of hearing about Mongo and his wife. He’s the REAL quarterback! WCW World title: The Giant v. Lex Luger Aaaaaaaaaand now the Network starts acting up again. Just let me finish this damn show! Luger tries to overpower him, but walks into a clothesline and gets shoved to the floor. Back in, Giant pounds away in the corner, but Luger comes back with the STAINLESS STEEL FOREARM OF…oh, never mind, Giant no-sells it. Back to the floor and Giant tosses him back in again like the proverbial sack of garbage while Flair enjoys his expensive dinner with Savage’s money. Luger keeps slugging away and finally knocks Giant to the floor, but Giant is so annoyed by this that he chokeslams Lex through Flair’s table for the DQ at 4:13. So I guess that’s another babyface turn for Lex? I gotta say, the storylines for this show have been going off the rails in the past couple of months, to say the least. DUD The Pulse Nice chokeslam to finish the show and the Flair-Rotundo match was surprisingly decent, but there’s not much else here this week.

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–05.06.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 05.06.96 I decided to use my WWE Network “Thank You” credit of $25 to pick up the Best of Sting on Blu-Ray. No idea what’s on it. But I enjoy the work of Sting and wish him to get royalties, and it was free, so there you go. The Network is buffering and lagging like CRAZY for me the past couple of days, by the way. It’s not even watchable on Xbox One and on Roku it stops to load for minutes. Hopefully they get this shit fixed by Wrestlemania. Live from Daytona Beach, FL Your hosts are Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan & Mongo Hugh Morrus v. Randy Savage Hugh attacks on the floor and bullies Savage into the railing, then pounds away on the floor while allegedly making racist remarks. Into the ring, Morrus steals his coat and sexually harasses people at the same time, but this upsets Savage and he writes a scathing letter to HR before choking Morrus down. And he keeps choking until the ref calls for the DQ at about 2:00, although I don’t think there was ever really a match per se. Savage drops the elbow of justice on Morrus and forces him to resign, and then beats the hell out of the referee as well. STOP RINGING THE DAMN BELL. Local law enforcement comes out to arrest Morrus for his bullshit training methods, but he’s already gone so they haul Savage away instead. RIP, Ray Stevens. And then he gets screwed out of his Hall of Fame spot this year. Dean Malenko v. Jushin Liger So apparently Shinjiro Ohtani has won the (fictitious) Cruiserweight title tournament and will be defending against someone at Slamboree. That didn’t actually happen. Liger is in the badass black and silver costume tonight, but he’s playing babyface. They trade wristlocks and Liger kicks Malenko to the floor while a tuxedo-clad Ric Flair take a seat and watch the match. Liger with a senton for two and a brainbuster for two, and we take a break. Back with Flair spending EXORBINANT amounts of Randy Savage’s money via champagne and probably the really good coke backstage, too. Meanwhile, Malenko works a toehold on Liger and goes to work on the leg. Liger comes back with a spinkick and a superplex attempt, but Dean bails and Liger hits him with a dive from the top instead. Liger tries a handspring and Dean catches him and it turns into a series of pin attempts, but Liger goes up again. Malenko cuts him off with the EXPLODING GUTBUSTER OF DEATH and follows with a powerbomb, but Liger reverses THAT for two. Dean with a Ligerbomb of his own to finish at 6:51. Oh man, they were just getting into it, too! ***1/2 Ric Flair wants us to know that he’ll be getting his title back, and don’t worry about the price of the champagne, since Randy Savage has lots of money left. Also, Mongo’s wife will likely be in his limo afterwards, if you know what he means. Lord Steven Regal v. Sting Sting quickly takes him down and tries the Scorpion, but Regal makes the ropes and bails, as we take a break. Back with Sting (in very REGAL purple and gold tonight) working a headlock and going after the arm, but Regal takes him down with his own wristlock. Why exactly does Sting have a big “29” on his tights, by the way? Is this some sort of football deal? No, wait, Bischoff clarifies that it’s the number of the WCW car, which is infinitely lamer. Sting comes back and misses the Stinger splash, but reverses a butterfly suplex for the pin at 6:45 instead. Sting busted out some pretty inventive finishes around this time. **1/4 WCW World title: The Giant v. Hacksaw Duggan Sadly, Lex Luger is having vehicle trouble and was unable to show up for the match he apparently begged for, so Duggan offered to step up. Duggan attacks on the way into the ring and that goes nowhere, as Giant gives him the Nash choke in the corner to take over. Giant pounds him with shoulderblocks in the corner and Duggan bails. Back in, Giant misses a charge and Duggan goes for the tape, but the chokeslam finishes at 3:13. A series of mega-geeks run out to try and save Duggan, and it’s CHOKESLAMS FOR EVERYONE. Finally Flair leaves his fancy meal and cracks a chair over Giant’s head, and Sting joins him and helps to bring Giant down to set up their title match at Slamboree. Finally after all that, Luger arrives late and has HARSH WORDS for the Giant rather than actually hitting him. Hey, words can hurt, too. Not as much as Luger’s ugly Zubaz wardrobe here, but they HURT. The Pulse All good stuff this week.

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–04.29.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 04.29.96 Taped from whatever last week was. What is this, the World Whining Federation? I thought that the “C” in “WCW” stood for COMMITMENT, Eric. Your hosts are Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan & Mongo World tag team titles: Lex Luger & Sting v. Harlem Heat Bischoff notes that the winner of Battlebowl at Slamboree gets a title match at the Great American Bash, and THAT sure didn’t happen. So many lies tonight. Booker and Sting trade wristlocks until Booker sidekicks him, but Sting drops an elbow for two. Luger with an elbow for two. Stevie Ray comes in and beats him down in the corner, but Lex returns the favor and the champs double-team Stevie for two. The announcers talk about how Sting can’t trust Luger, but oddly the entire direction of the company changed before that storyline could be brought to the logical conclusion, and Luger just kind of transitioned into full babyface for good. We take a break and return with Booker putting Sting down with a spinkick for two. Stevie with a bicycle kick for two. The Heat get the heat on Sting, but it’s hot tag Luger and he’s throwing clotheslines all over the place. Powerslam on Booker and it’s BONZO GONZO, as the Heat hit a double-team powerbomb on Luger and now Jimmy Hart runs interference, allowing Sting to roll up Booker for the (unintentional) cheap win at 8:38. So the skullduggery from Luger continues. ** Fire & Ice v. The Steiner Brothers Apparently everyone is talking about Fire & Ice! After Ice Train got off the steroids he suddenly dropped to like 120 pounds. He was just the WORST. Rick throws Juice Train around and Scott follows with suplexes on Norton, which is pretty damn impressive because he’s a big guy and generally doesn’t sell stuff like that. Fire & Ice briefly get the heat on Rick, but he comes back with a Steinerline on Ice Train out of nowhere for a quick pin at 3:25. What a mess. * Ric Flair lets us know that Randy Savage is SMALL next to the Nature Boy, and he’s not worried about the Giant. GLACIER is coming. Well, not for many months after this. But eventually. I mean, glaciers are slow moving and all. Parking Lot Brawl: Lord Steven Regal v. The Belfast Bruiser So yeah, Finlay punches through a windshield and grabs a piece of concrete, but Regal goes to the eyes and Finlay throws some serious punches in response. And then he drops a tire on Regal, rims and all. OUCH. The old bumper to the back and a slam on the hood follows, but Regal throws some vicious high kicks to fight back until Finlay chokes him down with a seat belt. Regal tries to put him a windshield without success, so Finlay drops him on the safety railing face first. They fight on the roof of a pickup and take a crazy bump to the concrete, and another poor window dies for this match. Thankfully they gimmicked the windows of that car. They fight on the roof of another car as Bischoff gets the director to pull out wider and wider, and Regal piledrives him on the roof and pins him on the hood to win it at 7:00. A crazy brawl, predating the WWF Hardcore division by a long time. ***1/2 WCW World title: Ric Flair v. The Giant Flair tries to attack and gets press-slammed and tossed out of the ring, but Giant misses a blind charge and Flair goes up. And that of course never works. Giant goes for the chokeslam, but Flair hits him in the Big Shows and takes over. Flair also finds an international object in his tights and puts Giant down with that, and now we go to school with the figure-four. Giant appears to be out, but then suddenly wakes up, chokeslams Flair right from the figure-four, and wins the title at 5:49. Pretty bad. * The Pulse Due to the timeslot changes with playoffs, this show scored one of the lowest ratings in the history of the show. They would of course rebound from that, but in fact TNT executives freaked out and expanded the show to two hours as a result, a move that would change everything. So there you go.

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–04.22.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 04.22.96 Hey, it’s another content warning! Hopefully this one pays off. Speaking of paying off, whatever happened to ads on the Network? It’s literally been months since I’ve seen one at the beginning of a show. On another note, I took the plunge and subscribed to NJPW World this morning, because I just don’t have enough Shinsuke Nakamura in my life. But then who does? LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE from somewhere. But more importantly, much like the relief of having a painful boil on your ass cheek lanced, Hulk Hogan is gone on extended vacation and we can all breathe again. Your hosts are Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan and Mongo. The Public Enemy v. The American Males Bischoff once again gives away the results of RAW, and yeah, it sounds like a yawner. Riggs gets double-teamed in the corner to start, but the babyfaces regroup and clean house with stereo dives. I will say that watching Bagwell week after week like this, you can really see him developing into a top worker, which makes his neck injury in 98 that wrecked him for good all the more depressing. The Males get a double-team on Rock for two and Bagwell works the arm, but he gets caught in the corner and worked over. Double clothesline as PE shows that, yes, they can work a solid tag formula if need be, and they do a good job of cutting off the ring and letting Bagwell show off his selling. Rock goes up and misses a senton and it’s HOT tag Riggs as the crowd was just waiting for that one. Dropkicks for the heels and a flying forearm gets two, but Bagwell gets backdropped to the floor with a nice bump. They toss Riggs over the top for the DQ at 7:22, which is too bad because I was really getting into the comeback. **1/2 Poor Riggs takes the table bump afterwards. Eddie Guerrero v. Chris Benoit Ah, there we go. Mean Gene does the first round draw for Slamboree, and SHOCKINGLY Savage and Flair are forced to team up. Eddie chases Benoit and threatens a dive to start. Back in, they get into a shoving match and Benoit drops him on his head with a backdrop suplex and we take a break. Back with Benoit apparently holding the same chinlock we left with, and then they magically pick it up again with Eddie snapping off a rana. Benoit chops him down again while Bischoff runs down the Cruiserweight title tournament thus far, much of which only took place in his imagination. Bobby Eaton, who hasn’t been a cruiserweight since Memphis in the 70s, is apparently still in the hunt! Eddie pounds on Benoit in the corner, but gets tossed and comes back in with a rana off the top for two. Eddie tries another one, but Benoit grabs the ropes and pins him at 6:00. Short but fun. **1/2 Mongo’s take on Randy Savage: “Every rabid dog has his day!” Well, usually it doesn’t work out very well for the rabid dog, but I suppose. Speaking of which, Mean Gene brings out someone from WCW’s head office to confront Randy Savage for his recent actions against Ric Flair. SEVERE RAMIFICATIONS, YEAH! This guy should see a psychiatrist for standing there like a little stupid person, yeah! Personally, I would not want to give an angry Macho Man his performance review. Jim Duggan v. Meng Kind of funny to hear Bischoff running down the WWF again here when we’re featuring two aging WWF castoffs who were brought in because of the name they made for themselves there. Duggan stomps Meng down and out, but gets choked on the ropes. Meng goes to the nerve pinch and that goes on for a while. Finally Duggan fights out and goes for the 2×4, but Meng steals it and Duggan instead tapes the fist and knocks him out for the pin at 5:51. I call shenanigans on Meng going down to one punch. Duggan’s hands are nowhere near as big as frying pans! DUD WCW World tag titles: Sting & Lex Luger v. Ric Flair & The Giant Randy Savage continues his path of rage by attacking Flair before the match, but security hauls him off as indeed this storyline has gotten immensely more watchable without Hogan around. Amazing, huh? The champs clean house while Bischoff hypes up Slamboree, which sounds like one of the least appealing PPV lineups this side of Wrestlemania Play Button. Also, apparently the Detroit Lions want to give the Giant a tryout, which is actually something that really did happen and which I had totally forgotten about. Had that gone anywhere, that would have been weird. Back in, Flair can’t overpower Luger (duh) and he gets destroyed as usual. He’s obviously having fun this week getting beat up by the babyfaces. Unlike some other blond World champions, there’s a guy who is clearly secure in his position. Sting with a superplex that sends Flair flying out of the ring, but Sting misses his dive onto the railing as usual. Back in, Sting recovers and brings Luger back in, but he walks into a Giant choke. Sting dives in with clips to the knee, desperately trying to break the hold and then finally kicks his arm to force Giant to release. What a great spot to put over the power of the Giant. Woman gives Flair a cup of coffee, but he accidentally throws it in the Giant’s eyes and the ref calls for the DQ at 7:27. ** And that mistake would cost Flair a lot more than just this match, of course. Just an awesome moment as Giant challenges Flair, who hides behind the announcers and accepts the challenge, then notes “Next week I’m gonna kick your big ass!” before RUNNING off in terror as he realizes what he’s just said. That was hilarious. Next week: Ric Flair defends the World title against a very angry Giant! Spoiler: It doesn’t go very well for him. The Pulse This show is so much better already.

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–04.15.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 04.15.96 Must be a heavy Benoit episode because it has the content warning at the beginning. I think they should start putting warnings for Hogan episodes because they’re so shitty. So last time, you may remember that Booty Man and Hulk Hogan promised an UNBELIEVABLE stipulation to finish off the Sullivan/Anderson team once and for all. You know, after they already finished them off three weeks in a row in fair fights. I can hardly wait to see what Hulk unleashes on us. Live from somewhere. But it’s LIVE. Not like those other guys. Also, there’s tornado warnings in the area. Could it be the debut of Kerry Von Erich? TUNE INTO NITRO TO FIND OUT! Your hosts are Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan and Mongo. Hulk Hogan v. Arn Anderson & Kevin Sullivan So this is Hulk’s big idea: A handicap match. Wow. Hulk of course cleans house and puts Sullivan in a figure-four, and then somehow fucks it up EVEN WORSE on Arn. My 4 year old daughter could probably grasp the basic concept of putting someone in a figure-four! So apparently if Hulk wins, he gets five minutes with the manager of his choice, but if he loses, the heels get Kimberly. This is the stip they took two weeks to plan out? The bad guys double-team him and he destroys them again, this time with chairshots, but thankfully the two idiot heels manage to work together long enough to regain control again. And then Sullivan goes up and Hogan catapults Arn into his crotch, because they’re all fucking stupid, and the legdrop finishes Sullivan at 4:20. Oh fuck off. –* Hogan teases beating up either Liz or Woman, like a real hero, but settles for Jimmy Hart instead. The announcers have to sell all this like it’s the funniest stuff ever, while a 300 pound wrestler threatens two women and a 100 pound manager. Thankfully Giant saves Jimmy Hart and chokeslams the shit out of Hogan…and then he immediately no-sells it. FUCK OFF, Hogan. So then he slams the Giant for good measure and I’m pretty sure everyone in the locker room was booked to come out and actually give Hogan a blowjob on live TV after that, but luckily Mean Gene comes out for an interview instead. And I believe, thank god, that was the last we would see of Hulk Hogan until Bash at the Beach, because this was pretty much the most insufferable level he ever achieved. Even better, original plans called for the Horsemen to send him out on a stretcher to write him out, but Hulk pulled creative control and did the exact opposite. Because you know, beating up all the heels by yourself is also an effective way to go on extended hiatus. The Public Enemy v. The Nasty Boys The Nasties attack in the aisle with chairs and this immediately turns into a hardcore brawl, with garbage cans in the ring and goofy spots. I will say that this feud, uninspiring as it was, at least rejuvenated both teams for a while and gave them something to do that was playing to their strengths. Throw the Nasties and PE out there and tell them “Do a garbage brawl for 10 minutes” and they will deliver exactly that. Usual assortment of trashcan lids to the head and Rocco Rock taking crazy bumps and I go read the Observer while it’s happening. This would be the week where Brian Pillman nearly died in a car wreck and basically ended his career as an in-ring worker as a result. Also, the historic first mention of Lanny Poffo coming in with a Gorgeous George gimmick, which would become something of a running joke for the next 4 years. The Nasties put Grunge through a table and pin him at 9:11. It what what it was. *** Earl Robert Eaton v. Randy Savage Eaton attacks and gets backdropped to the floor, and Savage drops an elbow for two in the ring. Eaton tosses him to take over, and puts Savage in a figure-four, as the night of shitty figure-fours continues. Savage reverses out and chases off Wildcat Willy or Jeeves or whatever he was being called here, and finishes with the big elbow at 4:00. * Savage keeps dropping the elbow on Eaton because he’s really mad at Ric Flair. Yeah, that Savage-Flair program didn’t exactly set the world on fire, probably because Flair did 17 straight weeks of jobs to Hulk Hogan. WCW World tag titles: Lex Luger & Sting v. Ric Flair & The Giant Flair puts the moves on Debra at ringside, which marks her historic TV debut as a named character and actually leads to Mongo joining the Horsemen. The champs take turns slamming Flair and the heels regroup as we take a break. Back with Luger getting booted around the ring by the Giant and he’s your face in peril. Flair drops a knee for two and Giant whips Luger around the ring. Finally Flair uses a figure-four that doesn’t suck, our first good one for tonight. Luger fights out and the heels cut off the tag, but Flair goes up and gets slammed off as usual. Hot tag Sting and it’s Flair Flip and superplex to set up the Scorpion Deathlock, but Woman throws HOT COFFEE in his eyes for the DQ at 12:27. Are you KIDDING me with this shit? **3/4 And then Giant chokeslams both babyfaces, after we already saw Hogan no-selling the move earlier in the show! The Pulse BYE HOGAN. See you in July.

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–04.01.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 04.01.96 Anyone watching Gangland Undercover on History? Holy SHIT what a great show. It’s like Sons of Anarchy crossed with Donnie Brasco and it’s incredibly tense and awesome. Live from somewhere we don’t even have time to tell you, because Sting is facing the Giant! Sting v. The Giant Sting clips him and hits him with a dive off the top, but Giant shrugs him off and drops an elbow. Apparently this was supposed to be Sting & Giant v. Harlem Heat, but Jimmy Hart paid off the Heat to leave and then paid off Giant to attack Sting instead. Giant tosses Sting out of the ring, but tries a chokeslam from the apron and Sting comes back with a dropkick to the floor. And then Lex Luger runs in for the DQ as backup. So I guess it’s babyface turn OFF for the Giant. But last week seemed like a pretty clear face turn, so was this a turn back to heel already? I don’t really understand what was supposed to be happening – Sting and the Giant were supposed to be defending the tag titles in place of Sting and Luger? What? I feel like this was something that would have been explained on WCW Saturday Night beforehand. OK, let’s try this again. Live from Cleveland, OH Your hosts are Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan & Mongo The Steiner Brothers v. The Road Warriors v. The Nasty Boys This was well before three way matches were a normal thing, and quite the dream match at that. Bischoff had announced this as Steiners/LOD/Public Enemy before the break, showing the level of quality control at this point. Knobs slugs it out with Rick to start and Animal gets double-teamed by the Nasties. Scott and Hawk clothesline each other and Hawk hits the floor on a missed charge, but he comes back with a neckbreaker for two. Animal comes in and runs right into a stiff Rick Steiner clothesline from the apron, but Sags clobbers Scott from behind and the Nasties take over with some CLUBBERING in the corner. And then everyone starts beating on each other on the floor in crazy fashion. Back in, Hawk goes to work on Rick with a chinlock as the announcers continue pondering the mystery of who attacked the Nasty Boys two episodes ago. Does anyone really care? Sags with a backbreaker on Rick for two, but the Warriors mug him outside the ring and Scott goes to a chinlock on Knobs while we take a break. Back with Knobs pounding on Rick, but Scott comes in with a german suplex on him. Knobs and Rick both hit the floor and Knobs sends him in the post while the camera watches them and not the ring, and then Johnny Grunge runs in dressed as Knobs and lays down for Scott at 15:00 in a weird finish. From this Bischoff concludes that Public Enemy were the ones to attack the Nasties. Not sure I agree 100% with your detective work there, Lou. Match was weird and disjointed, but it was well before they were common anyway and so this was fine for the time. *** Road Warriors actually quit at this point due to jealousy over the incoming Hall & Nash, but got talked into staying. Hulk Hogan & The Booty Man v. Kevin Sullivan & Arn Anderson Oh god, this program MUST CONTINUE. Arn gets a cheapshot on Booty and works him over outside the ring, but Hogan makes the save. Back in the ring, Booty slams Sullivan off the top and Hogan comes in to double-team the heels by himself, but Booty ruins his plans by getting caught in the corner. Why can’t everyone just let Hogan do everything himself? The heels work Booty over and Arn stomps away while Booty twitches like he’s going in shock or something. Thankfully, he makes the “hot” tag to Hogan, who indeed destroys both heels on his own while freed from his useless partner, and then we get the stupidest finish of the week, as both Hogan and Sullivan get women’s shoes from ringside and Hogan uses his first for the pin at 7:50. How is any heel ever supposed to get heat on Hogan if he beats them EVERY FUCKING WEEK? ½* Afterwards, Hogan and Booty are ANGRY at the heels, and they’ve got a plan to get their final revenge next week. You know, after they’ve beaten the heels decisively three weeks in a row. Except there’s no show next week. Whoops. Also, Booty can’t reveal the super double secret stips, probably because Hogan hasn’t thought them up yet. I can only imagine what we’re subjected to on the next show. The crowd boos them for all this, by the way. Or maybe they were saying “Boo…ty Man”? Hogan’s heel turn cannot come fast enough for my liking. WCW World title: Ric Flair v. Lex Luger OK, so Luger is suddenly a full babyface now, apparently. I’m increasingly confused. Lex overpowers Flair with the usual spots and press slams, but runs into an elbow in the corner. Flair goes up and gets slammed off and Luger clotheslines him to the floor as they do the exact same match they did 300 times in 1988. I guess there’s a large chunk of the audience who wouldn’t have seen it the first time, though. Flair slugs away, but Lex no-sells it and drops him with another press slam and more clotheslines, but he stops to chase off the women and Flair nails him off the apron to take over. Figure-four, which Lex quickly reverses, and they fight to the floor, but Lex makes the comeback. Sunset flip gets two. Backslide gets two. Flair goes up and Lex reverses him into a superplex, but now Woman goes for the new stupid finish award by throwing a cup of HOT COFFEE in Luger’s eyes, allowing Flair to retain at 11:00. Jesus Christ, women’s shoes and hot coffee in the eyes on the SAME SHOW?! No wonder those Billionaire Ted skits were like shooting fish in a barrel. Match was just the guys going through the motions of their same match from years before. **1/2 The Pulse Part of the charm of the early Nitros was the mixture of styles and guys, but this was literally all the same old guys doing the same old stuff with nothing to break it up. Too much Woman & Liz, WAY too much Hogan, too much Luger. And three cutesy screwjob finishes in the same one hour show? And yes, I know it gets even worse, trust me. Hopefully we power through this two months and get to the REALLY good stuff soon.

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–03.25.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 03.25.96 Live as live can get from somewhere not mentioned. Your hosts are Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan and Mongo. Randy Savage v. The Belfast Bruiser That truly sounds like a parody of a wrestling match that you’d see on a sitcom or something. Kind of ridiculous that Savage is the night after a supposedly brutal 8-on-2 DOOMSDAY CAGE MATCH and he doesn’t even have a band-aid on his head or anything. Finlay works on a headlock and beats on Savage with elbows and Cesaro-like forearms, but Savage comes back with clotheslines to put him on the floor. They brawl out there and Savage goes HEADFIRST into the post like a man. Bruiser drops him on the railing and Savage is staggering around, finally with a good reason to sell like a man fighting death. Normally the heel is just stomping and choking and Savage is selling it like a vicious beating, but this really is a walloping. Back in, Finlay with a short clothesline for two, but he misses a blind charge and Savage pops up for the flying elbow at 5:02. Still the usual formula for Savage, but Finlay made it GOOD by beating on him with gusto. *** Ric Flair and his harem join us, and Liz feels like he’s more of a man than Randy Savage or Lex Luger. That opinion would soon change. US title: Konnan v. The Mysterious Mr. JL JL takes him down with a flying headscissors, but Konnan escapes a dive. Back in, they trade wristlocks on the mat with some neat lucha style work, but Konnan hits a DDT to take over. Senton gets two. JL takes him down into an armbar as this goes nowhere, and both guys are down off a collision. JL recovers first with a missile dropkick for two and now Konnan is selling a knee. And then he ignores that and powerbombs JL for two. What the fuck is with this match? Is Konnan blown up or just being a dick? Even Bischoff notes that he seems really winded. Konnan goes up and JL DDTs him off the middle for two, but Konnan hits a whiplash slam out of the corner to finish at 6:30. Just a total trainwreck. Oddly enough, the “WCW” section of the Observer for that week is missing, so I have no idea what the deal was or if Dave talked about it. * The Booty Man v. Disco Inferno Speaking of trainwrecks. Booty with a pair of atomic drops as Kimberly, who is now “The Booty Babe”, joins us at ringside in what must be a very cold arena. Booty finishes with a high knee at 1:10. DUD WCW World tag titles: Sting & Lex Luger v. The American Males Riggs hits Luger with a dropkick, and Bagwell continues frustrating him until Sting comes in. Luger then turns into a smiling babyface on the apron, clapping and cheering for Sting. Sting gets a pair of slams on Bagwell, and Luger comes in and pounds on Riggs before getting caught in the Males corner and double-teamed. Bagwell whiffs on a bodypress and Lex beats him down, but Bagwell comes back with a flying forearm and it’s tags on both sides. Riggs with a small package on Sting, but Sting gets a bodypress for the pin at 6:30. Sting stops to celebrate with the Males in a show of sportsmanship, while Luger takes the belts and gets the hell out of there. Mostly a nothing match. *1/2 WCW World title: Ric Flair v. The Giant Elizabeth and Woman literally throw Randy Savage’s alimony money into the crowd in a genius heel move. Giant throws Flair around in impressive fashion, including a press slam that sends Flair running. Flair fights back with chops and gets nowhere, and Giant whips him into a Flair Flip before catching him with a backbreaker. Giant goes AIRBORNE, but misses a flying splash. Jesus. Flair goads him into trying a charge as well, and Giant hits the post and bumps to the floor. Flair decides to eschew finesse and just chokes him out with a piece of wire before slugging away on the mat. Giant fights him off, so Flair kicks a field goal on the nutsack while the women distract the ref. And then Woman chokes poor Giant down with the wire from the floor, and that’s a little icky to watch. Finally Giant has had ENOUGH of this shit and chokeslams Flair, but Kevin Sullivan and Arn Anderson run in with chairs for the DQ at 8:50, and Giant destroys them as well and walks out on Jimmy Hart. So there’s the historic first babyface turn for Paul Wight. Really fun match, especially once Flair resorted to every ridiculously over-the-top cheating tactic in the books to even the odds. *** The Pulse Not much of a show coming off the PPV, to be honest, as the company had very little direction before you-know-what happens about two months from here. Really good main event, though.

Repost: The SmarK Rant for WCW Uncensored 1996

(2015 Scott sez:  I actually don’t have the original file for this one stored on OneDrive for some reason, so I had to use Google-Fu and find it on 411 from the original 2003 posting.  Thankfully I created a new Word document for posterity as well.  For those of you who care about that sort of minutia of my life. Also, to those who want a full re-rant, fuck you.  In the most loving way.  That is all.)  The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW Uncensored ‘96 – I decided to finally redo the rant for this one when I was sick, so that it couldn’t do any more damage to me than it already has. The way I figure it, the cold medication should be enough to fight off any mental or physical illness I may suffer from watching it again. I may, however, need to stop and vomit at various points, so I’ll be sure to give you fair warning before I do. By the way, in a kind of cosmic warning to me, the tape arrived broken, probably as a way for the universe to try to keep me from sacrificing myself by watching this again, but I was able to transplant the reels into a fresh casing, because that’s the kind of thing you learn to do after years of trading tapes on the ‘net.  (Man, those were the days.  Thankfully the Great VHS Purge of 2004 was coming and I would soon convert everything over to DVD once and for all.)  – Live from Tupalo, MS. – Your hosts are Tony, Dusty & Bobby. – Opening match, US title: Konnan v. Eddie Guerrero. It’s full blown mulletude for Eddie here. They fight over a lockup to start and head to the mat, where Konnan rides him with an armbar and stays on it. Eddie escapes with the flying wristlock and Konnan bails. Back in, Eddie starts working on the leg with a toehold, and then a figure-four, after teasing a headstand on the ankle. Konnan makes the ropes. They exchange rollups and each get two. Eddie takes him down into a chinlock and quickly into a surfboard, but Konnan takes him down into a kneebar. He turns it into a Boston Crab, which the crowd can better understand, but Eddie makes the ropes. Back up, Konnan counters an armdrag, but Eddie gets one of his own, and they do another stalemate sequence. Really nice. They back off and work the crowd, but Eddie’s attempts work better. Eddie dropkicks him down and they go up, as Eddie brings him down with a rana for two. Camel clutch, but Konnan powers out. He grabs a headlock, but Eddie counters out, and they do another stalemate sequence that ends with Eddie on the floor, but he evades a highspot attempt. Back in, Eddie grabs a headlock, but Konnan escapes with an armbar. Eddie comes back with a monkey flip and a headscissors to put Konnan out, and he follows with a plancha. This is the type of match where Mike Tenay would have been invaluable. Back in, Eddie slingshots in for two. Eddie uses a headscissors on the mat, but Konnan rolls over into a leglock, and then hits him with rolling germans, but Eddie reverses to a rollup for two. Another rollup is reversed by Konnan for two. Clothesline puts Eddie down as Konnan is obviously blown up by this point. Eddie gets a rana for two. Konnan gets Splash Mountain for two. He’s got NOTHING left. He goes up and Eddie follows, but Eddie ends up on the floor and Konnan follows with a weak tope suicida. Back in, Eddie reverses a suplex, but gets clotheslined for two. Konnan goes up again, but Eddie brings him down with a superplex for two. Eddie goes up to finish, but Konnan slams him off, which Eddie reverses into a cradle for two. Awesome. Konnan slugs away, but Eddie tries a leapfrog, so Konnan hits him in the nuts and pins him at 18:26 to retain. This was ALL Eddie after about the 10 minute point. ***1/2  (I obviously had much less hatred for Konnan in my heart even 12 years ago.  I guess time does heal all wounds and shitty booking.)  – Lord Steven Regal v. Fit Finlay. Finlay was just The Belfast Bruiser at this point. Fit pounds away with STIFF forearms in the corner to start, but Regal takes him down and gets his own. He runs into a knee and Finlay drops an elbow for two. He stomps away with glee and gets a short-arm clothesline for two. Vicious kick to the back, but Regal fires back with a forearm and grabs a cravat on the mat. Regal pounds the palm into his nose, but Fit rams a knee into his forehead to escape and drives another knee before tossing him. He drops Regal on the railing and then wraps the arm around the post. He keeps working the arm as Regal comes in, and cranks on an armbar. Regal knees out of it and slugs away with forearms, then blocks a rollup attempt with a dropkick for two. He grinds a forearm into Fit’s head on the mat, but Fit takes him down with another armbar, but Regal knees out of it and controls on the mat again. He chokes away and fires off more forearms, but Fit headbutts him down and drops a knee. Slam and senton gets two. He hits the chinlock, but Regal fights out, so Fit drops him with a lariat for two. He brings Regal to the apron and rams the throat into it, then sends him into the railing again. They keep brawling and end up back in the ring again, fighting over a suplex on the apron, which ends with Fit hitting the floor. Regal follows with a Cactus elbow and heads back in, then pounds him with boots on the way in. Elbow gets two. Regal goes to the headlock, but Fit kicks in the shoulder to escape in super-stiff fashion. Regal takes him to the corner and gives him a soccer kick to the nuts to retaliate, then drops an elbow for two. More kicks to the back, but Fit goes to the eyes and drives a knee to the back of the neck to block a sunset flip. Regal goes back to the arm and crossfaces him a few times, but Fit backdrops him out of the corner and pounds the kidneys with forearms. Regal takes him down for two. Regal slugs him down and keeps pounding on the apron, but Fit gives him a straight shot to the jaw to drop him. Good lord. Fit takes him into the apron and they brawl on the floor, won by Fit. Back in, Fit sends him into the turnbuckle, but Regal alley-oops him to the floor as a defense mechanism. They slug it out on the floor and Regal sends him into the Doomsday Cage, and then they head back, but the Bluebloods run out for the DQ at 17:30. Really bad finish to a horrifically stiff match. It wasn’t GREAT as a wrestling match or anything, but as a total war of attrition, it was amazing, something out of a UFC almost. *** (I’m pretty pumped that the Nitro rematch is coming up soon too!)  – Col. Rob Parker v. Madusa. (That’s Hall of Famer Alundra Blayze, you know.)  Parker gives a clean break out of the corner to start, which has Dusty in amazement. Another try, but Madusa takes him down with an armdrag. Parker comes back with an airplane spin, but she reverses to a sunset flip for two. Slam and he bails, getting advice from Dick Slater (who was Debbie Micelli’s real-life husband at that point). (What, no secret advice joke?  I really must have been feeling shitty that day.  Here, I’ll throw in a freebie:  “That advice?  Never do a southern rebel gimmick in a New York-based wrestling promotion.”)  Back in, he takes her down with the choke, but misses an elbow and gets dropkicked. He bails again and she follows with a bad plancha. Back in, she gets a german suplex for two, but Slater puts Parker on top for the pin at 3:43. Total freakshow. DUD – Retirement match: Diamond Dallas Page v. The Booty Man. OK, quick word of explanation. This was supposed to be the blowoff of the DDP-Johnny B Badd feud, which had been going for the past million PPVs, but Marc Mero got fired from WCW (on purpose) and jumped to the WWF, leaving the storyline without an ending, so they repackaged Ed Leslie again, into The Booty Man (a kind of disco version of Brutus Beefcake) and suddenly had him fighting for Kimberly’s honor. (Longer and more accurate story:  Mero’s contract expired at the end of February while still champion and he agreed to sign a new deal, but wanted assurances that he would make his usual salary while working without a contract instead of the job-guy money that other free agents made per show.  Bischoff jerked him around on the details of the talks as well as some personal apperances, and then wanted to continue the Kimberly angle that Badd hated so much.  Finally Mero basically said “Screw you, I’m going to the WWF” and Bischoff terminated him after he dropped the title to Lex Luger and told him not to come back.)  Tony buries Mero before the match, and then in the same breath they talk about how Booty Man was actually a spy in the Dungeon of Doom on behalf of Hulk Hogan, which is how they explain his sudden face turn. I wonder if that would work in real life. “Um, I wasn’t trying to deal cocaine out of a subway terminal, I was spying for internal security” Maybe not. (Eh, Brutus Beefcake drug bust jokes don’t hold up very well, unfortunately.)  This match also proved to be a major problem for DDP, because he likes planning out his matches in advance and improvising something with ED LESLIE of all people is just asking for trouble. Mucho stallo to start. Page starts with a wristlock and they reverse off that, but Page goes to the ropes. Booty goes to a headlock and overpowers Page, and he bails. Back in, Booty slugs him down and goes to the armbar, as Dusty claims that he’s “very skilled at mat wrestling”. I can’t make this stuff up. Page charges and misses, ending up on the floor. This match is going nowhere. Page stalls forever outside, so Booty Man follows him out and they brawl. Back in, Page gets rammed into the turnbuckle a few times and Page bails AGAIN. He stumbles around on the floor like a clown and Kimberly joins us at ringside, dressed as a cheerleader. HOOCHIE MAMA. Back in, Page grabs a headlock, but Booty powers out, so they criss-cross and stall. Booty slugs him out to the apron again. They manage to fuck up a shoulderblock and then Booty whiffs on a crossbody attempt, and Page chokes away. Even Tony gave a disgusted “What was THAT?” before catching himself. (Ed Leslie was a special kind of terrible in his WCW run.)  Page gets a backdrop suplex and stalls, but gets two. We hit the chinlock, but Booty fights out, so Page knees him down for two. Back to the chinlock, and Page uses the ropes as the match drags on. Soon I fear that I will die of old age before this chinlock ends. Finally Booty fights out, but Page drops him on the top rope as Kimberly turns to the camera and says with a straight face “I want him to be my boyfriend”. And people wonder why her acting career didn’t take off. Page goes after her, but gets slapped, and Booty Man hits him with a high knee to finish at 16:00. Absolutely horrible. -* Poor Kimberly has to sell a kiss from steroid-bloated, balding Ed Leslie as the sexiest thing since Ricky Martin or whatever was sexy in 1996. (Hey wow, that joke got funnier in hindsight.)  But then she sleeps with DDP in real life, so who knows what weird stuff she’s into. – The Giant v. Loch Ness. Suddenly I yearn for the salad days of Booty Man v. DDP, all those minutes ago. When Paul Wight is the skinny one, you’ve got a problem. Although he WAS really lean at this point. Giant chops away in the corner to start and uses the Nash choke, but Loch Ness hammers back with the CLUBBING FOREARMS. Giant fires back with boots in the corner, but misses a charge and takes a nice bump to the floor. Back in, Loch Ness slaps him down and drops the elbow, but misses another one, and Giant makes the comeback, booting him down. Legdrop finishes at 2:34. Well, at least it was short. DUD Giant would win the World title the next night on Nitro.  (Nope, another month yet.  Never seen that match, either!)  – Chicago Street Fight: The Road Warriors v. Sting & Booker T. How you have a Chicago street fight in Tupelo is a mystery unsolved to this day. (I really feel like we were robbed off the payoff with Luger having to participate in the street fight he unknowingly agreed to.)  They brawl outside to start and head into the ring for a slugfest, but Sting runs into Animal’s boot. Animal pounds away in the corner while Hawk backdrops Booker on the floor, and back in the ring it’s another donnybrook. Booker hits Animal with the ax kick for two, while Hawk & Sting fight outside. Animal powerslams Booker and drops an elbow for two. Sting comes back in, but Animal necksnaps him on the top rope and posts him. Sting returns the favor as the split screen is helpfully labeled “Chicago Street Fight” in case we’ve forgotten what we’re watching. (I was heavily medicated at that point.  So it could have happened.  God knows I’ve fallen asleep watching boring wrestling shows late at night.)  In the ring, Sting hits Animal with a fistdrop, but gets clotheslined for two. Elbow misses and Sting bulldogs him, but Hawk chokes Sting down. Everyone brawls outside and Booker covers Animal for two on the floor. Back in, Booker gets caught with a shot coming down, and Animal dropkicks him for two. Sting retreats to the back, while Booker gets a lazy cross-armbreaker on Hawk in the ring. Sting chairs Animal over by the back, and heads to the ring for a chairshot on Hawk. But then Animal gets it and uses it in incredibly weak fashion, getting two on Booker. Booker comes back with a sidekick on Animal and Sting piledrives Hawk, and of course he no-sells that. Since when does Sting ever use a piledriver? Hawk powerbombs Sting and goes to the chinlock, then tosses him and it’s more dull brawling outside. This match has ZERO flow. It’s all “two guys do stuff in the ring while the other two brawl, switch off, repeat.” Hawk hits them with some wussy chairshots and tries a powerbomb on Sting, but it’s reversed. Animal clubs on Sting with the forearms, but Booker breaks it up, and it’s more dull brawling. Back in with Sting and Hawk, as Sting hits him with a shot off the top that Hawk doesn’t sell, but misses the Stinger splash. Hawk drops a fist and Animal goes up, but Booker crotches him, so Hawk covers Sting for two. Booker hits Animal with a flying clothesline for two. Once again the mystery of falls count anywhere matches arises, as you can pin somewhere anywhere in the arena, except when he has his foot on the ropes. Sting gets a headbutt low on Animal, and Hawk hits Booker with a backdrop suplex. Booker comes back with a weak sideslam on Hawk, but misses an elbow, and they do a sloppy collision in the corner. Sting goes up and misses a splash on Animal. Hawk goes up and gets dropkicked by Booker coming down. Animal chokes away in the corner, but Booker goes low, and they fight outside again. Oh, joy. Meanwhile, Hawk hits Sting with a move I can only jokingly call a gutwrench suplex for two. Sting and Booker finally get organized and double-team Hawk with a clothesline, then Sting suplexes him on the top rope while Animal suplexes Booker. Sooooooo slow and boring. Hawk & Sting brawl outside again while Booker crotches himself on the top rope, and they switch off for no reason in particular, with Animal taking on Sting outside and Hawk beating on Booker inside. Booker comes back with a spinkick on Hawk for two. Hawk boots him down for two. Back to the floor as Sting goes up on Animal, but gets caught with a powerslam. Animal works the count, but Sting comes back with a clothesline and both guys are out. The boredom of this match is crushing my soul. Hawk and Booker head back into the ring, but Hawk misses a fistdrop and Booker misses an elbow. He comes back with a sidekick, however, and both guys are out. On the floor, Animal goes nuts with a chair (as nuts as anyone can go in this snoozefest) and the Warriors double-team Booker, but Sting heads to the back again and returns with BROOMS. Now I’m scared. The Warriors choke them down, but Booker comes back with his own choking on Animal, but he gets tossed by Animal and decides to leave. In the ring, Hawk gets two on Sting. We follow Animal and Booker to the back, where Luger is posing in front of a mirror in a bizarre moment, but Animal interrupts and gets beat up by Luger and Stevie Ray as a result. Some things you just don’t mess with. Back in the ring, Hawk dumps Sting and they brawl, but now Booker T returns as Sting misses his charge into the railing. Booker sends Hawk into the stairs and brings him back in, getting a sideslam and going up with the Harlem Hangover, but misses it. Stevie Ray runs out and adds a chairshot for good measure, and Booker FINALLY pins Hawk to end it at 29:35. Not a terrible brawl, but ridiculously long and dull. It did foreshadow Booker’s single career, however, as he managed to outwork both of the washed-up Road Warriors and held his own with the unmotivated Sting. **  (Meltzer actually gave this one ***1/2 and called it the best match on the show.  Sorry, I just don’t see it.)  DOOMSDAY CAGE: Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage v. Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Z Gangsta, The Ultimate Solution, Kevin Sullivan, Lex Luger, Meng and the Barbarian. I wish I could be making up that listing, but I’m not. They really did book Hogan & Savage 8-on-2. The heels are The Alliance to End Hulkamania, or TAEH. That of course is the opposite of heat. The idea here, if you can wrap your head around it, is that there’s a three-story cage, with Hogan & Savage starting at the top with Flair & Anderson and moving downwards. Now keep in mind there’s no actual RULES for this announced, only vague notations about Hogan & Savage having to “fight their way down”. (Original plan was to re-use the triple cage thing from Bash 88, because apparently it was still stored in Kevin Sullivan’s garage or something.)  Michael Buffer actually has to introduce this mess with a straight face. Well, I guess that’s why they pay him the big bucks. Hogan starts with Arn in the top cage and they fight it out, with Flair chopping Savage, and Arn clubbing on Hogan. The lighting is terrible and you can’t see anything. They keep brawling and Hogan rams Flair into a pole and chokes him down. Flair & Anderson stop and work over Savage, however. Anderson goes after Hogan and gets a figure-four, so Flair does the same to Savage. Hogan and Savage use powder to escape, however, and move down to the next cage. Uh huh. So now it’s 4-on-2, as it’s Sullivan, Luger, Meng and Barbarian to contend with. Hogan fights with Luger & Sullivan, while Savage takes on the Faces of Fear. (I should also note what a giant waste of Luger this was, as they had spent weeks masterfully building up the Sting storyline and creating this awesome slimy heel character for him before suddenly turning him into cartoon villain again for the sake of having an eighth guy in this mess.)  The heels control, but Hogan fights off Sullivan and saves Savage, and then locks the Faces of Fear in their own cage, leaving it 2-on-2. Oh, such strategy. Flair and Anderson head down into the lower cage to try and help, and Hogan and Sullivan fight out to the scaffolding while Luger continues the thrilling brawl with Savage in the cage. However, soon all four end up on the floor, and into the ring. Hogan hits Sullivan with the big boot and stomps away. They switch off, with Hogan hitting Luger with a bucket and Sullivan ramming Savage into the cage. Tony, in an actual quote, says “This has been spectacular.” Well, people describe car crashes the same way. Hogan brings Luger to the ring and gets a corner clothesline, then hammers away while Savage & Sullivan fight on the floor. Wasn’t the point supposed to be that they were fighting in the CAGE? Hence the name, DOOMSDAY CAGE? Luger hits Savage with the STAINLESS STEEL FOREARM OF DEATH, but brawls out with Hogan again. You have to wonder what exactly the Horsemen and Faces of Fear are DOING while trapped in that other ring. Luger clubs Savage down with a chair and then goes after Hogan, but he makes the comeback and the heels get whipped together. And now the other heels, Jeep “Painful Constipation” Swenson and Z Gangsta (Zeus) head out and drag our heroes back to the DOOMSDAY CAGE, and into the ring on the bottom of that cage. Was there something wrong with the ring they were in before? Somehow, the match gets WORSE, as Permanent Vacation overpowers Hogan and Gangsta chokes Savage down. He pops up with a double axehandle, however, while Hogan goes to the eyes of Traffic Citation and then turns his attention to Gangsta. He gets choked down, which to Tony is the most thrilling thing to happen all match, and Notable Quotation press-slams Savage. Hogan comes back on Gangsta, but now the Horsemen rejoin the match (which of course makes no sense, but god forbid either of THESE goofs do the job when Flair is available) and things look bleak for the Megapowers. The heels pound away, as Catalytic Conversion uses the CLUBBING FOREARMS, but now Booty Man gives them powder (oh man, this stuff just writes itself) and frying pans. That’s how you cook the crack old-school, I guess. Now Luger runs in as well and turns the tide, using a loaded glove, but it hits Flair by mistake and Savage pins him at 25:09. This would prove to be the last hurrah for Hulkamania, as fan reaction to this mess was so overwhelmingly negative that his heel turn was necessary to keep his career alive. Without a doubt the WORST PPV main event ever, lacking not only internal logic and interesting action, but the entertainment value of Heroes of Wrestling. This one gets the full negative monty. –*****  (I stand by that one.)  The Bottom Line: You may stumble across this show and accidentally watch it, then, like a victim of prison rape, blame yourself for the pain, humiliation, and rectal bleeding, but DON’T. This was WCW’S fault, not yours! There are support groups for survivors of this PPV out there to help you, and I would advise you to make use of them. Other people have been through the same thing. We can help you. Strongest recommendation to avoid humanly possible.  (Or, you know, get really drunk and watch it for free on the WWE Network.  Whatevs.) 

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–03.18.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 03.18.96 Live from Chattanooga, TN Your hosts are Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan & Mongo We pick the show up with Giant engaged in a brawl with Loch Ness in the aisle, while Lex Luger casually walks by and does his usual entrance. World TV title: Lex Luger v. Loch Ness Sadly, Loch Ness has been beaten to a pulp by the Giant, and is unable to answer the count. Jimmy Hart runs in for a hug and Luger quickly pushes him back after “breaking kayfabe”. Luger is so excited that he runs over to the announce desk and high-fives Bobby. “I’m peaking at just the right time!” It’s really sad that they wasted him in the Uncensored main event nonsense because he was really on fire at this point. Tony Schiavone returns from the dead to interview “The Megapowers” and holy crap, they were basically asking for a cease-and-desist letter. Macho even has “Mega Powers” on his gear! The balls on these guys. They’re still hyping up the Doomsday cage without ever explaining how it worked or who was in it. The Public Enemy v. The Steiner Brothers Oh this is gonna be glorious. Scott throws Rock around with a tilt-a-whirl slam and a press slam to start, and then chases him to the floor. Back in, Grunge tries beating on Rick and gets destroyed as well. Mongo’s take: “Break out the broom and the dust mop, because the Steiners are cleaning house!” Let’s not. Rick heads out and gets double-teamed, and TPE takes over on him, but Scott comes in with another suplex on Rock. Rock moonsaults Scott for two and Grunge gets a neckbreaker for two and heads up, but Scott fights him off and it’s hot tag Rick. He somehow ends up on the table at ringside, but Rock misses the dive and puts himself through it. Back in, the Steiners finish Grunge with the bulldog at 7:00. Eric Bischoff literally promised that this would be a crazy brawl at the beginning, and they just did a wrestling match. Super disappointing. * Arn Anderson v. The Booty Man Beefcake’s entrance is so sad, an aging has-been getting pushed one more time because he’s friends with Hulk Hogan, as no one gives a shit about him without the bigger stars around to protect him. Booty beats on Arn in the corner, but AA bails to slow down this torrid pace and starts working on the arm after a cheapshot. Arn goes up and Booty catches him with a shot on the way down, and makes the comeback. Kimberly comes out and gets into an argument with Woman, and Booty hits the High Knee for the pin at 5:52. DUD The Road Warriors v. The Nasty Boys Bischoff continues hyping up the Uncensored card and holy god it sounds like the worst pile of shit ever just by the matches listed. This tag match actually is a wild brawl from the start, with everyone fighting to the floor immediately as we take a break. Back with the Nasties in control on Hawk, but Knobs gets flung into the railing and take a huge bump. Apparently the Nasties were almost fired for budget reasons at this point, as they needed money to justify the contracts of Hall and Nash. So it would have been win-win! Back in, the Warriors double-team Knobs, and Hawk pounds the injured ribs. I’m zoning here – were the Nasty Boys supposed to be heels at this point? Animal with a powerslam and he drops the elbow on the ribs for two. Splash misses and it’s hot tag Sags, but the Steiners run out and mug Sags. Animal hits Knobs with the gauntlet and pins him at 7:00. This was just a mess, with everyone blowing up sometime during the heat segment. ½* Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage v. Kevin Sullivan & Ric Flair Speaking of messes, this is a texas tornado match that was originally booked to be Flair v. Sting for the World title before Hogan stepped in and changed it. And after two tag matches that should have been booked as messy brawls, this is the one that we get the crazy brawl in. They run around doing the junk brawling and we get the awesome sight of Hulk Hogan trying a figure-four on Sullivan, the only one I’ve ever seen worse than Dusty’s version. More messy brawling and Hulk makes the comeback off a Flair suplex. Mongo’s take: “If you like a good public someone getting beat down like a dog, you’ll like this match.” Actual things said by people on live TV. THEY PAID HIM TO SAY THESE THINGS. Flair hits Hogan with the SIZE EIGHT OF DOOM after a million years of meandering brawl, but it’s time to hulk up again as Arn Anderson joins us. Brian Pillman comes out of the audience throwing chairs and they call for a DQ at 10:30, because reasons. * Hogan, as booker, saw that Pillman’s act was getting over and basically demanded that he be made part of the main event deal, thus killing Pillman’s whole gimmick. Hogan and Savage manage to fight off the Horsemen alone, but then Jimmy Hart brings out flabby gut Zeus and Jeep Swenson (who is literally made up like a walrus) and that somehow turns the tide. Best of all, Swenson was named “The Final Solution”, which passed through multiple layers of approval before someone realized that people MIGHT be offended by it. Because WCW. The Alliance to End Hulkamania, or TAEH for short, rambles about Hogan. And remember, TAEH is the opposite of “Heat”. The Pulse This Hogan stuff…holy god. I’m still astonished that one company could change directions so drastically within a couple of months and suddenly change wrestling forever.

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–03.11.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 03.11.96 All the cool kids are watching Nitro on Monday nights, you know. LIVE (after a one week break for a mini-series) from Winston-Salem, NC Your hosts are Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan & Mongo. Funny how Bischoff keeps calling it “the Warzone”, considering what RAW would become less than a year later. Hacksaw Jim Duggan v. The Giant Mongo notes that, and I swear to all that is holy that I am not making this up, you have to see Giant in person to appreciate how big he is. Giant dumps Duggan and runs him into the post with ease, then hammers on the back with those frying pan-sized hands while Brian Pillman makes a nuisance of himself at ringside in his continuing efforts to get fired. Giant with a bearhug that Duggan escapes via biting, but Giant beats him down again. Bischoff talks about the ailing Jim Duggan Sr., who is apparently a legendary Irish taped fists champion. So…yeah. Duggan comes back with the three point clothesline and Giant takes a bloody impressive bump over the top rope off that, but lands on his feet and comes back in to finish destroying Duggan. Duggan escapes another bearhug with a headbutt this time, but knocks himself silly and lands on the floor. Duggan pulls up the tape from the mats and uses it to tape up his fists, which is quite the visual, but he goes after Jimmy Hart like a moron and it’s CHOKESLAM and goodnight at 6:23. Bischoff notes that Giant’s fists are like ’63 Chevy car doors. Well that’s more impressive than frying pans, I suppose. This was, dare I say, shockingly entertaining crap because Duggan was bulletproof and he just went out and took a beating for his artform. ** for the entertainment value. And now, THE STEINER BROTHERS return. And then right away we get one of the all-time biggest dream matches. The Road Warriors v. The Steiner Brothers I’m guessing this show spanked RAW in the ratings like Giant chokeslamming Duggan. Hawk throws chops on Scott, but gets tossed around with a pair of suplexes while Animal talks shit from the apron. Was this supposed to be a Warriors heel turn around this time? Because I totally do not remember that, but they’re clearly heeling the past couple of shows. Hawk comes back with a neckbreaker and Animal powerslams Scott for two, but Rick comes in and suplexes the shit out of HIM. Top rope belly to belly and they are throwing BOMBS out there tonight. Scott with his own suplex on Animal and he hangs him in the Tree of Woe, but walks into a boot in the corner. Scott goes to the rear chinlock as this thing finally calms down for a minute and the Steiners cut off the ring. Rick pounds him with forearms on the ropes as Bischoff notes that it’s the most vicious crossface maneuver that you’ll see anywhere. Well, I mean…never mind. Hot to Hawk and he powerslams both Steiners, and the Doomsday Device on Rick follows, but Scott saves. It’s BONZO GONZO and now Animal gets tossed and Scott hits Hawk with a flying clothesline, but Animal clotheslines HIM off the top. Frankensteiner on Animal, but Hawk saves. Steiners with the flying bulldog on Hawk, but Animal nails Rick with the gauntlet and Hawk pins him at 10:09. This was the craziest shit you’re gonna see all week, with four big roided monsters suplexing the shit out of each other and absolutely no wrestling to speak of. It was AWESOME. And the best thing that the Warriors did during this run by far. ***1/2 Steiners of course stuck around until the bitter end, while the Warriors were gone soon after this. Can you imagine all the money they would have made feuding with the Outsiders? Jesus. World TV title: Lex Luger v. Alex Wright So Luger is now TV champion after beating Johnny B. Badd on WCW Saturday Night, and Bischoff goes HARDCORE burying Marc Mero on the way out of the promotion. That was one ugly split. Luger was an odd choice to move the title onto, to say the least. Wright works the arm and takes him down with a flying headscissors, putting Luger on the floor. So just reading through the Observer from this point, and there was a focus group thing done by WCW where they discovered that people REALLY liked Alex Wright a lot, so suddenly his push was renewed again. Also, they LOVED Eddie Guerrero and workrate guys in general. Listening to the fans? What a bunch of marks. No wonder this company went out of business. Wright works on the back, but Luger dumps him to take over and gets a press slam and some punishment in the corner. Wright comes back with a bodypress, but Luger necks him in the corner and slaps him around in a show of sportsmanship. Wright keeps fighting back despite the quality bad-mouth getting laid on him, but then maybe he just didn’t understand English and thus wasn’t de-motivated like he should have been? Wright comes back with a missile dropkick and goes up again, but Jimmy Hart appears and pushes him off into a stun-gun from Lex that finishes at 6:36. Luger then goes through an elaborate routine where he yells at Hart for interfering, because he’s a good person and all. This stuff was all gold. **1/2 LUMBERJACK STRAP MATCH: Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage & The Booty Man v. Kevin Sullivan, Ric Flair and Arn Anderson We’re in North Carolina so you can guess what the finish is going to be. There’s straps involved, but no one is actually strapped to each other, and it’s just a big schmoz with the faces beating on the heels. I should note that the Faces of Fear wearing lumberjack shirts might be the greatest thing ever. Just a whole lot of nothing and bullshit and Hogan beating on Flair with the strap. Big boot and legdrop finish clean at 6:23. DUD Gotta love how they’re building up to the unwinnable deadly Doomsday cage match at Uncensored by having the babyfaces destroy the heels week after week on TV. Yeah, they really seem worried. Mean Gene interviews the heels as they rant and rave about nothing to close the show. The Pulse As usual, crazy great undercard and then hot garbage from Hogan and his cronies to end the show. But man please do check out that Steiners v. Warriors match on the Network or the YouTubes.