The SmarK Rant for AWA Championship Wrestling – 03.04.86

The SmarK Rant for AWA Championship Wrestling – 03.04.86

So the connecting thread for these random AWA uploads to the Network is obviously “The secret origin of Shawn Michaels”, and thus we’ll just start at the start, with his debut in the AWA.

Taped from Las Vegas, NV

Your host is Larry Nelson, with Ken Resnick & Greg Gagne on commentary.

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The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–09.30.96

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 09.30.96

Hey, thanks to James Dixon for the shout-out in Titan Shattered. I didn’t even know that was coming. Even better that it was positive and not the usual “Thanks for setting the bar really low with your own books, jerk.”

Taped from Hershey, PA

Your hosts are Jim Ross, Kevin Kelly and Jerry Lawler

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The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–09.23.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 09.23.96

For those wondering about the slowdown in getting these 96 shows out, it’s mostly because the Network’s archived content is getting so brutally slow to watch that it literally took me two hours to watch that September 23 episode of RAW with all the stuttering and buffering. Nitro is frequently even worse, and it’s getting to the point where this might be the last episode I do for a long while, because RAW at least works smoother most of the time. We’ll see how this one goes.

Live from somewhere, which turns out to be Birmingham, AL.

Your hosts are Tony & Larry

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The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 09.23.96

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 09.23.96

There are few times where you can point to one segment as the nadir of an entire wrestling promotion, but this one is truly the bottom of the barrel.  Watching this one, I was really worried that the WWF wasn’t going to be around for much longer.

Live from Hershey, PA

Your hosts are Kevin Kelly, Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler

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The SmarK Rant for WWF In Your House: Mind Games–09.22.96

The SmarK Rant for In Your House: Mind Games – 09.22.96

Live from Philly, home of cream cheese and some crappy indy promotion. This show has some of the most muted crowd reactions ever due to the production guys turning the crowd mic WAY down to prevent any embarrassing reactions.

Your hosts are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross & Mr. Perfect.

At the time I didn’t think about this as the low point of the promotion, but after a month of the most dire RAW taping cycle I’ve seen in forever, you’ve gotta think it’s a contender. Also, this was the last wrestling PPV I ordered for about six years, due to meeting a new circle of friends at this point who came armed with booze and a black box to watch scrambled PPV channels for free. Good times.

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The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 09.16.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 09.16.96

As a reminder, this rant will be immediately available in the Rant Archives link on OneDrive, available now for only $20 via Paypal to [email protected]!

Hopefully there’s not too much Hogan on this show so it doesn’t have to get awkward.  God help us if he’s interacting with Booker T.

Live from Asheville, NC

Your hosts are Tony & Larry

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Repost: The SmarK DVD Rant for Hulk Still Rules

The SmarK DVD Rant for Hulk Still Rules

– Yes, it FINALLY came to Canada, at least at the HMV in West Edmonton Mall, so I dropped the $25 and decided to finally stop the barrage of whiny e-mails wanting to know when I’m gonna review it.  (Now I also have Hulk Unreleased that I should probably either watch on the Network before it gets Benoit’d or do the DVD version.)

– Hogan talks about his origins in the sport, and we get a clip from Memphis in the VERY early days. The Briscoes trained him and told him to come to New York, because Vince loves big monsters. Hogan talks about being a heel in the old days and having Blassie as a manager. Various old clips are here.

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The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–09.16.96

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 09.16.96

OK, one week left of this shitty taping before we REALLY hit rock bottom of the promotion next week. Man, remember a while ago when I said if we can get through the post-WM doldrums period with Shawn as champion it would pick up in August? This is NOT picking up.

Also, yeah I’m skipping Fall Brawl in the chronology. You guys can live-stream it one night if you want, it’s a good show and well worth watching. I will likely redo Mindgames, however, because it’s much shorter.

Taped…again…from Wheeling WV

Your hosts are Kevin Kelly, Jerry Lawler and the increasingly insane Jim Ross.  According to the Observer, this was a feature, not a bug, as despite spending 90% of their commentary time on the stupid Fake Razor angle, the WWF felt like the backlash would be too negative towards the company, so they decided to make JR the fall guy by having him portrayed as the lying carny who is opposing the company mandate. 

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The SmarK Rant for WWE Battleground 2015–07.19.15

The SmarK Rant for WWE Battleground 2015

For those invested in the minutia of my life when it comes to these things, I’m doing this rant on a Microsoft Surface tablet, which has now replaced my beloved iPad due to the fact that I can do things like have the full version of Office running on it with an actual Windows keyboard. For me, the Surface Type keyboard destroys even the best iPad Bluetooth keyboard. Save your scorn, I’m a big boy who knows what he’s getting into.

Live from St. Louis, MO

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and JBL.

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The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–08.26.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 08.26.96

The skip weeks for RAW really threw off my recapping mojo, so now we had back a couple of weeks to an unopposed Nitro to get us caught up again.

From Palmetto, FL. Really, THAT city warranted a mention? It’s only a 1500 seat building, too.

Your hosts are Tony & Larry.

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The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–09.06.96 “Championship Friday!”

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 09.06.96

Between changing blogs and playing Arkham Knight, my time has kind of been taken up by other stuff, but hopefully I can get back in the groove and finish up 1996 in reasonable time. On the subject of Arkham, did they find playtesters who were like “I’m tired of swinging around the city like a superhero and I want to do stealth sections in a tank to grind the game to a halt every hour” and then base the game around them? Because that’s what it feels like sometimes, even though it’s typically great otherwise.

This was actually a Friday Night RAW to be accurate, as they moved it because of tennis or something. So it’s CHAMPIONSHIP FRIDAY! I heard they were going to call it Belt Friday but Vince made them change it.

Taped from Wheeling, WV

Your hosts are Kevin Kelly & Jim Ross

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The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–08.19.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 08.19.96 Live from Huntsville, AL, which is apparently on the list of cities that are not to be mentioned because they’re too small. Your hosts are Tony & Larry VK Wallstreet v. Jim Duggan This is of course a rematch from their epic at Clash 33. They immediately fight to the floor and Duggan gets a pair of clotheslines, but Wallstreet attacks him from behind and goes to the chinlock. And that goes on for a while, but Duggan fights back with yet another clothesline, then grabs the roll of tape, only for EVIL REF Nick Patrick to steal it away from him. Thankfully, Duggan always carries a backup roll, and finishes Wallstreet at 5:28. How many rolls of tape does he keep stuffed in his trunks?! This was pretty much what you’d expect, with the added hilarity of Nick Patrick being a bad person for trying to keep someone from using a blatant foreign object. * Mean Gene comes in afterwards for Duggan’s thoughts on the New World Order, and Duggan addresses “Terry” so you know it’s a SHOOT. This brings out Randy Savage for some reason and he wants the Giant. Aren’t they supposed to be on the same team at this point? Earl Robert Eaton v. Chris Benoit The camera makes sure to catch the angry grandma at ringside, since they’re in Alabama, and hopefully some of the heels will interact with her. I’m hopeful for Regal myself. Benoit pounds Eaton down and goes to the abdominal stretch, but Bobby hiptosses out for two. Benoit sends him to the floor and gives him a rude trip to the post and then hiptosses him on the floor, which allows Woman to get a cheapshot as well. Back in, Benoit slugs away in the corner, but Eaton chokes him out in response and gets a neckbreaker. Sadly, the Alabama Jam misses in his hometown, and Benoit finishes with the diving headbutt at 4:00. Kind of a dick move for WCW to have Eaton do a squash job on his home turf like that. *1/2 Meanwhile, Sting and Lex Luger have a SURPRISE for the Horsemen tonight. Disco Inferno v. Scott Norton Disco tries to work the Macarena into his dance routine for the most 1996 moment of the show, but gives up on it. Norton no-sells Disco’s flurry of geek offense and pounds him down in methodical fashion, tosses him around and hits a shoulderbreaker, then finishes with an armbar at 4:10. Complete squash for Norton, leading to nothing. Meanwhile, Ice Train and new manager Teddy Long have words for Nick Patrick and Scott Norton, in that order. Dean Malenko v. Lord Steven Regal This is quite the matchup. We take a break right away and return with Regal working on the arm, but Malenko gets a nice series of takedown attempts and gets a snapmare for two. Regal puts him down with a forearm for two and goes to a headscissors, but Malenko makes the ropes. Malenko with a german suplex for two, but Regal takes him down again, only to have Malenko put him away with an Oklahoma roll at 8:20. Good finish. **1/2 Hour #2! Your hosts are Eric & Bobby The Nasty Boys v. Public Enemy Eric suddenly goes on a rant about how the WWF might be suing WCW, but they’re not going anywhere and won’t be changing. And so it’s yet another sloppy brawl between these two teams with the usual split-screen that makes it impossible to follow. Finally the PE double-team Sags in the ring as it starts to find a direction, but they immediately head to the floor again and accidentally go through a table when Sags moves. Knobs drops an elbow on Grunge and pins him at 4:30. Yeah, so the finish was predicated on JERRY SAGS being both smarter and faster than the Public Enemy. Even Bobby Heenan mocks them for that one. ½* Mean Gene is out to ask the Nasties the tough questions, like whether Knobs is still friends with Hulk Hogan. They’re still ducking the question. Diamond Dallas Page v. Chavo Guerrero Chavo is a house of fire trying to avenge Uncle Eddie after the Clash, and he slugs away in the corner until Page goes to the arm to take over. He misses a blind charge and Chavo rolls him up for two, so DDP chokes him down. Page continues destroying the arm with a hammerlock slam for two, but he picks Chavo up for more punishment, and Chavo gets the backslide for the upset win at 4:33. Well you had to see that one coming. **1/4 Page gets a Diamond Cutter afterwards and uses Nick Patrick’s belt to whip Chavo while Patrick feigns his inability to stop him. Mean Gene again is out to ask Patrick the hard questions, and Patrick cuts a really funny promo where he denies any wrongdoing and points out that if he was really guilty, he would have been caught by now, so the whole thing must be a giant conspiracy by the media against him. WCW World tag titles: Harlem Heat v. The American Males Riggs gets double-teamed by the Heat and Booker pounds away in the corner, then dodges a blind charge and gets two. The announcers talk up a movie role that Bagwell had recently, which turned out to be this one: Yeah. Anyway, whole lot of nothing here, as Riggs gets beat up and makes the hot tag to Bagwell pretty quickly. Bagwell gets a rollup on Stevie for the tease of the upset, but the Heat shove him out of the ring and Stevie powerslams him on the way back in to retain at 4:18. Decent but nothing interesting. *1/2 Glacier is still on his way, honest. Sting & Lex Luger v. Arn Anderson & Ric Flair Doesn’t happen, as Sting calls for an armistice instead and offers the Horsemen the chance to team up for Wargames against the nWo. Fun game: What exactly are Liz and Nancy chatting about on the left side of the screen while Sting is doing his super-serious promo? Anyway, in retrospect the Horsemen would have been better off sticking with Benoit and Mongo instead of going with Sting and Luger for that match. The Following Announcement Has Been Paid For By The New World Order Hall and Nash hang out in Denver talking shit about the Giant and whatever else is on their minds. The Preceding Announcement Has Been Paid For By The New World Order The Giant v. Randy Savage No match, as Savage attacks with a chair and they brawl on the floor, as Eric notes that the executive committee has ratified the Fall Brawl main event as “Sting, Luger, Flair and Anderson against the nWo, if they’ve got the guts”. I think it would be hilarious if they actually drew up the contract to say that. “Just initial here, Mr. Nash, by the part where it stipulates that you must have the guts to accept the challenge.” Anyway, the Dungeon of Doom tries to attack Savage, but he kicks Giant in the nuts and fights them off with a chair to end the show. The Pulse Nothing outstanding on this show, but it was a fun and breezy two hours with nothing I’d call really bad.

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–08.19.96

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 08.19.96 So it’s the night after Summerslam 96, and frankly we’ve rehashed that ground so many times that you can probably recite the Scott Sez in your sleep by now anyway. Shawn is a whiny baby, Paul Bearer turns heel, everything else is shit, you know the drill. Live from Wheeling, WV Your hosts are Kevin Kelly, Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler. Where the hell did THAT come from? Also, did you know Jim Ross did a boxing show a year ago and it’s on YouTube? Now you do. Intercontinental title tournament quarterfinals: British Bulldog v. Owen Hart They trade hiptosses and Owen dumps Bulldog, but Bulldog comes back with a chinlock and crazy press slam for two. Bulldog with a chinlock while the screen gets static interference and some fans in the front row chant “Nitro sucks”. I dunno, on average it’s been the better show for the past few months, I’d say. Bulldog with a powerslam for two and Sunny joins us as we take a break. Back with Owen working on the leg while Jim Cornette rants from backstage about everyone conspiring against him and stealing his talent. And indeed that is what happened with Owen & Bulldog. Owen with the Sharpshooter, but Bulldog makes the ropes and slugs away, so Owen backdrops him to the floor. They fight on the apron and Bulldog suplexes him from the apron to the floor in an insane bump for the time, and they fight until Owen beats the countout at 10:40 to advance. Sunny accidentally gets a drink spilled on her dress, prompting a rant against the Harts about how Bulldog is a pervert who was trying to feel her up, and Jim Cornette comes out and calls her a little slut. And this actually paid off with a match, so GREAT. *** Mark Henry signs autographs at ringside for the two people who might care at that point. Speaking of questionable tryouts and signings, here’s Dave on some of the happenings at this taping: “Rick Titan (Big Titan from WAR) got a try-out beating Frank Staletto. Titan didn’t look good but Staletto looked good enough that they brought him back later for a try-out match. Flex Kavana got a second look (he’s already under contract) beating David Haskins.” And for those of you just joining us here in 1996, Rick Titan was the unfortunate goof who got stuck with the gig as Fake Razor Ramon a few weeks from here, and I don’t know what happened to that Flex Kavana guy. I suppose I could Google it, but why waste the effort of opening a new tab for someone who clearly disappeared from the business years ago? Maybe he retired from the business in 2004 due to a botched contract renewal and became a big movie star? We’ll never know! WHO ARE YOU, MYSTERIOUS FLEX KAVANA? Vader v. Freddie Joe Floyd We take an immediate break and return with Vader destroying poor Tracy with a pair of Vaderbombs at 1:30. Mankind and new father figure Paul Bearer are out for words with Jim Ross, and now it is Mankind who controls the power of the urn, so SUCK IT, UNDERTAKER. Or words to that effect. Also, he’s getting the title shot next month and he’ll make Shawn Michaels into the ugliest boy toy. But then the screen gets all wacky again and his faithful druid army carries Undertaker to the ring, apparently having hauled this poor dude all the way from Cleveland by foot. Bearer clarifies that it’s just his decaying corpse being consumed by maggots and worms. That’s reassuring. This is finally Paul Bearer getting to cut loose in full Percy Pringle heel mode as a raving lunatic instead of the vaguely creepy stuff he used to spew. Unfortunately for him, Undertaker’s rotting corpse revives and sets off pyro in the corners. And then I bet someone backstage was like “Hmm, we should hang onto that ring gimmick in case we need it later.” Great segment. Meanwhile, Barry Windham is the STALKER. Whatever you say, Duck Dynasty. Final Four Battle Royale: Steve Austin v. Goldust v. Sid v. Savio Vega Winner of this gets a title shot at Shawn Michaels on the US Open episode of RAW in two weeks, replacing Ahmed Johnson, whom you’ll recall was supposed to be getting the title shot on this very show. So this is the last four guys in the original battle royale, doing a redo. Sid is very quickly triple-teamed and eliminated, but he chokeslams everyone to get his revenge. We take a break and return with Austin blindsiding Goldust as JR discusses how Austin would REALLY like to wrestle Bret Hart at some point. Savio breaks them up and dumps Goldust, but he hangs on. Savio comes back on both guys and tosses Austin, but he pulls himself back in, so Savio catapults him out the other side. Austin lays Savio out on the way to the back, leaving Goldust in control. Savio comes back again, but Goldust reverses him out at 6:34 to win. Dave’s take on Steve Austin: “Austin seems to be getting over as a babyface.” Yes, perhaps Steve Austin might indeed have a future as a babyface. Shawn Michaels v. Yokozuna This is Yoko’s final appearance on WWF TV, not counting all the times that he was supposed to debut as the newest member of the Hart Foundation in 1997, and of course Hulk Hogan would spend the next two years trying to get him into WCW so he could get his win back. Yoko slugs away to start, but Shawn fights back and Yoko goes down. Jim Cornette joins us as we take a break. Back with Cornette beating up Jose Lothario, allowing Yoko to come back with the belly to belly on a distracted Shawn. Big splash misses and Shawn hits a flying splash of his own for two. Yoko counters the superkick with a samoan drop, but he misses the legdrop and Shawn finishes with the superkick at 6:12 of a surprisingly good match. *** The Pulse Hell of a show this week, although the tennis really messed with their momentum, especially because this show rebounded to a 2.9 rating after the previous week’s dismal 2.0. However, it was also an interesting sign in that Nitro also had a huge rating, which showed that in fact you didn’t have to split the audience for the shows and in fact could GROW the wrestling audience in general, something went against all the vitriol and propaganda spewed by the WWF when Nitro launched.

2015 Scott Sez: Hog Wild 1996

The SK Retro Rant for WCW Hog Wild 96. (So I gotta say, I have no idea why I didn’t buy this show back in 1996, unless I had something else going on that Saturday, but that seems pretty unlikely.  I mean, have you MET me?)  Lots of requests recently for this one. Dunno why. I guess with the diminishing number of shows I haven’t done yet the law of averages says that this one had to come up sometime. (Of course now there’s like a whole DECADE of shows I’ve never watched, but there was a time in the early 2000s when I could lay claim to reviewing every PPV ever!)  Quick Oscar thoughts: Steve Martin was really funny and charming, but the actual awards were so predictable and subpar that I was able to sit there and pick the major ones with a 95% accuracy rate, even while flipping over to “Goodfellas” on Bravo at the same time. (Goodfellas is a movie where I am physically unable to resist watching it in full whenever it’s on TV, along with Shawshank Redemption and Men In Black.)  Ooo, Julia wins Best Actress, what a shock. Gladiator wins Best Picture despite Traffic being RIGHT THERE, but when the Academy gets an epic in it’s sights, you might as well settle in for the sweep. (Good god what a terrible decision that one was in retrospect) I don’t know that I’d agree with it winning the big award or even Russell Crowe winning Best Actor despite having nothing but cliches and grunts to spew for 3 hours, but I certainly liked the movie, so I can’t really complain all that much. (I can totally complain.  IT WAS A STUPID DECISION) I’m totally heartened to see Del Toro take Best Supporting at least and Steven Soderburgh upset Ang Lee for Best Director, so the night wasn’t a total writeoff. Still, let’s hope for a better crop of movies this year so that we don’t get The Mummy Returns winning Best Picture in March 2002, okay? Live from Sturgis, NC.  (I believe “South Dakota” is what I meant there.)  Your hosts are Tony, Bobby & Dusty. Just for the sake of those curious, I’m including matches I felt like watching from the two-hour WCW Saturday Night / pre-game show that preceded this show on TBS. (Forever lost to history now.  Or Chris Fothergill-Brown’s hard drive.  Same thing.)  I start by fast-forwarding through Enos & Slater v. The Public Enema.  (I’m glad to see Rough & Ready sticking it out at least after the problems they’ve been having.)  Konnan v. Chavo Guerrero, Jr. Konnan controls with an armbar takedown and works a wristlock. Chavo comes back with a headscissor takedown and Konnan bails to the dirt. The ring is on a platform, which is in turn on plain old dirt. The distance from ring to dirt is pretty big, and the space on the platform where the mats are is pretty small. Ah, WCW, the smartest promotion no longer alive. Chavo gets a vicious deathlock variation and works the knee. Konnan roughs him up and dropkicks him in the corner. DDT gets two. Chavo gets a lariat and dropkick, and Konnan hides in the ropes. He comes out and cheapshots Chavo from behind, then the rolling clothesline and Splash Mountain finish at 4:24. *1/4 We skip over Nasty Boys v. High Voltage, for obvious reasons. Alex Wright v. Bobby Eaton. Wright wins with a bodypress before I even finish writing the participants, at 0:35. Eep. DUD We skip over the Dungeon of Doom squashing some jobbers. Squire Dave Taylor v. Mr. JL. JL gets a dropkick and armdrag to start, and Taylor bails. Back in, Taylor gets some forearms and dodges a blind charge. Standing neckbreaker and Taylor pounds away. JL gets a bulldog and goes up with a bodypress for two. Fallaway slam from Taylor finishes at 2:39. Just a squash. ½* DDP v. Renegade. Diamond Cutter, goodbye at 0:52. DUD Arn Anderson v. Hugh Morrus. No Laughing Matter misses, DDT doesn’t, goodbye at 0:35. DUD (How can this be a pre-show without Bad News Barrett doing a job?)  PPV Begins: Opening match, Cruiserweight title: Rey Mysterio Jr. v. Ultimo Dragon. Wristlock sequence to start, won by Rey. Dragon gets a rollup for two, but Rey works the leg. Dragon gets a leg lariat and they fight over a german suplex and go to a gymnastic exhibition. Dragon with the kick combo and a dropkick. The handspring elbow sets up a running powerbomb, but he stalls and won’t cover. He goes into a figure-four for god-knows-what reason. Spinning backbreaker and again he won’t cover. They screw up a bow-and-arrow spot, with Rey slipping free unintentionally, and Rey comes back with a springboard dropkick, baseball slide to put him out, and springboard plancha from the top rope to the dirt. To give you an idea of how suicidal that was, consider that standing on the ground, the wrestlers were generally eye-level with the bottom rope thanks to the raised platform. And there’s no mats down there. Back in, Rey gets a rana from the top, but gets dropkicked while trying another. Rey bails and Dragon follows with a pescado. Back in, Dragon gets a german suplex for two. Quebrada, no cover. Moonsault gets two. Powerbomb reversed to a rana by Rey, and they go up. Dragon blocks a rana, but can’t block a second one, and Rey gets the pin at 11:38. Too spotty and just all over the map. Still good, though. ***  (Sounds about right.)  Scott Norton v. Juice Train. Train was dumb enough to lip off to Giant in the pre-game show and got his arm beat up as a result. Norton works on it for a bit, Ice Train comes back with a powerslam, but Norton applies an armbar for the submission at 5:05. Standard power stuff here. ¾*  (After watching weeks of buildup on Nitro lately, that sounds like exactly the kind of horrendous disappointment you’d expect.)  Bull Nakano v. Madusa. Winner gets to smash up the loser’s motorcycle. Nakano attacks with nunchuks and biels her by the hair a few times, for two. Slam gets two, but Madusa comes back with her flying hair slam things. Nakano hooks a Sharpshooter, then a DDT gets two. We hit the chinlock. Madusa kicks at the legs and gets a rana for two. Leg lariat, but Nakano hits her own clothesline for two. Madusa’s GERMAN SUPLEX OF DOOM gets two. Nakano hits a backdrop suplex for two. Another one gets the pin, but Madusa LIFTS HER SHOULDER and wins at 5:53. Gosh, what an original and totally enthralling ending. ½* (On the bright side, the 5000 redneck bikers in attendance would have likely never seen a wrestling match in their lives anyway and so this was a totally fresh and new finish for all of them!)  Madusa’s surgically enhanced funbags were seriously messing with her workrate by then. They had a way better match at Summerslam 94. Madusa does a job of smashing up the bike with a sledgehammer that would make HHH hang his head in shame. Dean Malenko v. Chris Benoit. Mmmmm…Liz in leather. Deano Machino has been paid off by the Dungeon of Dumb at this point, with the goal being to take Benoit out. (God, I sound like Jericho at his worst.) Benoit takes him down and pounds him, Dean responds in kind. Chris gets some CANADIAN VIOLENCE, and a kneelift. Dean elbows back and pounds him in the corner. Suplex gets two. Standing neckbreaker and elbow gets two, and we hit the chinlock. Benoit pounds him and lays the badmouth on him, then chokes him out. Legdrop gets one. More Canadian Violence, and a back elbow gets two. Dean bridges out and they go into a mind-blowingly awesome pinfall reversal sequence that totally goes over the redneck biker crowd’s head. It ends with Dean getting a short-arm scissor. Chris rolls him over and powers out. Elbowdrop gets two. Snap suplex gets two. Benoit goes into an abdominal stretch, then hits the chinlock. Both go for a bodypress and collide in mid-air. Benoit misses a blind charge, but Dean walks into a snap suplex to set up Benoit’s diving headbutt for two. Tombstone attempt is reversed by Dean for two. He keeps covering for two. Cloverleaf attempt is reversed for two by Benoit. Both guys hit the floor, and Benoit gets the worst of it. Back in, Dean goes up and gets crotched. Benoit superplex gets two. Dean gets a vicious release german suplex, where you can almost see Benoit floating in slow motion before hitting the mat square on his neck. Now THAT’S wrestling. Crowd doesn’t care, but fuck ‘em if they can’t appreciate art. Benoit comes back with a small package for two. Short clothesline gets two, and Dean responds in kind for two. Overhead belly to belly gets two for Dean, and Chris comes back with a Northern Lights suplex for two. Bridging german suplex gets two for Benoit. He goes into a Liontamer, but Dean makes the ropes and bails. Benoit follows with a pescado, and gets a bridging rollup back in for two. Dean gets a forward rollup for two. Backslide battle is won by Malenko, for two. Rollup gets two. Benoit takes him down for two. Powerbomb gets two. Benoit goes up but gets superplexed for two. Oklahoma roll gets two for Dean. Powerbomb gets two for Dean as the time limit expires at 20:00. So we go another 5:00, and the crowd BOOS. Hey, FUCKWADS, it’s Benoit v. Malenko, so sit on your bikes and LIKE IT. Benoit gets a backdrop suplex for two. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker gets two. Benoit uses a Cloverleaf, but Malenko makes the ropes. Enzuigiri puts Benoit down and they collide in the corner. Benoit stomps on the knee and hooks a kneebar. He destroys the knee and goes back to the kneebar with 30 seconds left. Dean gets a rollup as time expires. Another overtime prompts a bigger round of boos from the idiot rednecks. Any other city in America or Canada and the crowd would going batshit for this, and these morons are booing because they want to see Hulk Hogan. And WCW actually came back here THREE MORE YEARS after this. Dean gets a legwhip, but Benoit hits a dragon suplex for two. Rollup gets two. Dropkick misses and Dean gets his own Cloverleaf. Benoit goes for the ropes, but Dean stops him with an STF. Woman runs interference, however, and Benoit gets a rollup for the pin at 28:10. God-awful ending to a fabulous match. ****1/2 And a hearty “fuck you” to the ignorant crowd. (There was a whole debate that was triggered by this rant, actually, with people on the opposite, which is to say wrong, side arguing that the match wasn’t actually any good because if it WAS good, then the idiot bikers in the crowd would have gotten into it or something.) WCW World tag title match: Harlem Heat v. The Steiner Brothers. Speaking of the crowd’s intellectual deficiency, racial harmony is set back 50 years here as they immediately boo Harlem Heat out of the building for being black and hurl various insults at them. God bless South Dakota, y’all should be so proud. (Is South Dakota really even in the South?  Or is it like a Sons of Anarchy thing where the clubs don’t discriminate against color as long as your color isn’t black?)  Mega-stall to start, literally lasting 4 minutes. Scott gets a butterfly powerbomb on Booker T, and the Heat retreats. Back in, Booker misses the sidekick and gets press-slammed. Heat regroups again. Stevie Ray gives it a go and gets the upper hand. Scott t-bones him and Rick comes in to kick away and hit the chinlock. Blind charge hits boot, but Rick no-sells and gets a Steinerline for two. Scott comes in and headbutts Stevie low, and Booker sideslams him in retaliation. Blind charge hits Scott’s boot, however, and he gets the belly-to-belly for two. Rick suplexes him for two. Cheapshot from the apron and Rick is YOUR dogface-in-peril. He catches Booker with a slam, and briefly tags in Scott, but he comes back in and gets dumped. Back in, Stevie goes to the chinlock. As does Booker. Stevie gets a backbreaker and a suplex gets two. He utilizes the dreaded VULCAN NERVE PINCH OF DOOM, but Booker misses an elbow, hot tag Scott. Overhead belly-to-belly gets two on Booker, but Robert Parker tosses powder at them and hits Booker by mistake. Sherri tosses more powder and hits Scott, however, and Parker breaks the cane over his head for the Booker pin at 17:53. Just a WEE bit screwy on the ending there. Match was the usual snoozefest from these two. ** Crowd was REALLY pissed at the finish. (Yeah, in retrospect they should have just pulled the Heat from the card completely.)  US title match: Ric Flair v. Eddy Guerrero. Eddy grabs a headlock and shoves Flair around, prompting an argument with the ref. Flair bails for a while and consults with the dev’lish wom’n (© Dusty Rhodes) and stalls. Back in, Eddy works another headlock, but gets dropped on his shoulder with a suplex. They exchange chops and Flair runs again. Back in, Eddy goes back to the headlock. Slugfest, won by Guerrero. Flair goes to the eyes and unloads with a chop. Some cheapshots put him down, and Flair lays in the chops. Eddy comes back and Flair does the Flair Flip and gets dropkicked out. Back in, backdrop and Eddy dumps him. Back in again, Eddy’s chops lead to the Flair Flop. Eddy is getting a pretty exceptional amount of offense in here. Flair goes low, but Eddy gets a crossbody for two. He goes up for a sunset flip, but Flair fights him off and escapes. Eddy goes to a figure-four, but Flair makes the ropes. A rana gets two. Tornado DDT gets two. Blind charge misses and Flair goes up, and of course gets slammed for two. Sunset flip gets two. Eddy goes to the eyes, and hits the Frog splash. He hurts his knee, however, and can’t cover. Uh oh…and indeed Flair hooks the figure-four dead centre and gets the pin at 14:16. Rather odd to see Guerrero completely dominate the match like that, but it worked well. ***1/4  (Flair did a LOT to try and get Guerrero over, actually.)  The Outsiders v. Sting & Lex Luger. (I maintain to my dying day that it was a total waste to switch the tag titles off the Super Best Buddies beforehand and not have this be for the belts.  Waiting until October to switch them to the Outsiders was a complete waste of time and they were clearly the top team in the promotion at this point, bar none.)  The Outsiders play rock-paper-scissors for first man in, and Hall wins to start. He works on Luger’s arm, then stalls. Luger comes back with a kneelift and slam, and more stalling follows. Nash wants Sting, NOW. More stalling results. Nash blocks a slam, but Sting beats on him and finishes the move. Nash hits Snake Eyes, however, and Hall nails him to take over. Standard Outsider stuff as Sting is YOUR Christian-in-peril. Fun fact: Everyone in this match is now unemployed. (Ironically, a few months after I wrote that, the Outsiders got jobs in WWE again.)  Hall’s fallaway slam gets two. Running clothesline and Nash comes in with the LEGLIFT OF DEATH. Sting fights back but gets avalanched. Sting falls on Nash’s crotch, however, and…Hall cuts off the hot tag. Nash gets the big boot and Hall wants the Outsider Edge. Sting escapes, hot tag Luger. Stinger splash for Nash and they fight outside, and Luger racks Hall. Nick Patrick gets bumped, however, and “accidentally” falls onto Luger’s knee, giving Hall the pin at 14:37 of boredom. This began the epic Evil Nick Patrick storyline. ¾* WCW World title match: The Giant v. Hollywood Hulk Hogan. (Fun fact!  Sean Waltman was supposed to be the fourth man and was at this show ready to debut in this match, but the WWF deliberately “lost” his release in the mail to screw with WCW, and left him hanging out to dry.  Bischoff was gun-shy about messing with Titan’s legal team at this point, so Ted Dibiase had to be introduced as the fourth man instead a week later.)   Hogan stalls to start. No, really, I’m as shocked as you. (This was a real uphill battle for him as a heel because the biker crowd was all cheering him anyway)  He slugs away, gets nowhere, and runs. Apparently the crowd is a few months behind the storyline, because Hogan is a HUGE babyface here. Back in, and he runs again. Back in, he runs again. Back in, and a lengthy discussion about hair-pulling follows. Hogan keeps begging off, until a test of strength that feels like it takes two years to complete, which is won by the Giant, of course. Giant goes to a wristlock, but Hogan takes him down and gets his own. And THAT takes forever. This is like watching Jerry Lawler in the late stages of his career. Giant gets some headbutts, Hogan runs. Giant follows and posts him, and back in he gets a big boot and backbreaker for two. Big elbow misses, but he hulks up (in an act he would resurrect 4 years later for the Showster). Big foot! Scott Hall comes in and it’s AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH THECHOKESLAM! Same for Kevin Nash! Hogan nails him with the belt, however, to win it at 14:55. This was supposed to be one of those “Sgt. Slaughter beating Ultimate Warrior groan of disappointment” moments, but it got the biggest babyface pop of the night. Match was about as painfully horrible as you’d expect. -*** Hogan’s lapdog Ed Leslie brings out a birthday cake to suck up to the nWo, but Hogan turns on him (before bringing him back two years later as the Disciple, oddly enough) and does the famous spraypaint job on the title belt, end of show. By the way, the 1996 Best Actor award should have gone to Paul Wight for laying there and playing dead while Hogan and the nWo enacted their little soap opera for 10 minutes after the match. Never mind that he’d be legally braindead with that kind of injury in real life, you have to admire the conviction required to lay motionless without bursting into tears of laughter every time Hogan tried to give a serious heel interview. The Bottom Line: Well, I don’t think anyone could argue that they shouldn’t have put the title on Hogan, I just wish they had a better transitional champion than the Giant. The whole thing would have worked out better in the long run if Sting had been the guy to pass the belt along, but hindsight is 20/20 and all that. Some good stuff in the undercard from the vanilla midgets and a historic main event make this one an easy choice, but dear god that crowd is a mass of stupidity that nearly kills the show at points. Recommended show.  (Errrrrrrrrrrr…I don’t know about that.  It’s certainly a unique visual, but I really HATE the dynamic with the bikers and the dirt under the ring and all that.  It’s really not much more than a thumbs in the middle for me when I think about it now.) 

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–08.05.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 08.05.96 Live from Orlando, FL. I thought they were done with this? It was a nice change of pace, but it’s been five weeks now. Your hosts are Tony & Larry WCW World tag team titles: Harlem Heat vs. The Rock N Roll Express So tonight Scott Norton, Big Bubba, Meng and Barbarian will be acting as ringside security in case the nWo decides to attack again. But what if DX drives a tank up to the show? They’ll be HELPLESS! So I feel like this is gonna be a weird style clash. So the first 2:00 or so is stalling, and we take a break and return with the RNR getting a brief advantage on Stevie Ray before Morton gets caught in the corner and double-teamed. Stevie with a press slam and elbow for two. Stevie goes to the chinlock while Booker gets distracted by Sherri and Parker doing their weird act at ringside. Clearly everyone is just dying from the humidity out there. Finally Morton gets the hot tag to Gibson (which Tony actually calls as such!) and they hit Booker with the double dropkick for two, but Sherri distracts Robert Gibson, allowing Booker to recover and pin him after a big boot from Stevie at 10:43. Yeah, this was no good. 1/2* The Nasty Boys clarify that they stand where they’ve always stood: Right here in Nastyville. Good to know. Malia Hosaka vs. Madusa Madusa sweeps the leg and gets a sunset flip for two, but Hosaka uses the hair to take over. She gets a TERRIBLE figure-four, but Madusa fights back with a powerbomb for two. Superplex and she goes after Sonny Onoo, allowing Hosaka to get a cheap pin with Onoo holding the legs at 4:50. This led to absolutely nothing. * Alex Wright vs. Chris Benoit Benoit beats on Wright in the corner until the ref pulls him off, so Wright fires back and gets a dropkick to send Benoit out of the ring. Back in, they trade headlocks and Wright gets a pair of flying headscissors, but misses a blind charge in dramatic fashion. Benoit takes over with a back elbow for two and a backdrop suplex for two. Benoit chokes him out and drops him on the top rope for two. Wright with a rollup for two, but Benoit puts him down with a snap suplex for two. Abdominal stretch, but Wright escapes with a hiptoss, so Benoit rides him down and goes to a camel clutch. Larry is a big fan of the suffering involved here. And then Jimmy Hart comes out to rant at the women, and Dean Malenko wants to haul Woman to the back, so Benoit attacks and gets counted out at 8:24. What a lame finish. Match was OK. ** Randy Savage vs. Lord Steven Regal They trade armbars to start and Savage quickly snaps and chokes Regal down in the corner, but he gets tossed as Tony makes the shocking announcement that Eric and Bobby are in fact not here. So it’s still Tony and Larry for a second hour. So now Luger and Sting joins us at ringside and take a seat in the mysterious vacant front row chairs while Savage takes over and slugs Regal down. They brawl outside and Savage runs him into the chairs, and back in to finish with the flying elbow at 6:15. Nothing match that was basically a squash for Savage, which is a shame because this could have been awesome. *1/2 Speaking of Savage, one of the most hilarious real life running gags in WCW history begins this week in the Observer: “Add Lanny Poffo to the list who are under contract, although there are no plans of using him. Must be nice to be a nephew or brother to a top wrestler in WCW.” Poffo would of course remain under contract for the next FOUR YEARS without ever being used once. Also, they spend this entire show hyping up the main event for next week, which will be Randy Savage challenging the winner of the World title match at Hog Wild. And of course, Randy Savage does not wrestle the winner of the World title match on next week’s show, he wrestles Ric Flair. That kind of stuff drives me nuts. Meanwhile, Sting and Luger investigate the mysterious nWo limo, and they find a wreath saying “Condolences on the death of WCW” in the back. According to Meltzer, that was a rib on Jim Cornette, who actually sent one of those for real to Jim Herd years before. They cut a promo with Savage in the ring and boot the wreath. This show has not exactly been a game-changer like last week’s. Ric Flair vs. The Booty Man Flair attacks Booty and beats on him outside, then back in for a blatant low blow. And now Bobby Heenan joins us at ringside while Booty Man makes a comeback, and he claims that Bischoff is still missing. Flair goes to finish with the figure-four at 3:00 and then Horsemen come in and lay a beatdown on him for good measure, so I guess it’s a DQ or something. DUD That’s pretty much it for the Booty Man character, in fact, as I believe his last appearance was getting punked out by Hogan at Hog Wild. The Following Announcement Has Been Paid For By The New World Order The Outsiders and Hogan make fun of Lex Luger and rant about the Giant until suddenly the tape is cut off in the control room. Sting and Luger bully the poor tech geeks and censor the nWo’s right to free speech! FASCISM! Tony’s assessment of the situation: “In defense of Craig Leathers, it WAS a paid announcement from the nWo, but Sting has a good point, throw ’em off the air!” Uh…touche? The Giant vs. Craig Pittman Giant clubs Pittman around and chokes away in the corner, but Pittman throws headbutts to the gut before Giant chokeslams him like a piece of garbage at 2:30. Your Tony line of the night: Craig Pittman is apparently “one of the greatest amateur wrestlers of all time”. Just…no. Poor Teddy Long gets chokeslammed afterwards! I hope Hogan beats that big bully now. Giant cuts a really good promo afterwards, which is still kind of mind-blowing since he was less than a year into the sport at this point. Sting & Lex Luger vs. The Nasty Boys This show is so long that it feels like Glacier will be here before it’s over. No, that’s a ridiculous exaggeration, nothing could be longer than the wait for Glacier to debut. Luger quickly cleans house on the Nasties and Sting bulldogs Knobs for two, but he quickly gets caught in the corner and double-teamed. Sting gets worked over in a lengthy heat segment, but makes the hot tag to Luger and it’s BONZO GONZO, leading to a brawl on the floor that quickly involves the Steiners. Sting finishes Sags with the Deathlock at 7:04. *1/2 Sting and Luger head down to a second nWo limo and check inside, but someone slams the door and leaves him with a note promising four or even five people. Kind of cool because the Network kept things going after the end of the show and gave us the extra footage of Sting reading the note. The Pulse Definitely gotta give the win to RAW this week, as Nitro was a meandering show with no good matches and no real developments.

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–08.05.96

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 08.05.96 Taped from Seattle, WA Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jim Ross Jerry Lawler vs. Aldo Montoya Aldo is now Jake Roberts’ protege, having learned the DDT and beaten Jerry Lawler on Superstars. The gag here is that Lawler does commentary while wrestling, then attacks Aldo after offering him the microphone. Montoya with a dropkick out of the corner, but Lawler hides behind the ref to escape the DDT. Aldo slugs away in the corner, but somehow walks into a piledriver that gets two. Another one finishes at 2:30. Not horrible for a Lawler match. ** Lawler pours a bottle of “whiskey” down his throat, which of course would have been iced tea. “He doesn’t even drink!” Vince declares in horror. Well that just makes him boring. The New Rockers vs. The Bodydonnas Some guy in the front has an “I’m Glacier” sign, which is some pretty awesome snark. The Rockers attack Zip on the way to the ring and double-team him to control, which has crack color man Hillbilly Jim declaring it a donnybrook! Hey, that’s my deal. The Donnas do some stuff and it’s so boring that they cut away to a promo from Faarooq and Sunny. Ron Simmons without a goatee is just weird. So unfortunately back to the match as Zip fights off the Rockers and Jim babbles like a moron. Every day they’re scufflin’, apparently. So more stuff happens that I don’t care about and Skip gets a flying splash on Marty for two, but Leif clotheslines him on the top rope and I guess this would be the heat segment if the Bodydonnas had any heat. God, watching the lawn dart Nitro from the week previous with cutting edge angles and editing, and then watching this bad 80s bullcrap pretty much highlights why Nitro was destroying them. And this boring match keeps going, so we cut to Gorilla Monsoon reinstating Crush in an inset promo. The Rockers cut off the tag and JESUS FUCK WE TAKE A BREAK. Back with Skip making the comeback with a top rope rana and then the Smoking Gunns run in for the DQ at 11:18. Vince promises that this is exactly what we can expect to see at Summerslam. What, a boring match between heatless teams that ends with a shit finish? Actually, I think that WAS what we saw, come to think of it. *1/2 Shawn Michaels sits down with Kevin Kelly and promises that he’s just a regular guy, like all of us! Except you know, he’s a wrestler and WWF World champion. Also, he could be beaten on any given night. Well, as long you don’t TELL him in advance that he’s dropping the title, because he’ll develop a knee injury or fail a drug test or something. Given what we know about him at this point, this really makes him come off as an insufferable douchebag. Quick note: In the WON for that week, Meltzer runs down the scheduled card for Mindgames: “Current line-up for the 9/22 IYH PPV from Philadelphia is Cornette & Vader vs. Michaels & Lothario, Owen & Bulldog vs. Sid & ? (scheduled as Johnson but that could change), Gunns vs. Godwinns for tag titles (which also may change), Vega vs. Asad, Mankind vs. Mero and Undertaker vs. Goldust. “ Literally none of those matches happened. Talk about plans changing. Invitational Battle Royale: So was this taped earlier in the show before Ahmed’s kidney injury? Because holy crap that would suck for him if not. We’ve got Undertaker, Mankind, Sid, Bulldog, Bradshaw, Owen Hart, Steve Austin, Goldust, Marc Mero and Savio Vega. Taker and Mankind immediately eliminate themselves and Sid tosses the Bulldog and then it settles into the usual kicking and punching. Owen skins the cat to save himself, but Mero clotheslines him out and we take a break. We return with Goldust backdropping Mero to the floor, and then Savio eliminates himself on his own corner kick. So our final four is Austin, Sid, Goldust and Ahmed, while Undertaker brawls with Mankind through the crowd off and on. The Austin-Goldust heel duo double-teams Ahmed and tries to get Sid out, with no success. Ahmed and Goldust practically have a meeting right on camera and we take a break with Undertaker still brawling with Mankind. Back with Sid powerbombing Goldust and then Austin. And then we cut to the back for more UT-Mankind shenanigans. This is a really weird battle royale because they did a bunch of eliminations in rapid-fire manner and then it’s been the same four guys for like 10 minutes. Finally Owen and Bulldog distract Sid and allow him to be eliminated. Goldust turns on Austin, but Steve goes low on him and they slug it out. Ahmed and Goldust briefly team up to put Austin out, but Goldust gets a piledriver and we take a THIRD break. Back with Ahmed holding a bodyscissors, but Goldust fights up and they collide, resulting in Goldust falling to the floor at 23:45. Ahmed was just over like crazy here and I guess you’d call this the peak of his career because he was never at the same kind of level again. Theoretically this earned Ahmed a shot at Shawn Michaels on the 8/19 RAW following Summerslam, but of course that didn’t happen due to his injury, and Dave seemed to hint that they were going to do a bait-and-switch anyway to get out of it. The Pulse I was pretty bored by this show, but that Nitro was a tough act to follow so I could be biased.