It’s all about the Souled Out fallout tonight! Somehow, on the show where they completely dictated the pace, the rules, and the story, the nWo managed to lose two of the three belts they were holding hostage, AND Eric Bischoff dropped off the last of his dignity somewhere between the dentures of a 78-year old road warrior. She was a different kind of Animal than the ones you folks immediately pictured.
Through the hazy fog of regret we all felt on Saturday Night’s pay-per-view, is WCW actually rallying against the invasion, or was it a fluke? Well, considering this show is being called nWo Monday Nitro, with the announce team made up of ERIC BISCHOFF and THE OUTSIDERS, I’d say we’re not on the right track.
The end of the tag-team title match is replayed, with a WCW referee counting the pinfall on the Outsiders. Bischoff calls it the greatest injustice in wrestling history, and orders RANDY ANDERSON to come to the announce table. Hall is ready to kick his ass, but Bischoff has to (repeatedly) ask him to calm down and let him handle it. Anderson explains he was there because a WCW promoter gave him a ticket to the show, that’s all. He didn’t pay for it, it was a gift. Bischoff takes him through the company’s policy on payola (uh oh), and after talking about his fight with testicular cancer throughout 1996, fires him. The Outsiders laugh in his face, and honestly, Anderson should be THRILLED about this. He was fired, on national television (so the whole thing was recorded), in front of a number of his peers who were instructed to laugh at him on his way out. That’s like hitting the LOTTERY!
An aside, Mike Mooneyham has an excellent article detailing Anderson’s battle (and victory) over cancer in 1996, which you can read about here. Sadly, it came back and Anderson passed away in 2002.
So, back to the unreal world, THE STEINER BROTHERS are called out next. Bischoff makes it easy, they’re to leave the belts behind, lest they want to be terminated for breach of contract. Rick throws one of them at the group of them, and tosses the other one on the floor. Bischoff shrugs and tells them to leave the belt where it is, and not to bother picking up a paycheque for the next 6 months due to the fine they’ve just been levied. More prospective workplace lawsuits! I want to work THERE, I’d be retired by now!
THE STEINER BROTHERS vs. THE FACES OF FEAR
Oh hell YES! The Fear march to the ring with all the confidence in the world, looking cool and focused on whooping some ass. These might be the only guys in the world who aren’t intimidated by a roided pissed off Scott Steiner. Lo and behold, they go right to clubberin’. The Steiners fight them off and clear the ring, but that doesn’t last long. Barbarian starts working over Scott Steiner, but Scotty hits a belly to belly for 2. Meng tags in and no sells every shot from Rick. Bischoff introduces new referee SCOTT DICKENSON who we have seen plenty of times on the B-shows, but this is likely his Nitro debut. Hall: “Isn’t he the Time To Make The Donuts guy?” An atomic drop stops Rick, and Meng backdrops him into the awaiting arms of Meng who powerbombs him for 2. Sitting in the crowd are HARLEM HEAT and SISTA SHERRI, looking on. Barbarian suplexes Rick, and Meng dives off the top dropping an elbow on him which he CLEARLY wasn’t expecting because he was sitting up and seemed jolted by the shot. A powerslam from Barbarian gets 2. Off to my favorite spot – the double swandives, and Scott is forced to save at 2. Hall: “Is it just me, or does Robbie always get beat up? Is he the weak link?” Yes, Robbie. Professionalism at its finest. Rick hits a backdrop suplex to stop the assault and tags in Scott to a huge pop. A butterfly suplex on Meng gets 2, and everything breaks down. Meng is left alone with Scott, but trips over him by mistake on his way to the corner. Scotty hits a belly to belly overhead, and scores the upset at 5:56. I assume this cements them as remaining the #1 contenders. **
Back from a break, TONY SCHIAVONE and LARRY ZBYSZKO have taken back over their posts, and welcome us to Des Moines, Iowa. Tony’s sporting a lovely royal blue sweatshirt that just screams “the airline lost my luggage”. Larry belches his first New World Odor; but certainly not his last.
ROADBLOCK vs. THE GIANT
Having turned his back on all his allies, Giant is left without any music, though he DOES return to his vomit-green lights. Roadblock kicks Giant in the face and goes for the slam, this man means business!!! End it early! Unfortunately, it’s Giant who slams him instead, but Roadblock pops up! Giant throws a DROPKICK – holy shit!!!! Roadblock flies over the top THROUGH a ringside table (“OUR SECONDARY BROADCAST TABLE!!!” invents Tony), and Giant brings him back in for the Chokeslam and the pin at 1:49. DUD
Giant grabs a microphone, and points out that he’s still alive, in case we weren’t sure. He wants Hogan tonight, and accentuates it by producing a large volume of drool throughout the interview.
JEFF JARRETT vs. EDDIE GUERRERO (for the WCW United States heavyweight title)
Jarrett’s never-ending push continues! I don’t feel good about this one. Jeff goes for a monkey flip, but Eddie lands on his feet and dropkicks the challenger for 2. A swinging neckbreaker from Jarrett changes momentum for a second, but Eddie fires back with a sunset flip and small package for 2. A double shoulderblock spot takes them both down, but Eddie comes out ahead with a rana off the recovery. Atomic drop is followed by a European uppercut, and a brainbuster sets up the finish! Jarrett recovers before the Frog Splash goes off, and cuts Guerrero off with a superplex! THE MCMICHAELS come down to ringside; though Debra seems to be forcing Mongo more than anything. She demands he knock out Eddie, so Mongo complies and whacks Jarrett over the head with the briefcase instead, drawing the DQ at 4:35. Debra, looking for the silver lining, raises Jarrett’s hand as he’s announced the winner by disqualification, but Mongo ain’t having THAT and drags her sorry ass back to the locker room. Larry: “That’s why you should keep them in the kitchen! A man can only take so much!” *
Back to the announce booth, and Tony has a HUGE moment of bravado: He has pulled a few strings, and managed to secure the confiscated tape from Starrcade which PROVES Hogan was knocked out by the Sleeper. However, after the second time the arm is checked, the screen distorts. Tony: “CAN ANYONE TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED?!?” Dude, you were THERE when it happened. We believe you!
ERIC BISCHOFF storms the announce table with the tape in hand, and tells Tony that he is not to ever pull a stunt like that again. Then he rips the ribbon out! DASTARDLY!
BILLY PEARL vs. ULTIMO DRAGON (with Sonny Onoo)
This is Billy Pearl’s WCW debut, and he basically looks like the real world equivalent of Joe Dirt, with Sheamus’ complexion. Pearl kicks the former champ in the face, shocking Japan’s greatest export. Big mistake, Billy. The kicks start in, and Pearl’s gonna bruise like a peach with that skin. A handspring back elbow misses, and Pearl heads up. A crossbody block is stopped with a dropkick to the ribs, and Dragon follows with a fallaway slam. Moonsault sets up the Dragon suplex, and a winner is you at 2:44. *1/2
THE FOUR HORSEMEN are called out by “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND, and the whole band is back together. Flair celebrates being in Iowa (really?), and gives Benoit and Woman the thumbs up for finding love. He announces they’ve solved all the internal fighting, and are back. Arn sends a message directly to Jarrett – which is Mongo just made it loud and clear where he stands, so piss off. Benoit, meanwhile reminds Sullivan he has nothing left to take now, so he’d best drop it … or else. You know what would be great? If they stopped focusing on all the pettiness and turned their attention to the group of guys trying to ruin the company they collect their paycheques from?
RON POWERS vs. LEX LUGER
I’m really loving the 1980’s Hogan-style redux of Luger, who might be without a solid storyline right now, but remains the top babyface going because he’s still sent to the ring to destroy big ugly jobbers week after week. Luger hits an awful hiptoss, which I guess insults Powers because a shoving match ensues. Powers jams his thumb in Luger’s eye, which he no sells and Racks the big man for the win at 1:14. DUD
“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND slides into the ring with the grace of an alleycat, and wants to talk to Luger about The Giant. Lex figures that the nWo has a “big” problem with The Giant, and urges WCW to start trusting people. He says yes, The Giant burned them before, but they need him desperately to help them stop the nWo, because he’s absolutely sick of them and wants them out. Lex, I hear ya buddy, but you’re about the only one who seems to care anymore.
With the second hour kicking off, MIKE TENAY and “SOBER” BOBBY HEENAN join the announce table with Tony. Both guys are wearing sports coats, because at least SOME people take their jobs seriously.
THE AMAZING FRENCH CANADIANS (with Colonel Robert Parker) vs. ARN ANDERSON and MONGO MCMICHAEL (with Debra McMichael)
You know, if Rougeau played nice once in awhile, the fans might not boo all over their national anthem. “Hillbillies” isn’t exactly going to endear them to the Iowa hillbillies. The results of this one shouldn’t be in doubt, unless Jarrett plans on handing Mongo a receipt. The Canadians manage to distract the referee with a cheap shot on Mongo, and Ouellette takes Arn to the floor for a double team assault with the Colonel. Back in, Anderson has elbows to the face for everyone, but they stop that quickly and stomp the Enforcer down. Rougeau slams his buddy onto the prone Anderson, but he stops to pose and Arn fights back. Ouellette comes in and picks up steam before hitting a hard clothesline, and a double team Stun Gun has Arn winded. He throws a wild right, but Ouellette ducks and hits an atomic drop. Anderson stumbles forward, and falls backwards, knocking noggins with Carl, and he finally has enough time to tag in Mongo to a HUGE reception. A 3 point stance on Rougeau and backdrop on Ouellette have the heels reeling. Rougeau takes a gorilla press slam right into Ouellette, but the Colonel has enough and tosses the flag to Ouellette. The referee spies it immediately and forces it out, while Mongo calmly picks up his Haliburton and smacks it over Rougeau for the easy win at 4:26. You know, Mongo is generally regarded as one of the worst wrestlers of all time, but he has a certain charisma and draws heat (both good and bad) everywhere he goes. In wrestling, that’s all you can ask for, so Mongo’s here to play whether we like it or not. *
That last match was fairly significant, and I guarantee most of you have absolutely no idea why. I’ll save it for the end when we wrap this baby up, and give you a little time to mull over why an innocuous tag-team match might have been historically important.
THE OUTSIDERS (with Syxx) vs. THE EXTREME (for the WCW world tag-team titles)
The Extreme are The Extremists, who we just saw on Saturday Night. Devon Storm looks positively giddy at getting a tag-team title shot, earned because WCW advertised a tag-team title match tonight, and dammit, Bischoff never lets the fans down. This is basically your “legitimate” equivalent to an nWo Saturday Night segment. Darling tries a crossbody, landing right in the arms of Scott Hall who hits a fallaway slam. Hall drags him to the corner to force a tag to Devon Storm, and turns things over to his buddy who punches Devon in the face. Hall sits perched in the corner, bored, so Nash brings him back into the mix, allowing him to hit the Outsiders Edge on Storm for the pin at 1:59.
JOE GOMEZ vs. KEVIN SULLIVAN (with Jimmy Hart)
Looks like Kevin isn’t heeding the advice of young Chris Benoit, and goes right back to his usual Saturday Night routine, finishing with the Double Stomp at 0:43. NEXT.
HOLLYWOOD HOGAN comes strutting to the ring, with his belt, his ERIC BISCHOFF, and his MISS ELIZABETH. Or not, Liz turns around and heads right back to the locker room, I imagine having had more than enough of these clowns. Bischoff gloats about Hogan’s glorious win over The Giant on Saturday, making up a fantasy scenario of what occurred. I do like that he doesn’t embellish Hogan’s moveset, telling us we saw 5 hiptosses, and 2 arm drags, and a fireman’s carry. Well, the fireman’s carry might be giving him far too much credit, but the rest is spot on. STING and RANDY SAVAGE appear in the crowd together while Hogan carries on about his greatness, but Bischoff spies them. Hogan thinks Savage might be the missing link the nWo needs, and Bischoff agrees they might be in a position to talk. Both guys just stare silently.
JERRY FLYNN vs. DEAN MALENKO (in a non-title match)
Good to see the new Cruiserweight champion take his role seriously, wrestling 280 pound hairy karate professionals. Dean throws him with an overhead belly to belly that almost drops Jerry on his cranium, but he manages to roll at the last second for 2. Malenko goes to work on the leg, while Flynn shows off his greatest skill; grunting. He escapes and throws some awful “rapid fire” punches in the corner, lifted directly from Mortal Kombat, except Malenko doesn’t sell a single one of them. Flynn misses a blind charge to the corner about 3 seconds AFTER Malenko had moved, but kicks Malenko in the face on his way off the top which was so telegraphed I’m shocked the guys in catering didn’t start screaming at him to move. Malenko’s had enough and applies the Cloverleaf for the win at 2:36. Welcome to the show, Jerry Flynn. -**
Tony tells us that “we’re sick of hearing about Hulk Hogan”. WHOSE FAULT IS THAT?!? You’re the ANNOUNCER! As they discuss tonight’s main event, where we’ll see Hogan and the Giant one more time, a CLUMSY OLD POLICE OFFICER has a letter for Tony. Tony opens it, expecting to be fired, but pops out of his chair immediately and grabs a house mic. His pants are a khaki-style, and far too tight, so I am starting to actually believe he DID lose his luggage because nobody could be dressing this bad on purpose, right?
The letter comes directly from the Executive Committee, and they’ve decided that Hogan has to defend his title at Superbrawl, and that the title shot will go to Roddy Piper. Mike Tenay snatches the letter away to look it over, wearing his Excited Face. Tenay, as we’d find in the coming years, is the #1 cheerleader for the Executive Committee.
HUGH MORRUS vs. CHRIS BENOIT (with Woman)
Woman rolls her eyes at Hugh Morrus, but she best not take him lightly, he’s absolutely dominated the B-Shows for months now. Benoit, however, isn’t a jobber, and he works over Morrus in the corner to a loud pop. Morrus comes back with a clothesline to the back of the head, and promptly drops Chris with a military press slam. Benoit fires back with some hard chops and gets 2. Morrus powerslams the smaller man, and heads up for No Laughing Matter (which Tony calls The Last Laugh), but Benoit rolls out of the way. Suddenly, SOME WOMAN jumps out of the crowd, while Benoit hits the swandive on Morrus. DOUG DILLINGER hauls her out of there, but KEVIN SULLIVAN slides in and smacks him with a chair in the distraction. Morrus follows with No Laughing Matter for the win at 3:08. 1/2*
Sullivan walks off with the Woman, and “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND stops him to ask who she is. “None of your business.” Gene demands to know who she is. Sullivan: “We know each other.” How well? “That was in the past.” JIMMY HART is here too, and tells Sullivan that women are nothing but trouble – just look at the Horsemen. The woman has enough, and screams “TROUBLE? TROUBLE? Kevin, I tried to stay away, but when Nancy hit you over the head with that chair, that was it. That was IT! 10 years ago, you made a decision and that was a big mistake. Baby, I would never do you like that.” Gene asks her name, but she refuses to answer. She’s offended that she’s even being compared to Debra or Woman; and the only reason they wear long dresses is to cover up their chicken legs. She offers Sullivan all the comfort he needs, which he doesn’t immediately reject, and the trio head to the back. And for those not in the know, the woman in question is Jeff Jarrett’s former manager Wynonna, who you will come to know better as Jacqueline.
HOLLYWOOD HOGAN, ERIC BISCHOFF, VINCENT, and TED DIBIASE storm the ring, pissed off about the Piper match at Superbrawl because “nobody tells Hollywood what to do!” Hogan tells them to send out both the Giant and Piper at the same time, he’ll dispatch of them both in one night if he has to.
HOLLYWOOD HOGAN vs. THE GIANT (in a non-title match)
Vincent refuses to leave the ring, and helps Hogan double team the Giant. He easily shoves both guys off, and tosses Vincent aside like a Fondle Me Elmo. Giant chops him in the corner, and Hogan screams for the lord to save him. Hogan rakes the eyes to stop the assault and whips Giant in the corner, following with a clothesline. Giant barely sells, and gives Hogan a knife edge to the lungs. A backbreaker gets 2, because Vincent puts Hogan’s leg on the rope. Giant happily hauls Vince back in the ring to play, and dunks him over the top in seconds. Back to Hogan, Giant goes for a chokeslam, but Bischoff comes in to stop him. Giant grabs HIM now, but that draws in THE OUTSIDERS for the DQ at 2:57. DUD
As the attack continues, WCW finally sends in the guy we’ve all been waiting for in LEX LUGER. But … he stands in the middle of both camps, and everyone’s uneasy now because they’ve possibly acquired him now. But nope – he takes the side of Giant, turns towards The Outsiders and … WE ARE OUT OF TIME! Another non-finish in a never-ending series of them!
So back to my little trivia piece above; little did we know it, but we just saw the last in-ring appearance of Arn Anderson. Anderson had been privately dealing with numbness for some time, to the point he woke up one morning unable to move. He was in serious crippling injury in this match, but fought his way through it because that’s what he does.
Determined to resolve the problem, Arn would get surgery on his neck a couple of months later, but it was too late, the damage was done and there was no voodoo that was going to put him back together again. Of course, we’ll watch Anderson’s retirement later on this year – but this was the moment where it truly all came to an end.
A lot of people have fond memories of Anderson’s career, from his killer tag-team in the WWF with Tully Blanchard, to the original run of the Horsemen, to his feud with Flair in the summer and fall of 1995. I just remember him as the steadiest hand in the business for over a decade, the reliable mid-carder you could always hand the TV title to and immediately give it credibility. As he’d tell us later in the year, love him or hate him, he always gave it everything he had when the bell rang. Wrestling needs a lot more Arn Andersons.
Tomorrow, we’ll trudge backwards to Saturday and see what the WWF has been up to. It won’t take much to effectively counter the crappy WCW programming as of late, but they’re still behind in the ratings war and need every solid performance they can get.