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The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–05.27.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 05.27.96

OK, so now that both sides are caught up from the beginning, we can start doing the alternating reviews that I envisioned all along. Until I run out of Nitros again, although current rumor is another dump around June or so.

LIVE from somewhere. Kind of funny that the show which changed wrestling forever wasn’t important enough to warrant a mention of the city.

Hour #1! Hosted by Tony Schiavone and Larry Z. They’re at ringside, which immediately gives the show a different look and feel. Tony is LEAGUES above Bischoff as an announcer at this point, and immediately the show feels more important and sportlike.

The American Males v. Ric Flair & Arn Anderson

Fun fact: My favorite color is teal, and Liz’s dress tonight makes it even more so my favorite color. Riggs overpowers Flair to start, but the Horsemen quickly double-team him on the floor to take over. Another great touch from the classic heels: They specifically make sure NOT to tag, just to be dicks and force the referee to do his job. Bagwell quickly has enough of these shenanigans and it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA as the Males clear the ring. Flair bails and goes for a bottle of champagne from the VIP table (paid for the Macho Man’s money, in case you forgot) to regroup, but Arn accidentally punches the post and Bagwell is in control as we take a break. Back with Bagwell fighting off both Horsemen. His timing and presence were improving by leaps and bounds at this point, actually. Over to Riggs, who quickly gets clipped by AA because he’s not very smart. Arn works on the knee and Flair serves the announcers some champagne in between beating up Riggs. That’s class out the ass. The Horsemen continue flagrantly disregarding the rulebook and working Riggs’ knee, but Scotty comes back with an enzuigiri to put Arn on the floor. Hot tag Bagwell, who gets a missile dropkick on Flair for two and a small package, but Arn rolls him over and Flair gets two. Riggs rolls them over again and Bagwell gets two. Perfectplex on Flair, but Arn comes in and kicks Bagwell in the face to break, and then Woman pokes him in the eye and Arn hits a DDT to finish at 11:46. That was some glorious cheating at the end there. *** Flair is so excited that he dumps champagne all over himself and poor Elizabeth can’t help but crack up at it. Afterwards, Arn lets us know that he has no respect for anyone who wears protective gear, and Flair sings “Afternoon Delight” in tribute of the women. Also, he clarifies that Savage’s money makes Liz his Sugar Mama. I’m impressed that Liz was able to keep it together as good as she could with that maniac cutting a nutty promo.

Meanwhile, Mongo and Kevin Greene lift some weights in preparation for the Horsemen. They’re coming hard all day long! Sure, anything sounds incredibly homoerotic out of context, I guess.

Steve Doll v. The Mauler

That’s right, Colonel Parker is now managing Mike Enos, which must be the earth-shattering thing that changed wrestling. Half of Well Dunn clashing with half of the Beverly Brothers! Mauler beats on Doll and hits a fallaway slam from the top, and they fight to the floor where Mauler runs him into the post. And we take a break. Back with the crowd all distracted by Razor Ramon coming into the ring in his Canadian tuxedo, and we know who he is, but we don’t why he’s here. The match just stops as Hall declares war on Billionaire Ted and “dubya see dubya” and promises to return tonight to issue a challenge to “weatherman wannabe” Eric Bischoff. I can see where Titan’s lawyers would take issue with this, because this was clearly Hall playing the Razor Ramon character and insinuating that he was representing the WWF. This was pretty brilliant as an angle, though, because Hall referenced “Scheme Gene” and “The Nacho Man” and all the “characters” that the WWF themselves used as their cheapshots at WCW, and here’s WCW turning it around and making actual money off it. Meltzer’s take on all this: “However, amidst the attempt at a cure for insomnia was the debut of Hall, done in a manner that is almost certain to be one of the biggest money angles of the year.” Even that ended up being a massive understatement.

Diamond Dallas Page v. Sgt. Craig Pittman

Page and Pittman exchange pushups to start and Pittman overpowers him for two. Pittman has now found his manager in the form of Teddy Long, for those of you who were wondering if that angle ever paid off. Pittman headbutts Page and he bumps to the floor off that, but comes back with a necksnap on the way back in to take over. Pittman quickly takes him down and hooks the armbar, but Page makes the ropes and shoves Long down in the process. Pittman is concerned, and that proves to be his weakness as Page finishes with the Diamond Cutter at 3:00. Fulfilling managerial relationship = loser. Got it. ½*

Meanwhile, The Shark has to cut a serious promo against the Giant while wearing a shark costume with his face painted like a shark. HE’S A SHARK!

Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan is more than just the greatest champion in history! Well that’s a relief.

HOUR #2! The only hour tougher than Chuck Norris.

Your hosts are Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan. Eric is not even going to dignify the previous attempt at an invasion with a response.

WCW World title: The Giant v. The Shark

Am I watching a Syfy original movie now? Shark attacks in the corner and fires away with a jumping double sledge, but Giant no-sells it and slams him. They wander slowly around the ring and Giant runs into a boot in the corner, but Shark goes after Jimmy Hart and gets chokeslammed at 4:00. This brings out Big Bubba, who has been repackaged yet again into a cleaner version of a SAMCRO prospect, and he shaves off half of Shark’s hair. DUD

World TV title: Lex Luger v. Maxx (Muscle)

I’d say that Maxx must be off steroids and has lost his Muscle, but clearly that would be the furthest thing from the truth. Luger is 100% babyface now, finally, and Maxx grabs a headlock and flexes a lot. Luger comes back with clotheslines as Bischoff notes that he’ll have to be careful or Maxx will “eat him up like yesterday’s lunch”. I miss Tony already. Maxx gets a slam for two as you hear Bischoff telling a stage hand off-camera that someone “can wait until the end of the hour” if he wants to talk to him. Oo, nice touch. This boring shitfest continues with Maxx on what you might laughably call offense, reminding me a lot of what Sting and Warrior were like as rookies. Without the potential. Luger comes back with the STAINLESS STEEL FOREARM OF DEATH (which took out Yokozuna, Eric points out) and finishes this goof with the Rack at 5:44. This might have been the worst match I’ve seen in about two months. Maxx literally looked like some guy they found on Venice Beach lifting weights and decided to make into a wrestler. -** Afterwards, Lex points out to Mean Gene that he doesn’t make the matches and didn’t steal DDP’s title shot at the Bash, and also he’s gonna beat the shit out of every big guy WCW has to offer while tuning up for the Giant. Sound strategy.

Hardwork Bobby Walker v. Brad Armstrong

Clearly this show is already desperately in need of the cruiserweights to fill up the running time if this is what we’re putting out there. Bischoff notes that he’s not going to use any names of any interlopers, so as not to incur the wrath of the WWF’s legal team. TOO LATE! So these guys do some armbars and stuff and no one gives a shit, as the arena is quieter than a Roman Reigns main event. I’m really not seeing the hard work evident in Bobby Walker’s name here. Perhaps WCW should have countersued his racism claim with a false advertising one. Brad with a small package for two, but Walker gets a backslide for two. Walker jumps up to the top rope, nearly slips and breaks his neck and does it again, and finishes with a shitty Buff Blockbuster or shoulderblock or whatever at 4:44. -*

Lord Steven Regal v. Alex Wright

Wright uses a headscissors to put Regal on the floor and we take a break. Back with Regal working the arm, and pounding away with forearms. Wright fires back as the Bischoff/Heenan commentary duo continues getting worse before our eyes. I think Heenan was pretty loaded on this show, actually. They continue having a boring match and Wright gets a comeback with a heel kick for two, but Regal takes him down in the corner with a bridge for the pin at 10:00. Bischoff and Heenan would NOT SHUT UP about their stupid bullshit for this whole thing and ruined an already marginal match. * Afterwards, Regal notes that here on Memorial Day, his father would be proud of him beating “Junior Adolf” out there. He throws out a challenge to Sting, so that he can get a shot at the circus freak we call a champion.

Sting v. Scott Steiner

Sting’s hair is fully un-dyed and growing out now. Scott pounds him down and gets a press slam, but Sting recovers with a nice dropkick and an elbow out of the corner that puts Steiner on the floor. He follows with a dive. Back in, Scott catches him with the butterfly bomb and follows with the belly to belly, and Sting bails to escape. Scott follows with a double axehandle to the floor, and gets two. Scott misses a charge, but keeps coming with an overhead suplex for two. STF, which is slightly worse than Cena’s, and then he switches to a cross armbreaker. Heenan is just on some other planet here, mixing up names and completely forgetting the history between them. Scott tries a suplex and Sting reverses into what I believe would be the first Scorpion Death Drop, but the Stinger splash misses. Scott comes back with the dragon suplex as Lex Luger joins us at ringside, as does Rick Steiner. Scott with a samoan drop off the middle rope, but the Frankensteiner misses and Sting hooks the Scorpion. Scott makes the ropes and they trade tombstones, and Sting gets two. They fight to the apron and suplex each other to the floor, which triggers a big brawl between the two teams for the double DQ at 10:18. Really dull stuff. **

Eric and Bobby wrap things up, but Scott Hall interrupts a second time, and he wants WCW to find three of their best guys and have a match. WE’RE TAKING OVER! How true it was.

The Pulse

Aside from the biggest angle in the history of history launching here, the rest was pretty crappy this week. However, once the luchadors started finding their way into the midcard, the pacing of these shows would get much better.

Comments

  1. Hey Scott, isn't there still a missing Nitro from like February for you to recap? Or are you not doing it out of principle?

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  2. "You know who I am, but you don't know why I'm here"

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  3. I watched this show live and when Hall came out I called my friend and we were freaking the fuck out. We thought this meant Razor Ramon was staying in the WWF and he was legitimately invading WCW.


    I was 11.

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  4. One thing WCW did better than WWF was showcase Elizabeths supreme hotness

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  5. Lol I remember on wwe countdown that Hall's debut was number 6 or 7 on the list. The biggest angle possibly ever was beaten by SANTINO'S debut! Haha, fuck them

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  6. It's strange how much more exciting and intriguing the fake WWF takeover was than when it actually happened

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  7. Your favourite colour is teal?

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  8. I was 10 and was 100% convinced that Hall was truly invading from the wwf. The next day at school we were all buzzing. Oh, the good old days.

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  9. I'll never forget my first day of middle school, being dropped off and seeing that the high schoolers had spraypainted nWo all over the outside doors. I knew I belonged.

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  10. Bischoff was just an incredible performer, announcing aside. He excelled at the little touches that made everything feel just a little more legitimate.

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  11. ROCK-em SOCK-em Robot!!!!April 15, 2015 at 10:01 PM

    Hardwork Bobby Walker is my new favorite jobber name.

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  12. I figured you'd be wild for the Sting/Steiner brawl. I thought it was excellent.

    Completely agree about the much a guys ; 2 hours was simply too much for the old roster to carry. Benoit and Guerrero were regularly overseas at this time, and their lack of involvement alone really cut the nuts off the midcard. I think Saturday Night through the summer is a pretty good indication of what we would have had if Mysterio hadn't changed everything. Far too much of Rough & Ready (and the Colonel in general), Joe Gomez and Jim Powers pushed as Tv title fodder, and twice as much Dungeon of Doom. Thank god for the miracles of AAA.

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  13. Was this the "I'm not a shark, I'M A MAN!" promo by Tenta or am I thinking of something later on?

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  14. Theberzerker, #1 HUSS CHOMPIONApril 15, 2015 at 10:12 PM

    If a main event isn't hot enough to save an entire show, the rest of the horror that precedes it more often than not winds up dragging it down. I bet if Scott watched it as part of a random set of matches he would like it better.

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  15. I think that happened a few weeks later because I remember he had half his beard for it.

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  16. Next weeks opening segment. They weren't going to drop news that hot as an afterthought, come on now.

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  17. Tony was a great announcer. It's fun to rag on him for all the "biggest night in the history of our sport" stuff but bell-to-bell calling the action, I always liked him. It got tough to try to put over some of the crap from 1999 onward. But prior to that, he did a great job. His call when Luger beats Hulk for the title on Nitro is one of my favorites.

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  18. If I recall he ended up doing some shady stuff

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  19. STING VS SCOTT STEINER WAS ONLY **?!?!? MY WHOLE LIFE IS A LIE!

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  20. That was actually Hardbody Harrison. He was convicted of sex trafficking. He's also the guy who wanted to become Stang, Stings black nemesis. His plan was to feud with DDP, who would suddenly carry around a crystal ball that was important for some reason. Stang would throw it into a tank of piranhas on PPV and DDP would dive in after it, and be eaten alive.

    It's probably one of the biggest missed opportunities in pro wrestling history

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  21. I never understood why giant fought these random guys for wcw title. Did the shark really deserve a title shot?

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  22. Not ahead of Greg Valentine!

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  23. I hope for humanity's sake you are telling the truth

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  24. Is Hardbody Harrison working with Baker? TUNE IN TO NITRO TO ... oh, uh, never mind.

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  25. Your favorite color is not teal. Come on, now.

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  26. I think squashing Shark the way he did was a good rub for Giant just because Tenta was protected for most of his run from doing decisive jobs.

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  27. God yes. She was well past her youth by this point, but was hotter than EVER.

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  28. I knew he wasn't working for Vince, but I wasn't sure he was working for WCW.

    I thought maybe he was doing the Pillman thing, but maybe without asking.

    Unlike you, I was a more cynical 12 when this happened.

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  29. At least he would refer to wrestling as a sport. Instead of the sports entertainment bullshit that we hear now. Little things like that go a long way IMO.

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  30. I remember his finisher was called "Quittin Time" but I don't remember what the move was.

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  31. Something feels racist about that name. Either way that was one of the worst attempts at wrestling I have ever seen. I don't think I've seen indy guys that bad.

    It was pretty funny though.

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  32. Burt Macklin, Man Without FearApril 16, 2015 at 1:37 AM

    I'm digging in these reviews Acott just pointing out Meltzer totally underselling moments that we know now to be important. Even when Meltzer acknowledges them like with Hall invading. How can Meltzer be so cavalier!? The New World Organization is forming!

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  33. She was 36, which isn't exactly ancient.

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  34. For the average NFL player, it's retirement age.


    Liz, however, never played in the NFL, so I stand with jabroniville: HOT. AS. HELL.

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  35. Sure, but it's way past the age you see most sexpots in Hollywood films, f'rinstance. Most WWE divas these days are less than 30.

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  36. Battle Kat LitterApril 16, 2015 at 2:34 AM

    I've never seen this show (I stopped watching in 94/95) but was always under the impression that Scott Hall's first ever appearance was when he harassed Bischoff at the announcer's table - because that's what we usually see as a snippet in vignettes. I never knew he actually appeared earlier in the show

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  37. It's in Jericho's first book.

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  38. Battle Kat LitterApril 16, 2015 at 3:14 AM

    As a kid I always thought of Earthquake as a legit monster, and as an adult looking back I was a bit of a mark for the big guy. As big fat heels go I thought he was decent, and everything he did looked crisp and painful. Saddens me to see the crap gimmicks he got saddled with as his career progressed (Shark, Golga).

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  39. Hmmm, I have never cared about if someone has "earned" a title shot. I think there was never a list who is number one contender (which was the US champion) and if he has to defend the title, he has to, regardless of the opponent.

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  40. Burt Macklin, Man Without FearApril 16, 2015 at 3:21 AM

    I always loved whenever he would refer to someone as "the man". Like when Goldberg would do the jackhammer. "He picked the man up!"

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  41. Burt Macklin, Man Without FearApril 16, 2015 at 3:24 AM

    This is the column that spawned TealGate.

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  42. Nice to see the Senators and Canadiens are going to be as nasty to each other as they were in 2013...

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  43. MaffewOfBotchamaniaApril 16, 2015 at 4:11 AM

    Hall bringing up Scheme Gene and Billionaire Ted was inspired...but I wonder how many times this segment has been watched by people who have wondered who the hell he's talking about.

    And that JUNIOR ADOLPH comment made me choke. I love Regal.

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  44. Suing WCW was such a bitch move by Vince. Not that he wasn't legally justified but it was just a huge bitch move.

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  45. He was good at delivering a big move and just kind of letting the ring shake for a few extra seconds.

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  46. Giant had only been around a year or so. He had no idea what he was doing.

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  47. I watched this live when I was a kid and I remember being FURIOUS that WCW chose to interrupt the classic Steve Doll vs The Mauler match that I had being DYING to see with a stupid Scott Hall promo...

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  48. I think copyright for a gimmick does hurt the business, because you admit, that it's fake. In a normal sport, someone keeps his name wherever he goes and doesn't change only because the "company" where he worked had the copyright. For example Mayweather is Mayweather wherever he goes into the ring. Same with Mike Tyson or the Klitschkos. Only in Wrestling, a guy has to change his name and attire only because maybe the company he worked for had the copyright of his gimmick...

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  49. We had Nitro for about 2/3 months in the UK before this, on the British version of TNT, and even though everyone (WCW, TNT, the fans) knew Nitro was going to 2-hours, we still got a 1-hour edit of the show until well into 1997. Obviously it was much more important for TNT to show black and white movies from the 1940s at 10pm on a Friday than an extra hour of wrestling.

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  50. Top 5 moment in wrestling history. Still awesome to this day

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  51. I remember that. To be honest I think we got a better deal as we can see here there was a lot of garbage on the shows we got the prime cuts.

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  52. As good as he was then, he was much better in the 80s.

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  53. Not strange at all - because WCW played it perfectly and let the new guys from the competition get over. When it really happened it was cool for a few weeks before we all saw where it was going (and ended up).

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  54. Hey how dare you do that without the "......" between am and but. His timing on that promo was impeccable.

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  55. Yeah not all women can look better in their 30s than in their 20s.

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  56. Back then you wouldv'e thought WCW would have brought back The Diamond Studd and Vinnie Vegas and make them join the Dungeon of Doom.

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  57. I'm sorry, did you say "teal"?

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  58. AverageJoeEverymanApril 16, 2015 at 7:27 AM

    yeah I had no idea about their contracts or any behind the scenes stuff. the next day at school we were lining up UT vs Giant and HBK vs Sting like matchups with the rosters.

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  59. AverageJoeEverymanApril 16, 2015 at 7:36 AM

    Wow really? I always see and think of the walk through the audience during a nothing match and his "dont . . know why . . Im here" promo as the money shot.

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  60. AverageJoeEverymanApril 16, 2015 at 7:41 AM

    Hey Man! Give him a break! LJ, ZO, and Mugsy Bogues are killing it for the Charlotte Hornets!! WHOOMP THEYA IT IS!!

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  61. Yeah, I was going to add that. I remember one significant episode in particular where Tony and Larry introduce the show, then it immediately cut to Eric and Bobby for the "second hour". It turned out to be the show where the nWo took over with Giant doing the ring announcing and all of that, with most of the WCW roster in Japan at the time.

    Years later I found the results online and the first hour was complete garbage anyway, so someone in the editing suite must have at least been paying attention, unlike when Worldwide came on Channel 5 years later and they'd go to break mid-match and come back with something completely different and no reference to the finish, promote main events that didn't happen, have two different World champions on one episode, and lathered it in Batman-style "Pow!" captions. I did genuinely laugh when "Kabong!" came up though, for, what else, a guitar shot by Jeff Jarrett.

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