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?)
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.)