Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–07.29.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 07.29.96

True story: I have a friend who named his son LeBron James. Man I bet he feels dumb tonight.

Live from Orlando, FL, one last time before they switch back to regular arenas again.

Your hosts are Tony & Larry

Mike Enos vs. Jim Duggan

Amazingly, not only is Enos using a terrible (TERRIBLE!) ripoff version of The Ecstasy of Gold (which should be one of the all time great heel entrance pieces) as his entrance music, but apparently they're already breaking up Rough & Ready after less than a month as a team! Thank god the Faces of Fear are still around. Duggan dumps him with a clothesline right away and slugs away, but gets low-bridged because he's a moron and Enos takes over. Legdrop and Enos goes to a chinlock, then blocks a blind charge with a boot for two. Well, as his chaps say, he is “Ready”. I wonder if he recycled those chaps from the time when he was the Mysterious Masked Skyscraper with Mean Mark? What a team that was. Hey, more chinlocks and choking from Blake Beverly, that's great. Collision for the double KO, but Duggan comes back with a sunset flip (called a backslide by Tony) for two, but Enos turns this around again with a neckbreaker for two. Enos goes AERIAL and misses by a mile, allowing Duggan to make the comeback, but Enos actually cuts him off and pounds him down in the corner. Finally Duggan has had enough of this terrible fucking match and finishes with the taped fist at 7:30. This was everything you'd expect out of a Jim Duggan vs. Mike Enos match and then a little less. -**

Sting, Lex Luger & Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair, Chris Benoit & Steve McMichael

So after leaving Flair off the show last week to tease his possible defection to the nWo, he's right out here and they just drop that thread cold. Everyone gets into a crazy brawl immediately and we take a break...but not before some GLACIER KARATE ACTION first. Back with the match under control and the ref just restarts it. Sting gets a backdrop on Benoit to send him running away. I should note that the combination of Sting's primary colored gear and Savage's neon green might actually rupture my poor plasma TV. Come on, WCW, I've had this thing for like 5 years now and they're not made anymore! Flair attacks Savage by the VIP table (is that gag STILL going?) to take over, but Savage fires back with the 10 punch count in the corner and Flair actually walks behind the bleachers to hide. Holy cow, if he had done a Flair Flop after taking that walk this would be the only six-star match not involving Joe Gomez. Back to the ring for the showdown of suck between Luger and Mongo, and thankfully Flair comes back in for his usual match against Luger. Luger throws him around and yells a lot, and a suplex gets two. Benoit comes in and the Horsemen sucker Savage into the ring to tie up the referee, allowing them to beat on Luger in the corner. Luger no-sells it and it's over to Sting, however, and he does the usual with Flair. Superplex gets two. Flair tosses him and blocks a sunset flip to finally make Sting the face-in-peril. Benoit with a back elbow for two and a backdrop suplex (called a “back body drop” by Tony as the cracks in his commentary start to show already) gets two. Sting slugs it out with Flair and they do the pinfall reversal sequence before Benoit saves. Flair goes low and gets the figure-four, but Sting reverses it. So it's over to Benoit with a snap suplex for two and a Liontamer, but Flair comes back in and suddenly Jimmy Hart runs out and pleads with the cameraman to come with him. Jimmy screams at everyone in the ring to stop fighting and come with him, and the match just ends at 13:00. Really fun before the non-finish. ***

So in the back, the Outsiders have laid out the American Males and Arn Anderson, and Rey Mysterio dives on Nash from a trailer and gets LAWN DARTED into the side as a result in one of the most famous bumps of all time. The Outsiders leave in their limo and Savage dives onto the roof and hangs on like an action hero as it drives away.

We take a break and return with everyone going nuts and calling for medical attention while Rey yells about FOUR GUYS laying him out. We get a very extended segment of chaos and minimal commentary, while everyone gets treated by paramedics...including Rey having his mask removed while covering his face with his hands. That shit is SERIOUS. In discussing the show in the Observer at the time, Meltzer notes that although this stuff might have been flaming ratings death in the short-term (which is was), it would absolutely have a payoff later on. Which it did, a thousand times over. In fact, I don't think it's overstating things to say that this one episode of Nitro changed the business forever and basically created the Vince Russo Crash TV format, where sometimes the script gets thrown out and Everything You See Is Fake Except For What You're Watching Right Now, Which Is Real.

Speaking of which, back from another break with the second hour, and Bobby Heenan has a frank discussion with Eric Bischoff and walks off the set because of his history of neck injuries and his fear of getting another one. So...

Your hosts for the second hour are Eric, Tony and Larry.

And you'd think they would try to go right back to the ring, but NO, the segment continues unabated while the fans turn on the show, and now the Males get loaded into the ambulance. It's kind of like the theory of comedy where you have the joke that's initially funny, then goes on too long and becomes unfunny, and then goes on even LONGER and becomes hilarious as a result of going so long. They just kept riding out the crowd's boredom and let the angle go to the super-serious extremes that it needed to without undercutting it by immediately jumping back to some fake match in the ring.

The Steiner Brothers vs. High Voltage

Finally back to the ring with the clash of future tag team champions Rick Steiner and Kenny Kaos. Everyone's all distracted but not High Voltage! They're amped up on horse steroids and Red Bull (was Red Bull a thing in 1996? I didn't start mainlining energy drinks directly into my heart until about 2005) and excited to be here! These two aren't exactly streets ahead. Although they don't mention it here, for some reason the Steiner Brothers ended up with a random tag team title reign between the last show and this one, trading the belts with Harlem Heat on a pair of house shows in a switch reminiscent of their WWF run. So Scott distractedly slams Kaos around while there's a fireworks show in the background. I'm reminded of The Naked Gun every time they do the fireworks at these Orlando shows while the fans are supposed to be paying attention to the match. High Voltage beats on Rick in their corner while Bischoff is basically like “If these two geeks beat the Steiners no one is seriously going to count that as a win anyway” and Rage gets a nice flying shoulderblock for two. The Steiners finally wake up and start beating on Rage at will, and OH SHIT it's the Steiner Screwdriver to finish him at 4:45. I feel like they might have been in a bit of a mood here. Maybe they're Cleveland fans? **

Standby Contest: Big Bubba vs. Eddie Guerrero

Eddie dropkicks him out of the ring and ponders a dive, but Bubba comes back in and overpowers him to take over. Bubba pounds away with a variety of thrilling stuff and gets a clothesline for two. Bubba chokes like he's from Cleveland and goes to a bearhug that turns into a spinebuster for two. Bubba continues taking the whole match and goes to a chinlock as this match seemingly goes on longer than that entire nWo attack segment did. Finally Eddie comes back with a rollup to win at 10:45. DUD

THE FOLLOWING ANNOUNCEMENT HAS BEEN PAID FOR BY THE NEW WORLD ORDER!

So yeah, this is the first black and white nWo promo, featuring Hogan rambling for hours and somehow getting cut down to 5:00 or so by the editing team in something of a minor miracle. This marks the Nitro debut of the nWo logo, the porno music, Nash cackling “WHAT DO YA BENCH, LEX?”, the crazy camera angles, and poor Scott Hall trying to hold it all together on his own.

THE PRECEDING ANNOUNCEMENT WAS PAID FOR BY THE NEW WORLD ORDER!

Tony and Larry discuss the doin's that have been transpirin' and replay the initial attack from what feels like hours ago.

WCW World title: The Giant vs. Greg Valentine

Valentine is subbing for Arn Anderson, who fell in the Battle of the nWo earlier in the show. Hammer attacks and gets nowhere, as Giant casually beats him down, chokes away in the corner, and finishes with a pair of chokeslams at 1:35. DUD

The Pulse

As a show this was complete and utter garbage, but it was incredibly historic and immensely influential in a million ways, so take from it whatever you wish.

50 comments:

  1. This is the Sheamus vs Zack Ryder of WCW Title Matches.

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  2. "Thank god the Faces of Fear are still around."

    That reminds me, did Chris FB leave for good? What happened?

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  3. I believe he is currently dealing with some health-related issues and taking time off from being awesome.

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  4. Hope he gets better, CFB is indeed awesome.

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  5. I can't wait to watch this show 6 months from now on my re-watch, then come back here, read this again and leave a comment no one will see.

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  6. That can only be half true, Chris FB's awesomeness never takes a vacation.

    Hope he gets better soon

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  7. I'll be back any day.

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  8. Always felt like Scott Hall was absolutely essential to keeping the NWO "cool" and cohesive in that first year - even moreso than Nash.


    It took Hogan a while to ease into his heel role and stop cutting the heel-flavored version of the coked-up babyface promos he had been doing for the past decade.

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  9. I'd argue Hogan never eased into it. nWo being awesome has covered up that Hogan as a heel cut some of the worst promos of all time. Everyone forgets this now.

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  10. Still one of the ballsiest wrestling programs in history. WCW's commitment to getting this storyline over was so great that they intentionally sabotaged their own show, because of COURSE if you had to create standby matches on the fly you'd end up with Giant vs. Valentine instead of a contrived main event like Giant vs. Sting. And they still won the night.

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  11. Some of the best, too. He was super-hot as a heel all the way through most of '97.

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  12. BS. He was incredible during the contract signing with Piper, and he was great when using Liz. He ramped up every quality about him that people hated and used it to play the fans (including the smart ones) like a violin.

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  13. This is easily one of the most debatable programs in terms of quality ever. I thought that the show was breathtaking. It felt like shit got real, because ... well, everything stopped. But I remember while I was gushing over this; CRZ offered a counter point that this came on the heels of the Atlanta Olympic bombing. He felt, right or wrong, that the scene mimicked the coverage from that event; that Bischoff was likely inspired by watching the mess on TV and deciding "that's the kind of chaos my programming needs!"


    Compelling TV is compelling TV - and there was no chance anyone could possibly turn their attention away from the backstage mess. The WWF had nothing going in their mid-card that night, and save for a decent (first ever?) Austin/Undertaker brawl which was WAYYYYY before we knew Austin was AUSTIN, there was no reason to even question changing the channel. I thought this worked like gangbusters, and even a million years later, it's still exactly the kind of backstage chaos that changed the way we watched wrestling ... and the kind of chaos I miss in today's programming.

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  14. Adam "Colorado" CurryJune 16, 2015 at 11:36 PM

    CRZ is and always has been a fucking jerkoff.

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  15. This is - far and away - the best episode of Nitro.

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  16. production crew, especially post production, deserve a lot of credit for the early nWo stuff

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  17. The NWO beat-down on WCW guys was such good television that they threw 10 minutes of Eddie Guerrero vs. Big Bubba and the Giant vs. GREG VALENTINE at us and didn't give a fuck, because they knew fans would eat it up with a spoon.

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  18. I felt like they should have just gone all the way with it and jettisoned the rest of the program, following the chaos and destruction until the end of the show. High Voltage coming out and high-fiving people really took me out of the moment.

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  19. "What...they've got BASEBALL BATS!"

    Have only seen this episode (and that call) once I, my life, and I don't think I'll ever forget it. I think this was the night WCW stole this dyed in the wool WWF boy ...for a couple years at least.

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  20. A lot of my best comments are on past-their-prime posts.

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  21. Adam "Colorado" CurryJune 17, 2015 at 12:00 AM

    These shows were free, right? If so it would have been the perfect time to do it.

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  22. But that's what they would do...try to go on with the show.


    That's what WWE DID do when a real tragedy happened at Over the Edge 99.

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  23. I have littered many old rants with comments many months later.

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  24. A disheveled Randy Savage returning, incoherently, yet descriptively, taking us through his ride on the back of the limo could have easily carried the final two quarters.

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  25. This is the one where Duggan said, "Hulk, you're a great technical wrestler" right?

    He's right; technically, Hulk *is* a wrestler....

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  26. In a weird way, some of his bad promos were some of his best promos. The point of Hollywood Hogan is that he's a delusional megalomaniac who's staving off his own obsolescence by tying himself to the Outsiders and trying to recapture his glory. His rambling, self-centered jabbering was part of that. Even when he's delusionally making faux gang signs with Dennis Rodman or referring to himself as "Wood" later on, it all works to just make you wanna see Sting hit that guy in the face with a baseball bat or Goldberg spear him out of his boots.

    Is it all intentional? Probably not. Hogan really is delusional. But that doesn't mean the character wasn't effective.

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  27. Zack Ryder wishes he was the Hammer.

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  28. Sounds like a good definition of "X-Pac heat".

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  29. Lawn dart = one of my personal top 5 rasslin' moments.

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  30. Christ, does that segment bring back memories. My 8 year old self was in complete shock.

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  31. Love those old nWo segments. Just seemed so anarchic, thanks to being so unpolished. All the rapid-cuts, the screen fuzzing out, etc. Even knowing it was an angle, it just looks so crazy and cool at the time.

    I always loved how much Hyatte enjoyed Nash ripping Luger's squatting or benching numbers, because Gym Guys like Lex LIVE for that kind of stuff, and it would legitimately piss them off.

    And yeah, the Lawn Dart is one of the first Wrestling Internet Memes. I recall people joking about that essentially the minute it happened- basically becoming famous overnight.

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  32. God yes- Heel Hogan was one of the worst promos of all time. Some people thing 20-minute Triple-H promos were tedious- HHH's WORST stuff had NOTHING on Hogan blabbing on with the exact same shit for hours.

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  33. Greg Valentine wrestling in WCW as late as 1996? I didn't know that. ...Did he make any other appearances of note?

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  34. Except Hogan totally drew money.
    Though there seem to be interesting comparisons to be made there. Even during the nWo's peak in popularity, Hogan was still hated by crowds. Nash & Hall were "Cool Heels", and most of the rest of the crew got good reactions from the same. Hogan? People still wanted him to fucking die.

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  35. Hah, now I want to see some old rants to find stuff like that.

    I've had people upvote and reply to posts I've made years ago, too. I look at my e-mail update and go "huh? I don't remember that post..." and find something from a 2012 rant.

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  36. "The referee just saved Harlem Heat's lives tonight" when he threw out a match with the FoF may be the greatest line in any review, ever.

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  37. He was on a lot of Nitros, actually. I recall a few even a year or so later. It was kind of an odd, neat thing- WCW using ancient WWF guys as Jobbers on TV. While kind of sad to see a former proud performer reduced to job duty, it gave them a job, a public image, and their legacy gave them a kind of credibility lacking in a "Hard Work" Bobby Walker or a Mike Tolbert. So even though they always lost, the victor looked like he was SOMETHING for taking those guys out.

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  38. I can't remember what rants they were but they're out there!

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  39. I think he was a regular on Saturday Night during it's dying days.

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  40. Even back in his glory days, he was never the greatest promo. Quick segments, Mean Gene, and charisma hid a lot of flaws.

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  41. To be clear, I'm not trying to compare him to X-Pac, just that "his promos were so bad I hated him" is kinda the perfect definition of X-Pac heat.

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  43. I recall Mike Enos being there, mostly because he appeared on the odd B-ppv.

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  44. There's a pretty good gimmick commentor, something like The Time Traveler, who went back and posted in the Royal Rumble 2014 thread in response to Vince Jordan "Warning - in the future you will melt down and leave because no one likes you."


    I laughed.

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  45. Heenan leaving because Bischoff couldn't guarantee his safety was such a great touch and added to the "reality factor" they were going for.


    On a side note, didn't some ambulances show up unexpectedly because a bunch of marks in Florida actually called the police?

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  46. I thought Hogan perfectly balanced out the Outsiders. Hogan, who is full of shit in interviews, actually got it totally right when he said that he kept the fans from turning the nWo face.

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  47. 100%. Hall was always the cool member and the one member not scared of doing a job either....

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  48. I remember Chris Adams always looked so bad. He’d gas after 20 seconds
    and wheeze his way through 3 minutes of being squashed.

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  49. Belee_Matt!_INDEED!!!June 17, 2015 at 6:26 AM

    .....in the history of our sport.

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