The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 08.12.96
Live from somewhere other than Orlando, thank god. In this case, Casper, WY, which Larry immediately buries as “the middle of nowhere”. What a pleasant fellow.
Your hosts are Tony & Larry, and Hulk Hogan is once again the champion after Hog Wild, so they’re pretty bummed.
High Voltage and Rough & Ready v. The Dungeon of Doom (Kevin Sullivan, Hugh Morrus, Meng & The Barbarian)
Off to a rousing start with this episode, I see. I should note they’re immediately forgetting about the title shot that Randy Savage was supposed to be getting tonight, as the match has changed to Savage v. Flair instead with no mention of why Macho is no longer getting a World title match. Barbarian gets double-teamed in the babyface (?) corner, but the DOD takes over on Rage and it’s a SUPER DUPER SLOBBERKNOCKER as Meng finishes with the KICK OF FEAR at 2:31. And then Rough & Ready turn on High Voltage for the hell of it. No idea what the point of any of this was. DUD
Sting & Lex Luger stop by ringside and they hate to disrupt the format, but they’re laying down a challenge to the Outsiders RIGHT NOW. If they have any guts, that is. Come on, guys, Luger is all oiled up and ready and everything!
Speaking of someone who’s well-oiled and ready, Glacier is still heading in our general direction at some indeterminate point.
The Renegade v. Diamond Dallas Page
Here you have two men on drastically different career trajectories. DDP works the arm while Renegade twitches like a meth addict, still trying to do his Ultimate Warrior impression long after anyone stopped caring. Renegade overpowers Page, but Page stomps him down for two and goes to a chinlock. He works on that for a while, but Renegade makes the comeback to mild excitement before getting reversed from a suplex attempt into a DIAMOND CUTTER OUTTA NOWHERE at 5:30. *
Meanwhile, the nWo (who are still lacking the iconic shirts) sit around on the couch and promise to grant rematches on their own time.
Konnan v. Jim Powers
Powers uses Anabolic Aggression to start, but Konnan takes him down and wraps up the leg while the crowd chants “USA”. Is Konnan even a heel at this point? Powers runs him into the turnbuckles to make the big comeback, but Konnan pins him with his feet on the ropes at 3:23. Tony is shocked and notes that “Konnan has done a 360”. Konnan cuts a pretty definitive heel promo afterwards while Mean Gene tries to keep him on point, but then he rants against the nWo. OK then.
Big Ron Studd v. Chris Benoit
Studd is Ron Reis, aka the Yeti, who ended up getting repackaged yet again with the Flock later on. You’d think someone who is a legit 7’ tall could find SOME niche in the business, but no. The idea was supposed to be that he was mentored by Big John Studd and thus took his name or something. Benoit quickly dropkicks him in the knee to negate the size and goes to work on him. Tony’s wisdom: “He’s been known as the Canadian Crippler or just the Crippler, but he’s Mr. Intensity”. Well thanks for that information. Studd uses BIGFOOT POWER to come back and he goes up, but Benoit casually dropkicks him and finishes with a superplex at 3:30. And this fucker has the balls to kick out at three as well. Benoit rightfully gives him a shot to the head on the way out of the ring for that bullshit. ½*
Your hosts are Eric & Bobby. What a nothing first hour that one was.
WCW World tag titles: Harlem Heat v. The Steiner Brothers
The Steiners throw the Heat around to start and double-team Stevie for two, as we take a break. Back with Rick chasing Stevie around the ring, but he walks into an ambush. Back in, Rick with a powerslam for two and Scott comes in with a butterfly bomb on Booker, but Sherri trips him up and holds the leg while Parker wanders into the ring and trips over them for the DQ at 7:48. The Parker-Sherri stuff continues to go nowhere. *1/2 This pretty clearly sews the seeds of the Bischoff turn, however, as Bobby questions his whereabouts last week and Eric weakly notes that he was “taking care of business” before quickly changing the subject. That’s pretty impressive if they knew where they were going.
WCW Cruiserweight title: Rey Mysterio v. Ultimo Dragon
Dragon attacks with a pair of spinkicks and a running powerbomb out of the corner, but he goes to the top and hits Rey’s feet. Man, Dragon’s mask with a mouthpiece just looks weird. He was actually much more expressive once you could see his face. Rey tosses him and hits a crazy somersault dive, but Dragon dropkicks him out of the ring and hits his own dive. Back in with a tiger suplex for two. Moonsault gets two. Another powerbomb is countered by Rey into a rollup for the pin at 4:30 to retain. *** They would have much better ones later on, of course.
US title: Ric Flair v. Randy Savage
Unsurprisingly, Savage gets a massive reaction in a small town that doesn’t often get wrestling. Flair attacks to start and Savage goes crazy and chokes him down in the corner, no-selling all of Flair’s offense. Flair runs away and hides behind Liz, then goes low on Savage to take over. We take a break and return with Liz getting a MAN-SIZED slap on Savage out of nowhere. You go, girl! Savage gets all pissed off and fights back again, hitting the double axehandle after dedicating it to Liz, but a second try goes awry. Flair takes out the knee and now Woman gets the cheapshot, allowing Flair to stay on the leg. Figure-four and Flair uses both the ropes and Woman for leverage, and we get the classic bit with the ref questioning Flair and Flair blatantly lying about it before going back to it again. Savage finally reverses and comes back with a backdrop suplex, but Flair gets two off it and retains control. They slug it out and Flair goes up, which is always a mistake. Flair accidentally clotheslines the ref, and it’s a good one too, and they brawl to the floor. Savage seems like he’s going to capitalize, but Hulk Hogan comes out and gives Savage his usual girly chairshot, which TWO referees in the ring somehow miss, and Flair gets the pin at 10:53 to retain. Awesome Flair-ism: Savage has been knocked completely unconscious by a chair to the head from the World champion, but Flair still makes sure to put his feet on the ropes when pinning him. This was every Flair-Savage match you’ve ever seen. ***
Meanwhile, at Hog Wild, Hogan beats the Giant and spraypaints the belt. That whole Booty Man deal, where we’re supposed to feel sympathy for a guy who just turned that night, is pretty ridiculous. I know circumstances intervened, but they really needed to pay off the fourth man deal here and it would still be a couple of weeks before they got to it.
Hulk Hogan joins us to explain his actions, as he wants Flair to be 100% when he beats him on the Clash this week. Also, once he beats Flair, Ric will be known as “the stupid little man who couldn’t get it done”. That one never really caught on for some reason. I should also note that earlier Bischoff was freaking out about running short on time, but the last two segments were pretty leisurely paced, to say the least. Although they had been hyping a Giant v. Arn Anderson match during the Flair-Savage segment and clearly that’s not going to happen with 5 minutes left in the show.
Sting & Lex Luger v. The Outsiders
So this is the Nitro debut for Hall & Nash. Sting is nowhere to be found, so Luger attacks both by himself until Sting runs in late and goes after Nash. The faces clean house and Sting beats on Nash outside, but the Outsiders double-team him in the ring while Bischoff questions Nick Patrick’s motivations and refereeing skill. Sting comes back with Stinger splashes, but Hall moves and suddenly the Four Horsemen run in for the presumed DQ at 3:45. Nick Patrick leaves with the nWo and the match just kind of ends, after replays show that Patrick actually moved Hall out of the way of the splash. Not really a match, just a big brawl. *
First hour was complete trash, but the second hour was all PPV matches and quite entertaining. Also, this was the highest rated episode of Nitro ever to that point, and it went against the lowest-rated episode of RAW, so things were looking pretty good for Eric Bischoff at that point.
Up next: The Clash of Champions 33!