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WCW Nitro: December 23, 1996

This is it – the final hard-sell for the “biggest PPV event of all time.” The show unofficially dubbed (cuz WCW can’t afford another lawsuit) War To Finally Settle The Score. And you can bet, whatever happens tonight … it’ll be replayed no fewer than 6 times, in full, at Starrcade, for the low price of $29.95!

You know, as sad as Johnny B Badd’s mug being a part of the Prime opening through October, the presence of surfer blonde Sting, and red and yellow Hulk on their A-show, when both characters have been dead for ages, is significantly lazier.


CHRIS BENOIT vs. EDDIE GUERRERO (in a semi-finals tournament match for the WCW United States title)

Chris Benoit doesn’t bring Woman with him, because that would be suicide. Benoit brings the hate to Eddie, but Guerrero has no interest in taking his shit (or his chops), and gives it right back just as hard. Are you interested in seeing this hard-hitting match? Tough!

KEVIN SULLIVAN is backstage, laughing about the idea of Benoit “taking his queen”. He thinks Benoit’s fallen into the ultimate trap, waking up something he should have left alone. “Check mate.”

Back in the ring, nope, don’t get comfy!

DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE walks up to the commentary booth. Oh, hi, TONY SCHIAVONE and LARRY ZBYSZKO are you hosts tonight from wherever we are. We take many important camera shots of DDP chewing gum, and saying monkey.

Back in the ring, Eddie has slowed this baby down with a headlock on the mat. Yes, I’m sure a break is necessary after all those great moves we never saw. The only thing missing at this point in a commercial break to really make this one a winner. Of course, I’m not just being facetious, I know my WCW. We’ll be right back after a quick word from our friends at Valvoline and Electronic Karate Fighters.

Okay we’re back, and Tony’s gushing about how awesome this match has been. You know what? Up yours WCW. Benoit hits a backdrop suplex and starts lecturing Eddie about something something Sullivan. I’m thinking Eddie probably doesn’t care, but is more concerned about the nasty snap powerbomb he’s on the receiving end of that pretty much decapitates him. His torso manages to kick out at 2. The fans are well trained, watching this with great intensity. The entrance ramp I mean, not the ring. Eddie hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, and heads up for the Froggy Splash, but Benoit cuts him off. Chris nails the superplex, and recovers first to score a 2. Eddie tries a sunset flip, but Benoit stops it and goes to punch him in the face. Eddie slithers forward, Benoit nails canvas, and Eddie rolls him up for 2. Chris fires off a hot-shot, but he’s caught trying his pin using the ropes. They head up, and for some reason so does the referee, standing on the 2nd rope to get a really good look I guess. Benoit doesn’t need THAT, and shoves the referee aside – but that gives Eddie just enough to shove Benoit aside too! From a reverse position, Eddie flips 180 degrees in mid-air and turns that into a Frog Splash, scoring the pin and heading to Starrcade at 10:31. Those last 5 minutes were phenomenal; so I’ll go ***1/2 for what we saw. -***** for DDP, Kevin Sullivan, and their love of Valvoline.

“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND talks about the fans hanging from the rafters. No Gene, that’s Sting, not fans. It’s a little early to be the shank of the evening, but no matter, RIC FLAIR, ARN ANDERSON, MONGO MCMICHAEL, DEBRA MCMICHAEL, and Benoit are welcomed. Gene wants to talk about the “shellacking” Anderson took from Sullivan last week. Arn takes a quick shot at Benoit; saying if he was focused he’d have never lost that US title match. Anderson says that there’s pretty much no worse position in the world to be in, then to come home and find your wife on the couch with another man. Unless of course, you’re the other man, in which case, you’re farked. Arn says he saw that kind of rage last week from Sullivan, he even smelled it on his breath. He did? What does that smell like? What is his breath SUPPOSED to smell like? Do they have special diets in the Dungeon of Doom? Toothbrushes? Did the Master set up toiletries, or was that an afterthought to ending Hulkamania? Now that Hulkamania’s dead, does the Dungeon even truly exist anymore, or is it more of an analogy to life itself; the Dungeon exists in all of us? Does One Man Gang still visit, or has he moved on to a life of personal hygiene? Why isn’t Mean Gene covering this instead of asking DDP for the 17th week in a row if he wants to join the now? Oh, right, the HORSEMEN are here. Arn’s still pissy he took a beating for Benoit, and wants to know why Woman’s not here tonight to face the reaper. Debra whines about the fact we spend so much time on Nancy, and tells Chris the next time he wants to have an affair to let her know because she has beautiful girlfriends that is way over the damaged goods he’s playing with now. Benoit rightly takes offense, and tells everyone it’s none of their business where she is. And regarding his relationship with Woman, he was in Germany taking care of Horsemen business with her, trying to keep the Horsemen together as they disintegrate. Benoit goes to start in with Debra, but Mongo doesn’t let him get two words out before getting all up in his region. Flair plays peacemaker, telling everyone to shut up and party. He figures after 10 years with the Devil, Woman deserved a weekend with a man like Benoit. God bless Ric Flair, there is nothing in his world that can’t be fixed with a little champagne and nudity.

Wow, we’re blowing our load on all the big stars early tonight, because after a break, HOLLYWOOD HOGAN, TED DIBIASE, ELIZABETH, and VINCENT are on their way to the ring. Hogan lets Vincent carry the World Title, and the look on his face tells it all. You know he’s looking everywhere for his PR rep to snap photographs urgently, completely forgetting he’s freakin’ Vincent and lackeys don’t get lackeys.

Tony’s pretty salty tonight, demanding that nobody at home show any respect Hogan. That lasts about 18 seconds before he returns to talking about how great Hogan looks. Hulk’s a fighting mood tonight, but Piper’s hiding in the deepest darkest hole he can find unfortunately. That makes him sad, because he mistakenly thought Roddy was a man’s man. He figures 100 years from now, when people open their history books, they’ll see pictures of Abe Lincoln and Hollywood Hogan. He reminds us there’s a pecking order in wrestling, and wrestlers like Piper, Flair, and Savage are all well below the nWo. Tony points out that Piper isn’t here. Of course he’s not, it’s not like he’s got a PPV match to sell for next week or anything.


Tombstone is our random cowboy guy who appeared at the tail end of WCW Saturday Night. He doesn’t LOOK super-pro WCW or anything like Lee Marshall said he was, but more like your generic run of the mill 6’8” goon with an Al Snow mustache. Kudos to those of you who figured out he was ECW’s 911 long before I did the math. The fans stand and literally start giving Luger an ovation. WCW has a god, and it comes with 1% body fat. Larry, armed with far too much information, talks about Luger’s explosiveness, specifically “he can explode into you at ANY time!” Of course, he never expands on that, leaving us with far more questions than answers. Luger hits the forearm trifecta, and quickly finishes with the Rack at 3:43. DUD

Before Lex can even celebrate, THE GIANT is behind him. Luger manages to dodge an avalanche, and Lex hits a bunch of forearm shots. With the fans positively rabid now, Luger sees his opportunity to take the wobbly Giant, and puts him in the Torture Rack! Everyone is losing their collective shit, but don’t get TOO excited, because THE OUTSIDERS rush the ring. Luger drops Giant – but the point has been made, he CAN put Giant in the Rack! The wrestling was garbage, but none of it mattered because that whole segment was super effective in giving the fans their Christmas Lexgasm.


Rey applies a hammerlock, but the mysterious JL gets to the ropes to force a break. While Rey is snapping off a crisp headscissors takeover, Larry is carrying on about the human game of chess. Rey hits the floor and dares JL to attack; who promptly does like a MORON, missing his plancha and messing up his knee. Mysterio nails a rana, and heads back into the ring while JL recovers. He gets back in and tries to attack with a headbutt through the ropes, but Rey sidesteps and kicks him before bouncing off the ropes with a guillotine that gets 2! Rey goes for another rana, but this time JL blocks and hits a powerbomb for 2. A second powerbomb attempt sees both Rey slip off the back, and Larry say New World Odor. Springboard moonsault gets 2. JL comes back with a backdrop suplex, but gets 2. JL complains about a slow count, and Larry agrees with him, grumbling about 25 glorious years of 3 counts or something. Rey comes off the top with a rana, and as JL hits the floor, a tope suicida is RIGHT behind him and it’s as beautiful as any you’ll ever see, spearing JL backwards to the guardrail hard. Rey sets up West Coast Pop, but JL sidesteps and applies la majistral for 2! Rey lies around playing possum, and as soon as JL hits the top, Rey’s on him with the swinging super rana for the pin at 5:59! The usual gold from Rey Jr., who has easily become one of the 5 best workers in WCW at this point. ***

Rey gimps over to the announce booth, because he wants to talk to Tony for some reason. Rey says that Sting hasn’t joined the nWo, that’s simply a rumor started by the group itself. He saw something last week; when he jumped on Sting’s back, Sting reacted like a normal human being (bingo!). It was nothing like what Kevin Nash did to him in the summertime, or when Giant chokeslammed him to the floor. Rey calls out to Sting, saying he knows he won’t betray WCW, and asks Rey to replay the video from last week to prove he had no interest in hurting him. Instead, WCW plays this again:

I mean, it ain’t Piper’s music video, but … just no.

Hour #2 brings us another $100,000 in fireworks, as well as MIKE TENAY and “SOBER” BOBBY HEENAN to join Schiavone. Larry slowly makes his way back to Larryland to have another game of Human Chess with Arnold Palmer.

GLACIER (with the several hundred years old helmet) vs. SERGEANT BUDDY LEE PARKER

Mike notes that Glacier’s father is a former State Patrol agent who retired a couple of months ago. Lieutenant James Earl Wright?!? Could it be? All the pieces fit! Would that make this a heel turn from Glacier, insisting on fighting his father’s old partner? Or, is it more Mind Games from Eric Bischoff, trying to create friction amongst the WCW ranks by booking this match? Glacier does seem to be uneasy; he is wrestling without his trademark blue hue, and completes his entrance in a personal record of 28 minutes. The fans can sense that something is amiss here; a family feud turned ugly, and they rightly boo the entire thing. Buddy shows great fight, kicking out of a Cryonic Kick before succumbing to a second one at 2:32. A blizzard erupts in the arena post match; a metaphor to Glacier’s cold, black heart. Or perhaps Sting got bored and started poking holes in the roof. It can’t be easy sitting in the rafters waiting for someone to mention his name. 1/2*


The Canadians have created something of a hybrid Canada/Quebec flag, but from a distance it looks like France has been invaded and re-established with the crest of South Korea. The Canadians break into the National Anthem, which cause Tony and Mike to guffaw that they’re making words up. No, you bloody dimwits, they’re singing it in FRENCH, and doing a fine job of it! The Public Enemy attack during the anthem because they do not appreciate French cultural staples like the anthem, poutine, and chain smoking. The Canadians flatten them quickly, and resume singing the National Anthem once again. Now that’s dedication to your country! The Enemy break it up a second time, pulling their tuques over their eyes, blinding nos saveurs! Les Ennemi public utilize un “double punch”, et Rougeau se tombe a la plancher. Johnny Grunge lui mettre sur un table, mais Ouellette arrete l’attaque. 12 years of French classes had to pay off SOMEDAY. Rougeau locks a Quebec Crab on Grunge, and Ouellette drops a leg off the top rope. As much as the Canadians generally annoy the piss out of me, everything they do is in synch, something I wish more tag-teams would work to adopt. Ouellette steals the table, and sets it up across the top buckle as a diving board. They use it to assist with the Quebec Crash, but Rocco breaks it up and then smashes the table over Ouellette’s face, getting DQed at 3:41. They hit the Drive By on Carl anyway, the jerks. *1/2

BIG BUBBER vs. KONAN (with Jimmy Hart)

Incredible, these two were able to put their difference aside LAST night on Worldwide and work together like nothing had happened, and now Konan’s swearing revenge for his Dungeon mates while Bubba crows about how much he loves his new shirt. There’s really only one answer to what’s happening, and it’s clear. Big Bubba has decided that the best way to infiltrate and overthrow the nWo is to keep their enemies as close as possible. Secretly however, he is still chumming around with his Dungeon pals, keeping them abreast of nWo activity, only meeting them in places where he’ll never be seen, like the Dungeon, or Worldwide. NICK PATRICK is assigned to this match for the first time in about 2 months, and his neck has fully recovered! Bubba chases Hart around the outside, forgetting about Konan, who hits him with a tope suicida. Bubba gets thrown shoulder first into the ringsteps, because he’s so Raza. Patrick’s 10 count takes about an hour, and Bubba manages to get back in the ring. Konan goes to strike, but Patrick grabs his shoulder to stop him, and Bubba gets in his shots. Patrick feels AWFUL about this injustice, and goes to explain to Jimmy Hart what happened while Bubba chokes Konan out with a Hulk Hogan bandana. Konan is tossed to the outside, and Patrick, looking to make up for his earlier slow count that Konan complained about, counts at lightning speed. Konan beats the count, and Bubba punches him in the face. Bubba chokes Konan for an eternity, with Patrick warning him repeatedly that this is not ok. Bubba apologizes profusely; “I know referee, I’m sorry!”, while never releasing the hold. Bubba “trips” while bouncing off the ropes, blaming Hart. Hart swears he never touched him, but he has no credibility, and Patrick gives him the heave-ho. Konan’s livid at this injustice, and pounds on Bubba’s head. Konan throws him over the top, and is promptly disqualified at 5:39. Konan freaks out and goes to kick Patrick’s ass, but Bubba pulls Nick out of the ring and drags him to the back. 1/2*

DEAN MALENKO vs. “LORD” STEVEN REGAL (for the WCW world television title)

Malenko has a chance to take dual gold here, which I’m sure the Ultimo Dragon would appreciate, since that might give him a crack at as many as 10 belts on Sunday. These show off as much chain wrestling as they can muster before SONNY ONOO and his stereotypical camera come down to ringside. The referee chases him off, and Regal uses the brief distraction to use some illegal SHOOTER holds. Really now? The fans have no tolerance for this vile behavior, and chant “USA”. Of course, Malenko would tear his own mother’s leg off if it meant getting him one step closer to a win, so they’re a little hypocritical here. Malenko tries to avoid a move off a whip, hooking the ropes, but Regal anticipated it, holds back, and moves in with a European uppercut. Malenko gets to his feet, and takes a chop block. However, Malenko fights off a submission attempt, and goes for the Cloverleaf. Regal hits the ropes, and pokes Dean in the eyes. A butterfly suplex gets 2. Dean manages a go-behind, and hits a nice release German suplex (complete with Regal’s eyes bugging out when he realizes what’s coming), and the brainbuster connects as time runs out at 9:32, the designated time limit tonight. **

RICK STEINER (with Scott Steiner) vs. JEFF JARRETT

Rick jumps on Jarrett off the bell, and tries to rip his face apart while mounted from behind. The fans quickly chose their side; chanting loud, and united, for Sting. Steiner drops an elbow, but Jarrett quickly comes back with a boot to the face and dropkick. Rick has no time for these elementary games, and suplexes Jarrett over his head. The fans suddenly pop HUGE, and then burst into boos, because it’s clear we aren’t being treated to Sting, but the NWO STING. He goes for a Deathdrop on Jarrett, but Steiner delivers a Steinerline, and Jarrett is counted as the winner by pinning Sting at 2:24?!? What the bloody fuck is this crap? The announcers are dumber than the fans, and head to commercial asking if it was the real Sting or the fake Sting.

Main event time, and we’re once again treated to HOLLYWOOD HOGAN, this time all by himself. He’s in a mood to gloat, because he claims to have received a Western Union letter from Piper, in which Piper admitted Hogan’s an icon, greater than he ever dreamed he could be … and the bagpipes fire up. But it’s not the Hot Rod, it’s UNCLE ERIC PIPER, dressed in a kilt and a yellow Hulkamania shirt. “Piper” admits he had no business fighting him at Wrestlemania 1, and between his 6 kids and a ranch he can’t afford, if Hogan ends his career, he’ll be ruined. NICK PATRICK is beckoned to the ring, and Eric begs Hogan to pin him and get it over with. Hogan is counted the winner at 0:03. As Bischoff bows at Hogan’s feet, a TROOP OF BAGPIPERS come marching out of the back, and down to the ringside area. Then, like the red sea at the hand of Moses, they part, making way for RODDY PIPER. He makes a beeline for Hogan, who throws punches that Piper completely no-sells. Piper dishes it back, but now M. WALLSTREET and BIG BUBBER hit the ring to restrain him. More NWO MEMBERS are right behind, as the camera pans to the ceiling, to find STING looking on at the chaos. Hogan starts whipping Piper with his weightlifting belt, bringing SECURITY led by DOUG DILLINGER to break this up and save Piper.

Saturday Night is a recap of the year, so we’re going to skip right to Worldwide, and then finally to Starrcade, where we’ll close out the year. Will Piper emerge as the new WCW world champion? It hasn’t been promoted as a championship match to date, but between the fact Hogan parades the belt around in every segment and the fact he hasn’t defended it since Halloween Havoc, it would seemingly be the case. Will the Ultimate Dragon claim his 9th Cruiserweight title? Will we finally solve the months long mystery of Fit Finlay’s disappearance and murder in Europe? In the words of the Macho Man, the beat rolls on.