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  1. Any excuse to hear from National Treasure Jimmy Hart is a good one for me.
  2. Work or not, Sammy Guevara absolutely sucks and has negative charisma. Find some other dude to do flippies and take stupid bumps. AEW won't lose anything.
  3. I feel like that sort of happened with the whole Awesome Truth thing that people generally seemed to be into.
  4. The subtext being that Owen wanted to beat Bret so badly he scouted all of his matches and was able to recognize that trick and stuff it was amazing. That's why Bret's the G.O.A.T. to me. He crafted matches that managed to feel like legit sport competitions in a way no one else ever has for me.
  5. Oh wow. Inoki has one of the elite wrestler's careers just based on how eclectic it was. What a life that guy had.
  6. I prefer Bret/Owen to Bret/Austin, but only because the finish builds on a finish from an entirely different match in such a way that if you were watching regularly, you were rewarded for doing so. I think this is a perfect match, which is a bit different from saying it's five stars. I'd probably give matches that rating that have clear flaws overwhelmed by the goodness in the match. I wouldn't change a single thing about Bret/Owen, though. It accomplishes literally everything it tries to achieve.
  7. Show #63 - 25 November 1996 "The one where the nWo starts to get over-filled" It's the show post World War 3 1996, which was an uneven show that was sort of killed by the mid-show Piper/Hogan contract signing. It was a big expense of energy for the live crowd; it was super-shitty as a segment for me. Tony S. assures us that we'll...ugh...watch the "highlights" of that signing later on. We'll also get a U.S. Championship tournament, starting with two matches tonight. This should end in Giant/Jarrett as the final match, but we'll see. I was wondering when we'd get Arn Anderson and Lex Luger having their rematch from Havoc '96, and we get it here, in the opener. It doubles as a U.S. Championship tournament matchup. So, when WWE does these tournaments, they actually show a bracket at the beginning. I assume that WCW is not showing a bracket because they're going to book this by ear and there isn't exactly a plan on how to get to the end game. Hey, it's WCW's M.O. historically! Arn's still hurt from Luger's Torture Rack at Havoc, but Luger ends up focusing on the arm rather than the back. Luger basically dominates going into the break; Arn gets glimmers of offense that get snuffed out. Arn is able to get the match outside of the ring after the break, but it costs him when Luger rams his back into the post and then the apron. Luger's well on his way to victory when the Giant comes out into a stairwell with the U.S. Championship and a mic. He argues that he's the champ because he has the belt. He agrees only to meet the winner of the tournament for the gold because he ain't turning it over to the winner of this tournament at WCW's behest. Oh, hey, half of the should-be final match is locked in! Meanwhile, Arn hits a DDT, but can't capitalize, and he's summarily dumped outside the ring again. Luger gets punched in the gut, reverses a piledriver, and then activates LEX LUGER CHOKE MODE as he racks Arn outside the ring like a stupid-ass, and both men get counted out and eliminated from the tournament. Where does this rank on the list of Lex Luger choke jobs? Is it even top ten? WW3 '96 stills, specifically Ultimo Dragon/Rey Misterio Jr., Chris Jericho/Nick Patrick, and Jeff Jarrett/Giant. The nWo's music hits. Eric Bischoff leads the Giant, Syxx, Hall, and Nash down the aisle. Oh, and Vincent's back there, too. I have zero interest in heel Bischoff or Bischoff on camera in general, at this or almost any point. There's an alternate universe where the nWo split happens much earlier because Hall, Nash, and Syxx get sick of hanging out with Bischoff, DiBiase, Hogan, Vincent, and these other nerds, and WCW uses this schism to win the war. I wish I could watch the Nitros from that alternate universe. Bischoff explains why he decided to turn heel, which is basically that he didn't want to get beat the fuck up again by Kevin Nash. That's reasonable! I also get a kick out of his "What a wonderful country!" when he explains that he's the highest-ranking member of both WCW and the nWo at the same time. OK, maybe Bisch is okay at this sometimes. Bisch tells everyone in the back that they need to decide if they're going to convert their WCW contracts into nWo contracts, which is an offer that Marcus Bagwell takes about two seconds to accept. Scotty Riggs comes out with him and tries to convince him otherwise, so Bagwell does what any of us would do in the situation: He hits Riggs with a neckbreaker. Tony S. ends the segment by saying I don't get how someone who is the head of two companies can be so biased! Uh, Tony? Let me tell you about the future...2001, to be exact... Hey, Disco's back on Nitro and is wrestling one of my favorite other WCW scumbags, Diamond Dallas Page! Page does not have time for Disco's dancing and jumps him immediately. DDP beats the shit out of ol' Disco until Disco sneaks in a swinging neckbreaker, then another. These dudes get into an entertaining punch-out that DDP wins; shortly after, Page hits a floatover Diamond Cutter. That was a really fun semi-squash! Gene Okerlund interviews DDP in the ring post-match. DDP is still hurt about not being asked to join until now and feels like the nWo needs him to kill dudes with the Diamond Cutter to become a true dynasty. Okerlund's like, but you're friends with those guys, right? Page is like, shit, okay, yeah, and Okerlund thinks he's proved his point. The thing is that Okerlund doesn't get that DDP is an emotional dude, and he's hurt that not only Hall and Nash, but also his two-doors-down neighbor Eric Bischoff would cut him out of all this nWo planning that's been going on since the days after Bischoff got dumped through a soundstage. Which is fair! Tony Peña gets a TV title shot. Why? And no, it's not that Tony Peña. It's a Villano, IV to be exact. This dude is getting a shot on his debut. WCW, everybody! Speaking of, it's WCW's last belt holder, Lord Steven William Regal! The TV Champion comes down to the ring ready to make short work of this rando, and the match is perfectly cromulent! They have some nice early exchanges in the opening minutes; Peña gets to the ropes on a Regal Stretch. When they get to standing again, Regal offers up a few uppercuts, but eats a forearm and a DDT in response. Regal does what he tends to do with smaller wrestlers who are hitting explosive offense on him and smothers Peña a bit, and though Peña tries to strike his way out of trouble, Regal re-applies the Regal Stretch in the center of the ring for the submission victory. Regal's got to be a top-five TV worker of all-time. There's always something worth watching in his matches. Rick Steiner tells Gene Okerlund, in a rampway interview, that he and Scott are WCW and that he's confused by what the fuck is even happening in the company since he and Scott have been away in Japan. Steiner yells a lot and does the slowpoke bit that is endearing if somewhat regressive, and hey, it's not full-on Eugene-level so I won't criticize much. Konnan and Eddy Guerrero are up in our second U.S. Championship tournament match of the night. It starts just about at the start of HOUR NUMBER TWOOOOOO, when Mike Tenay and Bobby Heenan join the desk. Eddy does some high-flying stuff that the crowd appreciates early. Konnan takes over into the fireworks. Konnan continues to dominate, gets two off a powerbomb, and then gets two off a fisherman buster. I think I like Konnan on offense most when he's throwing a smaller opponent around. Speaking of, Konnan gets another two-count off a gutwrench powerbomb. Konnan eventually errs by trying to match flippies with Eddy, who dropkicks him out of a splash attempt and then doubles the error by pulling out of a cover to hit another powerbomb. Eddy counters into a sitting position, hooks the leg, and gets three. This was fine. More WW3 '96 stills. This time, we see Harlem Heat/Amazing French Canadians, Psicosis/Malenko, and the Outsiders/Nasty Boys/Faces of Fear. That middle match was not nearly as good as one might expect just seeing the matchup on paper. Actually, it was kinda shitty. Big Bubba, Jimmy Hart at his side, challenges Rick Steiner. Steiner's all hurt about Sting hanging out in the rafters and says it right into the camera, which I feel like is a mistake considering the fate of Jeff Jarrett. This is acceptable TV wrestling. Bubba is washed at this point, pretty much. Rick Steiner hits a couple suplexes, which is always watchable, and it's not very long. Why, you ask? Well, a couple minutes in, Sting comes out of the rafters. I think we see where this is going. With lucky timing, Steiner dumps Bubba at ringside with a clothesline. The ref is so focused with such laser-like precision on Bubba outside the ring that he doesn't have any clue that Sting enters the ring and hits Steiner with a Scorpion Death Drop. Bubba heads to the pay windah after he crawls back in and makes the cover. Lee Marshall got beat the fuck up by the Faces of Fear at WW3 and then was sent to Ohio in advance of Nitro, which is cruelty on top of cruelty. Rey Misterio and Psicosis have a match that is watched by Ultimo Dragon and Sonny Onoo. Onoo's wearing a pretty dope "Year of the Dragon" t-shirt. Psicosis dumps Misterio over the top rope by just dropping him backwards on a powerbomb attempt. That was neat. Then he hits a guillotine legdrop. Also neat! He tries an avalanche crucifix bomb that Rey smoothly turns into a rana that gets three. That was slick as fuck. What a fucking finish. This was a short match full of dope spots. I liked it very much. Gene Okerlund interviews Woman and Chris Benoit. Ick. He cuts a promo that's only partially shitty. It's an improvement! But you know, let Woman talk since she's good at it. Oh no, now Benoit is SHOOTIN' and talking about Sullivan being the bookerman! Well, this started out much better than it ended, though at least Woman does get to finish by telling Sullivan that they're through, done, finito. Besides the obvious uncomfortable nature of this angle, I'm not sure why Kevin Sullivan would have been cool with Woman being in the Horsemen when he was warring with them this whole time. Wouldn't, um, he have been upset with Woman in interviews like months and months ago? What the hell? This angle is stupid. While I have committed to sit through every Nitro segment, no matter how shitty, I have not committed to have the audio on for each one. I say this because they're showing the dreadful Piper/Hogan contract signing, which I already sat through a couple days ago. MUTE. Jeff Jarrett is wrestling Alex Wright. Um, is this not a U.S. Championship tournament match? Oh, WCW. Bless your hearts. I don't even like Jeff Jarrett, but come on. Well, maybe he'll get his first-round match on SN or next week on Nitro. Let's hope they do the obvious thing here. Wright is under-utilized and should be more than a jobber to the stars. This is a semi-competitive match that is worked smartly. Jarrett's the veteran and always one step ahead of Wright, even though Wright's got explosive offense and is a threat for that reason alone. Wright hits a nice springboard splash, but whiffs on a kick and falls victim to the Figure Four. Final WW3 stills of the big-ass battle royale, won by the Giant. Harlem Heat/Faces of Fear is the main event. I'm into it! We get a dope Harlem Sidekick and the backdrop/powerbomb combo on Booker. The teams brawl until the nWo decides, ay, fuck it, let's jump them both. Hey, they are the biggest threats to the Outsiders. The Giant chokeslams Booker and then bats a soda out of the air, chewing his gum all the while. I mean, come on, that's awesome. End show. This show had some fine, fine wrestling action. I'm not really into the major angles, but that's okay. Hopefully, the midcard angles will pick up in quality soon. 4 out of 5 Stinger Splashes.
  8. I don't think the instinct was entirely wrong. Vince understood that the jingoistic '80s were giving way to the counter-culture '90s. The problem is that for whatever reasons (steroid trial distractions, the drop in domestic business scaring him into incremental action, having to wait until his TV partners were more open to that shift), he was really bad at reacting to that shift for the first half of the decade. It might be revisionist, but choosing Kevin Nash as his champion made a lot of sense from that perspective. He booked the guy into the ground, but again, the instinct was right.
  9. Who is the largest wrestler to be an effective FIP in a tag team setting? I ask this because I just watched John Tenta once again be an awesome FIP in a random match against the Nastys. The Natural Disasters shouldn't ever have worked as a face tag team, but they did largely because of Quake's believable FIP work even as large as he was. Is there a bigger dude who was able to be as believable in that role?
  10. I remember the very end of the match, which I won't spoil, being pretty treacherous for poor Heenan. I don't think I've got it mixed up with another event.
  11. I watched this show a few months ago and remember almost nothing about it except for the Ultimate Warrior nearly murdering Bobby Heenan in the main and Vince yelling IT'S RODDY'S ROWDIES VERSUS RUDE'S BROOD in the introduction.
  12. I knew that Arn's neck was going to force him into retirement soon enough, but I had it in my head that he'd make it well into '97 before that happened. I had my timeline all messed up.
  13. Yes, they did, but Arn was doing inset promos on a return match after the Havoc match that Lex won. I thought it'd be here, but maybe it's at Starrcade instead.
  14. World War 3 1996 notes: Tony drops that insider lingo about Bischoff: "he made his turn...or did what he did." No need to correct yourself, Tony, we already had I RESPECT YOU, BOOKERMAN. Ultimo Dragon and Rey Misterio Jr. (the latter of whom is wearing the awesome Spidey-Suit) is a really fun opener. Dragon does some cool shit in his offensive control segment, and the crowd appreciates it. Special shout-out goes to the airplane spin backbreaker and the powerbomb/Stun Gun combo. They're also delighted by the Giant Swing spot because Dragon sells dizziness after tossing Rey. No one reacts for the sick fisherman buster Dragon hits but me, though. They have a 2.9 run that ends when Misterio's springboard rana that he's using as a finish gets reversed into a sitout powerbomb that finally gets three. This was awesome. I question the booking of Teddy Long as Chris Jericho's manager for his match against Nick Patrick. Teddy Long's been doing nothing but managing jobbers to losses for the last three or four months. The crowd is into this at the start, though. I accept that the there is a difference between the WCW crowd's interest in Nick Patrick breaking bad and my interest in it. I am roundly in the minority. They do calm down pretty quickly. I guess there are only so many arm drags and kicks that Jericho can do before the crowd is ready for the fuckery and the finish. I think this match, while not long, could have stood to be even shorter. Jericho wins relatively easily to a somewhat muted pop. Was Nick Patrick's arm under the ropes? Let's hope this isn't a continuation of the angle. At least the commentators don't say anything about it on replay. Jeff Jarrett continues what might be his most enjoyable (to me) run of in-ring work ever with his match against the Giant. It's a solid big man/(relatively) little man match to follow up on their match at Havoc. We cut away to Sting walking around in the catwalk, which is too bad because it takes the focus off Jarrett getting murked and doing some excellent bumping and selling. But Sting is awesome, so I'll accept it. The Giant has his working boots on, too, and takes a sweet bump to the floor. What's hilarious, though, is that EVERYONE IN THE ARENA is focused on Sting, losing their fucking MINDS about Sting, and only Pee-Wee Anderson is unaware that Sting is stalking to the ring at molasses speed. He is TOTALLY focused on the Giant spilled out at ringside while Sting walks the catwalk, comes down the stairs with an escort, slowly enters the ring, Scorpion Death Drops Jarrett, paces around a bit, and then slowly leaves. What the fuck? It's a hilarious visual. In terms of "refs be acting dumb," this might be the pinnacle of that trope. Oh man, it was so stupid that it genuinely enhanced this match. Five Stinger Splashes. Anyway, the Giant beats the count and wins with a chokeslam. Tony's on fire tonight. As Eric Bischoff, Ted DiBiase, and Virgil Vincent saunter down the aisle to meet Roddy Piper in the ring for Hogan/Piper contract signing, Schiavone says "I never thought I'd see Eric and Vince walk down the aisle together." It got a genuine laugh from me and, while it didn't make this shitty segment worth it, I appreciated it. Piper is all like YOU'RE GAY BISCHOFF, YOU TOTAL GAY GUY, YOU and references the New Kids on the Block in 1996 and yells a bunch of shit and it's fucking AWFUL. This guy fucking SUCKS. Terrible, terrible, terrible. He's also stupid enough not to make the match a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match even though he gets the contract he wrote signed as-is. Oh man, this was some truly shitty TV PPV. If I'd paid to watch this garbage, I'd be heated. Hogan comes out and shows everyone Piper's hip replacement scar. It comes off poorly. Then there's a one-sided brawl since it's Piper versus the entire nWo. I am dreading Starrcade's main event. "O Canada" is one of the best national anthems, fun to sing, and so the Amazing French Canadians butchering the hell out of it is a legit heat-getter for me. This is a solid match they have with Harlem Heat because the AFCs have awesome offense and so their control segments are always fun. Booker is also a good FIP because he'll over-elaborate on bumps. The crowd is quiet as hell, though. I guess they're coming down from the black hole of a segment before this match. The AFCs hit a Boston Crab/top-rope legdrop combo that deserved more love, dammit! They wake up a bit for Stevie's hot tag, but only a bit. A ref bump leads to a ridiculous assisted cannonball attempt from the AFCs that includes stairs and a table. It whiffs, PCO eats a Harlem Hangover, and Sherri gets to beat up Rob Parker, which the crowd is solidly into and so am I. TAKE THAT, YOU CAD. Dusty rightly warns Sherri against a potential wardrobe malfunction considering what she wore to this impromptu match. Is there anything a southern wrestling crowd loves more than a woman kicking the shit out of a man in the wrestling ring? I include myself in this even though I wasn't born in the south myself. I can't wait for Miss Jackie to beat the shit out of Disco or to help Kevin Sullivan out by fucking up his jobber opponents. Dusty calls it the "cruiser heavyweight title" during the Dean Malenko/Psicosis match. Classic Dusty. This is a very mat-based match that loses the crowd almost entirely, and I just don't see the struggle in the matwork to make it compelling at all, either. The match just never makes it out of first gear. It's a surprisingly poor effort for these fellas. Malenko wins with a rollup and bridge to mild applause. I love the start of the triangle tag match: Hall and Nash come out first, are dumped from the ring by the Nasty Boys when they come out, and then are beaten up around ringside when the Faces of Fear come out. I wish this had just been a tornado tag (which is a common wish of mine in these triangle tags, so sorry for being repetitive). Then, as the Nastys and FoF attack each other, the Outsiders just chill and watch the chaos. It's a safe bet since they know that their opponents are dumb enough to tag them in rather than having the insight to lock them out of the match. Then again, Nash ends up blind tagging Meng anyway, so they always had things under control. Anyway, this match just got me hyped for the eventual Faces of Fear/Outsiders two-on-two match, is what it did. The crowd wants wild brawling and wakes up when it happens. I am in agreement with the crowd on this point. Anyway, Meng and Knobbs are dumb enough to tag Hall and Nash in. Tony's smart enough to call this out, at least. Anyway, this ends up causing fuckery that leads to Hall using Jimmy Hart's megaphone on Knobbs's head. A Jackknife Powerbomb later, and the Outsiders retain. Great, let's get the Nastys out of the way and put some good tag teams in here against Hall and Nash going forward. It's battle royal time! Before it starts, we get an update on the Benoit/Sullivan feud (a Dungeon-led bathroom attack on Benoit at a Baltimore house show pushes the feud forward, though man did they milk the "fight in a bathroom" stuff a bit much for my tastes). Anyway, random notes: DDP smokes a cigar on his way to the ring. What a guy. It's a Bunkhouse Buck appearance! Wait, I thought Lex and Arn were wrestling at this PPV? I realize now that they did not. Maybe I misunderstood and they're wrestling at Starrcade. Jimmy Graffiti leveled-up his ring attire. The pop for Hacksaw is dispiriting. Chris Benoit looks fucked up, man, fuuuuuuuuuck. At least some of that is makeup, I hope. The Horsemen and Dungeon jump on each other outside the ring before the match even starts. They fight into the stands and never actually enter the battle royal proper. I love that while WCW continues its petty feuding with one another, the nWo is just chilling in the corner of one ring watching everyone else get beat the fuck up. They only stray from the corner to pick off individuals who wander into the wrong neighborhood. I mean, they are SO MUCH SMARTER than WCW. They are the Doink to WCW's Crush. Poor Lee Marshall got knocked down. He looks legit hurt, but I didn't see what happened. I Googled quickly and it looks like the Faces of Fear legit fucked him up for some reason? What the fuck? Very uncool if it's legit. Why would they do that? I love the idea of this match, but the split screen makes it aesthetically tough to watch at home until it gets knocked down to ten guys all in one ring. I am very excited about this Giant/Roadblock showdown. It delivers, too! Everyone ganging up on Ron Studd is awesome. I'm a huge fan of the "ganging up on the big dude" spot in battle royals. Of course, everyone is dumb enough to forget the rules of the match and try to gang pin him, but still. Bagwell eliminates Riggs; the American Males consider exploding. They keep the split-screen even when everyone is in the same ring for some unknown reason. VINTAGE CRAIG LEATHERS. We finally get WCW to face off with the nWo..when WCW is down to six dudes. Total Kona Crush move, WCW. The Giant's elimination of Rey Misterio Jr. is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen in a wrestling ring. He tosses him with about the same amount of care as he did when he slammed a restrained Misterio laying on a backboard into the ringpost, but at least Misterio could protect himself this time. Luger taking on four nWo guys is perfect booking. Luger nearly racking the Giant gets a massive pop. His twin eliminations of Hall and Syxx are great. On the other hand, choosing to rack Nash when the Giant is still in the ring is a poor decision that is befitting of Luger's inability to get the job done when it matters in big spots. The Giant wins, which I'm pretty sure facilitates his exit from the nWo in a few months. When is the WW3 winner's title shot normally cashed in? Slamboree? I'm thinking the Giant's nWo stint doesn't last until that PPV. The first half of the show and the last ten men part of the battle royal were generally quite good. Everything else was fine. Good show and worth stopping to watch. Now back to Nitro!
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