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Smelly watches every Nitro while on the treadmill (except for the ones that he watches while on the bike)


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Posted (edited)

This is my new thing now that I've watched my way through all the episodes of "Countdown" (both original and "8 out of 10 Cats" versions) that I can find on YouTube.

Most of my comments will probably be rehashes of stuff we all say and argue about, so if you are reading this, lower your expectations accordingly (which really, you should have when you saw who posted this thread). Heck, I last watched through Nitro about nine years ago, so I'll probably rehash shit I said on this very board. Apologies in advance. 

I have been working out every day during the pandemic, so I should be able to finish these eventually, probably. I'm just going straight through Nitro with no stops for the according PPVs because I'm lazy and the autoplay moving from one Nitro to the next makes life easier when I'm running. 

Show #1 - 04 September 1995

  • I enjoy shows in weird places like malls. This just looks dope. I also loved all the WCW beach shows just for the setting. Give me more shows in unique locales.

 

  • Brian Pillman looked a bit off against Liger - he'd been injured, I believe (and Bischoff mentions it). He still has a sweet dropkick counter as Liger comes off the top. It's an adequate match, but I appreciate that it's a statement of intent for Nitro going forward to lead off with a match that pops the crowd via slick, fast-paced work. They're not consistent about doing this in the first few months, IIRC, but they'll get there.

 

  • Interviews. Hogan labors while shilling Pastamania. So, I'm actually at the point just before the main event of show number two, and Hogan is really struggling up to that point overall. He gets a bunch of kids on camera who are really into him, and actually he gets a solid pop in Minneapolis, but when he goes back to the south, he's a solid #4 behind Sting, Flair, and Savage in terms of popularity, and in that order. Honestly, Luger might actually be more popular than him upon the former's return, too. You can tell because every promo sounds kinda desperate. Like, he does the schtick, but he's really, really trying, and he stumbles over his words a lot more. This Pastamania promo isn't bad, but Hogan sort of screams neediness to me. IDK, maybe this is just me.

 

  • I enjoy Mongo's idiosyncrasies on color, but he's doing a bit too much arguing/jabbing with Heenan. Sometimes, a simple WILL YOU STOP is enough of a response. 

 

  • Yes yes, we get it, this is where The Big Boys Play (TM).

 

  • Sting and Flair have their standard solid match, TV version. Luger comes down (and it still feels like a HOLY SHIT moment 25+ years later), and Bischoff already shows a propensity for assuming that someone up North has come to fuck with WCW when he sees Luger in that magnificent dress shirt. Arn and Flair are feuding and Arn ends the match after attacking Flair for cheating. IIRC, this whole Arn/Flair feud is literally all a work to sucker Sting in for another asswhooping at the hands of the Horsemen. In fairness, Sting sees it coming and says he'll help Flair against Arn "for the kids," but that he'll put Flair in the dirt after the inevitable screwjob (which of course almost immediately happens). Hey, at least Sting wasn't a total idiot this time around.

 

  • Sabu promo. Sabu coming into 1995 WCW instead of 1999 WWF is a real shame. He would have worn out his welcome eventually, but he would have fit right in with WWF's "two-minute TV match before someone gets DQ'd on a run-in or weapon attack" and "midcard PPV match where people are crash dummies for ten or twelve minutes" style of match layouts perfectly. He just doesn't fit in a clear niche for WCW in 1995. 

 

  • Also, that Sabu promo was '90s as fuck with the music and the video wipes. Watching it was the closest I'll get to taking a time machine into the past.

 

  • I do not remember Rotundo/a coming in as Michael Wallstreet. I thought that he was always VK Wallstreet (and he would be next week). 

 

  • Former AWA wrestler Flapjack Scott Norton shows up at ringside randomly and is mad at former AWA toadie Eric Bischoff for some reason. Then Savage comes out and we get a challenge for a match next week. It felt chaotic. Nitro already feels like a show that you don't want to turn away from because something interesting might happen out of nowhere. 

 

  • Hogan fights Big Bubba in the main event. Hogan is absolutely dreadful, and for some reason he threatens to beat up Pee Wee Anderson just because Anderson forces him to break on illegal punches or holds. I never want to hear that "Hogan is actually the heel" is a DVDVR myth ever again. Bubba cheats, too, so we've got a heel vs. heel match here. This match is just about watchable, and solely because Bubba bumps and has some pretty good facial expressions. Hogan wins, Luger comes out, Hogan stumbles over his words and sounds like a dumbass (he has to stop and think for two or three seconds to come up with "I'll shake your...stinky palm" or some shit like that). Luger looks like a potential world champion. They'll fight for the gold next week. 

 

  • Good show! It felt a little chaotic; there's already a bit of variety to the ringwork; and though the three-man booth is learning how to work with one another, it was pretty darned listenable. I give it a solid Four Stinger Splashes out of Five.

 

 

Edited by SirSmellingtonofCascadia
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Posted (edited)

Show #2 - 11 September 1995

"The one with the budding main event intrigue"

  • Sabu wrestles Alex Wright, who somehow is only in his mid-40s here in 2021. This is a good little TV match. Sabu completes dives that look like (and that he sells like) bigger injuries to him than to Wright, and Wright wrestles like a rookie who is just trying to get control of the situation. He also hits a sweet German suplex for two before Sabu takes advantage of his desperation - Wright ends up going to the top rope multiple times just to try and wipe Sabu ASAP - and Sabu catches him and victory rolls him off the top rope for the three. That was nice - Wright got drawn into Sabu's game of swinging for home runs all the time and lost precisely because that's Sabu's game and not his. Sabu does a table dive and the decision is reversed into an Alex Wright win by DQ. Fun as hell. Even half-speed (for him) Sabu is enjoyable, at least this week. 

 

  • Flair interview. He beefs with Anderson, Luger shows up just to tell Flair that some things never change, and then he leaves and the interview is abruptly over. It is jarring in the moment, but it's setting up for the interlocking "who's aligned with whom" stuff that's going to be going on in the main event. If I didn't have that foreknowledge, though, it'd be a weird little end to the segment. 

 

  • Sting beats up VK Wallstreet in a quick match. Good news: There wasn't a long, shitty abdominal stretch spot with Wallstreet not even cinching it in so it looks remotely painful! Sting does his greatest hits until the end, winning with a top-rope crossbody instead of a Scorpion Deathlock. Mercifully short and Sting was in control most of the time. The best possible Rotundo/a match in 1995. 

 

  • Scott Norton works Randy Savage in another really fun TV match. People did not like face Savage taking ass-whippings and still winning, as I recall, but those people were wrong and dumb. Savage is so sympathetic when he's taking a beating, and Norton is really fun here dishing out some high-impact offense for Savage to sell. Savage's facial expressions and the way he slumps over while hanging on to the ropes works so well. He's got the crowd's sympathy and he gets their love on his comebacks. Eventually, a Dungeon of Doom run-in leads to Savage reversing a whip and sending Norton crashing into Tenta. Unfortunately for Norton, Tenta's knocked out. Even more unfortunately, he's knocked out right on top of Norton's lower body, allowing Savage to whip off a flying elbowsmash for three. Norton and a revived Tenta get into it after the match. I quite liked this!

 

  • Hogan/Luger in the main event next. Already? Man, this show flies by. Nitro expanding to two hours was extremely necessary.

 

  • Please stop repeating the line that Luger "was done playing with kids" as a way to push your "Where the Big Boys Play" tagline. Please. Please. 

 

  • Hogan and Luger both come out and cut a pace (for them), and I'm pretty excited about that! Of course, that's because they go into the finish after like four minutes. Torture Rack by Luger with a visual that indicates that Hogan gave up. Luger drops Hogan, Hogan didn't give up (and man, is commentary making sure that you know that - Bischoff is clear that Hogan was playing possum). YOU -> Punches -> Big Boot -> Legdrop for the visual pinfall, but the DoD breaks it up at two.

 

  • The post-match is cleverly booked for intrigue's sake. The DoD beats up Hogan, Sting and Savage come down for the save, and the DoD is sure to only touch those three. Luger and Jimmy Hart go unmolested. 

 

  • There's a whole kerfuffle after the DoD are repelled. Hogan accuses Luger of being DoD since he wasn't attacked. Luger doesn't confirm or deny this. Sting argues that Luger's cool and that he should replace Vader (since sent home pouting after Paul Orndorff put in work on him backstage) at Fall Brawl on their WarGames team. Sting votes YES, Savage votes NO and implicates not only Luger, but Jimmy Hart, as potential turncoats because the DoD didn't touch them. Hogan decides that Luger can be on the team, but Luger says he will...as long as he gets another shot at the WCW Heavyweight Championship down the road. Lots of finger-pointing and paranoia as we go to break.

 

  • This sets up one of my favorite running angles in my pro wrestling experience, which is the main-event fuckery that these four plus the Giant went through up to the debut of the nWo. Bischoff weaved these characters, all with differing, sometimes suspicious motives, in and out of matches and storylines with one another. It was one of the better "wrestling-as-soap-opera" plotlines, at least for me. I wanted to see how the suspicion and paranoia between all of these folks (except for the Giant, who was just out to kill people and become champ) would align and realign them against one another. Alas...

 

  • This is another real good show! It had two fun TV matches, one TV match that set up a running angle that I really enjoy, and VK Wallstreet wrestling. Hey, hitting .750 is really good! Rating: Four-and-One-Quarter Stinger Splashes out of Five.
Edited by SirSmellingtonofCascadia
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Show #3 - 18 September 1995

"The one where the Giant goes VRROOOOOM"

  • I missed a lot of good stuff on Fall Brawl, namely that weird, fun Badd/Pillman match. We forge ahead, however.

 

  • The Giant shows up in an ambulance along with Kevin Sullivan. His fake pops would have been so proud of him for his attempts to end Hulkamania, including at Fall Brawl, I'm sure. 

 

  • Harlem Heat attack the Blue Bloods (well, just Eaton, I guess Regal was hanging out in catering) and, having just beat Bunkhouse Buck and Dick Slater for the tag titles at the PPV, challenge the Blue Bloods's opponents for the night - AMERICAN MALES AMERICAN MALES AMERICAN MALES AMERICAN MALES - to a tag title match. 

 

  • Booker T is one of those guys who has very little on his "great match resume," but he had a lot of good matches and I think made Harlem Heat an enjoyable tag team. His offense is explosive and he's clearly very athletic. It's fun to watch him throw kicks and clotheslines and go to the air - he's a big dude to do a lot of what he does, especially for 1995. Anyway, the Males get the win and titles when Sheri's not there to help run a distraction because she's shtupping Col. Robert Parker. Well, not there at ringside. He brings her to the back where that's probably what's going down. Bischoff is careful to question whether the title change will stand because Commissioner Bock didn't sign the match - good attention paid to why Savage/Norton couldn't happen immediately on show one, which was stated to be that they needed the commish to sign and sanction the match first.

 

  • Flair promo. He's heated at Arn Anderson for getting Pillman to interfere in their PPV match as Arn's second. Woo, etc. Boomer Esaison was name-dropped. I remember him. I'm old. 

 

  • Paul Orndorff vs. Johnny B. Badd. Orndorff comes out with the mirror and the ELITE operatic entrance. Heenan being the only one to like it makes him the face in the booth. Badd comes out with another great cheesy theme. This is fun, but the commercial break kind of kills the momentum. Orndorff reverses a sunset flip and sits down on it for the three. Wish they would have sold that Badd was coming off a war with Pillman the other night to protect him a bit, but perfectly acceptable all around.

 

  • We continue our tour of the cheese factory as some Baywatch actors stand around and cheer Randy Savage as he bench presses before Kevin Sullivan busts onto the set and beats up Savage. Flair chases Sullivan off...

 

  • ...and Savage comes to the ring for an interview and is like FUCK THAT DUDE, I REMEMBER 1992 before Luger comes out after Savage implicates him as Dungeon of Doom. Savage calls Hogan a "really, really, really bad judge of character," which got a genuine laugh out of me for some reason, and Luger and Savage accuse one another of having an agenda - being WCW Champion. Savage actually agrees with Luger's accusation, but Luger ducks whether or not he accidentally - OR PURPOSEFULLY - hit Savage during the War Games match last night. Bickering ensues. Good weaving of threads for a few big storylines. 

 

  • Then, the best thing on the show happens. They run an interview from the weekend. Hogan shows up on a motorcycle he calls "Black Beauty" to cut an interview with Mean Gene, fans in the background. Then, maybe a few seconds too early, Mean Gene looks out into the distance and reacts. It's awkward. He then looks up again and reacts and finally so does everyone else. People scatter, and...

 

  • THE GIANT (French: LE GEANT) shows up in a monster truck and runs over Black Beauty. He reverses over it, then drives over it, then reverses over it again like four times, laughing maniacally the whole time. Holy shit, this got me. I was trying to run and double over laughing at the same time. 

 

  • The camera cuts are amazing in this thing! They're just so cheesy, these corny reaction shots before cutting back to The Giant rolling over this bike. The best part is that Hogan then runs up to the monster truck and beats ineffectually on the door while the Giant looks down from the driver's seat and laughs. Holy shit, this was great. I went to the trouble of getting the YouTube link because it should be shared:
  • I hope this brings you even a thimbleful of the joy that I got from watching it. 

 

  • Flair and Pillman in the main event. Decent TV match, of course. Pillman hits another pretty dropkick counter on someone coming off the top rope. Nice signature reversal spot. Pillman eventually hurts his knee, and while he gets away from one figure-four, he can't get a pinning combination off of his reversal and is quickly put back down and locked into another one. He submits, Flair wants Arn next. It was a decent match. 

 

  • This show was solid. It was pretty subdued for an after-PPV show, actually, but I'm saying that from 2021. That might not be a fair assessment from here in the future. No Sting, but it still gets Three-and-One-Half Stinger Splashes out of Five just for the cheeseball middle of the show. I enjoyed that campy shit too much to give this a lower score. 

 

 

 

 

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Show #4 - 25 September 1995

"The one where pretty much everyone comes out smelling like roses"

  • Alex Wright comes out to face off with Disco Inferno, the latter of whom is making his Nitro debut according to Bisch. Disco is supposed to be an annoying heel, but the crowd immediately seems amused. There's a cute kid hanging out with her dad, who mugs for the camera. I'm old and in dad mode now because I thought that was adorable. 

 

  • Disco's theme music is legendary.

 

  • This is - we should start a counter for how many times I type this - a fun little match. Disco gets on top of Wright and cuts off his comebacks, celebrating and touching up his hairdo as much as possible. Disco hits a sweet back suplex, but then gets his neckbreaker finisher countered into a backslide for three. Nice little opener. 

 

  • Hogan is in the back with Jimmy Hart, rehabbing the injury from the neck snap Le Geant gave him at Fall Brawl by lifting his title gold with his head while wearing a neckbrace and then cutting a promo where he tries to be cool and have '90s ATTITUDE, DUDE. Unfortunately, he ends up spamming BIG STINKY GIANTs and basically sounding like a doofus. 

 

  • Please, please, I beg you, stop showing that clip where Luger tells Savage that he's tired of playing with little boys. Come on, people. 

 

  • Savage in the ring in real time, giving Luger that smoke. Luger comes down and puts up a) his return title shot against Hogan and b) his very existence in WCW against Savage for next week, meaning that the winner of the match has been at least somewhat spoiled next week ("somewhat" because hey, we might get a no contest). 

 

  • Kurasawa is Manabu Nakanishi. I have seen him before in New Japan footage, and I think he's good, IIRC? He's here to face off with Sgt. Craig Pittman, a guilty favorite of mine for his dogged determination to work the opponent's arm in preparation to slip on the Code Red. These two pull a Nitro Special off - I have no clue why I should care about this match, but three or so minutes in, Pittman has hit a bunch of headbutts from different positions and worked the arm, and Kurasawa has splattered Pittman on the concrete outside for this nothing match which is now a something match. Pittman eventually gets the Code Red, but Kurasawa gets to the ropes for the break. That's Pittman's best chance, as the two trade nice suplexes before Pittman falls to a German suplex with a bridge for three. I thoroughly enjoyed this little jaunt. 

 

  • Arn and Pillman are out. Pillman is talking too much shit because he's got Arn as backup, while Arn is very soberly offering up threats to Flair. Pillman mentions the right to bear arms in a list of rights that he and Arn have (also noted: the right to assemble and the right to put dudes in the hospital). This would have been a great promo to wear that "I Don't Call 9-1-1" gun shirt, I guess, but maybe he had a different promo in mind that it would be more suitable dress for. 

 

  • Arn notes that Flair asked Savage and Sting for help and got none because Flair's a dick. That explains Flair trying to butter up Savage by saving him from Sullivan's attack because useless-ass Nicole Eggert wasn't gonna step in. 

 

  • Speaking of, there's a video of the attack on the Baywatch set again, leading to...

 

  • ...something that I'm going to overrate, probably, because I think that wrestling companies have been awful at getting guys over properly and finding a balance between giving someone some shine and still protecting your guys who need a bit of protection. Yeah, some guys can eat pinfalls, and you should use those gatekeepers accordingly, but there's a way to make guys look competitive even in a loss without resorting to win trading or other such bullshit. The next two matches - Savage vs. Sullivan and Luger vs. Meng - flow into one another and almost everyone comes out looking good in some way. 

 

  • Sullivan is out with the Bootyman Barber Beefcake Zodiac, and the two cheat and double-team Savage before Savage roars back, beats both their asses, and tosses a confused Pee-Wee Anderson out of the way when Anderson tries to stop him from beating up both dudes. He stacks Sullivan on top of Zodiac and launches the elbow, but Sullivan moves and Zodiac gets popped. Sullivan wins by DQ. Savage beat up two dudes and looked like a badass tossing Pee-Wee, who missed all that cheating but got real officious when Savage had the upper hand on both guys. Sullivan and Zodiac beat the hell out of Savage and Zodiac was the guy to eat the elbow because there is zero need to protect him and about that much need to protect Sullivan. 

 

  • Then, as Savage continues his assault, Le Geant comes out and beats his ass. Get this - a few job guys come down, some good folks trying to help Savage, and get throttled. Wow, good guys doing good things and helping out their pals; what a novel concept! Luger comes out. What's he gonna dooooo, Jack?! Well, he stands over Savage, but Le Geant gets sick of waiting around and chokeslams Luger. Sullivan is upset - is it because he's aligned with Luger, or is it because he's hoping to keep the heroes divided for as long as possible, and that chokeslam probably turns Luger firmly against them? Anyway, The Giant looks king-sized. He drilled those chokeslams, too. 

 

  • Everyone but Luger vacates the area as Meng is like, "fuck it, I'mma beat this dude's ass" and comes to the ring. The match starts, and Meng slowly ramps up the offense from chokes to tilt-a-whirl gutbusters and samoan drops and cool high-impact shit like that, as he can't put Luger away. Luger fights back despite the Giant whooping his ass and only loses when Randy Anderson, who is having a rough night, misses Meng getting the spike and dropping Luger with it. Luger fought back valiantly and was only beaten by accumulated damage that the announce team is kind enough to sell. Savage is also hurt - their match is going to be interesting because both guys are coming in with injuries. Sold. Meng gets the occasional big win over someone above him that a gatekeeper needs for their continued credibility in the role, and Luger toughed it out and only got beat because he was attacked from behind by the Giant and then metal spiked. 

 

  • The announcing team is still a bit rough in working together, but they are putting over the Giant for hurting his rivals and putting over that the damage from this week will factor into next week's Savage/Luger match. Good work from them.

 

  • So literally four guys came off looking awesome in different ways in that match, a gatekeeper got a cheap win that nevertheless gives him the credibility he needs to replenish sometimes, and the only one who really got sacrificed was the Zodiac, which is what he's perfect for. That I should marvel over this sort of competent interweaved booking of storylines and the smart choice of finishes that made all this possible is, uh, not great! This really shouldn't be something that stands out to me!

 

  • No Sting again. I know we only have an hour, but get him on here somehow. He's got a WCWSN match against Johnny B. Badd for the U.S. Title that I might have to go track down because that sounds like it could be worthwhile. Even in his unfortunately continued absence, I still give this show 3.75 out of 5 Stinger Splashes. OWWWWWWWW

 

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Out of curiosity are you a subscriber to the Observer?  Bryan and Vinny were doing a review of Raw and Nitro for quite some time so not sure if you checked any of that out.  It may depend on what you think of them but I was entertained by how much the insane stuff drove them nuts.

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6 hours ago, NikoBaltimore said:

Out of curiosity are you a subscriber to the Observer?  Bryan and Vinny were doing a review of Raw and Nitro for quite some time so not sure if you checked any of that out.  It may depend on what you think of them but I was entertained by how much the insane stuff drove them nuts.

Nah. I'm not really a fan of the Observer's personalities, especially when it comes to critiquing wrestling. 

I do wonder how I'll take some of the more insane stuff (well, at least the insane stuff that isn't trashy Vince Russo TV) in 2021, having lots of nostalgia for this time in my pre-teen/teen-hood and more open to some of the goofier elements of pro wrestling than I've been in awhile.

I do fear, though, assessing 1999's TV. Some of this stuff, I'll probably reassess in a way that makes for decent reading, but what is there to be said about Russo-level dreck that everyone hasn't already said?

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6 hours ago, SirSmellingtonofCascadia said:

I do fear, though, assessing 1999's TV. Some of this stuff, I'll probably reassess in a way that makes for decent reading, but what is there to be said about Russo-level dreck that everyone hasn't already said?

the thing about Russo's run is that it just beats you down, little by little, until you just don't care anymore. it may be the absolute worst booking run of all time. and not for booking choices like wins and lossee. and not for the inane shit or the insane shit. but because it turns every angle and swerve into ambivalence. is there a greater sin as a booker than convincing your audience to tune out?

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17 hours ago, twiztor said:

the thing about Russo's run is that it just beats you down, little by little, until you just don't care anymore. it may be the absolute worst booking run of all time. and not for booking choices like wins and lossee. and not for the inane shit or the insane shit. but because it turns every angle and swerve into ambivalence. is there a greater sin as a booker than convincing your audience to tune out?

This is why I think that my approach will be to do a cursory acknowledgement of the badness, but to try and focus on the good stuff that happened in between the mounds of crap, whether it's a fun (if rushed) four-minute match or a good talent getting a chance to shine. 

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Show #5 - 2 October 1995

"The one that kicks off the whole Cruiserweight thing"

  • Ric Flair comes out to the booth, surprises Eric, threatens Arn Anderson, WOOOO

 

  • Savage/Luger kicks things off. Luger's leaving town if he loses, so let's see how he avoids losing! There's an early commercial break that leads them to work a collar-and-elbow through the ropes and to the floor. We come back and they work at, let's say, a steady pace. 

 

  • The story here seems to be, initially, that Luger is going to try to get Savage to eat a DQ. Luger slaps Savage and takes it to the floor. That doesn't really end up playing out, though.

 

  • Savage hits a double-axehandle to the floor that looks sweet as FUCK.

 

  • Savage gets the visual pinfall off a flying elbowsmash, but the ref is out after being crushed in the corner by a Savage whip reversal that sent Luger into the official. LE GEANT comes down, chokeslams Savage while Luger is out, and Luger woozily gets to his feet, and for reasons that I can't understand, spends 45 seconds getting a KO'd Savage up on his shoulders for the Torture Rack. Savage is absolutely sandbagging here since he's supposed to be KO'd, so Luger has to do some work to get him up, including a little rope assistance. Luger wins, but did he know that LE GEANT was on his way down to destroy him or not? SUSPENSE!

 

  • Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko are next up, kicking off a tradition of cruiserweights having pacey matches early in the show to pop a crowd. Before it can begin, Disco comes out and dances like a goof in the aisleway until Eddie runs him off. After it begins, this is a solidly mediocre, semi-pacey match that absolutely does not pop the crowd. They sort of get up for Eddie diving onto Malenko on the outside, but they're really not caring about these two new guys, and in fairness, the switches and counters don't feel quite as crisp as they normally are from these two. This is fine, but if I didn't know any better, I'd never guess that in just a few months, these two are going to be a focal part of a group that get crowds absolutely hot at the top of every show.

 

  • Johnny B. Badd will be on Saturday Night this week to talk about why he missed his U.S. Title match with Sting on last week's SN. Ah, this is the I DIDN'T SAY FOURRRRR FLAT TIRRRRRRES incident that is, and I believe that I'm using this word correctly, classic. 

 

  • Hogan is here. He comes to ringside even though Jimmy Hart wants him to leave because THE GIANT'S IN THE BUILDING, BABY. Hogan tells the story of meeting a very young Make-A-Wish kid who is getting double-lung transplant surgery, which I totally believe happened (and I hope that kid is now an adult who enjoys wrestling as much as he did then).  What I don't believe is that said child told Hogan to "belly up to the bar" and get in the Giant's face. I'm just guessing that such a colloquialism was not in that young man's vocabulary.

 

  • BIG STINKY GIANT, BIG STINKY GIANT, BIG STINKY GIANT...uh oh, say it three times and LE GEANT appears. Well, first Hogan plans to find said Giant in the back, maybe hunting The Giant by his strong, unpleasant musk, but as he starts down the aisle, Kevin Sullivan jumps over the railing dressed as an old woman and beats Hogan with a cane, and yes, that was as enjoyable as I made it sound. Then LE GEANT appears, beatdown, neck snap, Hogan is down as everyone laughs, including me on my treadmill because that whole thing after Sullivan first swung the cane became unexpectedly delightful. 

 

  • So, the best part of this is that as Hogan's down, they start to shave his mustache, and Sullivan shaves one side and then the other before stopping momentarily. I wish I had the screencap of Hogan as a truly Aryan Hitler clone, blond toothbrush mustache and virulent racism combining to truly make him the spitting image of Hitler's ultimate uebermensch in that moment. It's like 1995 was trying desperately to tell us something that we couldn't yet comprehend. 

 

  • Well, nothing's topping that tonight! Flair/Anderson is our main event, and it's roundly average. So, I probably am coming at this with too much knowledge, but this is a feud between Flair and Arn that ended up being a decoy just to fuck Randy Savage up, and when Savage didn't take the bait, to fuck Sting up instead. OK, so Arn's turned his back on Flair and recruited Brian Pillman. Now, Flair's at a disadvantage and needs help. He targets Savage as his partner, who shut him down a couple weeks back. Shit, okay, couldn't sucker Savage in to get revenge for WrestleMania VIII. So, you've got to keep this charade up until you can execute Plan B, fucking Sting's world up, and you have a match to make it look like the Four Horsemen are still imploding.

 

  • So, is that match a short brawl where you both have a little sparring session before someone gets deliberately DQ'd? No. Is it one where you work holds, but don't do high-impact stuff so that you don't hurt one another No. Instead, you have a long, competitive match for some reason, though that match is super-repetitive and nothing really happens except for a nice spot where Flair does his Flair Flip spot, but when Arn comes over to hit the clothesline, Flair pulls down the rope and dumps Arn. So, the logic of the match doesn't work, but the match also is just there. I can't say that it sucks because it's worked competently enough, but I don't know, man, I don't know, especially when Flair does his begging off spot even though he's the face...and then doesn't justify it by at least using it to sucker Arn in and then nutshot him or eyepoke him. It's just that heel begging off spot that is meant to get the crowd excited for the face to walk over and punch the shit out of Flair.

 

  • This thing goes on and is probably the first out-and-out below average match on any of these shows. It doesn't execute storyline-wise or work-wise. Flair gets the Figure Four and Pillman is out to interfere, but he's too late (though Heenan is confused about whether or not Arn held out to get DQ'd or whether he gave up first. Beatdown of Flair, and scene. Disappointing.

 

  • The booth is excited about the show in Chicago next week, as well as Flair/Anderson in a cage. End show.

 

  • This was probably the first show that I didn't think was very good. The work wasn't great, though really Eddie/Malenko was perfectly cromulent and they just didn't reach my lofty standards for them. The best part was moving the Giant/Hogan angle along by putting more heat on the Giant and making him seem utterly dominant. Also, Hogan's blonde Hitler mustache was literal art. 3 Stinger Splashes out of 5.
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Show #6 - 9 October 1995

"The one with a cage (and also a bit of rage)"

The announcing team is wearing Bears jerseys for tonight's show in Chicago. The Brain's "?" jersey gets a chuckle from me.

  • John Tenta is still The Shark, and he faces off with Sting for Sting's U.S. Championship. This match is fast and fun. The Shark comes out firing and sets the pace. He hits a few power moves and then a dope, impactful elbowdrop/legdrop combo, but can't get three. Sting fires up, turns it around, and hits a top-rope crossbody for three. That was a short, sweet sprint. Tenta was so wasted considering that he was a big man with quite a bit of speed and agility for his size. He should have been more than what he was. 

 

  • Sabu is up after a break, wrestling Jerry Lynn as Mr. J.L. Sabu is one of those guys who is hard to categorize for me. Like, if I'm making a list of the hundred best wrestlers, I almost feel like he should be on it somewhere even though he wasn't great at a lot of things because he was good at two things - having presence and heating a crowd up. This crowd is sort of indifferent to begin the match and ends pretty damned hot and with some "Sabu chants." A whole lot of pro wrestlers wish they had that skill.

 

  • In truth, it is a fun match. It's Sabu, so of course everyone cuts a brisk pace and we go from spot to spot, each one slightly more impactful or crazier than the last. J.L. also puts on his working boots and hits a few nice, crunchy moves, including a sweet dropkick on a prone Sabu slumped in the corner. The finish is nice, too: Sabu whiffs on a top-rope hurricanrana, but lands on his feet and looks up in time to catch a leaping J.L., following up for a bit of offense, in a powerbomb. One camel clutch later, and the match is over. People have their working boots on tonight. 

 

  • Sting, Luger, and Savage come down to the ring for a parlay. Sting tries to play peacemaker between Savage and Luger, and when that doesn't work, he threatens Savage and then proposes that they work out their aggression through beatings. Savage and Luger are already booked in matches at Halloween Havoc against Kamala and Meng, respectively. Sting proposes that if both men win their matches, they should agree to meet later that night against one another. Luger is reluctant, but Sting calls him a punk-ass bitch (basically), and Luger relents. This is a solid segment to move the feud along.

 

  • There's a brief Chris Benoit sketch in which he shows up to WCW offices to sign. I haven't watched Benoit since he murdered his family and committed suicide. The last watch-through I did of Nitro, I just FF'd through his stuff. I'm just going to watch his stuff this time, even the uncomfortable Sullivan/Woman stuff, because ultimately I'm kind of curious about how I take this stuff and because I'm lazy and don't want to FF while exercising. 

 

  • Disco shows up to dance in the aisleway again. Big Bubba comes out and just looks at Disco like the weirdo that Disco is before moving on, but Hawk comes out next and gets in Disco's face. When Hawk turns around, Disco steals the cap of a kid in the crowd and hangs it on one of Hawk's shoulderpad spikes without Hawk seeing it. Once Hawk gets in the ring and does see it, he looks back to see Disco pointing and laughing at him.

 

  • The match is, you know, a Hawk singles match in 1995, but really the match is there so that Disco can get over as an annoying internet troll before those were really a thing. After only a couple of minutes, Disco comes to ringside and dances on the apron before tangling with Hawk. Their fight spills to the outside where Hawk realizes that he's on an eight-count, but he fails to get back to the ring in time and loses by count-out. Bubba celebrates, Disco laughs like some budding 4channer, and this works not as a match, but to make sure that no one in the crowd actually cheers this fucking disco goof. It worked really well for me on that level. 

 

  • Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart to the ring. Hogan is in all black. He doesn't make one of two extremely unfortunate references to OJ Simpson murdering his wife that he's publicly made in this promo, thankfully. He just acts mad and says BIG, STINKY GIANT and takes some time to shit on Vince McMahon for having too big an ego, which, yes, but also, the message shouldn't come from this particular messenger. Unfortunately, Kevin Sullivan is not around to beat him with a cane because he's outside in a monster truck with Zodiac and LE GEANT. Hogan goes outside to confront everyone. End segment, mercifully. 

 

  • The main event this week is the Arn Anderson/Ric Flair cage match. It's solid, much better than the previous week's effort. Again, these two guys cut a pace. They punch, chop, and use the cage for the first five minutes, and it actually feels like they hate each other. There's a break mid-match, but we at least get a replay of Arn trying to escape and Flair chopping him off the cage and onto his berries across the top rope. They eventually hit some actual wrestling moves, Pillman comes out and tries to climb the cage before Flair cuts him off, and Flair looks to cinch in the Figure-Four, but Arn loads his fist with knucks and gets three after throwing a punch while Flair rotates while applying the move. That's probably the best bloodless TV cage match in about twelve or so minutes ever, for what that's worth.

 

  • Flair is eventually up and goes over to the booth, where he goes into conniptions and demands a match against Arn and Pillman next week on Nitro, whether he can find a partner or not. End show.

 

  • This was really enjoyable. Hogan laboring in promos is bad, but everything else around it was super-enjoyable and the matches, while all worked at a fast pace, also felt very different. Also, Sting showed up (finally). I vacillated between 3.75 and 4 as a grade for this episode, but it gets 4 out of 5 Stinger Splashes from me because I did enjoy pretty much all of it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Show #7 - 16 October 1995

"The one where Sting takes the bait (again)"

  • We start with a replay of the I NEVER SAID FOUR FLAT TIRES Johnny B. Badd promo (or at least that last part of it). Then, we go to the ring for his TV Championsip match against Diamond Dallas Page, making what I believe is his first Nitro appearance. Kimberly (as the unnamed Diamond Doll) is out with DDP. There have been many, many, many attractive valets in the history of pro wrestling, from Miss Elizabeth to Paisley/Sharmell, but only three really made me feel some kind of way, and Kimberly is one of them. She, like the other two ladies who I'm thinking of, were all introduced to me in the window during which I was an especially hormonal pre-teen/teenage boy. Whoo, it was a mean and awkward time and I thank her for making it somewhat bearable in her own way. 

 

  • Badd comes out and before the match can begin, DDP clocks Badd with the TV title, covers him lazily, counts his own pin, and then shoots the Badd Blaster into the air after counting to three. Kimberly looks mortified, but honestly, I laughed at DDP's total scumbag energy. Ah, the meanness of my teenage days has truly come back to me. 

 

  • Chris Benoit faces Eddy Guerrero next, and this is a fast-paced match with a bunch of crisp moves, you know this and I don't even need to elaborate that much. I will say that this match is also really nicely laid out. Eddie gets on top after early exchanges, but when it ends up outside, he whiffs on a move and wraps his arm around the ringpost. He's then fighting from underneath, one-armed and selling it fantastically, as Benoit hits him with as much high-impact stuff as possible to try to put him away, including an utterly nasty powerbomb that comes after Eddie's briefly regained control and tries to set up for a frog splash. Benoit then leverages the arm injury by using a full nelson suplex with a bridge to keep Eddie down for three. 

 

  • That was the first match to really hit that workrate-heavy early-card sweet spot on Nitro. Pillman/Liger and Malenko/Guerrero tried to get there, but this absolutely nailed it. Honestly, Benoit is clearly head and shoulders above Eddie or Malenko right now just on these early performances. Broadly, I think that Eddie is a better overall worker than Benoit if we're just putting together an all-time list, but - Hot Take #1 - it wasn't until Eddie got into the WWE and started to work WWE style before he passed Benoit. Why that is, I haven't worked out entirely yet, but that's where I am right now. 

 

  • Bischoff openly notes that they signed these small dudes for a Cruiserweight Championship on commentary when the match is over. It's early, but the bridge for small guys to eventually main event on the regular is being built here (and in the WWF to some degree at the same time, though that's mostly due to the steroid trial and VKM's, and I'm not trying to mock or demean or make jokes about him or his sexuality when I say this, deep attraction to Shawn Michaels).

 

  • Kevin Sullivan and LE GEANT are out for a promo with Mean Gene. Nothing of consequence is said. 

 

  • Meng faces off with Hacksaw Jim Duggan (not Doo-gan) in a short match that has to be one of the better Duggan matches I've ever seen. People love Duggan's Mid-South work, I know, but except for the gorilla suit incident, I think he sucked there, too. He's got all this size and doesn't do anything with it. Anyway, by 1995, he's undeniably super-trash, but this match is just a sprint whereby Meng can look dangerous while he kills a gatekeeper who rarely loses on TV. It's a good sprint, too! Meng gets Hacksaw in trouble early, and the story of the match is Hacksaw just trying to dodge Meng's relentless assault. Meng whiffs on like four straight moves, but it feels desperate because Hacksaw is just barely evading them and not even having time to counter-attack before he's got to dodge the next move. It's like a living QTE or something where Hacksaw is just desperately slamming the right button on the controller in time.

 

  • Eventually, Meng misses too many moves and Hacksaw gets control. He hits a pretty nice powerslam, but when he goes to celebrate, Meng pops up and kicks him, followed by the Fijian Spike for the win. I enjoyed a Jim Duggan wrestling match. This episode might be worth a whole shitload of Stinger Splashes. 

 

  • Hulk Hogan cuts a promo while dressed in black. He's EEEVULLLLL and his evilness will protect the kids and make sure they say their prayers. Uh huh. Also, VKM sucks and is the worst and how dare he cast Hogan aside because of his (Vince's is what Hogan meant, but read that unclear pronoun as you'd like) ego. Big Stinky Giant count = 2

 

  • Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman vs. Ric Flair and Sting. This is incredibly fun for a match that has no ending so that it can sell a future PPV match. Here's why - Hot Take #2 - Flair doesn't mat-wrestle a whole bunch and sticks to punches and chops. I think Flair has cool punches. He can sock a guy in the jaw and it looks great. I'm at the point where I'm re-assessing my re-assessment of Flair, who I have complex feelings about as a wrestler. I can't deny that on a Best Wrestler list, putting him lower than like 25 would be wrong, but I don't enjoy a lot of what he does in the ring. But this match, and last week's cage match, and other stuff I've seen lately, have put things into perspective for me. Ric Flair is one of the great brawlers and actually has enough work to make me think that he'd have been one of the great garbage match workers if he'd had more chances to do it. Flair's typical Flair stuff with the matwork and the heeling is whatever. Flair throwing punches and tossing Terry Funk across a table and onto concrete is undeniably great. That's the work in which I see Flair's greatness, or his stuff with Mick Foley where he bled and did wild garbage wrestling, which was actually very very good!

 

  • So this match works for Flair because it's just him brawling with two guys, since Sting didn't show up to the start of the match. So, here's some more praise that I have for this match; it nails something about Ric Flair's character that I love, and actually, about the ethos of the Four Horsemen. Remember: Flair is going to betray Sting. First, he really wanted to betray Savage, but Savage has a long memory and isn't as nice or forgiving as Sting is, so Savage ducks out almost immediately. Flair even tried to use the Sullivan attack on Savage to his benefit by helping Savage and chasing Sullivan off, but boy did he get to the scene late, if you look at it. Flair still being pissed over losing to Savage in 1992 and going to the lengths of faking a break with his friends to reel him in is so petty.

 

  • But EVEN BETTER is that when it fails, Flair is so petty that he figures, hey, fuck Sting for 1990, that prick, and decides to sucker him in instead. Sting knows what's going to happen, tells Flair that he's only doing it because the little Stingers support it, and even decides not to show up for the start of this match, assuming it's a swerve. Halfway through, as Flair has taken a beating, he shows up, gets a hot tag, and after whipping Horseman ass, they bail and lose by count-out. Sting then agrees to show up for real this time at Halloween Havoc in a rematch. 

 

  • So Ric Flair and Arn Anderson have agreed to beat the shit out of each other for multiple weeks just so that Flair can get revenge on a guy for what happened in 1992...and when that fails, so that Flair can get revenge on a guy for what happened in 1990. Just, the sheer pettiness of it all, the villainy for the sake of villainy, the fuckery for the purpose of fuckery...it's so good. I love this storyline just for the characterization of the bad guys. They're in it because they're petty as fuck and have nothing better to do than to make a former enemy's life worse in perpetuity. 

 

  • Great show, except for the Hogan/Giant stuff that never adds anything new, but that was small stuff. I give this show an enthusiastic 4.5 out of 5 Stinger Splashes for not only the work, but the awesome character building that is (still) going on with a faction that has been around for a decade by this point. 

 

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Show #8 - 23rd October 1995

"The one leading up to Halloween Havoc '95"

  • Randy Savage comes out to face Kurosawa. This is another "Savage gets his ass whipped" match, but as beautifully as Savage sells the beating, the match is a) probably a bit too long, and further, b) Kurosawa is awful at working the arm/chest injury that Savage is selling. He throws a few sweet kicks, but limb/body targeting is definitely not his forte. But who am I to criticize? The crowd absolutely eats this up. Any time Savage gets some breathing room, he's too focused on the pain from his injured body parts to do much about it, and Kurosawa is the monster in a horror movie, always rising up quickly to re-take control. The crowd is firmly behind Savage, and though we did not need this match to roll through a commercial break, and though Savage drops the elbow out of nowhere in the way that people claim John Cena hit Attitude Adjustments out of nowhere after getting his ass beat, everyone in the arena is into this. I mean, this is probably the type of match that most credibly supports people's complaints about Savage at the time, as he literally doesn't even have a comeback sequence. He just drapes Kurosawa's throat across the ropes after a shitload of selling an ass-kicking, hits the elbow, and we're out. 

 

  • So, then we go batshit crazy next. The Father of The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Iaukea shows up on screen and rambles about something...trapped...oh no, trapped in a block of ice. Then Kevin Sullivan and LE GEANT come down to talk about said block of ice. They try to get over some figurative language that is just so tortured, calling Hogan THE RARE WHITE BENGAL TIGER like twenty times, and then they allude to the thing trapped in the block of ice as their "insurance" against Hogan when The Giant faces him in six days at Havoc. This was dreadful. 

 

  • Oh God, now it's Hulk Hogan at ringside. It's bad. He rambles a lot. He (somewhat obliquely) threatens to go OJ Simpson on The Giant years before he (quite less obliquely) threatened to go OJ Simpson on Linda during the divorce. Big Stinky Giant count = 0 surprisingly, but there was a Big Nasty Giant. 

 

  • Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit are here to team up against Eddy Guerrero and Mr. J.L., the latter of whom is standing in for an injured Alex Wright. Don't ask me if that injury is kayfabe or legit because I'm too lazy to look it up. This is a solid match. There are some awkward, contrived double-team sequences at the beginning, and Malenko and Benoit are uneven in their control segments, which hurts things a bit. We also go split-screen to see The Shark and Scott Norton brawling in the back because Norton has finally decided to get revenge on The Shark for hampering Norton's attempts to beat up Randy Savage back in Show #2, 11 September 1995. That's not great for the match either since the action gets shunted to the side on a tiny look-in shot.

 

  • But the BIGGEST hindrance to this match, and it's one that WCW is well known for during this time, is that the commentary is almost completely about Hulk Hogan, The Giant, and their match at Havoc in six days. Meanwhile, four guys are doing the most to try and get themselves over, and the match picks up about halfway once Malenko and Benoit say "fuck all that double-teaming shit" and just do a lot of quick tags while suplexing the fuck out of their opponents. The crowd starts to get into it, too, and they are lucky to be spared the chatter about Hogan, especially because Mongo, bless him, is especially awful tonight, making weird comments and mixing metaphors and trying to threaten Heenan in distracting and shitty ways. The commentary table definitely took a step back in this last couple of weeks, unfortunately. 

 

  • Eventually, Guerrero fires up after a hot tag and gets the win with some help from an Alex Wright trip on Malenko that the camera doesn't catch. Weird finish. As Eddy backs down the aisle celebrating, Brian Pillman comes out and fucks his world up, including with a DDT in the aisleway, because he's crazy. Pillman leaves while flashing the four fingers and laughing. 

 

  • Harlem Heat is in the main event against Sting and Lex Luger. The commentary team shits on the previous night's In Your House PPV. I made a mental note to look it up: It was In Your House 4, and yeah, it wasn't great! Diesel/Bulldog WWF Championship middle of the card (which ended in a DQ), Dean Douglas/Razor Ramon virtual squash for the IC Championship, and Bret Hart having to carry shitty ass Dentist Kane for fifteen minutes. 

 

  • I will continue to defend Harlem Heat. I like clubbering, and I like constant tags that lead to more clubbering, and I like a big dude like Booker T showing flashes of great agility sometimes, and I don't care if I have to suffer Stevie Ray working a chinlock that wouldn't hurt an infant for five minutes to get all the rest of that. Luger catches a beatdown, even eating a Booker T axe kick, but Book misses a Harlem Hangover, and Sting comes in on the hot tag. After getting a Scorpion Deathlock attempt on Book broken up, Harlem Heat hit a double suplex on Luger, but are not aware of Sting recovering and going up top. Why are they unaware of this, you ask? Because Sensational Sherri, Heat's manager, is pulling pictures of Col. Robert Parker out of various articles of clothing to fawn over them. I don't know why this was so hilarious to me, but it was. I credit Sherri for her goofy lovesick grinning and sighing. Anyway, Sting catches Book with a clothesline off the top rope and stuns him for long enough to get three. And then...

 

  • ...fuckery begins as the Dungeon of Doom hit the ring. The Giant murks Sting and Luger with chokeslams. Heenan is too quick to try and push the "who is on whose side" angle and makes a bad call about The Giant chokeslamming Luger, but ignoring Sting while The Giant...goes to chokeslam Sting. 

 

  • Savage comes down to fight Le Geant. They square off, but then Hogan comes down and is all like, "Yo, I got this Mach," and Macho leaves the ring. Hogan punches The Giant and he no-sells, The Giant clubs Hogan and Hogan Hulks Up, and then Hogan wobbles The Giant before the Dungeon of Doom jump back into the ring to save Son of Andre. 

 

  • And as the camera fades out, we cut to the block of ice, and it explodes, and out steps...THE YET-TAY! He's looking to get frisky, and he'll be seeing Hogan at Halloween Havoc in a few days, if you know what I mean!

 

  • This was not, in any way, a good show. There were flashes of action that worked for me, and the crowd was into all the matches. I genuinely enjoyed the main event tag match, and the other two matches had their issues that kept me from fully getting into them. The Hogan/Giant/DoD stuff was shitty, and not in a fun, kitschy way except for the end because THE YET-TAY is so ill-conceived that it's an automatic laugh from me. Also, we got this GIF out of it: 

The-Yeti-Hulk-Hogan-The-Giant.gif?strip=

  • Hey, hey, easy there, big fella! You might not have heard since you spend so much time trapped in blocks of ice, but we're having a cultural reckoning with this sort of unwanted physical attention. 

 

  • Still, this was both an episode important to building the main event of Halloween Havoc in a few days, and also somehow skippable at the same time. 2.75 out of 5 Stinger Splashes
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Show #9 - 30th October 1995

"The one with the six-star match between Disco and Sabu"

  • We're here post-Havoc. There's going to be video of the main event later in the show. That's all we'll see of Hulk Hogan on this week's show, so that's a plus already!

 

  • Sadly, Randy Savage is also not here as Lex Luger gave him work at Havoc. Therefore, he can't be in the opening match, which is now...

 

  • Eddie Guerrero (subbing for Randy Savage) vs Sgt. Craig Pittman, which I'm interested in. Someone in the general thread mentioned that they were strangely into Pittman, and I also really enjoy the guy. He's an intriguing mix of awkward and crisp. Against Eddie, he hits some sweet belly-to-belly suplexes, and his mat game is pretty fun, but he also moves around the ring a bit weirdly, sells in a very cartoonish manner, and is not above making pretty goofy faces. I enjoy getting to watch him work in these ten-minute TV matches quite a bit; I don't know if that mix of movement and selling works outside of that format. 

 

  • Anyway, Pittman's heeling here, though one teen with a buzzcut is really into Pittman's entrance. Pittman takes Eddy down in a couple waistlocks, but per the rule of threes, Eddy puts him to the mat in a waistlock takeover. They trade strikes, and Pittman eventually takes over after Eddy misses a splash in the corner and sells a re-injury of the arm that he hurt against Chris Benoit. Pittman starts to pour it on with high-impact moves and mixes in some work on Eddy's arm in preparation for the Code Red. However, even after hitting a nice overhead belly-to-belly and an utterly vicious (no pun intended) gutwrench powerbomb, he can't put Eddy away, and Eddy evades an armdrag off an Irish whip and rolls Pittman up for three. That was some quite enjoyable wrestling!

 

  • Recap of the Scott Norton/Shark beef, leading to...

 

  • Scott Norton taking on The Shark in one-on-one competition. This is short, but it's two big meaty men slappin' meat [(tm) Big E]. Tenta hits his own sweet-looking belly-to-belly and then drops an elbow. Norton takes control with a clothesline and a shoulderblock and then gets the crowd going by scoop slamming Tenta. We get a double-clothesline spot before we cut away (AARGH, I was enjoying this!) to ringside, where Sonny Onoo and Bobby Heenan are dining with a few ladies in low-cut tops. Heenan cuts some sort of business deal with Onoo, who hands him an envelope of cash. Meanwhile, Norton's got Tenta to the outside somehow, but I missed it because WCW loves their mid-match cutaways. Anyway, clubberin', clubberin', double-count-out, brawl to the back. I would watch these two run it back. I enjoyed what I saw, but I'd like a decisive finish next time. 

 

  • So, you're never going to believe this, y'all, but Ric Flair backstabbed Sting at Havoc in their tag match. Tony Schiavone reviews the details. Flair's pettiness knows no bounds - he faked being injured backstage by Brian Pillman and Arn Anderson so that, in revenge for having to get beaten up by himself for ten minutes the Nitro previous, he had an excuse to make Sting wrestle Arn and Pillman one-on-one for ten minutes before coming out to make a hot tag. Of course, that hot tag ended with Flair, Pillman, and Anderson beating the crap out of Sting.

 

  • The Three Horsemen come down to the ring and gloat. They challenge Sting to a six-man tag match. Now begins a period where Flair was complete and utter human garbage, totally loathsome at a new level even for him, that didn't end until the nWo showed up. I am going to enjoy hating this little shit for the next few months' worth of shows. 

 

  • Sabu is up against Disco Inferno, and boy, did I love this match. It connected with me completely and it got a genuine laugh of delight out of me at one point. This is not some workrate-heavy thirty-minute match, obviously, but it was worked perfectly for these characters. Sabu is confused and then perturbed by this huge fucking dork with his dancing and preening. Disco, for his part, is just trying to survive long enough to dance and mug the camera because winning is only the second-most important thing to him after getting everyone's undivided attention. 

 

  • Disco is dancing and Sabu is confused - why isn't this idiot wrestling me and why does he look like such an asshole? Sabu dives for Disco's feet once, twice, but Disco sidesteps him and keeps dancing. Sabu, who was clearly scouting the first match of the night, uses the rule of threes to fake a dive at Disco's feet. Disco sidesteps one more time...right into Sabu's fist, as Sabu used lure of the feint to meet Disco right where he'd be sidestepping to. It was fantastic. 

 

  • Sabu is springing off the ropes and hitting impact dives and legdrops and Disco seems fucked, but he dodges a whip and hits a hair-assisted facebuster, then another. He chokes Sabu and then uses the ropes to snap Sabu's neck. This is where Disco really presses the advantage, hitting a series of high-impact moves that culminate in an Air Raid Crash. No, just kidding. He dances. Sabu fights back, but Disco does just enough to hold him off so that he can start dancing and looking for the camera. Eventually, Disco's laser-like focus on the match leads him to a whiff on a corner splash, and Sabu jams him with a somersault leg drop over the top rope for three. 

 

  • The after-match shenanigans are what got the laugh out of me. Sabu attacks Disco after the bell, who is really concerned with protecting his health, and by "his health," I mean "his hairdo." Sabu sets up a table, lays Disco across it, and then whiffs on a dive onto the table, which barely breaks and just looks and sounds sick as hell. Disco stumbles away talking to the camera and checking his hair. So, the camera is tight in on him as he backs around the ring and then up the aisle. Meanwhile, waaaaaay in the background is Sabu, a tiny figure in the distance, hefting what's left of the table and running full speed at an unaware Disco. The table meets Disco's head, and man, did that get me. It was like some demented Looney Tunes sketch where Bugs is running up from behind an unaware Elmer Fudd to blow him up or bash him with something.

 

  • My description didn't do it justice, and maybe it's not actually that funny, but boy, did it get me. I loved the fuck out of this match and how this pairing of wrestlers produced such a goofy little thing that ended up being different and enjoyable. Six stars, everyone. Six motherfuckin' stars. 

 

  • The main event is Lex Luger and Meng up against The American Males, who are no longer WCW World Tag Team Champions (the gold is back with Harlem Heat). Luger joined the Dungeon of Doom along with Jimmy Hart at Havoc the night previous. Anyway, this match is perfectly cromulent. Riggs is FIP after a hot start where Luger gets worked over. The theme of the match is honestly that Meng holds everything together and bails Luger out of trouble. Eventually. Riggs gets the hot tag to Bagwell and **TOTALLY BUFF EXPLODES**. Bagwell gets a visual three-count on Luger after Riggs dropkicks Bagwell while Luger's holding him, toppling Luger backward. Hart's got the ref's attention, and Meng comes in and cleans up the mess, breaking up the pin, disposing of Riggs, and kicking Bagwell from behind. Luger's Torture Rack on Bagwell is academic from there. 

 

  • Video of the end of the Hogan/Le Geant Havoc match. Jimmy Hart trips the ref after a Hogan legdrop, beans Hogan with the belt, Luger and Savage come down for the save, but Luger annihilates Savage, The YET-AY comes down and attempts to sodomize Hogan, etc., etc. 

 

  • The Dungeon of Doom cuts a promo where they crap on Hogan and The Giant cuts a shitty poem and The Giant has the WCW World Heavyweight Championship even though he only won by DQ. The end. 

 

  • We got four matches, none of them bad, and three of them entertaining for what they were. There were a variety of approaches to these sub-twelve minute matches, and it was so refreshing to have these matches worked in different, but entertaining ways. None of the matches were much in the big scheme of things, but I thoroughly enjoyed them, especially that Disco/Sabu classic. 4 Stinger Splashes out of 5

 

 

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Is this where Sabu lost his shit backstage or just got fired for tearing up the set? Can't remember the story. 

Also, how good is that video file?! It doesn't even look to be taken off a WWE DVD and it is *pristine*.

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Looking around, there are multiple stories:

1. That Turner wanted him gone because of the fireball spot he did with The Sheik and Jerry Lynn on Havoc, and they stopped booking him after this show.

2. Kevin Sullivan apparently said that Sabu had a 1.2M/3 yr contract in his hands, unsigned, but Sabu wanted his legal to look at it and a shuffle in the front office led to the offer being pulled - no indication whether or not the fireball spot had something to do with it getting pulled or if it was just disorganization in the front office.

3. Sabu jumped back to ECW because Paul Heyman offered him a deal beyond the 500-a-night appearance deal Sabu was working on in WCW and there wasn't a big contract offer from WCW forthcoming quickly enough. 

IDK what the man himself has said about it, though. 

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According to Sabu in his youshoot, WCW offered him the 3 year contract. He said he wanted to read it over but really wanted to call his mom because he was excited, but his mom ended up having a heart attack so he went home and by then Heyman found out and tried to sue WCW for contract tampering so the offer was pulled. Though he also said he didn't last in WCW because he didn't want to be a cruiserweight like they wanted. 

 

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Show #10 - 6th November 1995

"The one with Taboo Tuesday...Cyber Sunday...Matchmaker Monday?"

  • This week, we've got faces in one room and heels in another, and you can drop a couple bucks to call WCW's 1-900 number and pick who should face one another from both rooms.

 

  • This week, we've also got LE GEANT, who comes out to the ring with the WCW Heavyweight Championship that he took from Hogan after all the malarkey at Havoc. He picks Penzer up by his lapels and forces him to announce that the match is now a title match against the opponent, Cobra. Speaking of Cobra, he's dispatched in about fifteen seconds with a single chokeslam. 

 

  • We go to the back where the heels and faces are grouped up in their respective rooms, yelling incoherently...except for the Blue Bloods. Bobby Eaton is chilling in the back of the heel locker room, sipping tea, and Lord Steven William Regal looks up from the book he's reading, irritated at the noise. That was genuinely funny. 

 

  • Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage cut a promo from somewhere, I missed it, but some idiot with an electric guitar plays a bad song as intro and Hogan and Savage are dressed in black and are EVULLLLL~. A guy with a beard who looks like Cheatum sits between Hogan and Savage, gesticulating wildly as they talk. It was weird. 

 

  • The Renegade runs out to face off with The Taskmaster, Kevin Sullivan. Renegade starts hot and hits some clotheslines, taking Sullivan outside. Jimmy Hart, who is seconding Sullivan, distracts Renegade and allows Sullivan to turn the tide. I believe Hart was previously affiliated with Renegade and now rains verbal abuse down upon the poor lad, who eats a lot of knees, fists, and palms from Sullivan. Eventually, we get back in the ring, where the Renegade turns the tide for a bit before a whiff in the corner leads to a Tree of Woe --> Double Stomp for the finish.

 

  • This was inoffensive, but the real action happens at the end, where Sullivan holds up Renegade so Hart can splash water in Renegade's face and wipe off the face paint while Hart berates him for being not the Renegade, but just "plain old Rick." This is a classic Harsher in Hindsight trope (thanks, TV Tropes!) since "plain old Rick" took his own life a few years later partially because he was depressed about the end of his underwhelming WCW run. Yeesh. 

 

  • Flair yells at and about Sting in the heel locker room. 

 

  • Chris Benoit is out next. He's facing off with Eddie Guerrero in a rematch from a couple weeks back. There is no way that this is any worse than "very good."  They cut a pace immediately. Benoit has early control off of strikes and a snap suplex. He hits a lovely high-angled backdrop in there as well. He continues to pour it on, transitioning a spinebuster into a Liontamer, but he lets the Liontamer go before long. We cut to Liger, Chono, and some other New Japan stars at a banquet table with Sonny Onoo. Meanwhile, back in the ring, Guerrero claims control off a counter and ends up hitting a dive from the top rope onto a harried Benoit outside the ring. 

 

  • Eric Bischoff can't stop talking about that Hogan and Savage promo, which is mildly irritating.

 

  • A reversal leading to a superplex from Benoit turns the tide again. Benoit hits a sick powerbomb for 2.9. Benoit's place slows, as if he's run out of ideas for how to put Eddie away after that, and Eddie reverses into one pinfall and then another, both getting two-counts. Benoit then finds inspiration and unloads a series of suplexes with bridges, but gets only two on a German and then on a Northern Lights before his Full Nelson Suplex is blocked - nice callback to their previous match up. They get tangled in the ropes, and Eddie eventually floats over on another suplex attempt and gets three when the ref misses Benoit's feet under the ropes. Good match, solid callback there to their previous one-on-one match on Nitro to show progression of strategy for each wrestler. 

 

  • Stinger, in the face locker room, lets Flair know that he is somewhat annoyed about Flair using the hopes and wishes of the little Stingers to suck him into yet another Horsemen trap. He would like to beat Flair up in response. 

 

  • The voters have voted, and here, in fact, comes Sting. Who will he face off with from the heel locker room? Diamond Dallas Page? The Blue Bloods? The Shark? No, it's Ric Flair. Flair can't even get in the ring before Sting starts beating his ass. He beats him on the apron, then inside the ring, then outside the ring until he whiffs on a Stinger Splash attempt as Flair lies prone on the guardrail. We go into a break, and I'm really surprised that Turner let WCW name a major event World War 3, I suddenly consider. 

 

  • We come back and Flair is on top, working Sting over. He hits a nice backdrop and goes straight into the Figure Four, using the ropes as leverage. Sting reverses the Figure Four eventually after a long time, but when Flair goes back to the leg, Sting no-sells it and Hulks Stings Up. The power of the Hulkamaniacs Little Stingers coursese through his veins, but Flair short-circuits all that with an eye poke, which is pretty funny, actually. Flair goes to hit Sting with a running chair shot, but Pee-Wee Anderson cuts him off and Flair and Anderson get in a shoving match, giving Triple H an idea for a cool new spot that he can do someday. 

 

  • Anyway, Flair uses the ropes for leverage on a handful of pinfalls, but can't get three. The crowd is pretty frustrated with Flair's chicanery at this point! Sting powers out of a bridge, gets two on a pinfall, and then gets just what he needs - Flair going to the top rope. Sting goes to work in the corner, but when Pee-Wee gets between them to break it up, Sting carries Anderson away and puts him in the opposing corner. This gives Flair time to load his fist. He lights Sting up with the knux, then hits a cursory elbowdrop...and gets only two in a false finish that ABSOLUTELY got me. That's it for Flair - Sting Stings Up again and puts Flair away with a Scorpion Deathlock. 

 

  • Sting, however, refuses to break said Scorpion Deathlock. Refs come out to try to get him to break it, but no dice. A few faces try come out to try to get him to break it, but no dice. Finally, five faces coax/pull Sting off Flair. OK, that was pretty sweet. But wait, Sting decides to go back into the ring and put the Scorpion Deathlock again. Lex Luger comes out, finally, and talks Sting into releasing the Scorpion Deathlock. This was SO GOOD. The match itself was good, and it was elevated by the post-match. Sting and Luger still having a friendship despite Luger's heel turn - and the other faces looking bewildered that they had no effect on Sting, but that scumbag Luger did - is nice character work. Sting is loyal to his friends, after all. Further, it really underlines how much line-stepping Flair's done at this point to make Sting jump off the deep end. Loved it.

 

  • The Dungeon of Doom is out to talk shit. Jimmy Hart had power of attorney over Hulk Hogan, I guess? OK, sure, whatever. Hart, being a sneaky shithead who sings mean songs about Lance Russell's nose, put a "can lose the WCW Championship by DQ" clause in the contract for Hogan's match with LE GEANT. Since Hart got Hogan DQ'ed, they argue, The Giant is champ. WCW Legal is down to tell us all that WCW Commish Nick Bockwinkel decreed that, nah, fuck all that contract shit fam, the title is vacated. The winner of the Three-Ring Circus (which is a terrible name, but probably better than World War 3 for a company like Turner in the 1990s) will be the new champ. LE GEANT yells. Sullivan gripes. That's sort of a meh ending when the Sting/Luger/Flair angle was really hot. They should have reversed the order of these segments. 

 

  • I liked this one a lot, specifically the last two matches. The difference between Hogan's idea of character development and the character development of guys like Sting and Luger is night-and-day, though. 3.75 Stinger Splashes out of 5
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7 minutes ago, SirSmellingtonofCascadia said:

Sting and Luger still having a friendship despite Luger's heel turn

this is, without a doubt, the highlight of the pre-nWo Monday Nitros. I can't believe that in the 25 years since, i haven't seen that angle recycled somewhere. Maybe i just missed it, or maybe it only works for e'er-do-well Sting, or maybe it's too long-term for most promotions. I don't know. But wrestling would be better with more of this and less of this:

WWE EXTREME RULES 2020 : REY MYSTERIO VS SETH ROLLINS - EYE FOR AN EYE  MATCH - YouTube

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41 minutes ago, twiztor said:

this is, without a doubt, the highlight of the pre-nWo Monday Nitros. I can't believe that in the 25 years since, i haven't seen that angle recycled somewhere. Maybe i just missed it, or maybe it only works for e'er-do-well Sting, or maybe it's too long-term for most promotions. I don't know. But wrestling would be better with more of this and less of this:

WWE EXTREME RULES 2020 : REY MYSTERIO VS SETH ROLLINS - EYE FOR AN EYE  MATCH - YouTube

I agree. I think they sort of went the wrong direction a bit, having Luger be obviously cheating and shitty behind Sting's back when they were tag champs, but it led perfectly to Sting losing faith in everyone else entirely and going Crow when even his buddy Luger, who he stuck up for through thick and thin, thought that Sting might just be nWo after the fake Sting showed up.

I think this would work really well today because people are having this sort of crisis all over the country - can I be friends with someone whose actions or values clash with mine? That's an angle that people would invest in because they're living it. WWE's not got the consistency or subtlety to pull it off, I'm sure, but it would absolutely work. Maybe AEW could pull it off?

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Show #11 - 13th November 1995

"The one where we get real Badd"

  • Nitro's in Jacksonville tonight, and the crowd is pretty hot. We're off to a slow start, though, because we cut immediately to a Hulk Hogan promo. He's in a dungeon wearing a mask like the Dread Pirate Roberts. He's coincidentally cutting a promo about how he's going to beat the brakes off of Fezzik's (fake) son, so that works. He's holding a sword, I think? Also, there is a headstone in the background and Hogan's drawn markings on the lower half of his exposed face. Uh, look, it's weird and bad. Hogan says dumb shit and threatens Sting and asks Randy Savage to beat up Meng and also behead him and serve said head up on a platter, King Herod/John the Baptist-style. That last sentence was a run-on because I wanted you to read it like Hogan said it.

 

  • I feel like anyone reading this might think that I've been overstating how awful Hogan is, but seriously, he has been part of some utterly shitty segments the past few weeks. This dude is getting out-promo'd by everyone, even Sting (who is an exuberant, but not great promo most of the time).  

 

  • Speaking of Randy Savage and Meng, they're up next. Savage jumps Meng from behind, beats his ass, and is about to drop the elbow when Kevin Sullivan runs a distraction at ringside. Savage dispatches Sullivan, but when he perches on the top rope again, Meng is up, and Savage's double-axehandle gets cut off with a punch to the gut. Meng does lots of chops and punches and kicks and chokes. However, he goes up for a flying headbutt, whiffs, and then gets back to his feet. Unfortunately for him, Savage shoves him headfirst into an apron-bound Jimmy Hart's megaphone. A flying elbowsmash later, and Savage wins the match. In an example of the duality of being, he then loses use of his left arm when Sullivan attacks it. Lex Luger comes down to join the party and further work Savage's injured limb over. 

 

  • WCW's New Japan arrangement has New Japan workers in WCW for awhile. If I recall, this will lead to some of WCW's workers - Benoit, Guerrero, maybe? - going to Japan for a few weeks starting in the new year. Speaking of Chris Benoit, he's out to face off with Kensuke Sasaki. This match is mostly Sasaki beating down Benoit fairly stiffly. Benoit gets a couple of counters into attempted pinfalls, but Sasaki is all over him. Eventually, though, Benoit reverses a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker into a back suplex that gets two on the bridge, and he follows up with two rolling Germans and a full-nelson/dragon suplex with a bridge for three out of very little. Inoffensive match. Benoit is noted as the fourth and newest Horseman almost offhandedly on commentary after the match. Huh. 

 

  • As a side note, I didn't remember Benoit testing out the dragon suplex as a finish early in his WCW career until I started this re-watch. He definitely needed to find another finish that would be easier to put on bigger wrestlers. 

 

  • Next is the match of the night: Johnny B. Badd is out to face Eddy Guerrero for the WCW Television Championship. I was excited about this one since they announced it at the end of the previous show. Eddy gets a jobber entrance, which is some bullshit, but whatever.

 

  • This match is really good because it is both entertaining and it establishes some character traits for both men. Badd and Guerrero basically go hold for hold. There's some fun counter-wrestling and they trade high-impact moves. Badd hits a nice tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and a springboard legdrop, while Guerrero turns a second tilt-a-whirl attempt into a nice headscissors. So, after all this move trading, Badd has become frustrated. He forgets his wrestling and starts swinging. Eddie ducks a wild left, but gets rocked by a right, and then another one. He goes down and a heated-looking Badd is admonished by the ref for the closed fists.

 

  • Now Eddy's mad. He complains to the ref about the closed fists, then suddenly rushes Badd, tackling and punching him. They lose their cool and have to be separated. The crowd is pretty hot for all this! Badd was way over when he came out and has sustained said crowd reaction, but Eddy went from a few faint "Eddy" chants to more (and louder) cheers of his own. 

 

  • They cool down a bit and go back to wrestling and countermoves, but as time runs down, they both read each other's minds and hit dual cross-body blocks. That's about it for planning from either of these two, as they brawl it out until the bell sounds for a time limit draw. Badd's given his title back, and they cool down enough to shake hands and give each other props. That match gave Badd a bit of meanness that I think he needs; he's a competitor under that seemingly happy-go-lucky exterior. He looks like a threat in a way that he didn't look before this match. They've been building up to this slowly - Badd's weird, long, awesome match with Brian Pillman at Fall Brawl was part of showing that he was more than a weird rock 'n roll imitator gimmick as well. It's working. 

 

  • Eddy looked like a guy who frankly should be winning a title of his own soon enough, and it also gave him a noticeable streak of competitiveness that is going to go far for making him one of the premier workers in the company. Before, he just seemed like Good Guy Eddy. Now, he looks like an elite competitor as well and a guy who can get down and throw fists when all of his high-flying moves don't work. There's a new facet to him as well. GREAT WORK from both men, and great layout on the part of these wrestlers and whichever road agent helped them. 

 

  • Bischoff announces that Hogan wants Sting one-on-one next Nitro. I can't believe they put that first-time matchup on a free Nitro!

 

  • The Dungeon of Doom are in the ring to talk with Gene Okerlund. Jimmy Hart is entertaining, but Kevin Sullivan and LE GEANT~ are boring. They talk about Hogan and WW3 and all that. Moving on.

 

  • Dean Malenko is facing off with Sting in the main event. This is a match for Sting's United States Championship. This is another good match. It tries to establish Malenko as a legit threat, and it succeeds. Sting, first of all, gives a whole lot of this match to Malenko. They tell a basic story - Malenko was born for this, was trained for this by his father, and is incredibly ring-smart. Sting has size and strength, but Malenko has brains and execution. Sting wins the early going, but Malenko quickly realizes that he'll need to neutralize Sting's strength. He does this by hitting a basement dropkick and going to work on Sting's knee. 

 

  • After a commercial break, we come back and see that Sting almost got the Scorpion Deathlock on Malenko, but Malenko found the ropes. The announcing team, which is pretty iffy, does their jobs here: They hype Malenko's ring awareness and intelligence. Malenko takes control with another basement dropkick and then starts to dismantle Sting's base. Once he does that, he goes back to standing and uses his speed to work a hobbled Sting into position for a German suplex with a bridge that gets two. Sting dodges a dropkick, but Malenko then dodges a Stinger Splash. Malenko goes for the Texas Cloverleaf, but Sting pulls him into a small package out of desperation and gets the three. 

 

  • Sting really did a lot of work to put Malenko over in the loss. These last two matches elevated three guys in entertaining and efficient ways. Fantastic match layout on the parts of the agents and wrestlers in these matches, and kudos to Sting for agreeing to give so much of that match to Malenko. 

 

  • Sting sticks around to talk to Okerlund about Hogan's challenge. He calls himself "the Big Dog." Somewhere, a young Roman Reigns feels a sudden stab of irritation, though he doesn't know why. Hype for Hogan/Sting next week. End show.

 

  • Those last two matches alone make this an excellent show for me. They achieved their goals and were fun as hell. 4.25 Stinger Splashes out of 5.

 

  • On one last note, there's an alternate universe out there where Johnny B. Badd stayed in WCW, had killer matches with all that incoming talent, and became a legit main eventer. He's a guy who just got exponentially better between 1993 and 1995. What might it have been like if he had stuck around and continued to improve? Sable doesn't overshadow him. Maybe he doesn't blow out his knee? He's sort of an awkward guy on dives and can vacillate from gracefulness to clumsiness at a moment's notice in ring, so maybe not. I don't know, but I watch this guy's 1995 and think that maybe he had that something special. Oh well. 
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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Just so you know Smelly, I too have been watching Nitro as well. I’m up to the first ever Hog Wild. 
 

Positives & Negatives…

+ Ric Flair is on another level here. He takes the cartoon version of himself that he would play opposite Hogan, and steals the show from everyone. By mid-96 he’s so over, he gets huge face pops from places other than the Mid-Atlantic region.

+ The Steiner’s return transforms the tag division completely into something extremely healthy. And it’s not like they brought other people with them, it’s just that the Steiner Brothers wake everybody up as soon as they show up. The team that gets the biggest help is Harlem Heat. Sure Stevie doesn’t improve, but this is where Booker starts looking like a potential star on the rise.

+ Benoit, Dean, and Eddie… ‘Nough said. But, I will say this, Rey Mysterio showing up changed things for the better, and may have made Malenko into a better heel worker(For the short period he works in that role).

+ Sting is mostly lost not being the top guy, but he really shows up Hogan by being well… Sting, one of the all time best baby faces.

- Yeah yeah… I have strong opinions about former WWF/WCW/WWE Champion Terry Bollea which you should PM me about. But I wanted to express them here too because I can't help myself. But it’s never appropriate than here. The best example of bad Hogan compared to everything, and everybody is The Giant program. He brings in Paul Wight to give himself a new Andre to feud with, so he basically takes the wheel, and proceeds to crash it into a wall. For such an experienced veteran, he can’t get anything out of Giant, and makes the young monster look like a fucking idiot. But once they get the kid away from Hogan, you start to see the potential with him when he’s in the ring with Sting, Macho, Flair, and yes even Lex works a really great program with him. I think this might be my only real negative of the first year of Nitro. There are other small things, but this is the only thing that completely kills these re-watches. 

Edited by LoneWolf&Subs
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Show #12 - 20th November 1995

"The one with Sting/Hogan, Part I"

I'm back after a much-needed vacation. I'm determined to eventually finish this watch-through at some indeterminate point in the future. Still. At this point. We'll see how I feel once I'm late into 1998.

  • The Shark is out to have a rematch against Scott Norton as a start to this go-home show. This is basically a rerun of their last match, though that's not bad. Shark has awesome offense. Tenta is one of my favorite elbowdroppers in the whole game. He also hit a nice belly-to-belly in there. Anyway, the match goes back and forth until Norton catches Shark with an okay powerslam for three. The commentary team hypes it, but it was kind of disappointing. I know Norton had a better one in him. This was still solid, though. More Tenta on offense squashing dudes, please. I should probably track down his WCWSN squashes from this period.

 

  • Jimmy Hart and Kevin Sullivan are out at ringside to sow dissension between Hogan and Sting, insinuating that Hogan's trying to lock Sting out of TV opportunities. Sullivan hypes WW3. This was serviceable, I suppose. Sullivan wandered a bit and basically is talking too fucking much every week. 

 

  • Disco Inferno dances out before the next match to hawk his new album. Gilberti is great at this because he's basically Disco in real life except without the leisure suit. 

 

  • Eddy Guerrero is up next to wrestle Ric Flair Brian Pillman since Flair comes out and is like, "nah, you're beneath me, I'mma be in the jet waiting on Pillman to bush you." Eddy is half of the way toward "future World Champ" status because he gets the crowd into it with just his work. By the time he has a heel turn and improves by leaps and bounds on the mic, he's pretty clearly a guy who should be getting the big belt one day. That's not hindsight on my part: I was sure that Eddy (and Jericho) would hit that level because they could both talk and draw people in with their ringwork. Of course, I missed on Rey and Benoit, so I can't exactly laud myself.

 

  • Anyway, Eddy once again gets the crowd heated just with his work. He's done this consistently since he showed up on Nitro. I sort of think the weakest parts of this match are Pillman's control segments, which are a bit meandering. Sometimes, he does stuff that works (for example, at points he spits on Eddy and bites the shit out of him in a burst of devilishness). He also gets caught calling a transition that gets blown. Eddy, on the other hand, fires up the crowd on his comebacks and ends up hitting a huge crossbody to Pillman on the outside before celebrating with the crowd a bit. Yeah, they like him. 

 

  • The finish is nice as Pillman blocks one Frog Splash attempt by crotching Guerrero, but he gets countered off a superplex attempt and tossed down into perfect position for a BEAUTIFUL Frog Splash, like Eddy jackknifed the FUCK out of that attempt. Eddy gets three, Pillman and the Horsemen get embarrassed, and the crowd rejoices. Good stuff, and Eddy comes off as a total star and someone who you should switch from RAW to watch. 

 

  • Recap of Randy Savage getting beaten up by Lex Luger and the Dungeon of Doom. Luger would fit right in as a fighter in a 2D fighting game. He calls all his attacks: OOOAH and AAAGH and HUUUUH every time he does a move. Luger is supremely entertaining. I also love his super-loud, over-elaborated selling. I might be the only person who enjoyed Totally Buff. I'm legitimately looking forward to his "rebirth" as the Total Package. Don't ask if something is wrong with me. 

 

  • Rematch week continues with a Hawk/Big Bubba rematch. It's alright because Bubba is a good pro wrestler! Hawk is fine, too. Bubba throws like a shitload of sweet punches. Further, they don't slow down too much. Bubba can't even cinch a bear hug on for more than three seconds before Hawk fights out of it. Bubba dropped some tape, which I don't think he meant to do, and scrambled to pick it up, . The tape comes into play later; he pulls it out and tapes his fist, but Hacksaw Jim Duggan is all like HOOOO TOUGH GUY YOU JUST STOLE MY GIMMICK and he comes down to ringside and trips Bubba. Bubba's head unfortunately slams onto his own taped fist, and Hawk gets three off of that little bit of interference. 

 

  • Sting is out to face off with Hulk Hogan. Sting is dressed in the red-and-yellow to show that he is imbued the best stated intentions of Hulkamania. Instead, he is imbued with the reality of Hulkamania as a bastion of cowardice because he gets scared by his own pyro. Macho Man is in the aisle to distract as Hogan jumps out of the crowd dressed in a mask and cowboy boots, looking for all the world like he's late for his shift at the Wild West-themed BDSM dungeon. We get a brawl that the crowd starts out hot for. They go outside of the ring and then back in, where Hogan is basically the heel. Like, he doesn't get booed, but the crowd sits on its hands when he's in control, exploding for Sting's comebacks. Hogan hits a drop toehold and works an armbar, which, wow for 1995 Hogan. They slow it down and work holds and the crowd is pretty bored because the punch-throwing has ended. 

 

  • Hogan goes with it and heels to the crowd a bit during his control segments. He hits a nice back suplex and I guess has his working boots on. He is really putting in some effort. Sting turns the tide after attacking Hogan's leg and gets a Scorpion Deathlock on Hogan, who powers out and Hulks Up. Sting catches a big boot, but dodges a legdrop and goes back to the Scorpion Deathlock. That's a cue for the fuck finish, as Hogan doesn't give up exactly, but they catch him crying to Macho at ringside that the main is too much. At that point, the Dungeon of Doom shows up and LE GEANT~ chokeslams both Sting and Hogan, then chokeslams Mach for good measure. However, Sting and Hogan have recovered and knock The Giant over the top rope. Hey, there's your hook for the weekend's World War 3 pay-per-view! The Giant can, in fact, be eliminated!

 

  • Sullivan and Jimmy Hart rant at the commentary team as we end the show. 

 

  • We can talk about Hogan, as @LoneWolf&Subspoints out how detrimental he's been to the shows, and I'll definitely get into it more. However, tonight, he definitely put in a shift. I guess he couldn't do Sting like he's done The Giant at every turn in this feud. That was a solid match before the finish. It was a night of solid matches, honestly, and I am definitely interested in WW3 (which I'm not watching, but I should since Savage wins the gold). 4 Stinger Splashes out of 5 for me. 
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Show #13 - 27th November 1995

"The one with absolutely NO FOOTAGE, I didn't see it, you didn't see it, it doesn't exist, it's a scam, it's a lie, there is NO FOOTAGE"

  • Macho Man Randy Savage won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at World War 3. Thus begins what I think is the best use of hot-shotting a top title ever, as the gold passes between all of the feuding main eventers over the next few months leading up to the introduction of the nWo. The competition at the top feels like it's separated ever-so-thinly in talent, and that any given night, one of them might pick off the other one. The main eventers are all built up with distinct strengths and weaknesses, too. LE GEANT~ has size, but little experience. Sting has a rare blend of speed and power. Hogan has lots of experience and is a walking dynasty. Savage has the madness and is a never-say-die competitor who can win from the unlikeliest of positions. Flair has the Horsemen, is quite adept at cheating, and is still possibly the best P4P wrestler on the mat. 

 

  • There may well be a series of title changes over a span of months that has worked as well as this one did to get across the competitiveness of the tippy-top of the company, but I can't recall it or don't know of it. This is probably my favorite span of WCW outside of 1992 - November 1995 to GAB in early July of 1996. Honestly, I'd put this span up there with any span of weekly TV that I can think of from any company. 

 

  • Video from last weekend. Hulk Hogan is not EVULLLLL anymore and he burns the black clothing and he's friends with Savage and Sting again and I don't give a shit. Then we go to the first match...

 

  • ...which is Johnny B. Badd, whom you do not want to make mad. Also, here comes Kimberly, who I guess was won in a match because of the retrograde nature of professional wrestling regarding gender, but also I really enjoy looking at her and alas, my baser nature has overcome my consideration of the gender politics of mid-'90s wrestling. 

 

  • He's in a return match from the previous PPV against Diamond Dallas Page, who looks crushed and has flowers to give to Kimberly. He doesn't have a cigar or sunglasses or anything. I feel for him considering the nature of his loss. No, not the Television Title, fuck that stupid piece of tin. Kimberly. It's Kimberly. She's the loss. 

 

  • DDP jumps Badd as he comes over to Kimberly and beats his ass. This is, for the TV audience, more of an angle than a match as we keep focused on Kimberly's subtle facial expressions (haha, just kidding) while Badd and DDP wrestle in the background. Actually, DDP is just tilt-a-whirling the shit out of Badd in between punches and slaps, but a third tilt-a-whirl turns into a head scissors for Badd's first offense of the whole affair. Meanwhile, Kimberly notices that DDP hid a chain in the middle of the bouquet. Oh DDP, you scamp! He gets away from Badd and calls for the chain, but Kimberly tosses the chain between his legs and to Badd, who winds up and hits a chain-assisted Tutti Frutti for three that may or may not have been purposefully assisted by a conflicted Kim. Fun angle with a match that fits what's going on in the feud.

 

  • This begins a trend where DDP just takes a series of Ls for weeks and weeks before finally winning Battlebowl and eventually turning face when the nWo shows up. This is one of the few losing streak angles that actually did get someone over. It's also a pretty great development of DDP as a character as the losing humbles him a bit and he eventually finds himself. One of my favorite quirks of DDP's character that never changed is that he'd take Ls and temporarily learn from them, becoming a humble, hard-working fan favorite, but as soon as that good nature of his helped him reach the pinnacle of the company, he'd inevitably backslide into a greedy, shitty, cocky bastard.  

 

  • Kevin Sullivan is out and he's pressed that Luger is still friends with Sting and that Sting got Luger to refrain from breaking Savage's arm at the PPV...which turned into Savage winning the gold. Jimmy Hart actually understands that Sting and Luger are friends and have history, and that this can be true and that Luger can also be full Dungeon of Doom at the same time. Of course, he's stupid enough to then publicly declare that he'll slowly chip away at their friendship, but you know, that was a flash of maturity and insight from Hart there for just a second. Now Sullivan is the one who's unsure - are Hart and Luger on his side or not? Good stuff here! Now the heels are having trust issues. 

 

  • Cutie Suzuki and Mayumi Ozaki are out to wrestle Bull FUCKING Nakano and Akira Hokuto in another rematch from last night's PPV. Fuck yes, Bull Nakano on my screen. Quick start, but the faces barely get a shine before the heels take over. Chokes, hair tosses, etc. The crowd gets hype as FUCK for Nakano attempting a seated senton from the top rope, which she whiffs on. That got a huge pop. A stereo top-rope double-stomp from the top rope on Nakano doesn't get a huge pop, but it should. They just wrestle this shit at full speed. There's a senton splash onto Nakano outside that gets some love, among other things, and then Hokuto dropkicks both women from the top rope and drops Suzuki with a sick fisherman buster for three. That was a fun-ass car crash, and the crowd thought so too. 

 

  • Kensuke Sasaki beat Sting for the U.S. Championship at some point in the past couple of weeks, which they mention since Sasaki and Hokuto are a couple. That title change and the One Man Gang title change are two of the random ones that I always forget from this time. 

 

  • Hugh Morrus is out after the break, doing the laughing, then grimacing gimmick that Matt Borne did way better as Evil Doink a couple years back. He's the newest Dungeon of Doom member, out to be fed to Hulk Hogan tonight. This is short and sweet, Hogan doesn't meet much resistance, and after he eats a No Laughing Matter, we immediately get a Hulking Up --->  Big Boot ---> Legdrop sequence to end it. The team spends most of the match talking about the end of the WW3 match, which ended in some way that made Hogan look like he should be champ or whatever. I didn't watch it, I didn't see it, and therefore, I refuse to acknowledge it. Mach is champ. No questions, no footage needed.

 

  • Ah shit, they're going to show the footage. 

 

  • Mean Gene Okerlund is out here to call out Macho Man and to commiserate about WW3. Mach is looking around and doesn't notice Gene trying to shake his hand until Gene basically shakes his own hand for Mach, haha. Savage hits a modification of his Slim Jim catchphrase and then we go to the footage. Hey, everyone, where's Poochie Hulk Hogan at? Oh, here he is! He's gonna bitch and moan about how he should be champ or whatever. Hogan even points out that they never changed the nameplate on the gold. I genuinely hate this fuck. I thought Mach was your friend, Hogan? Can't you be happy for him, you miserable bastard? This is a rhetorical question because there is a cold void where Hogan's soul should be. 

 

  • Footage. Hogan dumps Sting, Luger, and The Giant. The Giant starts to trip Hogan, but the footage cuts before Hogan's claims that he was pulled under the bottom rope rather than tossed over the top rope for a proper elimination can be verified. Welp, fuck you Hogan, if the footage don't fit, you must acquit (or some such shit). Anyway, Savage was like I AIN'T SEE SHIT HOGAN and then The Giant runs out and clubs Hogan away before choke-slamming Savage on the concrete. The Giant stalks Hogan, but Sting runs a distraction and Hogan grabs a chair and goes chairshot crazy on The Giant. Does poor ol' Giant ever get one over on Hogan? Ever? Anyway, Sting eventually calms Hogan down. Meanwhile, Savage's shit is wrecked back down the aisleway. Noooooo, our championnnnnnn. 😞

 

  • Main event time! Sting and Lex Luger's friendship has been forged in fire and cannot be broken by competing interests. They're here to fight Brian Pillman and Arn Anderson. Well, actually, just Sting is here at first. Is Luger showing up? Yes. Yes, he is. He saunters down a bit late. Sting doesn't care because he is an enabler of Luger's generally poor behavior and inattentiveness to schedules. The heels get the advantage before a Luger cheap shot from the apron leads to stereo gorilla presses and a bit of shine for the faces. Luger's taking so many shortcuts, he even feints Arn on a knucklelock to kick him in the solar plexus instead. He's doing rope burns and shit. This is great. Sting's all high-impact face offense and Luger's just being as lazy as possible. This laziness leads to Luger carelessly shoving Pillman off the top rope into Sting when Sting's got the Scorpion Deathlock on Arn. Did he do it on purpose? Again, this is a rhetorical question because Lex is definitely a deadly combination of dumb and lazy at this point. 

 

  • The heels use this to put in work on Sting. Luger is generally dumb and getting distracted by Pillman and missing hot tags. Bischoff doesn't trust Luger's motives, but trust me, Eric, he's just slow. Anyway, Sting wins after reversing a roll-up and Ric Flair tears down to fuck everyone up. Flair knocks out Nick Patrick just for the hell of it and it's three-on-two until Hogan comes down for the save. Oh look, here he is beating Flair's ass now. Great. Hogan's about to beat up Luger, too, but Sting stops him and Luger bails. 

 

  • How much of any of this was purposeful or accidental? Who is friend? Who is foe? This is still good stuff; the relationships are getting slightly more complex and a couple of guys, particularly Luger (but also Savage), are doing excellent character work to help tangle the web of intrigue further. 

 

  • This was a solid show yet again. There's quite a lot of momentum leading into Starrcade this year already! 3.75 out of 5 Stinger Splashes. 

 

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Posted (edited)

Show #14 - 4th December 1995

"The one with the NBA crossover (haha, what a pun!)"

  • Lex Luger and Randy Savage will be wrestling in the main event tonight, and it's a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match. Eric Bischoff also lets us know that WCW officials are putting Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and The Giant on probation for their attacks on referees and Randy Savage, collectively, last week. In other words, everyone is very tense about their chances to become champ. The WCW WHC feels desperately important because of how everyone is shifting their alliances just to make it to the top. Well, except for dependable ol' Sting, who just wants to be champ and to save Lex Luger from the charms of Satan Jimmy Hart. But first...

 

  • Marcus Bagwell and Scotty Riggs, the American Males, are out to wrestle Harlem Heat (with Sensational Sherri, momentarily at least) for the WCW World Tag Team Championship. You may recall that back on Show #3 - 18 September 1995, the Males pulled the upset to win the gold from Harlem Heat for a short reign. 

 

  • This match is attempting to do two things, I think. First, it wants to advance the Sherri/Col. Parker angle and wrap that angle into the match (will Parker distract Sherri and keep her from focusing Harlem Heat at ringside and keeping them on task. I should say that the commentary team does a great job of getting this "will Harlem Heat be distracted if Sherri's not there" narrative thread over throughout the match. Second, it wants to get Bagwell over. Bagwell gets in the bulk of the Males's offense and is the hot tag to Riggs's FIP. The ending of the match also sets up the "Bagwell is way better than Riggs and will eventually realize it and do something drastic" angle that's coming down the pike. 

 

  • So, this match only does one of those things. It definitely advances the Sherri/Parker angle, as he puts a ring on it and they walk off together halfway through. However, the guy who actually ends up getting over in this match is Booker T. He gets a face pop on entrance. Later, he gets into a shit-talking exchange with former Los Angeles Laker and current (at the time) Phoenix Sun A.C. Green at ringside that heats up the crowd. I'm guessing he called Green a 40-year-old virgin or some shit like that. Still later, he whiffs an attack, but Spinaroonies up and kicks Riggs in the face to a huge pop. The finish is Riggs being too dumb to stop drawing the ref over post-hot tag, leading to Stevie Ray holding Bagwell in place for a Booker T Harlem Hangover. He crushes Bagwell with it to a massive pop and basically walks out with the gold to cheers, continuing to shit-talk Green on his way out. 

 

  • I said in the review for that earlier Heat/Males match that Booker is a guy with a dearth of great matches who somehow feels like he earned his rep as a worker anyway, at least to me. I think a big part of it is that he's very underrated in his physical charisma and somewhat underrated as an athlete, especially at that size. Combine that with being a slightly out-of-control worker who might drill you with some shit that hurts, but that looks like it hurts in that awesome pro wrestling way, and I get why people love his work even if his "Best Matches" list doesn't come close to standing up in comparison to almost, like, anyone else out there at that level or above. 

 

  • And man, did he look king-sized in that match. I was reminded why I was such a big fan of his.

 

  • Luger and Sting are in the aisle to talk to one another and to Gene Okerlund. It's an aimless sort of time-filler segment where each man tells the other that they're not letting friendship get in the way of wanting to be champ. Then, Sting is meant to go to the ring for a match with Kurasawa after the segment. Even though his music hits, he heads to the back with Lex, getting like halfway there before about-facing and going to the ring like he meant to walk the extra distance. That was my favorite part of the segment.

 

  • Here is how not to have a semi-competitive match where the guy higher on the card wins. Sting comes in firing, Kurasawa gets control and does a bunch of arm work, as is his forte, that gets abruptly cut off and ignored into a Scorpion Deathlock for a submission. Kurasawa actually spent time working the arm, so the blowoff (and I mean entirely; I'm not asking Sting to do a one-armed Scorpion Deathlock or anything, but it all meant absolutely nothing) really made me feel like my time was wasted. Savage wrestled Kurasawa, sold the arm injury throughout, and actually, he still is because Kurasawa softened up that arm back in Show #8 - 23rd October 1995 and then Luger destroyed it a few weeks later, and now it's a key injury that they're using to sell that Luger well could win the title tonight. Meanwhile, Sting blows that shit off entirely. Meh. On the other hand, Savage and the booking team taking care to work the initial arm injury from his Kurasawa match through the weeks ahead. The contrast is just a bit too much for me to let Sting off the hook here. 

 

  • Here, on the other hand,  is how to have a semi-competitive match where the guy higher on the card wins. Scott Norton is out to face off with The Giant. Norton's been built up as a brick shithouse, a real tough bastard with ridiculous strength. The Giant is The Giant, an athletic freak with a wondrous blend of size and agility. So, they work a really fun TV match that makes sense. Norton gets a spot that is pretty fucking awesome where he holds the Giant in the air for like eight or nine seconds before atomic-dropping him. The Giant hits a thunderous body slam on Norton, really gets him up there, and then hits a sweet chokeslam on Norton as the latter comes off the top rope. Hey, a logical finish because Norton figured out that he'd have to do something different to beat this guy, and he got caught going to a place that he was not comfortable with. 

 

  • We get: Norton is a freakishly strong and tough character himself, The Giant is an elite athlete with promise, The Giant is a legit main eventer who ultimately was never really in trouble, Norton is a credible gatekeeper a la Meng, and a match structure that indicates that The Giant is so dangerous that opponents have to do out-of-character stuff just to have a shot at him. Fantastic work here in the layout, and honestly, this was just fun for a short match in which two guys do cool feats of strength. 

 

  • Ric Flair comes to ringside with a friend from the Phoenix area (tonight's location): former Sixer, then-current Sun, and then-future Rocket Charles Barkley. Barkley looks super-happy to be there. He gets in the ring, heels on his own home fans a bit (they have no time for Flair), and then spends the segment massively putting Flair over. Okerlund asks them if they're hitting the town together, and I hope that they went to Casey Moore's on Ash in Tempe and got sauced with the college kids. And then they probably would have got stereo DUIs, of course, but let's not dwell on that. Flair talks shit and then they leave. Aimless, but fun anyway. 

 

  • Main event time! Lex Luger is out, wearing a shit-eating grin second only to Flair's in the previous segment. Randy Savage is out. The match is worked around the arm, as Savage goes from wanting to brawl with Luger to settling for getting his revenge by trying to destroy Luger's arm. Eventually, we lead up to the finish, which is filled with jibber-jabber. Savage dodges interference and ends up getting a visual pinfall off a flying elbowsmash, though the ref is out. Hart is in, then Flair comes back and drills Savage with knucks. That draws Hogan down and the ref calls for a no-contest, I think? Maybe that or a DQ win for Luger since the ref didn't see Flair, but saw Hogan come in and beeline for Luger. Hogan takes out Hart (he noggin-knocks them, but as it should happen, Hart bounces crazily off Luger pecs and Luger just sort of takes a half-step back in wooziness). Then, he goes to punch Luger, but Sting intercedes and eats the punch himself. 

 

  • Post-match, Hogan, Sting, and Savage have a philosophical argument about Luger's aberrant behavior. Is it nature that makes Luger a scumbag, as Hogan and Savage attest, or is it nurture that has led him to Jimmy Hart, a possibility favored by Sting considering that Hogan and Savage never gave Luger a chance to prove that he was worth knowing? This is truly a question for the behavioral scientists, and also I guess everyone at the commentary desk and all of us watching at home. 

 

  • This was a well-balanced show even with most of the talking segments (other than the last one) treading water. We basically got a blend of angle advancement and the cementing of a few guys's levels. I do honestly think that the tag match didn't actually make they guy that they thought they were going to make, but Bagwell does come out positioned above Riggs as he needs to be. The Giant and Norton are properly positioned and those positions are established. The storylines regarding who should trust whom are advanced. The only minor issue is that Luger is such an asshole that it's just a bit hard to see Sting's position that Luger is lashing out at people who immediately suspected him. I mean, Luger is really killing it with character work right now, but he needed to show a bit more emotional vulnerability so that we could get why Sting doggedly stuck by him. That's a minor complaint, though. 3.75 Stinger Splashes out of 5

 

 

 

Edited by SirSmellingtonofCascadia
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