Show #24 - 12th February 1996
"The one with that big, stinky Giant Lochness"
SuperBrawl was alright, though the double main event was uneven. Savage/Flair was solid and had the Miss Elizabeth turn, which was pretty well executed (particularly with the interference fakeout from Woman and her packet of powder before Elizabeth and Liz's high heel (2-0) put an end to the proceedings). Unfortunately, Hogan/Giant wasn't great, and not because of LE GEANT~. The undercard was uneven as well; WCW still hasn't figured out how to book that undercard in a way that gets the crowd hyped, but they will soon.
We're in Hulk Hogan's backyard of Tampa, which has a downtown that Bischoff describes as "beautiful," ahahahaha, I see we got jokes tonight, Bisch.
George Steinbrenner is here and has something to do with using the State Fairgrounds in Tampa for the show or something, I guess, sure, lt's get Steinbrenner on here. I'd prefer Larry-David-as-Steinbrenner to actual Steinbrenner, but I'll take what I can get. Anyway, stills from SuperBrawl are up first.
After that, we have our first match: Hugh Morrus, the Laughing Man wanders out to the ring verrrrrrry slowly to face off with Randy Savage. This match is indicative of Savage TV matches against midcarders at this point, and in a case like Hugh Morrus or other midcarders that he faces (Kurosawa, Scott Norton), it's really helpful to the midcarder, who gets to do all of their cool offense and look beastly while Savage sells beautifully from underneath.
Anyway, Savage comes out looking shook and maybe a bit nutty. Savage comes out swinging, but he's still selling his hurt arm from weeks ago and the cumulative beatings he's been taking and Morrus struggles his way on top soon enough. Morrus needs to use this control to do more cool shit, tbh, like a lot of other guys did in this spot. Anyway, there's a bit of back and forth after Morrus's control segment, but a Morrus whiff on a No Laughing Matter leads to a Savage flying elbowsmash. Savage is so heated, though, that he's more about punishment than getting three, and he hits another one before taking the victory. He thinks about hitting another one, but Morrus wisely bails. Savage then gets on the mic and calls out Flair. This dude is mad over with the Tampa crowd, and he deserves to be.
Watching Savage in 1996 I think makes me feel like he doesn't get enough credit in general. I feel like Savage with the tassels and cowboy hat was the point at which people generally argue that he fell off, but he's so good at filling this role here as a fighting veteran babyface who gets guys over as dangerous while still finding ways to win, and it's 1996. I get that maybe his career is sullied by 1999 valet-punching, super-roided, immobile Savage, which, look, it was patently awful and I can't defend it. But he was so good in so many roles and situations before then. He's got to be one of the tippy-top best wrestlers ever, at least in Canada/the United States. I can't imagine that anyone could legitimately leave him off a top-25 list, and I genuinely would look at someone who leaves him off their top ten a bit funny.
Motorsports shit yawn zzzzzzzzz snore.
Scotty Riggs is here to face get beaten up by Giant "Lochness Monster" Haystacks. Heenan refers to Lochness's distinctive aroma, which was confirmed as TRUE in Bret Hart's book. You know, I enjoy watching UK wrestling, but I really haven't seen him work in the UK. Like, most of what I know of his work is here, and he was only around for a short time before going back home. Did he have a cancer diagnosis while in the U.S. or shortly after he left?
Anyway, Riggs throws the arsenal at Haystacks, who wobbles and then drops Riggs on what is supposed to be a catch and powerslam. Two elbowdrops later, and it's over. Man, it's painful watching Haystacks move and get up from the mat to some degree. The Hogan/Haystacks match that was teased and that never happened would have been a mess.
Woman and Liz are here to talk to Gene Okerlund. Flair's there, too, in a suit on a gurney, but let's circle back: Liz has gone full slutty MILF, and it is glorious. Look, hey, some things that you first experienced from your teenage days are impactful with you forever. I'm gonna settle down, Smellynetico and all that, at least somewhat. Flair rants, but honestly, I wasn't really paying attention to what he was saying.
Elizabeth talks, and honestly, I get her point. Flair lets her talk and shit and doesn't cut her off and she can express herself. That's why she left. Then she botches a bit, but yeah whatever, and Flair is going to step in and speak for her. But she's got this, Flair! God, that's why she left Savage. Don't tell her what she's trying to say! Anyway, Liz recovers. She likes taking Savage's wealth because of the abuse she's suffered, which is so based in reality that is Savage the heel, sort of? It's worth considering!
Devon Storm comes out for his Nitro debut, pre-Crowbar of course. He'll face off with Konnan, the current U.S. Champ. I feel like Storm/Crowbar was pretty fun? I want to see if my memories are based in any truth. He's out here doing dives and using all the available equipment and getting powerbombed on the mat and while the crowd as a whole is slow to get into it, the side of the ring that this happens on is definitely feeling the proceedings. That was pretty fun fast-paced junk wrestling. They get back in the ring and continue to cut a decent pace. I feel like this stuff in 1996 United States should be getting more of a pop? Part of the crowd chants for Konnan, but I expected a bigger reaction. The camera cuts to Steinbrenner in the front row, looking utterly confused at what the shit is happening in front of him.
The match meanders a bit after Konnan slows things down with a submission hold on the mat. Bischoff has to apologize for some joking hotline comments about some WWF show losing power, and he does so while speaking in low tones and at the pace of the Micro Machines ad guy. Then he's like, "FUCK YOU, IT'S FUNNY." Meanwhile, Devon Storm's top-rope hurricanrana gets reversed into a powerbomb from the top rope for three. There were enough powerbombs to make that whole match worth the while.
Tonight's main event: Arn Anderson versus Hulk Hogan. Arn only comes down with Woman. Brian Pillman has mysteriously fucked off somewhere after respecting the bookerman the previous night at SuperBrawl. Bisch plays that up a bit. Hogan comes out, beats up Arn, does a bunch of back rakes and throat thrusts like he's Hollywood already, and really looks like he's in control of the match. Arn really needs an equalizer. He tries to piledrive Hogan on the mats outside the ring, but nope. That's not the equalizer that Arn is looking for. Meanwhile, Hollywood Hogan chokes Arn with tape while Bobby Heenan points out that Hogan has done whatever he's wanted with no pushback. Is Hogan the heel? Yes. Yes, he is.
Arn's still looking for an equalizer as Hogan assaults him. Is raising a boot at a charging Hogan the equalizer? Nope. Steinbrenner enjoys Hogan scraping Arn's eyes with a boot. That seems about right. AXE BOMBAH from Hogan, who is pretty much meeting no resistance from Arn. Arn does get an elbow up on a corner charge. He then tries a high-risk top-rope move. Is that the equal-nope, Hogan immediately cuts him off. Arn does do some work on Hogan's injured eye, though, which his elbow opened up. Still, he needs a true equalizer - wait, whose music is that? It's Liz's high heel! Also, Liz and Flair are escorting it to the ring.
Meanwhile, Arn's spinebuster gets two and Hogan's Hulking Up. He's got Arn in the Figure Four, and when Flair jumps in, Hogan pins Flair at the same time that Arn is still in the Figure Four. Woman runs a distraction with a powder attack that actually works. Then, the equalizer: Liz's high heel (3-0) finds a way to intervene and help Arn get the pinfall. What a beast. Liz's high heel (3-0) should be number one contender to Flair's title, or Konnan's, at the very least.
Anyway, Hogan sits up like the Undertaker and gets all his heat back, whew, good move there, Hogan. You would have lost way too much shine after *checks notes* visually pinning Flair and submitting Arn and only losing by multi-pronged interference. Flair eats a chair from Savage, who has come to join the party. The crowd is hot for it, though! Flair goes over to the set, takes Bischoff's headset, yells at Mongo, and rants a bunch. It's entertaining. Arn talks about how he beat Hulk Hogan. He claims that he can do it again. Then Hogan ruins that by running over, scattering everyone, and threatening Bobby Heenan. He also yaps Mach's catchphrase once again and says something about Pee-Wee Herman, I think? Man, this dude SUUUUUUUUUCKS.
There'll be a rematch next week. Time for Liz's high heel to dominate. Hogan is bad. Everything else is pretty good! This show needed more Sting, but it still gets 3.75 Stinger Splashes out of 5.