WCW Monday Nitro, March 18th 1996.
Hello and welcome back to Wrestling in the Clinton years, the longest running weekly episodic wrestling blog in history (probably).
The last days of the war on Hulkamania draw near with Uncensored and the Doomsday Cage match just 6 days away and The Alliance to end Hulkamania has a few more surprises up its sleeve before the end of the show but before that there is still a Nitro to paw through first.
The show kicks off in baffling fashion as we join in the midst of The Giant and Loch Ness brawling in the arena aisle way as not even the announce team are prepared for what’s happening. The crew manage to scramble into place and reveal that the Giant had attacked Loch Ness on the latter’s way to the ring to challenge Lex Luger for the WCW TV Championship. After the two came to blows last week during the lumberjack match we also learn that the two will face off at Uncensored with the winner getting a match against Ric Flair for the World title the following night. As the two behemoths brawl Luger’s music plays and without missing a beat Lex makes his way to the ring, even hilariously posing for the fans mere feet from the fight. The brawl continues as Lex reaches the ring, urging the referee to start the match despite Ness being all the way at the entrance and engaged in a rather lame brawl with Giant. The referee complies with the Total Package’s wishes and starts the match, beginning a 10 count to Ness and sure enough Lex is declared the winner where he celebrates like he’s just won the world title. Even Jimmy Hart abandons trying to break up the fight between Giant and Loch Ness to congratulate Luger, leaping into Lex’s arms before the pair remember that they’re not supposed to be allies and Luger ushers Jimmy from the ring. An ecstatic Lex joins the announcers to celebrate his “victory” and declare that he is on the roll of a lifetime. Luger even asks for a high-five from Mongo but he leaves Lex hanging. Bobby Heenan is all too happy to oblige Lex and gives Luger his wish.
This segment was absolute gold. Luger’s comic timing and character work were amazing and as odd as this sounds, Lex has become my favourite part of the show. Sadly, it’s all downhill from there.
With the first match of the show only lasting 10 seconds it’s clear a replacement is required and Bischoff soon recieves a message through his headset that the Steiner Brothers will face the Public Enemy in a stand-by match but before that something amazing happens as Tony Schiavone finally makes his debut on WitCY, standing in for Gene Okerlund who is absent due to flu. Schiavone is tasked with interviewing Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage who will be in the main event of the show taking on Ric Flair and Kevin Sullivan in a “Texas Tornado” tag match. Basically Hogan predicts a win for him and Savage tonight and at Uncensored no matter who Taskmaster brings to the cage match. It should also be noted that Hogan receives a ton of boos from the Chatanooga crowd and equally of note was Schiavone’s eternal look of boredom as Savage and Hogan rant and ramble almost incoherently. He’s such a pro.
Now it’s time for the replacement match as the replacement Public Enemy bring a table to the ring to face the replacement Steiner Brothers whose theme thankfully hasn’t been replaced as the excellently cheesy Steiner-ised theme signals their arrival. “Put down your notebooks” screams Bischoff ostensibly in reference to this not being a scientific match but did make me think that Eric is a member of the first civilisation from Assassin’s Creed sending messages across time to me that I should stop taking notes.
Highlights of the match include Scott blasting Rocco Rock with a tilt a whirl slam and a scary looking press slam early on before a small blue plastic chair to Rick’s face give the Enemy some momentum. The Public Enemy aren’t the victims here as they do keep the Steiners down for a while, Rock looking impressive with numerous moonsaults to Rick Steiner. Ultimately the Steiner brothers prevail as Rocco Rock puts himself through the table the Enemy brought to the ring as he attempts a plancha onto Rick leaving partner Johnny Grunge at the mercy of the Steiners who hit a top rope bulldog to end the match. This ended up being a fine TV match but personally I would like more of the Steiners mercilessly suplexing their opponents all over the ring but the Public Enemy did look good throughout the match.
Poor Arn Anderson must’ve wondered what he did in a past life to deserve a match against The Booty Man but that’s exactly what is up next. Despite Booty being shoehorned into a feud with Diamond Dallas Page to replace the departed Johnny B Badd (Marc Mero) Booty is still part of the War on Hulkamania here and this deathly dull contest with endless stalling and lots of punching in between. Even the finish of the match fails to impress as Kimberly Page appears once more distracting both Arn and Booty as Kimberly and Woman square up to each other. Arn attacks Booty as he tries to interject between the ladies and rolls him into the ring where “from out of nowhere” Booty drills Arn with a high knee to the head to win the match and end Arn’s Nitro undefeated streak (according to Arn) in a match that was as dull as dull could get.
On this week’s WCW Saturday Night Ric Flair fought Sgt Craig Pittman apparently and having seen it it was much better than anything on this Nitro.
Are the Road Warriors heels or faces? That’s an increasingly hard question to answer based on the cheap win they scored on the last Nitro and in this match against the Nasty Boys too. After their mysterious attack last week the Nastys come to the ring heavily bandaged and taped from their injuries. Although Knobbs has opted to tape his ribs OVER HIS SHIRT which surely would have no effect.
This is a fairly standard brawl between the two teams with no real structure apart from punching and kicking (and a vicious chop to Jerry Sags’ face by Hawk) until for some reason the Steiners rush the ring and attack both teams. This distraction allows Animal to hit Knobbs with a wristguard just like last week and win the match for the Road Warriors. So the Warriors alignment is still under question it seems.
The main event sees the reformed Mega Powers face Ric Flair and The Taskmaster in a match equally as predictable as every other tag match in recent weeks on Nitro as Hogan and Savage dominate their opponents throughout the match like they have so many times before. Hogan placing a giant foam cowboy hat on Flair is funny but does make the world champion look like a complete fool, as does Hogan beating up both heels with the blue plastic chair from earlier. Woman passing Ric a shoe for him to blast Hogan with it is an unwelcome callback to the start of this last act to the feud but this time Hogan hulks up instead of being carted out. The match has no finish however as Brian Pilman (who at this point was back in WCW and booked to take part in the Doomsday Cage match) appears to attack Savage, causing a DQ. The match decends into anarchy as Arn Anderson join the stand-off until all eyes turn to the entrance and the frightful sight of Z-Gangster (Tiny “Zeus/Earth President from The Fifth Element/Convict with the trigger from The Dark Knight/Cop from the Chamillionaire video” Lister) lumbering down to the ring with a new friend, a massive painted man dubbed (and I wish I was making this up) “The Final Solution”. Thankfully this was changed to the much less offensive “Ultimate Solution” before Uncensored. The sight of this terrifying force causes Hogan, Savage and Booty Man to flee through the crowd as the assembled villains pose and taunt the Mega Powers. Tony Schiavone joins them to close the segment as he offers Flair and Sullivan a mic to cut brief promos where Zeus and Hogan’s past is alluded too and Flair gloats once more that Elizabeth is riding Space Mountain regularly. What a delightful image.
So once again Lex Luger is the most entertaining thing on the show. If you had told me that I would write that at tbe start of this I would have called you crazy but Luger’s direction and amazing character work are astounding. Maybe I had him all wrong, after all my impression of Luger was formed during his failed WWF career.
Luger aside, this wasn’t that good a show but the Steiners against The Public Enemy was entertaining as a throwaway television match and Zeus/Z-Gangster reappearing in wrestling was a welcome dose of nostalgia. If only the Flair/Pittman match was on this show too.
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