It’s been a hell of a ride, but we’ve made it, you and I. 1996 closes tonight, and it’s certainly been a year of movement. We’re going to look back at all the wackiness that was the changing of the guard from Old Guys to Old Guys With New Friends In Black and White Shirts, as well as the arrival of the luchadores, Mongo McMichael’s growth into a more well-rounded annoyance, Glacier who is coming soon, Roddy Piper complete with recaps of our recap of Roddy Piper, and much much more.
But first, we have Nitro. The nWo had their asses sorta kinda handed to them last night, but everyone’s allowed one bad night out of 365, right?
Outside the Knoxville Coliseum, THE OUTSIDERS, HOLLYWOOD HOGAN, SYXX, TED DIBIASE, VINCENT, MARCUS BAGWELL, ELIZABETH, and ERIC BISCHOFF arrive in a stretch limo. That’s a lot of bodies; I don’t care how big that car is. They brag about continuing to hold all the gold. Very impressive, seeing as how the World Title has been defended all of ONE time since Hogan’s victory 4 months ago. The Giant takes a little issue with Hogan’s gloating, and points to the nameplate that still has his name on it. He wants a shot at the belt, because he managed to win World War 3. Hogan tells him not to worry about it, his “title shot” just means it was a bye, and it buys the nWo more time with the title. Giant’s pissed he has no chance to be the lead dog, but Hogan reminds him that as long as the belt is in the family, it doesn’t matter. He tells Giant not to drop the ball a second time. DiBiase chases the camera man away, so they can deal with their family business.
We are LIVE from Knoxville, Tennessee. FIREWORKS FIREWORKS FIREWORKS! It’s standing room only, says TONY SCHIAVONE. He’s with the ghost of LARRY ZBYSZKO, who can’t talk enough about “Roddy Roddy Piper”.
THE AMAZING FRENCH CANADIANS (with Colonel Robert Parker) vs. THE PUBLIC ENEMY
Despite their best efforts to sing the National Anthem, using the beautiful French translation, Tony talks all over them, mocking them. May the FLQ bomb his mailbox. TPE comes in for a little brawling, but the Frenchmen hold their ground. Rougeau takes a backdrop and hits the deck, leaving poor Ouellette to get double teamed and suffer a similar fate. With the ring cleared, we THROW OUR HANDS IN THE AIR! WAVE ‘EM LIKE WE JUST DON’T CARE! The Colonel, sporting a fantastic pencil thin mustache, directs the troops to just leave. TPE chases them down, and attacks with their quasi Quebecanadian flags. Rougeau is placed on a table that was helpfully left at ringside … and the Drive By hits NO ONE because Rougeau rolls away. The French finish Rocco with the Quebec Crash seconds later at 3:30. I tried to be enthusiastic, but no amount of energy is going to cover up the smell of Public Enemy. 1/2*
JUSHIN LIGER vs. THE ULTIMATE DRAGON (with Sonny Onoo) (for the WCW world cruiserweight title)
I’ll give WCW credit for having the stones to take their most prized Cruiserweight commodity, and job him to the temporary Japanese guest. Dragon has new music tonight, but only because Liger had to use “sounds Japanese to us” tonight. Liger hits Dragon with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, and goes right to the surfboard. He won’t tap (likely since he has no use of his arms), so Liger releases and nails a handspring back elbow, and follows with an ultra-fast senton for 2. A powerbomb is delivered as a message to Sonny Onoo, but he takes too much time jawing with Sonny, and lets the Dragon get back into this. Liger takes a powder, and Dragon plants him with tope suicida. Back in, a flying headbutt is blocked with a foot to the face, and it’s nice to see someone actually trying a move when the big boot blocks it (cuz it looked like it HURT!). Liger nails a brainbuster, and gets 2. He doesn’t slow down, throwing a superplex for 2. Larry thinks he’s nuts, just months after having a brain tumor removed, to be putting his head in jeopardy; but I’d like to point out that Larry himself is able to work behind the announce table despite the frontal lobotomy. Liger heads back up, but gets cut off and beaten up. Dragon whips around from behind, hits a super rana, and finishes with the Dragon Suplex at 4:44. This was CRIMINALLY short; where’s the other 20 minutes?!? I guess we don’t have time, because coming up, and this is a direct quote from one Mr. Schiavone: “A MIDGET MATCH! With Midgets from MEXICO!” **1/2
KONAN (with Jimmy Hart) vs.
BIG BUBBER M WALLSTREET (in a strap match)
Good lord, there’s like 20 Stunt Grannies in the front row! We must up for one hell of a fan attack later tonight. Bubba fails to appear, but Wallstreet does. Wallstreet says Bubba won’t be able to make it tonight, but he has a message for the Dungeon of Doom and Konan: he’s not afraid of that strap. Oh. Konan turns his back to gripe to god knows who, and Wallstreet attacks, and slips the strap on. Konan hogties himself to prevent Wallstreet from touching all the turnbuckles. I … don’t get the strategy, but ok. Wallstreet comes off the top, and Konan boots him in the face, unties himself, and crotches Wallstreet with the strap. Wallstreet takes a whoopin’, and Konan yells “DUNGEON OF DOOM”, but I don’t think he was playing that for laughs. Wallstreet responds by hanging Konan behind his back, and tags the first turnbuckle, with Konan following suit. Both guys keep tagging the buckle together, and as we head towards the 4th one, to the shock of the Stunt Grannies, Konan is punched by Wallstreet, falling into the buckle, and wins the match at 2:34. Let’s not do this again. -***
HOLLYWOOD HOGAN struts out with ERIC BISCHOFF sniffing his throne. Bischoff immediately bows down and tells the fans to respect the current and reigning World Champion; just in case you need to be reminded last night was non-title and if you paid for the show expecting to see a title change, up yours! Hogan gloats about beating Piper in the middle of the ring, and making his kid come down to ringside and beg for mercy. This carries on for an eternity, with both guys sucking each other’s kneecaps. NEXT.
HUGH MORRUS vs. KENSUKI SASAKI (with Sonny Onoo)
Oh good, Sasaki is back. Did he ever get proper revenge on One Man Gang? Can we make sure that if he does, he does it somewhere else? Both guys clothesline each other, and bang into each other. I think they’re going for some sumo thing, but it’s not working. Tony takes a moment to brag about all the big money scalpers made last night. A vertical suplex from Sasaki gets 2. He starts in with the chops, but Morrus no-sells. Knock it off, just because you’re friends with Meng does not make you Meng. Morrus hits a clothesline and applies the ever exciting chinlock. Avalanche splash sets up an arrival to the announce booth by…
ERIC BISCHOFF. He has a mysterious video tape! What’s on it? Roddy Piper in another embarrassing music video? Chris Benoit’s uncensored sex tape with Woman in Prague? Roddy Piper embarrassing himself in Chris Benoit’s sex tape in Prague? No, it’s apparently footage of last night’s main event which we will never, ever see. That’s the ONLY copy?
Back in the ring, Morrus hits No Laughing Matter, and the referee is forced to count slower than Nick Patrick because Sonny is way out of position for his run in with the Japanese flag to draw a DQ at 4:40. Morrus declares 1997 the year of the Dungeon. DUD
Tony airs stills of Piper’s win over Hogan, so the whole tape thing is negated. Then he reminds us to join him for Saturday Night, which will undoubtedly be a HUNDRED MILLION BILLION times better than anything we’ve seen tonight.
HARLEM HEAT (with Sista Sherri) vs. THE FACES OF FEAR
I’m warning you WCW, I’m on edge, do NOT mess with me here. Meng starts with Stevie Ray, which seems like a mismatch since Stevie Ray is not a wrestler. Still, he beats up Meng, and hits him with a corner clothesline. Meng responds with a much better clothesline, and turns to his buddy Barbarian who comes firing out of the gate with some fast fists. Booker comes in, and hits the axe kick, which sets the Harlem Sidekick, getting 2. Booker goes up, which Barbarian quickly cuts off, and Booker is thrown no less than the distance of a regulation sized football field. Meng comes in, and Booker tries to go toe to toe with him, but you can guess how THAT ends. Backbreaker gets 2. Booker kicks him in the face, hits a Harlem Sidekick, and that draws in COLONEL ROBERT PARKER?!? He’s got a whip; the kind you’d see amongst only the finest in fetish escorts. Sherri takes one swift whip to the ass, and she’s so turned on that she dives on Colonel and they roll around violently. JACQUES ROUGEAU shows up, and throws powder in Stevie Ray’s face. The Kick of Fear from Meng connects, but the referee is tied up with something or other, and misses Booker T hitting the Harlem Hangover. Stevie is rolled on top for the win at 3:34. You know what? Fuck you WCW, fuck you and your stupid show. You have the best, most charismatic team of killers at your disposal, and you respond by jobbing them out to the freakin’ Nasty Boys, Outsiders, and now Harlem Heat who apparently need to win their 40th tag-team titles or something. You can’t handle having a group that’s cooler than the nWo. Nooooo, get over on your own in-ring merits, and lose forever. This show blows goats, all the bookers can go to hell, and that includes Booker T who was part of this debacle. -*******************************, and that’s being generous.
“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND introduces DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE, who will continue to get pushed because he’s friends with Eric Bischoff and speaks English. DDP says he’s not crying about getting screwed over last night, and vows to fix things. He realizes he’s been thick headed and stubborn, and now he gets it. The nWo is far too strong for him, and he knows what he has to do. I know what he SHOULD do, team up with the Faces of Fear, he’d have more power than ISIS backing him up.
The second hour kicks off with Larry disappearing. MIKE TENAY and “SOBER” BOBBY HEENAN replace him. And JUST in case you thought the suck was coming to an end, we’re talking midgets.
Everything Hogan is replayed from earlier tonight. Sure, we can’t have THESE tapes suppressed. In fact, since they’re censoring stuff, they can start by wiping the first half of this show from the face of the earth. And probably the second because I’m in a foul mood.
DISCO INFERNO vs. GLACIER
Big news from the camp of Glacier: He has altered his lights to a soft violet. Disco grabs the microphone, and warns Glacier that he’s perfected his new leg hold, and it would be wise if he just left. Glacier doesn’t budge, making him “dumber than Peyton Manning!” Okay, that brought me back to the show – I’m all aboard Team Disco. Glacier hits Disco with a violent … wristlock. That makes Disco mad, so it’s on. Glacier kicks the crap out of Disco, accentuating his attack with a Harlem sidekick. Was his Sensei Colonel Robert Parker? Leg sweep sets up a dropkick, and a heart punch (or clothesline, if you’re Tony) have Glacier in full command. The Cryonic Kick is blocked by Disco putting the referee in the way, and Glacier pulls back. Disco hits a clothesline, and stomps a mudhole. Disco tells the camera it’s time for his new leg hold, but he grabs the wrong leg. He goes to correct it, and takes a back kick to the chin. Disco comes back with a swinging neckbreaker, and decides this would be a great time to dance. Cryonic Kick about takes his head off, and Glacier wins at 3:25. Oif. 1/2*
CHRIS BENOIT (with Woman) vs. CHRIS JERICHO
No, this isn’t the advertised midget match. The give-away is that Tony promised they’d be Mexican. Jericho is all energy tonight, hitting a super fast spinning heel kick, and then nailing a missile dropkick off the top all the way to the floor. Jericho rolls Benoit back in and chops away at his Canadian brethren. Benoit responds with a Stun Gun, and bitch slaps the poutine out of him, screaming “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DEALING WITH?” I recommend Jericho play dead, it might make him stop. Benoit keeps chopping away, but Jericho gives it back. A clothesline off the ropes knocks Benoit down, but he pops up and they start slugging it out again. Benoit shoots Jericho face first to the buckle with a quick drop toe hold, and mounts him in the corner with punches. Jericho rushes forward with an atomic drop, nails the Sweet Chin Music, but misses the Lionsault. They fight on the apron, which Jericho wins. He hits a crossbody off the top, but no pin is attempted. An avalanche is missed, and Jericho finds himself at Benoit’s mercy on top, eating a belly to back superplex for the win at 4:00. Holy hell, through the clouds of garbage, there sits a ray of sunshine, and it came with nonstop intensity from two young brawlers. Incredible match compacted into 4 minutes, probably the best I’ve ever seen in that short a time. ****
RIC FLAIR, MONGO MCMICHAEL, and DEBRA MCMICHAEL stop Benoit and Woman on the way to the locker room, and “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND is on the scene. Debra tells Woman how much she’s missed her, but Woman heard every word of trash out her mouth the last few weeks, and gets all up in her area. Benoit wants to throw down with Mongo, which Flair stops. JEFF JARRETT comes down, and asks Ric when he’s going to get the chance to lead the Horsemen. Flair ignores him, puts his arm around Woman who’s asking where the hell Arn is, and figures she’s insane for even asking about his whereabouts on New Year’s Eve Eve. He’s drinking beer cold enough to freeze the hand off an Eskimo, and with that he starts dancing around with Woman. God bless Ric, NOTHING gets this man down.
Benoit’s still in a mood though (probably because the Faces of Fear lost, I’m with you brother), and tells Jarrett that all he proved last night is that he can be anything BUT a Horsemen. Debra figures Woman’s moody because of all the weight she put on over the holidays. Flair looks like he’s got a headache, but finds the strength to just ask everyone to dance all night. And he does just that, grabbing Debra, and doing a jig.
MASCARITA SAGRADA and OCTAGONCITO vs. JERITO ESTRADA and PIRATITA MORGAN
Sagrada is probably better known to you as Max Mini. And that’s about all I have to say about this. There is no way I’m doing play by play with names THAT long. It’s basically the Max Mini show anyway, with the littlest of little men flying all over the place. He really should go under the name of El Swan, since he’s graceful, yet delicate. Estrada might be the ugliest man to ever wrestle in WCW, looking like the midget lovechild of Steven Tyler and El Dandy. Max wins with the Oklahoma Roll at 2:25.
REY MYSTERIO JR. vs. DEAN MALENKO
At least WCW is willing to give this match the respect it deserves, by not announcing it, and giving both guys the “already in the ring” treatment. What is WRONG with them tonight? Were they so burned out by getting the booking more or less right (except for that Faces of Fear travesty) last night that they decided to celebrate the end of the year by blowing everything up? We’re a Sid run-in away from making this the perfect night, let me tell you. Rey sends Malenko to the floor, and hits a sweet swinging rana. Back in, Malenko takes down Rey and works a crossface. That’s moved to a standing surfboard, but Rey flails loose. They awkwardly fight with Rey up top, but nothing comes of it. Deano uses a fireman’s carry to set up a gutbuster, getting 2. Malenko starts his stretches, and Mysterio does his usual fine job of howling in agony. A butterfly suplex gets 2. Next up, a backbreaker, and Malenko holds on, bending Rey in half. The announcers are too busy hyping next week’s Nitro to notice, but Bobby works this in. Heenan: “Tony, do you like 360 pound women in bowling shirts?” Tony: “I don’t know, maybe, I can’t say I’ve ever met one.” Heenan: “You’ll love Green Bay!” Rey starts a bit of a comeback, pounding Malenko in the corner, but Dean shoves him away. Rey charges, Malenko launches him, and Mysterio was clearly supposed to land on the top buckle … but he winds up slipping and crotching himself. Dean heads up for a superplex, but Rey twists in mid-air and turns it into a crossbody. A rana is attempted, but Malenko turns it into a powerbomb, and gets 2. Dean goes for a brainbuster, but Rey turns it into an Oklahoma roll for 2. Another powerbomb is tried, but Rey rolls backwards for 2. Dean has enough and clotheslines Rey’s head off. He heads up, but Mysterio hits him with a spinning heel kick knocking Malenko to the floor. Off the top, Mysterio hits a super backspin dick to the face all the way to the floor! Back in, Rey goes for West Coast Pop, but Malenko hooks the leg and applies a Boston crab. Rey bridges out of the move, flips Malenko over, and gets 2. Mysterio tries another rana, but Malenko turns it into a sidewalk slam. Rey shoves off his Cloverleaf attempt, and hits a rana off the top, and the bell rings at 9:24?!? Apparently 9:24 was the designated time limit tonight, so the fans are given one more giant fist up the chute. Match was fine, but I’m so burned out on these two fighting each other. They need a good year apart from one another. ***1/2
GREG “THE HAMMER” VALENTINE vs. LEX LUGER
This show has already gone to hell in a handbasket, so we may as well send out the Hammer. The Stunt Grannies give Luger a standing ovation. I can’t do this, sorry, Greg Valentine play by play is where I’m drawing the line tonight. You can thank the booking committee for deciding to job out the Faces of Fear to the stale Harlem Heat. Torture Rack for the win at 2:41. DUD
Somehow, there’s still 15 bloody minutes in this show, plenty of time for RODDY PIPER to give me aneurysm. He gets a standing ovation, and thanks the fans for all the love. He figures Bischoff and Hogan live on Mars, because on Planet Earth, Hogan was snoring in the Sleeper. Piper announces last night was his last fight because he’s getting too old for this. Tell that to Adrian Adonis, Rod. HOLLYWOOD HOGAN and ERIC BISCHOFF hit the ring, and the Hulkster doesn’t look happy. Hogan says Piper’s a liar, and orders him to admit he lost. Piper tells him to eat it. Hogan decides to get personal, saying the only reason he didn’t end it for good was because Piper’s son begged Hogan to take it easy. Piper tells him that’s fine, and rips off his clothes, ready to throw down again. The only problem, is that THE OUTSIDERS and SYXX have hit the ring, and triple team Piper, going right after the hip again. Hogan chokes out Piper, as SCOTT NORTON, THE GIANT, and TED DIBIASE join the fracas. The fans start launching every bit of garbage they’ve got, to the point the apron is soaked in beer and soda. Hogan grabs a chair, and whacks Piper in the bad hip. Hogan then orders The Giant, who to this point has just stood there watching, to Chokeslam Piper. VINCENT comes down now, as does NICK PATRICK wearing an nWo shirt for the first time. Giant refuses to do the deed, so the nWo has a quick huddle. MEDICS wheel down a stretcher for Piper, while Hogan decides to deal with the Giant. He asks him what the deal is? He’s tired of Giant dropping the ball, and after 3 strikes, he’s out. Giant attacks Hogan, grabbing him by the throat, and orders the nWo to get the hell out of the ring or he’ll take out Hogan. He demands a title shot, and Hogan agrees. He tells Giant he loves him, and shakes his hand. He swears he didn’t know the title was that important to him, and rolls out of the ring. As soon as he hits the ground, he tells the nWo to attack. MARCUS BAGWELL is first, followed by Vincent, and the NWO STING. Sting eats a Chokeslam, and that brings in everyone at once. Giant manages to fight them off for a spell, but the numbers overwhelm him. With the Giant subdued, Hogan whacks Giant over the head with the belt. Hall rips the nWo shirt off the Giant’s back, and he’s the first member to get the boot for treason and attempted regicide.
It was nice of them to save their absolute worst show of the year for last. I’m going to bed.