The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 09.30.96
Live from Cleveland, OH
Your hosts are Tony & Larry, and we actually make it through the opening credits and fireworks without the feed dying, so that’s a big improvement as of late. However, they’ve seemingly turned the streaming quality down about 15 notches to allow that. But it’s a start.
Eric Bischoff cuts a promo against the nWo, letting us know that bringing Hulk Hogan into WCW was the biggest mistake he ever made, and it’s no fun anymore. This was definitely laying the foundation of the heel turn.
The Public Enemy v. Juventud Guerrera & El Technico
Seriously, “El Technico”? They literally stuck a guy in a red bodysuit and called him “The Babyface”? Ironically he’s playing a heel here. The PE quickly squash our poor luchadors at 2:02 and apparently it was Billy Kidman under the hood because Psicosis had working visa issues and no-showed. The Enemy are still tag team champions after a week, for those keeping track.
Meanwhile, Chris Benoit, Mongo, and Debra’s boobs are standing up for the Horsemen against the nWo threat.
THE FOLLOWING ANNOUNCEMENT HAS BEEN PAID FOR BY THE NEW WORLD ORDER
“Not anymore!” You see, because WCW lost at Wargames, the nWo no longer has to pay for their time. So they’re all hanging out in a hotel room getting drunk, Nash moreso than the others. And future vehicular menace Nick Hogan makes his Nitro debut hanging out with his dad.
THE PRECEDING ANNOUNCEMENT HAS BEEN PAID FOR BY THE NEW WORLD ORDER
Dean Malenko v. Alex Wright
More geeky technical notes on the Network tonight: The audio sounds like it’s super-compressed, with a very tinny radio-like quality, and if you look at the dark background of the arena when the lights are flashing for the entrances, you can see tons of macro-blocking, so they’re definitely compressing the hell out of it, hopefully because they want to improve streaming quality. So now they’re up to about 1998 Real Player standards, if nothing else. But it’s been playing non-stop for more than 40 minutes now at least! They trade hammerlocks with nothing going on, and we take a break. Back with Wright trying an abdominal stretch, which Dean escapes by dumping him to the floor to take over. Malenko works the leg back in the ring while Tony tries to get “The Lone Wolf” over as a nickname for Sting. Wright makes a comeback with a leg lariat out of the corner, but Dean tries a bodypress, and Wright ducks it and finishes with a rollup at 7:25. Yet another fluke win that went nowhere. ** It’s not inherently bad as a booking strategy, but they used it a lot and all it did was diminish a lot of the midcard guys.
Randy Savage…is not here. This was never explained or followed up on for the poor live crowd. However, he does appear in a very long commercial for Slim Jims immediately afterwards. Ric Flair tries to crash the sweepstakes announcement, but Savage threatens to beat him up for wanting to enter the contest. Don’t they have more important matters to worry about?
Eddie Guerrero v. Jim Powers
We’re really bringing out the star power tonight, I see. Nick Patrick, with awesome heel instincts, is now wearing a neck brace from an attack by Randy Savage on WCW Saturday Night and selling a neck injury. Never not awesome. They roll around on the mat trading punches and Powers gets an overhead suplex for two and goes to a chinlock as the crowd is just dead. Powers with a suplex for two and back to the chinlock as the nWo propaganda squad wanders the arena, drawing a bigger reaction than either of these poor fools. Meanwhile, the announcers start putting over Teddy Long’s refereeing credentials, which I think was supposed to lead to him becoming a babyface ref but ended up going nowhere instead. So after a million chinlocks, Powers goes up with a superplex for two and a small package for two. Eddie is either very generous tonight or just doesn’t give a shit. Eddie gets a german suplex for two, but Powers doesn’t lift his shoulders or something and Eddie wins at 6:50. That’s a terrible finish under the best of circumstances and it didn’t even make sense here. Jim Powers is no Mike Enos as far as supposedly underrated midcard geeks go. ½*
Meanwhile, more with the nWo, as the Nasty Boys show up the hotel and decide to join the team after all. And then Jerry Sags does his Bischoff imitation by talking out of his ass ala Jim Carrey, and THAT was apparently a shoot that got him in serious hot water. Not that it matters since he was injured by the Outsiders in an ugly in-ring incident and retired shortly after this anyway.
Meanwhile, Arn Anderson and Woman brow-beat Liz over whatever she’s supposed to be doing in this nWo angle, and honestly I’ve never really been clear on what that storyline was. She was seemingly turning babyface again (which sadly caused her cleavage to disappear) but then abruptly ended up in the nWo as a reluctant member…why?
Hugh Morrus v. Brad Armstrong
Jesus Christ, Fothergill-Brown might enjoy this kind of bullshit, but COME ON. We’re into the second hour now, let’s step it up, show. Brad escapes a vicious chinlock and gets an enzuigiri and the crowd is asleep for his comeback, so Morrus finishes him with a pair of moonsaults at 4:15. ½*
Meanwhile, the Horsemen continue yelling at Liz, I guess because she was sympathizing with Savage.
Eric Bischoff walks off the show at this point, which is never explained. The announcers make up a story about him going to the hotel to confront the nWo, but that never happened and was apparently just Tony making it up because Eric didn’t tell him anything. For a company in the midst of an 82-week winning streak, they’re really taking their foot off the gas pedal here. I mean, once Vince got his swagger back in 98, he went for the THROAT and never let up again until he bought the other guys out! WCW is becoming more like the George W. Bush “Mission Accomplished” meme by the week in a lot of ways.
Arn Anderson v. Chris Jericho
We’ve gotta be nearing the end for Arn, right? I don’t think he makes it into 1997 and he hasn’t done a match on Nitro longer than a few minutes in months. Jericho takes him down and works a leglock while we cut to Liz watching from the Gorilla position. Arn bails and Jericho follows with a shoulderblock off the apron, but Arn takes over with a cheapshot as Liz leaves her position. Jericho makes the comeback for a bored crowd and flies back in with a back elbow for two, but the Lionsault misses and the DDT finishes for Arn at 5:33. I love Arn, but that was totally pointless, since Arn had nothing else going on at this point anyway and was basically on the verge of retirement. *1/2
Meanwhile, Liz packs her bags and leaves the arena as this idiotic storyline continues. They might have even had something if the payoff was Liz reuniting with Savage to inspire him to win the title from Hogan at Halloween Havoc…but no.
Lex Luger v. Mr. Wallstreet
Yes, it’s no longer VK Wallstreet anymore, now it’s just “Mr Wallstreet”, presumably because one Vince McMahon joke at a time is all that WCW legal will allow. So as usual it’s a lot of chinlocks and sweat from Wallstreet as Luger sells and sells and sells. Oddly, Tony and the announcers mention here, for the first time I can ever remember on this show, that Lex Luger lost the TV title to Regal a MONTH ago on WCW Saturday Night. How do you just completely ignore a major title change on the main show like that? Luger makes the comeback with the STAINLESS STEEL FOREARM OF DOOM for two, but Wallstreet comes back with the lariat, only to fall victim to the Torture Rack at 7:22. This was about as good as Mike Rotundo chinlocking Lex Luger for 7 minutes was going to be. ½*
Attention NASCAR fans: The WCW car is now the Sting car, for all those who give a shit about storyline developments that involve cars getting a new paint job.
The Faces of Fear v. The Rock N Roll Express
This is like one of those WWE shows where everyone is off doing a tour of India or something. And Nitro still kicked the shit out of RAW this week! Morton tries a sleeper on Meng and gets nowhere, but the RNR double-team Barbarian to absolutely no reaction. We take a break and return with Meng hitting a piledriver on Ricky for two, and Barbarian gives him a sloppy powerbomb for two. Backbreaker gets two as this crowd could not care less about the match. The beating just goes on and on and on and poor Robert Gibson can’t even get the crowd to clap for him. Finally he gets the hot tag and the double dropkick on Meng, but Barbarian boots Robert in the face at 11:23. This was so sad. ½* Public Enemy saves the poor old geezers from further humiliation, but they get destroyed as a result, to set up the title change back to Harlem Heat at the TV tapings soon after.
Meanwhile, back at the hotel, now they’re hanging out with their race car driver and he’s cutting promos too.
Chris Benoit v. Rick Steiner
Yes, this is the main event of the show. Benoit chops away to start, but Steiner drops him with a german suplex and Benoit bails. Back in with a clothesline for two, but Steiner throws his own and powerslams him for two. You’d think the one guy that would be game for Rick to just go nuts with stiff shots would be Benoit, but neither guy looks like they give a shit here. Mongo hits Steiner with the briefcase and Benoit pins him at 4:00. And that’s the show, as the angry crowd pelts the ring with garbage for such a shitty show.
No wait, one last trip to the hotel, as Liz is now hanging with the nWo and talking with Giant about an acting career, before Randy Savage storms in and calls her a “son of bitch” who “has gotta be ribbing him”. Could they POSSIBLY make Savage look like any more of a loser?
Well, yeah, of course they would, but consider that a rhetorical question for the moment.
Absolutely one of the worst episodes in the history of the show so far. No good matches, nothing happening, and a main storyline that made no sense.