The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 10.21.96
Live from Mankato, MN. Where the HELL is that? That sounds like the name of a fake Podunk town you’d make up to mock Global Force Wrestling’s attendance figures or something.
Your hosts are Tony & Larry.
Chris Jericho v. Bobby Eaton
Wait, so what was the outcome of the Blueblood split? Eaton is just randomly repackaged back into himself and that’s it? We immediately take a break while Syxx poses in the audience with his stupid camcorder. Jericho dominates with shoulderblocks to start, but Eaton takes over with a terrible looking powerslam that gets two. Jericho dropkicks him to the apron and follows with the springboard dropkick, and these guys are having all kinds of trouble getting it into gear. Eaton takes over with a necksnap for two and goes to the arm. They head back to the floor with nothing still going on, and Jericho accidentally elbows the ringpost. Back in, Jericho hits him with REALLY stiff chops in the corner, basically slapping him in the face with them, but Eaton takes him down with a neckbreaker and goes up with a flying kneedrop for two. Jericho pops up with a missile dropkick to finish at 7:14, however. Meh. *
Dean Malenko v. Jimmy Graffiti
Holy cow, Jimmy Del Ray without the pornstache is basically unrecognizable, and this was only two years after he left the WWF. He looks more like Champ Kind at this point, WHAMMY. Or maybe a flabby Mean Mark Callous. They trade some chain wrestling stuff and Jimmy gets a DDT for two out of that. Powerbomb gets two. Malenko runs him into the corner to take over and Graffiti takes an awkward bump to the floor, and Malenko gets a chinlock. The crowd is dead because no one has any idea who “Graffiti” is. I should also point out that the new gimmick is what appears to be a street-tagging youngster, which is hilarious because he’s what, 35 or 36 in 1996? Here’s some Observer weirdness, as Dave calls him “Jim Richland” aka Jimmy Del Ray aka Jimmy Backlund, like that’s his real name, but it’s not. It’s David Ferrier. Was he using a worked real name or something for all those years? Anyway, Malenko finishes him with a Cloverleaf at 6:40. Also, apparently Ferrier died last year, which is another one that I totally forgot about. **
Diamond Dallas Page v. Sgt. Craig Pittman
DDP’s aimless year continues, which is really interesting because he was doing nothing storyline-wise for months but kept getting more and more over due to improving in the ring and getting the Diamond Cutter over as a killer move. Perhaps he just needs a major angle to get over the hump? Page pretty much squashes Pittman while Patrick steals the show by selling various phantom spinal injuries. Pittman makes a comeback and works on the arm with the Code Red armbreaker, but Patrick continues his running argument with Teddy Long and doesn’t see it. DIAMOND CUTTER OUTTA NOWHERE finishes at 2:53. Well, you gotta keep Pittman strong, I guess? ½*
Nick Patrick discusses the finish with Tony, and blames all the commotion on Teddy Long making a nuisance of himself. Patrick again denies being the nWo referee, but doesn’t have any other awesome lines this week, sadly.
Jeff Jarrett v. Ron Studd
Ric Flair joins us before the match (“He’s in his street clothes!” declares Tony, as Flair walks down wearing a $3000 suit), and then Flair demonstrates the proper way to strut and offers a handshake. The fans did NOT want to see that as the payoff. At that point they should have just jettisoned their stupid plan to replace Flair and turned Jarrett full heel. Anyway, Studd chokes Jarrett and tosses him around, as his tiny T-Rex arm proportions creep me out. Jarrett puts him down with a suplex and finishes with a figure-four at 1:30. When you can’t even get over in Mankato, Minnesota, you suck. DUD Ric Flair tries to save this by cutting a revved up promo about how he’s going to be in JJ’s corner at the PPV.
Your hosts are Eric, Bobby & Iron Mike
Roadblock v. Lex Luger
Wait, wait, first let’s cover Dave’s recollections of Roadblock from that week’s WON:
“ Anyway, he’s best known in wrestling for about ten years ago when the WWF was doing a TV taping in Rochester, NY, he wanted to be a pro wrestler and Hulk Hogan blew him off at the gym that day, so he went to the show and just as Hogan was going to wrestle One Man Gang, he hit the ring and took Gang down (he was a good high school wrestler) and was pounding on Gang and a panicked Slick was pounding on his back with his cane and it was having no effect. Hey, that isn’t the first time something like that happened. Afa & Sika got into the business first because they were rowdy huge marks at the Cow Palace who security had one hell of a time trying to keep them from killing the heels like Pat Patterson until Roy Shire got them into the business basically to send them away and save the heels in his business.”
So he’s got a good pedigree in the business, I guess. So yeah, Roadblock literally carries a roadblock to the ring and wears tights with road lines painted on them. Kind of like Tugboat for the construction worker demographic, but without the family connections. Actually come to think of it, Tugboat started out as a construction worker gimmick himself, didn’t he? So I don’t know if you’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting through a Roadblock v. Lex Luger match in your lifetime, but this was certainly one of them. Luger sells a bit for the big guy until he suddenly gets this annoyed look on his face and stops selling, then powerslams him without even bothering to go down with him. Torture rack finishes, after three attempts where he dumps him like a 340 pound sack of crap a few times, at 3:45. Holy shit this was terrible. Like, hilariously bad. -* Dave notes that Roadblock has gotten better since the last time he saw him, when “he was really awful”. Think about THAT. Roadblock retired in 1998, just in case you were wondering.
Harlem Heat v. The American Males
Bischoff sounds really distracted on commentary, which was apparently due to him freaking about Bret Hart appearing on RAW and possibly burying WCW. Riggs holds his own with Stevie Ray to start, but walks into a powerslam. Bagwell comes in and he’s all fired up, hiptossing Stevie over the top as we take a break. The plan was clearly for Bagwell’s heel turn at this point, as he’s wrestling more aggressively and getting featured more. Back with Bagwell getting worked over in the corner while the Outsiders watch from the audience, wearing nose strips ala the Heat, as Bischoff notes that the nWo is trying to get Nitro as their own TV show. That was actually what the general idea was going to be building towards, before the famously terrible nWo Nitro episode sunk that one for good. Riggs gets a hot tag after whatever and they double dropkick Stevie Ray, but a sidekick finishes Riggs at 7:45 with Bagwell conveniently taking JUST too long to save. I think that was supposed to be subtle but Bagwell took SUCH a long pause that it didn’t really work out that way. *
The Faces of Fear v. The Fantastics
We’re just unearthing every 80s tag team we can find, aren’t we? If you’re gonna go that route, why not stick them in there with a team they can work with instead of just squashing them? The Fantastics are far from pretty boys at this point, looking like average pasty white guy jobbers with cool coats more than anything. Fulton gets destroyed with a Meng backdrop into a Barbarian powerbomb while Bischoff reads baseball scores. Meng with a piledriver for two. Double headbutts get two. Bischoff keeps breaking with “updates from the back” about a potential surprise for the nWo and he’s just sounding like he’s watching another show or something. He probably literally was. Rogers gets a hot tag and hits Barbarian with a missile dropkick, and then they do STEREO MISSILE DROPKICKS and no one cares at all because this match is so dull. Meng with the KICK OF FEAR to finish at 5:25. They should have signed Tommy Rogers because he still had a ton of juice left in him at this point. Figuratively and literally. *1/2 (RIP Tommy.)
nWo Sting v. The Mysterious Mr. JL
“Sting” gets a powerslam and Stinger splash into the Scorpion, but the real Sting returns, with the first version of his Crow look, and beats up the fake. The nWo hits the ring and offers him membership in the group, but he decides to think it over for 13 months instead. Hall gets a funny line here, complaining about “bogus imposters”. Sting then cuts his last promo, declaring that the only thing that’s for sure is that nothing’s for sure, and those are the last words he speaks until 1998. This was definitely a work in progress for the new gimmick, as he was wearing his old tights with his new badass jacket.
Meanwhile, the Randy Savage v. Chris Benoit main event never happens, as we cut to Hogan taking over the Three Ninjas set on behalf of the nWo and forcing Elizabeth to lie about her love for Randy Savage, then locking her in the trailer. Randy Savage, dressed like a member of Lynryd Skynyrd, offers no comment on the situation, but then changes his mind and cuts an awesomely intense promo where he warns Hogan that “life is fragile”.
And that’s your go-home show for Halloween Havoc! Still did a big buyrate regardless of how boring this episode was, luckily. But again, what a wasted opportunity to refresh Randy Savage with his new killer persona and revenge-seeking ex-husband deal.
Next up: I redo Halloween Havoc, I guess. Might as well since we’ve come this far.