The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 05.20.96
Live from somewhere.
Your hosts are Eric Bischoff & Bobby Heenan. Mongo is now a wrestler as of Slamboree, so he’s done as an announcer. Good riddance.
I decided to review this episode of because we’re a few days away from it being 23 years since Goldberg won the WCW Title (Spoiler) so why not go back and watch the entire show? This was a big night for WCW in the ratings, as hot shotting a Hogan Vs Goldberg match for the Title ended up ensuring Nitro won the ratings battle for the night quite easily. Of course, they’d also given away a sure fire money match that might have potentially destroyed their previous biggest buy rate, but if they’d held it off till a pay per view then Eric Bischoff couldn’t proudly declare that he won a single night of the ratings war, and that just wouldn’t do would it?
The SmarK Rant for WCW Saturday Night – 07.04.92
Time for an extra-patriotic edition of WCW Saturday Night! Brought to you by JOLLY RANCHER CANDY! Presumably just the red, white and blue ones.
Taped from Center Stage in Atlanta, GA
Your hosts are Jim Ross and a rotating cast of commentators, starting with Ron Simmons.
The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 05.06.96
I decided to use my WWE Network “Thank You” credit of $25 to pick up the Best of Sting on Blu-Ray. No idea what’s on it. But I enjoy the work of Sting and wish him to get royalties, and it was free, so there you go. (Still haven’t watched it yet 6 years later! And man, remember when they actually tried to get people to subscribe to the Network and cared about it?)
Live from Daytona Beach, FL
Your hosts are Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan & Mongo
The Summer of 96 reviews continue, as we look at WCW’s most memorable effort of that Summer in the form of Bash at the Beach 1996. If I were Scott I’d now make a joke that the show was so memorable because it had Joe Gomez on it, but sadly Scott has beaten me to that veritable goldmine so I’ll have to just persevere with posting obscure references to British comedy shows.
Anyway, the real reason this show is so well known is because it featured a gigantic SWERVE in the Main Event that helped turn WCW around from being in a distant second place to the WWF all the way to being the top dog in American Wrestling.
Kevin Nash and Scott Hall decided to leave the WWF and take up Eric Bischoff’s offer of some cushy WCW deals. Rather than just bring them in like they were new guys though, Bischoff instead decided that no one would buy that because Nash and Hall had been such prominent members of the WWF’s upper-card for the past couple of years.
Thus, rather than ignoring all of that WWF backstory, WCW decided to just acknowledge that these two guys were big stars in the WWF and now they’d come to WCW to try and have their run of the place. This allowed WCW to present Nash and Hall almost as an invading force, which combined with the fact they started kicking some monumental arse got them instantly over as a dangerous Heel threat.
Bash at the Beach was to be their first official in-ring match in WCW since returning, and they had an ace up their sleeve in the form of a mystery third man that they promised they would reveal at the show itself. As a result of the (frankly excellent) storytelling going on each week on Nitro, WCW had a lot of interest going into The Bash. The question was, would they deliver a mystery third man worth talking about?
Let’s watch on and find out!
I haven’t watched this one in a while and I’ve always enjoyed it, so I decided to make it the show I review this week. I’m actually watching the UK version of the Turner Home Entertainment official VHS result for this one as opposed to the WWE Network version.
The main reasons I’m watching this version of the show are that it’s shorter, it doesn’t dub out some of the music (meaning we get “The Chase” for the Midnight Express’ entrance) and (at the time of writing this) the WWE has done a pretty lousy job with the move over to Peacock so, even though we still get the full version of the Network over here in the UK, the whole situation has left me with a bit of a sour taste so I’ve been on a bit of a physical media kick as a result.
Plus, I finally got a replacement remote for my VCR, so reviewing just became a lot more convenient as I don’t have to keep getting up to pause/rewind the tape on the actual VCR itself. There’s also that additional nostalgia factor of sitting down and watching a tape on a real VCR that takes me back to watching my wrestling tapes as a kid that I kind of like. I obviously won’t be swearing off The Network forever or anything, but right now I’m enjoying a bit of a blast from the past.
This show took place in the May of 1990, with current top babyface Sting out on the shelf with a knee injury due to a botched spot where he tried to climb a cage to get at The Horsemen. As a result of not really having any challengers for World Champ Ric Flair, Lex Luger was turned back babyface to feud with him. Of course this presented some additional issues for WCW, because Flair had given Sting his word that he’d be getting the belt from him once he was healthy, which meant Luger wouldn’t be getting it in this feud. Luger had failed multiple times in the past to defeat Flair for the Title though, so yet another failure wasn’t exactly going to do wonders for his “choker” image.
For this show they did at least give Luger a bit of an out by having him sell a leg injury, with the story being that he shouldn’t really be competing in the match but he was going to do it anyway because he was so gosh darn brave. You’d think that a stoppage finish where Luger’s leg went out and the referee ended it rather than Luger having to quit himself would be the most likely ending to the match seeing as it would be a way for him to lose without looking weak due to the match being in a cage, but WCW had other ideas (Oh my DID they!).
WCW had also been saddled with having to bring in RoboCop onto the show as RoboCop 2 was due to hit cinemas. Thus they had to pretend that RoboCop was an actual real super cop and not just some dude in a costume, which was overly silly even for something like wrestling. They couldn’t even get Peter Weller in to do it either, so it really is just a random bloke in the costume!
The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 04.22.96
LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE from somewhere. (Albany, GA as it turns out) But more importantly, much like the relief of having a painful boil on your ass cheek lanced, Hulk Hogan is gone on extended vacation and we can all breathe again.
Your hosts are Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan and Mongo.
The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 04.15.96
So last time, you may remember that Booty Man and Hulk Hogan promised an UNBELIEVABLE stipulation to finish off the Sullivan/Anderson team once and for all. You know, after they already finished them off three weeks in a row in fair fights. I can hardly wait to see what Hulk unleashes on us.
I was a bit rough on ol’ WCW a couple of weeks back in a Stinker Review, so I thought I’d redress the balance a bit and review one of their notable good shows in the form of Spring Stampede 99. WCW actually had a relatively solid start to 99 pay per view wise, with Souled Out, SuperBrawl IX and Uncensored all featuring some good wrestling, even if some of the booking was pretty head scratching.
For instance, WCW decided to close Uncensored with Ric Flair winning the World Title and the Presidency of the company (something most of the fans would likely be cool with) but also had him go heel in the process. This was mostly down to Flair himself pushing hard for the heel turn as he felt he did his best work that way, but it was still an odd way to take the storyline, especially as Flair had been so beloved since his return in the autumn of 98 and having a babyface authority figure was a nice change of pace after yonks of having a heel one in the form of Eric Bischoff.
Thus not only did Flair go heel but so did his Horsemen cohorts of Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko and Arn Anderson, which certainly improved the tag division at least but also kind of felt weird too as they’d just done a big babyface quest for the belts and finally won them at Uncensored, only to now go heel. This did lead to a feud between The Horsemen and Raven/Saturn though, which led to a series of great matches and got even better once Rey Mysterio Jr and Kidman were added to the mix.
Flair’s first pay per view Title defence was to be at Spring Stampede, as he’d defend the belt in a four way against freshly face turned Hogan as well as Sting and Diamond Dallas Page. Meanwhile, the big feud on the under card was Goldberg trying to avenge his Starrcade loss to Kevin Nash, which was at least a story the fans could get their teeth into. Combined with what looked to be a solid under card from a wrestling perspective, Spring Stampede promised to be a really good show, but could WCW deliver on the night?
Let’s watch on and find out!
Back with another reader request this time, courtesy of Sean Mooney, as we dive into the deep toxic waters of World Championship Wrestling as it sunk to its eventual doom. 1998 was when the company initially hit the iceberg but they still did great business that year and it wasn’t until 1999 reared its ugly head that it became clear just how waterlogged the company was getting.
The WWF was not only still top of the American Pro Wrestling food chain in the summer of 1999, but they’d also turned The Rock babyface to gigantic financial returns and were in the midst of preparing the likes of Triple H and Test for elevation up the card (It worked out better for one of those two obviously). They were also in the midst of finally taking the spotlight off the Stone Cold Vs Vince McMahon feud for a bit with Vince set to take a few months off TV, thus keeping things fresh atop the card.
By comparison, WCW was so stale that even most ducks wouldn’t touch it if you took it down the local pond. The New World Order storyline had long since run its course and basically didn’t even really exist anymore outside of a few low ranking guys like Vincent and Horace. The Main Event scene was being built around the usual collection of veterans, Diamond Dallas Page was terrorising the mid-card with his Jersey Triad stable and Ric Flair and Roddy Piper were trying to turn the clock back to the mid-80’s so that they could be conniving villainous heels again, when all the crowd wanted to do was cheer them.
Some efforts were being made to push the likes of Buff Bagwell, Chris Benoit and Perry Saturn, but outside of Flair and Piper none of the top guys were willing to put those guys over, and there were only so many jobs Flair could do for guys like that until it started to really lose its effectiveness. Randy Savage had returned and had actually gotten kind of over as a rebellious babyface, so WCW of course promptly turned him heel so that he could feud with Kevin Nash over the World Title, and even decided to punish the fan base even further by bringing Sid Vicious back to the promotion.
The main feuds coming into this show were DDP and The Triad/Benoit and Saturn, Piper and Flair/Bagwell, Savage/Nash and The West Texas Rednecks/Filthy Animals. There were at least some good matches going on in places, but in most cases the wrong people were going over and the face/heel alignments were all out of whack. For instance, The Rednecks were massively outnumbered and were a funny entertaining act whilst The Animals were insufferable jerks who often abused their numbers advantage, yet The Animals were the ones supposed to be the faces!
All in all the company was on its arse and things eventually got so bad that WCW decided to roll the dice on Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara in the hopes that they could turn it around, which had inevitable results.
However, with that all being said, is Bash At The Beach 1999 really that awful? Maybe in a bubble the show has enough good stuff on it that it’s actually enjoyable? I remember I actually had the VHS for this show back in the day as it was one of the few shows from 99 that WCW actually gave a proper home video release here in the UK, so I’ve probably seen it more than most. Will a tinge of nostalgia help me overcome the worse elements of the show?
There’s still time by the way to put in suggestions for what May’s Stinker Review is going to be. I’ll recap what we currently have in the hat at the end of the this review, so shout up in the comments section if you’d like to add a suggestion of your own. April’s Stinker review will be one of my choosing and I’ll announce what May’s is going to be at the end of that review.
Is this show really a stinker? Let’s watch on and find out!
Last week we had a look at an episode of WWF Monday Night Raw from March 1997, so this week why don’t we have a look at the other show in town to see what WCW was up to during this period? I’ve actually watched this show quite a bit as I had it on bootleg DVD in the pre-Network days (Getting WCW pay per views in the UK was a nightmare for a long period as the official releases were super hard to track down. Thankfully Extreme Central UK in Manchester had this one for sale) and thus used to dip into it quite a bit.
WCW was easily atop the American Wrestling Mountain in 97 owing to the hot New World Order storyline, fantastic wrestling in the mid-card and the fact the WWF kept bungling any real attempt at a fight back. Of course eventually the New World Order would outstay their welcome, the great wrestlers in the mid-card would never get out of the mid-card and the WWF would stumble across the hottest feud in wrestling with Stone Cold Vs Mr. McMahon, but until then WCW was the undisputed king of Yank Grappling.
Uncensored was traditionally the WCW show where they threw stuff at the wall to see what would stick, with the “non-sanctioned” motif allowing them to book some slightly more out there matches than they would on other events (Such as the cage match debacle from the 1996 event). In keeping with that theme, the Main Event of this show is a big battle royal where WCW takes on both the nWo and The Horsemen. Originally The Horsemen team was supposed to be Roddy Piper and a slew of random guys, but that died a death in the ratings so Piper just recruited The Horsemen instead.
There isn’t really much in the way of big marquee bouts besides that one, with Rey Mysterio Jr actually finding himself in the Semi-Main, which was super rare back during this time period. However, if memory serves there are a couple of really good bouts on the under card and there’s a BIG angle to close out the show, so there should be plenty for us to get our teeth into!
The SmarK Rant for WCW Saturday Night – 06.27.92
I dunno, just felt like going back to these tonight since apparently I’ve been on a break from them since August. This is the third week of the Bill Watts regime, for those keeping track.
Taped from Atlanta, GA
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Michael Hayes
It’s another Stinker review next week, so as is usually the case I’ve decided to watch a show I actually like this week because I sometimes deserve nice things too!
WCW was still a distant second to the WWF when this show took place, but they had a few things going for them that might have led to a concerted revival in their fortunes. Firstly, Bill Watts’ reign of terror had finally come to an end after his big mouth had written a racist cheque that Turner wasn’t prepared to cash, so they would be permitted to present a more modern product again. Secondly, Ric Flair was returning to WCW after a stint in the WWF, which would hopefully give the company a much needed shot in the arm. Thirdly, British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith had climbed aboard the WCW ship after being booted out of the WWF for a supposed drug failure, meaning that WCW could grab themselves a stronger foothold in Europe, which had become a lucrative territory for the WWF in recent years.
Of course, the new management brought with them a slew of additional issues and it took Flair stepping up and bailing the company out at Starrcade later that year for WCW to see out 1993 in one piece, which led to them bringing in Hulk Hogan to the company in 1994. However, for their first pay per view effort of 1993, WCW more than delivered.
The Main Event for this show is a strap match between Vader and Sting (Set up by Sting visiting Vader in his White Castle of Fear. No, I’m not kidding) along with The Great Muta flying in to defend the NWA Title against Barry Windham. In addition to that we’ve got The Heavenly Bodies and Rock ‘n’ Roll Express paying WCW a visit from Smokey Mountain Wrestling in one of the last deals that Watts brokered before his run came to an end.
So without further ado, let’s watch some chuffing wrestling!
The SmarK Rant for World Championship Wrestling – 03.07.87
Last week: Tully Blanchard done poked the bear one time too many, and Ole Anderson turned on the Horsemen as a result, then slapped JJ Dillon around for talking about his son, triggering a huge brawl to end the show.
Taped from Atlanta, GA with a brand new opening!
Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & David Crockett