We’re getting set for a gruelling run of shows over the next 24 hours, between Nitro and Prime today, and the Clash of Champions tomorrow. Let’s hit it.
This is the big one, LIVE from Las Vegas. Our hosts are BOBBY HEENAN, ERIC BISCHOFF, SMOKING MCMICHAEL (with Stogie), and PEPE THE FERRET. Sting and Luger get a rematch against Harlem Heat! Flair and Savage for the belt! And Mexican Heavyweight Champion KONAN. Yes, it’s the debut of Konan. He wasn’t given the second N in his name until he assisted in Bischoff acquiring 20 luchadores. Each Villano only counted as a third of a luchadore however to prevent Konan from cheating the system. He will defend his belt against some guy named Psychosis tomorrow night at the Clash.
RANDY SAVAGE (with Woman, and 7 other Sluts) vs. RIC FLAIR (with Jimmy Hart) (for the WCW World Heavyweight Title)
HULK HOGAN smells a World Title match and runs down the ramp to remind Savage he’s his best friend. Seriously, that’s all he wants. Meanwhile, this is the re-debut of Woman who has YEARS of history with Flair of course, and Bischoff also announces that Elizabeth has joined WCW and is back together with Randy Savage. Flair takes one look at Woman outside the ring and tries to seduce her, getting him a slap in the process. Savage goes mental and attacks. This and many other wrestling highlights on “What Else is New”, 8:05pm on TBS immediately following Atlanta Braves baseball. Back in, Flair drops Savage with a back elbow, and works him over with chops. Heenan drops ANOTHER “bombshell”, mentioning the Road Warriors are back together in WCW, and will reunite on the Clash of Champions. Modern equivalent would be the surprise returns of Molly Holly, Trish Stratus, and the Dudley Boyz over a 24 hour span. Meanwhile, as Savage crashes into the guardrail outside the ring, we take a commercial break.
Back live, the pair are trading blows in the corner, with Savage winning the slugfest. To the floor, Flair is sent face first into the steel. Jimmy Hart blows a whistle in an effort to help. Back in, Flair goes low to escape the attack, then Flair flops centre of the ring. Savage backslides the champion, but Flair kicks out at 2. Flair thumbs the eyes, and slaps on the Figure Four, making sure to use the ropes as usual. He gets caught in the act, and loses a shoving match with the referee. Flair heads up top, but gets caught and slammed. Savage goes to finish, but Flair’s on his feet so Savage uses a pair of top rope axehandles instead. Jimmy Hart gets involved on the apron, allowing ARN ANDERSON the chance to run in with the knucks! Savage is held prisoner, but Anderson clocks Flair! The fans can sense the moment, as HULK HOGAN runs in to brawl with Anderson. Savage heads up to hit the elbow as the bell is ringing for some reason, but the count is made and Savage is YOUR World Heavyweight Champion at 8:02!!! *** Hogan is in to celebrate like a madman.
“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND is in the ring quickly, and Savage tells Hogan to get lost because he feels Hulk is celebrating like HE’S the champion. Hulk angrily tells him congratulations on winning, though with a little help from his friend. Hogan asks for the first shot at the title. Savage again takes a shot at Nick Bockwinkle, telling Hogan to get himself up to the #1 contender slot and he’ll give him a title shot in Caesar’s Palace. Hogan promises he’ll get to that #1 position. Savage wants Hogan to promise to shake his hand when he pins him. Hogan makes the promise. Gene sucks Hogan’s kneecaps a little more, and we take a commercial break.
DEAN MALENKO vs. BRIAN PILLMAN
Pillman carries a cane and sports a very prominent nipple through a tear in his shirt. The cane is slyfully placed in the ring apron, and I’m going to take a shot here and suggest that comes into play later. Malenko tries a hammerlock and takes an elbow to the face for his trouble. Dean fires back with a dropkick, and Pillman hits the floor. A drunk fan gets in Pillman’s face, so Pillman gets right back in his and asks him to hit him. The fan wisely backs off. Back in, the camera gets too close to Pillman and Pillman threatens to strike him. Malenko is faceplanted, and ground into the mat, before Pillman snaps like the head of a rattlesnake at the camera and laughs maniacally. Pillman stops his pin attempt to flash the 4 in Malenko’s face, and bitch slaps him. That pisses Dean off, who drops Pillman with a brainbuster. A swinging neckbreaker gets 2. Pillman begs off, but Malenko’s a cyborg and doesn’t understand emotion. So Pillman hits a tornado DDT instead, then refuses to pin Malenko, opting instead to hip thrust at the referee. Amazing. That gives Malenko ample time to hit a Tigerbomb that gets a close 2! Pillman heads to the floor and scoots past a baseball slide. Up top, Pillman taunts the crowd and gets caught. So he just jabs his thumb into Malenko’s eye and bites him on the forehead until he gets lost. A second tornado DDT is blocked, and Pillman lands right on his wrist. Malenko drops him with a gutbuster, and locks on a grapevine. Pillman reaches the safety of the ropes, and ties Malenko up in the ropes. Pillman steals the pinfall at 6:24 because the referee apparently misses the whole leg tied in a knot in the ropes. I would have loved to have seen another 10 minutes of this, they were clicking. ***
HARLEM HEAT vs. STING and LEX LUGER (for the WCW World Tag-Team Titles)
Champs enter first because WCW is racist, and if you don’t believe me, explain the presence of Colonel Robert Parker as the longtime Heat manager. Luger starts with Stevie, and takes a big boot to the face. Stevie beats down Luger, but Lex hits a forearm smash out of nowhere. Booker T takes a cheapshot, so Luger knocks him off the apron, but the distraction allows Stevie to hit a clothesline for 2. Booker tags in, but Luger takes both guys out with a double clothesline. Sting comes in and delivers 4 Stinger Splashes to the Heat, and applies a Scorpion Deathlock on Stevie Ray! Luger suddenly is interested in screaming at the referee about Booker T being in the ring, which causes the ref to look away from the submission. Booker T is quick to hit the Axekick to save the titles – and is enough to cause some questions to ask whose side Luger is on. A Stevie Ray clothesline gets 2. Having gone through his entire repertoire, Stevie tags out, and Booker hits a spinning heel kick on Sting. A faceplant off the top gets 2, save made by Luger. Stevie Ray comes back in, and does nothing of note because he’s a useless lump. Sting tries to escape, but Booker drops him and Stevie gets a 2. Stevie uses his go-to nerve hold, so he can sit around sucking wind and wondering why Booker got all the talent. Bobby: “Sting reminds me of you on gameday Mongo, face down on the floor.” Booker drops a knee and arrogantly slow covers for 2. The Heat hit a double front suplex, and Booker goes to finish with the Harlem Hangover but Sting moves out of the way! Luger gets the hot tag, but now JIMMY HART is ringside for some reason. Sting gets double teamed by the Heat, while Hart hands something to Luger. Sting levels Booker with a crossbody block, and then Luger finishes with a roll of silver dollars to win the belts at 9:35! Luger has a mad celebration outside the ring with Sting, who has absolutely no idea what happened. **1/2
ONE MAN GANG vs. HULK HOGAN (in a non-title match)
This is your standard 1980’s WWF formula; Hulk Hogan vs. the Big Fat Evil Heel. For those today who are sick of the John Cena overkill who didn’t sit through Hulk Hogan’s first two years in WCW truly have no idea just how bad having a stale character shoved down your throat can be. There is absolutely no modern equivalent to what we endured during this time period. Hogan goes for the Big Boot early, but OMG slides under the ropes and points to his head to show us how smart he is. He’d be a lot smarter if his back wasn’t to Hogan, who knocks him to the floor. Back in, OMG is staggering, and Hogan pretends to rape him? I don’t get THAT spot. Hogan, in his infinite game of fair play, pokes the eyes and rakes the face. OMG comes right back with the 747, but all that does is get Hogan to Hulk Up and kill his finisher in about 5 seconds. Hogan rams him from post to post, hits the big boot, and asks the crowd if they want him to slam him. He does, and finishes with the usual at 3:04. 1/2*
THE ZODIAK hits the ring after the match and attacks Hogan. CHRIS BENOIT is not far behind. Hogan successfully beats them all away. ARN ANDERSON is next, but RANDY SAVAGE comes to save. KEVIN SULLIVAN hovers, but doesn’t enter. BRIAN PILLMAN happily takes a shot at Hogan, but gets leveled. THE GIANT and RIC FLAIR are outside the ring, but held back by Zodiak. Pillman jumps up and down in Giant’s face screaming “GET HIM, GET HIM!”, but he doesn’t – opting to save it for tomorrow’s show. Pillman throws a tantrum at EVERYONE – begging him to get in there and take him out.
“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND is on scene to get comments. Hogan promises that One Man Gang was the first step; that he’ll soon get his title shot. Savage nods a lot. You know, a lot of guys Hogan’s age will buy a sports car when they can’t accept their age. Hogan instead uses his real life power to pretend beat up guys half his age by the dozens. Ugh.
Lots happened tonight – but I can’t say I liked this edition at all. Despite the fact there was absolutely NO reason to move the title back to Savage here, the larger issue is that I’m 22 days into this project, and I’m already sick of Hogan. You would think with 17 years of hindsight and an awareness of what happened here would make it easier, but it’s like riding a bike bald orange bicycle. And while I wish I could say it’s going to get better before it gets worse, things will actually be happening the other way around.
I love these reviews with added perspective. Personally, for me, knowing the fates of everyone on this show makes the things that really sucked back then enjoyable now. I love remembering this knowing that Face Hogan would suck so hard that he'd be forced to turn heel and that everything that's happening now would get turned on its ass when the nWo comes around.
I remember this Nitro pretty vividly, although I didn't realize Sting and Luger won the titles on the same Nitro as the one where Savage also won the title. This period is a big blur, probably because there were so many Savage/Flair matches it was hard to keep track of them all.
Yeah, Face Hogan trying to relive Hulkamania was painful to watch, but it gets better when the nWo finally comes around. I remember SuperBrawl VI being a good PPV despite the Hogan/Giant cage match, and Pillman was on fire at this point in WCW.
I remember them trying to set up some big Hogan/Savage match for later in the year (which did actually happen at Havoc in Vegas, although the context completely changed). That would have really sucked if it happened with Hogan and Savage as-is in this time period.
WCW World Heavyweight Championship New Champion: "Macho Man" Randy Savage Previous Champion: "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair 1996 Title Changes: First
This is "Macho Man" Randy Savage's second reign as WCW World Heavyweight Champion; he won his first WCW World Title by winning the World War 3 battle royal back on 11/26/95. As a former two-time WWF Champion, this makes Savage a four-time world heavyweight champion as of the date this show recap is referring to.
Savage's title win ended the 26-day reign of Ric Flair which started at Starrcade the previous year with a win over Savage. Flair's title reign was his third as WCW Champion; he also had 9 previous NWA reigns and two WWF reigns, making him a 14-time world heavyweight champion.
Hulk Hogan's shadow over every-- single-- world title reign Randy Savage ever had. The first time he won the WWF Championship, he pinned Ted DiBiase for the vacant title at WrestleMania IV. The "Mega-Powers Exploded" a year later and Hogan beat Savage for the belt at WrestleMania V.
Savage's second reign as WWF Champion was relatively Hogan-free (compared to the other reigns), except for the fact that Savage's WWF Title match with Ric Flair at WrestleMania VIII took place on a show where the main event was Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice.
During the aforementioned World War 3 battle royal, Hogan was improperly counted as eliminated, and when Savage won, Hogan immediately bitched and whined and demanded a shot at Savage's belt. Some friend he is. As you can tell by the recap, Hogan did it again with Savage's second title reign.
Savage's third and fourth title reigns both ended the night after he won the belt, and both times at the hands of Hollywood Hogan. (But at least in the first match, Hogan was supposed to be the bad guy).
WCW World Tag Team Championship New Champions: Sting and Lex Luger Previous Champions: Harlem Heat 1996 Title Changes: First
Note: WWE recognizes the lineage of the WCW World Tag Team Title as beginning in 1975 with the reign of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling; thus the statistics I'm providing will recognize this fact.
This is Sting and Lex Luger's first combined reign as WCW World Tag Team Champions, and Sting's first reign with this belt at all. For Luger, it's his second. Luger won his first title alongside partner Barry Windham by defeating Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard at the first Clash of the Champions back in 1988; ultimately it proved to be a 24-day minor speed bump between two Anderson/Blanchard reigns that lasted a combined year.
This will be Sting and Luger's only reign together as a team. Luger will have a one-day reign with The Giant in February '97 when they defeat The Outsiders; Eric Bischoff returned the titles to Hall and Nash the following night on Nitro under the pretext that Luger wasn't medically cleared to compete.
Sting will win it twice more alongside The Giant and Kevin Nash in an angle related to the nWo division. A match was signed in which The Outsiders (both ostensibly part of nWo Wolfpac) would defend the titles against Sting and The Giant. Shortly after the match was signed, The Giant defected to nWo Hollywood. During the match, Hall turned on Nash by hitting him with one of the tag belts, allowing Sting and Giant to become champions; Hall and manager Dusty Rhodes then joined the black-and-white.
As Sting was no longer a willing partner to The Giant, the belts were held up, and Sting (after joining nWo Wolfpac) defeated The Giant in a singles match to earn both belts. He named Wolfpac leader Nash as his new partner.
The win by Luger and Sting on this date ended the 117-day reign of Harlem Heat, their fourth of eventually ten overall, that began on Saturday Night when they defeated The American Males back in September. Harlem Heat will earn the belts three more times in 1996 alone before losing the titles to The Outsiders at Halloween Havoc; their next title reign wouldn't take place until August '99, well after Stevie Ray ("co-leader" of the nWo B-team) left that stable and it was dissolved.
Lemme know if in the future you'd prefer for me to stick to "current" events and not look into the "future".
Anyway... yeah, Hogan. If I gave WCW more credit for good writing and foresight than I'm willing to do, I'd think they were doing this on purpose to make it easier for people to hate him when he helps form the nWo.
"I'm sorry, I'm not much of a hugger." "Not yet you're not." --Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan, SmackDown 1/18/13
Certified RFMC Member-- Ask To See My Credentials!
Co-Winner of Time's Person of the Year Award, 2006
I remember loving this Nitro. Looking back now, it was still pretty good, but really sad. Sad because ONLY in WCW could you have both the World Title belt and the Tag Team Belts change hands on the same show... yet have Hogan Vs One Man Gang as your 'Main Event'. Dear God that's just sickening. It's ridiculous. It's down right wrong on every level imaginable.
Flash Foward 16 Years: Tonight on RAW, CM Punk (WWE Champion for well over a year) and The Rock are both on the show... yet John Cena cuts a promo to end the show. SMH!
History really does repeat itself.
(edited by Cerebus on 22.1.13 0420) Forget it Josh... it's Cerebustown.
Originally posted by ekedolphinTITLE CHANGE INFORMATION
WCW World Heavyweight Championship New Champion: "Macho Man" Randy Savage Previous Champion: "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair 1996 Title Changes: First
I am super excited that we're going to be getting the title change updates for this series.
Speaking of which, once Superbrawl rolls around, we need to do a prediction thread for it. (I am bummed that Superbrawl doesn't become San Francisco exclusive until 1997, so I won't retroactively be going to it this year.)
It was a pretty bold move of WCW to put the title match first on the card. I wonder why One Man Gang wasn't defending his title in the main event. Hulk deserves to be the United States Champion!
Angle and HHH are very different characters in and out of the ring. Some things will work for one and not the other. I think a better question is: What made uber-heel HHH "The New Man" a few years ago that is lacking now?