Back in January 2013 I undertook a campaign to review the year of 1996, on the date, as it occurred, covering Nitro, Saturday Night, pay-per-views, and the grand daddy of WCW programming, Prime. Of course, nobody informed me that doing an entire year of 3-4 shows a week would be painfully exhausting, so somewhere around July, I disappeared off the face of the planet.
Somewhere in late June, I took over the Question Of The Day on Scott Keith’s blog – but personal circumstances led to me needing to give that up a few days ago, where I could no longer commit to doing a daily column. I still have some time to myself, but not the overnight hours alone 7-days a week that I used to enjoy.
It nagged at me, that I had this unfinished business; this commitment between myself, and you, my reader, quite literally one person (BigDaddyLoco!) – and dang it, I owe it to him to finish the remaining shows. The timing of my availability was too coincidental for me to ignore the opportunity here.
Of course, now I’m armed with Worldwide, so if I thought it was gruelling before, it’s only gonna get worse. Because I have mental problems like that.
So again I ask, where were we?
Well, a new crop of lightweights are popping up, seemingly weekly – with standouts Rey Mysterio Jr and Dean Malenko headlining a suddenly stacked Cruiserweight division. The once destined for lightweight stardom Brad Armstrong has been relegated to WCW Prime, where hopefully he and his useless brothers will never see the light of Nitro again. Big Bubber is missing part beard, and the Shark is in fact a man who is missing half his hair. Squire David Taylor is still throwing European uppercuts like he’s possessed by the future ghost of Antonio Cesaro. Sgt Craig Pittman still gets far too much air time, and The Gambler does not get enough. DDP is back in action following some mysterious benefactor bankrolling his lavish lifestyle, who might in fact be Kimberly who is seemingly in love with the Booty Man, but we all know that is impossible and clearly stretching the limits of our imagination. Joe Gomez loses every week despite considerable hype, and Glacier has been COMING for the better part of 3 months. The American Males might be gay, Men At Work certainly are, but not the Faces of Fear as it’s illegal in Tonga. Rough and Ready are having problems, while Fire and Ice have split up, and saddest of all, Harlem Heat is still together. The Dungeon of Doom has adopted a Leprechaun, but neither the Yeti nor the Super Giant Ninja have been seen in months. Oh, and Hulk Hogan started a little group called the New World Order with new besties Scott Hall and Kevin Nash from the World Wrestling Federation.
And now you too are a WCW expert. Of course, you can read the archives to get caught up – and join us on the ride down memory lane as the experiment continues.
Full edition this week!
TONY SCHIAVONE is all hype for the attack last Monday; which contradicts the fear he was exhibiting just 5 days earlier. He must know the nWo can’t be bothered with Saturday Night. DUSTY RHODES promises to undress the situation tonight. No, not a typo.
ROUGH & READY vs. HARLEM HEAT (with Colonel Robert Parker and Sista Sherri) (for the WCW World Tag-Team titles)
I have already seriously contemplated giving back up on this project again. Seriously, we’re gonna start out with this crap? Thankfully Dusty and Tony are distracted by Monday Nitro, and can’t be bothered with this, outside of half-heartedly bringing up that the Steiners are owed a title match at Hog Wild. Dusty somehow relates them back to the nWo however, and is promptly back off track. Enos drops Booker with a hot shot, which doesn’t come anywhere close to ending this. Booker fires back with a suplex, but misses a kneedrop off the second rope. We get some shenanigans on the floor with the Colonel trying to distract Dirty Dick with a kiss from Sherri, while Enos powerslams Booker. Dick wards off the feminine touch, but the distraction is ample for Stevie to take Colonel’s cane and wallop Enos for the pin at 4:35. Tony promises more will be said about this one. Hopefully lies. *
“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND grabs a word with the champs. Stevie declares Harlem Heat the greatest tag-team in WCW history, and promises the Steiners next week will be “on” like a steaming plate of neckbones. Okerlund spits out he has no idea what a neckbone is, but Booker yells over top of him to shut up. They gonna burn this sucka up, stone to the bone.
CHAVO GUERRERO JR. vs. RIC FLAIR (with Woman and Elizabeth) (for the WCW United States title)
Chavo’s earned his title shot on the strength of his Cruiserweight showings, where he’s sporting a Better Than Armstrong record of 0-91. In all seriousness, this is clearly booked for the impending purple faced Gene interview; so I don’t even know why we’re bothering with the match. Chavo’s given a chance to show off a toe hold, but that’s about it. The ladies wind up raking his eyes, and Flair takes over with his punches and chops. Chavo tries something, but gets a knee to the pooter. Figure Four finishes at 3:26. *1/2 Flair refuses to break, so EDDIE GUERRERO rushes the ring and gets into a chopfest with the champ. Eddie gets the better of it, and puts Flair in his own move. Woman claws Eddie’s eyes to break, and we take a commercial break.
When we come back, “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND is with LOS GUERREROS. Eddie calls the Horsemen thugs, acting like that’s a BAD thing. 2002 Eddie Guerrero is wildly offended. Talk turns over to Kevin Nash because EVERYTHING turns over to Kevin Nash – and that brings in REY MYSTERIO JR. in a neck brace. Rey: “As you can see, my head is very very damaged.” Of course, he says this from behind a mask. Eddie promises to fight back. Rey continues to insist there were 4 guys backstage.
GLACIER IS COMING! If I had a nickel …
ICE TRAIN (with Teddy Long) vs. THE GAMBLER
Tonight’s the night for the Gambler, this Ice Train just isn’t Smooth enough yet. And sure enough, while Tony threatens to get a tattoo and earring in South Dakota, Gambler attacks and has the upper hand for exactly 5.1 seconds. A hiptoss sends from Train sends the canned heat into a frenzy, but Gambler comes back and starts slamming him head first to the buckle – what a shooter! Then the stupid Train Wreck wins at 1:58. DUD
As per the format, the winners meet up with “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND. Gene tries to turn the conversation to Hogan, but Teddy isn’t having none of that and focuses on Scott Norton. Train is offended that Norton refused to train with him in the gym. Hurt feelings over training – oh it just got real.
BRAD ARMSTRONG vs. ALEX WRIGHT
I like to think that this match was put together when Alex Wright was speaking German, and Armstrong yelled “HEY THIS IS AMERICA YOU SPEAK ENGLISH TO ME!” but that would just simply never ever happen (for at least 3 more years). I wait and wait for something to happen; but they sit around locking up and doing nothing else until Wright wins with a bridge pin at 2:45. -** Afterwards they shake hands over one of the worst matches I’ve ever seen.
Both guys are given interview time with “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND who calls that abomination a “great match”. Wright says last Monday’s attack by the nWo was one of the scariest things he’s ever dealt with. Hulk Hogan was the reason he came to the USA, because he wanted to be a role model just like the Hulkster. He’s mostly upset for the kids, he’s a man and he doesn’t care. Of course, he’s nearly in tears. Armstrong calls the last match fine technical wrestling (the hell?!?).
THE PUBLIC ENEMY vs. JOHNNY GRECO AND BUTCH LONG
In paying half attention to the Already In The Ring treatment; I actually thought we were looking at Hugh Morrus and the Barbarian. Thankfully, this should be far shorter than that matchup would have been. The generic heels really upset the plants and canned heat; but Grunge gets control quickly with a sunset flip. Dusty tries to come up with a team name for Greco and Long; but rapidly loses patience with Schiavone. “What we callin’ them? The Matchin’ Tights? Think Toneh!” Big splash from Grunge wins it at 2:48. 1/2*
“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND grabs some words with LEX LUGER and STING about their feelings from the devastation on Nitro. We use a lot of solemn voices, because It’s Still Real To Them Dammit! Sting asks them if they think they’re cool with their bats – and promises to hit them in the face with aluminum bats of their own at Sturgis.
WCW PROPAGANDA: Sting mops the floor with Stunning Steve Austin.
DEAN MALENKO vs. STEVE ARMSTRONG
Armstrong dumps Malenko to boos, because he’s a heel this week. Basically the Armstrongs are the precursors to the entire Latino contingency. Armstrong misses an enzuigiri, so he tries a bunch of schoolboys (the move, not the pedophilia.) Then Malenko grows bored and ends this with the Cloverleaf at 2:43. 1/2*
“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND wants to know about Malenko’s deal with Kevin Sullivan. Malenko says it’s nothing personal with Benoit; he just made a deal with Jimmy Hart and Sullivan in order to get a shot at the Cruiserweight title. Dean says he’s not worried about trust, he just has nothing to lose.
The following announcement is paid for by the new World order: The lads brag about beating up everyone in WCW. Hall figures they may as well join the Atlanta Braves now, since they could use a little home run power. Hogan vows to win the belt at Hog Wild, since it’s the day before his birthday; and the Outsiders serenade him.
Folks, there are times when moments transcend everything else – and for the sake of historical documentation, I’ll do my best to describe what I just saw. In fact, I’ll sum it up in 3 words. GLACIER IS COMING.
MENG (with the Barbarian and Jimmy Hart) vs. THE RENEGADE
Renegade is sporting a new look. No facepaint, leather jacket, do-rag. But before we see much of this, a LEPRECHAUN runs out and gnashes his teeth at the camera. Then it runs to the back. And that’s ALL it takes to get Dusty going with what he perceives to be Leprechaun noises. In this mess, I’d love to give you a blow by blow but there truly is no point because neither guy is selling anything. At least not until Renegade jumps off the top rope and takes a superkick to the mush, and is pinned with ease at 2:09. Is it a wonder that I stopped recapping on THIS show? DUD
Meanwhile, “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND is with RIC FLAIR, ELIZABETH, and WOMAN. Flair is furious that his integrity was questioned on Nitro by Schiavone, when he didn’t jump in to the chaos caused by the nWo. Flair reminds Tony that HE gave him his first shot as a wrestling announcer back when Schiavone was calling balls and strikes, and he best not forget it.
CHRIS BENOIT (with Woman and Elizabeth) vs. RANDY SAVAGE
Killer matchup; might have a chokehold on the Saturday night ratings. As expected, Benoit brings the intensity right off the ring bell, and the two brawl around the ring. Savage is chopped and beaten to the ground – but Savage comes back with shoulderblocks. Benoit responds with one even harder, and gets 2. Savage slams Chris, and goes for the finish – but Woman yanks on Savage’s legs to prevent it. He chases her around, before going back to Benoit – who blocks a top rope axehandle with a punch to the midsection. Swandive hits the target, and Macho rolls to the floor to save himself. The two start brawling again, allowing Tony to declare, who has no doubt been saving this line all night, that this match is “HOG WILD!” Savage tosses the ref and gets DQed at 3:28. But it’s ok, because this is the “attitude WCW needs!” says fat Tony. *1/2
“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND suggests Savage might be headed back to behavioral school, but Savage is cool with that. Savage promises to cut off Hogan’s head, but I think he’s exaggerating. It’s obvious where WCW went wrong; they should have turned to Benoit. Savage never saw the 4th man while roof surfing on Nitro.
BRIAN KNOBBS vs. THE GIANT (with Jimmy Hart) (for the WCW World Heavyweight Title)
This is apparently a message being sent to one of Hogan’s friends, direct from the Dungeon of Doom. And that message is a butt butt, bearhug, big boot, striptease, and Chokeslam at 1:20. DUD
And before we call it a night, we turn things over to “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND one more time for a word with the champ. Giant reminds Hogan he’s beat him before, and that the “fat slob” Knobbs was first. Hart promises to protect the belt at all costs. And Gene wraps things up quickly, with a recap of the Nitro attack.
I really liked these too, and I'm glad they're back. Completely by coincidence, I had just started watching episodes of ECW Hardcore TV from 1996 (a task made substantially easier thanks to the network) right around the same time you started these recaps, so it was a really neat trip back in time.
They actually pulled the trigger on Sabin? That's...very surprising. I thought this had "plucky underdog puts up a valiant effort, but just comes up short" written all over it. It just feels very...sudden.