Efin asks: Why would wcw think the NWO IS being over done in 1996?
Look, WCW didn’t think the nWo was over done in 2000, so I’m not even implying anyone upstairs thought that at all. But we’re less than 90 days into this angle now, in the fall of 1996, and already I’ve started to see cracks of oversaturation. Everything up to about 2 weeks ago was playing out alright, but we just had an episode of Nitro that featured the nWo taking over the last hour of the entire show. We’re regularly cutting off matches, sometimes IMPORTANT matches, to go see what they’re doing in the back, or last week, in a hotel room (often times: very little).
I recognize the importance of the angle, but the signs were there early. I think I have been exceptionally kind to WCW, even with the benefit of hindsight, because I absolutely loved the company. This entire project is a labour of love. But the way I feel when re-watching this is how I feel my friend, and I’m giving you as honest a feel from my viewing perspective as I possibly can when I do these things. And the last 2 weeks, the nWo has reached the point of being just a little unbearable. Nothing that can’t be fixed with WCW giving them an asswhoppin’ or two, just to remind us the war isn’t completely unbalanced. I’m just asking to scale back the air time a little, and even the playing field so it stops feeling like a modern day American invasion of, say, Palau.
Meanwhile, in the Cyborg Factory, DUSTY RHODES and TONY SCHIAVONE are up to date on their WCW storylines – catching us up to Miss Elizabeth’s strange actions as of late, including eatin’ fruit and bein’ cool with Hogan on Monday. Dusty sums it up by stating he has no idea what’s going to happen on the Mothaship.
JUVENTUD GUERRERA vs. REY MYSTERIO JR. (for the WCW world cruiserweight title)
Why yes, this IS Juvi’s 3rd cruiserweight title shot in the last couple of weeks, along with sneaking in that awful tag-team title shot on Monday, and a shot at the Mexican vanity title against Konnan. He must have a clause in his contract to get a title shot on every other show, because he sure as hell isn’t WINNING any matches. Juvi dropkicks Rey’s knee out in order to keep his speed to a minimum, and follows by suplexing him to the floor feet first. A slingshot plancha misses because Rey sidesteps, and Mysterio greets him back in the ring with a slingshot springboard moonsault for 2. A second one is blocked with the knees, but they’re so fast they both find themselves on the top rope lickity split. Juvi wins that battle with a monkey flip into a powerbomb, and that gets 2! Rey comes back with a back elbow, but his powerbomb attempt is blocked. Back to the top rope, and this time Rey comes out ahead with a front suplex dropping da Juice to the floor. Rey is RIGHT behind him with a somersault plancha, and the power of his dick to Juvi’s face leaves him dazed. Juvi cuts Rey off as they re-enter, but he can’t capitalize. West Coast pop finishes at 3:58, and the champ retains! This needed about 20 more minutes. ***
TONY SCHIAVONE wants a word with the champ. He’s defending against Dean Malenko at Halloween Havoc, because apparently the division is made up of about 3 people at this point. Rey professes his continued love and respect for Malenko, even though he was blindsided last week and had his mask stolen. Rey says he doesn’t like that Dean stole his mask, and he’s fine if Dean doesn’t “want it that way” because he’s “going after that”. Going after what? Rey, stop talking.
Thankfully, we turn things over to RANDY SAVAGE, who Tony can swoon over. Schiavone wants to know what the heck he was doing at the hotel on Monday. Savage reminds us that he was married to Liz in a different lifetime, and that he used to be Hogan’s best friend, but nobody knows him anymore. Things are gonna get crazy, things are gonna get nuts, and he’s tickin’ away. He vows to snap into the world title, and spit in the nWo’s face.
RON STUDD and JOHN TENTA vs. THE FACES OF FEAR (with Jimmy Hart)
Was Studd ever officially thrown out of the Dungeon of Doom? Was Studd ever officially IN the Dungeon of Doom, or are we pretending he is NOT the Yetti OR the Super Giant Ninja? Would we prefer that he was? (Don’t answer, I know it’s a resounding YESSSS!) Perhaps this is where he reveals his persona, as part of more MIND GAMES with Tenta. Tenta has thankfully grown his moustache out, and cut off the long hair. Tenta slowly attacks the Fear, and gets the early advantage and that makes me sad. Thankfully, the Fear work the double clubberin’, and Dusty’s excitement is literally dripping down his pant leg. Meng brings chops and eye rakes, but can’t take Tenta’s fat ass down. Barbarian can’t slam Tenta, but Tenta can slam Barbarian and does. Studd gets the tag, and works on Meng. He is unbelievably awkward, and tries to raise the roof but I am not even buying that. Thankfully Barbarian hits a chop block and Meng lands on top, but the referee misses it all. A double backdrop suplex gets 2. The Fear knock Tenta to the floor, and Barbarian gives Studd the Kick of Fear for the Meng pin at 4:14. You know that great match on Prime I was drooling over? This is the polar opposite. -*
EDDIE GUERRERO vs. JOE GOMEZ
Eddie’s been booked against Page at Halloween Havoc for the Battlebowl Ring a second time, even though he already won it. I’m supposed to believe that if Page loses this match, THIS time he’ll hand it over? One loss isn’t enough, but two losses will make him play fair? I’m not sure I understand the logic here, WCW. Gomez hits a backbreaker for 2. Eddie comes right back with a rana. A dropkick misses, as does an avalanche, and Gomez uses this to his advantage by locking on move #740 – armbar. Eddie tries to escape with a scoop slam, but Gomez holds the arm and rolls through, in perfect position to lock on a cross armbreaker, but he never does because he sucks. And I say this with the knowledge that even Craig Pittman can do one. Eddie escapes, and hits a slingshot senton. Gomez doesn’t flinch, and hits a clothesline for 2. Gomez manages a backdrop suplex for 2, that Tony and Dusty felt was close, but the fans didn’t react cuz it’s Joe Gomez. A powerslam gets 2. Eddie manages to hit the Frog Splash out of nowhere and capture the pin at 5:29. Seriously, at least half the roster needs to go, and it needs to start with the jobbers in these last 2 matches. DUD
To take us away from all the horrible we’ve watched tonight, here’s NICK PATRICK, still wearing a neck brace. He’s going to get interrogated by TONY SCHIAVONE. Tony points out the fans love what happened to him. Patrick mentions that recently a baseball player got out of line and attacked an umpire, and now the umpires don’t want any part of the sport anymore. (He’s referring to Roberto Alomar, of course.) Patrick admires their decision, and he feels they need to do the same thing. He calls on the WCW referees to boycott WCW. He promises to bring law and order back to WCW by making the following move: he issues a $1,000,000 fine against Randy Savage for his actions. He also wants him suspended. His lawyers says he has a great case, and he encourages WCW to listen up. He said there was one announcer in particular who stirred up a lot of dirty rumors against himself, and that announcer isn’t here anymore. Where the heck IS Mean Gene?
Is Patrick allowed to levy fines?
ARN ANDERSON (with Woman) vs. VIC STEAMBOAT
Holy crap – the legends were true! Ricky Steamboat DOES have an awful jobber brother! I think that’s worthy of a screen capture.
NICK PATRICK is your referee, but I don’t think any amount of shady officiating is going to make Vic a winner. A double axehandle sends Steamboat to the floor. He comes back with a karate chop, and hits a dropkick. Arn rolls to the floor, but Vic leaps off the apron with another chop to the noggin. Back in, Arn’s given this clown plenty, and takes over. He runs Steamer’s face across the top rope, and fish hooks the face. Vic goes for a sunset flip, but that has no chance of working. Arn hits the atomic drop, and finishes with the DDT at 2:33. The match stunk (DUD), but at least ***** of entertainment for giving me a look at Vic Steamboat. Let’s leave this as a one and done.
TONY SCHIAVONE chats with Arn and Woman. He points out that Woman is the perfect example of beauty, brawn, and brains. Luger has none of the above, because at War Games, he tapped out. Arn says he knows what Luger’s made of now – hurt him, and he’ll quit. “Ripple those pecs at me, and I’ll take your head off.”
LEE MARSHALL hypes the WCW hotline, and I can’t remember whether or not this is his debut. I feel like Tony the Tiger might have been around before, but I’m far too lazy to check my archives.
CHRIS BENOIT and MONGO MCMICHAEL (with Debra McMichael) vs. THE ROCK AND ROLL EXPRESS
I have to admit, I’m partially distracted because I have the Royals/Orioles muted in the background, and the Royals are packing it on in the 9th inning again. Is there any better story in sports right now than the scrappy Royals? The answer is no, do not attempt to answer otherwise. NICK PATRICK referees again. The R&R are determined to beat Benoit, aren’t they? This is at least the 5th or 6th time they’ve faced some combination of the Horsemen with Benoit involved this year, and they have yet to pick up the W. Mongo levels Gibson with a shouderblock, and shows off his chiselled abs. Of course, he’s a pro wrestler, so he’s not exactly impressing anymore, but it was worth a shot I suppose. Morton tags in, and starts taking his ass kicking immediately, with a clothesline from Mongo and a snap suplex from Benoit. Morton gets slammed face first to the buckle, and starts taking chops. Morton reverses a whip and tries an avalanche, but Benoit side steps and slams him. Mongo takes out the knees from the 3-point stance on both sides of the ring, but it only gets 2. Benoit comes in, but is taken out as each guy clotheslines each other, giving Morton just enough juice to tag in Gibson. Double noggin knocker! DDT to Benoit. Morton comes off the top with a crossbody, but the referee is chasing out Gibson. Mongo uses the Haliburton to smack Morton over the head, and Benoit scores the pin at 5:16. Debra gives this a big thumbs up, but this was the worst of the Horsemen R&R series. Tonight’s show is trash. *1/2
DEAN MALENKO (with Rey Mysterio Jr’s mask) vs. MR. JL
With or without the hood, there’s no love for Jerry Lynn, and Dean pounds on him in the corner. JL comes back with dropkicks, while Dusty spins his career as best he can, by pointing out JL’s been “on the cusp of winning several matches”. That might be the most backhanded compliment I’ve ever heard. Dean comes back with a scoop slam, and a slingshot legdrop for 2. A snap suplex sets up a leg grapevine, as Dean is clearly working to wear him down. JL fights loose, and manages to get up top, hitting a missile dropkick for 2. A backslide gets 2. A dropkick finally misses, and Deano hits a brainbuster. Tigerbomb sets up the Cloverleaf, and Malenko wins at 3:58. **
Royals win!!! 2-0 series lead! I’m hoping I can look back at this moment in 5 years as the start of “man I’m sick of the Royals!” because they’re in the playoffs every year. They deserve it.
TONY SCHIAVONE wants to know what the heck is up with stealing the mask from a poor Latino boy. Dean says that the mask is clearly as important to Rey as the belt is to Malenko, and he’s keeping the mask as a trophy so he can remind Rey how it feels to be without something that means more than anything to him in the world. That’s weak, but I’ll accept it.
THE RENEGADE vs. LEX LUGER
The world would have been hot to see this in 1988, assuming Renegade was who he pretended to be, which he’s not. Renegade is coming off a hard fought win over the Gambler, so maybe he’s starting a little sumpin’ sumpin’. Luger goes straight to the good stuff – I’m talking the hiptoss! Renegade battles back with all his top offense, like clotheslines and a powerslam! A kneelift sends Renegade up top, where’s promptly caught like Ric Flair and slammed. Rack finishes at 2:43. Tony: “Luger is awesome!” This match was not. DUD
Of course, TONY SCHIAVONE needs to talk to the man he calls awesome. He wants to know if Luger’s talked to Sting? He said he’s called him a ton, but Sting won’t call back. He’s hoping time heals all wounds. Regarding Arn Anderson – he says you can lie to anyone, and think Luger’s all show, but he’s wrestled for 10 years and has never said “I Quit”. He encourages Arn to say whatever he needs to, in order to believe he’d never tap out, but he’s not out to just beat Arn, he wants to take him out. This should definitely help WCW in their war against the nWo.
BRAD ARMSTRONG vs. MARK STARR
Holy crap this might be the worst show in history. I say this with Tony Schiavone levels of hyperbole, but I’m still not particularly impressed. Tony reminds us that Brad Armstrong made it to the finals of the Cruiserweight title tournament 6 months ago, but the landscape was different my friends. Times were tough. Of course, nobody cares about this match because TED DIBIASE and VINCENT have arrived in the stands, with a microphone. DiBiase says no one ever knows when the nWo will show up, and as CEO of the group, he’s here to talk a little business. He encourages the fans to follow the nWo, a winning group. Armstrong wins during this speech at 2:21. DiBiase reminds everyone they have the rights to their own time on TV, limousines, and eventually their own TV show – based on their win at War Games. But now, they want a little bit of “the Mothaship”. So next week, on the rebranded nWo Saturday Night, we’ll see the second round of the nWo tag-team invitational.
HARLEM HEAT (with Sista Sherri and Colonel Robert Parker) vs. THE PUBLIC ENEMY (for the WCW world tag-team titles)
NICK PATRICK, the same official who was there when the Enemy won the tag-team titles in a very questionable way, is once again working this match. I imagine we can rule out the Harlem Heat from being nWo members based on that, but we still don’t have any clear answers regarding where Fit Finlay stands. Tony says this is the last tag-team title match between now and Halloween Havoc, as WCW would like their champions as healthy as possible against the Outsiders. I’d like to believe him, but Tony’s hurt me before with his lies. Stevie Ray kicks away at the bad knee of Johnny Grunge, while Dusty notes it’s probably not smart to wear a giant obvious wrap over your leg if you’re trying to hide an injury. Booker hits a beautiful standing enzuigiri for 2. Harlem Heat stomps away, but THE OUTSIDERShave showed up and are distracting everyone in the ring. THE GIANT and NUMBER SIXare there too. Booker hits the axe kick, and calls on the nWo to bring it. That … doesn’t seem like a smart idea if you’re trying to win the tag-team titles. Stevie hits a back elbow, but Grunge battles back with a swinging neckbreaker. Grunge fakes an injury to distract Harlem Heat, and Rock flies in off a blind tag with a double bulldog. The fans aren’t even remotely paying attention to this. He hits a double moonsault, and sends Booker to the apron. Drive By connects on Stevie, but Sherri is distracting the referee. Booker beats down Grunge’s leg with the cane right in front of Nick Patrick who apparently is cool with this, and we have new tag-team champions at 5:50. Hall does the “oooh so scared” routine, while Stevie yells to the camera to come git some of dis. Talk about your anticlimactic finishes. Jesus. *
The show goes off the air, and not a minute too soon. Let us hope this never sees the light of the WWE Network, ever.
Out of these 9 matches, at least one of the competitors is dead in 6 of them. While it's usually a passing thought when reading these recaps, I wonder how often more than half of the matches on a mid-90s WCW card features someone who's no longer with us? I suspect this card isn't just a sad anomaly.