(All screen captures are the property of World Wrestling Entertainment)
May 27, 1996
News & Notes: Monday Nitro was a huge success for WCW. Most people focus on the 83-week winning streak. They forget WCW won the ratings quite often before that. Momentum shifted back and forth between WCW and the WWF during the early days of the show. That momentum earned WCW a second hour for Nitro. The Memorial Day episode would be the first two-hour broadcast. Bischoff wanted to start the new era with a bang. He did so by jump-starting one of the biggest storylines in wrestling history.
There are two main focuses going into this edition of Nitro. First, WCW suspended Randy Savage. Ric Flair’s antics made Savage lose control. He attacked Flair. He attacked other wrestlers. He even attacked referees. They banned Randy from the building and ordered him to seek help. Meanwhile, Ric Flair continued antagonizing Steve Mongo McMichael. WCW officially signed a tag team match between Flair & Anderson and Mongo & Kevin Greene. The match happens at The Great American Bash. Greene was still an active NFL player with the Carolina Panthers. This was before professional sports cracked down on current players participating in wrestling. WCW saw it as an opportunity to get eyes on their product. Greene & McMichael appeared on The Tonight Show to promote the match. (It won’t be the last time Jay Leno gets involved with WCW.)
Affiliate of the Week:
Tony Schiavone welcomes everyone to the first two-hour episode of Monday Nitro. He’s with Larry Zbyszko. They are the commentary team for the first hour. Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan will take over for the second hour. Tony says Sting and Scott Steiner will collide for the first time in the main event. Larry talks about Sting & Luger’s trust issues. He accuses the armchair quarterbacks on the internet of spreading rumors. Then, Tony tells us The Giant will defend his WCW title against The Shark. Larry thinks The Giant will chokeslam the Shark again. (It’s impressive he did it once!)
Ric Flair & Arn Anderson (w/ Woman & Miss Elizabeth) vs. The American Males
Notes: This is a warm-up match for Flair & Anderson. They’re preparing for their match against Mongo & Kevin Greene. Larry thinks Mongo is in over his head. He suggests McMichael should divorce Debra rather than face Flair. Larry also refers to Arn Anderson as endomorphic. He must have meant mesomorphic unless he’s calling Arn pudgy.
The Match: Ric & Arn keep taking Riggs to the floor to double-team him. They use frequent tags and ref distractions. Bagwell has enough, so the match becomes a brawl. They make Flair regroup. He does so by grabbing champagne from his banquet table. The women bring it to Tony & Larry. Then, Ric & Arn double-team Bagwell. But, Arn collides with the post on a missed clothesline. They go to break and come back to find Bagwell fighting out of the Horsemen’s corner. Riggs returns, but Arn attacks his knee. The Horsemen then focus on Scotty’s leg. They put him in holds and lure Bagwell into the ring to distract the ref. Bagwell eventually tags and cleans house. Chaos then ensues. The ref is distracted. Both teams reverse a roll-up. However, Woman rakes Bagwell’s eyes. This allows Arn to hit a DDT and Flair covers for the win.
Thoughts: This was a fun match. I loved the tag teamwork of Flair & Anderson. They told a good story. The Males got enough offense to look strong. Ric & Arn had to use underhanded tactics to defeat them. It’s a good way to not make the Males look weak in defeat. That was a textbook tag team match and a good way to open the show.
Winners: Flair & Anderson (12:59)
Ric celebrates by dumping a glass of champagne on himself. Then, he joins Mean Gene beside the banquet table. Gene brings up The Great American Bash. Arn says he never met a football player he couldn’t walk over to get to a better fight. He also never met a woman Ric Flair couldn’t get. Arn then claims they don’t respect anybody that has to wear protective gear. In their house, it’s man to man and hand to hand. Next, Flair talks about his weekend in The Keys. He even sings a bit of “Afternoon Delight.” Ric then says commissioner Pete Rozelle better step in now on Mongo’s behalf. (Rozelle’s term as NFL Commissioner ended in 1989. Ric clearly doesn’t pay attention to football.) Flair continues by implying he went to Austin to sleep with Debra. Gene asks Elizabeth if that’s two-timing. She says the champ can have anything he wants. Flair ends the promo by saying Elizabeth and Woman are his sugar mamas because of Savage’s money.
After the commercial break, they show a montage of Mongo and Kevin Greene working out in the gym. They turned down the framerate to give it that stylized look. It was popular in the 90s, but I find it annoying. Mongo chants Flair’s name while doing reps. He also calls Greene his enforcer. They talk a lot of trash, but the music almost drowns out what they’re saying. Mongo ends the segment by asking Flair what he’s going to do. (Does Hogan know McMichael is stealing his catchphrases?)
Steve Doll vs. The Mauler (w/ Col. Parker)
Notes: Steve Doll is the former Steven Dunn of Well Dunn. The Mauler Mike Enos is the man once known as Blake Beverly. Col. Parker hyped a new addition to his Stud Stable. That man is The Mauler. However, this match is a backdrop for something else. I won’t waste any more time. Let’s get to what you really came here for.
The Match: Blah blah blah. They do the wrestle. Hey, who is that in the crowd? That looks like Razor Ramon. Wait, it IS Razor Ramon! Oh, excuse me. It’s Scott Hall. (The WWF owns the Razor Ramon name.) Scott hops the guardrail and demands a microphone. Steve Doll disappears into thin air. Col. Parker convinces The Mauler to leave.
Thoughts: Nothing to see here. Let’s move along to the good stuff.
Winner: No Contest (5:00)
Hall says everyone knows who he is, but they don’t know why he’s there. Scott asks where Billionaire Ted and the Nacho Man are at. He mocks Savage for being unable to enter the building. He also claims he has a scoop for Scheme Gene. Hall promises to return when that Ken doll wannabe (Bischoff) comes out for the second hour. He has a challenge for anyone in WCW. (He pronounces WCW in a mock southern accent.) Then, Scott says, “You want a war? You’re gonna get one!” Randy Anderson tells Hall he has to leave, so Hall acquiesces. He throws his toothpick at the camera as he walks down the aisle. (I liked the way they did this. The commentators’ reactions were perfect. Having Hall reference the Billionaire Ted skits blurs the lines. It places an idea in your head. Is he there on behalf of the WWF?)
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Sgt. Craig Pittman (w/ Teddy Long)
Notes: They already stripped DDP of his WCW title match. He gets to keep the Lord of the Ring title, but they gave his championship opportunity to Lex Luger. Larry still claims DDP is living the American dream because of the money he got from his benefactor. Meanwhile, DDP and Pittman have a push-up contest before the match begins. Neither man is very good at them. Pittman attempts to do it one-arm style, but they look weak. DDP tries kicking Craig while he does them, but he misses and takes a comical bump.
The Match: Pittman surprises Page with shoulder blocks and some mat wrestling. DDP complains of hair-pulling. Dallas then uses an eye-poke and a headbutt. He hurts himself doing it and stumbles out of the ring. On the floor, Page gets tangled in cables. Page catches Craig at the ropes with a hotshot. But, Pittman recovers and attempts a Code Red. Page is on his stomach, so it doesn’t work. Teddy Long then gets too close to the ring. Page grabs him and shoves him into the guardrail. Pittman checks on his manager. This gives Page the opening to land a Diamond Cutter for the win.
Thoughts: There wasn’t much to this match. But, DDP was entertaining. I love his over the top selling and bumps. I laughed when he got tangled in the cables. The bout was forgettable, but Page’s antics were great.
Winner: Diamond Dallas Page (3:01)
Tony says Randy Savage is suspended because of his recent actions. That doesn’t stop WCW from producing a hype video for him. They show a montage of his madness. We see Savage attacking Flair on many occasions. Other wrestlers try holding him back, but it doesn’t work. Savage even performed the flying elbow on a referee. A WCW official tells Randy to seek professional help. Savage tells the official to get his own psychiatrist. The narrator says Savage is a danger to himself and others. He is lost. The video ends with a snippet of Hulk Hogan’s theme, for some reason. (Is that subtle foreshadowing?)
Mean Gene is with The Shark. Gene points out The Shark isn’t hanging with the Dungeon of Doom anymore. Shark accuses Jimmy Hart and The Taskmaster of being buddy-buddy. (Haven’t they been buddies for a while?) He also complains about Hart bringing in a new member who cost him a match at Slamboree. (He’s referring to a preshow match. Shark & Maxx lost to The American Males.) The Shark then reveals they kicked him out of the Dungeon. He promises to hurt The Giant and win the WCW title. Then, he’s going to eat Jimmy Hart for dessert. The Shark closes the promo by saying he nearly ended Hulkamania. Now, he will end The Giant. Speaking of Hogan, Gene introduces a video about the Hulkster.
Lee Marshall narrates a shameless video for Hulk Hogan. They praise him for having celebrity friends like George Foreman, Shaq, Dennis Rodman, and Kevin Greene. It’s okay because Hogan also did a celebrity function with Sugar Ray Leonard. Lee says Hulkamania runs wild in wrestling and the entertainment world! (They want to keep Hogan in people’s minds while he’s gone. But, this is amusing when you think about what happens the next time we see him.)
Then, Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan welcome everyone to the second hour. Mongo isn’t with them because he’s preparing for his match. Heenan claims Mongo and Greene are hiding in their hotel. Eric then says he won’t dignify the earlier interruption. (It sounds like he did.) He can’t believe Hall called him a Ken doll wannabe. (How dare he imply Eric is handsome?)
WCW Title Match: The Giant (c) (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Shark
Notes: It’s strange the WCW title match opens the second hour. But, then you realize it coincides with the start of RAW. They’re counter-programming the WWF. Heenan says this is the first time Giant faced someone heavier than him. Then, Bischoff talks about The Giant’s match with Luger at the Bash. (Way to spoil the end of this match!) Eric says Jimmy Hart is a man in the middle. He’s caught between The Giant and Luger. But, Bobby isn’t sure Luger is with Hart anymore. While they discuss this, The Shark jumps The Giant.
The Match: They fight in the corner before Shark uses some ineffective shoulder blocks. The Giant answers with a clothesline and steps on Shark. Then, Shark does a diving axehandle and throws some forearms. He tries to slam The Giant, but he fails. However, The Giant succeeds in slamming Shark. (The fans cheer for the move. It was impressive.) Next, they fight in the corner again. Shark uses shoulder thrusts and a diving clothesline. This causes Jimmy Hart to climb onto the apron for a distraction. Shark grabs him, but The Giant recovers. He gives Shark a chokeslam for the win. (The fans also cheer this.)
Thoughts: The slam and the chokeslam got a reaction from the crowd. But, the match was forgettable. It wasn’t good. They mostly used forearms and shoulder blocks. It was slow and uninteresting. The Giant looked impressive in a couple of spots. It wasn’t enough to make this into a decent match. I’m glad they kept it short.
Winner: The Giant (4:01)
After the bell, Big Bubba Rogers enters the ring. He attacks The Shark and cuts his hair with scissors. Then, Bubba uses clippers to shave half of The Shark’s head. (Somewhere, The Booty Man says, “I left the Dungeon and they stole my gimmick!”) Jimmy Hart is overjoyed at the sight. He tells The Shark that’s what he gets for messing with the Dungeon. Heenan laughs about it while they go to a break.
TV Title Match: Lex Luger (c) vs. Maxx
Notes: Maxx is the former Max Muscle. He got a haircut and joined the Dungeon of Doom. His membership came with an extra X on his name! He’s facing Lex Luger for the TV title. Luger enters without his tag team belt. (He and Sting are still champions.) Luger poses in the ring while fire explodes from the posts. (So, Kane stole his pyro from Luger?) On a side note, a couple of things worth mentioning happen during this bout. Bischoff tells us Rey Mysterio Jr. will debut at the Bash. He faces Dean Malenko for the Cruiserweight title. Also, you hear Eric argue with a production assistant. He says Hall can wait until the end of the hour to come and talk with him.
The Match: Maxx takes Luger down with a shoulder block and flexes at him. (The nerve of him! Flexing is Luger’s thing!) Luger responds with running clotheslines. But, Maxx catches Lex with a powerslam. He then slowly kicks and chokes Luger. Maxx also uses axehandles and a side slam. Maxx continues his dull offense with forearms and clotheslines. Luger surprises him with a boot and nails a running forearm. (Bischoff mentions Lex beat Yokozuna with the move. He had to get that shot in at the WWF. Is that why Jim Ross said only Ahmed slammed Yoko?) Then, Luger follows that with a powerslam. He gets Maxx in the Torture Rack after a couple of tries. Maxx submits.
Thoughts: Maxx’s offense was slow and boring. He didn’t botch anything, but it was dull. He controlled much of this match. It wasn’t good. The crowd reacted well to Luger and his offense. They were silent while Maxx set the pace.
Winner: Lex Luger (5:45)
Gene enters the ring to interview Luger. He calls Luger’s title match with the Giant a unique opportunity. But, he questions how he got it. Luger wants to know what he means. Gene reminds him they denied DDP the title shot and gave it to Luger instead. Lex says he doesn’t make the matches. WCW officials make them. Gene then shows replays of The Giant chokeslamming Luger through Flair’s banquet table. Lex can’t believe The Giant did that to The Total Package. He accuses Giant of trying to put him out of wrestling. Lex then says he wants every big man WCW has in preparation for The Giant. Luger says payback is a you-know-what. (No, I don’t. Tell me what it is, Lex. Go ahead. All joking aside, this was a decent promo from Lex. It still had an air of arrogance without going into heel territory. He’s playing the tweener role well.)
Hard Work Bobby Walker vs. Brad Armstrong
Notes: Since Nitro moved to two-hours, they need more competitors. WCW called up some of their young wrestlers from the Power Plant to fill the gaps. Bobby Walker is an example of that. They say he got the nickname because he watches tapes. He’s also the first one in the building and the last to leave. (A young John Cena takes notes.) I have to point out Walker’s theme music. It sounds like a cheap knock-off of “Eye of the Tiger.” Except, they only used a ten-second loop of it. (Also, Bischoff mentions Hall again. But, he refuses to say his name. He doesn’t want a lawsuit.)
The Match: The match begins with some basic mat wrestling. They trade holds and reversals. Armstrong uses a monkey flip and Walker almost lands on his feet. Bobby then stumbles on the top rope, but he lands a flying crossbody. Then, both men trade armbars, headlocks, and head scissors. They also trade pin attempts. After that, Bobby returns to the top rope and stumbles again. He recovers and nails a form of a blockbuster for the victory.
Thoughts: This was basic and sloppy. You can tell Walker has potential, but he’s not ready for TV. He almost fell off the top rope twice. I felt bad for him. The crowd wasn’t into the match. They did too many armbars. Thankfully, the cruiserweights division expands. They fill in the slots on Nitro better than the Power Plant wrestlers.
Winner: Bobby Walker (4:26)
They come back from break with an ad for WCW Magazine. A kid looks bored until the magazine magically appears in his hands. It causes him to morph into Sting! In this edition, you can get inside the demented mind of The Giant. Also, we can learn about Woman’s dirty tricks. Plus, there are exclusive photos from Uncensored.
Lord Steven Regal (w/ Jeeves) vs. Alex Wright
Notes: Alex Wright does his backflip off the ropes before the match. It startles Regal, which made me laugh. Regal responds by giving Alex his trademark bicep pose! Meanwhile, Bischoff and Heenan talk more about Hogan and his buddies than this match. (Also, they show another Glacier promo during the commercial break. This one is less mysterious. They say his name.)
The Match: They trade takeovers. Regal uses arm drags. Wright answers with head scissors. Regal regroups, so Alex dives onto him. Then, they go to break. We return to find Regal working on Alex’s arm. Steven uses forearms, uppercuts, and a crossface. He also cuts off Wright’s comebacks with cheap shots. Alex tries using his athleticism to avoid Regal, but Regal locks him in a wristlock. Next, they trade pin attempts until Alex nails a dropkick. Wright continues with more uppercuts. But, Regal blocks a monkey flip and wins with a jackknife pin.
Thoughts: It was hard-hitting, but it was kind of slow. Wright was a bit sloppy. I wanted to like this, but it never quite clicked. I like both of these guys. However, this was surprisingly disappointing. I expected better from them.
Winner: Lord Steven Regal (10:18)
Gene interviews Regal after the match. He questions Regal’s feelings about Americans. Regal responds by calling him a miserable little toad. He says Gene telling him how to live his life is like Quasimodo telling someone how to walk straight! (That got a laugh from me.) Then, Regal says his father would be proud of him beating Junior Adolph. Next, Regal calls The Giant a circus freak. He also brings up Scott Hall declaring war. Regal says he’s not going anywhere. Gene counters by pointing out a kid giving Regal the finger. Steven says he’s not worried about peasants. Regal wants to issue a challenge. He says he can prove himself and earn a title match with the circus freak. All he has to do is beat the franchise, Sting. He calls Sting a painted face bloody clown. Gene tells him to take it to the championship committee. (This was great stuff from Regal. I enjoy his promos.)
Scott Steiner vs. Sting
Notes: Sting is still one-half of the tag champions. The Steiner Brothers want a tag title match. This is Scott’s chance to prove they deserve an opportunity. I like it. It’s simple storytelling. Plus, I like the idea of a match between Sting and this era of Scott Steiner. Also, I want to point out Sting’s entrance. He grabbed some snacks from Ric Flair’s banquet table. (It made the guy watching the table laugh.) Sting enjoyed doing entertaining things like that during his entrances. My personal favorite is when he sneaked around the cameraman to surprise him.
The Match: They trade takedowns and headlocks early. Scott answers with a Tiger Bomb and a belly-to-belly. Steiner continues with a flying axehandle. But, Sting boots him hard in the face. (It makes Heenan laugh.) Scott isn’t fazed. He nails an overhead belly-to-belly and locks Sting in some submissions. Sting counters with a reverse DDT and a Stinger Splash. He tries another one, but Steiner moves. Both men also avoid each other’s finishers. Then, they reverse through a Tombstone. Meanwhile, Luger approaches the ring. This draws out Rick Steiner. The fight spills to the floor. Scott attempts to suplex Sting, but Luger saves his friend. It angers Rick. All four men brawl, so the ref throws out the match.
Thoughts: It was a solid match, but Steiner was a bit winded. He is bulkier than he used to be. It affected his conditioning. Because of that, the match was slower than I expected. It was still decent. But, it wasn’t what I hoped it would be. I didn’t mind the ending because the point of the match was to tease a tag team encounter between these men. It did its job.
Winner: Double DQ (10:16)
Sting & Luger continue fighting the Steiners until other wrestlers rush the ring. They separate all four men, but Luger jumps on Rick. He throws punches, but the wrestlers stop the melee again.
Then, Scott Hall approaches the announce table. He tells Bischoff he has a big mouth. Hall says, “We are sick of it.” Eric asks what “we” means. Hall doesn’t answer. Instead, he issues a challenge. He tells Bischoff to get three of WCW’s best men. Hall says, “We are taking over!” Eric replies, “What do you mean we!?” Again, Hall doesn’t answer. Scott says if they want a war, they got one. But, he wants to do it in the ring where it counts. It won’t happen on the microphone or in the dirt sheets. Hall makes more references to the Billionaire Ted skits. He implies WCW has no balls. Then, he repeats his line about them taking over. Hall throws his toothpick at Bischoff and leaves. Eric & Bobby look dumbfounded.
Hall showed up again in the following weeks. He promised a big surprise. That surprise was Kevin Nash (Diesel). WCW began referring to Hall & Nash as The Outsiders. (They don’t use their real names until Bash at the Beach.) Hall continued issuing the challenge for WCW to find three men to face them. Eric invited Hall & Nash to The Great American Bash. He would give The Outsiders his answer there.
The Scott Hall stuff was memorable.
The opener was a solid tag match.
DDP was entertaining.
Too many jobbers and Power Plant rookies.
A couple of the matches were disappointing.
Performer of the Night:
I know it’s the easy choice. But, I’m giving it to Scott Hall. He was the most memorable part of this episode.
The stuff with Hall was great. It set up one of the biggest storylines in wrestling. This show will always be remembered for it. However, the overall program was hit and miss. There was good stuff on it. But, not everything clicked. They established a couple of matches for The Great American Bash. And, they furthered a few feuds. It did what it needed to do, but it wasn’t an amazing episode.
Thank you for reading. Be sure to stay tuned for my Great American Bash ’96 review this Sunday!
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