Ring Crew Reviews: WCW Nitro - March 25, 1996
Posted by Jack Bramma on 06.21.2013
Coming out of Uncensored, Ric Flair defends the WCW World Heavyweight Strap against The Giant, Macho Man takes on Belfast Bruiser (Fit Finlay), Sting and Lex Luger stave off a challenge from The American Males, and Hulk Hogan is nowhere to be seen.
• Scheduled Card:
1. Belfast Bruiser vs. Macho Man Randy Savage.
2. WCW United States Championship: Mr. JL vs. Konnan (c).
3. Disco Inferno vs. Booty Man.
4. WCW World Tag Team Championship: American Males vs. Sting and Lex Luger (c).
5. WCW World Heavyweight Championship: The Giant vs. Ric Flair (c).
• Our hosts are Bischoff, Brain, and Mongo. Fresh off the heels of WCW Uncensored, Bischoff hypes the three title matches tonight – the US title, tag titles, the world heavyweight title. Mongo and his chihuahua in matching cow denim gear are excited about the prospect of Giant going against Flair for the WCW strap because it'll mean the end of the Alliance to End Hulkamania. I'm very disappointed there was no Alliance to End the Alliance to End Hulkamania. Mongo: “DON'T SIT BACK IN YOUR CHAIR! GET UP ON THE EDGE OF IT, BABY!” Brain fears that Flair is not 100% physically or psychologically after failing to end Hulkamania. Giant could win the belt tonight. TUNE IN!
• Belfast Bruiser vs. Macho Man Randy Savage. Despite being a face last night, Bruiser gets booed coming out. Probably because no one is really face against Macho. Bischoff implores Macho to look out for Bruiser's stiff style since Finlay broke Regal's nose last night and injured his cheek bone. Going off that wondrous main event, Macho is curtain jerking while Bischoff personally congratulates and fellates Hogan on commentary during his entrance no less. Mongo puts over how Bruiser is STILL undefeated in WCW, so he won't go down quietly.
• Lockup goes nowhere and Macho postures to the crowd to a pop. Mongo wants to give Bruiser a title shot if he can beat Macho tonight. Bruiser grabs a headlock and bowls over Macho with a shoulderblock while Bischoff gives us the WCW 1996 business philosophy: “You know, you talk about WCW, the C stands for commitment. Our commitment to bring you the newest, youngest, most internationally-recognized talent from all the world and they are all coming to WCW.” Bruiser grabs another headlock but Macho tries elbowing free. He tries to escape out of the corner but Bruiser stays on him with another elbow. Finlay takes him down for the fish hook and another elbow and finally a Euro uppercut. YES! ANOTHER! And Macho is putting these over huge as near deadly blows. Or maybe they really are, just ask Regal. Macho comes back with a shot into the turnbuckle and Bruiser... begs off? What? That's weird. Macho pulls him back to the middle for a clothesline. Macho hits the running knee that sends Bruiser to the floor. Macho goes for the ringpost shot but Bruiser counters and Mach eats the steel. BB drops Mach on the rail. Mach is reeling and Bruiser chases him down for another ringpost shot. Bruiser tosses him over the guardrail into the first row and Macho needs the ref's help coming to and getting back to ringside. Back in, Macho throws himself at Bruiser's feet in a defensive maneuver and Bruiser shoves him away for a short arm clothesline for 1, 2, only 2. Macho comes back and brawls from his knees to get back into the match. Bruiser whiffs on a shoulder surge in the corner and eats post. Macho heads up top for the Macho Elbow. He hits it and covers for 1, 2, 3 to end Bruiser's undefeated streak at 5:03. Mongo: “THEY ARE GOING THROUGH ANOTHER FAMINE IN IRELAND AFTER WATCHING THAT!”
• Odd match as Finlay strangely begged off despite dominating the match. Macho sold like hell only to put away Bruiser after one missed move with the elbow drop. *1/2
• In case you think there's some larger plan to this, the next PPV Macho would tag with Flair in the Lethal Lottery and Finlay wouldn't even be on the show though he would lose again to Regal in a Parking Lot Brawl a few weeks later.
• We take a break and are back to Mean Gene bring out THE NATTTTCHAAAA BOY with Woman and Miss Elizabeth and the gold. Nancy tries getting fresh so Gene tells her to back off: “UNHAND ME, WOMAN!” Flair rants and raves about slaying a real life, fire breathing Giant tonight. Flair hugs the ladies and then croons a few bars of “He's Got the Whole World in his Hands.” Gene cuts him off to talk about what's been blowing up the hotline since last night, Luger knocking him out. Flair says he's been flying so high that he overlooked Luger lately. Flair: “MEAN GENE! QUIT LOOKING AT WOMAN, BROTHER!” Gene: “I can't help myself.” Flair now says that he's got Luger in his sights. Flair then polls both ladies about who is the bigger man and who has the better body: him or Luger? YOU, CHAMP! WOOOOOOOO!
• WCW United States Championship: Mr. JL vs. Konnan (c). JL is Jerry Lynn. Yes, that Jerry Lynn. He had a brief stint in WCW as a masked man. He's coming off defeating Malenko last night in a dark match, so he gets this shot. Konnan is of course coming off a questionable win over Eddie Guerrero and may be leaning heel.
• Bischoff races to pimp several storylines includes Liz and Macho's divorce storyline and Pillman's loose cannon happenings. Handshake to start this one and that quickly leads to Konnan beating up JL. JL jumps out to the apron and Konnan runs right into him in one of those dumb spots that only makes sense if you're not paying attention. JL sends him into the turnbuckle and Konnan juts his head like a chicken selling in right into a headscissors. He rolls right through it into another headscissors. Konnan bails out to regroup. Back in, Konnan gets an armdrag and JL tries a roll under reversal before saying fuck it and quitting in mid-sequence. Konnan floats back over into a headlock and JL grabs the arm but Konnan rolls him under. They barrel roll through another hold and Konnan monkey flips him up and JL lands on his feet to silence. DEAFENING silence. Konnan hits a DDT to a small pop. BUT WAIT! BISCHOFF IS GETTING WORD THAT MACHO IS BALLISTIC IN THE BACK! Security is holding off Macho from attacking Flair. No footage of that of course as Konnan hits a senton for a nearfall. Konnan reclines JL into a Mexican Surfboard variation while the crew keeps talking about Macho. JL escapes and goes to an armbar. Mongo: “All it takes is one little ding on the head. When ya get dizzy, you forget all about these movements. THIS IS A WRESTLING FAN'S DREAM, BABY! THIS MATCH HAS GOT MORE MOVEMENTS THAN A SWISS WATCH!”
• ANYWAY, they go through the wheelbarrow armdrag sequence. Konnan gets him in the MasterLock but JL again reverses to an....armdrag. Elbow puts down Konnan for the double KO spot at 3 minutes in. In the corner, Konnan no sells a chop only for them to go back to the apron spot from earlier and JL missile dropkicks Konnan down. Konnan grabs his ankle on impact and awkwardly grabs the ropes rather than kickout of a pinfall. They fumble around for the next spot with a weak hiptoss block that ends with a Doctor Bomb. Konnan nonchalantly covers for 1, 2, only 2. Konnan wants some love from the crowd in yet another heel spot. JL slides down Konnan's back for another nearfall. Bischoff: “AND NEXT WEEK, HULK HOGAN IS BACK ON NITRO NEXT WEEK! YOU'LL SEE HIM—Cover... 2 count there. YOU'LL SEE HIM IN ACTION WITH THE BOOTY MAN AS THEY GET A SHOT AGAINST THE TASKMASTER AND ARN ANDERSON!” After a leap frog, they go through a cool pinning reversal sequence all for two counts. Brain: “I don't know what you call that move. There were so many legs there, so many feet, and so many arms going inside out, upside down. I don't know what you call a move like that. You call it.” Mongo: “Well.... Eric, you were talking about Hulk Hogan. I wanna get back to that, baby. That man's been a tear. When is he going to get a championship match? He deserves it and when he does get it, he'll be the champion again, WEASEL!” Fucker. Konnan slams down JL and heads up top. JL cuts him off and DDTS HIM OFF THE TOP ROPE! That was SICK. JL covers for 1, 2, 2.99. JL tries up-and-over but Konnan catches him in an Alabama Slam and bridges for 1, 2, 3 to retain at 5:19.
• Just a bunch of moves. Cool moves. Innovative moves. But moves nonetheless. A bit off in a few spots and Konnan's tweener shtick doesn't do it for me, but this was still marginally worth checking out. **
• Disco Inferno vs. Booty Man. Mongo: “WHAT A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN, BOYS! THE MAN WHO INSTIGATED THE SHAKE YOUR BOOTY MAN AGAINST THE BOOTY MAN! WE'RE GOING TO SEE WHO'S GOT THE BOOTY TONIGHT!” Bischoff: “Last night, the Booty Man took it off and I MEAN, TOOK IT OFF!” This is crazy. Booty once again comes out sans Kimberly, just so she can get him all his heat back during the middle of the match once he's lost it.
• Disco misses a punch and Booty shows him his ass and Disco sells it. Riveting. Booty sidesteps and sends Disco into the turnbuckle. A couple of atomic drops and Disco is out. BUT WAIT! THE BOOTY BABE HAS ARRIVED! Booty elbows Disco down and then invites Kimberly to slap his ass and Kimberly accepts. High knee finishes Disco at 1:17. DUD
• Bischoff: “When it comes to visual stimulation and ring support, the Booty Babe is about as good as it gets.”
Mongo: “That might be all he needs to get himself over the top, baby. I tell you one thing for sure. I've got a little darling named Debra and if anybody tries to get in-between us, he better bring a packed lunch.”
Brain: “She should get arrested for impersonating a lampshade.”
• WCW World Tag Team Championship: American Males vs. Sting and Lex Luger (c). Bischoff announces breaking news: Buff is transitioning to the silver screen for the first time. I suppose he's not counting his other movie career. The Males are Buff Bagwell and Scotty Riggs of Flock fame. Bischoff: “I've got two things for you to look out for here, Heenan. Two words: drop kick.” Luger is TV and tag champ at this point and throws both belts down to pose. Luger ignores all the fans to embrace the gold until Sting turns around and then Luger disingenuously appears enthused to high five a few. As soon as Sting faces forward, Luger goes back to heel. That's tremendously awesome. Of course, Luger turned (face?) last night on Flair and Flair's a heel and they're building to a title match. Of course, Flair also has semi feuds going with Giant, Hogan, and Macho, but the point is turning on Flair didn't make Luger a face apparently.
• Luger and Riggs to start. Bischoff wants to know why Sting puts up with Luger. Brain: “It's because Luger is his meal ticket.” Luger is MOVING tonight on a criss cross but lands into a dropkick. Mongo: “Sting oughta wake up and SEE and SMELL the STINK ON THE ROSES!” Luger with a head of steam but again into a backdrop. Luger is pissed and jumps Riggs from behind. Luger: “DON'T DO THAT!” Bischoff puts over the tag division now: “Let's take a look at the tag team picture here, Mongo. You've got the Steiner Brothers back and they are back in a big way. You've got the Road Warriors here. You've got Sting and Lex Luger here. You've got the Nasty Boys here. You've got Harlem Heat here. You have got some heavy duty tag team competition, probably the most heavy duty this sport has seen in 10 years.” Brain: “You've also got Hogan and Savage. You've got the Bluebloods.” You've also got.... THE AMERICAN MALES CURRENTLY CHALLENGING! But I suppose they don't warrant a mention. Luger steamrolls Riggs with a bionic, steel-plate forearm. Luger then knocks Buff off the apron for no particular reason, so Buff pulls him to the floor for some payback. Sting cuts off the whip into the apron and Riggs is out to help as well and they regroup back in their respective corners. Back in, Brain is planting the seeds of dissension saying that Sting needs to let Luger wrestle his own match.
• Luger begs off from Buff and wants a rope break in the corner. Luger is too afraid, so he tags in Sting. Luger is so melodramatically enthused to get out of the ring and raises Sting's hand as the crowd's hero and the guy to go after Buff. It's awesome. Brain calls Buff a “protege of Sting's” and the crowd is ready for this lockup and Luger is cheering them on. BUFF VS. STING FOR WORLD TITLE! BOOK IT! Buff with a shoulderblock and Sting with a leap frog, but Buff comes back with a leap frog and backdrop of his own. ECW STANDOFF! Sting blocks a slam and comes back with a few slams on Buff. STINGER HULK UP! Buff gives him a round of applause and then... .tags out? What? Riggs tags in and Luger is back in too. Luger with some forearms and actually gets a LUGERLUGER chant. Riggs with a leap frog of his own and a slam. Buff is in for a double hiptoss and a splash for 1, 2, only 2. Buff tries the up and over crossbody but Luger moves and goes to work. Luger stomps a mudhole and sends him into the turnbuckle. Buff goes down in a heap and Brain notices a trend: “It seems to me like Luger is more incensed when he's in there with Bagwell than when he's in there with Bagwell's partner. He wants to beat up Bagwell and stick it to Sting. Buff ducks a few shots and hits a burrito. Double KO spot. Tags to Sting and Riggs. Riggs gets the advantage with a few slams but Sting kicks him away. Riggs with a small package for 1, 2, 2 ½. Sting now steals Buff's sequence and hits the same burrito on Riggs for 1, 2, 3 as Buff is too late to break it up at 6:31.
• Very entertaining for the time given. I was digging the Buff-Sting dynamic and think (then) they really could have lit it up face-face in a mini-program. I also love the Luger-Sting friction with Luger unenthusiastically being a face just for Sting but then going after Buff just because. ***
• Post-match, Luger celebrates with both belts by himself and starts to take the party to the back, but Sting stops him and demands his belt. Sting then congratulates the American Males on a hard fought match.
• Bischoff: “Coming up next, the WCW World Heavyweight Title on the line. The Giant against the Nature Boy. YOU CAN BET HOGAN'S WATCHING THIS ONE!”
• WCW World Heavyweight Championship: The Giant vs. Ric Flair (c). Giant only had one title reign at this point after defeating Hogan by DQ back at Havoc 95 in that godawful match. Giant was stripped a week later. Flair had traded the strap back and forth with Macho for a couple months and is coming off taking the losing pinfall, despite being world champ, for a team of eight guys who couldn't defeat two. Bischoff plays up Flair's larger feud with Macho seeing as he has his ex-wife and half of Macho's money. Liz and Woman help throw some of Macho's money into the crowd. BUT WAIT! HERE COMES MACHO! He's being held back by Hacksaw, Eddie Guerrero, and some security so Woman walks right up and SMACKS HIM ACROSS THE FACE! Macho is restrained and forced to the back.
• Bischoff: “Nitro really taking on a life of its own. Without question, the most watched wrestling program each and every week. And we are making wrestling history and making wrestling fans and more of them as the weeks go on. We want to thank you for joining us here on Nitro. Look forward to seeing you here next week when HULK HOGAN, THE MAN WHO IS PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING, STEPS BACK INTO THE RING, LIVE ON NITRO! ALWAYS EXPLOSIVE ACTION WHEN HULK HOGAN SHOWS UP IN THE BUILDING!” They go face-to-chest, eye-to-chin and Giant piefaces Flair down and across the ring. Giant Hulks up and yells THIS HOUSE IS MINE! Flair bails out to regroup and talks strategy with the ladies. Bischoff gets word that Macho is getting handcuffed and taken out of building. Flair runs a few rope drills and takes bumps off nothing from Giant. Giant no sells and press slams Flair down. Another press slam and Giant is in awe of his own god-like ability as Bischoff says Flair has experience against big guys like Vader at Starrcade a few years back. Flair takes the low road and Flops on the floor. Giant casually carries him back like a loaf of bread. Flair goes to the chops and Giant no sells and Flair begs off. Vertical suplex and Flair is toast. Flair Flips off a whip and tries coming off the top but lands into a Giant ribbreaker.
• Giant HEADS UP TOP! He tries a big splash but Flair rolls under and even if he didn't Giant would have missed by 5 yards. Still a cool visual that lends a bit of credence to the old “Giant did a moonsault at the Power Plant” stuff. Giant repeats his missed Stinger Splash spot to the floor. Woman slips Flair some piano wire for some BLATANTCHOKING while Liz distracts the ref. Flair awesomely disposes of the wire in the tights only to choke Giant again and then hide it again. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Flair now with the BLATANTTHUMBTOTHEEYE. Giant no sells everything Flair's got and shoves him down. The ladies distract the ref again and that allows Flair to punt him to the stones. Bischoff: “This is lower than low.” Brain doubts if Flair can apply the F4 to the Giant's long legs. Woman now chokes Giant with some wire too. Brain: “I'm just in awe of Ric Flair, what a masterful technician he is with a man that big.” Flair heads up but Giant slams him off. Giant drops the strap and calls for the ChokeSlam. Flair begs off but gets goozled. CHOKESLAM! BUT WAIT! LIZ AND WOMAN ARE IN! HERE COMES ARN! Arn waffles Giant with a chair. He no sells and MY GOODNESS, KEVIN SULLIVAN! Sullivan takes the chair away but Giant turns around and catches Taskmaster red-handed. Giant ChokeSlams Sullivan too and then another for Arn just because. JIMMY HART IN! The ref calls for the bell for a No Contest at 8:56.
• Post-match, Giant stalks out pissed at a lost opportunity.
• Flair was Flair and Giant was mid 90's very limited Giant. Still, Woman and Liz's interference and Flair dialing the cheating up to 11 were entertaining if completely ridiculous. The nauseating focus on Hogan as the real star of the show despite not being in the building is the usual. Giant would dethrone Flair a few weeks later for nothing before the nWo changed the business. **
• Bischoff: “Remember, LIVE! NEXT WEEK! THE IMMORTAL HULK HOGAN, HERE, LIVE NEXT WEEK! ON NITRO!
Brain: [Pantomimes dry heaving].
The 411: A strange show. You've got Hogan and Macho coming off the most important match in the history of the world and how do you follow that up? Macho ends Finlay's undefeated streak in rather meaningless fashion and Hogan's not even on the show, even though Bischoff can't shut up about how he will be there next week. Everyone is so congratulatory and lauding of a guy who isn't even there and yet they're so close-lipped about why there's such a celebratory mood. And that's the catch, because while no one wants to talk about the Doomsday Cage match, they have to congratulate Hogan. I like Flair's multiple feuds with Macho, Luger, Giant, and apparently a waiting Hogan, but everyone feels stuck in neutral. Maybe that's revisionism because I know the nWo is coming, but it's hard not to feel that a big change was needed either way.