The Best And Worst Of WCW Monday Nitro 10/21/96: It Can’t Rain All The Time

Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: The Nasty Boys thought they were too sweet and nWo for life, but they were not sweet at all, and nWo for nothing. Also, Miss Elizabeth sent Macho Man Randy Savage a love letter in the form of a feminine hygiene commercial, and it’s managed to make the most unhinged guy on the show hinged even less heading into Halloween Havoc.

Click here to watch this week’s episode on WWE Network, and catch up with all the previous episodes on the Best and Worst of Nitro tag page.

Please enjoy the vintage Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for October 21, 1996.

Best/Worst: Where’s Your Crown, Earl Nothing

1991 Bobby Eaton vs. 2001 Chris Jericho would be one of the best matches you’ve ever seen. 1996 Bobby Eaton vs. 1996 Chris Jericho? Not so much.

The problem is that they haven’t figured out what to do with either guy. Eaton used to be one of the best workers in the business, but he’s getting old here, and he’s spent the last year and a half pretending to be British. He’s not a high flyer anymore, but he’s Bobby Eaton, so he’s still gotta drop top rope knee drops or whatever. Eaton was a tremendous athlete but never a physical specimen, so at this point his top rope offense looks like someone throwing a baby down a flight of steps. Jericho is great, but he hasn’t figured out how to have a personality yet, and his matches exclusively revolve around his opponent beating him to death until he hits a few comeback moves and wins. Remember that barn-burner with Mike Enos? Dude let MIKE ENOS take him to the woodshed. Here, he’s trading dramatic punches with Bobby Eaton and only avoiding pinfalls because Nick Patrick is selling a comedy injury and is slow on the count.

We’ll talk about it more later on, but this episode has the weirdest selection of dated, irregular talent. My theory is that it happened in Mankato, MN — shoutout to Little House on the Prairie for making me aware of it — and a lot of the important dudes either didn’t want to roadtrip through Minnesota or had something better to do.

Worst: Ha Ha What

For example, the second match on the show is Dean Malenko vs. “Jimmy Graffiti,” a wrestler dressed so badly his shirt misspells his name. Also, I think he left the size tag on.

You may know Graffiti as “Gigolo” Jimmy Del Ray of the Heavenly Bodies, who apparently can shave his mustache and put on a shirt and become completely unrecognizable. You can’t tell from the picture, but Jimmy Graffiti is supposed to be a tagger, so his hands are covered in spray paint. Two things: (1) How are you gonna give a famous tag team wrestler a “tagger” gimmick and not put him in a tag team, and (2) how do you have a spray-paint-themed wrestler and not have him be the paint hookup for the nWo? Okay, third thing: why did you sign a 35-year old and give him a rebellious teen gimmick? What is this, Glee?

The match isn’t bad, but Dean Malenko is a technical master and Jimmy Graffiti is the Malachi Jackson to the Public Enemy’s Young Bucks. They got through about 6 minutes of Del Rey trying to be a WCW Cruiserweight while the crowd sits on their hands, because Jet Set Radio wouldn’t be out for another 4 years. Malenko puts him away with a Cloverleaf, and that’s your go-home match for the Halloween Havoc Cruiserweight Championship beef.

Best?: The Crowd Loves Seeing Nick Patrick Get Hurt

The Minnesota crowd is quiet for the first 2 1/2 matches. The third match is DDP vs. Craig Pittman, and they’re silent throughout … until the moment when Pittman powers out of a pin and accidentally throws Page onto Nick Patrick’s back. Patrick comes up to his knees like he’s in Platoon, and the crowd goes APESH*T. It’s like Stone Cold Steve Austin just drove in in a beer truck.

The match is mostly a squash for Page, but culminates in a great moment where Pittman (a cult favorite of mine, as regulars know) hulks up and decides to murder death kill Page’s arm. He rams him in the post, drags him around the ring in a circle and puts on a big dramatic Code Red in the center. It looks like Page is done, but Patrick starts getting into it with Teddy Long again and misses Page “giving up.” I’m not in love with a lot of what UFC did to pro wrestling, but the tap out really helped the visual presentation of submissions. Otherwise you’ve just got a guy nodding his head a bunch and waving his arm around, and you’re relying on the ref calling for the bell to show the “tap.” Like, we don’t actually see Page give up, he’s just struggling in the submission while Tony Schiavone yells HE GAVE UP! HE GAVE UP! So Page gets to the ropes, Pittman releases the hold, and the ensuing confusion about the finish lets Page recover and hit a Diamond Cutter.

Every Page match from this period is watching his momentum putter around in circles and thinking, “come on, the nWo is RIGHT THERE.”

Worst: Trying To Get Over Jeff Jarrett As The New Ric Flair

Jeff Jarrett is scheduled to wrestle the man inside the ninja inside the mummy inside the block of ice (Ron Studd) but gets interrupted by Ric Flair, who sells the severity of an nWo beatdown that’ll require surgery by engaging Jarrett in a strut-off.

I guess the idea here is that WCW was going to be without Flair for a while, so they wanted to turn Jarrett into a “new” Flair. The only problem is that there’s only one Ric Flair and he’s an irreplaceable genre icon, so it’d be like shaving just the top of Hillbilly Jim’s head and saying NEW HULK HOGAN. There’s no way it’s gonna happen, and the crowd’s booing him before he can even finish his Respect Strut.

Jarrett defeats a man who once incapacitated the Hulkster with a dry hump of the butt in about 90 seconds, and we go straight to a fired-up post-match promo about how Flair’s going to be in his corner vs. The Giant at Halloween Havoc. Jarrett’s a lot like Page, except instead of saying “come on, the nWo is right there,” you’re saying, “why the hell haven’t you joined the nWo, we aren’t going to cheer you.”


And now, the Nitro debut of one of WCW Saturday Night’s signature jobbers, Roadblock. WAKE UP, IT’S DETOURING TIME!

If you’ve never seen Roadblock, he’s … literally a roadblock. He carries a roadblock to the ring and his gear makes him look like a roadblock. I’m not sure how much more on the nose you can be. He looks like the Mr. Creosote version of Triple H (or one of the Gorgs from Fraggle Rock, take your pick) and he’s spectacularly bad at wrestling. All he’s got going for him is his height and weight. I’m not sure he ever figured out what wrestling was. His job here is to beat up Lex Luger a little and get Torture Racked, and he manages to fail at both of them.

I go back and forth on whether the finish is cool or horrible. Luger just decides to stop selling and goes for the Rack, but drops him. He shrugs it off and tries it again, but he can’t get him up. It finally works on the third try and is impressive, and the announcers are caught somewhere between “he’s strong enough to lift him, he just slipped,” “Luger is toying with him” and “he’s going to hurt himself.” It’s crazy to watch these shows in order and see how Luger went from the under-the-radar best character on the show to being 1996’s 2005 Mark Henry.

Worst: Guess Which Match Has A Terrible Finish

The highlight of Harlem Heat vs. the American Males is the Outsiders in the crowd, wearing Breathe Right strips.

The lowlight, as with any Harlem Heat match, is the finish. The idea is that Marcus Alexander Bagwell is supposed to miss breaking up the pin by a second, but the timing gets screwed up. Bagwell is already through the ropes looking at the pin before Nick Patrick is down to count it, so he rushes in at around 1 1/2 and breaks it up at 2. Patrick calmly stands up, tells Bagwell it was three and calls for the bell. It’s not “Rocco Rock fell backwards and we were supposed to count the three but we forgot what we were doing and re-did the entire thing,” but it’s bad. Harlem Heat needed two managerial distractions involving four people and STILL didn’t get a convincing three. Against SCOTTY RIGGS.

The good news (depending on how you look at it) is that the Males aren’t long for the world, and the seeds for Bagwell’s transformation into Buff are being sown. The nWo is lurking, he’s getting more and more aggressive and Riggs is becoming a liability. Maybe the idea here was that Bagwell was mistiming the pin save on purpose, but that doesn’t make much sense, and it was too janky to accomplish anything. Ah well, join us next week when Harlem Heat wins when their opponent slips on a banana peel and falls into a swimming pool.

Worst: The Fantastics, In 1996

Remember that thing I said about nobody wanting to travel to Minnesota? This episode of Nitro features Bobby Eaton, Jimmy Del Rey and the f*cking FANTASTICS. It’s like THE TERRITORIES: ONE NIGHT STAND in here.

I don’t want to throw too much shade at the Fantastics, but they belong in 1996 WCW about as much as the Rock n’ Roll Express, and their gear and physiques make it look like someone split Jim Duggan into two people. I expected each of them to pull half a roll of tape out of their shorts. They’re up against the Faces of Fear, which is like saying a squirrel is “up against” the wheel of a moving car. They’re super into tandem offense, and interrupt the flow of the match regularly to just hit double-team moves. They’ll be taking heat and suddenly here’s a double hip-toss, here’s a double shoulderblock, here’s a double dropkick. Eventually Meng just kicks them in the face and it’s over.

Maybe they should’ve each brought a 1×2 to the ring.

Best: Caw Caw Bang F*ck I’m Sting

We end the show with two legitimate highlights, neither having to do with good wrestling.

The announce teams hype up the fact that STING is here for the first time since literally turning his back on the company back in September, and it builds and builds to the reveal that whoops, it was the Bogus Sting. Fake Sting wrestles Mr. JL (or “Fake Jerry Lynn”), and we build to a different reveal of ACTUAL STING. “Shoot Sting,” if you will. It’s the debut of Sting’s Crow look, kind of, as it’s a work in progress and just an amalgamation of his past and future looks. He’s got the black and white makeup, but it’s still in the shape of Surfer Sting’s. He’s wearing the trenchcoat, but it’s over his regular gear. I thought it was cool as sh*t when it happened, and spent the first several months of Crow Sting saying, “man, I wish he’d go back to the paint he had that first time.”

Crow Sting brutally dispatches Bogus Sting, and the nWo gets in the ring to try to get him to join the team. The announce team of course is IMMEDIATELY convinced that Sting’s joining them, pointing out that he’s “wearing the colors of the nWo” and just blatantly going OH NO, HE’S ONE OF THEM. This is why he abandoned you in the first place, you weirdos. Sting drops the, “the only thing that’s for sure is that nothing’s for sure” line, and (unless I’m remember incorrectly) that’s the last thing he says for a year. Very cool. Get ready for the greatest build in the history of pro wrestling, followed by the worst thing Hulk Hogan ever did outside of a monster truck or Doomsday Cage.

Best: Life Is Fragile

Especially on Mega Mountain.

The main event is supposed to be Chris Benoit vs. Macho Man Randy Savage (again), but it’s interrupted (again) by Hulk Hogan. Secret nWo impresario Eric Bischoff shows Savage a video of Hogan orchestrating a takeover of the 3 Ninjas: High Noon At Mega Mountain set, which is almost as threatening as that time someone stole Savage’s Dial M For Monkey royalties. Hogan replaces the director of the film with The Giant — I hope he got an IMDb credit for that — and berates Miss Elizabeth into lying and saying she still loves Randy. He demands Savage’s head on a silver platter (shades of his graveyard broadsword promo, for anyone watching closely, because Hogan’s always been the heel) and locks her in a trailer until she does what he says. It’s harsh, unforgiving and one of the most cruel things Hogan ever (kayfabe) pulled as a heel, and it’s perfect. He’s such a lousy human being, and it’s even worse when he’s wearing a wig and dressed as Dave Dragon.

Savage’s response is also perfect. He doesn’t want to comment at first, but reconsiders to cut this incredible, chilling promo about how everything in life is fragile, including life, and the fact that he’s dressed like Vampire Hunter D makes you wonder if he’s actually going to kill Hulk at Halloween Havoc. This is an underrated classic Savage look, and the circular glasses tie it all together. He looks like The Undertaker had a baby with Wynonna Judd from the ‘Love Can Build A Bridge’ video, and I love it.