– World War 3 happens immediately after this. Should I write up a full report, or did you guys dig the Halloween Havoc one-page recap format?
– Comments, likes, shares and other things are appreciated. If you don’t, I’ll put on a black mask and sneak up behind you.
Please click through for the vintage Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for November 20, 1995.
This Week’s Pepe Costume: Cow Cowboy
Pepe’s a cowboy in cow-print cowboy stuff. Mongo has a coordinating cow-print shirt. Study question: Did Mongo own a bunch of Motherboy dog outfits BEFORE he got the Nitro job, or were they provided by TNT?
Eric Bischoff is hyperbolic from the word go this week, announcing the Sting vs. Hulk Hogan match and declaring that, “this is without a doubt the Super Bowl of wrestling.” Tony Schiavone gets a lot of grief for thinking too many moments were the “greatest in the history of our sport,” but you should listen to Bisch talk about Hogan. Dude would walk into a grocery store, pass a 2-for-1 sale on toilet paper and jump on the loudspeaker to ask what this means for the future of Hulk Hogan wiping his ass.
Bobby Heenan earns four Redemption points for his review of the night’s main event. “I’m gonna be rooting for Sting tonight cause I want Sting to beat Hogan. And when Sting gets done beating Hogan, I hope he falls down the stairs, hits his head and knocks himself out and they eliminate each other.” Growing up is realizing that Bobby Heenan and Jesse Ventura weren’t heels, they were smarks. Smart dudes who learned too much about the wrestling business and hated that they couldn’t change how it works.
Worst: The Following Special Rematch
The Shark wrestles Scott Norton in the opening match, because The Shark is ALWAYS wrestling Scott Norton.
If you haven’t been following the story, here’s the incredibly important recap. On the 10/23 episode Nitro, we interrupted Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko vs. Eddie Guerrero and Super Sentai Jerry Lynn for a backstage brawl between former arm wrestler Scott “Flash” Norton and former human The Shark. According to Bischoff, they were beefing about 9/11. Understandable. It was a trying time for our nation. Shark’s from Canada. Also, he’s a shark. How could he possibly understand?
The next week they have a match on Nitro that ends in a double-countout, because neither man wants to sell for the other. This is the big rematch, and … neither man wants to sell for the other. They’re barely even wrestling. It’s just “let’s stand near each other and throw forearms, and maybe one of us will develop empathy and bend over with an upset look on our face.” The finish is Shark missing a charge in the corner and Norton (impressively) powerslamming him for the pin. The problem is that Shark kicks out right at three and spends the entire post-match totally fine, complaining about how if they had another match, Norton would be HIS.
I assume this is building to the big Shark/Scott Norton Ironman Match at World War 3. Supplemental Worst for Shark jumping Norton before the bell, by the way, and robbing me of a chance to hear him announced “from Tsunami.”
Best: I’mma Let My Little Homies Ride On You Bitch-Made Ass Bad Boy Bitches
The next match is supposed to be Eddie Guerrero vs. Ric Flair, but Flair tells Guerrero he isn’t on his level and subs in Flyin’ Brian.
It’s one of those rare moments when mid-90s Flair actually acts like Ric Flair, instead of being a senile screaming guy with madcap plans and bad grandpa clothes. 80s Flair was this detached, elitist millionaire playboy who surrounded himself with a bunch of tough jerks who were scheming cronies, but could be trusted to value the rub Flair gave them over whatever they’d get from usurping him. Flair stopped talking and started yelling everything during his WWF run and never fully recovered.
Best: The Old Guard Meets the New
I was explaining to a friend the other day why I didn’t like Das Wunderkind Alex Wright, and it’s all about timing. There are two great eras of WCW high-flying. The first is in the early 90s. You’ve got Flyin’ Bryan, peak Jushin Thunder Liger, peak 2 Cold Scorpio. The second comes in 95/96, with Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero, all the luchadors. From like 1993 until 1995 it’s just Alex Wright and like, Johnny B. Badd. Wright was a solid worker who could do a lot, but he’s forever lodged in that dead zone, never truly belonging to either elite class. So no, as a kid growing up watching WCW in the 90s, I didn’t think Das f*cking Wunderkind was anything special. I wanted Liger and Scorp, or I wanted Benoit and Malenko.
The value here of Ric Flair ditching the match and subbing in Flyin’ Brian is that it’s those two elite classes meeting, and it’s wonderful. Pillman has sorta been the stalwart “high flier” since he arrived in WCW, even when he worked as a grounded heel. The guy had “Flyin'” in his name. They introduced us to him with Yello’s ‘Oh Yeah.’ Time has passed, though, and he’s starting to lose his spot (and his mind). That’s why he threw in with the Horseman. To get back his identity. When Flair and Arn are just hanging out being themselves, Pillman’s making bug eyes and doing Horseman hand.
Guerrero hasn’t been in WCW very long, but he’s made a name for himself as a virtuous babyface who isn’t afraid to get hot and start throwing hands. Flair underestimates him severely, which causes PILLMAN to underestimate him, and that’s a terrible idea. The match goes back-and-forth until Pillman makes a big mistake — trying to “fly” again, leaping off the second rope to the outside. He’s got nothing in the tank, though, and crashes into the guardrail. Guerrero then goes NUCLEAR on him, hitting one of the biggest dives you will EVER see in professional wrestling. Absolutely SICK.
Jump to the 7:30 mark:
Guerrero brings Pillman back into the ring and plants him with a brainbuster, busts out the frog splash and puts him away. Pillman tries to fight back, but it’s useless. He even tries to Shark it, rolling up to his knees as soon as the pinfall happens to save face. It doesn’t help. He just got trucked by a new era, and everybody saw it.
Worst: Hawk Singles Matches, Or
Best: Bubber Gets Foiled By His Own Change Purse
The Road Warriors are inarguably one of the greatest tag teams of all time. They are also inarguably garbage singles wrestlers, but that didn’t stop them from repeatedly trying to be singles stars. Hawk was the worst, as his only real marketable thing was “not selling piledrivers.” Unless you’re getting into an angle in Memphis against Jerry Lawler, how far’s that going to take you?
Watching old Hawk matches, I’m struck by how closely the post-Dudley Boyz Dudley Boyz mirrored the Road Warriors. Hawk and Animal were a great team. When they broke up, Hawk became a guy who tells you how tough he is instead of showing it. He’ll yell threats into the camera, but he says “butt” instead of “ass.” He wants to be a killer, but he also wants to be beloved, so he straddles the line between them and never accomplishes anything. Animal is the obvious Marty, less talented and dynamic, shorter and full of water. He has no idea how to realistically sell anything. If those descriptions don’t read as “Bully Ray” and “Brother D-Von,” I don’t know what does.
The best part is that Hawk’s just a cog in a greater issue between Big Bubba and Hacksaw Jim Duggan. An issue involving TAPED FISTS. For some reason, a person in 1995 thought the archaic-ass wrestling trope of “taped fists” was a cool thing to build a Duggan/Ray Traylor feud on, so they had them clandestinely wrap their fists in athletic tape during matches and win with SUPER TAPE PUNCHES. It also involved Duggan doing a ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ bit where he finds out his family lore is steeped in taped fist fighting victories. Anyway, Bubba pulls the deadly ROLL OF QUARTERS out of his pants and tries to tape it to his hand, because
1. tape will I guess hide it and the referee will think that long, cylindrical thing in your palm is part of your hand, and
2. you can’t just hold a roll of quarters and punch a guy when you’re in a taped fist feud, you’ve gotta put some tape on that shit.
Jim Duggan materializes from the aether, trips up Bubba in the ropes and causes him to fall face-first into his own quarters. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he loses the match because he fell down and smashed a handful of quarters into his face. Hawk gets the win, and tells the camera about how bad he is. Yeah dude, you won by accident when a mental incompetent caused a fat gangster to knock himself out with loose change. You’re super bad.
Worst: Super Secret Hulk Hogan
If you were hoping Hulk Hogan would follow up a Footprints promo, a buttf*cking mummy attack, a plea to the homeless people of Venice Beach and Phantom of the Opera graveyard broadsword threats with something equally embarrassing, CONGRATULATIONS, NOW HE’S A NINJA.
Sting stands in the ring waiting for Hogan’s entrance, but gets Macho Man instead. Macho Man stands in front of the stage and points at it forEVER, waggling his hand and trying to get the crowd pumped. Because Sting is Sting dumb, he stands there with his hands on his hips going COME ON, HOGAN. This gives Hogan the chance to GET THE SLIP ON HIM under THE COVER OF NIGHT, stepping over the rail like an old man who has clearly never done this before and “sneaking up” in his orgy mask. He even does the “I’m gonna punch him” and Hogan ear-cup gestures to make it MORE obvious that he’s behind Sting, but Stinger just confidently stares off into the distance, unshaken by Hogan clearly not showing up at the entrance.
A minute into the match and I’m already thinking the Teletubbies and the baby in the sun have a more believable relationship.
Best, Then Worst: Hogan And Sting Pioneer The Raw Main Event
The sad thing is that this is one of the better Sting vs. Hogan match ever. It’s not the Superbowl by any means, but maybe it’s an okay Pro Bowl?
Hogan is expectedly infuriating here, no-selling practically everything Sting does. Sting goes for a Stinger Splash, Hogan catches him in mid-air, walks him to the middle of the ring with a bear hug, does a big dramatic Giant Neck Snap of the back and leaves Sting in a heap. Sting puts on the Scorpion Deathlock, Hogan powers out of it almost immediately and starts Hulking Up. The crowd’s already audibly tired of his shit, but they end up making “whoom” noises to his Hulk Up Punches and Big Boot anyway. We’re almost there.
And hey, Sting ends up getting the better of him. Sting has done history’s lightest amount of scouting on Hogan and knows the leg drop’s coming, so he rolls out of the way. Hogan missing the leg drop is DEADLY for Hogan, and it’s when he’s at his weakest. It’s like a pressure point for him Hulking Up … the invulnerability and power (from the palm of his hand, where it lies) get maxed out and crammed into this big, final gasp of unstoppable energy. He pushes it into his hands, then down to his feet for the boot. If that connects, which it does 95% of the time, the remainder of the energy settles into his leg. That’s where the “atomic” part of “atomic leg drop” comes in. If he hits it, which he does at a 99% success rate, it’s curtains. Lights out. Pure Hulkamania gathered and dropped on your throat. If he misses, though? It explodes (“runs wild”) on HIM, and you can f*ck him up.
Sting moves out of the way and once again locks in the Scorpion Death Lock. Hogan becomes a SUPER CHUMP, screaming in pain (“HE’S GONNA BREAK MY LEG, MACH!!”) and clawing at the referee for assistance. He doesn’t even know what part of the body he’s supposed to be selling, but he sells it anyway. It’s pathetic. It’s like the Hulk became Bruce Banner and got punched in the face by Thor. Sting’s about to win, but the Dungeon of Doom runs out and attacks everybody, drawing a DQ. It’s the Raw main event strategy: put on a good match and let it go long enough that we’re convinced there’ll be a finish, and then noooope.
An important note, though: the Dungeon of Doom didn’t show up when Hogan was about to win. They showed up when STING was winning. Why? Because Hogan’s evil, and this entire Dungeon of Doom act was orchestrated by him to show WCW how God-like and powerful he was. That’s why every Dungeon of Doom character came from a child’s coloring book. “MEAN SHARK! MEAN GIANT! SCARY FACE MAN! THEY LIVE IN AN EVIL CAVE WITH COLD WATER!” All to keep guys like Sting, Savage and Luger feuding with each other under his boot.
It’s funny that I can write the “Hogan is the big bad” theories like the ones I write for John Cena, except these are already true.