– You can watch this week’s episode of Nitro on WWE Network.
– If you’d like to read about previous episodes, check out the WCW Monday Nitro tag page. We’ve also started up a vintage Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw column, so if you like these Nitro reports, you’ll probably like those too.
– Share the column, if you can. Writing up these old WCW shows is my favorite thing to do, so having a few people read them would be pretty great.
Please click through for the vintage Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for January 15, 1996.
This Week’s Pepe Costume: Sleepy-Ass Dog
During Pepe’s short little wrestling life we’ve seen him as Santa Claus, a space alien, a cowboy, a witch (a warlock?) and more. We’ve set high standards for 1990s chihuahua cosplay, and Mongo’s not-super-clever explanations for the costumes are a high point of any Nitro.
This week, Pepe wears a bandana and a white cap, but we never get a closeup or an explanation. At the end of the show the announcers are wrapping everything up, and Bischoff notices that Pepe is sleeping in Mongo’s jacket like a papoose. If you look at the picture, that little bundle of white by Mongo’s navel is Pepe’s head. He is Mongo’s Kuato.
“HE WAS JESS TAKIN’ A NAP.”
Pepe chose to sleep through a Hogan main event. We are all Pepe.
Best: Savage And Luger Finally Figure It Out
Late ’95-early ’96 WCW’s main-event scene is basically ‘Saved By The Bell.’ If you went to Bayside High and weren’t one of the six popular notable kids, you never got to do anything. Going on a field trip? The six popular kids decide where you’re going and stand in front of you having loud conversations! School play? Six popular kids play all the lead characters. Student council? Planning committees? Six popular kids. In WCW, the popular kids were Hogan, Savage, Luger, Sting, Ric Flair and The Giant. Arn was Tori, because he got in there a few times by necessity. Almost every week’s main-event is a combination of those six guys, and sometimes the undercard’s made up by pairing the remainders.
This week’s opening match is Lex Luger vs. Randy Savage, which we’ve seen at least three times already. The good news is that it’s kind of an anomaly in the WCW main trench: they bust their ass, put on a good match and give us a clean finish. Instead of Jimmy Hart distracting the referee, Luger smashing Savage in the face with Sting and Sting not understanding what happened, Macho simply goes for a flying elbow, misses and gets Torture Racked. That’s awesome. They’re really on their game here, and Savage gets MAD AIR on the missed elbow. Dude’s in the lights.
The interesting side note is that Luger has now beaten Savage four times. Savage was the WCW Heavyweight Champion like two weeks ago and (spoiler alert) is about to win it again. Luger wouldn’t win the championship until August of 1997. Even then he only held it for 5 days, and never held it again. In his entire WCW career, The Total Package only had one more world championship reign than David Arquette. Weird.
Best: Heel Factions Using Their Brains (For Once)
In one of the most logical moments in the history of Nitro, the scheduled Arn Anderson/Brian Pillman vs. Taskmaster/Hugh Morrus match doesn’t happen because the Four Horsemen and Dungeon of Doom have decided to squash their beef and work together. Arn explains that there’s no point to the rivalry and the Horsemen care more about making money and protecting the World Championship than beating up a bunch of angry Rosebuds. It’s great, and pro wrestling needs more moments where the characters take a step back and say, “this doesn’t make sense.” Shit that doesn’t make sense happens in real life, you know? When it does, you use your functioning human brain to think about it and make new decisions.
Also great is Brian Pillman, the man who instigated the beef by running his mouth, being the only person not on the same page. Arn and Benoit are wearing dress clothes and Flair’s in his robe because he’s scheduled to wrestle, but Pillman’s wearing a cut-off Four Horseman tee and knife earrings. Arn handles their business, but when Pillman’s all HEH HEH YEAH WE’RE GONNA KICK YER ASSES FOUR HORSEMEN STYLE AIN’T THAT RIGHT DOUBLE A Arn just straight-up f*cking smacks him in the mouth. The Taskmaster’s entire point is that Pillman’s a crazy nut and not Horseman material, and Arn is actively taking that criticism and trying to prevent it from causing further problems.
I wish you made sense all the time, Nitro.
Best: Stand-By Match!
Another thing that makes sense is Nitro having a “stand-by” match to replace the Horsemen/Dungeon of Doom tag. Wrestling’s a chaotic thing, so if you’re putting on a weekly wrestling show you should not only book your cards in advance — as opposed to the WWE style of general managers showing up and hoping popular characters get into an argument at the top of the show — but have a few backup plans.
Worst, Though: The Public Enemy
The replacement match is The American Males vs. the debuting Public Enemy. This probably conflicts with popular nostalgic opinion, but The Public Enemy were garrrbage. Just a terrible tag team. Paul Heyman was like, hey, you know what’d get over in Philadelphia in 1993? The hip-hop Nasty Boys. They answer the age-old question, “what if Mark Madden and Kevin Smith dressed up like the Dick in the Box guys and put people through tables?”
That’s really all they were: an extremely lucky, fortunate pairing of guys who happened to get TV runs in WCW and WWF because ECW was popular and every single thing from it had to be mined. In an objective wrestling world with only one popular company, guys like Flyboy Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge wouldn’t be a legendary tag team, they’d be two all right workers in the middle of a local wrestling card down the street from your house. They’d be working a guy named “Virus” who isn’t the actual Virus and like, a 110-pound guy in basketball shorts. Never underestimate a 1996 wrestling fan’s oddly-specific desire to see a table break under a pro wrestler, I guess.
This all sounds harsh, but I really do not need two sets of Nasties. If you aren’t familiar with The Public Enemy’s work, please listen to their WCW entrance theme, which is like a greatest hits of what your dad thinks constitutes rap music.
Worst: Why Aren’t WCW Saturday Night Episodes On WWE Network Yet
I need to know what JIM BELUSHI has to say about whatever the f*ck they put Jim Belushi on a wrestling show to talk about.
Worst: Sting Is Dumb, Part A Million
Six popular kids!
Hulk Hogan is wrestling a throwaway match, which means both Lex Luger vs. Randy Savage and a championship match between Ric Flair and Sting go on first. Constantly saying “Hulk Hogan’s the greatest” only goes so far, you know! Anyway, yeah, Sting and Flair wrestle again and just like Savage/Luger, they’ve got on their working boots. It’s nothing new and is 90% Sting press-slamming Flair over and over, but they hustle and keep the crowd into it and it works.
The finish, though. Woof.
Jimmy Hart is at ringside for Flair to further the Horsemen/Dungeon of Doom bond and Jimmy’s weird champ-hopping. He’s like Sunny in the body of Colonel Sanders’ little brother. He gets on the apron to do The Same Damn Finish, but here comes Sting’s SHOOT BEST FRIEND Lex Luger to stop him! Luger gets on the apron with Jimmy and struggles to get the megaphone away from him despite Luger being an inhuman hulking bodybuilder and Jimmy being built like Pee-wee Herman. That struggle sends Luger and the megaphone into the corner JUST as Sting’s trying to Stinger Splash Flair, and Sting gets KO’d. I don’t know how he got KO’d by a megaphone touching him on the upper thigh, but whatever. Sting gets put in the figure four and counted down, and continues being the Jon Arbuckle of professional wrestling.
Worst: Hulk Hogan Questions Sting, Part A Billion
If you’re a regular reader of the column you’ll recognize “Hulk Hogan questions Sting” as one of our favorite running gags, somewhere between dog costumes and the Dungeon Of Doom operating out of a Party City. Hogan had been questioning Sting’s allegiances, but came to his senses at World War 3 and promised to never question Sting again. He questioned Sting’s allegiances on the next show, and basically every show since. Sting morphing into the Crow and living in arena rafters for a year makes a ton of sense if you preface it with this year of non-stop badgering, and we’re lucky a random June ’96 Nitro didn’t end with Sting murdering everyone with a machete.
So yeah, after Sting gets knocked out by Accidentally Occurring Megaphone, Hogan and Savage show up to be all, “SO WHAT’RE YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT, STINGER?” Sting’s reaction is mostly “HUH?” because that megaphone shot to the rump destroyed 3 of his 8 remaining brain cells, but he promises to find Luger and get to the bottom of it. Spoiler alert: yeah.
Worst: Hulk Hogan Is A Bad Friend
After Sting sits down in a wheelbarrow and pushes himself backstage to Yokel Town, Savage and Hogan stick around to have another unnecessary in-ring argument. Savage reveals that despite losing to Luger earlier in the night, he’s got a WCW Championship shot when Nitro heads to Las Vegas next week. He’s taking that shot. Hogan COMPLETELY THROWS HIM UNDER THE BUS, saying he’s the one with the momentum and he’s the one who should get that shot. Hulk Hogan saying this to his best friend’s face, by the way. He points out that Savage’s arm is still hurt — ignoring that Savage won a 60-man battle royal with that same bum arm — and basically buries Savage’s next title run before it even happens. Holy shit, Hulk.
Worst: 1-800-COLLECT Presents Hulk Hogan Using His Penis To Win A Match
Not really, but it sure looks like it, doesn’t it? Hey Hulk, maybe your body shouldn’t be the same color as a Golden Spike.
Hogan squashes Meng in the main event, which is the main event because “Hulk Hogan.” He beats Meng to death for like five minutes, leading to a brief comeback where Meng hits like two consecutive moves and accidentally triggers a Hulk Up. You know where that goes. Before Hogan can connect with the leg drop, the Taskmaster gets on the apron and tries to pass the Golden Spike to Meng. Savage intercepts, Hogan yanks the spike out of Sullivan’s hands and jabs it in Meng’s throat because he’s the worst person in the world. Mongo suggests “tit for tat,” and I suggest “throw Hogan down into a pit of Golden Spikes.”
Who am I kidding? He’d climb up out of the spikes unharmed, punch the damn pit wall and send me falling to my death.
He says “sheathed,” but I think the closed captioning guy knew what he meant.