– 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.
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Please click through for the vintage Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for January 1, 1996.
Before We Begin
Here’s what you need to know about Starrcade ’95.
Shockingly, WCW Won The World Cup Of Wrestling
Tony Schiavone declares that by winning the World Cup of Wrestling, WCW has proven itself to be the #1 wrestling promotion in the world. Keep in mind that WCW organized, hosted and booked the event, and spent the entire show pointing at the Japanese guys and yelling BEWARE THE EVIL FOREIGNERS like they were f*cking Body Snatchers.
That’s what’s always bugged me about Starrcade ’95. On paper, it looks like one of the greatest shows of all time. You’ve got two of my favorite eras of wrestling — early ’90s Hogan-less WCW and ’90s puro — and the card is sick. Chris Benoit vs. Jushin Thunder Liger. Eddie Guerrero vs. Shinjiro Otani! Koji Kanemoto defending the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship in the United States. If they wrestled it like a WCW undercard, it’d be amazing. If they wrestled it like a New Japan show, it’d be amazing. Instead, they wrestle it like a bad WWF show and it’s the most infuriating thing in the world. Every match ends with a bad roll-up or a secondary move passed off as a finish. Randy Savage gets his ass beaten by Hiroyoshi Tenzan for six minutes, then just decides to win. He hits two moves and the match is over. They don’t announce Kanemoto’s title defense because they don’t think anyone will care. The main-event — Sting vs. Kensuke Sasaki with the World Cup of Wrestling on the line — lasts about a minute longer than the match Johnny B. Badd wins by DQ when he gets thrown over the top rope. Hogan’s not on the show, but you can see him in the back with a headset yelling, “STOP SELLING THOSE MOVES, BROTHER.”
It’s not the worst show or anything, but it’s the epitome of “wrestling for the sake of wrestling,” and not even for the sake of good wrestling. They barely promoted the matches, sleepwalked through them and whoops, WCW won the Best of 7 against a bunch of guys the crowd’s never seen. STOP THE PRESSES, CALL THE HOTLINE.
The Diamond Doll Is A Huge Racist
If you’re Asian-American, maybe skip this show.
I’ve never understood the logic of bringing in seven Japanese wrestlers with distinct histories and personalities and treating them like some weird, interchangeable YELLOW MENACE. Every New Japan guy has Sonny Onoo as their manager, ensuring they’ll be booed. Every New Japan star’s entrance is littered with crowd shots of people mindlessly giving the thumbs down. They aren’t getting that because they’re bad guys or even because the fans want WCW to win, they’re getting it because they’re Japanese, and that is f*cked. That is hillbilly f*cking rasslin’.
The worst by far is Kimberly Page, aka The Diamond Doll. She’s Johnny B. Badd’s … courtesan? She’s his something, and she fires off a Badd Blaster before his match with Masa Saito. Onoo heels on her and tells her to get out of the ring, because wrestling’s a man’s sport. What’s Kim’s response? To call him out on his misogynistic bullshit? To kick his ass? Nope, she calls him “Hop Sing” (from Bonanza) (totally not a line written for her by one of the old men in charge of the show) and says he’s gay. “This ain’t no Japanese bathhouse!” she yells in her best southern accent, also not mandated by Dusty Rhodes.
This show should’ve been called STARRCADE 95: BREATHE THROUGH YOUR TEETH.
Stupid Sting Is Stupid
In case you were worried this show was a special kind of stupid, it was also the regular kind.
Lex Luger, Sting and Ric Flair face off in a triangle match with the winner moving on to face Randy Savage for the WCW Heavyweight Championship. Luger and Sting have already competed in the World Cup of Wrestling. Guess who wins?
The best part is the finish. Luger and Sting are knocked out outside the ring, so Flair revives a bumped ref and demands he count them out. When the ref gets to 9, Sting tries to slide back in but can’t, because his best friend Lex Luger is holding his wrist. Sting and Luger are both counted out and Flair wins. Sting continues to be best friends with Luger despite the guy straight up saying IF I CAN’T WIN, NEITHER OF US WILL.
Ric Flair Is The New Heavyweight Champion And He Might Also Be Dead
WCW referees will not throw out a match if you hug them and hold them against the ropes so they can’t see anything. Jimmy Hart knows this, and spends the last five minutes of the pay-per-view hugging a ref so the Four Horsemen can do the WCW approved What The F*ck Is Going On main-event run-in.
Hart tosses in his microphone, but Savage picks it up, holds it horizontally and gently presses it to Flair’s forehead. This somehow causes Flair to GUSH BLOOD and practically die in the ring. It’s not a normal Flair blade job, it’s grotesque and dangerous to the point they cancel his post-match celebration interview and desperately dab him with towels. Dude staggers around the ring touching his face because he’s 90% sure he accidentally sliced it off. If you watch, Flair bumps for the megaphone shot and starts to blade just as Savage is covering him. Savage basically gets in the way and causes Flair to blade way too deeply, and has to wrestle the final moments of the match against Billith from ‘True Blood.’
So after Jimmy Hart and the entire Horsemen group interferes, Savage loses the WCW Championship and ends the saddest, most neutered championship run ever. The guy wins the title in a 60-man, 3-ring battle royal only to be immediately overshadowed with Hulk Hogan saying he won the match and deserves to be champ. Every Nitro appearance thereafter is Savage trying to cut a promo and Hogan interrupting him with UM ACTUALLY, except for his ONE title defense against The Giant that ended in The Giant winning cleanly and Hogan interfering to run him off with a chair.
This Week’s Pepe Costume: Uncle Sam
We don’t get any closeups or explanations from Mongo, so I guess maybe they didn’t feel comfortable dressing up Pepe like a baby and Mongo just assumed New Year’s Day was a celebration of America. Maybe that’s why we didn’t get a closeup. Mongo does put his finger under Pepe’s plush Uncle Sam arm and makes it wave goodbye at the end of the show, so it’s not a total loss.
Best: Arn Anderson, Or
Worst: WCW’s Obsession With Arn Anderson’s Crotch Objects
In case you didn’t get the “The Four Horsemen cheat” and “Randy Savage ain’t care and will hit you with your own weapons” talking points from Starrcade, Savage uses Arn’s own crotch weapon against him and gets the win.
I don’t know what they were trying to get over with Arn here. He’s not exactly being subtle … he’ll slide into the ring in full gear and a Horseman shirt and pop a squat waiting for you to turn around, assuming correctly that the referee will mindlessly stare at whatever’s happening outside and not hear anything or turn around when loud crashes and cheers happen. I’m also not totally sure what the weapon he keeps using is. It’s supposed to be brass knuckles, but the announcers keep calling it “something,” and it looks like a plastic spoon. The Enforcer’s pulling disposable cutlery from his draws and blasting people in the face. I don’t get it. Is it more powerful because it’s been resting against his nuts?
Arn is awesome, though. At one point in the match he fakes a punch to make Savage duck, then grabs him by the head and DDTs him like an asshole. It’s wonderful and the crowd pops for it. Savage gets his foot on the rope to avoid the three, which is better than Hogan would do, and if you think I’m being unnecessarily complainy about the Hulkster WAIT UNTIL THE END OF THIS EPISODE.
Worst: Oh No, Don’t Spoil The RAW BOWL
Two weeks after having Madusa throw the women’s championship in the garbage, Eric Bischoff continues his beef with WWF by giving away the results of their taped show, specifically the “Raw Bowl.”
If you’ve never seen it, the Raw Bowl was a football-themed tag team match where the ring was green and the ref dressed like an NFL ref. That was it. Bischoff is all DON’T WATCH THAT THE SMOKING GUNNS WIN IT when he probably could’ve said “WWF’s doing a football match where Vince yells football jokes for 20 minutes” and done a lot more damage.
Best: Hank Aaron Really Admires The Workrate In This Regal/Benoit Match
Chris Benoit wrestles Lord Steven Regal. Divorced from the shitty context that comes with today, “Benoit wrestles Regal” is the most lay-up “best” of all time. Like most of their matches, it comes with a heightened sense of urgency and consequence; they appear to actually be competing in a wrestling match, and everything they do builds to something and matters. This one ends when Benoit builds up too much momentum, goes for a dive to the floor and eats nothing but concrete. Concrete mats. Regal just rolls him back in and pins him, because if you fell from like 9 feet in the air face-first onto a floor you’d be knocked the f*ck out. It’s great.
Also great: WCW cutting to baseball legend Hank Aaron during the match. Hammerin’ Hank would also get a Best no matter what, but I love that I can say “Hank Aaron is shown enjoying a Chris Benoit vs. Lord Steven Regal match” and it not be a joke. Barry Bonds isn’t that cool. Bonds would probably chant “boring.”
Worst: Look Out, Horsemen, The Rosebuds Are Pissed
After the match, Brian Pillman shows up in a TRENCH (~!) to deride his fellow Horsemen for f*cking up the group’s Starrcade momentum and going 0-2. Benoit gets a little mic time, which is always scary. He never learned that he could just say words like a person and didn’t have to yell in wrestler voice to have “charisma.” He’ll say “Brian,” and instead of communicating “Brian” he yells BRAHGHHH and kinda side-eyes the camera. He got better. Not a lot better, but better.
The Dungeon of Doom once again takes issue with Pillman, and that’s fun except that it directly contradicts the ending of the episode. If your trick knee just turned red and yellow, you know what’s coming.
Best: SUPER ASSASSINS
How do you become a super assassin? Like, what level of assassination makes you super? John Wilkes Booth killed one of the most notable U.S. Presidents in history, a guy on our penny and our $5 bill, and he’s just an assassin. Who did these guys kill? Is it based on wrestling terminology? Are they just assassins from the top rope?
Anyway, the Super Assassins. Colonel Rob Parker used his connections as an antiquated relic of the Antebellum South to enlist the services of TALL MURDERERS. You might recognize them as these guys. For whatever reason, WCW brought in The Warlord and The Barbarian and gave them the most day-one jobber gimmick imaginable. They would’ve seemed less like jobbers as MR. X 1 and 2. I mean, I love it. They’re tall and muscular and mean and assassinate people SUPERLY while wearing sleeveless Superman jumpsuits and mustard yellow masks. I’m just wondering if maybe there was a better use for them.
They have a pretty fun match with Luger and Sting, who are still best friends and not mentioning the whole “your selfishness cost me the WCW title” thing. Sting and Luger win with simultaneous submission finishers, and Colonel Parker tries to figure out where he might find some ULTRA ASSASSINS.
Worst: Craig Pittman Has Already Run Out Of Management Options
Over the past two weeks, Sgt. Craig Pittman has been asking around, trying to find a manager. He asked Bobby Heenan, but Heenan brushed him off. He asked Jimmy Hart, but Hart made fun of him. So now he’s asking … uh, Mongo?
Yes, Craig Pittman’s #3 choice for “manager who can take me to the heavyweight championship” is MONGO, because he’s “had experience on the gridiron.” Mongo’s all I’M TOO BUSY WITH ALL THIS ACTION IN WCW BABY, and I am legit shocked Pittman didn’t ask the dog.
Worst: Make Sure Hulk Hogan Looks Really Strong
If those pictures make you want to vomit, congratulations, you’ve been paying attention.
When Hulk Hogan is not WCW Champion, his job is to emasculate whoever is. When Savage was champ, it was all about what Hogan thought and when Hogan would get a shot. Flair won the title at Starrcade, so on the NEXT SHOW he has to job clean to Hogan and only retain the championship by Randomly Occurring Disqualification Luck.
Hogan Hogans up for practically the entire match, no-selling whips into the guard rail (seriously, just full on pretending they didn’t happen seconds after they’d happened) and just generally being the worst. He briefly acts like he’s in a wrestling match to sell the figure four, but snaps out of it to hit a big boot and leg drop with like 95% of his HP remaining. That causes interference from Jimmy Hart, who once again goes for the SUPER REFEREE HUG. Hogan knocks him out, but Arn Anderson is waiting and ready with the Plastic Spoon Of Doom. He punches Hogan in the face with the weapon that beat him earlier in the night, and Hogan just pops up and no-sells it. Bischoff goes “oooh hoo hoo hoo hoooo” like a Disney villain.
That brings out the Four Horsemen, who Hogan INSTANTLY DISPATCHES BY HIMSELF. He beats them so quickly and dominantly that they’re all doing the Ric Flair beg-off to him at once. If you’ve been watching the NWA since the 80s, it’s the most unforgivable Hogan moment of the year. He has just beaten up the most effective, intelligent and decorated faction in company history in seconds and has them begging him not to continue beating them up by himself. Like, there are four of you. That’s your thing. GET UP AND HIT HIM WITH BATS OR SOMETHING.
One faction’s not enough, so the Dungeon of Doom runs out to … attack Hogan, and not the Four Horsemen. Forget that whole “we’re mad at the Horsemen” thing, The Giant is here carrying a stool (?) and wants to end Hulkamania. Hogan’s little buddy Randy Savage runs out to stop the dreaded stooling, and Hogan punches the Giant in the face so hard the entire faction flees. The Horsemen do nothing. Hulk Hogan (with a small assist from Savage, who cares more about Hogan than himself) has just single-handedly defeated WCW’s two top heel teams at the same time.
Best: Hulk Hogan Tries To Sound Like A Badass, Quotes Buzz Lightyear
An out-of-touch living action figure who thinks all the fake stuff he’s doing is real? Makes sense. Randy Savage is an antiquated idea of masculinity in a cowboy hat who says catchphrases when you pull his string, so he’s the perfect Woody.
Note: Brutus Beefcake is Wheezy.