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Please click through for the vintage Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for December 11, 1995. RIP Mr. #1derful.
This Week’s Pepe Costume: Gay Motorcycle Dog
Mongo: “Get to your closet, you see the little guy’s got his leather on, put your leather on, you’re gonna see some mean and nasty boys tonight!”
Mongo may have finally topped “GET GRANMAW OUT THE BATHROOM” with “Hulk Hogan will be here, so put on leather and go hide in the closet.” I’m with you, Bobby.
Best: Mr. JL vs. Eddie Guerrero
Say what you will about WCW’s unwillingness to push cruiserweights, but Eddie Guerrero’s all over these early Nitros, beating dudes and looking like a star. Here he faces Mr. JL, and manages to beat him with one of the middle parts of a Guerrero/Malenko counter sequence. You know how they’ll exchange rollups and kick out of everything? You know the part where they push the other guy’s head down and basically make him sunset flip himself? That part. Guerrero wins with THAT part. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that win a match before. It’s like pinning a guy with a headlock takeover.
Mr. JL matches are always interesting, because as good as Jerry Lynn is, he wasn’t ever on that Benoit/Malenko/Guerrero level. He only had two truly memorable moments in WCW: getting fired over the phone, and being the victim in the classic HE GOT A BICYCLE match.
(By the way, people always quote “he got a bicycle,” but the best quote from that match is the followup. “Bubber went over and got him a bicycle, I don’t know where the kid is that was a’riding it, but he ain’t on it when he brought it to the ring.”)
Best: Allow Me To Ruin Lex Luger Promos For You Forever
Lex Luger uses a simple psychological trick every time he delivers a promo. Instead of simply pointing, he emphasizes his points by sticking out his index finger and thumb in the shape of an L. You know, for “Lex Luger.” So when he’s yelling THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THIS or whatever, he’s repeatedly moving his hand across the screen with an L. L. L. L.
Enjoy noticing that for the rest of your life. Supplementary Best for Lex describing Ric Flair as an “11-time wubblywubblyou champion.”
Best: Paul Orndorff’s Last Real Match, And It’s A Good One
Here’s a sad story: In 1995, eventual WWE Hall of Famer and former WrestleMania I main-eventer “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff had to retire. He’d suffered a career’s worth of injuries, and they were causing the right side of his body to atrophy. His arm and leg muscles started shrinking. He tried to wrestle as long as he could, but by December he knew his days were numbered.
This becomes more relevant in a minute, but as it stands, this is Mr. Wonderful’s last real match. I say “real” because he had a brief comeback in 2000, but got severely hurt in the middle of his first match back and it was just terrible. The way to remember Orndorff is like this, figuratively donkey-punching the shit out of Disco Inferno. The match is only a few minutes long, but it’s a MASSACRE. Two great moments:
1. The wackiest disco dancing elbow drop in wrestling history. This makes the Worm look like a lariat. It goes on FOREVER.
You’ll be missed forever, Mr. Wonderful theme on Nitro. And by forever I mean “until 2001,” I guess.
Worst: Heel And Face Actions Have Always Been Screwed Up
To establish the characters, Hacksaw Jim Duggan is an America-championing, do-gooding babyface. He’s also what the French call Les Incompétents. Lex Luger is a heel. Such a heel, in fact, that he’s aligned himself with a cartoonish stable of super villains dedicated to “ending Hulkamania,” and he’s managed by the guy who turned on the most popular wrestler in the world like a month and a half ago. On paper, this should be simple. Duggan fights valiantly (doofily), Luger cheats or maybe Jimmy Hart runs interference, Luger wins. A to B to C.
Instead, Luger’s the babyface here. Jim Duggan reaches into his trunks and pulls out the dreaded ROLL OF TAPE, planning to tape up his fist and punch Luger in the face. Like three parts of that are illegal. Jimmy Hart gets on the apron to stop Duggan from cheating (which Heenan points out, making it sound like a lie). He even picks up Duggan’s 2X4 — a weapon Duggan carries to the ring, which is also not totally on the level — and tries to swing it at him when the ref gets in the way. Instead of getting down and out about the liars and the dirty dirty cheats of the wrestling world, Luger runs up behind Duggan, punches his head into the f*cking board and torture racks him for the win.
The heel/face alignment in Q4 1995 WCW is so bonkers. The image of Duggan in the rack is pretty funny, though. It’s like the happy version of watching John Coffey get sent to the electric chair.
Best: Mr. Wonderful Eats It
First, Mean Gene mentions in passing at the beginning of the interview that Chris Benoit’s in the Four Horsemen. One of the weirdest things about revisiting Monday night shows from this era is that major storyline points happened on other shows. How long’s it been since THAT happened? Can you imagine WWE building Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose on Raw, and then one Monday being like, “Bray Wyatt, what do you think about THE SHIELD getting back together on Saturday Morning Slam??” I guess it’d make my entitled ass watch a few Saturday Morning Slams.
Anyway, this is one of those segments that has aged really well, because it’s as relevant now as it was then. The Horsemen show up for an interview, and Arn and Flair kinda stand to the side and let Brian Pillman run his mouth. This is one of the first major moments in transitioning Pillman from a talented utility guy to a game-changing Avatar of sorts for reality seeping its way into pro wrestling. Pillman is what Vince McMahon would call a MILLENNIAL — a guy who’s good enough at stuff but doesn’t really have any class, and doesn’t know how to actually work his way to the top. He just expects to be there, because he thinks he deserves it. He’s “new money,” so to speak. Arn and Flair are old money. They’ll ride in limos and buy expensive watches and suits and snort blow off peoples’ asses. Pillman goes out and buys a hoverboard and tries to smoke that three-way joint from Pineapple Express. One’s about maintaining. The other’s about attention.
Paul Orndorff wanders back out and takes offense to Pillman’s comments, because he’s from the old guard who understands concepts like “being a Horseman.” He wasn’t one himself, but he gets it, and doesn’t think it should be just given to any Tom, Dick or Mongo. At first it looks like Arn’s on his side, but when Pillman gets brave and slaps Orndorff, the Horseman attack in a swarm. Orndorff catches a massive beatdown, culminating with him taking a spike piledriver on the cement. He gets stretchered away, and his career is over. Like, legitimately over.
This gets over so many concepts:
– The new guard replacing the old, and the old not being able to do anything about it
– Gang attacks like this having real, lasting consequences that aren’t just rewritten on the next PPV cycle
– Pillman as a “loose cannon” who CAUSES consequences, but doesn’t see enough of them himself
– The Horsemen as loyalist jerks who’ll sell out their real life friends to support a sub-par “brother”
– Chris Benoit is not important
Worst: Nobody Cares About Macho Man Or Starrcade
Macho Man is the WCW Heavyweight Champion. He won it in 60-man, 3-ring battle royal. You wouldn’t know it, though, because his only contributions to the show since have been concerning speeches as Hulk Hogan’s Dear Friend. Here, he gives a quick promo about how he’s going to wrestle The Giant next week. Starrcade (WCW’s WrestleMania) is coming up, so Gene’s all, “so hey, you’re our champ, how do you feel about this Starrcade shit?” I’m paraphrasing. Savage’s response? “I’m not thinking about Starrcade.”
Here is some content about Hulk Hogan.
Worst: Hulk Hogan Immediately Defeats The Horsemen
Remember like one entry up when the Four Horsemen seemed like a cool, cohesive and dangerous part of the show? About ten minutes later, they’re in a tag match where Hulk Hogan beats them by himself.
Well, he’s technically teaming with Sting. Sting works 90% of the match and gets beaten to death. Hogan tags in early for about a minute, dramatically oversells an armbar and hastily tags out. He tags back in at the very end, and it’s the most frustrating thing you’ve ever seen. He’ll sell for Flair, but he TOTALLY no-sells Arn. Arn whips him into the turnbuckles and follows in with an attack, Hogan walks out unharmed and punches him in the face. Arn hits a spinebuster, Hogan pops up like it was nothing and punches him in the face. The crowd LOVES Arn, too. Every time he puts the boots to Hogan they cheer. But nope, the finish of the match is Sting making a desperation tag, Hogan big booting both guys and leg dropping Arn for the win. Faaaaart soooooounds.
The worst part is that the night’s not over. Hulk still has to question his tag team partner.
Worst: Hulk Hogan, Peacekeeper
After the match, Pillman shows up and the Horsemen try to Orndorff Sting and Hogan. Lex Luger runs out and saves Sting, but doesn’t save Hogan. The announce team acts like this is a major act of betrayal, but it makes perfect sense and is a rare example of a wrestling being a human being. Luger LIKES Sting. They’re friends. Hogan sucks and deserves to get piledriven onto concrete. He’s just gonna get up on his knees and start shaking his head about it. Luger also probably realizes Hogan’s an evil prick, but Sting’s all HEY LOOK THEY’RE HURTIN’ THE YELLOW GUY and gets back into it. Luger politely excuses himself.
So Sting’s fighting off the Horsemen. Macho Man runs down to the ring and sorta aggressively spins Sting around. Sting looks at him, pauses, then punches him in the face. It’s hilarious and a straight-up heel move, but it was provoked. Uh, by another guy who isn’t a heel? After the match they get into this big argument about how it was done in the “heat of the moment” and Sting just saw “hands flying,” which is such a lie. He stared Savage in the face, waited for Savage to turn his head and popped him in the jaw. Maybe Savage missed his cue? It looked like Savage was supposed to run down and get into things when Sting was still punching everybody, but he showed up like 20 seconds too late and things got awkward. Sting is visibly trying to explain it away when he talks.
The worst part is Hogan, who keeps chiming in to be all HE PUNCHED YOU BROTHER, WHAT’S THE DEAL and COME ON GUYS WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE ON THE SAME TIME at varying intervals. Hogan, the guy who said he’d never question Sting and has questioned Sting three weeks in a row. The guy who got molested by a mummy and went on a downward spiral that saw him go goth, try to enlist the homeless in a phantom war and threaten actual physical murder on B-team heel faction members. Hogan, the guy who has thrown himself into every situation and made himself the focus of every happening, is telling Sting and Macho to relax. Because he’s “on probation.”
That’s it, isn’t it? Hogan just doesn’t want to have to squash these guys and get in trouble for it.
Randy Savage wrestles The Giant for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Eric Bischoff glances down at his WWHHD bracelet and wonder aloud about what Hulk’s up to, and what he’d think of this great Nitro action.
(Also, Madusa starts the Monday Night Wars.)