– I love that picture of Ric Flair. Look how happy he looks.
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Please click through for the vintage Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for December 4, 1995.
This Week’s Pepe Costume: Guardian Angel
“As you can see here, I gots my little guardian angel on my shoulder looking out, just like Hulk Hogan and his gang better look out for this Dungeon of Doom. I’m TIRED of them runnin’ rampant around here!”
As a reminder, this episode is 19-years old. The average lifespan of a chihuahua is 17 years, which means Pepe is probably now Mongo’s actual guardian angel. And yes, I just made myself cry a little over a decades-old clip of a dog in a Halloween costume.
Also, when he says “Hulk Hogan and his gang” I hope he’s talking about the Wrestling Boot Band.
Best: The Greatest Love Story Since Doctor Zhivago
This week’s opening match is Harlem Heat against the American Males, and it’s notable for one important moment: Seth MacFarlane’s character from A Million Ways To Die In The West shows up with gifts and proposes to Sister Sherri. She accepts, and they shuffle away into the darkness like background characters in Fiddler on the Roof.
Here’s the moment in its entirety, if your heart’s been broken and you need to believe in love again. It has all the subtlety and grace of one of those ‘Golden Girls’ episodes where Blanche gets too into whoever she’s f*cking.
I believe this is the only tag team match in wrestling history to not only feature a wedding proposal, but no-sell a proposal, as Harlem Heat continues wrestling like nothing happened. The courtship of Colonel Parker and Sister Sherri goes to wonderful places and culminates at the Clash of the Champions, but that doesn’t happen for another month and a half, so if you’d like to be spoiled check out Danielle Matheson’s write-up of the wedding.
Best: The Harlem Hangover
I love the Harlem Hangover. You probably do, too. If you’ve never seen it, 6-foot 3 250-pound Booker T gets on the top rope, goes ass-over-head and comes down with a big f*cken leg across your throat. It always looked great and always got a pop, even when Harlem Heat had no character development beyond “big black guys.”
Speaking of that, commentary gets weird during Harlem Heat matches sometimes. They’re very clearly The Black Team, so it gives otherwise innocent statements concerning connotations. At one point Stevie Ray grabs Marcus Bagwell by the legs to do … well, something, and Bagwell kinda sits up and waves his arms around. Stevie holds him up for a few seconds and then lets him go, because he doesn’t know what to do. Bobby Heenan tries to cover for it by saying “they’re so STRONG.” See what I mean?
Maybe that’s just a problem with Bobby. Remember when he introduced the Narcissist by saying “he’s got a perfect athletic physique,” but it came out sounding like “I WOULD GIVE ANYTHING TO F*CK THE NARCISSUS?” Maybe we should stop letting old men have the exclusive rights to wrestling commentary.
Best: Is That Vladimir Putin? Was Putin On Nitro?
He’s even wearing a red shirt. Red means Russia!
I don’t know if it’s connected, but the timeline works. Putin began his career in Moscow in June of 1996, one month before Hogan joined the nWo at Bash at the Beach. 19 years later our country’s in turmoil, the world is at war and Putin has control of the United States Championship.
Worst: Sting Vs. Kurasawa, Sadly
I was really excited for this.
Sting was a few weeks removed from letting Dean Malenko look like a main-event star. Kurasawa (aka New Japan’s Manabu Nakanishi) had one of the best Nitro matches of the year against Sgt. Craig “Pitbull” Pittman, a guy not known for having great matches. WCW was building to Starrcade ’95, a WCW vs. New Japan event. Everything was lining up for this to be a barnburner.
This was more like Kurasawa vs. Savage than Kurasawa vs. Pittman.
Due to some Hulk Hogan-related stuff we’ll get into later, WCW remembered they had Sting and needed him to look important. That meant he had to look strong heading into Starrcade, which meant he had to stop making mid-carders look great and start trouncing them with extreme prejudice. Here, Sting takes a little of Kurasawa’s offense, Stinger splashes him and locks him in the Scorpion Death Lock. That’s it. The match is over, and Sting looks great. Kurasawa looks like a pile, but Sting looks great.
Note: Kurasawa’s easy loss is explained by the announce team because of Colonel Parker’s absence, because I guess he’s busy backstage getting that engagement strange. I love the idea that Kurasawa’s entire gameplan would be thrown off because an old-timey colonel wasn’t standing at ringside smoking an unlit cigar and dabbing his forehead with a napkin.
Best: Scott Norton Is Stronger Than You
God DAMN Scott Norton is strong. You probably couldn’t tell that from looking at his chest, which looks like a space shuttle with doll limbs attached.
He wrestles The Giant, and it’s basically a squash. Giant catches him coming off the ropes and chokeslams him for the win. Somewhere in-between, Norton says nuts to Hulk Hogan’s dramatic bodyslams and just lifts the 400-pound Giant over his head in an atomic drop, holds him and walks around the ring. It’s amazing, and one of those random feats of strength I saw when I was 15 and have excitedly reminded people about ever since. “Remember when Scott Norton picked the Giant up and just walked around the ring with him??” I think I’ve said that on first dates.
Best: Charles Barkley’s JNCOs
Nothing says “rich athlete in the 1990s” quite like a white t-shirt tucked into giant-ass jeans.
Worst: Charles Barkley, Tweener
So yeah, Nitro is in Phoenix. I assume Charles Barkley’s agent got him tickets to Nitro, and when he showed up an hour before it started Eric Bischoff turned into Tex Avery’s Big Bad Wolf and hastily changed everything to include him. Barkley really has no purpose here. He doesn’t have anything to shill, he doesn’t have anything to say, he’s just a famous guy. WCW put him in the ring and said LOOK AT THE FAMOUS GUY.
The best part is the promo Barkley cuts. He says something, the crowd pops, and he gets mad at them for popping instead of letting him talk. He says that the Phoenix has the best basketball and wrestling fans in the world, then says the fans are stupid if they don’t like super heel Ric Flair. He also keeps turning away from the hard camera to talk to the fans behind him. It’s delightful. Mean Gene crucifies himself to make it sound exciting, and accidentally predicts the future of WCW by suggesting an old guy/basketball guy tag team.
Worst: Eric Bischoff’s Jean Jacket, Or
Damn, what Navajo tribe did he sign to million-dollar deals to get THAT thing? You know it’s bad when Mongo’s dressed like Guy Fieri and you make him look cool.
Worst: Don’t Wake Daddy
The main event is an excruciatingly long Lex Luger/Randy Savage match. One of my lasting complaints about WCW is that by focusing on Hogan and his gang instead of Flair, Sting and the pre-Hogan folks is that they sacrificed their main-event scene. They’d fill their shows with great wrestling, and then the endings would almost always be these tired-ass WWF guys doing tired-ass 1980s WWF style matches. Wait until Roddy Piper shows up, and the fact that he’s had hip surgery is a major plot point. A lot of these early Nitros have Randy Savage or Lex Luger being as boring as possible, often against each other, and there’s really no reprieve from it.
The finish, however, is classic WCW. During last week’s show, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair assaulted referees. Hogan shoved one down, Flair punched one in the face. This has put them on SUPER SECRET PROBATION with WCW management. This is funny because the last two months of WCW have involved monster truck fights, vehicular property damage, attempted murder, ACTUAL murder, destruction of footage, a f*cking Himalayan ice mummy attack, multiple neck-breakings and countless betrayals that jeopardize the future of the company and nobody got punished. They got title matches. But now a referee has been shoved and you must face the consequences.
The ref gets bumped (lol) during Luger/Savage, so Flair (on probation) shows up to hit Savage in the face with brass knuckles. He struts away confidently, but has awoken the RARE WHITE BENGAL TIGER. Hogan materializes from the bright lights of the entrance, points Flair back into the ring and starts beating him up. The referee comes to and starts to count the pin, so Hogan DIVES INTO THE PATH OF THE REFEREE’S ARM and sorta rolls him over to stop it. It’s embarrassing, and Hogan being on probation and still having to stick his nose in everybody’s business is hilarious. That leads to him trying to attack Luger, Sting showing up to throw Luger out of the way, and Hogan punching out Sting. RUT ROH GUYS.
Worst: Hulk Hogan Ruins A Situation And Starts Blaming Sting
Hogan wants to know what side Sting is on.
At World War 3, he said he’d never, ever question Sting again. On last week’s Nitro, he questioned Sting. He question him again here. Sting says I AM ON YOUR SIDE, HULK HOGAN, and Hogan is briefly okay with that. Spoiler alert: he’s not, and he’s the worst person in the world.