– Click the following link to watch this week’s episode 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. When July hits a wrestling boom happens, and you aren’t cool unless you were here reading when Hogan was his most insufferable.
Please click through for the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro, originally aired on January 29, 1996.
This Week’s Pepe Costume: Dracula Cape
At least I think it’s a Dracula cape. It could be a James Brown recovery shawl. We don’t know, because when they do the Pepe closeup Mongo’s losing his mind about the night’s card. He’s yelling about how AIN’T NOBODY GOT UP FROM The Giant’s chokeslam and how Flair vs. Hogan (tonight’s curtain-jerker because Hogan’s losing) is the “grudge match of the century.” I’ll do it for him:
“AN I TELL YA WHAT SPORTS FANS, LOOK AT THE LITTLE GUY, HE’S GOT ON HIS DRACULA CAPE BECAUSE TONIGHT’S NITRO IS GONNA SUCK, BABY. AND BOBBY THE STAIN HEENAN, YOU NOW PROSSESS DRACULA’S RIB BABY, IT’S GONNA BE ON TONIGHT.”
Best: Hogan Falls Victim To WCW’s Deadliest Weapon, Miss Elizabeth’s Shoe
Not to be confused with Ms. Elisabeth Shue. Arn Anderson didn’t slide into the ring and bash Hogan in the face with Marty McFly’s girlfriend.
Flair and Hogan open the show because Hogan’s losing and needs about half an hour to get his heat back. If you watched these shows live, you’ll recognize the first appearance of the deadliest foreign object in wrestling history: Miss Elizabeth’s heel. I don’t know why, but WCW treated it like a nuke. If Liz lost her shoe and you got hit in the face with it, you had to sell it like Boss Tanaka getting his head collected in Kill Bill. An instant Critical. If Hogan got hit with a shoe during his Hulk Up it’d cause a core meltdown.
It makes you wonder what WCW thought women’s shoes were made out of. Like, a woman’s heel isn’t a spike. If you walk into a shoe store you aren’t fighting Reptile at the bottom of the pit in Mortal Kombat. It’s a plastic shape covered in fabric. It’s gonna hurt if somebody pokes you in the eye with it, sure, but it’s not gonna split open your forehead. In theory a human knuckle with a man’s weight behind it should hurt a lot more than a kickstand attached to a flip-flop.
Anyway, interference from Jimmy Hart and Arn Anderson and the hassle of having to babysit a woman at ringside AND a deadly object crushing his eyeball is enough to help the most decorated championship professional wrestler of all time make Hulk Hogan lie in one place for three seconds. After the match, Liz and the Macho Man cradle Hogan’s head like he’s an enormous hot dog child and try to help him through this tragic time in his life.
Best: The WCW Magazine Commercial Explains Why Sting’s So Gullible
HE HAS A CHILD’S BRAIN.
Best: Meng, Nitro Fashion Icon
In the early days of Nitro, no man had a better (or more varied) fashion sense than Meng. The show’s been on for less than a year and we’ve already seen him as a scary tribal pig man and a Tongan superhero with a golden spike.
Now he’s 1/2 of the ‘Faces Of Fear’ and he and The Barbarian are walking to the ring in matching decorative capes and headbands. It’s awesome. It kinda looks like they hunted a living room couch and wore its skin for entrance gear. They’re the Faces Of Fear! The spokespeople for FEAR. If something scares you, THEY are the men who will speak at the press conference. LOOK AT THEIR CAPES.
Worst: The Road Warriors Are … Not Great Right Now
The next match is the Nitro debut of The Road Warriors, and a hosstastic tag team match where two famously brutal teams mash the shit out of each other should be great.
It’s not bad, really, but the Road Warriors are at least 10 years past their primes and wrestling the kind of match they never should. They’re the ROAD WARRIORS. They’re Goldberg The Tag Team. Their job is to show up looking like they look and acting like they act, maul some poor unsuspecting jerks and bail. That’s it. They were always a little exposed when facing teams like the Midnight Express, and jumping ten years forward in time didn’t help. They have the worst gravity of any time I can remember. Like, they can’t jump. They just fall straight down from a standing position. When Hawk gets shoved off the top rope his body’s on the ground before it leaves the turnbuckle. It’s like they’re wrestling under ten times gravity on Planet Vegeta.
They can’t seem to remember the spots, either. There are multiple times in the match where they visibly f*ck something up and have to repeat it, so poor Animal ends up getting piledriven a bunch while Hawk tries to figure out which rope he’s supposed to be on. One of those moments is the finish. To their credit the announce team does a good job of covering it, as if being out of place is some wild veteran strategy to keep the Faces of Fear on their toes, but yeah, no, it’s just two previously cool-as-shit guys wrestling in Link’s iron boots.
Spoiler alert: around this time next year they’d be back in the WWF, and things would get way worse.
Best/Worst: Tough Love
The Dungeon Of Doom isn’t a reasonable organization. They employ a man who paints teeth on his face and pretends to be a shark, for example. They aren’t going to calmly sit down with you and think things through. Because of this, they’re already eschewing that weird Geneva Convention thing they had going with the Four Horsemen because Brian Pillman won’t stop showing ass. They want results, and hey, Arn Anderson agrees with them.
He runs down Pillman a little and says he’s going to give him “tough love,” because yelling at him and slapping him in the face hasn’t work. He starts to take his belt off (because the Four Horsemen work a lot like Roseanne’s family when she was a kid on ‘Roseanne’), but the Dungeon just attacks them both. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but at the same time it kinda does. Arn’s going along with them and doing what they want, but they’re unreasonable people and don’t have the patience for uptight white dude hierarchy reenforcement.
This ends with Sullivan whipping the Christ out of Pillman until Arn can dispatch Hugh Morrus and rush over to shove him off. That puts the Horsemen and the DOD at odds again, and sets up the RESPECT STRAP MATCH that would (spoiler alert) begin the destruction of kayfabe for storytelling purposes and shatter the hundred-or-so-year foundation of what made pro wrestling work. All because The Taskmaster and The Laughing Man couldn’t stand back and let Double A whip his crazy child.
Best: What In The World
I’m embedding video here so you can see what a clusterf*ck this Sherri vs. Madusa match was. If you haven’t been following along, WWF Women’s Champion Alundra Blayze got tired of fighting folks like Bull Nakano and came to WCW, “where the big girls play.” The problem is that aside from a few guest appearances literally no girls play in WCW, so Madusa dumped the women’s championship in the garbage on a random Nitro and sat at home for a month until they could insert her into a romance angle between non-wrestling managers.
Colonel Parker and Sister Sherri fell in love in the middle of a “black team” vs. “cowboy team” feud in one of the least necessary but still kinda funny stories of the 90s. They tried to get married by walking up to a drive-thru wedding chapel window, but it turned out Madusa was Colonel Parker’s side piece and the women cat-fought in a bunch of food. That feud carried on to this episode of Nitro, where they cat-fight in street clothes for like two minutes. It’s … strange.
It’s also kinda good, as they just beat the hell out of each other every second they can. There’s no wrestling whatsoever, it’s just two women going HAM and trying to rip out each others’ throats. You WANT it to be a wrestling match because both of these ladies can go, but contextually it’s fine for them to just whip each other around by the hair and wrists until one of them dies. Sherri goes up top and Madusa catches her, but Sherri rolls through and manages to pin her. Instead of taking the loss gracefully, Madusa jumps her and basically UFC ground and pounds her in one of those moments where you wish the ref would get between them. Not enough people sell the post-match beatdown in a scary “I’m unconscious but can’t stop getting hit in the face” way.
Worst: And Your Main Event … Nothing!
The main event is supposed to be Macho Man Randy Savage defending the WCW Championship against The Giant. He tries to get the jump on The Giant by pretending he’s entering like normal but sneaking up from behind and jumping on his back. For some reason this causes the referee to THROW OUT THE MATCH. The ref seriously calls for the bell because Savage didn’t start the match like he expected.
Ric Flair wanders out, and you get the impression that Flair was supposed to interfere and cause a DQ because the Horsemen and the Dungeon are at odds and Flair wants the belt, but nope, the ref’s throwing it out before anything happens. Big, constant, waving arm motions. That leads to Hogan making his miraculous recovery dressed like a damn Vietnam war casualty, wielding a chair and missing his cue by at least 10 seconds so The Giant has to mindlessly hold Savage up in a chokeslam and wait.
If that’s not enough, the entire Dungeon of Doom shows up and Hogan once again beats them up singlehandedly. Those funny Hogan pressing-the-seat-into-your-face chairshots. He then has to help Savage to the back, creating that iconic image in the header. It’s like Forrest Gump carrying Lt. Dan out of the jungle.
Best: The Show Ends With Ric Flair Almost Fighting Mongo’s Dog
Flair > Hogan forever, in case you needed a GIF of him telling a dog to “COME ON” to prove it.