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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro, originally aired on February 26, 1996.
This Week’s Pepe Costume: Ice Cube
Here is the reason why Pepe pack
Just in case Eric Bischoff try to jack
I can’t put a motherf*ckin pitbull
under a coat, in the small of my back
So I gotta take my beretta, and I betcha
it’ll probably work, a hundred percent better
Cause it’ll keep me out of danger
with sixteen in the clip and one in the chamber
So this goes to all y’all intruders
Beware of Mongo, cause Mongo is a shooter
I don’t just wanna give your ass rabies
I’d rather have your ass pushing up daisies
And I can’t do that with Benji,
Kevin Greene, or Spuds McKenzie
Forget about Heenan fool, he’ll shit in the den
Nowadays, a chihuahua is man’s best friend
I’d like to think this costume happened because Ric Flair walked up to Mongo and was like, “hey brother, you should dress up your dog like someone from the NWA.” And Flair meant like, Dusty Rhodes, but Mongo’s brain went to Compton.
Best: Stunt Granny
This week’s opening match is Sting vs. Big Bubba, but I want to take a minute to give love to one of WCW’s great, unheralded NPCs: the Stunt Granny.
If you’ve seen the classic film EXPOSED! Pro Wrestling’s Greatest Secrets REVEALED! you’ll recognize the Stunt Granny. She’s either an old woman positioned in the front row of a wrestling show to help the heels get heat, or a legitimate old lady who brought a front row ticket and wants to fight bad wrestlers for real. Either way, she’s spectacular. WCW’s version had her most famous moment in 1997 when she got in Hollywood Hogan’s face and threatened to scratch out his eyes, but (as far as I can tell) this is her first Nitro appearance.
Bubba tosses Sting to the outside and follows him out, but stops to confront the Stunt Granny and yell HOW YA LIKE THAT, HUH? The distraction allows Sting to make a small comeback, and I spend most of the time waiting for Mongo to comment on GRANMAWS BEIN’ OUT THE TOILET.
Best: The Match
Even without the Stunt Granny, Bubba vs. Sting is pretty great. It’s one of those matches that isn’t going to stand the test of time as some great expression of the artform, but it’s exactly what wrestling needs to be. Sting’s a valiant babyface fighting from underneath, Bubba wrecks him with a bunch of cheapshot uppercuts and body splashes, and the finish pays off the work.
The story of the match is that Sting’s a little outgunned, and Bubba keeps arrogantly tossing him to the floor. Sting figures out what’s going on, cuts Bubba off before he can pull off a big followup to the outside and crotches him on the top rope. Bubba goes flipping upside down back into the ring, so Sting hustles up the post and dives onto him for a surprise win. Sting’s high crossbody is one of the most under-appreciated secondary finishes ever, I think. He had a great vertical leap — see also the Sting Splash — and he weighed what, 250 pounds? That’s a big dude to be jumping as high as possible and landing on you.
Best: Lex Luger Is From The Wrong Part Of Chicago
I think my favorite Nitro character is Rich Coward Lex Luger.
The Road Warriors are tired of getting hit in the kidneys with large planks of lead (?) and challenge Sting and Luger to a CHICAGO STREET FIGHT. Their rationale is that yeah, sure, Lex Luger’s from Chicago too, but he’s never been downtown. They’re from THERE. Sting agrees with them, pointing out that Luger’s from the white collar part of Chicago and the Road Warriors are from the streets. They have “road” in their names for a reason.
Luger’s response is just a bunch of “NUH UH” statements followed by “TELL EM STINGER,” which is both amazing in its base cowardice and as a meta statement on Road Warriors promos. Animal would always fart his way through a couple of bad sentences and say TELL EM HAWK, and Hawk would bring it home. Here, Luger refuses to say ANYTHING without a TELL EM STING before it. TELL EM STING, I’M FROM CHICAGO. WE’LL WRESTLE YOU ANY WHERE ANY TIME, STING SAID SO, IT’S FINE. STINGER, HEY, STINGER, TELL EM I KNOW WHAT CHICAGO’S LIKE. It’s great and I wish it’d gone on for another 40 minutes.
Best: Lex Luger Gives The Renegade A Little Too Much
Match two is Lex Luger vs. The Renegade, which should be Luger running at him the second he’s in the ring, forearming him in the mouth and Torture Racking him for the win. Instead, Renegade beats Luger’s ass. It’s crazy. A couple of months ago Renegade was a total afterthought, having the face wiped off his face by Jimmy Hart because he was so pathetic. Here, Luger makes him look like the second coming of Christ. He’s even about to LOSE to him until Jimmy runs out, shoves Renegade off the top rope and sends him crashing to the floor. Luger sorta “wakes up” from the damage he’s been taking, has Renegade rolled back in and gets him up in the rack. It’s great heel work in that it’s totally unnecessary. He didn’t need to make the worst guy on the show look like a threat to one of the best, but he DID, because he knew it’d make people go “what the f*ck, Lex, get your shit together.”
The symmetry is my favorite part. During Sting/Bubba, the announce team puts over how Sting follows the WCW rulebook and Luger follows his own set of rules, and how that puts them at odds. They point out how sometimes when you have an old friend you purposely ignore some of their faults because you expect more from them and know they’ll come around, which is so pitch-perfect I can’t believe the WCW announce team said it. Sting wrestles fairly and comes out on top against a bigger, stronger opponent. Luger gets his shit kicked by one of the saddest wrestlers in history and needs a 40-pound rockabilly manager to bail him out. Sting shows up when Luger wins and gets FURIOUS at him, but he knows there’s nothing he can do because sometimes friends are the WORST, but they’re still your dumb f*cking friends. Luger says he has no idea why Jimmy Hart came down and then RAISES THE RENEGADE’S HAND. Five damn stars.
Best: Jimmy Hart
This is a really well-put-together first half-hour of Nitro, by the way.
Worst: The Road Warriors Are From The Really Boastful Part Of Chicago
The second half-hour? Not so much.
The Road Warriors take on Harlem Heat, and you assume from the narrative presented so far that while Sting and Luger are having problems, The Road Warriors are on top of their game and ready to plow through everybody. Right? The match should be them trouncing Harlem Heat, flipping Stevie Ray onto his milk-drinkin’ crackerjack fruit booty with a Doomsday Device and winning strong. That way, Sting and Luger look hopeless unless they can get on the same page. Create some drama.
Instead, Harlem Heat beats the Road Warriors. Clean. Booker T hits a Harlem Hangover on Hawk and has him pinned, but the referee’s outside the ring checking on Stevie Ray. Booker runs over the ropes to fetch him, so Animal takes a cheap shot and boots him in the side of the head. That’s enough to give Hawk the win, and what are you doing? What’s the point of this? Now you’ve got a pair of tag team champions who can’t get on the same page, and a pair of challengers who got beat like it was nothing and only survived because of luck and bad timing. The Road Warriors need ref distractions to help them win? Since when? Was Harlem Heat so important they had to get that visual pin? Weren’t they just slipping on food at Colonel Parker’s drive-thru Vegas wedding?
Worst: Kimberly Page
Kimberly is secretly the worst person in WCW. Remember when she got all super racist at Starrcade ’95? Now she’s out here with a bouquet of flowers to give to The Booty Man only weeks after convincing Johnny B. Badd to fight her ex-husband over some lottery winnings. So she makes him do that, gets $6 million and Friend-Zones his ass out of the company because Brutus Beefcake grew out his hair and put on some see-through pants. And what, she’s trying to give him flowers during a match? Is there not a better time to approach him?
The actual story is that Marc Mero was “strongly against” being paired with Kim and for-real left WCW over it, going to the WWF and making his shoot wife his valet. You remember how that ended. His wife was a thousand times more over than he’d ever been, which caused them to do a story about how he hated and mistreated her, which led to her doing Playboy and becoming a huge star and that iffy 15-year gap that ends with her married to Brock Lesnar. So, it worked out beautifully for everyone involved.
Spoiler alert: when Kim becomes “The Booty Babe” you’re gonna read way too much about my puberty.
Worst: Hulk Hogan, King Of Trios
The main-event is Hulk Hogan teaming with Not Important and Even Less Important against Flair, Arn Anderson and Kevin Sullivan. I will give you three guesses as to what happens, I hope at least 2 1/2 of your guesses are “Hogan stands in the corner with his leg up and Brutus Beefcake Irish whips the bad guys into it like an assembly line.” That sounds like a ridiculous thing I made up, doesn’t it?
The more I watch these Nitros, the less I understand Hulk Hogan’s concept of heat. The guy would put himself in these situations to create drama, then immediately negate them. You’ve read more than one of these reports where I’m like “Arn Anderson pins Hogan with help from 30 guys and Hogan kicks out so hard at 3.01 that it heals him, and he single-handedly murders 31 people with his bare hands.” It’s par for the course. Here, Hogan literally stands in the corner with his foot up and wins the match, pinning Arn Anderson in the middle of the ring and (I’m assuming) getting back his heat he’s already gotten back for those cheap Nitro losses.
Hogan can’t just win, though: he’s gotta look like the strongest and most valiant guy in the ring but also get all the sympathy. That leads to a weird post-match thing where he gets shoved into the corner and hits his head on the turnbuckle, rending him unconscious somehow and allowing Miss Elizabeth to handcuff his hands together. The heels whip him once — you read that right, ONCE — and are chased away. The show goes off the air with a sad Hogan resting his face on the top turnbuckle pad while everyone runs around in a panic trying to free him from NO DANGER WHATSOEVER. The announcers are all, SOMEBODY WILL PAY FOR THIS I SWEAR TO GOD, and all I can think is “didn’t we just watch him beat the top three bad guys by barely lifting his leg?”
You bastards. I hope you all die.