The Best And Worst Of WCW Monday Nitro 2/5/96: A Broom With A View

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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro, originally aired on February 5, 1996.

This Week’s Pepe Costume: Raggedy Ann

At least I think that’s what it is. He’s got a hat, so he could be Raggedy Andy. He could also just be dressed as a Little House On The Prairie character, I’m not sure. Little Lord Fauntleroy? We don’t get an explanation because the announce team’s excited about last week’s eyeballing of Hulk Hogan, an event so severe it caused Mongo to quote the Bible. LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING SPORTS FANS, GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH BUT BE RIGHT HERE TONIGHT ON NITRO, BABY.

Worst: I Guess Sometimes We Still Have To Get Weird About Chris Benoit Matches

Here’s a fun joke to start off this week’s column: everybody involved in the first match is dead.

When Chris Benoit debuted on Nitro, I made the decision to try to separate the man from the character and watch the shows for what they were. Benoit was an important part of my wrestling fandom for like a decade, so pretending I never liked him for a series of very easy-to-see reasons would be a lie. At the same time, what he did makes it impossible to stop connecting the dots and trying to figure out which nasty head bump made his brain the way it was, and that makes it hard to just watch and enjoy a wrestling match. Up until now, I think I’ve done a good job walking that line.

This week’s episode starts with the announce team talking about how Benoit’s “left a trail of bodies from Canada to the United States,” and my brain goes, “oh no.” Then the Macho Man shows up with Woman as one of his valets, and my brain goes, “ohhhh nooooo.” I don’t care how cold-blooded and raised on the Internet you are, you should not be able to watch Benoit beat up somebody while a person he murdered stands off-screen and screams “no.” Jesus Christ.

On top of that, Benoit’s doing stuff like this:

So in the interest of not just lying down in my living room floor and not getting up for a week, let’s take a deep, weary breath and move on to the parts where Hulk Hogan’s terrible. Okay? Okay.

Worst: Too Many Cooks

So, Macho Man hits Benoit with a brutal elbow to the back of the head — like, point of the elbow to skull, causing his head to bounce off the mat like a basketball — and that’s the trigger for a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade of sneak attacks, weird alignment changes and unanswered questions (~!).

Ric Flair runs out in a Gold’s Gym sweatshirt (because fashion) and starts accosting Miss Elizabeth. That draws Savage out of the ring, where he’s Pearl Harbor’d by none other than WOMAN, who is secretly aligned with the Four Horsemen. She chokes him out with some production cable in a moment I will try not to think about too much. That brings out Arn for a Horsemen beatdown, which of course brings out PROUD PAPA Hulk Hogan and his steel chair panini press.

Hogan clears house while Miss Elizabeth stands around looking like she accidentally let her cookies burn. Mean Gene gets in the ring to ask Hogan about what happened, so Flair comes back out and sneak attacks HOGAN. Miss Elizabeth just stands there watching it happen. Flair starts gouging at Hogan’s ladies shoe wound, and that brings out the Dungeon of Doom. Hogan starts to no-sell Flair, so The Giant hits Hogan in the back with a chair. That causes The Zodiac to get between The Giant and Hogan to keep it from happening again. So THAT brings out THE GODDAMN MACHO MAN, who runs everybody away with the same chair. That leaves Macho in the ring to question Elizabeth about why she didn’t give Hogan a heads up, and allows Hogan to not only get heat for saving the day, but for being the victim as well. Holy shit.

Best: The Super Secret Mystery Of The Phantom Broomsman

The next match is Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman teaming up against The Taskmaster and The Laughing Man Hugh “Humorous” Morrus, and it’s notable for two things:

1. The Pillman/Sullivan issue is already awkward as hell. They get in the ring together early and just take turns no-selling each other, then get frustrated and tag out. That leaves Morrus to work the rest of the match unless Arn’s in. Knowing the stuff that goes on at SuperBrawl makes their interactions legitimately fascinating, and the announcers constantly talking up how cool and violent the “Respect Match” will be is like listening to trailer park yokels stand outside in a rainstorm and talk about how they ain’t leavin’ their homes no matter how many floods are coming.

2. Arn gets taken out of the match in one of the weirdest and most avoidable ways ever. He does the Nasty Boys memorial “hold the person’s head and walk” trek back to the area to the left of the entrance ramp, assumedly to deliver more concrete piledrivers. They walk by a bunch of kids sitting on the WCW logo, which I need to know more about. Anyway though, yeah, Arn walks to the back and sorta stands in place near the curtain so someone can WHACK HIM IN THE BACK WITH A BROOM. That happens and Arn loses 100% HP, allowing Sullivan to trot back to the ring and whip Pillman with a belt.

It gets played up as a mystery for like five minutes, but before the next match Paul Orndorff approaches the announce table like a flour-coated Bill Cosby and says revenge can happen anywhere at any time. The announce team figures out what he’s getting at independently but simultaneously, leading to a weird pissing contest where they each try to find a more definite and final way to say, “Paul Orndorff probably hit Arn with that broom.” WHAT A MYS’TRY!

Also funny: the referee disqualifies Sullivan for holding a men’s belt. Normally a referee would see a wrestler holding a foreign object and try to wrangle it away from them, but nope, the ref sees Sullivan holding a belt and waves the whole thing off. These mid-90s WCW refs are doing everything they can to leave the ring as quickly as possible. I want to see someone get disqualified for wearing pants.

Best: Ric Flair Knocks Out A Referee For Making Him Wrestle Marcus Alexander Bagwell For Almost 10 Minutes

You know what’s almost never a good idea? Putting Buff Bagwell into showcase singles matches. See also: the Invasion.

Regardless, Flair wrestles Bagwell for way too long in what would’ve been a barnburner main-event for your local NWA affiliate at the armory in 1984. Flair shows up and kinda-sorta puts over the baby until it’s time for him to win, then spends the night trying to find a hamburger and 3-5 hookers in your neighborhood. It’s the wrestling business, don’t ask me to explain it.

The best part of the match is the finish, which is Flair beating Bagwell clean with the figure four but refusing to let it go. The referee gets in his face and starts doing the aggressive “HEY BREAK THE HOLD, ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR” bit, so Flair nonchalantly punches him in the face, never letting go of the hold. The ref sells it like instant death, too.

It’s like something out of a wonderful, wonderful silent film.

Worst: ‘Elizabeth’s Shoe’ Has Competition For Worst Foreign Object Ever

Lex Luger and Sting defend the Tag Team Championships against The Road Warriors’ tired uncles, and WCW’s best storyline continues: Lex Luger is the worst person on Earth, and Sting can’t figure it out.

Things go back and forth until the finish, wherein Jimmy Hart shows up brandishing quite possibly the dumbest foreign object ever: a red rectangle. The announcers describe it as “about 40 pounds of lead,” and explain that it’s “a big lead plate they use to open doors, to keep doors open.” So … a doorstop? A paperweight? Did Lex Luger somehow knock Road Warrior Animal out cold by smashing him in the lower back with a PAPERWEIGHT?

Here’s a tip, in case you run a primetime wrestling program funded by millionaires and aren’t totally sure how it works: if you have to extensively explain what the foreign object is, it’s not effective. If a guy pulls out brass knuckles, you’re like THOSE ARE BRASS KNUCKLES and it works. If he puts them on his hand and punches a guy it can knock them out. The building is full of chairs, so a guy finding one and swinging it at his opponent makes sense. It’s metal and you don’t want metal in your face. If Jimmy Hart shows up with a vague object that he seems to be lifting really easily with his spindly baby arms and you have to be like THAT’S A COMMON OBJECT WE HAVE AROUND HERE, IT’S USED IN CONSTRUCTION, HERE’S IT’S CHEMICAL MAKEUP, OH NO DON’T HIT A GUY IN THE KIDNEYS WITH IT THAT CAN CAUSE PERMANENT PARALYSIS BECAUSE OF ALL THE LEAD, no, that’s not a good idea. Especially when Jimmy Hart’s defining characteristic is how he carries a megaphone to the ring and uses it to cheat in matches, ESPECIALLY when your biggest pay-per-view of the year just ended with the most decorated world champion in wrestling history getting touched by a megaphone and bleeding like he’d taken a shotgun blast to the face.

But yeah, the records books say that the Road Warriors lost the match because of a DECEPTIVELY HEAVY SHAPE USED TO OPEN SOME DOORS AND HOLD OPEN OTHERS.

Worst: Don’t Ask A Man To Cut A Promo When He’s Been Hit In The Lower Back By Lead

The show ends with the Road Warriors cutting an impassioned promo about how they’re going to get revenge at SuperBrawl, featuring Road Warrior Animal forgetting his lines and just kinda aimlessly staring at the camera for a few seconds while he remembers what to scream. Here’s a comparison shot for modern audiences:

Maybe Luger should’ve hit him with some MAGIC BEEEANS.