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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro, originally aired on March 18, 1996.
Best: The Greatest TV Title Defense Of All Time
Continuing our weird running theme of, “wait, Lex Luger was amazing?” is this week’s opening match, which is supposed to be Luger defending the TV title against The Loch Ness Monster. Looking at it on paper it would’ve been nice to see Luger forearm a 600-pound man in the mouth and get him up in the Torture Rack, but that’s a physical impossibility just from a load-bearing standpoint, so they do this. And this rules.
Nitro opens with The Giant beating up Loch Ness for accidentally hitting him with a strap last week. Loch Ness can’t fight back because he has to hold himself up by the security railing and can’t let go without falling over. While this is happening, Luger makes his totally normal and uninterrupted ring entrance, complete with posing and fireworks. He just walks to the ring and orders referee Randy Anderson to count Loch Ness out. The answer from the ref should’ve been, “we can’t start the match until both guys get in the ring, that’s a rule to avoid situations like this,” but Pee-Wee doesn’t want his little ass Racked either, so he throws the fastest 10-count ever and awards Luger the match.
Luger’s response to taking the worst, easiest victory ever is to throw up his hands and LEAP INTO THE AIR with joy. Jimmy Hart runs in and basically does the big dance move from Dirty Dancing with him and Luger shoves him away. Every single time Bischoff gets into it and calls Jimmy “THAT MAGGOT” I think he’s gay slurring him. Anyway, Luger continues his victory parade up to the announce table, where he hands out high-fives and tries to explain it to Mongo by saying it’s “like winning an NFL football game at the coin toss.”
Lex Luger is the best wrestler in the world. Who knew.
This Week’s Pepe Costume: Denim Cowboy
It appears that Mongo has finally run out of dog costumes, so this week Pepe wears a makeshift outfit pieced together from previous weeks. He’s wearing a jacket and the denim cowboy hat from 10/23 and doesn’t get a closeup.
My going theory is that Mongo was like, “welp, I ain’t got no more doggie clothes, what’s the point of me sittin’ at the announce table? PUT ME IN SOME BEARS SHORTS AND THROW ME IN THE RING, BABY, I GOT NOTHIN’ LEFT T’LIVE FOR.”
Best: The Concept Of Standby Matches
I’ve written about it in the column before, but I love WCW taking a second to pretend they’re an actual televised wrestling program dealing with unforeseen circumstances and having “standby matches.” They expected Luger vs. Loch Ness to go 10 minutes, I guess, so when it doesn’t they need to fill TV time. This week’s standby: the Steiner Brothers vs. the Public Enemy.
It’s a weird match, too. Public Enemy gets in a TON of offense, to the point that the crowd and the announce team are like, “shit, why is Public Enemy doing so well? They’re in the ring with the STEINERS?” The Steiners wrestle like they’re rookies and keep getting caught with these slow springboard moves and bad body attacks. They win the match, but even that isn’t particularly strong: Rocco Rock tries to put Rick Steiner through a table, but Scotty pulls Rick away at the last second and Rock goes through it alone. That leaves Johnny Grunge at a 2-on-1 disadvantage, so they jump him and Steinerizer him.
That’s such a specific problem to the Steiners. They were too good. You can’t really buy them getting their asses kicked by an average team. If it’s Steve Williams and Terry Gordy? Sure. But two dumpy Dick-in-a-Box looking motherf*ckers in novelty hockey jerseys? No way. Just be the Steiners. Be the Steiners and suplex them into the f*cking Shadow Realm.
Worst: The Ultimate Hulk Hogan Match Is Upon Us
Next week I’m skipping the Nitro report to do a full writeup of Uncensored ’96. It’s the special kind of moment that asks us to step back from the one-page recap formula and really wallow in the awfulness. Would you believe me if I told you a WCW pay-per-view that involved a monster truck battle on the roof of an arena and ended with a buttf*cking from a 7-foot tall mummy wouldn’t be the worst PPV in a 12-month period?
To preview the main event, I’ll tell you what we know as of this terrible Mega Powers promo: Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage have challenged the Dungeon of Doom and the Four Horsemen to a “Doomsday Cage” match. That’s a cage match with THREE CAGES scheduled to be Hogan and Savage vs. anybody the heels can find. They’re seriously just like, “bring everybody, we will stack cages in the corner and fight people in them.”
If you’ve never seen it, I’ll give you three guesses how it goes. The first two are wrong.
The next match is Arn Anderson wrestling the bloated, off-pink broomstick that is the Booty Man, and it’s terrible. I wanted to give a Best to Woman, though, because when Kimberly Page comes trotting out to ringside, Woman’s reaction is to calmly remove her high-heeled shoe and walk over to hit her in the face with it. I think we’ve all been there.
Worst: The Rest Of This, Though
Poor Arn Anderson. He jobs to the Booty Man’s finish, which is a high knee. Because “high knee” sounds like “hiney.” Hiney like butts. The creative meeting that produced the Booty Man had to have been, “LOL I just realized HIGH KNEE sounds like HINEY, like butts. We should have a guy whose gimmick is he loves butts and have him do a high knee.” “Nobody will get that. It’s not even a joke.” “BROTHER BRUTI WILL DO IT.”
Worst: Maybe The Worst Finish Yet
So the Road Warriors are wrestling the Nasty Boys, and it’s not terrible. The Nasties are at their best when asked to violently throw themselves into things, and Brian Knobbs with gauze loosely wrapped around his belly (over his shirt) is the saddest and most pathetic bid for sympathy ever. The problem is the finish.
During the match, the fight goes to the outside. Nick Patrick follows them out to restore some order, at which point Road Warrior Animal grabs a plastic chair from ringside and hits both Nasties with it. The crowd goes “whoom” for each one, and they both happen in front of the ref. The first one actually HITS the ref, causing him to flinch and move out of the way. No disqualification is called.
The match continues until the Steiner Brothers show up again for some reason and pull Jerry Saggs out of the ring. The referee is out of position and doesn’t notice, so Rick Steiner has to hustle around the ring and meet Road Warrior Hawk stepping out so the ref will be distracted. He is, allowing Animal to hit Knobbs in the face with his spiked pad and steal the cheap victory. That, uh, included him flagrantly bashing them in their faces with chairs. Thank God we got six goddamn people to distract the ref!
Worst: This Is A Picture Of Ric Flair In A Foam Cowboy Hat, Selling A Punch From Hulk Hogan That Has Not Yet Been Thrown Because He Can’t See And Hogan’s Punches Land Like Butterflies
The main event is a Texas Tornado tag team match. This is basically how it goes.
Worst: But Don’t Worry Folks, It’s Time For NAZI REFERENCES
Hogan said The Alliance to End Hulkamania — “heat” backwards, if you’re scoring at home — could bring anybody to the Doomsday Cage match, so here’s anybody! The final members of the Alliance are the DEVASTATION CORPORATION!
Wait, sorry, hang on.
1. You may recognize the guy on the left as ZEUS, co-star of the 1989 feature film No Holds Barred. It was a flop and resulted in some bad, hastily-rewritten WWF matches, so it makes perfect sense to revisit them seven years later. Also we can’t call him “Zeus,” so we’re calling him Z-GANGSTA. Because he’s Zeus and black?
Tiny Lister ended up being a pretty solid actor with roles in good shit like The Fifth Element and The Dark Knight, but he was never, ever a good wrestler. He was never a WRESTLER. His skillset involved having an okay body, crossing his eyes and screaming while smacking himself in the tit.
2. The man on the right who thought drawing a thick-ass line of magic marker around his fu manchu is Jeep Swenson, famous for playing Bane in Batman & Robin. His wrestling career was almost as bad. Here he’s billed as THE FINAL SOLUTION, because a team of cartoonish wrestling heels trying to beat Hulk Hogan in a hokey cage match is exactly like Nazi Germany’s plan to systematically exterminate the Jews. He’s quickly rebranded as THE ULTIMATE SOLUTION and still sucks ass in the ring, but is great for keeping your contacts fresh overnight.
Neither man can remember to keep flexing or face the hard cam, so Jimmy Hart spends the entire promo running around in circles trying to remind them. It’s like one of those missions in Grand Theft Auto where you have to hold your gun on three people to keep them from lowering their hands.
Spoiler alert for Uncensored: these guys end Hulkamania forever. I’m assuming.