– Click here to watch this week’s episode on WWE Network. If you want to watch Slamboree ’96 first, you can find that here. If you’d like to read about previous episodes, check out the WCW Monday Nitro tag page.
– In case you missed it, the retro Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw column has jumped ahead to 1996. The episode that aired against this week’s Nitro will be up on Friday.
– Share the column! These only get like 25 likes and they’re my favorite thing I do. Help me out!
And now, the vintage Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for May 20, 1996.
Before We Begin
Here’s what you need to know about Slamboree ’96.
Diamond Dallas Page Is Lord Of The Ring
Somebody call JBL and Michael Cole!
As we’ve joked about a lot in previous columns, here’s the concept of the Lethal Lottery: names of WCW stars would be drawn at random and paired into tag teams. A bunch of tag team matches between these teams would happen, and whoever wins would move on to a battle royal at the end of the show, known as “Battlebowl.” The last two competitors remaining in the Battlebowl wrestle to a fall, and the winner is the Battlebowl champion. It means … basically nothing. It showed up at a couple of Starrcades, Vader won the first standalone Battlebowl event in 1993, and it was brought back for Slamboree ’96 with an extra round of tag matches added as a “semi-finals” to thin out the battle royal.
So! Diamond Dallas Page’s valet Kimberly, aka The Diamond Doll, won 13 million dollars in the lottery. Page took the money for himself and spent most of it, so effeminate Little Richard-cosplaying former boxer Johnny B. Badd had to win it back for her. He did, then left WCW almost immediately. Kimberly was repackaged as the butt-themed valet of a butt-themed Brutus Beefcake, and Page (the character) became homeless. He pawned his jewelry, sold tickets to Nitro events and so on. Eventually he was recovered from the streets by a MYSTERIOUS BENEFACTOR and got back on TV, where he realized that holding people by the heads and jumping and falling straight down could win him every match ever.
That’s where Page is now. He’s realizing the Diamond Cutter is the deadliest weapon this side of a woman’s shoe, and is utilizing it to great success. He gets eliminated from the battle royal when one of his feet touches the ground, but nobody sees it so he just goes back in and wrecks everybody with Diamond Cutters and wins. His prize is a decorative class ring and a shot at the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. More on all of this in a bit.
This Randy Savage Situation Isn’t Resolving Itself
One of Ric Flair’s MILF courtesans is Miss Elizabeth, ex-wife of the Macho Man Randy Savage. They’ve been divorced for like four years, but she still apparently has access to his money — particularly his Cartoon Network voiceover money, which Savage earned, damn you. She and Flair have expensive dinners in the middle of Nitros and throw Savage’s $1 bills into the crowd, so Savage goes into a blind rage on every episode and tries to murder them. Finding out that he and Flair would be partners at Slamboree made matters worse, and now Savage is threatening to blow up city hall and seeing woman psychiatrists.
At Slamboree, Flair and Savage were scheduled to face Arn Anderson and Eddie Guerrero. In one of the most obvious moves ever, Arn and Flair just beat the crap out of Savage, DDT’d Guerrero and let Flair have the pin. Unfortunately this year’s Lethal Lottery features two rounds, so Savage returns and jumps Flair before the second match. Security pulls him away, but the damage has been done: The Nature Boy Ric Flair has suffered a forfeit loss to THE PUBLIC ENEMY.
Here Comes Mongo
To add to Flair’s troubles, he’s been trying to hook up with Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael’s pageant wife Debra and won’t stop running his mouth about how thirsty she is. Mongo takes offense, and a challenge is made: Flair and Arn Anderson will take on Mongo and any one of his old football buddies in a wrestling match. Flair tells Mongo to go get Jim McMahon, which would’ve been amazing, but Mongo knew this was coming and already has his “#1 craft pick.” It’s then-current football star KEVIN GREENE, whom you may remember from a dorky appearance at the Clash of the Champions.
From that Clash report:
If you don’t know Kevin Greene, imagine Hulk Hogan had a baby with Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.
In my head, Kevin Greene is just the human form Pepe is able to take in times of extreme stress, like Luna in Sailor Moon S.
The Giant Is Just “Giant” Now, And Has The Funniest Intro
Michael Buffer: “FROM A PART OF THE WORLD UNKNOWN TO MAN … PRESENTING THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN ON THE PLANET EARTH, THE WCW HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WOOOOOOORLD [pregnant pause] GIIIIIIIIII AAAAAAAANNNNTTTT!”
Lex Luger Is Turning On Sting Again And Nobody Seems To Notice
The main event of the SLAMMING JAMBOREE is Sting challenging Giant for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, with Lex Luger and Jimmy Hart handcuffed together at ringside. This is supposed to keep Hart from interfering, except for the whole “Hart managed Luger up until a few weeks ago and they’re still good friends and STING YOU ARE STUPID.”
Luger manages to turn on Sting twice in the match with nobody noticing. The first time is a convoluted fight that ends with Luger on the ring apron and Jimmy draped over the top turnbuckle. Sting goes to Stinger Splash Jimmy, but Luger sorta falls backwards and pulls Jimmy out of the way. Sting crashes into the buckle and hurts himself, but luckily collapses head-first into Giant’s dick. Not a joke. That allows Sting to grab Giant in a Scorpion Death Lock. You’d think he’d have the match won and that’d be that, but Luger and Hart are suddenly back on the apron, fighting over Hart’s megaphone. Sting drags a 400-pound man over close enough to the action to get “accidentally” hit in the face with the megaphone and loses the match.
On Nitro, Sting and Luger are tagging and everything’s fine. So I guess this is all Jimmy Hart’s fault; he’s crafty enough to dodge Sting’s signature attacks and is stronger than Lex Luger. Got it.
And now, the first 90-minute edition of WCW Monday Nitro.
This Week’s Pepe Costume:
To make my yearning for the halcyon days of dressed-up miniature dogs a little easier, Nitro starts the best way any Nitro can: with a Steiner Brothers vs. Fire & Ice match. They had an impossibly-hossy throwing contest on the April 29 episode, in which I wrote:
Real quick, I just want to type an excited paragraph about how much I love FIRE & ICE. If Glacier and Ernest ‘The Cat’ Miller didn’t exist, they’d be my favorite inconsequential mid-90s WCW tag team. If you’ve never seen them before, they’re Ice Train and Scott ‘Flash’ Norton. Ice Train is Big E Langston, but bigger, faster and more dangerously sloppy. I don’t know how that’s possible, but whatever. Scott Norton is basically a character from Over The Top. They’re both as wide as they are tall and could lift full-sized sedans with one arm. They are AWESOME.
They run into the Steiner Brothers, who (if you’ve followed the Steiner Brothers) excel at finding bigger, stronger, faster guys and dumping them on their f*cking heads. Watching them wrestle Fire & Ice is like watching them wrestle Steve Williams and Terry Gordy, if Williams and Gordy were driven into mindlessness by Bane venom. The match is an exaggerated version of Sting/Luger vs. Harlem Heat, with neither side selling anything and everyone just going WELL, WE’RE GOOD AT THROWING SHIT, LET’S THROW SOME SHIT.
These matches are the greatest, and while this one was short, it did not disappoint. The finish is a double count-out, which at first seems cheap, but upon deeper examination reads as “we realize we’re just gonna stand here belly-to-bellying each other for 90 minutes, so if you want to have a rest of the show we can just fall to the floor and suplex each other to the back.” This is all building to a THERE MUST BE A WINNER #1 contenders match at the Great American Bash, which (spoiler alert) is like 11 minutes of dudes almost dying. Steiner Brothers vs. Fire & Ice forever.
Best/Worst: Flair VS. Guerrero
I’ve written about it a little before, but I could never get into these Ric Flair vs. Eddie Guerrero matches. That sounds like sacrilege, right?
The timing was just off for them, I think. They’re (at least in my brain) two of the undisputed best performers in wrestling history, but their timelines don’t overlap like they should. When Flair was in his prime, Guerrero was too young. By the time Guerrero came to WCW in ’95, Flair had arguably ended the “good at wrestling” portion of his career and entered the “hey, I’m Ric Flair” part. He had a great match with Vader in ’93 and the Clash match with Sting in ’94, and then it’s just kinda nothing until “I’m sorry, I love you.” I’m exaggerating, of course, but great Flair matches from ’96-on are an exception, not a rule, and he quickly becomes part of the old crew at the top of the card having the same bad matches for years while the new young stars kinda stagnate and fester at the bottom. Guerrero was very good in ’96, but he wasn’t “Eddie Guerrero,” you know? He’s not the version you think of when you think of Eddie. He’s at the bottom of the company, working hard without a lot of motivation or character development. Even when that starts to catch and he starts becoming more interesting and charismatic, he’s still working a style that translates more to the Dean Malenkos of the world than the Ric Flairs and Arn Andersons. It’d be like putting Kalisto on Raw and saying, “Have a great match with Kane.” It could probably happen, but probably not.
This is one of the better efforts, I think, with a story involving Guerrero blowing out his knee and trying to power through it while Flair stalks him. There’s some iffy selling, but it pays off at the end when Eddie goes for a frog splash, smashes the bad knee into the mat and can’t make the cover. It’s immediately ruined, however, by Eric Bischoff saying he’s selling the wrong knee. He’s not, as far as I can tell, but Bischoff is convinced that it was the right knee that was injured instead of the left. Flair wins with a figure four, and I already miss Mongo yelling GOOD KNEE BAD KNEE IT DOESN’T MATTER MY FRIEND, WHEN RIC FLAIR LOCKS ON THAT FIGGER FOUR, BABY, IT’S LIGHTS OUT MY FRIEND.
Best: Ric ‘Mongo’ Flair
After the match, Flair takes all of his food, beverages, decorations and women to the announcer table and fills in for Mongo. It’s exactly as awesome as it looks.
Worst: So We’re Ignoring All That Lex Luger Stuff From Last Night
Sting and Lex Luger square off against The Faces Of Fear, Meng and the Barbarian, and yes, every time Bray Wyatt says he’s the “new face of fear” I want him to wrestle in black tights with skull-and-crossbones on the leg and Mafia Kick people.
Anyway, if you remember like two pages ago, Lex Luger repeatedly interfered in Sting’s championship match at Slamming Jamboree. Instead of addressing that or doing anything with it, Sting and Luger are totally fine and showing “great teamwork.” It’s weird. Luger holds The Barbarian’s leg while he’s standing on the top rope, allowing Sting to gain an advantage and shove him off into a big splash. That kind of stuff. They win, too, and I start wondering if this is a purposeful Sting plan. If Luger turns on you and you pretend like it didn’t happen, is he still on your side? You know he’s gonna go AWOL and punch you in the face every now and then, so do you just let it slide?
Worst: Poor DDP
Diamond Dallas Page wrestles Brad Armstrong and defeats him with a Diamond Cutter, because at this point Page could hit a Diamond Cutter on Dr. Manhattan and pin him clean. He’s the Lord of the Ring (LIKE A HOBBIT, MAGGLE) and has an upcoming title shot against GIANT, but wait, here’s Mean Gene to tell him deez nuts. HA! GOT EEM. Ha. Got eem.
Seriously though, Mean Gene pulls out his nuts and puts them on Page’s chin. According to exclusive footage from Slamboree, one of Page’s feet touched the ground while he was trying to skin the cat and stay in the ring. Therefore, he is NOT the winner of the match and will NOT get the title shot at Great American Bash. Gene nonchalantly mentions that LEX LUGER is getting the shot, which is the most straight-up bullshit thing I have heard in a year of Nitros. Luger didn’t even MAKE IT to the Battlebowl match. Him, Booker T and some mixed up combination of the Road Warriors got double-counted-out in round one. Plus, Luger stuck around and failed to keep 45-pound Jimmy Hart from interfering in the championship match. How does he deserve a title shot? It’s not even a Jimmy Hart swerve to get Luger the spot, he’s just getting it because they know who he is. Just terrible. “Losing your wife to sexy Brutus Beefcake” terrible.
Worst: Macho Man Is Accomplishing Nothing
Once again, Macho Man Randy Savage it outside the arena trying to get in, but being held back by security. He’s been doing this for weeks now, to suggest despite being reprimanded and sent to Woman Psychiatrists, Savage is following Nitro around the country, getting into his wrestling gear and trying to walk in the back door. Mean Gene says there’s a “top level meeting” about Savage’s future in the company, which I’m pretty sure has been going on for three weeks.
Meanwhile, Ric Flair is on commentary talking about how Jane Fonda’s in love with him, and how if you don’t believe him you should “ask around Atlanta.” Flair > Savage.
Worst: And … That’s It?
The main event is Giant vs. Arn Anderson, with The Taskmaster showing up as Anderson’s valet. Flair giddily laughs about how there’s gonna be a title switch tonight, and we get close enough to hear Sullivan and Jimmy Hart’s conversation: Anderson has always kept his word with Sullivan, so Sullivan’s out here to make sure nothing shady happens and that Anderson gets his fair shot.
You think that’s gonna be a setup for something interesting, but nope, Giant just beats Arn to death, stands up during a DDT attempt and chokeslams him for the win. The announce team puts over how much bigger Giant is than everyone else, because I guess they realized they’d forgotten to mention how large he is for five seconds. Flair disappears from commentary, Arn rolls out of the ring and Sullivan’s like, “welp.”