– In case you missed it, the retro Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw column has jumped ahead to 1996, so you can read about the episode of Raw that played against this Nitro. Shawn Michaels is in a sex scandal (gasp) and everything else is super boring.
– 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 6, 1996.
This Week’s Pepe Costume: Horny Sailor
If you think I added “horny” trying to be funny, consider the show-opening conversation:
“Pepe the SAILOR MAN, what’s that about?”
“Well of course, of course my friend, he heard that uh uh uh a sailor could get LUCKY here in Daytona Beach, what can ya say!”
There’s … probably a lot I could say, but most of it ends with “did your chihuahua seriously dress up to f*ck a barge groupie,” so we’ll just move along.
Best: Lord Loves A Hangin’
If you’ve been following along, you know that the Macho Man has been driven over the edge by a combination of “having to team with Ric Flair against his will at Slamboree” and “his ex-wife who divorced him several years ago somehow still having access to his ‘Dial M For Monkey’ money.” If you haven’t, like 30% of the words int that sentence don’t make sense.
He faces Hugh Morrus in this week’s opener, and Hugh has a gameplan: he’ll jump Savage before the bell, and when Savage is down he’ll put on his entrance gear and make fun of him. Maybe his name should’ve been HUGH MILIATING. Note: I’m glad Mongo and Heenan are the color commentators on Nitro, because 16-year old me would’ve just sat in silence until it was time to make every Hugh-something joke in history. “That last match was a little dry, Bischoff, time for a HUGH-MIDIFIER!”
What Hugh doesn’t realize is that punching Savage when he’s not expecting it and wearing a Macho Man’s hat without expressed written consent from a Macho Man leads to Queen Latifia-ish levels of SETTING IT OFF. With images of a burning city hall dancing in his head, Savage wraps his jacket around Hugh’s neck and attempts to hang him to death with it, then drops a big elbow on his dead body. The referee gets all indignant about how Hugh won by disqualification, so Savage pimp-slaps him to the ground, bodyslams him and drops an elbow on HIM. Randy Anderson shows up and tries to help, but Savage puts the fear of God in him and sends him scurrying. That brings out police to once again detain Savage and cart him out of the building, all because Bill f*cking DeMott thought it’d be cute to figuratively stick a jelly donut up his ass and rub it in Savage’s face. Figuratively.
A supplemental Worst goes to the bell keeper (© Jamie Noble) for ringing the bell throughout the ENTIRE SEGMENT. When the match is over and the wrestlers won’t stop, sure, ring the bell again a few times for effect. Let them know the match is over and you don’t approve of what’s happening. If it’s 5 minutes after the initial post-match attack and there are like 7 cops in the ring having a conversation with Savage, stop ringing the damn bell. My theory is that they put one of those Lethal Lottery models in charge of timekeeping this week and she just got really into it.
Best: Liger Vs. Malenko
HOLY CRAP, JUSHIN THUNDER LIGER IS WRESTLING DEAN MALENKO.
Okay, Brandon, compose yourself. This is Nitro. I’m sure if you wait 30 seconds they’ll do something to ruin it, right? Bischoff’s already talking about how the Macho Man’s been taken out of the arena instead of calling the match, maybe they’ll do something stupid like jump to a split-scren of an unrelated main-event feud. Haha wouldn’t that be hilarious?
Worst: The Nitro Split Screen
Instead of watching and paying attention to two of the most technically-gifted pro wrestlers ever wrestle a match, we miss about a fourth of it for random shots of Ric Flair, Miss Elizabeth and Woman having dinner. You see, since the Macho Man’s been removed from the arena, Flair’s free to galavant around and spend Savage’s money on asinine shit like horrible split-screens that ruin wrestling shows.
Malenko eventually gets the win with his cool gutbuster off the second rope, which is basically the Burning Hammer of 1996-1997 Nitro, so that’s good, but hey, nobody cares. We’ve gotta spend precious TV time watching Miss Elizabeth try to convincingly look at another human being with admiration without suffering a mental breakdown trying to remember her lines. Which are nothing and “look at a dude.”
Anyway, Ric Flair finally makes a formal pass at Mongo’s wife, sending her a glass of champagne. She pours it out and everyone around her cheers, because they love TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE and also possibly SAYING NO TO PEER PRESSURE! Polyamorous-ass Flair takes it in stride, telling Mean Gene that Debra’s from Texas, and that soon she’ll find out why they call him an “all-around cowboy.”
I think I’d like to hear more about the sailor dog.
YEAH IT IS
YEAH IT DOES
Best: Glacier Is Coming To WCW
Worst: Get Ready To See This Same Video On Every Nitro Between Now And The End Of Time
I’m not a formal wrestling historian so I can only approach this from what I remember happening as a fan, but here’s the scoop. These videos are for a guy named GLACIER, a gym teacher dressed like Sub-Zero who was supposed to be the protagonist of a Mortal Kombat Division in WCW. No, that’s not a joke. He and one of his karate friends would team up to face an evil skeleton and one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (and their manager, who may have been Actual Satan) in a series of pro wrestling ninja fights. WCW was planning on changing the direction of their company, and “palette-swapped bullshit fighting game goobers” was that direction.
So they start playing these videos in late April/early May. In the middle of May, Scott Hall shows up and the whole business-changing nWo thing happens. WCW’s like HEY THIS WORKS and runs with it, and the Mortal Kombat dudes exist only in BLOOD RUNS COLD hype videos between April and f*cking September. Glacier doesn’t make his Nitro debut until September 16. By the time it happens it’s like Jesus rose up to Heaven all “I’LL BE BACK IN 34 A.D.” and rode back down in 2015. They were right about the “world is about to change” part, they just got the reasons wrong.
But yeah, no, Glacier and his Spooky Kung Fu Palz are one of my great guilty pleasures in wrestling, and I hope WWE Network adds the WCW weekend shows one day so I can do them justice.
Best: Sting Is Still Here, You Guys
You wouldn’t be able to tell from commentary. The only time they talk about Sting is when they wonder what Sting thinks about “his good friend the Macho Man Randy Savage” being escorted out of the building. Man, when Hogan took that break between now-ish and Bash At The Beach, WCW was TERRIFIED and convinced that Savage was their only marketable guy, huh?
Sting takes on Lord Steven Regal, who is showing some awesome Dino Damage following his parking lot brawl with The Belfast Bruiser. The Bruiser has been sent back to Ireland, I guess, so Regal’s taped up like a recovering Matt Murdock and doing his best to sell “life-altering fight damage” on offense. Sting’s great in these matches, because he rarely uses them as an opportunity to put himself over as superior, and really works with the mid and undercard guys to do something entertaining. Sure, sometimes he’s like “I’m wrestling the Shark? 30 seconds, Stinger Splash, boom, we’re out,” but if he’s wrestling Regal or Dean Malenko he’ll actually sit down and figure out a way to make them look good.
The finish is great, with Regal side-stepping a Stinger Splash and busting out the cockiest, shit-eatingest head-wobble you’ve ever seen. He tries to double-underhook Sting and put him away, but Sting powers up and backdrops him, falling backwards into a pin. It manages to make Regal look effective despite all his damage, and makes Sting look like he’s got more than one boring animation that wins matches. When was the last time you saw Hulk Hogan win a match by reversing a double-underhook suplex into a bridging pin? If Hogan wrestled Regal it would’ve been Regal punching him for 8 minutes until it was time to have a seizure of strength.
Worst: Not Sting Vs. Regal
The advertised main-event is The Giant defending the WCW Championship against Lex Luger, but Jim Duggan wanders out and takes Luger’s place. The story is that nobody knows where Luger is, and he keeps missing these big opportunities because of travel problems, or whatever. I’m not sure we’re far enough along in the timeline for me to make “he was downing a shit-ton of pills at Liz’s” jokes, but let’s go for it.
The only good aspect of Giant/Duggan is the finish. Last week, The Giant defeated Ric Flair by chokeslamming and pinning him out of nowhere. That prevented Flair from having time to do all the stuff he usually does to cheat to win, like stabbing someone with a shoe or Asian-misting them with a cup of coffee. This week, Giant pulls the same thing on Duggan. Duggan is the cheatingest motherf*cker and tries to tape up his fist, so The Giant just grabs him by the neck and throws him at the ground. Duggan only gets the fist halfway taped, and does this sad little flailing gesture as he’s being pinned. Hey Jimbo, next time consider taping up your fists before you start the match. It’s legal, I guess, and you can just punch people right away.
Worst: Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before
Sting runs out to confront The Giant and they brawl, and Sting gets the upper hand. He actually beats The Giant’s ass pretty spectacularly, to the point that Jimmy Hart has to jump in and interfere with a weak megaphone shot. Before things can reach a conclusion, MYSTERIOUSLY ABSENT LEX LUGER comes rushing out in a tank top tucked into some Mil Muertes pants and brandishing a Haliburton briefcase, the future weapon of choice for a certain dog-holding former football star. Jimmy pulls The Giant out of the fight in response to Luger, and things get suspicious.
In case you’d missed this crucial element of Nitro storytelling, Sting is now QUESTIONING LEX LUGER’S MOTIVES. Is he a fink for missing a title match that had nothing to do with Sting? Is he a bastard for running out and helping his tag team partner fend off two guys with weapons? STING SURE THINKS SO, because the natural state of WCW babyfaces is “thinking everyone on my side is secretly against me.” Ever wondered why by the late 90s WCW had turned into this mess of people swerving and turning on each other all the time? It’s because they couldn’t just shut up and be happy and have things.