– 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 one (and is suuuuuper boring) will be up on Friday.
– Share the column! If you don’t, I’m bringing in a third man and you’re gonna have to throw trash at the site to make it work.
And now, the vintage Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for June 10, 1996.
Best/Worst: The Pep Boys ‘Flaming Gun Metal And Corporate Graphics Are More Important Than Seeing What Happened’ Instant Replay
This week’s opening bout would be repurposed four years later as one of WCW’s biggest match-ups: the pre-Crisis, neon singlet version of Scott Steiner vs. the Harlem Heat version of Booker T. By the time the final Nitro rolled around, Booker T was the ersatz Rock and a multiple-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, and Scott Steiner had become Gilbert Gottfried living inside the deranged, living body of a Mad Max character.
The Steiners are building to a showdown with Fire & Ice at Sunday’s Great American Bash and Harlem Heat are still trying to recover from Colonel Parker’s wedding, so Steiner wins a quick match with a transitional move. Booker goes for a splash and misses, so Steiner whips him into the ropes and … hits a belly-to-belly suplex. That’s enough to put Booker away, and we go ahead and christen that the “Pep Boys Power Pin Of The Week” even though we’ve got like 80 minutes left in the show and it’s only Monday.
Worst: Debra Pisses Off Larry Zbyszko And We Never Hear The End Of It
First of all, phrasing. Mean Gene tries to interview Steiner after the match, but they’re interrupted by a concerned Debra McMichael. Steiner says it’s fine, Gene should talk to Debra, and Gene’s all, “YOU AND I WILL HOOK UP A LITTLE BIT LATER AND FINISH.” This is only a week after Steiner told Lex Luger that he’d “jack him in the ring if he got him hot,” so they’ve got to be doing this on purpose.
Anyway, Debra hasn’t really become “Debra” yet, so she’s got those Miss Elizabeth mic skills where Gene has to hold her by the hand and lead her through everything. She doesn’t know what day the pay-per-view’s on or where it is, but she’s asking “somebody” to set up a meeting with her and the Four Horsemen so they can talk out the problems between that crew and the Football Pals without violence. Mongo’s off on a training retreat with Kevin Greene and can’t speak for himself. This INFURIATES Larry Zbyszko, and he spends the next 45 minutes of hour one yelling about how “Dumbo” McMichael’s got his wife out here fighting his battles for him. It’s non-stop. Seriously, Tony Schiavone could’ve been like, “hey Larry, want a hot dog,” and Larry would’ve come back with WHY DON’T WE GET DEBRA MCMICHAEL OUT HERE TO FEED A HOT DOG TO DUMBO.
Note: He thinks turning “Mongo” into “Dumbo” is super clever and funny enough to be his one joke for almost an hour. This is the guy who thought “New World Odor” was Carlinesque material.
Worst: Jim Powers
This is Jim Powers. He has ARMPIT VASCULARITY and pretty much ate steroids like I eat breakfast tacos. You may remember him as one of the “Young Stallions” — not to be confused with the “Young Pistols” — or from various other forgettable tag team things throughout the WWF, AWF and WCW. The worst part about him is that his ring name was “Jim Powers,” but his real name was “Jim Manley.” HOW YOU GONNA CHANGE YOUR RING NAME WHEN YOUR SHOOT SURNAME IS “MANLY?” It’d be like calling yourself “Ricky Steamboat” when your shoot name is “Dick Blood.”
Powers loses to Diamond Dallas Page, a guy with Nothing Vascularity who looks like Elayne Boosler and smokes as he walks to the ring. One of these two people ends up a 3-time World Heavyweight Champion. Larry spends the entire match screaming about Dumbo’s wife, and I spend most of it trying to figure out how a dude works out his armpits so hard that the veins pop. I didn’t even know armpits HAD veins.
Best: Flynt Flossy, Known Across The Nation, Sting And Meng Is My Favorite Combination
This era of WCW is so weird. They’re right on the cusp of letting the cruiserweight division happen — there’s a tournament happening to crown a cruiserweight champion, but we don’t see any of that because of PEP BOYS REPLAYS of Jim Powers taking shitty hiptosses — but they’re also in a holding pattern until this “WWF Invaders” thing happens. So the shows are full of 30 second matches and otherwise important guys just kinda farting around in circles, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
One of those guys is Sting, whose hair is starting to make him look like one of Mike Brady’s kids. He has a good but way, way too short match with Meng that ends with him menging Meng right in the barbarians on Scorpion Deathlocking him for a submission win. There’s a lot happening at the Great American Bash, but so little of Nitro relates to it … The Steiners are facing Fire & Ice, so Scott Steiner wrestles Booker T and Scott Norton wrestles The Giant. Sting’s got a big match coming up with Lord Steven Regal, so he wrestles Meng. I’ve gotten so used to WWE’s “guys who are feuding only wrestle each other” that treating a wrestling show like an actual, pre-scheduled sporting event with matches that might not all point to the same narrative but accomplish secondary storytelling goals is f*cking bizarre.
Best: Desperado, Why Don’t You Come To Your Senses?
Throughout the show, Tony Schiavone pimps the upcoming debut of the hot new tag team of The Renegade and “Desperado” Joe Gomez. This becomes important for like a minute.
Debra McMichael is backstage still trying to arrange a meeting with the Horsemen, so Bobby Heenan finds her and is like “yeah, sure, follow me into the Horsemen dressing room where things will go totally fine for you.” Debra enters and Bobby slams the door shut, and all of a sudden there’s SCREAMING. Debra comes bolting out of the room and runs down the hallway, and out come Flair and Anderson. The Renegade and Joe Gomez are kinda moseying around in the hallway, so Flair and Anderson just BEAT THE EVER-LOVING DOG PISS OUT OF THEM FOR NO REASON. Like, a full-on assault. Flair puts Renegade in the figure four in the middle of the hall and Arn runs over and stomps him to death. Joe Gomez is unconscious 2 1/2 seconds into Arn’s attack. It’s WONDERFUL, especially in that it makes absolutely no sense.
What happened to Debra in the one second between the door shutting and her screaming that caused her to freak out? Were Flair and Arn hooking up back there or something? Why did they follow her out ready to beat her ass? Why did they STOP following her to beat up jobbers in the hallway? WHAT MADE JOE GOMEZ A DESPERADO? Will we EVER know?
Worst: Jim Duggan Defeats Squire David Taylor
Quick, take a wild f*cking guess how cheating-ass Jim Duggan beats Squire David Taylor. The only way Jim Duggan’s WCW taped fists story should’ve ended is with him being entered into some Flash/Anti-Monitor situation where he realized he’d have to tape up his entire body to defeat an enemy and save the world. Crap, now all I want is Jim Duggan to show up on Lucha Underground.
In case you were wondering, here’s Larry Zbyszko’s thoughts on the match:
Can we bring back the cosplaying dog?
Best: Someone Needs To Scale Big Bubba And Tear Down His Tattoo
This is actually a Best for Bubba running down The Shark with one of my favorite wrestling insults ever:
“You think at the Great American Bash that you’re gonna get revenge on me by cuttin’ my hair, or the Giant’s hair? I’m gon’ leave you layin’ like the beached whale you are, and sweep you out with the trash at the Great American Bash!”
Worst: We’re Just Zipping Through These Matches Now
It’s Giant vs. Scott Norton, and that should be pretty good, right? They’d go on to have matches full of Norton lifting Giant like he’s Rey Mysterio and nerfing all those big, dramatic Hulk Hogan bodyslams, but this isn’t one of those. This is Norton accidentally running into the ringpost 40 seconds into the match, getting chokeslammed on the floor and losing. Womp wommmmp.
Lex Luger shows up after the match and tries to avenge his dinner tabling from a few weeks back, but almost ends up getting chokeslammed through it again. I like that Nitro had to leave Flair’s condescending Sometimes Dinner table in that little cubby along the entrance just in case they needed a table bump. Anyway, Luger avoids additional tabling by booting Giant in the nuts, hitting him in the back with some dinnerware and flees. Giant is enraged and Luger says “the gloves are off,” and the stage is set for the most regular match you have ever seen at The Great American Bash.
Best: Lord By God Regal
In another incredibly short but spectacular match, Lord Steven Regal takes a young, Paul-from-The-Wonder-Years-looking Billy Kidman to the f*cking woodshed. Kidman goes up to hit a 450 splash but eats nothing but mat, and Regal does this insulting little shuffle that cracks me up even on my 100th viewing. Pretty sure I’ve watched this 100 times by now, at least.
Regal follows that up with a sick double-underhook suplex and an elevated Boston crab to put Kidman away, and I like to believe this ass-whomping is what eventually made Kidman go emo and start scratching himself. After the match, Sting runs in and pops Regal with one good backhand strike to get him back for jumping him during their contract signing, and Regal sells it like he’s just walked in on his parents having sex. Dude looks DISTRAUGHT at the indignity.
I sincerely mean that Instagram caption.
Worst: MORE NASTY BOYS PUBLIC ENEMY NOTHING MATCHES
If you love feuds that don’t go anywhere, here’s the Nasty Boys and Public Enemy having another garbage match with no finish and no-selling everything. We’re calling it the Pep Boys White Trash Garbage Can Toss Of The Week. Johnny Grunge has a broken hand and you’d think that’d be more of a storytelling focus, but nope, it’s just tons of clubbing forearms and no-sold eyerakes and guys kinda lazily Irish whipping each other into the steps while the other people grab weapons. There’s no sense of urgency and nobody really has a character or a motivation, they’re just … doing stuff. They do stuff!
After the match has been thrown out, the Nasty Boys wait for Flyboy Rocco Rock to roll out of the ring and stop paying attention, then brain him in the back of the head with a trashcan. That’s the feud in a nutshell … they wait for you to stop paying attention and move on with your life, and then boom, aluminum can to the dome.
Best: Savaged By The Bell
Okay, so Kevin Greene and Mongo are in a ring (assumedly at the WCW Power Plant) training for their match at the Great American Bash. Macho Man Randy Savage has agreed to coach them against Flair and Anderson, and he does so by throwing a duffel bag at them, getting uncomfortably close and yelling in their faces about intensity.
You’d think that’d be enough, but I guess WCW thought the segment would be too boring so they put jangly country chase music in the background and edited it to look like the opening credits of Saved By The Bell. Seriously, look at that picture of them hugging in a floating photograph. It just needs an ice cream cone and some sunglasses to float by in the background.
Worst: Guess How The Main Event Ends
The original main event of this episode was supposed to be, I shit you not, Ric Flair and Arn Anderson vs. The Renegade and “Desperado” Joe Gomez. Man, imagine how much different wrestling in the 90s would’ve been if Hall and Nash had never shown up, and Renegade and Joe Gomez had gotten this big moment. They would’ve set the wrestling world on fire, and kids would’ve shown up to school in DESPERADO JOE GOMEZ t-shirts. WWE Network would have specials where Vince McMahon gets all grizzled about how he had to push Tekno Team 2000 as a response just to keep his head above water.
They got HALLWAY WAYLAYED, however, so Lex Luger and Sting — who had already beaten Meng tonight, in case you’d forgotten — take their place. Because WCW Nitro, the match goes on well for a bit and suddenly ends when Giant shows up to get his revenge on Luger. Once again Scotty Steiner runs out to help Sting and Luger fend off Giant, and once again we end Nitro watching three dudes do the work of one Hulk Hogan.
Best: Look At The Adverb. Playly.
“This show’s about as interesting as Marge Schott reading eck-certs from Mein Kampf!”
With that incredibly dated reference, Kevin Nash makes his debut in WCW. It’s technically a return, I guess, because he had already been here as:
- a “Master Blaster,” which is like a Road Warrior without any talent
- a giant wizard from the Land of Oz
- a condescending gambler from New York
He’d been in the WWF as Pamela Anderson’s truck driving friend and that’d worked out really well for him, but this is his debut as himself, aka the version everybody thinks of when you think “Kevin Nash.” He and Hall do some more vague threatening and Nash drops his famous “THIS IS WHERE THE BIG BOYS PLAY, HUH, LOOK AT THE ADJECTIVE, PLAY” line, and it’s on: the unnamed outsiders (cough) want a shot at WCW’s 3 best guys. Bischoff has to find them, or Hall and Nash are gonna convince Skip and Zip to jump ship and kick his ass.