– Click here to watch this pay-per-view on WWE Network but please, treat it like an eclipse. Poke a hole in a sheet of paper and watch it through that.
– By popular demand, this stands in for the week’s Best and Worst of Nitro column. If you’d like to read about the build to this show or any previous episodes, check out the WCW Monday Nitro tag page. We’ve also started up a vintage Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw column, so check that out.
– Share the column! Please. I watched this for you, the least you can do is support me socially.
Please click through for the Best and Worst of WCW Uncensored 1996. I’m so sorry.
Worst: Let’s Just Get This Out Of The Way
1. In 1995, the feud between Hulk Hogan and Big Van Vader became so severe that WCW was forced to create UNCENSORED, an “unsanctioned” and “unauthorized” pay-per-view in which wrestling beefs would be settled in the most ridiculous ways possible. Imagine WWE’s Extreme Rules if it was booked by someone who’d just fallen down and hit their head on a coffee table. 1995’s show featured guys fighting in the back of a moving truck, Meng vs. Jim Duggan in a “martial arts match” and a Boxer vs. Wrestling exhibition featuring two wrestlers. It was a legendary kind of bad, and now that I’m typing about it I wish I’d reviewed it first.
That show ended with one of the stupidest matches in wrestling history: Hogan vs. Vader in a leather strap match. That in itself doesn’t sound bad, right? Well, the build to it involved Jimmy Hart being kidnapped, the match featured two run-ins from two different masked men and the finish was Hogan dragging Ric Flair around the ring to win. No, you read that right; Hogan won the match by defeating someone who was not his opponent. IT WAS UNCENSORED~!
In 1996, WCW looked back at that colossal pile of shit and thought, “you know what? We could probably build it higher.”
2. This is a shot of the arena set-up. If you’ll notice, you’ve got the normal wrestling ring in the center and a second ring in front of the entrance. That’s where the triple-decker DOOMSDAY CAGE lives, because I guess they were at least smart enough to not stop the show for two hours while they built a flimsy 40-foot mesh fencing tower surrounded by scaffolding. This all becomes important later, I just wanted you to know how seriously f*cked we are before the show even starts.
Worst: You Will Not Find One Match On This Show With A Good Finish
This is how bad it gets. The opening match is Eddie Guerrero vs. Konnan during that era where Eddie’s becoming a known U.S. TV workhorse and Konnan’s a living, dangerous Ninja Turtle. It should be the best match, but it isn’t. Two reasons. I’m just going to number everything in this recap.
First, even at his best, Konnan is Konnan. He never had the best stamina, and if you remember his run in the Wolfpac he got to a point where he’d stand still for five minutes, do one forward roll into a clothesline and have to rest for 10. It was like watching a fat asthmatic kid get subbed into a youth soccer game and realize he’s in way over his head. The match goes 18 minutes but Konnan only goes for 10. After that, Eddie’s wrestling a mannequin. Konnan becomes a Real Doll, and the match becomes Kota Ibushi vs. YOSHIHIKO (but nowhere near as good).
Second, it’s not that the finish of the match is bad, necessarily, it’s just random as hell and the physics don’t make sense. See that picture above the boldface? That’s Konnan somehow delivering a “low blow.” Eddie whips Konnan into the ropes and jumps. Konnan runs under him and falls backwards, so Eddie falls balls-first on Konnan’s face. Konnan sells it like he’s had his head driven into the mat but Eddie is KNOCKED OUT COLD, because Konnan’s mouth and nose (?) have somehow crushed his testicles. Keep in mind that in lucha libre about 60% of offense is jumping and putting your balls in somebody’s face, but here, because it needs to be the finish, Eddie cannot withstand the gentle pressure of a taint to the jaw. If Konnan had crotched him on the top turnbuckle both of their hearts would’ve exploded.
Konnan just rolls over and covers him for the win after 18 minutes. WCW decided to start their most violent, unpredictable show ever with “was this or was this not incidental contact?” I’d ask Jesus to take the wheel, but by the time we get to the Doomsday Cage he’ll be driving Grave Digger.
Best: Holy Shit, Steven Regal vs. The Belfast Bruiser, Or
Worst: Nobody Caaaaresss
The next match is Fit Finlay and William Regal saying, “hey, wrestling’s fake, right? Let’s just punch each other for real for half an hour and see what comes of it.” It’s almost a BattleARTS match. On paper it’s two guys working hard to find the middle-point between sports-entertainment and shootfighting, because UFC’s on the cusp of blowing up and wrestling desperately needs to change. In practice, it’s two heels doing shit that hurts you for real, but doesn’t make for exciting television. Like, I’m gonna mark out watching Regal try to escape a chinlock by palm-striking Finlay’s tricep, but that guy in the sleeveless HULK RULES tank in the front row doesn’t give a rat’s f*ck.
So yeah, it’s great, but it doesn’t work. It’s not what anyone in the building wanted. Here’s a highlight, which is a real-as-hell punch to the face.
At about this point the worked-shoot hitting becomes shoot-shoot hitting and it all falls apart. WCW films the rest of it from as far away as possible. According to Regal, this match gave him a broken nose, a fractured cheek and 12 stitches in his eye. When it’s broken down to an irreparable degree, the Bluebloods show up and mindlessly attack Finlay for a DQ. Regal cracks off a BRUTAL backhand that knocks Finlay on his ass, then bails. Finlay gets up, shoot punches Dave Taylor in the face and charges after him. It makes me wonder if the finish was originally “distraction rollup,” but devolved so much they just hit the self-destruct button and got out of there before brains started falling out.
Dusty: “HE JUST WOUND ON THE SQUIRE ON THE WAY OUT!”
Best: What Is Going On Backstage
One final numbered list for page one, because there are two great things happening here:
1. “Stagger” Lee Marshall is backstage interviewing guys. If you aren’t familiar with Stagger Lee, he’s like a Chris Parnell character who travels around the country attending Nitro parties and calling in to Nitro to brag about it. He announced for everything from the AWA in the 1980s to WOW: Women Of Wrestling in the early 2000s and was the Gen-2 voice of Tony The Tiger. He’s one of those personalities I hated when I was watching this live, but love to pieces now that I’m older. He’s so weird.
2. There is a goddamn CHALKBOARD GAMEPLAN for the Doomsday Cage hanging in the background. It’s got symbols and arrows and everything. This is going to be the funniest thing in the world when you see the Doomsday Cage and realize everybody’s gameplan is “just kinda hang out and hope somebody figures out the rules.” The best part is that we don’t even know which side drew it up, or why it’s hanging in the interview area where theoretically every wrestler on the show will be. GREAT GAMEPLAN, GUYS. Maybe this is why you had 15 monsters living in a mystical castle and your combined efforts couldn’t beat a decrepit orange 40-year old.
Worst: MAN VERSUS WOMAN MATCH
Remember when Colonel Robert Parker and Sister Sherri Martel were trying to get married in Las Vegas, but it was revealed that the Colonel had been bagging Madusa on the side? That leads to a MAN VERSUS WOMAN match at Uncensored, and there is … so much wrong with it. Like, it’s one of those matches you love going back and watching on the Network because you don’t have to deal with any of the fallout or think about it again, but holy crap.
The major problem is that the match is build around how fun it’d be to watch a guy beat the shit out of his mistress. That’s weird enough, and then Parker gives an admittedly hilarious heel interview about how he’s gonna beat her to death and rub her face into the ground because that’s what the people at home want to do to their mistresses or whatever, but are too chicken to. It’s so over-the-top and horribly offensive that Mean Gene is dying in the background. It’s one of those things that’d be problematic as f*ck if it wasn’t an evil womanizing cartoon colonel saying he’s going to slap his sidepiece in the face with his dick to honor the memory of Elvis Presley.
The match happens, and the entire thing’s built around how Parker is Madusa’s physical superior. I mean, Madusa has just finished a WWF run that would eventually get her into the Hall of Fame and has competed around the world as one of the best female workers on the planet. Rob Parker is an old man dressed like Colonel Sanders who has to fan himself with a hankie to keep from passing out at ringside. But he’s taller and weighs more, so he gets to pick her up in an airplane spin and spin her around while she screams. I dunno.
And I mean yeah, Madusa gets to kick his ass a little. She gets in some offense and throws a terrible dive to the outside, then finishes him off with a German suplex. BUT WAIT, Dirty Dick Slater is at ringside and his dick is SO DIRTY, so he yanks Madusa’s feet out from under her and breaks the bridge. Parker kinda rolls onto his side and puts his crotch in her chest like they’re in the middle of a love scene from The Room and pins her, because I guess you have to protect Colonel Parker’s heat?
This pay-per-view makes me feel like a housecat trying to catch a laser-pointer dot.
Best: Lex F’N Luger
As a reminder, spring 1996 Lex Luger is the best wrestler in the world.
Mean Gene catches up with Luger backstage and we find out (assuming we haven’t had a chance to see all the supplementary weekend shows) that Jimmy Hart has pulled him out of the Chicago Street Fight with the Road Warriors and inserted him into the Doomsday Cage match. Hart says this’ll be the last time he ever walks to the ring with Luger and gives him an airbrushed Lex Luger jacket to “put in his trophy case.” Hart declares his love for Lex and scurries away crying, so Lex f*cking takes the jacket, folds it up and makes impressed faces while Gene questions him. Look at his face, seriously.
As Hart’s leaving, Mean Gene starts to tell him to “blow it out his ass,” and I almost choke to death on my coffee. To make matters worse, Luger has started playing guitar on his abs, only realize how super cool it is that he’s playing air guitar on his abs.
Gene’s all, “way to ditch your dumb friend, Lex,” and Luger corrects him with hilarious melodrama.
“Contrary to popular rumor, Gene, that is the furthest thing from the truth. This is a very emotional moment for me because my partner Sting, my best friend in the whole wide world is going out in a Chicago Street Fight without his tag team partner Lex Luger. From Chicago! And that breaks my heart. But I’m gonna be there Stinger, I’m gonna be watching out for you, I’m gonna be watching your back like you do for me and I do for you. And then, a COM-PETTER THAT I AM, I’ll step into that cage match whether I want to be there or not … and give it my best!”
I can’t even handle how good Luger is. It’s like John Cena and Bo Dallas are the same dude.
Worst: The Booty-Related Couple
If you’ve been reading the Nitro report you’ll know that Johnny B. Badd left WCW in the middle of a TV title feud due to personal reasons, mostly revolving around not wanting to do a romance angle with another man’s wife. He’d go on to do a breakup angle with his OWN wife, and then she’d accidentally become a huge star and end up married to Brock Lesnar. Whoops! Anyway, in the wake of John Badd we have THE BOOTY MAN, aka Brutus Beefcake pretending to be Brutus Beefcake, Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior at the same time.
Booty Man faces Diamond Dallas Page in an I QUIT MATCH. Page’s former valet The Diamond Doll has spent the past few weeks trying to hook up with The Booty Man in the middle of matches, so she appears again here, now sporting a see-through shirt and tutu that coordinates with Booty’s color scheme. Page gives her the old “kiss the valet against her will” standard and gets slapped, causing him to stumble into a HINEY from the Booty Man and lose by pinfall. In an I Quit Match. Don’t worry, though … nobody involved seems to know it’s an I Quit match, and it’s never addressed or mentioned again beyond a pre-match graphic. WHOOPS EVERYWHERE
Arguably the worst thing on the entire show, comparable to the Doomsday Cage vomitorium itself, is foxy-ass Kimberly Page having to sell the gross physical advances of a sweaty, balding, steroid-bloated Brutus Beefcake in butt-pants as a sexual awakening. He kisses her and we get a closeup of his scalp through his hair, and he’s just dripping all over her. She gets the vapors and clutches her chest, because she has always wanted to be molested by man with a mangled robot face and hot pink skin.
Worst: GIANT VS. GIANT
The highlight of The Loch Ness Monster’s entire run in WCW comes before the match, when Mean Gene straight-up tells him to go to the dentist. To his face. Mean Gene is uppity and hilarious all night whether it’s this, telling Jimmy Hart to go f*ck himself or corpsing through a Colonel Parker and Dick Slater interview.
Anyway, the blowoff to the 2-ish week beef between The Giant and The Loch Ness Monster is a 2:34 match where they each kinda exist in the other’s personal space until one of them accidentally falls down. Loch Ness falls down, of course, because he’s 700 pounds and has cancer and is literally about to die. The Giant superkicks him and drops a really, really, really bad leg drop on him for the duke. The WCW career of the Loch Ness Monster ends like it began: not with a bang, but with a, “wait, really?”
Worst: This Is How They Fight In The Streets Of Chicago
So, Lex Luger’s been pulled out of the Chicago Street Fight. Sting needs a replacement partner, so he enlists the services of Harlem Heat’s Booker T. It’s important to note that Booker T isn’t really “Booker T” yet, at least not the version you know. He’s just tag team guy acting as much like how rich white people think poor black people act as possible to stay on television. Sting wants his help because he’s FROM THE STREETS, and cuts an insane promo that gets as close to ebonics as Sting can manage.
The match itself is the most boring thing that’s ever happened in Chicago, streets, or fights. I mean, it’s a Chicago street fight being held in Tupelo, Mississippi, what do you expect? It takes 30 MINUTES and is 70% ball shots and flying karate chops, and the finish is FOUR GUYS teaming up to beat the Road Warriors. People in the audience get so bored they start actually dying, and if you pause it at the right times you can see human souls leaving bodies and flying to Hell to escape Uncensored. To make matters worse, the action goes split-screen in the middle and we get one of those bad WCW graphics where the background is 10 times bigger than the wrestling. Look at that picture. It’s like watching white noise because it’s MOSTLY WHITE NOISE. But hey, thank God it’s clearly labeled!
The only highlight is Luger’s involvement, obviously. Booker T decides to bail on the match and wanders backstage. Road Warrior Animal follows him, and they end up fighting near Luger, who is primping in front of a mirror in the middle of the hallway. They bump into him and he’s all COME ON, GUYS, which makes his promo about how he’s gonna be there for Sting even funnier. Animal accidentally punches Luger and Luger FLIPS OUT. Stevie Ray (called “the other Harlem Heat” by Dusty) joins in, and they beat him up and duct-tape him to a … metal detector? A post? I don’t have any idea.
Booker runs back out to the ring and starts fighting Hawk (because he has a 4-on-1 advantage?) and still almost loses, but thankfully Stevie Ray rushes out with a steel chair, bashes Hawk in the back with it and gives the babyfaces (???) the win.
The only theory I have to explain this match is that Sting and Hogan made a bet backstage to see how could shit the bed the hardest.
Worst: The Worst Match Ever. Ever.
Hogan won that bet.
WWE Fan Nation’s edit of the match actually makes it look better than it is, but it should give you an idea of what we’re working with. As the story goes, Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage are tired of having to deal with the Four Horsemen and the Dungeon of Doom all the time, so they challenge them — all of them — to pro wrestling Ragnarok. A triple-decker “Doomsday Cage” match pitting Hogan and Savage against any and all available heels. That turns out to be Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Meng, The Barbarian, Lex Luger, The Taskmaster and two actors: the guy who played Zeus in No Holds Barred and the guy who played Bane in Batman & Robin. They’re “The Alliance to End Hulkamania,” or “heat” backwards. It’s 8-on-2 and I’m not even going to make jokes about how you don’t know who wins.
Let’s break this down.
1. Before we worry about anything that actually happens in the match, this is what it looks like:
The ring and the three cages and all the scaffolding around them are built in front of the entrance, which means it’d be hard for anyone in the arena to watch it. To make things worse, they turn off all the lights, so even watching on TV or on, say, an HD feed on WWE Network, you can barely tell what’s happening.
2. The good news is that nothing’s happening and you aren’t missing anything. Imagine how guys wrestle in a battle royal, without the payoff of someone getting thrown over the top rope. That’s the match. Tons of slow, lumbering double-axhandles, lots of pushing guys into the corner for no reason, lots of bad 80s wrestling punching. During the match guys will go for the figure-four or whatever and it’s seriously just people lying motionless on a cage floor for two minutes. Everybody under them has to stand around waiting. It’s mind-numbing.
3. Nothing makes sense. None of it. Nobody explains the rules and even the announcers only have a vague idea of how the faces can win, which is by escaping the cage. So right out of the gate, this is a match Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage can either win or win. There’s no way for the heels to win. They can’t just escape the cage because they’re hanging out in the cages already without competition, waiting for Hogan and Savage to show up and start punching them. Do you understand how f*cking insane this is? They Mario Is Missing’d the main-event of their pay-per-view.
There’s little stuff, too, like Ric Flair being in full wrestling gear but Arn Anderson being dressed like a burglar. Oh, and remember that thing I just f*cking typed about how Hogan and Savage could win by escaping the cage? When they get to the second cage, Kevin Sullivan leaves through the door and he and Hogan fight down the scaffolding to the floor. That brings out Savage and a few others, and they fight outside of the cage. On the floor. FOR REAL. Then they walk to the goddamn ring and start fighting in and around it while this stupid, lonely-ass triple-decker cage looms in the background. Maybe you should’ve removed the scaffolding once everybody got in?
When it’s time to go home (after 30 minutes), Z-Gangsta (Zeus) and THE FINAL SOLUTION (Bane) wander out, retrieve Hogan and Savage and drag them back into the cage. That leads to a 2-on-2 match between two more-or-less civilian non-wrestlers and Hulk Hogan, who is 25 minutes into a match that’s required him to walk a lot, descend cage walls and climb stairs. Imagine how good that is.
4. If all of this couldn’t get worse, wait until you learn about the finish. The bottom cage fills with everybody and Hogan and Savage are done for … this is until The Booty Man arrives with reinforcements in the form of POWDER AND FRYING PANS. Yes, actual frying pans. These f*cking people start hurling dust into their opponents’ eyes and bashing them in the head with pans like they’re wives fending off burglars in the 1950s — maybe that explains Arn’s gear — and it works.
At the very end the heels get a small amount of momentum and hold the Mega Powers for Luger to deal the final blow … a punch from a LOADED GLOVE. In a match with three stacked cages, 8 heels, scaffolding, two rings, hurled powder and FRYING PAN HEAD ATTACKS, Luger is going to finish them off by putting on a glove and punching them with his glove hand. He misses, of course, and hits Ric Flair, who as a 13-time World Champion is obviously the one taking the fall. Savage and Hogan start to flee the cage again but are stopped by the referee, who decides to make them pin Ric Flair to make it official.
This is the worst match of all time.
Pro wrestling was stuck and needed to change. This match might’ve been bad enough to give an entire industry a wakeup call and say, “this isn’t working, we’re all gonna be out of jobs in six months.” About two months after this Scott Hall showed up on Nitro and the nWo began, and by July Hulk Hogan was strapping on black pants and lightning boots to be something completely different. It had to happen. Something had to happen.
When things get bad and you worry that the build to WrestleMania 31 is the worst ever, I’d ask you to take a deep breath, load up WWE Network and watch Uncensored 96. If you aren’t begging for an Erick Rowan match and a Roman Reigns promo halfway through that Chicago Street Fight, I don’t know what to tell you. The Doomsday Cage is life changing. You either turn it off three minutes in or watch the entire thing with a smile on your face, because you can’t believe it exists.
But it exists. Why does this exist? Why are we even on this planet.