The Best And Worst Of WCW Monday Nitro 10/14/96: Cheetahs Never Prosper

Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: The nWo took over again and threatened to destroy the set with a Hollywood Hogan monster truck, but nothing happened. They really don’t have great followthrough with the monster truck angles, huh? Also, Miss Elizabeth has sold her “mind and body” to Hogan for an unspecified part in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, and Jeff Jarrett showed up looking like somebody cooked spaghetti in a plastic colander. We’re only two weeks away from SLIM JIMS HALLOWEEN HAVOC, and, just like Slim Jims, all the beefs are low quality.

Click here to watch this week’s episode on WWE Network, and catch up with all the previous episodes on the Best and Worst of Nitro tag page.

Please enjoy the vintage Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for October 14, 1996.

Best: Dean Malenko Finally Defeats The Unstoppable Brad Armstrong

Dean Malenko wanted to be Cruiserweight Champion again, so he attacked Rey Mysterio Jr. on WCW Saturday Night and unmasked him. To keep the momentum of this big-time moment going, WCW had Malenko lose to a bulging Alex Wright for no reason on Nitro, take a week off and then lose to BRAD ARMSTRONG on WCW Saturday Night. It wasn’t even a straight-up loss, either, it was Malenko bridging too much on an O’Connor roll and Armstrong getting his shoulder up during the three. So yes, Dean Malenko, the man of 1,000 holds, the best technical wrestler in town, got pinned when the Road Dogg’s boring brother was better than him at roll-ups.

Anyway, they have the big rematch here — not as big as Brad vs. Hugh Morrus, but big — and Malenko manages to come out on top. It’s a good match, too, with Armstrong coming in all guns a’blazing and getting scooped up and beaten by a three-quarter nelson. That’s the Malenko I like the most; the one who will ground and brutally arm-f*ck a cruiser, but have to dig deep into his repertoire of holds to beat bigger guys. He’s like two different wrestlers at the same time.

Watching Brad Armstrong wrestle is always fun, because he’s criminally underrated as a wrestler, but accurately rated as an entertainer. He’s basically Lee Greenwood The Wrestler. “I own a USA jacket” is the closest thing he has to a personality for like a DECADE. He’s like Lance Storm without the irony: better than almost anyone else at pro wrestling, but so boring you may forget wrestling’s happening at all.

Best: Too Much Information About Mongo And Debra’s Sex Life

And now, the opposite of boring: a commercial for $40 denim Monday Nitro shirts narrated by a sexed-up Mongo and Debra McMichael.

Debra knows two things.

1. You can never have too much money, and
2. You can never have too many denim Nitro shirts

I feel like people should probably max out somewhere between zero and one when it comes to owning denim Nitro shirts. She brings it home by saying “nothing gets between her and Mongo” but their Nitro shirts, and I know she’s referencing 15-year old underwear commercials but all I can picture is a naked Mongo hurriedly wrapping long-sleeve denim around his junk. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY MONDAY NIGHT NITRO SHIRTS MY FRIEND, GET GRAMMAW OUT THE TOILET WE GONNA HAVE ROCKEM SOCKEM SEX TONIGHT BABY

Worst: Guess Who’s Still Cheating His Ass Off

Welcome back to cheatin’-ass, triflin’-ass tapedick Jim Duggan, who had taken a few weeks off from jamming school supplies down the front of his panties to allow the nWo to happen unfettered.

It turns out that on WCW Saturday Night, Duggan had a match with his dread rival M. Wallstreetnow occasionally known as “Mr. Wallstreet,” because they can’t settle on a name. Duggan’s losing, so of course he summons the athletic tape from his taint and wraps his fist, KO’ing Wallstreet for the win. Nick Patrick sees the tape after the match and reverses the decision … apparently Duggan had already gone for the tape earlier in the match and had it taken away. As a reminder, Duggan keeps an entire STAPLES-worth of office supplies in his trunks just in case he’s got to host an impromptu team-building session or punch dudes slightly harder.

The rematch happens on Nitro, and f*cking guess how it ends. Duggan Al Bundies into his draws and pulls out the tape. Wallstreet runs up and punches him in the back of the head, then steals the tape to use for himself. Referee Mark Curtis, who had not stepped in to stop Duggan, steps in to stop Wallstreet. That causes a distraction, allowing for the cheatingest wrestling of all time to hit a three-point stance clothesline for the tainted victory. For the literal tainted victory.

I’d say “f*ck Jim Duggan,” but I don’t want you to hurt yourself on the three-hole punch I assume he’s got crammed up his ass.

Best: Base Nick Patrick

Pretty soon Nick Patrick gets outed as nWo 4 life and the entire thing’s ruined, but man, this era of Patrick where he’s the world’s worst referee and completely indignant about it is the greatest. There’s so much Kenny Powers in him, it’s insane.

As you know if you’ve been reading the columns, Macho Man attacked Patrick and “injured his neck,” so Patrick’s spent the last several weeks in a neck brace. According to Tony Schiavone, Patrick had actually removed the brace on WCW Pro, but is mysteriously wearing it again on Nitro. He thinks something’s up. Patrick’s big match of the night is The Laughing Man Hugh Morrus vs. The Laughing Gas Jim Powers, and it’s all about the steroid … sorry, storied beef between Nick and Teddy Long. Powers keeps almost winning the match, but Patrick will go to the mat too hard and hold his neck, and take forever counting three. Powers almost knocks Morrus into him, and when he moves out of the way he causes strain on the neck and can’t even get down for one. The crowd is HOT about it and the announcers are like WHAT THE F*CK NICK, so when Morrus comes back and hits a moonsault, Patrick counts a perfectly healthy and normal three. It’s MAGNIFICENT. It’s the kind of thing you’d have someone drawn and quartered for.

Teddy gets in his face about it again, but hey, the referee’s decision is final and you CHOSE to manage Jim Powers, so really, who’s to blame here? A little later in the show, Tony brings Nick back to question him about all the bullsh*t and shows him footage from nWo Saturday Night, wherein the “masked referee” is blatantly Nick Patrick. Patrick says it’s obviously Randy Anderson. The best part is when they reveal that Macho Man has finally been punished for his attack on Patrick with a $500 fine and 5-match suspension. This is down from Patrick’s request of ONE MILLION DOLLARS, so of course he’s outraged and calling his legal team. How could you watch Nitro as an adult and not think Nick Patrick is the best character on the show?

Worst: Diamond Lex Luger

On last week’s episode, Arn Anderson outsmarted Lex Luger and took him to the woodshed with a steel chair to the back. This week, Lex’s ribs are taped up and he must somehow gather the strength to rack the 600-year old hippopotamus that is Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine.

Spoiler alert: he does, because he’s Lex Luger, and because 1996 Greg Valentine has the body, face and dexterity of a human-sized pug. A pug with Olivia Newton-John’s hair.

Best: Miss Elizabeth, Backyarder

In one of the best actual moments of the show, Eric Bischoff interrupts a Macho Man Randy Savage interview to play him a tape sent in by Miss Elizabeth. If you’ll recall the previous few weeks of concerning-ass storytelling, Liz sold out to Hollywood Hogan for money and movie roles because that Dial M For Monkey voice acting money had finally dried up, and he immediately used it to own and control her. She sold Savage out without really selling him out directly, but he’s got a big championship match against Hogan coming up at Halloween Havoc, so he knows Hogan only orchestrated it to piss him off.

The video itself is more or less a Vagisil commercial with Liz sitting in their backyard, on the swing Savage built her (!!), to cry and beg for his forgiveness. She knows she shouldn’t have sold out to Hogan knowing how self-serving he is, and she regrets that Macho will never think of her the same way again. She f*cked up, and there’s no way to fix it. Savage sells this by just going ICE COLD and completely silent, which is the most not-Randy Savage thing ever. Bischoff keeps prodding him with questions like an asshole, and Savage has to keep pushing him away. Eventually Savage just bails on Nitro completely.

This was cool because it felt like there were real emotions at play, and managed to call upon the histories of the characters — WCW and otherwise — without being exploitative about it. It’s something people can actually feel, you know? You love someone and it goes bad, and you want to make it better, but things are too soured and everything you do makes it worse. You can cry and beg for forgiveness, but all it’s gonna do is poke at an already nasty wound. Great stuff.

Worst: The Cheetah Kid

Speaking of great stuff, not the Cheetah Kid.

Eddie Guerrero wants to kick Diamond Dallas Page’s butt at Halloween Havoc — his words, not mine — but must first defeat the challenge of CHEETAH KID, aka Prince Iaukea in a cheetah-print Tiger Mask mask. Remember when they had Pat Tanaka be “El Gato” at the Great American Bash? I guess they didn’t want another El Technico match and “jobber as a human cat” was their only other idea. If you recognize the name, the original Cheetah Kid was Flyboy Rocco Rock of Public Enemy back in 1978. Yes, 1978. Rocco Rock was an 18-year veteran in 1996.

Eddie wins strong with the frog splash, and it’s fine if you don’t mind spending almost 3 minutes with Prince Iaukea.

Lee Marshall 1 800 Collect

Best: On The Road

After the match, we get the first of what would become a Nitro tradition: the “On The Road” report from the late “Stagger” Lee Marshall. The idea is that they send Lee to wherever they’re going to be later in the week, and he phones in a report that he could’ve just done from home. He could’ve crouched under the table with his hand over his mouth to make it sound like he was on the phone.

Eventually the 1-800-COLLECT road report becomes Lee calling in from Nitro Parties across the country to hypothetically pop a bunch of college kids with Bobby Heenan “weasel” jokes. They’re always a waste of time, but if you ask me to name nostalgic sh*t I miss from the glory days of Nitro, Lee Marshall’s goober correspondent reports might be in the top 10.

Best: Eric Bischoff’s KO Punch

The WWF has spent the last month preparing for Jeff Jarrett’s impending Nitro debut by outing him as pro wrestling’s “Milli Vanilli.” It turns out he didn’t actually sing his “hit song” ‘With My Baby Tonight’ … it was sung by his Roadie, The Roadie, now calling himself “The Real Double J” Jesse James. They’ve spent WEEKS airing video packages where James sits in a recording studio singing 10-second snippets of that song and throwing Jarrett under the bus. Jarrett’s just a FRAUD and a COWARD who LIED TO THE PEOPLE.

Jarrett gets his Nitro debut match this week against Big Bubba, and Eric Bischoff puts things into perspective immediately: “I understand though he can’t sing a lick. But who cares? It’s WCW, it’s not about singing, it’s about wrestling.”

Jarrett wins a surprisingly fun match with Bubba in the most WCW possible when Jimmy Hart tries to throw Bubba his megaphone to use as a weapon, Bubba drops it, and Jarrett dropkicks it into his face on the pick-up. He should try wrestling Harlem Heat, he’d do really well. After the match he cuts a good promo, too, announcing that he’s facing The Giant at Halloween Havoc in an attempt to get Giant (and the nWo by proxy) to respect Ric Flair and the wrestling tradition that built WCW. I’d be really into this version of Jarrett if I didn’t know he’d spend the next year getting into briefcase fights with Mongo.

Worst: The Harlem Heat Bad Finish-a-Thon Continues

Speaking of Harlem Heat, they’re supposed to defend the WCW Tag Team Championships against the Faces of Fear, but announce that they’re decided they’re not going to defend the belts until they wrestle the Outsiders at Halloween Havoc. Can they do that? Could they just be like, “we decided we’re not defending the titles until later” against anybody? Would anybody give enough of a sh*t about WCW continuity to call them on it?

It ends up not mattering, though, because Scott Hall and Kevin Nash Roman Reigns their way down to ringside and disrupt the match, causing it to just sort of arbitrarily end. Harlem Heat and the Faces of Fear briefly unite to make sure the nWo doesn’t attack, then walk to the back … so the nWo can come out again and do their thing. Sure, okay, but I mean-

Best/Worst: The nWo Destroys The Tag Team Division

Two things happen during the main event, which is “Hulk Hogan cutting a 20 minute promo off the top of his head”:

1. The Nasty Boys show up in nWo shirts ready to join the team, but have questions about their contracts. Hogan gets mad at them for wearing nWo colors before he’s actually added them to the team, and we get the big reveal: Hogan never WANTED wrestling’s Bebop and Rocksteady to join the nWo, he just liked having his boots licked and kept them around long enough to lure them into a massive beatdown. The Nasties spent a month trying to join the team, almost join the team, f*ck it up, get beaten up for f*cking up and that makes them … babyfaces? In my brain it kinda-sorta makes them horrible people I wouldn’t want to cheer OR boo, although to be fair, my brain might’ve been there already.

2. Hall and Nash take over the announce team, and use their remaining minute of airtime to call Harlem Heat “hillbillies” and out them as Texans.

Hey Colonel Parker, I bet you don’t even actually OWN a plantation!

Next Week

nWo Sting main-events, and a dude dressed like the Crow shows up.