The Best And Worst Of WCW Monday Nitro 9/23/96: Hulk Hogan Gets Petty

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If you’d like to read about previous episodes, check out the WCW Monday Nitro tag page. We also do a retro Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw to coincide with the Nitro report.

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And now, please enjoy from the vintage Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for Sept. 23, 1996.

Best/Worst: Konnan Is Dungeon Of Doom For Life

This week, we open up the show with the dream team of Juventud Guerrera and Brad Armstrong (“Young and Strong”) vs. The Taskmaster and Konnan, aka “Squat and Accidents.” Most of the proper WCW roster is in Japan, and I’m legitimately mad that the nWo didn’t replace every single one of them with an imposter and use them to successfully fool Sting.

Anyway, Konnan wrestles the entire match until the end, when Taskmaster tags in, hits one double-stomp and wins. Taskmaster and Big Bubba then turn on Konnan and beat him up, but SURPRISE, it’s not a turn, it’s an “initiation.” The Dungeon of Doom is a street gang now, I guess, and long gone are the days when you got inducted into the group by knocking down Hulk Hogan with an ancient exploding rock wall. Pretty sure Shark got his Dungeon gig by showing up with teeth painted on his cheeks and saying, “I’m a shark.”

Konnan deals with the beating with good nature, then spits all over the camera trying to say he’s Dungeon of Doom for life. Life is about another year, if you’re keeping track, as of course Konnan eventually joins the nWo and becomes that for that.

Best: Chris Jericho And Mean Mike Enos Decide To Have A Cult Classic

It’s gonna sound like I’m ribbing you, but take 10 minutes and watch this match:

Jericho vs. Enos from this episode is revered as a sort of cult classic for folks who were watching when it first aired. With the roster gone, I’m guessing Jericho and Mean Mike got tossed into a 5-minute nothing match and decided to go balls-out for 10, because what’d they have to lose? Enos was rough and ready anyway.

Enos has the personality of a doorknob, but he uses this match to bust out every cool thing he’s ever wanted to do. Dude does the Sheamus slingshot shoulderblock from the apron into the ring, does a running lariat off the apron to the floor, and stands up the ring steps on their side to suplex Jericho onto them. It’s crazy. He’s using Argentine backbreakers, Junkyard Dog headbutts, the works. Jericho gets eaten alive for most of the match, and is forced to fire up times ten. Instead of the normal Jericho stuff, he breaks out a superkick and a huge, hossy lariat of his own. Enos cuts him off with a f*cking POWERBOMB OFF THE SECOND ROPE. You’re basically watching a Ring of Honor main event in 9-minute form on a 1996 episode of Nitro.

The best part is the finish. Somewhere in the middle of the match, Enos hits a big powerslam. He hits that bomb off the ropes but only gets two, and is therefore out of ideas, so he goes for another powerslam. Jericho’s already taken it once, though, so this time he’s able to counter it, using his momentum to roll through and get a surprise pin.

It’s not Mysterio vs. Guerrero or anything, but man, it’s good. Spoiler alert: it’s also the only good match on the show.

Worst: Glacier And Pat Tanaka Do Not

Enos and Jericho must’ve gone long, because Glacier takes on Pat Tanaka next and they get about a minute and a half.

I was excited for it, too. Who better to square off with gym-teachin’-ass Glacier and his Bunch of Styles than “Suddenly Racist” Pat Tanaka? They do some squaring off early on, which Glacier doesn’t seem to understand … they’ll start circling, Tanaka will stop and Glacier will just keep circling. It’s weird. Glacier gets a palm strike and a leg sweep, but jumps into a big sit-out powerbomb. Before Tanaka can even taunt about it, Glacier’s no-sold it and is back on his feet to hit the Cryonic Kick for the win. That’s it. It’s nothing.

WCW installed that super expensive Glacier light show in an arena so dude could hit a total of 3 elementary strikes on the least important guy in the company and win in 90 seconds. I hope that light show’s still installed, and that they found a way to use it for minor league hockey or something.

Worst: The Harlem Heat Title Reign Ends Like It Began, With A Terrible Finish

If you’re a regular reader of the column, you know that WCW put the Tag Team Championships on Harlem Heat — two legitimately large, strong, athletic guys, one of whom would go on to be a multiple-time Heavyweight Champion — and refused to let them win normal matches. They’ve got two managers, you see. One is an old-timey colonel who runs a plantation, and the other’s his sassy urban girlfriend. They both constantly interfere, usually at the same time, and some form of luck or chaos theory kicks in. For example, Sherri may get up on the apron to distract a wrestler. This will lead to her getting kissed, which will piss off Colonel Parker. That will distract the ref, allowing Sherri to take off her shoe and get in the ring to use it as a weapon. It’ll backfire, she’ll get knocked backwards into the ref, who will accidentally bounce the ropes wrong and send Parker flying into the ring. Parker will pull out a riding crop MID-FLIGHT, land with it on the back of the wrestler’s head and knock him out. It’s absurd.

This week, the Heat defend against Public Enemy. The finish is one of the very worst you’ll ever see, and so embarrassing I can’t even type it without furrowing my brow and feeling bad. Booker’s down in the ring, and Flyboy Rocco Rock has to stop Stevie Ray from climbing in. He leans out through the ropes, but Stevie shoves him back in. That knocks him out, I guess, with one of his feet on the ropes and his arms outstretched backwards in a “pin.” Booker’s shoulder is clearly up, but Nick Patrick counts 2 1/2. He stops when he sees Rock’s foot on the rope, and it’s clear that 1-3 of these guys f*cked up the finish. The cameraman decides to film this over Stevie Ray’s shoulder, so we can confirm he’s just standing there watching it and not doing anything. Booker tries a small package next, and Rock shifts his weight to get the win. Also, THE TAG TEAM TITLES.

The run that began with two guys pinning Lex Luger in the ropes in clear view of the referee in the middle of an Outsiders run-in while police were literally in the ring ends with a f*cked-up accidental pin causing a second accidental pin. Good lord. Public Enemy celebrates by GOING INTO THE CROWD TO DANCE WITH THEIR FANS, which is probably the least believable thing on the show, which is saying something. Didn’t we just see an ice ninja from Brunswick?

Worst: Macho Man Isn’t Even Trying Anymore

Macho Man Randy Savage gets so mad about how easily he’s winning a match against 800-year old Greg “The Hammer” Valentine that he blasts him with a chair for a DQ, and loses in like 2 minutes. Referee Mark Curtis lets the first chairshot outside the ring go, so Savage climbs to the top rope and delivers a SUPER chair shot, made wonderful by Valentine’s hilarious inability to move. Look at that photo. I don’t care if you’ve got Ma Fratelli’s head on Chunk’s body, you could’ve dodged that.

Savage then gets mad at the ref for disqualifying him, and decides to beat him up. The nWo runs out to do a big gang attack on Macho, and the timing seriously makes it look like they’re running in to save Mark Curtis. It’s delightful.

Macho Man Randy Savage gets his baldspot spray painted

Best: Hogan Inducts Macho Into The Hair Club For Men

So yeah, the nWo beats down Savage and time it so Scott Hall and Kevin Nash are onscreen when Raw starts, because, you know, Raw was advertising the return of Razor Ramon and Diesel. Nash is on here beating up the Macho Man with an actual Slim Jim and it’s like a thousand times more credible and prestigious than Raw. The ratings difference for this was 3.5 to 2.0, I believe, which too many people took to mean “MORE NWO” instead of “RAW IS BAD.”

After they’ve incapacitated Savage, the Order brings out Hollywood Hulk Hogan, who pulls a masterful heel move by mocking Savage’s bald spot. Hulk Hogan. He uses black spray paint to fill it in, which would be extra insulting if that wasn’t a way people for-real tried to solve baldness in the 90s.

The remainder of the show is “nWo Monday Nitro,” which ends up being both figuratively and literally a pile of garbage.

Worst: Oh Great, Virgil Just Joined The nWo

Speaking of garbage, here’s Virgil!

The Million Dollar Man’s manservant Virgil is here, now named “Vincent” and identified as the “CEO of security.” CEOs get lots of f*ck money! If you’re wondering why he’s Vincent, it’s because people who run wrestling promotions are children: the WWF had named him “Virgil” as an insult to Dusty Rhodes, so WCW repaid the favor. It’s the same reason promotions will give chumps the finishing moves of their competitors’ top stars. Everyone in wrestling is terrible.

Anyway, yeah, Virgil’s the 8th Man. His job is to stand behind Eric Bischoff and give him confrontational shoulder-rubs to make sure he stays seated and does commentary while the nWo ruins the show.

And So Did Kyle Petty?

From my ranking of the 33 original nWo members:

As I mentioned earlier, the nWo added NASCAR’s Kyle Petty to the group because the New World Order can’t just conquer pro wrestling, it must conquer ALL hillbilly sports tentpoles! Petty drove the nWo car from September of 1996 to September of 1997, spraypainting “RACECAR” on the hoods of any cars he beat. I don’t know, I don’t follow NASCAR. Whenever Petty would do well, the nWo would brag about it. Whenever he wrecked, the guy who drove the Slim Jim Halloween Havoc car would show up on Nitro and sh*t-talk him. It was extremely important.

I wish they’d let the Dungeon of Doom monster truck compete in NASCAR. Let them all ride in the back like they’re on Wacky Races.

Best: Hall And Nash Vs. Jim Powers

Hall and Nash sit in on commentary for the next match as Giant plays ring announcer for the next match, which is supposed to be Jim Powers vs. “M. Wallstreet.” I guess the “VK” got passed on to Vincent and we couldn’t have two unimportant guys with the same passive-aggressive name inspiration. Powers enters first, and the Outsiders bury him spectacularly:

“Powers is definitely bull and beef tonight. He looks stacked and ready to go.”
“He is. Powers, jacked by all means.”
“Oh yeah. All juiced up and ready to go.”
“All the guys at the gym think he’s looking good. Jimmy, you’re looking good.”
“He’s obviously been training hard, saying his prayers … probably taking his vitamins.”

After a few seconds they decide to just walk to the ring and beat him up, because he’s Jim Powers and nobody’ll care. Giant chokeslams and pins him, winning the match despite not actually being in it.

Worst: Jim Duggan Loses Via The Worst Chokeslam Ever

That trend continues into the next match, which is supposed to be Ron Studd vs. Jim Duggan. Studd gets beaten up and replaced by Syxx. I’d make an “I’d rather be watching Raw” joke, but that’s like going from drinking toilet water to having someone piss in your mouth.

Duggan just WRECKS Syxx, too, giving him absolutely nothing and finishing him off with the 3-point stance. Surprised he didn’t pull a 24-pack of duct tape out of his underpants and start taping him to the ground. Before he can get the pin, however, Giant yanks him out of the ring and knocks him out with maybe the worst chokeslam in human history, or at least outside of CZW (which we’re not counting as “human history,” unless all is truly lost). Duggan gets about a foot off the ground, so Giant has to wrap both arms around him and cradle him gently to the floor. Look at that picture. It looks like he’s baptizing him, right?

Worst: Hulk Hogan May Be Trying To F*ck The Nasty Boys

Backstage, Hollywood Hogan runs into his old pals The Nasty Boys and … uh, gives them his room key. He says he wants them to go back to the hotel and wait for him in his room so they can talk business. Not sure why they had to go now, or why they had to talk in Hogan’s room when they obviously are friends and work in the same place and also are having a conversation right now, but whatever. With Beefcake gone, I guess Hogan needed a new down-low.

The worst part is that when the Nasties accept, Hogan GIVES THE WCW HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP TO BRIAN KNOBBS and tells him to take it with him. Hulk Hogan just straight-up gave the WCW title to a guy so bad he’s not even the best Nasty Boy. If you wanted a definitive statement on how the nWo feels about tradition, let it be, “The Nasty Boys will probably be fine carrying an enormous gold belt through Birmingham, Alabama.”

Worst/Best: Fake Sting Just Stingin’ It Up

“Sting” takes on a guy named “Bo Ledoux,” who Bischoff says is a jobber the nWo brought with them. I hope they spelled it “Beaux.” Watching the crowd go from cheering Sting to realizing it’s the fake is like the training wheels version of that Raw crowd expecting Razor Ramon and getting Big Titan. Fake Sting’s wins are all just to set up Actual Sting returning for a week in October as a surfer/Crow hybrid.

Best: The Outsiders Make Kenny Kaos Suck His Own Dick

Man, I can’t even muster the strength to write jokes about most of this.

The main event is supposed to be High Voltage vs. The Amazing French-Canadians, which is obviously too big a match to give away on free TV. Instead, the Outsiders intimidate the Canadians into bailing so they can beat up High Voltage themselves. Again, gotta make sure Hall and Nash are front and center while the WWF’s executing one of the worst ideas in wrestling history.

There are two highlights here:

1. Nash powerbombing Kenny Kaos so hard he recreates that scene from Shortbus. It’s the spiritual sequel to Robbie Rage eating a Steiner Screwdriver.

2. Hogan on commentary, trying to play heel but accidentally being honest for the first time ever. DiBiase mentions that the nWo works so well because they’ve put their egos aside, but Hogan quickly contradicts that. See, Hogan views himself as the best, most popular and most successful wrestling star of all time. He knows what’s best for business. When wrestling promotions stop listening to him and paying attention, he moves on. He did it with the WWF when he jumped to WCW, and he’s doing it to WCW by joining the nWo.

I always thought Hollywood was the best version of Hogan. There are a lot of reasons, but the major one is that it just seemed like a realer version of the man. Which version of Hulk seems more honest … the one who loves America and cares about your kids and wants to be everybody’s friend, or the one who’d rather get rich, be in movies and ride Harleys with Bischoff and Dennis Rodman? Which one do you buy, the one who fights for the rights of every man, or the one who airbrushes his face onto boots and makes the only black guy on the team work security?