Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: Virgil debuted (!!) and the nWo commandeered hour two, turning it into “nWo Monday Nitro.” The worst thing they did was threatening Eric Bischoff a bunch and beating up Jim Powers when they weren’t supposed to, but it’s apparently a real game-changer.
Click here to watch this week’s episode on WWE Network. Don’t, though. 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.
And now, the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for September 30, 1996.
Best: Eric Bischoff Is Mad As Hell And He’s Not Gonna Take It Anymore
This week’s episode starts with two great commentary moments:
1. Eric Bischoff responding to last week’s hour 2 nWo love-in with one of those Shane Douglas promos where he lists off old champions because tradition. And, just like the Shane Douglas promo, it’s a retroactively kinda-blatant foreshadowing that Bischoff is either already on their side or about to give up and throw in with them. Once you get a passive-aggressive Virgil massage, you can’t go back.
Also, it’s just super funny to hear Eric Bischoff of all people praising Pat O’Conner as an example of unshakable tradition. “You may have your GOONS, Hollywood Hogan, but they’ll never destroy the legacy built by Bob Geigel and The Stomper! DANNY LITTLE BEAR BUILT THIS COMPANY WITH HIS BARE HANDS. WITH HIS BEAR HANDS.”
2. Tony Schiavone and Larry Zbyskzo intro the show with one of the most perfect Tony Schiavone and Larry Zbyskzo dialogue snippets ever. Read Tony’s dialogue in his signature shout-speak for the full effect:
Tony: “AND WE COME TO YOU LIVE FROM CLEVELAND OHIO!”
Larry: “Yeah, the Mistake On The Lake!”
Tony: “NOT AT ALL”
Worst (But Best): The El Technico Era Has Begun
Behold the hastily-made Create A Superstar glory of El Technico, Juventud Guerrera’s partner for his match against the Public Enemy. If he looks familiar, yes, that’s the fake wrestler that shows up on non-wrestling TV shows when they do a wrestling episode. Not really, but it makes sense, right? If Joey Gladstone’s got a match coming up against THE MASKED MARVEL, he’s gonna look like El Technico. Imagine Carl Winslow putting that dude in a headlock.
If he still looks familiar, “El Technico” is Billy Kidman in some pajamas and a bonus mask somebody found at a local costume store because Psicosis got detained at the border and couldn’t make it. Tony and Larry get into a big to-do because Larry doesn’t know what “El Technico” means, and Mike Tenay’s too busy somewhere removing his turtle shell to contribute. As you may know from any time he’s attempted to say “hurricanrana,” Tony Schiavone is fluent in Spanish and drops the knowledge that “El Technico” means “technical wrestler.”
Anyway, The Masked Menace and Juventud lose almost immediately, and El Technico gets put through La Mesa. Public Enemy celebrates their victory in the crowd, and El Technico makes like Tracy Byrd and does the Watermelon Crawl back into obscurity.
Worst: The nWo Welcomes Is Newest Members — A Child, A NASCAR Driver And Maybe The Nasty Boys
Between his crush on his daughter and that whole “I am a racist, to a point” thing you might not have enough evidence that Hulk Hogan’s a bad dad, so here’s more: he brought his 6-year old son to a hotel party with Scott Hall.
According to Hollywood, he worked out a deal so that “Nasty Nick At Night” — an actual thing he calls his son who, again, is 6 — could stay up and watch the nWo every Monday night between 8-10 PM. He can also put him in a pair of sunglasses and bob him on his knee in a f*cking HOTEL ROOM WITH SCOTT HALL while Imposter Sting squats spread-eagle directly to their left. This is the guy who put Brooke Hogan in charge of the TNA Impact Knockouts division, though, so I guess he’s never cared much about child endangerment.
Throughout the night, we jump back to the hotel to catch up on nWo shenanigans, which amount to lots of shouted conversation and Syxx trying to order room service in the background. We get further confirmation that NASCAR driver Kyle Petty will be driving the nWo car and is subsequently nWo for life, and we get an appearance from the Nasty Boys, who have taken all week to get from the arena to Hulk Hogan’s hotel. No idea when they handed off the Heavyweight Championship, but whatever. The Nasties are there to party, and at some point Nick Hogan gets a werewolf mask and the whole thing starts to feel a little like a scene from The Shining. I kept expecting one of them to open the bathroom door and find 2015 Hulk Hogan naked in the bathtub.
Worst: And Now Dean Malenko Loses, For No Raisin!
Dean Malenko shows up with the mask of Rey Mysterio Jr. in his hands. Tony explains that Malenko is obsessed with getting back the Cruiserweight Championship, and unmasked Mysterio after a sneak attack during an interview on WCW Saturday Night. Malenko puts the Mysterio mask on the post for his match against Alex Wright, and it’s awesome. Then, for absolutely no f*cking reason whatsoever, Alex Wright beats Malenko clean with an Oklahoma Roll. Malenko’s shoulder is like a foot off the ground (pictured), but Mark Curtis counts it anyway.
Based on how you assume wrestling booking works, that gets Alex Wright involved in the title picture, right? Nope, sorry, Malenko still wrestles and defeats Mysterio for the Championship at Halloween Havoc, and Wright isn’t involved. But hey, maybe they gave Wright the win here to set up Malenko’s first big challenger? Nope, Malenko wrestles Psicosis at World War 3. And Ultimo Dragon at Starrcade ’96. So …?
While I process this, let me check and see if it’s still an awful idea to search for Alex Wright matches on YouTube.
Yes. Yes it is.
The major story of this episode is that the Macho Man Randy Savage is supposed to be here, but he isn’t. Mike Tenay is supposed to interview him and they play his music, but nothing. Miss Elizabeth is concerned about his well-being, which pisses off Woman and Arn Anderson, and they have a whole narrative where Liz refuses to go to ringside and ultimately gets so worried that she leaves to go find him.
The best part is that the first “Savage is missing” segment is followed by a 3-minute Slim Jims commercial, starring the Macho Man. It’s for the Slim Jims “Snap To Win” sweepstakes, where you can win a “monster truck.” I put monster truck in quotes because it’s just a regular truck with Slim Jims logos on it. After like 2 1/2 minutes of shilling, RIC FLAIR suddenly shows up in the commercial and tries to enter. He makes the mistake of referring to it as a “little sweepstakes,” which Macho corrects: IT’S AS BIG AS IT GETS! Flair’s like, hey daddy, whatever, sign me up. Savage says the only thing he’s gonna sign is the dotted line to beat up Flair in a match. Flair bails, saying he’s got a “major sweepstakes to win.” RIC FLAIR BURIES THE SLIM JIMS SNAP TO WIN SWEEPSTAKES INSIDE THE SLIM JIMS SNAP TO WIN SWEEPSTAKES COMMERCIAL. Maybe Savage isn’t missing, he’s just impossible to see because Flair shaded him so hard.
Best: Woman’s Face
Before I get too far away from it, I wanted to give some love to Woman’s face, especially when she’s browbeating Miss Elizabeth. I mean, look at it:
That look screams, “we are shoe-and-coffee wielding seconds for the richest and most powerful men in wrestling and Mongo, don’t jeopardize that because you caught feelings for an ex-husband so bad to you that you got attacked by a cobra during your wedding reception.”
Worst: Jim Powers Is The Anti-Mike Enos
Want to see the worst Eddie Guerrero match ever? For sheer collar-tugging embarrassment it might not get worse than this Nitro affair with “Lookin’ GOOD” Jim Powers. Jim’s rampant armpit vascularity isn’t enough to help him remember what the f*ck is going on, so he and Eddie spend like six minutes just kinda aimlessly forearming each other and repeating spots until they get them right. The worst is the finish, where Eddie tries an O’Connor Roll and Powers just kinda rolls over onto all fours. Eddie has to pull him up into a German in the world’s worst Chaos Theory suplex, and Jim spends at least half of it thinking Eddie’s going for a backslide.
Oh, and that German? Powers kicks out of it at two, but Nick Patrick counts the three anyway. You think the idea’s gonna be that Eddie didn’t bridge enough and had his shoulders down so Powers inadvertently pinned HIM, but no, Eddie wins. Patrick gets into an argument with Teddy Long and you think the idea THERE is gonna be that Patrick has beef with Long and counted out his man out of spite, but NO, the announce team says “I think Nick Patrick made the right call!” This entire goddamn episode is a giphy shrug.
Worst: This Again
A couple of weeks ago, Brad Armstrong upset Hugh Morrus with a crucifix pin. This week, Mr. Jelly Donut Man gets a rematch with Armstrong and really rubs it in his face with a pair of moonsaults.
Worst: I Guess Arn Anderson Isn’t Mike Enos Either! Wait, What
There’s a thing I’ve mentioned before that happens when I’m revisiting 19-year old episodes of Nitro where I see a match and go, “oh man, this is gonna be GOOD. Why don’t I remember it?” The answer, invariably, is “because it wasn’t good.”
I did that on this episode with Chris Jericho vs. Arn Anderson. Jericho’s on a roll and just tore down the house with a former Beverly Brother, and Arn Anderson’s one of the best to ever lace up a pair of boots, so it should be amazing, right? Yeah, no. Arn already has one foot in the retirement grave and isn’t interested in suplexing anybody onto propped-up ring steps, and Jericho isn’t compelling enough to carry a match yet and not taking enough of an ass-beating to make things exciting. Plus, the “why is Elizabeth leaving instead of being one of Arn’s two valets” story gets a cutaway and dominates the conversation. It’s just nothing, and that’s the worst thing it could be.
The finish is kinda cool, with Jericho going for a Lionsault, missing, landing on his knees and stumbling up into a DDT, but even that’s hurt by Arn taking his sweet time to get into position and hit it. Ah well, maybe next week Mean Mike will take on Kurasawa and the process will repeat itself.
Worst: Lightning Round
Man, I can’t with this episode. Let’s just burn through the rest of it.
Lex Luger wrestles M. Wallstreet for 7 minutes. For 7 MINUTES. As a reminder, “V.K. Wallstreet” is now “M.” (and eventually “Michael”) because Virgil showed up and needed to be named “Vincent.” But yeah, no, Lex Luger wrestles M.V.K. buttf*cking Wallstreet for 7 minutes.
The Faces of Fear take on the Rock n’ Roll Express, and we learn that the greatest fear is “old age.” This was another match I was excited for until I remembered that Meng and the Barbarian rarely ever got to be as cool and violent as they are, and that the RNRs are already 10 years past their prime in 1996. The finish is the Jimmy Hart Special, in which Jimmy jumps onto the apron to bounce up and down, and the person or team that has a match won stops everything they’re doing to grab him by the jacket and hold him in place. Here, Ricky takes like 10 minutes of heat, tags out to Robert, and Robert manages a dropkick and a 10-punch before getting Jimmied. Barbarian boots him in the back of the head, and the Faces win.
It’s not the best match in the world, but it feels like Sasha Banks vs. Bayley compared to Lex Luger vs. M. Wallstreet.
Finally, Chris Benoit takes on Rick Steiner in the unmarked main event. Another one that sounds great, but revolves around the referee being distracted by someone on the apron so someone could cheat. This is getting tired already, and the nWo’s been around for like three months. Jesus take the wheel.
Here, Rick is about to finish off Benoit with a belly-to-belly suplex off the top when Debra McMichael distracts Nick Patrick and walks him down the apron. That allows Mongo to swoop in under cover of night (read: a Bears jacket) and hit Rick in the back with the dread Haliburton briefcase. Benoit falls on him and gets the pin, and it’d be an okay finish if we hadn’t gotten multiple instances of it in the same 2-hour episode.
On the bright side, at least the episode has a super uncomfortable ending!
It turns out that Elizabeth has run off to the nWo hotel party, and we get the big reveal: Elizabeth has been working with the nWo in exchange for Hogan getting her acting roles. He promised her a role in an upcoming Arnold Schwarzenegger movie and she still wants to do it, but as I mentioned, she caught feelings for Savage and things have gotten complicated. You’d think this was a big story to set up a Savage/Elizabeth reunion for Halloween Havoc to position them as legendary rivals for Hogan and his cronies, but … well, how many times can I type “you think it’s because of this, but no” in the same episode?
The show ends with Elizabeth wandering into the hallway, where Macho Man comes bounding in. He’s discovered that Liz is setting him up because she just had a meeting about it on television, and she cower-cries in the hall while he screams at her and calls her a “son of a bitch.” The show goes off the air with him grabbing her by the arm and shouting in her face. Man, I thought him dicking The Nature Boy out of a jerky sweepstakes was low. HOPE YOU GUYS ARE INTERESTED IN CHEERING FOR THE MACHO MAN RANDY SAVAGE.