Pre-show notes: Click here to watch this week’s episode on WWE Network. 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, please enjoy from the vintage Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for Sept. 9, 1996.
Best: What Is Happening
Let’s start this week off right, with a Mexican rap mascot teabagging an Asian stereotype.
The guy on top is “Super Caló,” one of the many luchadores not as good as Rey Mysterio Jr. that WCW brought in to have matches with Rey Mysterio Jr. The scale has “Rey Mysterio Jr.” and “La Parka” on each end; they’re both spectacular in different ways, but the closer you get to the middle-point between them, the more unremarkable you are and the less anyone remembers you. Super Caló’s right in the middle. I think the most memorable thing about him is the announcer’s deadpanning jokes about how his hat and glasses never come off. His Wikipedia page tells the story: “Caló never achieved much success in WCW, opting to return to Mexico after working for the company off and on for a couple of years.” That’s the entire thing. “He worked there sometimes, and it was whatever.”
The guy on the bottom is Pat Tanaka, a 12-year veteran from Hawaii who decided that 1996 was the perfect time to start acting and dressing like Joe Jitsu from Dick Tracy. If your knowledge of ’90s wrestling exclusively comes from reading these columns, you’ll remember Tanaka as the guy who cosplayed Tiger Mask at the Great American Bash.
The match is short and unspectacular (save for the finish, which is a gutwrench suplex off the second rope countered into a dick to the mouth for three), but I’ve always appreciated WCW’s penchant for taking guys with ridiculously different styles and throwing them into the ring together to see what happened. They played it safe in the main event, but on shows like WCW Saturday Night you’d get Fit Finlay vs. La Parka and good or bad, you’d never forget it. It made WCW seem truly global, and not like a homogenized business cranking out identical action figures with the same kung-fu grip.
Although if we’re being honest, a kung-fu grip here would’ve been really bad for Super Caló.
Worst: The Amazing French Canadians
This is the laziest team re-naming ever.
“We’re bringin in The Quebecers, but we can’t call them The Quebecers.”
“What’s a Quebecer?”
“Call them The French Canadians.”
“Yeah but that doesn’t make them sound any good.”
“Call them The Amazing French Canadians.”
I don’t think you’re allowed to have “The Amazing” before your name unless you’re swinging to the ring on a spider web or a trapeze. They take on the Nasty Boys, aka The Amazing Rural Pennsylvanians. The highlight is Tony Schiavone spending like 5 minutes trying to explain to Larry Zbyszko how to pronounce “Oullet,” and the AFCs getting straight-up foreigner heel heat for singing their national anthem. I will never understand why someone from Columbus, Georgia, would see two guys identified as “the French Canadians” and get pissed to the point of screaming when they like Canada and speak French.
After the match, Knobbs and Saggs get their 40th consecutive interview to finally (finally) confirm that they don’t give “two hells” what the New World Order is doing, because they’re in the WCW. Whew, dodged that bullet. Not sure what I would’ve told my children if we’d lost Jerry Saggs to the nWo.
Best: BUY THE SHIRT
This episode revolves around a memorable but super ridiculous nWo story, but two important milestones occur:
1. We get the debut of the purchasable nWo T-shirt, which is an absolute classic and the iconic representation of the entire operation. Pretty soon the entire audience is wearing black and white, and pretty much anyone who bought one (myself included) was persuaded to do so via Kevin Nash yelling BUY THE SHIRT through his nose.
2. Later in the episode, a paid announcement announces that the nWo agreed to compete in War Games at Fall Brawl because if they win, they’ll get their own segment on Nitro. During the video, Scott Hall debuts the “4-Life” hand gesture, the Jan Brady to “Too Sweet’s” Marcia in the Brady Bunch family of nWo hand gestures:
When you’re nWo, you’re this many for this long!
Best: Whatever The F*ck Ice Train Is Wearing
The theme of tonight’s show is wrestling matches suddenly ending because someone uninvolved ran out and told everyone to stop. The first of these is Scott Norton vs. Craig “Pitbull” Pittman in what’s advertised as a “hold for hold” match. Your first thought may be, “isn’t every match a ‘hold for hold’ match?” Your second thought may be, “Hold For Hold is my favorite Keith Sweat album.” What it means is that the match can only be won with a hold. Nope, still nothing.
Norton obliterates Pittman and locks in a Fujiwara armbar, but Pittman won’t submit. Teddy Long tries to convince him to give up (and/or turn this into a Hold For Hold Tag TEAM Match with him and the referee), but he won’t listen. That brings out Norton’s opponent for Fall Brawl, his former partner Ice Train, to break it up. I was hoping he’d hold the move on long enough to get one of those EEEARRRGHHH tap-outs from the old WCW N64 video games, but whatever.
The point here is that Ice Train is wearing a denim vest with a BUILT-IN BACKPACK. It doesn’t match his jeans and he’s wearing a backwards leather cap, so I’m like 50 percent convinced he walked here from Sturgis and hasn’t had a chance to change clothes. Our own David D. says it’s a “fannyback.” Norton finally releases the hold and has a tense stare-down with The Train, possibly to get a good look at an adult man with no idea how to dress himself.
Worst: Also, LOL WCW
Before we move on, I just wanted to point out that an armbar that didn’t even technically win the match is the “Pepboys Power Pin of the Week.” Let that one sit for a while.
Worst: Desperado Joe Gomez Tries Out Lucha Libre
Remember that thing I said earlier about how cool it was when WCW would force guys with different styles to wrestle each other and figure it out? I take it back. Up next we’ve got the lucha libre style of Juventud Guerrera vs. the chibi-Mongo “what the f*ck am I even doing out here with my shirt off” style of Desperado Joe Gomez.
Things don’t start off too badly, but hold on to your butts, because the final minute is one of the worst attempts at a pro wrestling match you’ll ever see. Gomez is on the apron, so Juvi gives him a few shots and tries to springboard into an outside-in headscissors. That sounds cool, right? This is what it looked like:
Sin Cara and The Great Khali could’ve made that look smoother. They follow it up by heading to the top rope, where both guys set up for a hurricanrana off the top, but Juvi just backflips. No attack, no Gomez pushing him off, Juvi just bails on the move and backflips. Gomez jumps off the top with a Flying Nothing, and Juvi “counters with a dropkick,” in quotes because he at-best grazed him with a toe. After that, Juventud finishes with a springboard twisting splash that ALSO almost goes wrong. Good f*cking grief.
According to noted Joe Gomez historian Scott Keith, this match “put Gomez in the doghouse for a long time,” which makes me wonder, “why didn’t every other Joe Gomez match ever put him in the doghouse?”
And Now, The Fake Sting
Here’s an angle that couldn’t work today, because the internet is so prevalent and we have the ability to instantaneously record and screengrab everything ever.
Lex Luger wrestles Rick Steiner, and (surprise!) Nick Patrick runs out and tells them to stop wrestling. He guides (slash “lures”) Luger to the rainy arena parking lot, where we saw footage of the nWo papering cars with rainy-ass nWo propaganda flyers. Luger approaches the nWo limo and out pops a vague approximation of Sting. “Sting” attacks him, the nWo joins in and the announce team loses their sugar over Sting’s betrayal. The rain helped a little, but really any discerning eye can see it’s not the real Sting.
Now, as a kid, this was one of those things I couldn’t go back and watch frame-by-frame. It was one of those things you’d talk about with your friends, where you’d be like, “nah, that wasn’t the real Sting, it didn’t even look like him,” and they’d be like, “DUDE, NO, IT WAS, HE JOINED THE NWO, I READ ABOUT IT ON WHATEVER AOL CHATROOM I FREQUENT OR WHATEVER.” There was doubt.
The funny thing, though, is that there’s no doubt for Team WCW. They KNOW it was Sting, they have been irreversibly betrayed by him and Eric Bischoff tells Sting to “stick it.” They spend the rest of the show doing Owen Voices, even during matches, and won’t shut up about how they’re gonna be in therapy for 20 years because something that resembled Sting from far away attacked Lex Luger.
The best part is that they interrupt a match (more on that in a minute) to jump backstage to Mean Gene, who gets a response from Luger and the Four Horsemen. They are OUTRAGED that Sting would DARE turn his back on them, which is f*cking hilarious considering that it’s RIC FLAIR, ARN ANDERSON and LEX LUGER. They are the President, Vice President and Secretary of State of turning on Sting. Flair turned on him twice, once tricking him into joining the Four Horsemen just to kick his ass and tell him he couldn’t join the Four Horsemen. Luger was a Horseman, too, and just spent most of the past year hanging out with the Dungeon of Doom and cheating his ass off during Sting matches. Plus, a DIFFERENT Horseman already pulled the fake Sting con.
The immediate payoff in the War Games is one of the best moments of 1996, though, especially if you’re a former Little Stinger like me who can’t believe this admirable dude is getting thrown under the bus by the worst people in the world. It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to watch The Crow and take it way too seriously.
Worst: Speaking Of That Match They Interrupted
The Faces of Fear take on Public Enemy, and it’s one of the weirdest Nitro matches ever. They know they’re gonna get interrupted by the Horsemen interview, so the first few minutes of the match are just aimless tie-ups. Just guys wandering around in circles, lightly slapping each other’s hands. When the promo is over, things get BONKERS.
In one of the most insane of the forgotten WCW spots, Barbarian puts Flyboy Rocco Rock on a table ON THE ENTRANCEWAY, climbs to the top rope and dives off onto him. Rocco moves, so Barbarian goes through it arm-first. That bump was serious business. The crowd gets SUPER INTO IT all of a sudden, going WHOOOM with every big move, and Public Enemy use Barbarian’s injury to gang up on Meng and put him through a second table with a moonsault. WHOOOM! You think that’s gonna be it and the match is gonna be surprisingly good, and then … nope. Meng totally no-sells it, Barbarian rolls into the ring to no-sell HIS bump, and the Faces of Fear win with the Tongan Death Grip. The announce team’s all, “WOOF, THIS IS TERRIBLE, END THE MATCH.” Bischoff: “You’re seeing something now out of the Faces of Fear that goes way beyond anything that has anything to do with wrestling.” Well, he’s not wrong.
The Dungeon of Doom joins the Faces of Fear in the ring after the match, which makes me wonder if Public Enemy just actually tried to win the match. Wrestling is weird.
Best: These Idiots
1. Kevin Sullivan looks like he just finished taping a Jazzercise video.
2. The Dungeon of Doom cuts a promo about all the shifty WCW people jumping ship to the nWo and how they’re a united front, which is funny because Konnan and Big Bubba are like right there.
3. Big Bubba is still obsessed with Glacier, challenging him once again and calling him “karate man.” That’s one of the worst and least insulting wrestling taunts I’ve ever heard, right up there with Roderick Strong’s “hey Bryan Danielson, get back here you WORLD CHAMPION” from Supercard of Honor in 2006.
Oh, and speaking of Glacier, where is he, you might ask?
Worst: THE MOTHERF*CKER ALREADY DEBUTED
SON OF A
After FIVE MONTHS of “Glacier is coming” videos on Nitro, f*cking Glacier debuted on WCW Pro against The Gambler. Against THE GAMBLER. I don’t know if my blood’s running cold, but my eyes are running up and to the side.
Best: 90 Seconds Of Kidman Vs. Mysterio
Oh, also, Rey Mysterio Jr. wrestles Billy Kidman. That should be great, right? It will be in a couple of years, but right now it’s a minute and a half of dropkicks and a jumping butt pin while Eric Bischoff and Mike Tenay compare sadness dicks about Sting.
Worst: One More For The Road
If you haven’t figured it out by now, the fake Sting angle really took the wind out of this show’s sails. What’s great is that there isn’t a TitanTron to show everybody what’s happening outside, so if you paid to get into this show, you got like 90 seconds of wrestling until someone unrelated ran out and stopped it, followed by 10 minutes of silence. Great show, guys.
The main event is Randy Savage vs. John Tenta, and guess what happens? Teddy Long runs out in the middle to stop the match and tell Savage to run back out into the parking lot. That’s it. That’s THREE TIMES in one 2-hour show where someone just showed up all, “hey, stop,” and everyone listened. Holy sh*t. Savage and the WCW Gang run out into the rain to ambush an nWo limo, but it gets away. They leave a limo behind, though — an empty one, filled with boxes of spray paint (?) — so the babyfaces spraypaint “WCW” on it. In the rain, so nothing really happens. That’s a surprisingly apt metaphor for WCW, in a way.
The show ends with the Horsemen yelling into the announcer-booth headsets about War Games. The way the match was built, you’d think it was a rooftop limousine sumo battle. See you at Fall Brawl, y’all!