WCW Monday Nitro
Monday October 2nd, 1995
Last week on Nitro we saw the Disco Inferno debut, in a loss to Alex Wright. Hulk Hogan, still in a neck brace after his injury at the hands of The Giant, challenged the big man to take him on in a Monster Truck Challenge, followed by a match, at the upcoming Halloween Havoc. Lex Luger and Randy Savage continued their beef with one another, and they continue it this week as Luger puts his title shot on the line. If he loses, not only does he lose the championship match, but he will have to leave WCW. Yeah, I know, it doesn’t make much sense to me either. Why would he risk it all like that?
Kurasawa defeated Craig Pittman in a surprisingly entertaining match, very stiff. Why do I feel like I will never see him again now? Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman continued their crusade against Ric Flair. Pillman threateningly showed the four fingers, and Arn mocked Flair’s inability to find someone to have his back.
Savage also had a match on the show, as he got his hands on Kevin Sullivan. Sullivan had brutally attacked him on the set of Baywatch to lead to this match. Savage was disqualified for pushing the referee aside, and was choke slammed straight to hell by The Giant. Various jabroni babyfaces attempted to make the save, but were pulverized as well. Luger came out and stood over Savage, ostensibly to continue to attack and join the Dungeon of Doom, but the Giant attacked him, much to Sullivan’s dismay.
Immediately followed the Giant’s choke slam on Luger, his match with Meng began. Meng eventually won after using a foreign object, thus showing the fans that Luger was indeed vulnerable to losing to Savage, and could be on his way back out of WCW. During the match, Hulk Hogan CALLED THE TRUCK to say he would be at Nitro next week to set things right. And that leads us to tonight’s show…
We start out at the commentating position with our fantastic announce team. No wonder Heenan was hammered most of the time. Mongo delightfully informs us that Pepe is seeing double, as he somehow found teeny tiny googly eyes glasses on. Out of nowhere Ric Flair appears at the desk, and cuts a severely coked up promo, telling AA he would see him later. They show a highlight video from the Giant’s assault on Savage and the babyface jobbers last week. His choke slams looked absolutely devastating back then.
“The Total Package” Lex Luger vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage
As noted earlier, this is for Luger’s world championship shot, and Luger also put his WCW career on the line. I’m sure Savage would have accepted just for the title shot, but, meh, what can ya do? Bischoff informs us that yes, this action is LIVE! Mongo scoffs that if Luger loses, he may have to go back to that “other league.” Mongo, weren’t you just there like six months ago? And probably made a hefty payday as well.
I wonder if this was the first match ever between these two? Perhaps there was a meeting back when Lex was “The Narcissist” in the WWF. Stephen J. Sutton? Anyways, these two icons (no really, they both wee!) lock up, with Luger muscling Savage into the corner. Bischoff lets the audience know that Hulk Hogan is ON HIS WAY! Jesus, can’t that guy get to the arena on time? What a dick.
The lockup doesn’t break, and the two men topple through the second rope to the floor. And we go to commercial! What a shitty time to do that! When we come back, the guys are in the ring, and Lex delivers a hard slap to Macho, getting his receipt. They wind up back outside where Savage tries to suplex Luger, and even the most casual of fans can see that Lex is all “no fuckin way, man.” They switch it to an awkward neckbreaker attempt, that looks like it should’ve hurt Luger, but Savage is selling.
Back in the ring, Savage gets a small package for a near fall. Luger comes back with a big press slam, holding Savage up for quite a long time. The crowd boos, and it’s kind of odd to see a crowd react the way a promotion actually wants them to. Lex’s backdrop attempt is countered with a kick, he tries for a hip toss, but Savage counters with a backslide. Wait, no he doesn’t as Luger is too strong to be taken down. Savage continues to try, but Lex hooks the ropes with his foot. Good thinking Luger! Savage finally powers him down for a two count.
Back men get it, but collide off the ropes. Savage is up first to go for a flying double axe handle, but Luger counters with a punch to the midsection. Savage quickly recovers, and sends Luger to the floor through the second rope. He flies to the outside, nailing his axe handle with an audible impact. Luger flops forward with the sell, and goes into the guardrail.
Luger recovers quickly (seems to be a theme in this match,) and runs Savage into the steel post. Back in the ring, Savage scores with a running knee, apparently feeling no effects from his head being rammed into the post. This is odd, as Savage has been selling for opponents for weeks, as well as Luger has sold for, and lost to, Meng. I have no clue why these guys are both no selling each other to this extent. Maybe they felt pressured at the lack of time?
Luger is whipped into the corner by Savage, and the referee gets caught, and goes down. It’s been an ok match so far, but the lack of selling, and both guys feeling the other out has brought it down a few notches. Giant comes down to the ring and murders Savage with a choke slam once again. I wish he continued to use this move with the same amount of force, because it looked great back then.
The announcers speculate as to what this means as far as Luger and his allegiances. Lex doesn’t go for the pin, but instead picks up the now unconscious Savage, and racks him. The recovered referee lifts Savage’s arm, which drops the customary three times, and the match is over. Luger wins, keeps his title shot, and remains in WCW (as if that were ever in doubt at this point.)
Result: Lex Luger wins when Savage’s arm drops three times in the Human Torture Rack. As I said earlier, it was a good little match, but it had several big flaws. Perhaps if they had more time, there would’ve been more selling and a bit of a better story.
Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko
Disco Inferno comes out prior to the match, dancing, to Bischoff’s objections, to his theme song. I must respectfully disagree! Not only is Disco’s music fantastic, but I still know the words to this day! “He’s so cocky! He’s so cool! He’s just a disco dancing fool!” A few years earlier, Disco really could’ve been WCW’s version of the Honky Tonk Man, with say, the TV title, but as the roster continued to stack up, he wasn’t used to his full potential.
Guerrero comes out to Juventud Guerrera’s eventual music, and chases Disco away. I cannot overstate how much different THIS Eddie looks from the Eddie we would come to recognize in the future. The hair isn’t greased down, he’s not absolutely shredded, and he’s wearing a pretty boring set of tights. He’s also portraying an absolutely squeaky clean babyface at this point, as he did in ECW. Why neither promotion utilized him initially as the sleazy, sneaky heel he had portrayed in AAA, I am not sure.
Malenko comes out stone-faced to his awesome music. This match was designed to bring in the ECW fanbase, and other hardcore fans, as the Malenko-Guerrero encounter on ECW TV were already becoming legendary. Bischoff lifted the idea, and put it on national TV, as he did with so many other ideas. However, these two would in no way come close to having the time Heyman would give them in ECW. Prior to the match, they show highlights of Eddie convincingly defeating international superstar Jushin “Thunder” Liger on WCW Saturday Night, with a sweet brainbuster and the frog splash. I’d imagine that was a huge win at the time to the WCW audience.
The changes in the way pro wrestling had been presented in the US was definitely changing. I couldn’t see Vince ever featuring this type of match on Raw, and he never really did. WWF’s attempt to copy this style, and WCW’s Cruiserweight division was a flat out bust. They never gave it the proper attention or time, and frequently cut into the matches to show backstage angles. Add onto that they only brought in maybe one decent name (Taka Michinoku) and it was a shameful mess. The Light Heavyweight/Cruiserweight division was never taken seriously by McMahon, and their version of the Cruiserweight Championship was retired, while being held by Hornswoggle…a midget wrestler portraying a Leprechaun.
The action starts fast in this match, maybe two fast. I am sure these two were a bundle of nerves, despite performing in front of large crowds in Japan before. This was their first shot to make an impression in front of an American audience. Malenko attempts a monkey flip, and Guerrero lands on his feet to applause. They take it to the mat, and when they get up to their feet, it’s another lightning quick segment, that ends with an awesome Malenko dropkick to slightly subdued applause.
The crowd has quieted and I am not sure why. Perhaps they weren’t used to this style of wrestling yet, but they certainly would be in the years to come, with the Cruiserweight action consistently getting some of the biggest reactions on Nitro. Ugh, they cut away from the match to show Hogan arriving backstage, thus pissing off me, the ECW fans at the time, and all wrestling purists. Probably pissed off Malenko and Guerrero too, as this showed them exactly where they stood in the WCW pecking order.
Hogan is rambling about how he wants to hunt the Giant down, but Jimmy Hart tries to convince him that is not a good idea, and that maybe Hulk should consider leaving, as he is still injured. Hogan tells Jimmy he is either with him or he is against him, as we return to the ring. It is now dead quiet, as the Denver crowd clearly wasn’t ready/didn’t understand what they were seeing.
There’s a head scissors to the floor, leaving both men down. Eddie gets back into the ring, and climbs to the top rope. He hits a risky plancha to the floor. Heenan says he resembles a “Mexican cliff diver!” Not much of a reaction to Eddie risking his body here, which is a shame. They get back into the ring, where Eddie hits his brainbuster with extra snap, and finally gets the audience to pop. He goes up top for the frog splash, but Malenko has it well scouted, and he gets his knees up.
There is more Hogan talk, and the announce team threatens to take us backstage once more. Meanwhile in the ring, Guerrero reverses a Malenko move into a roll up, and gets an anti-climactic three count. Malenko is pissed, and immediately demands a rematch, telling Guerrero he got lucky. Eddie accepts, and I’d imagine this will take place on an upcoming Nitro?
Result: Eddie Guerrero wins by pin fall with a rollup. I expected a match that really blew the roof off the place, and I didn’t get it. The combination of the crowd’s indifference, the short match, the Hogan interruption, it just wasn’t what I was looking for. But despite the hardcore audience’s complaints, and the frustration of Malenko and Guerrero, their WCW futures were looking bright. Both men were a focus of the shows for years, and held many titles.
Hulk Hogan comes down to the ring, with Jimmy Hart, looking nervous, in tow. Hogan still has the neck brace on, and tells a story about being with a young Hulkamaniac who was facing a double lung transplant. The young fan wants Hogan to come back and take out the Giant, and of course the Hulkster cannot let this brave boy down! Hulk promises to go backstage, find the Giant, and I guess beat him up for the sake of little Timmy, but an old woman comes out from the crowd and begins to beat him with her cane!
Wait a second, that’s no crazy old lady! That’s Kevin Sullivan! “Zodiac” Ed Leslie and The Giant come down to join the assault. The Giant once again removes Hogan’s neck brace and does the twisting neck snap thingie. Hogan’s neck is probably broken in at least four places this time! Sullivan begins to shave off Hogan’s mustache, which is sold as such an atrocity by Bischoff that we are to think Sullivan had just set an infant on fire.
The American Males (are they tag champs still? I DON’T KNOOOOOOOW!) come out to right this wrong, but they both fall victim to the choke slam. The Nasty Boys comes out, and try to make a decent showing for themselves against Zodiac and Giant, which I am sure wasn’t the plan. They look strong for a few seconds, and they both get choke slammed as well. Bobby Heenan finds the mustache shaving hilarious, and is laughing out loud for the remainder of the segment, while Mongo and Eric are appalled, and on the verge of tears. Hogan with no mustache?! What’s next?! Dogs and cats living together?! Mass hysteria!
“The Enforcer” Arn Anderson vs. “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair
As we return from break, Anderson is already in the ring, and Flair is coming out to his trademark music. It’s a shame they probably don’t have much time before the close of the show. I don’t think we were quite at the “run thirty minutes overtime to stick it to Vince” stage of Nitro. Bischoff lets us know we will not be seeing The Nasty Boys vs. The American Males anymore. He would also like to know why didn’t Luger help Hogan?! Ok, I see your point Eric, but where in the hell was Sting? Doesn’t anyone care where Sting is?!
The match starts with Flair taking a backdrop from Arn. Arn continues the Anderson way, with a hammerlock to the mat, where he stomps the arm repeatedly. Heenan questions what is really behind this feud, and maybe Arn was responsible for Flair’s successes as World Champion. Flair takes control with a beating in the corner, with classic Flair punches and chops. Naitch always threw such a damn good punch.
Eye rake by Anderson turns the tide, and the crowd once again is oddly silent. I’m going to attribute that to their confusion as far as who to cheer. Flair’s been positioned as the babyface, sort of. Arn hasn’t really done anything heelish, except accept Brian Pillman’s interference. Flair gets whipped into the corner for a Flair flip, and Arn dives at him on the apron, misses, and hits the floor, in a repeated spot from Fall Brawl.
Arn is whipped into the guardrail, as the crowd remains just dead. Do crowds in Denver always suck? I mean is that a regular thing to this day? Flair nails a chop, but Arn responds with an eye rake, and backdrops the blinded Flair on the floor. Good way to work in that spot. Now it’s Naitch’s turn to taste the steel, as he is Irish whipped into the guardrail. The men get back into the ring, and get into a chop and punch war, which Arn gets the better of. Flair gets up and turns right into an ANDERSON SPINEBUSTER! I swear, no one does that better, and no one ever will. Only HHH seems to have the hang of it, and uses it in tribute to Double A.
There’s a long two count, and Flair kicks out, as Bischoff informs us that was “Vintage Arn Anderson!” Now I see through your ruse, Michael Cole. Ric winds up reversing a whip into the ropes, and locks on a sleeper hold. Arn reverses the sleeper, but he gets back suplexed. McMichael and Bischoff begin shit talking Raw, which Heenan quickly deflects. If you watch old Nitros on the network, that’s just something neat to note. Not once did Heenan join in on the WWF bashing, and he wrote in his book that his non reaction, and not joining in, pissed Bischoff off.
Flair is sent into the corner, and Arn rushes in with an elbow, but Ric comes back again, and winds up locking on the figure four, but Arn is literally inches from the ropes. The hold is broken as Bischoff announces to everyone that the OJ Simpson verdict will be read live tomorrow on CNN, at 1 PM. Bischoff, Heenan, and Mongo mock the fact that the verdict was returned so quickly. Man, I wonder how this will turn out. It would sure be a shame to turn loose a double murderer for purely selfish reasons. Anyways…
The action continues on the floor, where Arn attempts a piledriver, but Flair counters with a backdrop. Arn hits with an audible SLAP, and sells the hell out of it (probably didn’t require much selling.) Back in the ring Arn attempts a DDT out of desperation, but Ric hooks the top rope, in another spot repeated from the PPV. Flair attempts another backdrop, and Arn scores with a sharp elbow to the base of the neck. AA tries a move from the second rope, and Flair counters. He locks on the figure four in the center of the ring, as Anderson screams in pain.
Pillman is out to try and save his new buddy Arn, and he hits Flair with a splash from the top rope, but not in time, as Arn had already submitted. Pillman and Flair get into one of the stiffest chop wars I have ever seen in the corner, each man trying to one up the other. AA recovers, and Flair gets beaten down by this faux Horsemen duo. “Friendless Flair” is referred to by the announcers, as Pillman lets out a scratchy WHOO on the way back to the locker room.
Result: Ric Flair defeats Arn Anderson by submission with the figure four leglock. This was a good match, but just like their prior encounter, I really wish they had more time to develop something. I love the Anderson & Pillman connection. It could’ve had serious longevity if they went that direction. Pillman wound up a Horsemen, but it was for a very brief amount of time, before he went “Loose Cannon,” appeared in ECW, got into a car wreck, and convinced Bischoff to release him “as a work,” then turned around and signed a big money deal with the WWF. Pillman is officially “king of the workers” for pulling that off. Not only did he convince his boss to legally release him, but he was signed to the biggest deal in his career, while there was doubt if he would ever even wrestle again.
At the close of the show, Bischoff announces that WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel has scheduled Flair vs. Anderson, in another rematch next week on Nitro, this time in a steel cage! So, WCW’s hotshotting continues, as they give away what could’ve been a drawing PPV match on TV, to stick it to the WWF. He also communicates that there will be a Sting vs. Shark match, Sabu returns vs. Mr. JL (what a mysterious name!) and Road Warrior Hawk also returns to take on Big Bubba Rogers. As the show is in Chicago, Hawk should be over like rover.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Once again, this was a great episode of Nitro. While I have problems with some of the work, and some of the ways they proceeded with angles, the show moves fast, and it really does have a “can’t miss” feel to it, which the WWF didn’t have for at least another year and a half. Luger vs. Savage was good for the fact that both men went full tilt, but bad for the fact that literally nothing was sold until the Giant came down with the choke slam. Malenko vs. Guerrero was definitely different from anything we’ve seen on Nitro so far, but the lack of crowd response definitely hurt it. Hogan interjecting in the middle of the match also left a bad taste in my mouth. I am happy they are scheduling a rematch, and hope it is on Nitro, with a little more time.
The dismantling of Hogan at the hands of The Giant was basically just a repeat of Fall Brawl’s conclusion, but it will make Hogan seem more vulnerable for Halloween Havoc…if he allows it of course. Anderson vs. Flair also went balls to the wall, but the usual problem struck, as the match was too short. Flair getting the clean win was cool, and Pillman was money his entire time on the screen. I am really looking forward to more Pillman, and to the Flair/Anderson cage match.
Be sure to check out The Place to Be Podcast Nitro Re-watch of this episode as well!