Feeney’s Flashback: WCW Monday Nitro 9/11/95

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WCW Monday Nitro
The Knight Center
Miami, Florida
Monday September 11th, 1995

This is the second week of Nitro, and the first to go head to head with Monday Night Raw, so it’s full of stars, as well as a debut that I am sure the RSPW folks back in the day were salivating over.

On the first show there was a shocking debut, as Lex Luger jumped from the WWF and immediately challenged WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan. This led to our main event here tonight. Hogan vs. Luger was a dream match since the mid-80s when Lex debuted, and Bischoff went balls to the wall to deliver it here tonight to try and compete with Raw.

There was also a confrontation between Randy Savage and Scott Norton which led to the match tonight. Savage is another former WWF guy who I am sure is being showcased to try to get eyeballs on the WCW product from the WWF fan base. Norton is just a big son of a bitch and a former arm wrestling champion.

Mr. Wallstreet (formerly IRS and Mike Rotunda) also debuted on Nitro’s first episode via promo, in which he insulted his old character and the WWF’s New Generation. He gets a US title match on this show against Sting, who is defending his championship for the 2nd week in a row.

It’s their first Nitro in an arena, and the first show to compete directly with Monday Night Raw. Bischoff pulled out a lot of his big guns here to show he was serious, and it should be an interesting and entertaining show. Let’s hit the play button and see how it goes!

As the show begins, once again I am pumped to hear that old Nitro music. It used to signify “shit was on!” For that summer 1996 to early 1999 period, it was the kick off the one, two, or three hours of action, swerves, wrestlers jumping ship, etc. It was a great time to be a wrestling fan.

As the show opens, the traditional Nitro set and fireworks are seen for the first time ever! The fireworks really gave the show a big time feel, as I don’t believe that was something the WWF was doing on a weekly basis at that time. The arena does look a little bit smaller than later Nitro shows down the line. The ramp and entrance way is not far from the ring at all, so either it’s a smaller arena, or they set it up this way to hide the empty seats.

Bischoff very quickly informs us that the “Match of the Century” takes place tonight, and at the time, I am sure it felt like it was. He also lets the audience know there will be a Scott Norton vs. Randy Savage match, as well as the debut of Sabu! Steve McMichael tells us that “the beef is right here in WCW.” Welp, thanks guy.

“Weasel” chants begin as Heenan ignores them. There is a video recap of Luger’s shocking appearance, and his challenge to Hogan. Bischoff then makes the announcement that Vader, who was to be on Team Hogan in War Games at Fall Brawl, is now “AWOL,” and will not be on the pay-per-view. As I speculated last week, this must have been just as Vader had his infamous encounter backstage with Paul Orndorff, leading to his quitting/firing.

Sabu vs. Alex Wright

I know there is only going to be a few of these appearances, but Sabu coming out onto the Nitro set just doesn’t look right to me at all. He would’ve returned, actually, in early 2000, but Heyman threatened legal action, and thus robbed Sabu of a decent WCW payday. Totally not cool, Paul.

Sabu takes Wright down to start, chokes him, and stomps away. We see a quick springboard leg lariat from Sabu, as well as a hurricanrana over the ropes to the floor to get our first “ECW” chants. He continues the offense with a baseball slide dropkick, and a slingshot somersault plancha to the floor.

Heenan doesn’t know quite what to make of this crazy man, and Bischoff struggles to call the moves, though he keeps referencing an “Arabian Facebuster.” Also of note is Nitro’s weird clear apron, allowing the audience to see the lighting, etc., under the ring.

On the outside, Sabu misses another leg lariat, and goes violently into the guard rail. Wright takes the advantage, and hits a slam on the floor. Meh, Sabu has seen worse. After some action in the ring, Wright attempts a tope to the floor, and lands awkwardly onto Sabu’s knee. He then hits a superplex when they get back into the ring, leading me to question why Sabu is taking so much of Wright’s offense. He should’ve dominated.

After Sabu misses a backflip from the top, Wright hits a German suplex for a two count. They wrestle around in the corner, which leads to Sabu hitting a Victory Roll from the top, driving Wright’s head into the mat, for the win.

Result: Sabu wins by pin fall. Wright was certainly game to keep up with Sabu’s offense, but as a result, made the debuting talent not look strong or dominant enough.

Post-match, Sabu continues to punish Wright, and he puts him on a table on the outside. He comes off the top with a tremendous splash, breaking what looked to me to be an unbreakable table. It breaks perfectly in the middle however, and who would’ve guessed that?!

The referee reverses the decision due to Sabu’s excessive violence, and awards it to Alex Wright, who is now the winner by DQ. Odd decision that makes Sabu look like an idiot, Wright like a bitch, and Bischoff like a total pussy, as he complains that Sabu just committed “attempted manslaughter!”

When we come back from break, “Mean” Gene Okerlund is in the ring, introducing the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. There is a giant “ECW” sign in the background at the start of the interview. Side note, ECW was probably at its peak at this time, with Cactus Jack doing his heel run, Raven and Dreamer in the midst of their feud, Terry Funk getting involved, Sandman and Scorpio teaming, The Public Enemy still at their best, the AAA luchadors about to make their debuts, etc. If ECW had PPV in mid-1995, it would be a totally different landscape right now.

Anyway, Flair will be facing his long time “Enforcer” Arn Anderson at Fall Brawl. It feels like one of those matches fans fantasize about, but never really want to see. Flair mocks Arn for staying in his hotel room and calling his family these days, instead of partying with Ric.

As Flair flashes the Horsemen sign, Lex Luger comes down to the ring. In an odd turn of events, Flair puts Lex over like crazy, listing his height, weight, bicep size, etc. Lex says “Some things never change.” With that, the promo is over. Odd ending.

United States Championship Match

Sting © vs. “V.K.” Wallstreet

The previously named “Mr. Wallstreet” already has his name changed to “V.K.” in an inside slight of some kind towards Vince McMahon. Bischoff tries to joke with Heenan about it, who doesn’t put it over. The Stinger comes out to his goofy old song, “Man Called Sting,” and a massive fireworks display.

History strikes again, as for the first time ever, Bischoff reveals the result of Raw’s main event, letting the audience know “He beats the big guy with a superkick that couldn’t earn him a green belt!” McMichael joins in, mocking the show “named after uncooked eggs, while this show sizzles baby!”

Wallstreet’s tights at the moment are absolutely hideous. My fiancée is confused, as she doesn’t understand what a “Sting” is, and doesn’t recognize him without his trenchcoat and black and white paint. Sting is in control for the beginning of the match and Wallstreet takes a powder to buy some time.

Bischoff mentions on commentary how Luger “nine days ago was wrestling for the WWF.” He says something prophetic about how Lex won’t be the only one to jump ship. Wallstreet takes over briefly, only for Sting to hit a slingshot shoulder block that didn’t quite hit the mark.

Stinger puts the offense into high gear at the end, hitting a big time clothesline, the Stinger Splash, and then finishes Wallstreet with a crossbody from the top rope. They must’ve always liked to give Sting a few different finishers, giving him different options on how to win.

Result: Sting wins by pin fall and retains the US Title. This was a good little match once they clicked. 

“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Scott Norton

This match is totally not what I expected. Norton is noted as being a former World Arm Wrestling Champion. I note there is only twenty minutes left in the show for two big matches. Norton attacks Savage immediately, and wow, this guy certainly had presence. He could’ve absolutely turned into a top heel sometime in 1996, were it not for the NWO invasion that dominated WCW programming from that summer on.

Savage attempts a sunset flip and gets deadlifted off the ground into a choke. Savage retaliates and clotheslines Norton out of the ring and drops a trademark Macho Man double axehandle to the floor. Things look good for Savage at the moment, but quickly change course, as Norton catches Savage coming back into the ring from the top rope and applies a bearhug.

After he releases the hold, Norton continues to work the back with stomps, forearms, and then applies one of the most vicious powerbombs I’ve ever seen. He hits a series of backbreakers, and then a press slam, and Savage is absolutely in real jeopardy here. I could see a Norton win easily, but then again…this is WCW and that is Randy Savage. Randy losing on a non PPV? Unlikely.

After a sweet powerslam, we get another two count. I can see what they are doing with the Savage “never say die” deal, but it gets a little silly. Norton hits a shoulder tackle, sending Savage to the floor. He drags him back in over the top rope, and DDTs him, in a precursor to Randy Orton’s current second rope DDT. This looked a lot crazier though, especially for 1995 and Savage should be dead from that move.

Norton makes a mistake, and goes up top, right into a Savage counter. He becomes a house of fire, hitting a high knee, a nice back elbow, and some classic Macho Man jabs, however Shark and Kamala interfere. There is no disqualification, and in the confusion, Shark is laid out across Norton’s legs, and Savage gets the pin.

Result: Randy Savage wins by pin fall after Dungeon of Doom interference. Post-match, Norton shoves some of the Dungeon members who cost him the match. Scott Norton looked like an absolute KILLER here, and it’s totally a shame he never got a REAL push in a North American promotion. Everything he did was so believable, and Randy did his part as a babyface who could be crippled at any time. 

WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match

Hulk Hogan © w/ Jimmy Hart vs. “The Total Package” Lex Luger

Lex already has his sweet WCW music, which can be heard on Sportscenter packages and commercials to this day! They take a break, and a WCW Fall Brawl commercial airs, and it ties in with WCW taking on Muscular Dystrophy. Well, that was odd.

As Hogan’s music plays, there is about twelve minutes left. That’s probably perfect for these two guys,at this time, not having any experience with each other in the ring. As they are both in the ring, I again find myself reflecting on how cool this probably was and what a big deal it was to fans who had been around since the early days of Hulkamania and before. Luger was once named as the heir to the Hulkster’s throne, and while it never happened, I think if he was pushed right, at the right time, he could’ve taken over. I know that puts me in a very small minority.

Luger again looks really young here as compared to Hogan and also appears to be cool as a cucumber, even though this is such a big match, and on live TV no less. There are “Luger” chants as we finally get started. A lockup leads into the corner where Luger shoves Hogan in the chest.

After Bischoff makes a comment about Lex being a former Green Bay Packer, Heenan quickly quips, “Yeah but anybody can play for Green Bay!” McMichael threatens to bring his friend, Green Bay Packer Reggie White to Nitro to teach Heenan a lesson. “Yeah, well if Reggie shows up…I’ll show him!” You gotta love The Brain, especially when he was motivated.

With that being said, there are reports that Bobby Heenan has recently fallen and broken his hip. That is a real shame, especially because he has spent the majority of almost the last decade dealing with health issues, two bouts with cancer, and another fall a few years ago. Best wishes and God bless you, Bobby. I hope he recovers, or at very least, is not in pain.

Back to the ring, Hogan showcases his “wrestling” ability, with a drop toehold and a front facelock. Hulk hits a nice suplex, which Lex no sells, and flexes in his face to a big pop! Of course, they rerun the sequence, with Luger suplexing Hulk, so Hogan can no sell and now flex in Lex’s face.

It’s something of a classic Hogan vs babyface formula, in the vein of Hogan vs. Warrior and Hogan vs Rock, though not on that large a scale of course. Luger bails out to clear his head, and when he gets back in, there is a weird backdrop where Luger almost lands on his feet.

Bischoff smugly comments that perhaps Lex, “isn’t used to this level of competition!” He also comments that the current WWF Champion (Diesel/Kevin Nash) barely made it to mid-level status in WCW. I’d say that’s actually being generous when it comes to Vinnie Vegas.

In the ring, Luger hits a sweet powerslam and RACKS HOGAN! I didn’t expect to see that! Heenan screams for the official to ring the bell, and Luger drops Hogan, for some reason believing that he has won. The referee says no, and Hogan begins to Hulk Up. Punches, big boot, leg drop, and a pinfall was a foregone conclusion, when the Dungeon of Doom (Shark, Kamala, Meng, Kevin Sullivan) once again attack, and cause a disqualification.

Result: Hulk Hogan wins by disqualification, and retains the WCW Championship, after the Dungeon of Doom interferes.

Post-Match, Savage comes in to save Hogan, thus negating all the damage Norton did to his back. Sting comes in as well, and of course there is still no Vader. War Games is hyped once again by the commentators, as I note that Kamala is looking really old here. Hogan and Luger get into a shoving match once again once the smoke clears, and accusations fly once it is realized that the Dungeon did not attack Luger.

When we return from break, Okerlund is in the ring once again. He notes that Hogan’s War Games team is down to three men, due to Vader’s absence. Hogan wants to know why the Dungeon didn’t attack Luger, as does Savage, who exclaims, “That goes double for me!”

Sting campaigns for Lex to join the team, but Savage still doesn’t trust him. Mach says he will respect Stinger’s call, but still questions why the Dungeon didn’t jump Lex…or Jimmy Hart?! As in every other time he had to make a decision in WCW history, Sting is gullible and trusts Lex 100%. Savage votes no once again, and this promo has quickly degenerated into something of a clusterfuck.

Lex agrees that he wants to join Hogan’s team, but for two reasons: he wants another title shot, and he is there to back up his buddy Sting. The commentators all hype Fall Brawl and War Games to close the show, and Heenan announces that he doesn’t trust anybody involved!

We are shown some preview graphics for next week’s Nitro, including “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff vs. Johnny B. Badd, and The Nasty Boys, The Bluebloods, and the debuting American Males will all be in action. I do not have high hopes for that edition of Nitro…

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This was a much better show than the debut episode. Seeing Sabu ply his trade on a WCW show was a little odd, but Wright upped his game to join in on Sabu’s craziness. It still felt weird though.

Norton vs. Savage was a great TV match and Savage did a great job getting Norton over. It’s too bad WCW didn’t capitalize, at least not in the long run. Norton’s career high was probably being New Japan’s World Heavyweight Champion while under WCW contract.

Sting vs. Wallstreet was an ok match, but I don’t see them doing much with ol’ VK. He was probably signed just to stick it to Vince, and he jobbed his first time out. The future isn’t bright for him.

Hogan vs. Luger was what it was, and they did what they could with the time allotted. I still say Luger looks tremendous at this period in time. It’s a shame Vince didn’t run with him, and a shame Lex didn’t get the role as WCW’s Leader against the nWo, playing second fiddle to the Hogan vs. Sting eventual match. But overall the show is improving, although the preview for next week’s show looks pretty awful. Next up, I will review Fall Brawl ’95 to continue with this sequence of shows. Look for that in the coming days! Thanks for reading!

Author: Joseph Feeney

Joseph Feeney is a lifelong wrestling fan, with a goal of one day working in wrestling creative somewhere. This may be the worst career goal anyone has ever had, but it helps him convince his fiance that his constant wrestling watching is "for work."