Feeney’s Flashback: WCW Monday Nitro 9/18/95

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WCW Monday Nitro
Freedom Hall
Johnson City, Tennessee
Monday September 18th, 1995

Last night at Fall Brawl, we saw two title changes, a fantastic match that named a new top contender to the US title, Hulk Hogan and his team coming out victorious in War Games followed by Hogan being the victim of a vicious attack by new rival The Giant, and a swerve that led Arn Anderson to victory over Ric Flair.

Harlem Heat defeated Dick Slater & Bunkhouse Buck to regain the WCW World Tag Team Championship after romantic shenanigans between Col. Robert Parker and Sherri took place. Diamond Dallas Page defeated The Renegade for the WCW Television Championship after a Diamond Cutter, for his first reign as a singles champion.

Team Hogan won War Games over the Dungeon of Doom after Zodiac submitted to a Hogan Camel Clutch. During the match, Lex Luger accidentally clotheslined Randy Savage, which led to some in team fighting, and bad feelings which will carry over tonight.

Hogan was attacked after the match by the massive Giant, who twisted the WCW World Champion’s neck. Hogan left the building via ambulance. Let’s not forget that in the pre-show, The Giant also squashed Hogan’s prized motorcycle with a monster truck! It was a bad night for the Hulkster.

And in a highly anticipated match between former allies and best friends, Ric Flair was defeated by his “Enforcer,” Arn Anderson, with a little help from Brian Pillman. Pillman’s involvement has yet to be explained. It was his second involvement in Fall Brawl, as earlier in the evening he was defeated by Johnny B. Badd in an excellent match, that determined the number one contender to Sting’s US Championship.

Nitro is live tonight at Freedom Hall in Johnson City, Tennessee. The traditional show opening fireworks go off, as we are exposed to what would be known as the traditional Nitro set for the first time ever. Fireworks also go off from each ring post, nearly turning Dave Penzer into James Hetfield.

Mongo has that little friggin Pepe of course, making viewers worldwide uncomfortable. The camera angle is a little off, they don’t really have it down yet, but it’s only the third show. They get ready to cut to Gene Okerlund in the back, where an ambulance is pulling up?

Gene speculates that this may be the same ambulance that Hulk Hogan left the PPV in last night, but The Giant and Kevin Sullivan jump out. Giant lets Gene know that he’s gotten his hands on Hogan three times now, and all three times, Hogan turned into putty in his hands. Giant claims he is the one true immortal.

We return to the arena from awkward promo land, where The American Males (Marcus Bagwell & Scotty Riggs) are on their way to the ring. Side note, I’ve heard Tommy Dreamer mention that he was slotted to be a member of this team, back when he was more of an in shape pretty boy, type of baby face.

The Males get their own fireworks, and I am confused as I hear what appear to be the cheers of actual women in the audience. Heenan claims the women fans are throwing room keys! It’s supposed to be the Males vs. The Bluebloods here (Steven Regal & Bobby Eaton) but Eaton is attacked at the top of the ramp by Harlem Heat.

The World Tag Team Champions apparently also laid out Regal backstage. Booker is pissed that they weren’t booked for a match tonight, being that they are the champions again, and he offers the Males a title shot, right here, right now. It is accepted, and all four men begin to brawl.

WCW World Tag Team Championship Match

Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray) © vs. The American Males (Marcus Bagwell & Scotty Riggs)

I can remember almost nothing of Bagwell’s pre-Buff career. I guess he was just a pretty boy, who was pushed too early, and jumped from tag team to tag team. Is that about the gist of it? The commentary team is wondering whether or not this title match is legit, since WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel is not present, nor did he approve it.

Stevie Ray definitely looks thinner here than he did in a couple of years, or during his time with the NWO. Scotty Riggs is getting pummeled by the bigger man almost immediately, but strikes back with two dropkicks to send Stevie down. He makes the tag to Bagwell, who comes off the top rope with a chop to Stevie’s arm.

Bagwell is not in control long as Ray comes back with a side suplex and tags Booker T. I think the stay quality of Booker was obvious early, and I wasn’t alone. The regular WCW fans saw it too, and that’s why his initial singles run as the TV Champion in early 1998 was so well received. They BELIEVED this guy was talented enough to get it done.

There’s an awkward exchange in the middle of the ring after Bagwell comes off the ropes and Booker covers for it by just muscling Bagwell over with a dangerous looking slam. Bischoff takes this time to remind us that Nitro is live, and “the number one wrestling program!”

Booker misses a leg drop, and Scotty Riggs is tagged back in, but probably wishes he wasn’t, as Booker nails one of the stiffest back kicks I’ve ever seen. Bischoff takes it a little far though, as well as pats himself on the back, by saying Booker reminds him of “K-1 kickboxers he’s seen!” Yes Eric, we all know you dabble in martial arts.

Stevie comes back in and clotheslines Riggs out of his boots. Riggs hits a sunset flip out of nowhere, but it’s near the wrong corner, as Booker is tagged back in. He batters Riggs down in the corner, who fights his way out, and rolls over to the corner for the tag.

Bagwell misses a dropkick, as Col. Parker comes out to flirt with his honey, Sherri. In the ring, Booker is holding the freshly tagged (again) Riggs for Sherri to slap him, but Parker lifts Sherri off the apron, and carries her away. He goes for a body slam, but Riggs counters into a small package for the shocking pin, and we have new champions!

Result: The American Males win by pinfall, and are the NEW WCW World Tag Team Champions! Nothing wrong with this tag match, it cut a good pace, and it had a shocker ending, although I am sure there was a better tag team available to place in the spot of the Males. In 1995, a team like the Males wasn’t going to work, at least not as babyfaces.

“Nature Boy” Ric Flair comes down to the ring for a promo with “Mean” Gene Okerlund. Flair complains that at Fall Brawl, Arn broke the golden rule, and got an outside involved in Horsemen business. He threatens Pillman about their match later tonight, and promises to find Anderson, and “kick his ass!”

“Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff vs. Johnny B. Badd

That Orndorff song is absolutely terrible. I know that’s the idea, but it’s not terrible in a ha-ha, that-stinks sort of way. It’s change-the-channel terrible. I am not sure why I am watching a Paul Orndorff match in 1995 either. While WCW had its fair share of 1980s caricatures, Orndorff may be the worst one of all, as he looks totally out of his element here, and way past his prime.

Mr. Wonderful is now back to being super confident, thanks to the assistance of Gary Spivey. He admires himself in a mirror on his way to the ring. Bischoff comments about Ric Flair “needing a censor.” A little ribbing on the square there, perhaps? He also comments that he doesn’t know what is more painful, this song, or this match? More ribbing on the square? I know that’s how I feel, haha.

Mongo gets the first line of his that made me chuckle; “His hair was perfect!” in which yes he is referring to Orndorff’s coif, but he is also quoting a lyric from “Werewolves in London.” The announce team references Badd’s endurance, as he won that long match with Brian Pillman the night before. They also talk about Giant crushing Hogan’s motorcycle (what a tragedy!) and leaving him lying and injured at the end of Fall Brawl.

Badd is wrestling with nine stitches in his left eye. So of course, Orndorff starts the match by dropkicking his knee! He beats Badd down in the corner, and chokes away, showing he has found his aggressive streak. Referee Nick Patrick attempts to warn Orndorff about using illegal tactics, and they wind up arguing nose to nose. See, I don’t agree with that one. Patrick should sell terror. That’s Mr. Wonderful in his face!

Badd utilizes that to take over on Orndorff, and he nails him with a body slam and goes up top. Orndorff gets the boots up into his face, and we go to commercial. As we return, Badd is going for another high risk move, and Orndorff gets the knees up. He then attempts a top rope splash of his own (that’s a little odd, no?) and Badd counters that and gets his receipt.

Badd unleashes a boxing combo of jabs and body blows to send Orndorff to the outside. Orndorff seems to be avoiding (for real) Badd’s high risk arsenal, but eventually Badd comes a-running for the slingshot plancha. Back in the ring Badd lands a double axe handle from the top rope. These two are a little awkward together, they can’t seem to nail down the other’s timing, and it makes the moves look a little too choreographed.

Orndorff gets the advantage back and goes for his signature piledriver, but Badd backdrops him out of it, and goes for a piledriver of his own. Orndorff counters that as well, as he backdrops Badd, but hooks the legs down and gets the pin.

Result: Paul Orndorff wins by pinfall. That decision seems a little shaky to me. Badd was coming off such an incredible match and win, and was also now WCW’s #1 contender to the United States Championship. To give a retooled, but aging Orndorff the win here really doesn’t make sense to me.

We head to the set of Baywatch, where during his off time, “Macho Man” Randy Savage is on the weight bench, working out. Out of nowhere, “The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan attacks, choking Savage with the weights, and talking trash. Ric Flair and two Baywatch guys (I think) come over to run off “Devil,” as Flair calls him.

Savage comes down to the ring for a promo with Gene Okerlund. Immediately, Gene asks Savage about Flair’s assistance, and Savage blows it off. “Thanks but no thanks,” he says. He promises to cut the head off of the snake, by ridding WCW of Kevin Sullivan. He tells Gene he doesn’t know where Hulk Hogan is, but he is sure he is recovering, as “no one is stronger than Hulk Hogan.” I’ve got a feeling Hogan isn’t recovering, but he is either in the arena or on his car phone, writing this promo for Savage!

He also calls Hogan out for being a horrible judge of character for his choice of teammates, firstly, Lex Luger. Okerlund says he asked some wrestlers about Luger’s wayward clothesline and everyone maintains it was accidental. Savage knows it is because he asked Lex, Jimmy Hart, and Sting. Randy says from here on out, guys better be with him, or they are against him.

He guesses that within a couple of months, Luger, Sting, and Jimmy Hart will all be Dungeon of Doom members! At that, Lex comes out. He accuses Savage of being jealous, not only of him, but of the fact that he himself is not the WCW World Heavyweight Champion, and at least Lex is honest about the fact that he wants that belt.

Savage admits he wants to be champion, and guarantees that one day he will be. He asks Lex about the cheap shot clothesline in War Games, and Lex says it was not on purpose. He once again says he came to WCW to stop playing around with kids, and that he is here to fight the big boys. Savage says you won’t find a bigger boy than him, and as we are headed to commercial, he slaps Luger in the face! The surprise in that reaction makes me think that was one of Randy’s famous ad libs.

As we come back, Bischoff claims Savage and Luger were just separated, and that both men traded slaps. I think he is just saying that to save face for Lex. They show a video recap of Hogan’s motorcycle being destroyed by The Giant and his monster truck, full of bad Hogan acting. They then show the footage from the PPV of Giant “twisting Hogan’s head like a cheap bottle of screw top whiskey,” as Heenan puts it.

“Flyin” Brian Pillman vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair

Pillman comes out immediately talking trash to the fans on his way to the ring. Flair comes out and gets cheered. Looks like both men have switched roles. The two men have a history together, as Flair took Pillman under his wing immediately when he joined the NWA/WCW, fresh from Stampede Wrestling. He taught him things in the ring, and took him out drinking outside of the ring. They were buddies. I am sure Pillman’s later role as a Horsemen is something that Flair coveted for a long time.

The fight begins fast and stiff, with chops in the corner from both men, neither holding back at all. Pillman takes control with an eye rake, but misses a dropkick. Flair utilizes chops and punches in the corner, and throws Pillman to the floor through the second rope. Flair comes from the top with an axe handle, which is the second night in a row he used that move, and the second time I’ve ever seen it, haha.

He chops Pillman up against the guardrail, to the delight of the ringside fans. Old Pillman’s got a little bit of a gut here. He was rumored to be unhappy with his position in the industry at this time, and worrying about what would happen when his big contract expired, so maybe stress had him hitting the bottle too often around this time, and the gym not enough.

Back in the ring, Pillman takes over in the corner with chops, and sends Flair to the other corner for a patented Flair flip. He tries to clothesline Flair off the apron, but he ducks, and hits Pillman with a clothesline of his own. Flair attempts to come off the top rope, and Pillman counters with a dropkick.

Bischoff doesn’t understand what has happened to “Flyin” Brian. Outside the ring now, the future “Loose Cannon” posts Flair’s arm, much like Arn did the night before. He rams it into the guardrail, but Flair rakes the eyes to take the advantage. Bischoff plugs the WCW Hotline, namedrops Mike Tenay, and mentions how he gets all the scoops.

Heenan notes that Flair’s confidence seems to be back after a shaky period. Bischoff questions why Flair had helped Savage, who wound up being ungrateful for the assistance. In the ring, Pillman runs towards Flair in the corner, but eats a boot, and Flair goes up top….but wouldn’t ya know it, he gets slammed off! Curses! Foiled again!

Pillman goes for a top rope splash, but doesn’t connect. Flair goes for the figure four, but Pillman is ready, and he catches Flair in a small package for the two count. Both men get to their feet, hits the ropes, and run into each other for a double knockout. This match, and this show has pretty much been all action, and no breaks. I’m sure the excitement level of these early shows absolutely blew the stagnant mid 1995 Raws out of the water.

Flair hooks Pillman for a back suplex, with the leg hooked, which I don’t believe I have seen before, and he rolls it right into the figure four. Now that was pretty cool. Pillman taps rather quickly, which is also good to see. He’s a heel, no need to look like Superman.

Result: Ric Flair wins by submission with the figure four leglock. Great little match, as both men brought it for the time they were allotted. I’d love to see something longer. Pillman sold his ass off for Flair, including that quick tap out, and you could see the respect he had for him. Ol’ Naitch screams into the camera that is going to kick Arn’s ass….next week. He’s got burst blood vessels all over his left pec, and Bischoff glumly says, again, that Flair needs a censor. I am sure Naitch got a little talking to after this.

Next week, Disco Inferno debuts vs. Alex Wright, Kurasawa will be in action, Randy Savage will face Kevin Sullivan, and Lex Luger will face Meng.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This show flew by, and that was due to the, pardon the phrase, total nonstop action. As I said earlier, I see more and more what a breath of fresh air this must have been, compared to the formulaic, stagnant Raw shows.

Putting the straps on Bagwell & Riggs? Meh. I don’t see how Eric could’ve thought that was a good idea, but I guess it was just another attempt in a line of many, to recreate that old Rock ‘N’ Roll Express magic. It didn’t work, and it never would again, aside from an updated version, like the Hardy Boyz.

Orndorff vs. Badd wasn’t very good. Badd showed some of his trademark athleticism, but Orndorff looked like a dinosaur out there, and the music was a huge negative. The result wasn’t what it should have been. They should have capitalized on Badd’s momentum from the night before.

Macho cut a good, paranoid, schizophrenic promo. Of course he did, that was his wheelhouse. It felt odd that they were seemingly setting up another huge “Let’s squash Raw” main event, by teasing Savage vs. Luger, but it looks like they are holding off on it.

Pillman vs. Flair was a joy to watch. These are the last few months before Pillman’s horrible Hummer accident, and I am enjoying everything he is doing, even with that extra poundage. I am looking forward to some more promo time from him, hopefully. And Flair still had it here, especially when he had opponents he wanted to go with, like Arn and Brian.

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."