Monday Nitro (09/18/95)
Dan Hey: We’re in Johnson City, Tennessee for the third episode of Monday Nitro. Hosts, once again, are Eric Bischoff, Mongo, and The Brain. As odious as Bischoff is, without him it’d be just Mongo and The Brain, which sounds like the name of a nineties cartoon about two mice – one stupid, the other intelligent. It’s also the night after Fall Brawl, and Bischoff promises recaps and updates on that.
We cut to an “emergency” in the back, where Mean Gene Okerlund plays the role of morally bankrupt ambulance chaser, ready with his microphone. Out the back appears Kevin Sullivan and The Giant, fresh from his WCW debut last night. He cuts a creepy-voiced promo on Hulk Hogan, who he attacked and put in hospital last night (hence the symbolic use of the ambulance, you see). He’s being billed as Andre the Giant’s son, here, and says that if his “dad” was still alive, then he would definitely support his quest to rid the WCW of Hulkamania. He also claims to be the one, true immortal.
The American Males vs. The Bluebloods
The American Males are Marcus Bagwell and Scotty Riggs, who made their in-ring debut as a tag team in a win over the Nasty Boys at Fall Brawl. Bischoff refers to Bagwell as Alex Wright, who isn’t even American. There’s no match because tag team champions Harlem Heat attack Bobby ‘the Earl of’ Eaton as he comes through the curtain. Mongo surmises that they must’ve gotten to Regal in the back. If that was the case, why would Eaton be coming out at all?
Final Rating: N/R
Harlem Heat, with manager Sister (formerly ‘Sensational’ and ‘Sensuous’) Sherri in tow, head to the ring. Booker T grabs the mic and decides to put the titles on the line. Which leads to…
WCW World Tag Team Championship
Harlem Heat (c) vs. The American Males
The Males are dressed like Chippendales, complete with suspenders and bow ties (but topless), and foreshadow SmackDown’s The Dicks by about a decade. The commentary team put over the tag division and general level of competition in WCW, as well as last night’s pay per view. In the ring it’s mostly Harlem Heat hitting big moves, such as Booker T’s various axe kicks on Riggs, or Stevie Ray catching (and nearly dropping) Bagwell in mid-air for a slam. In the crowd, right in the direct line of the hard cam, someone is holding up a sign that says, “WE WANT RAW” – well, it’s on now and you’re missing it by being here.
Hot tag to Bagwell and he cleans house. Sherri looks to intervene with her shoe, which brings Colonel Rob Parker down to the ringside to sweep her off the apron and into his arms. They engage in a little smoochy-time, and in the resulting distraction Bagwell picks up the win and the titles with a crossbody. The match was average at best, but it does hold the distinction of being the first title switch on Nitro, which makes me wonder whether they could’ve made a bigger impact by switching one of the singles titles on the first episode. I can’t image Hogan would’ve agreed to drop the belt though, and he would’ve needed a better opponent than Big Bubba Rodgers, but maybe they could’ve switched the US Title in the Flair-Sting bout. I suppose it’s a moot point now.
Final Rating: *¾
Mean Gene Okerlund shills the hotline for behind the scenes news and wrestling trivia. Macho Man advertises Slim Jims in the most intense and aggressive manner possible.
Promo Time: Ric Flair
He’s facing Brian Pillman later. Mean Gene recaps the events of Fall Brawl, where Pillman got involved in Flair’s match against Arn Anderson. Flair says that AA broke code of the Horsemen by allowing an outsider in, as opposed to them settling their differences among themselves. They’re actually setting up the latest version of the group, which will include Pillman and Chris Benoit. Flair says that after he’s done with Pillman, he’s going to kick Arn’s ass. Nothing to it.
Bischoff plugs WCW Saturday Night. Sting will face Steven Regal, Cobra is up against Craig ‘Pitbull’ Pitman, there’s an interview with the ‘American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes, and an update on WCW Champion Hulk Hogan. That sounds like a decent show, except for Cobra vs. Pitman.
Paul Orndorff vs. Johnny B. Badd
Mr Wonderful is debuting new entrance music. He’s also carrying a mirror, because he’s so wonderful that he wants to look at himself constantly. He’s in good shape for his age, but the key phrase there is “for his age”. He’s old enough to know better really, plus he looks like English football manager Steve Bruce. I really wish he had his handlebar moustache here. Mongo asks if Orndorff is singing his own music at precisely the point where a clearly female soprano is warbling, “wonderful, he’s so wonderful.” Johnny B. Badd also has his own customized entrance music (“He’s pretty as a picture / and he looks like Little Richard”). Sometimes, gimmick-specific entrance themes work well when simple and to the point – e.g. the Million Dollar Man’s theme song; sometimes, they’re just unnecessary. Johnny B. Badd’s likeness to Little Richard (in both looks and flamboyancy) was conveyed much better by the jaunty piano ditty that was his original entrance theme.
When the match eventually gets going, Orndorff hits a nice dropkick to Badd’s knees. It’s actually good strategy when you think about it. Mr. Wonderful gives him a kicking in the corner, as the commentary team remind us of injuries Badd sustained at Fall Brawl. The crowd, meanwhile, loudly chant “Paula”. Badd mounts a comeback but gets caught with boots to the face, which Orndorff put up very early as Badd came off the top rope, leading me to the following tangent…
Tangent: To connect with Orndorff’s boots (which had been there for an age), Badd had to jump so that he was landing on his feet. So what move was he actually trying to hit? If Orndorff hadn’t put the boots up, he would’ve just landed on his feet in front of him. It makes him look stupid, crap, or both! If he’s gone for an elbow drop, for example, he probably would’ve avoided Orndorff’s feet and landed the move.
After the commercial it’s a double down, which at least makes a change from the Raw Post-Break Chinlock™ Badd tries a running splash, but Orndorff gets the knees up. Mr Wonderful tries an impressive-looking splash from the top that misses, though at least this looked like a believable sequence – i.e. Orndorff would’ve landed a move had Badd not rolled out of the way. Badd motions for the Tutti Fruity, but Orndorff rolls out of the ring to check himself out in the mirror, so Badd stomps on his head then hits a plancha. Back inside, Badd reverses a piledriver attempt into a backdrop. When Orndorff tries the same moments later, Badd hangs on for a sunset flip attempt, which is then countered for an Orndorff win. A few minor irks asides, this turned out to be a reasonable TV match.
Final Rating: **½
Bischoff segues to a clip of the WCW stars on the set of Baywatch. Macho Man does bench presses on the beach before being attacked by Kevin Sullivan, who fortunately isn’t dressed in beach wear. A selection of other wrestlers, including Ric Flair, chase off Sullivan.
Promo Time: Randy Savage
Resident pervert and premium-rate phone-line shyster Mean Gene hosts. Okerlund brings up the fact that Savage was unreceptive to Flair’s help in the previous clip, so Macho acknowledges tensions between the two. Judging by the segments at the end of the first two Nitros, it looks like he has tensions with just about the entire roster. He then talks about friction within the Hulkamaniac team which he was a part of, and calls Hogan a “horrible judge of character” because Luger cheap-shotted him last night. Mean Gene suggests that it was accidental. Macho is also going to destroy Kevin Sullivan and is “drawing a line in the sand” to divide those with him from those against him. The last time there was sand, Sullivan attacked him. Enter Lex Luger wearing the same clothes as he did on the first Nitro. He calls Macho Man jealous and in possession of an ulterior motive concerning the WCW Title. It’s true, Macho admits, he does want the title. Luger evades Macho’s direct question as to whether or not he intentionally cheap-shotted him, so Macho wants to fight him here and now. He gives Luger a little tap on the face, but we cut to the break, where, according to Bischoff, security clear the ring. They’re trying to cram so many of their top stars and multiple angles into a one-hour show that these segments are not only convoluted, but also repetitive because nobody backs down or resolves the issue at hand.
Bischoff recaps the events surrounding Hulk Hogan at Fall Brawl. First, we see him arrive at the venue on a chopper, pulling up right next to a group of his fans (clearly planted). Suddenly, a monster truck comes around the corner and runs over Hogan’s bike (with Hogan and the crowd nowhere near the incident despite only two or three seconds occurring between cuts). It’s like a scene from a really terrible movie (or a typical Hogan one – Santa with Muscles anyone?). The Giant is driving. Next, we cut to the end of the War Games match, where Hogan is pounding away on the tiny, out-of-shape Taskmaster. The Giant enters the cage and beats on Hogan. However, Hogan’s team had already won the match, so perhaps their new stable mate should’ve intervened earlier. Paul Wight doesn’t have the best track record for cage match interference: In the WWF he will go on to cost Vince McMahon a match at St Valentine’s Day Massacre by throwing Steve Austin through the cage, after lying in wait under the ring for an eternity while Austin panned McMahon all around the arena.
Brian Pillman vs. Ric Flair
This looks like a good match up and a decent TV main event. The action starts fast and furious with both men exchanging chops in the corner. There’s only one winner in this battle, so Pillman rakes the eyes. Flair keeps going back to the chops, which gets the crowd going. He also hits a top-rope axe handle to the outside. Pillman is transitioning into his ‘Loose Canon’ gimmick and so uses a lot more strikes and chokes than normal. He laughs maniacally as he targets Flair’s arm via the ring post and guardrail. Flair counters with more chops – WOOO! – and drops Pillman across the guardrail. Flair mounts the turnbuckles again and gets caught; there’s no chance that he’s hitting two top-rope moves in one match. The figure four is countered into a roll up for two and then heads collide for a double down that doesn’t last very long. Another exchange of chops before Flair cinches in the figure four for the submission win. This was a tidy, though short, TV match with a clear finish and unhindered by run-ins and angles.
Final Rating: **½
After the match, Flair calls out Anderson, but when AA doesn’t show up, Flair makes a match for next week. This brief segment gets bonus points because Flair cuts his promo while Strauss’s ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ played in the background.
There’s still time for one small segment at the announce desk after a commercial break (including an advert for herbal ecstasy). Bischoff shills the Saturday night show, while Heenan thinks Anderson will ensure that Flair has done his last “woooo”. Also, “something is happening in the back” but of course we don’t find out. Nice one. Next week: the Nitro debut of Disco Inferno, and Macho Man vs. Taskmaster.
THE NITRO RECAP:
Most Entertaining: Macho Man for his all-round insanity.
Least Entertaining: Kevin Sullivan. He popped up in too many segments for my liking (one is usually too many).
Quote of the Night: “This is more action than a rooster sees in a henhouse” – Mongo. What’s Terry Taylor been getting up to with those chickens?
Match of the Night: Ric Flair vs. Brian Pillman
Summary: Three matches, three promos, and a several recaps on the previous night’s pay per view is a lot to cram into one hour. Two of the matches are probably worth watching, and the other match has the historical significance of being the first title change on the show. This was also the first episode without Hogan, but his absence meant everything felt shortened or rushed because the whole show revolved around the events involving Hulk at Fall Brawl. Overall, this show is perhaps worth viewing once to see Nitro’s first title change and the Flair-Pillman match, but don’t go out of your way for it.