Monday Nitro (10/23/95)
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James Dixon: Hosts are the usual half-competent trio, and Eric Bischoff starts with some bragging about how Nitro is the most watched wrestling show in the world. Actually, Raw won the ratings battle last week, and will do so again this week, so as usual Bischoff is full of hot air.
Randy Savage vs. Kurasawa
I enjoyed Kurasawa last time I saw him against Craig Pittman, he was wild. Savage is dressed in magnificent Technicolor tonight, immediately upping my interest levels. Magpies like shiny objects, I like bright wrestling attire. I guess that explains my love of Doink the Clown, and the status of ‘Kona’ Crush as my favourite Brian Adams gimmick.
Musings aside, in the ring Kurasawa is completely in control from the off, targeting Savage’s dodgy knees with repeated kicks. Bobby Heenan points out that Savage has a bum left arm, a fact already given away by the presence of a small bandage over the joint, and Kurasawa soon picks up on that too. The arm becomes his focus of attack, as he utterly dominates proceedings. In that sense it is every Randy Savage TV match of his WCW run, though at least Kurasawa’s offence is more interesting and purposeful than the majority of the grinding scrubs on this roster. The match gets time, going through commercial and returning with more Kurasawa control.
Savage finally gets a break when Kurasawa swings a kick on the outside of the ring, misses, and hits the post with a thud. Back in the ring, Savage manages to evade Kurasawa again by dropping him throat-first on the ropes, before the big elbow finishes. Not bad, with plenty of intelligent work from Kurasawa and decent selling from Savage, but the repetitive nature of the structure of Macho Man’s matches is becoming irritating. And there are four more years of this from him yet!
Final Rating: **
The announcers discuss tonight’s main event, which will see Sting team with Lex Luger against Harlem Heat, when suddenly the lights go off. Fans boo, suspecting the oft-incompetent company has neglected to pay its electric bill, then they are greeted with the gruesome sight of The Master appearing on the big screen. He cuts the most rambling, incomprehensible promo you will ever hear, to the point where I briefly wonder if he is speaking in tongues until I pick out the phrases “the whiskers of the rare white Bengal tiger” and “Halloween Havoc”. As he is talking, a giant block of what is supposed to be ice, is revealed in the aisle, and it starts glowing. Oh no. Bischoff hands the segment to Mean Gene, who has experience with large inanimate objects on wrestling shows “hatching”, as it were. Gene is stood with Kevin Sullivan and The Giant, the latter of whom wrings his hands repeatedly as if he is using a particularly soft moisturiser. Sullivan says the iceberg behind them is the Dungeon of Doom’s insurance policy: “THE YET-AY”. Oh good god no. Giant calls himself “the real immortal” and that is that. No Yeti sighting tonight, we have to wait until later for that privilege.
Promo Time: Hulk Hogan
We follow that promo with another one, this time from the still black-clad “evil” Hulkster. Hearing him say “Yet-ay” is a delight. Hogan does his usual, only this time he adds murderous connotations by referencing O.J. Simpson (see The Nitro Recap), then by promising to buy a new Harley, tie The Giant to it and drag him around the city. Essentially, he is going to kill him. Hogan turns his attentions to Sting, Lex Luger and Randy Savage, his “so called friends”, noting that he doesn’t trust a single one of them. And isn’t that a shoot, brother. After confusing himself with a pair of conflicting animal themed metaphors, Hogan wraps up with his (temporary) catchphrase: “What you gonna do when the man in black destroys you?” Indeed. I wonder if Lost was inspired by this. That show’s main antagonist was quite literally “The Man In Black”. Maybe Hogan’s influence is more far-reaching than anybody realises.
Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko vs. Mr. JL & Eddie Guerrero
Look at this piece of wrestling gold! Alex Wright was originally scheduled to be Eddie’s partner, but he has injured his knee, meaning JL is drafted in. Shame, huh? “Mr. JL, a man that we do not know a lot about. It’s like ‘E.T.’ “JL”, what is that about?” – Bischoff. What a tool that man is. If you think it is such a shitty name, DON’T GIVE HIM A SHITTY NAME IN THE FIRST F*CK*NG PLACE. I have never known an announcer bury his own product and performers in such a manner before. Can you imagine if Vince McMahon had talked that way when commentating on some of the bullshit he came up with in the early nineties?
I won’t let Eric Bischoff ruin this for me. Mongo tries by muttering something about “junior league”, but I choose to ignore him rather than lose my patience. Eddie and Benoit start out with some smooth mat work, followed by a few double teams from Benoit and Malenko. Malenko grabs Eddie on the outside and holds him for a Benoit charge, but Eddie moves and wipes out Deano. These things happen. JL comes flying over the top next with an Eddie-assisted plancha, which Bischoff tries to call but ends up getting a headache from. He meanders off into nonsense quite embarrassingly, then tries to laugh off his complete lack of wrestling knowledge.
Eddie and Dean pair off and the action is too fast to call, but expertly crafted. Benoit and Malenko dismantle JL without a moment of wasted motion, then infuriatingly we cut to a backstage brawl between Scott Norton and Shark, as if anyone on the planet would want to see that fat-fest ahead of the wrestling clinic in the ring. Back from commercial and Benoit is busted at the mouth, but his team are still in control. Bischoff inadvertently points out the massive juxtaposition that is WCW, reminding everyone about the block of ice sitting in the aisle while this pure wrestling contest is unfolding in the ring. It sums up the hotchpotch nature of WCW programming in a nutshell.
The match goes on, given plenty of time to develop into a really fine tag match. JL is able to catch a breather with a spinning back elbow, and the heat has been so solid that the tag to Guerrero is hot. He looks brilliant as he unloads on Deano and Benoit, with a springboard armdrag/head scissor combo on both opponents a particular highlight. Benoit and Eddie spill to the outside, Alex Wright gets involved off camera, and JL catches Malenko with a victory roll for the surprise win. I didn’t think JL would be the one going over in this. Post match, Brian Pillman jumps Eddie Guerrero in the aisle, because he is Brian Pillman, and he does that sort of thing.
Mongo, who I am starting to think is underrated as an announcer, puts over the quality of the match and the guys involved. It comes to something when an uneducated (with regards to wrestling) NFL footballer is more adept at putting over the product than the greatest manager the industry has ever known, and the man in charge of running the company. It says a lot about WCW.
Final Rating: ***½
Sting & Lex Luger vs. Harlem Heat
For the second week running, Sting is teaming with someone he is unsure if he can trust. And he called Randy Savage paranoid only a few weeks ago! If this was the WWF, Sting would be teaming with Ric Flair here as a continuation of last week’s angle. Instead, WCW can’t help but muddy the waters and dilute the issue. Christ, look at that – watching this show is making me mix metaphors as badly as Hogan. “So much controversy, so many questions,” reckons Bischoff as Sting and Luger make their entrance. Is there really though? Sting has made an attire faux pas by dressing in the same colours (red and yellow) as his opponents. Though, actually, Harlem Heat need to take the blame for that when I think about it. Sting is working in those colours as a subtle reference to Hulk Hogan, you see. It is part of the angle and even Bischoff mentions it. Harlem Heat are the ones who should have switched their gear. It matters!
The action between Booker and Sting is pretty solid, then as soon as Luger tags in Bischoff screams, “We gotta go,” and we cut to commercial. Amusing. Poor Lex. When we return Harlem Heat are in control, working Luger over with a fairly generic heat. Bischoff gets bored and starts talking about the block of ice in the aisle again, claiming it gives him the willies. “What the hell is a Yet-ay anyway?” he asks, again burying his own dumbass product. Heenan points out it is a “Yeti”, pronouncing it correctly, but Bischoff has switched off. Harlem Heat’s manager Sherri gets bored of Stevie Ray’s dull ring work too, so fishes some Polaroids of her and Colonel Robert Parker out of her ass and kisses them. Honestly.
It’s still chinlock city in the ring, and Bischoff is STILL going on about the f*ck*ng ice block. Luger finally makes the tag to Sting when Booker misses the Harlem Hangover, and he explodes into life with clotheslines and splashes. Bischoff spells out the pointlessness of working heat because it invariably leads to a hot tag and the heels getting their asses kicked, which is true, but perhaps it would be advisable not to expose the repetitiveness of ring psychology to the world. Luger gets back in as it all breaks down, and Sting connects with a crossbody from the top for the win.
Final Rating: *
Post match, the Dungeon hit the ring, and Giant takes out Luger and Sting with chokeslams. Randy Savage comes out to confront him, but Hogan’s arrival renders his presence unnecessary. Hogan confronts Giant and throws some shots, but Giant no sells and pounds him down. Hogan Hulks Up and gets the best of the big man, then the Dungeon enter the ring en masse and brawl with Hogan and Savage. Doug Dillinger turns up armed with a billy club to calm Hogan down, then silliness ensues as the floor begins shaking and THE ICE EXPLODES, revealing… a Mummy!? “What is that?” asks Bischoff as we fade to black. It’s a f*ck*ng Mummy, Eric. Not, in fact, a Yeti at all. Though why am I surprised that you do not know!? Good post match segment actually, until the last three seconds of head-scratching nonsense.
THE NITRO RECAP:
Most Entertaining: Mr. JL. Everyone in the tag match was great, but JL took the beating and scored the win, so he deserves the credit for doing the majority of the work.
Least Entertaining: The Master. He talked even more shit than Eric Bischoff.
Quote of the Night: “I just might hang on to the black gloves brother, because everybody knows what a man with a pair of black gloves on and a black rag on his head, is capable of doing dude” – Hulk Hogan makes distasteful references to O.J. Simpson.
Match of the Night: Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko vs. Eddie Guerrero & Mr. JL
Summary: This wasn’t bad. The decent opener and excellent tag match between the super-workers in the middle of the show carried the broadcast, and it would have been among the better Nitros if not for the horrible announcing of Bischoff, the absurdity of The Master, Yeti, Hulk Hogan channelling O.J. Simpson, and the slow main event. At least we ended on a high with a strong Halloween Havoc go-home brawl between Hogan and Giant, though the reveal of Yeti bursting out of the ice as the show faded to black is surely one of the worst sign offs in history. Worth a watch regardless of the silliness.