Monday Nitro (10/30/95)
Dan Hey: The regular trio host. It’s the night after Halloween Havoc, and Bischoff puts it over as the “event that shocked the wrestling world.” It was shocking in a ‘why is all this garbage taking place on a wrestling show’ kind of way. Bischoff plugs the event as if the viewers of Nitro won’t have purchased the pay per view. And as an insult to those who spent their cash on it last night, they’re going to show the footage from the Hogan-Giant main event. Only, it’s not arrived here yet, which makes the company look completely incompetent. It’s on its way. Goody gum drops. In other news, Macho Man was injured last night and will be replaced by Eddie Guerrero tonight. That actually is good.
Sgt. Craig Pitman vs. Eddie Guerrero
Eddie has been involved in some quality matches since Nitro first aired. I’m not sold on Pitman, although he did have a semi-decent bout with Kurasawa that James covered a few weeks back. To me, Pitman doesn’t convince as USMC drill sergeant. He just doesn’t seem assertive or physically confident enough. Strange really, given he genuinely was a sergeant in the Marines. Compare him to R. Lee Ermey, another real-life drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket, and he’s just not as convincing. The only way Pitman could drive Private Pyle to suicide is through the boredom of watching him wrestle. He also adopts an odd stance and facial expression in the ring. Bischoff buries him by calling his style “amateur.” Unfortunately, the larger Pitman dominates the bulk of this match, keeping it at a slow pace. He works the arm, which makes sense, as Eddie had his arm systematically dismantled by Chris Benoit only a couple of weeks ago. Pitman’s offence is infinitely more boring than Benoit’s, however. And very sloppy at times, especially an attempted roll up that completely misses and leaves the announcers momentarily silent. Bischoff takes a moment to plug World War 3, which is exclusive to WCW. It’s a pay per view, not a global conflict, and will feature a three-ring sixty-man battle royal. That is too many men and too many rings to make a good match. There’s a few “boring” chants, and not unwarranted too. I’d generally rag on the announcers for giving updates on the ETA of the Halloween Havoc tape instead of calling the action, but there’s not much to say. Pitman continues to work the arm slowly, badly, and it’s incredibly boring. Eddie then springs to life with his first real offensive move: a springboard crossbody. Pitman immediately responds with a suplex followed by a brutal powerbomb. He attempts what looks like a hip toss, but Eddie rolls through to win it. Aside from the last four or five moves, this was awful.
Final Rating: ½*
We do have footage available from the 9/11 edition of Nitro. Scott Norton and Shark are feuding because Shark fell on Norton’s legs and cost him a match against Savage. We also see their backstage brawl from last week. That match is next. Great. Meanwhile, Heenan has left the broadcast booth. I don’t blame him.
Shark vs. Scott Norton
John Tenta’s Shark ring attire makes him look ridiculous, although I am fantasy booking a match between him and TNA’s Shark Boy right now. Norton is a bog-standard generic big man. He’s also a former World Champion at arm wrestling, according to Bischoff. Fascinating. AvaSharkQuake hits an impressive belly-to-belly and an elbow drop. He started at an impressive pace against Sting a couple of weeks ago, and then lost in less than three minutes. I’m hoping this match will be equally short. Norton hits two clotheslines and a top-rope shoulder block which doesn’t take the big man off his feet. But a powerslam does! It pops the crowd and gets a two count. Bischoff tells us that Norton has “some major guns on him.” Pitman came out in the last match draped in bullets, so perhaps those two should form a team: Guns and Ammo. Both men hit simultaneous clotheslines and the big boys have themselves a little rest from their play with a double down. The camera cuts to Heenan dining with Sonny Onoo in the crowd. Meanwhile, the match spills outside for a double count out. They struggle with each other down the aisle and take turns bashing each other’s head off a “solid steel” W. This match wasn’t great and had a crappy finish, but I was actually expecting worse.
Final Rating: *¼
Back to Heenan and Onoo. Heenan is discussing WCW programming, which I’m sure he gets wrong. He also takes a poorly-concealed bribe. Well, it worked for Sepp Blatter for so long.
Promo Time: Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, and Brian Pillman
Tony Schiavone takes over from Mean Gene this week. We may not have the Hogan-Giant footage yet, but we do get stills from the Flair & Sting vs Arn & Pillman match from last night. Flair was allegedly beaten in the back by AA and Pillman, so Sting was in a “one-on-two” match (Schiavone). To be fair to Flair, the Stinger did leave him on his own against the same opponents only two weeks ago. Flair came out later, and guess what? It was all a ruse. The three of them administered a beating to Sting. We see Flair mugging to the camera in the last shot. In the ring now, Flair and Pillman are like Rod and Todd Flanders on a sugar high. The Loose Canon gets particularly excited about their actions last night. We’re also one new member (cough: Benoit) away from the latest incarnation of the Four Horsemen: “Some people call it a gang. Some people call it a militia. We call it a dynasty” (Pillman). The Enforcer cuts a cool promo to contrast against his hyper stable mates. He puts over Stinger’s guts for lasting so long against them. During all this, Pillman is messing about on his knees and Flair is bouncing off the ropes. AA reminds people to be careful what they wish for, as they’ll soon be introducing the fourth member, “And you know what that means.” Enjoyable segment.
The footage is still on its way. Next week is live and interactive, where the fans will call the shots.
Sabu vs. Disco Inferno
Disco is “dancing like a champion” says Bobby Heenan, now back at the booth. He then not-so-subtly hints that Hogan isn’t a champion. WCW’s resident Disco Stu (minus the hair and the charisma) has “Monday Nitro Fever” on the back of his tights. He literally falls on these words when Sabu jaws him ferociously. That was some pop in the mount. Sabu takes charge of the match, though he’s never really in control of anything with his own unique and unpredictable aerial style, which Bischoff calls “lethal.” Yes, but often just as lethal to himself. Disco makes a comeback, and chokes Sabu on the top rope. He stops to dance between each move (because he likes Disco you see, and thus is unable to focus on his wrestling career for five minutes or so). The crowd get a little Sabu chant going, and this rallies the lunatic, who wins it with a somersault leg drop. He attacks Disco after the match, and naturally, he botches it, completely missing an attempted slingshot rana and falling on his neck. He sets up a table, but Disco rolls out of the way (he’s still dancing inbetween all these ‘moves’) and the table fails to break as Sabu hits the wood. Sabu is now going to “throw the buffet table” at Disco (see Mongo in week two), so Disco high tails it. Two complete fools. It can have a quarter star for Sabu socking Disco in the mush, but that’s all.
Final Rating: ¼*
Lex Luger & Meng vs. The American Males
Luger and Jimmy Hart are part of Kevin Sullivan’s Dungeon of Doom now. The American Males’ theme music starts by repeating the words, “American Males,” several times. It’s a shame they couldn’t pre-empt and pluralise Steven Regal’s 1998 man’s man theme song: ‘we are men, such men’ etc. It amused me when the Quebecers did it with the old Mountie theme song. “Do you know what they do on their day off? They work in a department store and they spray cologne at people when they walk in” (Heenan). He’s talking about the American Males, but only because Luger and Meng couldn’t get hired in those roles. The Males work early heat on Luger’s arm and it’s boring. Mongo says they are “kicking the shag out of Luger.” Bischoff has a heart attack thinking that he might say shit on air, and Heenan says that it’s like working without a safety net. Bischoff then confuses Sting with Meng, while not a thing is happening in the ring. WCW’s big coup (Lex, by the way) and recently turned heel is getting treated like a jobber by two guy dressed as Chippendales (who moonlight as faux-cowboys, apparently). Riggs then hits the worst backdrop in the history of the sport: Luger set too early and Riggs literally stopped in his tracks and tumbled over him. Bischoff lies and calls it “nice”; Heenan out-lies him and calls it “very nice.” It’s only nice enough for a two count, though. The fans call for Hogan. Well, a fan is. He/they won’t be getting him this week, although his name has been mentioned more than any other wrestler actually on the show. Meng is on the offensive now, as the Dungeon take over on heat. It’s as boring as you would expect. Luger comes back in, but Bagwell receives the hot tag and gets the visual win over Lex “Ham and Egger” Luger. The ref is distracted, though, allowing Meng to kick Bagwell in the head, which sets him up for Luger’s Torture Rack and it’s over. Awful.
Final Rating: DUD
Back at the commentary desk, Mongo trick or treats his colleagues on behalf of Pepe. Bischoff, courtesy of a sponsor, provides some candy. You shouldn’t give chocolate to a dog, it’s not good for them at all. Heenan has nothing so gets Silly String sprayed in his face.
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. The Giant
Here’s your real main event, folks. Highlights from the pay per view main event that you were encouraged to buy last night being given away for free on TV. In an unfathomably convoluted angle, Hogan has a visual pin on The Giant after a leg drop, but Jimmy Hart takes out the referee – twice. He blindsides Hogan with the megaphone and Sullivan gets involved. The Giant puts him in a snuggle, but here comes Luger and Savage for the save. Only, it’s another double-cross, as Luger beats on Savage. Out comes the YET-AY! (read: mummy). The YET-AY joins the bearhug from behind and wiggles. Yes, he wiggles and grinds while pressed up against Hogan’s back while simultaneously massaging Giant’s neck.
Final Rating: -*
Promo Time: The Dungeon of Doom
We cut instantly to Nitro, with The Giant in the ring wearing the WCW World Championship belt. It’s momentarily confusing and looks like a jump cut from the footage. Kevin Sullivan, Jimmy Hart, Lex Luger, and The Giant represent the Dungeon – there’s no sign of YET-AY, Zodiac, Shark, Kamala, or Meng, not that I’m complaining. Schiavone points out that it isn’t Giant’s belt by rights because of the DQ finish last night. Jimmy won’t tell us now why he turned his back on Hogan; instead, we have to buy his book, or just wait until next week. Lex gloats about Hogan lying in a pathetic heap last night. Sullivan has some kind of heart attack or seizure – or he’s providing visual aid to Luger’s words. The Giant throws in a cheeky stomp for laughs. For further chuckles, Giant throws out a little rhyme (try as they will, they won’t knock him off the hill). He’ll also defend the title that isn’t his on Nitro next week. Sullivan has another epileptic fit, while Hart runs victory laps around the ring. Utterly worthless.
THE NITRO RECAP:
Most Entertaining: Extremely slim pickings this week, but I’ll give it to Arn Anderson for his slick promo.
Least Entertaining: I’d say just about everyone else, but if I have to decide, then the dubious distinction goes to Kevin Sullivan for his writhing around.
Match of the Night: Yes, even though Eddie Guerrero was on the card, this one goes to Norton vs. Shark. This is no way an endorsement of that particular match; rather, it is a harrowing indictment as to the poor quality of the wrestling on the night. A prelude of Nitros to come.
Quote of the Night: “Guess what? Guess what? We’re back. We’re back. And whether you like it or you don’t like it, learn, by God, to love it, because it’s the best thing going today.” A caffeine-fuelled Ric Flair is excited about the return of the Four Horsemen.
Summary: Simply put, this was a terrible episode of Nitro, easily the worst one I have witnessed since covering the shows. The matches were poor, with shoddy, sloppy workmanship the theme of the night. When Scott Norton and Shark get match of the night on the basis of a powerslam, then you know you’re in trouble. The main event was essentially highlights from a show that the company charged fans to see one night before. Only the Horsemen promo was worth watching, and I wouldn’t track this show down just for that.