Reliving Nitro: Episodes 50 & 51 and Raw History: Episode 174
August 26th, 1996 | Manatee Civic Center in Palmetto, Florida
WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Hulk Hogan (2) 8/10/96
WCW United States Champion: Ric Flair (5) since 7/7/96
WCW World Tag Team Champions: Harlem Heat (6) since 7/27/96
WCW Television Champion: Lex Luger (1) since 3/6/96
WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Rey Mysterio Jr. (1) since 7/8/96
Nitro is running unopposed with Raw being gone until 9/6 for US Open coverage.
Juventud Guerrera def. Billy Kidman in 3:43
It’s the debut of Juvi! We go right into the action tonight. Kidman takes him down early and then dives out onto him. Tony Schiavone brings the effort by mentioning Juvi’s father. Juvi busts out a sunset flip bomb off the apron and follows with a pescado into a leg drop. Tony even calls it correctly! He does a springboard corkscrew splash inside but his next move gets caught in a powerbomb. Kidman gets two on a slingshot leg drop. Kidman uses the shooting star press, but only gets a near fall. He isn’t getting pushed yet so it can’t work. Juvi goes up top with him and spins out a super rana for the win. It was a short moves display but it worked. Lots of action and fun for two relative unknowns. ***
Gene Okerlund tries to interview Juvi about his upcoming shot at the Mexican Title. He only speaks Spanish here so it gets booed. Why have him cut a promo? He got over temporarily with his offense.
GLACIER IS COMIGN SOON!
LAST WEEK ~ They recap Ric Flair and Arn Anderson agreeing to work with Lex Luger and Sting in War Games.
Big Bubba and Kevin Sullivan w/ Jimmy Hart def. Jim Powers and Marcus Bagwell w/ Teddy Long in 4:26
They plug Sullivan being the “master of the tree of woe” before the bell. Scotty Riggs is injured so Powers is his replacement here. I’m not sure why Teddy is there but I feel like I should since I’ve watched every Nitro. The babyfaces get beat up early but clean house and send the heels to regroup outside. Back in, Sullivan does the tree of woe, which he’s of course mastered. Schiavone literally says the tag to Powers is a “hot tag”. Powers uses 80’s offense, including turnbuckle smashes on both opponents and Hart. Powers seems to win with a cross body since Bubba didn’t get his shoulder up. EVIL referee Nick Patrick says to restart and the Bubba Slam wins it for the heels. So Patrick isn’t NWO? He’s just crooked? This was surprisingly good and another tidy little TV match tonight. **
Gene is back to interview the winners. Bubba is tired of being overlooked and wants all the title shots. They even mention Glacier and say that when he finally shows up, he should come find Bubba. Sullivan takes over, saying that he telegraphed this Hulk Hogan stuff over a year ago. Then he says that Gene was out with Hogan on a boat recently but Gene denies.
More from Gene, who stands by with Lex Luger and Sting. Apparently, Chris Benoit and Mongo challenged them tonight to “gut check” them. They aren’t happy about the challenge because they thought things were temporarily cool with the Horsemen, but they accept.
Chavo Guerrero Jr. def. Mike Enos in 4:38
With Halloween Havoc over two months away, they already announce the main event of Hogan vs. Savage. Chavo sends Enos outside and dives out but gets caught. Enos hits a fall away slam there and then carries Chavo up the steps and throws him inside. Mike’s partner, Dick Slater, shows up at ringside. Enos continues to toss Chavo around like a ragdoll. Chavo rallies a bit and Enos pokes the ref in the eye. Slater comes in and helps Enos. For some reason, he rolls his partner out and Enos puts the Slater’s towel over his head. How would this plan work when Slater and Enos have completely different haircuts? Chavo rolls Slater up to steal it. Dumb. ¾*
Gene continues to work hard, interviewing Chavo, who calls out DDP. Chavo meets DDP at Fall Brawl in what is one of the better built matches on that card.
SATURDAY NIGHT ~ Lex Luger defends the TV Title against Lord Steven Regal, while the Steiner Brothers collide with the Nasty Boys!
WCW Cruiserweight Championship: Rey Mysterio Jr. (c) def. JL in 11:33
I like how he has “Mr.” in his name sometimes and then doesn’t on other nights. They do some quick work early before we cut outside to the NWO. Those heathens are spray painting the production truck. They go to break and return to see Rey flying around. He hits a springboard dropkick to the back then does a 619 tease before hitting a plancha. Commentary continues to be more focused on the NWO than the match. JL delivers some backbreakers and focused on the back with a Boston crab. Hour number two begins, complete with pyro, in the middle of this match. Dean Malenko is out to watch this. Rey nearly gets shoved over and out but holds on and hits a rana variation. Inside, Rey wins with the springboard rana. Fine match though I think they’re capable of better. I liked JL’s focus on the back. It could have been better with more focus on that instead of the antics outside. **½
Gene interviews Mongo and Benoit in the back. Mongo says they’ve come to their senses and realize they should be in there with Flair and Arn at Fall Brawl. Then Benoit says it wasn’t their decision, even though we saw them agree last week! Woman also flirts with Gene and brings up him hanging out with Hogan.
They flash back to the previous two weeks where Savage was attacked by Hogan and then cut a promo on him. Gene interviews an irate Savage, who doesn’t care if you’re with WCW because he’s in the zone.
The Giant w/ Jimmy Hart def. Jim Duggan in 4:37
They waste pyro budget on Jim Duggan of all people. He chases Jimmy around the ring early on as if Giant needs help against this bum. Once inside, Giant applies a bear hug for a while. As they’re boring everyone, TED DIBIASE casually strolls to a front row seat. IS HE THE FOURTH MAN? Giant wins with the chokeslam. Dibiase holds up four fingers and mouths, “Next week, five.” The match was just there.*
Giant gets interviewed after the match and says that he will face Hogan at Halloween Havoc after taking out Savage at Fall Brawl. He even calls himself the World Heavyweight Champion.
Arn Anderson and Ric Flair w/ Elizabeth and Woman def. The Rock n’ Roll Express in 4:29
Arn and Morton start off with Arn beating him up. Both guys tag out and Flair uses underhanded tactics to gain the upper hand. Flair does his trademark short punches before taking ten punches from Morton. Arn comes in and plants Morton with the DDT, allowing Flair to get the pin. I won’t even rate this since it was mostly a squash.
Gene is back it to interview Arn and Flair again. Arn calls the NWO cowards for picking their spots but says they can’t come War Games. Flair is still livid about the loss to Hogan at Clash of the Champions. He’s hype because War Games isn’t in New York, LA or Chicago. It’s in his backyard of Winston-Salem.
Another Glacier ad runs.
Alex Wright vs. Chris Jericho ended in a no contest at 4:51
It’s the debut of Chris Jericho! It’s cheesy babyface Jericho, but Jericho nonetheless. They shake hands and trade arm drags and dropkicks. Jericho works the arm before hitting a spinning heel kick. With Wright on the apron, Jericho does the springboard dropkick. Back inside, Jericho comes off the top but right into a dropkick. Wright tries a springboard cross body but kind of does a headbutt instead for two. Jericho misses a splash in the corner and falls outside. Wright comes off the top but hits the guardrail. Both spills didn’t look pleasant. Wright is about to get counted out but Jericho doesn’t want to win that way. Instead of restarting things, the match is just thrown out. This was going fine until the lame ending. **¼
Mean Gene is out yet again to find out what happened. Jericho says he’s here to win fair and square. Unlike Hulk Hogan, guys like he and Wright fight the right way for WCW. Alex goes to say something but they’re out to time and Gene sends it to commercial.
The Steiner Brothers def. The Blue Bloods in 3:30
The Blue Bloods are Dave Taylor and Robert Eaton. Everyone gets jobber entrances. The Blue Bloods spend time arguing because I guess another team is going to break up. They right the ship and seem on the verge of a win. They go for a doomsday device spot but Rick catches Eaton in a hideous cross body attempt where he nearly breaks his own neck.
The Blue Bloods officially split up by brawling while Gene interviews the Steiners, who seem to enjoy watching it. Rick thinks the next PPV is Halloween Havoc so he cuts an insane promo about pumpkins and cock-a-doodle-doos for some reason. They face Harlem Heat at Fall Brawl.
Chris Benoit and Steve McMichael w/ Debra, Elizabeth and Woman vs. Lex Luger and Sting ended in a no contest at 5:42
Everyone brawls to kick things off. Mongo hot shots Luger on the top rope and punts him in the ribs. Benoit and Mongo spend time working over Luger, who gets to do his poor selling as the face in peril. Sting’s hot tag eventually comes and goes much better than Luger’s selling. Benoit misses the diving headbutt but here comes Hulk Hogan. He gets in Mongo’s face and goads him into following him around the ring. This allows Scott Hall and Kevin Nash to come over the guardrail and attack. The match gets thrown out.
Hall and Nash plant Sting and Benoit with the Outsider’s Edge and Jackknife. They spray paint NWO on their backs until Arn and Flair show up. The crowd loses their minds because the Horsemen kick their ass. Hogan uses the spray can to blind Flair and Arn. Hogan also sprays a streak down Flair’s hair. With the faces taken care of, the NWO head up to the booth and take over commentary. “HEREEEE’S THE NWO!” They spray over the Nitro logo while the faces are down in a ring filled with garbage.
September 2nd, 1996 | UTC Arena in Chattanooga, Tennessee
WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Hulk Hogan (2) 8/10/96
WCW United States Champion: Ric Flair (5) since 7/7/96
WCW World Tag Team Champions: Harlem Heat (6) since 7/27/96
WCW Television Champion: Lord Steven Regal (3) since 8/20/96
WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Rey Mysterio Jr. (1) since 7/8/96
Again, Nitro runs unopposed. Tony Schiavone and Larry Zbyszko open things by recapping everything that went down with the NWO last week, as well as the arrival of Ted Dibiase.
Diamond Dallas Page def. Alex Wright in 3:44
The more Alex Wright on TV, the better. Das Wunderkind isn’t a pushover and sends DDP over, following with a plancha. DDP turns it around when things go back inside. He takes time to taunt, which allows Wright to kick out of a tilt-a-whirl slam. He follows with a sitout powerbomb for two again. Wright avoids the Diamond Cutter and hits a belly to belly suplex. Wright runs up DDP in the corner and back flips but DDP kicks him and nails the Diamond Cutter. That was rather fun. Wright had good fire and DDP’s offense ruled. The Diamond Cutter out of nowhere was getting more over. **¼
Gene Okerlund interviews Nick Patrick about his slow counts. Patrick is pissed that Gene is gunning for him. He says that WCW officials have reviewed his stuff and he still has a job. He mentions that Randy Anderson blew a call at Clash of the Champions but nobody is on his case.
Backstage, Gene is at it again, interviewing Col. Robert Parker and Sister Sherri. Parker has gifts for her, which are a leather vest and chaps because she’s coming to his farm for something.
WCW World Tag Team Championship: Harlem Heat (c) def. Buddy Valentino and Greg Valentine in 4:45
This sounds dreadful. Of interest, Ted Dibiase walks to his seat in the crowd again, getting a bigger pop than either team. Commentary is still unsure if he meant five for the fifth NWO member (with him being four) or for a fifth Horsemen. Right, because there are always five horsemen. Valentino is a big boy but busts out a dropkick, making him infinitely more interesting than Greg Valentine. Valentino does take a beating and falls to the Harlem Hangover. Not good, but not offensive either. *
Harlem Heat gets interviewed and say that they are gonna get the Nasty Boys, since apparently the Steiners are no longer getting the title shot. The Nasties run out and attack them from behind. Booker takes a spike piledriver heading into commercial.
BLOOD RUNS COLD!
Chris Jericho def. Dean Malenko in 9:01
Mike Tenay joins the booth for this match. Jericho is scheduled to face Chris Benoit at Fall Brawl and Dean just wrestled him at Hog Wild, so this makes sense though I would have expected Jericho/Wright II. Tenay digs deep into Jericho’s background. A small “ECW” chant breaks out after a spin kick from Jericho. Malenko hits a sweet back suplex before Ted Dibiase gets up and leaves. Dean works a rest hold so the fans can focus on him. Poor Ted had to sit through the Tag Title match and leave during this. Dean applies an abdominal stretch with the ropes for assistance until Jericho hip tosses out. Jericho fires off chops and Dean responds with a springboard turnaround bulldog. I can’t ever recall Dean doing springboard offense. After sending Dean outside, Jericho springboards out onto him. Inside, Dean survives a dropkick and tombstones Chris for two. They go into a series of reversals that ends with a rollup to earn Jericho the upset. That ruled. Good back and forth action that showed how the “Lionheart” has a never say die attitude. ***½
VIDEO PACKAGE ~ Highlights of Rey Mysterio Jr. and his opponent for Fall Brawl, Super Calo. Calo had horrible gear.
SATURDAY NIGHT ~ Mongo takes on John Tenta and the Blue Bloods explode when Dave Taylor goes one on one with Robert Eaton!
The Giant w/ Jimmy Hart def. Brad Armstrong in 3:48
Armstrong has a bad strategy as he grabs Giant around the waist. It ends with him getting chopped in the corner. While Giant manhandles Armstrong, a limo pulls up outside. WHO COULD IT BE? Brad tries a sunset flip style move but Giant isn’t easy to bring down. He lifts Brad like nothing to a strong pop and throws him to the side. Giant catches him with a chokeslam and wins. A squash match, but at least Brad showed fire.
NWO PAID ANNOUNCEMENT ~ Hogan is alone for this one. He talks about the NWO belt and how he beat Giant and Ric Flair. He says that business will be taken care of in War Games. It isn’t one of the better paid announcements.
Hour number two begins. Eric Bischoff calls this the 53rd episode but it’s only 51. They run through a recap of the NWO stuff from last week just like they did to open the show.
Randy Savage def. Ron Studd in 2:44
Studd pounds away on Savage for a few. The cameras catch Hogan, Hall and Nash exiting the limo outside. They notice the camera and tell someone to stay in the limo while they shoo the cameraman away. Savage rallies, hits a big body slam and wins with the elbow. Standard squash stuff for Savage. It made sense since Savage has a match against the Giant coming up.
Gene returns to interview Savage about the history between him and Hogan, as well as the match with the Giant. Savage is intense, saying he wishes Fall Brawl was tonight. Since Giant couldn’t handle defending the title at Hog Wild, Savage is taking over from here on out. He guaranteed wins in both matches.
The Four Horsemen are shown running to the limo outside. It’s empty, which means the NWO is in the building.
The Steiner Brothers def. Lex Luger and Sting via disqualification in 0:38
Rick shoves Lex out of a collar and elbow tie up and he barely grazes Nick Patrick. Patrick calls for the bell to end the match, which the crowd hates. Honestly, Scott is injured so I guess that’s why this didn’t end up going down for real. An angry Sting and Luger chase off Patrick to the back.
The Four Horsemen w/ Debra, Elizabeth and Woman def. The Dungeon of Doom w/ Jimmy Hart in 13:54
These two stables have been intertwined for most of the Nitro run. Benoit gets the first real highlight by hitting the Barbarian with a diving headbutt. He tags in Flair, who gets a huge pop. Flair goes up against Meng but cameras catch Flair and Sting chase Nick Patrick outside. Patrick turns away from the NWO limo but Ted Dibiase enters it. Sting throws a cement block through the window and it drives off, so he and Luger steal a parked cop car to give chase. Back to the ring, Flair low blows the world and the crowd eats it all up. Arn ends up in the tree of woe and Sullivan rams into him. Remember, he’s the master of that move. When they take a break, we get another Glacier commercial. Returning, Benoit takes a beating while commentary discusses the limo stuff that just went down. Benoit and Sullivan reignite their rivalry with some fun hard hitting stuff. Benoit pulls out a cross body on Meng for two. Arn sneaks in with a weak spinebuster that still gets a pop. The Faces of Fear miss their stereo diving headbutts and Benoit makes the hot tag to Flair. He goes wild, hitting everything moving. As everyone brawls outside, Flair puts Sullivan in the Figure Four. Woman assists his leverage and Sullivan gets pinned to the mat. Woman and Benoit argue during this. This was a fun match. The crowd loved it, Benoit took the heat well and Flair was a wild man. Everyone, even Mongo, contributed. ***
The NWO arrive and jump both groups. The Giant comes out to a pop to make the save. OR DOES HE? The Giant grabs the Barbarian instead and chokeslams him. HE’S THE FOURTH MAN! He hugs Nash while Hogan sprays Barbarian’s back. Randy Savage is out with a chair and nails everyone. He misses Hogan and gets tackled to the mat. They brawl until the rest of the NWO saves Hogan. Giant chokeslams Savage before Hogan hits THREE leg drops. Not only do they spray NWO on Savage, but they add a yellow streak down his back. The NWO takes over commentary again, with Hogan saying he is the most powerful man in wrestling. He says there aren’t four or five, but six members now. Giant tries to explain his turn, saying that he had a meeting with Dibiase. Hogan interrupts so they can spit on the Nitro sign but it seemed to be heading towards Dibiase being able to offer him more than WCW could. The Dungeon and Horsemen return for another big brawl. Once that ends, Hogan says he got Giant a part in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new film. They end it with “whether you like it or you don’t, it’s the best thing going today,” before they flip the table over.
September 6th, 1996 | Civic Center in Wheeling, West Virginia
WWF Champion: Shawn Michaels (1) since 3/31/96
WWF Intercontinental Champion: Vacant since 8/12/96
WWF Tag Team Champions: The Smoking Gunns (3) since 5/26/96
After being gone for two Mondays, Raw returns with “Championship Friday”, a special Friday show (obviously) centered around the Intercontinental Title Tournament and a WWF Title match. Kevin Kelly and Jim Ross handle commentary.
The show kicks off with a video package putting over Shawn Michaels as the perfect champion, while saying his challenger tonight, Goldust, is the exact opposite. At least it does a good job putting over how well Goldust uses mind games to his advantage.
WWF Intercontinental Championship Tournament Quarterfinals: Sycho Sid def. Hunter Hearst Helmsley in 3:40
Sid is over like crazy. He beats up Hunter until taking a swinging neckbreaker after setting too early. Commentary discusses how Mr. Perfect keeps showing up and stealing Hunter’s random valets. Hunter hits a knee but his punches get no sold. Sid nails the chokeslam and calls for the Powerbomb. Mr. Perfect casually strolls to ringside. Sid hits a Powerbomb that folds Hunter in half to advance. Mr. Perfect then proceeds to steal Hunter’s girl Kimberly from ringside. The match was one-sided but I want to give each tournament match a score so I’ll do one here. *
We hear from Ahmed Johnson and his doctor as they discuss his kidney problems. Ahmed says that he came close to dying and the fact that he didn’t makes him feel like there are BIG plans for him in the future.
WWF Intercontinental Championship Tournament Quarterfinals: Marc Mero w/ Sable def. Steve Austin via disqualification in 6:37
Brian Pillman joins commentary and claims to have news concerning Bret Hart’s return. These two had an awesome match at the King of the Ring. Austin’s arrogance costs him early as a taunt leads to a right hand. Austin hasn’t quite got his look officially down yet. He has the black trunks but the goatee isn’t filled out and he has no wristbands yet. They go back and forth and trade back slides before a commercial break. Austin gets two on the stun gun to take the upper hand. Mero comes back with the ten corner punches and Austin begs for mercy. Just as Mero’s rally reaches its peak, Austin pulls the referee into a Mero should block, resulting in the DQ. Disappointing match that never came close to their KOTR outing. **
Austin hits the Stunner after the match. He dumps Mero outside, but the “Wildman” is miraculously up and they trade shots in the ring until things get broken up.
Jerry Lawler is in the ring to conduct an interview with newly signed Mark Henry. Lawler makes a joke about the Olympics getting bombed before turning things towards Henry’s WWF contract. Lawler says that Henry getting a lot of money despite never wrestling a match has rubbed people the wrong way. He challenges Henry, who wants a fight. Jerry says that he doesn’t want a fight, he wants a match. Henry admits that he isn’t ready to wrestle yet but there will be a day soon. Lawler calls him a coward, baiting Henry into agreeing to a wrestling match.
Mankind w/ Paul Bearer def. Alex Porteau in 2:07
Mankind is set for a WWF Title match at the upcoming In Your House Pay-Per-View. Jim Ross makes a major announcement, saying that Diesel and Razor Ramon are returning to the WWF. We all know how that turns out. Porteau is known as “The Pug.” JR also makes a quick mention of Kurt Angle being in talks with the WWF. Mankind handily beats him with the Mandible Claw.
Footage is shown from a recent event in Toronto where Sycho Sid and special Olympians played tug of war with an elephant. Later in the day, a WWF show was held where former interim President Roddy Piper showed up.
Mr. Bob Backlund is in the ring and says that he has a man who will be a future WWWF Champion. Yes, he uses three W’s. Before introducing that man, he brings out the man’s mentor, The Iron Sheik. Their old issues are apparently in the past. Sheik rambles for a while about stuff that nobody cares about. They cut him off for a commercial.
WWF Championship: Shawn Michaels (c) w/ Jose Lothario def. Goldust w/ Marlena in 7:40
Goldust tries to attack during Shawn’s entrance. Shawn makes him look like a good, tossing him outside not once, but twice. They plug Shawn’s Playgirl shoot. Shawn does his typical stuff early on. Goldust finally gains control when Marlena blows cigar smoke in his face. While Goldust works him over, Mankind is shown on a split screen singing Shawn’s theme. Both men hit the ground on the classic double clothesline spot. Shawn starts the comeback and hits a cross body. Goldust rolls through into a near fall before an abrupt commercial. Returning, Shawn tunes up the band but Marlena gets on the apron, distracting him. He sets for the Curtain Call only for Shawn to flip over. Shawn fakes him out on a cross body before winning with a weak moonsault. The crowd popped big for the finish and most of the match, though it was standard TV stuff. **¼
Mankind runs out through the crowd but Shawn escapes them and backs up the aisle.
Nitro 8/26 Rating: 4.2
Nitro 9/2 Rating: 4.3
Raw 9/6 Rating: 3.4
Nitro 9/2: That was a lot of fun. Outside of the lame Tag Team Title match, I’d say everything delivered. We had some fine squash matches throughout the night as well as the fun little opener between Wright and DDP. The Malenko/Jericho match ruled and the main event was better than I thought it would be. Add in the classic ending and WCW hit a home run, even if I disagree with the Giant joining the NWO. 8.0
Raw: Very average stuff this week. For being branded a special show, nothing happened. Shawn retained the title in a ho-hum match and the two tournament matches didn’t do much for me. Also, the desperation was distinct with the mentions of Bret Hart, Diesel and Razor Ramon. 4.0