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Leighty’s Retro Review: WCW Monday Nitro 05.27.96

May 26, 2023 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
WCW Nitro Image Credit: WCW
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Leighty’s Retro Review: WCW Monday Nitro 05.27.96  

-May 27th is not only an important day in wrestling history, but it is also my birthday. Since I have been doing the PPVs from 1996, I had the itch to watch this historic show while also reminiscing about what was my 15th birthday. If you don’t remember why this show is so important, I won’t ruin the surprise yet, but I assume most already know. Also, it happened to be Memorial Day when this show happened, and it was also Eric Bischoff’s birthday. Let’s get to it!

-Announce Teams: Tony Schiavone and Larry Zbyszko; Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan
-Macon Coliseum, Macon, GA

-Tony and Larry welcome us to the show as this is the first ever two-hour Monday Nitro. They tell us they will handle things for hour one and then it will switch over to Eric and Bobby for the second hour.

The American Males vs. Arn Anderson and Ric Flair (w/ Woman and Miss Elizabeth)

-Love me some Liz and just like with Trish and others, Heel Liz is the best Liz! Flair and Riggs start us off with a lockup and Flair quickly gets a side headlock into a take over. Riggs back with a side headlock and then gets a shoulder block after getting shoved off. Flair dumps Riggs to the floor where Arn blasts him with an elbow. The ref forces Arn out of the ring as there was no tag, so Flair comes in to kick Riggs in the face and then tags Arn. Larry mentions Kevin Greene was run out of Pittsburgh for losing The Super Bowl and now is relegated to playing for a new team in Carolina. I always had a soft spot for expansion teams and that ended quickly for Carolina when they beat my 49ers out for the NFC West Title in their second season. Yes, the NFL once had a team from Carolina playing in a West Division. Bagwell gets the tag and runs wild as the crowd is popping for everything. Bagwell with a clothesline that sends Flair to the floor. Flair heads to his VIP table and grabs a bottle of champagne that he hands to Woman. Back to the ring where Arn and Bagwell have a go and Arn immediately throws Bagwell to the floor. He tries a clothesline but hits the ring post. Tony throws it to our first commercial break!

-They actually include 55 seconds of Peacock commercials, so I don’t know how close that matches the actual commercials. So the run times of the match may be off, but we will go with what get.

-Back with Bagwell fighting out of the corner and he does a good job of it. He catches Flair with a backdrop as Woman does her usual screaming of “RIC.” Arn and Riggs get the tag and Flair grabs the leg from the apron which lets Arn get a chop block. Uh oh! Arn immediately goes for the knee and then brigs in Flair. It seems Tony and Larry were poured champagne by Flair while he was waiting for the tag. Classy move by Flair! Arn back in and he keeps pounding away on the damaged knee. The ref gets distracted which lets Flair work over the knee from the apron. Arn bends the knee and gets some leverage from Flair and that brings Bagwell in as he lands a right hand before being forced back to the apron. Flair back in with a knee-breaker and then back to Arn. Riggs gets a desperation enziguiri that sends Arn to the floor. Flair gets in the ring and gets into a shoving match with Randy Anderson that goes badly for Flair while also popping the crowd like crazy. Bagwell gets the hot tag and lands a series of dropkicks and backdrops on both men. He comes off the top with a missile dropkick on Flair, but Arn makes the save. Bagwell gets a small package, but Arn turns it the other way and then Riggs turns it back for two. Bagwell lands the Perfect-plex, but Riggs has the ref which lets Arn break. Bagwell goes for another pin and Woman goes to the eyes. The blinded Bagwell walks into a DDT and Flair gets the pin at 10:48.

Winners: Ric Flair and Arn Anderson via pin at 10:48
-This was a fun little tag match with some great heat thanks to a fired-up crowd that knows how to react to tag wrestling. Flair and Anderson cheated at every turn as they should and everyone knew how to play the tag formula. ***1/4

-Arn, Ric and the ladies head over to their VIP section where Gene Okerlund is waiting. Arn tells Mongo and Kevin Greene that he has never met a football player he can’t walk over and they do things man to man. Flair sings and kisses the hands and arms of Liz and Woman. He also tells Mongo that Deborah belongs to him. Liz says “The Champ can have anything he want.” Flair tells Savage that with his bankroll, Liz is his and AA’s “sugar mommy.” Flair was on fire here and you can tell he was enjoying this run.

-Video package of Mongo and Greene working out as they prepare for The Great American Bash. That is up next in my Retro Review series along with King of the Ring 1996 and as God as my witness, I should have another surprise review that month as well.

Steve Doll vs. The Mauler (w/ Colonel Parker)

-The Mauler would be Mike Enos, who used to half of The Beverly Brothers. He is the newest signing for Colonel Parker. What’s crazy is this would be the moment and match he is most famous for and it has nothing to do with him. Fifteen year old me thought this was a weak pairing for a match on this show, but we will see why in a second. Mauler tries to attack before the bell, but misses a charge. He does land a kick and gets a snap suplex. The crowd starts a KFC chant at Parker. Mauler sets Doll on the top rope and gets a fall-away suplex for the middle rope. Huh, there is some other guy who does that move. Probably will never see him in WCW. Doll gets caught with a leapfrog and both men spill over the top to the floor. Doll gets sent into the post and then yells at the fans in the front row. We actually take a commercial break for this match.

-Another 55 seconds of commercials from Peacock.

-Back from commercial break and RAZOR RAMON WALKS FROM THE CROWD INTO THE RING SPORTING A CANADIAN TUXEDO. He asks for a mic and this match ends at around 4:15 or so.

-I have told this story before, but I was losing my mind watching this live. Legit just running around my house yelling about WWF invading WCW and we were finally getting a supercard between the two. Even at 15 it never dawned on me that Scott Hall probably signed a WCW contract. Others had jumped back and forth before him, but this just seemed different because Hall basically made it seem like he was coming for a fight on behalf of The WWF without saying it and walked, talked, and acted like Razor Ramon.

-Hall: “You people..you know who I am, but you don’t know why I’m here. Where is Billionaire Ted? Where is The Nacho Man? That punk can’t even get in the building. Me, I go wherever I want, whenever I want. And where, or where is Scheme Gene? Cause I got a scoop for you. When that Ken Doll look-a-like, when that weatherman wannabe comes out here later tonight, I got a challenge for him. For Billionaire Ted. For the Nacho Man, and for anybody else in uh, WCW. You want to go to war? You want a war? You’re gonna get one.”


Sgt. Craig Pittman (w/ Teddy Long) vs. Diamond Dallas Page

-As we saw with my Slamboree review last month, DDP is fresh off winning The Lord of The Ring. There was also the story where Page has a mysterious benefactor and I believe after teasing it would be Dibiase it ended up being Kimberly. I think they just kind of dropped it once the nWo took up all the oxygen in the company. Page mocks Pittman and does some push-ups and challenges Pittman to do some. He does them with one hand and Page tries to kick him, but Pittman sees that coming a mile away. Pittman out wrestles him on the mat which forces Page to get to the bottom rope to break. Page gets in a thumb to the eyes as the announces make veiled references to what we saw the previous match, but try to just play it off in a nice touch. Page heads to the apron and yanks Pittman neck first over the top rope. Pittman blocks a toss into the buckles and sends Page to the opposite corner. He looks for The Code Red, but Page grabs Teddy Long to force a break and then he shoves Long into the railing. Pittman goes to check on Long, but turns around and gets caught with The Diamond Cutter for the pin at 3:01.

Winner: Diamond Dallas Page via pin at 3:01
-Nothing match, but necessary as Page continued to get over in the mid-card with The Diamond Cutter. 1/2*

-Video package on Randy Savage and his craziness that has led to WCW forcing him to get professional help. Basically Savage has lost his mind as Liz has been throwing his money to the crowd and then using it to buy VIP sections and anything else Flair wants. I love this story so much, and really anything Flair/Savage makes me happy! Whether it was fighting for Liz’s honor or his father’s honor or now to get back at Flair for turning Liz, it’s all awesome!

-Gene is in the locker room area and is interviewing The Shark. It seems Shark is no longer part of The Dungeon of Doom. He has a problem with Jimmy Hart, Kevin Sullivan, and The Giant. He faces The Giant tonight and yells that he is going to become The New World Heavyweight Champion. He is the one that almost ended Hulk-a-mania and tonight will end The Giant.

-Speaking of Hulk Hogan, here is a video package about him and all the celebrity friends he has: George Foreman, Shaq, Dennis Rodman, and Kevin Greene. He also does charity work and hung out with Sugar Ray Leonard. For whatever reason I don’t remember these video packages and thought Hogan was just gone until Bash at The Beach.

-Hour Two for the very first time as Eric Bischoff welcomes us and he is joined by Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. No Mongo as he is training for The Great American Bash! Eric says he won’t dignify the interruption from earlier.

WCW World Heavyweight Championship: The Giant (c) (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Shark

-The Giant won The WCW Title in April from Flair and was just crushing mid-card and upper mid-card guys in impressive fashion. Even the announcers note that Shark has no chance here. They cover that Lex Luger gets the next shot on PPV against The Giant (if he wins) while Page won’t be getting his promised Title Match for winning Battle Bowl. Shark attacks at the bell, but Giant no sells. Giant with a heavy clothesline and seeing a Big Show with a full head of hair and looking skinny is kind of jarring after all this time. Shark fights back, but again it doesn’t mean anything as Giant gets a slam with ease. Giant hits some weak looking shoulders in the corner. Shark goes to the eyes and I don’t blame him. Bischoff gives a shout-out to Hulk Hogan as I guess he was basically Poochie at this point. Shark gets a clothesline that drops The Giant, but he makes the mistake of going after Hart. Giant hits the chokeslam for the pin at 4:01.

Winner and Still WCW World Heavyweight Champion: The Giant via pin at 4:01
-The chokeslam was impressive! 1/4*

-After the match, Big Bubba shaves half of Shark’s head as Bischoff is disgusted by this heinous act. Heenan just finds it hilarious and breaks out laughing.

WCW World Television Title: Lex Luger (c) vs. Maxx

-Bischoff is now curious what kind of challenge “this goof” has for WCW. Maxx is a big muscled dude and has Heenan and Bischoff busting on his haircut. The crowd is rather pumped to see Lex Luger. Maxx shoves Luger into the corner and Luger seems a little annoyed. Maxx gets a side headlock and then knocks Luger down with a shoulder before posing. Luger is up next for The Giant and should have eaten this guy alive by this point already. Another lockup and Maxx gets in a knee and lands some forearms. Luger ducks a clothesline and gets a running clothesline. He charges and gets caught with a powerslam for two. Maxx stomps away then starts punting Luger around the mat. Bischoff tells someone off camera that “he can wait until the end of the hour,” while Heenan whispers. They nailed this stuff from the jump! Maxx gets a sidewalk slam for two and then another two. Maxx drops an elbow for two as this crowd is crazy hot for Luger. Another clothesline from Maxx as Bischoff runs down the card for The Great American Bash. Luger fights back, but gets cut off as again I say someone facing The Giant for the World Title should not be struggling this long with Maxx. Luger gets a boot up in the corner and hits the running forearm as Bischoff notes that move knocked out Yokozuna. SHOTS FIRED! I LOVE THE MONDAY NIGHT WAR! Luger gets the Torture Rack for the submission at 5:46.

Winner and Still WCW Television Champion: Lex Luger via submission at 5:46
-Well, it was short and Luger got a win over a big guy. That’s all you can say about this one. Maxx would just a big body doing super basic big guy offense from an era gone by. DUD

-Gene heads into the ring to interview and brings up that it was weird that Page lost his Title Shot and it was given to Luger. They flashback to two weeks ago where The Giant put Luger through Flair’s VIP Table with a chokeslam. Luger is pissed as that was more that trying to win a match. He is still standing and just racked a big man. He wants to wrestle every big man WCW has to get ready for The Giant. Gene even mentions that none of these guys can compare to The Giant.

”Hard Work” Bobby Walker vs. Brad Armstrong

-This was the top contenders in the cruiserweight division and thankfully, the division would be saved by the luchadores once they started rolling into the company. Walker is the product of The WCW Power Plant. Bischoff notes he won’t name the intruder as he doesn’t want to do with legal teams circling around like vultures. Didn’t work as lawsuits would fly and funny enough that lawsuit is part of the reason WWE ended up buying WCW. Armstrong lands a forearm in the corner and then gets a monkey flip out of the other corner. Walker was supposed to land on his feet but didn’t really stick the landing. Bischoff hypes the debut of Rey Mysterio at The Great American Bash. I hope the kid makes it! Walker gets a head scissors, which Armstrong fights out of for a brief second. Oh man, I really can’t express who much it helped getting the luchadores in to save this division. Walker gets a backdrop and then falls standing on the middle rope. He goes some kind of version of a Blockbuster I guess and that gets the pin at 4:28

Winner: Bobby Walker via pin at 4:28
-If this was today, Walker will be on Level Up and not thrown out on live TV on RAW like he was here. Just no good and again, the division sorely needed Rey and friends to save it. DUD

-WCW Magazine commercial! I think I still have my collection of WCW and WWF magazine somewhere.

Lord Steve Regal (w/ Jeeves) vs. Alex Wright

-Regal stalls to start as he is one to do.  Heenan breaks up laughing about Savage being locked out of the arena while Flair is spending his money.  Bischoff mentions that Hogan is watching closely what is happening in WCW.  As Nash once said, Hogan saw that nWo gravy train start rolling and it wasn’t rolling fast enough to keep him from realizing he needed to jump on.  Wright gets a head scissors that sends Regal to the floor and then hits a baseball slide.  He follows with a crossbody over the top as we head to commercial break.  That was quite impressive as he cleared the rope with ease.  As they go to break, Heenan: “now what’s going to happen with this guy.”  

-Just a break to show a Glacier vignette so this match time is going to be way shorter as TNT had longer commercials that what we just got.

-Back with Regal throwing European Uppercuts and Wright responds because Germany is in Europe last I checked.  Regal takes it to the mat with a crossfade and throws palm strikes for good measure.  Wright gets a belly to belly after ducking a suplex and Regal bails to the apron.  He suckers Wright in and catches him with a kick to the head.  Bischoff apologizes to the fans for what the invader said and mentions Billionaire Ted, and The Nacho Man is one thing, but insulting the fans is something else.  Wright and Regal trads strikes and Wright shows some solid aggression.  Wright gets a roll-up for two, but Regal quickly takes it back to the mat with an armlock.  He stomps Wright in the face and tries a roll-up, but Wright counters and then catches Regal with a dropkick as both men get to their feet.  Uppercuts from Wright and he catches Regal with a backdrop out of the corner.  Running elbow in the corner and then a standing wheel kick gets a two count.  Wright looks for a monkey flip out of the corner, but Regal hooks the ropes.  Wright falls on the back of his head and Regal gets a roll over for the pin at 7:50. 

Winner: Lord Steven Regal via pin at 7:50
-This was solid and they were hitting each other hard at times.  Wright showed some good aggression here, but that happens when Regal is kicking you in the face.  **

-Gene interviews Regal in the ring and takes shots at The Giant, Savage, and even the unnamed Scott Hall, which Gene tries to wave off.  Regal offers a challenge to Sting as beating him should get him a World Title shot against the circus freak.  

Scott Steiner vs. Sting

-Boy would these two go through some physical and character changes once the nWo era kicked in.  Sting’s bleached blonde hair is gone at this point and is growing out.  Sting steals some food from Flair’s VIP section and I don’t blame him.  Heenan lets Bischoff know he is on his way when the intruder comes out again.  Steiner gets an arm drag to start and then another lockup.  Sting gets one of his own and yells to the crowd.  Funny stuff as Heenan runs down Scott and Rick as being dumb and Bischoff tells Heenan that Rick is coming out later.  Heenan: “My buddy Rick Steiner.  One of the greatest athletes of all time.”  I love The Brain!  Sting gets a dropkick and hits a back elbow off the middle rope.  A clothesline sends Steiner over the top to the floor.  Slingshot dive from Sting and then he sends Scott back into the ring.  He sets too early on a backdrop and Scott lands a butterfly suplex.  Belly to belly suplex!  Sting rolls to the floor, but Scott heads up top and comes off with a double axe.  MACHO STEINER!  Back inside Steiner gets a two count and then lands a clothesline in the corner.  He charges to the opposite corner where Sting catches him with a boot.  Steiner back with a release belly to belly suplex for two.  Scott hooks the STF with a rather weak looking crossface which Bischoff notes.  Scott releases and gets an armbar.  He transitions to a pin attempt while cranking on the neck, which gets two.  Suplex is countered and Sting plants Scott with The Scorpion Death Drop, which is cool to see.  Stinger Splash misses in the corner and Scott gets a nice release Dragon Suplex.  Lex Luger is down to cheer on his partner which draws out Scott Steiner.  Steiner brings Sting down off the top with a modified Angle Slam.  Frankensteiner is missed as Sting hooks the ropes, but Scott grabs the ropes as Sting tries for the Scorpion.  Tombstone reversal sequence sees Sting planting Scott with the more for two.  He tries a splash, but Scott gets the knees up.  They fight on the apron and Sting takes Scott to the floor with a suplex.  Luger gets involved and that starts a fight with Rick Steiner.  Luger ends up in the ring and finally the ref calls at DQ at 10:17. All four men start tearing into each other which brings the babyface roster out of the back to try to separate all of them.  

No Contest via Double DQ at 10:17
-They worked hard here, but the crowd just wasn’t into it.  I appreciated the work they were putting in and it was a decent TV Main Event. My guess is the crowd really didn’t want to cheer for one man over the other.  They did go crazy for the brawl to end the match.  **1/2

-We head to The Nitro Desk with Bobby and Eric and here comes the unnamed Razor Ramon (again, how I saw it back in 1996).  

-“Ken Doll, you got such a big mouth and we are sick of it.”  (Bischoff: “Whose we?”). “You know who.  This is where the big boys play.  What a joke!  I’ll tell you what.  You go tell Billionaire Ted.  You tell him to get three of his very, very best.  Maybe The Nacho Man.   Oh…No!  Maybe he can get The Stinger.  Oh, I so scared!  You go get anybody you want, because we are taking over.  You want to go to war?  You want a war.  You got one.  Only let’s do it right.  In the ring where it matters.  Not on no microphones, not in no newspapers or dirt sheets.  Let’s do it in the ring where it matters.  If Billionaire Ted and his big boys, if they got any uh….guts.  Because we are coming down here and like it or not, we are taking over.”  

-Heenan just staring dumbfounded with his mouth open is awesome!  That accent from Hall would change real quick once WWF legal got involved.  Bischoff isn’t sure what to say and just says they will see us next week.  

-Thanks for reading! 

The final score: review Average
The 411
The opening tag match was a bunch of fun and then the historic start of the nWo angle make this one a must see show. The show goes off a cliff from there, but the Main Event helps brings thing back up even in the crowd was dead for it. The close with Hall was the important thing though and they hit a homerun from the moment he walked through the crowd. Overall it was probably an average show that was saved by the tag match and the historic nature, but again, go check it out to see how one of the biggest money drawing angles in wrestling history started. This is the angle that really set the Monday Night War on fire and eventually made Vince fight back with The Attitude Era.

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WCW Nitro, Robert Leighty Jr.