The “Nights of Nitro” Issue #1 – Eaton’s Retro Review of WCW Nitro 20 yrs. ago – Giant vs. Steiner, who will face The Outsiders at The Bash?

By Jimmy Eaton, PWTorch Common Fan


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Retrospective of the Common Fan
“Nights of Nitro” Issue #1

Well folks, it’s time for another unpredictable walk down memory lane. Why unpredictable? First, because I’m not sure how many of these we’ll take a look at, and second, because it’s mid-’90s WCW. I’m sure I’ll be terrified at some of the things I look back on here.

Each month in the “Nights of Nitro” seires, I’ll take a look at a random-ish WCW Nitro episode that I hope everyone can enjoy along with me. I tend to pick them based on the day I publish this column (an anniversary or this day in history) and a brief look at the line-up or more importantly, major events in the history of WCW Nitro.

Of course most of those episodes will include Sting, someone who meant a whole lot to me as a kid when I first got into this crazy form of entertainment. It was sad to see him retire this year but of course it was the smart thing to do. Even when he jumped to to TNA, he was still one of my favorites. I can’t believe he even had a remotely passable match with Triple H at WrestleMania XXXI at his age.

One of the things I’m looking forward to most as I take this trip down memory lane is some of my favorite Sting moments. Of course there were some stinkers, but regardless, from the “Lex Luger Whisperer,” to Crow Sting (I was more of a Surfer Sting fan), to finding his vocal chords again with the Wolfpac, the man called Sting has given me more memories than I can count.

Now, let’s start back in 1996, three weeks before the infamous Bash at the Beach PPV and one night after the WCW Great American Bash PPV. WCW Nitro emanated from the Richmond Coliseum on June 17, 1996 (Nitro #40 on the WWE Network).

WCW Nitro Review
June 17, 1996
Richmond, Va.

Tony Schiavone welcomes us with Larry Zbyszko by his side, noting that Eric Bischoff will not be here tonight after a cowardly attack that they’ll talk more about in the second hour. How could you, Hall and Nash?! Those scoundrels. Even Larry Zbyszko agrees that the Outsiders aren’t best for business. They showed a clip of Bischoff getting jack-knifed off the stage by Kevin Nash. Ouch.

The announcers then mentioned that Steve McMichael turned on Kevin Greene at The Bash and joined the Horseman. Wow, heck of a show I picked here. Sign me up! That’s how you hook an audience. Now I’ll have something to ask Kevin Greene when I meet him at this year’s NFL Hall of Fame. I always thought Schiavone was good at conveying emotion, but I may be in the minority.

Rick Steiner is coming down to the ring for some solo action? His opponent is… Stevie Ray. Yikes, no offense to either but this is probably not going to be the best start to Nitro. Fun tidbits, though, were that Rick Steiner got pyro and Stevie Ray came out to the awesome Harlem Heat music for a solo match was blasphemy.

1 – Rick Steiner vs. Stevie Ray

Honestly, not too much to this match but they tried. No explanation for either partner being out alone, but it was mentioned that the main event tonight is Scott Steiner taking on The Giant for the WCW World Title. What did he do to deserve that?! I don’t care enough to find out. Stevie Ray misses a splash and Rick Steiner hits a clothesline for the… win? Huh. Look at that. During the match we had some nice selling from the Dog-faced Gremlin despite some pretty awful stuff (Stevie had a messy looking clothesline, the crowd was not impressed). Maybe just an off night.

WINNER: Rick Steiner. (1/2*)

Post-match, Booker T jumps Rick, then Scott Steiner makes the save. Unsuccessfully. He gets hit in the back protecting Rick but sells his ribs? A bit of a mess but oh no! Will he be ready for The Giant later tonight?!

Quick pre-commercial video of The American Males threatening to take out the Four Horseman (Double A and Chris Benoit). Good luck with that fellas.

2 – Joe Gomez vs. Disco Inferno

You know, watching this match, Disco Inferno wasn’t a bad heel. Definitely annoying, which is the point, and at least passable in the ring. But, he was too cocky after his swinging neckbreaker, so Joe Gomez rolled him up for the win! The crowd is mildly shocked and Zbyszko is not happy that Disco took too much time and didn’t go for the pin sooner.

WINNER: Gomez. (*)

We go now to Mean Gene with Ric Flair, Miss Elizabeth, Woman, and Debra McMichael. Man, dude knows where it’s at. Miss Elizabeth looked great but my dad mentioned that maybe she seemed unhappy (he joined me at this point for some nostalgia). My dad may also not know what a wrestling heel is but we’re all not perfect.

Tony Schiavone then tells us that later in the night we will have a random drawing with six of the wrestlers with the highest winning percentage, and have three selected to take on the Outsiders at Bash at the Beach. Winning percentage? Nice to see actually with winning and matches mattering. Small, but a nice touch. WCW did some cool things back in the day that I think can be incorporated today and help elevate a few things. For example, in-ring interviews, clips before matches for short promos but even more often than WWE does now.

3 – The American Males vs. Arn Anderson & Chris Benoit

Not much to this match, but it just shows how brilliant Arn Anderson was. Just so good. This didn’t get much time and the American Males put in a good effort but not enough as the Four Horseman got the win.

WINNERS: Horsemen. (*1/2)

Post-match: Mean Gene interviews Anderson and Benoit and they talk about how the Horsemen are back and better than ever. They also mentioned how Kevin Sullivan lost out to “business,” referring to his loss to Benoit the night before (where they also brawled in the bathroom). After the match they showed more screen caps of the Falls Count Anywhere match between Benoit and Kevin Sullivan the night before, toilets and all.

4 – John Tenta vs. Big Bubba (w/Jimmy Hart)

Not a whole lot to this one. During the match they gave a bit of a back story on John Tenta (his entrance had no music) not getting enough credit as The Shark. I’m so bummed, it seems like the Dungeon of Doom is going away. Can we say best faction ever? I kid, I kid. Put down those pitchforks! Tenta got the win, but not the last word…

WINNER: Tenta. (3/4*)

Post-match: Jimmy Hart gives Big Bubba a bag of coins and he clocks Tenta after the match. Big Bubba talks down Tenta in typical Big Bossman fashion. Not too bad of a promo with Mean Gene after the match. Oh, and the replay was brought to us by 1-800-COLLECT.

After a “commercial break” f0r the WCW Magazine, Mean Gene was with Randy Savage. In a nutshell, Savage was great. Mean Gene asked it he was mentally stable, and Savage showed he clearly wasn’t and headed to the ring. That was fun.

Tony Schiavone showed us some screen caps of last night where Mongo turned on Kevin Greene by hitting him with a suitcase of money, IRS style. They said it was “Randy Savage’s money,” too. I sense foreshadowing… But first, Bobby Heenan is replacing Zbyszko for the second hour. Whoo-hoo! He gets run off by the crazy Macho Man all the way to the ring. Then, The Brain jumps OVER the top rope to the floor to escape. Lord, he had hops back then! Didn’t blow out any quads or knees, either. Kudos to you sir.

5 – Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair (w/Debra McMichael, Miss Elizabeth, and Woman)

This was a wild one. Savage and Flair always have great chemistry and this wasn’t much different. They had a weird table set up with food in a random space off the entrance way, though. It’s like you know they planned it just for this match. Typical wrestling and giving people the chance to hit opponents with wine. So classy. The women got involved and then Mongo was able to take out Savage with his IRS “Macho Man’s money” briefcase to help Flair secure the win and the Horsemen another victory on the evening. We had every cliche’ in the book here though with a ref bump and finisher by Macho but no one to count. Still, a fun time.

WINNER: Flair. (**)

Mean Gene had an interview with Jimmy Hart, Kevin Sullivan, and The Giant. Not bad here. Sullivan was always a classic, old-school villain and Hart expressed concern about the Dungeon of Doom while the Giant was efficient at being an intimidating champion.

6 – Dean Malenko vs. Rey Misterio, Jr. – WCW Cruiserweight Title match

Not much to say other than this was pretty darn good. I watched this one with my Pops too and he mentioned the “clearly choreographed moves.” I wanted to punch him in the gut. Regardless, some good stuff here with a refreshing win for Malenko using a reverse DDT and not his finisher.

WINNER: Malenko. (***)

7 – The Giant (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Scott Steiner – WCW Hvt. Title match

Scott Steiner comes out with taped ribs from the vicious back spot at the top of the show. Not an awful match, actually. I was thinking of how mobile The Giant (Big Show) was back then being in pretty good shape. He moved well and Steiner carried his own. Jimmy Hart interfered though and of course helped The Giant retain his title. The finish was pretty bad with The Giant getting a chair, Hart taking it, Steiner using it in front of the ref anyway with no DQ, the Giant no-selling it, but then hitting a pretty looking chokeslam on Steiner. He actually got some height on it, too.

WINNER: Giant. (*1/2)

We go back to Mean Gene in front of the stage for the picking of the three random WCW wrestlers who will take on the Outsiders at Bash at the Beach in just three mere weeks. They are Lex Luger, Macho Man, and Sting! Whooo! No way we can lose this one boys. Right? RIGHT? What chance on that random drawing to get three of the biggest names! Can’t wait to see what happens in three weeks when they crush the Outsiders. Well, that wraps up WCW Nitro. Thanks for sticking around this long to take a nostalgic trip with me and until next time, goodnight from Richmond!

Keep the conversation rolling on Twitter – @Nerdverses

Jimmy occasionally writes a Retrospective/Perspectives of of the Common Fan column for the Pro Wrestling Torch and can be found on Sean Radican’s Wrestling Community Audio show yapping about wrestling from time to time. He also wrote some retro reviews on some episode of WCW Saturday Night from 1995. Check those out in the PWTorch archives with their trusty search option. He also occasionally blogs/podcasts about sports, gaming, and other nerd mediums via his website, www.nerdverses.com.

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