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Retrospective of the Common Fan
“Nights of Nitro” Issue #2
This week is a big one. We’re taking a look at WCW Nitro from Disney’s MGM Studios on July 8, 1996 (Nitro #43 on the WCW Network), just one night after the events of WCW Bash at the Beach (curse you Hogan!). No intro needed so let’s dive right in!
Tony Schiavone welcomes us to Disney MGM Studios. They were right in the front by the entrance. I didn’t think they were set up that close in the park entrance but, wow, quite a sight especially for those familiar with that park and it’s history. Schiavone and Larry Zbyszko sum up the “disgusting” acts of Hulk Hogan and promise to show us more later in the broadcast at the top of the second hour. Dangit, hooks! I need to see what he did. Did he throw up after helping his buddies Sting, Savage, and Luger?
Match #1 – Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Dean Malenko – WCW Cruiserweight Title match
After Mysterio made his entrance they showed him winning his match against Psychosis, giving him a title match again with Dean Malenko, who has very cool entrance music by the way. Schiavone mentioned that Ric Flair is the new U.S. champion after Bash at the Beach during the opening moments of the match. Yay? Always seemed weird when Flair had a secondary title, nothing wrong with it, though. Mysterio got the win with a roll-up to become the new WCW Cruiserweight champion. Solid match, and Dean Malenko sold shock. (**1/2)
One thing I forgot to mention last issue was the hype videos for the one and only Glacier. Such a nice guy (one of my first podcast guests too back in the day), it’s a shame that gimmick didn’t work out. He had some potential with how big Mortal Kombat was back then.
Next was a promo between The Steiners and Nasty Boys with Mean Gene. This was hilarious. Scott Steiner was showing the beginnings of his unique promo-style, yelling half-sentences with bad math, while Knobs did all the talking for the Nasty Boys, ultimately saying there is respect between both teams. Rick Steiner barked and shouted while Mean Gene tried to get the mic back to the Nasty Boys.
Match #2 – Big Bubba & Hugh Morrus (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. The Blue Bloods (Steven Regal & Dave Taylor)
This match wasn’t all that much. Hugh Morris looked decent and Bubba didn’t do much, but that’s before John Tenta distracted him, allowing the Blue Bloods steal the win. (Loved these guys, especially the facial expressions from Regal.) (*1/4)
More hype about showing footage/photos of last night’s “horrific acts” via the newly-dubbed NWO. Tony Schaivone apologized for the language he used on PPV last night. (He told Hulk Hogan to go to hell. Watch your mouth sir!)
Match #3 – Psychosis vs. Eddie Guerrero
This wasn’t a bad match obviously, showcasing a nice display of the Lucha style. A bit sloppy, but really solid. After some nice sequences including a gorgeous superplex, Eddie got the win via his patented frogsplash. (**)
Post-match, Mean Gene spoke to the Taskmaster, Jimmy Hart, The Giant. They sold shock from Hogan’s turn and Taskmaster said it makes him put his evil in perspective. Hart had no words, then he and Taskmaster argued before the Giant said he doesn’t care about Hogan, nor does he have to wrestle tonight.
Match #4 – The Nasty Boys vs. The Steiner Brothers – WCW World Tag Team Title #1 Contender match
Not a bad start but the most interesting thing was during the match they had a countdown for “Hour #2” hyping Eric Bischoff and The Brain discussing the NWO. They actually had fireworks MID-MATCH and switched broadcast teams at the top of the hour. That was odd… but unique. The Brain sells a huge change in professional wrestling. They cut to Col. Robert Parker and Sister Sherri arguing at ringside and then Parker hits Jerry Sags with his cane to give the unaware Steiners the win. Bischoff was a bit confused with the finish where the count seemed to be off but regardless, more fireworks after the match. (*1/2)
Post-match, Mean Gene was in the ring with the Nasty Boys. They say wrestling is about attitude and they are Nasty. Haha, I get what they did there. Knobs says they don’t condone what Hogan did, and says not to take the mic away from Sags but… he was done talking? That was awkwardly amusing.
Match #5 – Ric Flair (w/Debra McMichael, Miss Elizabeth, and Woman) vs. Jim Powers – WCW U.S. Title match
Man, more fireworks, this time for Flair. They must have used all of their budget on this show. There were quite a few for Flair. Plus the ladies. Powers wasn’t overly impressive here, but did get in some offense and Flair made him look pretty decent. It’s sad to think about how many people involved in this match and in this era aren’t with us anymore. Ric was Ric, getting the win via the figure-eight, er, four. (*3/4)
Post-match, Mean Gene chats with the Four Horsemen (without Benoit, who wrestles next). Arn said he wanted to puke after what Hogan did, but the rest just talked about how they’re the best thing going today. There was some great stuff, first with Ric Flair behind Gene getting some wine from a bottle and giving it to Anderson and Mongo. Then, Woman tries to touch Gene sensually, which causes him to get jumpy. It’s these little things that not only made Gene so great, but gives the people he interviewed a personality. Well done.
On-camera, Bischoff and The Brain talked about the NWO and how they want to fight back. The Brain says they know who the third man is now so it’s easy pickings.
Match #6 – Sgt. Craig Pittman (w/Teddy Long) vs. Chris Benoit
Hey look, it’s Teddy Long! I think I’d take this version any day over the Smackdown GM version. Benoit was fun to watch and ended up nearly squashing the Sgt. He threw chops a plenty and brawled a bit. Then Benoit locked in the crossface for the win, but Teddy got in the ring saying to ring the bell (basically throws in the towel). Pittman acts like he’s out of it. I remember when Pittman was getting a huge push over the likes of… Cobra? Yeah, something like that. (*1/2)
Main Event – Match #7 – Arn Anderson vs. Sting
This match was pretty great, as Anderson can just work. Sting of course being a huge favorite of mine aside, isn’t up to Double A’s pure in-ring talent but they meshed really well here. During the match Bischoff says we have guests in the back. Oh no, I hope they have enough for them to eat at catering. We also got a Glacier promo. Sweet.
Really good back and forth stuff from both men. Sting did a good job of selling like his head isn’t in the game and he even scoffed at Arn’s attempted pre-match handshake. Sting hit a back body drop and the Outsiders made their way to ringside. Oh snap. Sting is distracted now but so is Double A. Randy Savage is now at ringside! The match has been stopped but wait, Anderson tries to hit a DDT before Sting locks in the Scorpion Deathlock for the win. (**1/2)
Post-match, Mean Gene is earning his paycheck tonight, chatting with Sting and Savage about Hogan. Sting has some great lines, one being that he’s glad Hogan told kids to believe in themselves, because they can’t believe in him now. Savage calls him “Hollywood” Hogan. “I can’t say what I want to do to you at Disney. But take the worst thing I can do. Multiply it by nine million, and then multiply it by infinity and beyond! ‘Cause that’s what I’m going to do to you!” Gold. Great promos.
Mean Gene is now with the Outsiders. (Man, I can only imagine if they pay him by the interview! Jeesh. Doing work.) Kevin Nash was a bit off his game and Gene helped him quite a bit. Apparently my dear mother likes Scott Hall because she was laughing at him the whole time. He did a great job, though. Good promo that showed they meant business but was still PG being at Disney. “Skeen Gene” was offered a job by Hall and declined.
Well, they FINALLY show the screen-caps from last night’s horrific turn of events to close the show. They did a heck of a job though expressing how big of a deal this is and how angry they were at the purest of pure babyfaces, Hulk Hogan. They made people wait until the end of the show, too. The Brain was heated saying it’s not because of Hogan, but him that wrestling is what it is today. That wrapped up the show.
This was a fun show partially due to the atmosphere. It felt different, which was partially what drove me to watch WCW over WWE in that era. Tons of nostalgia for me personally. I even saw my uncle and three cousins in the audience. (My uncle worked for Disney at the time and worked a lot from their side on these shows. He still owes me blueprints to hang in my office from that set!)
I hope everyone enjoyed this trip with me and I also hope everyone has had an enjoyable summer so far, complete with tons of bodyslams, RKOs, and powerbombs into pools across the globe (safely, of course). Until next time, have a good night from Orlando!
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, Nerdverses.com.