WCW Monday Nitro
Live from Atlanta, GA
Airdate: January 1, 1996
Attendance: 6,000 (3,619 paid)
Hosted by Eric Bischoff, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, and Steve “Mongo” McMichael
I actually attended this show but haven’t seen the TV version. Let’s see how good it reflects on the small screen.
Match 1: “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson versus “Macho Man” Randy Savage
Summary: Turnabout is fair play. More offense from Savage than I anticipated. Good TV match.
After the match Benoit and Pillman chase Savage from the ring.
Match 2: Lord Steven Regal (w/ Jeeves) versus “The Crippler” Chris Benoit
Summary: Stiff match with a scary ending. I’d love to see these guys get more than five minutes on PPV.
“Mean” Gene Okerlund is in the ring with three of the Four Horsemen. Pillman chastises Benoit for losing. He then slips a TV-14 comment in before taking Arn to task for losing as well. Next he referred to the Dungeon of Doom as the “dungeon of misfit toys.” Arn questions Pillman’s war philosophy then stands behind the shield that is the unity of the Four Horsemen.
Meanwhile the Taskmaster attempts to run to the ring but is being restrained by Jimmy Hart. The Giant holds back both the Zodiac and the Taskmaster as they want to rip Pillman to shreds.
On WCW Saturday Night the American Males will face Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman (aired 1/6, taped 11/29). In addition Lex Luger faces Cobra (taped 11/30).
Match 3: “The Total Package” Lex Luger and Sting versus the Super Assassins (w/ Colonel Parker)
Summary: To the untrained eye it would appear that a match between these two would be a squash; however, that was not the case here. The Super Assassins did well in their role, but Sting and Luger are main event players and were staying there at this point in time.
By the entrance Gene interviews the Giant with Hart. While the Giant mangles his promo highlights of Hogan wielding a chair from two weeks ago are shown.
Promotional consideration paid for by the following: Slim Jim featuring former WCW World champion Randy Savage.
On Tuesday, January 23 Clash XXXII will be shown live on TBS from Las Vegas, NV at 8:05pm EST. By the way that’s two days AFTER the WWF Royal Rumble.
Match 4 for the WCW World title: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair (champion) versus Hulk Hogan
Summary: As I have stated previously suspension of disbelief is extremely important when watching wrestling. No-selling a brass knux spot is INEXCUSABLE! Typical Flair-Hogan match with a crappy finish.
After the match Pillman and Benoit join their fellow Horsemen and eat right hands from the Hulkster. Are you fucking kidding me? All Four Horsemen cower in fear to Hogan as he brandishes the brass knux.
Meanwhile the Giant runs in with a bar stool. If I’m not mistaken it’s the one that was next to Heenan at the bar during Starrcade. Regardless Savage runs in before Giant can split Hogan’s coconut and grabs the stool away from him. One right hand from Hogan sends the Giant through the ropes to the floor.
Upon grabbing a black cover of some kind the Giant attempts to return to the ring, but the Zodiac restrains him. He tells the Giant: “No! Friend!” before the Giant retreats.
Gene interviews Hogan and Savage in the ring. Boos can be heard in the crowd (I was amongst that group). Hogan challenges Flair and Arn to a tag match against the Monster Maniacs next week on Nitro. He then uses the same exact catchphrase that Savage used at Starrcade so they obviously watched Toy Story together over the Christmas holidays. After the promo Hogan “hides” the knux in his trunks.
Conclusion: The Hogan nonsense after the main event truly destroyed all the good momentum this show had going for it. With Hogan back in WCW the booking took a complete 180° turn from what transpired at Starrcade. I fear for future episodes of Nitro at this point.
TV Rating: 2.50
WWF Monday Night RAW
Taped from Newark, DE
Airdate: January 1, 1996 (taped 12/18)
Attendance: none listed (and ZERO sales tax!)
Hosted by Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler
First of all, I have to take the WWE Network to task for NOT having this episode in their catalogue. I won’t reveal the source of the video I am scrutinizing but will continue to view the WWE Network episodes of RAW following this particular one.
College football-themed introduction for the RAW Bowl is followed by the mentioning of the Nacho Man, the Huckster, Scheme Gene, and Billionaire Ted. Oh no. In an empty locker room Brother Love continues his pre-game prayer.
Match 1 (RAW Bowl):
Summary: That was a very entertaining elimination tag match in spite of all the football metaphors on commentary. Since this was a one-time experiment I’d recommend seeking this match out if you can locate it.
According to Vince Shawn Michaels is holding a press conference next week on RAW.
Wrigley’s Halftime Report brought to you by Wrigley’s Winterfresh gum:
Dok Hendrix hypes the upcoming match between Diesel and King Mabel. Back in the locker room “Jumbo” Jim Ross (seriously?) informs us that Diesel wants to “kick the King’s can.” Hendrix then plugs the Royal Rumble on January 21 only on PPV. I then intentionally ignore the football references Hendrix makes towards both the WWF title match between Bret and the Undertaker as well as the grudge match between Ahmed Johnson and “Double J” Jeff Jarrett. Again we see the highlight of the THUD heard ‘round the world. Finally Hendrix hypes the Royal Rumble match itself.
Accordingly Vince hypes a special entrant in the 1996 Royal Rumble that has never worked in the WWF before.
We then get a rebroadcast of the hog pen match between Henry Godwinn and Hunter Hearst Helmsley from IYH V. I guess since the buyrate for the show was only 0.35 that giving it away on free TV makes sense. I wonder if it makes a difference in the ratings. If you want to read my review of this match be sure to read my recap of IYH V.
After a commercial break the Nacho Man bites into what is supposed to be a Slim Jim but it hurts his mouth since he’s old. Sigh.
Next week on RAW a replay of the WWF title match from IYH V will be shown. Also Hakushi will face Jarrett.
One of the chariot holders bringing King Mabel to the ring is Jeff Hardy.
Meanwhile Brother Love still won’t shut up in the locker room.
Match 2: King Mabel versus Diesel
Summary: Mabel, your days in the WWF are numbered. At least it was quick.
After the match Diesel brings Mo in the hard way and gives him a Jackknife powerbomb. He then escorts the RAW Bowl queen backstage. The King was cockblocked!
Back in the locker room the Brooklyn Brawler bestows the (Steve) Lombardi trophy to the Smoking Gunns. As you would imagine the entire locker room mauls the Brawler for this stupidity. The Brawler even receives a Lipton Brisk tea bath courtesy of the Smoking Gunns.
At the Royal Rumble the following participants have entered: Diesel, “The King of Harts” Owen Hart, “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith, Dory Funk, Jr. (for his All-Japan connection), Savio Vega, King Mabel, Bam Bam Bigelow, Barry Horowitz, Yokozuna, Tatanka, and lastly, if you can believe it, VADER!
A training vignette of Vader is shown.
Billionaire Ted’s ‘Rasslin’ War Room: The “board” (including Vince Russo) discusses the Razor’s Edge (shown from a film projector) and asks the Huckster if he can perform the move. Huckster replies in a negative way and is ashamed. The Pearl River Plunge by Ahmed Johnson is offered to the Nacho Man who also reacts negatively. In addition the jackknife powerbomb by Diesel is shown and denied by the Nacho Man in turn. Next a top turnbuckle splash by Shawn Michaels is shown, and the Huckster rebuts with “at my age, my feet don’t leave the ground.” Billionaire Ted asks them what they CAN do. They proceed to flex and look idiotic in the process. This was presented all in the name of the WWF New Generation which is “on top of the hill…not over it.” Sheesh!
Conclusion: So Vince McMahon fires back at all the pot shots and show spoilers thrown his way by Eric Bischoff over on Nitro. The Billionaire Ted skit was meant as satire and was relatively funny. I didn’t like it in ’96 and still don’t appreciate it today, but that’s just my $.02. As far as the rest of the show is concerned the RAW Bowl was a decent match that was worth watching. Although I wasn’t in favor of replaying the hog pen match from the PPV on RAW it was a tactical move in the Monday Night War that would actually be repeated. Did it make a difference though?
TV Rating: 2.60
Who won? You bet it did. RAW squeaks out a victory here notwithstanding Bischoff’s attempts to spoil it. Next week RAW replays the main event from IYH V (blood included) while Nitro is live with a Hogan/Savage versus Flair/Arn tag match. I’m curious to find out who wins.
If I can add one thing the ending to both programs ruined each for me. While, for the most part, I enjoyed watching these shows their endings insulted my intelligence. Let’s hope that doesn’t continue.
See you next time for week 18 of the Monday Night War!
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