Wrestling

The WCW Nitro Saga (#001) – September 4, 1995

Sting vs. Flair and more on the first edition of WCW Monday Nitro.

Hello everybody, and welcome to The WCW Nitro Saga, written by me, JeriKane. This will be the series where I go through and watch every episode of Nitro, and give ratings, thoughts, and anything else that I can think of. Though I join a line of hundreds, if not thousands of people to write about WCW Nitro online, I feel I will give a unique, fresh perspective seeing as WCW Nitro was on (mostly) before my time.

You see, I was born in 1998, and WCW was shut down in 2001, when I was only 3 years old, and sadly my memory doesn’t stretch back that far (not that it would have really mattered, seeing as my parents were WWF viewers, and WWF/WWE was what I ultimately grew up watching). My goal with this series is not only to entertain those who happen to read it, but to also (hopefully) appreciate what WCW brought to the table as a promotion, and as a true competitor to the WWF. I’m looking forward to witnessing the rise of Booker T, the Russo years (or, year?), the Sting vs. nWo angle, and of course all the great wrestling in between by the likes of Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Ric Flair, Brian Pillman and more.

Now before we begin, I just want to make the rating system known:

I’ll be doing your basic zero out of five stars, with zero being absolutely terrible/no contest and five being a god damn classic match. As for the criteria that constitutes what is and isn’t good, well, I’ll leave that to my own, weird, personal preference. What might be a good match to me, might not be a good match to you, and vice versa. What’s usually seen as a 5 star match, I might not see that way. That’s not to say I will purposefully be going against the grain, but I just want to make sure everyone knows what’s going on here. Furthermore, the way I’ll be writing is basically putting down my thoughts as I watch matches, segments, and hopefully we’ll get something coherent out of all of it. With that said, let’s get right into it.

 

When?: September 4, 1995
Where?: The Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Now before we begin, I just want to make the rating system known:
I’ll be doing your basic zero out of five stars, with zero being absolutely terrible/no contest and five being a god damn classic match. As for the criteria that constitutes what is and isn’t good, well, I’ll leave that to my own, weird, personal preference. What might be a good match to me, might not be a good match to you, and vice versa. What’s usually seen as a 5 star match, I might not see that way. That’s not to say I will purposefully be going against the grain, but I just want to make sure everyone knows what’s going on here. Furthermore, the way I’ll be writing is basically putting down my thoughts as I watch matches, segments, and hopefully we’ll get something coherent out of all of it. With that said, let’s get right into it.

Episode #1 start!

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We get our opening video package with the classic buildings setting and all that. I want to point out that clips of Big Van Vader are shown in this opener, even though (I believe) he was gone from WCW at this point, and would never wrestle on Nitro. As we actually get into the mall now, we’re greeted by Eric Bischoff and Steve McMichael. Where the fuck is Tony Schiavone? While I get over this odd announce team, I just want to say that I kinda like this mall setting here. It’s fresh, at least compared to today’s same old shit every week (ESPECIALLY in WWE).

Back to the announce team, I already don’t like Steve McMichael. This is gonna be a long show. JUST AS I SAY THAT BOBBY HEENAN APPEARS! Oh my goodness thank the lord. Bischoff says Hulk Hogan is in our main event tonight, which is cool. Doesn’t say against who though, so, we’ve got a mystery on our hands fellas. Time to get into our first match of the night.

 

Match #1: Brian Pillman vs. Jushin Thunder Liger

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Come on now, you can’t go wrong here. Pillman and Liger are two of the greatest wrestlers to ever do it, and I’m sure their match here is a fucking classic. Granted, I have seen this match before on its own (I believe it was on Pillman’s WWE DVD), but that was a long, long time ago, and I’ve pretty much completely forgotten it. The match they had at SuperBrawl in 1992 as of right now is my favorite of theirs, so, let’s see if this match will top it.

Match starts off right away, as the bell rings before Pillman’s music even stops playing. My first observation in this match is the referee, who I believe is Nick Patrick, sporting a sweet fucking mullet type of thing. I can’t lie, that’s gonna be very distracting. Tons of flippy stuff and chops early on, which is fine. Steve McMichael has already referred to Bobby Heenan as “The Stain” and “Bobby Hernia”, this is absolutely awful. I really, really hope McMichael is a one and done commentator, ’cause fuck me. Liger with a surfboard. I like Liger, and I like surfboards. I am happy right now. Maybe it’s just me, but a lot of the moves in this match seem pretty… low impact, so far. It’s kind of weird, and slightly taking me out of the match. Liger eventually goes for a top rope Frankensteiner and lands on his neck and shoulder, which looked like it sucked. The finish sees a series of reversals which leads to Pillman small packaging Liger for the pin and the win.

Very short match, which is to be expected considering WCW likely wanted to get as much shit in as possible for their big debut episode. I’m not going to lie here, I was disappointed with this one. Nowhere near as good as their Superbrawl match, but at the same time it also wasn’t bad, either. It was just fine. A perfectly good show opener to get the crowd hyped up for the rest of the night.

Match Rating: 2 and a ½ stars

 

Let’s move onto what’s next.

(Before that though, Eric Bischoff mentioned during the Pillman vs. Liger match that Hulk Hogan would not only be the main event, but would be defending the WCW World Heavyweight Championship against Big Bubba Rogers, who of course is better known as Big Boss Man. He also announced Ric Flair vs. Sting)

Sting in purple and pink face paint shows up in a prerecorded promo and basically says he does things good, and that Ric Flair can’t do them like him. Okay then. We’re back now with another prerecorded promo, this time with the Hulkster, as Bischoff goes to interview him at Hogan’s own Pastamania. Holy shit.

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This is by far the greatest thing I have ever seen in my life. It’s a damn shame Time Warner AOL didn’t want wrestling. Hogan says really nothing of substance, but he did make all of the children around him say his name (twice), so, I guess he’s got that going for him. Of course among those children is Jimmy Hart. This whole thing is a giant fucking ad for Pastamania. Luckily, Ric Flair is here to save us, which signals the start of our next match.

Match #2: Ric Flair vs. Sting

Ric Flair looking fancy as hell as he makes his entrance, wooing all over the place. I love Slick Ric. However I am immediately annoyed by one very special commentator during this amazing entrance.

Steve McMichael: “If you’re not watching this, you might as well be tuned into…”
Eric Bischoff: “don’t say it!, don’t say it!”
Steve McMichael: “… The Weather Channel.”

Listen here fucker, I’d really rather watch the god damn Weather Channel at this point over hearing your annoying voice and dumb words. Now obviously they were hinting at RAW being lame, whatever. I’d rather see Mantaur over listening to Steve McMichael.

The Stinger makes his way down to the ring, and apparently he’s the WCW United States Champion. I saw a sign that said “I wish Flair was my dad”, and that quite frankly might be the high point of this show so far. It’s a tie between that sign and the Pastamania advertiseme-HOLY SHIT LEX LUGER!

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I was not expecting this, yet at least. I was always under the impression that he came out during the Hogan/Big Bubba match. I am honestly very surprised right now, and I don’t know how to react. Now obviously this is significant because Lex Luger had been with the WWF for the past few years (at least two and a half years), and he had even worked a WWF house show the night before this episode of Nitro. This return set in motion quite a few things going forward in the Monday Night Wars, those being people jumping ship as soon as humanly possible, unexpected surprises on both Nitro and RAW (eventually), and that Nitro was legitimate, tough competition for RAW and the WWF overall. Nothing was off limits.

Anyways…

 

Now Ric Flair vs. Sting, for real

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We start off here with a bunch of fast action, Sting does leapfrogging, Flair does some dodging, Flair eventually gets caught and press slammed by Sting. Stinger then press slams that poor bastard again. Flair eventually gains control and lights him up with some chops. Flair with a running crossbody and both men get sent outside the ring. Interesting move there, Naitch. Okay, at this point I’m convinced someone backstage challenged Sting to see how many times he could overhead press Flair during this match. We’re now on #4 and it’s getting ridiculous. Yes, I am complaining now for the sake of complaining. I still have Luger on my mind anyway. Back from commercial now, Flair goes to the top rope, and you can guess how that ended for him.

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Yeah, not very well.

Holy shit we are now on our 5th (or 6th if you count the one to get Flair down from the top rope) press slam, and this is legitimately driving me crazy. Only two god damn moves have been done so far in this entire match. Arn Anderson now appears from the entrance way, and the fucks I give for this match have gone down even more. First Luger, now Double A, I wonder who’s gonna show up next. In fairness, we did get some clotheslines and even a superplex from the top rope once Arn showed up, so they are now trying to mix it up, which is fucking glorious. Flair with a Figure Four, but Sting is… Hulking up? Stinging up? I don’t know. Either way, he’s trying to fight out, but he has failed. The finish sees Flair get disqualified for holding onto the rope during the Figure Four, which leads to Arn Anderson getting into the ring to break the hold.

Before we get on with the rest of whatever is about to happen here, I’ll say despite all of the slams, this was a very fun match, in all honesty. The showmanship, charisma, and outside shenanigans made up for the otherwise lackluster in ring work. I won’t get on them too badly for this though, as I mentioned with the Liger/Pillman match, I’m sure they were strapped on time, and we all know Flair and Sting can put on a way better match. Still, this was a fun TV match.

Match Rating: 3 stars

 

Anderson and Flair end up brawling with each other to the back, which is slightly surprising. Meanwhile a big angry man has showed up at the commentary table, confronting Bobby Heenan, and then eventually getting to Steve McMichael. I’m telling y’all right now, if this guy attacks ol’ Steven I’ll be the happiest person on this planet. Unfortunately Macho Man Randy Savage shows up and crushes my hopes and dreams. Savage says let’s go at it right now (basically), but Bischoff calls for security on the unknown angry savior.

We get a vignette FOR SABU???? REALLY??? What the fuck. Okay. I mean, I knew Sabu had been in WCW for a little while, but I thought it was just for an episode or two, not as a full blown roster member with vignettes and all that. This is pretty interesting to me, what could have been. Also the art style for this vignette is giving me a headache.

Mean Gene is in the ring announcing some Harley Davidson stuff that I really don’t care about. Bischoff is promoting WCW Saturday Night. Johnny B. Badd vs. ‘Dirty’ Dick Slater (what an amazing name that is), Sting and Macho Man vs. The Bluebloods (fairly certain Triple H was in the WWF at this point, so it must have been William Regal and Bobby Eaton), and an update on Fall Brawl.

We get another god damn vignette, this time for IRS, renamed Mr. Wall Street. He goes on about the “New Generation” which of course was WWF’s slogan at the time, basically putting it down, saying WCW was better, about what you’d expect. He even made reference to the IRS “watching  him.” It was pretty much some WCW edgelord shit, doing as much as they could without directly referencing the WWF. Anyways, that’s over now. Here’s a pic of Mr. Wall Street:

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Honestly all I’m thinking right now is why WWE haven’t put IRS in the past few 2K games. I’m pretty sure he still works for them as a producer. I want to make a Money Inc. tag team in my Universe Mode god dammit.

It’s main event time…

Main Event: Big Bubba Rogers vs. Hulk Hogan

Alrighty, let’s do this shit. As Big Bubba makes his entrance, I just want to say that while yes, I am a fan of Hulk Hogan (the wrestler, not so much the person), he’s going against the motherfucking Big Boss Man, and I love the Boss Man, so suck it Hogan. I just watched Fully Loaded 1999 last night, and Boss Man had a super fun Hardcore Championship match against Al Snow. He’s a legend. Granted, I’ve probably got the right idea in my head on how this match goes, but still, let’s see it unfold. Hogan’s out next with that awesome theme he had in the Legends of Wrestling video games. Hogan does his poses and then throws his shirt at Big Bubba like the good sport he is.

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They do the test of strength spot and Hogan shoves away Big Bubba, then poses, again. This guy is an asshole. They should turn him heel. More strength testing, then Big Bubba hits a big Stinger Splash. Very nice. Bobby Heenan mentions Kamala and now I know Kamala was in WCW, and that apparently we’re still in the Dungeon of Doom storyline, so, this should be real good in the coming episodes. Hogan now wraps Jimmy Hart’s jacket around Big Bubba’s face while Jimmy distracts the referee. Now, Big Bubba did target Jimmy first, but still, this is ridiculous. Don’t fight fire with fire, kids. No matter what uncle Eric tells you.

Hogan with a slam, Bubba with a slam, McMichael refers to Heenan as “hernia” again and I just want this to be over at this point. BOSS MAN SLAM but of course it was a two count, because that’s Hulk-fucking-Hogan you’re slamming there, bud. You’re not gonna take him down that easily. Hogan is Hulking Up, punch, punch, big boot, leg drop, pin. You know the deal.

That was boring, but thankfully quick. Standard Hogan match.

Match Rating: 1 and a ½ stars.

 

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Afterwards the Dungeon of Doom appear, including Kamala and Brutus Beefcake looking like a weirdo. Luger makes the save, and now he and Hogan are face to face. I know this match would eventually happen in 1997, but I’m not sure if it’ll happen any time in 1995 or 1996. We will have to wait and see. Hogan tells Luger to fuck off, basically. Now they’re taking turns burying the WWF without mentioning the WWF. Hogan and Luger next week for the title, interesting. I’ve gotta wonder if that will actually happen or not. Bischoff also says Sabu will be on next week. That is pretty much it as we sign off for this episode.

 

Final Thoughts:

Well, that was… an episode of a wrestling TV show, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t really call it good, but it wasn’t super awful either. It was just kind of there. We had two good matches and a Hogan match, we had the vignettes, the Pastamania promo, and the Flair sign. Overall, it was decent. I am hoping next week will be better though, and most of all, I am hoping Steve McMichael won’t be there next week.

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