WCW Monday Nitro – January 1, 1996
Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and Steve “Mongo” McMichael
The broadcast team discusses “Nature Boy” Ric Flair’s record-breaking 12th World Heavyweight Championship win at Starrcade five days earlier over “Macho Man” Randy Savage. They announce Hulk Hogan as Flair’s opponent in a title defense for the Main Event. As for Savage, he’s asked for a match against Arn Anderson, who he holds responsible for him losing the belt to Flair.
Match #1: “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage
Result/Analysis: Savage via pinfall (7:58) after hitting Anderson with brass knuckles that AA had pulled from his tights after referee Randy Anderson is bumped to the mat. Savage begins with a flurry of offense before Anderson takes control and wrestles an old school match focusing on Savage’s arm and shoulder. After the bell, 4 Horsemen members Chris Benoit and Brian Pillman hit the ring wanting a piece of Savage but he bails and their potest with the referee falls on deaf ears.
Match #2: Lord Steven Regal w/ Sir William vs. Chris Benoit
Result/Analysis: Regal via pinfall (5:41) after rolling Benoit in the ring after a failed suicide plancha by Benoit over the top rope. The match was a super-stiff fight with all moves executed to perfection. If you love an old-school professional mat wrestling type of match, this was it. The one thing lacking for it was time. His Lordship was the more established WCW talent at this point, thus the clean win.
After the match, “Mean” Gene Okerlund is joined in the ring by The Horsemen, sans Flair, and Brian Pillman bitches out Benoit and AA for losing tonight, saying they’re all here to win and dominate … not to languish in mediocrity. Well said. Pillman is wearing his BADASS leather duster right out of The Undertaker’s closet. Ha! Pillman turns to Anderson and admonishes him for losing by way of a move straight out of The Horsemen’s playbook. True. Arn tries to make peace, reminding Pillman their (his) goal is to protect the world title (for Flair) and they perish and prosper together as a unit. The Dungeon of Doom storm the ring but The Giant keeps everyone at bay, along with Jimmy Hart.
WCW Saturday Night Promo: The American Males vs. Arn Anderson & Brian Pillman in a tag-team bout; Lex Luger vs. The Cobra in singles action
Match #3: The Super Assassins [Barbarian & Warlord] w/ Col. Robert Parker vs. Lex Luger & Sting
Result/Analysis: Luger & Sting via submission (5:50) as Barbarian waves off while in Luger’s torture rack. Sting played face in peril until the hot tag to Luger as The Assassins took turns working him over. Even if one didn’t know who the masked assassins were – – – I had to look it up – – – there individual wrestling styles and builds gives it away despite their masks. I was more interested in Col. Parker’s budding romance with Sister Sherri that was blooming at the time. How 25 years makes one forget. At least Luger & Sting begin the year on the same page.
“Mean” Gene Okerlund interview with Jimmy Hart and The Giant. “The Son of Andre” is coming for Hogan (starting tonight). Hart says he’ll back any man that’s against Hogan.
Match #4: WCW World Heavyweight Championship
“Nature Boy” Ric Flair (c) vs. “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan
Result/Analysis: Hogan via DQ (7:55) after Arn Anderson interferes brandishing the brass knuckles. This was every Flair versus Hogan match you’ve ever seen but condensed and particularly mid-1980’s in quality. Flair wrestles. Hogan punches and no-sells nearly everything. Hogan makes the comeback, with the big boot and leg drop, of course, but it’s free TV so there can’t be a job. Jimmy Hart, as he promised, came to ringside to back Flair (against Hogan, really). After the bell, Hogan has taken the brass knucks and he single-handily brings all of The Horsemen to their knees. The Giant comes out, with Kevin Sullivan and Zodiac, with a stool to hit Hogan with. Savage runs in to save Hogan and The Giant is cleared out as The Horsemen flee.
Nitro concludes with Okerlund interviewing The Mega Powers. Hogan lays down the gauntlet to Flair and AA in a tag-team challenge match for next week. The Giant? Yeah, he’s next. Ah, nostalgia.
The Verdict: WCW: It’s Where “The Big Boys” Play. To begin 1996 this theme was in overload. WCW had its formula. The “New Generation” of the WWF hadn’t yet caught fire and so all Ted Turner had to do was trot out the tried and tested and recycle old feuds ad naseum. It worked for a while longer. I had to pinch myself a few times that I had time traveled 25 years into the past. Memories.