WCW Monday Nitro 1/8/96

WCW Monday Nitro – January 8, 1996

Charleston, South Carolina

Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and Steve “Mongo” McMichael

The Main Event hype is in overdrive as Nitro begins as assuredly “those other boys,” as Mongo puts it, won’t have anything to top the format that’s on tap for Nitro tonight. In you case you missed last week, Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage will square off with “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and Arn Anderson tonight. Over on Monday Night Raw, meanwhile, the WWF focal point was a pre-taped Shawn Michaels press conference. I’ll take the wrasslin, “Where The Big Boys Play.”

Match #1: “The Canadian Crippler” Chris Benoit w/ Brian Pillman vs. “Das Wunderkind” Alex Wright
Result/Analysis: Benoit via pinfall (6:40) with a dragon suplex. The young buck – – Wright – – hangs with the seasoned vet – – Benoit – – nearly move-for-move. Pillman, of course, interjects himself into the match on more than one occasion but gets punked by Wright for his troubles. Benoit had the legitimacy of a full move set plus the 4 Horsemen affiliation. Wright had to work his way onto the card. He was a good talent as this match proves. Pillman taunts the fallen Das Wunderkind after the match and spits on him. Bischoff speculates if Pillman keeps up that behavior he’ll be on thin ice.
Rating: **3/4

Match #2: Lord Steven Regal w/ Sir William vs. Eddie Guerrero
Result/Analysis: Guerrero via pinfall (8:09) with a backslide. Regal dominates the match and punishes Guerrero with brute strength and stiff blows. Guerrero counters often with Lucha Libre style moves and you can see how refined a wrestler he was even at this point. Given that His Lordship was “the star” of the two, Guerrero getting the upset win was a pleasant surprise. Both of these guys could wrestle. Regal is besmirched with the loss.
Rating: **3/4

“Mean” Gene Okerlund is standing by with Sting and Lex Luger. Sting wants to question why Luger grabbed his arm outside the ring in their triangle match with Ric Flair at Starrcade, alluding to perhaps some malicious intent on Luger’s behalf. Lex deflects the question to say he injured his knee and was reaching out for Sting’s hand to be helped to his feet. Okerlund doesn’t buy that and Sting is leery himself. Luger goes to Plan B and says he and Sting should officially form a tag-team. Sting accepts. Boy, Sting was an idiot sometimes. At Clash of the Champions, Luger and Sting will face The Blue Bloods.

Match #3: Diamond Dallas Page vs. Sting
Result/Analysis: Sting via submission (6:19) with the scorpion death lock. Classic heel Page here with old-school cheat tactics: cigar in the face, using the ring ropes for leverage and a thumb to the eye. Page also executed a pair of swinging neckbreakers. With early DDP, however, you also would get the screw up as he botches a leapfrog off a rope exchange. Sting executes four moves in the match: a dropkick, a dive onto Page over the ropes, his Stinger Splash and the scorpion death lock. Sting never gave much more than that. Page wasn’t a star at this point or anything close to it but he improved as a wrestler each and every time.
Rating: **1/2

Match #4: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair [World Heavyweight Champion] & “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson
vs. Hulk Hogan & “Macho Man” Randy Savage
Result/Analysis: Hogan and Savage via pinfall (12:16 -shown) when Hogan pins Anderson following a leg drop. If you could picture a Four Horseman tag-team match versus The Mega-Powers and what that would be like, the visual would resemble this: Hogan cleans house to start. Savage tags in to continue the momentum but he soon takes a pounding that lasts several minutes. Hogan becomes a statue on the ring apron as AA and Flair cut the ring in half and take turns on Macho, although Savage counters enough into several near falls so as not to kill the crowd. It was debatable at this point whom the masses were cheering for, however. Savage eventually makes the hot tag to Hogan and you know the rest – – with the most agregious being Hulk doing a complete no-sell of Anderson’s spinebuster. Benoit and Pillman race to the ring but the pin happens first. The Dungeon of Doom, joined by Jimmy Hart, is also out. The Giant ambushes Hogan and Savage and lays both out with a chokeslam. Zodiac and Kevin Sullivan hold The Giant back as Hart cheers on.
Rating: **1/2

The Verdict: Four above-average matches in a one hour show on live TV. This is why WCW was #1. They didn’t mix in any bullshit. The Giant was being pushed with Hogan his natural target. The Four Horseman carried the show. It was good to see young talent like Alex Wright and Eddie Guerrero get time. Next week, Hogan faces Meng from The Dungeon of Doom and Savage wrestles Luger.

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