WCW Monday Nitro 2/5/96

WCW Monday Nitro – Febraury 5, 1996

Lakeland, FL

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

Match 1: WCW World Heavyweight Championship
Chris Benoit vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (c) w/ Miss Elizabeth & Woman
Result/Analysis: Savage via DQ (8:18) due to outside interference by Ric Flair. THIS is the match where Woman showed her true colors and aligned with Flair and The Four Horsemen betraying her ties to Elizabeth and Savage. Liz, was the next one to stab Savage in the back. Prior to the wild finish, though, Savage takes an absolute beating from Benoit, who systematically and relentlessly beats Macho to a pulp while working stiff. Savage, a further credit to how awesome he was, takes all the punishment, sells and sells and sells the Benoit offense to effectively do his part in helping to recite The Horsemen’s playbook. Benoit was a later version of himself here, “The Rabid Wolverine,” and man, does he smack his forehead hard on the exposed concrete when missing a dive through the ropes aimed at Savage. That, but then taking Savage’s flying elbow drop while laying flat out the mat and directly to his neck. Benoit shows in this match his future stardom while Savage reminds us no one took a beating any more convincing than him. This was a professional wrestling clinic.
Rating: ***1/4

Savage is walked off after Hogan runs in with a chair and hits Arn Anderson and Benoit with it. With “Mean” Gene Okerlund in the ring now, Hogan turns the attention onto himself (ego-maniac) after not being able to explain what just went down with Woman. Hogan babbles about The Giant but Flair re-appears and beats the stitches off his head. Yes! The Giant arrives with Zodiac, and he hits Hogan with the chair. Zodiac steps in to protect Hogan, though. Brother Bruti. Eh. The Booty Man commeth. Savage is back as he runs off Flair. The Giant bails to avoid a chair shot. Savage voices to Okerlund that what he’ll do to Flair in the cage at SuperBrawl can’t be said on TV. He admonishes Elizabeth as to why she didn’t warn Hogan about the Flair blindside attack. Okerlund plays peace maker to deflect that legitimate question before calling for medical help as Hogan bleeds profusely while covering his eye. Hulk is in a bad way. From start-to-finish, these 15 minutes were awesome!

Match 2: “The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan & Hugh Morrus w/Jimmy Hart
vs. “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson & Flyin’ Brian Pillman
Result/Analysis: The Horsemen via DQ (7:18) when Taskmaster weaponizes a leather strap on Pillman. The match lacks organization and moreso has moments that indicate – – – for Pillman and Sullivan – – – improvisation and going off script. Weird. Anderson and Sullivan fight up the aisle near the conclusion where an unseen assailant (Paul Orndorff) hits AA with a broom handle from behind a curtain. It is announced Pillman and Sullivan will square off at SuperBrawl in a Leather Strap/“I Respect You” Match. I read that encounter gets out-of-hand as this match did.
Rating: *1/2

Match 3: Marcus Alexander Bagwell vs. “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair w/ Woman
Result/Analysis: Flair via submission (7:02) with the figure-four. Bagwell, the young buck he was at this point as one-half of The American Males, comes loaded for bear. If only he wrestled the rest of his career this way. Flair, with Heenan playing it up well on commentary, wrestles the match in a way of taking Bagwell lightly, as if he was looking ahead to facing Savage at SuperBrawl. Bagwell is the agressor as Flair was doing his best Muhammad Ali “Rope-a-Dope.” Savage runs Flair off after the bell as Naitch refuses to release the figure-four and had punched the referee. Macho made it to the hospital with Hogan and back in seven minutes? Woman replaces Jimmy Hart. Woooo!

Match 4: WCW World Tag-Team Championship
The Road Warriors [Hawk & Animal] vs. Sting & “The Total Package” Lex Luger (c)
Result/Analysis: Sting & Luger via pinfall (7:34) with Luger pinning Animal after using a steel plate. The Road Warriors don’t look as bad here as they did one week prior in their re-entry match but even the modest improvement won’t elicit a higher rating with the star system rating. Luger is the heel in sheep’s clothing as he cheats to win, chokes, pulls down the ring ropes on Animal, etc. Sting can only gaze at Luger in disapproval as he wants to keep the peace … the belts and all. Hawk, again, appears sluggish. Given his later history with substance abuse, it makes you wonder. Then again, Hawk does talk coherently afterward as he and Animal challenge the winning team at SuperBrawl (later on in the night). Harlem Heat first gets their return match with Sting and Luger.
Rating: *3/4

The Verdict: Bizarre happenings for the Nitro on the eve of SuperBrawl. Woman, at last, turns heel to align with Flair and The Four Horsemen. Elizabeth will be next. Pillman couldn’t stay on script in his matches – – – or, so it seemed – – – and management grew more nervous each and every time he was on camera. Flair was carrying the flag (when didn’t he?) as the top heel and wrestler. Benoit and Savage put on a clinic. Alas, however, we remember the four participants of the opening match, whom all met untimely ends to their lives. SuperBrawl has potential but the midcard has no juice.

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