WCW Monday Nitro – February 26, 1996
Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
Bischoff gives away the Raw spoilers right from the top as he says to put away the remote control and not switch over to the “World Whining Federation.” Ha! It’s the first time of many to come for this back-handed chicanery.
Match 1: Big Bubba vs. Sting
Result/Analysis: Sting via pinfall (7:14) following a flying crossbody press. Big Bubba f/k/a The Big Boss Man, The Boss, The Guardian Angel was enhancement talent by this point. I always thought of this gimmick as that of a hit man and it fit. Bubba wrestles a solid power match as Sting struggles sans Lex Luger. That was the idea, with Sting in need of Luger and their partnership. Sting trips Bubba on the turnbuckle to then catch him with the flying crossbody after taking a sustained beating. Luger is scheduled next against The Renegade – WCW’s “The Ultimate Warrior” parody.
Following a commercial break, “Mean” Gene Okerlund is with Sting, fresh off his victory, and Luger, who just so happens to be holding BOTH of the tag-team title belts. The Road Warriors walk out to question Sting as to why he’s still hanging with Luger when he knows what Luger is really about. Luger, standing behind Sting, answers L.O.D. that they’re the champions, thereby the best in WCW, and will accept a challenge from them in any match, at any time. The Road Warriors pitch a “Chicago Street Fight” to which Luger accepts without hearing on it from Sting. Oh no. Luger furthers his hole by then playing dumb about what the match will entail. The Road Warriors have goated Luger into their style of match and Sting, who is peeved, walks off on Luger telling him to shine the belts in a mirror and figure it out. Ouch! As Bischoff later puts it, Luger wrote a check with his mouth that Sting knows he needs to cash and the funds may get returned as non-sufficient.
Match 2: The Renegade vs. “The Total Package” Lex Luger
Result/Analysis: Luger via submission (5:48) with the torture rack. Like Sting, Luger struggles in singles competition. Unlike Sting, and thanks to that maggot manager of his, Jimmy Hart, Luger had assistance to pick up the win. Luger is confronted by a heated Sting afterward but he cowers in the face of the abetting interference by feinging complete ignorance to Hart pushing The Renegade off the top turnbuckle and onto the floor. The Tag-Team Champs are a hot mess. As for The Renegade, this was his first appearance back on the main roster after last being seen in the fall of 1995. Back then, Jimmy Hart, who had brought him into WCW earlier, turned on him, really, Hulk Hogan foremost, to join the Dungeon of Doom, and he was cause for The Renegade losing his face paint. Following this appearance, he was again absent from television broadcasts for several months.
Match 3: #1 Contender’s Match for WCW World Tag-Team Championship
Harlem Heat [Booker T. & Stevie Ray] vs. The Road Warriors [Animal & Hawk]
Result/Analysis: The Road Warriors via pinfall (7:53) when Hawk pins Booker T after a kick to the head by Animal. Both teams were a bit lethargic, particularly L.O.D., but even Jell-O can move on occasion. Harlem Heat controls the tempo, which is the smart way to have a Road Warriors match at this point come off as being passable. It was announced midway through the winners would be named the #1 Contender’s for the tag-team titles. Naturally, L.O.D. was going over to make the earlier segment with Luger and Sting hold weight. Booker hits the Harlem Hangover on Hawk before the lame finish as Animal separates from Stevie Ray after they were brawling outside the king to kick Booker in the head and position Hawk on top for the cover. Eh. Harlem Heat do all the work in these tag-team matches but they became second rate in the win/loss column in early 1996. For two heels, they always received babyface crowd support. Most all of that was for Booker T.
Match 4: Six-Man Tag-Team Main Event
“The Nature Boy” Ric Flair [World Heavyweight Champion], “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson & The Taskmaster w/ Woman & Elizabeth vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan & The Booty Man
Result/Analysis: Savage, Hogan & The Booty Man via pinfall (12:05) when Hogan pins Anderson (not the legal man) following the big boot and leg drop combo. Good golly almighty was this ever a CLUSTER****!!! I’m sure Hogan orchestrated the entire plan backstage. The Booty Man had the first five minutes to shake his “booty” and put the heels in sleeper holds, and Flair in a Greco-Roman knuckle lock. With that going nowhere fast, Savage was next in the ring, but he, of course, is the one to take a beating, including shenanigans pulled by Elizabeth and Woman. Then, to save the day, Hogan gets the hot tag wherein he stands in the corner as Sullivan, Flair and Anderson are lined up in an assembly line to take the big boot. Nauseating. AA takes the fall because he had pinned Hogan each of the last two weeks. The heels avenge the loss with Flair cornering Hogan and Elizabeth handcuffs on him to the ropes as Nitro goes off the air. That sounds terrible, right?
The Verdict: The six-man tag-team fiasco leaves you feeling ill, but otherwise, Sting and Luger, and their evolving and deterioating partnership held the water for 45 minutes at least. If only “The Alliance to End Hulk-A-Mania” had succeeded in due time … but, at least, the babyface days of Hogan running amok had nearly run its course and a career resurrection for him as “Hollywood” was nearing … though who could have predicted that or that the nWo would skrocket WCW to unthinkable heights? Nitro returns on March 11th giving the WWF a Monday Night to themselves.