WCW Monday Nitro – March 11, 1996

WCW Monday Nitro – March 11, 1996

Winston Salem, NC

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

Easy E, Mongo and Brain discuss the Main Event. Hulk Hogan, “Macho Man” Randy Savage & The Booty Man take on “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair and “The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan in a six-man double strap lumberjack match. Yes, “Uncensored” has come early. Also, The Road Warriors are back in action as well as the NEW World Television Champion: Lex Luger.

Match 1: “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan vs. The Giant w/ Jimmy Hart
Result/Analysis: The Giant via pinfall (6:30) following a chokeslam. Duggan was always a crowd pleaser and it was natural to pair him against the over-sized villians. Hacksaw ran through his schtick no matter what and even though he’d lose, he still gave the works. The Giant could at least sell Duggan’s offense which is in stark contrast to Andre The Giant some eight years earlier. Duggan was fodder. The Giant was lacking a feud post-Hogan. As an aside, Brian Pillman creates a racous in the crowd during the match in his latest attempt to get fired as he’s escorted away by security. Duggan makes sure to wallop Jimmy Hart before falling victim to the chokeslam – manager abuse still played. Hacksaw had no usefulness to the wrestling business beyond Sgt. Slaughter and 1991.
Rating: *3/4 (a better match than you’d guess)

Match 2: The Steiner Brothers [Rick & Scott] vs. The Road Warriors [Animal & Hawk]
Result/Analysis: The Road Warriors via pinfall (10:10) when Hawk pins Rick after Animal uses a forearm pad to hit Rick after he executes a top rope bulldog on Hawk off Scott’s shoulders. This is an absolutely bitchin’ match on free TV, mind you, that came completely out-of-nowhere! The advertised match was The Nasty Boys wrestling The Road Warriors but The Steiner’s ride out on Harley Davidson motorcycles to make their surprise return to WCW for the first time since 1992. Scott had started juicing as he’s considerably bulked up here and he suplexes like an animal, no pun intended. The Road Warriors look as good as they have since their WWF run from 1991-92 and were no doubt juiced by drawing The Steiner’s. It’s in a match of this high-quality that you realize how technically great and schooled a tag-team The Steiner’s were before Scott’s lengthy singles career and Rick’s toiling about in the mid card. The fan reaction is rabid for both teams. That’s a rare moment in wrestling. Raw lost all its viewers the second The Steiner’s rode out to the ring. In 10 minutes, these teams pull out all the stops. AWESOME moment / memory. L.O.D. may have started a heel turn with this match but I need to let that play out as my recollection is foggy. After the match, The Steiner’s, interviewed by “Mean” Gene Okerlund, say they’ve been hunting The Road Warriors for four years and this match (isn’t) the end. The Steiner’s had a brief tenure in ECW in the summer and fall of 1995 in-between their last WCW stint and their three year run in the WWF from 1992-1994. In memory serves me correctly, they stick around while L.O.D. does not much longer.
Rating: ***1/2

Match 3: WCW World Television Championship
“Das Wunderkind” Alex Wright vs. “The Total Package” Lex Luger (c)
Result/Analysis: Luger via pinfall (6:37) following outside interference by Jimmy Hart. Luger was hot shot the World Television Title (his second reign – the first had lasted one day – in one month) with Johnny B. Badd departing WCW over a heated contractual dispute over the use of Kimberly Page of all things twisted. Exactly why Luger, when he was already one-half of the World Tag-Team Champions with Sting, dedpite their ever-dissolving partnership, was a strange decision, but alas, he was. Bischoff spends the first minute (or two) of the match burying Badd for ducking out of WCW, saying, “Obviously, Johnny B. Badd decided he could no longer hang where the big boys play.” Ouch. Wright had begun to receive more of an opportunity because, you know, he could wrestle and make someone as overhyped as Luger even look good. The storyline for Luger was that he negotiated a way for Hart to act on his behalf as his Power of Attorney, whereby Hart managed a loophole to wiggle Luger free from having to wrestle with Sting in the Chicago Street Fight at Uncensored versus The Road Warriors. Ha! The old-school chicanery tactics always played. Luger brushes aside a celebratory Hart after defeating Wright here, “acting” angry that Hart assisted him, just so he could go through his posedown routine. Classic. Instead of teaming with Sting at Uncensored, Luger wound up as one of the eight members in “The Alliance To End Hulk-A-Mania” in the Main Event Doomsday Cage Match opposite The Mega-Powers. Yeah, more on that later …
Rating: **

Match 4: Six-Man Tag-Team Double Strap Lumberjack Match
“The Nature Boy” Ric Flair [World Heavyweight Champion] w/ Elizabeth & Woman, “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson & “The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan vs. “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan, “Macho Man” Randy Savage & The Booty Man
Result/Analysis: Savage, Hogan and The Booty Man via pinfall (6:28) when Hogan pins Flair after the big boot and leg drop. The leather straps were weaponized by the lumberjacks, naturally, but predominantly by Hogan as this colossal mess is merely an exercise for him to beat on Flair the entirety of the match, which had zero structure to it, only mass chaos as if a prison riot broke out, and then pick up the win. Anderson and Taskmaster were ghosts as each get waylayed by Savage and The Booty Man. Kimberly, The Booty Babe-to-be, looks on in adoration for Brutus Beefcake. And you wondered why Marc Mero, aka Johhny B Badd, said see-ya. Loch Ness and The Giant start as Lumberjacks but fight with each other because they were fighting over who had the rights to Hogan. I wonder how the WWF can weave this into their Huckster character? Pure and total 🗑.
Heenan sums up the Hogan show saying, “There he is, surrounded by ‘Hogan’s Hereos’.” Mongo follows that with, “And don’t think he’s not going to be World Champion again Weasel.” Okerlund, meanwhile, catches up with Sullivan, Anderson and Flair after the match. They rant and rave about the Doomsday Cage Match upcoming at Uncensored and Flair, while he bounces off the ropes, pays no mind to this loss, saying he’s got the whole world in his hands, i.e., Elizabeth and Woman. “Whoooo!!!” At this juncture, The Mega-Powers faced odds of 2-on-4 with Luger invoked by Sullivan but the aforementioned Alliance To End Hulk-A-Mania would grow to eight. Stay tuned.

The Verdict: Hogan’s ego and booking input did its damage but not enough to drown out the first 3/4 of the night. The return of The Steiner Brothers sent shockwaves across the bow and hot damn if they didn’t look good. The Road Warriors showed up to work. Thus, a tag-team clinic resulted. For nothing else, watch Nitro from March 11, 1996 for this match. As for Hogan, his babyface run of 12+ years was nearing its end. Thank God. No one knew this of course but WCW was the better for it. The entire product had another two months in its current form before a New World Order arrived for long overdue hostile takeover. The WWF was approaching WrestleMania XII but their weekly content was amateur hour to the wrasslin’ side of the business. Nitro was your Monday Night fix.

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