WCW Monday Nitro – April 1, 1996

WCW Monday Nitro – April 1, 1996

Cleveland, OH

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

The Giant (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Sting

Result/Analysis: No contest. Jimmy Hart had paid off Harlem Heat to eschew a tag-team match versus Sting and The Giant for the WCW Tag-Team Titles but The Giant was in on the take and an impromptu match begins instead. They wrestle a bit before The Giant winds up outside and Lex Luger, who holds the tag-team titles with Sting, shows up as back-up. What a bizarre start to the show. It felt like WCW was attempting to snatch the curious eyes tuning into Raw off WrestleMania but the attempt fell flat. The Giant walks off with Hart and the intro to Nitro is cued up. Stupid.
Rating: DUD

Bischoff, Mongo and Heenan lay out the night. Ric Flair will defend the WCW World Heavyweight Title against Luger. There’ll be a triangle tag-team match with The Steiner Brothers, The Road Warriors and Public Enemy. Also, Hulk Hogan and The Booty Man square off with Arn Anderson and The Taskmaster.

Commercial. Woof. What a terrible start!

Triangle Tag-Team Match:
The Nasty Boys [Brian Knobs & Jerry Sags] vs. The Steiner Brothers [Rick & Scott]
vs. The Road Warriors [Animal & Hawk]

Result/Anslysis: The Steiner Brothers via pinfall (12:35 shown) when Scott pins Johnny Grunge of Public Enemy who was disguised as Brian Knobs and took his place off a run-in. The wacked ending aside, this match is pretty good. You didn’t see many, none that come to my mind, triangle tag matches in this era. Here you had the top contenders in one match with the storyline being if it was L.O.D. or The Steiner’s who took out The Nasty Boys several weeks back when The Steiner’s returned to WCW and wrestled L.O.D. in a terrific match in their place. Public Enemy was feuding with The Nasties so the attack is pinned on them given their interference costs The Nasties this match. Truthfully, no one gave a crap. What this match provides is short bursts of offense and that makes it watchable. I was into The Steiner’s at least. The Road Warriors were probably “promised” a Tag-Team Titles run when they returned but that hadn’t come to pass. The Steiner’s were getting their push instead. The Nasties had jobs because they were buddy-buddy with Hogan.
Rating: **3/4

WCW Saturday Night: Luger will defend the World TV Title against The Giant, “Macho Man” Randy Savage will snap into action versus Scott Norton, and Flair wrestles The Booty Man.

“The Enforcer” Arn Anderson & “The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan (w/ Elizabeth and Woman)
vs. Hulk Hogan & The Booty Man (w/ The Booty Babe)

Result/Analysis: Hogan & The Booty Man via pinfall (7:46) when Hogan pins Sullivan after hitting him with the heel shoe of The Booty Babe. Ugh. How many times can WCW do the same finish in a Hogan match. This time it’s to Hogan’s benefit because he and Booty just needed to cheat to win, of course. Hogan was so unlikable and receiving vociferous boos at this point. The match sucks. It’s a virtual house cleaning to stroke Hogan’s ego despite no one giving a shit or buying into Hulk-A-Mania anymore. He had become so stale you were beginning to forget the glory years. Seriously. Poor Anderson and Sullivan were front-and-center in this tireless ensemble. Literally the same angle without a different outcome was put on display for weeks. To further drown in boos, Hogan (and to some extent Booty) put everyone to sleep in their post-match interview with “Mean” Gene Okerlund where Booty promises Hulk the secret sauce to eliminate Anderson and Sullivan for good. It’s something that’s apparently so good Hogan wants Booty to just come out with it. Get Hogan off TV immediately! His heel turn and the arrival of The Outsiders [Scott Hall and Kevin Nash], to form the n.W.o. was ALL that saved Hogan’s career. He was finished in 1996. Booty makes out with Kimberly/The Booty Babe before a commercial break resuscitates all humanity!!! The applause in the match came when AA or Sullivan did something. That’s all you need to know.
Rating: 1/2*

WCW World Heavyweight Championship
“The Total Package” Lex Luger [WCW World Television Champion & World Tag-Team Champion]
vs. “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair (c) (w/ Elizabeth and Woman)

Result/Analysis: Flair via pinfall (10:58) after Woman tosses hot coffee in Luger’s eyes. Ugh. Not even a World Title Match in the main event can escape a cheat-by-any-means victory. I get that’s how Flair often won as “The Dirtiest Player In The Game,” but couldn’t he just have cheated on his own accord instead of his entourage helping him escape? Another complaint here is that Luger is full-fledged babyface after months of being a tweener at best, leaning more to him as a heel. There was no consistency sometimes. Anyway, the match is decent with Flair being stomped and hit with a bunch of clotheslines. Flair teases taking a powder and hitting the showers early but he returns and soon gets Lex in the figure-four. Luger reverses it, though, since Flair only ever put the hold on but rarely won with it, and gets some near falls. Flair gets caught on the turnbuckle so Lex hits a superplex. He puts Flair in the torture rack so Liz distracts the referee as Woman decaffeinates Luger in the crappy finish. Sting comes to Luger’s aid afterward but Flair scurries off still the champ.
Rating: **1/2

The Verdict: The best part of this Nitro was Heenan playing an April Fool’s joke that it was his last night with WCW. Other than that comedy, it wasn’t a night that moved the needle. Hogan overkill continued after he took the previous week off, and the boos in his direction were LOUD. To look back at this now and pick up on his reactions is something that didn’t register with me at the time. Hey, I was 15 years old and a quasi Hulk-A-Maniac for a decade. Flair, meanwhile, was having a lackluster title reign. I loved the guy, but he was the wrong guy to have the belt. Even Luger for a short run would have been better. He, at least, had Sting, his tag-team partner, to work with. One week Lex was a heel and the next he was a babyface. Even The Giant was flip-flopping. WCW’s booking was really bad for the two months before The Outsiders arrived. Slamboree: The Lethal Lottery, wasn’t until mid-May so more lackluster Nitro’s lay ahead. Hogan was problem 1, 2 and 3.

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