WCW Monday Nitro – April 29, 1996
Albany, GA (taped 4/22/96)
Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
Both Heenan and Mongo favor The Giant to dethrone Ric Flair and win the World Heavyweight Title. Bischoff also says Sting and Lex Luger will defend the World Tag-Team Titles versus Harlem Heat. Are the champs on the same page with SlamBoree less than three weeks away? Also, his Lordship, Steven Regal tussles with The Belfast Bruiser. These two enemies will team up at SlamBoree as per the drawing of The Lethal Lottery held last week. Will both of them make it there?
WCW World Tag-Team Championship:
Harlem Heat [Stevie Ray & Booker T.] vs. Sting & “The Total Package” Lex Luger (c)
Result/Analysis: Sting & Luger via pinfall (8:21 shown) with a Sting roll-up of Booker T. Jimmy Hart tried to throw in the towel to save Luger from losing clean but Booker catches it so referee Nick Patrick ignores the sign of surrender. Stevie Ray tosses Hart in the ring on top of Luger allowing Sting to come in the back door and school boy Booker for the cheap win. Before all of that, the match is back-and-forth and of decent quality. Sting and Luger never really had a clean victory in their lengthy reign as champions, and now, even Sting was partaking in the chicanery of wins-by-distraction. That, at least, added to how Luger glad-handed victories in the tag-team partnership or for himself in his singles matches. Booker desperately needed to start his own singles career, stat.
Fire and Ice [Scott Norton & Ice Train] vs. The Steiner Brothers [Rick & Scott]
Result/Analysis: The Steiner Brothers via pinfall (3:27) when Rick pins Ice Train following a Steiner Line. Welp. That was abrupt. Fire and Ice were supposedly the new hot tandem yet they do the quick job after some back-and-forth. I never took Fire and Ice seriously nor did the masses. At SlamBoree on May 19, however, Fire and Ice remain together while Rick and Scott will find themselves on opposite teams. This match is nothing but a mere time filler.
“Mean” Gene Okerlund brings out World Heavyweight Champion “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Woman o Woman won’t you marry me now and Elizabeth are with Slick Ric. Flair tells Okerlund to look at Woman and ask himself if “The Nature Boy” is worried about a seven foot four ignoramus by the name of The Giant? Nah. Ha! Flair has Gene now look upon the former Mrs. Savage, who’s now in love with “The Nature Boy,” and ask yourself are we worried about a real-live, walking, talking, fire-breathing Giant? To affirm his point both Woman and Elizabeth agree The Giant isn’t half the man of “The Nature Boy.” I love Flair but this goes down as one of his weaker promos.
Meanwhile, Glacier is coming soon to WCW. No F’s given.
Parking Lot Brawl:
“Lord” Steven Regal vs. The Belfast Bruiser
Result/Analysis: Regal via pinfall (6:25) following a piledriver on the hood of a car. Before “hardcore matches” became a regular thing, and gimmicked hardcore matches at that, Fit Finlay and Regal give us a parking lot brawl to settle their differences … at least, for a while. These guys made their scripted fights look real and either one could have stood a chance in a UFC match had they been around in today’s phenomenon. Car windshields, concrete, a truck bumper, a seat belt – used as a choking device – and the hoods of the four vehicles serving as the fight perimeter, are used. I could watch Finlay and Regal fight each other in a Best-of-7 series in all different styles of matches and be highly into it. These guys were plain tough. At SlamBoree, they’ll be tag-team partners thanks to the Lethal Lottery but it’s hard to imagine them getting along to advance on, though.
WCW World Heavyweight Championship:
The Giant (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair (c) (w/ Elizabeth and Woman)
Result/Analysis: The Giant via pinfall (5:50) following a chokeslam. Well, that was quick and more so, decisive! WCW crowns a new World Heavyweight Champion with Flair putting The Giant “over” after Hulk Hogan never did/would. The top of the card needed a shake-up at this point – – – retrospectively, pre-nWo – – – just for a new Main Event that wouldn’t involve Flair, Savage or Hogan (at least for the short-term) and to push The Giant as an unstoppable monster which had self-explanatory logic. Flair was pre-occupied with torturing Savage, the women and wooing Debra McMichael which led to Mongo joining the Four Horsemen to replace Brian Pillman. He, therefore, didn’t need the belt. Flair’s only offense in the match comes from a thumb to the eye and knocking The Giant out with the use of an illegal object that he pulled from his trunks. Otherwise, the match is a squash, complete with the chokeslam ending coming from a sitting position as Flair has the figure-four on. The Giant was signed for SlamBoree versus Sting. Now, that’s a World Title Match.
The Verdict: WCW was an aircraft in a holding pattern circling the runway until their entire direction changed 2-3 months later. Therefore, why not shake things up in the interim? The competition up North was circling the drain, mostly due to a lack of star power, so WCW was afforded doing whatever and they’d still attract the eyeballs. SlamBoree was on the horizon and a Lord of the Ring.