WCW Monday Nitro – May 27, 1996
Commentators: Tony Schiavone & “The Living Legend” Larry Zbyszko
Eric Bischoff & Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
Schiavone and Zbyszko anmounce a pair of matches. Coming up in hour two, Sting will square off with Scott Steiner. That has to be a first. Also, The Giant will defend the WCW World Heavyweight Championship versus The Shark (Earthquake). That won’t be pretty. In addition, Ric Flair and Arn Anderson will team up as they begin their prep for The Great American Bash. Col. Robert Parker promises the debut of a new man under his guidance. Monday Nitro’s two-hour debut begins now!
The American Males [Marcus Bagwell & Scotty Riggs] vs. “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair & “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson (w/ Woman and Miss Elizabeth)
Result/Analysis: The Horsemen via pinfall (9:49 shown) when Flair pins Bagwell following a DDT by Anderson. Who is the weakest link here? Duh, Scotty Riggs, of course. The Horsemen old school cheat throughout which is pure classic dick heel wrestling at its greatest. Scotty Riggs gets the boots layed to him early on as Flair and AA take turns finding their measure. Bagwell comes in and cleans house on Flair as The Horsemen scatter off with the girls to regroup as Naitch grabs a bottle of Dom Pérignon randomly. AA hits the ring post trying to deck Bagwell and he gets worked over. After a commetcial break, Riggs is back in for The Males to take a sustained ass kicking as The Horseman take turns while switching off without making the necessary tags. LOL. Flair serves up champagne to Schiavone and Zbyszko sitting at ringside for commentary as AA makes Riggs his personal bitch. Eventually, Riggs gets the hot tag to Bagwell. Reasons. Bagwell dropkicks Flair and sends Naitch skyward with a back body drop. Somewhere before all of this Flair and referee Randy Anderson get into a shoving match. Love it. Bagwell tallies some near falls, including one off a Perfectplex but AA makes the save. Later, as Bagwell has Flair pinned near the ropes, Woman gouges Bagwell’s eyes and while referee Anderson pays mind to that, AA sneaks up from behind to DDT Bagwell. Snap! Flair covers for three before Riggs can make it in the ring to break the count.
Rating: *** (HOT TV match)
Afterward, Flair douses himself with the champagne bottle to refresh himself as he, AA and the girls walk themselves over to their VIP table. “Mean” Gene Okerlund is present for commentary. Gene asks The Horsemen about facing Kevin Greene and Steve McMichael at the upcoming Great American Bash. AA says The Horsemen don’t respect anybody and he’s never met a football player in his life that he didn’t walk over to a better fight. Arn says he’s never met a woman that Ric couldn’t have; it just so happens the one he wants now is Mongo’s wife, Debra. Furthermore, The Horsemen, according to AA, don’t respect anyone that has to wear protective gear. In their world, it’s man-to-man and hand-to-hand. Oh, he’s soo good! Flair’s turn now but he’s in a mood for song as he breaks out “Afternoon Delight” following a weekend they all just had in The Keys. LOL. Ric says Debra belongs to him, as he made it so down in Austin while Mongo was out playing football. Gene asks Elizabeth if what Ric is doing with Debra is considered two-timing? Liz says the champ can do anything he wants. Flair closes with a dig on Savage by refuting claims that he’s Liz and Woman’s sugar daddy. Ric says it’s Savage’s bankroll that in actuality, has Liz being his and AA’s sugar mama. Whoooo!!! What a start to Nitro in Macon, Georgia. The crowd is amped up! If only they knew …
We see a workout montage for Greene and McMichael as they lift weights/pump iron … maybe even pop pills. Mongo, he at least, looks washed up. Greene cuts a Hulk Hogan style “Whatcha gonna do” line on The Horsemen. I can’t wait for the double-cross/swerve at the pay-per-view.
Steve Doll vs. The Mauler (w/ Col. Robert Parker)
Result/Analysis: No Contest.
The match is interrupted by the shocking WCW invasion of one Scott Hall/Razor Ramon! Hall walks through the crowd, hops the security railing, asks for/grabs a microphone from ring annoucer David Prnzer and hijacks the ring seemingly unscripted/yet entirely scripted to start a WAR!!! The next two minutes that unfold would forever alter the landscape in professional wrestling and Hall’s intrusion represents the most significant non-match result moment quite arguably in the history of Monday Nitro. It went down like this: “You people… you know who I am. But you don’t know why I’m here,” he said. “Where is Billionaire Ted? Where is the Nacho Man? That punk can’t even get in the building. Me? I go wherever I want, whenever I want. And where, oh where, is Scheme Gene? ‘Cause I got a scoop for you. When that Ken doll lookalike (referring to Eric Bischoff) … When that weatherman wannabe comes out here later tonight, I got a challenge for him, for Billionaire Ted, for the Nacho Man. And for anybody else in… WCW. Hey, you wanna go to war? You want a war? You’re gonna get one.”
Fans, discounting those Southerners in Georgia who were completely oblivious, saw the man that walked, talked and dressed like Razor Ramon. “The Bad Guy.” The WWF stalwart perhaps sent into enemy territory to in fact, start a war, a ratings war or just plain unthinkable cross-promotional dynamics never once thought of. In fact, Hall’s WWF contract had expired some eight days earlier and Hall was now a WCW employee, a very lucrative employee at that. WCW in sheer brilliance, with Eric Bischoff creatively in charge, slam dunked the WWF over the Billionaire Ted skits from earlier in the year. What was a cheap ploy, though comical in nature, when the WWF ran the skits, angered over Ted Turner attracting and buying up any ex-WWF star he could to win a ratings war and effectively try and put the WWF out of business, is immediately used against the WWF by WCW in the origins of the coming n.W.o. angle. Sheer brillance. WCW launched itself forward for at minimum the next 2 1/2 years in dominating the WWF in the famed “Monday Night Wars” and Hall’s debut on this night, 25 years ago, Memorial Day – May 27, 1996, set in motion the hottest period in professional wrestling that had or would ever be. The Internet was still in its infancy years. Only a true insider might have had a clue, even on matters on a wrestler’s contractual status. Their had been rumblings something was in the works. No one knew what. It all unfolds from here on out. Shock and awe could still be pulled off and WCW was just getting started with their impending war!
Now a match had been unfolding prior to Hall’s abrupt appearance. Col. Parker was debuting his newest charge, a repackaged Mike Enos, formerly Blake Beverly of The Beverly Brothers – WWF 1992/1993 fame, as The Mauler against Steve Doll, a journeyman wrestler who fans knew as one-half of the WWF tag-team Well Dunn earlier in the decade. The Mauler dominates but the match with Doll is but a trivia question for who was in the ring the night Scott Hall debuted in WCW. The best acting job and emmy award should go to Tony Schiavone who masters complete shock and bewilderment over Hall’s hostile takeover of the program as he shows real concern for the ongoing match that got interrupted and what happens to it. Everyone involved was on point. Place yourself there 25 years ago, in the context of the time, and Schiavone’s reaction was likely shared by many. Hall will be seen again before the night is over. ***** and a full monty rating for blowing the lid off.
Sgt. Craig “Pitbull” Pittman (w/ Teddy Long) vs. Diamond Dallas Page
Result/Analysis: DDP via pinfall (3:02) following the diamond cutter. Nothing match with Page doing next to nothing before hitting the diamond cutter. Pittman as a face = soft. DDP has a mysterious benefactor that helped him get back after he lost all of his money to Kimberly. Do we ever find out who that person is? Page always had the character down but he couldn’t wrestle very well yet and needed someone credible to carry him. The Serge wasn’t that man.
Meanwhile, Schiavone updates us on the status of “Macho Man” Randy Savage, who has been suspended indefinitely from all WCW television events due to his recent out of control behavior. Basically, Macho was receiving the Hogan sabbatical treatment. That, and Flair is busy with Mongo.
Back from commercial and tonight’s challenger for the World Heavyweight Title, The Shark (Earthquake) is standing by with “Mean” Gene. Shark is furious over being booted from The Dungeon of Doom, and he’s notably disgusted with The Taskmaster and Jimmy Hart. No F’s given, Shark. Tonight, as payback, Shark says he’s beating The Giant to become World Heavyweight Champion (no chance in hell) and afterward, he might eat Hart for dessert. Shark falsely claims he almost ended Hulk-A-Mania so now he’ll end The Giant (not even in shark infested waters Quake!).
Speaking of Hulk Hogan, the absentee of late, Lee Marshall voices over a video montage to update WCW fans on the greatest champion in wrestling. Pfft. Hulk has spent his time away working at various charity events while hanging around notable celebrities. He’s shown with boxing great, Sugar Ray Leonard, and basketball superstar, Shaquille O’Neal. What was the point of this exactly?
Bischoff and Heenan are at the ready for hour two. Heenan thinks Greene and Mongo are in their hotel rooms hiding under their beds in fear of Flair and Anderson getting their hands on them. Bischoff, in another respect, won’t even dignify the intrusion from earlier in the night but for all intents and purposes calls out Scott Hall.
WCW World Heavyweight Championship:
The Shark vs. The Giant (c) (w/ Jimmy Hart)
Result/Analysis: The Giant via pinfall (4:01) following a chokeslam. Shark tries some offense, none of it successful, as The Giant overpowers him. Shark eats several boots and gets body slammed. Hart causes distraction allowing The Giant an opening for the chokeslam. The match wasn’t quite the “Natural Disaster” I suspected, but it’s close. Afterward, Big Bubba comes in and shaves off half of The Shark’s head. The Bubba/Shark feud won “Worst Feud of The Year” honors by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. The Giant takes on Lex Luger at The Great American Bash. “The Total Package” defends his World Television Title coming up. ICYMI, The Shark? He’s from “Tsunami.”
WCW World Television Championship:
Maxx vs. “The Total Package” Lex Luger (c)
Result/Analysis: Luger via submission (5:47) with the torture rack. Maxx is DDP’s former sidekick/bodyguard Maxx Muscle, you know back when Page feuded with Dave/Evad Sullivan over The Diamond Doll (Kimberly) in 1994. Maxx dwarfs Luger, which few bodybuilding prototypes could do, but he’s a meathead with no wrestling IQ. Luger gets overpowered for most of the match as my weary eyes start to blink from boredom. The steel plate of doom turns the tide, however, and Lex hits a shitty body slam before impressively getting the lugnut that is Maxx up for the torture rack. Off-camera during the match Bischoff mentions to a stage hand while on commentary he’ll give a certain someone (Hall) time at the end of the night to speak. Luger speaks with Okerlund post-match and doesn’t take blame for getting the World Title shot instead of DDP. Gene shows the footage from two weeks back when The Giant and Luger wrestled and The Giant chokeslammed Lex thru a table outside the ring. Luger responds that The Giant wasn’t trying to win the match but was instead trying to take him out. He says he wants to face all the BIG guys in WCW before The GAB to get ready for The Giant. Okerlund classifies Luger’s task to torture rack The Giant as Mission: Impossible. Sting added to the match for a three-way dance was the logical booking. Pfft.
“Hardwork” Bobby Walker vs. Brad Armstrong
Result/Analysis: Walker via pinfall (4:27) following a flying shoulder tackle. Terrible match. Literally not one single fan reacts to anything save for Walker blowing three spots with poor footing/balance. They say hard work pays off but, um, whoever ran the WCW Power Plant gave false reporting on Walker because he stinks. Armstrong, a veteran of some 15+ years is resorted to enhancement talent with a kick ass entrance theme. Go figure. Where are Chris Benoit and Kevin Sullivan? They’re in a major feud yet WCW rolls out Mr. Hardwork and a has-been while Bischoff calls them both top cruiserweight contenders. Bad. Really, really, REALLY BAD!!! Bischoff also calls Walker a prodigy. LOL. That was the last we heard of that and Walker becomes famous later on ONLY for signing on in the filing of a racial discrimination lawsuit against WCW. I believe Walker did discriminated against – – – for completely sucking – – – after I watched this one match.
“Lord” Steven Regal (accompanied by Jeeves) vs. “Das Wunderkind” Alex Wright
Result/Analysis: Regal via pinfall (8:51 shown). Wright fails to execute a monkey flip out of the corner and Regal flips himself over into a bridge pin. I always liked and looked forward to Regal’s matches. He makes a facelock, side headlock, or basic European uppercuts look legitimate, plus he works stiff. Wright, meanwhile, adapts to the style of his opponent and gives Regal some of his back. Some may call this a boring but they don’t appreciate the subtleties at play here. Wright had talent and could have at least made something off say the Television Title had he been given a run with it. After the match, Regal gets rare interview time with “Mean” Gene in which he calls him a miserable little toad, Wright (who’s from Germany, mind you) “Junior Adolf,” The Giant, a bloody escape from Barnum & Bailey’s, and the fans, meager peasants. Regal says it’s high time he had a say for what goes on here in WCW and for that, he’s putting Sting, the franchise, on notice as he challenges him to a match to then win and earn a World Title shot against that bloody circus freak. Oh man, this was GREAT!!! More Regal puh-lease!
Scott Steiner vs. Sting [WCW Tag-Team Champion]
Result/Analysis: Double DQ (10:17) as both Luger and Rick Steiner interfere. Scott was getting massive at this point as the roids kicked in. It wouldn’t be long before he could no longer do/get up for the frankensteiner. Sting wrestles on the defensive for the most part as Scott showcases his wares while suplexing ad naseum. It’s a decent match between two of WCW’s most popular babyface guys until, of course, the tag partners intervene for the donnybrook finish. WCW knew two things: The Steiner’s had to win the Tag-Team Titles and Scott was approaching his singles career. The fomer would come first only not by The Great American Bash with the champs separately engaged in singles matches. This rivalry simmered on …
Bischoff and Heenan immediately go into their wrap-up but here’s Hall on cue. Heenan looks on in shock and disbelief. I mean, was he left in the dark on this one for mere effect? I suppose not but maybe? Hall stands in front of Ken Doll (Bischoff) and issues a challenge to WCW and Billionaire Ted to find three guys to go to war with because, as Hall puts it, “We” are taking over. Bischoff responds, “What do you mean, ‘We’”? Hall names “The Nacho Man” and Stinger as two possibilities and says again “We” are taking over. He says, “You want a war? You want a war? Then lets do it in the ring where it matters. Not on no microphones. Not in no newspapers or dirt sheets, lets do it in the ring, where it matters. If Billionaire Ted and, uh, his big boys got any guts, because we are coming down here, and like it or not, WE, are taking over!” Hall takes his toothpick out from his mouth ala “Razor Ramon” and tosses it at the direction of Heenan. Bischoff chimes in, “You’re outta here.” Hall walks off. Bischoff looks at Heenan. Heenan looks at Bischoff. Eric says, “I don’t know what to say. We’ll see you next week.” The biggest angle in the history of wrestling was underway.
The Verdict: You want a war? Well you’re gonna get one! Shock and awe in professional wrestling at a time when the Internet and the wrestling marks didn’t foretell such an angle. Contextually, watching this LIVE on 5/27/96, you’d have had some belief a cross-promotional WAR between the WWF was launched onto WCW. Instead, you get Hall for now and Kevin Nash (Diesel) not long after in the beginning stages of the n.W.o. angle that forever changed professional wrestling and catapulted WCW to #1 for 83 successive weeks, something no one ever thought was possible. The wrestling on this show is vanilla, and the matches are nothing anyone remembers. The GAB card is coming into focus. The Horsemen were great. His Lordship, besmirched, I dug. Hall’s appearance sent shockwaves throughout the business and WCW instantly became where eyeballs went.