WCW Monday Nitro – July 8, 1996

WCW Monday Nitro – July 8, 1996
Disney-MGM Studios – Orlando, FL

Commentators: Tony Schiavone & “The Living Legend” Larry Zbyszko
Eric Bischoff & Bobby “The Brain” Heenan

Tony and Larry discuss the backstabbing to WCW by Hulk Hogan at Bash at the Beach one night earlier. It was too disgusting for Larry to divulge his personal feelings on, however, so more on that later. Instead, the classic match between Rey Mysterio Jr. and Psychosis is looked back upon. Mysterio won the high-flying encounter and he’ll square off against “The Iceman” Dean Malenko, whom overcame The Disco Inferno to retain the Cruiserweight Championship, in Nitro’s opening contest, and with that gold belt at stake.

WCW Cruiserweight Championship:
Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. “The Man of 1,000 Holds” Dean Malenko (c)

Result/Analysis: Mysterio via pinfall (9:36 shown) following a frankensteiner counter. I could sense the title change was forthcoming here just by how referee Nick Patrick held up the belt prior to the bell. Malenko staves off Mysterio’s hot start by grounding him with precision moves. Malenko was so on point technically with all he did an argument can be made for him at this juncture that no wrestler working anywhere was more technically sound. Between a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, a viscious brainbuster on the floor, and later on, a gutbuster coming off the top rope, tell me any wrestler that could hit those moves as perfectly? Mysterio looks dead after each but perserveres. Despite getting his ass handed to him, though, lightning-quick Mysterio flies around and counters off Malenko with rana’s and moonsaults. Malenko begins to take certain victory for granted late in the match when he pulls off on successive two counts. Larry speculates Dean must have a personal vendetta against Mysterio but it’s only mere stupidity as Mysterio counters a Malenko backbreaker into a frankensteiner, which lands with him cradling Dean’s legs for the crowd pleasing three count and his first North American championship. I’d have kept Malenko as champion until Hog Wild in Sturgis, South Dakota in August but WCW was capitalizing on Mysterio off his classic match with Psychosis from the night before. The Cruiserweight Division, now led by Mysterio, was so hot.
Rating: ***3/4

Backstage, “Mean” Gene Okerlund has The Steiner Brothers and The Nasty Boys with him. They’ll meet tonight in a number one contender’s match to see who faces Harlem Heat for the WCW Tag-Team Titles at Hog Wild. The interview can be summarized as this: four low IQ guys jawing at each other. Scott Steiner respects The Nasties wrestling ability. What ability was that exactly?

Our world is about to change. Enter the realm: blood runs cold. In each of us burns the fury of a warrior. Glacier. The debut that kept on being delayed is still delayed. But, he’s coming to WCW.

Hugh Morrus & Big Bubba (w/ “The Mouth of The South” Jimmy Hart) vs. The Blue Bloods [“Lord” Steven Regal & “Squire” David Taylor] (accompanied by Jeeves) (w/ “Earl” Robert Eaton)

Result/Analysis: The Blue Bloods via pinfall (3:02) when Taylor pins Morrus following a double back suplex. Both tag-teams are heels. Thus, there’s no rooting interest for the live crowd. It’s a pointless match The Blue Bloods dominate long enough for John Tenta to run interference in and brawl with Big Bubba to continue their never-ending feud.
Rating: DUD

Eddie Guerrero vs. Psychosis

Result/Analysis: Guerrero via pinfall (8:34) following the frog splash. Psychosis was making his Nitro debut here after losing to Mysterio at Bash at the Beach the night before. Guerrero was more of a household name and set to receive more of a push. Psychosis works on Eddie’s right shoulder for a while after he lands on it with a corkscrew moonsault outside the ring. This psychology is unexpected. Guerrero makes the comeback by catching Psychosis with a hurricanrana and inverted atomic drop as Psychosis came off the top rope. Psychosis returns the favor with his own rana off the top rope, followed by a sunset flip. Both times, though, Guerrero kicks out at two. The next time up, Guerrero hits a superplex. That leads into the frog splash with Psychosis falling victim to. Unlike Mysterio, Psychosis never got the same push and he became just one of the uber-talented cruiserweights.
Rating: ***

Meanwhile, Okerlund is standing by with The Giant and “The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan. They were victorious last night over Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit. Jimmy Hart is there, too, and he’s at a loss for words over Hulk Hogan’s betrayal. Sullivan says he spent a year-and-a-half trying to end Hulk-A-Mania yet Hulk Hogan destroyed it himself. Sullivan worries over this New World Order, though, The Giant says, so long as he’s the WCW World Heavyweight Champion, nothing can go wrong. The Giant, for one, is in baby face mode here. The Dungeon of Doom, he says, are the elite group and they won the war at the PPV and therefore, he doesn’t have to wrestle tonight (defend the title).

No. #1 Contender’s Match:
The Nasty Boys [Brian Knobbs & Jerry Sags] vs. The Steiner Brothers [Rick & Scott]

Result/Analysis: The Steiner Brothers via pinfall (6:09) when Scott pins Sags following botched outside interference by Col. Robert Parker and Sister Sherri on behalf of Harlem Heat. The match is terrible and has no heat to it other than the Disney-goers sweating their asses off in the July heat of a summer night in Orlando. The Nasties brawl, as per usual, while The Steiner’s, Scott, in particular, toss The Nasties around the ring like two rag dolls. You’re talking about damn near 300 pounds respectively for Knobbs and Sags. The outside interference of Col. Parker and Sister Sherri goes awry so Harlem Heat draws The Steiner’s at Hog Wild as their opponents for the Tag-Team Titles.
Rating: 3/4*

After the match, The Nasty Boys speak about change, with Knobbs even going so far as to say that while he doesn’t condone what Hulk Hogan did, he doesn’t have a problem with it either. The Nasties basically tease joining up with the n.W.o. but that never came to pass. Good decision WCW.

WCW United States Championship:
Jim Powers vs. “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair (c) (w/ Miss Elizabeth, Debra McMichael & Woman)

Result/Analysis: Flair via submission (5:40) with the figure-four leg lock plus leverage from Woman. Powers dominates the match with Flair on the defensive until he hits the turnbuckle off a charge and Flair clips his knee. The figure-four came next and even the anabolic steroids Powers was taking couldn’t prevent him from tapping out. At least Flair took a step back in his career to rescue the U.S. Title from Konnan and restore some credibility to the belt. Flair should have defeated Powers in half the time. For someone with his credentials, even the lesser names worked him over before ultimately losing.
Rating: *1/2

After the match, The Four Horsemen hold court with Okerlund and communicate their personal feelings on Hogan’s betrayal to WCW and to the people around the world he backstabbed in the process. Arn Anderson is the Horsemen who’s most pointed in his commentary, saying he wanted to puke over what Hogan did, saying further, Hogan was supposed to stand for something and by leaving like a thief in the night like he did, stomping on the hearts of people on the way out, he’ll get what’s coming to him when those same people bite him back and do so real hard. Steve “Mongo” McMichael affirms Four Horsemen supremacy as to the apocalypse going on at WCW. Flair doubles down and puts The Giant on notice. As always, these interview segments rocked.

After a commercial break, Bischoff and Heenan discuss the cavalry WCW has to go to war with and how the war has just begun. Lex Luger was supposed to wrestle Chris Benoit tonight but his condition is unknown after being knocked out early on in the hostile takeover match.

Sgt. Craig “Pitbull” Pittman (w/ Teddy Long) vs. “The Crippler” Chris Benoit

Result/Analysis: Benoit via submission (2:33) with the Crippler Crossface. This is the debut match for Benoit’s signature submission hold, one that led to him becoming World Champion years later. Pittman didn’t tap out as Teddy Long made the decision to quit for him. This is a decisive win for Benoit. Pittman was roster filler and nothing more. WCW was pushing Benoit full bore. Of course, being a Horsemen greatly aided in that effort.
Rating: 3/4*

“The Enforcer” Arn Anderson vs. Sting

Result/Analysis: Sting via submission (9:37 shown) with the scorpion death lock. The Outsiders walk out after pulling up in a black limousine so the match was merely a distraction to their arrival. Arn works a better match than Sting does under the circumstances but it’s just kind of there. As The Outsiders are held back by security, and Randy Savage comes out to back AA and Sting, Arn tries to DDT Sting for the win but Sting blocks the move and immediately applies the scorpion for the win while staring at Scott Hall and Kevin Nash for the dramatic effect.
Rating: *3/4

After the match, while being interviewed by Okerlund, Sting completely undresses Hogan for the fraud he is and pretended to be. Quite honestly, this is Sting’s best promo of his career. He tells Hulk to stick in response to Hogan telling the kids to stick after his heel turn. Savage, meanwhile, has his own message for “Hollywood” Hogan but he can’t say what he wants to or what he plans on doing to him especially here at Disney. Basically, what he’s thinking about doing to Hulk is to infinity and beyond or some gibberish we’re all supposed to get. Noteworthy is, Savage coins Hogan as “Hollywood” which became his n.W.o. moniker.

Back from a commercial break now, and “Mean” Gene has caught up with The Outsiders outside of their limo. Nash reiterates The New World Order is here to stay and that WCW’s problems have only just begun. He says The Hulkster will be at Nitro next week to give the people more of his mind. Hall comments on the jealousy Macho Man must have toward “Hollywood” Hogan and that Luger didn’t get hurt, he fainted at the sight of The Outsiders.

Bischoff and Heenan end Nitro by showing the still photos of Hogan’s betrayal of WCW at Bash at the Beach and joining up with The Outsiders. It was then, it still is today, the single-most perfectly executed heel turn with the biggest impact to the “sport” in the history of professional wrestling.

The Verdict: Hogan wasn’t able to appear so the events of Bash at the Beach simmered in people’s minds a while longer before the next chapter unfolds. There’s nothing wrong with that given the shock to the system going on with wrestling fans and even non-wrestling people that knew the name Hulk Hogan. Business was still accomplished here, most notably Rey Mysterio Jr. becomingthe new Cruiserweight Champion. Sting’s comments on Hogan were spot on as he undressed Hogan and helped make him a larger heel if that was even possible. The outdoors setting made you feel how elevated Nitro had become. The next PPV, Hog Wild, on August 10, will also be outside at the Sturgis Bike Rally in South Dakota. Hogan shows up next week dressed in black. That’s a sight to behold.

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