WCW Monday Nitro – July 15, 1996

WCW Monday Nitro – July 15, 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 appearance of The Outsiders and Hulk Hogan coming later on tonight as The New World Order makes their first public appearance together 8 days following the Bash at the Beach PPV. Larry is convinced the n.W.o. is about to recruit another member, possibly someone within WCW. The actual PPV footage of Hogan’s betrayal is shown. At the time, seeing it all play out on an endless loop was the hottest thing to watch. Back in 1996, it took a week + to get the millions of hits that today something would generate in mere minutes with Smartphones on everyone’s fingertips at all points of a day or night. Hulk Hogan as a heel. He was instantly fresh again.

Fire and Ice [Scott “Flash” Norton & Ice Train] vs. The Steiner Brothers [Rick & Scott]

Result/Analysis: The Steiner Brothers via pinfall (7:30 shown) when Rick pins Ice Train off a belly-to-back suplex. The friction between Norton and Ice Train had been going on as Norton was growing tiresome of carrying his dead weight partner. The Steiner’s don’t care. They just do their thing. Scott was a suplex machine while no one could do an overhead powerslam like Rick could. Impressive. These teams wrestled a bunch and The Steiner’s won damn near every time. It’s no wonder Norton wanted to smack Ice Train around. Teddy Long came to ringside to scout Fire and Ice. Ice Train splashes Norton on a double team and proceeds to lose the match from there. All four guys were sweating profusely in the outdoor heat. This could not have been enjoyable for anyone.
Rating: **

“The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan, Jimmy Hart and Big Bubba are standing by with “Mean” Gene Okerlund. Sullivan says The Dungeon of Doom has come up with a new plan to eradicate Hogan before he can destroy WCW. Hart, though, discusses eliminating The Four Horsemen instead. Huh? Wasn’t he listening to Sullivan? Big Bubba promises he’ll put Lex Luger to sleep permanently tonight whether Lex has a concussion still or not. The Faces of Fear [Barbarian and Meng] come late to the interview. What were they doing? Sullivan has a message for Benoit: “You got too personal at the PPV.” Gene mentions the dissension between Fire and Ice as Nitro enters a commercial break.

Meanwhile, Dean Malenko wants his Cruiserweight Title back. Tonight, he says, Billy Kidman picked the wrong night to step in the ring with him, “The Man of 1,000 Holds.”

Another Glacier promo. Our world is about to change. Except, it already did with the n.W.o.

Teddy Long tries to play peacemaker between heel Norton and babyface Ice Train but to no avail. Fire and Ice break up after only a few months of teaming together. No one cries any tears. They of course feud because well, that’s what ex tag-team partners do.

Billy Kidman vs. “The Man of 1,000 Holds” Dean Malenko

Result/Analysis: Malenko via submission (5:15) with the Texas Cloverleaf. This match is a clinic with Kidman scoring on only a couple of moves. Zbyszko correctly summarizes the match as Malenko wiping the floor with Kidman, and in a five-minute match, while wrestling angry after dropping the Cruiserweight Title the previous week, Malenko puts on a master class on how to beat a guy with much less experience. Kidman misses the Shooting Star Press in his lone attempt to win the match and that leads to Malenko hitting these moves in succession: a brain buster, a powerbomb and a butterly sit-out powerbomb that’s turned into the Texas Cloverleaf. Hot damn! Malenko will wrestle Chris Benoit at Hog Wild. That’s a tremendous mid-card PPV bout. Kidman looks a lot like Ralph Macchio here aka Daniel-San from The Karate Kid. Kidman needed a Mr. Miyagi to show him how to wax-on and wax-off. He had the goods but he was in line to be punked out a lot.
Rating: ***

Kevin Greene is at Nitro. Shouldn’t he be at training camp with the Carolina Panthers? Greene tells Okerlund he’s one of the millions of betrayed Hulk-A-Maniacs all over the world. Still, Greene says, he’s here tonight to get his hands on Steve “Mongo” McMichael. As if the Panthers would allow Greene to have any non-football contact! Gene promises to alert Greene if he sees Mongo tonight.

Meanwhile, WCW World Tag-Team Champions Harlem Heat talk smack to the tag-team of Rough & Ready (Dick Slater and Mike Enos). They’ll get on next on Nitro.

WCW World Tag-Team Championship:
Rough & Ready [“Dirty” Dick Slater and Mike Enos] (w/ Col. Robert Parker)
vs. Harlem Heat [Booker T. and Stevie Ray] (c) (w/ Sister Sherri)

Result/Analysis: Harlem Heat via pinfall (7:41) when Booker pins Slater with a roll-up after Sherri had kissed Slater. That’s wacky booking for a World Tag-Team Titles match, but then again, WCW was notorious for wacky booking so. The tag-team of Rough & Ready was Col. Parker’s latest mishmash of forgotten heels though nothing he did ever came close to being good after The Stud Stable was disbanded. Parker was the “promoter” for Harlem Heat, meanwhile, as he was supposedly working wth Sister Sherri in their on-again/off-again romance. The match is full of brawling with Enos and Booker trying to hit some wrestling moves inbetween. I appreciate WCW recycling anyone and everyone – no company ever did that better – but this was a pointless exercise with the Parker and Sherri lovey-dovey/bickering stuff never really going anywhere.
Rating: *1/4

A Rey Mysterio Jr. video package is shown highlighting the NEW Cruiserweight Champion. Mysterio was already revolutionizing professional wrestling in two months that was for certain.

Meanwhile, Meng and Jimmy Hart say they’ll make Arn Anderson the next victim of The Dungeon of Doom tonight. Hart had to talk because Meng couldn’t speak anything intelligible.

Kevin Greene interrupts Okerlund again as he’s still looking for Mongo. Gene tells Greene that Mongo is obviously ducking him like the plague. Greene says he’s got to catch a plane to get himself to training camp on time but he’ll be back in February to get Mongo. By then, the shelf life for that “feud” had expired.

Malia Hosaka vs. Madusa

Result/Analysis: Madusa via pinfall (4:09) following a German suplex. Pointless match and pretty awful. If you’re into mid-1990’s female wrestling, though, maybe this match tickles your fancy. The move on repeat here? A hair pull toss takeover. Women’s wrestling has come so far in 25 years. Madusa is actually on the Hog Wild PPV card coming up on August 10th in Sturgus, S.D. as she opposes old nemeisis Bull Nakano in a “Destroy The Bike Match.” I wish I was joking.
Rating: 1/2*

Hour 2:

The Outsiders cover up the WCW letters with NWO letters to signify who’s really in charge. Eric Bischoff, of course, plays dumb to this next part of The Outsiders hostile takeover. Bobby Heenan, however, warns of more things still to come, most importantly, another member or two or …

Meng (w/ “The Mouth of The South” Jimmy Hart) vs. “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson

Result/Analysis: Meng via pinfall (8:33 shown) following a karate thrust kick. Wow! Double A is dominated in this match. To see Anderson lose clean to Meng isn’t a result anyone could have expected. Meng looks good doing his martial arts stuff but it’s hard to concentrate on the match with the crowd, and Bischoff/Heenan, paying no mind to it with The Outsiders perched high above watching. There’s also random fireworks that go off – hey, it’s Disney, after all – so that’s another distraction not needed. The Dungeon of Doom was all about dismantling The Four Horsemen but they were the only ones focused on that. The Barbarian joins Jimmy Hart at ringside and assists Meng in picking up the upset win. I always liked The Faces of Fear.
Rating: *1/2

After the commercial break, Mongo and Debra show up to spout off to Okerlund about Kevin Greene. Mongo says he’ll fight Greene if Greene can get his name on the dotted line, see, Mongo is a professional now, he says. Debra disses Greene for playing football for a farm team, the second-year Carolina Panthers, while rattling off the career stats of her husband to contrast the two gridiron greats. What a waste of time. Mongo and Greene should have fought at Bash at the Beach off Mongo joining The Four Horsemen and backstabbing Greene at The Great American Bash. Pfft.

“The Crippler” Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero

Result/Analysis: Guerrero via count-out (9:38) following outside interference by Malenko. Jimmy Hart no doubt got his message across to Malenko: attack Benoit. That business arrangement would last into the Hog Wild PPV with Hart being in Malenko’s corner for his match with Benoit. Guerrero fights the good fight here as he tries to survive as Benoit pummels him. Even Benoit’s chops hit the mark. It’s clear he was taking pointers from Flair on how to inflict those effectively. Everything Benoit would do in his matches was purposeful and he started to define himself this way. I loved it. Benoit was already a top notch tactical wrestler but this ruggedness gave him that extra feel. Guerrero perserveres thru the beating he takes and hits a superplex off the top rope to turn the tide. With Benoit staggering at the ropes, Guerrero does a hurricanrana and, as a result, they both wind up outside. Benoit decks Guerrero first but Malenko shows up and posts Benoit. Guerrero recovers before referee Jimmy Jett counts both out and sneaks back into the ring with Benoit the loser. And just think, the careers in WCW for Benoit, Guerrero and Malenko would intertwine so much that 3 1/2 years later, they all defected up North for greener pastures as The Radicalz.
Rating: ***

Big Bubba and Jimmy Hart warn Luger again what’s in store for him tonight as Nitro heads to break.

Glacier promo #1000. You know the rest.

WCW World Television Championship:
Big Bubba (w/ “The Mouth of The South” Jimmy Hart) vs. “The Total Package” Lex Luger (c)

Result/Analysis: Luger via DQ (7:35 shown) following outside interference by The Outsiders. The match is a good effort and a physical encounter. With Luger going on last, however, the match is mere window dressing for the first n.W.o. beatdown of a WCW guy since their formation. Luger gets blasted by The Outsiders as “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan appears from the black limousine parked out back and he’s dressed in all black for the first time. Bischoff calls Hogan “The scourge of the wrestling world” as he plays up his disgust on behalf of all the Hulk-A-Maniacs that are no longer. Heenan points out that Hogan is void of the red and yellow colors and he’s dressed entirely in black. Hogan cheerleads for Hall and Nash as they double team Nash’s jackknife powerbomb on Luger, who takes a sick bump to his head off the mat. The n.W.o. high five each before Hogan stands over Lex and smacks each side of his face. Oh, the humiliation! Bischoff continues to play up everyone’s disgust with the new Hogan. LOL. Hall shoves Luger out of the ring with his boot, treating Lex like yesterday’s garbage. Bubba gets to his feet and sees Hogan. The n.W.o. tease Bubba that he can join them. And Bubba falls for it by shaking Hogan’s hand. That backfires immediately as Hogan turns away as The Outsiders turn on Bubba. Hall and Nash make quick work in discarding Bubba as Heenan correctly points out how the n.W.o. is setting out to destroy the entire foundation of WCW. Bischoff goes one further, saying, “Sting, Savage, Flair, Giant … put your personal crap aside and get here quick.”

The live crowd is in full riot mode minutes into all of this as Okerlund enters the ring cautiously for remarks from Hogan. Heenan adds, “Look at the disgust in Gene Okerlund’s face.” Okerlund addresses Hogan and The Outsiders with the reality of it all, saying, “You have led us down the primrose path.” Hogan responds that he should have done all of this two years ago. Ha! But together, with The Outsiders, The New World Order is taking over professional wrestling. Gene references the millions of calls and letters received by WCW since he backstabbed everyone and says, including himself, everyone is disgusted with him. Hogan echoes back to his Bash comments saying he led all the kids down the right path yet the people had the gall to boo him so they can all stick it, brother. Hulk badmouths Sting for being a skinny little bodybuilder 10 years ago when they first met in Venice Beach. He then says “Macho Man” failed in his marriage, blamed him for three years over it, yet Macho failed all because he couldn’t “rise to the occasion.” OMG! At this point, people are littering the ring and throwing their garbage at Hogan. Hulk says he is professional wrestling, he made professional wrestling, and with The Outsiders, they’ll now rule professional wrestling! Gene asks about the n.W.o. and where it’s all headed. Hulk alludes that The Outsiders are the foundation of The New World Order but as he builds his empire, there will be more followers. He states there’s always been a double loyalty in the biz, one to the promoters that pay the bills and another to Hulk Hogan … for where he goes, so goes professional wrestling. Gene points to the trash in the ring and tells Hogan it’s a pretty good example of how his life is going to go from here on out. Hogan says he’s done with the kids. He laid out the path for them but they didn’t want to follow it. Hogan finishes up by calling out The Giant for Hog Wild. He’s not wasting his time on Sting and/or Macho. He’ll take the WCW belt, make it the n.W.o. belt, and after that, the n.W.o. will rule professional wrestling. Okerlund calls Hogan a mad man who’s out of his mind as he exits the ring. The n.W.o. clears the ring of the garbage as Bischoffs pleads for help from the WCW stalwarts M.I.A. tonight. The locker room empties as friends and foe unite to stand up for WCW in an act of solidarity. Nitro concludes with a stand-off as more things are thrown toward the ring.

The Verdict: Until Hogan made his appearance, Nitro on this night was an overly good “WCW Saturday Night.” Malenko, Benoit and Guerrero starred in the ring while everything else was filler for two hours. Hogan was knocking his heel persona out of the park and proving WCW geniuses for finally going rogue with him. The n.W.o. had taken over. For WCW, the wrestlers, it hadn’t sunk in yet. All the eyes in professional wrestling were glued to this new and unfolding saga. It was all so refreshing. Wrestling’s second big boon had begun.

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