Welcome to the first edition of my WCW Monday Nitrocap. This is going to be a weekly series where I watch an episode of WCW Monday Nitro off of the WWE Network and share my thoughts. I’m going in order because that’s just how I roll. I’ve actually decided to post these on the same day and at the same time that the episode of Nitro actually aired twenty years ago.
This is not a play-by-play recap. If you need to know if Hulk Hogan pinned Big Bubba after hitting a springboard hurricanrana there are plenty of reviews online that will give you the answer. I’ll talk about matches and angles and crack on the commentary a lot. As long as Steve McMichael is here I will have things to say. You’ll also be getting some stories centering around my booking of my action figure federation because it seems when one person starts telling those stories, others can’t help but join in.
I’m writing this for a few reasons. The first is that it is easy content for the website. If I’m really going to write every day as is my stated goal I need things like this.
The second reason is that WCW still remains my favorite wrestling promotion of all time. I was a WCW fan right up until the bitter end. The day of the last WCW Nitro telecast I got my WCW shirt in the mail and also a replica WCW title belt. I bought the shirt from WCW’s official site, I wanted to get one while I still had the chance. I had plenty of wrestling shirts but not just a standard WCW shirt.
The third is related to Nitro specifically. The first episode of Nitro, the one I’m about to recap aired the day before I started my freshman year of High School. The Monday Night War took me from my first day of High School through graduation and beyond. It is funny to me that the rise and fall of WCW took place in the span of my High School career. As a freshman WCW was on the way up and by the time I graduated it was well on the way down. I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to decide whether or not this is a metaphor for my own life.
Much like Nitro in 1995 this idea is new territory for me and will evolve over time as I figure out what works and what does not. Hopefully it doesn’t go up in flames like WCW did because I just can’t afford to lose $62 million in a year.
Nitro was announced over the summer of 1995. I was really excited because I’m a wrestling fan and the more wrestling the better. Oh how things have changed. I was also a WCW fan so I knew immediately that I would be tuned in to Nitro more often than Monday Night Raw.
The fact this show was at the Mall of America ended up being an interesting discussion point with a friend of mine. My buddy Wade and his family were at the Mall a couple of weeks before and saw all of the promotion for the show. He also ate at Hulk Hogan’s Pastamania and still complains about the aftertaste to this day. It is twenty years later and the aftertaste might have outlived the restaurant.
I feel like my introduction reads like one of today’s 20 minute opening Raw promos, so I’ll stop and get to the show.
I love the original opening to Nitro. It is much better than the later one that they had at least when it comes to music.
Here’s the second one for your comparison.
Your hosts are Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan and Steve McMichael because…famous football player.
In 1995, I had no access to the Internet. Also, I am visually impaired so I can’t read television credits. So I had no idea that Bischoff was in a position of power in WCW. As a result, his being the lead announcer struck me as odd at the time. Now, not so much.
Mongo says that it is apropos and that don’t mean you’re digging around in the dirt with farm implements. Those are literally his first words as a commentator and I have absolutely know idea what in the hell that is supposed to mean. Perhaps you think I’m joking, you think I make strong with the humor. Here is the Internet to remove all doubt.
Heenan says he was a big fan of Mongo’s when he played for Denver. He also denied saying anything bad about Mongo in the past. No need to apologize, Brain!
Liger represents New Japan Pro Wrestling. I wonder what ever happened to that company? Mongo says he hopes Liger didn’t bring his Ginsu knife with him because “that’s illegal in this thing ain’t it?” I’m not going to write down every stupid thing Mongo says on commentary because by the time I’m done I’ll have to start writing next week’s recap. We’re not even five minutes into the show and I already hope Mongo loses his voice and doesn’t bother to go looking for it. How someone hasn’t created a twitter feed of all of Mongo’s stupid comments is beyond me. Maybe it’s because nobody but me knows what the hell he’s actually saying. I know what he says I just have no idea what it means.
Eric confirms that bringing a Ginsu knife to the ring would be against the rules. Glad he’s here. Bobby’s probably daydreaming about hosting Prime Time Wrestling with Gorilla Monsoon right now.
I saw a website call Liger “Justin” not all that long ago when talking about his then upcoming appearance with NXT. It wouldn’t stand out too much, typos aren’t uncommon and you’re sure to see them all over this recap but the funny thing is that this is a website that recaps the Observer and Torch newsletters and the work of other wrestling websites and they constantly ride Dave Meltzer on his typos.
This match opens the first Nitro and it is a rematch of the opening bout at WCW’s Superbrawl 1992 Pay-Per-View event. That is one of the truly great opening matches in WCW history and in the history of pro wrestling on Pay-Per-View for that matter.
Eric declares that Flyin’ Brian is an aerial artist. Here I thought that Flyin’ Brian referred to his proficiency with a fly swatter. You always learn something new when Eric Bischoff is on the call.
Mongo calls it “the WCW” just shut up. Later he calls Bobby Heenan “Bobby Hernia” because he’s clever like that.
Heenan: “I don’t surf, I have someone do it for me.” When I say I’m glad Bobby’s here, I mean it sincerely. I tried this same philosophy with paying gambling debts, some large mean got upset. Legs were broken, words were exchanged and I had to legally change my name to Euan Taylor.
If Bobby Hernia wasn’t bad enough, he’s now “Bobby the Stain” according to Mongo. Someone wanna remind me why I decided to do this again?
Eric calls a near-fall a 2.95. I wonder what kind of instrument wrestling announcers use to measure the closeness of near-falls? Nobody had a more accurate one than Randy Savage at WrestleMania IX, measuring a near-fall at 2 and 99 and 100ths.
Winner: Brian Pillman
Pillman had his Blonde’s have more fun theme and that is just so lame. That song is reason enough to turn heel.
Seriously, if this were your entrance music:
…you’d turn heel too.
Mongo: “If the fans weren’t tuned into this baby, they didn’t see a match worth watching.”
A Sting promo airs next. He informs Ric Flair that there is nobody who can apply the Scorpion deathlock better than him. Given the number of times Flair and Sting have wrestled at this point, you would think that Flair would already be aware of that fact.
Back from the break and Eric gets an interview with Hulk Hogan earlier in the day. Hogan asks who the greatest wrestler in the world is and 3 kids say his name. That’s not what I’d call a ringing endorsements. Given the receptive fans at this restaurant are giving Hogan, I can’t believe it failed. Hogan manages to say Pastamania rougly 643 times in this promo. Hmmm, I think he’s trying to hint at something but not sure what it is, I’m sure it will come to me eventually. Oh yeah and he said something about his Hulkaroos which I hope is food and not underwear because Hulk Hogan underwear is one product we don’t need.
These two wrestled approximately 943,216,750 matches and I think Sting’s official record was 943,216,746-4. In my action figure federation they wrestled each other exactly 258,196,873 times and Ric Flair won approximately none of those matches. Art imitated real life in my federation. Including the time I had Brian Pillman moonsault Samu through a table which was an American Gladiators jousting set turned upside down and Samu’s legs broke off from the impact. I must have borrowed that angle from ECW.
More stupid comments from Mongo. I just, I can’t anymore. I’m like the Jim Barnett character that appears on The Lapsed Fan at this point. In other words, I quit but I’ll be back at work first thing in the morning.
Seriously, The Lapsed Fan is the funniest wrestling podcast going today and it isn’t even close. The Lapsed Fan is like these Nitrocaps in audio form if these Nitrocaps were good, funny and almost four hours long. Other than those three differences, exactly the same. I’ll be writing an entire article on this podcast at some point in the future.
Oh, and Lex Luger just showed up after having wrestled for the WWF the previous day. As someone with no Internet access at the time and unaware that something like the Wrestling Observer even existed I was stunned. Luger on Raw one week and Nitro the next … I mean holy crap! Heenan points out that Luger does have the right to be there because it is a public mall. He has a point.
Mongo says it is unabashed arrogance. Going to the Mall of America to watch a wrestling show is indeed the very definition of arrogance. When Rick Martel was carrying around arrogance in the early ’90s he was actually carrying tickets to the first Nitro years in advance.
When it comes to taking a beating from Sting, Ric Flair is a real pro at it. Seriously though I’ll never complain about seeing Sting and Ric Flair wrestle. If WWE booked them for Raw next week I would watch.
Mongo declares Sting to be a pure wrestler. Most people don’t know that the WWE has replaced the wellness policy with just asking Mongo who is pure and who is dirty. The cost savings is passed on to the investors.
Eric: “This is where the big boys play, make no mistake about it.” I won’t because no other wrestling promotion had such a stupid slogan. I guess it could be worse, they could have named their whole company TNA. Na, what am I saying? Nobody would be that stupid.
Mongo: “I can’t believe you actually made a positive comment about the Stinger.”
Heenan: “You talking about me or Bischoff?”
Mongo: “It doesn’t matter.”
Me: [mimes shooting myself in the head]
Back from the break and Mongo calls Flair a “Vicious, cruel and Macho Man”. I feel like if he did some research he’d know that Randy Savage is the Macho Man.
Arn Anderson comes out to observe things. He was having issues with Ric Flair at this point. They were always loyal allies in my action figure federation though.
Mongo is stupefied by the action on Monday Nitro on TNT. That and about 200,000 other things by my early estimation.
Bischoff declares the ring moved two feet. Heenan goes to his old standby of declaring his monitor went black. Mongo also uses vaguely word like noises to express some thoughts but who cares?
Eric questions whether or not Sting can reverse the figure four. This is apparently the first Sting Vs. Flair match he has ever seen.
Arn Anderson gets involved and is going after Ric Flair. It is crazy to think that these two actually had a match against one another.
Arn is still hanging around and doing stuff because there is stuff that must be done and he is the one who must be doing said stuff. This should not be confused with Buff Bagwell’s stuff.
Then because Arn is not doing enough stuff, Scott Norton shows up to do his own stuff. I had no idea who he was. Randy Savage comes out and offers himself up as a challenger for Norton.
They agree not to wait and then…don’t wrestle until next week. Bischoff tells Norton that if he steps in the ring he’ll never wrestle in WCW. Keep this in mind for later.
They play a hype video for Sabu set to some generic rock music. So we’ve gotten debut appearances from Lex Luger and Scott Norton on this show and a tease of Sabu. Way to make guys stand out. This actually feels a lot like a Vince Russo booked show in that they threw so much out there that you were too busy digesting it all to try and figure out if it was a good show or not. How it is unlike a Vince Russo booked show is simple. At the end of this show I didn’t feel like kicking Vince Russo in the baby factory and punching him in the face.
They plug the matches for WCW Saturday Night. WWE steals this idea when they plug Smackdown on Raw each week…oh wait.
Apparently, 2 debuts and a hype video weren’t enough because now we get a promo from VK Wallstreet who is also returning to WCW. He calls the new generation the few generation. Hmmm, I wonder what he could be referencing with that comment? I also wonder what the VK stands for in his name? I wonder why water is wet and why up is not down?
He says that there are a lot of great wrestlers in WCW like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Sting and Vader. Not for long on that last one as Vader would be out of the company later this week. He also says that he is sure the IRS will be watching him. So he’s a conservative from 2013 transported back in time to 1995? I wonder how long it will be before WCW starts taking shots at the WWF? I thought for sure it would have happened by now. Oh my bad, he called himself Michael Wallstreet here, the VK would come later when WCW realized that not everyone got the joke.
After Bubba is introduced as being from Cobb County, Georgia, Mongo asks where he’s from. He’s doing his best Art Donovan “how much does that guy way” impression. Art Donovan and Mongo would make for amazing broadcast partners.
Eric announces Savage versus Norton has been signed for next week. Remember when we could tune in to a wrestling show and actually know what matches we were going to see? Yeah, that was a fun month.
Mongo is an Emmy award winning broadcaster. If ever you need to know why I think all award shows are nothing more than a waste of time, Steve McMichael, Emmy award winner. Yeah it is a local Emmy but still giving him an award for broadcasting would be like giving me an award for brevity.
Ray Traylor is one of those guys I always thought was older than he really was because he was on national tv at such a young age.
Heenan starts listing off members of the Dungeon of Doom. They’re like the 1927 Yankees if the 1927 Yankees were all crippled in a car crash during spring training.
The fact that Hulk Hogan was wrestling on free TV on this first show showed that WCW meant business. I could probably count on 10 fingers the number of televised Hogan matches I saw on TV prior to the Nitro era.
Mongo asks Bobby if this is not the best wrestling action he has seen on television. Bobby says: “You’ve never been out with the Kowalski twins, have you?” Mongo is dead silent after that which makes me even happier that Bobby is here. I don’t care if it is a reference that I didn’t get then and don’t get now, it briefly shut McMichael up and that’s why Bobby Heenan deserves his own national holiday.
Bubba hits a side slam and Heenan says “this could be it”. That means it wasn’t it. Hulk acts like he just found out his daughter was dating a black man and that is bad news for Bubba. Standard Hogan finishing sequence later and it is all over. If you have no idea what the standard Hogan finishing sequence is, I hope you’ve enjoyed your first day on earth..
Winner: Hulk Hogan
The Dungeon of Doom come out to attack Hogan and Luger comes out to clean house. He has entered the ring so per Eric Bischoff’s earlier warning to Norton, Luger should never be allowed to wrestle in WCW.
Hogan and Luger get face-to-face and Hogan tells Luger that he would have never been put in Bret Hart’s shadow, brother. Savage and Sting come out to join the discussion and Mean Gene is on his way to sort things out.
A commercial airs for Fall Brawl. If this Nitrocap is something people like, I will try doing these for PPVs as well.
Luger says he’s here becaue Hogan is the number one wrestler in the world today. Don’t let HHH hear that, he won’t be pleased.
Luger says he beat the same people Hogan beat. Someone find me that Lex Luger versus Andre the Giant match on Youtube. I lost track of the number of “brothers” Hogan worked into this promo but it was somewhere around 9,000.
Hogan offers to put the title on the line next week against Luger. So at the beginning of the night Bischoff wants the camera to avoid shooting Luger and he wants security to escourt him from the building. Less than an hour later Lex has a scheduled match for the WCW title. Talk about your quick contract negotiations!
Eric, Mongo and Bobby rap up the show.
Okay, there are some obvious problems with the show and the booking that I pointed out but in 1995 I knew none of this. In 1995 I was a 14-year-old loser and was just happy to see some big matches for free on TV. Especially since I didn’t have the capability to order Pay-per-view events at the time. Nobody should be more relieved about this than my mom.
The truth is that Nitro was an exciting show right from the start. The fact that they left the air with two matches confirmed for the next week gave me something to look forward to and I can tell you that’s exactly what I did in those days.
WCW actually had a lot of TV product at the time. They had WCW Pro on Saturday morning, they had WCW Saturday Night which I think aired at 3:00 AM on Thursday and they had WCW Main Event which was a Sunday show. They essentially had the same number of hours of national TV that the WWE has today and yet back in the day I missed wrestling when it wasn’t on. From Tuesday on all I did in studyhall was think about the previous night’s wrestling shows and count down the days until Saturday when I could watch wrestling again.
This Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song pretty well sums up how I felt at the conclusion of Raw and Nitro each week at this time.
If you only remember one thing about reading this Nitrocap, I hope that what you remember is how much Steve McMichael sucks at this commentary job.
I promise next week’s Nitrocap will be shorter. I had some introductory things I wanted to get out that I won’t need to repeat again in the future.