Events surrounding Hog Wild 1996 include:
- Rey Misterio Jr captured the Cruiserweight title from Dean Malenko on the July 8th Nitro.
- The famous Nitro moment where Kevin Nash launched Rey Jr. into trailer like a lawn dart aired at the end of July.
- Sean Waltman was being courted by both WCW and the WWF. He ultimately signed with WCW. Davey Boy Smith is still negotiating with both groups.
- WCW offered La Parka a contract but they want him to not wear his outfit or do his comedy spots.
- The WWF is trying to sign every major name they have to 5-year deals to avoid another Hall and Nash situation.
- WCW promoted guys for house show matches who no showed because they were Japan. WCW knew of these plans months in advance.
- Rey Jr was booked for a Nitro the same time as he was suppose to be on a New Japan tour because WCW can’t keep track of these schedules.
- Some on the WCW booking committee think Psychosis is one of the best in the world and want to heavily push him. Terry Taylor in particular feels he has more potential in the U.S. than Rey Jr.
- The original plan was for Glacier to debut with 5 or so other ninjas and have them only challenge one another.
- Despite losing the ratings war, the WWF is still handily beating WCW’s PPV numbers.
- The WWF is planning on largely dropping out of the syndicated TV market, which leaves WCW a potential opening to exploit.
- Horace Hogan was signed to a $125,000 contract. They have no plans for him.
- Ron Simmons debuted on WWF TV. He had been working at a Coke plant after turning down a WCW contract offer.
- Hog Wild suffered a loss in buy rates when multiple states experienced black outs the evening the show aired.
Hog Wild 1996
Eric Bischoff liked riding motorcycles, so he sacrificed any potential gate this card might draw in order to run a free show during the Sturgis biker rally. The announcers are dressed for the part and it’s pretty funny. Dusty Rhodes is wearing a denim shirt with the arms cut off. His shirt is hanging sloppy and his belt is untucked into his pants loops. He just looks like a mess. Tony Schiavone I gather is not a biker as he looks incredibly out of place as he is in slacks and a black T-shirt. They threw a brand new denim vest on him and a leather hat over his mullet. He pretty much looks like a geek. Dusty is nice enough to point out Schiavone’s fake tattoo. Heenan is in all black, with a high-end leather jacket on and looks passable as perhaps an old, rich hobby cyclist.
They have helicopters flying overhead all night for camera shots, so add that to the list of expenses.
Cruiserweight champion Rey Mistero Jr vs. Ultimo Dragon
Mike Tenay is added for the match to help the announcers out with calling the action. Rey is in a Spider-man themed outfit, a trend that would continue all the way to his days of working at Wrestlemania. They start slow, each trading mat work which grounds the other. They then literally exchange a back and forth exhibition of flips and flops to show the other how athletic they are. Once things finally get down to business Jr. is powerbombed viciously before the Dragon locks him in a figure-four then a modified backbreaker.
The ring is up on a five or six foot ramp in order to allow for the crowd to see without bleachers. This comes into play as Dragon is dropkicked to the floor, then driven off the ramp into the dirt below. Rey then makes a crazy leap from the ring all the way down to the Dragon below. One heck of a spot. Back in Rey nails a rana for the win shortly thereafter at 11:38. Tenay said this was there first match against one another and I tend to believe that as they really had no flow and did a lot of spot, reset, spot action. A disappointment overall.
Tenay put over Dragon’s recent match in Japan that had 8 titles at stake:
Mean Gene talks about WWF guys that may have been seen in Sturgis to join the NWO. CALL THE HOTLINE!
Ice Train vs. Scott Norton
Is there any chance this isn’t going to suck? Train has a taped up shoulder from a previous Norton attack. Norton and Train start CLUBBERIN’ right away. Train is tossed to the floor and has his bum shoulder sent into the ringpost. Train locomotives up and starts no selling but he hurts his shoulder in about ten seconds and ends up back on the mat having his arm mauled. Norton kicks and throws forearms at the limb before locking in a Fujiwara armbar and forcing the ref to end the match via injury stoppage at 5:05. Dull. Nothing more to say.
They next show a well produced segment with Ric Flair talking about the nWo.
They hock a NINETY dollar Hog Wild shirt. I’d love to know how many they sold.
Madusa vs. Bull Nakano
They each drive a motorcycle to the ring. One Honda and one Harley, loser gets their bike smashed. Madusa has giant breasts and thus the bikers go wild for her. Nakano attacks Madusa with nun-chucks right in front of the ref to start things off. Nakano pretty much dominates with her bull moose offense of tossing Madusa around. They trade German suplexes and it appears the ref blew the finish as he stops counting when Madusa gets her shoulder up on a bridging suplex. Both women look at the ref, then repeat the spot. The match ends at 5:53 and everyone including the announcers are confused as to what happened. They had good matches in the WWF but this was nothing.
Rick Steiner fights with a computer backstage as WCW plugs their online features. Funny bit.
Dean Malenko vs. Chris Benoit
Elizabeth in leather is the hottest she’s ever been. Holy Cow! Oh yeah, the match… The technical gurus start off by trading chops and punches. The announcers are trying to push that 250,000 people are in attendance, but the camera work appears to miss about 245,000 of those people. The men trade off bridging escapes before Beniot is trapped in an armlock that he reverses into a back suplex. Benoit gets a nice snap suplex and a diving headbutt for a nearfall. Malenko tombstones Benoit in response. The crowd is pretty much dead for what has been a hard-hitting match. Both men topple over the top rope.
Benoit delivers a superplex and both men end up hurting as the Crippler lands on his neck. Malenko delivers a release German suplex and Benoit crashes on his neck again. Benoit executes several suplexes in response as we approach the fifteen minute mark and both men are beginning to be worn down. Benoit locks on a Lion Tamer but seems to release it due to pure exhaustion. Malenko is tossed to the floor and leapt down into. The Crippler tries another suplex back in the ring but his physical drain is too great and Malenko is able to block it and escape. Benoit delivers a powerbomb which Malenko reponds to by tossing Benoit across the ring with a superplex. Malenko hits a powerbomb for a near fall as the time-limit expires at 20:00.
They have overtime for reasons unexplained and Benoit goes into attack mode. Malenko is downed with a tilt-a-whirl suplex and locked in a Texas Cloverleaf. Benoit then locks in a knee bar to eat up the rest of the 5:00.
Another overtime is announced. The crowd loudly boos that announcement. LOL rednecks. Malenko takes his opponent down with a legwhip and locks in a Texas Cloverleaf. Malenko senses an escape attempt and locks in an STF. Woman distracts Malenko and Benoit earns the win with a lame roll-up at 28:10.
This was a tremendous match between two men who put on a suplex heavy battle of attrition. However the fans didn’t appreciate it and their reaction hurt this match. I can point to several factors: Both men are heels and white so the crowd couldn’t attach to a favorite through that avenue. Both men’s gimmicks are that they are wrestling machines, which doesn’t give this casual crowd much meat to chew on to pick a side. The length of the match was overly long for the event it was presented at. Had these two just had a balls out suplex-heavy ten minute match, the crowd may have potentially ate it up. The men instead spent the early portion of the bout with armwork before going into the rougher moves and that may have lost the crowd. Those are probably the main factors involved but there can be others argued.
World Tag Champions Harlem Heat vs. The Steiner Brothers
white supremacists bikers get on the African-Americans cases right away. The first several minutes is just Heat stalling as the bikers rev their bikes and scream. A confederate flag is waved in case you haven’t caught on yet. Scott Steiner tilt-a-whirl suplexes Booker T and press slams him to a pair of giant pops. Rick Steiner kicks Sister Sherri to appease the wife beaters in wife beaters in the audience. Rick and Stevie Ray tag in to make sure things don’t get too exciting. The crowd appreciates Rick Steinerlining Ray before letting Scotty back in to chuck Booker T around with suplexes. Rick screams “Shut up bitch” at Sherri and the crowd loves it. Harlem Heat take over with rest holds and I lose interest quickly. Scott finally gets the hot tag and suplexes T way overhead. Col. Parker hits Scott with a cane and Heat retains at 17:53. Other than the crowd reaction, this was an unremarkable affair.
US Champion Ric Flair vs. Eddie Guerrero
Flair tries to feel out his younger faster opponent in the onset. The men trade chops before Flair takes a walk. Heenan has started to slur his speech over the past half-hour or so. He may have started with the hooch. Flair punches and chops at Guerrero as he dictates the pace. Eddy connects on a dropkick and Flair takes unplanned trip to the floor. Flair begs off and lures the challenger in for an eye poke and low blow. Eddy goes back to using his speed to take control again. He trips Flair up and locks him in a figure-four. Flair is stooging for Eddie and giving him almost all the offense in an effort to get Guerrero over. Eddy pokes Flair’s eyes and nails a frog splash but dings his own knee on the way down. That sets up a Flair figure-four and the pain leads to a pin at 14:16. Real solid match that probably helped Guerrero get to another level after spending the first year of his WCW run as the plucky underdog.
The darkness is overtaking the landscape now and it’s making for a cool unique visual.
Sting and Lex Luger vs. Kevin Nash and Scott Hall
Hall and Nash do “rock, paper, scissors” to decide who gets to start the match. I always enjoyed their little things like that which showed how little concern they portrayed for their bouts. Luger and Hall kick things off and it’s Luger’s power which dominates the bout. Both men tag off and Nash uses his size to rough up Sting, so the Stinger starts to use a stick and move philosophy before a Hall cheap shot sets Sting up to be the face in peril. Heenan is botching the announcing pretty badly here. I’m surprised he could sound like this and keep getting gigs announcing PPVs.
Sting is pounded on for several minutes, basically taking up the bulk of the match with the heels ho-hum offense before Luger makes the hot tag. The Total Package wipes out both Outsiders by himself before Sting joins the fray. Sting locks on a Scorpion Death Lock on the floor on Nash as Luger tries to rack Hall. Hall’s feet hit Nick Patrick and he stumbles into Lex’s knee. Luger falls over and is pinned at 14:37. That finish sounded a lot better on paper than it worked in execution as the way Patrick stumbled around and fell it looked awkward as hell and was in no way ambiguous as it was to be portrayed. The match wasn’t anything special in the least either.
WCW World Champion The Giant vs. “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan
Hogan takes a walk to start. The Giant no sells Hogan’s punches and Hulk runs again. Hogan repeats this trick several times more as nothing is going on but stalling. The Giant out muscles Hogan but the challenger kicks him down as the crowd roars for Hogan. They play out a test of strength for several minutes. These guys slog along with slow motion moves, stalling and rest holds for the rest of the bout before the Giant “hulks up” in a cute bit. The Outsiders run down and run interference for Hogan at that point. The Giant holds his own until eating a belt shot at which point he is pinned at 14:44. The ref just let Hall and Nash in the ring without DQing anyone – and it wasn’t even Nick Patrick! Of course no WCW guys ran in to save the day. The casual fans didn’t let Hogan get proper heel heat, but the nWo had largely already shown themselves to be “cool” heels and the fans liked them more than WCW’s impotent squad.
The Booty Man comes down with a birthday cake for Hulk Hogan. The Giant lays dead for like ten minutes as Hogan and the Outsiders beat down Beefcake in between Hogan rambling.
Final thoughts: I’ve seen this show praised in places but I really struggled to sit through much of this. You can watch and perhaps enjoy Benoit vs. Malenko in a vacuum but nothing else here bears a revisit.