The Monday Night Wars: Week 22 – January 29th, 1996


Prior to the show going on the air, Konnan beat the One Man Gang for the US title.

They will have a rematch at Superbrawl in 2 weeks.

Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair

The announcers put over the 234th televised encounter (that’s a joke number BTW) by these two as a massive deal. I think it’s the 4th time this month alone. Hogan is with Woman, Elizabeth, Linda Hogan and Linda’s sister. The last two aren’t acknowledged as such. They are out of the southern U.S., so Hogan is over again.

Hogan tosses Flair around to start. The Hulkster no sells Flair’s chops and hammers back with fists and sends him to the floor. Flair tosses Hogan into the railing and Hulk takes the bump as gingerly as possible and then immediately goes back to abusing Ric. Hogan shoves the ref and that distracts Hulk long enough to be chop blocked on the knee. Mongo buries Flair’s offense and says Hogan will just Hulk up and win anyway. (SPOILER ALERT Steve!) After absorbing some leg work Hogan does indeed go back to beating Flair from pillar to post.

Flair manages to dump Hogan to the floor and Jimmy Hart chokes and kicks away at him. Flair locks on the figure four back in the ring. Hogan escapes that and reverses a suplex. More chops are no sold but an elbow takes Hogan down again. Hogan “Hulks up” after a back suplex. Big boot. Legdrop….but Jimmy Hart distracts Hogan and Arn Anderson runs in. Hogan fights him off so Arn grabs Elizabeth’s shoe and jams the spike in his eye. Flair then pins Hogan!!!! Wooooooo!

Good formulaic Hogan match here, I’m glad it got a lot of time as it helped the heel heat segment A LOT. Hogan losing here was a pleasant surprise of sorts, and I say that as a lifelong Hulkamaniac.

This Saturday night…Flair vs. Dean Malenko! Eddy Guerrero vs. Lex Luger! Plus Kevin Sullivan, Sting and Public Enemy in action! I actually want to seek those first two matches out.

Ugh, they give Eddy a cheap DQ win after Lex out muscles him a ton. A fine way to put no one over.

Flair wins via chicanery. Dean’s 1001 moves actually make Flair break his formulaic match style. Fun watch.

The Road Warriors vs. Meng and the Barbarian

Hoss alert! Barbarian out powers Animal to start, but Animal quickly reverses that trend. Animal eats a big boot and Barbarian tests Animal’s injured back. Animal nails a powerslam and tags in Hawk. Meng tags in and mauls Hawk in the corner. Hawk no sells a Meng piledriver and sends a diving fist into his face.

Animal tags back in and the heels double team him and focus on his back once more. Clubbing blows, a double head butt and a back breaker are among the moves that wear at Animal. Barbarian sends him back first into the ringpost. Then he power bombs Animal when they get back in the ring. Animal takes a flying shoulderblock but it looks botched as Animal looked like he was going to catch and powerslam him and so both men bumped awkwardly.

Hawk comes in and takes out both heels. Barbarian attempts a superplex, so Animal sneaks in and lifts him up for the Doomsday Device. Meng sends Hawk off the top rope to break that up. Meng and Hawk brawl on the floor. Animal is piledriven by Barbarian back in the ring. Hawk tried to jump to the top rope to break that up but he missed his queue. So Barbarian repeats the spot and this time Hawk hits the clothesline for the win. Good hard hitting back and forth action. It was nice to see the Warriors willing to sell. That being said, a squash match may have been better for the Warriors as they reestablish themselves.

Kevin Sullivan is out and he’s upset that Arn Anderson can’t control Brian Pillman. Arn comes out with Pillman and chastises Brian for his behavior and then takes his belt off and prepares to whip Pillman so he’ll learn to listen. Hugh Morrus and Sullivan attack Arn and Pillman and whip them instead. Arn DDT’s Morris and shoves Sullivan away. Arn demands a match against the Dungeon.

Madusa vs. Sister Sherri

Madusa sneak attacks Sherri and a cat fight ensures. Sherri is sent into the ring steps and flips onto the concrete. Then Maduasa suplexes her on the cement. In case you were wondering why pain pill addiction essentially ended Sherri’s life years later…Madusa nails some short “karate” kicks but her legs are swept and a double foot stomp meets Madusa’s stomach. Sherri is slammed off the top rope but manages to turn it into a roll up for the pin. Madusa ignores the finish and hits a nasty looking German suplex on Sherri right after the 3 count. She then slaps and beats on Sherri’s unconscious body. So Madusa uses a sneak attack, a post match attack and ruined a wedding – what a babyface! This segment is well worth watching.

According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the ladies match had a lot of background machinations going on. Sherri didn’t want to work with Madusa, then insisted on winning if she had to have the match. Then the German suplex after the match was spontaneous (not planned) and Sherri wasn’t ready for it at all and was knocked legitimately loopy from it.

“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. The Giant

Savage sneak attacks The Giant with the World title and the ref DQ’s Savage before this can even start. Flair runs down and assaults Savage with a chair. They double team the Macho Man. A choke slam is delivered and a second one is teased but Hogan runs in (with his eye wrapped in a bandage). Hulk uses a chair to beat the Giant out of the ring and then One Man Gang, Hugh Morris, Meng, The Barbarian and Kevin Sullivan all run in and Hulk fights them all off. Because Hulkamania…
Flair cuts a crazed promo after as the heels take over the announce booth. The Giant warns Hogan that “I’m going to grind your bones to make my bread!” Hogan carefully walks the injured Savage to the locker room, looking paranoid as he tries to see through one eye as an army of goons may wait around any corner to try and end his career once and for all.

Very good Nitro. Lots of heel heat built up and 3 good matches.


Diesel vs. The British Bulldog

Diesel knees away at Davey Boy and sends him to the floor. Bulldog grabs his leg and wraps it around the ring post. Smith then locks on a knee lock and I flash back to their horridly boring PPV match from October. Yokozuna waddles down as Bulldog locks on a half crab. Then another knee lock. AUGH. Bulldog removes the turnbuckle pad but Davey ends up driven into it. Then the Snake Eyes drops Bulldog face first on it again. He goes for the pin but the 600 pound Yokozuna sneaks in and tries a leg drop. Diesel moves and Bulldog is squashed instead. Diesel gets the pin to mercy kill this match. Corny and Yoko have words after the bout.

Dok Hendrix plugs the PPV. Then he mentions the fact that Eric Bischoff called the WWF to speak highly of the “Billionaire Ted” skits. (As stated in the last Monday Night Wars review, Eric called and congratulated Vince on losing by the biggest ratings margin to date and told him to keep up the Ted vignettes as clearly they were working.) Dok goes on to state that then Eric sent a legal letter demanding the WWF stop the bits. Hendrix declares that for the WWF fans, for the 1st amendment and for the WWF’s honor, the skits will continue! (Speculation abounded in late 1995 that Hogan vs. Savage was going to headline either Superbrawl or Uncensored so the WWF planned on these bits to air concurrently with WCW building to that match at the same time as the Huckster and Nacho Man would be feuding. It didn’t quite work out that way, but the point was made to some extent.)

Billoniare Ted Skit: This week is set at a press conference – Ted says he doesn’t wear cheap suits. A reporter asks why he undercuts WCW ad revenue and suggests it’s done to harm the WWF’s own ad rates. Ted admits Nitro was started in order to harm RAW. Another reporter complains that Nitro hurts the fans as they have to choose between two shows. Nacho vs. The Huckster is announced for Wrestlemania. Huckster says it’s in his contract that he never has to lose. That sets off a “brawl” between the geriatrics. This skit probably went over the heads of many of the viewers. Hogan losing on Nitro the same night as this aired was a coincidence apparently as Hogan was originally booked to win clean, but then changed the finish to make amends with Flair for putting the faces over so often.

The Godwinns vs. The Body Donnas

This is the debut of Phineas I. Godwin aka PIG. The height of Vince’s creative genius. HOG tries a press slam but has his knee taken out. A double suplex by the Donnas sets up a rocket launcher that misses as this match is being worked in fast forward. HOG makes the lukewarm tag. PIG hits the slop drop for the pin. Barely a match. Sunny is trapped after the match and ends up being forced to dance with The Godwinns and Hillbilly Jim.

Jim Cornette and Clarence Mason declare that Vader was provoked into attacking Gorilla Monsoon and thus was justly defending himself. The suspension Vader is under should be lifted and lawsuits will be filed if their demands aren’t met.

Vince McMahon introduces the interim WWF President…”Rowdy” Roddy Piper! This was a huge thrill for me 18 years ago. Ironically as Piper soaks in the fans adulation, the camera pans to a “New Generation” sign. Piper teases McMahon about being Vince’s boss now. Piper cuts the same promo he gives all the time now recounting his 1984-85 highlights with Snuka, Mr.T and Cyndi Lauper. Roddy puts over the roster as young and talented. Piper wonders how his 8th grade education makes him qualified to run the WWF. The Hot Scot brings out a list of new rules – Vince says “You never listened to rules!” Roddy agrees and puts them away. He then gives Vince an airplane spin to kick off his administration. Fun segment.

Mankind’s first vignette airs…Have a nice day!

Shawn Michaels vs. Yokozuna

Shawn does the “yeah!!”/”boo!!” spot to annoy Yoko. HBK uses speed to escape Yoko’s grasp and sends him to the floor. Owen Hart comes out. Yokozuna misses a charge back in and crashes with the turnbuckle. Shawn hits a double axehandle and a moonsault. Yoko flings Shawn to the floor and that allows Owen to put the boots to him. Hart drives his back into the ringpost. Yoko locks on a nerve hold as he can’t really move anyway so this buys him more time to rest. Yoko misses a follow up legdrop. Shawn misses a splash and now both men are laying around.

Shawn nails a pair of flying forearms to knock Yoko over. Yoko catches Shawn and splashes him in the corner. Owen sneaks in and accidentally spin heel kicks Yoko, which allows HBK to hit the super kick for the win.
Yoko shoves Owen afterward and the Bulldog comes down to bitch too. Shawn stays in the ring, despite 3 heels populating in one corner. They finally turn their attention to Michaels but Diesel makes the save before anything can happen. Corny challenges the Kliq to a tag team match next week and Nash and Shawn make goofy faces because the WWF top heels are a big joke and nothing to worry about. So there’s your main event next week. Lousy match, the post-match was good until Diesel and Shawn started being dicks because they are “cool” or something. Shawn and Diesel continue to stooge as the show goes off the air.

Final thoughts:

WCW actually remembered that heel heat matters and prepared a show that gave their villains some juice with a PPV 13 days away. RAW put on a solid line up of matches but the actual in ring action was lacking. Nitro earns another narrow victory.


Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

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