The Monday Night Wars Week 23: February 5th, 1996


Shawn Michaels and Diesel vs. Davey Boy Smith and Yokozuna

Shawn and Diesel do “rock, paper, scissors” to decide who starts. I used to be amused when Hall and Nash would do that in WCW. Vince forces a current research result into the commentary to make the show seem “live”. Lawler basically ignores him and goes back to talk wrestling. Shawn is knocked out of the ring off a shoulderblock from Smith. HBK is then out muscled again so he pokes Davey’s eye. The Bulldog still maintains control so Michaels pokes his eye again. HBK is able to clothesline Smith to the floor but Yoko sneak attacks the Showstopper. Diesel puts a stop to that and Yoko is repelled to the floor as well. Yoko tags in and shoves “Big Daddy Cool”. Diesel is Samoan dropped but Yoko misses his follow up legdrop.

HBK tags in and Davey helpfully propels him to the cement and then into the ring steps. A delayed suplex sets Shawn up for a lengthy beatdown by both heels. Shawn finally tags Nash in and he quickly takes out both heels. Shawn tags back in and superkicks Yoko to the floor. Owen Hart runs down to try and help the Bulldog lift the mass of humanity off the floor. The King Hippo rule is in effect though and they can’t even get Yoko to his feet as the heels are counted out. Formulaic but watchable. Jim Cornette goes nuts on Yoko after the match and Yoko shoves Corny head over heels. Owen and Davey attack him after that and Yoko explodes on both of them. They run away but Yoko can only hurriedly waddle after them.

The second Mankind teaser airs.

Hakushi vs. The 1-2-3 Kid

Kid tries to keep the Kamikaze down with a head scissors but Hakushi flips out of that. The Kid is nailed with a thrust kick and is sent to the floor. Hakushi teases a follow up tope but The Kid bails out of the way. Hakushi maintains control with more “karate”. Waltman manages to toss him to the floor and hits a twisting dive onto him. Kid uses his own variety of kicks to continue control back in the ring. Kid attempts a flying crossbody but is met with a dropkick. Hakushi chops away and nails his handspring elbow. The Kid is sent to the floor again and Hakushi nails a crossbody from the top rope. A flying shoulder block from the top also connects once they return to the ring. The Kid manages a spinwheel kick to slow Hakushi down. The Kid is caught with a hurricanrana. Hakushi once again climbs to the top rope but he is caught and nailed with a top rope double underhook suplex for the pin.

Good match, but Hakushi has been running around with Barry Horowitz for 5 months now, so his credibility is shot. Taking 10+ minutes to beat him only hurts the Kid’s credibility – good match or not.

Jim Cornette is with Clarence Mason and Mason rants about suing to have Vader reinstated. Gorilla Monsoon is interviewed about his injury. Vader cracked his vertebra. Monsoon doesn’t have a say in Vader’s reinstatement – that’s up to the board of directors. Yet Monsoon had the power to name Piper as his replacement. Seems like something a board of directors should have to sign off on. Monsoon blames himself for the attack as he thought like a wrestler and not like an executive. He claims to have been Piper’s friend since 1976(!).

World Champion Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. The Undertaker

This HAS to be better than their Rumble match, right? Bret tries to stick and move but Taker just hammers him down. Taker chokes Bret, tosses him across the ring…and chokes him some more. He picks up the pace by locking on a smother hold. Sigh. Diesel wanders down as Taker is attempting to walk the ropes and Hart manages to flip him to the mat. Hart starts to work over Taker’s leg, Diesel joins the commentary and says he’s not afraid of the Undertaker because “I have one of those rechargeable flashlights at home.” Taker back suplexes Hart and sends him to the floor. The Hitman is flung into the railing face first.

Taker nails Hart with the ropewalk forearm and a flying clothesline. The ref is bumped. Bret starts to attack Taker’s leg again and violently wraps it around the ringpost. Nash attacks Bret from behind and sends him into the ringpost. Taker and Diesel go at it and Nash grabs a chair after things don’t go his way. Taker is abused with the chair and powerbombed twice in the ring. Hart attacks Diesel from behind and the match is thrown out.

Dull match as Bret had a legit knee injury and Taker was selling a knee injury so these guys hobbled around the ring in slow motion and looked a lot more like the “old guys” that WCW was promoting on the other channel.

Part 2 of Billionaire Ted’s press conference: WCW has lost money for years and it’s hurting his stock owners. Ted doesn’t care if his stockholders money is used and lost by his wrasslin’ company. Ted tells his Dad to kiss his ass. Vince ends the segment with a solemn voice over that several newspapers refused to print an anti-Ted Turner ad that Vince tried to buy space for.

The Ted vignette wasn’t amusing at all and had zero chance of reaching the people it was “warning”. I’m sure Vince slept better that night though. About as solid of a line up as the WWF could present on free TV. It built well to Taker vs. Diesel…which isn’t on the next PPV…


Superbrawl is in 6 days, so the potential is high for an exciting night.

World Champion Randy “Macho Man” Savage vs. Chris Benoit

The crowd is hot. The men tangle their arms and fight for control of the other man. Benoit pounds Savage down and chucks him into the guardrail. The Crippler chops away and Savage begins his usual “lay around and sell” match. You can tell Chris is dumbing down his moveset to kicking and punching to accommodate Savage. Chris hits a big diving headbutt and goes back to the basics. Randy rakes Benoit’s eyes to buy himself some time. Savage gets a brief flurry before he’s back dropped to the floor.

Benoit launches after him and SPLATS recklessly into the concrete and railing. I let out a word that would send me to the confessional upon seeing that. Savage hits the big elbow to the back of Benoit’s neck and that draws out Flair. Savage stalks Ric, so Flair hides behind Elizabeth until Woman can “turn heel” (Why did they trust her?!?!) and attack Randy from behind. Flair puts the boots to Savage as Arn Anderson runs down to join in the fun.

Hulk Hogan runs in and clears the ring with a chair. Hogan hands Macho off to the trainers and stays behind to cut a promo. Flair sneaks in and hits Hogan with brass knux and works over his previously injured eye. The Giant lays out Hogan with a chair, but the Zodiac stops any further damage from being done. Savage runs down and steals the chair as the heels bail.

Mean Gene screams for help as Savage threatens Elizabeth. Hogan – to his credit – writhes around in pain on the mat. After weeks of overdoing the Superman act, seeing Hogan like this makes the angle pretty effective. Oddly enough, WCW taped a Giant face turn the next night for their Worldwide Wrestling syndicated shows and even had him wrestle members of the Dungeon of Doom.

Meanwhile The Zodiac had several matches under the gimmick of the “Clipmaster” – a return of a barber gimmick for Beefcake. Neither angle saw the light of day.

This Saturday night…Sgt. Craig Pittman vs. VK Wallstreet…Randy Savage vs. Chris Beniot (well that was quick), plus Sting and Lex Luger.

Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman vs. Hugh Morrus and Kevin Sullivan

Pillman and Morrus have a wack off to see who is nuttier. Morrus no sells some chops and press slams both Arn and Brian. Pillman and Sullivan no sell each others blows and tag off. Morrus tries to tag in the invisible man but turns his back on the Enforcer and eats a spinebuster. Morrus is sent to the railing and Sullivan and Pillman end up mauling and clawing at each other. Arn saves Pillman and brawls with Sullivan towards the back.

He tries to piledrive Sullivan on the concrete and an unseen assailant cracks Anderson with a broom handle. Sullivan and Morrus then double team Pillman in and out of the ring and Sullivan whips Pillman with a strap. Fun brawl.

Reading Dave Meltzer’s review of this match was sort of amusing in hindsight, as he was convinced that Pillman was shooting on Sullivan and Morris and was on the verge of being fired. (Of course this was a work that only Bischoff, Sullivan and Pillman were in on). That whole situation meets a bizarre climax at the PPV. I’ll cover that soon. Incidentally Pillman was at a hotel with many other wrestlers around this same time period when a hostage situation broke out involving some non-WCW related guests. Pillman proceeded to act like he was going to go John McClane on the bad guy and end the seige. After the police arrested the perp, Pillman got in his face and flashed the 4 Horsemen signal. Loose cannon indeed!

Marcus Bagwell vs. Ric Flair

Paul Orndorff makes a cameo by the announcers to take credit for Arn’s broom attack. Bagwell out wrestles Flair and then clotheslines Ric to the floor. Flair and Marcus go tit for tat in the corner and Bagwell ends up winning that exchange. Bagwell misses a follow up drop kick but rolls out of a figure four attempt. They botch something and Bagwell takes an awkward bump over the top rope. Bagwell fires back but runs into a boot. Flair goes up top and is caught with a Superman punch and slammed off. Bagwell nails a superplex. Bagwell goes for a splash and eats knees. A figure four ends it right after. Good match, but should your number one contender be giving 80% of a match to a jobber to the stars 6 days before a PPV? Savage charges the ring and Flair bails.

World tag team champions Lex Luger and Sting vs. The Road Warriors

So Luger refuses to wrestle the Warriors 2 weeks ago, they win their first match in 3 years and are granted a title match. Hmmm… So why isn’t this on PPV? This should be a much bigger draw than Sting and Luger vs. The Harlem Heat. Crowd chants for the “LOD”. Animal tosses Sting to the mat 3 times. Sting responds with a facebuster and a flying clothesline. Hawk and Lex tag in.

Luger hits a piledriver so poorly (or safely with a bad camera angle) that even Heenan and Bischoff have to mention it was obvious Hawk’s head didn’t connect to the mat. Hawk roars up and shoulderblocks Luger. Sting tags in and nails a “Stinger splash”. Animal breaks up a Scorpion Death lock attempt. Luger dumps Animal to the floor from behind. Luger and Sting take turns working over Animal’s back. This goes into an overrun as the building loses power and Nitro goes off the air. When they return the announcers are mocking the WWF for mocking them. Eric makes veiled insinuations that the WWF was behind the power outage. All four men end up brawling. Animal no sells a suplex and hits a powerslam.

Jimmy Hart brings Lex a big chunk of metal and he drives it into Animal’s kidneys. That gets the pin. Luger is full of glee, but Sting is pissed. The Warriors demand a match with the winner of the Sting/Luger vs. Harlem Heat match at the PPV. Match was fine, but nothing remarkable.

Final thoughts:

Both shows offered solid line ups, WCW had some nonsensical booking if your are actually looking to draw money, but the in ring action was superior to the WWF’s offerings. Nitro wins again, but RAW is putting on as solid of a show as they can. This has the side effect of ignoring the mid-card and over exposing the top guys like WCW is doing, but there’s a war going on, so you have to do what you got to do to compete.


Written by Andrew Lutzke

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

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