The Monday Night Wars-Week 31 April 1st, 1996

I have to admit that seeing the Giant chokeslam everybody at the end of last week’s Nitro did not give me the feeling that he had turned babyface as was the intention. Had that occurred, the babyface roster would have been so heavily in favor of the faces that heel heat would be near impossible to have any serious heel challengers.

Anyways, after The Giant’s “turn”, WCW Saturday Night saw he and the ever-gullible Sting agree to team up on Nitro against the Harlem Heat.


We open JIP with The Giant and Sting staring each other down. Bischoff is screaming that Jimmy Hart paid off Harlem Heat and The Giant so now it’s….

Sting vs. The Giant

Sting is confused at first by the turn of events but he quickly uses speed to chop the Giant down to size by way of his knees. The Giant starts to no sell and begins to maul Sting. Sting is flung to the floor and propelled into the railing. The Giant attempts a chokeslam while standing on the apron and Sting kicks him off. Lex Luger suddenly runs in and apparently earns Sting a DQ. The Giant walks off.

Good opening 3 minutes to fight the intrigue that the post-Wrestlemania RAW would garner.

The Road Warriors vs. The Steiner Brothers vs. The Nasty Boyz

This is a result of the Nasty Boyz being taken out by one of the other teams a few weeks earlier on Nitro. Rick and Knobbs slug away wildly to start. Saggs tries to sneak in, so Scott dropkicks him out. Animal jumps in and The Nasty Boyz double-team him. Hawk and Scott run in and that apparently counts as a tag in.

Scott suplexes Hawk and keeps control as Hawk misses a charge and flies to the floor. Selling in minimal all around. Animal and Rick go at it and we quickly segue to The Nasties doubling up on Scott. Rick tags in and starts to torture Knobbs. Everybody starts to brawl on the floor.

Things calm down again as Scott and Animal compare strength, but Knobbs ends that quickly. Sags and Rick start at it then as the guys are just rotating so quick that there’s almost no psychology to follow.

The Road Warriors double up on Sags on the floor while the Steiners keep Knobbs at bay in the ring. Rick and Animal collide as we come back from a commercial. Hawk and Sags tag in and Hawk is done selling and he starts abusing both Nasties.

Another skirmish breaks out and Knobbs and Rick are dumped violently off the top rope by the Warriors. Public Enemy show up and Johnny Grunge is dressed as Knobbs – he sneaks in the ring and lets Scott pin him. The crowd reaction to the finish is tepid. Match was LONG and I was not impressed.

The Road Warriors are planning on quitting WCW as they are unhappy with their salaries compared to what Hall and Nash are reportedly receiving.

This Saturday night….Randy Savage vs. Scott Norton…Ric Flair vs. The Booty Man and Lex Luger vs. The Giant…Jesus now the PPV main events are even being given away on the B-show. I know I’d tune in.

Hulk Hogan vs. the WCW Heel Roster – in gif form….

Hulk Hogan and The Booty Man vs. Arn Anderson and Kevin Sullivan

Brutus Beefcake dominates Arn Anderson to start because of course he does. Arn gets a little advantage until Kimberly distracts him and Hogan sneak attacks him. Booty then dominates Sullivan until the heels start to double-team him. Hogan is tagged in to another somewhat flat reaction. Hogan runs through Arn and Sullivan by himself. Booty tags back in and again controls the action until he’s double-teamed.

Another “hot tag” to Hogan is greeted with apathy. Crowd is brutal tonight. Sullivan gets Woman’s shoe, so Kimberly takes off her shoe and hands it to Hogan who KO’s the Taskmaster for the pin. Kimberly and Brutus make out afterward as Hogan gawks like a creeper. Match was formulaic and rather dull.

Arn and Sullivan attack Booty Man afterward to get their “heat” back. Then the babyfaces cut a promo with Mean Gene. Hogan is sick of wrestling the same chumps every week. Booty has an idea for a match to end the feud once and for all but we have to turn into Nitro in two weeks to find out what it is as Nitro is preempted next week.

World Champion Ric Flair vs. TV Champion Lex Luger

This is a result of Luger hitting Flair during the DOOMSDAY cage match a few weeks earlier. Bischoff’s buzzword for these guys having wrestled 1000 times is “a classic confrontation”.

Flair tries to test Lex’s muscles to start and that ends as well as it always does. Several press slams send Flair into hiding. Flair tries to go off the top and is slammed off and I think this match has officially become a self-parody of Luger/Flair matches of the past.

Flair’s chops are no sold and another press slam from Luger. Fans still don’t give a hoot. Luger scares the ladies away and that lets Flair jump him from behind. Flair chokes away and lets Woman claw at Lex’s eyes. The Nature Boy clamps on a figure-four without working over The Total Package’s legs first. Lex powers out.

Luger no sells a toss into the railing and chases Ric back in the ring for a series of cradle attempts. A powerslam and superplex sets Flair up for the Torture Rack. Woman steals a fans coffee and tosses it in Luger’s eyes. Flair rolls Luger up and uses the ropes to assure the pin is successful. Bleh.


Wrestlemania was 24 hours earlier, so let’s hope the WWF keeps its recent trend of having a hot RAW after Mania. Last year had Shawn Michaels’ babyface turn, the reuniting of the Dudes with Attitudes, a women’s World title change and a newcomer debuting – Bertha Faye.
A hyperbolic Wrestlemania recap opens the show as Vince and Jerry use rhymes and alliteration to hype the big event.

Bob Holly vs. Mankind

Foley’s WWF TV debut! Mankind wanders in circles, perhaps trying to figure out a way back to the dungeon from whence he came. I loved Cactus Jack, and Mankind quickly became one of my favorites at this time – but I have to say, watching him now I can see the goofy mask and pianist via child abuse character trait being a death gimmick. Thankfully desperation for new stars forced him to be pushed from day one and we all were treated to Foley’s greatness for the next four years.

Mankind mauls at Holly’s face and rips his own hair out. Holly gets some token offence in until he misses a charge and splats on the floor. Foley drops him face first on the ring apron. A mandible claw finishes it soon after. Just a glorified squash.

“Wildman” Marc Mero vs. Isaac Yankem

Two new faces in back-to-back matches and both established guys from other places. If anything was going to freshen up the product and make it feel like the WWF has positive momentum, that will do it.

Mero quickly dumps Yankem to the floor and flips on top of him. Another flip lands a legdrop on Yankem for a near fall. A flying head scissors sends Isaac head over heels loopy. Mero absorbs some abuse while HHH makes his way down to pursue Sable, who is sitting in the front row.

Vince is in full carnival barker mode putting over his new talent. “HE REALLY IS A WILD MAN!!!” Then Vince almost sounds embarrassed when he brings up the fact that a Dentist is the oppressor. Mero rallies and hits a top rope sunset flip for the win.

A fan at ringside tells HHH “You can do better than her!” Then Sable slaps HHH and jumps into Mero’s arms.

Vince hypes ED BEGLEY JR. who is hosting USA’s new “Weekly World News” TV show.

Aldo Montoya and Barry Horowitz vs. World tag champions The Body Donnas

Why does Skip look like Zip is giving him the shocker in their promo picture? Sunny won the Manager of the Year Slammy??? She managed a guy who was best known for losing a series of matches to Barry Horowitz for God sakes!

Aldo gets the best of both heels as the crowd dies. Montoya tries to play to the crowd and gets zero reaction. Horowitz and Zip go through a nice reversal sequence until Aldo tags back in to mess things up. The Portuguese Man-o-war is given a double-team flapjack but manages to suplex Skip off the apron and to the floor. Lance Storm told Canidido that he was crazy for taking that bump in front of every small Podunk town Smoky Mountain Wrestling worked in.

Horowitz gets a roll-up but Sunny distracts the ref. Aldo tags in and blows the momentum again. This time he ends up being given a top rope hurricanrana and a whoopee cushion for the pin. Match went too long for what it was, and Vince wanted Sunny’s sex appeal put over more than her charges, so it was all kind of moot anyway.

Vince McMahon introduces his boyfriend Shawn Michaels. Shawn kisses several women on the way to the ring and then the camera switches to a guy vigorously clapping for Shawn. The juxtaposition of that amused me.

Lawler gets a good line in: “This interview could go on forever with the WWF’s dual air bags in there”. Shawn cuts a John Cena promo on not caring if some fans boo him. Vince hypes Jerry Lawler as Shawn’s challenger next week. Diesel will be on commentary at least.

Shawn puts Bret over to try and ease Hart’s fan base’s pain. He brings up Bret’s “Best there ever will be” line and Lawler chimes in with “eh, I beat him!” Vince tries to move the interview along and HBK wants to savor his moment. Diesel vs. Shawn is announced for the next PPV (Nash LOST LAST NIGHT- wrestling internal logic strikes again)

The WWF confiscated a bunch of pro-Bret Hart signs prior to the show and reportedly were very aggressive in doing so.

Dok Hendrix shills a plaque that is to commemorate Shawn’s victory at Wrestlemania. It’s a bit awkward as they don’t have any ready to sell, so Dok has to explain that the picture will be different (Shawn vs. Sid is on it now) and a piece of the ring mat will be added by the time it’s sent to your home. Only 50 dollars! I bet they sold about 12.

Editor's note: there's one on eBay right now for $200, and one with a commemorative WM12 shirt, size XL, for $300, if any readers are interested!

ED BEGLEY JR. returns – he’s lost in some park.

Undertaker vs. Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw

Bradshaw is still undefeated at this point. Bradshaw jumps Taker and pummels him with punches and batters him with boots. Zombie Taker no sells periodically. A side slam and flying shoulder block fail to finish the Deadman. A second top rope dive sees Bradshaw caught in a powerslam. JBL hits a mini-lariat out of desperation.

Taker looks to the urn and delivers a chokeslam and Tombstone. Before a 3 count can be delivered Mankind charges down and assaults the Undertaker. Taker is flung into the railing, the ring steps and has an elbow dropped on him from the apron. A mandible claw is locked on and Taker is flatlined. Hot ending.

Final thoughts:

This felt like a late 90’s Nitro with big names going through the motions and not living up to the potential that the line-ups offered. The dead crowd didn’t help. RAW had 4 worthy segments out of 5, so they were on point. Next week is Vader vs. Yoko in perhaps Vader’s last great angle before it all goes to Hell for him in the WWF.


Written by Andrew Lutzke

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

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