A look at WCW’s World War 3 1996

Events surrounding World War 3 include:

  • Roddy Piper outed Eric Bischoff as a member of the nWo. The plan is still to make Nitro’s first hour the nWo hour.
  • Part of Piper’s deal is that Turner will develop a TV show with Piper starring as a bounty hunter or somesuch.
  • Ric Flair finally had his injured shoulder worked on by a surgeon. He’s expected out until March. He’ll still make TVs to cut promos.
  • The plan for Flair’s return is for the nWo to attack his teenage son David in order to set up a Ric Flair and Kevin Greene vs. Hall and Nash match.
  • Several WCW mid-carders are complaining that Nitro is getting booked to have the nWo come out and stand in the audience during their matches. This takes attention away from their ring work. The bookers are worried that fans will tune out if the nWo isn’t on screen.
  • Macho Man is working house shows on a limited deal while they work on a new full-time contract. He’s looking for 100 days of work and a big raise. The WWF was interested in Savage to a degree but they wanted to sign him up long term to prevent WCW from stealing him back. However they still feel Savage is old and don’t want to invest in somebody that they don’t plan on being a star 3 years down the line.
  • Brian Pillman had to have his ankle re-broken due to it not healing correctly. Pillman had gone to TV and other appearances after his last surgery and had not allowed it to heal properly.
  • Curt Hennig attempted to jump from the WWF to WCW but the WWF halted it due to still having a contract binding Hennig to them.
  • The WWF has stopped drug testing, since WCW lets the guys do whatever, they are only matching the competitive advantage.
  • The Nasty Boys and the Booty Man started an angle where they were aligned as attempted traitors of WCW who were also rejected by the nWo. It’ll end up going nowhere.
  • WCW claimed on it’s hotline that RAW would be moved to a midnight timeslot due to losing to Nitro weekly. It had no basis in reality.
  • The nWo invaded the Cable Ace Awards and did a number of skits, culminating with them beating down Drew Carey.
  • Only days after winning the WWF title, Sid Vicious no showed the Royal Rumble press conference which enraged a lot of people who felt a guy with Sid’s track record of quitting shouldn’t have been trusted to be the company’s ace.
  • Bam Bam Bigelow fought in a shoot fight with former UFC star Kimo in Japan.

World War 3
Dusty Rhodes, The Brain and Tony Schiavone call the action.

J – Crown Champion Ultimo Dragon vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. 
They start slow with ground work before exploding with dueling athletic flips and counters. Dusty pleads for Mike Tenay to come out and call the moves because he’s at a loss. Dragon takes on the role of aggressor as he uses rapid fire kicks to soften Rey up for a back breaker, power bomb, spinebuster and stun gun delivered in quick succession. A tombstone is delivered in the ring and then another is delivered on the floor. That should have been saved for a finish. Rey is tossed via a hurricanrana from the top rope, then powerbombed again. Rey tries a fancy splash as he leaps off two sets of ropes, but he blows the landing so bad that even the announcers have to acknowledge it. Rey is dumped on his head via a full nelson back suplex and then is power bombed once again for the pin at 13:46. Tremendously fast paced endeavour. A lot of hard hitting moves combined with eye popping high spots. This kicked the show off with a true bang and was considered one of the best matches of the year. Some derided it for having so many “finishing” moves used that weren’t sold for long.

Mean Gene shows the antique WCW.com website and it’s features. He says only 8000 slots are available and I really don’t know what he meant. I think he may have been referencing the chat room.

Chris Jericho vs. Nick Patrick
Teddy Long is with Jericho in order to give him the stench of jobber. Patrick is embracing his role here, as he’s wearing douche shades and a ref shirt with the sleeves cut off. Jericho has one hand tied behind his back as per the match stips. Patrick takes a comical pratfall off of a Jericho trip and then falls right into place for a hiptoss. Patrick then bails out and starts to stall. Patrick teases a test of strength in order to mock Jericho but he ends up being grabbed and having his arm wrung. Patrick takes some more goofy bumps before heading to the floor to stall some more. Patrick is slapped and he tosses his hands in the air dramatically.

Jericho accidently runs into the steel post and that opens up him to absorb some minor abuse. Patrick stops to gloat and ends up being struck and flails his arms about again. This is oddly compelling in it’s near awfulness. Jericho finally superkicks him and gets the win at 8:02. Patrick’s hammy selling certainly assured this being terrible. It’s interesting that refs are normally knocked out from being sneezed on but Patrick was able to take some real offense here.

Jeff Jarrett vs. The Giant 
Giant no sells Jarrett’s early attempts at offense and just casually tosses him from pillar to post. Sting shows up in the rafters and the crowd goes bonkers. Sting climbs down the stairs towards the ring as Giant misses a Vader bomb. Jarrett knocks the Giant to the floor and struts like a moron. Sting enters and Scorpion Death Drops Double J for bad mouthing him as of late. The ref is non plussed by the fact that Jarrett is suddenly unconscious in the ring. Giant hits a chokeslam to win at 6:04.  Basically a squash and the second PPV in a row that the Giant made Jarrett look like a geek.

Roddy Piper comes down to sign his Starrcade contract. Eric Bischoff, Ted Dibiase and Vincent greet him. Piper references training Virgil to wrestle in one of those little moments that make angles feel more realistic. He mocks Bischoff for being a pretty boy and smack talks him good. Hogan, Liz, The Giant, Hall, Nash and Syxx all come down at this point. Piper indicates that he is almost 50 years old and Hogan adds to Piper being a seinor citizen by calling him out for having a fake hip. He then forces Piper to show the scar. Hogan signs the contract because he’s not afraid of a cripple and Piper jumps him. The whole gang beat on Piper as he claws his way toward Hogan. Hogan cracks the fake hip with a chair and then tags it with nWo graffiti. Piper is left in a lump. Piper fights to his feet as the nWo disperses. It’s nice to see the beleaguered WCW crew not come to aide of Hot Rod. Piper does some nice subtle acting as he tries to test out his leg before he makes his way to the back. I’m not sure I would have made it a point to show that WCW’s dream match was with a broken down old man as half of it, but the arena sold out and the PPV did really well I believe, so I guess it worked out in the end. This was a really good segment overall.

The Amazing French Canadians v. Harlem Heat
What’s this Nitro match doing on a PPV? If Heat win, Col. Parker has to wrestle Sherri. Jacques has a serious comb over that is quickly ruined when he takes any kind of bump. The match itself is completely unremarkable. WCW had a habit of doing these heel vs. heel mid-card matches and the fans pretty much just sit quiet for them. Things slog along as both teams punch and kick at a leisurely pace. The ending is actually really unique as the Canadians stack a table on the corner of the ropes, then place a set of ring stairs beneath it and another on top of it. Ouellette then climbs on top of the stairs as Rougeau stands on the lower steps and they try a cannonball on a fallen Heat member. It misses and Ouellette is pinned at 9:14. Lifeless match until that finishing spot.

Sister Sherri vs. Col. Parker
Sherri beats him into the turnbuckle and tosses him over the top rope. Sherri hits a pair of clotheslines that the announcers totally oversell before Parker runs for the hills at 1:30. Brief and harmless.

They run a Starrcade ad that shows Sting in his colorful gimmick and not his current “Crow” gear. Small details matter.

Cruiserweight champion Dean Malenko vs. Psychosis 
They start super slow with headlocks and leg locks. Given the long delay in lock ups, I’m assuming they don’t have any chemistry. The announcers talk about how this is their first match and we are seeing the feeling out process. Well, the process goes on for a long while. Psicosis tries a top rope leap to the floor but slips and falls into the railing. That brings us back in the ring to enjoy more rest holds. This glorified Nitro match just keeps going and going with an occasional good spot or move but the fans are dead. Malenko gets a roll-up at 14:35 to snag the win. Since Psychosis was jobbing left and right on Nitro, this sure didn’t do Malenko any favors. Surprisingly dull match.

WCW World Tag Champions Scott Hall and Kevin Nash vs. Meng and The Barbarian vs. The Nasty Boys
The Nasties charge the ring and wipe out the Outsiders before the Faces of Fear can even be introduced. The WCW teams beat the tar out of each other with CLUBBERIN’ as Hall and Nash watch and clap in the corner. The nWo squad does pick their shots, but at the first sign of danger they find somebody to tag out to. Being the smartest guys in the room is why the nWo were so over for awhile. The hosses trade power moves in between brawling and fast tags. Meng and Knobbs tag the Outsiders in against one another and the announcers immediately call the WCW teams stupid because Hall and Nash can pin each other and save the titles. A six way brawl breaks out and Knobbs is cracked with the megaphone and powerbombed by Nash for the win at 16:10. Energetic pier six fight here. I think this is the last time I’ll see the Nasty Boys as Saggs suffered a neck injury soon after this and real life heat with Hall and Nash pretty much ended their run.

Sixty Man World War 3 Battle Royal: : Arn Anderson, Marcus Bagwell, The Barbarian, Chris Benoit, Big Bubba Rogers, Jack Boot, Bunkhouse Buck, Ciclope, Disco Inferno, Jim Duggan, Bobby Eaton, Mike Enos, Galaxy, Joe Gomez, Jimmy Graffiti, Johnny Grunge, Juventud Guerrera, Eddy Guerrero, Scott Hall, Prince Iaukea, Ice Train, Mr. JL, Jeff Jarrett, Chris Jericho, Kenny Kaos, Konnan, Lex Luger, Dean Malenko, Steve McMichael, Meng, Rey Misterio Jr., Hugh Morrus, Kevin Nash, Scott Norton, Carl Ouellet, Diamond Dallas Page, La Parka, Sgt. Craig Pittman, Jim Powers, Robbie Rage, Stevie Ray, Lord Steven Regal, The Renegade, Scotty Riggs, Roadblock, Jacques Rougeau, Tony Rumble, Mark Starr, Rick Steiner, Ron Studd, The Taskmaster, Syxx, Booker T, Squire David Taylor, the Ultimo Dragon, Villano IV, Michael Wallstreet, Pez Whatley and Alex Wright

To add to the clusterfuck nature of the match, WCW also has 3 announce teams do the match with Dusty joining Mike Tenay at one table and Lee Marshall and Larry Zbyszko at another. I wonder if Marshall was employed because of he and Bischoff working in the AWA together?  Heenan is picking Dean Malenko to win due to his smarts and endurance. Dusty picks KONNAN(!?) or Luger to win. Schiavone thinks the Giant will win. SPOILER ALERT Tony!

Kayfabe wise, shouldn’t WCW just pounce on the nWo squad and dump them all ASAP? Hacksaw Duggan gets a noticeable pop. Benoit is wearing makeup to make it look like Sullivan had battered him earlier in the week. The Dungeon of Doom and the Horsemen brawl in the aisle. The camera focuses on Benoit and Sullivan brawling in the audience as 58 other men fight off screen. Zbyszko points out that WCW should be tossing the nWo guys out as a unit.

The nWo gathers in one corner and watch everyone fight around them. They do this for minutes on end. What the hell WCW? Lee Marshall gets knocked over as part of the Dungeon/Horsemen brawl. The camera work is split into 3 tiny squares and you really can’t tell what is going on. Add to this six announcers trying to talk and it’s a total mess. There isn’t anything notable going on, as this is every battle royale you’ve ever seen with guys hanging on the ropes and trading punches. Having 40 jabronis to use as cannon fodder should set up some monster elimination spots. Scott Steiner is out injured but the announcers think he is in the match and even talk about how he is tossed out. Very odd.

Roadblock finally steps up against the nWo and The Giant quickly dumps him and he crashes hard into the floor and railing. The only guys left in their ring are cruiserweights and Bunkhouse Buck, so the nWo has it easy. Ron Studd gets a in-match push as a force, which leads to everyone in his ring dog piling on him. The American Males fight to help continue their planned split. Nash watches as Rey Jr and Ultimo trade high spots as the nWo stands idle in the same ring. Michael Wallstreet accidentally eliminates himself, proving he learned nothing from his fine performance in the WWF’s 40 man battle royale 4 years earlier.

The wrestlers start to enter one ring and finally the nWo has to face some competition. The guys are still lumped along the ropes. Rey Jr. starts to use his acrobatics to survive near eliminations. The horrible three small screens on TV finally stops twenty plus minutes into the match as we finally get down to the guys WCW really plans to push (DDP, Rey, Eddy, Luger, Double J) vs. the nWo. Oh Lord Regal is still in this too. Regal dumps Eddy and then the Giant lifts Rey Jr a million feet in the air and tosses him down onto Guerrero. Jarrett just cowered away from the Giant like a pussy when Rey was about to get killed there. Regal goes crazy with babyface fire and gives everybody some blows from him. This leads to DDP charging him like a yutz and being dumped. Way to unite against the nWo guys! Luger is down, so all four of the nWo jump on Regal and dump him.

Luger tries to regroup as the nWo huddles. They all come at him one by one like a proper batch of movie villains and Luger knocks them all aside. Hall tries a Razor’s Edge, so the Total Package flips him over the top rope. Syxx is press slammed on top of him. Nash is cracked with the loaded forearm and Luger traps him in the Torture Rack. The Giant dumps both men out and the crowd goes from molten to dead in a nano second. Giant wins in 28:25. Nash took a nasty bump and stayed down for a bit in what was probably more than just selling.  The PPV quickly goes off the air. Oddly the Giant was a late addition to the match, so the booking plans must have changed along the way.

Final thoughts: I’m not unconvinced I just watched an episode of Nitro. The World champ was in a contract signing, several mid-card matches were based off little to no substance, and the main event was largely lackluster thanks to bad production and the general match confines and layout. Overall, this show was pretty much a waste of time to view.

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin’ and true crimes.

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