Retro Review: WCW Monday Nitro – July 29 1996

The nWo wreaks havoc in this infamous 1996 episode, but Justin C explains why it wasn’t as perfect as history suggests.

July 1996. The nWo angle is in its early stages. This is when the nWo were treated as true invaders/outsiders and the stuff that they did felt legit. Everyone still cared about who could eventually join the group.

Were there more people coming from the WWF? Were more people from WCW joining the group? No one knew at the time and that is what made the beginning of the nWo so great.

Tonight’s Nitro is from Universal Studios. I like this set up. I think they are in the middle of the park somewhere. But the bleacher set up and the outdoor feel looks different, and it was something WWF didn’t do at the time.

We start with grainy footage of Hall and Nash attacking Sting from a show over the weekend. We are at two on the Larry Zbyszko “New World Odor” count.

Mike Enos vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan

Mike Enos, better known as Blake Beverly, better known as the guy that was in the ring when Scott Hall first showed up on Nitro. Is that the highlight of the career of Mike Enos? It has to be, right? Enos is currently a member of the Rough and Ready tag team with Dick Slater. Someone really put some creative thought into that name.

Jim Duggan by this point is just coasting in the ring. I mean he pretty much did that since he joined the WWF but it is blatantly obvious in WCW. The guy does not like to sell at all. And when he does sell it looks awful. Take for example the knee Enos just delivered and he comically fell to the ground.

Meanwhile Mike Enos just delivered some of the worst headbutts I have ever seen. Duggan is on his side and Enos kind of just falls down onto Duggan twice. Boy did that look bad.

Schiavine and Zbyszko bring up three empty seats right across from the camera and wonder if they were for the nWo. If it was today we would have some seat fillers in there. They can’t tell if it is three or four seats. It’s four, the one guy sitting next to an empty one is a tad on the heavier side and taking up a seat and a half.

Okay, back to this match, which is thankfully over after Duggan tapes his fist and knocks out Enos for the win. Why does taping the fist give you more power? Duggan didn’t even hit him with the rolled up part of the tape?

Oh great, now Duggan is going to talk after being blown up from a 10-minute match. Mean Gene asks Duggan about the nWo. Apparently Hogan joining the nWo means he turned on the country too. Duggan calls Hogan a great technical wrestler as I spit out my Pepsi Zero. Outside of that, this honestly wasn’t a bad promo. Duggan brings up having to explain to his kids that met Hulk what happened and how hard it was to do.

Chris Benoit vs Randy Savage on WCW Saturday Night this week. Might have found my viewing after this show.

Ric Flair, Steve McMichael, Chris Benoit vs Sting, Randy Savage and Lex Luger

The Four Horsemen also have Woman, Elizabeth and Debra McMichael with them. Debra looks so out of place. She has no idea how to act coming to the ring. She’d grow into it but it isn’t there yet. The faces charge the ring and attack the heels before the bell even rings.

Ooo a Glacier promo into commercial. That’ll put butts in the seats.

After some semblance of order when we get back from break, it goes away as Randy Savage drops Ric Flair on a table of fruit. There is some wasted cantaloupe that goes to the ground. After some action in the ring for a bit, Flair goes back outside and kisses Elizabeth. This freaks Savage out still and he goes nuts on Flair on the outside. Of course it is Nick Patrick who has lost control of all of this.

We now have Lex Luger and Mongo in the ring. This should be interesting. And right on cue, Luger throws Mongo into the ropes and he stumbles through them to the outside. I don’t think that was supposed to happen but the announcers cover it up well.

Flair comes in and chops Luger but it obviously has no effect on him. Benoit finally comes in and Nick Patrick decides now is the time to do his job and admonish Benoit for not breaking a five count in the corner.

Poor Ric Flair is doing all of the selling in this match. I mean, you obviously wouldn’t trust Mongo to do it but this is just making Flair look bad. His offense has been minimal throughout the match. Of course right as I type this Ric Flair applies a Figure Four, but Sting quickly reverses it.

Suddenly Jimmy Hart comes to ringside. He screams into the camera that the Outsiders are in the back. Hart jumps on the apron and gets everyone’s attention and gets them to go to the back.

We cut to the back and Arn Anderson and Marcus Bagwell are down. The Outsiders have baseball bats in hand. Scotty Riggs stupidly runs to Bagwell, then runs right into Hall who had a can of some sort. Oh look here comes Rey Mysterio from the production truck. Nash catches him, then lawn darts him right into the production truck. Nash and Hall get in the limo as Savage, the psycho that he is, jumps on a moving limo and tries to get into the sunroof.

They do a good job of selling the chaos of the situation. Arn Anderson in particular is doing a great job of selling that he is legit hurt. But you wouldn’t expect anything less from Arn. Woman is overacting a bit though while selling this. Rey keeps saying that there were four people, which I don’t get because unless Rey was spying on them in the production truck he saw what we all saw.

See this was the thing with the whole nWo angle at the start. They were treated like legitamate invaders that were not meant to be there. So this kind of stuff came across really well. It was when they started to get “hip and cool” that things kind of fell apart. Obviously they still got a good run out of that but it started to kill it.

Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan are out for the second hour. At this point they should have wrapped this up. It is going on a bit too long. I don’t even know if a paramedic has looked at Arn Anderson yet. Heenan leaves because he doesn’t want to risk injury.

And now the crowd is getting pissed and start chanting “boring” and they have a point. The live crowd does not have any screens or monitors to see what is going on. This is bordering on near half an hour at this point. It started off great and now it is going on way too long. It should have ended 10 minutes ago. Or if WCW knew they wanted to run this angle they should have put screens somewhere.

The Steiner Brothers vs High Voltage

And we are finally back to some wrestling here. The fireworks from Universal Studios are going off in the background and it sounds really bad as the camera pick it up. At least the Steiners are selling that they are still looking for the nWo as they keep looking back to the entrance.

But unfortunately that means High Voltage is in control for the entire match and that is bad news. The Steiners finally get control and Scott hits the Steiner Screwdriver for the win. I would never let Scott deliver that move to me in my life. For those that don’t know, it is a delayed vertical suplex into a seated tombstone. And Scott doesn’t really control you on the way down.

Big Bubba vs Eddie Guerrero

They are calling these standby matches. You can tell because Bubba looks like he just came from an audition to join the Village People. This was originally going to be Eddie vs Rey Mysterio for the cruiserweight title. Why can’t Big Bubba fight for the cruiserweight title? I say special circumstances should allow it as we get another New World Odor from Larry.

So instead of getting an awesome cruiserweight match we get Big Bubba dominating Eddie. The nWo truly are heels. But I guess Nash didn’t want to let any vanilla midgets get over.

This was when it looked like Eddie Guerrero was in line for a push (he was going to fight Ric Flair at Hog Wild) but then the nWo came along and that kind of ended things.

Some genius thought the best way to get the crowd back into this show was by having Big Bubba completely dominate this match. Seriously, it has been five minutes plus and it is all Big Bubba. You would think you would let Eddie showcase his offense a bit here?

Eddie gets literally two moves in before Jimmy Hart grabs the ref. He tosses the megaphone in but Big Bubba loses it and Eddie rolls up Bubba for the win. What an awful idea for a wrestling match. It literally did nothing to showcase Eddie at all as he sold for 98% of the match. At least the crowd popped a little for Eddie’s win.

And now we get the first nWo black and white promo. These were great given how different they were for the time. They keep teasing new members. Nash wonders how much Luger benches. Hogan hypes up his match against The Giant at Hog Wild. These were truly revolutionary for their time.

If we didn’t kill the live crowd enough, we get a recap of the earlier events.

WCW Championship: The Giant (c) vs Greg “The Hammer” Valentine

Arn Anderson was originally fighting The Giant before he was attacked. But that’s okay, Greg Valentine, in 1996, is getting a world title shot. Could The Hammer really walk out of here as champion???

The answer is no. As I finished typing that first paragraph, Giant grabs Valentine off the top and chokeslams him then adds another one for good measure to retain.

We end the show with a Giant promo, saying Hogan formed the nWo because he couldn’t be the big fish in WCW (kind of true).

So the show has a great angle that is still remembered this day as one of the best nWo related angles that WCW ever did. It went a bit too long but people don’t tend to remember the aftermath.

The problem is the rest of the show sucked because of it. The wrestling was AWFUL. It might even be worse than anything Vince Russo ever put out wrestling wise during his time in charge.

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