DDT Monday Retro- July 15, 1996: The Real War Begins

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Hi there everybody and welcome to Every day DDT‘s latest weekly collection, ‘DDT Monday Retro.’ On this collection, we’re turning the clock arms of the wrestling world again 25 years to the yr 1996. Or is it calendar pages? No matter, you perceive the metaphor. The purpose is, pricey reader, present Monday evening wrestling sucks, so we’re going to concentrate on a distinct time; a greater time.

Each week, we’re going to revisit the battle between WWF Uncooked is Warfare and WCW Monday Nitro (therefore, the identify of this column). We’ll have a look at the highs, the lows, the great, the unhealthy, and the ugly of every present. We’ll examine and distinction them and, with the good thing about 25 years’ value of hindsight, we’ll try to clarify what labored and what didn’t in the course of the time interval that many think about being the height {of professional} wrestling – the Monday Night time Warfare. So sit again, seize a can of Surge, a bag of Bugles and allow us to take you by the hand to steer you again in time. Welcome everybody, to Monday Retro.

However first, permit us to set the scene.

The yr is 1996. Invoice Clinton is the President of the USA and has but to be shrouded in essentially the most scandalous occasion of his presidency. The 1996 Olympics are about to start. Wrestling followers will keep in mind that occasion because the one during which Kurt Angle received a gold medal in wrestling with a damaged freak – nicely, you already know the remaining.

To personalize it a bit, this author was an 8-year-old boy; not fairly knowledgeable wrestling fan at this level. In actual fact, I didn’t change into a fan till the top of 1997. I wasn’t a Hulkamaniac as a toddler, so the occasions which transpired in the course of the summer time of ’96 didn’t influence me the way in which they might so many others. However time has taught me the significance of Hulk Hogan and his contributions to the world {of professional} wrestling. At the same time as a non-fan at that time, I knew of Hulk Hogan. In actual fact, I had each a Hulk Hogan and an Final Warrior Wrestling Buddy. I’d seen Hogan in films, on commercials, and extra. Earlier than I knew about professional wrestling, I knew about Hulk Hogan. However I by no means bought to develop up with ‘Good Man Hulk Hogan.’ The primary model of him that I keenly adopted as a boy-child was of the Hollywood selection. And that model had simply revealed himself to the world in one of many wrestling’s greatest betrayals.

It began again in 1994. For years, the World Wrestling Federation had been the primary skilled wrestling group on the planet. It had the brightest colours, the largest wrestlers, and the most effective tales (simply don’t inform that to NWA followers). WWF was the proverbial king of the mountain, however Ted Turner was about to alter all that.

After being the WWF’s greatest star for years, Hulk Hogan had left the corporate. Vince McMahon was transferring in a brand new course, and that course was not pointed in direction of the Hulkster. McMahon had simply come out on the profitable aspect of the steroid trial that might have fully decimated his firm. One of many key witnesses in opposition to McMahon was, in truth, Hulk Hogan. So to say issues have been…dicey…between the 2 males could be an understatement. Hogan wasn’t coming again to the WWF anytime quickly however there was one other firm, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) that was prepared to pay top-dollar to drape itself within the colours of pink and yellow.

Hogan debuted for WCW in 1994. The subsequent yr, Turned assigned prime government Eric Bischoff with the duty of making a Monday evening present to rival WWF’s Monday Night time Uncooked. It was really Bischoff’s suggestion to create WCW Monday Nitro and, in doing so, he would change the course {of professional} wrestling endlessly.

Nitro debuted on September 4, 1995. In the course of the inaugural episode, former WWF famous person Lex Luger would make a surprising debut (you’ll discover within the coming months that essentially the most thrilling issues to occur in WCW have been the debuts of former WWF wrestlers).

After its debut, Nitro would teeter-totter with the WWF when it comes to scores however by Might of the next yr, all the things was about to alter.

Whereas Hogan led the cost in WCW, Vince McMahon was hell-bent on making a ‘New Era’ of WWF stars. This New Era included wrestlers like Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Razor Ramon, Diesel, and extra. The latter two have been really former WCW stars who by no means fairly hit it huge in Turner’s firm. It wasn’t till coming to the WWF that they actually started to shine.

And boy, did they shine (and never simply explanation for the grease of their hair both).

Diesel (actual identify: Kevin Nash) would go from the bodyguard of Shawn Michaels to the WWF World Heavyweight Champion in lower than a yr’s time. Razor Ramon (actual identify: Scott Corridor) would change into a multi-time Intercontinental Champion and took half in what many say was the most effective WrestleMania match of all time – a ladder match in opposition to Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania X.

The 2 males grew to become stars however, come 1996, they needed to be even larger stars. Extra to the purpose, they needed to be paid like even larger stars. And that’s when Eric Bischoff got here calling.

Bischoff provided each Corridor and Nash ginormous contracts, with assured cash and a lighter schedule. After some hemming and hawing, each accepted their gives and left the WWF in Might of 1996, making their closing appearances in Madison Sq. Backyard in the course of the notorious Curtain Name.

Scott Corridor wrestled his final match at MSG on Might 19, 1996. One week later, he appeared on WCW tv, coming by way of the gang as if he didn’t belong. He advised the viewing viewers that he and his mates have been “taking on.” Two weeks later, Nash debuted. Each males acted as in the event that they have been invading WCW. Followers thought that Vince McMahon had despatched Razor and Diesel to World Championship Wrestling so as to kill the corporate from inside (which, in reality, is just about what occurred…although it wasn’t Vince McMahon’s concept).

Corridor and Nash have been dubbed ‘The Outsiders’ they usually have been set to tackle a three-man group of WCW heroes: Sting, Lex Luger, and Macho Man Randy Savage (by no means thoughts the truth that each Savage and Luger had change into stars in WWF). The Outsiders appeared outnumbered however they promised they’d a thriller accomplice that might assist even issues out.

Bash on the Seashore occurred on July 7, 1996. And it modified the enterprise endlessly.

In the course of the match, it seemed as if all hope was misplaced for the great guys. All of a sudden Hulk Hogan, who had been the good man of the final 10 years made his solution to the ring. Audiences thought that he had come to avoid wasting Sting and Macho Man. However then he did the unthinkable. He leg dropped Savage, turned his again on WCW, and have become the corporate’s greatest villain. However, in doing so, he set WCW on a course that might cause them to unprecedented heights. Hogan was a nasty man. The Outsiders have been now in. And the NWO was born.

Which leads us to why we’re right here (how was that for an intro??). July 15, 1996, was Hogan’s first look on WCW Monday Nitro since his flip, which makes this episode a reasonably good launch level for DDT Monday Retro. We’re going to look at each Uncooked and Nitro from this date and you may resolve which present was higher.

Let’s begin with Nitro.

WCW Monday Nitro- July 15, 1996

Operating Time: 93 Minutes

Venue: Disney MGM Studio

The Matches:

  • The Steiner Brothers def. ‘Fireplace & Ice,’ Scott Norton and Ice Practice- It was wonderful for what it was. Scott Norton was a severely underrated expertise that by no means fairly bought his due, whilst a member of the NWO. The match ended weirdly with a German suplex from Rick Steiner to Ice Practice and a pin, despite the fact that Practice’s foot was clearly beneath the rope. Oh nicely. As will change into a theme with these exhibits, WCW solely pays consideration to the principles when it serves the story.
  •  Dean Malenko defeated Billy Kidman- A wonderful cruiserweight match. It was bizarre seeing Billy Kidman in something aside from jean shorts and a tank prime, however that wouldn’t come for one more yr or so. Malenko was so unbelievably underrated. Did he ever have a nasty match? Malenko bought the win with the Tiger Bomb/Texas Cloverleaf combo, which continues to be one in every of my favourite ending strikes.
  • Harlem Warmth defeated Mike Enos and Dick Slater. Harlem Warmth was so cool. Bizarre that they have been managed by Colonel Robert Parker, who seemed like a plantation slave proprietor. Positively doesn’t age nicely however you could possibly inform that Booker T (and, to a lesser extent, even Stevie Ray) have been main stars.
  • Madusa defeated Osaka- These two placed on a hell of a match, particularly for 1996. It’s extraordinarily miserable that it took 20 years for ladies to be taken critically within the main wrestling promotions.  Madusa bought the win after a German suplex.
  • Meng defeated Arn Anderson- This was a plodding, uneventful match that ended with a press kick by Meng to Anderson, after interference from The Barbarian.
  • Eddie Guerrero defeated Chris Benoit by coun tout- Yasss. That is the form of stuff I used to be most wanting ahead to watching once I determined to start out this column. Give me any model of any mixture of Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho, and so forth. and I’ll maintain coming again each single week. This match was nice, regardless of the rely out end.
  • Lex Luger defeated Massive Bubba Rogers by disqualification (I believe)- After all, the pure observe as much as Benoit v Guerrero could be the previous Massive Bossman v the previous narcissist. This match was dreadful, however it was the aftermath that was the vital half, anyway.

The Moments:

  • The present started with a recap of the occasions that transpired at Bash on the Seashore. Announcers Tony Schiavone and Larry Zbysko referred to as that present “a very powerful present” within the firm’s historical past. Additionally they set the tone for the remainder of the present by saying that Hogan and firm would certainly by on the Nitro later within the night.
  • The Dungeon of Doom was interviewed concerning the Steiner Bros match and, although they have been heels, additionally they commented on Hogan’s flip, which added a touch of legitimacy to it. Kevin Sullivan, Massive Bubba (the previous Massive Bossman), and Jimmy Hart all gave transient feedback, with Rogers foreshadowing his match later within the night with Lex Luger. Sullivan additionally commented on his feud with Chris Benoit, which is form of icky to consider now on reflection.
  • We get a Glacier promo as a result of Mortal Kombat was a really profitable online game/film so after all wrestling needed to have its personal model of Sub-Zero.
  • This present additionally featured a spotlight video for Rey Mysterio Jr. Mysterio was an innovator 25 years in the past. And he’s going to be in the principle occasion of Smackdown this week. Underrated is a phrase I’ve used so much on this column up to now, however I hope sooner or later Mysterio will get his just-due. The man actually is known.
  • The start of the 2nd hour of Nitro featured Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan on commentary. I do know folks don’t wish to admit it, however Bischoff really did a reasonably good job because the straight-laced play-by-play man. Whereas the 2 have been speaking, Kevin Nash and Scott Corridor confirmed up on the prime of the MGM studio, protecting the WCW emblem with sheets adorned with the soon-to-be-legendary letters: NWO. All through the remainder of the night, the digital camera would periodically pan again to Corridor and Nash, watching the present ‘sarcastically,’ if that’s even attainable.
  • Kevin Greene, a former NFL participant is within the midst of a feud with Steve McMichael, one other former NFL participant. I don’t care about soccer, so I don’t actually care about this feud. Greene did have a few good traces about Hulk Hogan (as a result of a part of Hogan’s contract stated that each different wrestler has to dedicate 25% of their interview time to speak about him).
  • Nash and Corridor interfered within the Massive Bubba v Luger match and began attacking the longer term Whole Bundle. As they put the boots to Luger, ‘Hollywood’ Hulk Hogan slowly meandered in direction of the ring, foregoing his pink and yellow. He was clad in all black for the primary time on this evening and I’m positive this needed to have been jarring for individuals who grew up with the McDonald’s colours model of Hogan. Nash gave Luger a jackknife powerbomb and Hogan slapped him round slightly bit. Corridor rolled Luger out of the ring after which helped Massive Bubba to his ft. It seemed as if Bossman was going to affix the NWO; he even went as far as to shake the hand of Hogan. However then Corridor gave him a forearm from behind they usually all took turns beating upon him, earlier than tossing him out of the ring.
  • Then, it was time for Hogan to talk. In a scene very harking back to the earlier week’s Bash on the Seashore, Imply Gene Okerlund entered the ring to interview Hogan yet one more time. The speech itself didn’t cowl any new floor. It was principally a retread of his Bash on the Seashore speech, full with followers throwing trash into the ring once more. Corridor and Nash did seem like complete badasses although. An important/solely takeaway was that Hogan challenged The Big for a WCW Championship match on the upcoming ‘Hog Wild’ pay-per-view.

The Verdict: This was a adequate observe as much as the pay-per-view. Hogan was the star of the whole present, despite the fact that he didn’t even present up till the ultimate 10 minutes of it. Nonetheless, you could possibly inform one thing particular was on the horizon. The NWO had arrived and wrestling was about to enter the pop-culture vernacular for the primary time since Hogan revolutionized the enterprise the first time.

In the meantime, on WWF Uncooked…

WWF Uncooked- July 15, 1996

Operating Time: 48 minutes

Venue: The Brown County Expo

The Matches:

  • Ahmed Johnson defeated Bart Gunn to retain the Intercontinental Championship- Ahmed may have, ought to have, would have been a star. He radiated charisma and coolness and the Pearl River Plunge was an amazing ending transfer. Sadly, WWF simply by no means bought firmly behind him. Johnson was the Intercontinental Champion at the moment, and the belt had a brown/gold strap which was an attention-grabbing look. Additionally, Sunny was a complete babe.
  • Marc Mero defeated TL Hopper- This was as unhealthy as you’ll anticipate. The one good a part of this match was once they reduce to a short interview with Stone Chilly Steve Austin. Austin wasn’t fairly the megastar he could be in a yr, however the bones have been there.
  • Shawn Michaels defeated Billy Gunn- This match was unsurprisingly nice. That’s to be anticipated when Shawn Michaels is concerned, however Gunn held up his finish as nicely. It was completely the most effective match on Uncooked, and it might be argued it was the most effective match of the whole evening.

The Moments:

  • The present started with WWF Champion Shawn Michaels and Ahmed Johnson coming into the world, solely to be confronted by Vader, the British Bulldog, and Owen Hart.
  • God, I do love the opening theme track to Uncooked. It jogs my memory of the outdated WWF Uncooked Tremendous Nintendo recreation.
  • A short interview with Shawn Michaels featured the Heartbreak Child selling the upcoming ‘Worldwide Incident’ pay-per-view. Michaels teased the return of Psycho Sid, which was an efficient method of constructing anticipation for the present.
  • Jim Cornette, British Bulldog, Owen Hart, and Vader had a short promo, with Cornette doing nearly all of the speaking for the group. God, he was such an amazing character. It’s a disgrace that he’s such a horrible human being in actual life.
  • After the Cornette Household interview, the present reduce to a promo bundle for The Undertaker (ensuring to incorporate the bit about when he soundly defeated Diesel on the earlier WrestleMania). It’s really wonderful how legendary The Undertaker has at all times been.
  • The present ended merely and successfully, with Shawn Michaels getting the win and celebrating in the course of the ring. No shenanigans, no cliffhangers, no cause to be excited for subsequent week’s present.

The Takeaway: Uncooked could be so a lot better nowadays if it was solely an hour lengthy.

Which Present Was Higher: Nitro, by far

This must be apparent. WCW had the largest story in wrestling. It had Hulk Hogan’s first look since turning to the darkish aspect. It additionally had some nice matches. I’m unsure which present really received the scores conflict, and I’m too lazy to try to look it up, however I’d assume Nitro did by far.

Conclusion: Monday nights was once a lot extra enjoyable. The important thing to efficient professional wrestling tv is to present the viewers a cause to return again week after week. Nitro excelled at this, particularly within the early days of the NWO. Every week added a brand new chapter to the story and followers knew they couldn’t miss it.

And that’s it, of us. Come again subsequent week and we’ll cowl the July 22, 1996 episodes of Uncooked and Nitro. Bear with me when it comes to formatting; we’ll be altering issues up as we progress, retaining what works and dropping what doesn’t. When you’ve got ideas, be at liberty to go away them within the remark part, and don’t be afraid to share, share, share. We’ll see you subsequent week, wrestling followers, for one more version of DDT Monday Retro!

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