Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Wednesday, 22 March 2017


WCW FALL BRAWL 1996 REVIEW: Event poster
September 15, 1996
Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

It had been only two short months since Hollywood Hulk Hogan shocked the wrestling world by turning his back on WCW at Bash of the Beach 1996 to form the New World Order. That the move should serve as the catalyst for the company's most successful and profitable period in its entire history was at least somewhat ironic, given that the nWo's storyline M.O was simple:

Bring World Championship Wrestling to its knees.

To that end, Hollywood Hogan and his fellow nWo founders Scott Hall and Kevin Nash had been entirely successful.

After dropping his WCW Heavyweight Championship to Hogan the previous month at Hog Wild 1996, The Giant had sided with his once sworn rival to become the latest addition to the New World Order.

That however, wasn't the biggest surprise defection to the renegade outfit. That honour would go to WCW franchise player, Sting.

At least it was if you were to believe the Stinger's best friend Lex Luger and the WCW broadcasters. As Sting and Luger looked forward to teaming up with long-time rivals Ric Flair and Arn Anderson against the nWo at War Games, Luger was attacked on an episode of Nitro by a man who wearing Sting's facepaint and attire.

Luger, who had a long, storied history with Sting, apparently couldn't tell this stranger apart from his supposed best friend, and genuinly believed Sting d turned his back on World Championship Wrestling.

Would Luger realise what an idiot he was? Would the Stinger prove his worth to WCW by helping his team defeat the nWo? We were about to find out as WCW Fall Brawl 1996 came to us live from Flair country.

You Want a War? You Got One

Tonight's show began with a video package detailing the rivalry between the New World Order and WCW mainstays Sting, Lex, Luger, Arn Anderson, and Nature Boy Ric Flair.

WCW FALL BRAWL 1996 REVIEW: Bobby Heenan, Tony Shiavone, and Dusty Rhodes commentated the event,
The video, set to that Seal rip-off used as both the Bash at the Beach 1996 music and The Outsiders theme music at said event, recapped everything we just talked about in the introduction to today's review.

So too did our commentary team for this evening, the ever-present trio of Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, and 'The American Dream' Dusty Rhodes, who still hadn't wrapped their heads around the idea that fake nWo sting and Steve Borden sting were not one and the same person.

Not willing to waste any more time on the matter for now however, Schiavone and co. took us down to ringside for our first match.

Diamond Dallas Page vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr. 

WCW FALL BRAWL 1996 REVIEW: DDP beat Chavo Guerrero
If you recall, the rivalry between Diamond Dallas Page and Chavo Guerrero Jr. began exactly one month earlier at WCW Clash of the Champions 33, when Page attacked Guerrero's uncle, Eddie Guerrero, after the latter beat him for the Battle Bowl ring. 

Back then, Guerrero had run to the rescue, and tonight was out to avenge his uncle in our opening contest. 

As for the match itself, this one started strong, with a red-hot Guerrero wasting no time in attacking his rival. 

In an exciting start to proceedings, Chavo battered Page both inside and outside of the ring, before the dastardly DDP managed to regain the upper-hand for a large portion of the bout. 

For this writer, it was those moments when Dallas was in charge that the bout suffered the most, with only the occasional kick out or hope spot from Chavo doing anything to elicit a reaction from the live audience. 

One of the biggest pops of the entire match came when DDP threw Chavo from ring one into ring two, after which his tilt-a-whirl sitout powerbomb for a near fall served as a true match highlight. 

At this point, I legitimately thought Chavo was going to mount a comeback and pick up the win (I've never seen this event before I sat down to review it), but alas, it wasn't to be. One Diamond Cutter later, and this one was over.
Your Winner: Diamond Dallas Page 

Back in the locker room, Booker T and Stevie Ray were bullying some guy to respond to fans on their behalf via Compuserve. Meanwhile, Col. Parker and Sister Sherri got involved too, generally flapping and jabbering and making the whole thing seem much more stressful and complicated than using the internet ever needed to be, even in 1996. 

Mean Gene's Special Report on The Attack 

WCW FALL BRAWL 1996 REVIEW: Mean Gene presents a special report on the nWo invasion
Up next, we were taken to a pre-taped special report from Mean Gene Okerlund. The subject of our report today was the ongoing invasion of World Championship Wrestling by the New World Order, an event that both Okerlund and Tony Shiavone (in introducing the segment) insisted that everybody was referring to as The Attack. This despite the fact that at no point on WCW Nitro nor Hog Wild, nor Clash of the Champions, had anybody ever used the words The Attack to talk about this angle. 

But hey, if 'everybody' was calling it this, then who am I to argue, right? 

Mean Gene's recap doesn't tell us anything we don't already know, so let's move straight on to our next match. 

Submission Match
Scott 'Flash' Norton vs. Ice Train (w/ Teddy Long) 

If you're just catching up, Scott Norton and Ice Train (who at one point was your writer's favourite WCW wrestler) were a short-lived tag team named Fire & Ice, who broke up when they couldn't agree on whether to play by the rules or cheat to win. 

WCW FALL BRAWL 1996 REVIEW: Ice Train beat Scott Norton in a submission match
That kicked off a lukewarm rivalry between the two, with Norton emerging triumphant from their first encounter back at Hog Wild in August. Not content to leave it at that, Flash would continue to attack his former partner and injure his arm, leading to tonight's return match. 

This wasn't just any old match however. This was a special 'submission match' which, given that both men were effectively powerhouses or -at the very least- brawlers, seemed to make absolutely no sense whatsoever. 

The end result was a slow, dull-as-dishwater encounter in which nothing exciting happened for the first few minutes, and then barely anything happened at all for the remaining minutes. 

Honestly, there's only so long you can watch Scott Norton hold somebody in an armbar before you want to fall asleep. 

Thankfully, Teddy Long finally put us out of our misery by hopping up on the apron, threatening to throw the towel in for his charge. That caused Norton to break the hold, allowing 'Train to drill him from behind, slap on a full nelson (of all things) and win this truly terrible, lifeless match. 
Your Winner: Ice Train

By the way, you know what I always loved about WCW? The way they would have Bobby Heenan do those post-match analyses after every bout. To me, it just seemed to add a sense of legitimacy to the occasion which, in my mind, was always welcomed. 

'Mexican' Heavyweight Championship
AAA Americas Heavyweight Champion Konan (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Juventud Guerrera 

At this point, Konan was now a fully-fledged heel and card-carrying member of the Dungeon of Doom, complete with Jimmy Hart as his manager and street clothes attire he would wear for basically the remainder of his WCW run.

Here, he defended what WCW always referred to simply as the "Mexican Heavyweight Championship" though what was actually the AAA Americas Heavyweight Championship, a title so short-lived that Konan was the first and only guy to hold it.

His challenger for tonight was relative newcomer Juventud Guerrera, who looked like a tiny child during the early part of his WCW run.

Looks aside, I will admit to thoroughly enjoying this match. Though I never quite got any of Konan's gimmicks, and found him terribly annoying on the microphone, I always felt he was rather an underappreciated wrestler when it came to the actual bell-to-bell stuff.

Working with Juvi, the champ was able to deliver a performance which -though not exactly breathtaking- was at least entertaining, and ended with a top-rope powerbomb to give a win to the champion.
Your Winner and Still AAA Americas Champion: Konan

From there, the show (or at least the version I'm watching on the WWE Network) wasted no time in getting right on to the next match.

Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit (w/ Woman & Miss Elizabeth) 

WCW FALL BRAWL 1996 REVIEW: Chris Jericho made his WCW PPV debut against Chris Benoit
There are some matches (take Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. Perfect for example)which, whilst they may look like a dream match on paper, only serve to disappoint once the bell rings 

Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit was -thankfully- not one of those matches. 

Making his WCW PPV debut (and for some reason being billed as coming from Calgary), Jericho clashed with Benoit in a match that was every bit as good as it could have been given the time allowed and both men's status in the WCW hierarchy. 

The only drawback here, at least for Jericho, is that all his attempts to be the babyface were lost on a crowd who were largely -and loudly- in favour of the Four Horsemen. Despite this, both men worked hard at making the most of what they had, putting together a truly solid bout which served as the match of the night up to this point. 

The end, in case you were wondering, came when Benoit suplexed Jericho off the top rope for a three count.
Your Winner: Chris Benoit 

Again, we're not wasting any time here. No between-match segments or interviews, just one match after the other. Nice. 

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Super Calo 

WCW FALL BRAWL 1996 REVIEW: Super Calo challenged Rey Mysterio for the WCW Cruiserweight title
By this point there lifeless, uninterested North Carolina crowd are really starting to have a toxic effect on the entire event.

Having previously woken up for the earlier Jericho/Benoit encounter, they once again went back into a coma for this cruiserweight title match and reacted to almost nothing that Rey Mysterio Jr. and Super Calo did. 

The lack of reaction really took something away from the match -especially since the whole point of pro wrestling in the first place is to entertain the live crowd- but for what both men did manage to pull together, this was a very good effort indeed. 

Super Calo and his awesome mask dominated much of the bout before Mysterio made the inevitable comeback, picking up the win and heading on to intensify his ongoing rivalry with Dean Malenko. 
Your Winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Rey Mysterio Jr. 

At this point, it occurs to me that most of the pictures I've used so far in this thing have been of guys working some kind of arm-bar. Let's try and change it up for our next match, shall we?

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW Tag Team Champions Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray) w/ Sister Sherri and Col. Parker) vs. The Nasty Boys

WCW FALL BRAWL 1996 REVIEW: Harlem Heat successfully defended the WCW Tag Team Championship against the Nasty Boys
The North Carolinans may not have had much interest in seeing Rey Jr. and Super Calo trade planchas and reversals by the truckload, but give them a straight-up, hard-hitting tag match between Harlem Heat and The Nasty Boys, and they were all for it.

Proof, if ever it were needed, that it's really the crowd reaction that makes or breaks a pro wrestling match, this WCW tag team title match was a sheer joy to watch, primarily because both teams excelled in ensuring that the crowds were totally into every single move.

OK, so this match may not have been a technical wrestling masterclass, but then it was never intended to be.  Instead, it was a classic, by-the-numbers tag bout which delivered on all fronts and came second only to the Benoit/Jericho match in terms of pure enjoyment factor.

As they had done at the last two events, Booker T & Stevie Ray retained their titles thanks to outside shennanigans from Col. Parker and Sister Sherri, bringing to an end a surprise highlight of the show.
Your Winners and Still WCW Tag Team Champions: Harlem Heat 

Prior to an upcoming interview with Macho Man Randy Savage, we get Nature Boy styling and profiling in the official Fall Brawl merchandise. Shilling for all he's worth, Nature Boy was more excited about these t-shirts than I've ever seen anybody get excited over an item of clothing in my life.

Still though, I have to admit that I preferred the ads Flair did for Southpaw Regional Wrestling back in the day.

Mike Tenay Interviews The Macho Man 

WCW FALL BRAWL 1996 REVIEW: Macho Man Randy Savage faced The Giant
Noting how ironic it was that 'the man who has been fined and suspended more than any other wrestler in World Championship Wrestling is now the saviour this evening at Fall Brawl,' Iron Mike Tenay did a great job in playing up the wild, unpredictable nature of the Macho Man before the man himself walked on screen, ready to verbally tear into his opponent for this evening, recent nWo convert, The Giant.

Wearing a hat that I'm not sure isn't the same one he wore at WWF Wrestlemania 9, Savage called himself WCW's 'evil necessity,' a force that was just what the company needed to finally put an end to the New World Order's reign of terror.

Tonight, Savage promised that he would start ending said reign of terror by toppling The Giant before going on to next month's Halloween Havoc to defeat Hollywood Hulk Hogan for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.

This was Savage at his most insane and brilliant, making for a promo that was just a joy to watch. Ohhh YEAH! 

Macho Man Randy Savage vs. The Giant 

Having done such a stellar job of building up the intensity of his rivalry with the New World Order, Savage almost immediately killed it by handing out Slim Jims on his way to the ring, as if to say Sure, I've got a war on my hands, but first let me please my sponsors. 

The Giant was out next, first to his old Dungeon of Doom  Theme Music before somebody realised he was now in the nWo and switched to the outlaw faction's Porno Production Track #12 tune.

From there, we subject to a slow, sluggish outing which saw The Giant dominate, battering his adversary into the corner before working over the spine with a backbreaker and boston crab which almost sent this writer to sleep. 

Things only really picked up when Savage mounted the inevitable comeback, only to be lured outside the ring by Hollywood Hogan. Naturally, this was all a set-up. As The Giant kept corrupt official Nick Patrick busy in the ring, Hogan was joined by The Outsiders in putting a wicked beatdown on the Macho Man.

Their work done, the trio rolled Savage in the ring, giving The Giant an easy cover, count, and victory.
Your Winner: The Giant 

After a quick promotional video for Slim Jim's Halloween Havoc staring Mr. Slim Jim himself, the Macho Man, the lights dimmed and we were treated to pyro galore as the two cages lowered for what Tony Shiavone called "The Moment the Wrestling World Had Been Waiting For."

Yes folks, it was almost time for War Games.

First through, we got a backstage promo in which Mike Tenay interviewed Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, and Lex Luger. Flair insisted that after what he believed to be Sting's betrayal of WCW, he,

WCW FALL BRAWL 1996 REVIEW: Sting confronts Luger, Flair, and Arn Anderson
Luger, and Anderson would enter the war against the nWo without a fourth man involved. Anderson then added his own choice words, basically reiterating Flair's statement that it would be three vs. two tonight then, just as they were about to head to ring side, Sting -the actual Sting- arrived to tell his team mates that it wasn't him who attacked Luger.

In response, Luger told Sting that he had looked him "right in the eye" and knew it was him. Again, I remind you that this is a man who had known Sting very well for many years, and yet couldn't tell him apart from some other guy wearing Sting makeup.

Unhappy, Sting stormed off, leaving Flair to call Luger a "lean, mean, wrestling machine" and then strut off-camera, on his way to the match.

WCW (Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger, and Sting) vs. NWO (Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Fake Sting, and WCW World Heayweight Champion Hollywood Hulk Hogan w/ Ted Dibiase)

In a break from tradition, both teams were kept backstage and made separate entrances, rather than all surrounding the ring at the same time and entering at their allotted time.

Ostensibly, this was because the rivalry was so intense that both teams had to be contained backstage, though in reality, I suspect that this had much to do with heightening the sense of surprise when Real Sting and Fake Sting proved to be the fourth men for their respective teams.

WCW FALL BRAWL 1996 REVIEW: Sting confronts Luger, Flair, and Arn Anderson
As far as the actual action went, this was a perfectly fine match. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a technical masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but then again, it was never supposed to be. ]

This wasn't about the bell-to-bell stuff at all but rather about the story, about the shift of power in the New World Order's favour, and about how Team WCW had felt let down by Sting, even though it was they who had let him down by not believing him in the first place.

Speaking of The Stinger, the man of the hour made an appearance as the fourth man for Team WCW, going straight after his evil doppleganger before laying waste to the entire nWo squad.

Just when you thought it was time for a kiss-and-make-up session with his team mates however, a visibly pissed off Sting yelled at Luger, asking him whether Sting's actions in the War Games cage was enough to prove that he hadn't sold his soul to the dark side. Before Luger could respond however, Sting told him to stick it, then left the cage, signalling the beginning of the end for Team WCW.

As the others brawled around the ring, Hall and Hogan wrapped The Total Package in a submission move until he passed out, giving the win to the bad guys.
Your Winners: The New World Order

WCW FALL BRAWL 1996 REVIEW: Miss Elizabeth tries to stop Hulk Hogan from attacking Randy Savage
Not content to merely win the match, Hall, Hogan, Nash, and Fake Sting continued to beat down on their adversaries, prompting a run in from non-other than the number one contender to the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, Macho Man Randy Savage.

Savage attempted to rescue his fallen colleagues, only for The Giant to reappear, joining forces with the rest of the nWo in giving Savage the latest of the 5,000 beat-downs he would receive from the nWo before eventually joining forces with them.

Miss. Elizabeth, ran down, throwing herself over her ex in an attempt to shield him from any further attacks at the hands of the nWo, though all this achieved was getting herself spraypainted by Hogan, who once again vowed to destroy Savage when the two met at Halloween Havoc.

That event, ladies and gentlemen, is another review for another day.

For now though, all I have to say is that WCW Fall Brawl 1996 was a mostly enjoyable show. Take away the illogical and ill-recieved submission match between Ice Train and Scott Norton, and what you're left with, is an event which ranged from good to great, depending on who was in the ring at the time. 

It's just a shame that this one was so let down by a lifeless crowd. Still, I suppose you can't have everything. 

I'll return to covering the New World Order's reign of terror at a later date. For now, thanks for reading, and be sure to join me on Twitter @retropwrestling.

Friday, 17 March 2017


WCW Clash of the Champions 33 1996 REVIEW
August 15, 1996,
Denver Colliseum, Denver, Colorado

There once was a time when the unique combination of free-to-air TV and pay per view caliber performance made the NWA/WCW spectacle that was Clash of the Champions a truly unmissable event. 

From the very first Clash back in 1988, the show had delivered some memorable moments, and, even today, remains in the eyes of many a nostalgic fan as one of the company's best ideas, ranking up there with War Games, the introduction of the cruiserweights, and the original New World Order, more of which later.

By the time of tonight's show however, it's fair to say that WCW Clash of the Champions had lost much of its appeal as a genuine special attraction.

One of the true causalities of the Monday Night Wars, Clash shows became lost in a world of monthly pay per views, Nitro broadcasts. and multiple 'B' shows, ultimately becoming just another wrestling show.

Thankfully, nobody told the talent, many of whom went out on this particular event to deliver where it really mattered the most; between the ropes.

Here, we go back to the summer of 1996, to chart Hollywood Hogan's first title defence since winning the world title a week earlier at Hog Wild, a stormer of a woman's match, and more, all at WCW Clash of the Champions XXXIII.

Stupid Little Man

Our show tonight opened with a brief video package documenting Hollywood Hogan's vicious verbal and physical attacks on both 'The Nature Boy' Ric Flair and 'Macho Man' Randy savage.

When I say verbal attack, boy do I mean it. On the one episode of Nitro between winning the title at Hog Wild and defending it tonight against Flair, Hogan really let Nature Boy have it with both barrels by declaring that from now on, the multi-time world champion would be known as 'Stupid Little Man.'

Talk about brutal right? It's amazing Hogan didn't go on to claim Flair smelled like poop or something.

WCW Clash of the Champions 33 1996 REVIEW - Tony Shiavone and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan were our commentators for the show
Anyway, with that over and done with, we were welcomed to the show by our announce team for the evening, that classic, mid-90s WCW duo of Tony Shiavone and the legendary Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan.

Before we got down to any in-ring action, Heenan and Schiavone took the time to shill tonight's main event, reminding us how the emergence of the New World Order had somehow united World Championship Wrestling, bringing together Sting and Lex Luger with The Horsemen, two sides who had long been bitter rivals.

We'd hear more about that later, but for now, it was time to head ringside for the first of nine matches on the show.

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Dean Malenko

Eager to reclaim the Cruiserweight championship he lost to Rey Mysterio Jr. on Nitro only a month earlier, 'The Man of 1,000 Holds' Dean Malenko wasted no time in attacking Mysterio, looking to keep his rival grounded and preventing the defending champion from using his high-flying offence. 

WCW Clash of the Champions 33 1996 REVIEW - Rey Mysterio defended his WCW Cruiserweight Championship against Dean Malenko
Whilst this was no doubt a solid premise on which to build a match, it didn't exactly translate into the kind of adrenaline-charged opening contest you might expect from two undoubtedly talented performers. 

Sure, we were treated to the occasional fast-paced, high-flying spots that were the hallmark of WCW's cruiserweight division, and sure, Malenko's move towards the finish, in which he climbed the top rope, hurled Mysterio off his shoulders and made him land across Malenko's knee was a definite highlight, but in between such moments of brilliance, we were treated to long periods of, well, not very much. 

In his efforts to keep his smaller rival grounded, Malenko spent a lot of time moving from one chin lock to the next, creating some serious lag in an otherwise enjoyable outing.

The end came following the aforementioned top-rope move from Malenko. The challenger made the cover and got the three count, only for referee Randy Anderson to realise that Mysterio's foot had been on the ropes the whole time. Whilst Dean grabbed the cruiserweight title in the mistaken belief that he was the new champion, Anderson restarted the match. This gave Mysterio the opportunity to leap onto Malenko's shoulders from behind, roll him up, and score a quick three count. 
Your winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Rey Mysterio Jr.

Following a quick Macho Man Slim Jim Commercial and one of about five thousand promo clips for the still-to-debut Glacier which aired during the summer of 1996, it was back to the ring for a match nobody could have possibly wanted to see. 

V.K Wallstreet vs. 'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan

WCW Clash of the Champions 33 1996 REVIEW - Hacksaw Jim Duggan battled V.K Wallstreet
Long time Retro Pro Wrestling readers may recall that I've always had something of a soft-spot for Mike Rotunda. Even when he was saddled with the I.R.S gimmick in the early-to-mid 1990s, his performances at WWF pay per views were always an enjoyable part of the show for me

Though he may have been past his prime in 1996, Rotunda was still capable of being entertaining, albeit in a decidedly old-school way that was rapidly falling out of favour with crowds during the Monday Night Wars.

So, when I say that this short match with Hacksaw Jim Duggan was achingly dull, please don't take it that I'm knocking the talents of the erstwhile Captain Mike. 

Nor is it necessarily easy to lay all the blame on Duggan, who was still doing the same gimmick he always did, albeit with added pyro. 

WCW Clash of the Champions 33 1996 REVIEW - V.K Wallstreet defeated Hacksaw Jim Duggan
No, the fault for this coming across as such a miserable outing was simply the fact that it was so out of place. In a world of cruiserweights, the renegade nWo faction and hard-hitting action, an old-school heel/face like this, came across as dull, uninspired, and lifeless. It didn't help that the crowd were mostly silent too, even when Hacksaw got his 'USA! USA!' schtick going.

The ending was dumb too. This was a period in which Duggan -who was the babyface here- was winning his matches by pulling a role of tape out of his tights and knocking his opponents out with it. This time however, Hacksaw somehow got himself, and the referee, caught up in the tape, allowing our man Wallstreet to get a quick roll-up for the three count. 

For those keeping score at home, that's two matches in a row ending with a roll-up.
Your Winner: V.K Wallstreet 

Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund was standing by hoping to get a word with The Nasty Boys. Okerlund asked Jerry Saggs if the altitude and Colorado air had been getting to him as of late, prompting to Saggs to respond that yes, a lot of things had been getting to him lately. 

WCW Clash of the Champions 33 1996 REVIEW - Nasty Boys issued a challenge for the WCW tag titles
He continued by once again refuting any claims that the Nasty Boys were affiliated with the New World Order (something they had been doing for weeks on Nitro), and insisting that he and Brian Knobs were looking forward to beating up whichever team came out on top in tonight's triangle tag match.

For his part, Knobs ranted and raved about how much The Nasty Boys wanted to become tag team champions again, and backed up his partner's clams that the duo were going to "smash some heads" whenever they got the opportunity.

After a commercial break, we once again returned to Mean Gene, who claimed that he and Mike Tenay had been trying to conduct a backstage interview (he never said who with) when those dastardly Outsiders turned up and ruined it. 

Fortunately, anyone feeling devastated at missing out on comments from the unnamed WCW star needn't have worried. Okerlund and Tenay had managed to record the interview after all, and all you had to do was pay money to access the WCW Hotline to hear it. 


Ultimo Dragon (w/ Sonny Onoo) vs. Konan

WCW Clash of the Champions 33 1996 REVIEW - Konan beat Ultimo Dragon
After dropping the United States Championship to Ric Flair back at Bash at the Beach 1996, Konan was here in a transitional phase between the Mexican Superstar babyface gimmick he portrayed in his early WCW face-run, and a fully-fledged heel run, complete with baggy pant, sweat-tops and new catchphrases.

To show-off his new-found aggressive side, the AAA star made light work of Ultimo Dragon in a fun, albeit incredibly brief, match. 

Honestly, I would have liked to have seen this go on longer, and really feel both men could have turned out a good match given the chance.

Still, it was what it was, and resulted in a quick win for the future LAX leader.
Your Winner: Konan 

If you'd just tuned into this show on the WWE Network and had no idea what time period it was from, our next segment would surely reveal all. 

WCW Clash of the Champions 33 1996 REVIEW - Ice Train got beat up by Scott Norton
Backstage, my boy Ice Train was chatting to fans online not via Facebook, not via Myspace, MSN Messenger, or even AOL, but by Compuserve. Sadly for 'Train (and probably the handful of his die-hard fans), his online chat was disrupted by former partner and now bitter rival, Scott 'Flash' Norton. 

Norton -who had already beaten up Ice Train so badly a few nights ago that the man had have his chest bandaged up to use a computer- stormed into the Compuserve area, clotheslined 'Train from his chair, stomped on him, and walked away. 

Clearly, this was one feud that was only set to get hotter.

Meng (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Macho Man Randy Savage

Anyone who had paid money to see Randy Savage wrestle (even against Meng) would have been sorely dissapointed. 

After the former King Haku made his way to the ring, Savage's famous theme music played, and played...and played, all with no sign of the Macho Man. 

The crowds cheered, applauded, looked on eagerly at the entrance way. Still, there was no Savage to be seen. 

WCW Clash of the Champions 33 1996 REVIEW - Meng bt. Macho Man by forfeit when Savage no-showed
Eventually, somebody did appear, but it wasn't Savage. Instead, it was our old friend Mean Gene, who arrived to tell referee Nick Patrick that Savage wouldn't be there because he hadn't been cleared to compete after getting attacked a few days earlier at Nitro.

Look, I know rumours ran rampant during the 1990s about WCW's poor backstage management in real life, but surely nobody at the company seriously thought it was a good idea to reflect that on telivision? 

Were we really supposed to believe that those running the show had gone all the way to Randy Savage's scheduled opponent was out in the ring before they realised that Savage was unable to compete?

Credit where it's due though, the site of Jimmy Hart dancing around the ring, celebrating the victory as though Meng had really defeated Savage in a hard-fought battle was pretty funny, and actually worth sitting through the dumb explanation for.
Your Winner Via Forfeit: Meng 

Returning from the break, Meng and Hart had been joined in the ring by Dungeon of Doom team mates Kevin Sullivan, Hugh Morrus and The Barbarian for an interview with Mean Gene. 

WCW Clash of the Champions 33 1996 REVIEW - Dungeon of Doom promo
Dungeon leader Sullivan began by saying that he didn't like Randy Savage in the first place, and boasting that at least when The Taskmaster hit people with a chair, he didn't sneak up from behind, unlike that no good Hogan. 

This played well into Sullivan's lengthy rival with Hulk, as he was able to boast that he had known all along what a villain Hollywood really was. Next, he turned his attentions back to Okerlund, questioning how the man with the mic felt now after 'leading the parade' when Hogan had first joined WCW two years earlier. 

"Well, Hulk Hogan was a great man, but lately something seems to have snapped in that man, and I think it's because of The Outsiders," offered Okerlund in response. 

Jimmy Hart chipped in then, claiming that Dungeon of Doom were the strongest force in WCW, a force even more powerful than the New World Order. 

Finally, Sullivan issued stern words to Chris Benoit to further that rivalry, and that was the end of that interview.

Bull Nakano (w/ Sonny Onoo) vs. Madusa

Squaring off in a return match from their Battle of the Bikes encounter at Hog Wild, both Madusa and Bull Nakano made the best of what limited time they had to put on a short but enjoyable match. 

WCW Clash of the Champions 33 1996 REVIEW - Madusa bt. Bull NakanoPlaying the dastardly foreign heel to perfection, Nakano used her brute strength to counter Madusa's quickness. When that didn't pay off, it was time for manager Sonny Onoo to get involved, distracted the referee so that Nakano could grab her trusty nun-chucks and ram them straight into Madusa's gut.

Sadly for Bull, such cheating was to be her downfall as Onoo attempted to drill Madusa with a swift karate kick, only to miss and get Nakano instead. 

One three count later, and this one was over. 
Your Winner: Madusa

Backstage, Mean Gene interviewed number one contender to the WCW World Heavyweight Championship: The Nature Boy Ric Flair. 

Flair, flanked as always by Four Horsemen beauties Woman and Miss Elizabeth, dismissed Okerlund's claims that they were "all in this together" against the New World Order, instead insisting that it was just him, his girls, and his fellow Horsemen.

WCW Clash of the Champions 33 1996 REVIEW - Ric Flair had choice words for Hulk Hogan
Turning his attentions to tonight, Flair also dismissed Hogan's recent change of gimmick, claiming that whilst the champion could change his look and his name all he wanted, at the end of the day, this was still Flair/Hogan for the title, and when that happened, it was only a matter of time before The Nature Boy came out on top. 

And what if Scott Hall or Kevin Nash opted to get involved in tonight's title match? According to Flair, that wasn't going to be a problem either, since both Steve 'Mongo' McMichael and 'The Enforcer' Arn Anderson were on hand to watch The Nature Boy's back.

World Championship Wrestling Battle Bowl Championship
WCW Battle Bowl Champion Diamond Dallas Page vs. Eddie Guerrero 

WCW Clash of the Champions 33 1996 REVIEW - DDP lost his Battle Bowl championship to Eddie Guerrero

The concept was simple, a 'Lethal Lottery' was held, in which tag teams were drawn 'at random,' usually resulting in sworn rivals teaming together, and regular tag team partners finding themselves squaring off. 

These ad-hoc teams would compete in straigh tag matches, the winners of which would all go into an every-man-for-himself battle royal at the end of the show. 

After the '93 event, the concept wasn't seen again until WCW Slamboree 1996, when Diamond Dallas Page won the 'Battle Bowl Championship,' earning himself a shot at the WCW World Championship. 
Admittedly, I haven't seen any WCW shows from around that period, though according to reports, DDP was then stripped of his title shot on the following Nitro after it was found shenanigan came into play when he eliminated The Barbarian.

Despite losing the title shot, Page was apparently allowed to keep the championship (a ring akin to the traditional Superbowl ring), which he put on the line tonight against Eddie Guerrero.
Despite the lack of any real crowd reaction (a problem which pretty much plagued this entire show), Page vs. Guerrero was enjoyable, and came to an end when the latter hit his patented frog splash for the pin fall. 
Your Winner and NEW WCW Battle Bowl Champion: Eddie Guerrero 

Not that things between these two was likely to end there. Kicking off a feud with both Eddie and his nephew Chavo, Page feigned shaking hands with the new Battle Bowl champion, only to drag him into a Diamond Cutter and choke him out before hitting a second 'Cutter.
It was at this point that Chavo ran out to make the save, only to be given a dismissive shove from Dallas, who then nailed Eddie with a third Diamond Cutter from the top rope before leaving the ring. 

For those wondering, I'm not sure that Eddie -nor anyone else for that matter- would ever defend the Battle Bowl Championship ever again. 

Hogan Roughs Up Mean Gene 

WCW Clash of the Champions 33 1996 REVIEW - Hulk Hogan was angry at Mean Gene and Ric Flair
As Chavo was busy tending to Uncle Eddie in the ring, Hulk Hogan came out, dragging Mean Gene along with him. Irate about Okerlund's earlier comments in the aforementioned Dungeon of Doom interview, Hogan demanded that Mean Gene explain himself. 

Okerlund did so, though only by declaring his right to freedom of speech and insisting that, after Hogan's treacherous betrayal of his friends, his fans, and WCW as a whole, he (Okerlund) was well within his rights to call the champion a no-good you-know-what.

Hogan warned his former buddy to watch his mouth before turning his attentions to his opponent for tonight, The Nature Boy Ric Flair.

Dismissing Flair's 13 world title reigns, Hogan boasted that he -and only he- would be remembered as the Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, and erm, Hulk Hogan of pro wrestling, and that Flair was simply a 'Stupid Little Man who couldn't get the job done.'

After another commercial break, we got our second lengthy 'Glacier is Coming soon' vignette of the show, before Tony and Bobby took time to shill WCW Pro. With that out of the way, it was finally on to our next match.

WCW Clash of the Champions 33 1996 REVIEW - The Giant squashed Chris Benoit in 25 seconds

Chris Benoit (w/ Woman & Miss Elizabeth) vs. The Giant (w/ Jimmy Hart)

Clearly in a foul mood after dropping the WCW title to Hogan just a few nights ago, The Giant wasted absolutely no time in taking out his frustrations on Benoit. 

A dropkick in the corner followed by his famous Chokeslam was all it took to put away the Horseman in less than 25 seconds.
Your Winner: The Giant 

More commercials followed next, first for the WCW PowerPlant, then for Hog Wild merchandise, and finally for Slim Jims, after which it was back to the ring for our big three-way tag team bout.

World Championship Wrestling Tag Team Championship Triangle Match
WCW Tag Team Champions Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray w/ Col. Parker and Sister Sherri) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) vs. Sting & Lex Luger

WCW Clash of the Champions 33 1996 REVIEW - Sting & Lex Luger challenged Harlem Heat and The Steiners for the tag titles
The rules here were that any wrestler could tag in any other, regardless as to whether or not they were on the same official team. 

If one man gained a pinfall or submission however, he and his actual, designated partner would be the WCW tag team champions. 

Rules aside, what was perhaps the most notable aspect of this particular bout was that it was the first one on the show for which the crowd truly came alive, loudly rooting for firm favourites Sting, Lex Luger, Rick and Scott Steiner with every move they made. 

The reception from the Colorado faithful actually played a big part in turning what was a fairly average match into something that was actually rather fun to watch. 

The controversial ending came as Rick Steiner, Stevie Ray, Lex Luger and Sting all brawled outside the ring, prompting Scott Hall & Kevin Nash to run out and attack them. As this was happening, Scotty Steiner planted Booker T with a Frankensteiner inside the ring, and would have scored a victory were it not for dastardly referee Nick Patrick.

Clearly in the New World Order's back pocket, Patrick refused to make the three count, instead turning to the outside and calling for the bell due to interference. 

WCW Clash of the Champions 33 1996 REVIEW - Scott Steiner was angry at Nick Patrick after his match
Showing shades of his future insanity, a livid Scott Steiner yelled at Patrick literally, clearly, and loudly calling bullshit several times. 

Just when Patrick thought he could escape however, Mean Gene was waiting for him in the ilse. 

The two had been developing something of a rivalry as of late, with Okerlund constantly calling out Patrick for his dodgy decisions.

This time however, Patrick did at least have a somewhat valid point; The Outsiders had interfered in the match, and in normal tag match, that would be grounds for disqualification. 

Clearly however, this was just another case of Patrick working for the nWo, and Okerlund was going to make sure the referee knew that he, and the WCW fans, were onto him. 

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs.  WCW United States Champion The Nature Boy Ric Flair (w/ Woman & Miss Elizabeth)

WCW Clash of the Champions 33 1996 REVIEW - Ric Flair challenged Hulk Hogan for the WCW Championship
Remember earlier when I said that there was little room for the kind of old-school approach adopted by V.K Wallstreet and Jim Duggan?

Perhaps those two could have paid attention to veterans Hogan and Flair who managed to make their old-school style work in front of a modern audience.
Sure, there were no reversals of reversals, no false finishes and dramatic near-falls involved, but what there was, was a hot crowd who were eager to see two legends of the game go at it for the title belt.

For this writer, that all made for an entertaining bout, right the way up to the point where Hogan confusingly began to 'Hulk Up' as though he were still a babyface.

Not that it did him much good.

Flair regained the upper-hand, and even slapped on the Figure Four, yet just when it looked as though he might have another title reign in sight, Hogan grabbed the referee and hurled him across the ring, causing the disqualification which would allow him to hang onto his belt.
Your Winner by disqualification: Ric Flair (Hulk Hogan retains the title)

Post match, The Outsiders ran in for a beatdown, only to be chased off by the remaining Four Horsemen, alongside Lex Luger and Sting, laying the foundations for September's War Games main event at Fall Brawl.

Whilst Clash of the Champions may have lost its spark as a special attraction, it still nonetheless held its own as a decent pro wrestling show. Wallstreet/Duggan and the brief Giant/Benoit squash aside, the matches were at least fairly entertaining, if hardly memorable. 

This may not be a must-see show by anyone's standards, but in terms of setting up Fall Brawl and continuing to build on the nWo's dominant reign over WCW, it did it's job well. 

I'll get onto that Fall Brawl review, and some other stuff, in the next couple of weeks, but until then, thanks for reading, and be sure to come join me on Twitter @Retropwrestling.

Monday, 27 February 2017


WCW HOG WILD 1996 REVIEW: Event poster
August 10, 1996
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Sturgis, South Dakota

Largely criticized as being little more than an excuse for Eric Bischoff to indulge his love for motorcycles, WCW Hog Wild 1996 served as the first PPV featuring Hollywood Hulk Hogan as a fully fledged villain. 

So, quite why the original VHS cover for this event still features The Icon in all his red-and-yellow babyface glory is anyone's guess, but hey, let's not bogged down in details. Instead, let's focus on tonight's show, a free, open-air event held as part of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally which would see Hogan, now leader of the industry-changing new World order, looking to dethrone The Giant for the WCW Championship.

Would he succeed? Would the nWo continue the reign of destruction they'd waged on World Championship Wrestling ever since the infamous night of Hogan's heel turn back at Bash at the Beach 1996?

Let's cut the intro here and find out together, shall we?

Welcome to Sturgis 

WCW HOG WILD 1996 REVIEW: Dusty Rhodes, Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' HeenanOur show tonight began with an opening video which focused not on the superstars of WCW nor any of the matches taking place, but instead on Sturgis itself and the popularity of the biker rally. After shots of women flashing their bras and riding almost bare-assed down the street (this from a company who had spent the past month's worth of Nitro shows in residence at Disney), we were taken to our commentary team, which tonight would consist of The American Dream Dusty Rhodes, Tony Schiavone, and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan.

As the trio began hyping tonight's matches, two things quickly became apparent:

  1. Schiavone looked ridiculous in his "biker costume" (complete with fake tattoo)
  2. The sound of the Sturgis crowd revving their engines was going to be a big distraction, drowning out the commentators and getting pretty annoying, pretty quickly. 
With that out of the way, it was on to our first match. 

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio vs. Ultimo Dragon (w/ Sonny Onoo) 

WCW HOG WILD 1996 REVIEW - Ultimo Dragon Challenged Rey Mysterio Jr. for the Cruiserweight title
With Iron Mike Tenay joining the commentary team, Rey Mysterious successfully defended his cruiserweight title against Ultimo Dragon in a spirited, though somewhat disappointing match. 

Of course, that's not to say there was anything wrong with it, but given the caliber of the performers involved, it's fair to say that your reviewer set his expectations perhaps just a little too high. 

Indeed, whilst this wasn't the captivating cruiserweight classic we might have hoped for, it was a decent, straight-forward opener with a couple of cool spots thrown in for good measure. 
Your Winner and Still WCW cruiser weight champion: Rey Mysterio Jr. 

Out in the crowd, Mean Gene Okerlund, looking just as ridiculous in his fake biker costume as his broadcast colleagues, shilled the WCW hotline before the announcers went back to telling us how cool Sturgis was. 

Scott 'Flash' Norton vs. Ice Train 

True story, for a time when I was maybe eight or nine years old, ITV, one of the main broadcasters here in the UK, showed WCW's Disney Studios shows on Saturday afternoons. During this period, for reasons which are largely unfathomable to me now, Ice Train was my absolute favourite wrestler. 

WCW HOG WILD 1996 REVIEW: Ice Train had a grudge match against Fire & Ice partner, Ice Train
Here, my one-time hero sought to gain revenge on his former Fire & Ice tag partner Scott Norton after flash turned on him a few weeks earlier on Nitro.

Not that he would have much success tonight. 

Earlier in the evening, on WCW Saturday Night, 'Train had apparently gotten himself caught up in the conflict between his manager Teddy Long, and WCW Champion The Giant (Long's other charge, Sgt. Craig Pittman had lost a match against The Giant on Nitro) after which both he and Long were chokeslammed by the champ). That hadn't ended well for Ice Train, who also found himself on the wrong end of a Giant attack, and was forced to wrestle this grudge match with his arm and chest heavily bandaged. 

Naturally, his adversary took full advantage of this, working over Train's arm with a series of submission holds which, quite frankly, bored the pants off your writer. 

After a short bout, the referee decided that Ice Train could no longer continue, and this snore fest was over. 
Your Winner: Scott Norton 

WCW HOG WILD 1996 REVIEW: Ric Flair promised revenge on the nWo
In a brief interlude, we were next shown a recap of a sit down interview with The Nature Boy Ric Flair which had originally played out earlier on WCW Saturday Night. 

The clip saw Flair promising revenge after the nWo attacked his best friend, Arn Anderson two weeks ago on Nitro, and vowing that the Four Horsemen would do whatever it took to rid WCW of the New World Order. 

Up next, we were given a look at the official WCW Hog Wild 1996 merchandise.

WCW HOG WILD 1996: Jimmy Hart shilling epic merchandise
The voiceover man assured us that the t-shirt and denim jacket were the coolest items of clothing around, though one look at them was enough to assure you that this wasn't the case. 

Just to prove how 'cool' they were, the company had Jimmy Hart of all people feature in the commercial.

I don't know about you, but when I think of cool, the last person I think of is the Mouth of the South.

Finally, after more talk about how great Sturgis is, it was back to ringside. 

Battle of the Bikes
Bull Nakano (w/ Sonny Onoo) vs. Madusa

WCW HOG WILD 1996 REVIEW: Madusa beat Bull Nakano in a Battle of the Bikes
In a rematch from their Summerslam 1994 encounter, Madusa and Bull Nakano locked up in a match in which the winner would be allowed to smash the loser's motorcycle with a sledgehammer.

As dumb as it such a stipulation may sound (especially since Nakano didn't seem to give a damn about her bike), you have to hand it to WCW, it did work. 

For the first time on the show, the crowd really came alive, rallying behind Madusa and taunting Bull Nakano with chants of 'USA! USA!' 

The crowd involvement seemed to help too, in turning this short little bout into the most enjoyable one on the card up to that point. 

The ending however was a tad confusing; Nakano hit a suplex and seemed to pick up the win, after which Sonny Onoo picked up the sledgehammer and went after Madusa's bike. Madusa gave chase, was declared the winner (apparently she'd raised her shoulder and Nakano hadn't) and proceeded to attack Nakano's bike. 
Your Winner: Madusa 

WCW HOG WILD 1996 REVIEW: Steiner Brothers play on the internet
Backstage, the Steiner Brothers were chatting to fans online via Compuserve (remember that?) until Rick Steiner found a "game" and wouldn't let Scott play on it.

The two began playfully jostling behind two laptops, neither man seeming all that concerned with their upcoming WCW tag team title shot against Harlem Heat.

If that sounds weird, believe me, that's because it was.

Dean Malenko vs. Chris Benoit (w/ Woman & Miss Elizabeth)

In between my Bash at the Beach 1996 review and tonight's show, I watched every single Nitro and clued myself in as best I could on the storylines taking place at the time. That includes the ongoing rivalry between The Four Horsemen and The Dungeon of Doom, which somehow saw Jimmy Hart hiring Dean Malenko to take out Chris Benoit once and for all.

WCW Hog Wild 1996 REVIEW: Jimmy Hart paid Dean Malenko to take out Chris Benoit
Despite this, I just can't tell who -if anybody- is supposed to be the babyface in this story. As far as I can tell, it's all just a bunch of heels hating on each other. You know what? If that's what it took to produce matches like this, then I'm all for it.

Yes, I'm aware of what Benoit did, and no, I'm not in the camp that thinks he should still be revered by fans after the crimes he committed, but for the sake of these reviews, I've decided to just judge Benoit's matches on their own merit,and as such, I'm happy to report that yes, this one was a good one.

A true 'wrestling' match in the purest sense of the word, The Crippler and The Ice Man atacked each other with everything they had in a gruelling, hard fought contest that was spoiled only by a general lack of interest from the Sturgis crowd.

Despite this, the two kept going, first wrestling each other to a time limit draw, and then taking the match into not one, but two five minute over-time periods. In the second of these, Woman got involved, allowing Benoit to roll-up Malenko for a somewhat anti-climatic finish.
Your Winner: Chris Benoit

After more shots of the live crowd, it was straight on to our next match.

World Championship Wrestling Tag Team Championship
WCW Tag Team Champions Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray w/ Sister Sherri & Col. Parker) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick &  Scott Steiner)

WCW HOG WILD 1996 REVIEW: Harlem Heat defended the tag titles against the Steiner Brothers
Just when it looked as though the subdued crowd had possibly fallen asleep for good during that last bout, Booker T, Stevie Ray, Rick Steiner and Scott Steiner certainly did a terrific job of waking them up again with a fun, by-the-numbers bout for the tag team titles.

Getting the crowd pumped up in a way that they hadn't been all night, both teams went at it in a hard-hitting battle that was made all the more enjoyable thanks to the excitement generated by the live audience.

Just when it looked like The Steiners may have secured the victory, Col. Parker and Sister Sherri got involved, the latter blasting Scott in the face with white powder, and the former drilling Steiner over the head with a cane. That was enough for Booker T to make the cover, get the count, and win the match for his team.
Your Winners and Still WCW Tag Team Champions: Harlem Heat

Up next, we were shown footage various WCW superstars riding to Sturgis, along with more generic shots of people riding through the streets on bikes. You know, just in case you hadn't already figured out that this was a biker ralley or something.

World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW United States Champion Ric Flair (w/ Woman & Miss Elizabeth) vs. Eddie Guerrero 

WCW HOG WILD REVIEW 1996 - Ric Flair defended US title against Eddie Guerrero
For the second pay per view in a row, United States Champion Ric Flair had one of the best matches on the show, this time in a solid defence against future legend, Eddie Guerrero.

With the sun setting on Sturgis and the crowd now finally alive, both men went at it in an exhilarating, see-saw battle which up to this point was your writer's favourite match on the entire show.

After plenty of back-and-forth action, Woman once again got involved, giving Ric Flair the assist by pulling on his arms for extra leverage as he held Guerrero in the figure four. Apparently passing out due to the pain, Guerrero lay on the mat, shoulders down, and was pinned.
Your Winner and Still WCW United States Champion: Ric Flair

Somewhere out in the arena, Mean Gene interviewed Jimmy Hart and WCW Champion The Giant about the latter's upcoming match with Hulk Hogan. Hart warned Hogan not to fall over "because nobody will be there to pick you up," whilst Giant himself spoke about how Hogan had betrayed WCW, and how it was up to The Giant himself to end Hulk once and for all.

Sting & Lex Luger vs. The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash)

WCW HOG WILD 1996 REVIEW: The Outsiders faced Sting and Lex Luger
Though the ambiance of being outdoors in the dark did lend a certain aesthetic appeal to this match, the actual in-ring action did nothing -and I mean *nothing*- to warrant anybody ever watching it more than once.

To say it was boring would hardly be doing it justice. Honestly, from the moment it started to the moment it finished, it seemed as though neither Lex Luger, Sting, Scott Hall, nor Kevin Nash actually wanted to be there. All four men simply showed up and did as little as they possibly could to get through a dull, lifeless bout.

Thankfully, Luger and Hall eventually put us out of our misery when the former picked up the latter for a torture rack. Referee Nick Patrick got in the way, coming up short on the reeving end of Hall's boot and taking a tumble. In a move which must have seemed bizarre at the time -but which now makes plenty of sense with hindsight- Patrick "accidentally" chopped Luger around the back of the leg, causing Hall to fall on top of him.

One very fast three count later, and this one was finally over.
Your Winners: The Outsiders 

With all that over and done with, it was on to our main event of the evening.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW Champion The Giant (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan

WCW HOG WILD 1996 REVIEW: Hulk Hogan defeated The Giant for the WCW Title
Perhaps the four men in our previous match should have been watching closely as The Giant and Hulk Hogan locked up in the final match of the evening. Why? Because this was a perfect example of how to do very little and actually make it work. 

Indeed, whilst the last match had seen the two tag teams sleep-walk their way through things with all the passion and emotion of a dead tree, Hogan and Giant actually made what little work they did do look like it matters. 

Hogan played the cowardly heel role to perfection, stalling for as long as possible and doing everything he could to avoid actually getting involved with the champion, before finally both men ended up trading the advantage in a heated test of strength. 

It may not have been much, and it certainly wouldn't qualify this for "classic match" status, but it certainly worked, and was at least reasonably entertaining. 

Towards the finish, The Outsiders returned to the ring, only to get planted by the champion. This however, was enough to distract the referee long enough for Hogan to grab the title, drill The Giant with it, and win the match.
Your Winner and NEW WCW Champion: Hollywood Hulk Hogan

WCW HOG WILD 1996: The Booty Man brought a birthday cake for Hulk Hogan
Post match, The Booty Man with two men carrying a birthday cake for Hogan. Presenting it to the new champion, the man formerly known as Brutus Beefcake played up his real-life friendship with Hogan and implied that he was the much-talked-about fourth member of the New World Order. 

Man, was he ever about to be disappointed. Hogan took to the mic, first hyping his upcoming title defence against Ric Flair at Clash of the Champions, then turning his attention to Booty Man and, after declaring his love for the erstwhile Barber, ordering Hall and Nash to attack him. 

"If that's what I'll do to my best friend," he yelled. "Imagine what I'll do to you, Ric Flair."
Finally, in a historic moment, Hogan took black spray paint and defaced the WCW title belt with the nWo logo, bringing the show to a close as he, Hall, and Nash ushered in the new era of the New World Order.

Though WCW Hog Wild 1996 may have been only marginally less historically important than the game-changing Bash at the Beach '96, the show was certainly far superior from an in-ring stand-point. The two main event matches may not have been up to much, but Flair/Guerrero, Harlem Heat/Steiners and Benoit/Malenko all made this one well worth the watch. 

Next time on Retro Pro Wrestling, I'll cover the Clash of Champions match which saw Hogan make his first title defence against Flair, followed by Fall Brawl 1996, featuring nWo vs. WCW in War Games. Until then, thanks for reading, and be sure to come join me on Twitter @Retropwrestling.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017


July 7, 1996,
Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, Florida

It was one of the biggest and most historic events in the history of World Championship Wrestling, if not in the history of modern pro wrestling itself. On this night, at the company's annual summer-time show Bash at the Beach, Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall would form the nucleus of one of the sport's most formidable factions; the New World Order. 

Yet whilst we all remember what went down in the final moments of the show's historic main event, the rest of Bash at the Beach 1996 seems to have been largely forgotten about.

Is that an indicator as to the quality of the rest of the show, or is it simply that the birth of the nWo was so important that it would have overshadowed even the most stacked of undercards?

Let's find out together as we go back to the summer of 1996 and relive the night that pro wrestling changed forever.

Bash at the Beach: The Hostile Takeover (with a bit of Seal)

Remember that song Crazy by Seal? It was awesome, right? I certainly think so, and so too, apparently, did somebody working in WCW's production department at the time. At least, that's the only reason I can think of as to why they used a rip-off  sound-a-like production theme version of that song as the soundtrack to a neat compilation video highlighting the destruction caused by Kevin Nash and Scott Hall since their arrival to the company.

"Never before in the history of our sport has there been a night like this one!" began Tony Schiavone, what would normally be his stock hyperbole being right on the money for once. 

For tonight's show, Schiavone would be joined by two legends of the game, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan and 'The American Dream' Dusty Rhodes. The commentary team were also flanked by security guards, though it wasn't made clear whether that was due to a genuine concern on behalf of their welfare, or to play up the idea that those dastardly Outsiders might attack them at any moment.

Whatever it was, the security guards didn't get into the conversation as the trio speculated on who the Third Man may be in tonight's six-man main event, and informed us all that, whoever it was, the energy backstage, was at an all time high. 

With that, it was on to the ring for our first match. 

Psychosis vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. 

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - Psychosis took on Rey Mysterio in the opening match
It was at this point that 'Iron' Mike Tenay joined the commentary booth, which in this writer's mind, instantly made this one more enjoyable. 

Like hearing Jim Ross passionately calling an Attitude Era main event, there's just something about hearing Tenay call a cruiserweight match that is oddly comforting to someone who grew up watching wrestling at this time. 

Commentary aside, the in-ring action between two of WCW's top high-fliers was just about as good as you might imagine it to be.

Starting slow by trading predominantly mat-based offense, both men built up an entertaining and often intense opening contest with each high spot coming more dramatic than the last. Fittingly, this fine start to the show ended in spectacular fashion when Rey Mysterio Jr. reversed a top-rop crucifix powerbomb attempt by Pyschosis into a hurricanrana, hooked the leg, and got the three count.
Your Winner: Rey Mysterio Jr. 

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - Konnan speaks to Mean Gene about his US Title Defence Against Ric Flair
Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund spoke to reigning US Champion Konnan about his upcoming title defense against The Nature Boy Ric Flair. Konnan, who hadn't yet become the gangsta-style figure he'd be better known for in WCW, promised to take out any member of the Four Horsemen that got in his way, and to retain his title no matter what.

Carson City Silver Dollar Match Big Bubba (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. John Tenta

21 years after this event took place, your reviewer still has fond memories of World Championship Wrestling thanks to matches like the previous opening bout, and for others featuring the likes of Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, and Steven Regal.

That said, it's hard to give WCW too much praise when you remember that the company charged people money to watch Big Bubba and John Tenta fight for a sock of silver dollars on a pole.

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - Big Bubba (w/ Jimmy Hart) faced John Tenta in a Carson City Silver Dollar Match
The complete opposite of the earlier Mysterio/Pyschosis clash, this was slow, cumbersome and stupid, especially when it became immediately obvious that both Bubba and Tenta were too fat to actually climb the pole.

Instead, both men had to work around their disadvantage, Tenta by attempting to lower the actual pole, and Bubba sending up his manager Jimmy Hart to retrieve the sock full of dollars. Hart did just that, only to find the former Earthquake waiting for him. Tenta grabbed the dollars, nailed the one-time Big Boss Man with them, and scored the win, putting an end to a bout which was as dumb in its premise as it was tedious in its execution.
Your Winner: John Tenta 

Post match, Tenta poured the dollars onto Bubba's head, which I suppose was some sort of consolation prize.

Mean Gene Interviews Team WCW 

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - Randy Savage, Sting, and Lex Luger faced The Outsiders
Backstage, Okerlund spoke to the three men who would be representing WCW in tonight's Hostile Takeover match: Sting, 'Macho Man' Randy Savage, and 'The Total Package,' Lex Luger. 

You know, it was only during this interview that I actually realised that Hall & Nash were not referred to be name, and hadn't been so throughout the whole broadcast up to this point. 

Instead, the three good guys (who all wore Sting-style face paint as a sign of solidarity) referred to their opponents simply as 'they' and basically promised to send 'them' packing back to where 'they' came from. 

It may have only been a small thing, but it really did make the whole story come across as being more legitimate than it actually was. 

Taped Fist 'Lord of the Ring' MatchDiamond Dallas Page vs. 'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan

We're watching tonight's show on the WWE Network, meaning Diamond Dallas Page has a rip-off version of his Smells Like Teen Spirit rip-off for theme music, but that isn't the only interesting thing about page's appearance. 

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - Diamond Dallas Page faced Jim Duggan in a taped fist match
Here in mid 1996, the man who would go on to be WCW's People's Champion, was still working as a cigar-chomping heel, complete with turquoise tights and arrogant swagger. Not that either appeared to do him much good as he defended the 'Lord of the Ring' award that Page had won at that year's Slamboree

DDP was roundly battered from pillar to post by Hacksaw Jim Duggan, only managing to turn the tables for a brief period by cutting the tape from Duggan's wrist and wrapping him around the ring post. 

Duggan made a comeback, working his usual smash-mouth style in a match which was just about watchable. 

Eventually, Page pulled a Diamond Cutter "From Outta Nowhere" to keep his ring, only to get smashed in the mouth by Duggan after the bell. 
Your Winner: Diamond Dallas Page 

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - Dungeon of Doom including Kevin Sullivan and WCW Champion The Giant
Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed The Dungeon of Doom members Kevin Sullivan and WCW Heavyweight Champion, The Giant about their rivalry with The Four Horsemen.

Though neither man made the greatest deal of sense, the general gist of their promo was clear: They didn't like the Horsemen and would beat them up in their upcoming match.

Offering a retort, Chris Benoit and Arn Anderson spoke to Lee Marshal out on the entrance way, promising to finish off their adversaries once and for all.

Four Man Dog Collar MatchPublic Enemy (Rocco Rock & Johnny Grunge) vs. The Nasty Boys 

Before the action could get underway, referees were assigned to ensure that both teams were connected by the dog collars which gave the match its name. Rocco Rock and Jerry Sags were both bound by a chain between their individual dog collars, as were Johnny Grunge and Brian Knobs. 

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - Public Enemy vs. Nasty Boys terrible split screen
What was then supposed to ensue, was a wild, chaotic brawl, a frenzied, hard-hitting battle that would serve as a violent respite from the traditional 'wrestling' on the show. 

For the most part, that's exactly what this match delivered. At least, I think it is. The majority of the bout was filmed in double screen, with Rock and Sags doing their thing on one screen and Grunge and Knobs duking it out on another. 

The end result was that this ended up being quite difficult to watch. Doing so, you found your eyes darting back from one side of the split screen to the next, not really able to keep up with the action in a way that would allow you to become emotionally invested. 

It came as something of a relief when both teams finished their lengthy walk up the ilse and came back to the ring, were we could finally watch them battle it out on a single screen, but unfortunately the damage had been done by this point, and I can't honestly say I cared much when the Nasties used the chain to clothesline Rocco Rock and pick up the win. 
Your Winners: The Nasty Boys

Afterwards, the carnage continued, with Public Enemy gaining some measure of revenge. 

A Word With Mean Gene 

Backstage, Mean Gene stood by the locker room of The Outsiders, threatening to go 'right to a lawyer' should either of them dare to touch him. Not that this was ever going to be an issue. Neither Hall nor Nash emerged from their dressing room, leaving Okerlund to  basically give us some hype for tonight's main event and speculate on the whereabouts of Eric Bischoff, who had gone AWOL since being attacked by The Outsiders.

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship Match
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Dean Malenko vs. Disco Inferno 

On entering the ring, Disco Inferno invited us all to the 'Disco Dance Party' he would be throwing after winning the cruiserweight title. Not that he'd have much chance for getting on down tonight. 

Defending champion Dean Malenko marched to the ring, slapped the snot out of Disco, and proceeded to beat him all the way around the ring. 

Sure, Disco got some offense in there, but this was basically an exhibition to showcase the in-ring prowess of Malenko, and though that didn't make for the greatest match in the world, this one was certainly entertaining enough for what it was. 

Predictably, the champion retained thanks to the Texas Cloverleaf. 
Your Winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Dean Malenko 

With no time for a break, it was directly on to our next match.

Steve 'Mongo' McMichael (w/ Deborah) vs. Joe Gomez

According to the commentary team, this was only the third match ever for Mongo McMichael, and boy did it show. His short battle with Joe Gomez consisted mostly of punches, kicks, and chops, with the former Chicago Bears star dominating most of the action. 

Though certainly not the worst match in history, there was nothing about this one to make it must see viewing. Naturally, Mongo picked up the win thanks to the Mongo Spike.
Your Winner: Steve McMichael

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - Mean Gene interviews Ric Flair with Miss Elizabeth and Woman
Backstage, Mean Gene interviewed Ric Flair, who was flanked by Horsemen valets Miss Elizabeth and Woman. Whilst Ric styled, profiled, and boasted about how much he and his stable mates would dominate tonight's show, Okerlund mostly flirted with Woman, pretended not to, then flirted again. Sad as it may sound, the sight of Mean Gene and Woman touching each other up totally distracted from Flair's usual charismatic delivery, though I did manage to pay attention long enough to hear him promise to win the US title

World Championship Wrestling United States Championship Match
WCW U.S Champion Konnan vs. Ric Flair (w. Woman & Miss Elizabeth)

Leave it to the Nature Boy to finally give us an exciting match after a night of so-so outings by his contemporaries. 

Though Flair had plenty of far better matches under his belt, compared to the rest of tonight's card, his U.S title match with Konnan was five-star stuff and -up to this point- definitely deserved match of the night honours. 

Not that Flair did all the work. Reigning champion Konnan was no slouch either, taking it to the challenger with a combination of power-based offense and submission holds. 

Unfortunately for the Mexican star, even his best wasn't good enough to keep Woman and Miss Elizabeth from getting involved. Indeed, just when it looked as though the champion would retain, the latter distracted the referee whilst the former drilled Konnan with her shoe. 

One three count later, and we had ourselves a new United States champion. 
Your Winner and NEW U.S Champion: Ric Flair 

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - Mean Gene speculates on who the third man is
Backstage, Mean Gene continued to speculate on who the mystery 'Third Man,' might be, even going so far as to suggest that he'd heard a familiar-sounding voice behind the closed door of The Outsider's dressing room, but also insisting that he was unable to place said voice.

As Okerlund went off to ask a few security guards whether they had any idea, it was on to our next match.

The Four Horsemen (Arn Anderson & Chris Benoit) vs. The Dungeon of Doom (Kevin Sullivan & WCW Champion The Giant w/ Jimmy Hart) 

This one turned ugly before it even got t o the ring. As Chris Benoit and Arn Anderson made their entrance, The Giant, Kevin Sullivan, and Jimmy Hart all attacked. This brought out Mongo McMichael, who nailed The Giant with his briefcase.

The man we'd go on to know as Big Show gave chase, leaving Sullivan to take a beating, something which would continue even as The Giant returned and the match got underway properly. 

I say 'match,' let's be honest, it was barely that. Sullivan got his ass handed to him at the hands of both Horsemen, before the giant finally got the tag and won the match for his team. 

Afterwards, Benoit continued to batter on the Taskmaster, forcing Woman to come out and plead with him to stop and, eventually, for The Giant to make the save. 

This was a weird one to watch for a couple of reasons: 

1) it was only half way through the bout that you realised The Giant was the company's top champion, that's how little it was mentioned
2) Kevin Sullivan, at least in this writer's eyes, has always been the conniving, dastardly heel, so putting him in the "babyface in peril" role was an odd choice that elicited absolutely no sympathy whatsoever. 

Just an odd match that this fan in particular was glad to see end. 
Your Winners: The Giant and Kevin Sullivan 

Prior to our main event, we got another look back at the hostile takeover carried out by The Outsiders. This was essentially the same video as we got at the start, albeit slightly extended. When it ended, it was down to Michael Buffer, and our big match. 
Hostile Takeover Match

The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash) vs. Sting, Lex Luger, and 'Macho Man' Randy Savage 

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - Scott Hall - Kevin Nash - The Outsiders
In terms of actual in-ring quality, I doubt anybody is going to count this one as a five-star classic, but in terms of storytelling, in terms of set-up, and in terms of execution, you can hardly fault it. 

After refusing to unveil their third man, Hall and Nash (who were referred to by their names only once in the entire match) went on the attack, taking the fight straight to the WCW loyalists. This paid off better than expected. As Nash and Luger brawled in the corner, Sting attempted a Stinger Splash on The Outsider, but inadvertently sent The Total Package crashing to the outside, knocking him unconscious. 

As a stretcher was brought out for Luger, the announcers reminded us over and over again that it was actually Sting who caused Luger's demise, subtly planting the suggestion that maybe -just maybe- the third man may have working from the inside. 

Not that any such suspicions lasted long.

The remainder of the match saw Sting serving as whipping boy for Hall and Nash, before finally making the hot tag to a fired up Macho Man. Sadly for Savage, his comeback wouldn't last long, and he was promptly dropped to the canvas by The Outsiders.

Then, my friends, then it happened. 

Hulk Hogan arrived on the scene, and with one leg-drop to the prone Macho Man, changed the course of World Championship Wrestling, and indeed of the entire mid-late 90s era of professional wrestling. 
No Contest 

With the ring filling with garbage, Hall and Nash moved about the ring, taunting the irate fans by pulling Hogan's signature posing as the man himself cemented his history making heel turn in an interview with Mean Gene. 

Gene Okerlund: Hulk Hogan, excuse me. Excuse me. What in the world are you thinking? 
Hulk Hogan: Mean Gene the first thing you gotta do is to tell these people to shut up if you want to hear what I've gotta say. 
Gene Okerlund: I have been with you for so many years for you to join up with the likes of these two men absoulutely makes me SICK to my stomach! And I think that these people here and a lot of people around the whole wrestling world have had just about enough of this man and this man and you want to put yourself in this group? You've gotta be kidding me 
Hulk Hogan: Well the first thing you've gotta realize brother is that this right here is the future of wrestling. You can call this the New World Order of wrestling brother. These two men came from a great big organization up north and everybody was wondering about who the third man was. Well who knows more about that organization than me brother? 
Gene Okerlund: I've been there and done that. You have made the wrong decision in my opinion. 
HH: Well let me tell you something, I made that orgainization brother! I made the people rich up there. I made the people that ran that organization rich up there. And when it all came to pass, the name Hulk Hogan, the man Hulk Hogan got bigger than the entire organization brother! And then Billionaire Ted amigo, he wanted to talk turkey with Hulk Hogan. Well Billionaire Ted promised me movies brother. Billionaire Ted promised me millions of dollars. And Billionaire Ted promised me world caliber matches. And as far as Billionaire Ted, Eric Bischoff and entire WCW goes, I'm bored brother. That's why I want these two guys here, these so called Outsiders, these are the men I want as my friends. They are the new blood of professional wrestling and not only are we going to take over the whole wrestling business, with Hulk Hogan, the new blood and the monsters with me. We will destroy everything in our path Mean Gene. 
Mean Gene: Look at all of this crap in this ring! This is what's in the future for you if you want to hang around the likes of this man Hall, and this man Nash. 
HH: As far as I'm concerned, all this crap in this ring represents these fans out here. For two years brother! For two years, I held my head high. I did everything for the charities. I did everything for the kids. And the reception I got when came out here, you fans can stick it brother. Because if it wasn't for Hulk Hogan, you people wouldn't be here. If it wasn't for Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff would still be selling meat from a truck in Minneapolis. And if it wasn't for Hulk Hogan, all of these "Johnny come latelys" that you see out here wrestling wouldn't be here. I was selling the world out brother while they were bumming gas to put in their car to get to high school. So the way it is now brother, with Hulk Hogan and the New World Organization of wrestling brother, me and the new blood by my side. Whatcha gonna do when the New World Order runs wild on you? Whatcha gonna do? 
Mean Gene:  Tony, Dusty, Bobby, Dammit let's get back to you!
Tony Schiavone: All right. We have seen the end of Hulkamania. For Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, for Dusty Rhodes, For "Mean" Gene Okerlund, I don't know...I'm Tony Schiavone. Hulk Hogan, you can go to hell! 

And that was all there was to it, one of the most historic pro wrestling events of the 1990s, if not ever, coming to an end with Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall standing tall in a sea of garbage. 

At the start of this review, I questioned whether the fact that most of us only remember the Bash at the Beach main events says anything about the quality of the rest of the card. Having finally sat through the rest of this show, I can safely say that yes, it does. Apart from two notable exceptions (Rey/Juvi and Konnan/Flair), almost everything about this event was either boring, average, or just poor. 

Still, thanks for taking time out of your day for reading. I look forward to catching up with you again for our next review. 

Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.