January 17, 2009
Matt Peddycord

WCW Monday Nitro
September 4, 1995
Minneapolis, MN
Mall of America

The current WCW champs were as follows:
WCW World Champion: Hulk Hogan (7/17/1994)
WCW U.S. Champion: Sting (6/18/1995)
WCW World Tag Team Champions: Bunkhouse Buck & Dick Slater (7/22/1995)
WCW World Television Champion: The Renegade (6/18/1995)

Your hosts are Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan and that Emmy-award winning ex-football player Steve “Mongo” McMichael.

Brian Pillman vs. Jushin Liger
This was the best way to kick off the show – two guys who can wrestle well at a quick and more exciting pace than you are used to seeing with say someone like Hulk Hogan who is more about crowd psychology than moves. You hook the casual viewer who probably just came to see guys like Hulk or Sting or Flair and this was WCW’s opportunity to give them another reason to watch. Very smart move by WCW, and I don’t say that too often in 1995. Liger flips away from a wristlock to start and nails Pillman in the corner with a Rolling Koppou Kick. He follows up with a Moonsault Press for two. Pillman comes back with a headscissors out of the corner and tries a flying headscissors off the second rope, but ehh. They botch it up. Cover gets two. Pillman applies a three-quarter nelson on the mat and rolls Liger over for two. Liger fights to his feet and trips Pillman up for the Surfboard! Mongo insulting Heenan during the whole match is already getting annoying. They head to the floor where Liger lands a cannonball splash on Pillman off the apron. Pillman takes his turn diving on Liger from the top turnbuckle to the floor. Back in, Liger crotches Pillman up top for a superplex for 1-2-NO! Now the tide turns again as Pillman catches Liger with a dropkick as he dives off the top. Oh that’s SO Brian Pillman. Pillman ducks low off a whip for a LIGERBOMB. That gets two. Hurracanrana out of the corner from Liger gets two. Liger sets Pillman up in the corner again for something, but Pillman punches back and hits Liger with a Tornado DDT! Cover, 1-2-NO! They get into a waistlock exchange as Pillman rolls Liger up for 1-2-3. (6:55) It achieved what it set out to do, but its nowhere near what they had done in years past. Even an off-night for Pillman is a good night for a wrestling fan though. ***

PASTAMANIA is running wild! Yes, Hulk Hogan had a restaurant in the Mall of America for however long it lasted called Pastamania. Their specialties were Hulk-a-roos and Hulk-a-U’s? I guess that’s what he said. With Pastamania running through Hulk’s brain, who can beat him? When Hulk’s done with Big Bubba, he’s going feed him Hulk-a-roos. Is that supposed to harm him? Such a ridiculous promo.

WCW U.S. Heavyweight Champion Sting vs. Ric Flair
Another good idea to bring the casual fan in to boost ratings. Sting vs. Flair is always fun. It makes it even more fun when you have a super surprise appearance from Lex Luger who was at SummerSlam a week before and is now showing up on Nitro in the aisleway! OH SNAP! Anyways, all he does is make an appearance as the match gets underway, but that’s all he needed to do. Bischoff tries his best to sell it like he still works for those “other guys”. From the bell, Flair runs the ropes while Sting does a bunch of leapfrogs to build into a press slam. Just like old times. Sting gives him another press slam. A hiptoss out of the corner sets up a dropkick and Flair’s on the floor taking a count. Back in, Flair goes to the eyes and starts chopping. VINTAGE NATURE BOY~! Darn you, Bischoff. Sting starts NO-SELLING Flair’s blows and gives him another press slam. They do the crossbody over the top rope spot that causes them both to spill out to the floor. Flair thumbs Sting in the eye and charges at him only to take another military press. Sting tosses him back in the ring where Flair begs off. Flair avoids the Stinger Splash, but Sting braced himself before any harm was done. Face slam to Flair! Sting runs into an elbow out of the corner and that puts Sting on the mat. Commercial break! Flair’s still in control when he come back. Well, very temporarily as we see Sting slam Flair off the top rope. Cue Arn Anderson. Sting misses a flying splash, but NO-SELLS a suplex! Flair gets whipped into the corner for the Flair Flip and a clothesline on the apron. Ten-count corner punch? You got it. A battle up in the corner goes nowhere. Back on the mat, they go into a headscissors-backslide sequence for two. Arn’s still hanging around ringside. Sting delivers a superplex and then spots Arn Anderson. Flair uses that distraction to chopblock Sting for the FIGURE-FOUR! Flair grabs the ropes for leverage and won’t let go at the five-count. Arn Anderson has enough of that and jumps into the ring and breaks up the hold. Sting wins by DQ. (8:43) Arn takes off his wind breaker so he can get real loose to beat the holy crap out of Flair. Remember, this is during that great angle where Arn had had enough of helping out Flair for all those years and getting nothing in return for it. **¾

Just when you think it’s time for more commercials, an extremely irate Scott Norton shows up at the announce table and gets in Mongo’s face. It looks like they’re going to have a go when Randy Savage runs down and turns Norton around for a confrontation. We’ve got our second surprise appearance. Savage wants to fight Norton right now, but Bischoff and security stand in his way. Awesome!

Video package for Sabu. Just a bunch of WCW house show clips. I mean, what else could they show?

WCW Saturday Night! 6:05 PM eastern time! Double Main Event! Johnny B. Badd vs. Dick Slater! Sting and Randy Savage vs. the Blue Bloods! Special Update for Fall Brawl! Watch it!

Michael Wallstreet (Mike Rotunda/IRS) cuts a promo in the back. He’ll be here on Nitro next week! He takes a stab at the WWF’s New Generation and calls it the Few Generation. Possibly talking about the Kliq? All the same, that’s why he’s here in WCW. He’s sure that the IRS will be watching him real close, but that’s fine because people will know that Michael Wallstreet is a real player. Well the New Generation comment was fine, but you just brought up the IRS thing just to be silly.

WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Big Bubba Rogers
Bischoff announces Savage vs. Norton for next week on Nitro. Bubba works a headlock and Hogan fights out with a shoulderblock. Lots of Hogan support in his old AWA stomping grounds where he would cause near-riot crowds when a world title decision in his favor was overturned. Bubba cheapshots Hulk and avalanches him in the corner. McMichael makes the wrestling faux pas of the century by calling Hogan a technician. BWAHHAHAHA. Hogan fires back, but Bubba thumbs the eye and gives Hulk a backbreaker. Hogan catches Bubba with a boot out of the corner. He won’t fall down, so Hogan just pushes him over. Bubba nails Hulk with an uppercut and hits the Bossman Straddle! Bubba slides underneath Hogan for the uppercut from the floor and then goes after Jimmy Hart. He pulls Jimmy out of his suit and goes to nail him, but Hulk blocks his blow and gives him a punch of his own. Hogan wraps Jimmy’s suit jacket around Bubba’s head as he gives him the ten-count corner punch. We see Hulk delivering a running clothesline and a slam to set up some elbow drops and the boot rake. Bubba knees Hogan in the gut, but misses a corner splash. It looks to be curtains for Bubba until Hogan charges right into a BUBBA SLAM! Cover, 1-2-NO! Hulk up, finger point, Big Boot, LEGDROP! That does it for Bubba. (7:10) Easily Bubba’s most well-known match in WCW if not even his best match. *½

The Dungeon of Doom attack the Hulkster after the bell until Lex Luger makes the save! WHAT! Once the ring is cleared of the heels, Luger and Hogan back into one another and then spin around to start punching. Hogan’s completely flabbergasted! He doesn’t know whether to trust Luger or not. They go nose-to-nose until Sting and Savage separate the two. Okerlund approaches the ring to give Hogan and Luger the mic. Luger’s here to take Hogan’s WCW world title belt. Not just that, but he’s sick and tired of playing with kids. He’s here to get it on with the big boys. Luger doesn’t care when it happens, he wants his title shot. Long story short, Hogan makes a deal with Luger to wrestle him next week with a handshake.

Final Thoughts: Is the phrase “all killer, no filler” appropriate here? As far as first episodes go, this was fantastic and blew the first Monday Night Raw out of the water as far as good wrestling and surprises that keep you interested. It certainly achieved the feel that Bischoff was going for and that was that you did not want to switch back and forth between TNT and USA. I don’t remember if they showed a replay after this, but there were no “Earlier in the show…” replays. If you missed it, you at least didn’t see it replayed on Nitro and that’s very important when you’re trying to kill somebody in the ratings. They may have aired the first Luger appearance twenty times on Saturday Night, but at least you didn’t see it here and that’s what is important. As a guy who has watched his fair share of wrestling in the ’90s, in its infancy Nitro was the best new wrestling show produced in the ’90s.

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