Two shows of the nWo era down, and many more to go. Technically, this is the first show that featured the combined force of Hollywood Hogan, Kevin Nash, & Scott Hall, as they were only formed at the last WCW pay-per-view, Bash At The Beach '96. The Hostile Takeover continued from there, with the forces of WCW rallying against the threat of the new World order. At this point, though, only two matches featured nWo stars... both in the main event. Let's get to it.
WCW Hog Wild '96 |
Posted by the Accelerator, June 7th, 2012
- Worth noting is that this is the last WCW pay-per-view cover that would feature Hulk Hogan in the yellow 'n' black for quite a while. It's a shot of the Hulkster sitting on top of a motorcycle and posing, with the words "Ain't No Easy Riders Here!"
- This is the pay-per-view at Sturgis, where many of the people in the audience are sitting on their motorcycles to watch the matches. It's definitely a different atmosphere, and I'm sure that will be reflected in the crowd reactions tonight.
- Our announcers for tonight are Tony Schiavone, Dusty Rhodes, and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. However, for our first match, we've got a bonus commentator in "The Professor" Mike Tenay.
Rey Mysterio Jr(c) vs.
Backstory: Since his PPV debut at Great American Bash '96, Mysterio Jr's been on a tear, putting on incredible matches. A few days after the last PPV (Bash At The Beach), Mysterio Jr got another title shot and made the most of it, taking down Dean Malenko to become the WCW World Cruiserweight Champion. A few weeks later, Mysterio Jr united the title with the WWA World Welterweight Title, making him a double champion. Ultimate Dragon (soon to be changed to Ultimo) was making his WCW debut on this night, after years of wrestling elsewhere.
The Match: Onoo's wearing a full-on leather outfit. Scary. Schiavone asks Heenan where his leather is. Even more scary. The announcers talk about a piece of "backstory" I missed, as they bring up Mysterio being thrown, dart-style, into the side of a truck by Nash, and having to be unmasked by medical staff as a result (but not seen on camera). Nick Patrick is your referee for this one. I don't think that's relevant yet, though.
I love having Tenay here; he's perfect for matches like these, full of information. The two put on some smooth moves at first, feeling each other out, as the fans mockingly chant "USA! USA!" The speed starts picking up, with Ultimate Dragon getting a running Liger bomb that impresses the crowd. Dragon is in control for a while, but Mysterio Jr comes back with some springboards to the outside (past the pads to the dirt), and the crowd is officially in this one now. The two wrestlers put on a show of some great moves, with some close pinfalls at times. Near the end, Ultimate Dragon nearly won with a top-rope moonsault, but couldn't put the champ away. Mysterio Jr came back to get Dragon on the top turnbuckle and went for the hurricanrana, only to have Dragon shove him away. But Mysterio Jr lands on his feet, springs off the ropes, and gets the hurricanrana anyway, winning the match.
Ace Thoughts: While I've seen better from these two, it was definitely a good match to watch, and I especially liked that Sonny Onoo's influence on the match was kept at a minimum. If you need to get your pay-per-view started off right, it's always smart to have a Rey Mysterio Jr match. Mysterio would continue defending the Cruiserweight Title for the next couple of months, while "Ultimate Dragon" would eventually become "Ultimo Dragon", and would win the coveted J Crown Titles, which he would defend in WCW.
Scott Norton vs. Ice Train, Grudge Match:
Backstory: Norton & Train had formed a tag-team in 1996, Fire & Ice, and wrestled regularly at or near the top of the WCW Tag-Team Division. However, things had fallen apart recently, with the team losing to the Steiner Brothers, The Rock 'n' Roll Express, and other teams. After one such loss, Norton turned on Train, attacking him. The two were signed to fight each other at the PPV, with Norton wanting to face Train at 100 percent (to determine who was really the best). However, on WCW Saturday Night before the PPV, Ice Train was beaten down by The Giant, injuring his shoulder and putting him at a severe disadvantage.
The Match: Most of this one is spent on Ice Train's injured shoulder, with Norton having no problems focusing on the injury with a series of submission maneuvers. At one point, Train managed a powerslam, getting a breather, but he was just too hurt to follow it up successfully. In the end, Norton locked on an armbar submission, and Train was forced to tap out.
Ace Thoughts: How enraged would the crowd be nowadays to see someone submit to an armbar? Still, it fit with the story, that Ice Train was just too hurt to be able to stand up to his former partner. Not a great match by any means, as while I love Norton, his style gets stymied big-time in a match like this (against someone like Train, too). These guys weren't done, as they would fight again at Fall Brawl '96 in a Submission Match. So, something for me to look forward to *shakes head*.
- We get some footage from an earlier interview with Ric Flair, who talks about the coming of the new World order, and how it didn't concern him and the Horsemen until they got targeted.
Bull Nakano w/ Sonny Onoo vs. Madusa, Battle Of The Bikes Match:
Backstory: Madusa, previously known as Alundra Blayze in the WWF, had come to WCW in 1996 with the WWF Women's Title (infamously throwing it away on a Monday Nitro episode). Bull Nakano had also wrestled in the WWF, feuding with Blayze for the title at Summerslam '94, so this was a 'rematch' of sorts. We were still a few months away from the WCW Women's Title getting created, so no gold's on the line. What does get put on the line are the motorcycles of the two women, as the winner gets to bash in the loser's bike.
The Match: Onoo rides out Nakano's motorcycle, which basically says she can't ride. Madusa rides her own, and the fans are definitely approving of that. Surprisingly, this one starts slightly hardcore, with Nakano smashing Madusa a couple of times with nunchucks! Nakano is VIOLENT at the beginning, throwing Madusa so hard by the hair that Madusa does spins on the canvas! Impressive. The fans chant "USA" again, and this time I'm sure they're doing it for Madusa (she IS wearing the American trunks, after all). Madusa comes back with some clothesline takedowns, but Nakano is soon back in control again for a while. Near the end, we have a series of bridging German suplexes/back suplexes, with Nakano taking Madusa over with one, and the ref counting to 3, even though we clearly see Madusa get her shoulder up. Onoo goes to smash Madusa's bike (even hitting it once), but the ref stops him, and Madusa's there to take the sledgehammer and go to work on Nakano's bike, even as the announcers finally figure out that while Madusa got her shoulder up, Nakano didn't, so Madusa won.
Ace Thoughts: At first, I thought I was giving this one a top rating, as Nakano's beginning moves really set a furious pace. But it seemed like both got tired after only a few minutes, and the match really started to slow down. And the ending, man, what a terrible ending. The fans were confused, the announcers were confused, and Madusa's sledgehammer work on that bike was terrible. I mean, yes, the bike is well-built, but she still should have been able to do a little more damage. So I'd recommend watching the first minute or two of this one, and then fast-forward.
Chris Benoit w/ Miss Elizabeth & Woman vs. Dean Malenko:
Backstory: Malenko had recently lost the WCW World Cruiserweight Title to Rey Mysterio Jr, and had been looking for ways to get the belt back. Jimmy Hart, the manager of the Dungeon of Doom, had been part of the feud with the Four Horsemen, which had really escalated as a result of the fight between Chris Benoit and Kevin Sullivan. Hart was looking for a way to get rid of Benoit, and so he made a deal with Malenko: he got Malenko a Cruiserweight Title rematch against Rey Mysterio Jr (which Malenko lost), and Malenko would take out Benoit here tonight.
The Match: Hart came out with Malenko at the beginning, assuring him that since he had held up his end of the bargain, Malenko needed to take care of Benoit. At the beginning of the match, Benoit and Malenko talk, but it soon becomes the fight you would expect. This one's a weird match to call, as Benoit and Malenko put on one of the better-executed matches I've ever seen, and yet the fans are hating on it, not getting behind either man. You've gotta love the Sturgis crowd.
It's hard not to go through and call every move, so I'm going to cut myself short and just enjoy it for a few minutes...
Ok, I'm back, and they're still wrestling, with the announcers talking about how the time limit of the match is coming up. Just the fact that they're talking about it lets you know what's going to happen. In the final minutes, we have a couple more close falls, including a superplex from Malenko that nearly finishes it. But even a last-second powerbomb doesn't work, as the time runs out, and so it's a draw... or is it, as Patrick decides to extend it 5 more minutes. The crowd is actually pissed about that, which is annoying. That just tells you this isn't a true wrestling crowd. Benoit dominates this period, but Malenko won't go away, even after getting his own finisher (The Texas Cloverleaf) getting put on him. The time runs out again after an attempted roll-up, and the ref decides we still need a winner. The crowd is NOT happy. Malenko is limping badly, but is still fighting. He takes over after a few moves and gets the Cloverleaf, and then switches to an STF submission. But Woman gets involved, raking Malenko's eyes (while Liz distracts the ref), and Benoit, after all that, wins with a roll-up pin while holding the ropes.
Ace Thoughts: Great match that had two things going against it: 1) The awful 'wrestling' crowd, and 2) a weak ending. Honestly, where are the guys who were booking last month? So far, we've already had two old-school finishes in a back suplex pin and a roll-up. That being said, this was a great, nearly thirty-minute match between Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko. Hard to argue against that, although they'll get MUCH better crowds in rematches.
Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray)(c) w/ Sister Sherri & Colonel Robert Parker vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner), WCW World Tag-Team Titles Match:
Backstory: Harlem Heat and The Steiner Brothers have been feuding over the tag-team gold all year (and, really, previously as well). The two fought in a dark match at Bash At The Beach '96, with Harlem Heat retaining the belts via DQ. The Steiners would later win the belts in July, but Harlem Heat reclaimed the belts in a rematch. Tonight, they face off again.
The Match: We're in South Dakota, so The Steiners are clearly the face team, and Harlem Heat are
Ace Thoughts: Wow, I was really expecting better when I came into this one, but both teams seemed a little thrown off by the crowd reactions. Or maybe that's just an easy excuse, and they just weren't on their game tonight. Of course, the interference at the end didn't help matters. Harlem Heat would continue on to feud with other teams, trading the belts with The Public Enemy, and biding time until their eventual battles with the Outsiders. The Steiners would fade from the titles picture for a while, but would be back strong in 1997.
- There's a hot air balloon in the air! Nothing says "tough motorcycle guys" than a hot air balloon!
Ric Flair(c) w/ Miss Elizabeth & Woman vs. Eddie Guerrero, WCW United States Heavyweight Title Match:
Backstory: Flair, as the leader of the Horsemen, had previously been the WCW World Champion before The Giant, and had been looking for ways to get back to the gold. One way he saw was the US Title, which he saw as a 'stepping stone' to the big belt. Flair took on Konnan, the previous champ, at Bash At The Beach '96 and won, earning himself another championship. Guerrero, meanwhile, had a semi-active feud with the Horsemen, after Arn Anderson turned on Guerrero at Slamboree '96 to help Flair's team win in the Lethal Lottery match. This was Guerrero's chance at revenge, as well as going for his first WCW gold.
The Match: Flair antics to start, involving shoving the referee (who shoves back) and slaps, which end up driving Flair from the ring for a few minutes while he confers with the ladies. Flair's definitely controlling the pace of this one, going out of the ring several times. But it sure seems like Eddie is dominating every time Flair comes back to the ring, despite all the cheap shots Flair can get in. Eventually, though, Flair gets in some of his chops, but even those, Guerrero fights out of with fists. Finally, though, the ref gets distracted by Woman, and Flair goes with a low blow kick, finally putting Eddie on his back.
Even that, though, doesn't last long, as Guerrero comes back, even getting Flair in his own hold, the Figure Four Leglock!! Flair's in a lot of pain, but after desperately fighting, he manages to get the ropes. A pretty Tornado DDT almost puts Flair away, but Guerrero doesn't cover in time. He does get in a nice Flair strut, though, towards Miss Elizabeth. Flair dodges a charge, but gets bodyslammed off the top rope, and Guerrero has been in full command of this one. We almost get a full moon as Guerrero grabs the tights on a sunset flip, but Flair escapes again. Near the end, Guerrero gets his Frog Splash, but injures his knee on the landing, so he can't make the pin. This proves to be the end, as, after a few more moves, Flair applies the Figure Four and has Woman's help from the outside for leverage. Guerrero has to tap, so Flair, despite only being on offense for 10% of the match, retains the title.
Ace Thoughts: This one, clearly, was them working to get Eddie Guerrero over to the fans. Why they chose this event to do it, though, I don't know, because Guerrero was never going to get loud cheers from the Sturgis crowd over Flair, no matter how much offense he got. Guerrero would leave this match to go into a protracted feud with Diamond Dallas Page, eventually leading him to his first gold. Flair, meanwhile, would join in the battles with the nWo in the near future, bringing the Horsemen to the contest.
- As the next match involves the nWo, the announcers have a discussion about who to blame for them: Nash & Hall, or Hogan. They also mention the rumored fourth man, who has yet to appear.
Lex Luger & Sting vs. The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash):
Backstory: Luger & Sting stepped up early to fight the threat of the Outsiders, being chosen along with Randy Savage to take on Hall, Nash, & their mystery partner at Bash At The Beach '96. Unfortunately, Luger was injured during the match (due to a Sting move), and then Hogan came out and betrayed WCW, forming the new World order. Since then, the new World order has been running rampant, attacking various members of WCW, with Luger & Sting staying allied to try and take them out.
The Match: Hall (after rock/paper/scissors) starts off, going against Luger for a while, in an even exchange. Nash tags in and wants Sting, going as far as spitting on him. Sting, of course, tags in, spits himself at Nash, and these two go at it. Sting goes to the eyes at one point to allow him to bodyslam Nash, which causes a huge roar from the crowd. Things change, though, when Nash catches Sting on a floatover, dropping Sting on the turnbuckle with the Snake Eyes. Hall adds in a clothesline from the outside, and now Sting's in trouble.
The Outsiders work over Sting, doing a lot of damage, while the announcers start wondering if Heenan is going to join the nWo (due to his mistaken statements). At one point, Sting managed a shoulderblock on Nash, followed by a 'strategic' fall, headbutting Nash low. But Sting can't get to the tag in time, with Hall doing more damage. After a Nash Big Boot, Hall calls for the Outsiders' Edge (which Schiavone refers to as "Hall's move"). But Sting breaks free of it with a backdrop, and the crowd is wild as Sting makes the hot tag to Luger! He dominates, destroying both men. Sting comes back to the get the Stinger Splash on Nash, then goes outside the ring with him, even as Luger beats up on Hall. Outside, Sting gets the Scorpion Deathlock on Nash, while Luger goes for the Torture Rack on Hall. But Nick Patrick, the referee, seemingly gets bumped, then falls into Luger's leg. Luger tries to get Hall up again, but Patrick rises back up, then drops another shoulder into Luger's leg, taking him down!! Patrick then does a rapid 3 count for Hall and gives the win to the Outsiders, before leaving the ring.
Ace Thoughts: This was the first time Patrick was seen as the 'evil' nWo referee, although he would deny it at first. While not a 5-star match, this one had its moments, especially with how hot the crowd was when Luger got the tag. But WCW played it smart, having the Outsiders get another win and continue the nWo dominance. The fighting between these two teams would continue, although Luger and Sting would eventually fall apart due to nWo trickery.
- Michael Buffer is there for the special ring announcing, although he's fighting not to be drowned out by the bikes being revved and the horns being honked. I still wonder who thought this was a great idea for a pay-per-view event. Well, I take it back, because Eric Bischoff has proudly proclaimed he thought it was great.
The Giant(c) vs. Hulk Hogan, WCW World Heavyweight Title Match:
Backstory: The Giant and Hogan have had a bit of history by this point, as The Giant came into WCW being the possible son of Andre the Giant (whom Hogan fought at WWF Wrestlemania III). Their battles had been with The Giant as the heel and Hogan as the fan favorite. Now, though, Hogan had turned sides, forming the new World order at Bash At The Beach '96 and immediately looking into getting the WCW World Title back around his waist, changing his name from Hulk Hogan to Hollywood Hogan. The Giant, with The Dungeon of Doom behind him, has been unstoppable for the last few months, holding onto the championship he won back in April. He's suddenly the good guy (although you wouldn't know it by the way the Sturgis crowd reacts).
The Match: Hogan's wearing the black Hollywood outfit, which even Buffer pushes as being different in the special announcing. The match takes a while to get going, as Hogan's in full "evil stall" mode. He runs away from The Giant repeatedly, before they finally start to lock up, with The Giant's power giving him control. He throws Hogan around some, getting a backbreaker that nearly won the match. Interestingly, as the crowd continues to pull for Hogan (those rebels), The Giant gets to do a 'hulk up' moment. He gets a Big Boot, and calls for the Chokeslam with a roar. But Hall & Nash are there to interfere. They don't get far, as both get chokeslammed. Hogan's got the belt, though, and knocks The Giant out with it, before getting the cover for the 1-2-3 and the championship.
Ace Thoughts: Once again, the crowd was a factor, as they seemed to be cheering the wrong guy throughout. We're supposed to hate Hollywood at this time, bikers! This was not an impressive match by any means, with Hogan's constant stalling and running really taking a lot away. I mean, true, how else was he going to fight The Giant without "Hulkamania" on his side, and Hogan HAD to have the belt at this time to continue the nWo run, but still, it was hard to watch.
- Post-match, with the fans celebrating (*shaking head*), The Booty Man (aka Brutus Beefcake/Ed Leslie) comes down to the ring wearing an nWo t-shirt and pushing a Hogan birthday cake. He is trying to join his 'best friend' in the nWo, but Hogan won't mix business with pleasure, so he has The Outsiders destroy The Booty Man, with Hogan also nailing him with a belt shot as well. Hogan then pulls out a 'gift' in a can of spray-paint, giving the WCW World Title a make-over with the "nWo" logo. This infamous move would coat the World Title for quite some time afterwards.
Final Thoughts: Over-all, there were some good matches on this card, if you can ignore the crowd reactions. There are definitely some historic moments, as you have Nick Patrick first starting to turn 'evil', Hogan spray-painting the World Title, and the new World order gaining a ton of momentum in the world of wrestling. I'll give this one a mild thumbs up, but there will be plenty better shows to come.