Monday Nitro – December 30, 1996: What A Bad Show To End The Year On
Monday Nitro #68
Date: December 30, 1996
Location: Knoxville Civic Auditorium, Knoxville, Tennessee
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, Bobby Heenan, Larry Zbyszko
We close out the 1996 series with this. It’s the night after Starrcade and the NWO is about the same. Piper beat Hogan via sleeper but the title wasn’t on the line after Piper GOT TO WRITE THE CONTRACT HIMSELF. Eddie won the US Title and that’s about it. The idea here is to set up the main event of Souled Out. Now the logical idea would be to have Hogan vs. Piper II but that would be insane in WCW. Let’s get to it.
The NWO arrives to open the show, bragging about how awesome they are. Hogan brags about life in general but Giant doesn’t look that happy. He points out that the name plate on the world title says The Giant. Hogan has been champion FOUR MONTHS at this point and they never changed the plate?
Giant dropped the ball last night (Luger beat him, I believe in the first WCW win over an NWO wrestler) but Hogan says it’s all ok because the NWO is awesome. Giant wants a title shot but Hogan tries to talk him out of it. Hogan says that Giant’s title shot means a bye for the NWO. Giant wants to be lead dog. This goes on for awhile.
Theme song opens us up.
Tony and Larry talk about how great last night was for WCW. We get stills of Luger vs. Giant. Sting came in and whispered to Luger as well as Giant. He left his bat there and Luger hit Giant with it for the win.
Amazing French Canadians vs. Public Enemy
The Canadians beat them down on the apron and the Enemy has to chill on the floor. Once they do get into the ring they clear out the Canadians and single out Oulette. Now the Enemy won’t let the Canadians in the ring. The Canadians try to leave but get beaten down by their own flags which isn’t a DQ somehow. The Public Enemy tries to put Jacques through a table but go through it themselves. We FINALLY get to a traditional match structure as the Canadians win with the Cannonball. This wasn’t a match so no rating but it was kind of fun.
Cruiserweight Title: Ultimo Dragon vs. Jushin Thunder Liger
I’ll pause to let the internet explode. Dragon holds the J Crown and the Cruiserweight Title while Liger beat Rey last night with the Liger Bomb. Dragon kicks away to start but Liger speeds things up. They both hit clotheslines but no one goes anywhere. There’s the
surfboard by Liger and a suplex for two. Rolling Thunder gets two. Dragon grabs a backbreaker out of nowhere to send Liger to the floor, following up with a suicide dive. Dragon goes up but jumps into two feet. At least he was trying a splash there. Brainbuster and superplex get two for Liger. Out of nowhere Dragon hits a super rana and tiger suplex to retain.
Rating: C+. Good match but short. At this point, Dragon had TEN championships including a title from Mexico. Think about that for a few seconds. It’s a big deal when people have two and Dragon had ten. These two would have a great 18 minute match in Tokyo less than a week after this where Liger won the J Crown.
Big Bubba vs. Konnan
This is a strap match. And there’s no Bubba but he has a replacement.
Mr. Wallstreet vs. Konnan
This is the touch the corners variety. Wallstreet, who has no issues with Konnan, jumps him and whips Konnan down. Konnan does the get the strap between the other guy’s legs and pull spot. We get the same finish that you almost always get for this: Wallstreet drags him around, Konnan hits it at the same time, Konnan dives to win it. WHAT WAS THE POINT OF THIS??? It lasted like two minutes and there was no issue between these two.
Hogan and Bischoff come out. Hogan is all perky because he still has the title. Bischoff says that Hogan won last night and Hogan says that he knew he’d win the whole time. This is a really basic “Hogan is awesome” promo with nothing happening after it’s over.
Hugh Morrus vs. Kensuke Sasaki
Both are big power guys. They hit the ropes and no one moves. A double clothesline puts both guys down but then they pop up. Sasaki chops away but Morrus punches. There’s no selling at all here. Morrus elbows him down and hooks a chinlock. Eric comes up on commentary and says they won’t show the ending to the PPV last night because he has the tape. Sasaki hits a powerslam and there is NO reaction. No one knows who Sasaki is and there’s no point to this match as far as stories go, so why should they care? Top rope elbow misses and Morrus hits the moonsault but Sonny comes in for the DQ.
Rating: D-. Why did this match happen? I mean, no one knows who Sasaki is so a win over him doesn’t matter. Morrus didn’t even get the pin because they did the DQ ending. This was Sasaki’s first WCW match in a year and his last ever with the company. But hey, he’s Japanese so we’re supposed to care I guess? I don’t get it.
We get stills of Piper’s win last night which is supposed to be some big deal.
Harlem Heat vs. Faces of Fear
The announcers rave on and on about how great and important and inspiring the Piper win was. Larry says that it was huge because people had wondered who would win if they fought for years. So we’re supposed to remember Wrestlemania but not all of the other matches they had. Got it. Tony plugs Souled Out which was on a Saturday. Stevie and Barbarian start but it’s off to Booker for some kicks quickly.
Booker goes up but is quickly belly to belly superplexed off. Off to Meng who stomps away and works on the back. And get this: THERE’S A MIDGET MATCH LATER!!! I know they like going back to the 80s but can’t they steal some good ideas? Colonel Parker comes out and spanks Sherri with his riding crop so they get in their 9000th fight. A Rougeau comes out to throw salt in Stevie’s eyes. Kick of Fear takes Stevie down but Booker jumps off the top and clocks Meng so Stevie can get the unconscious cover.
Rating: D. This match sucked too. I don’t get what they’re thinking with half of this card as its like they had no idea that Nitro was happening tonight and threw together a bunch of matches to fill in two hours. This was probably the longest match too, clocking in at about 4 minutes. The fans just don’t care at all either, and can you blame them?
DDP says he’ll fix things with the NWO and move on. He won’t go into details though. It’s implied that he’s going to join them but he hates that he has to.
Hour #2 begins. This one has to be more interesting than that first hour which would work well as an informercial for putting a screwdriver into your head.
We recap Hogan and Giant from earlier, as well as Hogan lying about winning.
Piper has arrived.
Disco Inferno vs. Glacier
There’s a big black spot all over the ring from the stuff that Jacques threw at Stevie in the previous match. After the bell, Disco says drop out of the match or face the wrath of his new leg lock. Glacier flips him over and we’re ready to go. Disco gets kicked a lot so he hides behind the referee and comes back with a clothesline. He sets for his new leg hold but can’t remember how to do it. Instead he hits a pretty good neckbreaker but Glacier pops up and hits a superkick to end it.
Rating: D+. Ice > Fire I guess. The match was, again, pointless and nothing interesting. Glacier would stay undefeated until roughly July while Disco would stay a joke for years to come. At the end of the day though, he took a stupid gimmick and kept a job out of it for how many years? That proves something, although it might be that WCW is stupid enough to keep him around.
Stills of Benoit vs. Jarrett where about 5 people interfered and Jeff got the pin while unconscious.
Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho
Ok, this HAS to be good right? Woman looks pretty good here. Benoit controls to start and Jericho has more rainbowish tights. Huge powerbomb and an elbow gets two for Benoit. Another powerbomb attempt is countered into a backslide. Jericho doesn’t mean much yet so this would be a huge upset. Rollup gets two for Jericho. Jericho gets sent face first into the middle buckle but Jericho comes out with an atomic drop and superkick. Lionsault (not yet named) misses so he goes up top for a cross body. Jericho charges into the corner but gets tied up so that a belly to back superplex from Benoit gets the pin.
Rating: C+. Again, these two getting some time means a good match. Jericho still didn’t mean much but he was rapidly gaining steam. Well whatever steam he was able to get in WCW before they turned him into nothing. The heel turn worked far better for him than the face run did.
The Horsemen minus Arn have an interview but Debra is all nice to Woman. She’ll have none of the lies though and yells at Mongo. Jarrett comes out and says he wants to be a Horseman and lead WCW. He wants to know where Arn is but Flair says he’s off partying. Benoit says Jarrett isn’t a Horseman. PREACH IT BROTHER!!! Flair wants to go party. Can you imagine the REAL Horsemen against the NWO? As in them kidnapping say Wallstreet and breaking his leg then saying they’re coming for the gold? WarGames: Horsemen vs. NWO. Think that might work? Instead we get….this. Thanks Benoit.
Lee Marshall does his phone thing.
Octagoncito/Mascarita Sagrada vs. Jerito Estrada/Piratita Morgan
Again, I get that this is a huge deal in Mexico, but this means NOTHING to American audiences and are a comedy act here. Jerito is taller than the top rope if that tells you anything. He and Sagrada have a small vs. big match and this is going nowhere. The others come in and Octagoncito cleans house. Sagrada pins Jerito with a rollup. This was short and not terrible, but it’s totally out of place here in Tennessee.
Dean Malenko vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.
Neither gets an entrance as we start immediately after returning from a break. Dean quickly takes him to the mat to control early. Rey sends him to the floor to make sure nothing speeds up all night. Back in and Dean hooks another hold but Rey reverses into one of his own. Dean throws him into the air and then hits his gutbuster for no cover. Half crab by Dean keeps things slow.
Rey speeds things up by running the corner and hitting a dropkick. Dean stays on the back then forearms Rey in the corner. Rey comes back with some of his own but Dean tries to throw him onto the top. Rey was supposed to land on his feet on top but can’t get it so he crotches himself to improvise. That’s much better than trying to stand and making it look stupid.
Dean counters a rana into a big powerbomb for two. Rey comes back with a rolling cradle for the same. Another powerbomb is countered into a sunset flip for two. Mysterio knocks him to the floor and hits a BIG seated senton to the floor, sending his own face into the floor at the same time. West Coast Pop is countered into a Boston Crab and we get a nice pinfall reversal sequence out of it. Rey goes up top for a rana but the bell rings at 9:24 for a draw.
Rating: C+. Another good match which actually means something but the fans DO NOT react at all. Can you really blame them though? They’ve had to sit through an hour and a half of totally worthless matches with guys most of them have never seen before which aren’t getting any kind of time to get anything going with. Now all of a sudden they’re supposed to get fired up? It doesn’t work that way. The match was pretty good (time issues aside) but the dead crowd holds it back.
Lex Luger vs. Greg Valentine
This is exactly what you would expect: Valentine gets in some early offense and pounds away for maybe two minutes or so. Then Luger makes his comeback and the Rack gets the submission.
Here’s Piper for the talk to close the show. He reminds us that he won last night and that it’s his last fight. Hogan and Bischoff come out and talk about how Piper is lying to them. Hollywood says he didn’t end Piper last night because of Piper’s son begging. Piper wants to do it again right now but here’s the NWO. Giant comes out very slowly. Even Nick Patrick is finally in the NWO shirt.
They give Piper a big shoulderbreaker and hit his bad hip with a chair. The tell Giant to chokeslam him and he reluctantly puts Piper in position for it. Giant drops him though and never picked him up off the mat. Giant stands off by himself while the NWO huddles. Hogan says that’s strike three and slaps Giant. Giant grabs him by the throat while the NWO backs off. He says he wants the gold and Hogan promises him a title shot. Giant lets Hogan go and Hogan says he’s got the shot. He gets on the floor and then says get him.
The NWO runs in and Giant beats up all of their low level guys but everyone eventually gangs up on him, allowing Hogan to take him down with belt shots to the back. They rip the NWO shirt off of him and Hogan hits him in the head with the belt as the NWO stands tall to end the show. Oh and Piper is taken away in an ambulance.
Overall Rating: D. Where do I even begin? Ok first and foremost, the ending is the typical problem with WCW at this point: the NWO isn’t allowed to look weak. Giant defecting should have been a big moment, especially with him choking Hogan into giving him a title shot. So what happened? He was beaten down like EVERYONE else has been two minutes later. Why should I buy Giant as being any different than the other guys when the same thing happens to him? There was no reason to and it didn’t work.
As for the rest of the show, it sucked. The crowd was dead (with good reason) and there was no interest in anything on the rest of the card, because WCW put no effort into anything else on the card. Where was Eddie? The guy won the US Title last night but can’t be booked here? We can get Public Enemy vs. Canadians and a midget match but no US Champion? This show has taken a BIG downturn in the past 6-7 shows and I don’t think it’s going to get any better soon.
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Pokemon disagrees. Fire> Ice.
That’s why you pick Charmander.