The SmarK 24/7 Rant for The Monday Night Wars , December 9 1996 (Nitro Edition)

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The SmarK 24/7 Rant for The Monday Night Wars – December 9 1996

– Well, this got a really enthusiastic reaction from readers last time, so we’ll do it again.

WCW Monday Nitro

HOUR #1!

– Live from Charlotte, NC

– Your hosts are Tony and Larry.

– So we start with Roddy Piper, who names local landmarks for cheap heat and rambles about not taking dives. Apparently that Piper v. Mr. T boxing match was a shoot. Well, you learn something new from Roddy Piper interviews each and every time. And it’s always changing, too, so you never get bored with the same facts! Piper wants Hogan TONIGHT! Yeah, I’m sure.

Mike Enos v. VK Wallstreet

Mike Rotundo was rapidly falling apart in the ring at this point. I always felt kind of bad for Enos, who was in the match that kicked off the biggest angle in history but didn’t get the least bit of boost out of it. Enos gets a powerslam while Ted Dibiase comes down to ringside with nWo contracts, and Wallstreet finishes quickly while Enos is distracted.

(VK Wallstreet d. Mike Enos, samoan drop — pin, 1:33, DUD) You know, it was that addition of Rotundo that really sent the angle through the stratosphere.

Meanwhile, Chris Benoit and Nancy enjoy some wine and mock Kevin Sullivan in a pre-taped segment.

Hugh Morrus v. The Renegade

Larry notes that Renegade is “Mr. Perpetual Motion”. Now THERE’S a gimmick! A heel who’s so bad, he even breaks the laws of thermodynamics! Morrus grabs an armbar and gets a dropkick, but Renegade cradles for two. Morrus casually levels him again with a clothesline and pounds the back, shifting to a bearhug. Renegade fights out and gets a handspring elbow, but walks into a backdrop suplex. Morrus moonsaults to end it.

(Hugh Morrus d. Renegade, moonsault — pin, 3:00, 1/4*) Why did they feel the need to name his moonsault “No Laughing Matter”? It’s a moonsault, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. It’s not like he’s doing anything different with it.

– Kevin Sullivan stops by ringside to verbally abuse Tony, accusing him of showing the Benoit video for ratings and stomping on his personal life as a result. Man’s got a point there.

– Mean Gene brings out Kevin Greene, who actually had potential to be a pretty decent worker if they had gotten him away from football. He’s got nothing of note to say here.

Cruiserweight title: Dean Malenko v. Jimmy Graffiti

I like “Del Ray” better because it’s at least easier to spell. They trade waistlocks to start and Jimmy gets a hammerlock, but Malenko reverses out and clotheslines him down. Malenko elbows him down and we take a break, returning with a slugfest. Graffiti wins that and gets a jawbreaker, then chokes away in the corner. Backdrop suplex gets two. Gut wrench gets two. It’s like Graffiti had all the life sucked out of him, as he’s wrestling at half-speed here with no personality at all. Malenko comes back with a backdrop suplex for two. Malenko puts him out with a leg lariat, but misses a baseball slide and gets dropped on the railing as a result. Back in, Graffiti puts him on top, but Malenko gets a rana from the top. Graffiti superkicks him for two as things finally pick up. Powerbomb and jackknife cradle get two, but Malenko powerbombs him for two and gets a rollup for two. Graffiti gets a hotshot out of nowhere, however, and tries another suplex, but Malenko rolls him into a cradle for the pin.

(Dean Malenko d. Jimmy Graffiti, inside cradle — pin, 7:06, **3/4) Really listless to start, but it picked up steam as it went along with the near falls at the end.

– Let us take you back to World War III, as the Outsiders, Nasty Boys and Faces of Fear combine for an epic shitty match for the tag titles.

The Faces of Fear v. The Nasty Boys

Big brawl to start before it settles down with the Nasties double-teaming Barbarian. Barbie misses a blind charge and hits Sags’ elbow, who then drops a leg before getting tripped up by Jimmy Hart. The Faces double-team him on the floor and Barbarian gives him a big boot on the floor, and back in he goes up and misses a splash. I guess the Nasties are supposed to be the faces here, but the fans don’t seem to care either way. Hot tag Knobbs, and it’s BONZO GONZO while the Outsiders generate more excitement than this crappy match just by standing at the top of the ramp. Knobbs gets the visual pin on Barbarian with the ref distracted, and Jimmy Hart accidentally hits Barbarian with the megaphone for good measure, but Meng hits him right back and gets the pin. Thank god it’s over.

(The Faces of Fear d. The Nasty Boys, Meng megaphone — pin Knobbs, 5:21, -*) This was a car wreck, and not in the fun way.

– Ric Flair is out with Mean Gene to remind us that we’re in Charlotte and put over the Carolina Panthers. And then he brings out Roddy Piper and gives an incredibly long-winded introduction, but Piper still doesn’t want help from the Horsemen.

HOUR #2 (the hour “that has set the standard for our sport,” according to Tony, not like the hours used by those other guys up north, I guess)

– Your hosts are Tony and Mike and Bobby.

– Just in case you missed it earlier, let us take you back to Roddy Piper at the beginning of the show.

Bobby Eaton v. Chris Jericho

Hard to believe that Jericho was still a whole year away from his career-defining heel turn at this point. Eaton shoulderblocks him down to start and quickly goes up with a flying knee for two. Nice touch from Mark Curtis, as he mimes to Eaton that he was “that close” to the pin. I miss Mark Curtis. Jericho comes back with a suplex and Lionsault for two, but tries to go up and gets brought down with an electric chair. Eaton goes up to finish, but misses the Alabama Jam and Jericho superkicks him down again. To the top for a missile dropkick, and that ends it.

(Chris Jericho d. Bobby Eaton, missile dropkick — pin, 2:32, *1/4) Obviously too short to be worth anything, but man did they ever waste Eaton in his later years.

– Let us take you back to last week’s “main event”, as Sting and Rick Steiner have a quickie. This leads into an interview with the Steiner Brothers, as they await a message from Sting.

Sgt. Craig Pittman v. Arn Anderson

Pittman’s t-shirt slogan, “The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves”, is one of my favorites ever, and I had totally forgotten about it. They trade wristlocks to start, but Arn retreats to the ropes and confers with Mongo. Yeah, that’s a brilliant strategy. What’s he gonna advise? “Uh, good work, Arn.” We take a break and return with Arn wrapping the arm around the post, and he goes up and gets slammed off as a result. Cross armbreaker follows, but AA makes the ropes. They fight outside and Mongo finally makes himself useful, clocking Pittman with the briefcase, and Arn gets the easy win off a DDT.

(Arn Anderson d. Craig Pittman, DDT — pin, 2:58, *) Most of the match apparently happened during the break.

US title tournament quarter-finals: Diamond Dallas Page v. Jeff Jarrett

Page and Jarrett try to out-cool each other to start, and Page hammers him in the corner. They work off a headlock and we take a break. Back with Page hitting a backdrop suplex and a tilt-a-whirl slam for two, but Jarrett comes back with a jawbreaker and enzuigiri, into a neckbreaker, and he chokes away on the ropes. Page comes back with a sunset flip, but Jarrett recovers with a clothesline for two. Slingshot suplex and middle rope fistdrop gets two. Page cradles for two, but Jarrett slugs away in the corner. Page is playing face here, but was still transitioning from heel to face, so the crowd is pretty dead. Jarrett gets the Stroke for two, before it meant anything. Sleeper, but Page fights back with a discus lariat and both guys are out. Page slugs him down and goes up with a pretty nice flying clothesline, which gets two. Page charges and lands on the floor as a result, and that draws Scott Hall out to lend a hand, as he hits Jarrett with the Outsider Edge, unbeknownst to Page, who covers for the pin.

(DDP d. Jeff Jarrett, outside interference — pin, 9:14, **1/2) This puts Page in the finals at Starrcade on a bye, as the nWo spent weeks courting him before he turned on them and became the hottest star in wrestling for a while.

Rick Steiner v. Scott Norton

No, wait, instead it’s a Piper interview, as Eric Bischoff comes out to answer on Hogan’s behalf, before the nWo hits the ring. Kevin Greene comes out to back Piper up as the show ends.

The Pulse: A lot of the roster was touring Germany at this point, so much of this show was C-level stuff, but even then the pacing was so good that it didn’t seem like a depleted roster.