Throwback Thursday: WCW Monday NITRO (March 29, 1996), As Seen on WWE Network and Peacock

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For many years the month of March meant one thing for fans of World Championship Wrestling: Uncensored! To celebrate the strange, odd, and unique history of Uncensored, Throwback Thursday reexamines the post-Uncensored ’96 edition of WCW Monday NITRO, as seen on the WWE Network and Peacock, that aired 28 years ago this month!

After years of false starts and poor management, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) was fast becoming a viable national player in the world of pro wrestling in spring 1996.

Since taking over as Executive Producer of WCW, Eric Bischoff had been chipping away at the “southern rasslin’” image of the promotion.

Moving television tapings to Disney MGM, dramatically reducing the number of money losing house shows, increasing the number (and price) of pay-per-view events, and the additions of Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Gene Okerlund, and Bobby Heenan (among a number of other stars) had helped WCW reinvent themselves both on television and on the balance sheets.

But it was the creation of Monday NITRO on September 4, 1995, and the decision to go head-to-head with the World Wrestling Federation’s (WWF) marquee Monday Night RAW program, that provided the spark that Eric Bischoff had been searching for.

Now, 29 weeks into the so-called “Monday Night Wars”, WCW was riding high, racking up 13 wins to RAW‘s ten. In fact, WCW was in the midst of what would become a four-week winning streak over RAW, the longest such streak thus far.

Live attendance and gates were both up over eighty percent over March 1995, with WCW even selling out a handful of their once snake bit house shows. As key indicators and fan support were trending in the right direction, though, the same could not be said for WCW’s top star—the biggest name in all of wrestling—Hulk Hogan.

Though Hogan had raised the credibility of WCW, bringing in new fans and helping shore up support from new, unlikely advertising partners, Hulk’s campy, comic book shenanigans were beginning to wear thin. The time had finally come to consider a heel turn for the biggest hero in the history of wrestling.

As this was going on, Eric Bischoff had come to terms with two of the WWF’s top stars, Kevin Nash (Diesel) and Scott Hall (Razor Ramon), to return to WCW and begin a “hostile takeover” story that Bischoff hoped would help further differentiate WCW from the WWF.

While the future of Hogan, Hall, and Nash was still up in the air, the future of Monday NITRO was not. As this edition of NITRO went live plans were already being put in place to expand NITRO from one hour to two.

After some seven years of being the laughingstock of the wrestling world, World Championship Wrestling was on the verge of a stunning turnaround that would, in time, alter the very course of pro wrestling for decades to come.

 

 

The top story in WCW the week this edition of WCW Monday NITRO aired was the fallout from Uncensored ’96, where Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage survived the infamous “Doomsday Cage” match, The Giant defeated the massive Loch Ness, and Sting & Booker T defeated the Road Warriors in the equally infamous “Chicago Street Fight”.

With that out of the way let’s head on over to the WWE Network on Peacock, hit ‘play, and see how well this Post-Uncensored ’96 edition of WCW Monday NITRO holds up 28 years later!

Edits are not an issue with this edition of WCW Monday NITRO on the WWE Network and Peacock. Context, meanwhile, is solid. All prior editions of NITRO as well as all past editions of Clash of the Champions and all prior WCW pay-per-views are available for you to enjoy right now on the WWE Network and Peacock!

 

WCW Monday NITRO #29 (WATCH)
Date: March 25, 1996 – Location: Von Braun Civic Center, Huntsville, Alabama
Attendance: 3,300 – TV Ratings: 3.1 (>1.92 million homes) (WWF Monday Night RAW: 2.8)
Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan, & Steve McMichael – Interviews: “Mean” Gene Okerlund

IN POP CULTURE:
Number One Song: “Because You Loved Me” (Celine Dion)
Number One Album: Jagged Little Pill (Alanis Morissette)
Number One on Network Television: Friends (NBC)
Number One on Cable Television: NASCAR Winston Cup Series: Transouth Financial 400 (ESPN)
Number One Film in Theaters: The Birdcage (Robin Williams, Gene Hackman, Nathan Lane, & Dianne West)
U.S. President & Vice President: Bill Clinton & Al Gore

CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME:
WCW World Heavyweight Champion: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair (February 11, 1996, WCW SuperBrawl VI, from Randy “Macho Man” Savage; this was a “steel cage” match)
WCW United States Heavyweight Champion: Konnan (February 4, 1996, WCW Main Event, taped January 29, 1996, from One Man Gang)
WCW World Tag Team Champions: Sting & WCW World Television Champion “Total Package” Lex Luger (January 22, 1996, WCW Monday NITRO, from Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray))
WCW World Television Champion: “Total Package” Lex Luger (February 17, 1996, Baltimore, Maryland, from Johnny B. Badd)
WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Shinjiro Ohtani (March 20, 1996, NJPW Hyper Battle ’96, defeated Wild Pegasus (Chris Benoit) to become the inaugural WCW Cruiserweight Champion; while WCW advertised and promoted a Cruiserweight title “tournament” on television, even on this edition of NITRO, there was, in fact, no actual tournament aside from this one title eliminator in Japan)

 

 

Following the standard (still awesome) Monday NITRO open we head inside the Von Braun Civic Center where a nifty pyro display greets us.

 

Eric Bischoff, with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and Steve “Mongo” McMichael, welcomes us to the show, giving us a run down of the three title matches we can expect to see tonight, including the Giant vying for Ric Flair’s World Heavyweight title.

“Mongo” begins by hyping the Flair/Giant match and the “wedge” it may drive in the “Alliance to end Hulkamania” before tossing to Heenan, who questions Flair’s readiness against the Giant after losing the “Doomsday Cage” match last night.

Bischoff hypes Sting & Lex Luger defending the World Tag titles against the American Males and Konnan putting the U.S. Heavyweight title up against Mr. J.L. before setting up our opening bout and tossing to the ring to get this week’s card underway!

 

—Singles Match (2:21)
The Belfast Bruiser vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage

The Belfast Bruiser, for those who may not know, is the legendary Fit Finley. To this point Bruiser was undefeated, last beating “Lord” Steve Regal in a hard-hitting war at Uncensored ’96.

Randy Savage, meanwhile, was coming off of a win in the wacky, campy, infamous “Doomsday Cage” match last night at Uncensored ’96.

Following a short feeling-out process Bruiser imposes his will on Savage, working a sleeper hold. Bruiser cuts off Savage’s hope spots and keeps the action close, blasting Savage with a series of stiff European uppercuts.

Savage comes storming back, though, taking the fight to Bruiser all the way to the floor where Bruiser rams Savage into the ring post before dropping Savage on the guardrail.

Bruiser beats the snort out of Savage on the floor, sending Savage over the rail and into the first row. Back in the ring Bruiser continues to dominate Savage but Savage refuses to go down quietly.

Soon enough Savage evades a hard-charging Bruiser, causing Bruiser to post himself between the turnbuckles, and heads to the top rope for the iconic flying elbow drop for the 1-2-3 at 5:06.

WINNER is “Macho Man” Randy Savage (Pin, 5:06)

 

Following the match, as Savage celebrates his victory, we get the “1-800-COLLECT” replay of Savage putting Bruiser away before we head to our first Peacock ad-break with a graphic hyping the forthcoming Konnan/J.L. Match. Coming out of the break we get a campy “Mean” Gene/Bobby Heenan promo for the WCW Hotline.

 

Back in the Von Braun Civic Center “Mean” Gene Okerlund, at the head of the ramp, brings out WCW World Heavyweight Champion “Nature Boy” Ric Flair for an interview.

Flair, with Woman and Elizabeth in toe, says that tonight he slays a “real, live, walkin’, talkin’, fire-breathin’ giant’.” Before the night is over, Flair says, he will look down at the Giant and ask “What’s causin’ all this?”

Flair then sings about having the “whole wide world” in his hand and says it’s not easy being the “Nature Boy” with the World title, Woman, and Randy Savage’s ex-wife, Elizabeth, by his side.

Okerlund, however, wants to know about Flair getting “KO’d” last night in the “Doomsday Cage” by Lex Luger at Uncensored ’96. Flair says he’s been “flyin’ so high” for so long that he hasn’t looked at Luger.

Luger, Flair says, is a man who “wants to be” where Flair is. For his “costly mistake” last night, Flair says that Luger goes on the “long list” of people who will no longer be allowed to “style and profile” with the “Nature Boy”.

As Okerlund tries to wrap the interview Flair cuts in to ask Liz who is more of a “man”, Flair or Lex Luger. Without missing a beat Liz says Flair is more of a man than Luger.

Next, Flair asks Woman who has the better body, Flair or Luger. Without missing a beat Woman says Flair, “champ”, has the better body of the two.

Okerlund wraps the interview as Flair gets in one last jab in at the Giant, tossing to the ring for our next contest.

 

— WCW United States Heavyweight Championship (15:01)
Mr. J.L. vs. Konnan(c)

Mr. J.L. is, as some already know, the legendary Jerry Lynn. J.L. had defeated Dean Malenko last night at Uncensored ’96 to earn this title match. Konnan, meanwhile, was not only the U.S. Champion but the key liaison between WCW and AAA in Mexico, and would be instrumental in bringing the likes of Psychosis and Rey Mysterio, Jr., (among many others) into WCW.

The match, meanwhile, is nip and tuck to start, with both wrestlers swapping momentum. As this one gets going, though, Bischoff and the gang talk about “loose cannon” Brian Pillman blowing off Uncensored ’96 last night at the last minute, leaving the Horsemen in lurch ahead of the “Doomsday Cage” bout.

As Konnan takes over with a stiff DDT, Bischoff announces that Randy Savage has gone loco in the locker room, with security forced to hold Savage back from Ric Flair.

In the ring Konnan stretches J.L. with a modified Mexican surfboard before going to J.L.’s arm. J.L. turns the arm bar around but Konnan quickly escapes and the two exchange a flurry of offense that ends when Konnan eats a back elbow from J.L.

Soon enough J.L. lands a missile dropkick to the back of Konnan’s head but injures himself on the landing, giving Konnan the opening to start delivering more high impact maneuvers.

Eric hypes the latest developments in the fictitious Cruiserweight title tournament and an appearance from Hulk Hogan on next week’s edition of NITRO as J.L. turns a Konnan powerbomb into a sunset flip for a near-fall.

J.L. continues to sneak into the match, scoring near-falls, before hitting Konnan with a stiff stalling DDT from the second rope.

In a flash, though, Konnan blocks a flying head scissors, turning it into an Alabama slam for the jackknife pinfall at 6:21 to retain the U.S. Heavyweight title.

WINNER and STILL WCW United States Heavyweight Champion, Konnan (Pin, 6:21)

 

After the match, as Konnan celebrates his win, we get a replay of some of the J.L./Konnan action before heading to the next Peacock ad-break.

 

—Singles Match (24:32)
Disco Inferno vs. The Booty Man

This match is all Booty Man from the start. As Booty Man goes to work the Booty Babe, Diamond Dallas Page’s wife Kimberly, comes to ringside to cheer on Booty Man.

Moments after receiving a good luck smack on the caboose (from Booty Babe) Booty Man whips Inferno into the ropes, hitting the running high knee for the pinfall at 1:17.

WINNER is The Booty Man (Pin, )

 

Following the match the Booty Man celebrates with Booty Babe by sharing a sloppy kiss at ringside which Booty Babe sells as soul altering.

 

As the two walk away we head to the next Peacock ad-break with a graphic hyping the forthcoming World Tag Team title bout between the American Males and Champions Sting & Lex Luger.

 

Coming out of the break we get a promo for this weekend’s edition of WCW Saturday Night on TBS.

 

Back in the arena the American Males make their way to the ring before World Tag Team Champions Sting & Lex Luger (the World TV Champion) make their way out, posing at the foot of the ramp.

As Luger smiles to Sting’s face and sneers behind it we head to our next Peacock ad-break before the Tag title match can begin.

 

Coming out of the break we get a promo for the WCW Magazine that features a young Garett Bischoff. This is followed by yet another Peacock ad-break before we return to the arena for the Tag title bout.

 

—WCW World Tag Team Championship (29:42)
The American Males (Marcus Alexander Bagwell & Scotty Riggs) vs. Sting & WCW World Television Champion “Total Package” Lex Luger(c)

Lex Luger was in the midst of a subtle heel turn that everyone but Sting could see.

Luger has the better of Riggs before eating a pair of Riggs dropkicks. Despite Luger’s best heel efforts, Riggs and Bagwell control the action early on.

When Luger takes a cheap shot at Bagwell on the apron Bagwell drags Luger to the floor where the two fight until Sting all but drags Luger away. Back in their corner Sting gives Luger a pep talk before tagging himself in to the match with Bagwell.

Sting and Bagwell wrestle a friendly nip and tuck segment, with both wrestlers getting the best of the other, before Riggs tags back in. Luger reenters and immediately lands a low knee to Riggs, but Riggs again comes back yet again.

The challengers control Luger until Bagwell misses a reverse cross body. Luger pounces, like a man possessed, as Sting looks on in shock. Luger yells as Bagwell and continues to pound on a game Bagwell.

Soon enough Bagwell connects with a running forearm that leads to a double hot tag. Sting and Riggs trade the advantage until Riggs catches an inside cradle on Sting. Luger comes in to break it up but Bagwell meets Luger, knocking Luger to the floor.

Riggs and Sting hit the ropes, with each ducking the others lariat before Sting lands a running cross body on Riggs. As Sting makes the cover Bagwell, one leg in the ring, refuses to make the save as the 1-2-3 is counted, giving the Champions the win at 6:32.

WINNERS and STILL WCW World Tag Team Champions, Sting & “Total Package” Lex Luger (Pin, 6:32)

 

After the match Luger celebrates as if he won the bout single-handedly, refusing to give Sting his half of the World Tag Team titles. In the ring, after grabbing his Tag title belt, Sting celebrates with Riggs and Bagwell, raising both men’s arms in the center of the ring.

We then head to the next Peacock ad-break with a graphic hyping the forthcoming WCW World Heavyweight title showdown between Champion Ric Flair and the Giant.

 

Following the break the Giant, with Jimmy Hart, makes his slow walk to the ring before World Champion “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, with Woman and Elizabeth, arrives.

On their way to the ring Woman and Elizabeth toss wads of what we’re told is Randy Savage’s money into the crowd.

 

As Flair and the ladies reach ringside “Macho Man” Randy Savage emerges from the back, intent on getting his hands on Flair. Several wrestlers, including Jim Duggan and Eddie Guerrero, help Doug Dellinger keep Savage away from Flair as Woman slaps Savage.

 

—WCW World Heavyweight Championship (40:26)
The Giant w/Jimmy Hart vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair(c) w/Woman & Elizabeth

Flair gets in Giant’s face to start until Giant shoves Flair to the mat. As Flair regroups on the floor Bischoff tells us that Randy Savage has been handcuffed and is being forced out of the building.

Giant walks through Flair’s offense to start before delivering a pair of massive press slams that drive Flair to the floor yet again. Giant meets Flair in the aisle and carries Flair back to the ring like child.

Flair tries to open up on Giant but Giant, once more, walks through Flair’s offense, walking Flair down. Giant dominates with suplexes and the Stevens bump before catching Flair diving off the top rope, turning Flair’s cross body attempt into a back breaker. Giant scales the ropes but overshoots his splash, crashing and burning in the center of the ring.

Flair tries to seize the opening but Giant again walks through Flair’s shots. With Flair in the corner Giant tries a running splash. Flair moves, though, and Giant takes a scary bump over the ropes to the floor.

As Elizabeth and Woman distract the referee Flair chokes Giant with wiring in and out of the ring. Flair opens up on Giant, doling out the punishment on a game Giant until Flair scores a stiff low blow.

As Giant writhes on the mat and Liz distracts the referee, Woman sneaks around the ring and strangles Giant with the same piece of wiring Flair used earlier. Flair is in control until Giant catches Flair on the top rope for the obligatory top rope slam.

In a flash Giant has Flair around the neck and up for the chokeslam. As Giant goes for the cover, though, Liz enters the ring and tries to push Giant back as Woman distracts the referee.

Out of nowhere Arn Anderson, chair in hand, hits the ring, waffling Giant from behind. Kevin Sullivan, right behind Arn, takes the chair from Arn as Giant turns around. Giant, seeing Sullivan with the steel chair, believes it was Sullivan who belted him. As Arn smiles and laughs Giant crushes Sullivan with a chokeslam.

Soon enough it’s Arn’s turn to taste the chokeslam as the referee finally throws the match out, a no contest, at 8:54.

NO WINNER declared (No contest, 8:54)

 

Following the match Giant leaves the ring as Jimmy Hart tends to Sullivan, Woman tries to wake Anderson as Liz helps Flair.

 

Back at the announce desk Bischoff sums up the end of the World title match before Heenan and “Mongo” give their thoughts on the main event.

Eric hypes an appearance from Hulk Hogan on next week’s show and signs off, bringing this week’s exciting edition of WCW Monday NITRO to a close!

 

Final Thoughts

This is yet another exciting, fast-paced, excellent edition from the early phases of WCW Monday NITRO!

While each of the matches deliver in their own right, the Tag Team title match (with the Luger/Sting dynamic) and the Giant/Flair World title bout are the stars of the show, as is Flair’s great interview with “Mean” Gene.

For those who think that WCW was only good after the arrival of the nWo, this is a must-see edition of NITRO that proves that nWo or not, WCW was moving the right direction.

So what are you waiting for? Head on over to the WWE Network on Peacock right now and check out this exciting edition of WCW Monday NITRO right now! Who knows, you may end up liking it, and that’s never a bad thing!

Already subscribed to the WWE Network on Peacock? Then you can relive this classic post-Uncensored ’96 edition of WCW Monday NITRO right now or experience it for the very first time! As always, let us know what you think in the comments section below!

For pre-WNN editions of Throwback Thursday, click here!

 

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