April 22, 2015
I've been watching all of the old Nitros, in order, on the WWE Network. I never would have done this on my own but I'm a big fan of the Bryan and Vinny show on the WON/F4W website and they started reviewing 1 episode of Nitro per week on their Tuesday Night show and I decided to follow along.
I had never watched these shows before because when Nitro first started it didn't air in Canada. TNT was not available in Canada so Nitro didn't start airing until much later when TSN (I think) picked it up. I was also working over seas a lot during this time so even if it had aired in Canada, I certainly would have missed a lot of them. We are following along with the Nitro episodes exactly 19 years after the fact. At first Bryan's friend Craig, who joins B & V on the Tuesday edition of the show, was choosing a different show from the Network to review each week and when they added Nitro to the Network he realized it was the 19th anniversary of the first Nitro and picked that show to review. Bryan then made the call to review one each week to follow along 19 years after the fact.
We've been doing this now for 32 episodes and while a lot of it is enjoyable to watch, it's staggering to see the deterioration of the pro-wrestling industry take place right in front of your eyes. I did The Jim Cornette experience (MLW Radio) a while back discussing how the Monday Night WAR, while remembered very fondly, it actually did a lot of damage to the industry through what is called Hotshot booking. The competition on Monday Nights was so heated that long term booking and common sense rules of wrestling were all thrown aside in desperate attempts to win quarter hour ratings.
With the benefit of hindsight, this becomes painfully clear, as you watch Nitro back. After only a half dozen episodes, which actually felt exciting and fresh, they started throwing World Title matches, and Cage matches on the show with no build for no real reason other than to compete with RAW and spike a rating. Titles start jumping back and forth in quick meaningless title changes, again just to spike a rating. We are now just over 6 months in and booking is often completely illogical and matches are booked that make no sense what so ever, and I suspect much of what they are doing is made up as they go along with little to no fore thought.
The Main Event this week (Episode 32) was so profoundly stupid I had to talk about it here. This match was not built up or promoted at all on previous Nitros and featured Ric Flair & The Giant (Big Show) vs. Sting and Lex Luger. Flair was the World Champ, Luger the TV Champ and Sting and Luger held the Tag Titles. This match was promoted as having all of the belts on the line. If Ric Flair was pinned, whoever pinned him would become World Champ, and if someone pinned Lex Luger, his team would become Tag Champs and that person specifically would become TV Champ, If Sting was pinned only the Tag Titles would change hands.
Okay if we ignore the idiocy of singles titles changing hands during a tag match, this sounds like an insanely huge match that should have been built up for months, and explained extensively. Giant was getting a monster push and I don't think he had been pinned yet in WCW, so in theory fans should think that The Giant is either getting pinned for the very first time, or at minimum one title is changing hands tonight, possibly even two. Luger and Sting have well established dissention issues so promos needed to be cut and speculation needed to be addressed on whether they would work together as a team to retain the Tag Titles, or look out for themselves in hopes of being the one to pin Flair to also become World Champ. There is also the story of whether Flair is going to be focused on wining the Tag Titles or protecting himself to retain the World Title.
All of this could have been intriguing, promos to further this match as well as their individual angles could have been cut, but absolutely none of this was done. They just announced the match and put it out there in the ring with minimal explanation of how all of this even worked. To make it worse and this is what put me over the edge and inspired me to write this commentary, the announcers (I think it was Bischoff) just off the cuff mentioned when explaining if anyone pins Ric Flair they become the World Heavyweight Champion adds, even his partner. WTF...EVEN HIS PARTNER?
How exactly does this work, how do you pin your own partner in a tag match? I ask this because of course it was never explained. This was a standard tag match where partners tag in and out, yet somehow it's supposed to be possible to pin your partner. In a tag match one member of each team starts, each person is allowed to tag their own partner, when you tag your partner in he becomes the legal man and you have to go to the apron. A pin fall must be made by one legal man on the other legal man. Under standard tag team rules there is no possible way for both partners to be legal in the match at the same time, so there is no possible legal way for a partner to pin his own partner. So without any further explanation being given we can draw two very important conclusions; this match is f--king stupid and whoever booked this has no respect for or understanding of pro-wrestling. (Please read that last sentence in your best Jim Cornette voice) Actually if Jimmy said this he would say "This match is F--king stupid and whoever booked it is a God Damned Idiot"
All of that said we get the match, where none of the potential stories of the match are talked about, mentioned, or even discussed. The possibility of someone looking out for themselves because the Singles Titles are on the line is never addressed, at no point do we get both members of the same team legally in the match together where they try to pin each other, we just get a standard tag match, with an ungodly bad finish. We don't see the Giant get pinned for the first time, we don't get any titles changing hands; we don't even get a sensible yet disappointing DQ or Count out finish. In the end Ric Flair tries to throw hot coffee at Sting & Luger, but they duck and the Coffee hits The Giant (Flairs own partner) in the face and we get a DQ. I think that's what it was, it wasn't clearly explained but the match ended, so I assume it had to have been a DQ. You know a match is important when the announcers don't even tell you who won the damned thing.
Since Flair threw the Coffee it should be safe to assume Flair was disqualified and since The Giant was the one who got hit in the face with the Coffee he should be the winner by DQ, so from what I can tell, The team of The Giant and Ric Flair defeated themselves by DQ in this match; picking up both the Win and the Loss simultaneously. What a complete Cluster F—k, how could anyone possibly care about any of this? The answer is I doubt anyone did; they were riding the novelty of having such big name matches on free TV and Nitro was already completely off the rails and starting to feel reminiscent of WCW in 2000, when it was all coming to an end. If not for The Outsiders debut in a few weeks, this company would have been in serious trouble before the end of 1996.
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