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[#everyNITROever] ‘WCW Monday Nitro’ 9.18.95 – Flair vs. Pillman, First-Ever Nitro Title Change

Venue: Freedom Hall (Johnson City, TN)
Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan, & Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael

Coming off the heels of Fall Brawl the night before, this episode of Monday Nitro features footage of what happened to Hulk Hogan at the end of War Games, new Tag Team Champions Harlem Heat making their first defense, and an angry Ric Flair looks to get revenge on Brian Pillman in the main event.

Champion Roll-Call

  • WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Hulk Hogan
  • WCW United States Champion: Sting
  • WCW World Television Champion: Diamond Dallas Page
  • WCW World Tag Team Champions: Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray)

The Lineup

  • Harlem Heat [c] vs. ??? for the WCW WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (*1/2)
  • Johnny B. Badd vs. Paul Orndorff (**)
  • Ric Flair vs. Brian Pillman (**1/4)

*****

Eric Bischoff and company welcome the home audience from the commentary booth. Mongo’s chihuahua Pepe is dressed like a cowboy this week. He’s the perfect mascot for Nitro. They go backstage where The Taskmaster and The Giant emerge from the back of an ambulance. ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund handles the interview, gloating about breaking Hulk Hogan’s neck the night before at the end of Fall Brawl. Okerlund tells Giant that his storyline dad Andre The Giant would be ashamed of him, Giant says his fake father would be at his side in the quest to destroy Hulkamania. The whole “Andre’s son” gimmick was the worst.

The American Males make their way to the ring for the opening contest, Mongo tells everyone to get their grandma out of the bathroom to look at these cuties or some nonsense. Gross. The music of their opponents, The Blue Bloods, hits but Harlem Heat beat up Earl Robert Eaton (Bobby Eaton) and send him to the back. No sign of ‘Lord’ Steven Regal but I’m sure he’s somewhere. They head to the ring and Booker T says they’re going to give The American Males a shot, not taking them too seriously. I guess we’ve got us a title match!

WCW World Tag Team Championship
Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray) [w/ Sister Sherri] [c] vs. The American Males (Marcus Alexander Bagwell & Scotty Riggs)

Harlem Heat win the initial brawl but the Males use their speed to take Ray down with a double dropkick. Bagwell tags in and goes to work on Ray’s left arm. Ray counters an Irish whip and ends Bagwell’s nonsense with a sidewalk slam. Booker makes the tag and counters a leap frog attempt with a powerslam (or “power bodyslam” according to Bisch). Booker misses a legdrop, Riggs tags in and eats an Ax Kick to the back of the head after Ray hits him from behind. Riggs tries to make a comeback so Ray thumbs him in both eyes. Booker tags in, hard leg lariat that pops everybody watching (me included) for the 1…2…Riggs somehow kicks out. Riggs with a sunset flip, Ray tags in as Booker goes down and pummels Riggs from behind. Booker misses a senton legdrop and Riggs dodges a corner splash to make the tag to Bagwell. Forearms and dropkicks for everybody until Ray swats him way. Col. Robert Parker shows up at ringside and whisks Sherri away into his arms as she’s trying to help her team cheat. Booker goes for a pumphandle slam, Bagwell counters with a lateral press for the 1…2…3!

The American Males defeated Harlem Heat [c] to win the WCW WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP when Marcus Alexander Bagwell pinned Booker T after countering a pumphandle slam (4:39)

  • Wait so I had to sit through a 20-minute win from Harlem Heat at Fall Brawl just to see them lose the belts one night later in a match that went less than five minutes? BOO URNS. The match wasn’t really anything to write home about but didn’t need to be, since it was focused more on Harlem Heat’s cockiness and the love affair between Parker and Sherri once again getting in the way of business. THE AMERICAN MALES, THOUGH? I don’t think they were that popular, at least I don’t remember them being as such. But hey it happened and it’s the first title change in Monday Nitro history so it’s got some historical significance to it. Also interesting to note this is the third team in two years Bagwell has been a part of to win tag team gold. (*1/2)

In-Ring Interview

‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund introduces his guest, 11-time World Champion ‘The Nature Boy’ Ric Flair. Flair accuses Arn Anderson of breaking the code last night at Fall Brawl by bringing an outsider in the form of Brian Pillman into the feud. Flair says that tonight he’s going to chop Pillman so hard that SOME FOOTBALL GUY (I didn’t catch his name and I’m not rewinding) will feel it in Rhode Island and will also kick Anderson’s ass as well in Johnson City. WOOOOOOOOO. Short and sweet.

Bischoff hypes this weekend’s episode of Saturday Night which will feature a Fall Brawl rematch between Cobra and Sgt. Craig Pittman plus an exclusive update on the condition of Hulk Hogan. IS HULK HOGAN OKAY? HAS ANYONE TALKED TO HULK HOGAN?

Johnny B. Badd vs. ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff

Orndorff debuts his new obnoxiously hilarious theme song and hand mirror so he can admire himself for being Wonderful. I probably hated this when I was a kid but twenty-plus years later I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS. If it was available, I’d use this theme for every CAW in WWE games. Bischoff announces they don’t have an update on Hulk Hogan’s condition but we will get to see what happened to him at Fall Brawl. Fair trade, I think. Badd teases blasting Orndorff in his wonderful face with the Badd Blaster, causing him to bail out of the ring like he’s seen a ghost. Awesome. Badd had a tremendous all-timer against Brian Pillman the night before, winning a 30-minute match to earn a U.S. Title shot. Seriously you should watch that one, it’s great.

Orndorff attacks Badd as the crowd chants ‘Paula’, a chant that has followed him since his days in the WWF. Badd reverses a corner Irish whip and connects with a hip toss followed by a bodyslam. He heads to the top to hit something or another and gets caught with a pair of boots on the way down as we go to commercial. That wasn’t timed well.

Back live Orndorff heads to the top himself and misses a Superfly Splash. Badd hits Orndorff with a series of left hooks, sending him out to the floor dazed and confused. Bischoff goes over the results of Fall Brawl for those who didn’t catch the PPV, Badd kicks Orndorff while he’s distracted looking at himself in his hand mirror, following up with a slingshot plancha. Badd rolls Orndorff in and hits a flying double axhandle for the 1…2…Mr. Wonderful kicks out. Orndorff almost connects with a Piledriver but Badd reverses just in time with a backdrop, following up with a pair of clotheslines. Badd tries a Piledriver of his own, Orndorff counters with a backdrop, Badd holds on trying to turn him over with a sunset flip but Orndorff grabs the legs and rolls him up for the 1…2…3!

Paul Orndorff pinned Johnny B. Badd via pinfall (3:54 shown)

  • I enjoyed the match and all but having Badd lose the night after his big win, and a week out from his U.S. Title match against Sting, is pretty dumb. To Bischoff’s credit he did hammer home the fact Badd was fatigued from his grueling encounter at Fall Brawl and to Orndorff’s credit he did win in a fluke-y way, but I’m still annoyed by it. They couldn’t have Orndorff defeat someone who doesn’t have a title match coming up soon? Meh. (**)

Bischoff segues into footage of Randy Savage lifting weights on the beach of syndicated TV hit Baywatch. The Taskmaster shows up and chokes him with the weight bar, then clobbers him down further until Ric Flair and a couple of Baywatch lifeguards separate the two. THE HELL IS THE TASKMASTER DOING ON BAYWATCH?

In-Ring Interview

This footage leads into an interview with Randy Savage, conducted once again by ‘Mean’ Gene. Savage doesn’t trust Ric Flair so he didn’t take kindly to Flair coming to his aid during Taskmaster’s attack on the beach. Savage turns his attention to what happened at Fall Brawl and says no one is stronger than Hulk Hogan so he’ll survive. Savage then accuses Hogan of having a horrible judge of character by letting Lex Luger onto their team, accusing him of a cheapshot during War Games. Okerlund says the wrestlers he talked to said it was accidental, Savage shrugs that off and predicts that The Dungeon of Doom will have three new members: Sting, Jimmy Hart, and Lex Luger.

Lex Luger himself interrupts Savage’s accusations, accusing him of being jealous and having a personal agenda of also becoming WCW World Heavyweight Champion. Savage admits he wants the title as much as Luger does, then once again accuses The Total Package of a cheapshot. Savage takes his coat off and is FIRED UP, wanting to fight Luger right now but we go to commercial, so we don’t see anything. According to Bischoff though they slapped each other a bunch so there’s that.

Bischoff cuts to footage of Hulk Hogan’s bad night at Fall Brawl, Heenan not even trying to hide his glee about it. First up is Hogan’s motorcycle being monster trucked into smithereens courtesy of The Giant on Main Event followed up by Giant attacking Hogan at the end of Fall Brawl, twisting is neck at an ugly angle, looking like he snapped it. THE END OF HULKAMANIA? Nope.

‘The Nature Boy’ Ric Flair vs. ‘Flyin’ Brian Pillman

Pillman cost Flair his match against Arn Anderson the night before at Fall Brawl and is going full heel here, despite still having his cool guy California theme. Flair doesn’t even waste time strutting to the ring, he’s here to do battle.

Pillman with chops, Flair with chops of his own. Pillman pokes the eye but misses a dropkick and bails to the corner, Flair giving no quarter and immediately laying into him and tossing him out to the floor. Flair heads to the top and follows up with a flying double axhandle. TWO SUCCESSFUL TOP ROPE MOVES IN TWO NIGHTS, I love it. Pillman tries to bail, Flair grabs him and rolls him back into the ring. Pillman catches Flair on the apron with a knee and drops him throat-first on the top rope. Pillman with more chops and a corner Irish whip. Flair flips over the buckles, ducks a clothesline, and drops Pillman with one of his own. Flair tries to follow up with another flying double axhandle but Pillman catches him on the way down with a dropkick and covers, grabbing the ropes, for the 1…2…kickout. Pillman wraps Flair’s arm around the post, then pulls him out so he can ram it on the guardrail. Flair chops Pillman so hard he FLIES into the guardrail and The Nature Boy makes sure he gets close and personal with the steel by dropping him face-first on it, Pillman doing his own Flair Flop after. A dazed Pillman makes it to the apron and attempts a sunset flip but it’s countered with a right hand. Pillman begs off to the corner and pokes Flair in the eye but eats a boot when he tries a corner splash. Flair back to the top and THIS TIME he gets slammed off. Looked like we weren’t gonna see this spot for awhile there. Pillman misses a top rope move and hurts his knee, then counters a Figure Four attempt with an inside cradle for the 1…2…Flair kicks out. They continue trading chops, Flair counters a side headlock with a belly-to-back suplex and locks in the Figure Four, forcing Pillman to submit.

Ric Flair defeated Brian Pillman via submission with the Figure Four Leglock (5:24)

  • If you’re a mark for knife-edged chops like I am this is the match for you. Flair and Pillman LIT EACH OTHER UP and had me wincing every time. Match felt more like a squash for Flair as he was a house of fire almost immediately, a man driven by revenge and who got a measure of it with his submission win. Pillman is gonna be so much fun once he really becomes ‘The Loose Cannon’, y’all. Can’t wait. (**1/4)

Flair, UGLY BRUISED CHEST and all, stays in the ring and vows to kick Arn Anderson’s ass on next week’s show. Flair runs to the back and we go to commercial.

Back live we go to the commentary booth where Bischoff and company close the show. Next week’s show is set to feature Alex Wright vs. Disco Inferno, Randy Savage vs. The Taskmaster, Lex Luger vs. Meng, and Kurosawa vs. SOMEBODY. Cool cool.

*****

Final Thoughts: Decent in-ring action on Monday Nitro this week, with a historic first title change in the show’s history and a fun main event between Flair and Pillman. Orndorff getting a win over Badd was pretty dumb though and I’m still annoyed by it even though this show aired like 22 years ago and there’s nothing I can do about it but I’M GONNA COMPLAIN ON THE INTERNET ANYWAY. The interview segments were fine as well, though they didn’t really set anything up I’m interested in (Savage vs. Luger could be cool I guess but I’m not really clamoring for it you know? Ditto for Savage vs. Taskmaster, which has the potential to be real bad). We’ll see how it goes though. Show is worth remembering since it’s the first title change in Monday Nitro history but you don’t necessarily have to watch it unless you wanna hear The American Males theme and get it stuck in your head for the rest of your miserable life. Help me.

  • Best Match: Ric Flair vs. Brian Pillman
  • Worst Match: Harlem Heat vs. American Males
  • Best Moment: Flair and Pillman MURDER EACH OTHER with chops
  • Worst Moment: Paul Orndorff beats Johnny B. Badd the night after the latter had the match of his career to earn a title shot.

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