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Eric Bischoff has been on record since that his main goal when developing the new show was to work out what the WWF weren’t doing that they could do better. Bischoff identified the lack of marquee matches on Raw as a big opportunity. And not that it necessarily mattered in 1995 (spoilers weren’t really a thing) but as Raw was often pretaped it Nitro was to be live. And besides, just because people weren’t reading spoilers doesn’t mean that you can’t spoil it for them, right?
As hard as it might seem, WCW’s hype of this show was actually quite minimal. The first mention of a new show on television was a corny advert aired on the Clash Of The Champions that hyped a Harley Davidson giveaway, with the winner being announced on the first Nitro. Other than that the build was pretty minimal, with only the final weekend of television at the beginning of September really driving the message home. They’re pushing the tag line “Where The Big Boys Play” throughout.
Anyway, here we are, a full “PPV style” review of the first Nitro. It’s Monday September 4th 1995 and we’re at the Mall Of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Bobby Heenan and American footballer Steve McMichael join Eric Bischoff on commentary. This is no great trio, but at least Bischoff being on commentary can help get over the angles and stories that he wants.
Jushin Thunder Liger vs Brian Pillman
September started what seemed to be a big push for Pillman (the same month tag partner Steve Austin was fired). He and Liger delivered a good, exciting short match that if we’re being hyper critical was perhaps a big sloppy around the edges. That being said this was still and under-exposed style at the time and would set the tone for Nitro for years to come. Some very nice high flying action, with Pillman winning by roll through into a pin.
The action quickly moves on to Hulk Hogan being mobbed by fans inside a pasta restaurant. Hogan is touting it being “Pastamania” and that all of his “Hulkaroos” (yes, really), will be by his side in his World Title defence against Big Bubba later this evening.
Ric Flair vs Sting
This segment probably encapsulated everything Eric Bischoff wanted to promote with Nitro. Firstly – Ric Flair vs Sting, two of the biggest names in the company, going one on one on television. And secondly, Lex Luger rocking up unannounced on the aisle way. The match itself was short and forgettable – ending with Flair being disqualified and Arn Anderson running him off. But what a statement to send.
The action quickly moves on as Scott Norton comes out and gets in the face of Steve McMichael. Randy Savage comes out and wants a fight with Norton. He’ll have to wait until next week to get his wish. We then move on to a preview package hyping Sabu’s debut next week, before quickly moving (you’re noticing the pattern here, right?) to an interview with IRS – well, he’s “Michael Wallstreet” now – he’d be called VK Wallstreet within a week. Wallstreet says “The New Generation is the few generation” before saying that he’s sure the IRS will be watching him real close.
READ MORE: The Story Of The Monday Night War - September 1995
Big Bubba vs Hulk Hogan (w/ Jimmy Hart) for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship
Your usual Hogan match this, in the sense that he’s not afraid of playing a heel when the time calls for it. At one stage after Bubba instigates things outside with Hart, Hogan takes Jimmy’s jacket and attacks Bubba with Hart doing what any heel manager would do and distracting the referee. Hogan Hulk’s up, hits the big boot, drops the leg and retains his title.
After the match the Dungeon of Doom run out to attack Hogan, out comes Luger who helps run them off before inadvertently bumping backs with Hogan. Savage and Sting are on hand for the closing segment too, which sees Luger deliver a passionate promo saying that he’s “tired of playing with kids” and wants to “get with the big boys”. Hogan promises Luger a title match on Nitro, next week. The first show that will go up against WWF Monday Night Raw.
Score Rating: 9/10
Go Back And Watch: Not that you’d often need to be selective with a 45 minute show, but this is a definite show the to go back and watch. In isolation there’s nothing great here but when you contextualise it it’s a massively significant show. You could absolutely complain about the pacing of the show (it moved frantically), but for what WCW were trying to do it was perfect.