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Following on from one of the worst pay per views... well, ever, WCW quickly moved on with a move to make Nitro two hours long and also the (re)debuts of two names quite familiar to wrestling fans. On May 27th, during a nothing match between The Mauler and Steve Doll, Scott Hall walked out unannounced and grabbed the microphone. By the end of the night he'd laid down a challenge to Eric Bischoff and the WCW main event talent, the following week he promised he had backup with his "big" friend.
That, of course, wound up being Kevin Nash who, two weeks after, confronted Bischoff himself. While the promo was infamous for Nash's "Look at the adjective, play" line, it was all in the name of the challenge for Hall and Nash and their surprise friend against three of WCW's finest. Bischoff promised by Sunday, at the pay per view, WCW would have an answer for their challenge.
The change to two hours hadn't, in the three weeks it had been around, made much of a difference. WCW were still woefully short of interesting storylines – the Razor/Diesel stuff was just a couple of minutes on the end of each show, and given that the only storyline of note going into the show (Savage and Flair) involved Savage being off of television, things were up and down somewhat.
But if Slamboree did setup one thing it was the blockbuster tag match between Ric Flair and Arn Anderson against Steve McMichael and Carolina Panthers' linebacker Kevin Greene. The former were joined by "Coach" Bobby Heenan, the latter in response by Randy Savage – who did at least appear on Nitro in pretaped segments coaching the pair.
With Heenan on coaching duties, Tony Schiavone and Dusty Rhodes have the call, Dusty pays tribute to Dick Murdoch, who passed away in June 1996.
Fire & Ice (Scott Norton and Ice Train) vs The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott)
Big lads, wrestling. This was a lot of fun if you're into guys of a certain size wrestling a hard style, and the Steiners and Norton and Ice Train fit this mould to a tee. Scott hits a big back suplex on Norton, which sorta sees Norton land awkwardly on his shoulder. Norton returned the receipt later in the match. More power moves lead to the match breaking down, the Steiners hit a lovely bulldog doomsday device which gets broken up, before Scott Steiner hits Scott Norton with a frankinsteiner. He got so little rotation Norton essentially ends up powerbombing Scott, but a finish is a finish and the Steiner's win this one.
El Gato vs Konnan for the WCW United States Title
We continue this run in 1996 of Konnan seemingly being limited entirely on match quality by the ability of his opponent. Fortunately, Pat Tanaka is quite good. Never quite long enough to be anything more than that, but some very nice exchanges including Konnan going up for a hurricanrana and Gato planting him with a powerbomb. Gato shoots for a leg scissors while hanging onto the top rope, Konnan catches the legs and just slams him backwards into the mat for a nice looking victory.
"Diamond" Dallas Page vs Marcus Alexander Bagwell for the Lord Of The Ring Prize from Battlebowl
Hot start as Page and Bagwell battle by the guardrail. Page crotches Bagwell on the top rope, Dusty then suggests if you want to try that at home get on a ledge and jump onto a clothesline... maybe not, eh? The match built quite nicely with Page hitting a nice Tombstone Flapjack and Bagwell rallying with some offense finishing with a headscissors. The match concludes with Page hitting a Diamond Cutter which the crowd pop for. That's enough to win the match.
Rey Mysterio Jr vs Dean Malenko for the WCW Crusierweight Title
Mysterio's ECW debut, not one that necessarily fit his Lucha style to a tee. Mike Tenay is on commentary which adds a massive amount to this match, detailing the past of Mysterio for the majority of fans who have never seen him before. After some mixed early action Malenko spend a big portion of the middle of the match working Mysterio's left arm, which looked really good until Mysterio essentially rallied out of it and did a load of moves using that arm for leverage. Mysterio hits a couple of Frankinsteiners but the third time Malenko powerbomb's him hard and uses the ropes for a leverage pin. Good match but utterly let down by Mysterio's lack of selling - which is probably understandable given Rey's lucha background.
Big Bubba (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs Big John Tenta
Maybe it's the first half of the show being pretty good, because I can imagine this match would've been awful on another card. As it was a short 4-5 minute match with Ray Traylor and John Tenta working some big man moves ends up being half decent. Bubba hits a belly to back, then comes off the top but Tenta catches him in a slam for the three. After the match (following Bubba cutting half of his hair off a few weeks back) Tenta takes some scissors and cuts off a small chunk of Bubba's beard.
Chris Benoit vs The Taskmaster (w/ Jimmy Hart) in a Falls Count Anywhere Match
Benoit's attack begins during Taskmaster's entrance in the dark, they immediately start brawling by the guardrail and go into the crowd. Unlike WCW brawls at the past that went into hideously sterile fake parts of anywhere, this was all legit. They brawled up the stairs into the concourse, then into the toilets (where there were people actually pissing/washing their hands – imagine that!). They each take it in turns slamming their heads off of toilet doors in front of the assembled crowd before they slowly head their weay back towards the ring.
Taskmaster kicks Benoit down the stairs a couple of times, we brawl our way to ringside and Benoit eventually finds a table. He rests it across the top turnbuckle, gets Taskmaster up and this a big superplex for the clean win. That got a big pop. After the match Arn Anderson came out (this feud had essentially been a triangle for a couple of months), with the idea being that it was meant to look like he was about to turn on Benoit, where he actually turned on Sullivna. That was fantastic and got a great reaction.
Lord Steven Regal vs Sting
You might pick this match out, knowing what the pair go onto become – and you’d be probably very happy that you did. At this stage Regal is a riot as a heel (at one stage he starts singing Rule Britannia while he has Sting in a headlock), he also has one hell of a headlock. Sting, as he always does, fires from the underdog position, gets pissed off when Regal hits him with a backhander, then puts him in the Scorpion Deathlock for the win. A match that was probably even more entertaining that it was (necessarily) great, but still well worth watching.
Ric Flair and Arn Anderson (w/ Coach Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Woman and Miss Elizabeth vs Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Kevin Greene (w/ Coach Randy Savage, Debra McMichael and Terry Greene)
The two footballers wives (if you like) are both dressed in sports gear, this will become relevant in a bit. We get a full scale defensive line warm up from both Mongo and Greene, we pan to a wide shot and a fan in the crowd has a “MONGO SUCKS” written on a massive bed sheet. We start with Arn and Mongo to nobody’s surprise, they set for a three point stance and unlike last month at In Your House Mongo just levels Arn at the first time of asking.
This match, all things considered, is fantastic. Flair is ludicrously good playing the cowardly heel on the apron, Arn is the perfect guy to do the heavy lifting in the ring and all credit to the two footballers. Mongo has clearly been training but Greene excels doing the limited range of stuff he’s been working on. Flair, to an extent, is working his greatest hits here which Mongo fully obliges.
Greene at one stage hits a pair of bodyslams and a powerslam on Flair before htting a suplex, Arn blindsides him and takes him out by the knee, Savage and Arn get into it on the floor and Benoit comes out to his help. Elizabeth and Woman return to the match alongside Debra – who’s now wearing a long dress and carrying a briefcase. The case is full of money and a Horseman shirt which she presents to Steve. Steve takes it, hits Greene over the head with the briefcase and joins the Four Horseman. Flair picks up the victory.
This was a riot, no two ways about it. The match was a genuine surprise, both McMichael but (in particular) Greene had clearly trained hard to get the basics down, and Flair and Arn are just veterans who can always get through a match like this. The angle was very well executed and probably a big surprise at the time. The segment ending with Mongo and Heenan shaking hands was almost the biggest surprise of the lot.
How do you follow that? Well, Eric Bischoff calls out “those two guys, we know who they are”. Razor is wearing ridiculous lifts in his shoes to get to the same height as Diesel. Bischoff confirms that they will face a WCW team at Bash At The Beach (“I’m free”, Razor gleefully responds). He then asks them if either man is “working for the WWF” – they both say no. Hall wants to know who they’re facing, Bischoff can’t tell them so Nash picks up Bischoff and jacknife powerbombs him off the stage through a gimmick table. All things considered, that was fantastic.
Lex Luger vs The Giant (w/ Jimmy Hart) for the WCW World Heavyweight Title
How do you follow that? In this case, you just don’t. In all honesty – this match really shouldn’t have gone on last. Maybe it was simply the fact that World Title matches should always go on last (although, for what it’s worth, they didn’t at Superbrawl in February), maybe it was a concern about how good the tag match was going to be – with Flair and Arn, they probably shouldn’t have been worried. As I outlined on the podcast, the best way of portraying the severity of the Bischoff angle may have been to end the show without this match taking place.
It’s actually testimony to some of the matches that Giant has had that you can occasionally forget how inexperienced he is. Unfortunately, unlike Sting – who knows this kind of match to a tee, Luger just wasn’t able enough to cover for him. Luger spends a lot of time being worn down, which kills the crowd dead – his recovery isn’t quite as good as Sting’s.
The match briefly threatens to come to life when, having got himself caught across the top rope, Luger attempts to pick Giant up in the Torture rack (the most over move in the company right now), but Luger collapses under the weight and Giant hits him with a chokeslam for the win.
Score Rating: 8.5/10
Go Back And Watch: Fun show top to bottom. Not convinced this is the “best WCW pay per view ever” – from an in ring stand point this isn’t as strong as Spring Stampede 1994. But certainly watch Benoit/Taskmaster, the Greene/Mongo tag match and the respective post match angles. And the Hall/Nash segment, and Regal vs Sting. You could easily justify watching the entire show, mind.