DDT Monday Retro- August 26, 1996: The Million Dollar Question

OSAKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 10: General view during the New Japan Pro-Wrestling 'G1 Climax 30' at Edion Arena Osaka on October 10, 2020 in Osaka, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
OSAKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 10: General view during the New Japan Pro-Wrestling 'G1 Climax 30' at Edion Arena Osaka on October 10, 2020 in Osaka, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images) /

Hello, ladies and gentlemen (boys and girls, children of all ages). It’s Friday (or whatever day you’re reading this) and you know what that means- it’s time for another edition of DDT Monday Retro. This week is a little bit different as we’ll only be reviewing Monday Nitro. Raw was postponed on account of tennis or something. This happened quite a lot back in the day, thanks to tennis or the Westminster Dog Show (the bane of 11-year-old Nick’s existence, if I can be so bold). And on those days, Eric Bischoff tried to take full advantage by putting on great shows and delivering memorable matches and moments. Did that happen this week? Let’s find out!

Previously on Monday Retro: Sting and Lex Luger cut a deal with the devil as they told Ric Flair and Arn Anderson that they wanted to team up to take on the NWO at Fall Brawl in the infamous War Games match. For those who have followed Sting’s career up to this point, this was a major moment. Sting had been betrayed by Flair and his Three Other Horsemen countless times but, as the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures. And WCW, by this point, was desperate. Flair and Anderson accepted Sting and Luger’s proposal, but it would come at a price. And that price was a tag team match against the other Two Horsemen, Chris Benoit and Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael this week! So what are we waiting for? Let’s go back to 1996 and see what an unopposed WCW Nitro looks like.

WCW Monday Nitro- August 26, 1996

Running Time: 96 Minutes

Venue: The Manatee Civic Center, Palmetto, Florida

What to Watch:

This show had a staggering 9 matches which sound impressive but, really, the only match that went longer than 10 minutes was Rey Mysterio vs Mr. JL (Jerry Lynn), and the only reason that match went so long was that they cut to a clip of the NWO spray painting a bunch of production trucks. Because in 1996, that was edgy. Still, Rey Mysterio and Mr. Justice League had a good match for what it was.

Speaking of good matches, Juventud Guerrera and Chris Jericho would go on to have many in WCW and both of them made their debuts on this night. Juvi Juice defeated Billy Kidman (after kicking out of the Shooting Star Press!) and Chris Jericho wrestled Alex Wright to a no-contest (because dorky, ‘good guy’ Chris Jericho didn’t want to win by count-out).

Those were the only ‘good’ matches on the show. Sting and Lex Luger went to a No-Contest, presumably, with Benoit and McMichael after, unsurprisingly, the NWO interfered and attacked both teams. After Nash powerbombed Sting, Hall gave the Outsider’s Edge to Benoit, and all three NWO members spray-painted the men (which, I believe, was the first time they started spray painting people) Ric Flair and Arn Anderson ran out to make the save.

Unfortunately, Hogan was super spray-paint happy on this night, and he sprayed Flair and Anderson right in the eyeballs. He even spray-painted Flair’s hair, which was tantamount to war. After triple-handily taking out the Four Horsemen and Luger and Sting, Hogan, Hall, and Nash kicked Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan off the commentary booth and ended the show spray painting even more; this time, the booth itself. The bad guys won on this night, leaving fans begging the Horsemen and Sting and Luger to get along.

Also of note on this episode was the debut of the former ‘Million Dollar Man,’ Ted Dibiase. Dibiase came out through the crowd and took a seat during The Giant vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan. He held up four fingers, leaving the commentary team wondering if he was going to be the 5th Horseman or the 4th member of the NWO. We wouldn’t find out this week, but we will find out soon enough.

What to Skip:

Nothing else of consequence really happened on this show. Big Bubba Rogers and Kevin Sullivan defeated Jim Powers and Not-Yet-Buff Marcus Bagwell in a match nobody cared about. Chavo Guerrero Jr. defeated Mike Enos in a match nobody remembered. Arn Anderson and Ric Flair defeated The Rock n’ Roll Express in a match that would have been great ten years prior. And The Steiner Brothers defeated The Blue Bloods (Steven Regal and, ahem, Earl Robert (Bobby to his friends) Eaton in a match that was necessary so that we didn’t have to see them fight Harlem Heat for the millionth time.

What to Take Away:

Given the fact that this Nitro was the first unopposed Nitro since the inception of the NWO, and the fact that it was the 50th edition of Nitro, I was kind of hoping this episode would feel a bit more special. It did not. In fact, even though it’s only been a couple of months since the arrival of the NWO, it already kind of feels like the Same Old Stuff. A few matches nobody cares about, an interesting main event that ends in an NWO run-in, etc. Ted Dibiase coming out was cool but, even back in 1996, I don’t think anybody was super pumped about seeing the former Million Dollar Man in WCW. But maybe that’s just me. What say you?

Next week promises to answer whether or not Dibiase is NWO or a Horseman, and he also promised the arrival of a 5th. Who could it be? Raw returns to the USA Network. Can Nitro maintain its momentum, or will it be snuffed out quicker than you and your friends in middle school after huffing spray paint from the can you found in your dad’s garage (no? just me)? We’ll find out next week, on DDT Monday Retro.