WCW Hog Wild 1996
August 10, 1996
-From Sturgis, SD. This event was held at a motorcycle rally, rather than a conventional arena, so it makes for quite the unique atmosphere. I expect I’ll quickly get tired of the constant sound of motorcycle engines revving up. At least the background scenery is beautiful. Our hosts are Mike Tenay, Dusty Rhodes, Tony Schiavone, and Bobby Heenan.
They feel each other out as the sea of white people in the audience isn’t sure what to make of these two flippy foreigners. The fans chant “USA” because this is ‘Murica. Ultimo Dragon connects a spin wheel kick and gets jeered by the crowd. They sprint to a stalemate in a somewhat desperate attempt to win over their redneck audience. Running power bomb by Dragon and a modified Figure Four. Rey suffers a spill over the ropes, followed by a torture rack backbreaker from the challenger. Mysterio breaks a surfboard stretch and rebounds with a springboard drop-kick. Baseball slide by Rey sets up an amazing springboard plancha (with more air than usual due to the ring being set up on a pedestal). Mysterio continues to impress with a Frankensteiner but Dragon counters a springboard attempt with a mid-air drop-kick. Dragon skins the cat to dodge Rey and nails a cross body onto the hard wooden stage. The “fans” award their effort with another USA chant. German suplex by Dragon gets a 2 count, as does a moonsault. Rey comes back with a springboard Frankensteiner for the win at 11:33. Great effort and energy to this opener, even if the crowd worked against them and Dragon seemed lost at times, ***½.
Rey Mysterio Jr. © vs. Ultimo Dragon (with Sonny Ono)
Winner and still Cruiserweight Champion: Rey Mysterio Jr.
Scott Norton vs. Ice Train
The match begins with hard shots from both men, but Norton gains an early advantage, targeting Ice’s bandaged shoulder. Ice Train desperately hits a body slam, but Norton quickly regains control. Ice Train, the clear baby face, is booed during his comeback attempt (I suspect due to Ice Train being an African American gentleman). Norton cuts the comeback short and wins via armbar at 5:05. Complete turd of a match here, complete with racist hostility from the crowd, DUD.
Winner: Scott Norton
-Ric Flair is looking for revenge against the n.W.o. after they attacked his best friend, Arn Anderson. Flair was willing to let the n.W.o. coexist with the Horsemen, but now the fight is on. Flair believes WCW is the best and he’s willing to fight for it. Good stuff here, makes the entire WCW vs. n.W.o. feud seem all the more epic.
Battle of the Bikes
Ono accompanies Nakano on a bike, while Madusa (decked out in red, white, and blue attire) rides to the ring as well. Nakano cheap shots with a nun chuck at the opening bell. Nakano tosses Madusa by the hair repeatedly to a loud USA chant. Madusa comes back with a trio hangmen clotheslines. Nakano applies the modified Scorpion Deathlock that Paige is using in 2014 but changes strategy with a DDT. Motorcycles are revved in support of Madusa, who escapes a chinlock and nails a hurricanrana. Nakano pulls out of a cover after hitting a lariat and Madusa nearly wins it with a bridged German suplex. The majority of these near falls feel botched, as if neither participant can remember the finish. The referee counts to 3 on another German suplex even though Madusa got a shoulder up. Ono threatens to use a sledgehammer on Madusa’s bike, but Madusa takes it away and destroys the evil Japanese bike instead. It turns out that the 3 count earlier was due to Nakano’s shoulders being down for the German, so Madusa is the official winner around the 5 minute mark. Hideously crappy match, by the way, DUD.
Bull Nakano (with Sonny Ono) vs. Madusa
Dean Malenko (with Jimmy Hart) vs. Chris Benoit (with Ms. Elizabeth and Woman)
Benoit immediately scores a takedown and starts pummeling Malenko. “Ice cold” Malenko returns the favor, hitting a delayed vertical suplex. Benoit escapes a chinlock and violently tears into Dean. They roll through a series of pin attempts. Dean locks the arm but Benoit dead lifts him for a power slam counter. Benoit snaps into a suplex and applies an abdominal stretch. Cue the chinlock! Malenko escapes but collides with Benoit in simultaneous cross body attempts. Benoit blocks an axe handle and nails a suplex to set up the diving head butt (ugh). Malenko reverses a Tombstone piledriver but gets several 2 counts. They both take a spill onto the wooden platform and Benoit gets knocked into the ring post. Benoit counters with a superplex but landed badly on his head. If Benoit wasn’t concussed before from the diving head butt, he’s concussed now. German suplex by Malenko, but Benoit sneaks in a small package. They’ve fallen into a rut where they’re trading moves and 2-counts, and the crowd doesn’t seem to care one bit. They’re approaching the time limit as Benoit applies a Boston crab. Malenko survives a cross body on the platform and they continue to trade heatless near falls. The time limit expires at 20:00 with an apparent draw. The referee calls for a five minute overtime and Benoit aggressively blindsides Malenko with a back suplex. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker by Benoit gets another 2 count so he steals the Texas Cloverleaf! Desperate enziguri by Malenko but Benoit hooks the ankle. Malenko counters with a roll-up but the time expires at 25:00 before the 3 count. A SECOND five minute overtime begins and the crowd hates that decision. The commentators spin it that the crowd is angry that Malenko got robbed, but I suspect they wanted the match to be over. Malenko survives a Dragon suplex and applies the Texas Cloverleaf, but Woman interferes. The distraction allows Benoit to roll Malenko up for the win at 26:53. Almost a half hour for THAT shitty finish? This is a hard match to rate, as it was technically sound and crisply worked, but it lacked any real flow or compelling story, and the crowd worked against them from start to finish. It averages out to about ***, which is far less than what I’d expect from these two in 1996.
Winner: Chris Benoit
WCW Tag Team Championship:
Harlem Heat are more than willing to rile up the crowd, who seem ready to riot again at the sight of a couple of black guys. Engines are revved in support of the Steiners and it’s actually quite a spectacle. Booker turns his back, daring Scott to attack, which he happily does. Scott nails a double underhook power bomb and catches an intruding Stevie with a suplex. Booker misses a thrust kick and suffers a press slam. Scott clears Booker from the ring and the fans are a little too supportive, if you catch my drift. Stevie Ray fares better, planting Scott with a scoop slam. Scott rebounds with a toss and tags in Rick, who aggressively applies a chinlock. Stevie rakes the eyes and tags Booker in for a sidewalk slam, but Rick rebounds with a suplex. Harlem Heat manage to cut the ring in half and wear Rick down for a short while. Rick counters with a spinebuster and makes the sort of hot tag to Scott. Harlem Heat quickly arrange for Rick to take a nasty spill, reestablishing him as the face in peril. Scott eventually gets a real hot tag and cleans house. Parker and Sherri throw powder into the ring, inadvertently blinding Stevie Ray, but Parker compensates by nailing Scott with his cane. That’s enough for the Harlem Heat win at 17:49. Ridiculous finish to an awkward match, **.
Harlem Heat © (Booker T and Stevie Ray, with Sensational Sherri and Colonel Parker) vs. Rick and Scott Steiner
Winners and still WCW Tag Team Champions: Harlem Heat
-It’s starting to get dark out and it seems to me the crowd has thinned out a bit. I’m going to miss checking out the hills in the background.
United States Championship:
They start off with an epic SHOVING contest. Eddie wins a slap-fest, prompting the Nature Boy to take a break. They tangle and Flair awkwardly drops Eddie on his chest in a miscue. Flair seems to have mucked up his wrist in the botch. The match restarts with them throwing chops as if they’re really mad at each other. The match restarts again with Eddie working a headlock. Flair begs for mercy after suffering a back drop but pokes the eyes. Eddie absorbs some chops before unleashing a flurry of strikes. Eddie delivers a sunset flip on his way to stealing the Figure Four! Head scissor takedown by Guerrero gets a 2 count, as does a sweet tornado DDT. Flair gets caught on the turnbuckles, as per usual, and nearly gets pinned. Eddie pulls down Flair’s tights on a sunset flip but still comes up short on the pinfall. Guerrero rakes the eyes and delivers the Frog Splash, but injures his knee in the process. Flair smells blood and applies the Figure Four, using Woman for leverage. Guerrero gets pinned while in the hold at 14:13. After the rough start, this one just breezed by, with plenty of action, and most surprisingly, the biker crowd was INTO IT! ***½.
Ric Flair © (with Woman and Ms. Elizabeth) vs. Eddie Guerrero
Winner and still United States Champion: Ric Flair
-Gene Okerlund interviews Jimmy Hart and his client, the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. The Giant. They’re still reeling from Hulk Hogan’s betrayal. Giant vows to make Hogan “stick it” when he drives him through the ring.
The Outsiders (Kevin Nash and Scott Hall) vs. Lex Luger and Sting
Hall starts against Luger and reminds us that he’s a solid technical wrestler. Hall getting the better of Luger goes against the normal formula where the baby face shows up the heel before shenanigans come into play. Luger manages to scoop slam Hall, prompting a tag to Nash. Sting tags in after getting spat on by Nash and returns the favor. Nash strikes first and uses his size to block a slam (these are the sorriest bunch of baby faces ever). Sting has to gouge the eyes to be able to nail a power slam. Hall assists from the apron, as Nash gives delivers Snake Eyes to Sting, and the Outsiders effectively cut the ring in half. Sting takes a lengthy, standard beating before hitting Nash with a shoulder block and then collapsing with a head butt to the groin. Hall prevents a tag and sets Sting up for Nash’s big boot. Sting counters the Outsiders Edge and finally makes the hot tag. Luger cleans house with a series of clotheslines and punches. Sting splashes Nash to ringside and applies a Scorpion Deathlock. Meanwhile, Hall blocks the Torture Rack, and referee Nick Patrick attacks the leg of Luger and makes a fast count for Hall, giving the win to the Outsiders at 14:32. Average tag match here, but great crowd heat and angle advancement, **½.
Winners: The Outsiders
-More beautiful South Dakota scenery. The Black Hills and the golden sky are quite striking at dusk. I give the state of South Dakota ***¾, or you know, Thumbs in the Middle, leaning up.
WCW World Heavyweight Championship:
Hogan stalls before the opening bell and his cowardice is still surreal at this point. Hogan smashes the chest of The Giant, but retreats when the shots have zero effect. Hogan eats a shoulder block and back suplex and continues to stall for time. The match restarts with a test of strength, with Hogan kicking the gut to gain an advantage, but Giant inevitably wins the exchange. Giant applies a wristlock, but Hogan reverses, knocking Giant onto his back! Hogan continues working over the arm until The Giant makes a comeback with big time head butts. Hogan pulls Giant onto the platform and they knock one another into the ring post. Backbreaker by Giant but Hogan gets a rope break. Giant hits a scoop slam but misses an elbow drop. Hogan’s head punches have little effect as Giant “hulks up” like the Hogan of old. Scott Hall runs in but The Giant slams him off the top rope. Hall suffers a (bad) choke slam and Giant catches Nash with another (hideous) choke slam as well. Hogan clocks Giant with the belt and scores the pinfall at 14:09. A hot crowd and some careful pacing helped make this one watchable. ** is high praise from me.
The Giant © (with Jimmy Hart) vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan
Winner and new WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Hulk Hogan
-The Booty Man, decked out in n.W.o. merchandise, brings a birthday cake for Hogan to the ring. Booty Man congratulates Hogan on becoming the “New World Order Heavyweight Champion” and wishes him a happy birthday. Hogan then turns Hall and Nash on his “best friend” and they beat poor Booty Man down. The whole point is if Hogan can beat up his best friend, imagine what he’ll do to Ric Flair in Denver. They spray the n.W.o. logo on the World title and stand tall to end the show.
Final Thoughts: Despite some deep, unavoidable flaws, I really enjoyed this show. This was the hot WCW product that I remember from my youth, with the n.W.o. still on the rise, and a classic roster. The good outweighs the bad here, so Thumbs Up.
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