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Charles (Loss)

[1995-09-04-WCW-Nitro] Nitro introduction / Brian Pillman vs Jushin Liger

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The original Nitro opening, which had Hogan, Savage, Sting and Vader. Vader would be replaced with Luger within a week.

 

We get some outside shots of Monday Nitro, and maybe it's just me, but Nitro at the mall made WCW feel more like a Tiffany concert instead of a wrestling promotion. I was hoping for stonewashed denim and big hair, but sadly, we didn't get it.

 

Mongo catches Heenan with a joy buzzer, which is unrelentingly hilarious.

 

Liger/Pillman isn't that good of a match, but it has historical value as the first-ever Nitro match. I'm always amazed when most fans remember guys like Liger and Muta when they come back for occasional matches. Chalk it up to injuries or drugs or just spinning his wheels for years in WCW, but this match demonstrates how far Pillman had fallen at this point from 1992. In spite of that, I still think this was a good match to kick off Nitro to distinguish it as a bigger deal than weekend TV.

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Man Mongo was so awful on commentary. Easily one of the worst ever. I agree that this wasn't that good but it was good enough to open the first Nitro. Found it interesting that both Bischoff and Heenan were calling out Pillman on his botches.

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McMichael was a terrible commentator but I suppose he at least had passion for the sport? He seems genuinely excited (maybe overly so at times) Bischoff is terrible too in this era of Nitro. He'd just shit all over most guys that weren't Hogan, Sting or Savage.

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Here we go...the start of the thing that's keeping me plowing through what is overall a subpar year to say the least. We are LIVE from the Mall of America, and I was always a fan of WCW's willingness to hold Nitro in odd venues, whether by choice or by necessity (Disney during the '96 Olympics). Mongo drops the immortal line, "This place is apropos, and that don't mean you're digging around in the dirt with farm implements, baby!" Bobby informs McMichael that he was a "big fan when he played for Denver," which is funny.

 

Liger of course, once again, gets the stereotypical Fu Manchu entrance music instead of just bringing a tape over of his normal theme. The match is certainly a far cry from SuperBrawl 2, with Pillman having regressed quite a bit in the intervening years. But it's still good enough, and an enjoyable spotfest to kick Nitro off. Pillman blows a few headscissors and the ending isn't done well, but this did its job. It's still good to see Brian actually do something for pretty much the first time since the Austin feud.

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The "tension" between Mongo and Heenan was the worst part of it for me. McMichael's insults are all the same, and Heenan doesn't have many smart comebacks like he would have in the WWF. It's no secret he didn't like working there now and stuff like this is easy to see why.

 

For some reason I thought Flair/Sting was the first match. This is nowhere near Liger/Pillman in '92 as Brian is showing serious rust and wear and tear from his injuries now. The handshake at the end surprised me, especially without the sneak attack later that would be so commonplace in both companies.

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This match wasn't as good as I remembered it being up rewatching it. Pillman was pretty sloppy and it just didn't seem to flow for me. As to Mongo, perhaps I had expectations so low that he managed to meet them. I'm not saying he was by any means good, but he wasn't quite as bad as I was expecting if that makes sense.

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Pure spotfest, but it works as the introduction of WCW to a new audience. Liger's costume and the dives would have immediately stood out (and probably did to my 10-year old self). 

I've always looked at this episode as the premier example of how to book the 1st episode a new show, especially one that could be seen by a wider audience than usual. 

1) Liger vs. Pillman - Has historical value for WCW fans, but for everyone else is an introduction to a style WCW did better and more often than WWF (aside from Waltman/Hakushi during this period).

2) Sting vs. Flair - Followup to a legendary feud (that even WWF-only fans may have heard of), plus features a surprise return from a WWF star in Luger. Again, historical value for WCW fans because Luger had issues with both men in the match.

3) Hogan vs. Bubba - Biggest name and current champion in a rare TV match, against a former rival in the WWF.

Add in numerous vignettes/appearances by new talent (Norton, Sabu, IRS), plus finishing strong with the 1st ever Hogan/Luger interaction and this hits on all cylinders. 

Raw has never quite matched the feeling of the beginning of Nitro, where it felt like anyone could show up (Benoit, Malenko, Guerrero) and the matches were a weekly Who's Who of '90s stars (Hogan, Flair, Sting, Luger, Savage, Anderson). Add in the Steiners and Road Warriors (and Public Enemy debuting) in early '96, plus the emergence of The Giant and even pre-nWo Nitro was something special.

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