Wrestling fans join me on a trip back to a time when one company challenged WWE for the top spot in the world of professional wrestling. Welcome to the very first WCW RetroView! This is my journey through the height of World Championship Wrestling. During this, we will look back at WCW’s quest to become the number one wrestling company in the world. With the world-famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally taking place this weekend, there is no better place to start than WCW Hog Wild 1996.
WCW Hog Wild August 10, 1996
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
Sturgis, North Dakota
After a video package explaining the significance of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, we see a pretty cool shot of WCW wrestlers riding their motorcycles into town.
Tony Schiavone, Dusty Rhodes, and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan welcome us to the pay-per-view, dressed in what someone probably told them looked cool. Denim vests, cutoff jean shorts for Dusty, and some cool shades personify biker apparel. Heenan in his all-black ensemble, however, looks fantastic.
From here we get some unique shots of the Sturgis crowd surrounding the area with their motorcycles and the WCW helicopter gives us a great bird’s eye view of the unique event. It doesn’t take Schiavone long to proclaim that the main event between Hollywood Hulk Hogan of the n.W.o and the Giant is…
“The most important World Championship match of all time.”
Hog Wild 1996
WCW Cruiserweight Championship
Rey Mysterio Jr. (c) vs Ultimate Dragon
Ultimate Dragon comes out first with Sonny Onoo by his side. Next out is Mysterio, decked out in his uber-cool Spider-Man ensemble. The Cruiserweight Championship fits him perfectly. It’s obvious most of the crowd are biker enthusiasts and not wrestling fans as neither receives any reaction.
Something further validated after the two nimble cruiserweights battle of maneuver one-upmanship elicits a faint applause. Highlights of the match include a vicious running powerbomb by Dragon and a Mysterio springboard plancha from the ring to the ground.
Side note: I really appreciated how WCW would bring in Mike Tenay for cruiserweight matches. His insight into these wrestlers adds a lot, making the division feel special. Here he gives us some background on the Ultimate Dragon, including his time overseas and rivalry with Jushin “Thunder” Liger.
In the end, Mysterio wins after connecting on his second Frankensteiner attempt from the top turnbuckle.
Winner – Rey Mysterio Jr.
After the match, we cut to Mean Gene Okerlund who is promoting the WCW 1-800 hotline for all the current gossip surrounding pro wrestling. Okerlund makes vague hints towards the n.W.o adding new members and you can hear all about it for just a $1.49 per minute. I miss the days of pro wrestling hotlines being basically the only way to get spoilers. Nowadays you have to go out of your way to avoid online spoilers.
Special Challenge Match
Scott “Flash” Norton vs Ice Train
While the opening contest was a display of pure athleticism and high-flying talent, this match is just two big dudes trying to beat the hell out of each other. These former tag team partners hold nothing back as both men are trying to settle the score. Ice Train has an immediate target entering with a bandaged arm from an earlier attack by Norton. That arm plays a huge factor in this match with Norton focusing on it. Eventually, the ref calls for the stoppage when Norton has Ice Train in an arm lock. A big win for the eventual n.W.o enforcer.
Winner – Scott Norton
Next, we get a fantastic interview with Ric Flair from WCW Saturday Night. Flair addresses the n.W.o invading WCW and how their attack on Arn Anderson made it where both groups cannot live in harmony.
Battle of the Bikes
Bull Nakano vs Madusa
Riding a Honda, Sonny Onoo makes his second appearance of the night leading out Bull Nakano. Then, much to the delight of the Sturgis crowd, Madusa enters on her very own Harley.
The stipulation of this match is the winner gets to destroy the loser’s bike with a sledgehammer. Nakano attacks Madusa before the bell with a pair of nunchucks, her assault elicits a “USA” chant from the crowd. This is a relatively short match, but both females shine, Nakano displaying her raw physicality while Madusa’s athleticism is on full display.
The ending is somewhat confusing as Nakano German suplexes Madusa, but in her pin attempt, her shoulders are counted down for the three count. Nakano and Onoo celebrate thinking Madusa was pinned, but the ref clarifies that Madusa kicked out and Nakano was actually pinned. Onoo’s attempt at destroying Madusa’s Harley is thwarted by the former WWE Women’s Champion and she proceeds to destroy his Honda with a sledgehammer. WCW never really attempted to build a strong women’s division, which is sad because these two were perfect pieces to build around.
Winner – Madusa
The Steiner Brothers grace our screen next as they promote the WCW online chat rooms. Both come off as cavemen trying to work an electronic device. This is followed up by a technical showcase between Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko. Chris wins, but that’s about as much shine as he will get in this article.
WCW Tag Team Championship Match
Harlem Heat (c) vs The Steiner Brothers
The two premiere tag teams of 1990’s WCW are on display next. Rick and Scott enter first. The emergence of Rick, the dog face gremlin, elicits barks from the Sturgis crowd. Booker T and Stevie Ray enter with, in my opinion, the oddest pairing of managers, Sister Sherri and Col. Parkers in tow. Harlem Heat riles up the crowd with classic heel taunting, motorcycles roar as the crowd is firmly behind the Steiner Brothers. Scott and Booker, the most athletic of the brother duos, begin the match. The overall athleticism between prime Scott and Booker T is an impressive display. After Rick and Scott send Harlem Heat reeling to the outside, we get the vintage Steiner pose mid-ring.
WCW Hog Wild 1996
It takes a rake of the eyes from Stevie Ray to turn the momentum in favor of Harlem Heat. But, it’s short-lived when Scott hits Booker with a belly to belly suplex. When Rick tags in it’s the heel tactics of Harlem Heat that swing control back into their side. The momentum continues to swing back and forth throughout this contest. The Steiner’s impressing with their various suplexes and slams and Harlem Heat heel tactics in top form.
During the finish, Scott Steiner gets the hot tag and cleans house. Victory is snatched away after he’s blinded with powder by Sister Sherri and then hit with a cane by Col. Parker, giving Harlem Heat the victory.
Winners – Harlem Heat
We get another rundown of sights and sounds of the Sturgis Rally including more videos of the wrestlers mingling with the locals during the rally. The annual event is quite impressive and something WWE, AEW or even Impact should look into hosting a show at.
WCW United States Championship Match
Ric Flair (c) vs Eddie Guerrero
This is one of only a handful of matches between these two squared circle legends. Eddie is presented as the up and comer gaining confidence in his quest to defeat the legendary Flair. The announcers really play up Eddie’s family background and how important a win here would be.
With the sun beginning to set, Flair, a 13-time World Champion at this point, is joined by the lovely Elizabeth and the devilish Woman as he enters in a luxurious white robe.
Guerrero quickly shows he won’t be intimidated responding to Flair’s shove with an even more physical push. This continues, when Flair knife-edge chops Guerrero, Eddie is quick to respond in kind. Dusty Rhodes sums it up as “toe to toe action” on commentary. Flair plays the savvy veteran perfectly, exiting the ring any time Guerrero gains the advantage.
WCW Hog Wild 1996
After a cross-body block lands a two count, Guerrero pulls a page from the Nature Boy, locking him in the figure four. As great as these two are, they never seem to get in a rhythm in this match. There is, however, an entertaining segment where Eddie does a sunset flip and in Flair’s defense against the move, his derriere is exposed. Guerrero looks to have the match won when he lands the frog splash, but his landing is awkward on his knee. Seizing the opportunity, Flair locks in his patented figure four leg lock and with some assistance from Woman for extra leverage, causes Guerrero to take the pin.
It needs to be noted, Bobby Heenan’s commentary during this match is pure gold. Always the Flair backer, he doesn’t hide his favoritism here.
Winner – Ric Flair
The World Heavyweight Champion the Giant and his manager Jimmy Hart are now interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund. The Giant for being as young as he is, actually gives a solid promo ending it with…
“Hogan, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, tonight I lay Hulk Hogan to rest.”
Grudge Tag Team Match
The Outsiders vs Sting & Lex Luger
Scott Hall and Kevin Nash come out first and Tony Schiavone quickly mentions how important this tag match is for WCW. Sting and Luger come out next with redemption on their mind after losing to the Outsiders and Hulk Hogan a month earlier.
After Hall and Nash do their traditional paper, rock, scissors to see who starts the match, we get our first pairing of Luger versus Hall. Hall controls the early portion of the match even taunting Luger with his traditional flex pose at one point. Luger is finally able to fight off Hall after reversing Hall’s hip toss attempt into his own.
This brings in the big man, Kevin Nash. With no time for Luger, Nash calls out Sting, adding a little sugar on top by spitting in the Stinger’s face. Sting, not one to back down, enters the ring and reciprocates the spit to Nash’s face.
WCW Hog Wild 1996
A body slam from Sting onto the much bigger Nash elicits a loud applause from the crowd, who are deeply enthralled with this match. Sting’s momentum is short-lived as the Outsiders eventually cut him off from Luger with double teams and quick tags. No one plays the hero in peril quite like Sting. He sells the Outsiders offense so much that by the time he reverses the Outsiders Edge attempt and makes the hot tag to Luger, the crowd erupts.
Luger enters like a ball of fire, nailing both Hall and Nash with his vintage running forearms. As he signals for the Torture Rack, Sting is able to lock Nash in the Scorpion Deathlock on the floor outside the ring. Luger’s first attempt to lift Hall he inadvertently hits referee Nick Patrick, after the second attempt does the same, Patrick shoulder tackles Luger’s knee.
The shocking attack allows Hall to make the cover and a quick three count later, Hall and Nash are victorious. This is the start of the n.W.o having a ref in their pocket, something that sickens the WCW announcer trio.
Winners – The Outsiders
Hog Wild 1996
WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match
The Giant (c) vs Hollywood Hulk Hogan
It’s time for the main event, something heightened by Michael Buffer announcing both contestants after his patented “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble.” Hogan enters first, decked in black and white, and the WCW announcers are still appalled by his actions at Bash at the Beach. Bobby Heenan is quick to reiterate that he always knew Hogan was scum.
After Giant’s entrance, Hogan acts like he isn’t going to have the match and leaves the ringside area. These stalling tactics are used for a good portion of the early parts of this match. After every offensive move by the Giant, Hogan escapes the ring to regroup. The two engage in a test of strength, something that Hogan shockingly gets cheers for when he gets the upper hand. Hogan continues to hold the advantage with a plethora of rest holds and arm submission attempts.
This is your typical Hulk Hogan match, only in this case the Giant is playing the role of hero Hulkster. A point made even more obvious when he Hulks up on Hogan late in the match.
Eventually, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash come out to interfere and both eat a chokeslam for their meddling. This distraction allows Hogan to blast the Giant across the head with the Heavyweight Championship, allowing him to earn the tainted victory.
With Hogan, Hall, and Nash celebrating much to the chagrin of the WCW announcers, the Booty Man (a.k.a Brutus the Barber Beefcake) brings out a birthday cake. You see this event took place on Hulk Hogan’s birthday and this was going to be the ultimate gift.
WCW Hog Wild 1996
Hogan cuts a fantastic promo threatening Ric Flair and proclaiming that the n.W.o won’t mix business and friendship as Flair does with Arn Anderson. The heel trio then proceeds to beat down the Booty Man, before defacing the Heavyweight Championship with the black spray paint. Schiavone, Rhodes, and Heenan end the show unsure of what’s next for WCW now that WCW’s biggest prize is in the grasps of the treacherous n.W.o.
So there you have it folks, my first WCW Retro View event Hog Wild 1996. Join me next time as we see what happens at WCW Fall Brawl: War Games 1996. The night everything changed for one WCW icon.