Posted on September 30, 2012
Nitro September 1995 – WCW Begins, Luger switches, Hulk Hogan against the Dungeon
It’s September 4th 1995 and WCW opened their first ever Monday Nitro on TNT.
WCW showcased their buggest best stars starting with a high flying contest between Japanese wrestler Justin Liger and fan favourite Brian Pillman. The match exemplified the high flying international talent Nitro would become famous for. Legendary Ric Flair fought Sting and Hulk Hogan beat Big Bubba.
All of this made for a great episode but it was the conclusion of Nitro that would set the tone for the future. The Dungeon of Doom (Kamala, The Zodiac, The Shark and Meng) attacked World Champion Hulk Hogan after the match in a scene we had all seen happen countless times before. Then to the surprise of the everyone Lex Luger jumped the barricade and made the save.
Here I got a first taste as to what the war between WCW and WWF meant as a viewer. In a world without the internet gossip mill, wrestlers could and would jump between the two rivals, leaving fans both shocked and delighted.
I should point out here that Luger had been a main event wrestler throughout 1994 for the WWF. It was only recently that he had been placed in the WWF tag devision with the British Bulldog (forming Allied Powers). Those who had known Luger’s contract was nearly up had not expected him to leave. The whole deal was supposedly organized between Luger, his friend Sting and WCW front man and soon to be president Eric Bishoff.
After making the save, Luger and Hogan face off. with Luger stating he wanted a shot at Hogan’s title. The match was made for the next week on Nitro. WCW scored a huge coup in so much as nabbing a WWF main eventer from under their noses. The fans ate it up.
The following weeks Nitro had Ric Flair hyping his upcoming match against former Four Horseman tag partner Arn Anderson. The World Title match took place between Hogan and Luger but in true WCW fashion it ended with outside interference with another run in from the Dungeon of Doom team.
Following the run in Hogan, Savage, Sting, and Luger argued between themselves believing that one of them could be in league with the Dungeon. The storyline focus here was could our team of colourful good guy (face) wrestlers could co-exist as a team at the Fall Brawl PPV.
So the PPV comes around. Hogan’s team of superheroes, predictably, get the victory. After the match however Hogan is attacked by a newcomer to WCW.
WCW has been regularly criticized for relying on ready made names. To a large extent that criticism is justified. The man that attacked Hogan at Fall Brawl however goes against that general rule. He was called the Giant but now we know him better as The Big Show.
Here he is billed initially as the long lost son of Andre the Giant. WCW might not have had a “name” wrestler but they were sure to try and cash in on one.
The last two shows of the month focused on the members of Hogan’s team against the Dungeon members and the escalating rivalry between Arn Anderson and Ric Flair. By this time Brian Pillman had sided with Arn against Ric Flair.
A note here has to go to Nitro’s under card which by the end of September included Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, Lord Steven Regal, and a brief WCW run for ECW legend Sabu who put Alex Wright through a table showcasing his extreme style. A style that was unfamilar way back in 1995
The stage was almost set for October and Halloween Havoc.
The early shots were fired. On the 11th September 1995 Eric Bishoff gave the result of the Raw main event between Sid and Shawn Michaels. Raw’s main event had been pretaped a few weeks earlier, a common practice at the time, and WCW had gotten hold of the results.
One of the unspoken rules of the business at that time was not to mention the competition. It was a low blow but it served it’s purpose. Nitro was in the lead in the Monday Night Wars and the ratings were huge.