Looks like it’s that time again for another trip through the archives of the WWE Network in the form of yet another Throwback Thursday! This week TBT travels back 21 years to the day to World Championship Wrestling’s first-ever August Pay-Per-View: Hog Wild ’96!
A month after the most shocking moment in wrestling history (to that point) in the debut of the New World Order and Hulk Hogan’s heel turn, WCW sought to strike while the iron was hot. For their first August PPV in company history WCW Executive and Senior Vice President Eric Bischoff decided to drag WCW to Sturgis, South Dakota for the 56th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
In reality Bishcoff, a motorcycle enthusiast, used the cover of a WCW PPV to partake in the famed biker rally. The event was the first Saturday PPV for WCW and was put on in front of a crowd who knew nothing about the product or the storylines. Though about 5,000 people showed up, no tickets were sold. In hindsight the event is best remembered for two things, Hogan winning the WCW World title and Bobby Heenan being drunk on-air!
The first two-hours of the event were held on TBS as part of a live countdown edition of Saturday Night. WCW Saturday Night is currently unavailable on the Network as of this writing so the Hog Wild ’96 edition is likewise unavailable. But context is pretty good; aside from the missing WCW Saturday Night, all previous editions of Monday NITRO as well as all prior PPVs are available for viewing.
WCW Hog Wild ’96 (WATCH)
Date: August 10, 1996 – Location: Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Sturgis, South Dakota
Attendance: <5,000 – PPV Buyrate: 0.62 (>220,000 homes)
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Dusty Rhodes, Bobby Heenan, & Mike Tenay – Interviews: “Mean” Gene Okerlund
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME
WCW World Heavyweight Champion: The Giant
WCW United States Heavyweight Champion: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair
WCW World Tag Team Champions: Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray)
WCW World Television Champion: Lex Luger
WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Rey Mysterio, Jr.
The show opens with a simple vignette putting over the Sturgis Rally and the riders who attend. On camera Tony Schiavone (who looks like he just left the Blue Oyster Bar), Dusty Rhodes, and Bobby Heenan talk about the WCW World title main event between The Giant and Hulk Hogan.
— WCW Cruiserweight Championship (WATCH – 2:57)
Special Guest Commentator: Mike Tenay
The Ultimo Dragon w/Sonny Oono vs. Rey Mysterio, Jr.(c)
Ultimo Dragon was making his WCW TV debut in this one. Rey, meanwhile, was having his issues with The Outsiders and had recently had his mask removed by Nash. This is a very good match and a great way to open the show. While the match features the usual high-flying spots (including Rey’s incredible dive from the top rope to Dragon to the ground below the platform) there is also some fantastic psychology displayed, more than in most cruiserweight matches of the day. In the end Dragon blocks a top rope hurricanrana only to be caught moments later with a rapid springboard hurricanrana off the top to give Rey the win at 11:36.
WINNER and STILL WCW Cruiserweight Champion, Rey Mysterio, Jr. (Pin, 11:36)
Next up “Mean” Gene (with a terrible black dye job) plugs the WCW Hotline.
— “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 19:30)
Scott “Flash” Norton vs. Ice Train
This is a stiff, physical fight that is fun to watch while it lasts but is by no means a classic. Norton works over Ice Train’s injured left shoulder until the referee is forced to stop the match at 5:06.
WINNER is Scott “Flash” Norton (Referee Stoppage, 5:06)
Next we see a pre-taped sit down interview with Ric Flair who talks about getting even with the New World Order for what they did to Arn Anderson. As the interview plays we see footage of the attack as well as highlights of Flair and Anderson’s career together. Flair says that he believed the nWo and the Four Horsemen could coexist until they took out Arn. “If the New World Order wants to make their mark and to really score, you got your opportunity now because the Horsemen are involved. Two of us can’t survive. Two companies can’t survive. Go to bed with that thought tonight.”
— “Battle of the Bikes Match” – Winner Allowed to Destroy Opponents Motorcycle (WATCH – 30:28)
Bull Nakano w/Sonny Oono vs. Madusa
This was an interesting gimmick for the event but it doesn’t amount to much. Nakano starts the match with nunchucks before throwing Madusa around the ring. Momentum shifts very rapidly in this one with each lady hitting one big move after another. In the end Nakano hits a belly-to-back suplex on Madusa. Both ladies’ shoulders are down but Madusa lifts hers before the count of three for the win at 5:01 though the bell doesn’t ring until 5:21. Nakano believes she’s won and Oono grabs the sledgehammer and tries to wreck Madusa’s bike. After hitting the seat once with the hammer Madusa throws a small rock at Oono before wrestling away the hammer and smashing up Nakano’s Hyundai.
WINNER is Madusa (Pin, 5:21)
Next up we see Rick and Scott Steiner backstage participating in a CompuServe interview with WCW fans.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 41:22)
Dean Malenko vs. Chris Benoit w/Woman & Miss Elizabeth
In any other city this match may have stolen the show and had the fans on their feet. But, in front of a crowd that doesn’t know wrestling from Motown it died a slow death. To be clear, it’s a great match, it’s just in front of the wrong crowd. It’s also during this match that it sounds as if Bobby Heenan had been drinking, a problem that only gets worse as the show goes on. The match becomes a battle of near falls and ends in a time-limit draw at 19:52. The crowd isn’t too pleased with the draw but their even more unhappy when the match is restarted for a 5-minute overtime. The bell rings again at 25:02 for another draw and the fans are really unhappy now. The announcement of another 5-minute overtime period gets a rather large boo from the crowd. Malenko goes after Benoit’s knee and eventually cinches in the Texas Cloverleaf. When Woman gets involved Malenko grabs her arm. Benoit sneaks up from behind and school boy’s Malenko for the pin at 27:00 in double OT.
WINNER is Chris Benoit (Pin, 27:00)
— WCW World Tag Team Championship (WATCH – 1:13:45)
The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) vs. Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray)(c) w/Sister Sherri & Col. Rob Parker
The fans in Sturgis are hot for the Steiners primarily because they’re white. The only time the fans pop for the Steiners is when they’re beating on Harlem Heat! The match itself isn’t all that bad. Though it features great intensity, psychology, and action something about it just doesn’t quite click. Heenan, meanwhile, can’t tell what day it is, can’t tell Scott from Rick, and makes the same points over and over again before dropping out for several minutes. Harlem Heat dominate the latter portion of the match, much to the fans chagrin, and look to be headed for a dominating win when Scott gets the hot tag and begins tossing Harlem Heat around the ring. Suddenly Col. Parker tries to throw powder in Scott’s eyes but hits Booker T instead. Sherri, with a separate batch of powder, doesn’t miss. As Scott staggers blindly Col. Parker breaks his cane over Scott’s head which allows Booker T score the 1-2-3 at 17:54 to retain the WCW World Tag Team titles. Garbage flies from all sides as Harlem Heat makes a quick exit from the ring and to the back.
WINNERS and STILL WCW World Tag Team Champions, Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray) w/Sister Sherri & Col. Rob Parker (Pin, 17:54)
Next we see footage of the band of WCW superstars riding their motorcycles to Sturgis. The footage includes a very quick glimpse of a goggles and bandanna clad Bischoff that is just the cutest little thing you’ll ever see. Of course we get the action shots of the guys wearing nothing but shades and looking like bad asses and staring at the camera for a split second (gotta watch the potholes!) but it doesn’t do much to make it look any less lame. As for the rally they show, maybe it’s just me, but it looks pretty stupid. Comic-Con for bikers, and I don’t like Comic-Con.
— WCW United States Heavyweight Championship (WATCH – 1:39:16)
Eddie Guerrero vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair(c) w/Woman & Miss Elizabeth
So, by now, Bobby Heenan is just a mess. He’s slurring his words and is unable to finish even the most basic of thoughts! To top it all off he buries Guerrero as not being in Flair’s league while Dusty and Schiavone are trying to put Eddie over. The match itself is great, steeped in traditional psychology and storytelling. It’s yet another example of Flair taking a young wrestler to “school” and doing his best to elevate Guerrero as he had done for the likes of Windham, Sting, Luger, and Muta to name a few. Eddie survives all the dirty tricks and low blows to make a great comeback and nearly has the match won when Eddie injures his left knee doing the Frog Splash. Flair takes advantage and, after a crushing lariat, cinches in the figure-four leg lock. Eddie fights the hold but is counted out at 14:17.
WINNER and STILL WCW United States Heavyweight Champion, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair w/Woman & Miss Elizabeth (Pin, 14:17)
Up next “Mean” Gene interviews Jimmy Hart and the WCW World Heavyweight Champion The Giant. Hart says tonight is a “giant step” for Hogan. “Don’t trip and fall,” Hart says, “because nobody’s gonna be there to pick you up!” Giant says, in one of his best promos, “a long history of betrayal” is on his mind, that he was the biggest “Hulkamaniac” as a child, and that he saw Hulk’s true colors long before the rest of the world. “When you came out on NITRO and you told the kids and the fans of the world to stick it,” Giant says, “you reminded me of the pain you caused me!” Giant says he’s going to stick his hand around Hulk’s throat, make his eyes pop, and drive Hogan’s neck “right through the ring.” “Hogan, ashes to ashes and dust to dust,” Giant says. “Tonight I lay the Hulkster to rest!”
— “Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH – 2:01:07)
The Outsiders (Kevin Nash & Scott Hall) vs. Sting & WCW World Television Champion Lex Luger
This Bash at the Beach ’96 rematch features as much posing and stalling as it does wrestling to start. The entirety of the match is Sting taking a beating from Kevin Nash until Sting inadvertently falls in Nash’s groin. Hall gets the tag and continues the beat down on Sting until Sting blocks the Outsider’s Edge and makes the hot tag. Sting ends up putting Nash in the Scorpion Deathlock on the outside of the ring while Luger attempts to put away Hall on the inside. Luger hits Hall with a powerslam and lifts Hall for the Torture Rack. When Hall’s feet collide with the referee, Nick Patrick, Patrick drops and chop blocks Luger. Hall rolls Luger over, Patrick gives the ol’ fast count, and The Outsider’s take the match at 14:36. After the match Nick Patrick raises The Outsider’s arms and walks off with them. Heenan, meanwhile, blows the call on the fast count.
WINNERS are The Outsiders (Kevin Nash & Scott Hall) (Pin, 14:36)
— WCW World Heavyweight Championship (WATCH – 2:20:45)
Special Guest Ring Announcer: Michael Buffer
“Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs. The Giant(c) w/Jimmy Hart
The match starts with Hogan on the outside of the ring with the referee counting Hulk out. For as great a babyface as Hogan had been for 15-years, he was an even better heel. A drunken Heenan rambles about managing Andre against Hogan at WrestleMania III, which Dusty and Tony try to ignore. The match is a basic black hat/white hat affair with Hogan leading the dance the whole way through. Giant, for his part, listens, follows Hogan’s lead, and ends up producing a compelling, exciting match. As the match wears on Heenan can’t tell Andre from The Giant and apologizes on-air for the constant mix-ups. The match turns when Giant misses a big elbow drop. Hogan tries to take advantage but Giant “hulks up”, hits three big chops, and then the big boot. As Giant prepares for the chokeslam Scott Hall and Kevin Nash come to the ring. Giant chokeslams Hall and then Nash. Hogan grabs Jimmy Hart’s megaphone and gloms Giant with it as the big man turns around. Hogan makes the cover and wins the WCW World Heavyweight title at 14:57.
This marked the end of The Giant’s 2nd and final WCW World title reign at 110-days while marking Hogan’s 2nd WCW World title win of an eventual six.
WINNER and NEW WCW World Heavyweight Champion, “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan (Pin, 14:57)
After the match Hogan and The Outsiders celebrate as garbage flies into the ring. The Booty Man, clad in nWo gear, brings a birthday cake to the ring for Hulk Hogan. Hogan grabs the mic and tells the crowd the “nWo is the way to go.” Hogan then says it’s his birthday and he’s going “wish a Happy Birthday to me, brother!”
Booty Man congratulates Hulk on winning the “nWo” World title, which drives Dusty nuts. Booty Man wishes Hulk a happy birthday before shaking Hogan’s hand for being his friend for so many years. Hogan then says the nWo never mixes business with friendship or pleasure and that Ric Flair exposed his weakness by being so attached to Arn Anderson. Hulk says the Booty Man is his best friend and that Booty Man had been bugging him about joining the nWo. Hulk then whispers to Nash before The Outsiders and Hogan pummel Booty Man before smashing him with the World title belt. Hogan tells Flair that if he’d beat up his best friend, what was he going to do to Flair?
Hogan then unwraps a can of black spray paint and spray paints “NWO” on the Big Gold Belt before showing the camera. The nWo celebrate and pose around the ring before walking to the back.
Schiavone and Dusty Rhodes talk about the night and how the fight with the nWo is far from over. Dusty wonders where WCW was when The Giant needed them most. Schiavone wraps the show before Heenan can say much of anything (thank Jebus) as the credits begin to roll.
An historic card, WCW Hog Wild ’96 may have gone down as one of WCW’s greatest PPVs in history had it not been for the location of the event and the lousy crowd that showed up. Regardless there is no true dud on the entire card. For wrestling fans this was, and remains, a very good show.
For bikers at a rally who know nothing about the product? Not so much.
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Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
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