Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Sometimes a day comes along and when I decide on which "This date in history" post to do, I can't help but return to my younger days and the moments I sat in front of my television, mesmerized by what I was witnessing. You've undoubtedly noticed an added emphasis on the Attitude Era since I took over this column from Jesse Holland and it doesn't take a genius to figure out why.
One of the many instances that left a mark enough on my brain to stick with me all these years later is an episode of World Championship Wrestling's (WCW) flagship program, Monday Nitro, that occurred on this date in history (July 29, 1996) that saw The Outsiders, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, show up to attack members of the WCW roster.
It wasn't all that different than most episodes of Nitro. After all, this was the name of the game at the time. The NWO would roll up, beat on WCW, go over to end the show, and you would tune in next week to await the moment when the good guys finally prevailed over evil. It never really happened because the story wasn't as important as the money train that was packed full of bills but it worked for what they were doing, at least for a few years.
Anyway, on this particular episode of Monday Nitro, a six-man tag match was taking place in the ring with Sting, Lex Luger, and Randy Savage taking on Ric Flair, Chris Benoit and Steve McMichael. Suddenly, Jimmy Hart ran up to the ring and demanded that everyone hurry and come to the back. He didn't say why, though.
Once the wrestlers in the ring finally took heed and headed for the backstage area, the cameras followed and showed The Outsiders with baseballs bats and Arn Anderson and Buff Bagwell laid out. Scott Riggs, Bagwell's tag partner at the time, showed up and he was taken out. Then, the moment that will forever be etched in my memory from a time in pro wrestling that I absolutely adored.
Rey Mysterio shows up on the steps of a trailer, climbs up on the guardrail, and jumps off into the arms of Nash, who catches him and proceeds to vault him like a lawn dart into the side of the trailer, putting him out of commission.
Finally, WCW wrestlers showed up and Hall and Nash bailed to a limo waiting to take them out of there. Savage actually jumped on top of it and hung on for dear life as it sped away. It was pandemonium in the backstage area, meanwhile, with Anderson selling an arm injury and Mysterio so beat up, they actually took his mask off.
This was also brilliant because they had members of the roster back to aid the wrestlers and medical team while an ambulance rolled up. In the commotion, Alex Wright started shouting that he had seen four men, not two like the cameras captured. Aside from Hulk Hogan, this added a great deal of intrigue regarding who the fourth member of the group was. With as many explosive surprises as WCW had been delivering at the time, you can imagine the excitement this was met with.
The live crowd was left completely hanging during all this but fans at home were getting awesome television, much better than anything the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) was doing at the time. The announcers were trying to make sense of the wreckage but they were switching in and out between Eric Bischoff, Tony Schiavonne, Bobby Heenan, and Larry Zbyszko. Heenan, always the best, said he wasn't going to do a pro wrestling interview, he was going to talk man-to-man to Bischoff, who was acknowledged on-screen for his real life role with the company. Heenan told Bischoff he didn't want to stick around because his health wasn't worth the job.
Once again, they cut to the back and the wrestlers and medical teams were still attending to those who were attacked. The live crowd was so restless by this point -- remember, they can't see any of this and there's nothing happening in the ring at the time -- that they start a "boo-ring" chant.
Eventually, matches would resume but this night would also see the very first paid public service announcement video from the NWO. They talked about taking over WCW and teasing who would be the fourth or fifth members of the group. They also promoted the Hog Wild pay-per-view that was just around the corner where The Outsiders would go over on Sting and Lex Luger while Hogan would defeat The Giant to win the world heavyweight title and solidify the NWO has the premiere group in pro wrestling.
It was awesome. This entire angle was awesome, especially in the beginning. It would crash and burn later, sure, but take this trip down memory lane with me, won't you?