Wednesday, July 20, 2022

WCW Hog Wild 1996

Easy E decided to hold a free wrestling show in Sturgis during one of their biker rallies. Apparently, it went over so well that he'd make it an annual thing until the end of his presidential tenure. Sadly, the event that would replace it in 2000, New Blood Rising, is a largely awful show known for featuring Lance Storm's best match ever.

So, yes, the first event was called Hog Wild, but that name didn't stick for the other annual shows due to copyright concerns and thus was changed to Road Wild. I've already mused on the 98 and 99 editions of the event, but never touched on these early shows. Let's fix that, shall we?

Cruiserweight champion Rey Mysterio Jr defeated Ultimo "The ULTIMATE" Dragon to retain the title. Good match, crowd didn't give a shit. I don't say that dismissively, either. The crowd seems to not care about matches involving folks who are not the big guys. Evidence of this to come shortly.

Scott Norton defeated Ice Train via submission. Deathly boring and without the joy of seeing two big fuckers beating the fuck out of each other because one big fucker's shoulder (Ice Train) was fucked and so the other big fucker (Norton) was whacking that before the eventual submission. 

Madusa defeated Bull Nakano... or did she? The ending was weird because Bull caught Madusa in a German and Madusa got a shoulder up. And then she somehow won... or something. Anyway, winner gets to wreck the loser's bike and the crowd shat over this because how dare these dames wreck a beautiful Harley... or maybe it was a chopper. I don't know. I don't care, either.

Chris Benoit defeated Dean Malenko. Again, good match, crowd didn't give a shit. And when the 20 minute time limit expired and they added five more minutes, the crowd just BURIED these poor bastards. It was just the wrong place for this sort of match. That, and the sight of Benoit flanked by Elizabeth and... yeah, I'd better stop there.

WCW Tag-Team Champions Harlem Heat (Booker and Stevie Ray) defeated the Steiner Bros. to retain the titles, much to the disdain of the biker crowd who don't like their colored wrestlers. Fortunately for that biker crowd, they'd eventually lose the titles to Hall and Nash. Good match, regardless. I enjoyed this one.

United States champion Ric Flair defeated Eddie Guerrero to retain the title in another fine little match.

The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash) defeated Sting and Lex Luger... and for some reason, this didn't feel like a big deal. Maybe if you had the titles on the line, this would've been more significant rather than taking them off Harlem Heat down the road, but whatever. This was a thing that happened with no sense of urgency.

Hollywood Hulk Hogan defeated WCW World Champion THE GIANT to win the title via copious amounts of outside interference; something that would be a staple feature of many nWo matches going forward and would be used as a crutch for every wrestling promotion under the goddamned sun. Despite being a heel, Hogan was the more cheered guy on the show and it's probably a good thing because he was still doing a lot of his usual Hulk Hogan schtick, as though he hasn't quite figured out this bad guy thing yet. Giant tried, but you knew that he wasn't walking out with the title... big props for him playing dead for the entirety of the post-match, which included Hogan celebrating with Hall and Nash, branding the Big Gold Belt with nWo spray paint, cutting another promo, and beating up ol' Brother Bruti in the process. This went about as long as the match did.

Here's the one positive about these Sturgis shows; it's a unique setting and honestly, any time you hold a wrestling show in a unique setting that looks and feels drastically different from the usual fare is often a huge benefit. Part of the reason why those Club La Vela Nitro shows were so great was partly due to the setting being unique and honestly, you could do some fun stuff in these sorts of settings. And the Sturgis shows are also within that same ballpark, which explains part of the reason why WCW would continue to hold shows there. (Well, that, and Bischoff REALLY loves his motorcycles.)

That having been said, Hog Wild 96 was not a particularly good show and it didn't help that the biker crowd didn't give a shit about stuff that would normally pop the crowd. Some stuff happened, but nothing that would really stick to mind beyond the main event angle. Dare I say that the Road Wild show with JAY LENO in the main event is a better show than this.

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