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The History of Uncensored 1996
Before Lucha Underground, before lucha libre, before my years watching WWE, my number one love in the wrestling business was WCW. It introduced me to pro wrestling, it was the program I watched as I grew up and it provided me with several memorable memories. Unfortunately several of those memories range from the bad to the unintentionally hilarious, which is why we are here today. Well part of the reason. A few days ago, I got a request from “Gamblin” Matt Mortensen to talk about a certain Pay Per View WCW put together, Uncensored 1996. As someone who has seen the event several times and has written extensively on the events that led up to it, I was more than happy to oblige. So pull up a chair, grab a Pepsi and make sure you’ve put the mozzarella sticks in the oven for the appropriate amount of time (wouldn’t want them to finish before you’re done reading!); this is the story of the worst “just kind of there” PPV of all time, WCW Uncensored 1996.
Chapter One: The Alliance to End OH MY GOD WHO THE HELL CARES?!
It was the best of times and the most mediocre of times for WCW during the early days of 1996. With the nWo still a few months away and Nitro still only a few months old, the Turner led federation was caught in a mixed bag heading into the usual clusterfuck known as Uncensored 1996, a pay per view that served up some of the most bizarre gimmick matches in history. Some of the stuff was good, such as a feud between former Los Gringos Locos members Konnan and Eddie Guerrero over the US title, Sting and Lex Luger having the most complicated Tag Team Championship run in history (with face Sting remaining loyal to an increasingly heel Luger), Ric Flair and Randy Savage doing Ric Flair and Randy Savage things and Steven “Don’t call me William” Regal and Fit Finlay (then under the name Belfast Brawler) doing their usual hard hitting brawls. Other things, like The Giant taking on a man known as Loch Ness, a bizarre storyline between the always awful Colonel Parker, Sensational Sherri and Madusa and whatever the hell Booty Man and Diamond Dallas Page were doing was so bad/bland you would’ve thought Gary Marshall was involved.
But the worst of the worst WCW had to offer at the time involved none other than one Hulk Hogan. Nearly two years into his WCW stint by this point, the Hulkster had gone from a boom for WCW business to one of the most laughably bad top stars in wrestling at the time. How did this happen? Largely because of a feud with Kevin Sullivan’s Dungeon of Doom stable, a wannabe cult like group that somehow managed to be even more laughably bad than Hogan. The two combined to produce some of the worst moments in wrestling history throughout 1995, with moments like Hogan entering the “actual” Dungeon of Doom, a mummified giant named The Yeti breaking out of ice at the end of a Nitro, a Monster Truck sumo match between Hogan and the Giant that led to Giant falling off a several story building (and surviving) and Hogan at one point attempting to go dark by dressing up like the Phantom of the Opera. And Hogan wonders why the fans turned on him!
Finally, after months of this abomination continuing with seemingly no end, WCW decided to finish the storyline once and for all with a twist. Realizing the best they could do was drive Hogan into lunacy, the Dungeon decided to recruit new members to the cause to defeat Hogan at Uncensored. Thus the terribly named Alliance to End Hulkamania was born, consisting of top Dungeon members Kevin Sullivan (also WCW booker at the time), Meng and the Barbarian, Four Horsemen members Ric Flair and Arn Anderson (also long time Hogan enemies), Lex Luger, Z-Gangsta (The Artist Formerly Known as Zeus from the cinematic travesty No Holds Barred) and the dude who would go on to play Bane in Batman and Robin. That’s right, the secondary (and that’s putting it kindly) villain of one of the worst superhero films ever wrestled in the Uncensored 96 main event under the name The Ultimate Solution, a name coined only because WCW realized The Final Solution was a little to Nazi-ish just a few days before the show. That right there is face palm inducing enough of a scenario; somehow WCW managed to make it worse by making the match a triple decker Steel Cage match, where Hogan and Randy Savage (sadly relegated to Hogan bobo at this point of his WCW tenure) would have to fight from the top level of the cage all the way to the bottom in order to win the match. Think Ready to Rumble in reverse; if you’re still able to actually think at this point.
Chapter Two: All Downhill from Here
Uncensored 1996 took place on March 24th, 1996 and…well it was something. Surprisingly the show began acting like it could be a pretty solid PPV. While my pal Pen tends to disagree, Konnan and Eddie Guerrero had a solid opener that recalled their past in AAA together, while Regal and the Belfast Brawler did what they did best in an intense sixteen minute contest. For a moment, it looked as though the show would pull a World War Z and actually be competent. Naturally WCW drowned those hopes in a matter of minutes by throwing out Madusa-Colonel Parker (a tragedy), Diamond Dallas Page putting over the Booty Man (a Shakespearian level tragedy) and The Giant vs. Loch Ness (the longest short match in the history of the western hemisphere) in rapid succession. There’s bad, there’s really bad and then there’s having to watch Madusa-Parker, DDP losing to the Booty Man (in a sixteen minute match no less!) and Giant-Loch Ness in a row. I still have nightmares about it all.
Fittingly the top two matches of Uncensored 1996 reflected the card’s dual nature. The second to last match served as the high point, where Sting and Booker T defended the WCW Tag Team Championships against the legendary Road Warriors in a Chicago Street Fight. While Luger was originally supposed to be Sting’s partner and had in fact issued the challenge for the match, his duties in the main event prevented him, leading to Booker stepping up in order to prevent a tag team title shot he and brother Stevie Ray had earned. Against all odds Sting and Booker worked great together and the two teams tore the house down in a violent near thirty minute brawl across Tupelo Coliseum (yes, WCW had a Chicago Street Fight in Mississippi. Because WCW!). Ultimately the two would retain the titles after Luger got involved, a minor note in the grand scheme of a really good match that saved the card and served as the beginning of Booker T’s very slow rise to glory.
As you already can tell from this column though, WCW was at the time a place where you couldn’t have nice things for too long. This brings us to the main event, which might just be one of the worst matches in the history of time. To the surprise of absolutely no one (aside from maybe Eric Bischoff) the Triple Doom Cage Match flopped, featuring some sloppy wrestling from everyone involved (even Savage, who clearly was coasting here) and the rules for the match being thrown out the window when Hogan and Savage got free from the cage and proceeded to beat up Alliance members in the ring (the cages had been set up near the entrance way). Five minutes of all that would be bad enough; this match went on for twenty five, and you felt every single second of it. The only redeeming value this bout had was the ending, and I don’t just mean that it ended; Luger (truly everywhere that evening) would end up costing the Alliance the match, starting a face turn that would eventually lead to him becoming one of the top faces in WCW over the next few years. It’s not much, but considering that’s a much lighter moment than you realizing Hogan and Savage easily (and I mean easily) beat an 8 on 2 advantage I figured we’d go with that. Seriously, 8 on 2 and Hogan and Savage made it look like child’s play. Even Vince McMahon wouldn’t go that far to get someone over...shit, he’s going to do this to get Roman over someday isn’t he?
Uncensored 1996 was…a pay per view. I don’t know if I can sum it up better than that. Sure it has moments of borderline greatness and the conclusion of one of wrestling’s worst storylines of all time, but on the whole the show is just kind of there, the Ed Norton Incredible Hulk of wrestling shows. So why write about it? One, because my pal Matt Mortensen requested it and I honestly had nothing better to do. Most importantly, this show is the point where WCW began to turn things around. Those who watched WCW from the beginning of Nitro to this point know that there were a lot of pieces working for the company; they were just being hamstrung by the terrible main event scene led by Hogan and the stupidity surrounding him. Uncensored 1996 represented the end of all that. Hogan would disappear for months, the Alliance of Hulkamania fizzled out, Ric Flair and Randy Savage went back to feuding with each other and a few months later WCW took a gamble that paid off into one of the greatest storylines/factions in wrestling history. Uncensored 1996, as unremarkable or brutal as it may be, was the launching pad of all that. Look at it as the moment where WCW realized it was time for a change. And thank goodness; imagine if WCW had remained the Hulkamania show for the next several years. One sumo monster truck match was enough!
And scene. I’ll be back later goofballs with…something. Why do I have to make up my mind on what it’ll be now? Till then, how about some more Hogan 1995 clips?! Highest of comedy I tell you.
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