1995 saw WCW take the fight to the WWF by introducing a prime-time Monday night show head-to-head with Monday Night Raw. That broadcast was called Monday Nitro and was an instant success.
On the debut show, Lex Luger, who had competed for the WWF the previous night made his return to WCW and immediately challenged WCW Champion, Hulk Hogan.
WCW was suddenly must-see television. It’s pay-per-view output was however even worse than the previous year. Despite that fact, the promotion after many years as a distant competitor to the WWF was now finally going places.
This feature ranks all 10 events from worst to best.
Slamboree 1995 is bad. Really bad. The main event between Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage and the team of Ric Flair and Vader was decent, however. Hogan pinned Flair to win a fun bout of the veterans. Although, everything else was almost comically terrible.
Wahoo McDaniel versus Dick Murdoch was a bout of the legends that belonged in the 1960s. WCW producers obviously thought so too. They aired this bout in black and white.
The Man with No Name against Kevin Sullivan had no place on a House Show let alone a pay-per-view and Meng versus Road Warrior Hawk was an insult at four minutes in duration with a double count-out finish.
The only other bout on the show that could be considered passable was the match pitting TV Champion, Arn Anderson against Alex Wright. The action was tight, and it at least had a clean finish, with Anderson nailing the German with a DDT for the win.
Once again, Slamboree played host to WCW’s Hall of Fame ceremony. Dusty Rhodes was the headline inductee. However, there was backstage drama in relation to the selection of inductees. The legendary Gordon Solie, who presented the awards was dismayed that preliminary talent, Angelo Poffo was awarded an induction, given he achieved little of note during his career.
Poffo’s son, Randy Savage had pulled some strings to garner his old man, a Hall of Fame berth. In an attempt to make amends, WCW surprised Solie with an impromptu induction of his own. However, ultimately this did little to satiate Solie and he never worked for WCW or wrestling in any capacity ever again. Slamboree 1995 therefore was notable for bringing the curtain down on his legendary 40-year career.
#9 SuperBrawl V
The fifth annual SuperBrawl was headlined by the highly anticipated first meeting between WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan and Big Van Vader. The pair fought in a spirited brawl which was really rather good. Predictably, it ended in a disqualification, when the recently “retired” Ric Flair interjected. However, that device did further the feud. Disappointingly, none of their subsequent bouts came close to matching this one.
The only other bout that had any entertainment value whatsoever was the semi-final which pitted ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage and Sting opposite Big Bubba Rogers and Avalanche. The faces won a decent battle.
The rest of the card was complete dross. Blacktop Bully versus Dustin Rhodes, Harlem Heat versus The Nasty Boys, Dave Sullivan versus Kevin Sullivan and ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan versus Bunkhouse Buck deserve special mention for how terrible they all were.
Hard avoid apart from the top two matches.
The inaugural Uncensored card was filled with unsanctioned matches, due to the large amount of blood feuds in WCW at the time.
The overload of gimmicks meant little offered a lasting impression. It didn’t help that most of the bouts were complete garbage.
The first match pitted Blacktop Bully and Dustin Rhodes in a King of the Road match. The pair fought on a moving truck and the winner was the wrestler who made his way to the cab of the truck and sounded the horn. This contest was pre-recorded and was heavily edited as both participants bladed, which was in contravention of company policy.
Ironic, that a match at Uncensored was heavily censored! WCW in a nutshell in 1995. Bully won but both men were fired after the match. Rhodes would resurface in the WWF before the end of the year as Goldust.
Meng versus ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan in a Martial Arts match and Harlem Heat versus The Nasty Boys in a Tornado Tag Team match were awful.
‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage versus Avalanche was passable, but the No Disqualification match ended in a, wait for it, disqualification! That was due to outside interference from Ric Flair, who was edging closer to an in-ring return.
Sting versus Big Bubba Rogers and Johnny B. Badd versus Arn Anderson in a Boxer versus Wrestler bout were OK but that’s all.
The headliner pitted Hulk Hogan versus Big Van Vader in a rematch from SuperBrawl in a Strap Match. Unfortunately, this was not a patch on their SuperBrawl encounter and the ending was an insult. Prior to the bout Hogan introduced his “ultimate surprise.” The indication was that The Ultimate Warrior was set to make his WCW debut.
However, WCW introduced a Warrior lookalike called The Renegade instead, which was a colossal let-down. Flair also interfered in this match, and it was himself who was dragged to all four corners not Vader. For some reason, Hogan was announced the winner.
Uncensored was a struggle of an event with very little watchable action on display.
#7 Halloween Havoc
Halloween Havoc 1995 has one redeeming feature. That is the bout between Sting and Ric Flair versus Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman. The match told a logical story and featured some great action before the screw job finish.
For perhaps the 1,000th time in his career, Sting was betrayed by his partner, Flair, who once again realigned himself with The Four Horsemen. In this case, the disqualification finish added to the drama.
However, the card is best remembered for the awful main event between WCW World Champion, Hulk Hogan and The Giant and the nonsensical angle that preceded it.
Firstly, the two behemoths competed in a Monster Truck competition atop Cobo Hall, where the winner had to ram the other across a finishing line. Hogan won. Then the pair began brawling on the roof, when ‘The Hulkster’ inadvertently sent The Giant tumbling off the building.
In classic WCW fashion, The Giant did not die after plunging off the top of the arena and wrestled Hogan as scheduled in the headliner a short time later. In what is a strong contender for worst pay-per-view main event ever, The Giant defeated Hogan by disqualification to win the WCW World Title.
The title change, as it was later explained occurred on a DQ due to small print in the match contract that Hogan’s manager, Jimmy Hart had inserted before turning on his charge.
Owing to the controversy the belt was held up and put up for grabs in the 60-man Battle Royal main event of World War 3 the following month.
The rest of the card was a washout. Only the opener pitting Johnny B. Badd against Diamond Dallas Page offered anything resembling action on the undercard.
#6 Bash at the Beach
The second annual Bash at the Beach extravaganza actually took place at the beach. A ring was set up in Huntington Beach, California, with beach goers looking on. Unfortunately, a dip in the sea or a spot of sunbathing would have been infinitely more enjoyable than the pitiful action on display.
The feud between Hulk Hogan and Vader ended in a whimper in a lame Cage Match, in which the pair sleepwalked for 13-minutes. The action was passable but nothing more. Hogan exited the cage to win. Post-match, Ric Flair and Arn Anderson confronted Vader, which led to a face turn. However, Vader would soon leave the company after an incident with Road Agent, Paul Orndorff. He would resurface in the WWF the following year as a heel once more.
Harlem Heat defeated The Nasty Boys and The Blue Bloods in a Triple Threat encounter, which was fair but harmed by a nonsensical ending. The Nasties covered both Steven Regal and Booker T to apparently win the belts. However, the referee ruled as Booker was on top of Regal, underneath the Nasties, that Harlem Heat retained. Awful dusty finish.
Sting versus Meng, DDP versus Dave Sullivan, The Renegade versus Paul Orndorff and Kamala versus ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan were all terrible.
Familiar foes, Ric Flair and Randy Savage battled each other once again in a bout which was the best thing on the show. However, the action was only decent. ‘Macho Man’ defeated Flair with his patented, diving elbow.
Bash at the Beach was a glorified house show, with almost nothing of consequence on the entire card. A completely worthless pay-per-view.
#5 Collision in Korea
Collision in Korea was an odd show. It took place in the insular, North Korea over two nights on April 28 and April 29, 1995. The brainchild of Antonio Inoki, the head of New Japan Pro Wrestling, the event was devised to improve relations between Japan and North Korea. Inoki’s political career was floundering at the time and this in his mind was the remedy.
Legendary boxer, Muhammed Ali was the guest of honour at both shows. The event pulled the largest crowds in pro-wrestling history. Over 150,000 fans packed out The Rungrado 1st of May Stadium over both nights.
The in-ring action was only passable, but there were some highlights. Manami Toyota and Mariko Yoshida versus Bull Nakano and Akira Hokuto was an excellent battle and a showcase for female wrestling in Japan, which far bettered anything in the West during the era.
The Steiner Brothers rumbled with Hiro Hase and Kensuke Sasaki in a super stiff, athletic barn burner. This was by far the strongest match on either night.
Night two was headlined by Inoki clashing with Ric Flair, in a somewhat dream match-up. Unfortunately, given that Inoki was 53 years of age and Flair was 46, the pair could only muster a fair contest. It was a credible bout though considering their limitations in 1995.
A watchable show no doubt. It’s quite fascinating to see such a vast crowd sitting on their hands for two nights as well.
#4 Fall Brawl
Fall Brawl 1995 played host to one of the lamest War Games matches ever. The team of Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Lex Luger and Sting battled The Dungeon of Doom, which consisted of the woeful, Kamala, Meng, The Zodiac (Ed Leslie) and The Shark (John Tenta). No prizes for guessing who won this one. A complete waste of the War Games gimmick, the match had no heat and poor action.
Harlem Heat bested Bunkhouse Buck and Dick Slader in a long, boring, tedious match-up. Sgt. Craig Pittman beat Cobra in 80 seconds in a complete dud that had no place on pay-per-view. Rounded out the woeful “action”, DDP defeated the awful Renegade to lift the TV Title in another awful bout.
Thankfully, the card was somewhat saved by an excellent, back and forth opener between the ever reliable, Brian Pillman and the vastly underrated, Johnny B. Badd. The crowd were hot for this 30- minute stunner. The North Carolina crowd were also lively for the much-anticipated contest between long-time allies, Ric Flair and Arn Anderson.
The story of the match was that the pair knew each other so well that they had each other’s moves scouted and they had to pull out all the stops to earn victory. The end came when Anderson’s Horsemen ally, Pillman levelled Flair, setting him up for a huge DDT, which earned AA the upset victory.
With two very good matches on display, Fall Brawl 1995 has some merit. However, the bad really drags the event down as a whole.
#3 The Great American Bash
The Great American Bash was mildly entertaining in places but largely inconsequential.
The main event saw Ric Flair and Randy Savage clash once again. This stemmed from Flair’s attack on Savage’s father, Angelo Poffo, the previous month at Slamboree. Although their bouts were extremely familiar at this point in time, the Ohio crowd were heavily invested in the action. The match was decent and a worthy headliner.
Also passable was the contest between Sting and Meng. At 13 minutes in duration, it was too long for two participants who had little chemistry. However, the energetic ‘Stinger’ managed to keep the action moving for the most part.
Brian Pillman continued his fine run of form in 1995, by carrying the underrated Alex Wright to a tidy bout in the card’s opener.
The rest of the card was a washout; The Renegade versus Arn Anderson and Jim Duggan versus Sgt. Craig Pittman were among the abominations on display.
The Great American Bash was a mishmash of decent and very bad.
#2 World War 3
The inaugural World War 3 pay-per-view played host to the first ever three ring 60-man Battle Royal in the headliner for the vacant WCW World Title. ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage was victorious but not without controversy. Hulk Hogan who was also a participant in the bout, was pulled through the ropes by The Giant and brawled on the outside.
Meanwhile Savage last ejected The One Man Gang to seemingly win. Hogan protested after the finish with the referees and Savage, that he had not been eliminated. However, his appeals fell on deaf ears. Bafflingly, this never went anywhere, as Hogan disappeared for a couple of months and Savage dropped the belt a few weeks later before the pair could clash in the ring. The bout itself was as good as it could be, considering it was impossible to follow what was going on until half of the field had been ejected.
Sting took on Ric Flair in a match that was billed as the final one between the pair (yeah, right!). It was not a patch on their efforts in previous years but was still a fine match-up, worthy of its semi-final billing.
There was an excellent tag team encounter showcasing female talent from two Japanese promotions, JPW and All Japan: Cutie Suzuki and Mayumi Ozaki lost out to Bull Nakano and Akira Hokuto.
Kensuki Sasaki and Chris Benoit clashed in a dream match on paper that mildly disappointed somewhat. However, the highlight of the card was a stupendous battle between Johnny B. Badd and DDP which rocked The Norfolk Scope for 12 minutes of back and forth, fast moving action over the TV Title.
World War 3 was a decent event, that had plenty of good and very little filler.
In 1995, WCW saved the best for last. It’s Starrcade card was billed as the “World Cup of Wrestling” with WCW competitors squaring off against top Japanese stars in a tournament.
It felt completely different from the cartoon wrestling the promotion had foisted on its fans all year. This was a wrestling show, with the focus on the in-ring product.
The highlight of the show was the tournament bout between Shinjiro Ohtani and Eddy Guerrero, who lit up the arena with a breath-taking display of innovative aerials.
Chris Benoit versus Jushin Liger was a mild disappointment but that’s only because expectations for their bout were incredibly high.
There were a couple of duds such as: Lex Luger versus Masa Chono and Johnny B. Badd versus Masa Saito, but nothing too offensive to detract from the rest of the show.
The semi-final saw Ric Flair best Lex Luger and Sting in a superlative Triangle Match to earn a shot at Randy Savage’s WCW World crown.
In the headliner, Flair bested Savage in a decent match-up, following interference from the Four Horsemen, to claim the WCW World Title.
With two stunning matches and many very good ones, Starrcade 1995 was undoubtedly the best wrestling card of the year, although the World Cup format failed to attract pay-per-view orders. The card drastically underperformed at the box office.
You can watch classic WCW events exclusively on the WWE Network.