What if…Hulk Hogan didn’t turn heel at Bash At The Beach ’96?
Our story begins on July 7th, 1996, during the main event of ‘Bash At The Beach’, a ‘Hostile Takeover’ match between The Outsiders and the team of Randy Savage, Lex Luger and Sting, representing WCW. With Luger already out of action, and Randy Savage’s comeback interrupted by a Kevin Nash low blow, all four men are down, and the ‘third man’ of Hall and Nash’s team has yet to arrive. Suddenly, the lights go out, and it’s here that we enter the story…
And it’s here that it’s dark, and nothing can be heard but confused shouting from the ring, and furtive murmuring cutting a frantic undercurrent through the anxious silence of the crowd, as they anticipate the arrival of the third man. Suddenly, a thunderously loud chairshot rings through the arena, reverberating to magnify it’s already tremendous sound. There’s a pause of silence, as the shouting stops, and the crowd hangs on the edge of their seats. As suddenly as the lights died, so are they reborn, and the ring is bathed again in light, illuminating clearly the sight of Hall covering Sting, as Nash does Savage, the weapon obviously used to down the heroes nowhere to be seen. Loathe to do it, but bound by the rules, the WCW referee bends to his knees, and slaps the mat with both his hands, once, twice, thrice. WCW not only failed to defend it’s honour, but it was unable even to learn the identity of the third man. It is on a defeated note, save for the arrogantly posing Outsiders, that Bash At The Beach concludes…
July 8th, 1996: WCW Monday Nitro
The opening shot of Nitro focuses on the broadcast table, and sitting at it are Eric Bischoff, Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan, and the ‘American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes. They hype the episode’s main event, in which Randy Savage will face off against one of his rival Flair’s allies when he clashes with Chris Benoit. They start then to talk about the events of last night, when two men stride onto the scene, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall: The Outsiders.
Nash laughs, slapping Hall on the back, as they both loom over the announce desk
“Hey look, it’s another three ‘WCW Big Boys.’” Hall steps behind Nash, a smirk on his face
“Hide me, Kev! They’re about as scary as those three men we fought last night!” Nash sighs deeply “Man, that was some fight, huh? I mean, we hardly needed that third man, we had them beat without him, ain’t that right, Dusty?” he says, slapping Dusty in a friendly way on the shoulder. Dusty stands up angrily, the former multi-time world champion staring up into the eyes of Nash. Nash laughs, putting his hands up, with a goofy smile on his face, backing off from the broadcast table with Hall, laughing as they go.
Later on in the broadcast, Bischoff puts his hand to his headset, listening closely, before reporting that Randy Savage couldn’t make it to the show tonight, and that they’re looking into the reason why. Another twenty minutes pass before the reason why is explained, as Bischoff reports that a tape has been sent in with the explanation for his absence, and the camera cuts out to show the tape.
And it’s a shocking sight that greets the audience of Nitro: Lex Luger, Randy Savage and Sting, all tied to chairs in a dank room, gags tied in their mouths. A tough voice, full of grit and gravel growls at them from behind the camera.
“Something was wrong with last night. Three former champions, three great wrestlers, couldn’t stop two thugs? Now, unless old age suddenly caught up with you all in one night, there’s just no excuse. One of you must be the inside man, I’m sure of it. And I’ve been a part of this business, this industry, this company, too damn long to let it slide. I’m going to get to the bottom of this. That’s a promise.” The camera focuses on Lex
“Now, your injury at the start of the match, that was awful convenient, if you ask me. Maybe you set it up, huh? Set it up so you could come out there later in the night, and no-one would know.” Luger shakes his had in vehement denial of this accusation, before the camera turns to Sting
“And you. It was your splash that took him out, and no-one could have seen if that chairshot was you hitting Savage. Then you could’ve just lain down to protect your cover.” The look of cold fury in Sting’s eyes raises above the camera to stare daggers at the man behind it, as he swivels it around to face Savage, struggling against his bonds, trying in vain to reach the man behind the camera. The voice growls
“Of course, the same could easily be true of you. You could’ve hit Sting and let yourself get pinned too. I find that a lot more likely than Sting, personally. I’ve fought Sting, and he’s a man of honour. Besides, he’s always been in this company, whereas you and those Outsiders all came from up north. I’m going to call and let people know where you are now. You won’t get back in time for Nitro, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to let you know how easily I can have you at my mercy. I’m going to be looking into things. If I find out it was one of you, you’ll be back here, and you won’t get out so easily.”
With this, the camera is switched off, and we return to the broadcast table, where Bischoff and Heenan discuss whether this could really be true, could any of those three be the traitors, and if we can’t trust them, is there anyone we can trust? Dusty, on the other hand, looks determined. He stands up, and begins to walk away from the desk. Bischoff turns, giving him a quizzical look. Dusty comments
“Savage and Benoit is off. We need a new main event, I’m gonna go backstage and get ready to beat some sense, beat some respect into Kevin Nash. How’s that sound to you? That sound like a main event?” Bischoff turns in his chair, a shocked look on his face.
“Well, you heard it here first, people. Dusty Rhodes returns to action tonight. I just hope he can put Nash out of it.”
When the main event comes around, Nash strolls confidently down to the ring, not looking the least bit worried about the notion of Dusty putting him out of action. The crowd think differently, however, judging by the explosion of noise that greets ‘American Dream’ blasting through the speakers, and the sight of Dusty striding to the ring. The bell rings, and the match is under way. Nash starts by roughly shoving Dusty, causing him to stumble back, and Nash to raise his arms above his head, as if he’d already won. Dusty looks enraged now, and rushes forwards, peppering Nash with quickfire punches. Nash interrupts, grabbing him by the arm and whipping him roughly into the ropes. Dusty comes back with a shoulder block that causes Nash to stagger back a step or two. From here, Dusty is able to deliver a Bionic Elbow, sending Nash careening back into the ropes. Dusty drops his head, ready to backdrop Nash when he comes back, only for Nash to scoop him up from the position, dropping him back down with a brutal jackknife powerbomb, scooping him up and dropping him with another, then a third, before casually placing a foot on his chest, pinning him for three. As Nash celebrates as if he’d just won the world title, paramedics rush to bring Dusty away, where he can be safely checked medically, drawing Nitro to a close with the Outsiders victorious again.
July 15th, 1996: WCW Monday Nitro
The Four Horsemen look all business as they arrive at the arena for tonight’s edition of Nitro. Forcefully shoving the doors open, they stride purposefully through the corridors, where they meet Randy Savage, going the other way. There’s a stalemate in the corridor, neither giving way to let the other pass. After a tense moment, Savage steps forward, going eye to eye with Arn Anderson. Arn meets his stare, and the two seem ready to fight, when Flair shoves Savage, turning the two to face each other, Savage keeping watch on Arn from the corner of his eye. Flair warns Savage
“We’re not coming for you, Randy…not today, at least. We’re here to get Nash and Hall for what they did to Dusty. See, we went to war, back in the day, and that gave me a hell of a lot of respect for the Dream. And the Dream’s slumbering in a hospital bed right now, after that nightmare last Nitro. One way or another, they’ll be made to pay. You planning on standing between us and them?”
Savage steps to one side, letting the Horsemen file past him, only stopping Arn, grabbing his arm as he passes.
“This isn’t over, Arn.”
“You’d better pray it is.”
Bischoff happily supports the Horsemen from the announce desk, and the main event of Outsiders versus Ric Flair and anyone he wants to bring with him to the ring is quickly made.
The Outsiders are ‘reached for comment’ later in the night, although by the look on Gene Okerlund’s face, and the arms of Hall and Nash forcefully holding him on either side, it looks more like Hall and Nash reached Gene, to make him broadcast their comment. Hall is the first to speak
“Y’know, Kev, does this whole thing seem fair to you?” Nash turns and looks at his partner, before jovially responding
“What whole thing, Bad Guy?”
“The fact that there’s four horsemen,” he raises four fingers “gunning for two of us”, dropping two of them now. Nash smiles, reminding Hall
“Three of us, you mean.” Okerlund interrupts, turning to Kevin Nash and asking the question
“And just who is this third man we’ve heard so much about?” Hall’s hand pushes Okerlund to face him, and he asks
“What are you, the kind of man who was always sneaking a look at his Christmas presents as a kid? It’s a secret, ok? You’ll all find out soon enough. You might even find out tonight.” Nash shrugs “This guy’s boring me, Scott. Let’s get gone. We gotta get ready for Flair and the failures later tonight.”
The time of the match rolls around, and Hall and Nash casually stroll to ringside, Hall stopping to make a crying face at a camera, mouthing “Poor Dusty” at it before laughing and moving on. They slouch in adjacent turnbuckles, watching the ramp with bored expressions, as conversation at the announce desk is furtive about who Flair has picked to be his partner. Flair struts out, holding a microphone and accompanied by the rest of the Horsemen, who, with the exception of the approving smile of Arn Anderson, look disgruntled. They flank the ramp on either side, and look towards the entrance arch, as Eddy Guerrero steps tentatively out, looking slightly unsure of himself, but proud nonetheless, and takes his place next to Flair. Flair raises the microphone, and begins to speak.
“Let me introduce to you, my partner for the night, Eddy Guerrero!” The camera cuts to Nash and Hall, and the former shouting in a voice of mock terror
“Not Eddy Guerrero! We’re finished now!” while the latter is unable to stand still for laughter. Back to Flair, who continues
“I see some of you are a little…confused about my choice” Bischoff interjects on commentary that Benoit and Malenko look “more angry than confused.”
“Especially you two in the ring, who I wouldn’t expect for a second to understand this choice! Now, while I see confusion in you, all I see in Mr. Guerrero here is one hell of a lot of promise! And it’s that promise that makes WCW so great, and it’s that promise that you two are trying to crush by coming here! Me and Dusty, we were just guys on the midcard with a hell of a lot of promise once, and it’s for that reason that I want Eddy Guerrero in my corner, to help me beat some respect into you two punks! Wooo!”
Eddy, getting increasingly fired up by Flair’s speech, dashes towards the ring. Flair looks mildly frustrated before dropping the mic and heading after him, the Horsemen heading down to surround the ring. Eddy hits the ring first, charged up, and makes a beeline for Hall, only for Nash to blindside him with a big boot. The two then proceed to lay the boots to him, until Flair enters, laying a blinding flurry of knife edge chops that alternates between the two, giving Eddy time to regain his feet, whereupon he immediately leaps on Nash and throws elbows wildly. The official calls for the bell, and is eventually able to regain order, forcing each time to send a man back to their corner. Flair sends Eddy back, as Nash steps over the ropes to his side. A fire burns in Flair’s eyes as he obviously seeks vengeance against Nash for Dusty, fixing Hall dead on with a look of pure steel and mouthing
“Send him in.” Hall shakes his head and laughs, prompting a barrage of chops from the Nature Boy, causing Hall to stagger backwards into the turnbuckle next to Nash’s corner. Flair grabs him by the head, and drags him towards Nash, before receiving a knee to the midsection, which doubles him over. Flair regains his posture in time to catch a lariat from Hall. Hall scoops him up, and hoists him in the air for a suplex, only for Flair to float over and score with a neckbreaker. He strides to Nash, and slaps him roughly across the face, turning back around to Hall. Nash, look of anger on his face, takes a step across the apron and slaps Hall on the back, tagging himself in. Flair doesn’t notice, allowing Nash to smash a giant elbow across the back of his head, dropping Flair to his knees. Nash grabs Flair’s hair and begins to pull him up, but the dirtiest player in the game lives up to his name, scoring a low blow on Nash, much to the crowd’s approval. The two then engage in a wild mix of high impact throws and suplexes with merciless strikes, Flair’s rage more than compensating for the size difference. After a brutal exchange of strikes in the centre of the ring, the fight has clearly taken a lot out of both men, and when a Flair closed fist strike staggers Nash, and is thrown with such force by the battered Flair that he drops to a knee, they each recognise the need to tag out, and make their ways to their corners. Hall cockily stares Eddy up and down, a smile on his face. Hall’s underestimation proves to be is undoing, as Guerrero surprises him with a flurry of dropkicks, enzuiguris, headscissors and other aerial manoeuvres that keep Hall from mounting a counter offensive. His youthful exuberance is his undoing, however, as he clambers prematurely to the top rope for a Frog Splash, which Hall is able to roll away from, tagging his partner in. Eddy regains his feet and sprints at Nash, leaping up for a hurracarana, only for Nashto transfer it into a Jacknife Powerbomb. With Eddy firmly in enemy ground, and Flair battered and tired, he is unable to reach Eddy in time to stop the three count. The Horsemen hit the ring, causing Hall and Nash to duck out of it, laughing and congratulating each other as they back off up the ramp.
July 22nd, 1996: WCW Monday Nitro
Two events of significance to our story occur on this broadcast. The first sees Sting barge up to Ric Flair, with an obvious mind to speak his piece
“Explain something to me, Ric! How come, when I extend the offer of partnering you, of being in your corner, you brush me off? You tell me you have a better partner in mind, and then that happens? What is it, you don’t think a man who’s held the top honour in wrestling multiple times, has even taken it from you, is good enough?”
“Now Sting, I know you’re good in the ring. Hell, I know you’re one of the best in the ring. But two weeks ago, on Nitro? I reckon some pretty good points were raised. I don’t know yet if I can trust you to be good in here” he places a hand on Sting’s chest. The implication that he might be the third man is too much for Sting to take, and he shoves Flair with such force that he stumbles backwards, dropping to the ground.
“Let me get this straight, you don’t trust me? You, who took this company’s world title, and ran off to parade it around the same places those two scumbags came from? You, who could have had anyone in your corner, and chose someone they were able to best easily? You, who call yourself the dirtiest player in the game, want to call yourself clean of this, and me dirty?”
Flair regains his feet, and the two have to be separated by a mass of people as they struggle towards each other, itching to fight.
The other is another video taken by the abductor of Sting, Savage and Luger two weeks ago. This time, we see, from a shoulder mounted camera, the man root through a house, muttering under his breath that there
“must be some clue here. Got to show people the truth.”A car is heard pulling up, stopping, and doors slamming, causing the man to exclaim “Damn!” as the voices of Hall and Nash and Nash can be heard outside.
“Man, sure is good to take a well earned break from kicking the ass of a whole company, huh?”
“Oh, because it’s such hard work”
The camera is put down onto a table, and we see the midsection of the investigator, a well built man, crouching on his haunches, and grabbing a nearby baseball bat to defend himself with, the other hand reaching to switch off the camera.
July 29th, 1996: WCW Monday Nitro
Nitro this week opens with the announcers excitedly discussing news of Flair vs Sting being added to the upcoming Hog Wild card. They are interrupted, however, by the sight of Hall and Nash, dragging a struggling man, with hands bound, and a large sack placed over his head, towards the ring. He is hurled roughly under the ropes, and stumbles to his feet while the Outsiders enter the ring, only for Hall to put him down with a rough punch, before raising the microphone to speak
“Well what have we got here? Looks like we’ve got a treat for you, people of” he turns to Nash with a bemused stare, mouthing “what town is this?”
Nash replies “Rome. All these hick towns look the same to me, too.”
Hall laughs a little “Rome? As in, friends, Romans, countrymen? This town sure looks built in a day. Anyway, people of…Rome, we have here the man who has been stalking this company, looking for some sign of who the third man is. Apparently he thinks we’re some second rate movie villains who’d just leave these kind of clues lying around. And today, we ain’t gonna tell you who our third man is, that’s our litte secret, but we will show you who this mystery investigator is! Hicks and hickettes, may I present your home-town hero, Arn Anderson!”
With this declaration, the sack is removed, and the camera focuses in on the bloody, bruised visage of Arn Anderson, rage still burning in his blood caked eyes.
Hall continues, once the anger of the crowd dies down “Now, what should we do with you” when all of a sudden, over the broadcast system…
“He’s American Made!”
A male voice croons over power chords, signalling one thing: Hulk Hogan had returned to WCW. Hall and Nash appear for the first time to be concerned, and drop from the ring, backing off with hands raised, the cock-sure grins half wiped from their faces, but still lingering at the corners of their mouths. Hogan hits the ring to an enthusiastic reaction from the live crowd, and cannot help but strike a quick pose before he sets to Arn’s bound and gagged state, freeing him from his restraints, and offering a hand to help him up, only for Arn it shove it away, hefting himself up by the ring ropes. Hogan looks surprised, and watches as Arn limps towards and lifts one of the mics dropped by Hall and Nash as they made their escape.
Struggling between ragged breaths, he begins to speak “First of all, let me thank you, Hulk, for helping me out of a bind there, not to mention helping me out of those binds…once you were done posing for the crowd. And I’ll follow these words of gratitude with a question: Where the hell have you been? WCW’s in trouble, WCW’s in the worst trouble it’s been in for a long time, and you’re, what – vacationing? Spending some quality time at home? This is the first time I’ve seen you since those invaders showed up. You didn’t think it was worth defending the company that welcomed you with open arms when they were done with you up north? But maybe, just maybe you were around. Maybe you were there on July 7th, huh? Maybe, when the lights went out, you were able to avoid the spotlight just that once, to go and help those two out, and all that this is is an act to cover it up.”
Hogan stares with reproach at Arn, the crowd unsure of how to react, waiting for his response. Hulk picks up the other abandoned mic, and ends the crowd’s waiting
“Arn, pal, you’re hurt bad. I’m going to let all that slide, because you’ve obviously been through hell this last week. I’m just gonna walk away, and forget what you just said, okay?”
Hogan heads towards the ropes on the other side from Arn, making to leave, before Arn bitterly remarks “Walk away then. I guess more than just your ring gear is yellow, huh?”
Hogan pauses, looking back at Arn.
“What was that?”
“You heard me, coward.”
Hogan’s patience is clearly frayed by accusations of treachery and cowardice, and he storms across to Arn, giving the injured man a shove hard enough to send him over the top rope to the floor below, before storming off.
Arn’s night goes nowhere good after this, shortly after an announcement that he is booked to face Hogan at Hog Wild, the cameras catch him limping backstage, when he bumps into the Macho Man, Randy Savage, who has some choice words
“Oooh Yeeah! Karma, baby! What a concept! Looks like you got what was coming, running around like Sam Spade!”
A grimace firmly planted upon his face, Arn’s response is to growl that he’s “Gonna get better, Savage. I’ll remember those words. I got better people to deal with right now.”
And so it is that we later catch up to him, entering the locker room of The Four Horsemen, whose faces turn to looks of concern on seeing their comrade in arms in so bad a condition, while his remains a bitter one.
“Where the hell were you, huh? I thought The Horsemen rode together, that we looked out for our own.”
Flair is quick to answer “Looking for you, Arn. You’ve been missing all week. We were in town, trying to find you. Hell, we only got word of what happened an hour ago. We’ve got your back again, and we’ll get them. No-one does that to a Horseman. Benoit and Malenko here have got Hogan and our old friend Sting tonight, and once we’re done with them, we can focus on the fools trying to outgun us.”
Arn settles wearily into a seat and takes a drink from a hipflask, and the scene fades out, the horsemen talking strategy for the main event.
The main event sees Benoit and Malenko hold their own briefly against Sting and Hogan, with considerable help from Flair at ringside, before eventually tumbling to the combined forces of two of WCW’s biggest names, who look ready for anything at Hog Wild. The commentators spend much of the match tensely wondering if Hall and Nash would make an appearance, but this match was free of their interference.
August 5th, 1996: WCW Nitro
In the final Nitro before Hog Wild, the focus is obviously on the card ahead, and with that in mind, the main event is set: the Horsemen’s top two men will face their enemies at Hog Wild, Hogan and Sting, in a triangle tag match against the Outsiders.
Bischoff smugly adds from his desk “Oh, and that’s going up against Ahmed Johnson winning some battle royal on Raw. Not much of a comparison, is there?”
Mean Gene Okerlund is able to get an interview with the returning Hulk Hogan during the evening, who has something to get off his chest, for all the fans to hear, and there’s an obvious anger to his usual energy.
“Y’know something Mean Gene? It’s good to be back, good to be back in the old WCW, in front of all my Hulkamaniacs! But when I get here, everything’s out of control, brother! We got, we got these damn punks, these Outsiders, trying to run wild on my company, on my friends, and on my Hulkamaniacs! And that makes me angry, brother. I get to the show, and those two fools are in my ring, parading that they kidnapped a man, that they took him and beat him like a dog! And that’s not right, brother. So I make my way down there, I make my way down, and I save Arn Anderson, a man I have no love for, a man I’ve fought before. Does he say thank you? NO! He calls me a coward, calls me a traitor. You want to say it’s all a cover, Arn? Well, I gotta say, I think that The Horsemen are fools for riding with you, Arn! Because you’re the one kicking up the biggest fuss about finding out who this is, and the best reason to do that is if you’re trying to push eyes away from you, brother. I’ll see you in the ring!”
Ric Flair and Sting start the main event off with an excellent display of chain wrestling, which Flair is able to get the better of, leaving Sting down after a strong superplex. Hall blind tags himself in on Flair, and proceeds to beat down the already tired Sting, using quick tags to Nash to keep the other men out of the match. Sting gets a window of opportunity when he is able to dive out of the course of a Nash avalanche in the corner, a time he uses to will himself to Hogan for the hot tag. Hogan and Nash face off now, the Hulkster in the rare position of having to stare up at his opponent. Fuelled by the crowd’s deafening response to him, however, he is able to trade blows with a colossal Nash. With one of the men responsible for subjecting him to a week of ceaseless brutality and humiliation, and the man who has accused him of treachery both in the ring, Arn begins to pace impatiently on the apron. Seeing no sign of a respite in the trading of shots, Arn steps into the ring, and charges into the melee, striking both men with wild abandon. When the focus becomes on Nash, Hall is quick to enter, drawing Arn away and into a fight with Hall. Flair steps in to chop block Hall’s legs out from under him, and with both other teams having both their men in the ring, Sting joins the growing brawl, as the referee abandons all hope of controlling the ensuing chaos, which eventually draws to it’s conclusion when Sting hits Arn with the Scorpion Deathdrop, only for Hall to quickly lariat him down, and cover Arn for himself, earning the victory for the Outsiders.
August 10th, 1996: WCW Hog Wild
Hog Wild opens with a panning shot of the crowd, before focussing on two “fans” in the front row: Hall and Nash. Security stands near the duo, arguing with them as they brandish their tickets, and Hall complains “Hey yo, this is persecution! We just wanted to watch from the good seats man, see how our golden friend does tonight.”
Security leave, with the Outsiders being ticket holders, and not actually doing anything to warrant being thrown out. The opening contest between Dean Malenko and Ultimo Dragon is blindingly good, and when Malenko is able to beat Ultimo to retain his title, the Outsiders stand and applaud loudly. So goes the format for both Lex Luger’s TV title defence and The Giant’s defence of his World Heavyweight gold, the Outsiders enthused for the champions, while the commentators muse if this is what they meant by “Golden Friend”, and if one of these men is the third man, or just a false trail set by the Outsiders.
Another early point on the show sees a camera catch Hogan bump into Sting going the other way in the corridor. Hogan makes some small talk with his recent tag partner, before Sting brushes him off, telling him
“I tagged with you because the office told me to, nothing else. I don’t care one bit for Arn, but he makes some good points. Where the hell were you, man? And now that you’re back, finally, the first thing you do is pick a fight with the guy who is most against the Outsiders. I’m starting to see his case, brother.” Sting walks away, leaving Hogan to fume silently.
Elsewhere on the card, Sting faces Ric Flair in a match that begins as the usual display of wrestling mastery one expects from this pairing, but the recent bad blood quickly drives this beyond a standard match, and things get out of hand when Flair is hurled into a turnbuckle, rolls over it and onto the apron, dashing to the other side to climb. The dash is interrupted by a Sting dropkick which sends Flair to the outside. Sting tries to plancha onto Flair, who avoids it narrowly, and begins using the area around the ring to his advantage. Sting takes a harsh beating, with Flair several times rolling in for long enough to restart the count, but turns it around when the sight of his own blood following an Irish whip into the ring post triggers something in him, and he repays the beatdown he received in kind. As he climbs back through the ropes, Flair grabs his leg and yanks it down, crotching him on the ropes. From here, Sting is dragged to the turnbuckle, and Flair applies a figure four from outside, assisted by the cornerpost. Back in the ring, Flair is merciless in his targeting of the leg, and while Sting begins to mount several comebacks, each is cut off in turn by quick cheap shots to the leg, before Sting eventually falls to the figure four.
While Sting vs Flair began as a standard match and then became a bloody affair once it left the ring, Hogan and Anderson makes no pretences at being a technical encounter from the start, both men flying at each other with fury and recklessness. The referee is able to keep things barely in line, and Arn holds his own for a decent time, but is overpowered by Hulk Hogan, who doesn’t stop to pose as he usually does, his bad mood from the general mistrust of him leading him to drop the usual pageantry and merely storm off after earning a three count from a pair of legdrops, leaving Arn down and out in the middle of the ring.
The third man to Hall and Nash’s team has still not been revealed. Tensions and paranoia are running wild amongst the WCW wrestlers with no-one truly trusting each other. Tensions are particularly thick between Arn Anderson and Randy Savage. Hogan has returned to the company, only to be accused of treachery by both Arn and Sting, something which is making him increasingly angry, and attacks on Arn Anderson and Dusty Rhodes have set The Four Horsemen out for the blood of The Outsiders. We rejoin the story two nights on from Hog Wild, where The Outsiders referred to their “Golden Friend”, placing cruiserweight champion Dean Malenko, TV champion Lex Luger and World champion The Giant under suspicion.
August 12th, 1996: WCW Monday Nitro
Dean Malenko’s opening match against Rey Misterio Jr. is of the quality one would expect from two wrestlers of this calibre, which makes the arrival of The Outsiders, armed with steel chairs, even less welcome than it normally would be. The wrestlers in the ring end the chain wrestling sequence they were part way through to watch both men very carefully. Hall and Nash merely set their chairs up to sit on at ringside, and Hall laughs that they’re “just hear to watch”. The two gradually, cautiously, get back into the swing of the match. Shortly after they return to the match, Hall grabs Rey’s legs as he hits the ropes, pulling him out of the ring to administer a beating. Malenko dives outside onto Nash, who catches him in his arms, and tosses him like a dart into the ringpost. The cruiserweights are beaten down further outside, before Chris Benoit, Arn Anderson and Ric Flair run down to the ring to save their fellow Horseman, Dean Malenko. Hall and Nash jump the guardrail, and escape through the crowd, as The Horsemen help Malenko to his feet. Flair is enraged as he grabs a microphone, screaming after Nash and Hall.
“You two run around this place like you own everything, like you know everything! Well you just made the worst mistake possible, broke the most important rule: do not make The Horsemen angry! You wanna start some kind of revolution, some kind of invasion? Well we’ve been ruling the ring since we formed, and you just made the most dangerous group in wrestling your enemies. You’ll be lucky just to survive! We don’t care who your third man is! Bring a third man! Bring a fourth man! Bring an army! It doesn’t matter! The Horsemen are on the hunt, and when we hunt, no prey ever survives!Wooooo!”
Following a battle between Harlem Heat and the Nasty Boys, we go backstage to see Hulk Hogan talking to Mean Gene Okerlund
“Let me tell you something, Mean Gene. I just walked past Eddy Guerrero, a young kid with a bright future. Now, back when I was getting into the business, we looked up to those that paved the way. But this Eddy guy couldn’t even look at me. And he’s not the first one. Seems everyone wants to ignore everything Hulkamania has done for wrestling, how Hulkamania carried this industry on his back! And why? Because a man who’s cheated to win matches, and used run ins says so! Suddenly, Arn Anderson is the voice everyone can trust, and everything I’ve done means nothing. And I’m getting sick, Gene, I’m getting real sick of it all!”
Mean Gene interjects “Do you have an answer then?”
Hogan looks affronted “What question do I have to answer to you?”
“Not me. The boys in the back. The fans in their seats. The reason everyone’s on edge around you is that…well, Hulk, you were gone when we could most have used your help.”
Hogan roars, lifting Gene high in the air by his collar.
“I’ve had enough! Anyone with any questions to ask me can ask them in the ring!”
Hogan storms off camera, dropping Gene. A red faced, wide eyed, obviously shaken Mean Gene hurriedly regains his footing, but not his composure.
“American Made” blares over the speakers as Hulk Hogan stomps his way angrily to the ring and rolls under the ropes. He doesn’t bother with his posing, which is probably just as well, as the live crowd is unsure of how to respond to him. Instead, he paces up and down the ring, waiting for someone to make their way to the ring. He doesn’t have to wait long before the music of Lex Luger hits the speakers, and the TV Champion makes his way to the stage, mic in hand
“You know, what Hulk? I used to respect you. But when I was out in the ring at Bash At The Beach, and received an injury defending this company’s honour, you were sitting at home, enjoying a vacation. And you come out here and complain about how no-one’s showing you respect? Hell, I might respect you more if it turns out you are the third man! Because all you are otherwise is a damned coward!”
Luger drops the mic, and makes his way towards the ring, rushing to meet Hogan, who has dropped angrily over the top rope and is storming at Luger. The two meet about six feet from the end of the walkway, and a storm of fists erupts as restraint is disposed of at land speed records. Security, road agents and referees fly down the ramp, and a combined effort pulls the two apart, but this is obviously not settled.
The camera catches up to Luger again later in the night. Nursing a cut above the eye, he walks tiredly back to his locker room. He places his hand on the handle, pushing down and forwards, the door swinging open in a lazy arc to reveal a waiting Nash and Hall. Luger is pulled forcefully into the room and battered to the ground. Luger returns to his hands and knees, only for Hall to plant a kick swiftly into his ribs, knocking him onto his side. Hall winks conspiratorially at the camera, before pushing the door shut. The camera lingers regretfully on the door, as the sounds of beating and grunts of pain continue from within.
Considering the fate of the other two champions, The Giant is understandably on guard on his way to the ring. Commentator Eric Bischoff remarks that when even such an immense physical specimen as The Giant is worried, it shows just how much of a threat The Outsiders pose. The whole way through his match, he throws glances to the ramp and to the crowd, expecting an attack. However, his one sided crushing of The Barbarian goes uninterrupted. Nitro goes off air as The Horsemen gather on the ramp, Malenko heavily bandaged, but staring as intently at The Giant as the other three.
August 19th, 1996: WCW Monday Nitro
Conversation from the announce desk reveals that the main event of tonight’s show will see Sting face Hulk Hogan, in a follow up from their confrontation at Hog Wild. Chris Benoit will also step between the ropes with Scott Hall tonight. This serves as an overture to the first wrestlers we see tonight, as the Horsemen arrive at the building, each one of them seeming like the embodiment of the horseman of war. A member of staff nervously approaches Arn Anderson, who stares right through him at first.
He quickly hands over an envelope, and tells him “This was waiting at the lobby for you” before scuttling off. The envelope is quietly opened, and steely eyes calculate the letter within, before it is quietly pocketed, and the camera moves to action in the ring for the opening match.
Later during the show we see video footage of Lex Luger at a gym, he comes out of his impressive workout, and slings the WCW United States Title across his shoulders before coming towards the camera.
Looking focused, he stares into it, and talks with cold determination “Hall, Nash, I know you like to think you took me out. All you did is make me angry. But I’m not the only one. See, I was a Horseman once. I know how they operate. And right now, I’ll leave them to deal with you. Maybe I’ll pick the carcasses they leave behind. Which leaves me free to deal with Hulk Hogan.”
He spits the name out with a cobra’s venom, and his voice slowly shrugs off its cold precision and gives way to anger and disdain, raising in tone and speed.
“Hulk Hogan, American-made traitor. Either he’s a traitor because he’s the third man, or he’s a traitor because he’s hardly a man at all, choosing a vacation over helping in the war. He’s a traitor to this company either through action that night or inaction the whole time they’ve been here.” He points to the title perched upon his shoulder. “And it doesn’t make a difference, Hulk. Not a damn bit of one. Because either way, I’m coming to get revenge on you on behalf of the company that gave me the chance to win this title. It’s about honour, Hulk, something you used to understand. Something I’m going to teach you the only way I know how.”
The video promo cuts out on Luger’s ominous promise, and the next thing of note to our story is Scott Hall’s match with Chris Benoit. Hall struts down to the ring with his usual cocksure attitude, and it would be hard not to be confident when the looming presence of Kevin Nash wielding a steel chair is with you for backup. Chris Benoit comes out with company of his own, although one less than you’d expect, as ‘The Enforcer’ Arn Anderson is notably absent. Benoit is all business, striding to the ring flanked by Flair and Malenko, and sliding under the ropes quickly. He doesn’t bother with any posing to the crowd, merely points at the referee, tells him to “start it”, and strides to Hall, lighting him up with chops. The cold fury of Benoit overpowers Hall for the start of the match, but a thumb to the eye allows him to turn things in his favour. On the outside, Flair and Malenko look ready to start a fight with Nash, but with his steel chair as an equaliser, they keep their distance. Once he has had the advantage for long enough for Benoit to show signs of being worn down, Hall goes for the Outsider’s Edge. Benoit is able to float over on the attempt though, and score a german suplex. A pair of lariats follow and secure control of the match to Benoit again, and he is soon able to apply the crossface. Nash steps into the ring at this point, drawing both of the Horsemen in as well. The official steps between the two groups and is batted casually aside by Nash. Nash swings the chair, connecting with Flair’s head. Malenko and Benoit both rush him at the same time, and while the former is dropped with a chair shot, the latter unloads a series of strikes on him, briefly overwhelming him with his fury, until the forgotten opponent downs him with a kick between the legs. Triumphant this time, The Outsiders drop over the ropes and make their exit.
From the announce desk, Bischoff tells the viewers that he’s just been informed of an important development in the arena’s parking lot. We cut immediately to footage of Arn Anderson laid out and bloodied on the tarmac floor of the parking lot, providing a sinister explanation for his absence from ringside.
The main event starts with Hogan and Sting face to face. Hogan offers Sting his hand to shake. Sting looks down at it, and shakes his head to Hogan. Hogan shoves him angrily, and as Sting steps back to go face to face with Hogan again, Hogan’s hand is again extended, again refused, and again used to shove Sting. Sting steps back towards Hogan, and throws a forearm at his chin this time. It’s followed by a flurry of chops, sending Hogan reeling into the ropes. Hogan is then whipped to the ropes opposite, and as he bounces from them Sting hits the ones on his side, rushing to meet him with a clothesline. The impact staggers Hogan, but the mighty wrestler is not toppled. Unperturbed, Sting hits the opposite ropes again, but as he charges Hogan, he is met with a big boot. The two heroic figures go back and forth, exchanging punches, suplexes, clotheslines, splashes in the corner and slams, each met with an equal in their power and intensity, the crowd cheering every minute of the battle between these two titans. After a gruelling war, Hogan is able to settle the match with his trademark legdrop. After the match, Hogan waits for Sting to regain his feet, and extends the hand once more. Sting motions to be brought a microphone, and when one of the staff at ringside has brought it, he addresses Hogan: “Hulk, I will always respect you as a wrestler. But Hulk, I can’t respect your absence when we needed you, and I can’t respect your recent war on the very people fighting these invaders. Frankly, we’d be better off without you. Go back to your vacation, Hulk.” Sting drops the microphone and makes to leave the ring, but Hogan grabs him by the arm, pulling him nose to nose with Hogan. Nitro goes off air on the image of a fierce staredown between the two icons.
August 26th, 1996: WCW Nitro
After the blinding opener between Rey Misterio Jr. and Eddy Guerrero, WCW Commisioner J.J. Dillon makes his way to the ring, flanked by over a dozen security guards.
The thirteen men enter the ring, and Dillon talks into the microphone he’s holding “Now, I’ve got two matters of business to deal with tonight, so let’s get them out of the way. Firstly, I’d like to call WCW World Heavyweight champion The Giant to the ring.”
Out comes The Giant, with a look of concern as to why he’s being called to the ring. He towers over the security, and heads directly to Dillon, asking why he’s there.
Dillon replies “We’ll get to that in a second, don’t even try playing innocent.”
He then turns to address the crowd “Now, as you all know, Arn Anderson, the leader of the fight against those Outsiders, a fight that concerns this whole company, was attacked by an unknown person last week. I, like most of you, had assumed that it was the work of The Outsiders. However, I have reviewed the security footage for that night. Let’s watch, shall we?”
The large screen plays a black and white tape, which first shows Arn Anderson arriving at the parking lot, and waiting by a concrete pillar. There’s a cut of static, and the time stamp reveals fifteen minutes has passed. Arn is now the way he was when last we saw him: bloodied and unconscious on the floor.
Dillon resumes his speech “Doesn’t seem able to prove anything, does it? Turns out someone forced the door to the office these tapes are kept in, and erased fifteen minutes. But that someone isn’t the brightest bulb. Let’s see who a camera at a different part of the lot picks up, arriving just five minutes before the tape cuts out.” The screen flickers into the video again, and, throwing nervous looks around him, as if to check if anyone is around, The Giant arrives at a different entrance.
Dillon turns to the livid Giant, shouting “You disgust me! You have absolutely no right to represent this company! Next week Arn Anderson will be fully recovered, and so I am placing you in a no disqualifications title match, against Arn Anderson, with the World Title on the line, next week on Nitro. As for this week, go home. You sicken me, I don’t want you anywhere near my ring! Security, take this Judas away!” The mammoth champion is surrounded by security, and while he begins to shove them away, eventually the sheer weight of numbers is enough to subdue him.
We catch up to The Giant later in the show, being forced out the door, ironically enough into a parking lot. He kicks a nearby bin in frustration, sending it flying, and shouts an obscenity. He makes his way across the lot, when suddenly, from off-screen to the left, a sharp screeching sound can be heard. The Giant turns to face the source of the sounds, which is made apparent, as a jeep smashes into him, rolling him across its hood. The announcers are shocked by this development, and promise to bring us more news as soon as it becomes available.
And the news, when available, is this: The Giant is currently in a stable condition, but is in no shape to defend his title. As such, the title will be vacated, and starting next week and culminating at Fall Brawl, there will be an eight man tournament to name the new champion. The four quarterfinal matches will take place next week, and Bischoff smugly gloats about how with a card like they have, there’s no reason to watch Raw next week. And it’s hard to argue; Hulk Hogan will face Arn Anderson, Lex Luger will go up against Randy Savage, Kevin Nash will have to deal with Sting, and Scott Hall will go toe to toe with Ric Flair.
September 2nd, 1996: WCW Monday Nitro
The announcers and live crowd are a buzz with excitement for the tournament quarterfinals tonight, and the sheer number of marquee matches and big names this week. Sting vs Nash is the first match to take place, both on the show and in the tournament. Nash looks as arrogant as ever making his way to the ring. Sting on the other hand is focused, and he rushes the ring, unable to wait to get his hands on Nash. Sting unloads a barrage of shots into Nash, rocking him backwards. Sting’s aggression towards the invader carries him a great way through the match. Nash is able to grab moments of control, catching Sting with a big boot, pavement slam or some other big move, but he always follows up with a chinlock, punches in the corner, or some other move intended to wear Sting down rather than to finish him off. Nash’s lack of killer instinct contrasted against Sting’s furious delight at being able to get his hands on one of the Outsiders leads to a fairly quick victory for Sting, as he is able to deliver a Stinger Splash followed by a Scorpion Deathdrop within ten minutes, putting Nash away for three. Nash is oddly fine post match, getting fairly quickly to his feet, and leaving without much lamentation of his loss, or search for revenge.
About half an hour later, the other Outsider finds himself pitched against Ric Flair in our second tournament match of the night. Hall tries his usual dirty tactics, but is faced with Ric Flair, the dirtiest player in the game, who not only knows every trick Hall tries, but invented half of them. The dirty fighting neutralised, this quickly becomes a case of Hall’s superior power and strength against Flair’s superior wrestling. The two battle back and forth for fifteen minutes, and during a period of Scott Hall controlling the match, referee Charles Robinson is toppled by an errant Scott Hall clothesline during the match. The clothesline having missed Flair, he is able to recover ad turn the match back in his favour, culminating in a superplex that puts both men down, with Robinson still out of it. Just as Flair begins to reach his feet first, Sting rushes to the ring bearing a chair. Flair’s back to the entrance way, he doesn’t notice, but Sting is quick to drop him with a chair shot to the back of the head, before fleeing through the shocked crowd. Scott Hall rolls himself atop Ric Flair to a chorus of boos from the crowd as Charles Robinson makes the three count.
Randy Savage is warming up for his main event clash with Lex Luger when an unwelcome guest barges into the room.
Savage stands to meet Arn Anderson, asking “What are you doing here, Arn? Shouldn’t you be off tying people up with no proof?”
Arn snarls a response “Funny you should mention it Randy, didn’t you swear revenge against me for that? Now, I don’t buy The Giant as being behind the attack. I buy him less now that he’s been run over, The Outsiders benefited huge by getting into the tournament. I know they’re only in because Flair and Sting demanded matches with them from Dillon, but still, they gained the most here. So with The Giant out of the running, you’re my favourite suspect again. So I figured I’m come here, and let you know I’m coming for you. I’m no coward like you, it’ll be in the ring, one-on-one. But your time is coming. I’m a patient man, I’ll wait. ” Arn turns his back on Savage, who punches a nearby locker in frustration.
Arn Anderson vs Hulk Hogan goes much the same way as their last match, both men being full of frustration, and neither having any qualms about using the other as an outlet for it. The match as a whole contains very little strategy, the two hitting each other with the hardest things in their arsenal. As before, Hogan gets the better of this exchange, and is able to score the victory via legdrop. He makes his way backstage, and the camera catches him coming through the curtains after the match, looking tired. Out of a corridor to the left comes Lex Luger, who blasts Hogan with a steel chair, evidently having waited for him. Hogan topples, and Luger stands above him, and remarks “I liked Arn’s speech about waiting for retribution. I guess I’m just not as patient as he is”, before discarding the chair and walking off.
The main event between Randy Savage and Lex Luger is a rollercoaster of a match, the two top level wrestlers throwing everything in their arsenal at each other. Luger looks to have the match in hand when he hoists Savage onto his shoulders in the Torture Rack Backbreaker, but the sudden blaring of ‘American Made’ over the speakers causes him to drop Savage and face the entrance way, watching for Hogan. Savage is able to use this time to recover, and on his feet, turns Luger around to face him. Surprised, Luger is easily hoisted into the air in a suplex position. Luger is held upside down, blood rushing to his head for a long time before he is dropped again. Savage climbs the ropes to deliver his patented Elbow Drop for the three count. Only now that it won’t give Luger the win by DQ does Hogan make his way to the ring, and measure Luger for a legdrop. As he starts to move towards Luger for the move, Savage steps in his way, and shoves Hogan, telling him he could win this without him. An argument breaks out between the two of them, and Hogan shoves Savage back. Luger has recovered his feet in this time, and the three angry men are unable to contain their temper, Nitro ending on a wild three way brawl.
September 9th, 1996: WCW Monday Nitro
“It wasn’t me Flair, it was a damn imposter! Bleached hair, tall, facepaint! That’s all it would take! You didn’t even see him yourself! I was the first one to stand up to those two when they came here! It wasn’t me! Of course it wasn’t me!” Sting’s verbal defence of himself of himself to The Horsemen backstage in the opening scenes of Nitro falls on deaf ears, and he resorts to an equally futile physical defence of himself against their beating.
Our broadcast team informs us that as Sting is in no condition to perform, Konnan has been selected as a replacement opponent for Scott Hall. When it comes to the match, Scott Hall makes his way out first, dressed in a sharp suit rather than wrestling gear. He waits in the ring for Konnan to arrive. Konnan’s music begins playing, and keeps playing, but no sign of the man himself. Eventually, the match is taken as a forfeit, and Scott Hall is awarded the victory.
To the jeers of the crowd, Hall grabs a microphone, and takes a chance to gloat “Hey yo, looks like an easy ride to the top. I always knew that Lady Luck had the hots for the Bad Guy.” He struts back up the ramp, but his cocky display is interrupted by the arrival of Ric Flair, who unloads a flurry of punches to him, sending him staggering back from the onslaught to the delight of the crowd. The rest of The Horsemen stand at the top of the ramp armed with chairs, a strong persuasion against Nash coming out to help his partner. Flair leaves Hall down and out, then joins his stable mates at the top of the ramp, where they all make the Horsemen salute to the crowd before heading backstage to roars of approval.
One man less approving of one of the Horsemen at least is Randy Savage, who is walking through the corridor past the Horsemen’s locker room at the same time Arn happens to step out of it. They stop and stand tensely facing each other.
Savage is the first to break the silence “Out of my way. I’ve got to prepare for my semi-final match. I’m sure you’d understand if you could make it that far.”
Arn snorts derisively “You won because of Hogan, pal. Not anything to brag about.”
A look of anger flashes across Savage’s features, and he goes nose to nose with Arn.
“You want to repeat that?” The rest of The Horsemen make their way into the corridor, and there’s a light chuckle in Arn’s voice “In case you hadn’t noticed, Savage, The Horsemen are riding in force tonight. We’d be only too happy to add a third name to the list of tonight’s victims. I’d just walk away if I were you.” Savage is a brave man, and a stubborn one, but he’s also not fool enough to pick a fight with all four Horsemen. Especially not when he needs to be at his best to face Hogan later that night.
Savage backs down, promising Arn once again that “This isn’t over.”
Savage is able to put up a great challenge to Hogan, and comes close at several points to beating him, but ultimately falls to Hogan’s legdrop.
After the match, Savage rolls outside the ring to grab a mic “The great man can find victory in defeat! This frees me nicely up to teach you a lesson this Sunday, Arn!”
September 15th, 1996: Fall Brawl
Early on during the Pay Per View, we cut backstage to see Mean Gene Okerlund backstage with Konnan.
Mean Gene starts to question him “Konnan, I think the fans all want to know, why weren’t you there to face Scott Hall? There’s talk you might be the third man. What’s your response?”
“Yo, it’s like this. I’m warming up for my match, when two men with steel chairs come up to me. These Outsiders you’re all so worked up about. They make something very clear. Scott wants to rest this week, so he’ll be in picture perfect shape at Fall Brawl. He can’t rest too well if he’s got a match. So either I can take a pay-off, which is double what I would have made for working the match, and just not show up, or they can take me out there and then. I made adecision that was best for my business, and best for my health. Sorry to disappoint the conspiracy theorists, but it is what it is, yo. I ain’t got no sides in this mess. Only side I got is mine. Interview’s over.”
Konnan walks off screen, leaving Gene to summarise “Well, there it is folks. No motive but good old fashioned greed and cowardice. What a guy.”
Randy Savage’s match with Arn Anderson starts with the two going nose to nose, trash talking each other. Savage shoves Arn, a gesture he repays. Savage slaps Arn harshly across the face, Arn responds by spitting in Savage’s. Savage loses his temper, headbutting Arn, who drops to the ground. Savage takes control from here, peppering Arn with chops and forearms when he stands, before whipping Arn into the turnbuckle, and following after for a clothesline. He proves too sure of his advantage, however, as he repeats it, only for Arn to move aside at the last moment. Savage stunned in the corner, Arn lays into him with punches until Savage slumps to sit at the bottom of the turnbuckle, where Arn switches to laying the boots into him. Charles Robinson is able to get Arn to stop with threats of disqualification. Arn waits for Savage to reach his feet, at which point he grabs Savage by the neck and right shoulder and hurls him violently through the middle rope, following outside. Arn makes use of the ringside area to beat down Savage, until Savage is able to reverse a whip into the ring post, busting Arn open in the process. Savage rolls into the ring and back out to reset the count, mimicking the actions of Arn when he was using the outside to punish Savage. It is Arn’s turn to receive this treatment now, as he is whipped into the barrier, an act Savage follows with a clothesline that knocks Arn over the barricade into the first row of fans. The count is reset again as Arn picks himself up and hoists himself back over the barricade. Savage, who has been standing patiently on the apron while this happens, jumps from there to deliver a double axe handle to his opponent, who is then tossed back into the ring. Savage makes his way back in by climbing the turnbuckle, and descending down with an elbow drop. Arn is able to roll away, however, and Savage connects elbow first with the mat. Arn takes this as a cue to work the elbow over, and takes the time to utilise a variety of stomps, throws and submission holds aimed towards the elbow. Arn wears Savage down to the point where he’s ready to go for the kill with a Spinebuster, and he bounces Savage against the ropes for it. Savage sees his opening, and leaps towards Arn as he approaches him, catching him by surprise with a jumping clothesline. While the move takes Arn down, it has possibly hurt Savage an equal amount, as he lies clutching his elbow in pain. Both men regain their feet at six, and begin to trade punches. Arn looks to have the advantage, and swings in for a lariat. Savage is able to duck it however, and as Arn comes back from hitting the nearby ropes, Savage kicks him in the gut, and pulls him into a piledriver. Savage climbs the ropes again, and manages to connect with the elbow this time. The pain of performing the high impact manoeuvre with his injured elbow proves too much for Savage however, who writhes in pain clutching the elbow. He eventually comes to his senses and drags himself atop Arn, but the time taken in pain from the elbow allows Arn to recover enough to kick out. Both men crawl away from each other, using the ropes on opposite sides to pull themselves up. They rush towards each other, but Arn stops at the last second, and surprises Savage with a Spinebuster, which puts him away for three. Bloodied and exhausted, but victorious, Arn makes his way backstage, stopping to flash the Horseman salute to the crowd.
A camera catches up with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash backstage, unaware of the cameraman’s quiet presence. Hall is toying absent-mindedly with a quarter, and jokes to Nash “Just like we planned man. Me and the big man for the title. May as well flip this coin for WCW man, heads we win, tails they lose. Whether me or Hogan, the gold comes home with The Outsiders tonight, baby.”
They make to leave the corridor they’re standing in, and spot the cameraman.
Nash shouts “The hell are you doing here?”and we’re very quickly shown the ceiling as the cameraman is shoved over, and static once Nash’s huge boot descends upon the lens of the camera.
Hogan is given a mixed reception from the live crowd, who are once again unsure what to think of him. Hall, on the other hand, they know what to think of, booing him vociferously. The match proceeds even handedly, until Hall begins to be overpowered as many of Hogan’s opponents often are. Hogan seems notably calmer against Hall than most WCW wrestlers are when facing an Outsider, the fury that seems to drive so many of them seems missing from him. Heenan is quick to notice this and point it out to Bischoff, with whom he spends much of the match arguing, Heenan calling Hogan a traitor, and saying he knew it all along, while Bischoff doesn’t want to damn Hogan without more proof. Roughly ten minutes into the match, Charles Robinson is dropped by a punch aimed for Scott Hall, Luger takes this opportunity to rush the ring with a steel chair, with which he blasts Hogan, and, acknowledging Hall’s presence in no way, leaves. Hall hoists the downed Hogan up for an Outsider’s Edge, and covers him as Charles Robinson recovers in time to make the three count. Both Bischoff and Heenan are stunned by the turn of events,an emotion that pales compared to the frustration and despair at the closing image of Fall Brawl: The Outsiders celebrating in the ring, while Scott Hall proudly holds up the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, a prize he won with the help of Lex Luger.
After The Giant was hit by a car in the parking lot, a title tournament was held. Scott Hall had an easy ride to his WCW World Title. First Ric Flair was taken out during their match by a man who may or may not have been Sting, for which retribution was laid on Sting by The Four Horsemen. Second, Konnan didn’t show up to face him, supposedly paid off. Finally, after a conversation suggested that Hogan was a conspirator with them, Lex Luger, who has been at Hogan’s throat recently took Hogan out in rage during the finals. Amongst all this in-fighting, the identity of the third man remains unknown…
September 16th, 1996: WCW Monday Nitro
Nitro opens with a sterling display of lucha libre from Eddy Guerrero and Rey Misterio Jr.. After putting his opponent away by catching a headscissors into a powerbomb, Eddy shakes his hand, before asking for a microphone.
“Now that was what lucha style is all about! I tell you, I grew up on this stuff. This is my life since I was a kid.” The proud tone of his voice is replaced by anger “Which is why you sicken me so much, Konnan! You were always a hero in Mexican wrestling! You’re practically worshipped in Mexico! People look up to you! And what do you do? You take a pay-off rather than fight. You’re a lie. You don’t deserve to be a wrestler.”
He drops the microphone and leaves the ring, and is met halfway up the ramp by Konnan, who smashes him to the ground and lays the boots in.
Later in the show, Mean Gene is looking tremendously nervous, and with good cause. His last interview with the man to his left had him physically abused. What’s more, Hogan doesn’t look too happy tonight either.
“You see my waist, Mean Gene? Tell me what’s around it.”
“That’s right, brother! No title around this waist! All because of Lex Luger! People want to accuse me of being a traitor, of being disloyal to this company, of just about everything you can name, and Luger’s the reason those Outsiders have the world title right now! And that’s not right, brother! Luger needs to be taught a lesson, brother! And the Hulkster and his twentyfour inch pythons are coming for you, Lex! So just ask yourself this, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do, Lex, when Hulkamania runs wild on you!?”
The closing segment on Nitro sees Kevin Nash and WCW World Heavyweight Champion Scott Hall saunter their way arrogantly to the ring, Hall making sure to show off his new prize. The two enter the ring to a chorus of boos. Hall takes up the microphone, a look of mock affront on his face “Hey, is that any way to greet your champion? The man who single handedly” Bischoff snorts derisively at this “defeated Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan? Now I hear that those two are the biggest and best in the business. So if I beat them both, and I’m the champion, then I reckon you hicks owe me a lot more respect than that.” Kevin Nash raises the microphone to gloat some more, but turns around to the ramp as the music of The Four Horsemen suddenly blares across the arena, to the cheers of the fans. The Four Horsemen arrive in force, and don’t bother to pose or even to talk. Instead they rush the ring, causing the previously cocky Hall and Nash to bail from the ring quickly. The Horsemen each climb a turnbuckle, displaying the Horsemen salute to the crowd, and soaking in the cheers of the fans, who raise a cacophony of cheers for the conquering heroes. Hall and Nash slink up the ramp, defeated this time, and Nitro closes on the triumphant image of the Horsemen celebrating in the ring to the adoration of the crowd.
September 23rd, 1996: WCW Monday Nitro
Nitro opens with the Horsemen arriving at the main entrance to the arena. Suddenly, from behind appear Hall and Nash, wielding baseball bats. They put them to quick use, taking first Flair and Arn by surprise, and then catching Benoit and Malenko as they turn around. The Horsemen take a few more shots to their backs as they lie down from the ambush, and Hall laughs at the camera.
“This what Flair calls giving us a war? They didn’t even give us a fight.”
After the opening match, we cut backstage, where Schiavone informs us there is an altercation taking place between Konnan and Eddy Guerrero. Sure enough, we see the two standing tensely nose-to-nose with each other, each looking furious, as security and referees watch nervously in case the two of them will need holding apart.
Konnan tells Eddy “You owe me respect, and you owe me an apology for running your stupid mouth last week. Don’t make me take that respect and apology from your skin, homes.”
Eddy puts his hands up in the air and steps back, half laughing
“Hey, I don’t want trouble. Look -” he digs into his wallet, producing a five dollar note. “You’re cool with forgetting your self-respect for cash, right? Five should cover any you have left.” Konnan slaps the note out of his hand, and Eddy responds by slapping the taste from Konnan’s mouth, causing him to take a step back. The security on hand rush to fill the gap between them as Konnan hurls threats that “I ain’t done with you!” at Eddy.
Fresh from a victory over The Nasty Boys, Harlem Heat remain in the ring, while Booker T grabs a microphone.
“Hall, Nash! You Outsiders have been stomping this company down for a long damn time! But I think you’re forgetting what the third letter of WCW stands for:Wrestling. See, you two want to act like the biggest two badasses, well that’s fine. But you ain’t worth a damn as a tag team unless you can hang with us in the ring. We’ll see you there next week, suckas!”
The main event rolls around, and The Barbarian makes his way to the ring for his match, before ‘American Made’ heralds the arrival of Hulk Hogan, his opponent for the night. Barbarian attempts his usual bullying tactics, but it isn’t long before a finger is wagging in his face, a boot is placed in it, a leg is dropped on it, and the eyes in it count the lights on the roof. Hogan uses the tough wrestler as a kind of punching bag for his recent frustrations at Luger, and still doesn’t look satisfied after the match, continuing to pace restlessly. Lex Luger’s face suddenly flashes onto the large video screen at the top of the ramp, before the camera zooms out to show him in front of a huge house and grounds. Luger begins talking in his pre-taped promo, with the manner of a tour guide. “Hello there, fans of WCW Nitro! I’m here in lovely Tampa, Florida, outside the home of wrestling legend Hulk Hogan! As you can see, this is simply a lovely house, you can really understand why Hulk Hogan decided he just wanted to sit around it while his company fell apart! Let’s see if we can get inside, shall we?”
The tape cuts to static before we return to Luger’s image. This time he is sat in a darkened room, with Hulk Hogan memorabilia in a glass display case behind him. His voice is deathly serious and cold as steel on a winter’s night now.
“Hulk. I can get at you whenever I want, wherever I want. Meet me in the ring next week on Nitro, one-on-one, or I will make this bad blood between us serious.”
September 30th, 1996: WCW Monday Nitro
Harlem Heat are impatiently pacing the ring as Nitro opens, awaiting the arrival of The Outsiders. They don’t have to wait long before Hall and Nash saunter down to the ring. While Harlem Heat stand at the ropes closest to the entrance, and talk trash over the top rope, Hall and Nash don’t look as interested, preferring to look at each other and crack jokes as they stroll down the ramp. Heat lose their temper and drop outside, Stevie Ray pairing off with Kevin Nash while Booker T and Scott Hall brawl. The two pairs fight their way around the ringside area, and the intensity of Harlem Heat grants them the advantage at the start, until Hall is able to use his WCW World Title belt to down Booker T. Stevie Ray is then tossed into the ring, and the match starts officially. Hall and Nash lay the boots into him brutally on the ground, before referee Nick Patrick makes one of them stand on the apron. Hall volunteers to take the breather, and poses proudly with his title on the apron. Meanwhile, Kevin Nash applies a chinlock, keeping Stevie Ray from getting up. Ray powers to his feet eventually, elbowing Nash in the gut and Irish-whipping him. Nash turns the whip around however, sending Ray towards Hall’s corner, and stumbling in the way of Nick Patrick’s view while Hall raises the title to catch the charging Stevie Ray between the eyes with. Nash drags him back to the centre of the ring, and continues to deliver a beating. Booker regains his feet on the outside, and wraps his arm around one of Hall’s legs, dragging him off the apron, and resuming their brawl outside. The Outsiders receive an ironic punishment for their own foul play when Stevie Ray uses Nick Patrick’s distraction to low blow Kevin Nash. From here, he unleashes his pent up aggression and gets his revenge, beating Nash into the corner, until a thumb to the eye sends him stumbling out. Hall is tossed in by Booker T, who has got the better of their fight outside. Booker follows him in, but is cut off with a running big boot from Nash.
The match quickly breaks down into a brawl further than it already has, and amidst all the confusion and violence, neither of The Outsiders notice the four men making their way down the ramp. Nick Patrick is forced to ring the bell and rule this match a no contest thanks to the chaos as The Four Horsemen make their way into the ring, and quickly take Hall and Nash down, and brutally lay the boots into them as they lay on the ground, Arn stopping to high-five Booker T before Booker and Ray leave, their part in this played.
Flair grabs a microphone and begins to rail at Hall “Not putting up much of a fight yourself, are you? The war hasn’t even begun yet, and you think you achieved anything but making us angrier with your little ambush last week? You call that a beatdown? This is how you do a beatdown, Horsemen style! Woooo!”
He throws down the microphone, and applies the Figure Four to Hall, who Arn keeps held down with a boot across the throat. Nash meanwhile, is the victim of Benoit and Malenko’s repeated kicks. Eventually, The Outsiders are left in unfamiliar territory, down and out in the middle of the ring. The Horsemen stop at the top of the ramp to flash the Horsemen salute to the crowd before leaving.
Later in the show, another beating is taking place, as the cameras cut to the parking lot, where Eddy Guerrero is an all fours, gasping for breath as Konnan stands over him.
“Not so proud now, huh? Not so funny? Come on, make another joke about Konnan, esse!”
Konnan dashes forwards, planting his boot sharply into Eddy’s ribs, toppling him over, and causing him to cough heavily, making Konnan laugh.
“Oh man, that’s my favourite joke of yours. Cracks me up every time. Let’s hear it again.”
He strikes Eddy’s forehead with the sole of his boot, and Eddy rolls in pain on the ground, as Konnan laughs again.
“That’s right. You got nothing to say about me any more, do you? Remember this lesson, kid.” Konnan turns his back to Edy as he walks away. Eddy struggles to his feet, using a stone pillar to pull himself to his feet.
“I can’t believe I looked up to that man. He’s the biggest joke of this whole place.”
He spits blood onto the carpark floor, and turns to the camera.
“Don’t worry, this ain’t how things between me and him end. He’ll get his.”
The cold, calculated measure of Lex Luger’s demeanour as he heads to the ring is matched only by the fiery heat of Hogan’s rage as he charges the ring to face him. Hogan’s fury carries him through the early stages of the match, as Luger is subjected to slams, boots, closed fist strikes and Irish-whips. Hogan eventually makes an error however, and when Luger is able to dodge a charge in the corner, he gets his due revenge for the beating he suffered at the start, matching Hogan in the power and intensity of his offence. He eventually makes the critical error of punching Hulk Hogan three times in the face however. Hogan catches the third punch, and wags his finger at Lex. The predictable follows, and Luger is on his back, while Hogan bounces against the ropes for his legdrop. Luger seems to have been playing possum, however, as he springs to his feet and charges at Hogan midsection as he comes back from the ropes, sending both men between the middle and top rope to the outside. Luger atop Hogan, he rains down the punches before Hogan is able to shift weight and get atop his opponent, returning the favour. Nick Patrick’s count reaches 10 as the two each reach their feet, continuing to throw haymakers at each other as Nitro ends.
October 7th, 1996: WCW Monday Nitro
Nitro’s opening match sees Konnan use size, strength and experience to overpower Rey Misterio Jr.. After the match, Eddy Guerrero rushes the ring, and charges towards Konnan, who lifts his arm, trying for a clothesline. Eddy ducks the clothesline, and has now run behind Konnan, their backs to each other. They both turn, but Eddy is faster, and catches Konnan with an enzuiguri. Konnan staggers back, and Eddy dropkicks him, sending him over the top rope. Eddy grabs a microphone “See, I don’t care none about car parks! I’m gonna beat you in the ring, where wrestlers settle business! See if you can remember how to do that, because either way, this business gets settled at Halloween Havoc!”
Later in the show, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash have apprehended Mean Gene for an interview.
Scott is the first to speak “The Four Horsemen! The conquering heroes! The champions of WCW who heroically” there’s a pause “tricked two men into a four on two beating.”
Nash interjects “That’s some real hero stuff, Ric. It’s also stuff we just don’t see us getting used to. So here it is. We’ll face two, and just two, of your Horsemen at Halloween Havoc. You guys win, you find out who man number three is. We win, well, then that’s the end of The Four Horsemen as a group. Do some thinking on that, heroes. Give us your answer next week.”
October 14th, 1996: WCW Monday Nitro
Lucha libre has proved a popular way to start Nitro in the past, and this week follows the pattern, as Rey Misterio Jr. is booked in a three way with Eddy Guerrero and Konnan.
Rey is the first to hit the ring, and the only one in it for some time, as Konnan attacks Eddy from behind during his entrance, beating him down on the ramp. As Konnan hoists Eddy up for a suplex, Eddy is able to float over, and throw punches of his own. The two fight towards the ring, where Rey takes a running leap into a ¾ senton onto the brawling pair. All three reach their feet at roughly the same time, and trade shots in a triangle. Rey is by far the smallest, and staggers away, returning to throw a dropkick that catches each with a foot to the face. As feet are once again reached, Rey continues his tactic and springs off the apron for a moonsault on both standing opponents. He is too ambitious in this however, and Konnan is able to catch him, tossing him over his head with a fallaway slam. Eddy DDTs him on the ramp with a sickening crunch, before picking Rey up and hurling him into the ring. Following him in, he applies an armbar, but Rey is able to twist himself to a standing position, and monkeyflip him.
The two cautiously pace each other before engaging in a flurry of exciting high impact lucha libre which pumps the crowd up. Konnan makes his return when Eddy has Rey set up for a superplex, hooking Eddy’s legs and powerbombing him, bringing Rey along for the ride. Konnan crouches in the corner predatorialy, and once Eddy is in position to receive it, he cuts him down with a vicious lariat. Konnan pulls Eddy up for a piledriver, but Rey has the presence of mind to roll him up, only securing a two. In a seated position from the roll-up, Rey is perfectly positioned for a dropkick from Eddy Guerrero, which he obligingly delivers, before belly-to-belly suplexing Rey over the rope to the outside, leaving him free to focus on Konnan, who receives a brutal kick of one kind or another every time he stands up. Once he learns the lesson and stops standing up, he rolls outside, where Eddy follows. Eddy keeps his advantage, throwing Konnan into the ringpost and savouring his revenge. Konnan is tossed back into the ring and hoisted up for a trifecta of vertical suplexes. The third one is switched at an early point into a neckbreaker by Konnan, however. Rey has recovered in this time, unbeknownst to Konnan, and has placed himself on the apron. When Konnan staggers to a vertical position, Rey leaps from apron to top rope to Konnan, pulling him into a slick springboard DDT. Rey bounces back to his feet, but Eddy is able to take quick advantage, rolling him up from behind for three. His celebration is short lived, however, as Konnan lunges at him, drawing him into another brawl which must be pulled apart.
The Four Horsemen are the next to take to the ring. Flair addresses the challenge made last week by The Outsiders.
“Hall! Nash! We’ve got an answer for you. Come on out here.” Hall and Nash strut onto the ramp, and watch with interest. Flair motions them to come closer, but Hall throws up his hands, one of them holding a microphone, and laughs.
“We’ll stay right here, thanks. We learnt from last week. See, we ain’t senile like you yet, Ric.” “Well, as for your little deal you proposed last week, here’s how it is. I didn’t care one bit for it”
The crowd boos, voicing their disappointment, and Nash laughs.
“Scared are we, Ric? Tell you what, we’ll let you retire quietly if you don’t want to face us like the man you claim to be.”
“I didn’t care one bit for it, but this man here” clapping an arm on Arn’s shoulder “this man here, well, his eyes light up with some unholy fire. See he’s been after your third man since he played his part at Bash At The Beach. Which is why at Halloween Havoc, you two will get your match, against myself and my enforcer, Arn Anderson!”
The crowd cheers loudly, but Benoit grabs the mic from Ric, frustration in his voice.
“Hold it just a minute. Now I get that this is personal, but I seem to recall that the only time Arn got into a fight with those two, it wasn’t a fight, he just got beaten down.”
Arn shoves him roughly, grabbing the mic for himself and growling “You wanna make something of it?”
“Yeah, I do. I should be in that match, not you.”
The two go nose to nose, and look ready to come to blows as they trash talk each other, until Flair pushes them apart, takes the mic and faces Benoit.
“Chris, you’re way out of line. Arn’s earned this one. You know that. He’s in there with me at Halloween Havoc. It’s that simple.”
Arn puts a hand on Ric’s shoulder as the other one reaches for the mic, which for the first time is given over willingly, rather than torn away.
“Look, Ric, I appreciate it, but it’s this way. Me and Chris are both wrestlers. You and Dean clear from the ring, we can settle this easy.” He turns to Benoit “How about it? You beat me, you’ve got my place.”
The mic is handed to Benoit, who gives response by tossing it aside and throwing a chop at Arn’s chest, causing Charles Robinson to ring the bell to start the match.
Benoit continues to pepper Arn with chops, sending him reeling back into a turnbuckle, as Flair and Malenko vacate the ring. Once in the turnbuckle, Arn is whipped across towards the other one, only for Arn to turn the whip around and send Benoit there instead, following him with a lariat that crushes him into it. Benoit is then snap suplexed, but as Arn lifts him by the head, he’s able to hook Arn’s legs behind the knees, and pull them out from under him, dropping him onto his back. Keeping hold of the knees, Benoit turns Arn around into a boston crab. Arn is able to crawl to the ropes, and pulls himself up to be hammered once again with strikes. He responds in like, and the two engage in a whirling melee of chops and forearms, until Arn drops Benoit with a sudden lariat, which earns him a two count. He draws Benoit up in a front facelock for his trademark DDT, but Benoit is able to shove him away and put him down with an enzuiguri. Arn crawls into the bottom rung of a nearby turnbuckle, a decision Benoit rewards with a running dropkick which leaves Arn’s head hanging limply across the bottom rope. Benoit catapults himself over the top rope to land on the other side, dropping a leg across Arn’s head. Arn sprawled before him, Benoit scales the turnbuckle from the apron. Arn interrupts whatever he was planning by stumbling on his knees towards the turnbuckle, doubling Benoit over with a punch to the gut as he rises. From here he hooks Benoit’s head and delivers a super DDT. He covers Benoit, but proximity to the ropes allows Benoit’s foot to reach the bottom one. Arn picks Benoit up and bounces him against the ropes, looking for the Spinebuster. Benoit is able to manoeuvre behind Arn’s attempt, and applies a sleeper hold. Arn’s body seems to grow heavier, and he sinks slowly to one knee.
He thinks of vengeance on Hall and Nash, giving him a surge of strength with which he pushes himself to his feet as Robinson prepares to lift the arm a third time. He hooks one of Benoit’s legs as he does so, and hoists Benoit atop his shoulders, bringing him crashing down with a death valley driver, which, by superhuman effort, Benoit kicks out of. Arn pulls him back up to be dropped on his head again, with a DDT this time. Not giving Benoit time to draw breath by going for a pin, Arn instead drags him to his feet and hurls him forcefully against the ropes, scoring the Spinebuster and earning the victory. Sweating, out of breath and with a chest turned red by Benoit’s chops, Arn offers Benoit a handshake once Benoit regains his composure. Benoit stares at the hand briefly, before turning on his heel and leaving, Arn left in the ring with a frustrated look on his face. Hall and Nash, still watching from the ramp, are grinning from ear to ear at the sight as they too make their exit.
Later in the show, and Hulk Hogan has Mean Gene’s attention backstage.
“You know something, Mean Gene? Last week, I was looking for Lex Luger, to finish business! This week, I’ve been looking for Lex Luger, to finish business! But he ain’t here, brother! I figure he’s hiding away at home, so I’ll send him this message: We ain’t done, brother! You can hide like the coward you are all you like, some donnybrook ain’t enough. I’m not satisfied until I’ve held your shoulders down for three, and every single one of the Hulkamaniacs out there know I’m the better man, brother! So quit being a coward, and face me at Havoc, brother, where Hulk Hogan and his twentyfour inch pythons will run wild all over your cowardly body!”
October 21st, 1996: WCW Monday Nitro
The first man to come to the ring on tonight’s Nitro is Lex Luger, who strides to the ring clutching a microphone. The reaction to him is as mixed as ever, the crowd as unsure whether to trust him as they are anyone else these days. He paces up and down, and begins to speak.
“Hogan! You want to know where I’ve been these last two weeks? Well, here it is. I’ve been training. I’ve been training to fight Hall, Nash, and whoever their third man is, whether it’s been you all along, or some other dirtbag. As far as I was concerned, unless you’re man three, I was done with you, and I’d never have to have anything to do with you again. I was ready to move onto better things than you, Hulk. To things that matter. But no. You had to drag yourself right back into this mess, didn’t you? Well, okay, since you’re so hot to get your ass kicked again, let’s go. You and me at Havoc. And since that last one ended outside the ring, let’s make this a cage match. I’ll see you there, Hulk.”
Luger drops the mic and leaves as the fans cheer the big match announcement.
After a few fast paced matches typical of Nitro’s first hour, a middle aged Hispanic man, familiar to hardcore fans, but not immediately familiar to most makes his way to the ring, dressed in a sharp suit and holding a microphone. Bischoff identifies him from the announce desk as Hector Guerrero, Eddy’s older brother, and the man who trained him. He talks in a slow, deliberate tone.
“I’m here for you, Konnan. Make your way down to the ring.”
Konnan, dressed in a checked shirt over a baggy t-shirt and a pair of jeans cockily comes to the ring, and talks into his own microphone.
“What do you want, gramps?”
“Do you know who you’re talking to?”
“Yeah. I’m talking to Hector Guerrero, a washed up wrestler who hasn’t been heard from for years. Didn’t know you were still alive, but why should I care?”
“I’ve been watching the last few weeks, and you’re an absolute disgrace to lucha libre!”
Konnan pretends to be taken aback, and asks Hector Guerrero to repeat that. He does.
“Wait, homes, I’m a disgrace? I got the man who never even worked in Mexico, and was last seen in a chicken suit square dancing with Mean Gene telling me I’m a disgrace? Get out, or get knocked out, you ain’t nothing to me, you ain’t nothing to lucha libre, you ain’t nothing to no-one.”
Enraged, Hector lifts the mic as if to speak into it, but plants Konnan between the eyes with it instead. Konnan staggers backwards, and Hector moves forward to strike again. Konnan grabs his wrist, and twists it to force Hector to drop the microphone. Konnan kicks Hector in the gut, before dropping him with a punch. He begins to lay the boots in, before Eddy Guerrero charges down the ramp, chair in hand, driving Konnan from the ring. Eddy stoops over his older brother, checking on him, and gives a murderous glare to Konnan, who is backing cockily up the ramp.
The final segment on the final Nitro before Halloween Havoc sees The Four Horsemen backstage with Mean Gene Okerlund, Chris Benoit notable by his absence.
Malenko is the first to speak.
“Hall, Nash, I just want you two good for nothings, you two Outsiders, as you’re so proud to proclaim, to know that I’m at ringside at Havoc, so there’s not going to be any help coming for you that don’t come through me.”
He passes the microphone to Arn, who gives a low, gravelly chuckle before speaking.
“It’s been a long time. I’ve been looking for the third man, looking for revenge, looking for a chance to beat on you for too damn long. And at Halloween Havoc, I find all of that. You better pray me and the Nature Boy end your suffering quickly.”
He passes the microphone to Flair.
“Woooo! Halloween Havoc, this Sunday, baby! Hall, Nash, you two have been running around, running your mouths, causing trouble and looking for more! Well, you found trouble, boys! You found The Horsemen, baby. And this Sunday, we go to war! This has been going on too long, and this Sunday we end this feud, we end this mystery about the third man, and we end you. See you at Halloween Havoc.”
October 27th, 1996: Halloween Havoc
Once the usual corny Halloween shtick opening video has ended, Halloween Havoc starts properly with the arrival of Konnan to the ring, for his match against Eddy Guerrero. Eddy heads to the ring accompanied by Hector Guerrero, and gets a decent response from the crowd.
Eddy wastes no time once in the ring, immediately charging Konnan and overwhelming him with lightning fast lucha offence. Konnan catches his break when he’s able to duck a leg lariat, and takes advantage, laying the boots to the prone Guerrero. After being told to stop by the official, Konnan switches to grounding Eddy legally, applying a chinlock. From here, a beatdown ensues, Konnan eschewing any lucha style and simply beating on Eddy, adding insult to injury by further abandoning the style that Eddy so firmly defends. As Hector looks concernedly on Eddy’s prone form slumped in the turnbuckle, Konnan stops to taunt Hector, mocking the middle aged wrestler.
This gives Eddy the chance to regain his feet, however, and he turns Konnan around to plant a forearm firmly in his jaw. Another follows, and Konnan sways back into the ropes. Eddy bounces him from them to their twins across the ring, catching him with a leg lariat on his return. Eddy puts the match firmly back into his hands, once again using lucha offence to outmatch Konnan, until Konnan surprises him with a leg lariat of his own. From here, Eddy is placed on the top turnbuckle, and Konnan hurrcaranas him from the top rope, drawing a loud response from the live crowd. Konnan covers for two, and pulls Eddy up for a powerbomb. At the last moment, however, Eddy is able to twist the powerbomb into a tornado DDT, which drops Konnan with a satisfying thud. He covers for two, before scaling the top rope to deliver a thunderous frog splash, earning him the victory.
Ric Flair is confronted in a locker-room backstage by Chris Benoit.
“Ric, I can just tell something’s going to go down. Dean on his own won’t be enough. Let me back in, let me have your back tonight.”
Ric’s voice is as hard as his attitude to Benoit’s request.
“No single Horseman is more important than the unit as a whole, Chris. Not even you. You forgot that. What’s more, you dishonoured Arn. You didn’t deserve his forgiveness, I wouldn’t have forgiven you for that insolence, but you had his. And you may as well have spit in his face, for the disrespect you showed him. Which is like spitting in my face, Chris. And I don’t like having my face spat on. So no, you’re not at ringside for this match, or any other match. You don’t ride with us no more.”
Benoit has been growing increasingly angry looking during Ric’s speech, and he responds by furiously pushing the locker between them down. It crashes with a violent bang to the ground, and Benoit storms away from Flair.
Luger and Hogan’s semi-main event match resembles less a wrestling contest, and more a brawl. Fists are thrown, each hurls the other repeatedly against the cold steel of the cage, blood is drawn, and each man seeks to destroy the other, all to the delight of the crowd. Finally, bloody and exhausted, Hogan is able to drop a leg across Luger, and clamber over the cage, making his escape.
Hall and Nash receive a venomous response from the crowd as they strut to the ring, Hall drawing even greater ire once in the ring by imitating Flair’s strut, before posing with the WCW World Title. The camera switches its focus to Flair and Arn standing behind the curtain, ready to go out for their match, Malenko at their side, when Randy Savage approaches the group, and wishes them luck. Arn growls some vague words of gratitude, and offers his hand to his former foe, which Savage refuses. “Now, this don’t mean I like you. It means I like them less. What you did to Sting makes me sick! You had no proof, you didn’t listen to his defence, and he hasn’t been seen since you lot did your little number on him. You’re almost as bad as those two punks in the ring, and the almost’s the only reason I’m rooting for you thugs.”
Savage turns on his heel and leaves angrily. Arn looks like he would love to go after him and reignite their war, but has more pressing things to deal with, and pushes through the curtain with the other two. Now that they’re gone, we can see Chris Benoit lurking menacingly in the background.
Arn Anderson and Ric Flair get a deafening response as they stride towards the ring, holding both hands up in the Horseman salute. Dean Malenko hangs behind a little, watching the ring. What he should have been watching was the ramp, because as Arn and Flair reach the end of it, Malenko still lingering behind, Benoit emerges suddenly, and begins to take out his rage on his former stable mate in the Horsemen, rushing Malenko with a hail of punches that take him completely by surprise. Flair and Arn turn around to defend their ally, another mistake, as Hall and Nash are able to use this distraction to get the jump on them. Hall takes Flair one way around the ring, and Nash takes Arn the other. The two are beaten brutally using the guardrail, ringpost, ringsteps, and other areas outside the ring. Eventually the route each takes their victim around the ring brings them to meet each other. The duo then make use of the fact that, since the match hasn’t officially begun, they need not fear a disqualification. As such, both Arn and Flair receive chairshots before being tossed into the ring. Hall and Nash follow, and are laying the boots in as Charles Robinson rings the bell to start the match.
Order of some semblance is restored, as he demands that they stop, and that only two men be in the ring, or he’ll throw this match out. Flair is dragged by Nash onto the apron, while Hall steps outside of the ring cockily, theatrically wiping his brow, as though exhausted by the effort of his ambush. Nash tosses Arn with casual violence around the ring, until Arn summons up the strength to stagger Nash with a fierce lariat. Nash is then sent reeling with a storm of strikes, rallying the crowd behind Arn, until Hall blind tags himself in. Arn is too busy enacting his vengeance on Nash to notice the tag, or that Hall is behind him. A belly to back suplex quickly makes Arn aware of Hall’s presence, and he is soon in the familiar position of being dominated, The Outsiders utilising quick tags to ensure he doesn’t build momentum. Flair grows increasingly agitated on the apron, until Arn is whipped against the ropes by both of them, to return with a desperate shoulderblock which downs Hall, and staggers Nash. Arn kicks Nash in the gut, doubling him over, and drops him with a snap DDT, before powering to Flair, and making the hot tag.
Flair is given now an opportunity to vent his agitation, and vent it he does, much to the detriment of Hall, the legal man from The Outsiders, who is chopped, chop blocked, suplexed, clotheslined, subjected to various submission holds and generally beaten all over the ring, much to the delight of the fans. He catches pockets of offence, but none of them seem to faze the vengeance hungry Horseman. Nash eventually steps in, blindsiding the Nature Boy with a running big boot. Not wanting to see this become a two on one, recovered, rested, and looking for his own revenge, Arn charges into the ring, and it is mere seconds before any order in this match breaks down into a wild melee in the ring. Charles Robinson attempts to return order, but is downed in the chaos. Shortly after this, the lights go out, and Bischoff from the announce desk nervously recalls the last time this happened, at Bash At The Beach, when the third man made his first move.
And the lights come back on, and all four men stop their brawling to stare at the same sight that the fans are all staring at: in the middle of the ring, chair clasped firmly in his hands, stands Sting. He turns to Flair, the nearest man, blasting with with the chair. The fans are shocked into silence. Arn charges him, only to suffer the same fate. Nash approaches Sting, but fares no better, nor does Hall’s attempt to wrest the chair from Sting. The only man standing in the ring, Sting angrily tosses the chair from the ring, and storms up the ramp.
Nash and Arn are the first two to their feet, and trade punches, the crowd, unsure of what to make of Sting, know what to make of this, cheering each one of Arn’s shots, and booing each of Nash’s. Nash begins to lose the exchange, and manages to throw a big boot to draw things back in his favour. Arn staggers from it, but is somehow able to keep his footing, staggering away. He uses the distance he staggered as a run up, and hurls himself shoulder first into Nash’s midsection with all his might, toppling the imposing wrestler. Hall, meanwhile, has recovered, and has dropped Flair with a low blow. He charges at Arn as Arn turns to face him, only to be caught with a Spinebuster that earns The Enforcer the three count, and the victory for his team.
As Flair and Arn beaten, bloody and exhausted celebrate in the ring, Bischoff excitedly mentions that tomorrow night’s Nitro won’t be one to miss, with Hall and Nash forced to reveal their third man. Halloween Havoc draws to its close, Arn and Flair continuing to enjoy the rapturous adoration of the crowd.
Putting the identity of their third man on the line against The Four Horsemen’s continued existence as a group at Halloween Havoc, The Outsiders lost, and are contractually obliged to reveal the third man, that mystery which has eluded WCW. Other events involving The Four Horsemen at Halloween Havoc saw Chris Benoit be removed from the group, and attack Dean Malenko in revenge, and the return of Sting during Flair and Arn’s match with The Outsiders, laying all four men out.
October 28th, 1996: WCW Monday Nitro
Epilogues and Didacts
Chris Benoit bumps roughly into Dean Malenko in the corridor. Malenko is bruised, and limping slightly, but nonetheless grabs Benoit by the arm as he passes, turning Benoit around to face him. Benoit sneers at Malenko, and growls a threat of another beating, which only makes Malenko pull Benoit closer by the arm, and coolly tell his former friend that “You don’t have the jump on me this time. Go ahead and try it.” Benoit removes the hand from his arm, and pushes himself nose to nose with Malenko, who laughs coldly. Benoit asks what’s funny, and Malenko obliges him.
“Looks like I got the jump on you this time.”
As he says this, the thick arm of Arn Anderson turns Benoit around, and plants a punch firmly on his cheek, downing the former Horseman. Not far behind him, Flair walks onto the scene.
“You really think you could pull a stunt like that on us? After you rode with us, you should have had some idea what would happen.”
Benoit picks himself up with considerable help from the wall, only for a punch from Malenko to slump him tiredly back down it.
“You’re gonna stay there for a while, pal.”
The camera draws away as the Horsemen swarm on their former ally, stamping with ferocious cruelty at his prone form.
Later on in the night, and another scene is unfolding backstage, between Randy Savage and the newly returned Sting. Savage is yelling angrily at Sting.
“What the hell was that last night, Sting? After I step forwards, defending your honour, you go and jump Flair, in the middle of his fighting those scumbags? You made me look like a fool, and yourself look like a traitor! Whose side are you even on?”
“First off, I never asked you to defend my honour, and the day I need your defence of it is a sad one. Secondly, I did what I did to get revenge, and I did what I did because this whole thing makes me sick deep down inside. What they did to me proves it there’s no-one here you can trust any more, because there’s no-one here who can trust you any more. So as for sides, I’m on my own side, not Flair’s side, not your side, not even this company’s side. At least The Outsiders will stab me in the front, not the back. Which is more than I can say for anyone here. I’m out for myself, and no-one else from here on. I suggest you do the same.”
Sting turns his back on his former friend, and stalks angrily from the room. Savage buries his head remorsefully in his hand.
“Sting too? Damn it, there’s no-one left any more.”
It’s near enough the end of the show, and after almost two hours of nervous anticipation, The Outsiders make their way to ringside, taking absurdly defeated looking stances as they overact slouching dejectedly to the ring. Once in the ring, they start to laugh and joke with each other again, clearly finding their artificial manner hilarious.
Hall, grin on his face, raises the microphone to his mouth, and half-laughs “Alright, you got us, deal’s a deal. You got the name of our third man.”
He pauses for dramatic effect.
“It was Hulk Hogan all along.”
The crowd make a sound of shock, while the announcers sound their surprise and fury at the identity of the traitor in their midst. Lex Luger’s music plays, and he strides out onto the ramp, microphone in hand.
“I knew it! How’d you get to him, huh?” Nash grins, leaning nonchalantly against the ropes
“Cool down, Lex.”
He turns to Hall, asking “You sure? Could have sworn it was Lex there.”
Luger fumes at the top of the ramp, knowing full well that to enter the ring with these two would only serve to earn him a beating. Hall slaps his head as though realising his own stupidity.
“Of course! Yeah, it was Lex Luger!”
Nash cuts back in, laughter in his voice.
“No, it was Sting!”
“Konnan all along. Pay off was nothing but a story he fed you.”
“How about Savage?”
“No, definitely Arn. After all, he stirred the pot so well.”
“True. Yeah, got to give Arn due credit.”
The audience watch in confused silence, as at the announce desk, Bischoff rails about how he wishes they’d stop joking around, they have to give the name, they signed the contracts on the match, they have to. Nash grins from ear to ear.
“Don’t you get it? There never was a third man. And by having no third man, we had an army. You tore each other to pieces trying to find the third man. All the while ignoring little old us. And what did it get you? None of you can trust each other anymore, you’ve done too much to each other in the name of justice. Hulk Hogan, the all American hero knows how useless his idealism is. The Four Horsemen are broken as a group, my boy Scott here’s got your greatest prize, we could do whatever we wanted while you destroyed yourselves, and you’re all too broken as a unit to stop us now.” Scott stops posing with his prize for a moment, and offers a sincere thank you to Arn Anderson
“for stirring it all up so well. Never dreamed it could work this well. We couldn’t have done it without you, old man!”
After The Outsiders’ speech, Arn Anderson is standing alone in a lonely dark corridor, dressed in a lonely dark suit and rubbing his lonely dark eyes. Every inch of him is tired. He slowly draws a cigarette from a pack inside his jacket to his mouth, and flicks a zippo open. His coarse thumb grinds against the flint, drawing a flame into life. He leans into it until the end of the cigarette is ignited, and closes the lid, the light illuminating his face gone as though it never had been there. He takes a deep drag, feeling the tightness of the smoke in his lungs, and savouring tobacco’s harsh kiss before transferring the cigarette to his right hand. He turns towards the door at the end, smoke trailing sadly behind him. Ric Flair is standing by the door, a look of concern for his old friend on his face. He stops Arn as he approaches the door.
“Where are you going?”
Arn pauses for half a minute, and keeps his head hung, unable to look Flair in the eye.
“They’re right, the pair of them. I loved this company. I loved this business. But it’s turned into something I don’t even recognise any more, and I helped make it that way. I’m getting out. I don’t know when I’ll be back. I don’t even know if I’ll be back at all. I just know that this isn’t the place for men like me any more. Maybe it never was.”
With these words, he pushes through the door and steps outside into the night air’s harsh darkness.