Wrestling 365 – 04/22

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By Liam Byrne @tvtimelimit

Lord Steven Regal vs The Belfast Bruiser

Parking Lot Brawl

04/22/96

On the April 29th episode of WCW Monday Nitro (taped on the 22nd), The Giant would defeat Ric Flair for his second run with the WCW World Heavyweight Title. Fast forward to today, and it is completely forgotten and unmemorable. All that made it noteworthy was that it would be this Giant run that would be stopped by the newly heel ‘Hollywood’ Hulk Hogan.

However, on the same episode was a match that has lived long in the memory and is often referred back to when considering the best matches and moments of the Nitro era. Pre-Hardcore titles and the aping of ECW above and beyond what was sometimes necessary, the decision to have a Parking Lot Brawl was interesting; a blurring of the lines between fact and fiction as two men chose to sort their differences out in a pure fight, rather than a wrestling match.

The fact that Lord Steven Regal would be one of the participants only made it stranger – he was not a man known for his brawling capabilities. His opponent, on the other hand, had done little but blast his way through the competition in-ring and stick his nose in Regal’s business since his arrival whilst boasting a horrifically bad mullet. Not that I’d say that to his face. The Belfast Bruiser was what it said on the tin: a vicious brawler from Northern Ireland who would seemingly be at home in a brawl anywhere, let alone a parking lot.

After an advert break, the show cut directly to the parking lot where the two men were already starting to chuck each other around with reckless abandon. This was as stiff a contest as you were likely to see on Nitro at this time, neither man holding back with their strikes whatsoever. It would be the Bruiser who instantly began to use the weaponry around him by slamming Regal face first into the car hood. As Regal was sent into the side of a car, he was lucky enough to duck an incoming Bruiser boot that caused the car window to shatter into thousands of pieces.

Not content with just using the vehicles encircling them, the Bruiser would grab a cinder block, forcing Regal to back off. A thumb to the eye whilst on the back foot forced Bruiser to drop the concrete and Regal would make him pay by grinding Bruiser’s forehead into the slab on the floor. Nothing that Regal did seemed to slow the Bruiser down though as he used the tailgate of one truck, a spare tire and the bumper of another car to continue his assault on the Lord.

The car hoods came into play next as the two men traded slams onto the metal, with Regal adding an elbowdrop in the one nod to actual professional wrestling. Finding ever more innovative ways infict punishment, Bruiser grabbed a belt buckle to choke Regal before a couple of missed Regal punches would see his left hand collide with the glass in a sickening fashion. The wear and tear from the contest was starting to show as blood began to stain the white Monday Nitro shirt that Regal had worn, whilst Tony Schiavone on commentary threatened to cut to a longer distance shot if the violence got any worse.

Before the ‘match’ finished, another window would shatter upside Bruiser’s head as Schiavone continued to bemoan the lengths the two men were going to to hurt each other. A tombstone attempt on the concrete floor by the Bruiser was reversed, as was a piledriver attempt on the hood of a car that saw Regal land hard on the roof instead. A low blow halted Bruiser’s attempts to press home the advantage, with Regal finally landing the piledriver, though this time on the roof instead of the hood.

Bruiser slumped onto the hood and would be counted down for three as Regal managed to come out victorious in a match that really didn’t seem to suit him at all. In a wrestling world that had been somewhat sanitised at the top end, this was also a reminder of the power of a really good, authentic brawl. That this type of match would be the precursor in some ways to the trash can and cookie sheet attempts at Hardcore further down the line is a shame, but it still stands tall as easily one of the best matches that Nitro ever aired.

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