MY TWO CENTZ
Our Fearless Leader is going on a well-deserved vacation starting later this week. That's why this column is early. I figured there would probably be a rash of submissions on Wednesday, so I sent this in early Tuesday morning. If this edition isn't up to (or down to ;-), as the case may be,) the usual standards that you've come to expect, I apologize.
No, it doesn't give me whiplash to change my mind so fast: There may be a method to what I've described as the WWF's recent booking madness after all. This view didn't really hit me until I was listen to the Rock give his opening spiel about the WCW title at the beginning of RAW. He made a good point, namely that the WCW title (and, by unspoken extension, WCW itself,) had their credibility seriously damaged in the Last Years of Turner.
I wanted WCW brought in and given instant credibility. I thought they deserved that credibility. I still do. What I didn't take into account was that my views are not necessarily those of all wrestling fans at large. I'm as shocked as you are, but it's true. Most people saw WCW as a joke, and they were. I saw some good workers trapped in a bad environment. But some fans can't draw a distinction between the two. So the WWF decided to go slow, and start WCW from scratch. The Squashing of Dallas Page hurt WCW's credibility. But putting the WCW title on the Rock is not as bad as I first thought it was. The Rock gives the WCW title some prestige it didn't recently have. Casual fans now see a big name like the Rock carrying around the WCW title, and that makes it mean something. It will be that much a bigger deal when someone from within the ranks of WCW (Booker T, possibly Lance Storm,) eventually defeats the Rock for the WCW title.
That last bit assumes that the WWFE brain trust is not still charging pell-mell into a big-money unification match early next year. I stand by my statement that, long term, that would be disastrous. It would devalue each World Title. But I've come to the conclusion that you've gotta have faith. No, not the cheesy song by George Michael, or the cheesy cover by Limp Bizkit, but faith in the booking team. Yes, we need to keep them on their toes by refusing to swallow anything that they happen to give us. But they are professionals. This is their job. They take it seriously, or so I've been told.
A perfect example of this is Booker T: I was harsh in my view of Booker's treatment last week. I stand by that. It was stupid, unfunny, and demeaning. But they made up a lot of ground by having Booker absolutely destroy the Big Show on Monday night. They try one thing. If it works (Angle as a main-event face,) they stick with it. If it doesn't (Booker Wee,) they get rid of it. Hopefully, the end of Booker's "Path of Slight Ire" is a successful championship return match against the Rock.
We suspend belief every week when we devote several hours of our time to watch people pretend to beat each other up. So I'm going to do my best to suspend my Inner Cynic and have some faith in the booking team.
And, as long as I'm eating crow, I've got one more to go: The Undertaker. I've been one of his harshest critics on the EZboard. I stand by my statement that his squashing of DDP was an horrendous decision. But the Undertaker bought himself some time, in my eyes, with his performance on RAW. No, he didn't job, but he did work a pretty fast-paced match, for a 300-pounder. He also showed a little bit of vulnerability. As I watched him get the 1-2-3, I thought about having faith with the bookers. Maybe they're building the Undertaker up into an unstoppable monster just so that whenever he finally does put someone over, it will be a Big Deal. I'm not sold on this idea yet, and I won't be until it happens. But ol' Taker has bought himself a reprieve, from me anyway.
I guess the bottom line of all this is that I'm an optimist at heart. I don't like being a pessimist, and I'll grasp at straws in order to give myself some hope.
Get off Good ol' JR's back: Jim Ross has received a good deal of criticism all around this vast Internet of ours over the past weekend. While in and of itself that's not a bad thing, in this particular instant, it was misguided. In his latest Ross Report, JR made this statement: Strange that so many of the WCW talents are getting so banged up. Could it be because of the near half-speed style they utilized in Atlanta? This ain't ballet. What's so wrong with that? Down in Hotlanta, where the inmates ran the asylum, it was commonplace to take time off for nagging little injuries. In the WWF, wrestlers are expected to work through minor aches, pains, bumps and bruises. Earlier this year, Chris Benoit worked through a neck injury for several months, until going on the injured list to have surgery and fix the problem. Chris Jericho got a concussion at Summerslam, but finished his match and was back at work the next day. Kurt Angle lost consciousness and suffered a concussion at King of the Ring, while still managing to compete in THREE matches that night. I don't want to belabor this point, but on this subject, it bears mentioning again: Triple H tore his quadriceps and FINISHED THE MATCH! Those are just a few examples off the top of my head of WWF talent working through serious injuries. What JR did was send a non-specific wake-up call to any of the new acquisitions who might've been under the impression that Uncle Ted's Rules were still in effect. Do WWF wrestlers get time off for legit injuries? Yes. Ross himself devotes most of his report to status updates on various injured personnel. Did he single any one WCW person out? No. And he's never been afraid of doing that in the past, as the Big Show and Mark Henry can attest to. JR only gave notice to not expect the same treatment in the WWF as some may have been used to elsewhere. It was perfectly reasonable of him to use his column to send a warning to new talent before the situation got any worse, if indeed it's even bad at all. There was no call for all this outrage over what was merely some preventative medicine from beneath the black Resistol hat.
The Whole F'N Show: Rob Van Dam has really impressed me lately. I wasn't really familiar with his stuff in ECW, since the only ECW I ever got was ECW on TNN, and I only saw that a couple of times (whose bright idea was it to air it on Friday nights?) I was impressed by his high spots since his WWF debut. But lately, he's been adding a little bit extra to his matches: psychology. I like ring psychology. It adds a lot to a match for me. I can enjoy a spot fest, but I won't enjoy it as much as a match that tells a story. Van Dam's match with Jeff Hardy on Smackdown last week was easily one of the better matches I've seen on free TV this year. Van Dam sold the damage to his leg well, and showed a good ability to focus on softening up Hardy's back. That's a promising sign that he'll adapt just fine to the WWF style. He continued to impress me with his performance in the main event of RAW. I hope my brother was wrong about RVD being stoned Monday night, because that's the only thing that could hold him back from superstardom. If he stays healthy and off the whacky tobaccy (and I don't mean Lorilard's kind,) he'll be a huge star in this business for a long time. But his fate is in his own hands, and that's more than some people can say.
Highspots: Love 'em or hate 'em? That segues very nicely into something else I want to talk about: highspots. More specifically, the recent trend toward "can you top this?" in the WWF. Between the TLC matches, Angle/Shane from KotR 2001, and Jeff Hardy on last week's Smackdown, I've got enough highspots to last me for quite some time. This is not to say I want to completely eliminate them. But there is a desensitizing that occurs once you see something over and over and over again. When Shane McMahon dropped the Big Elbow onto Test and through the Spanish announce table at Summerslam '99, it was a big "holy shit!" moment for me. When he did much the same thing to the Rock on RAW a couple of weeks ago, it didn't mean as much. Hopefully, Jeff Hardy's 20-foot swanton-through-a-table will be the last thing like that we'll see for a while. I'd like these guys to be able to compete for 10 or 15 more years, and not wind up like Shawn Michaels or Mick Foley at the end of their time.
Happy Birthday to Me! I turn 24 on Tuesday, September 4. If any of you happen to have some money burning a whole in your pocket, and you'd like to earn the gratitude of a no-name Internet columnist, you could buy me something here.
I think this would be a cool idea for Kurt Angle's next T-shirt: "It's True" on the front and "The Truth Hurts" on the back.
I didn't watch Excess this week. I've got better things to do on a Saturday night than sit at home and watch spiffed-up version of "LiveWire." No, really, I do! Stop laughing, dammit!
Did anybody else think, "Disco Stu doesn't advertise" when you saw Heyman's open shirt on RAW?
Until next time, whenever that is, I'm Chip Boots, and this has been My Two Centz.