Attempting to turn WCW into its own separate company again never panned out. The Invasion, despite its promise, flopped. Now the WWF seems to be trying to lure viewers back in by resorting to exactly what kept me *away* from them for several years-- by reintroducing the Attitude era.
On SmackDown, many new participants in the Royal Rumble were named. And other than the shocking announcement that Curt Hennig would be making his return to the WWF at the Rumble (I'll get to him in a minute), the announcement read like a "WWF Who's Who" list from 1999.
To wit: The Godfather, Val Venis and Golddust will all be making their returns to the WWF at the Royal Rumble.
The Godfather. Sweet God, what are they thinking? Is the WWF intentionally *trying* to get the PTC up in arms over them once again? For those who don't remember, The Godfather made a gimmick out of walking-- no, strutting-- down the aisle in brightly colored neon green or pink outfits, and was always followed by about sixteen-- er, eight-- "ho's". That's right, the WWF used to find a minimum of six women, dress them up in prostitute attire, and refer to them as "ho's". On many occasions, The Godfather would actually offer his opponent a choice: to either wrestle one-on-one, or walk home with two or three of "his" women. This led to a memorable incident with Dean Malenko, in which he accepted the offer and walked out on his partner, Perry Saturn, before a tag-team match.
As if that wasn't bad enough, I remember an incident in which one of Godfather's "ho's" actually briefly held the WWF Hardcore Title. The phrase "whoring around a title" took on an entirely new meaning there. Of course, it was all part of a plan to have Crash win the belt as many times as possible (as of today, he is a 13-time Hardcore Champion, having been with the company for about three years). But I digress.
Val Venis. When I think of the "Big Valbowski", I think of the time in which they played a scene on the TitanTron of Terri (apparently) giving Venis oral sex. Made it worse that it was played in front of Terri's ex-husband, Dustin Rhodes. (I'll get to *him* in a minute). I think of the time when Kaientai threatened to "choppy-choppy" Venis's "pee-pee" because he made pornographic videos with the wrong woman. Turned out he was saved by John Bobbitt, the guy who really *did* get his "pee-pee" chopped off by his wife. Horrible stuff. Truly disgusting.
"Cocked and ready to explode." "Hellooooooooo, ladies." When I think of Val Venis, I think of all these things. And I cringe at a federation who would sink to such lows just to attract an audience. I cringe again when I realize that it may have actually worked (although I'd attribute the surge in the WWF's popularity more to Steve Austin, The Rock and DeGeneration-X than I do Venis.)
And then there's Golddust. The son of one of wrestling's greatest legends (even though I dislike him), "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes. Now, having watched Dustin in WCW, I can say with a fair amount of confidence that he, like his father, does not possess a reasonable amount of wrestling ability. He wasn't even *interesting* in late '90s WCW, from the day in Indianapolis (I was there) when he chucked what might have been an intriguing "Seven" gimmick.
Oh, it's true. For Dustin's return to WCW, they decked him out in all black, with a completely white face, black trench and hat. Then they put him on a machine that made it look like he was actually flying into the ring. It was quite interesting to see, really.
Then he chucked all that in a thirty-second promo which no one in the Conseco Fieldhouse particularly cared about. From that day forth, he would be known as Dustin Rhodes, and that's that.
OK. But Dustin Rhodes is *boring*, just another redneck brawler as far as I'm concerned.
But it's still a far sight better than the alternative. The WWF's strategy for marketing Dustin Rhodes was nothing short of pure genius. Take a talentless, straight, second-generation wrestler. Put him in gold-and-black face paint and a gold outfit. Have him start rubbing his private parts all over the ropes, looking like he wants to "do" his opponents. Have him form a bizarre, homoerotic relationship with The Blue Meanie. Give him the Intercontinental Title. Watch his popularity soar.
Yes, I was being sarcastic. Golddust was nothing short of a disaster from where I stand, and it's gimmicks like that that make people embarrassed to be watching professional wrestling. He definitely gave TV Guide sports analyst Phil Mushnick something to rant about, though. Thanks, Vince. *raises middle finger*
All of these men have something in common, though. They all held the Intercontinental Title in early 1999. Definitely something that makes me want to puke. The title went from porn star Val Venis to stoner Road Dogg to "flamer" Golddust to "pimp" Godfather. Yes, fans, there actually *were* worse Intercontinental Champions than Billy Gunn. Hard to imagine, isn't it.
The big question here is: Will all three of these men stick after the Rumble, or will they all just have one-time-only appearances? I doubt that the WWF would have three wrestlers making a one-night-only return, so I fear that at least two of them will stick around. And this time, I won't have WCW to tune in to as an alternative.
Hey, I've got an idea for you, Vince McMahon. Why not bring back former WWF Superstars that fill at least one of these two categories: (1) They have loads of talent or (2) They can draw like crazy. Neither of those three men fit any of those categories. How about bringing back D'Lo Brown? I'll be honest, I hated his gimmick, but he could wrestle-- and I think his time in the dog house should be over. How about bringing back Jeff Jarrett-- who, along with Booker T, was one of the very few bright spots in the last year of WCW's existence?
How about Scott Steiner? Part of his gimmick was as reprehensible as Val Venis' "porn star" gimmick, but damn-- when he went nuts on someone, he went NUTS on someone. He actually invented a new verb-- when someone gets their ass whooped by a foreign object these days, I say, "He went absolutely Steiner on that guy."
Anyway... rant over. Send your hate mail, death threats and maybe one or two "You know what Eddie, you're absolutely right" messages to email@example.com.