DAY OF INFAMY
Tuesday is my favorite day to go slashwrestling.com. Tuesday is the day that CRZ not only updates the site with the current RAW report, but it is also the day that he gives us a look at "This Week in Wrestling" by posting RAW and Nitro reports from years past. It's always interesting to read about the troubles CRZ had with Sportsline and his run-ins with Sean Shannon. It's also very interesting to go back and read what RAW and Nitro were serving up one, two and three years ago.
This past Tuesday (8/14/01) was one of the most interesting Tuesdays in a long while. I say this because this week in wrestling marks the anniversary of one of the most heinous creative decisions ever in the history of sports entertainment. What am I talking about? Well, there's so much to choose from. Last year, we had Kane turning on Taker (again) and Vince Russo (with Tank Abbott) calling out Goldberg in the only REAL segment on Nitro. Two years ago saw Sid Vicious interrupt almost every match on Nitro and a two hour quest to find Stone Cold's #1 contender, only to have two of them by the end of the night. Three years ago saw the payoff to the emotionally enthralling Val Venis-Kaientai feud and, of course, the return of the Warrior who might be Ultimate.
What I'm speaking of, specifically, occurred on August 16, 1999 on RAW. One of the most over characters in recent memory was destroyed on this night. The character is Hardcore Holly and the introduction of his cousin Crash is what destroyed it. This is, without question, one of Russo's biggest crimes (we have to assume Russo did it, since he never gave credit to anybody else for his WWF work).
It's amazing to take a look at this from a larger view. Hardcore Holly was so well written in the spring and summer months of 1999. We knew he could fight, because he was fighting hardcore matches for months. He's always had the Best Dropkick In The Business. He was a guy who, stature-wise, was not much different from Steve Austin. Not the smallest guy in the world, but then again, far from the biggest. Yet, he had the balls to start picking fights with the Big Show. Then, he started picking fights with Kane. Hardcore Holly was the Big Shot. He was certifiably insane, but he was still the Big Shot. My favorite moment was when the Acolytes were calling out the Undertaker and Big Show, but instead got Hardcore Holly.
Which one of us do you want to hand you your ass?
I want both your asses!
Russo was striking gold with this character. Now, I'm not sure how long it would have taken for this extension of the character to get boring and stale, but Russo only gave it two months. Two lousy months. And it was destroyed in one fell swoop by introducing Crash. Crash was such a horrible idea for two major reasons:
1) It gave Hardcore Holly an ally. Granted, they never were on the same page, but in essence, they were allies. Hardcore Holly does not have allies.
2) It eliminated any reason the audience had to get into the Hardcore Holly character. Why? Because Crash is smaller than Hardcore. How can you promote "David and Goliath" stories when David has a relative running around that's even smaller than he is?
Oh, and how about the fact that Hardcore and Crash never got along? Did Russo think up that little nuance because he got lazy and had more important things to write? Or was Russo just not able to think of anything creative anymore for Hardcore? Consider this sequence of events: On 8/9/99, Hardcore spends the night hunting down the Big Show and then interferes in Show's match with the Rock. One week later, Crash was introduced to the world. Summerslam 99 took place six days after that. Where was Hardcore placed on the card? Second match on the card, teaming with Crash, in a Tag Team Turmoil match with five other teams! In less than two weeks, Hardcore went from being the Big Shot to being lost in the shuffle, babysitting his little cousin.
From Summerslam 99 until his unfortunate accident almost a year later, what has Hardcore done? Well, there was a tiny tag title reign with him and Crash. He briefly chased the IC title, which produced some funny moments. Then he wallowed in the Hardcore division. Eh.
Who knows how big the Big Shot could have gotten by himself. Thanks to Russo, we never will know. If he would've been able to make it big back in 99, then who knows, he might have actually said something to Kurt about that whole broken arm thing.