|Our 3rd Anniversary||
TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU
"A new era is what this once proud and profitable company
sorely needs! What was once a captivating, trendsetting program has
now deteriorated into a cliched -- let's be honest -- BORING SNOOZEFEST
that is in dire need of a knight in shining armor! And that's why I'm
here! ... Now let's go over the facts. Television ratings: downward
spiral. Pay-per-view buyrates: plummeting. Mainstream acceptance:
nonexistent. And reactions of the live crowd: complete and utter
"The WWF truly does SUCK! Don't boo me. Have you watched the
television show lately? Vince McMahon has lost his MIND. The man
doesn't have it any more! He's a has been, his ideas are antiquated,
his concepts are draconian, and Mick Foley was right, because the WWF
is imploding from within! Like every great empire, the WWF is
imploding from within. Vince's loyal employees, like Stone Cold, left
him; like Mick Foley, want nothing to do with him."
I used to write here on a weekly basis, and it was a terrific opportunity that I enjoyed immensely, and one I'll be forever grateful to Chrissy for providing to me, benevolently, out of the blue. But I had to stop once I realized something: that my columns, under the guise of reporting on and oftentimes brilliantly analyzing [Dave Meltzer's observations of] professional wrestling, existed in large part to repeatedly find different ways to list all the things the WWF had been doing wrong. Weird, right? Why was I so obsessed with the WWF's screwups?
Because I was already obsessed with the WWF. Wrestling was my favorite pastime. Raw was my favorite show. I had root root rooted for the WWF like a home team, and they had delivered with the best TVs, pay-per-views, matches, angles, wrestlers. But then they lost a step. And another. And another. And I had to sit back and watch while my team started making all the wrong moves, with me knowing that they were the wrong moves, unable to do anything to prevent them. It was an agonizing experience, and I couldn't forgive them for betraying me like that, for becoming so very good and then abruptly stopping with the exact same successful components in place. I considered it a personal affront. After all my devotion, all my defenses, after taking their side time after time against WCW, or Phil Mushnick, or the PTC, or non-wrestling fans, or Scott Keith, or people on the internet who bashed a successful product, this is how I was being repaid? With Steve Austin aligning with Triple H and never even fighting the Rock? With WWF vs. WCW turning into the Shane and Stephanie McMahon show? With Stephanie and a dog overshadowing Chris Jericho, the world champion? With Hulk Hogan, after years of being portrayed as the archaic enemy, positioned as a bigger star than Stone Cold? By breaking up Edge and Christian? By burying Rob Van Dam? By having Vince McMahon make out with Trish, Torrie, and Stacy?
What a heel turn.
Every misstep stuck with me, because there was never time to recover before the next one came. Yes, Virginia, there is The Glass Ceiling, and now I look dumb because all through 2000, I insisted there wasn't. The World Wrestling Federation left me with egg on my face! Egg! And that felt gross.
So maybe I took the downfall of the WWF a little too personally, but at the very least, it means I'm good at documenting just what went wrong. And at the same time, because many people like to play the overly dramatic, oversimplified "you hate them so bad why you watch?" card, I can also tell you why I kept rooting for the home team during their fall from grace, why I was always confident (but decidedly less so each time around) that they would get their act together sooner or later. After all, this is my WWF we were talking about. But it's not anymore. (It's the WWE.) So my one trick pony rides again, because to celebrate this anniversary there is nothing I'd rather do than find one more way to list, call attention to, analyze, or even celebrate, the end of the -- no, MY -- wrestling boom.
It's gonna be cool, and by cool I mean totally sweet.
I showed up at Slash in October of last year, and right away I had to say, I bet people are always saying to you, they're saying, "Blah blah blah business is down" and you're like, "Well, duh," but do you actually realize we're only six months removed from the biggest wrestling show of all time and the best year, in terms of quality and business, in WWF history?
As you can see, I was already wounded by the downfall, but still holding onto the glory days. So I sat down to prove that business was down and it was our own WWF's fault. It was a tricky deal at the time. Although the WWF had a definite air of negativity over it by October, the majority of the internet fanbase (and I hate to generalize but I'm just speaking from my perceptions) had yet to give up hope that an easy turnaround was just around the corner, whereas now the company has a definite loser stigma that it'll take some doing to get rid of. Back then, I didn't want to upset people by appearing to declare war on the WWF. I just wanted to talk it over, you know? Now it's open season on the company, and rightfully so, probably, but I think deep down, most people want to see a successful WWE, for their own enjoyment, and would easily forgive them if there were storylines and characters they could identify with without feeling screwed or stupid for caring. That being said, just because you desperately want to enjoy the TV doesn't mean you have to put on a happy face and rrrrrrrreally accentuate the positive during a time when there's not a lot to feel positive about.
But let me reiterate my original point. My original, original point. The one from October. Because some people like to throw around the "wrestling is a cyclical business!" catchphrase to explain these dark days, as if we're just supposed to chill out for a while and the company will automatically repair itself when the cycle comes around again. The business is cyclical because a promoter does something to get hot and then stops. Fads wear off, but WWF business didn't cycle up into a huge boom and then go down automatically. They attracted a large number of fans by doing really good, and then they drove off those fans by doing bad. Let's talk about that badness.
TEN BIGGEST WWF MISTAKES
in chronological order
1) WRESTLEMANIA 2000 MAIN EVENT FINISH
What happened: In the main event of the biggest show of the year (and the then-biggest show of all time), WWF swerves the expected finish of top babyface the Rock going over top heel Triple H for the WWF Title with a Vince McMahon heel turn that didn't make sense.
Why this was bad: It's not a damage-doer so much as it's a harbinger of all the bad things to come -- McMahon family overindulgence, what's best for HHH being more important than what's best for the story, nonsensical turns. This was Vince-as-top-heel rehash #2 of 4 from June 99 to November 01. It provided a flat finish to cap off a disappointing PPV, with the shock ending turning the big blowoff show into an episode of Raw. It was step one in the butchering of the hottest wrestler in the business's big title chase story, with step two coming when he lost the WWF Title at Judgment Day in May a month after his big win, and step three coming at King of the Ring in June when HHH dropped the belt back ... in a tag match ... without doing a job ... when Rock pinned Vince. The WWF, its title, and the Rock were far too strong to be damaged by this at the time, and the McMahon-Helmsley Factgime angle made for really good television, but it was an odd burp during the middle of their incredibly hot run.
Effect on business: Positive, actually. WrestleMania 2000 set a record with 824,000 buys, and the Backlash rematch allowed them to do another huge buyrate, their second highest of the year behind Mania. The Steve Austin return angle led to the highest Smackdown rating ever, 5.42 for his first appearance on 4/27, and the highest Raw rating ever, 7.42 on 5/1 for a show we were supposed to think he would show up on. HHH vs. Rock for the third month in a row at Judgment Day did do the third lowest buyrate of the year. TV ratings were strong as ever all through the spring and summer.
2) CONCLUSION OF THE LOVE TRIANGLE
What happened: In the climactic moment of the very popular Stephanie-Kurt Angle-Triple H angle, Stephanie sides with Triple H, who beats Angle, the finish nobody wanted to see.
Why this was bad: This was the first chink in the armor of WWF creative, which had been wildly successful since 1997 and was enjoying its best year yet in 2000. Everybody loved the love triangle and was looking forward to its inevitable conclusion, Stephanie turning on Hunter and going with Angle to turn HHH into a jilted babyface and cement Angle as a top heel. HHH didn't want to separate from Stephanie on camera, didn't want to get dumped, didn't want to give up the top heel spot headlining against Rock and Austin, so we got no payoff. The finish was the first hard example of concession to ego interfering in the company's angles and best interests. WWF has yet to run another long-term angle as close to as good as this one.
Effect on business: Not coincidentally, the TV ratings decline began in September 2000, the same month this storyline came to its bad conclusion. This is the same month that Raw moved to TNN, but the move in and of itself was not responsible for the decline, because the slide was a gradual one over the fall -- the last episode of Raw on USA did a 5.81 and the first episode on TNN did a 5.54, so no one more than 220,000 people forgot that Raw switched networks that first week and never found the show again. Raw averaged a 6.23 in June 2000, 6.16 in July, 6.13 in August, 5.72 in September (against the start of Monday Night Football), 5.20 in October, 5.03 in November, and 5.09 in December/January, dropping more than an entire point in three months. (U.S. Open shows in August and September excluded. December/January combined throwing out holiday and unopposed shows.) Many fans trace the end of their emotional bond to WWF angles to this one's failed payoff.
3) GLASS CEILING
What happened: After headlining shows with the top guys over the summer, Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit had their legs cut out from underneath them in the fall, with Jericho getting punted into midcard programs with X-Pac and Kane, and Benoit returning to the Radicals as HHH's henchman and taking back the IC Title from Billy Gunn. Meanwhile, Steve Austin's hit-and-run storyline ended up being a huge letdown with Rikishi bombing as the perpetrator, allowing Triple H to slide out of the love triangle and back into the top heel spot. Angle was given the WWF Title after getting screwed in the love triangle, but was booked as a weak champion who got beat up by everyone. Also in the fall, head writer Chris Kreski, who had been attributed with the high quality of the TV that year by storyboarding his angles, resigned due to burnout and was replaced by Stephanie McMahon.
Why this was bad: Probably the single most damaging thing for the company was their failure to create new stars. The lack of fresh faces didn't come back to haunt the company until after WrestleMania X-Seven, but this was clearly a crucial period where the company stayed with its pat hand too long and eventually got burned. Fans were teased by the rising midcarders holding their own with the top names, but they never got the big win. Here, Benoit and Jericho stopped climbing the ladder and began treading water, and when they finally got their shot six months later, almost by default, when the company ran out of babyfaces, they weren't perceived as top guys, needed help, didn't get it, and had their push killed off because it didn't turn things around after two weeks. Had Angle stolen Stephanie and had Austin's angle elevated someone new as a top heel like Jericho, the WWF would've had three huge babyfaces and two new megaheels.
Effect on business: Neither Benoit nor Jericho are effective draws to this day, after numerous false starts, and Angle just last week dropped the comedy routine (for the third or fourth time) to become a strong heel. Unforgiven and No Mercy did very strong buyrates that can be largely attributed to Steve Austin's return and first match. Survivor Series did the lowest buyrate of the year for Austin vs. the newly turned HHH, but Austin, HHH, Rock, and Angle did big business headlining in January, February, and March with three huge buyrates, so the negative effects of this weren't felt until post-Mania. The Stephanie-led creative team ended up botching every major concept they attempted, such as the Austin heel turn, the WCW invasion, the NWO invasion, and the "brand extension."
4) THE XFL
What happened: Vince McMahon's football league set record low ratings, became the butt of jokes, and lost millions of dollars.
Why this was bad: It wasn't not just the huge money losses that hurt the company, there was also major psychological damage done and a huge negative stigma attached to the wrestling product for being associated with such a gigantic failure. McMahon lost his "marketing genius" label and went back to being just a good wrestling promoter, then by the end of the year, just a wrestling promoter. Bruce Mitchell of the Torch was mean enough to steal my theory about the XFL ruining Vince's wrestling instincts, saying, "Ever since McMahon got his life's desire, when he was finally able to use pro wrestling as a platform to launch himself as a national sports/entertainment presence with his XFL, only to see his expensive football league quickly crumble before his eyes in as embarrassing a debacle as has ever been played on the national stage, the guy has lost his nerve. The XFL failure was so massive, on such a grand scale, and such a national joke, that McMahon knows in his heart of hearts that he'll never get that type of chance again. ... He was the Genius Promoter for the New Millennium, praised as such in the mainstream media, even as he was castigated for coarsening the cultural tone and causing school children to act up repeatedly. Not anymore. After the spectacular XFL flameout all McMahon is, and ever will be, is Just About The Last Wrestling Promoter."
Effect on business: The $35 million in losses only begins to scratch the surface when you consider the fact that while the XFL disaster was taking place, Vince had taken his eye off the ball in the WWF, which fell apart around the same time after WrestleMania X-7. Because of the hit McMahon took to his reputation, he was unable to convince TNN to give him a good timeslot for the new WCW show, so the company had to introduce WCW on existing WWF television a before they could rebuild the brand.
5) STEVE AUSTIN HEEL TURN
What happened: In Texas, in the main event of the biggest show ever, top babyface Steve Austin turns heel and aligns with Vince McMahon. The next night, he nonsensically aligns with Triple H. The Rock leaves to film Scorpion King and is replaced as top face by the Undertaker and Kane.
Why this was bad: Nobody wanted to boo him. The WWF created its core audience on the strength of Austin as top babyface feuding with Vince McMahon, and now they were together and Austin was a heel. Austin played an amazing heel in and out of the ring, and carried the WWF in 2001, but couldn't draw. He elicited the desired response in the arenas (booing) but nobody wanted to buy tickets to boo their hero. The turn in and of itself shouldn't have led to a complete collapse like it did, but the manner in which they executed it was completely botched, with no storyline explanation and Austin then aligning with hated enemy Triple H, killing all character consistency. Fans invested all sorts of emotion into WWF storylines only to be made to feel stupid for doing so. April 2001 was the month that put the company on the road to disaster. By turning Austin at the same time Rock left, the company lost its two top draws in one night. Instead of turning Triple H face to compensate, they paired him with Austin in the ratings poison Two Man Power Trip angle. Instead of elevating Jericho or Benoit, they relied on the Undertaker and Kane, who bombed as top babyfaces. HHH beat Jericho for the Intercontinental Title and then buried Jeff Hardy. Taker and Kane squashed Edge & Christian. It took a matter of weeks to kill off three years of momentum.
Effect on business: Killed Austin's drawing power. Killed TV ratings. Killed house show business. Killed PPVs. From April 2, the night after WrestleMania and first week without Nitro, to May 21, the night after Backlash, Raw's ratings took a free fall from 5.72 to 4.22, losing the entire disenfranchised Nitro audience and 10% of their own in a span of seven weeks. It was the fastest slide in the history of pro wrestling. Backlash did a .90 buyrate, down considerably from the last non-major PPV's 1.30. Judgment Day fell to 0.74, the lowest buyrate since April '98.
6) FAILED INVASION ANGLE
What happened: WWF buys WCW and is handed biggest angle of all time on a silver platter, lets ego get in the way of business, makes Shane and Stephanie the focus, and buries WCW as jobbers.
Why this was bad: It wasn't just bad, it was catastrophic. They took the most anticipated and biggest potential money feud in wrestling history and completely squandered it, despite a huge success in the first month of TV ratings and on PPV. They destroyed the WCW brand name instead of rebuilt it, which turned the roster split into halves of the WWF instead of two different companies. They ran off the WCW audience by turning their wrestlers into jokes. They killed off about thirty new pieces of talent that could've reinvigorated a stale WWF. They put on four months of directionless TV running an invasion angle with no invading and an interpromotional feud with no interpromotional feuding. It was "the worst invasion in the history of wrestling, and maybe the history of warfare as well," an unprepared disaster from the word go, with no big WCW stars brought in, a poorly thought out debut, and a disaster of a match in Tacoma. Remarkably, things were turned around in one night and the angle was huge for two weeks, but ego and/or incompetence got in the way and it died. WWF wouldn't sell, and all of the WCW/ECW wrestlers were buried for not knowing how to work and lack of tenure. Booker T, the WCW champion, was jobbed out. Diamond Dallas Page, the only other big name involved, was buried in a one-sided feud with the Undertaker. Rob Van Dam, despite getting over to a ridiculous degree, couldn't break the glass ceiling due to politics. The only stars were Shane and Stephanie McMahon, who took all the TV focus and interview time. Finally, in November, the angle was put out of its misery.
Effect on business: Far more in terms of a missed opportunity than in damage done to the product. Interpromotional has always been a short-term panacea in wrestling, and that held true here. Amazingly, it only took six weeks for TV ratings to rebound from the disastrous spring, starting from a 4.21 on June 21, the week before WCW showed up, to a 4.65 the next week, a 4.73 for the ECW angle, a 5.03 for the Steve Austin face turn, and a 5.68 for the return of the Rock on July 30. In another five weeks, it was back down to 4.62, and by October had reached a new low of 3.92. The InVasion PPV did one of the ten highest buyrates in the history of PPV. A month later, SummerSlam did its lowest buyrate since 1997. Had Vince not been prevented by Viacom from buying WCW with the Turner timeslots in November 2000, or had Vince gotten a timeslot from Viacom quickly after the sale in March 2001, he probably could've maintained most of the WCW audience and perhaps even rebuilt it. Instead, the artificial boom of the invasion angle was pissed away in an entire month and the 2.5 million or so WCW fans were lost for good.
7) BOTCHED RETURN OF THE ROCK
What happened: The Rock, the hottest star in wrestling, returns after being put out by Steve Austin, but doesn't acknowledge him, gives away his first match back on free TV, and then does jobs for Rhyno and Stephanie McMahon.
Why this was bad: Austin's heel turn was done in large part so he could have money programs with Rock and a face Triple H. Neither of those programs ever took place. The company nullified a brilliant face turn by Austin in July so that he could have his big match with the Rock at SummerSlam. It never happened. Rock returned to a program with Booker T., but that did disappointing business because his first match back was with Shane McMahon and was given away on free TV. After SummerSlam, he did a job for Rhyno that didn't elevate Rhyno; it only took Rock down. A few weeks later, he was pinned by Stephanie McMahon. He didn't even acknowledge the losses or seek revenge. When the Rock doesn't care about his own storylines, the fans aren't going to care either, and it really took the edge off of him after the huge return. The same mistake was repeated on a smaller scale with Triple H in January. He had a big return that didn't amount to anything, and his first match was given away four days before the PPV.
Effect on business: The Rock's return on July 30 drew a 5.68, the highest Raw rating since the night after WrestleMania. It was rendered meaningless in four weeks, as ratings dropped to 4.85. SummerSlam drew its lowest buyrate in four years for Rock's return match. By September, all of his extra drawing power was gone. Comparatively, when Steve Austin returned in 2000, his first appearance on PPV at Unforgiven drew 200,000 more buys than the average non-major show. His first match the next month at No Mercy drew 130,000 more buys above the average. Rock's return to PPV ended up meaning absolutely nothing. Austin vs. Rock headlined house shows in the fall and did bad business because their feud was never acknowledged on TV. Triple H's even more heavily hyped return in January boosted Raw's rating from around 4.0 to 4.93, and, with no angle resulting from it, went down to a 4.40 the next week.
8) SIGNING THE NWO
What happened: Against the better judgment of the entire wrestling industry, Vince McMahon signs Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall to increase ratings and doesn't think it would blow up in his face.
Why this was bad: It did. Who could've imagined that signing three 45-50 year old men who were terrible workers and unpopular in the locker room wouldn't have worked out? The three came in, did a good buyrate at No Way Out, and didn't move ratings in the slightest. Their invasion angle was botched from the start and made no impact. Hall was signed despite having the worst track record of anyone in the industry and was put in a program with Steve Austin, who wanted nothing to do with Hall because he didn't think he'd even be in the company by WrestleMania. As it turned out, he lasted two months and 25 days, but it wasn't for a lack of trying until then. His problems started his first night in the company, making a spectacle of himself the night before his first TV taping. He showed up in bad condition for WrestleMania weekend, and Austin insisted on blowing off their program then and there. His performance against Bradshaw at Backlash was an embarrassment, and he was finally let go after the European tour in May. Nash worked two TV matches and then tore his bicep, putting him out of action until this week, when he tore his quad 17 seconds into his first match back. In between the two injuries he found time to complain backstage at Raw. Hogan had no effect on TV ratings but did draw a very good buyrate at WrestleMania for a match with Rock that was extremely well received. He was turned babyface and drew incredible reactions from the live crowds, so they put the WWF Title on him in April but he bombed and turned off people as champion. He was intended to be a Babe Ruth-like in-house legend but can't be an effective draw as a weekly television character.
Effect on business: Flushing money down the toilet on Nash, having a mockery made of the company by Hall, and not getting the most bang for your buck on Hogan, all while destroying morale and workrate in the process. No Way Out did a very good buyrate, but the angle barely affected TV ratings (4.70 up from 4.42 for their debut, then back down the next week to 4.52) as stalling for their arrival for three weeks of TV killed the buzz they created. Hogan and Rock drew a big buyrate at WrestleMania, but Hogan drowned as champion, drawing a disappointing Backlash buyrate and tanking TV ratings. At best, their effect on business is "negligible" and at worst, it's "poisonous."
9) BURYING THE WWF TITLE
What happened: The Undisputed WWF Title, which they did such a good job with for so long, plays second fiddle to Stephanie McMahon, then changes hands at three consecutive PPVs, damaging the belt and, by extension, the entire company.
Why this was bad: After Chris Jericho unified the titles, he was still portrayed as not as important as Triple H, Steve Austin, Rock, and, ultimately, Stephanie McMahon. Jericho's program with HHH was turned into HHH's program with Stephanie, and the simple angle of Hunter returning from injury to chase the world title was ignored. HHH's reign lasted all of one month until the title was hotshotted onto Hulk Hogan before the company realized his arena pop didn't translate to a business pop. Hogan was rejected as champion and the belt lost more credibility by being held by an old man who couldn't work. He quickly dropped it to the Undertaker, who should be nowhere near the title at this stage of his career, and he would likely have dropped it back to HHH at King of the Ring to make it four straight title changes had HHH not gotten injured.
Effect on business: Killing off the World Title kills off the easiest angle to draw with in wrestling, a world title match. A title belt means what its value is at the box office and what its value is to the people chasing it. None of the other WWF titles mean anything at this point, especially not after the WCW belts were introduced and passed around weekly in the fall, but the world title was always kept strong. Now, world title matches are no longer effective as TV draws, and the last four PPV programs for the title were bad. Hogan's reign with the title was a turnoff and Raw and Smackdown ratings both dropped with him as a focus as champion on both shows, including a 2.9 for his title defense against Chris Jericho on May 2, the lowest-rated non-holiday Smackdown in history.
10) BRAND EXTENSION
What happened: WWF splits into two touring companies.
Why this was bad: In theory, it was a good idea with good intentions. Divide an overloaded talent roster into two "brands" so that everyone can get more exposure, established stars will burn out less quickly, and the company can increase its revenue by running two profitable groups. It didn't quite work out that way. Instead of opening up new spots, it cut the star power of each show in half. For the first two months, the only wrestler to benefit was Edge on Smackdown, while Raw was still built around Steve Austin, Ric Flair, and the Undertaker, and only those three. As for everyone else, Bradshaw was given a shot as Steve Austin's tagteam partner but was quickly given up on, Rob Van Dam and Eddie Guerrero continued to work a midcard program, Brock Lesnar started a monster push but nobody knew how to give him one, Mark Henry and the Big Show were given more chances to justify their contracts, Booker T. languished doing (mostly entertaining) comedy skits with Goldust, and Lance Storm, Christian, and most of the other underutilized workers were still left with nothing meaningful to do. It wasn't until after Steve Austin walked out and the entire company blew up that more new faces began to get involved in the mix, and even now those new faces are not exactly on paths to superstardom. As with every other WWE idea, it was botched from the beginning. After being postponed from July 30 to January 7 to March 25, they had months and months to come up with a huge angle to explain the split and start a war between the two "companies." Instead, Linda McMahon simply did an interview stating that there would be a brand extension. Both sides then ended up running the same exact angle, owner vs. rebellious babyface, and same exact style of TV (badly, at that), never trying for a second to create any type of competition between either brand, and never attempting for a second to give the illusion that the two sides were separated. The match between Ric Flair and Vince McMahon for control of both sides, theoretically the big match that the entire split would be building towards, was given away in a state of panic, and now there's even less logic as to why the rosters are separated and the shows are ran as different entities. Steve Austin and the Rock were being counted on to anchor each show, and now Austin is gone and Rock is barely involved, so at the moment, the Raw side has about as much going for it as Nitro did in its dying days, while Smackdown has a somewhat strong uppercard but still diluted overall roster.
Effect on business: Raw ratings are at their lowest level in four years. Smackdown ratings are at their lowest level in the show's history. Live attendance is at its lowest level in five years. Raw numbers stayed remarkably strong at the beginning despite a weaker roster thanks to Austin and Flair, but finally started to slip when Flair turned heel and have fallen ever farther with no Austin. Smackdown began to struggle right away with the Rock's absence and HHH not filling his void. None of the new talent put in top spots have become draws yet.
Raw did a 3.6 last week. On April 24, 2000, Raw doubled that at 7.1. Smackdown is down to 3.3. On April 27, 2000, it was 5.4. The man who drew that Raw rating, the Rock, is now a Special Guest Star. The man who drew that Smackdown rating, Steve Austin, is now No Longer A Member Of The Active Roster. However, the top heel from those shows, Triple H, is still on top and hasn't done a clean job for Chris Jericho or Kurt Angle in two years. The Undertaker, who returned a month after those shows to start squashing up-and-comers, is the world champion.
What is that old children's saying adage tale from the sea? "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me; fool me three times, shame mcmahon." (That's not really how it goes.) When Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit won the tag titles in San Jose and (false) started their main event push, I was certain that the post-WrestleMania slide was over and that the WWF was back to being an unstoppable dynasty. It wasn't. When they shot the angle in Atlanta that turned WCW heel and reformed ECW, I was certain that the invasion angle was saved and that the interpromotional feud would turn business around. Didn't happen. Now here we go again, with Ric Flair coming in and the topcard being reshuffled. So far, so great, but as the last two supposed turnarounds have proven, the most important part is the follow-up.
The follow-up to Ric Flair's arrival was Jim Ross kissing Vince McMahon's naked ass in Oklahoma. So fool me three times, bring in the NWO. And then screw that up. Nevertheless, Ric Flair's arrival was awesome! Those flashes of brilliance and glimpses of hope are why I a) keep watching and b) keep criticizing. So we should probably talk about the good times too, lest I look like a total jerk (or ratings geek). So what better way to continue this anniversary celebration than with another top ten list. This time, the top ten best things to occur while the WWF was in its downward spiral. The ten things that kept me watching, and, as a matter of fact, saying "OMG yay" despite all the death and destruction surrounding them. COMING SOON.
ARE YOU SCARED.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, CRZ. THANKS FOR GIVING ME AN OPPORTUNITY. A PURPOSE. A REASON TO DO LOOOONG BORING PIECES ABOUT TV RATINGS. GOODBYE, CACTUS. GOODBYE, MY FRIEND.