/8 April 2000
|WCW Saturday Night by E.C. Ostermeyer||
This is the "WCW Saturday Night" recap for Saturday, 8 April 2000. I am your recapper, E.C. Ostermeyer.
I am writing this in the early morning hours of Sunday, 9 April, after reviewing the tape I made of the final "WCW Saturday Night" under the "old regime."
The last ever "old-look" WCW SN matches were last week, taped from the Beaumont, Texas house show.
For those of you who missed it, the last match of that show was a "Hardcore Battle Royal." Booked on-air by the current WCW Hardcore Champion, Brian Knobbs, the match had a "No wrestling holds" stipulation to go with the usual "Bring your favorite plunder" rules.
As I said at the time, "fittingly, or perhaps prophetically, it had nothing to do with wrestling."
This week's Nitro and Thunder shows were both retrospectives, depicting, in as rosy a light as possible, the meteoric rise of WCW over the past seven years. Tony Schiavone, Mark Madden, Mike Tenay, and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan spent this week showing us fans where WCW came from, how WCW got where they are, and where WCW is going.
Setting the stage, as it were, for the dawning of the "New Era!"
Tonight's "WCW Saturday Night" show is also a retrospective, this time from Scott Hudson, and wrestling's ONLY "Living Legend", Larry Zbyszko.
The show is done totally in what I like to call "Talking Heads" format, meaning it is done in-studio.
Interspersed with Hudson and LarryZ's comments are footage from past WCW Nitro and Thunder shows to provide confirmation and emphasis.
Scott Hudson says that Monday, April 10th, marks the beginning of the "New Era" for WCW, with the return of Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo to positions of authority.
LarryZ says that we've now got "two captains, each with their hand on the wheel, and whether it is 'old WCW' or 'new WCW', whatever the case may be, Monday Nitro is going to be something!"
Hudson takes us back to 1993, where Ted Turner welcomes Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair to WCW, a move attributed to Bischoff that, at one stroke, lends legitimacy to WCW.
Footage of the career of Hulk Hogan in WCW, with a prophetic quote from his own lips:
"Hulkster, it's time for you to rise or fall. There comes a time in every man's life when he walks that fine razor's edge, and it determines whether you fall into the category of greatness, or disaster."
Hudson opines that Hulk Hogan will be playing a big part in the new WCW.
LarryZ says that, "...using Hulk Hogan as an example, you got Bischoff pulling him one way, and Vince Russo pulling him the other. Hulk Hogan is not a "Gumby"; the man's not going to stretch. It's going to be VERY interesting."
We return to footage of the very first Monday Nitro, at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, MN in 1995. (Where was all the WCW wrestling between 1993 and 1995 taking place? Right here on "WCW Saturday Night, of course!)
Your hosts were Steve "Mongo" McMichael, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, and Eric Bischoff.
The first match, Jushin Thunder Liger of New Japan v. "Flyin' Brian Pillman has chilling overtones, since Liger would face cancer surgery within a few years, and Brian Pillman would die of a heart condition, well before his time.
We see highlights of the Sting/Ric Flair match, including Arn Anderson's then on-going feud with Flair.
Lex Luger also makes an appearance.
The final match shown is Hulk Hogan against Ray "Big Bubba" Traylor. (Traylor is now the "Big Bossman" in the WWF.)
Scott Hall makes an "impromptu" appearance on WCW Monday Nitro, as does Kevin Nash. Formation of "The Outsiders", and their terrorizing of the WCW staff and wrestlers, especially Eric Bischoff.
Bischoff is shown being powerbombed through the stage by Scott Hall.
Footage of Hulk Hogan's swerve on WCW, and his joining with "The Outsiders", Hall and Nash, to form the "New World Order."
Hogan, again: "Billionaire Ted promised me movies, millions of dollars, world caliber matches. I'm BORED, brother... you fans can STICK it!"
The genesis of the New World Order is discussed.
LarryZ says that, "the N.W.O. was like a slap in the face to pro-wrestling, and an insult to the sport itself!"
Eric Bischoff turns to the "Dark Side", and joins the N.W.O.
The on-air hijacking of WCW Monday Nitro by Bischoff and the N.W.O., transforming the show into "N.W.O. Monday Nitro."
Bischoff is "drunk with power", as he fires referee Randy "Pee Wee" Anderson without just cause.
Later, Anderson, with his family around him, begs Bischoff for his job back, but gets mocked, rebuffed, and embarrassed in front of his family by "Eazy E."
Dr. Harvey Schiller steps in and suspends Bischoff for "unprofessional behavior" and "abuse of authority."
Bischoff says, "Bite me!"
Then, just when all seemed lost, WCW had a phenomenon of it's own.
A phenomenon named Goldberg.
Footage of Goldberg's career in WCW.
Hudson and Zbyszko discuss the time when Eric Bischoff's meteoric career hits the skids, or "How the mighty have fallen!"
LarryZ says that, "as if it wasn't bad enough that the N.W.O. had Hall, and Nash, and 'Hollywood' Hogan being so dominant and powerful, Eric Bischoff started
stabbing every employee in the back."
The beginning of Bischoff's end is shown with footage on Hulk Hogan's knee injury. Hogan and Bischoff discuss their options, with Bischoff saying that hogan needs to get the knee fixed, while Hogan wants to take care of Diamond Dallas page first. Bischoff rejoins that, "with Nash now in charge of the 'family', Hogan should focus on getting himself healed up." Hogan looks concerned about Kevin Nash, now!
A chyron states that "Several wrestlers claimed to be hurt," (but they show DDP being gurnied off with a very REAL back injury, no "claim" about it!)
Was Bret Hart's "groin pull" injury real or not?
Chyron: "Scott Hall had professional and personal problems."
Footage shows Hall in the ring, obviously drunk, or stoned, or both. Not a pretty picture.
And finally, we touch, ever so lightly(hah!), on Bischoff's professional and personal difficulties with Ric Flair.
Footage alludes to the legal difficulties briefly, then concentrates on Flair calling Bischoff a "punk."
Flair's beatdown at the hands of the N.W.O., his suspension, and subsequent return.
Flair: "(Bischoff), You have NO HEART!"
Flair's heart attack angle, and Bischoff's "apology".
Flair returns, with the "Striptease Heard Round the World!"
Flair in his boxer shorts, handcuffing himself to the ring, bellowing for Bischoff to come out and face him. Flair wants a one-on-one match with Bischoff.
Flair saying that if he beats Bischoff, he gets to run the company for 90 days; if Bischoff wins, Flair goes away. Permanently.
The Flair/Bischoff match almost doesn't happen, as Bischoff takes a powder, only to be forcibly carried back to the ring by "Mongo" McMichael and Chris Benoit. Bischoff is tossed into the ring, and he's doing the "time out" gesture. Flair goes to work, Bischoff gets clobbered, the N.W.O. runs out to help Hey, there's Horace and Scott Norton of the "N.W.O. B-team!" (c. 1998-99 Robert Lamb.)
The Horsemen meet 'em on the ramp, as Flair locks in the Figure Four on Bischoff. Submission, and "we've got a new boss, that man, Ric Flair!" hollers Mike Tenay.
LarryZ: "It got so high, so far that it became a runaway train (?) and one man couldn't handle it all."
And there's a NEW "WCW Nitro" promo! It lasts all of fifteen seconds, and is VERY gritty and nasty looking. So's the TNT logo at the end of it.
With Bischoff gone, what was needed was a change of leadership.
What WCW got was Vince Russo, formerly of the WWF, and proponent of a style of wrestling programming he termed "Crash TV."
LarryZ: "I had headbutts with Russo from Day One. We just didn't mix, and it cost me (my slot on) Monday Nitro, it cost me Thunder, even after I saved Nitro." (Wha..?)"I wonder if I did the right thing?"
Hudson gives LarryZ a look, and we see
Footage showing the inception of Russo as "The Powers that Be", with the return of Jeff Jarrett from the WWF, and his becoming "The Chosen One."
Kimberley steps down as leader of the Nitro Girls, and the Nitro Girls subsequent break-up.
The greater use of T&A, and "eye candy" is shown in montage;
Kimberly v. Asya, (with Torrie as referee in THAT BIKINI!),
Madusa's "seduction" of Evan Karagias,
Midnyte (sp?) clobbering everybody in sight,
Rhonda Singh belting Screamin' Norman Smiley with a trash can,
and Ed Ferrera as "Oklahoma", ( a poke in the eye for an old WWF nemesis, Jim Ross) winning the WCW "Cruiserweight" title from Madusa, "Because no woman should wear it!"
Formation of the WCW Women's Division with "Oklahoma" in charge.
More WWF "talent" (?) is recruited by Russo, in the form of "The Harris Brothers"
We see the re-incarnation of the N.W.O. (Silver) with the return of Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, and their subsequent induction of Jarrett and the Harris Brothers.
Prince Iaukea becomes TAFKAPI.
The Maestro arrives with "Symphony" (aka WWF's "Ryan Shamrock"), Vampiro's push.
The Wall's super-push.
We come back, and it's a distilled five minutes worth of Mike Tenay's VERY insightful interview of Hulk Hogan from this past Monday's Nitro.
(You MUST read CRZ's analysis of this interview, as it is THE best depiction of just what Hogan sees happening on April 10th at 8PM.)
Once more, Scott Hudson asks if Bischoff and Russo can turn WCW around, and regain it's past dominance?
LarryZ has the last word: "...the battle between these two egos will produce the most exciting Nitro and Spring Stampede in history."
Not a bad show, though not for what was said than for what was NOT said.
For instance, there was no mention of Ric Flair's tenure at "running the company", nor of Bischoff being demoted to ring crew.
Nor was anything said of Bill Busch's tenure at the helm of WCW.
Nor the so-called "Kevins Coup" that toppled Russo, (where Kevin Nash and Kevin Sullivan took over the booking.)
Nothing on the return of Sid Vicious, Ric Flair, Dustin Runnels (Rhodes), and Terry Funk.
No "Hardcore Hak", (Heck, no "Hardcore" matches, period!)
No mention of the WCW Power Plant grads, or "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan's recent WCW Television Title defense.
In short, nothing but an hour devoted to a big push for Bischoff and Russo, and especially Hogan, and what a great big special night April 10th at 8PM is going to be.
Who do they think this WCW mark is, Pam Ewing?
Where they can just say to me "Yep, it was all a bad dream; it all never really happened?"
The last time a scriptwriter tried that one, somebody dropped a house on a witch in Munchkinland.
Nitro will be watched by a LOT of you fans, if only to see if Bischoff and Russo can really pull it off.
There will be a ratings spike to be sure, but nothing like they are hoping for.
If they are going for the "quick-fix" again, it will be doomed like all the others that have been tried.
But if they are in it for the long haul, and can grit their teeth, dig in, and really work at it, the ratings will return, as will the fans that they've lost.
Thunder's next on the list. Since it got mauled by the WWF's "Smackdown" show on Thursday, Thunder is now convalescing unopposed on Wednesday night. (The move was a good thing, though this may change if the rumored WWF move to TNN occurs. Vince will have his promotion on seven nights a week if he can!)
Story lines developed on Nitro should be continued on Thunder, and vice versa. If a gimmick works on either show, use it on the other!
And "WCW Saturday Night?"
I fear that, given the strong feelings Vince Russo has about "WCW Saturday Night", there are going to be some changes, possibly drastic changes, made on this show's booking and format. They've got an unopposed two hours from 6 to 8PM. Every Saturday night. Something's gotta fill it.
Ideally, this show should be the proving ground for WCW.
Put Jimmy Hart fully in charge, give him control of the booking on the show, keep the Power Plant busy, and keep the talent scouts working to find the great talent in the Indys and the competition.
Keep stirring that big talent pool WCW's got, and Russo will have all the hot new wrestlers he could want!
Oh, and, as a favor to me, could you keep "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan as WCW Television Champion?
He's having too much fun with the role to "bury" him just yet.
Finally, I wish WCW loads of luck as the "New Era" begins. I really, sincerely want them to succeed!
But if it's more of the "same old, same old" that they give us, I'll be out there boiling tar and plucking feathers with the rest of you gentle readers!
See y'all back here next week. That should give 'em time to let the dust settle.
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