THE PEOPLE'S COLUMN
WASSSUUP? Haven't done one of these in a while! For you newcomers, I originally started here at [slash] writing "The People's Column" on a weekly basis. A little subsection of it, "This Week in Wrestling History", became so big I gave it it's own column. Eventually, I ran out of ideas to do a weekly "People's Column" and decided to stop before it got any worse. I said I would bring it out of retirement on occasion, and this would be one of those. This time, I feel like WCW still needs help, and I can help them.
I do lean (a lot) towards the WWF as a fan, but I've been watching WCW/NWA since 1991 just as I have with the WWF, plus I've watched videotapes of all of the PPVs from before then. Right now, WCW is trying to work their way out of the pit they are in with Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo at the helm. Is it working? Yes, but they are still down in that pit. If you guys need some help getting back somewhere close to "Raw" in the ratings with "Nitro", you've got to do a few things. OK, a lot of things. I think I've got the solutions to some of your problems. Remember, we're all in this together for a better Nitro (and Thunder).
1) Entrances. With the exceptions of Goldberg, Flair, DDP, Hogan, Buff, or Sting, the fans never know who is coming out. Music is pretty bland in WCW, and you guys need to come up with some music for each superstar that doesn't sound like any other star's music. Ditto for the TurnerTrons... BORING. Make entrances seem important, sometimes that is what gets people over. Put some actual focus on the TurnerTron and don't have the terrific trio talking over the beginning of the music. Case in point for the WWF: Kurt Angle. It seems like that everytime when he comes out, the WWF gives us a close-up of his TitanTron and we hear the beginning of his music without JR and Lawler babbling over it. Sometimes, it works if you make the entrance really big so that fans pop just for it. Look at Jericho and Tazz... the fans go wild for their prolonged entrances. The only prolonger entrance WCW has is Luger, and nobody cares about him in the first place.
2) Censorship. Either censor or don't, but you can't do both. Blurring out signs... it looks incredibly stupid and draws attention from the action in the ring to the sign. Let's face it, a neon green blurb is going to draw attention away from two guys wearing black outfits. Either take the sign away or use a different camera angle.
3) Less focus on Bischoff & Russo. I know, the WWF needs to take a few notes and do the same with the McMahons. WCW is focusing mainly on their big two - along with Kidman - as the New Blood. Other wrestlers don't seem to matter all that much, because it boils down to Russo and the baseball bat or Bischoff in the end of the match, anyway. You can't get your wrestlers over if you are putting yourself over.
4) Leave the WWF alone. You guys are in no position to be picking on them in the first place. Remember, they are still doubling your ratings. You've got quite the hole to dig yourself out of and you are throwing dirt on yourselves instead. It's immature and makes you look second-rate. Your first mistake is picking on good ol' J.R. Jim Ross is probably the most popular broadcast in wrestling today. So you target him? With a company that has Tony Schiavonie AND Mark Madden at the broadcast table, I think J.R. is NOT the person to pick on. I also read on some newsboard (which could mean this is a total rumor) that Russo and friends are shooting a few things in front of WWF New York. I admit it... to a degree, this could be funny. For some reason, I have a feeling it won't be, though. A word to the (?) wise... if it's going to be lame, stop before you even start.
5) Quit recycling old angles. Riot guards... haven't we seen riot guards attack McMahon before? Kimberly turning on DDP... didn't we just see this in December with Stephanie turning on Vinny Mac? Dragging Vampiro "straight to hell." Didn't J.R. overuse that phrase when Big Show chokeslamed the 'Taker STRAIGHT TO HELL? The big thing of blood falling on a wrestler... funny, I thought I saw this happen to Austin, too. Originality, people.
6) Don't drop Sting from the rafters anymore. This is a total lack of respect for the late Owen Hart. It sickens me, to be honest. I hate to say this, but lightning does occasionally strike twice... Sting, I wouldn't want to be dropped from the rafters. Bizarre things do happen and, like someone said, this is wrestling and not the circus. If nothing else, just quit doing it out of respect for Owen, his family, and fans.
7) Have Tank Abbott take out Madden more often. I don't know if this will improve Nitro, but it will sure get Abbott over on the 'Net. Give Tony a few swings, too.
8) Get "The Brain" back on Nitro. Jerry Lawler and Bobby Heenan are the funniest broadcasters in their respective companies. Lawler is one of the main two on the WWF's biggest show. Shouldn't Heenan be one of the terrific three on WCW's biggest show? After all, up until Madden was stuck in his spot a month or so ago, "The Brain" had cohosted Nitro since the beginning in 1995. "The Brain" is a Nitro staple, and I miss his little quarrels with Tony. After all, Madden can't even decide if he likes 3 Count (like he does on Nitro) or dislikes 3 Count (like he did in his WCW.com column). At least Bobby likes the bad guys excluding Hogan when he is a bad guy. If you have to have Madden, MAKE HIM BREATHE THROUGH HIS NOSE.
9) No more stupid production mistakes. We all know that showing highlights of the Sting match on "Thunder" before it happened was a mistake. Don't let it happen again. The WWF never makes such a big mistake. I can also think of numerous times in WCW where a wrestler's music started up for no reason. WWF gets the music right every time.
10) Cut out the "promotional consideration paid for by the following" crud. Incorporate your sponsors into the show in fun ways like the WWF does. Let's see, you could have the "Slim Jim Snap of the Week", the "Touch Actin' Tinactin Ache of the Week", and the "1-800-COLLECT Charge of the Week." See, it can be fun. The WWF gives us the "Lugz Boot of the Week", while the best thing we get from WCW is the Wendy's Classic Double Something-or-other of the Week, which doesn't get any special graphic or anything. People flip away during the minute of promotional consideration, while the WWF gives them a reason to see who's advertising.
11) Celebrities don't work. Let's see who we've had in the last two or three years... David Arquette, Mancow, Dennis Rodman, Robert Wuhl, Jason Hervey, Chad Brock, KISS, ICP, The Misfits, Jay Leno, Kevin Eubanks, Master P and the rest of the hooty hooers, James Brown, Travis Tritt... I could go on, you know. Celebrities are fine in the crowd, but should NOT be part of angles. Let's look at the angles with celebrities WCW has brought us that sucked: Anything with Rodman, Jimmy Hart vs Mancow, Robert Wuhl managing Rodman (or was it Savage... does it even matter?), Brock & the West Texas Rednecks vs The No Limit Soldiers, The Misfits wrestling, ICP wrestling, Leno wrestling, half-an-hour of Tritt singing. Oh, did I mention the guy from MAD TV being the one responsible for a U.S. title change? Meanwhile in the WWF, the only two times in the last year or so I can remember celebrities being part of storylines were Ben Stiller getting a one-time beating and Ah-nold giving a one-time beating. The rest of the time, the celebrities sit in the audience and keep some respect. Nomar Garciaparra, Wade Boggs, that draft pick on Raw a week or so ago... they get their ten seconds on camera... and not a match. I will admit it, though, I did like Arquette's "1-800-KICK-YO-BUTT" line. He's goofy enough to make that funny.
12) Put some effort into WCW.com. Why have the weekly Rough Cut interview when it doesn't even get mentioned, with the exception of its little spot down at the bottom with the copyright info? That's usually - sadly - one of the best things every week on WCW.com. Why isn't Bill Banks writing for your site? His few columns have been good. Get interactive, too... maybe some videos? I know there are a few, but WWF.com has videos for every show, TitanTrons, exclusive videos, history sections, you name it. WWF.com even has an advanced site for each month's PPV. WCW has three pages with no match previews or anything. I will give WCW.com credit where it's due... kudos on the feedback. At least you print the e-mails that say that WCW sucks... that takes balls. It would help to occasionally mention the "WCW Pro Shop." Hey, you could even add some new stuff every once in a while!
13) Make merchandise matter. WWF superstars wear their stuff on air. Look at how merchandise helps guys get over... Austin 3:16 shirts, Y2J shirts, "Layeth the Smacketh Down" shirts, APA shirts, Cactus Jack shirts... WWF merchandise is usually part of the wrestler's actual gimmick. Outside of Jarrett's slapnuts shirt, whatever shirt DDP has, and the nWo-logo-of-the-month shirt, nobody in WCW wears their own stuff. While you're at it, maybe put out a few new videos? The WWF routinely keeps nine out of the top ten spots on the Billboard Recreational Videos chart. The other, by the way, never goes to WCW. If I can remember, it's usually either a Super Bowl, World Series, All-Century Team, or Michael Jordan tape. That should tell you something.
14) If a gimmick is popular, don't kill it off. Lenny & Lodi were over. Rave & Lane are NOT OVER. Give them the blowpops and signs back, give them Miss Hancock, and let them roll. I feel that Booker must feel tainted from this whole Harlem Heat 2K stunt... he's probably lost some of his support from working with out of shape guys not in his league.
15) Hulk Hogan is not the center of the universe. Sure it's a new era, but you couldn't tell by watching Nitro... we get half-an-hour of Hogan throwing stuff around backstage one week, and half-an-hour of him walking around the next. THE GUY CAN'T EVEN FIND HIS WAY TO THE ENTRANCE CURTAIN! Jericho did it on purpose when he was in WCW, Hogan didn't.
16) Multi-level cages DO NOT WORK. Remember the "Doomsday" steel cage match? Nobody else does either, because it sucked. I believe it was three cages stacked on top of each other. Let's see, now we have a "Ready to Rumble cage match" with... three cages - or something to that effect - on top of each other. As Hyatte said, you shouldn't use a cage from a movie two-thirds of your audience hasn't seen anyway. I know WCW is trying to create their own "Hell in a Cell" cage, but this isn't going to work. DDP is probably too banged up to climb the cage anyway.
16) Let's get rid of the over-theatrical stuff. No more hummer-ramming-the-dumpster and "the phone that everybody can hear" stuff. It sucked in the WWF, and it sucks now in WCW. Next thing you know, Vampiro is going to be strapping guys to symbols and raising them up in the air and sacrificing David Flair, renaming him something as equally stupid as "Mideon." It will probably be spelled four different ways, too. And how long until somebody is driving a monster truck over a hearse?
17) This is a wrestling show. WCW was known for wrestling and not sports-entertainment. Now, the focus is so high on the sports-entertainment that the wrestling generally sucks. The WWF - the kings and founders of sports-entertainment - are not only entertaining, but having quality matches. WCW is having two-minute matches (three if involving Hogan, Bischoff, or Russo) that end with a run-in.
18) Get the old guys out of the "New Blood." Scott Steiner is no young chicken. Brian Knobs, Curt Hennig, Madusa (I assume she would be in the "New Blood"), Meng... should I go on? Bischoff and Russo aren't exactly young themselves. After all, doesn't the "Millionaires Club" have something like six members compared to the "New Blood" being something like 50 or so?
19) You guys have got to get some T&A on your show. Let's face it, sex sells. You can almost count the women of WCW in angles on one hand: Kimberly, Daffney, Torrie, Tammy, Paisley, Elizabeth, Miss Hancock and that's about it. In the WWF, we have Terri, Tori, The Kat, Lita, Trish, Jacqueline (well, not right now), Ivory, Chyna, Stephanie, and the ho's... plus Debra and B.B. (maybe) on back-up. It just seems that women in WCW seem insignificant. The WWF puts actual focus on their women. They are involved with angles, if nothing else to get guys over - as in the Dudleys' case. It's not like WCW doesn't have any women in reserve, either... there's your choice of Nitro Girls, Gorgeous George (maybe), and the nWo girls.
20) Update your frickin' commercials. The WCW Magazine spot still has Benoit in it, the Mastercard spot has Konnan and two nWo's, Slim Jim still has Savage and George who have apparently disappeared,
21) Update your commercials. The WCW Magazine commercial still has Benoit in it, the Mastercard commercial still has Konnan and two nWo's in it, Savage and George still in the Slim Jim commercials, and so on. (Dude - didn't you just SAY this? - CRZ)
22) It's all about the catchphrases. Get your guys to get some new catchphrases. "Slapnuts" was funny the first few times. Now it is a very tired saying... I've heard every variation of "slapnuts" three times and I'm sick of it. Ditto for pretty much anything DDP comes up with. At least the WWF guys change their sayings around. The Rock adds in a new catchphrase every month or so, such as his lists and etc.
OK, that's the guide to saving WCW. Let's get to work, guys! Any comments or suggestions can be e-mailed and I'll answer eventually! I'll catch you on the flipside...