REES' PIECE OF MIND
The Mother of All Nitros
(This is the third of three columns dealing with the aftermath of Mike Awesome's defection to ECW. The first analyzes the effects of Awesome's move into WCW. The second is my opinion on what ECW needs to do to survive. This final piece is how I would book the 4/10 WCW Nitro.)
I believe the phrase begins "The best laid plans of mice and men..."
I had began sketching out a 4.10 Nitro the night before, somewhere around 2:00 A.M. (sounds like the old booking committee). I had a Bischoff led NWO of Hogan, Hall, Nash, and Steiner beating down Russo's Jarrett/Harris brothers combination, leading up to a Steiner/Jarrett match for the U.S. Heavyweight title. Eventually, Hall and Nash would take on the Harris Boys for the tag belts, but that was down the line.
I had the Triple Threat reuniting (Shane, Candido, Sytch, and Bigelow), as Shane began a war with Sting. The Spring Stampede match would be Sting and Vampiro versus Candido and Bigelow.
My big surprise of the night was to be Horace Hogan coming out and ripping on Uncle Hulk. He would talk about how Hulk had embarrassed him by putting him in the B-Team, among others. Horace would attack Hulk, and once Hulk took control, Mike Awesome would come in to lay the beat down on Hulk. This would lead to two more matches; Mike Awesome versus 3 Count (two excellent bumpers for Mike to establish his power), and Horace versus Hulk.
I had Goldberg beating Sid for the title, only to be destroyed afterwards by Awesome.
Other matches in mind were the Mamalukes vs. Harris Boys, Wall vs. Crowbar, Booker vs. Buff, Flair vs. Lugar, and Kidman vs. The Artist.
It was still in the beginning stages, but I thought I had a pretty good idea.
Course, that's why I'm an actuarial analyst and not a booker for WCW.
With a few minor exceptions, I don't think WCW could have done a better job Monday night.
Every single segment worked. Bischoff and Russo, working together, was a masterpiece. The Millionaire's Club's went from "I can't believe this is happening" shock, to trying to make the best of it (talking amongst each other, fighting in the tournament, trying to talk sense into Bischoff), to openly challenging the authority (Sting talking about loyalty, Flair and Hogan tearing up the backstage, Nash "shooting", and Hart's silent confrontation).
All of the "New Blood" was put over. Bagwell, Jarrett, Vampiro, Douglas, Steiner, Awesome, Kidman, Stasiak, Wall, Tank, and to a lesser extent Booker and the Cat. The only New Blood made to look bad was 3 Count. Quite honestly, they had to do that to.
Kidman and Hogan's confrontation was outstanding. Kidman, in my mind, was showing a "I'm going to fight the bully" attitude: scared of what might happen, but determined to find out. Hogan played up his size (both literally and figuratively) against the tiny Kidman. And when Hogan finally pushed his button, Kidman responded with a thundering right hand. THAT KNOCKED HOGAN DOWN. Eventually, Hulk took over, but Kidman established that he can hurt Hogan. They should have some incredible matches.
Before I get to my thoughts on Douglas/Flair, I want to rapid fire what I thought WCW did wrong. Knobbs is not New Blood, he's old news. Awesome shouldn't have said a word. The Wall/Sid chokeslam was horrible. DDP looks like he can barely walk and shouldn't be wrestling. Goldberg should have been on TV. Tank should have beaten up somebody people like. The Mamalukes, Disco, Booker, Crowbar, and Candido should have been put over as well.
PPV speaking, everything looks great, except for the tag team tournament. There is no excuse for having Harlem Heat 2000 over the Harris Brothers in the tag team tourney. Sure, smart marks hate the twins, but they were the champs, not to mention Russo's boys. Besides, Harlem Heat 2000 sucks ass. Further, the tag team of Douglas/Bagwell makes no sense. Yeah, they set up a Buff/Lugar fued, but Douglas should be reforming the Triple Threat. Bigelow would have been a much better choice.
I would have Lugar/Flair versus the Harris Boys, and Bigelow/Douglas versus the Mamalukes. Harris Boys, by way of Russo and Jarrett partnership, make a good opening foil for Lugar and Flair. It would be a decent match. The Triple Threat versus Piasans match should be kept short, but still could be interesting. Bagwell then would cost Flair/Lugar the belts, which makes much more sense. Bagwell is a loner and a singles wrestler; leave him there.
Now back to the "Holy Shit" moment of the night for me: Shane Douglas attacking Ric Flair from behind. I literally jumped of the couch and screamed "That's Shane Douglas!"
(On a side note, yes, I enjoyed four hours of wrestling from the comfort of my own living room on Monday. But for all the guys who want to be me and the ladies who cum to see me, don't get your hopes up. Denoit was out of town.)
More than anything, the Flair/Douglas/Steiner/Russo segments underscored just how good WCW can be. All three performers were excellent, but Shit-vane and Hudson really set it up well. Hudson filled in all the blanks for the marks about the Douglas/Flair hatred. But my favorite part of the segments was when Tony let loose with a very quiet, understated, "Boy, we're shooting tonight" while Steiner was ripping into Flair.
That hit home for me, as I know Tony and Flair are tight. It was a friend resigned to the fate that his buddy was going to get embarrassed. It was an old guard member finding out that all of the "secret stuff" was being revealed. It was Tony reminding me why I liked him so much as a kid in the 80's.
Part of the reason people like J.R. so much is he has favorites, and he cares for them. He'll scream "Stop the Damn Match!" when one of his boys is in serious trouble. He'll go ape-shit on Lawler about Lawler's antics and viewpoints and on the opponent for being so dastardly.
From now on, Tony should do the same for Flair. Tony should become an unabashed Flair supporter, on air. It should be his character. He could support Sting in the same way, but not as strongly as Flair. Tony has to play up their friendship, how they've survived through everything, and how he's not going to just sit there and condone Steiner and Douglas trying to destroy Flair in the ring while Bischoff and Russo destroy his legend. Hudson can be the voice of reason through this, telling Tony to be quiet or he'll lose his job, to which Tony would respond "F the job, that's my friend".
Overall, WCW put on a great show, and they convinced me to spend $50 to go see Spring Stampede today.
I swore after the last Chicago Nitro I wouldn't go back to see WCW eeeeeever again.
I guess never say never in wrestling fits us fans, too.Scott Rees
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