Bring 'Em Back Alive... Well, Most of 'Em
We START this week with...
Small Packages (The SNL Edition):
UNREMARKABLE: 5-for-11 on Uncensored, but I was pleasantly surprised when Booker and Kidman went over clean in their match.
UNDENIABLE: I said last week that this column was going to deal with WCW's stars that are on the shelf. When I started writing, I didn't think it would be particularly long or involved. That all changed on Wednesday when WCW did the...
UNBELIEVABLE: They brought Bischoff back.
(Besides the fact that I get to really rant for the first time here on [slash].)
Look, I understand that Bischoff was the guy who took WCW to the top of the wrestling world. And I know what Brad Siegel's thinking: "He saved us once - he should be able to do it again." But he's also the guy directly responsible for the mess the promotion is in now. His inability/refusal to create new stars other than Goldberg has WCW stuck with untalented, space-wasting has-beens like Hogan, Nash, Hall, and Sid at the top, and no way for anyone else to break through.
The only way this will work now is if Bischoff's been humbled and changed by what's happened to him. If he concentrates on his job, comes up with some fresh ideas, and doesn't let Hogan and Co. get him in their back pocket, the promotion might actually recover. But if he comes back and tries to put himself over again or lets his friends influence his thinking and booking decisions (or worse, lets them make the booking decisions), the hole he's dug will just get that much deeper.
I would have preferred they find someone new and bring them in. Somebody who knows wrestling, but who isn't entangled in the backstage web of politics at WCW. Somebody innovative who recognizes talent and pays attention to the fans. Of course, I have no idea who or where that person is. WCW doesn't, either, so that's why Easy E is back.
Now, for WCW's part, they need to put someone in place to act as a check for Bischoff. Someone who won't let him do things like bring musical acts into Nitro because: 1. It's not cost-effective; and 2. People don't go to wrestling shows to see concerts. I didn't know who Chad Brock was before he played Nitro, and I still don't know.
WCW also needs to give him time. Their situation has almost reached the point where practically nothing short of a total rebuilding project will make the company respectable again. Bischoff and everyone else involved needs to realize that there is no quick fix this time. They need to take Jeff Jarrett's advice and "get a vision." And Bischoff has to have the time and the opportunity to come up with one and work towards it.
(I've said this before, but I still think that branding the Vince Russo era in WCW as a failure is somewhat unfair for this very reason: he wasn't given enough time to make his ideas work, and he did have some good ones. Remember, Chris Benoit's biggest push came on Russo's watch. Russo may run his mouth about how he doesn't think the fans care about the actual wrestling, but he or somebody on his booking committee recognized Benoit's talent. Eric needs to start doing the same with what he has.)
Which leads me into the fantasy booking portion of this fantasy booking column: who exactly does WCW have? Or, more specifically, who don't they have at the moment that they can bring back?
Hey, Bischoff, are you reading this? (ha!) All of the currently (and formerly) injured guys I'm going to talk about can help WCW if they're used correctly. I'll do this in the supposed order in which they're scheduled to return, starting with two who are already back:
STING: His pairing with Vampiro could be a Good Thing for both of them if it's done right, and feuding them with Flair and Luger (no "Team Package" here) actually makes sense given recent events. If Sting lets Vampiro do most of the work and get a pinfall now and then, it'll make Vamp look good to the marks by getting quality wins, and Sting will earn points with the smart fans for not hogging the spotlight. Once Flair and Luger are out of the way, put the tag straps on Sting and Vampiro if you're not going to give them to Booker and Kidman.
SCOTT STEINER: Big Poppa Pump is back in what passes for the nWo, not to mention back in full heel promo mode. When he's on, there are few better heel interviews in the game. Granted, he'll probably never be the wrestler he once was because injuries and all the steroids have caught up to him (I think if he were to explode live on Nitro, the turnaround in the ratings war would begin), but if he can wrestle at all, let him for a little longer, then make him a manager/mouthpiece to try and get some new heel over. (I'm thinking mostly of The Wall, repackaged as a Steiner clone, but your mileage may vary.) Maybe give him a shot at the U.S. title in the meantime.
BUFF BAGWELL: First things first - WCW needs to end the "worked-shoot" Kimberly angle between Buff and DDP, with whoever the face was (I don't remember, particularly care, or even think that was established) going over in a true blowoff.
Then, how about re-starting last year's feud with Steiner? That never ended because of Scott's back injury, and they'll need to remind the audience what this was about. Buff's the face here, obviously. The blowoff can happen either right away or in the U.S. Title Tournament, which I'll discuss when I get to Goldberg.
And give him a valet, by the way. His character begs for one.
DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE: For starters, see Bagwell above.
When that feud ends, keep him in the role of the paranoid, jealous heel who thinks everyone's out to get some lovin' from Kim behind his back. Guys like Kanyon, Kidman, and BPP would be perfect on the opposite side. I'd even be in favor of reforming the Triad, as long as they aren't allowed to talk.
GOLDBERG: What to do with the man the company should have been built around two years ago? Give him a belt as soon as possible.
I say give him the U.S. strap first, let him defend it for a month or two, then decide to vacate it and go after the world title, setting up a U.S. Title tournament in the process. This can be held during the summer. (Bash at the Beach, maybe?) Bagwell and DDP can be in it, as well as Jarrett, Hennig, Booker, Steiner, Luger, and some other people who I can't think of at the moment. See what you've done, WCW? I can't even come up with eight guys who could legitimately hold your No. 2 belt. I realize I really only need four, but that's not the point.
Once Goldberg's back in the world title picture, keep pushing him as the one man who can stop the nWo. Granted, the new group's a shadow of its former self, but feuds with Jarrett, Steiner, etc. can keep things interesting until it's time for the blowoff feud with...
KEVIN NASH: The last memorable thing Nash did in WCW was end Goldberg's winning streak at Starrcade '98. It may have been the biggest mistake WCW made, as 1999 saw Goldberg have PPV matches with the likes of Bam Bam Bigelow and Rick Steiner while Nash and Hogan cavorted around at the top of the card. Goldberg's never really gotten revenge, and now he has the Starrcade '99 screwjob and subsequent nWo reunion to add fuel to the fire. (For the record, there's NO comparing that show's scenario with Survivor Series '97.)
Let Big Lazy gloat for a while about that, and about how Goldberg's running into all of these obstacles keeping him from the world title. Then, as Goldberg racks up wins, have Nash step in and effectively say, "You want a title shot? You've gotta get through me, and if you lose, you don't ever get another shot at any title." Ideally, this match would take place at Fall Brawl, with Goldberg going through Nash like a knife through butter. Then get his untalented ass out of the ring and sit him down next to Mike Tenay at the Thunder broadcast table.
BRET HART: Obviously, this all assumes Bret decides to come back, which he realistically may not. If he does return (and as much as I hate him at times, I think he should, as he's a guy who can really help the company), he should come back as a heel. Plain and simple. And not as the nWo badass heel, but as his classic whiny bitch heel that he's had so much practice being. Then make him World Champion by Halloween Havoc, setting up the big blow-off of the feud with Goldberg at this year's Starrcade.
Regular Small Packages:
NEXT WEEK: It's all about the 'Mania, baby.