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Matt Spaulding



To the Rescue

THE PEOPLE'S MAILBAG: Did I mention I've been getting some truly bizarre e-mail recently? Somebody named "The Gruff" fired this gem at me:

WCW management never gets fired. The latest crew to be taken off booking, I suspect that they will be paid for sitting on their a**. Not that they weren't paid for that anyway. What is disturbing, is so much money is wasted on know talent failed bookers. If their [sic] was back stabbing before, when Russo was in power, why won't it continue now? Especially, knowing that none of the people that Russo said did the backstabbing and the fact, that it has been independently confirmed, have been fired? They all have jobs. They nail wrestlers but not management. If they canned the old booking committee and a few geezer wrestlers, WCW would have plenty of money. Alas, WCW does not know what it is doing. I thought Busche [sic] was bad, I did not know that Jonathan Livingston Seigel was the real problem.

Busche didn't get fired from WCW, he quit after being pulled.

And then I received this one:

What If The Entire "Upper Eschelon" Finally Relents And Starts Drawing The Fucking Social Security Checks That I'd Bet Half Of The WCW Roster Is Eligible For??!!! I Can See The Signs Now:FLAIR FEARS AARP:HOGAN FEARS MEDICADE...

Those signs are kind of funny, actually, but you know they'll just get video-distorted...

LINE OF THE WEEK: Eddie Guerrero (to Chyna): "I mean, last night, you were practically coming out of your pants at the sight of me!" (Raw) Damn, I'd forgotten just how good a heel this guy is. And it's not just lines like that; it's the whole aura he has when he's on. The man just looks slimy. It's brilliant.

WRESTLEMANIA IN MY REAR-VIEW: Call it 4 _ out of 7, since Jericho, not Angle, won the Euro title in the two-fall Triple Threat, which was technically one match. And I was about 23 hours early with Chyna's turn on Jericho.

Why'd they make the first fall for the Intercontinental title, anyway?

Crash winning the Hardcore belt back on Raw proved that they blew the finish to the battle royal.

ABOUT THAT ENDING: Initially, both my "mark" side and my "smart" side were furious, and I never even saw the show (I had to work Sunday night as a favor to a colleague who let me take off for the Royal Rumble), but when I got to the part where Mick was eliminated second, I knew something was about to go horribly wrong.

Hell, even I didn't think Rock would win the belt after Foley was put into the match, but what purpose does keeping the title on Triple H serve? As I said last week, with Foley stepping aside and Rocky taking May and June off to shoot The Mummy II, a finish with Foley winning and a tournament starting the next night would have been a great way to elevate another babyface to main event status. And the Fed's going to need another top-level face with both Mick and Rock gone, and Kane now out with a broken hand.

Rock winning the belt wouldn't have done much good in the long run, as he'd have to drop it at Backlash anyway, and there's no point in going through all that buildup to crown a new champ when he's going to lose the strap at the end of the month. As it is, HHH is still champion, and the McMahons now seem to be plotting a way to drive the Rock out of the WWF, which actually makes some sense when it comes time to explain his absence.

Mind you, this isn't a knock on HHH as champ; I, like almost everyone else, was skeptical at first (and I would have booked post-SummerSlam differently to get him over), but I give him credit for taking the ball and running with it when Vince gave him the chance. I just think the gold's been around the waist of a heel long enough.

Vince's lack of an explanation for his turn notwithstanding, the WWF has accomplished its goal with this: they've gotten me to watch and see where this angle goes. Right now, though, I can't help but think that Vince may have outsmarted himself. But that's for another column.

Right now, it's time to get on with the business of saving World Championship Wrestling.

I'd appealed to you, my loyal readers, for help in writing this week's column, and I got a couple of pretty interesting suggestions. The assignment I finally took was this: Assume all the titles are vacant. Book the programs that rebuild them. Use anybody under contract with WCW to do it. And "kill that f'n hardcore belt."

Since the situation in Turnerland has gotten so bad that this is clearly bigger than a one-man job (and this column's late this week to boot), I've enlisted Shadowlongknife, who suggested the plan to me in the first place and offered to contribute his own suggestions, to help. You can see what he came up with here. (Link, please.) (Ummmm, I guess I threw it away. Sorry. Fantasy booking generally sucks, by the way, and I can't believe I put as much of it on this site as I do... - CRZ)

The basic criteria I went with for deciding who would be involved in the program and who would eventually get the belt are workrate, charisma, popularity, and "elevatability", which is a word I just made up meaning "ability to be elevated." (And yes, ALL FOUR are important.) There'll be one or two wrestlers who end up lower that some people would like them to be, but it's all about rebuilding the promotion, and building stars (and maybe breaking a couple of rules) in the process. The most important thing to keep in mind is that resuscitating WCW is going to take time, but this is as good a place as any to start.

So anyway, here we go, for better or for worse:


There's really only one person WCW fans want to see as their world champion, but we have to make it interesting, so we'll start this scenario with Sting coming out and shooting on Hogan. He tells him that his time is up, that he's not what he used to be, and that the people want a new champion, and who better than "The Franchise?" (No, NOT Shane Douglas.)

The trick is, Hogan's not expecting a shoot, so he comes barreling out and shoots on Sting, and a match is set up - winner gets the belt. Sting shoots during the match, too, running circles around Hogan until Ric Flair runs in for the DQ. Hogan offers Sting a rematch with Flair as the guest ref.

Remember, Ric has long-standing heat with both guys, so he has to make a choice here, and both Hogan and Sting know that. In a mild surprise, Ric trips up Hogan, allowing Sting to take the title. Then Ric turns on Sting the next night, holding up the title due to his own interference! Another rematch is signed (not for that night, of course), and Ric causes Sting to drop the title to Hogan.

THIS brings out Goldberg, and he's shooting, too: "Hogan! I hear you talk about your LEGACY. I hear you talk about how the young guys have to WORK to get to your level. I hear you CHALLENGE us to TRY to take your spot. Well, on their behalf, I'm here... and you're NEXT."

It's easy from here. Sting finishes off Flair for the last time, then Goldberg utterly destroys Hogan as the whole locker room empties out to ringside to watch. Let this match be the culmination of the whole shebang we're putting together here.

The reasoning: It's a dangerous strategy , I realize, but the thing to keep in mind here is that it's not a worked shoot. This is as pure as it gets. Sting's and Goldberg's shoots on Hogan help put over the idea that things are finally going to change, and Goldberg's squash victory at the end validates it.

What about the former champ?: Paul Heyman said it best about Sid: He's best used once per show as an ass-kicking diversion. Bring him in to clear the ring once in a while or do a quick filler squash, but that's it. Besides, he sucked as champ. We have footage.


This is actually the easiest belt to work with, since Jeff Jarrett's the only good champion WCW currently has. And it's because of this that I don't really want to take the belt off of him, but rules are rules. What helps is that Jarrett's already got something brewing with the other three guys I have in here - Booker, Buff Bagwell, and Curt Hennig.

Start this off with an irate Jarrett skulking around backstage, pissed that he's been stripped of the belt. He bumps into Buff, who tells him that he's the REAL "Chosen One," and the next U.S. champion. Booker overhears this and takes exception. Jarrett uses this opportunity to punk out Booker and lay the boots to Buff before Hennig comes in to make the save.

Buff challenges Jarrett to a match, and gets a guitar shot for his troubles as he's about to hit the Blockbuster. Again, Booker and Hennig come in for the save. Jarrett notes that since all three guys are against him, he'll take on all three of them in a match. In THAT match, Bagwell turns on Booker and Hennig, knocking Booker cold with a guitar shot before Hennig comes back and waffles Buff with the U.S. title belt, which Jarrett took from some mysterious "office" in the back.

Hennig challenges Jarrett for a match to fill the strap, and is about to win when Buff (who'd been beaten by Booker earlier) strikes again, breaking up a Hennigplex and forcing the DQ. Don't worry; Curt returns the favor during the Bagwell-Jarrett title match. Hennig duly beats some humility into Buff when they finally go one on one. This leaves Booker to challenge - and beat - Jarrett for the U.S. Title.

The reasoning: Eventually, Booker's going to end up in the World title chase, and probably sooner than later. But he hasn't held a singles belt in almost a year (losing the TV title at Slamboree to Rick Steiner, of all people), and a run here re-validates his status with the fans. Bagwell is here strictly to turn heel and get squashed by Hennig. Hennig gets a face push because it's different.

What about the former champ?: As I said, Jarrett's a good U.S. champ and would be a fine choice to take over the belt when Booker moves up.


There are a lot of guys in WCW who are stuck in these holding patterns of flimsy storylines and little advancement. And who here forgot that this belt even exists again? Come on, be honest.

This is where I'll run a 16-man tournament, since we can use it to elevate some of the young guys, as well as set up the TV title as the "entry-level" belt. The overriding angle here is cocky hotshot Kidman and brooding loner Vampiro putting themselves over as the winners.

Round 1: La Parka d. Buzzkill, Vampiro d. The Maestro, Lash LeRoux d. Evan Karagias, Fit Finlay d. The Demon, Norman Smiley d. Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Kidman d. Dustin Rhodes, Disco Inferno d. Elix Skipper, Crowbar d. Rick Cornell.

Round 2: Vampiro d. La Parka, Lash LeRoux d. Fit Finlay, Kidman d. Norman Smiley, Crowbar d. Disco Inferno

Vampiro loses his semifinal match to Lash when Kidman, after defeating Crowbar, turns full heel and crotches him on the top rope, enabling Lash to hit the Whiplash 2000 for the surprise pin. Kidman goes over Lash in the final to become TV champion and incur Vamp's wrath.

The reasoning: This scenario gives both Kidman and Vampiro some much-needed personality and puts them in a feud that's actually about something, while establishing the other guys as legit TV title contenders down the line. The title itself becomes the "first" belt I envisioned it as earlier, and can be used as a springboard to elevate both guys.

What about the former champ?: You made it back from cancer, Hacksaw. Congrats. Here's a referee shirt. You'll ref the final as thanks for digging this belt out of the trash.


Believe it or not, this is where losing the Radicals really hurts WCW, as any combination of those four would beat the living piss out of any WCW tag team working right now. If it weren't for two guys I haven't mentioned yet, this division would almost be unsalvageable.

During a match between - hell, between any WCW tag teams - Diamond Dallas Page and Kanyon walk out, stand in the aisle, and shake their heads in disapproval. After talking between themselves for a few minutes, they rush the ring and clear it, then ask for the microphones. They run down the entire WCW tag team division, finding something to criticize for every team. They end the promo by inviting the teams they just ambushed back into the ring for a handicap match. They accept, and Page and Kanyon put on a clinic, destroying both teams. Do this for a few weeks until you've run through the roster.

Then, send them into "the office" and have them pick up the tag team belts and bring them to the ring. Page speaks: "You know, since we've already beaten every single sorry tag team in the WCW, as far as WE'RE concerned, we are the WCW tag team champions. But Chris and I, we feel like making it official. So to prove to all the jabronis in the back and all you idiots out here just how good we are," - did I mention they're heels? - "we're gonna put up these belts in a gauntlet match. Any four teams who think they've learned anything and want to take another shot at us, we'll sign you up, and line you up. And if any of you can take us down, all this," - they do a Vanna White with the belts - "can be yours."

The Mamalukes, the Harris Bros., Los Fabulosos, and Lane & Whatever His Partner's Name Is This Week step up. Harrises get squashed because they ABSOLUTELY SUCK. The other teams put up better efforts, but Page and Kanyon go over in the end.

The reasoning: This division is so bad that there isn't a single current team that can carry the ball here. Whether you like DDP or not, there's no questioning that he'll work his ass off, and Kanyon's as good as anyone WCW has. Plus, these guys can both play the arrogant heel to near-perfection and know each other well, so there won't be too many blown spots on their part. Book dominance for these two, so the other teams have time to polish their ring work and characters.

What about the former champs?: Ron and Don go bye-bye, never to be seen again.


The belt once held proudly by the likes of Kidman, Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, and Rey Misterio, Jr., has been pretty well flushed down the toilet over the last six months. If you've read this column for any length of time, you already know how this part ends.

Here's how it begins: Psychosis (w/Juventud) starts out declaring himself the only worthy CW champion, drawing the ire of The Artist, who dismisses him out of hand. An insulted Psyc later attacks TAFKAPI in the back. Juvi continues to put Psyc over, and he feels the wrath of "Hard Knox" Chris Candido. This eventually leads to Chavo Guerrero, Jr. coming out and going after Candido. Shane and Shannon from 3 Count are next, followed by the Jung Dragons. (Both these groups are licking their wounds after getting spanked by Page and Kanyon in the tag ranks.) Some Power Plant cruiser types get involved to flesh out the field.

The preceding scene is actually stretched out over a few weeks worth of TV, and the ensuing chaos leads to a battle royal for the CW title. Like in the setup, there are no allegiances among any of the participants, and the action, needless to say, is freakishly fast.

The finish is set up when Psychosis turns on Juvi mid-match and throws him out. He then has a "Diesel moment," going absolutely berserk, eliminating two and three guys almost simultaneously. Candido tries to keep the fight on the ground, but it eventually doesn't pan out, as he's the last to be tossed.

The reasoning: This is another division in serious need of rebuilding. Psychosis is good enough and the blowoff will get him over enough to be the standard bearer for the cruisers. Can't wait for that feud with Rey Jr. when he comes back.

What about the former champ?: TAFKAPI goes back to jobbing and trying to come up with a finisher he can actually hit.

HARDCORE TITLE: At Least It Won't Suffer Anymore

So you want to kill the Hardcore title? Well, you could do what WCW did with the TV title and put it on Rick Steiner. Or you could do what WCW did with the U.S. title and put it on David Flair. Or you could do what WCW did with the Cruiserweight title and put it on The Artist Formerly Known As Prince Iaukea, or Oklahoma, or Madusa, or Evan Karagias. Or you could do what WCW did with the tag team titles and put it on the Harris Brothers, or the Mamalukes, or David Flair & Crowbar. Or you could do what WCW did with the World title and strip the holder of it four times in three weeks. Or you could do what WCW did and put it on Brian Knobbs, or... oh, wait...

NOW do you see why I took this assignment?

Notes: Notice no Nash, no Hall, no Sid, no Luger. There's a reason for that, and if I have to tell you what it is, you haven't been watching the same WCW as the rest of us.

If Bret comes back (he wasn't included because that's still a very big "if"), you can put him in Flair's spot, then move him into a feud with Goldberg over the title.

Once these programs finish, don't go bonkers with the title changes. Let all of these guys be champions for a while (especially DDP & Kanyon) so the rest of the roster can be built around them. This will also bring some value back to the titles, something that's been a real problem in WCW.

Small Packages:

  • So besides their own T-shirt, three of the Radicals have gold after two months. GOOD MOVE, WCW.

  • Liked the "arrogant heel champions" interview by Edge and Christian on Raw, but if Titan wants to make sure that these guys get over as heels, they should: 1. stop coming to the ring through the crowd; and 2. start coming out to Christian's music - it's got a more sinister sound to it. And how about a new entrance video with both guys in it?

  • Also, the Dudleys' table antics are getting them FACE heat with the crowds, so stop doing them. A couple of weeks without a table incident and they'll be heels again in no time.

  • Remember last week when I pleaded with the WWF not to turn Big Show face after WM? They did. But bonus points to them for doing it in the only acceptable fashion - taking his SNL buzz and running with it.

  • And bonus points to, of all people, Michael Cole for pointing out on SmackDown! that TAKA was the first Light Heavyweight Champion.

  • Why is it that in WCW, it's "jobbing," while in the WWF, it's "putting someone over?"

  • Are you sick of David Arquette yet?

  • Is anybody else amazed that Hacksaw Jim Duggan can still draw heat?

  • Since when is it acceptable to show two-hour blow jobs on TNT in prime time?

  • I figured they wouldn't find enough good Thunder highlights to fill a two-hour show.

    NEXT WEEK: Spring Stampede, I guess... will we have a card by next Friday? And if so, will the new Nitro give us a reason to care?

    This BEGS for feedback, by the way.

    Matt Spaulding

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    Guest column text copyright (C) 2000 by the individual author and used with permission