Something Old, Something New,... and Something Old
LINE OF THE WEEK: Vince McMahon (to The Rock): "This is strange. This is strange thinking, because you have this... fixation. You have some sort of fixation about the rectal cavity. That's not normal. That's not normal at all, Rock..." (Raw) Ah, yes, Mr. McMahon at his condescending best.
Let's be honest, though; nobody cared about the WWF this week. The majority of the big news this week was the "new" WCW. Would Eric Russo and Vince Bischoff finally put on some quality wrestling television, with killer ring action and compelling storylines? Or would we be stuck with the same crap that Sullivan and his cronies fed us for the past three months? This past week was critical to any chances WCW had for future success.
So, how'd they do? To find out, let's do something new this week that I call "Plus or Minus." This is very simple; I taped both Nitro and Thunder this week (for the first time in a very long time), and watched both shows to try and analyze the "new direction" WCW has taken. If I saw something I liked, I added points. If I saw something I didn't like, I subtracted points. Keep in mind, also, that any comments I make are based on my impressions at the moment that I saw the event in question. There'll be an example of this early on.
Some ground rules first: Every on-air mention of Russo or Bischoff is worth -1 point. Every on-air mention of the WWF or Vince McMahon is worth -2 points. Every apparent technical or production mishap is also worth -2 points (except the big one; but I'll piss on that bridge when I come to it.).
Let's kick this off.
Plus and Minus: WCW Version 4.0Nitro (Denver)
We've still got the same logo.
Is that Schiavone I hear? Crap. -2
Hey! We got pyro! +2
A TurnerTron, too! +3 (Give it two weeks; that term will be more over than three-fourths of the current WCW roster.)
I hear Scott Hudson! Yeah! +3
I hear Mark Madden. Fuck. -5
Then he goes and says "Russo" five times. -5
Jeff Jarrett's got the mic. +3
He mentions the WWF. -2
It's a shoot, and a pretty vicious one at that. +5
He mentioned McMahon, then Russo. -4
Speaking of Russo, here he comes... I thought he said he'd never appear on TV. So much for that. -2
Tony asks where Bischoff is. -1
Yet another mention of the WWF and McMahon. -4
Russo's voice is annoying. -1
Hey, a plug for the Radicalz and Shane Douglas. +2
Too bad they're not here now. -1
"Are you done yet?" Damn, here comes Bischoff and the confrontation we've all dreaded. -5
Shut up, Madden. -3
Staredown in the ring... a handshake? They embrace! Nice swerve. +7
Uh-oh... Bischoff's putting himself over again... -2
Ripping the old guard... this isn't much of a surprise. But whey's the crowd booing?
Here they come from the back.
Bischoff going after Page first? Interesting choice. +2
Page gets a face pop. Is that right? -2
The WWF is mentioned. -2
Now who's Russo talking about? Flair? I thought Bischoff had heat with Flair. -1
Vince wants the belts? Oh, he's vacating the titles. +4 I like this move at this point - it clears out the deadwood.
Crowd chants "Goldberg." +1
Sid's resisting, and Bischoff's going up there?! +2
Shut up, Madden. -5
Bischoff brings up the scissors incident. Nice touch. +3 It's a little too "inside," but it works here to heighten the tension.
Sid relents and gives up the belt. He sucked as champ anyway. +2
Damn, Mark, close your mouth!
Mmmm... Kimberly. +5
Hey! A WCW ENTRANCE VIDEO! So THAT'S what they look like! +5
They cut off Page's music? No pyro either. -4
Mmmm... Elizabeth. +5
They cut off Luger's music, too? -2
But he's still gonna do that lame posedown. -3
Hey, guys? Guys? Try talking about the MATCH. -6
That's better. +2
What the... Buff's music plays interrupted, and he gets pyro? +2 because I now wonder if these are actually glitches we're seeing...
Buff goes right for Kim. Good continuity. +3
Now he's after Liz. Say what you will about the man, but he has taste. +2
Curt Hennig wants a shot at Jarrett.
A "Powers That Be" reference? More continuity? What show IS this? +4
What's Tank Abbott want?
He's pretty weak on the mic... he sounds like Mike Tyson. -1 (I'd never say that to his face, of course.)
He wants Goldberg? Odd, but I kind of like it. +1
So he's just gonna kick random ass for a while now.
Hudson panics and gets bleeped - he remembers what happened to him the last time a wrestler got too close to him at the Nitro commentary table. +2
TANK'S GOT MADDEN!! +15
Christ on wheels! PUT HIS SHIRT BACK ON! CHILDREN ARE WATCHING! ALERT HERB KUNZE! -10. And people bitch about the WWF.
Hudson: "Should we get in there?" Absolutely NOT, Scott. +1
Hey, Kidman's wearing some decent clothes. Where's he headed?
Hulk Hogan's found Bischoff. Interesting dynamic.
But who's swerving who? -4
Is Kidman shooting, too? He sounds serious, and good, for once. +3
He's calling out Hogan? +2
Note that everything he's saying is true. +3
Nice line about Hogan's orange tan and the spotlight. +3
This just might be Kidman's BEST PROMO EVER! +7
Hogan comes out - to cheers? Bleah. -3
He's right in Kidman's face, but Billy isn't backing down. +2
Ooh... he shouldn't have said that...
Hogan's kicking his ass. -1
Here comes Bischoff, with a chair... I predict a turn here... -3
Holy crap! Bischoff chaired HOGAN! +7
Ric Flair showed up. +4.
Hey, Hogan, you've been in the business what, 30 years? Learn to blade already. -4
Flair's watching the opening of the show in the control room. Nice touch. +1
And now he's coming to the ring? How'd he get down there so fast? Let me pause this tape... I'll bet you we're around the 60-minute mark. +4
Damn right. +1
Flair STILL rules it on the mic. +5
Naturally, he's calling out Russo. +2
What the... SCOTT STEINER's out?! "Business is about to pick up!" +3
You said WWF, Steiner. -2
Exercise for the reader: When Scott Steiner says the line about the WWF's champions "...and except for one, they all came from here," who's the 'one' he's talking about?
Bonus question: Who did he miss?
That's actually not a bad impersonation of Flair. +2.
What the... Shane Douglas? And you KNOW he's after Flair, too...
Kevin Nash shows up and mentions Russo. -2
Hey, that IS Bret Hart. -1 for the crappy fadeout to the break.
Mean Gene works tonight! And he's with Shane Douglas.
Decent enough interview. Shane's got some of his old venom back. +1
So why does Sid get his pyro?
This match is pretty weak. -4
Oh, shit. The Wall's out. -3
He takes Sid out and chokeslams him through a table. Yawn. -3
A count-out? A World Title Tournament match ends in a COUNT-OUT? -7
Another plug for Russo & Bischoff. -2
Now Flair's back, and he calls out Douglas. +2
Then he mentions Russo. -1
Oh, look, it's the "Ready to Rumble" premiere.
David Arquette kabongs Jarrett. -1
He'll be at Thunder? Help me. -1
Hmmm... Jarrett vs. Hennig. This might actually not suck. +1
Unfortunately, we haven't seen a wrestling move yet. -2
There's one. -1
And out comes Shawn Stasiak... the hell? -2
He's going after Hennig? What's this about?
Backstage, Nash says Bischoff and Russo. -2
So does Sting. -2
Douglas comes out to the old Revolution music. No video, though.
Stiff shots by both guys.
What is with all these fat guys losing their shirts tonight? -5
Oh, look. Russo's out. You know we haven't had a run-in-free match tonight? -2
Commercials. I should note that at this point, approximately every third commercial is the "Ready to Rumble" ad.
Kevin Nash LIVES!
And again, the crowd pops for the WRONG MAN. -5
Nash didn't just put over The Dog, did he? -4
Then he says "Bischoff", "Russo", and "WWF." -4
Think he and Hall are still tight with Shawn Michaels?
Tony: "We're shootin' here." Shut up. -3
Somebody's in the ring... MIKE AWESOME? ...the HELL?!
Then HE mentions Bischoff & Russo. -2
How bad is he on the stick? -4
Hogan's still pissed off.
What now? Oh my God, it's a white Hummer. PLEASE don't tell me we're doing THIS again. -6
Getting out is... Bischoff and Kidman?
Shut UP, Tony. -7
The Observer's Bryan Alvarez had the best take on this segment: "If you marked out for this, shame on you."
They're STILL putting the Hummer over. I expect this crap from Schiavone, but Hudson should know better. -4
Bischoff and Kidman ripping on Hogan. +2
Mmmm... Kimberly. +5
It's DDP vs. Sting for the title shot. Hey! They're playing "Seek & Destroy!" +4
Why is Jarrett's music playing?
Vampiro took out Sting? What the... well, so much for continuity. -4
Yet another run-in. You do realize we've had no clean finishes tonight. -4
It's Jarrett-DDP at Spring Stampede for the World title. I am uninspired.
Jarrett's back out? This better be the last segment. -1
We've got a big-time brawl in the ring, and I can't tell who's beating up who. -2
That's a FINE suit Booker's wearing, if I may say so. +3
Bret Hart's in the entrance aisle. What's he want? Decent final shot. +3
Score for Nitro: -26.
Well, the angle's been established: New Blood, backed by Russo & Bischoff, vs. the "Millionaires Club", and if people don't like "Radicalz", I expect to see riots trying to stop that name from getting over.
Too much Bischoff and Russo already. And take it easy on the "smart" references, guys. I'll bet that most of your audience is clueless on the Sid/scissors bit, as well as the Flair/Douglas feud.
The actual wrestling bit the big one. We couldn't get one match without a run-in?
Why'd you have to dig up the Hummer again? We KNOW it wasn't Bischoff driving.
Now, for Thunder (or: "The Show That Will Always Suck"):
New set here, too. MUCH pyro. +3
Good God, Arquette IS here. -2
Boos for Bischoff. -1
Mixed reaction for the New Blood. -1
Mmmm... Torrie. +7
Bischoff, as usual, is coming off as way too arrogant. -2
More good mic work from Kidman. Has he been watching WWF tapes? +3
Way to get heel heat, Russo. -3
Kimberly vs. Madusa? Huh? -4
Page is pissed, and rightfully so. +2 Kimmy'll get killed out there.
Is he calling out Bischoff? -2
More insults, and here comes Page.
Bam Bam Bigelow jumps him from behind! Guess he's in the New Blood.
Heenan! He made the cut! +2
Looks like Tenay survived, too. +4
Whose music is playing?
These matches tonight and the set-ups for Spring Stampede actually sound interesting. +3
JUVENTUD LIVES! +5
Juvi and Candido scuffling. Good tension to hype the free-for-all nature of Sunday's title match. +2
They're putting TAFKAPI back into the mix? Why? -8
Mmmm... Paisley. +5
Yeowch! Looks like Daffney's got a jealous streak.
This match has been pretty good so far. +3
I never realized Crowbar was so big. Did he just punk out David Flair?
All right, we're starting to get a little spot-heavy... -1
FRANKENSTEINER BY DAFFNEY! +5
The Artist breaks Candido's cover. Another good tease. +1
He hit his finisher! THE ARTIST HIT HIS FINISHER! +3 He still sucks, though.
That's the first clean ending we've had all week.
Good Lord, Ahmed Johnson is a fat ass.
Harlem Heat 2000 vs. Sid? This is guaranteed to suck. -6
Hey, Stasiak, get used to this show.
"The Perfect One"? Oh, please. You impressed no one when you were Meat, and you're impressing no one now. -3
Stevie Ray hits a shitty clothesline.
Booker's taking out Harlem Heat? It makes some sense, but...
Sid wins and Bischoff's not happy. Here he comes.
Bischoff's reversing the decision? DQ? What DQ? It was a no-DQ match! Blow me. -4
Bischoff chewing out Booker - it makes sense in the story, but... -2
Mmmm... Elizabeth. +5
Douglas is eyeing her, too. Good for him. +1
Ref bump. I predict a run-in.
Yep... here's Flair. +1 for continuity, at any rate.
And there's the freakin' Torture Rack. Worst move in wrestling. -3
Tony calls it "sports entertainment?" -1
Tony says Hogan won't be in Chicago, which means he will.
Jimmy Hart busts out the "flea market champion" line. +1
Ooh, spray paint after the beatdown. Where have we seen this before? -2
Mmmm... Kimberly. +5
She actually wants to do this? That guitar shot must have been harder than it looked. -2
Oh, shit. The Wall's in this match. -4
What's with The Cat's hair? -2
Booker chokeslammed through the table. Yawn. -3
Mmmm... Torrie. +6
Nice sneak-in pin by Kidman. +2
Steiner puts him out.
Vampiro in, but Sting punks him out. Hey! Continuity! +2
Steiner wins? Ick. -2
Wow, Madusa's hair is all one color tonight. +1
Mmmm... Kimberly. Nice top. +7
REALLY nice top. +2 more
Madusa's music makes me feel kind of funny...
+9. What do you MEAN, why?
Too bad that, as a match, it's gonna suck.
DDP is out, probably to put a stop to this.
Madusa's kicking him. Yeah, that'll work. -2
DIAMOND CUTTER ON MADUSA!
You know, Norman Smiley's really above this hardcore stuff. Where's the TV title? -3
Morrus missed that table spot. -4
This match is painfully slow. -3
At least Meng's still no-selling everything.
Note: This is where my tape cut out, so everything from here is based on various show reports.
Meng spears a Goldberg cutout.
Knobbs goes off the balcony? Didn't these idiots see Living Dangerously? Who BOOKED this crap? -6
Dustin Rhodes? Didn't they blow off his feud with Terry Funk? -2
Smiley pins... uh... er... Funk? Whatevah. -2
The Villanos make Thunder?!
Hey, when did Jarrett become a Villano? -2
Arquette again? They wouldn't have him here if he wasn't gonna do something...
Hey, wasn't the Sting/Villanos match next? -2
What the... They're showing the Sting/Villanos match now? What the... we already saw... FUCK you, WCW. -100 I should just stop right now. I really should.
Page vs. Bigelow is Our Main Event? I don't like the smell of what they're cookin'. -2
Oh, look. Another run in. -8
Thunder score: -108
You know, I've always been cynical. But I still find it unfathomable that this shit drew a 3.1. Isn't there anything GOOD on Wednesday nights? Despite the fact that there was one more clean finish than on Nitro (for a grand total of one for the week), I am NEVER watching this show again.
Final Thoughts: First of all, the New Blood should NOT be the heels. Isn't part of the point of this whole angle to want the fans to back the young guys? Nobody wants the bad guys to win. Nobody. Didn't these idiots watch WrestleMania 2000? It's not like they were working that weekend. All this does is keep the face heat on the side of the Millionaire's Club, which, in turn, keeps them on top. I'm really beginning to think that all the buzz about the younger guys finally getting their shot was nothing more than a big-ass work to get us all to watch.
Scott Steiner does NOT belong with the "New Blood." Even though all the blood running through him probably IS new, he still doesn't belong with the up-and-comers.
This is probably just a personal preference, because even though he fits the description, I wouldn't have Sting with the Millionaires. I'd swap him out for Steiner and make him the veteran babyface who bucks the trend and sides with the New Blood. Maybe make him the spokesman for the group or something. This current arrangement just does not sit well with me at all.
Oh, and CRZ: If you run these scores through the WrestleLine 1 to 10 rating scale, Nitro comes in at around 4 because I was at least somewhat entertained, while Thunder hits a solid -3.
PREDICTIONS FOR SPRING STAMPEDE
For the Vacant WCW Title: Jeff Jarrett vs. Diamond Dallas Page
CRZ sewed this one up for me, actually, when he noticed that DDP had main-evented both of the "new era's TV shows. Did Page do anything for you as world champ last year? No? Me neither. So you and I might as well get used to it together, since your next WCW World Champion will be Diamond Dallas Page. Although if it leads to more screen time for Kimberly, I probably won't mind as much.
U.S. TITLE TOURNAMENT
Sting vs. Booker, Kidman vs. Vampiro, Scott Steiner vs. The Wall, The
Cat vs. Mystery Wrestler (Mike Awesome?).
Sting vs. Booker, Kidman vs. Vampiro, Scott Steiner vs. The Wall, The Cat vs. Mystery Wrestler (Mike Awesome?).
FOUR TEAM TOURNAMENT FOR THE TAG TEAM TITLES
The Mamalukes vs. Ric Flair/Lex Luger, Harlem Heat 2000 vs. Buff
The Mamalukes vs. Ric Flair/Lex Luger, Harlem Heat 2000 vs. Buff Bagwell/Shane Douglas
SUICIDE SIX-WAY FOR THE CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE
Lash LeRoux vs. The Artist vs. Crowbar vs. Shannon Moore vs. Chris
Candido vs. Juventud Guerrera
Lash LeRoux vs. The Artist vs. Crowbar vs. Shannon Moore vs. Chris Candido vs. Juventud Guerrera
For the Vacant Hardcore Title: Norman Smiley vs. Terry Funk
Smileywins, because Russo loves this gag. He still deserves better. Where's the TV title?
NEXT WEEK: So what the hell does ECW do now?