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Matt Spaulding



Creative Bankruptcy

LINE OF THE WEEK: Kurt Angle (to HHH): "Man, you really need some anger management classes, don't you?"

A couple of months ago (on WCW Live, I think) Vince Russo said that the main reason the WWF has been focusing on wrestling recently is because they're "out of ideas." He said that there is "nothing creatively" going on in the WWF, and that his creative team could write circles around anything that the WWF was doing.

Hang on while I go find a kettle for him to call black. Contemplate this while I'm gone:

Sharon said this also, and she's absolutely right: The WWF's "holding pattern" sure hasn't stopped Russo from stealing every gimmick possible from it.

OK, I'm back. As I was saying, from where I sit, it's Russo's creative well that's run dry, not Vinnie Mac's.

CRZ went down the list in his Nitro recap, so I won't go over it again, but I'll just say that the suddenly gimmick-heavy WCW has seven over wrestlers.


Booker T, Lance Storm, Kanyon, Kevin Nash, Sting, Vampiro, and Buff Bagwell.

Everybody else has: had their heat killed by Russo's storylines (Jeff Jarrett, Goldberg); been pushed into a position that they're nowhere close to being ready to be in (ANY tag team); or been saddled with a gimmick so ridiculous or obviously stolen from somewhere else that it couldn't get over if you sent it up a hill on a bullet train (MIA).

I fail to mention Lance Storm being basically a carbon copy of Kurt Angle for a reason: This is the one blatantly stolen gimmick that's actually working. The arrogant patriotism; the multiple championships; "It's true" vs. "It's not my fault." It's a total rip-off, but Storm does it well enough that it's getting over.

But the biggest problem with Russo's statement is his apparent hard-on for the shoot angle.

I first covered this in my debut piece where I talked about Russo's love for shoots, worked shoots, and breaking kayfabe. Now he's gone and created an entire feud around the possibility that the combatants will go against the script.

I speak, of course, of Goldberg vs. Steiner vs. Nash.

This abomination of an angle is a direct result of the disastrous Goldberg heel turn at Great American Bash, which was followed by Goldberg calling out Nash and Scott Hall as "cancers" in WCW that helped hold him back. In response, Nash called Goldberg "a mark for himself" and said he got too big of a push. (Somebody get me that kettle again.)

This led to a Nash-Goldberg match at Bash at the Beach, where Scott Steiner, who had been allied with Nash, turned on him and sided with Goldberg. But that lasted for about 20 hours, as Steiner and Goldberg found themselves immediately at odds over - something or other. I don't even know.

Then Russo gave us a series of interviews with all three men, running their mouths about how they all really hated each other. (Apparently there's real heat between Nash and Goldberg, while Steiner's just a miserable S.O.B.) In each interview, each man said that he was going to "break the script" during their three-way match for the No. 1 Contender's slot. To borrow a phrase from Our Gracious Host: "Oooh! EDGY!"

This was followed by Russo himself giving an interview saying that the winner of that match would be "the best for the company."

Why expose the business like this? And why try to sell the match based on it?

The smarts know the politics of WCW and how they relate to what's going on, but they don't care because they know that the outcome's been pre-determined. The marks don't know the politics of WCW and how they relate to what's going on, but they don't care because they know that the outcome's been pre-determined.

So not only has Russo failed to entice the smarts, but he's also insulted the casual fans by hoping that they're completely clueless and will buy the show because they think they're going to see a shoot. This, gentle readers, is why WCW continually pisses on its fans - it apparently thinks its fans are morons. (And I'm actually not going to suggest that you have to be a moron to be a WCW fan. Some of my best friends are WCW fans. It's true... it's true. I have footage.)

They're not going to break the script. We ALL KNOW they're not going to break the script. STOP WITH THE BULLSHIT ALREADY. YOU'RE NOT FOOLING ANYONE.

This is WCW, version 5.1, people. Where logic, continuity, and good old common wrestling knowledge are tossed out the window in favor of hot-shots, cold "shoots", and an uncanny ability to bury the talent, "New Blood" or not.

It's also a place where more ripping off occurs than in Puff Daddy's recording studio and Disney board meetings combined. (Bonus points to anyone who gets THAT reference.)

Remember, on the April 10 Nitro, Russo said he came to WCW "to beat Vince McMahon at his own game."

Obviously, nobody told Russo that McMahon changed the rules while he wasn't looking.


Double Ladder Match: Jung Dragons vs. 2/3 Count (w/Tank Abbott, or Evan Karagias if his ankle's healed up by then)

Five damn good high-flyers and Evan Karagias, none of whom are over. It's unfortunate, really. So is the basis for this match: there'll be a gold record and a recording contract hanging above the ring, and whichever team gets both wins.

What do the Dragons want with Three Count's recording contract? Why should we care?

What I'd Do: I want to heat the Dragons sing about as much as I want to heat Three Count sing. But I'd put the Dragons over just to spite Russo.

What They'll Do: Three Count wins when Tank flattens the Dragons.

ROTC (Rip Off The Camouflage) Match: Major Gunns vs. Ms. Skye Hancock


What I think happened here is that Ms. Hancock took exception to the Major thinking that David Flair was "kind of cute." It went downhill from there.

What I'd Do: Replace the mud with red Jell-O. Seriously, I'd put Ms. Hancock over only because the Major appears to have more cleavage.

What They'll Do: The loser is whoever gets their top ripped off and thrown in a mud pit. But I'm sure they'll figure out a way to time it so that the top is ripped off at the EXACT MOMENT that the loser falls into the mud, so we won't see anything.

Remember, this is WCW, where the REAL losers... ARE THE FANS!

Can-Am Title Match (w/a Rumored Special Guest Referee): Kurt Angle... No, Wait, Lance Storm, And I Dare You To Tell Me I'm Wrong vs. Mike Adequate

Storm's one-upped Angle by winning three titles in his short WCW tenure, and his run started when he beat Awesome in the finals of the recent U.S. Title tournament. Since then, he's changed the names of his three titles (U.S., Cruiserweight, and Hardcore) to reflect his Canadian-ness.

Awesome's been distracted from his quest to lose the U.S. Title a third time by his inexplicable and ultimately pointless attraction to fat women, yet another Russo-inspired gimmick that hasn't helped the wrestler saddled with it.

The ref? I don't care enough to guess.

Also: With ten contests already scheduled, I doubt they'll make Lance defend all three belts on the show. Besides, it's in Vancouver, Dramatic Pause, British Columbia, Canada, so he almost has to go over.

What I'd Do: It's too soon to knock Storm off his pedestal. Canuck retains.

What They'll Do: Storm in a relative cakewalk. But he loses one of them on Nitro on Monday.

Strap Match: The Transition Player Shane Douglas (w/Torrie the Fembot) vs. Billy Kid Man

Torrie dumped Billy to go with the "Franchise". Shane's been gloating at every opportunity. Kidman's shown himself to be a sore loser, digging up embarrassing video footage of Torrie. Shane beat him in a Viagra on a Pole Match, but Kidman took the pills and got sort of lucky with some Nitro Girls. Apparently, this pissed off some guy with a goofy ponytail named Reno (Rick Cornell, yet another WCW Saturday Night alumnus, in case E.C. Ostermeyer didn't tell you), and he's been helping Douglas beat on Kidman occasionally. And Kidman made Torrie cry with the "birthday party" video.

The strap? Kidman's idea, although he says he won't do to Douglas what he used to do with Torrie. For the viewers' sake, I hope not.

But one key question remains unanswered.

Who the hell's the FACE?

What I'd Do: Run in during the match and take Torrie for my own damn self, just to get her away from those two losers.

I kid, of course. I'd hire somebody else to do the run-in and be waiting outside in the getaway car.

What They'll Do: I think Kidman may actually win here. He isn't getting Torrie back, though.

The REAL Franchise vs. Jabroni In Face Paint #2

Forget this. Seriously. It's the DEMON, for Foley's sake. Just another member of what I am officially dubbing "The Paint J.O.B. Squad." The only intrigue in this match will be waiting for Vampiro to run in.

What I'd Do: Sting in a squash.

What They'll Do: DQ, Vampiro interference. Under 5 minutes.

Four Corners Tag Team "Title" Match: Kkchronnyichk vs. A Couple Of Rank Amateur Rip-off Artists vs. They Used To Be Hugh Morrus & Lash LeRoux vs. We've Finally Decided How To Spell Their Names

OK, people, here's a riddle. What's green and full of crap?

This match.

There are exactly two guys in this match that I like, and they aren't even on the same team.

No intrigue is added by Jindrak and O'Haire's recent actions against Kronic. Hey, WCW, talent has to be over first before you can turn them.

What I'd Do: Give the win to the MIA, since I like Lash more than I like Clark.

What They'll Do: Who the hell knows? But the rookies' "heel turn" might be a signal that they're due for yet another premature push. I'll bite the bullet and say Jindrak & O'Haire steal the win.

Judy Bagwell on a Pole Match: Positively Better Than Kanyon vs. Buff Bagwell

Well, Kanyon's gimmick of impersonating Diamond Dallas Page has apparently driven him insane. He wants his own "Kimberly", and there's nothing wrong with that in and of itself. But he wants his to be... Buff's mom, Judy Bagwell.

Company's bursting at the damn seams with hotties and can hire more at the drop of a hat, and he wants Judy Bagwell. Whatever. But Kanyon will get her if he wins.

What I'd Do: Put Buff over and end this farce.

What They'll Do: This time, Buff plays the role of DDP as his mom turns on him and costs him the match. If I'm wrong, I'll give you all a dollar.

The Original Green Mist-Spraying Freak vs. Stacy Carter

Commissioner Cat has had all kinds of problems with both the Jung Dragons and the Paint J.O.B. Squad, and he's decided he wants Muta one-on-one. Muta hasn't said a word, which hasn't really helped build up this match, which was the last one announced anyway.

What I'd Do: I dunno. With some decent hype, I'd probably give Cat the win solely because he's the commissioner, and it wouldn't look good to job your commissioner.

What They'll Do: Something tells me Muta's going over.

No. 1 Contender's Match: Goldberg vs. Big But Not Particularly Sexy Kevin Nash vs. The Pumpster (w/MyDayJob) in a Shoot Your Mouth Off Match

I've already gone into the background. Suffice to say I don't actually care.

What I'd Do: I'm tempted to just fire the lot of them, but I think I'd have to go with Goldberg.

What They'll Do: I think Steiner's the only heel in this match, so he'll win by poking somebody's eyes out with his biceps.

WCW World "Title" Match: Booker T. vs. The Greatest Intercontinental Champion Of All Time

You know the story by now; Jarrett lays down for Hogan at Beach 2000, Russo "shoots" on Hogan and signs another title match, Booker wins.

Booker's had an uneven run as champ so far, trading wins with Goldberg on one show, but being on the receiving end of several beatdowns by Jarrett as well as losing to him in a non-title, non-sanctioned Bunkhouse Brawl. The condition of his knee is also in question.

What I'd Do: Booker, clean. They don't have a choice.

What They'll Do: Booker, clean. They don't have a choice. Because if they job Booker at this point, they'll completely turn their remaining smart fans (who they're trying to book this for) against them.

Small Packages:

  • One year ago this week, Chris Jericho cost the Rock a win over the Big Show. On Monday, he helped the Rock beat Chris Benoit and keep the WWF title.

  • And, yes, I do still mark out for the Y2J countdown.

  • Did no one notice the "Irvine #27" Rangers jersey behind the announce position at Raw? Seriously, nobody pointed this out.

  • Yeah. Kurt Angle was TOTALLY ruined at Fully Loaded. (rolls eyes) Somebody remind me to email Keith.

  • Well, hell, Benoit didn't even land that hard. From some of the things I'd heard, I was beginning to think Rocky had gone All Japan on his ass.

  • Val Venis's ribs are still taped. As they should be.

  • Where IS Dustin Rhodes? Not that I care; I'm just asking, is all.

  • Good news... it's been confirmed that ECW's going to have a tag team title tournament on August 25 at the Manhattan Center. But did they have to wait this long?

    NEXT WEEK: Actually, no.

    This may sound overly self-critical, but I've churned out some absolute crap recently (that Raven column, in particular, REEKED of heinousity), and after almost six months (?!) of writing this column every week, I think I need a break. So I'm taking next week off to recharge.

    Anyway, I promise to be back in two weeks with a SummerSlam preview, as well as my reservations about the way this HHH/Steph/Angle situation is playing out.

    This, coupled with the last note in "Small Packages", means that I'll be leaving you for the last time as...

    Matt Spaulding
    One half of the ECW World Tag Team Champions

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