Sunday, December 19, 1999

Ringside Shadows #96: Goodbye For a Bit and Letters

No no, I'm not following in the footsteps of my buddy Dale Blasingame and concluding my viewing of North American wrestling as a whole.. I'm just headed across the country for the holidays. I'm off early tomorrow morning for western Virginia, where I'll visit with my girlfriend's family for several days before headed to my parents' in central Indiana. I won't be back to my trusty tangent POS (the home computer) for about a week and a half, perhaps 2 weeks.. thus, I may not be posting for some time. There will be no Tuesday Review tomorrow, and in an attempt to make it all right, I've decided to empty my mailbox. Pray for me..

Anyway, kicking things off is, with a couple comments about David Flair;

"You are right about him, he has improved his selling and should i say TRANSFER as well, do you remember DDT he pulled off on Diamond Dallas Page 4 weeks ago? I was just stunned as i asked my self if even Raven could compare to that perormance of DDT.

It`s really nice to see that Ric`s kid has some talent. I also think that his Psycho Persona is appropriate for him(he walks like a psycho, he looks like one and he talks like one and finally Russo utilized him appropriately). :))"

I'm not exactly sure what you mean by 'transfer', but I pretty much completely agree with your points. I'd almost call his change a metamorphasis, as there's almost nothing left of the boy we saw carry the US title through the mud all those months ago. Damn, when I remember that angle I realize these 'powers that be' aren't quite as bad as they appear. Flair's blossoming is easily one of the higher points in current WCW lineage, and I just hope his work in the ring can keep it that way.

Up next, Micheal Koehler ( has something to say about the Tuesday Review;

"I would have to agree with you on your Nitro grade. Some of the match they had should have been better (and longer). There is one point with the new and improved David Flair that I picked up on last week and last night and no one has seemed to notice or care about. Last week the Goth Chic had her little Nitro Party clip saying how she loved David Flair and listening to (fighting the urge to blow chunks) Celion Dion and rocking like David with a teddy bear. This week David gets that same bear as a present and cuts the head off and is rocking back and forth with it in his locker room. I may be reading way to much into that story line, but there is some coneect that I am sure will unfold in the next few weeks. At least that is what I have noticed. Dammit a triangle feud with Beniot, Jarrett, and Rhodes is going to kick ass. I am hoping that with the unbelievably horrible ratings this week (2.5) they will clean their act up and get rid of the shit like Stevie Ray, Even Couragious and that entire first match, with the exception of Symphony. Anyway that is what I think..and yes Puckers rule. Mix with 7-Up. Anway enough of me ramblin on. Later"

I didn't really pick up on the Celine Dion in the background, but I'll resist the urge to rummage through the old tapes to check it out and take your word for it. Not quite the best choice (with her goth look, I'd have gone with something like Sisters of Mercy, old school Cure, or Joy Division.. but that's just what I dig), but the angle is definitely something they're trying to slip underneath our noses. I'd say an appearance at the PPV isn't out of line, maybe even leading to a Flair victory (which would be a bit much, since DDP needs all the heat he can muster any more). I'm enjoying his gimmick as a single so much right now that I'd resist adding anything to it, but I'll just have to see how it all plays out before I can comment. Good work, making the tie with the bear though, as it slipped by me. A Rhodes / Jarrett / Benoit feud would certainly be something worth celebrating, with Jarrett particularly tearing the house down of late. He and Benoit have had some keepers on Nitro that would definately rock dead apes if their finishes had been clean, and I think the two combined could pull a nice series of matches out of the shell of Dustin Runnels, maybe even producing some heat for the gimmicked-out son of a dream along the way.

As for cleaning up Nitro, it's something that really needs to be done.. but won't be. Russo keeps stating how much he hates the 3 hour format, and how great Nitro will be once it gets to two hours. He's screaming about having trouble filling time, which is..supposedly.. why the shitty stuff is in with the good. Meanwhile Eddie Guerrero, Blitzkrieg, Juventud, Psychosis, Kidman, and a half dozen worthwhile luchadores sit on their asses backstage.

Puckers mixed with anything is a nice mix.. in fact, I think I'll help myself to a bit this evening. Thanks for your e-mail.

Patrick Austin ( had a comment on my thoughts regarding Stephanie;

" drqshadow, nice column but there is one thing I don't agree with and that's the Stephanie heel angle. You said she wasn't believable, I don't agree with that. I admit she is not in the same league as her father and brother on the mic. But don't forget how many women in wrestling are actually good on the mic. The ones that are good don't get any response from the crowd. Also when HHH, Rock, Jericho and Austin all started being heels they all lack something, but as time went on they became the better heels we all know and love. Back on to the Stephanie thing; If you didn't notice she was getting some good (small, but good) heel heat from the fans. And I agree with you that given time she can only get better. But the fact of the matter is this Stephanie did a good job playing the power hungry bitch! For her first time of course. Stephanie still has way to go before she gets to her father's and even her "husband's" level."

You make some good points about the Rock, Jericho and HHH having trouble getting heat as beginning heels, and I'll completely agree that Stephanie is going through the same thing. The big difference here is this; none of the aforementioned heels were given as much time as Stephanie was Monday night. She and HHH dominated the evening's events, popping up before nearly every match, with a completely unnecessary "reason" for its booking. Honestly, did you need to know the 'couple' were responsible for the Hardys/Canadian Blondes cage match? I'd have enjoyed it just as much without that little bit of info.

I will agree though, that nobody is perfect right off the bat. Rocky was shoved down our throats as a face, even carrying the Intercontinental strap in his first year, to the tune of little or no attention from the fans. Shane was regarded as the worst interview in the industry during his first few months on the scene, and was basically ignored until he really found his niche and started knocking out killer promos, showing shades of his father. I'm confident Stephanie will do the same in time, but pray that we won't be there to see every step of the growing process. Until she's a good speaker, keep her off the mic. At any rate, thanks for the well stated e-mail

Next, G had something to say about the Raw portion of my Tuesday Review;

"I'm not sure how you can call the X-Pac v. Chris Jericho a "garbage match". They didn't even fight out of the ring and didn't use any weapons or "plunda". Besides as Sean Shannon says, there is no such thing as garbage wrestling, its just stuff that you and people like Herb Kunze don't like. Technical wrestling is not the only style of wrestling and many people enjoy the so called "garbage" matches. There is no "one" way wrestling should be. I used to enjoy your columns but quite honestly you are starting to sound like a miserable workrate freak. Vince Mc Mahon is trying to (gasp) make money instead of catering to workrate fans, what a horrible, despicable, no good, low down thing to do."

I may've misspoken, but I didn't mean to categorize the said match as a 'garbage match', or 'junk brawl'. I may've lumped it in with another junk match, in an effort to show what's incorrect about the profession today... the X-Pac/Jericho match was, in one word, 'overbooked'. Chyna's presence was not necessary, yet she made her way down and interfered unintelligently in the match, causing a premature finish. I've never once proclaimed that there isn't room for more than one style in this profession, actually much to the opposite. I'll hop from puro to lucha to european, and yes, I'll enjoy a 'hardcore' brawl, if it's done correctly. When I see Roddy Piper take 15 chair shots to the head and kick out of a pin attempt, I'll scream bloody murder. That's what I call a 'garbage match', and it's something I try to avoid.

In McMahon's case, you're damn right I'll get up in arms. The second somebody takes something that I hold sacred, in this case strong wrestling, and disgraces it for their own profit (aka 'selling out'), I'll be right there to point it out. What McMahon has done is take the easy way out. Frankly, he needed the money, and chose to do something that generates immediate interest and revenue... controversy. Look at Howard Stern.. you can't honestly believe he stands behind everything he says. Half of what comes out of his mouth is what made him; controversial. In his case however, it wasn't a case of losing money and needing a quick answer, he's just that way. Confrontational in nature, which is why I can stand him. McMahon did it to get a quick buck and I've got big problems with that.

Anyway, thanks for the mail..

"THE GRUFF!!" Jim Green ( has a conspiracy theory of sorts to share;

"I have noticd a lot of duplication between the WWF and WCW lately. Are their individuals in the WWF and/or WCW who are informants for the opposing wrestling fed leaking info about upcoming storylines, plot twists etc. etc?"

Honestly, I don't think there's any easy way something of that scale could take place. It's mostly just a case of two things; lack of originality, and Russo/Ferrera. Without a doubt, there are insiders on both sides to pass word along regarding talent acquisition (how do you think Paul Wight, Jericho, or others switched around without tampering with contract limitations? However, the said sources would be outed immediately if they let anything slip about future angles and storylines... so it's not bloody likely. had a couple comments on the state of wrestling today;

"I understand where you're coming from with this longing for Benoit vs. Eddie Guerro matches but you have to look at reality. Nobody cares about a Benoit Guerro match...nobody cares if it is the match of the year...before you get all pissed off let me explain. I love beautifully wrestled matches...I know Benoit/Mysterio/Guerro will put on a show, but they're not over with the crowd and will never be. The only chance Benoit has at being over is if they have Hart turn heel and play Benoit off as a major baby face for the next for having matches between Boring Malenko/too short Mysterio/Can't speak English well enough doesn't work in this day and would work 5 years ago, just not now. People want to see these gimmick matches. Wcw put on these great wrestling exhibitions all of last year and it got them in the cellar of the ratings. Look at the WWF, there is like two guys there that can wrestle with you think they care? No. They can't even use Jericho without having know why...he wrestles. There is no more room for wrestling anymore...sorry to say it...wrestling is just entertainment now...the wrestling aspect is dead."

Honestly, I must've been watching a different Nitro these past couple years, because with few exceptions (Spring Stampede 99 being one of them), I saw very little 'great wrestling exhibitions'. The only Nitro I've enjoyed seeing in the past few years has been the brief month between the reign of Bischoff and the ascention of the 'powers that be'. Things were starting to shape up as they should've for some time, with the elderly making their way down the card, and the cream beginning to rise to the top. The crowd was starting to get into it, morale had boosted, the ice was beginning to shake off the slumbering old machine. Then two unnamed writers made their way from the WWF and plunged WCW into the murky depths previously only habitated by the McMahons and their program.

I read a column earlier today that stated most of an audience hated Benoit.. another that claimed he got over based solely on his mic work. To both, I say hogwash! (because it's an interesting word to say!) Benoit has been a solid member of the roster for years. Tell me you weren't rooting for him when Raven sent out a different Flock member each week, backing away from a straight physical confrontation every Nitro. Listen to the pop he recieves on his way to the top rope, ready to deliver his diving headbutt. Granted, his may not be the loudest on a Monday Night when he walks down to the ring.. but I'd challenge you to find anyone (sans the Rock) more over when he walks back to the dressing room. That's not thanks to a catch phrase, that's not a clever package or an awe-inspiring laser-light introduction. That's working a damn fine match, which leaves an audience with little choice but to get behind it. Even if his opponent doesn't, Benoit knows how to tell a story, to make Kevin Nash's rest holds look explosive. He draws interest back to where it used to belong, between the ropes. Sure, a crowd may jump off the rafters when Rocky hits 'the people's elbow'... $10 says they were sleepng five minutes beforehand. If you give a crowd a good worker, I stand firm that they'll give you a hot audience. I firmly believe so, and that's why I maintain hope in wrestling today.

Wrapping things up, here's with a question about the Starrcade card;

"I heard there was going to be a Harlem Heat and Midnight vs. Creative Control and Curt Hennig on Nitro. Was that taken off the card? I don't want too see that match either, since Booker T and Curt Hennig are the only good wrestlers, and Curt blows up after 3 minutes, but I just heard it was happening."

As far as I know, the match isn't happening. The card John and I used was straight from the WCW website, paragon of journalistic intergrity that it is, and I won't stand by it. Such a match would likely blow a rather chunky ass, and the only good that could come from it follows; "Booker and Hennig take it outside, while Midnight, Stevie Ray, and the Bleu twins brawl in the Ring. As Hennig and T fight up the entryway, the ring mystically explodes, ending the match and injuring the 4 inside just enough to keep them retired for good. Then Booker T and Curt Hennig have a feud. The End."

And with that lovely thought, I take my leave of you for now. I'll be back within a couple weeks' time, but...
until then, i remain

Friday, December 17, 1999

Ringside Shadows #95: The Tuesday Review

I feel like I'm missing something. As I melted into the couch for a well-deserved break from classes, I flipped on the screen to catch some Monday night action and took a quick glance at myself. Next to my roommate and girlfriend, I saw a grim face. Gone was the excitement, the tense last moments before the familiar 'WCW' logo appeared on-screen. To be honest, I think the only reason I was bothering was due to my nearly-unstoppable love for the tradition of it all. I didn't want to watch the evening's programming, but I felt almost a duty to do so. It's been over 3 years since I rediscovered the youthful exuberance of professional wrestling, reopened the emotions I once proudly displayed as a child. In those 3 years, I've seen an industry grow overweight with popularity and careless with prosperity. When the fans that have stuck by this sport through thick and thin start to desert is when I say wrestling has become too large for its own good.

So why do I even bother? I'm not quite sure. Hope, maybe? The belief that somewhere, sometime, I might catch a glimpse of what attracted me to the set in the first place? If so, there remain glimmers. Through the garbage brawls that were Benoit/Jarrett and X-Pac/Jericho, I saw technical masterpieces waiting to break through the crust of "Sports Entertainment", and truly become performance art. Even in these strong workers, the influence of each particular Vince has found a way to worm in and take hold. Benoit is finally over, but at what cost? Jericho carries his first federation gold, but does that truly mean something anymore? I'm definitely missing something.. but McMahon has hidden it well. Now I suppose the question isn't what I'm missing so much as where it's been taken.

With that said, let's take a gander at...


WCW should start thinking about getting their act together anymore. If they plan to announce the evening's matches before the event (as they have been doing on of late), they shouldn't try to build them as spur-of-the-moment ordeals. Jeff Jarrett's challenging of Chris Benoit, while believable, was cut way down in sponteneity because half the audience already knew that the match was booked for later in the show. Adding a storyline and reason to the match is commendable, as is the traditional formula of competitive matches booked for the purpose of moving up the ladder. However, there isn't much crossover between the two, and.. well, let's just say the way this was carried out wasn't ideal.

TAFKA Iaukea had promise, until he entered the ring. I like his introduction and his off-canvas personality is definately a step aside from anything else in WCW right now, in the vein of David Flair. However, once he stepped between the ropes, he regressed into the exact same character played in his last role. I wonder; did he give any thought whatsoever about maintaining a persona? His almost melancholy attitude on the rampway intrigued me.. but his overbearing, 'please get me over' offense in the ring completely clashed and pretty much turned me off from his relaunch. A character like that should be a bit hesitant to tie up, and use primarily cheap, underhanded offense. He'd never meet a fight head-on.

Somebody needs to tell Evan Karagias both Spice and Madusa are married. And besides, Spice belongs with me.. heh.

It's promo time; Bret Hart trotted out one of his more convincing speeches in some time, pretty much assuring his heel turn in the next week. For the first time in a while, I think the Hitman was given ample time and forewarning to put together a competant segment, effectively pumping the crowd and hyping his World Title match against Goldberg. Later in the evening, Jim Duggan meandered out to one of the evening's biggest pops. You know, he's been around over 2 decades and the crowds have loved him every step of the way.. there's something to be said for that. I despise his ringwork, but so long as it's kept to a minimum (now is a good example), I won't complain a bit. In fact, he's one of the few older men over enough to justify new life under the RussoFerrerian age.

Speaking of new life, I seem to recall two names at the top of the lists when the 'powers' made their jump.. Kidman and Buff Bagwell. Let's take a look at where they are now; both enjoyed immediate pushes, Bagwell as the leader of the anti-establishment, Kidman as a part of the Filthy Animals. Now, Kidman's hurt and Bagwell has been heavily de-emphasized in the last month. Neither has a logical role in the next PPV. Then again, the men in charge were also telling us they wouldn't be playing a large on-screen role, either. I wonder.. were they screwing with us all along?

Jeff Jarrett and Chris Benoit gave us something to believe in, though it was masked behind the kind of junk brawl usually reserved for the likes of Brian Knobbs and other tubs of shite. Benoit has apparantly been anxious to work such a match, as his past few feuds have regressed to backstage brawls and garbage fights. Still, I don't think he's had an opponent that can keep up with him in such a style until now. Both took some hard shots and sold realistically throughout (well.. aside from Jarrett's slide up the side of the ladder. what was that?!), and the audience responded in turn. For the second straight week, the crippler has teased the diving headbutt from the ladder, which gives me some motivation to buy the PPV.. and the whole mess ended with a sick, sick headfirst landing from the ladder. If that wasn't believable, I don't know what is.

In the single notable wrestling hold of his match, Tank Abbott looked mean as hell. I'm still not sure if he was stiffing the shit out of Meng or not, but the big man's change of character leads me to believe he was. Instead of a 'Huff... huff' mantra, the master of the tongan death grip uttered something along the lines of 'hunh... oof. (dude, settle down). ow!'

Much to the opposite of what I'd told myself, I think I'm starting to get into the old-school revolt against Russo. They've found probably the three most able old men in their backstage area to head this thing up, with the exception of Ric Flair, and each one has shown the younger guys how it should be done. It was damn good to see Paul Orndorff again, as he was truly the shit for several years in the mid to late 80s. So long as his ring action is kept to once a month, I can really live with seeing these guys around a bit. Look at the roster; Arn, Zbysko, Orndorff.. the only guy that can really screw this up is about to become involved.. Hogan.

Good god, is David Flair great. Every single thing about this character is being done to perfection.. he's got the laugh down, the attitude (both in and out of ring), the look (the latest addition of lines under his eyes are great), and he's being put in the right situations. Don't get me wrong, he's not ready for world title shots or anything, but as compared to what was being shoved down our throats 6 months ago, this is a complete about-face. Everybody's had relationship problems at some time, and Flair plays out the dark side of every thought that goes into your head during such a time. In a way everybody can relate, and I think that's why I dig him so much. I was hoping to see if he'd improved in the ring with his match tonight, but he was effectively played out of the picture.

Also on the positive side of things, we've seen the return of Kanyon, one of WCW's more promising young stars. On the negative side, he's still using a Russian Leg Sweep as his finisher (as the true 'innovator of offense', couldn't he come up with something a little more.. credible?) and the triad is officially dead now. I suppose John, Matt and I must carry on the torch for now, but the gimmick of '3 boys from Jersey' doesn't really work with a Canadian, a Hoosier and a resident of Maryland.

What does it say about the credibility of a chairshot when an entire match is based around them as the sole form of offense.. and it goes longer than a minute? Later, Goldberg proved his cardiovascular endurance, outlasting a blowing-up Kevin Nash (well.. that's not saying much. I can outlast Kevin Nash), and an aging Scott Hall in the evening's main event. His selling continues to need work, while his offense is slowly but surely maturing. I'm unhappy to see Hart selling another knee injury, but I suppose this was the only way to understandably end the match, though I didn't think Bret was the legal man. It was a sight watching the Canadian Hero fold those big legs into the Sharpshooter, though..
Overall Grade: C

Better than last week, but I glazed over a lot of the suck.. plus, the main event was probably much worse than I remember, seeing as how I was drunk for it. Puckers is a wonderful thing. Though I don't like their methods, the men in charge built logically towards this Sunday's event, which i will be <shameless plug> previewing with John C. either Thursday or Friday</shameless plug>. Not terrible, but I'm still missing something.

And while we're at it, what happened on...


The report I'm reading for Raw is much shorter than the one I checked up on for Nitro, so this review might be much shorter.. sorry. Plus; I ate a pickle! Nothing helps you prepare for tomorrow's design history final like a dill spear, rest, and writing up a column on professional wrestling! You're correct, this paragraph was a shameless attempt to lengthen my anaylsis of Raw.. let's go ahead in.

For the first time in many moons, I was hard-pressed about which match I should be watching. Four of my favorite workers were squaring off on opposite programs.. Jericho met X-Pac, while Jarrett and Benoit clashed. While difficult, such decisions are far more welcome than deciding whether to watch Jerry Flynn/The Wall or Big Show/Viscera. The new intercontinental champion played the clear face in this one, and hints of a team with Chyna were dropped, even though she seemed to have been after him. If this match were given more build and time, it could have been classic. As is, I'm hoping a continuing feud comes of it, as the two have quite a history together and I believe they could raise each other to new heights.

Stephanie tried and tried to play a heel, but she just wasn't believable. I guess that's why she got a perm, eh? Does she think that if her mic work won't get her over, her hair might? blech. She's taking baby steps, but there's still a world to go before I'd put her near the class of her father or brother. Then again, all it took was a heel turn to get Shane-o some personality originally, so I guess I'll give her time.

Not only were we treated to a shot of Mae Young and Mark Henry in bed (be still, my beating heart.. can I continue to carry a torch for the lovely miss Young whilst she sleeps with another?), but apparantly enough damage was not done, as the two were involved in-ring against The Godfather, of all people! Why not just throw your ring announcer in mud?? It would make as much of an impact, and would be just as enjoyable... oh, wait. They did throw their sad excuse for a ring announcer in mud. And I'll bet that garnered the night's top ratings segment, as millions of horny boys pleaded for Miss Kitty to replay last night's extravaganza. I can see Vince's goals now.. strip a woman on PPV and feature her on Monday night.. the lemmings will enter, looking for a replay.

Wade who...? I could care less who's in the audience, especially if they're sports stars. He gets millions a year, and I guarantee you he didn't pay a dime for that seat. Back to the match, where the hottest angle in wrestling fell victim to the ongoing desires of Vince to see his children in positions of power. The whole 'HHH and Steph are in charge' angle didn't work for me anywhere but in the main event. Why did they think the cage match would've been such a big deal? (I'm not complaining! I'm not complaining!) To soften the teams for the Outlaws? Nope.. the Acolytes are supposedly getting the next shot. All together, everything but the main event would've made just as much sense if it were booked with Vince still backstage.

In the aforementioned 'mud match'.. (well, I suppose it was pudding) it was interesting to see everyone's efforts not to hurt themselves. Kane ate it hard, and gladly collapsed to the ground when DX attacked. The ring announcer didn't land softly, and I'd be surprised if Tori wasn't banged up a bit from X-Pac's botched splash. Is such a gimmick worth it, when you put it up next to the potential risks taken with the talent? I suppose we'll see when the ratings come in.

Wanna know how to get a team monster over? There's two nice examples right here. The Acolytes chose the easy way and just stiffed the living hell out of the MSP in their match. The chair shot that pretty much ended that squash was harsh as they come, and I'm amazed Joey Abs is still walking after it. A bit crude, a bit reckless, but they're just a bit more formidable now than they were last night. Meanwhile, the Hardys and the team of Edge and Christian took the path less-travelled, and tried their damndest to get over based on sheer bump-taking insanity. Then again, the audience apparantly didn't know what to make of this. With a couple exceptions, they just sat on their hands while these four killed themselves for our amusement. Jeff's missed swanton bomb from the top of the cage vies with Benoit's fall from the ladder as the bump of the month, and Edge's somersault from the cage, though blown, still looked nasty. Finally, the powerbomb into the cage, sending Matt and Christian to the floor together was a superb spot, though a bit stalled-out. All in all, these guys proved they know how to set up a nasty match.. all while the crowd waited for Tori to flash them or something. Welcome to the WWF.

Anybody remember the last credible challenger to the world title? I wonder; was HHH trying to punish Vince when he booked this match.. or us?

Good closure to the Stephanie/Test ordeal, teasing a reunion before blowing the whole thing to shreds. Test's future has never looked brighter, but he does need to work a bit on adding an offensive maneuver or two before he goes far. I'll be honest.. I didn't really watch much of this one, so I'm not qualified to make much of a comment. The closing shot seemed more like the end of a play's act then the close of the evening's wrestling.
Overall Grade: C-

The HHH/Stephanie bit drug on for way too long, ending with the spot it should have also begun with. Their hands weren't necessary in the Acolytes match, the Big Show match, the cage match, etc. The angle stunk, basically, and pretty much screwed up the rest of the evening's flow. I'd like to thank Vince personally for the Hardys/Canadian Blondes match though. Stellar.

That'll do it for me. I've too much studying to even mention right now, but the promise of a month's freedom is a nice thing to look forward to. Maybe I can get my mind off the state of wrestling today. Like I mentioned, John an I will be back Thursday or Friday at better newsboards everywhere with our Starrcade Preview. After that, I may or may not have something up before next week's Tuesday review, after which I'll be spending some time in Virginia for the holidays.
until then, i remain

The World's Greatest WCW Starrcade 1999 Preview

It's do or die time for the mysterious 'powers that be' behind WCW's recent programming, with their premiere pay per view event: Starrcade. In case you've missed out, Russo's tone during his time on WCW Live this past week was much more urgent, nearly to the point of desperation. It's no secret that the bigwigs behind Turner have tracked down rather heavily on the content, and this go-round it's time to put up or shut up. Russo and Ferrera came to WCW to make it competitive again, yes, but more importantly to give themselves a challenge. Nobody could've predicted a wrench of this size being thrown into the works, (the proverbial wrench being Turner's sudden reluctance to air anything that might be perceived as controversial) but you take the bad with the good. If Nitro comes out of this event shining, the two writers will have proven themselves beyond a shadow of a doubt. It's a hell of a burden, but one they bear willingly. Then again, with this card, a lot of that burden is up to the athletes to carry as well. If the big hitters come out to play, the fireworks could blast WCW right back into contention.

Dr. Death Steve Williams vs. Vampiro
If Vampiro Beats Dr. Death, Then Vampiro Gets Five Minutes Alone With Oklahoma

I've said it before, I'm sure I'll say it again... I was wrong. Vampiro should've jumped ship when he got the chance. I'm not sure what's sillier: the stipulation of this match or the fact that if Vampiro were to win, he'd probably have to job for 'Oklahomo'. In his prime, Dr. Death was easily one of the sport's top draws and rightfully so. His rough, believable style drew thousands eating up every bit of it all and Williams played the role to a 'T'. A matchup between the Williams of old and the Vampiro of about a year ago would be worth the price of admission on it's own. As is, I fear for Vampiro's safety.. with age has, apparently, come sloppiness for Dr. Death. Matchwise, this better not go longer than 10 minutes, since Vampiro's victory will tag an extra 5 on top of that. Williams' imminent departure for AJPW pretty much sealed the bet.
Winner: Vampiro

The Revolution (Douglas, Malenko, Saturn & Asya) vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Three Mystery Partners
If Hacksaw Jim Duggan Wins, The Revolution Must Perform His Janitorial Duties For 30 Days. If The Revolution Wins, Hacksaw Jim Duggan Must Denounce America

Why do I already taste an enormous letdown? This "Mystery Partner" deal never works. Just look at Roddy Piper's short-lived anti-nWo of about 3 years back... that's prime meat right there. Unless Duggan pulls some hardcore shit out of his bum, this will be a stinker. I'm also confused about the 4-on-4 aspect of this one. Is Douglas active again? If so, it's news to me. Like I've mentioned before, Duggan's as over as anyone.. he just needs to stay out of the ring. Not even Malenko or Saturn could carry his dead weight to a good match these days, which is why he'll likely go over. Besides, the Revolution's janitor sketches are a much more likely addition to Nitro than Duggan renouncing America with his 3 mystery men. Then again, what are Zbysko, Anderson and Orndorff doing Sunday night, anyway? Just a theory.
Winner: Jim Duggan & co.

Big Vito and Johnny "The Bull" vs. Disco Inferno and Lash LeRoux

If WCW had their own version of Sunday Night Heat, that's where this one would air.. and rightfully so. The mafia skits backstage have been among the weakest of the weak for Nitro, and remain consistent excuses for channel flipping. Turning organized crime into a fun and games-atmosphere romp around the arena is one thing. Turning it into a weekly soap-opera of wackiness nears stupidity, and including several otherwise promising workers is just insane. The gimmicked matches have been weak (a body bag match?!), the skits have been boring and predictable, and the acting has been even worse. I suppose I'm not here as a movie critic though, so let's look at the workers involved. Disco is reasonably good, while Lash is a bit green.. but shows quite a bit of promise. He was damn over this past week in New Orleans, but that goes with the gimmick. The "hitmen" are just methodical. I think that's all I can say about them while maintaining a positive light. They've been on the butt end of a lot of embarrassment of late, and I don't think there's a better place to see them finally put the hit on their targets here.
Winners: Big Vito and Johnny, killers for hire

David Flair vs. Diamond Dallas Page
Crowbar on a Pole Match

One of the evening's focal points. Has Lil' David learned a thing or two during his absence of several months, or will we be seeing the same old 3 moves of eternity? If his personality change is any hint, we may be in for quite a surprise here. If nothing else, his selling has come a long way; he made a diamond cutter look like an f'n death penalty a couple Nitros back. I could do without the gimmick, but at least it's not completely out of left field here (a body bag match?!), and will actually lead to a more technical style rather than the formulaic "flair comes in with a crowbar, swings.. runs..repeats.." formula that's nearing overuse anymore. Look for daddy's little boy to receive a beating here, leading to Ric's return on Nitro the next night.
Winner: DDP

Evan Karagias vs. Madusa

God, do I really have to go over the different levels of hell this one will drag us trough before mercifully ending it all? Madusa is, in no more words, old, fake, past her prime, and lucky to be working. On top of all that, she's married (then again, so is Spice, who was fighting with Madusa over Mr. Karagias..), so the whole angle is pretty silly. It's not the first though, I suppose.. so let's overlook that chapter in the book of anus. That leaves us with the performance in the ring. Looking back in the halls of matches past tells us that for the most part, man vs. woman matches don't work. Look at Chyna, and her entire career. Jericho had arguably the best match of his WWF run against her at the Survivor Series, yet she looked anything but good. As always, the bookers will play up the "wouldn't hit a woman" schtick here, ending with the two going all-out at some point, which is where I expect Madusa to hold her own and capture what was once WCW's most highly respected title.. Turner's answer to Chyna's recent run.
Winner: Madusa

Screamin' Norman Smiley vs. Meng
WCW Hardcore Title Match

Uhff.. I take back what I said earlier about this card holding some sort of promise. Where there was once a damn fine worker, now stands "screamin' Norman Smiley", as he takes on Meng and his living afro. Remember back when the Hardcore title (or the prospect therein) was something to look forward to, whispered between insiders across the net? Names like Raven, Saturn, Bigelow, Whipwreck, and the "King of Hardcore", Sandman were synonymous with the said division.. and it looked good. Damn good. Now that they've produced a belt, things will apparantly never be the same. More than half the division's proposed heart and soul have left for the tradition of ECW, while the others have moved on to other prospects within WCW. What we're left with is a watered down Hardcore Holly with a set of lungs, a tub auditioning for the role of Curly in a new Stooges flick, and a man whose hairstyle has more personality than his character. Egg. I just felt like saying egg, because it's probably more entertaining than a full-depth analysis of what this match will consist of. Smiley takes it by accidentally dropping the ring on Meng's hair.. or something equally as believable.
Winner: Norman "Egg" Smiley

Sting w/Elizabeth vs. The Total Package
If Sting Beats The Total Package, Elizabeth's Contract With Luger is Null And Void!

Let's repackage this one another time, boys. The fans haven't seen it before! Let me put it simply; with Luger mailing in his backstage skits, let alone his efforts between the ropes, he's pretty much a non-factor. Sting generally needs motivation to be good, and even then might need a little that Luger would have trouble delivering 10 years ago. This one goes 15 minutes, and will see Elizabeth making a turn on Sting that leads to a Luger victory. Generally, because a loss would permanently knock Luger out of the main event scene.. and god knows we can't live without that.
Winner: Lex Luger

Jeff Jarrett vs. Dustin Rhodes
Bunkhouse Brawl

The name of this game is "what kind of condition is Dustin in?" With Jarrett hitting an unbelievable stride of late, the only thing that can really hurt this one is an ailing Rhodes. The former double J really needs to pick up a victory sometime before his credibility plunges, and there's no better time than now. The fans aren't really behind Rhodes, and after jobbing this Sunday will need a serious overhaul before it's too late. If the son of the dream comes healthy and ready to play, we could be in for a real treat. If he doesn't, this will at the very least be watchable.
Winner: Jeff Jarrett

Kevin Nash vs. Sid Vicious
Master of the Powerbomb Match: First Man To Give The Other A Powerbomb Wins

What a silly stipulation.. it pretty much guarantees that the loser will get up and/or kick out following the delivery of a powerbomb, to show everybody how tough he is. Then again, don't think that wasn't the stipulation to begin with. I really don't want to say anything about these two working in between the ropes, except I wish Nash had stayed retired. Benoit may make an appearance, leading into his match up the card against the other half of the Outsiders and helping his new buddy, Sid. In the end, the "ruler of the world" (who looks absolutely hysterical trying to hype his new T-shit) takes it home, managing to deliver a more convincing powerbomb than Diesel Power.
Winner: Sid

Scott Hall vs. Chris Benoit
U.S. Heavyweight Title Match - Ladder Match

Hot damn, I'd like to see this match. The threat of a Scott Hall non-appearance looms overhead (so as not to further an injury.. which is understandable), yet Russo's appearance on WCW Live has piqued my interest about his possible replacement. Before I get to this one, I'll just say this; if it's Ernest Miller, I'll be very upset. Benoit's been teasing us with a diving headbutt from atop the ladder for a couple weeks now, and I fully expect him to deliver it here. He's been working quite extensively on air with the ladder and bumping from / with it, which makes me think he's done that much more work off air, and is really cooking up something special here. A breakthrough performance here could be compared to Mankind's dive from the Hell in a Cell.. not in the viciousness of the fall, but in the impact and immediate upward thrust it would bring to the man's career. Hate to say it, but Mick Foley was going nowhere fast a year and a half ago, before the Hell in a Cell. Now he's cemented his spot in wrestling history, as a multiple-time world champion. With that said, I think a strong performance from Benoit could bring about a real return to form for Scott Hall.. a ladder match against Bam Bam Bigelow nearly a year ago brought out shades of the former Razor I haven't seen in ages, and I'd be lying if I found Bigelow to be the superior worker of the two. This has the potential to be a instant classic.. check it out. The belt won't change hands, as Benoit's moving on to his promised world title shot after Starrcade.. (right?!)
Winner: Scott Hall

Bret Hart vs. Goldberg
World Heavyweight Title Match - No Disqualification

I must say I'm actually pretty impressed with the way they've handled this one.. except for the reinjury of Bret Hart's ankle. Doing that pretty much cheapens the potential this match had as the first true clash of these two main eventers, and short changes the fans. I've been waiting for a solid, clean matchup between these guys since Bret's famous "I Quit" speech in Toronto a ways back.. too bad we won't get either condition here. This match has �overbook me' written all over it, and don't look to Russo and Ferrera to let such an opportunity walk by unhindered. Hart could teach Goldberg so much in an extended feud.. how to build a match, work with psychology, SELL, etc. However, now isn't the right time by the big watch, and we'll just have to wait for a rematch. Even though I think an extended title reign by Hart is essential here, both to his credibility as a worker and champion, and to the belt itself, Goldberg goes over dirtier than the other side of the tracks.
Winner: Goldberg

Damned, what a long card. I long for the formula of an 8-match PPV again. These record-breakingly tall cards are wearing really thin on me. My hope is that the Benoit/Hall match gives me a reason to check this out when it's on home video, and that the strong upper card can balance out for the terrible lower and mid card. This preview's running too f'n long anyway, so that's my wrap up. John, I'm gonna kick your ass in the previews... or not. I like to feign a competitive atmosphere.

until next time, i remain

Friday, December 10, 1999

Ringside Shadows #94: The World's First WWF Armageddon 1999 Preview

Hello, all. Finals week trudges ever closer, and the studying has yet to hit full swing in ye olde apartment.. yet Wrestlemania 2000, Final Fantasy Anthology and Final Fantasy VIII all see plenty of play (with a bit of Marvel v. Street Fighter thrown in for good measure). Personally, I've all but given up on the WWF 64 game for now, as Ken Shamrock is a no-selling, reversing, countering pile of shit. Rather than risk the expense of a new controller, I've taken some time away from my quest for the gold with Mankind. So, with the personal update out of the way, let's take a gander at the current subject of debate, the WWF's Armageddon pay per view.

We've got a 10-match lineup before us, with one or two promising clashes on the way, as well as the norm of several apparantly unsalvagable wrecks-to-be. And hey.. McMahon has booked himself into the main event yet again! Bischoff was never this bad.

Easily the most promising match on the card features (surprise, surprise) the least glamorous belt in the federation, the European championship. D'Lo Brown (reason enough to become excited, even if his opponent is Viscera), Val Venis (who continues to improve beyond anyone's expectations) and the British Bulldog (the seasoned veteran who, despite losing a step or two, remains a strong worker) will tangle for the honor of wearing this tarnished gold, formerly held by such legends as Shane McMahon and Mideon. X-Pac and Kane will have another go at the potential blockbuster their feud should have produced by now, while Kurt Angle will try to give us any reason whatsoever as to why Steve Blackman is worth our time.

Meanwhile, The Big Boss Man gets the title shot dozens have been demanding for years now. Or, perhaps I'm exaggerating.. you decide. Chris Jericho will put Chyna on his shoulders and set his sights once more on a first run with WWF gold, and we'll see if Mankind is up to the superhuman effort necessary to carry an opposing team and his partner to a watchable match later in the card. For the T&A fans, there's the stimulating prospect of not one, not two, but three pairs of bras and panties in the four corners evening gown match. Just when you thought the WWF was about to clean up its act, too. What the hell, let's jump in;

Kurt Angle v. Steve Blackman

For those who skip the Thursday programs, this one came about because of a misunderstanding in a tag match. Good to see the booking changes haven't affected the WWF's sense of originality, because that one came completely out of the blue (If you can't note the sarcasm there, check your head). Angle has been mildly impressive since his debut at last month's big show, and behind his unmistakable energy and charisma, Blackman can actually work a nice match from time to time. Aside from the inevitable stalling (which always seems to be the case with new heels), lack of crowd heat and probable overbooking, this could develop into an above average clash. A clash that sees Blackman jobbing yet again, while Angle's star gets a few more moments to shine.
Winner: Kurt Angle

X-Pac v. Kane

In a storyline that's lingered longer than one of those clinging dumps that just won't shake off, X-Pac and Kane are butting heads for only the second time (well, third if you count the little elmination match 2 months ago). Each man threatened to turn heel on the other, with the former 123 Kid finally seeing the transition along with the rebirth of DX. Throwing Tori into this mix hasn't upped her ante any, as was planned, and has actually turned the audience's attention away from the feud entirely. With that said, this will likely be the blowoff to the longest ongoing feud in Titan with each man heading into a feud more stable or team based. If both are on, I see nothing stopping this from going ***1/2 at the very least, but therein lies the real trick. X-Pac seems to always be up for a nice carry-job, selling like it was going out of style on a near-regular basis, while Kane is another matter entirely. He has the goods, but tends to be indecisive and irregular as to wheeling them out. He'll tear the house down on a Monday, only to put the world to sleep on a Tuesday and Wednesday. There are slight rumblings that these two might go into the cell to settle it all, but given that the match might be worthwhile, I'm doubting that possibility. Kane finally secures the 'v' in this one, avenging his woman and chasing off the other members of DX.
Winner: Kane

Tag Team Battle Royal

This one's got Edge and Christian, the Dudleys, The Headbangers, the MSP, the Hardys, the Acolytes and Too Cool in multiple attempts to rock different species of foreign farm beasts. I'd have to say the good far outweighs the bad here and though I'd rather see the Hollys than the Acolytes, effectively nixing the 'Super Heavyweights match' further on the card, things maintain a good chance of staying entertaining. I'm guessing this will be a World War 3-style rumble, with everybody thrown into the ring at once, which will certainly put the pressure on the production crew to keep up with the action and spots between the ropes. In order to avoid the chaos that we saw on Nitro 2 weeks back, with the Hall/Nash/Benoit/Hart/Sid/Goldberg rumble, things need to be much better organized, with workers stalling just long enough to draw attention to themselves before hitting a high spot. The problem with a rumble is that no matter how well organized, you'll never be able to catch everything and the action starts to blend together before too long. In the end, it's narrowed down to the Acolytes, Too Cool, and the Hardys.. and I'll take the Acolytes in more of the ever-popular WWF booking style.
Winners: The Acolytes

Rikishi & Viscera v. The Hollys
"Super Heavyweight Match"

Hmph. The Hollys have been carrying on a feud with just about every superstar on television of late, which means that no matter who the worker, a match on the PPV would make sense. That said, we're treated to Viscera on a PPV (a mere week after his stellar world title match), teaming with the chunk that can funk, Rikishi Fatu. If not for the constant jobbing of the Hollys in the past few weeks, this one would be a credible match between the two behemoths of lard and the two cocky bastards. As is, I see no reason why an audience would buy the Hollys' chances, which is precisely why they'll win. Again, the WWF's nonsense booking rears its ugly head.
Winners: The Hollys

Ms. Kitty v. Jacqueline v. BB v. Ivory
Four Corners Evening Gown Match for the Women's Title

Let's take a gander.. 3 women I'd rather not see in their.. evening wear.. and one that I would. Care to guess which will remain adorned? In a division that was built upon the outrageously overplasticized body of one Rena "Sable" Mero and the sex that she secreted, this is a real return to form. All the pubescent boys will inch toward their sets while this one's airing on their tv, ever watchful for the appearance of a parent, who might not approve. That's the only audience I can see enjoying this, so it'll likely be the runaway hit of the PPV. I'll be the first to admit I don't care for women's wrestling.. at all (then again, I've never seen Japanese women's programs, which I'm told are stupendous). Maybe the memories from GLOW are still around for me. Either way, I'll be glad I didn't blow $30 on this when there's good porn down the street for less than 1/6th the price.
Winner: Ms. Kitty (not that I give a rat's ass..)

Val Venis v. D'Lo Brown v. The British Bulldog
European Championship Match

I've gone over this one pretty well in the intro, so I'll take the opportunity to mention the Bulldog's match with Christian on Smackdown, which was pretty much ideal. A high-flying, quick, slightly green youngster takes on the slower, powerful, mat-oriented veteran. It's the kind of matchup you'll never get tired of, and there's a reason. During their first few years in the big time, many future stars spend their time hitting spot after spot in an attempt to get recognition.. with little or no substance in between. Such, to a lesser extent, is the case with Christian. He's a sound worker, but still has a ways to go before he's main event material. In matches with a veteran, rookies can quickly learn both the importance of building a match and working in psychology as well as how the 'f' to do so. Hey, along the way there's a nice match or two. Despite a poorly booked ending, last Thursday's match was both a lesson as well as a damn fine clash. Too bad most of the audience took off for a beer. Put Val Venis in the position that Christian was in Thursday, and you've got this match. At this stage in his career, the 'porn king' needs to work on putting the whole game together, and nobody knows that better than the Bulldog. D'Lo, too, can still learn a thing or two. All in all, this one will be a lesson. And we all know that it takes quite a while before the student surpasses the teacher.
Winner: The British Bulldog

The Rock and Mankind v. The New Age Outlaws
Tag Team Championship Match

I've made my opinion well known on the state of the tag team division in the WWF today.. it's got more promise than anywhere else in the Big 3. You've got future headliners in the Hardys, Too Cool, the Hollys, Edge and Christian, Taka and Funaki, the Dudleys.. and the belts are around a glorified teamup of men who couldn't get over long as singles. OK, let me rephrase that. I don't like him, but the Road Dogg is over.. Mr. Ass couldn't get over if he were thrown. Either way, they shouldn't be wearing the belts. Nor should they be defending against the Rock and Mankind. The audience will get a hoot out of this one, especially as both teams make their way down the entryway, spewing catches all the way. But anybody looking for pure technical masterpieces will find a world of disappointment the likes of which have not yet been seen. This is trash, pure and simple, a way to keep Mankind and the Rock over without inserting them into the world title picture (and why not? Will neither job to Wight?). Since he's not anywhere else on the card, I'm waiting patiently for Al Snow's run-in, costing the Rock and Sock duo the belts.
Winners: The New Age Outlaws

Chris Jericho v. Chyna
Intercontinental Championship Match

Could be a nice one, and I fully expect Jericho to hit all the stops on his way to Federation gold. If you follow John's "punked on Raw, win on the PPV" formula, Jericho takes this one all the way.. which is what I've been calling for since before the Survivor Series clash a month back. The victory may be tainted by Chyna's "broken finger", but no matter how you slice it, Jericho's walking out with the title.
Winner: Chris Jericho

The Big Boss Man v. the Big Show, Paul Wight
WWF Championship Match

Remember when this title used to mean something? Remember how big a deal it was when Bruno Sammartino held this title (probably not.. let's flash it forward..), how great an honor it was to see Bret Hart hold the belt high, what a wonderful feeling it was when Shawn Michaels realized his boyhood dream? Toss all that in the garbage.. nothing can compare to the awe we're sure to feel in this one. How the Bossman went from jobbing in the "kennel in a cell" catastrophe to a world title shot is beyond me. I'd find a counter boy at McDonald's a more credible challenge to the belt. With that said, barring a McDonald's burger-flippin' run-in, I'll skip WWF programming for a full month if the Bossman takes the title here. It's bad enough to have it on a talentless big guy who isn't over, but it's something else entirely to put it on the Bossman. Even giving him a shot is sacrelige. I'm sure he'll come to the ring with some sort of hokey 'revelation' meant to blow all this "you're illigitimate, your father's dead, i dragged his body through the cemetary, your bird is gay, and i cooked your little brother into a spicy cajun dish" crap out of the water, but what's left of the crowd could give half a damn. It's a matter of time until the Rumble, where the Show's not so spectacular reign will finally come to an end.
Winner: Paul Wight

HHH v. Vince McMahon
No Holds Barred.. if Vince wins, HHH annuls his marriage. if HHH wins, he gets a title shot

Boy, what a wonderful stipulation. Tell you what kids, your father and I are planning to divorce, but if little Timmy here can kick the SHIT out of his brother, Stan, we'll go back on our word and stay together! BUT if Stan brings home the bacon... little Timmy's out of our wills! Divorce can be fun! Wheeee! Iiiiii don't give as much a dump about this one as I do about the Viscera world title shot on the last Raw, and you know how important that was to me. I'm sure DX will find their way to ringside.. maybe a McMahon or two will pop out his chubby little head. And Vince will find a way to win it for his little girl's purity.
Winner: Vince McMahon

On second thought, what a god-awful PPV this should turn out to be. I'm glad I'm not blowing anything on it. Alcohol is expensive these days, and rent is sometimes a priority too. For a cheaper version of this PPV, head out to the trusty pickup truck and load your mule "Helen" into the bed. Affix a harness to the rear bumper, strap in, and yell to your buddy at the wheel to head for the highway. That way, you can drag yourself along at speeds breaking 60 miles an hour, while Helen kicks you multiple times in places ranging from the head to the chest to the groin.

Ahh, hell. I can't do comedy. This PPV blows.
until then, i remain

Tuesday, December 7, 1999

Ringside Shadows #93: A Finals Length Tuesday Review

Hello, all. As can be judged from the title of this column, finals week has effortlessly snuck up behind me recently (as I'm told it often does), and there's a list of things I should be doing right now that's larger than Hogan's ego. Thus, I'm in hopes that a shorter Tuesday Review won't be met with too much adversity this week. Rest assured that next week, which reads 'finals' in my calendar, will allow for a much easier writing schedule. If it's a bit difficult to understand, here's the short version; the week before finals, I study. The week during.. I screw around and try to relieve stress. I should be back up to 2 columns a week, at the very least come December 26th. Plus, I'm a good ways into a history of the heel in our sport, to be posted at better newsboards everywhere within another week or two. That one will eventually see a follow-up examining the heel's role in wrestling today. But enough about me..

Again, we're met with a rut in the business we'd all like to call home. Both programs fulfilled our need for good matwork in certain segments, our weekly dose of 'blow' in larger quantities, and an hour's worth of mic time. That said, both programs had fresh men involved in huge storylines (Jericho and Snow in the main event, Benoit kicking the snot out of the Outsiders), some nice work in the midcard, a load of shit or two, and several spots that just demand a rolling of the eyes. But I'm getting ahead of myself


Though he's gone from beating women to beating announcers, I have to say I'm very pleased with the progress and elevation of Jeff Jarrett since his return to WCW. Sure, he hasn't won any of the high-profile matchups, but he's been there. He's feuding with Goldberg, Hart, Benoit, etc. Sooner or later, things can and will turn around for the pissed off country boy, and it's nice to see him in the role he's deserved for some time now. I suppose if he couldn't go over Austin, the next best thing would be Goldberg. Bravo.

Let's just get it out of the way... the following moments sucked ass, and deserve a spot in the books of anus; Curly Bill's new name (as if it wasn't obvious who they were imitating the first time). Brian Knobbs. The hardcore match (Smiley is a competant wrestler.. the screaming gimmick was great for a couple weeks but now borders on annoyance, and hardcore matches of this type are generally saved for sloppy technicians). Every predictable moment of the "Italian Boys" skits. A match that featured a musician, an over-the hill wrestler of old, an over-the-hill writer and a decent worker who should've jumped ship when he got the chance (Seriously, when the rumors were spiraling about Vampiro's jumping ship to ECW I stated that he was better suited in his current role with WCW. I've since changed my mind.) Jerry Flynn. ('The Block' continued to prove how invaluable Mick Foley was to hardcore.. without anyone near his level, you get.. this.)

Who would've thought the 'books of anus' would run through 2 paragraphs? Still, the horror continues; Ass-yuh vs. Midnight (if I had any interest in seeing these two, I'd be a much larger fan of women's bodybuilding right now). Roddy Piper's push (as the last old timer currently spitting on the upper midcard, Piper's artificial hip is older than half the roster. Send him out to pasture while I still have a memory worth keeping... please). Heenan's completely oblivious attitude towards wrestling history (claiming Hall had "never lost a ladder match".. forget what many consider to be the greatest match of all time much?). Mercifully putting these paragraphs to rest, finally stealing not one (JR), not two (Shane), not three (Jarrett/Big Shot), but four (The referee strike) of the WWF's past gimmicks/angles in one evening.

To counter that, David Flair has become interesting as hell of late. His 'psycho' gimmick is the stuff of genius, and he plays the role beyond perfectly. Suddenly the son of the true great one has discovered charisma, a nice gimmick, and crowd interest. Plus, his selling of DDP's diamond cutter last night was top-f'n-notch! Truly an outstanding job, even outdoing his father's sale of the same move several months ago. If he's been spending all this time in the power plant working on his game, we could be seeing the dawn of an eventual star.Then again, if he comes out with the same old 12-move arsenal, this whole angle could go down the tubes in a hurry.

Liz didn't want anything to do with Luger until the split second he mentioned the champagne in his hands. That bloody lush.. I don't blame her and neither does Spence.

For the second straight week, I was let down by both the booking and performance of the Jushin Lyger match. Mere minutes into the clash, Buzzkill made another unnecessarily long appearance, though it was kept to a one-shot. My nerves on edge from the possibility of more of his commentary, I was let down by the potential ***** match that transgressed into a few unenthusiastic spots and a pinfall from out of the blue. At the very least, the right man won.. but I find myself wondering; did these two hold themselves back from the classic at hand because they were worried that an American audience wouldn't respond well to their more familiar, foreign styles? Just a little food for thought.

The near-ECW style de-emphasis of the World Title slightly bothers me. I dare say if Goldberg carried the belt, it would be defended in the main event of the evening, rarely, and they'd make it to be a much larger deal than they do now. Don't get me wrong, I'm not lobbing any sour grapes (well.. a few), nor do I have anything against Goldberg himself. It pains me to see Bret Hart lowered a notch after finally reaching the level he's deserved for 2 years. It was nice seeing big, bad Luger struggle with those silly pull-apart pants though.

Hooty fuckin' hoo! La Parka has found a role!! Words cannot describe how pleased I was at that moment. It neared the levels that I found in the opposite direction earlier in the day, unhappily discovering the "La Parka strut" was left off the taunt list of WWF 2000.

It was a 'lesser of two evils' match, as Curt Hennig took on Larry Zbyszko. If lethal Larry took a win home, the powers that be would leave town for good (Sh'yea).. if not, we'd have to find a way to live without his atrocious announcing skills on Thunder. Here's hoping the role goes to Scott Hudson, Terry Taylor or Mark Madden. The funny thing is; Zbyszko and Hennig took to the ring like the world was on fire (26 days too early boys), putting on one hell of a display that pretty much blew everything else out of the water. Between Hennig's offensive mastery, Zbyszko's flawless selling, and both men's technical expertise, we had a diamond in the rough for a couple minutes. Then they both blew up and the overbooking commenced.

Chris Benoit went over clean on Kevin Nash. As the match ended, Nash tapped and the ref called for the bell before Hall interfered. Thoughts like that make me sleep much easier. Throughout the match, Benoit sold Nash's offense as though he were running repeatedly into a mountain, systematically broke down the big man's legs (that's called psychology, kids.) and effectively carried the former world champion to his best match since his clash with Hart back in the WWF. Later in the night, Nash mockingly limped out to the ring, but then began walking normally suddenly, a sneer on his face. That means he knows what the word 'selling' means, he just doesn't care to do it. Fine. He just shouldn't expect the Crippler to sell his piss-poor powerbomb either. If he tried it again, I'd expect Chris to stiff him so fierce he'd have no choice but to sell. And it's nice to see Sid has suddenly befriended the wolverine.
Overall Grade: C-

The bad slightly outweighed the good here, as the 2 paragraphs of explanations can safely say. Meanwhile, I ran long-winded yet again (surprise).. it's time for


We started things off with a match, meaning a long interview is a lock for segment number 2. The New Age Outlaws (still faces in their minds and actions) met Too Cool, and for whatever reason, I sensed a title change in this. Sure enough, the two largest tools in the profession had the thing wrapped up before the Hollys screwed it all up. As of this moment, no decision was released as to the winners, since the Hollys' music played into the next segment. I love Too Cool.. between the names (grandmasta sexay??), the outfits (Christopher's goggles are hysterical), the ring garb, the talent and the charisma, what's not to love? Still, I was hoping to see the real tag division take off with a win here. All the stupendous talent in the tag team ranks right now, and the belts are around the waists of the Outlaws? And they're taking on Rock & Sock?!

The best feud in wrestling continued this week, further expanding and defining the tension between Al Snow, Mankind and The Rock. Snow still isn't playing a heel character, which just serves to get him further over as one. Turning on Mankind wasn't something I'd have done (they could have toyed with his affections a bit more before that.. maybe even forcing him to choose between the two in a 3-way and teasing another Rock&Sock breakup), but I didn't see it coming either. The introduction of Jericho is ideal and caught me completely on the blind side. When I saw Snow strike the Y2J pose moments before the countdown, a wry smile crept onto my face. Yes. This is how it should be done. As the master manipulator, Jericho can find a way to tie this all together seamlessly and then some. He can pick up the slack in the ring left by the Rock and an aging Mankind. I even dreamed up an angle that sees Snow and Y2J joining DX, with Jericho playing the role Rocky made famous in his stint with the NOD. No matter where this goes, it's gonna be good.

Val and D'Lo quietly put on a nice match, easily the best of the WWF's evening. It really is too bad they couldn't have ended this cleanly, though it should be a great one at Armageddon. D'Lo's explosive offense, Val's mixture of high flying and matwork, and Davey Boy's psychology and work tying things together should provide a sleeper for match of the evening there, as well. Of note; my roommate pronounces D'Lo with the emphasis on the "Lo". It makes him sound like a gimp.

After several weeks, the Mae Young telephone conversations came to an end last night... Big Cheez wasn't in, but his answering machine did yield an uttering of "I love Mae Young". Meanwhile, I was surprised by Prince Albert's work on Raw. He's far from a Mitsuharu Misawa, but he's no Bossman, either. Given another couple years in a wrestling promotion, he could be something.

I can reasonably understand giving HHH 5 minutes to convey his point last night. Even 10 minutes wouldn't have been completely unreasonable, as he did have a variety of topics to cover, but going nearly half an hour is just unacceptable. That's half of the all-important third hour gone to waste. I'm sure it'll draw huge numbers in the ratings, as it was only opposed by an f'n Chris Benoit match, but that's no excuse. I had a vague interest in the angle right up to this, and most of the heat I had for it has now frozen over, been baked, served and eaten. This was so weak, I could go on for half an hour myself listing reasons why it should've been cut down and shown in segments.. but I won't. I'd rather keep what readers remain. Of note was the censors' efforts to keep my roommate and I entertained during it though, with their multiple failed attempts at bleeping the word 'slut'. It was great, realizing how slow their reaction time had become.. I think they managed to hack out every word BUT the fateful 'slut'. Anyway..

The WWF's newest acquisition, Barbara Bush, was backstage.. using more makeup on her chest than most women use on their face in a month. I suppose I'm the only one that doesn't find much about her to be attractive, aren't I? I'll go for a real woman like Stephanie McMahon or my girlfriend long before I'll go for a plastic, fake piece of stank like that. As for Ms. Kitty, though.. holy goodness. She gives me a reaction usually saved for kegs.. I'd like to tap that..

Hey, remember the mid-90's? The WWF's worst financial years in... well, ever? Yeah, look who their legit challenger for Kevin Nash's World Title (cough) was.. A fella by the name of "King Mabel", who we know today as the lardball Viscera. Do they really want to walk that long, lonely road again? Plus, I couldn't live with myself if I didn't mention the Big Show's dropkick from the top rope. Or should I call it a... "jumping sit attack from up top"? Because that's what he did. Maybe I should just be honest and call it "ugly".
Overall Grade: C+

I commented on what became the main event further up in the review, explaining its absense here. The evening had some very nice developments, and focused on the best reason to get excited about North American wrestling today, Al Snow's current angle. However, it lost major points for letting the HHH ordeal go on so long, and for its weak list of challengers for the Big Show's world belt.

And as for me, it's back to the books with a little Wrestlemania 2000.. easily the most addictively original game ever put together. Everything I read about this couldn't do anything to prepare me for it.. the gameplay's just as good as Revenge, with a few bugs worked out, and the create function is simply unbelievable. You choose from nearly 150 in-ring moves! It took me almost 4 hours to finish my wrestler! Amazing! I've already taken part in a monumental occasion that saw me (going by the name 'chimpanzee') deliver a diving headbutt from the top to Paul Bearer's ass. And, through some freak act of nature, his forehead started bleeding. More on this later, and look for my aforementioned post regarding heels, it should be a good one.
until then, i remain

Tuesday, November 30, 1999

Ringside Shadows #92: The Tuesday Review

The influx of reactions has already begun. I signed on last night, already groggy from Ny-Quil, about an hour and a half post-IWGP Jr-mortem, and was greeted by half a dozen e-mails and IMs calling the evening's programming everything from stupendous (what up Bill..) to the worst evening in pro wrestling history (and what up to Dale..). Honestly, I can't really argue with either... but personally, I thought the evening was decent.

I know, I've usually got something stuck up my ass regarding the state of the industry in North America today, the lack of workrate, the elevation of inferior talent, the tarnishing of a once-enjoyable athletic event. Was I upset with Jushin "Thunder" Lyger's treatment on last night's Nitro? You're damned right I was. Did I find anything worthy of TV time during the Test / Stephanie fiasco? Hell no. However, what I did see was several worthwhile matches on both Nitro and Raw, with the Benoit / Jarrett / Sting three-way on Nitro (accompanied by Bret Hart's discovery of a watchable match in Meng) and a pretty enjoyable (if short) Matt Hardy / Edge contest on Raw. In short, there was plenty to enjoy, along with the usual meaty chunk of suck for old time's sake. There was something for everybody to complain about. Let's start it off with:


On paper it looked watchable, as the poor workers were for the most part paired off with a decent or better counterpart. The evening wouldn't be housing any 5* matches, but it could give us another step up from the pits of the last few months. A tasteful salute to Hiro Matsuda, though I'm sure none of the fans watching knew who in god's name he was. In short, he's responsible for training the strongest and most popular workers of the 80's and early 90's in Hulk Hogan, Paul Orndorf and Lex Luger. Not an exceptional listing of workrate machines (well.. Orndorff was damned good), but definately an impressive collection of physical specimens.. which was Matsuda's bread and butter.

As Goldberg's gentle touch calmed and soothed a microphone, he managed to spit out a couple soothing phrases, including "Tonight, you won't be entertaining the fans". Not especially a phrase I'd incorporate on a program that seems to be shooting more for the 'entertainment' crowd than the 'sports' anymore. Still, the big man's vocal improvement is notable and he's playing with the idea of audience participation as well. Enter: the Outsiders and Sid, and the segment nears crowded. WCW Security took care of that, in the inimitable fashion only the men in the yellow.. er... black shirts can.

I wonder if the "Powers" noticed Buff's blown finisher last night, or his near-complete lack of... well.. anything redeemable. Probably not. In order for a move to be credibly assigned as your finisher, you need to demonstrate a mastery of it, as though you've been doing it for years. Missing your opponent entirely doesn't exactly enhance the image. Also of note; Booker T was taken out of the match by... his own axe kick? He nailed one member of the Blu Twins with a signature move of his own, but then feigned injury until after the match's finish. "Hey, don't look at me.. I just book this."

I think the bellow of happiness that emanated from my apartment around the 8:30 hour was loud enough to be heard 'round the world. This was around the time my roommate and I discovered Jushin Lyger would be facing Juventud Guerrera in a potential epic later in the program, rather than a silly Lyger/Evan Karagias blow-fest, which is what I was expecting.

I think Matt Spence and I are among the half-dozen vocal fans of Fit Finlay in North America. What the man has achieved is phenominal, and rivals the Bulldog's injury in its severity. Yet, he's come back (with a mean-assed scar, to boot) as strong as ever in half the time it took Davey Boy. A couple months ago doctors doubted his ability to walk again. To be even near the ring, let alone inside of it.. kicking, punching and all around dominating... is worthy of respect, if nothing else. And hey! He erased what may have been the ugliest man in WCW. Quoth Knobbs (who was graciously taken from our view for the rest of the night); "I am a hardcore soldier.... of war." Folks, the mic doesn't get much better play than that.

I'm still in shock from the mockery that was the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight championship match last night. You have, arguably, two of the most spectacular workers ever to step between the ropes in Juventud Guerrera and Jushin Lyger. You have the most coveted Jr. belt in the world. You have a TV audience of several million. How does one steer wrong with such a flawless recipe? Throw in "buzzkill", the latest waste-of-a-gimmick on Brad Armstrong (whose name is ironically appropriate). Not only does he steal the camera's attention during the most anticipated segment of the evening (well, for me anyway).. but he ruins the match by "calling" it in tripped-out hippie fashion, diverts the attention of the easily-amused announcers away from the action at hand, and 'distracts' Lyger into hands-down the most disgraceful moment in the history of the IWGP Jr. division. To see a belt so rich in tradition change hands in such a manner.. well, I'm really glad it wasn't Karagias. At least this way we've the potential of good match within the next month, when Lyger regains the belt.

Well, let's see if I can't pick up again.. this was the point at which I had last saved before my computer up and erased the rest of the Nitro review I'd written.. technology is such a blast.

Chavo Guerrero, Jr. was enjoyable in his role as the new backstage interviewer.. as a worker with a historical problem getting over, Chavo may finally start to go somewhere if this catches on, as comedy is truly his forte. Especially entertaining was his segment with the Nitro Girls backstage, nonchelant until the end. Perhaps this time he can see elevation without Pepe, his wooden horse.

Honestly, I'm still not sure if the Revolution was serious about their new names. The segment was just starting to garner some heat when Malenko wandered onto that. Saturn tried to save the segment with his "moron" gimmick, and did fairly well before Duggan made an appearance in the role he was born to play. I loathe the thought of seeing him back in the ring, but he received the pop of his career last night, and it's still nice to see him healthy.

Scott Hall surprised me by lifting Sid into the Outsider's Edge, with no help from the big man whatsoever. Afterwards, Sid hit one of his gentle chokeslams.. which sent my mind on a journey into the past. Remember when Sid's chokeslams looked like they could kill an African Elephant? It's a long time ago, I know, but pre-Wrestlemania VIII, they were devestating. Just an observation, I suppose. Meanwhile, backstage, Juventud moved forward the angle I really hope we don't see...

If nothing else, last night proved we haven't seen the last of the old Bret Hart, as he carried "The 'fro that lives", Meng to a nice little match. It's nice to see the fire lit back under the Hitman, which we haven't seen since his arrival 2 years ago. Despite the prerequisite of overbooking, I could swallow this one.. especially after watching Nash cower off in a hurry after several stiff as hell Benoit kendo stick shots.

The three-way for the #1 contendership was quite good, as well. Benoit came out and took one of the nastiest Stinger Splashes ever, Jarrett held his tremendous recent form, and Sting was... Sting. Even though I didn't recognize him, I was pleasantly surprised to see Dustin Rhodes' interference, giving Chris Benoit another chance at the world title. Though several have complained Benoit's match quality is dropping while his rank raises, all I need is a match like this one every week to keep me happy. Plus, even after he loses the inevitable World Title shot, there are several notable feuds on the horizon. He's barely scratched the surface with Jarrett and Hart.. another run with Hall or Eddy Guerrero would be worthwhile.. Booker T could jump start a renewal of their old TV strap feud.. Hey, even another series with Malenko is worth shouting about. I'm pleased to see where he is today.

While his interviews have taken steps in the past months, Goldberg's selling has gone more the other way. Hall and Nash pounded on him for several minutes, and during the moment's rest Big Bill came out almost refreshed. That's not intensity, nor is it toughness. That's just stupid. Post-match, I was awaiting the Bret Hart turn that seemed destined to happen at some point in the evening. Hart was holding a chair, unopposed in the ring as Goldberg finished off Nash. Could they set the table any more obviously? Yet still, Hart remains face.. I was surprised again.

I don't have much to say about the mud match, except there were fewer rolls on my Thanksgiving dinner table than there were in the kiddie pool here..

When I first caught a glimpse of Curt Hennig, I thought about what a nice angle this could turn out to be. His turn was done quite well, though I would've left him face a bit longer, and definitely had the audience's attention. I'd already thought of a role similar to that of the late Rick Rude, an enforcer outside the ring that everybody would love to see active back between the ropes.. but I guess that would involve too much development, as we deal with a 2 week "retirement" in its stead. During his match with Midnight, he occupied himself by slapping her breast... multiple times.. as Stevie Ray was slow on his run in. That's an awful long way to fall in one night.

Back into the mud, we go.. I guess a mud match is like the slip-n-slide in a way, since it's only broken out once a year and we make the most of it when it's available? It was fun watching Liz eat the entryway... hard.. on her way out, but otherwise I could live without it.

If there were maybe one fewer participant in the main event, things wouldn't have been such a mess. As is, it suffered from the same affliction that traditionally struck the former "World War III" PPV.. too much action, not enough space to provide a competant report. The only hope was to have a spotty, well paced match that would allow cameras enough time to segue between the spots freely. However, with Goldberg, Nash and Sid in the picture, you can throw that right out the window. Jarrett came out looking strong again, while keeping his name in the hat for a main event slot. He took some nice bumps, to boot. Meanwhile, Benoit pulled out his second pinfall victory of the night (!), as well as another giganta balls-like headbutt from the cage. Unbelievable.
Overall Grade: C+

I just couldn't bring myself to giving this one a 'B', thanks in large part to the mock boiler room match. Sure there was plenty of Campbell's Chunky Suck on Nitro but there was also an equally, if not greater, section filled with tasty morsels. And hey, any card that sees Benoit pushed through the stratosphere and Bret Hart as champion can't be all bad, right? The important thing now is to cut back on the damned gimmick matches... if I saw one more last night I'd have projectile-vomited onto the set. I actually expected good old Russo to come out with "Juvi, we've got the perfect match for you... a flaming aborted fetus match! It'll be great, there'll be dead babies en flambe, hanging from the ropes and stuff... RATINGS! RATINGS! That's draw." Or... maybe not.


A couple weeks ago, I wasn't sure The Big Show would be holding on to the belt beyond the next PPV.. now, I'm not even sure he'll be holding on to it for another week. His audience reaction was pitiful, a world apart from the monstrous pop he managed only one month ago. Honestly, looking back, was this angle with the Bossman as helpful as anticipated, and worth the tongue lashings in the press, internet and competition? I'd be led to believe not.. At any rate, this was a less than suitable opener for Raw and the only time we'd be seeing the quickly-alienated WWF champion in the evening.. though Tori sold the backspin kick like a champ.

HHH is worthwhile on the mic, but nobody.. allow me to repeat.. nobody needs a 20-minute lead off interview. The leader of DX floudered along after several minutes, and stuck to the same point.. though the random insertion of "disco music" was appreciated (what was that all about, anyway?). My roommate was quick to point out that a 'Temporary Order Of Protection' spells "TOOP", not "TOP". He then followed up that "backwards, it would be POOT!" This is a prime example of the discussions that go on in the apartment hereabouts..

Having just watched another highlight reel from the Hardys/Edge and Christian ladder match (the salvagable section of that "WWF's Best" program that just aired), I move on to the Matt Hardy / Edge matchup from last night, which.. wasn't comparable. Seeing as how I had to compare it to a definite match of the year candidate in order to cut it down to size should give you some inclination as to how good this one was. As opposed to the X-Pac / Jeff letdown last week, this came closer to a good delivery and was given ample time to develop as its own match. No matter how often I'm told and shown that Jeff is the good one, I'm always equally as impressed with his brother. The bump he took over the top rope into the camera was sweet, and the spear finish looked good from its initial angle. Easily the best match on Raw, and the audience was into it. You can't ask for much more than that.

I'd thought JR had announced a Chyna / Jericho match for Raw, later in the program. Apparantly I misinterpreted him, as instead we're treated to this little shindig. I wonder; could Jericho look much weaker?

If you'd like to know the truth, the Godfather character is a complete abuse of everything you can get away with on cable TV. Call me old fashioned, but if I were a parent, and my child were watching a pimp with whores, promoting the lifestyle and the use of illegal drugs, I might question the show's content as well.. Throw in the fact that he's anything but a decent worker, and you have prime material for the cutting room floor.

True conversations from the Muncie, Indiana telephone lines:
Caller 1: "Hello?"
Caller 2: "Did I just see what I think I saw?"
1: "I think so, yes."
2: "I just saw Mae Young doing crotch chops.. on national television."
1: "Yes. I think I'm in love."
2: "Oh, there's no doubt. I love Mae Young"

Caller #1 was my buddy from the dorms, Big Cheez.. Caller 2, myself. Thank you.

Well, the Too Cool / Hollys match was about as short as they come.. I was looking forward to a nice tag match between two of the reasons the WWF's tag scene is so good today.. yet, Bob was never even in action.

Test hit his beautiful gut-wrench suplex, and completely schooled whoever attempted it on Nitro. Call me a hypocrite, but your arsenal could consist of those two moves and I'd come back for an encore. Near the end of the match, my predictions as to who was behind the Vince mask were blown all to hell, as Shane came down the rampway. Perhaps a little GTV action is in order to clear up the identity of our masked referee?

Barbara Bush, huh? I don't really have a comment on that selection.

After a bit of getting used to, I've finally come around to respecting Kurt Angle. He wasn't much to look at when I was first introduced to him in a dark match at the live Heat I attended this summer, but he's certainly come a long way in the months since. Give him another couple weeks to get used to the microphone and ad-libbing for a live audience, and he'll find some real potential.

Easily the most interesting feud of the big 2 in the next few weeks looks to be the ongoing dispute between Al Snow and The Rock. One of the basic rules of writing a good story is to make the villain easy to empathize with, thus creating something of a split inside the viewers. They know who to pull for, but they can understand why the other guy's doing what he is. Unlike a DX run-in or a Val Venis random turn, the WWF writers have achieved this difficult feat with Rocky and Al.. let's hope they don't screw it up. In all honesty, I find more truth in Snow's words than I do entertainment in Rock's catchphrases, so I'm pulling for the misunderstood man with the Head.

Up until the wedding itself, both programs were running dead even in my book, and I was looking forward to marking down equal scores for the first time in the history of Ringside Shadows.. 20 minutes of utter shite and a Benoit cage dive changed all that for me. I flipped back over to Raw for the infamous "If anyone should oppose this marriage" line, where everybody knew something was going down... and nothing. The sound crew fucked up, as DX's music didn't hit until the pastor had moved on with the ceremony. Maybe they were jamming out to that disco music we were treated with earlier in the evening. At any rate, the end result was an unseen swerve. No tie to Austin's "accident", no run-ins. Just a calm demonstration of a video and some vocal threadings. Later in the night, Bill Lupo compared Helmsley's performance to HBK.. which is out of line in my book. The wedding segment was reminiscent, however vaguely, but lacked the fire and believability of a good Michaels segment. It should be interesting to see where things go from here, barring a "Loser divorces" match, with a special "Burning Fetus" gimmick.
Overall Grade: C

That should do it for me.. My girlfriend waits impatiently for me to complete this, so you'll excuse me if I'm brief as I wrap things up. I'm trying a couple different things with the format of Ringside Shadows, in an attempt to liken it to a more professional column, so let me know what you think of the slight cosmetic changes. A new banner's on the way for #100 in the next few weeks, and I should be back once more this week with a look at what makes a good heel.
until then, i remain

Tuesday, November 23, 1999

Ringside Shadows #91: The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse: A Tuesday Review for the Ages

So what's the deal... what's this "Fifth Horseman" crap? Chances are, if you've been a follower of my column in the months past you've seen more than your share of negative reviews, bitching, moaning, and all-around ragging. For every good, I can find a bad. Call it bullheadedness, call it disregard for the industry's future, I'd rather label it "criticism" and "hope". As a graphic design major, I realize the importance of learning from and improving upon your mistakes through critique. I've worked 3 months on a single project, only to see it torn to shreds by a prof with an attitude and a point. It's one of the toughest experiences anyone can be asked to withstand, and a lot of students don't make it through the first semester.

Where am I going with this...? There's a connection.

The truth of the matter is this.. a professor or employer doesn't criticize your work because he/she dislikes you, actually the opposite. Each wants to see you succeed, which in turn will lead to a success of their own.. either financially or morally. In that manner, I consider myself to be in the position of the prof and pro wrestling as a whole to be the student. I don't tear into the Monday programs without remourse just because I can.. I criticize them because I can see what they could be.. what they should be. But maybe I've been too harsh. Some time Sunday night, I was discussing the low points of the Mayhem PPV with another columnist when I suddenly asked myself; "What the hell am I doing?" Sunday's PPV was a damn good program but I looked past the solid finishes of the tournament, advancements of Booker T and Chris Benoit, and absense of older talent on the card. Instead, I complained about Bagwell's performance, about Brian Knobbs' employment, et al. Somewhere, a page turned and I realized that despite some terrible bookings, ignorant angles and absolutely piss-poor Nitros, Russo and Ferrera had intrigued me.

Why's this a Review for the Ages? Instead of sitting down in front of my television as a critic, I sat down as a fan. Monday Night.. I saw 2 programs that I enjoyed.

This one will be a bit short, however, as I'm about to leave for Pittsburgh, need to pack, and I'm expecting my new bed to arrive shortly.. I'll be back in full swing next week. At any rate...


-Nice introduction, setting up another month's worth of angles. Jarrett's main event push is a damn good idea, especially considering how he's busted his ass these past weeks. Meanwhile, Hart's interview skills still haven't met their previous high-water mark. Much as I don't want to see it, he's quite a bit better suited as a heel.

-Oh, they tried to screw things up last night.. Elizabeth in action.. a double serving of Meng.. but there was too much goodness thrown in to counteract the efforts.

-Goldberg's still got a ways to go before he's competant on the mic. He mumbled so quietly into the stick backstage that I was clueless as to what he'd just said.

-It was damned good to see Fit Finlay back last night, though the scar on his leg was horrendous. I was a bit worried he might mess himself up by returning to action so shorty, especially after seeing the muscle deterioration in his legs. Still, seeing him deliver the forward roll slam bodes well for the future. Too bad the crowd had no idea who he was..

-I liked having the Maestro's piano music continuous throughout the backstage segments.. if somebody had no idea what they were trying to say, I could always just zone out and enjoy the music..

-As the cruiserweight belt (along with Disco Inferno's pride) is drug through the mud, Saturn is given a well-deserved push. I've known for years that, given an interesting personality, this guy could tear the house down.. it looks like he's on the verge of that now. Would it have been too much to ask for Karagias to continue jobbing without the belt?

-The bookers had a field day with Wall / Vampiro. They effectively killed any heat the Berlyn/Wall breakup could've gathered by rushing through it (Ted Dibiase and Virgil were an identical predicament in the mid to late 80s, and that went on for years before it was finally completed, to much fanfare). The 'Oklahoma' mockery continued to rival Big Show/Bossman as the most disturbing angle in wrestling, and both Dr. Death AND Vampiro looked weak with the botched spin-kick over the top that stopped the insanity.

-Jarrett / Hart; thank you. A match worthy of a PPV, which I wouldn't be surprised to see before too long. Despite a dirty ending, this one was NICE.

-Kidman / Guerrero; what, are they trying to impress now? These two put on a clinic, but the audience wasn't buying. Practically a workshop of believable offense and selling here, with a little bit of psychology thrown in for good measure. A nice lead-in to a feud, but I hope we haven't seen the last of it.

-A quick note: the production quality continued to be terrible last night. Camera angles were both bad and inappropriate. And they still haven't figured out how to get all the smoke from the pyros away from the ring, giving the entire program a greyed effect.. Little pieces of that whole set WCW behind the WWF, resulting in a less professional feel.

-Now, more than ever, Meng looks like a tool. Get him a haircut, get him some pants and get him out of the ring.

-Our $2 X-Men punching bag can attest to the devastating power of Lash Leroux's finishing maneuver.. it didn't survive my first attempt.

-Instead of the sad little Nitro Girls match, why couldn't we have just been treated to a couple minutes' worth of Spice, prancing in her schoolgirl outfit and just looking sexy in general?

-Is Hennig ever gonna get another chance to play a legitimate face? Every time he finally gets the crowd behind him, he turns on them. I think this may've been the last straw in many eyes. Still, the turn was pleasantly unexpected, and meant Bagwell took punishment, so I'm all for it.

-Benoit comes out with laser lights, fog, new music, new tights, and a surprisingly bad match. Why does the best worker in the world need lasers? Sometimes I wonder if these guys get it.. and I don't mean as in the WWF's slogan. Had Benoit and Malenko been allowed to do what they do.. put on a mind-bogglingly intense technical masterpiece, I'd be dancing in the rafters shrieking "hooty hoo". Instead, we see a couple innovative moves, controversy, and a large piece of ugly that I could've done without.

-I could only groan when I heard Russo ask for Juvi, as I dread what's likely to transpire.

-Nobody even mentioned the poetry in motion that was Sting and Meng... and I think it's best left that way.

-Finally, it was actually a good call to throw Sid into the picture as a face.. though the company is now dangerously low on main event heels. Sid wasn't going anywhere fast as a heel, and a show of mutual respect tied up the loose ends in his feud with Goldberg. The match.. was ugly.. but that was to be expected.
Overall Grade: B

This one bordered on a B+, but there was enough terror to run that off. Following up one of the year's stronger PPVs, and a helluva long cry from the pathetic heap that was vomited out in Indianapolis, when I attended 2 weeks ago. There was plenty to like about this show, but then.. there was plenty to dislike as well. I figure once everything starts to click, another ratings shift may be in the cards.
And hey.. I need a room with the title "Powers that be" on the door.


-The bit with the Al Snow action figure has just run its course. The segment with Holly becoming enraged over its being pulled were funny, but I can't see that being used anywhere else without bleeding of overexposure. Then again, Vince never was one to know when to quit.

-Classic, classic "evil" McMahon.. hiding in his car with a ball bat, looking for fresh air. The comedic tension was great.. I'll take this over the Godfather any day, hoes or not.

-Kurt Angle / Mark Henry; honestly, I couldn't give a drop and a half of dirty poop water about this one, and my television sat on TNT for the duration.

-Watching Vince smash the hell out of the limo, I thought to myself.. "if I ever become a billionaire.. I'm doing that at least once." Never let it be said that Vince can't compete with Turner financially.

-Nobody says it like it is quite like Chris Jericho. His in-ring work has been sub par since coming to the WWF, but his mic work has taken strides. He's like the internet wrapped up into one.. and I love it.

-Amusing to see Edge cheesin it up with the new ring announcer, who didn't even bother to finish announcing half the competitors. Not a terrible match with the Dudleys, but no Kidman/Guerrero either. It ended with a miscalled reverse 3D, as JR plugged away at the Parents' Group trying to take them off of television.

-Speaking of the Parents' Group, I'm a bit disappointed about how the WWF has handled this 'threat'. I've always admired the way Vince & co. could take a verbal lashing from it's rivals, enemies, and former friends, yet keep their mouths shut and do what they do best... put on a good show. By even ackowledging the movement made by this group, they've opened themselves up to more ridicule and have dropped a notch in my respect. No longer are they above a little lashing of their own. JR's pre-typed message came off sounding dry, fake and insincere, as he was obviously reading it word for word from his sheet. I wouldn't have thought it to be so hard to just put it in your own words.

-Al Snow played the jealous heel while Mankind went back to his Rock n' Sock character.. that I didn't miss. Still, if it means Snow's getting a push.. bring it on. He and Foley could have some classics, and it's definately something to look forward to..

-The Mae Young wars continue.. an old friend of mine have an ongoing answering machine war, leaving the message "I love Mae Young" after the beep..

-Jeff Hardy / X-Pac was a great letdown, as these two have potential through the stratosphere.. I wonder if they're too used to working short matches anymore? Still, if a feud is on the horizon.. I'll pay to see it.

-Was anybody happy to see Viscera approaching the ring, let alone during Kane's world title shot? Yea, I didn't think so.

-Let's relive a moment from last night's RAW:

Shane: ..and not only that, but Vince has ordered that tonight..
(crowd starts to get excited) this very ring...
(crowd readies itself, eager)
Shane:.. you will be in a handicap match
(crowd pops, saving itself for the high-calibur match that's sure to be announced in seconds)
(crowd awaits it's cue to explode with unbound joy)
Shane: The ACOLYTES!
(crowd goes for a beer)

-Was I the only one who noted a more than coincidental similarity to Yokozuna in "Rikishi"'s debut? Well, aside from his dancing..

-Following the sub par main event we were already expecting, HHH took a mean dive from the stage, but we never got the camera angle to do it justice. A nice way to build the McMahon / Helmsley match next month, and a good way to end the show, to boot.
Overall Grade:B-

Almost a C+, but not quite. A bit too much of Vince for my liking, as he dominated the program with checkups at least once every segment. Still, there's some good ground laid for the future in Test, X-Pac/Jeff Hardy and Too Cool.

So much for keeping it short.. still no bed however, so it's on to..

Letters had some questions about the Mayhem preview I offered up..

"I can tell by you have no sense about how to make money in US wrestling. First off you say that your biggest star shouldn't be in the main event of your biggest PPV of the year,WTF? Who should Goldberg be wrestling then Nash Again?Sid again? Hall again?. Give me a break. You always talk about how the fans want somebody as champion and to give them what they want. The fans want Goldberg as champion so what better way to give it to him then at Starcade oh yeah I forgot its because Souled out is more important."

Honestly, I wasn't offering an opinion on what would make money.. rather, what I would like to see. A deciding factor behind my endorsing a World Title Tourney rematch for Starrcade is because I don't want to see Bret Hart with a one month title reign after 2 years of disrespect, nor do I look forward to seeing a run-in during the main event of WCW's biggest PPV (the only alternative to a one month reign, as Goldberg won't be jobbing again). At this point, I'm gonna have to see how the hype the Starrcade match before I'd like to comment further. You do have a point though, that a good majority of fans would like to see Goldberg with the belt.. just not in Canada.

He goes on to say...

"Then you say that Chris Fucking Benoit should win the world title. Chris Benoit? A guy that if he makes it to the finals is only there because the PPV is in home country. Oh yeah I forget even though him and Bret Hart combined have about a fifth of Goldberg's heat they do have the all so important "workrate." You know what I say about that? fuck workrate. I have been watching wrestling for 13 years and I now or never will ever care about workrate and neither will many other "wrestling" fans. Well thats all I have to say,I had to point out a couple of things about your post,Peace."

In this case, I was looking for the most exciting finish to what ended up to be an anticlimactic main event. WCW is hurting for main event heels right now, with Sid turning face. Once Benoit has reached the upper echelon of the WCW elite (which I believe he did Sunday night), a heel turn would give him the unenviable role of lead heel for the promotion. What better way to turn him mean heel than to turn him on Bret Hart, at home, 2 years after Bret was last screwed out of a World Title? Fans would be screaming for Benoit's head on a stick both here and up North, and we'd have one helluva mean heel champion heading into WCW's "grand daddy" PPV, not to mention the momentum and excitement to possibly send them over the top in their war against the WWF. Incidentally, I don't believe for a second that Benoit made it to the finals because it was in his home country. Russo and Ferrera are admittedly high on the Crippler (as can be evidenced by his new, "improved" entrance of last night), and he was the most obvious in his bracket to advance. Malenko's not near main event, unfortunately.. Madusa? No. Scott Hall? Had a chance, but he's never really been perceived as anything but "the guy who turned in some ladder matches with Shawn Michaels", not to mention is unreliable. Benoit was the only logical choice. As for your assesment of audience reaction.. it all depends on the area. Everywhere but a chunk of the US, Goldberg is booed out of the arena while Benoit and Hart are respected for what they've done. All 3 are over heavy in the US, and I'd go with a combination of workrate and popularity when selecting my main eventers.

Thanks for writing, I love a good debate.

Closing out, Frank ( finds his way onto the post with an ungodly amount of brownnosing:

"Just wanted to say that I enjoy your columns more than anyone's in the Oratory, and it damn near killed me when the Big3 went down for about a week. Your Benoit theory is exactly what I've been hoping for for a few weeks. Hopefully it all pans out. Although, I don't think you can really go wrong with any of the four guys left. Well, in closing let me just say, I live for the Tuesday Reviews. Gawd, I'm such a mark for you...Heeeeeey, I'm a drq mrq! Whooo!!"

Not much I can say to that, except thanks. "Drq Mrq" has a nice feel to it.. heh.

Anyway, I'm off for the week. I'll catch everyone next time.
until then, i remain