Tuesday, September 28, 1999

Ringside Shadows #74: The Tuesday Review

I suppose it was too much to ask... Two programs the caliber of which we saw during last week's Monday wars. For once, the old excitement was back. Both shows were neck and neck, and seemed to have the old spark that had been missing for so long. I'd thought the ratings might become something interesting again. Alas; no such luck.
Don't get me wrong.. I'm not saying that one show was superior in comparison to the other. No, this week the shows were more equal than ever. What I'm noting is the lack of energy in last night's programming. Sure, both shows had some decent matches.. but both shows also made a lot of mistakes. On Nitro, seeing Juvi/Malenko was brilliant. Giving them 5 minutes to work wasn't. On Raw, it's always good to see Jericho in the ring. Ending his match with a near-squash within a minute and a half isn't. Both of my favorite superstars were in action.. against two men I'd rather see following a horse-drawn carriage with a bucket (Benoit/Miller, D'Lo/Blackman).

It's really a shame. We could've had something again. But I'm getting ahead of myself


-I wonder how over Hogan really thinks he is? The whole intro bit with the kids would've worked when he was popular.. something like 10 years ago. Sting ended up looking like a goon too,with his little "can I have your autograph too, Hulkster?" bit. Silly... silly..

-OK.. let's see how natural this progression looks.. You're feuding with Sid. You move on to a short feud with Rick Steiner. A World title match with Sting, and one week later a match with Ernest Miller?!

-Not only is it damaging to even involve yourself with the curse that is Ernest Miller, but to give him the majority of the offense? What a complete and total waste. "The Cat" went through his arsenal nearly a dozen times in this match, and in this case.. repetition does NOT mean excellence. Is anybody a fan of that sad little attempt at a People's Elbow variation? Give me a break.. If you want to act like that, toss your resume over to the WWF. See how fast your ass is out the door. The only thing that could've made this match watchable would have been a Benoit-dominated encounter, giving the Cat a chance to show us his selling. Still.. it felt good to see the Crippler deliver those chops.

-So much for rumors of Vampiro's push.. Bagwell must've decided he's above the Mexican-superstar's finisher, as he was back on his feet moments after it's delivery. Sloppy, self-serving ass like that is still what's tearing WCW down. Until somebody takes charge and makes a stand, it's gonna continue.. and get worse. Still; I understand putting Buff over in his hometown. He was monster over.

-Here I was, thinking the devil's whispering into Fat Tony's ear was just a lead-in to the ridiculous Lex Lu-..I mean..Total Package skit. Apparantly they're taking the butt-covered path with more than one angle. I've a solution for Schiavone's unpopularity.. Constantly insert bizarre comments from that voice into his headset.. ("Tony...goat cheese, Tony.. goat cheese. Think about it.." repeatedly should do). That way, our favorite portly announcer will go the way of the insane, and might actually make some sense for once.

-Uhhh.. just what was the Luger clip supposed to tell us..? And was it me, or was Schiavone salivating a bit much during the post-mortem flexing ceremony? "The deltoids.. the pectorals.. the luscious, glimmering hamstrings.. the glorious, edible biceps...achh!"

-If you didn't enjoy the Malenko / Rey match, I don't know what you're watching for. Though I blinked and missed half of it, the match was just unbelievable and stands for the whole reason I watch today. Meanwhile, the announcers display about every method in the book of avoiding conversation about the match at hand. They utelized everything from mentioning matches further in the card to cutting away to Sid and Steiner arriving in their P.O.S. If you didn't know that car wouldn't make it through the night, something's seriously wrong with you.

-This will more than likely make me an outcast in my community, but I enjoy seeing Goldberg on the set. He's cut some decent promos of late (remember the rumors that would swirl around his inability to speak in public?), and never fails to get a crowd into it. His ringwork is steadily improving, as is his endurance, and he's got "the look". The only things he's got going against him are inexperience, nagging injuries, and a near-complete negative image on the internet. He's proven himself as his own man, and not "just an Austin knock-off" as was commonly uttered in his early matches, and I think he's among the few deserving WCW main eventers.

-Berlyn still hasn't taken one cleanly, showing WCW bookers are heavily studying the book of "How to kill a gimmick in 4 easy steps". Somebody get that man some tan-cream.

-You know, it's sad when it's more entertaining to watch the morons behind Schiavone and Heenan than it is to watch a match. If Nitro had any hopes of claiming a ratings victory, they tossed them right out the window by giving us Harlem Heat / Rednecks back to back with Rick Steiner / Van Hammer. Who do they honestly expect to watch that filth? Of the 6 men involved, ONE is salvagable.. and they're killing him by teaming himn with his terrible waste of a brother.

-Candidate for sign of the year, with an explanation of "DFG" as "Dog Faced Gimp".

-Good to see Bret announce his complete return, as a face no less (though I'm not holding my breath). I'm not sure if he meant Hogan was the Elvis of wrestling to be a compliment (the king) or an insult (outdated, out-of-shape, should've died on the toilet years ago). The short angle he worked with Flair upon his arrival at WCW was nice, and I thought it ended a bit prematurely. I'd like to see these two go at it again sometime, but they work well as a team also.

-Torrie with Kidman? If it means we get to see her without seeing David, count me in..

-Just when I thought the Animals/Revolution feud can't get any better, a couple more damned good workers come out of the woodwork. A stable with Juvi, Psychosis, Chavo and Silver King (though I would've preferred Disco Inferno), all men who have had trouble getting over on their own, is a great idea. If the crowd latches onto these guys, all will be right in the world.

-DDP wasn't really saying much by praising the total number of championships on his team for last night. Between DDP's 2, Luger's 3, and Sting's 9.. that makes 14. The same number that Ric Flair alone has held.

-I'm speechless regarding the Psychosis / Kidman match. (well.. not speechless per se..) Pure beauty, booked to a "t" with Kidman's kick-outs from 3 finishers. It bordered on overbooked, but in the end served to elevate Kidman stupendously. Good job by the WCW execs in teasing a swerve, with the barber at ringside. I'm a bit disappointed we didn't get to see Psychosis' face, and I'd thought his hair was a wig.. so that came as a surprise too. One helluva match, and a good placement as the lead-in to the main event.

-Sting is still working as a face, and the crowd still reacts to him as one. Something's wrong here.. So what the hell does the silly little insignia on luger's shorts stand for? The 'M' with a dot above it, and a circle around? Maybe I'm not as knowledgable about Urban Legends as I'd thought.. I suppose that stands for "Bodybuilder-turned wrestler, who died.. watched his own burial as a ghost (with a shadow.. I didn't know ghosts had shadows..), came back within about a minute, and now wants to be called a descriptive noun". It's catchy.. it's got a good beat.. and I can dance to it.

-You had to know Hogan was coming out.. still, I wonder why nobody went after his knee? You've got 3 guys.. surely somebody can take him out with a tackle before he nails everybody.
Overall Grade: C

A "C", meaning average. Tonight's show was average.. it had a few notable high spots, and several forgettable low spots. It demonstrates how dire a straits the profession is in nowadays, when a show like we saw last night is considered average.


-When I saw Mankind toting the thing in the black cover, I thought he'd brought a Brahma Bull along with him. Maybe then Blackman would've had something to do..

-What was up with the censors screwing up last night? It was rather humorous.. quotes like "I'll tell you what, you son of a bi'll tell you.. son. Is what." were to be found everywhere. I rather enjoyed it, personally.. among the few things I could enjoy about last night's Raw.

-In a night that would go on to surprise me with word usage again, Jericho got away with calling Paul Wight a "waste of sperm". I guess I'm still used to the Jericho I saw in WCW, but I always thought of his humor as more of a clean act. Just another example of the WWF changing people, I guess. The match itself went worlds towards killing Jericho as a contender in the near future. Wight had him put away in what.. a mintue? Maybe 2?

-You know what I think's funny? People who type '@$$'. I remember the days when such thinly-veiled profanity was the only option.

-If I were an athlete in the WWF, I'd just jog out week after week and bitch at Vince McMahon about getting a World Title shot.. it always seems to work for Austin.

-It's never been illegal to use foreign objects outside of the ring in the past.. why is it so bad now? It's called 'continuity'. Try some, you'll like it. Meanwhile.. Blackman showed us what all those tools who jump the rail, trying to get into the ring, have done wrong. If you wanna beat WWF security.. get yourself a kendo stick.

-The Rock / Mankind bit was hilarious and all... (I can't believe Rocky got away with saying "poontang" on television.. twice.) but it belongs on Comedy Central, NOT Raw. The fact that they gave this over half an hour served as a slap in the face to everyone looking for entertaining wrestling anymore.

-Suddenly, X-Pac is content being the little guy who takes all the punishment again. Toss another angle out the window..

-I've seen it misspelled a couple times now, so I'll take the liberty to correct it: it's "the Fabulous Moolah".. as in cash.. money.. not "Mula". If you witnessed anything during the rock-n-wrestling fad of the 80s, (not to mention the cartoon!) you remember this vividly. Still.. there's no way these ladies should've been in an evening gown match. I'm confused.. did Moolah win the title, or was this a non-title match?

-Mega points for the camera angle during the Kitty/Debra catfight! If only they'd stayed on the mat a bit longer.. Yum.

-I wasn't all that impressed with Rocky/HHH XXXVI. It was a bit of a step down from their previous encounters, though the excitement was definately there for the finish. I'm not sure if Austin just wanted to fight the Rock again, didn't like HHH that much, or actually sided with the Rock.. there wasn't a real motive for his delivering the stunner. Questionable booking, and I doubt anybody thought Rocky would take the belt on this night.
Overall Grade: D+

A generally bad Raw gets major points knocked off for including the Rocky/Mankind segment, which took up one QUARTER of their damned product! There's something seriously wrong with that. Things are looking worse and worse for the WWF.

I'll be back some time tomorrow, probably, to answer a bit of mail... so...
until then, i remain

Friday, September 24, 1999

Ringside Shadows #73: The World's First WWF Unforgiven Preview

Well well, I'm riding on a wave of pleasure right now, after seeing ECW's scoping out Indianapolis as a possibility for their November to Remember PPV. Good to see we're not completely left out of the Big 3 PPV circuit.. the last time we had this possibility was... well, ECW again. Indy was set to be the home of Heatwave '98, but the location was shifted at the last second, thanks to the damned NASCAR race they put on once a year in this area. Personally, I'd rather have watched the best athletes in North America work their best card of the year than seen a bunch of cars drive around in a big circle. Takes all kinds, I suppose..

Anyway, getting to the point..
I thought nothing could bring me down from this high, but then I took a peek at the card for the upcoming WWF PPV.

About 6 months ago, this one might've looked better to me.. though I doubt it. Most of these feuds have gone on for that long. As is, we've got 8 matches (9, counting the unofficial Brood match)... 1 of which (Shamrock / Jericho, and again.. the unofficial Brood match) seems interesting, promising, and worthy of the $40 hole they bite in your pocketbook.

Keeping that in mind, I've chosen not to purchase this one.. so let's just get on with it:

The Rock v. Mankind v. The British Bulldog v. Kane v. HHH v. Paul Wight
"6 Pack" Main event, for the WWF Title with special 'enforcer' Steve Austin

You know, I just recently checked out some of Austin's old WCW work in the form of Spring Stampede '94. "Stunning" Steve took on the Great Muta in what could've been one helluva matchup, but it came out looking like ass. Maybe I drank some bad booze that eve, but both men seemed to be shadows of their future and former selves. Anyway, it made me really respect the progress Austin has made in 5 short years.

As for the match.. sure, it'll be nice to see the Bulldog back in the ring. I'm sure a good chunk of fans are drooling with anticipation for this one, overlooking the fact there's maybe 2 men of the 6 who can consistently go.. and one of those is questionable. Somehow, I doubt Mankind and Kane are up to carrying the other 4, and this one will probably regress into the same thing we saw on Raw a couple weeks ago, only with a winner. I'll be looking for a lot of kicking and punching, and very few wrestling holds. The Undertaker will doubtless get involved, taking out Kane. Mankind and the Rock will probably end up relying too heavily on each other, inevitably ending up as a weakness. The Bulldog isn't ready for the belt yet, both in terms of heat, physical aptitude and public perception. That leaves the Big Show and HHH.. and HHH has Chyna. I think this HHH / Austin rematch is just around the corner.
Winner: HHH

Jeff Jarrett v. Chyna
For the Intercontinental Title

Another one that's been built up far too heavily, without any apparant thought going into the workers themselves. At the very least, it's finally got Jarrett over.. but at what cost? He's now associated with one of the more disturb/ing angles in WWF history (and that's saying a lot). Not that there was any hope of getting him over as a face, I just feel that the angle was unnecessary. Surely there was another way to hype this feud than by resorting to one of the most disgusting sides of humanity.

Sorry, I went on a bit there.. where was I? Chyna. She's got the look. She's got a couple average moves in her arsenal. She's got a unique, original angle going as the woman who's not afraid to compete with men twice her size. And that's about it. Chris Benoit couldn't carry Chyna to a good match, and her voice is best compared to the loud kid that always finds it's way to the seats directly surrounding me during an evening airline flight. If she's given the belt here, I'm sure we'll be hearing 'foul' screamed worldwide, with the focal point being the unspoken voices of the internet. I'm guessing Debra will be involved in this, though I can't say on whose behalf.

In the end, I'm taking Chyna, though Jarrett will keep the belt through a DQ or countout.
Winner: Chyna

Ivory v. Luna
For the Women's Title

I don't really want to dwell on this one.. The novelty of seeing Luna back has worn off, and the reality of how this match will more than likely turn out has begun to set in. Ivory is beyond annoying (I'd even consider her a burden to watch), and her work in the ring isn't that good. When she first picked up the belt, I figured it was a smart move.. giving a working athlete the title. In the end it's successfully killed the division. I'm sure Luna's reign won't be much more successful.
Winner: Luna

Mark Henry v. D'Lo Brown
For the European Title

Much like Harlem Heat, the Steiner Brothers, the New Age Outlaws and the Rockers, this split's one of those meetings you knew was inevitable. The exception being this fruit was one that wasn't quite ripe yet. I think they could've gone a ways farther with this team before Mark and D'Lo went their separate ways. Brown was as much a part of the 'Sexual Chocolate' gimmick as Henry was, giving the skits a comic relief. What would Mark's date with Chyna have been without D'Lo as the limo driver? Or his excursion with Teri and Jacqueline without D'Lo waiting outside to take care of a tag match? At the very least, these two deserved a tag team title reign.

The match will be slow-going, as there isn't a whole lot Brown can do with a man the size of the chocolatey goodness. I'm not expecting to see many running ligerbombs, or hurricaranas in this, but the meeting should be somewhere near solid. If D'Lo doesn't take this one, he'll take the ensuing rematch on Raw or the next PPV.
Winner: D'Lo Brown

Al Snow v. the Big Boss Man
"Kennel From Hell" Match for the Hardcore Title

I'll give the WWF this one.. they're inventive. The concept of a cage within a cage is magnificent, and really opens up a ton of possibilities for future matches, but there's a catch. It's difficult enough to see the action through a single cage. I feel for the poor souls who are gonna try to watch this live through 2. Surely there will be cameras inside the center cage, so the viewing audience at home won't have to worry about that.. which brings us to.. the dogs. What the HELL?! Did Vince Russo and friends watch the ordeal with Sting, the Steiners, and the rottweiler? Did they see how cheesy that looked? This is more than likely gonna be about 15 times as bad. What a stupid stipulation.
Seeing as how the Bossman wears riot gear to the ring, I'd imagine they'll slip in some padding underneath that, and allow him to get mauled or something.

An interesting note.. what if, when escaping, Snow accidentally lets one of the hounds loose, escaping into the audience? Chaos!
Winner: Al Snow

Ken Shamrock v. Chris Jericho

Here it is... the sole 'no-miss' match of the evening. Jericho's role as a heel in this one hasn't been as effective as in the past, and as a result there's not as much heat going into this match as, say, the Acolytes/Dudleys match. Fans haven't accepted the Y2J as a humorous heel yet, and he's not quite as over as I'm sure he was expected to be. Give him a couple months and the story will more than likely be a different one.

I'm anxious to see how well Jericho will work with an above-average worker like Shamrock, and I think their styles compliment each other. To this day, Jericho hasn't been involved a WWF television match which ended cleanly (I think? Correct me if I'm wrong), so I'm really looking for a definate winner here. Shamrock's intensity (parodied to a "t" by the real millennium man.. probably the best example of his old persona to date) and Jericho's cowardice will make this one to watch, and the best match on the card today. It's his first PPV as an active competitor, plus Shamrock's headed off the the UFC soon.. so I'll take Jericho with "the walls of Jericho?!".
Winner: Chris Jericho

Val Venis v. Steve Blackman

A sure sign of the end is Steve Blackman. If you're feuding with him, the likelihood that your gimmick lasts more than a month or 2 after the said feud is slim, and that's the case with Venis here. There isn't really much more you can do with the 'Porn Star' schtick that hasn't already been done. Come to think of it, there isn't really much more I can say about these two. The match will be average for a WWF match, perhaps a bit above, and the action will be slightly stiff. This isn't bound to be a match of the year candidate nor will it recieve much heat from the crowd, but it'll be something of a nice little match, for what it's worth. I'll go with Blackman on the rebound from his losses to Shamrock.
Winner: Steve Blackman

The Acolytes v. The Dudley Boys

Both these teams seem relatively over. The Dudleys are starting to become recognizable to the common fan thanks primarily to Bubba's stuttering gimmick, while the Acolytes have always seemed to keep something of a 'heat aura' around them over the past few months. What are they Acolytes of anymore, anyway? Apparantly not the Undertaker, as they didn't show up to prove they 'believe in the dark side'. It's a moot point. Anyway...

This one, like D'Lo/Henry and Venis/Blackman, will be average to mediocre, depending on the mood of the workers. Faarooq can still be decent if he feels like it, but he's not getting any younger. The same can be said for Blackman, though he's never been near as high profile as Faarooq in his better days. I can't say much about the Dudleys, as the majority of my exposure to them has been through their WWF stint and their short appearances on TNN. From what I've seen they're at their best when the opponents they're paired with aren't afraid to take some nasty bumps. A feud with the Hardys would be right up their alley. I'm taking the Dudleys with this one, but chances are we'll see the Acolytes take another one, continuing on their neverending quest for nowhere.
Winners: The Acolytes

There's also been talk of a New Brood v. Edge / Christian match on the card, which would be spectacular as always. Should that one take place, I'd choose Edge and Christian to go over.

That should pretty much do it for me. I appear to be doomed to a weekend of Design here, in front of the power that is the Power Mac G3, so I more than likely won't be back until Monday or Tuesday. I'm doing a couple more banners around, so keep your eyes peeled for those. As for the majority of my free time.. well, let's just say I've entered the middle of disc 3 in Final Fantasy VIII. If you've got about 40 or 50 hours to kill, this is the best way to do it.
until then, i remain

Tuesday, September 21, 1999

Ringside Shadows #72: The Tuesday Review

After a week away from the Review, I'm left feeling rejuvinated. I'd been wearing myself thin for a couple months, and the break was much needed. Thanks for sticking around past the interum, and I'll do my best to maintain a consistant schedule for the next few months, at the least.

Last night was a good night to be a wrestling fan.. Both programs gave us a far better offering than had become the norm, and actually made the competition between cards something worth mentioning again. Nitro went to it's strength, focusing on the work of their superb athletes, while intertwining some interesting angles which seem to have legs for a change. Meanwhile, Raw put an end to probably the most controversial World Title reign of all time and left us wondering how much farther they can go. Between the Bossman's GTV urination and Jeff Jarrett and Chaz's continuing abuse angles, there's very little they can still do without dealing with rape, abortion, elder abuse, and possibly even murder. The crowd still ate it up though, proving if there's on thing the WWF knows.. it's their audience.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.


-It's only taken the bookers backstage a couple weeks to figure out how to correctly build, execute and air a good recap segment. Though we watched it on Thunder a couple weeks back, the bit on Sting's turn was well done, and did a good job of bringing new fans (or old fans returning to the fold, for that matter) up to speed on the past few years' happenings.

-I'll admit, when I heard it announced that Chris Benoit would be receiving his world title shot that very evening, I didn't believe a word of it. When Flair came out to give Sting a piece of his mind, I was almost sure of it. Kudos to WCW for finally following through on this one.

-What?! A match between Juvi, Psychosis, Rey and Kidman... and it goes to a clean finish!? Somebody pinch me. I'll be the first to tell you I wasn't excited about the 'Filthy Animals' gimmick when I first heard of it. However, if it means higher-profile feuds for the luchadores and the rejuvinated cruiserweight division, as well as matches like this one I'll be the first to stand firmly behind the young stable. Hell, I'll even tolerate Konnan. Regarding the match, it was a fun meeting, with Juvi basically dripping charisma and a solid effort from all 4 men. A bit spotty, as are most American lightweight matches anymore, and I don't know if that was meant to be a heel turn by the 'Animals' at the end, or not. I, for one, sided with Chavo... I'm not pleased that the only way a lucha gets any attention in WCW is if he agrees to unmask, but I'll have my tv stuck on TNT for the duration of that one next week. As for those who are sure to cite this as punishment for Kidman.. grow up. Everybody needs to job sometime, and it's been ages since we've seen Psychosis or Juvi get a clean 'V'. It's a rarity these days, and I'm glad to see WCW surprise us.

-Of all the people to sell for, Goldberg chooses Knobbs? I was hoping to see that waste of good flesh do a squash job in under a minute..

-Good interaction between Flair & Benoit, though Chris proved he's still got a ways to go before he's ready to call himself a good mic worker. At least they're portraying him as a man with balls, not afraid to stand up for what's his.

-My vote for this week's Nitro Girl... the one with the hair..

-I wonder if I'm expected to go ape shit, and cry foul over Benoit's world title shot? Should I kick and scream, write a letter to the company, or just boycot it in general? None of the above.. I thought the match was excellent, and I couldn't have booked it better myself. Simply put, Benoit isn't ready for the World title. Not yet. Give him 3 or 4 months of this push, and fans will buy him as the real deal. Put him over Shane Douglas in their now-inevitable feud, followed by the eagerly anticipated "last hurrah" with Ric Flair. After those feuds, the fans will be eating him up. Regarding last night's match.. the Crippler has reached a higher standing than ever with that one. You knew Sting was going to retain, the question was how. Though the match was a bit slow to start, once it hit the halfway mark (Benoit's break of Sting's sleeper), the action was off the chart. I flew out of my chair when Chris teased the dragon suplex, and when he hit the diving headbutt. Truly a great meeting, and I'd venture to say the best worked and booked match of the year thus far. Great to see Sting wasn't afraid to put Benoit over like that (he was pinned for more than 7 seconds on more than one occasion), and it gives me boundless hope for the future.

-On the flip side, Berlyn has gone down the pisser in a hurry. They're pushing this guy on us too quickly, and the fact that he hasn't won a match cleanly yet doesn't help boost his credibility a bit. I realize that Germans aren't known for their healthy, golden tans.. but I think maybe a bit of color is in order for the repackaged Mr. Wright. He hasn't come close to shaking his ring rust, and they still haven't dropped the translator. Would it have been too much to have one of his 'bodyguards' double as a male interpreter? I've said it before, but the squeaky, friendly, American female voice doesn't exactly intimidate opponents as much as a deep, growling, German male's.

-DDP even gave a halfway decent interview last night, getting to the point, and keeping the crap to a minimum. I liked the subtle whispering of 'retire', too. Maybe somebody should get this guy talking to Hogan?

-When I saw Blitzkrieg coming to the ring, I knew he wouldn't be going over. When I saw Evan "My jeans tear off" Karagias coming down the rampway to his generic jabroni entrance music, I was already looking for Sid or the Dead Pool. Surprisingly, the meandering giant allowed this one to end before extracting his revenge on all the cruisers in the world for consistantly outdoing his matches. If Blitzkrieg could get his timing in order, work on his spottiness, and tighten up the flow of his matches, he could be beautiful. As is, he's got a special place in this column (his premiere on Nitro came the same week Ringside Shadows #1 was posted), and I'm willing to give him time. The rewards down the line are well worth the wait.

-I've nearly wet myself several times since the prospect of a Filthy Animals / Revolution feud reared it's head... well.. maybe that's exaggerating a bit. Let's just say I'm looking forward to it. This lumberjack match of sorts was slightly overbooked, but the tension was strong throughout and you could tell these 8 men really wanted to get it on... Um.. Hoo boy. That sounded really bad. These guys can't wait to kick the hell out of each other! Yea..

-I could complain about the commercial break in the middle of the previous match, but hell.. Nobody's perfect. Look at Sid. I'm thankful to have seen it at all. Who doesn't smell this Douglas turn? It's a good idea though, and if it comes to pass you'll be looking at the best stable of the 1990s with Benoit, Malenko and Saturn. Get Flair in there, and we could have the greatest Horsemen since the idea's inception.

-I see Hogan was again given free reign on the stick. I wonder if I can catch Mideon on Raw?

-Despite the painfully obvious spot calling, the Lenny Lane match vs. Shaggy 2 Dope was pretty much enjoyable. The wicked clown isn't afraid of any bump, and takes them better than 95% of WCW's active roster. Not only that, but he executed a kickass Liger bomb and almost made the spot at the end, knocking Lodi into his comrades, believable. Though their music has gone steeply downhill since Riddle Box (which was also when I quit listening to them), the entrance theme they threw together for the "Dead Pool" is sweet. Almost worth picking up the WCW album for. Almost.

-It was good to see Scott Steiner back, for a couple minutes. Once he hopped up on that biatch...make that.. once he got the mic, he went back to his old tricks. I could hear censors everywhere scrambling for their 'bleep' buttons. Personally, I could care less how often the younger Steiner 'pushes the pink'.. I'm getting my share, but I don't feel the need to let everybody know. There's something to be said for monogamy, too..

Still, if he and Hogan are gonna go at it, that's fine by me. That means neither will be mucking up a better worker's match in the main event, and either way I'm bound to see somebody I dislike lose. Just when we thought the nWo was finally out of it's misery...

-I was sorry to see Kanyon disrespected as he was last night. He grabbed the mic, but the production crew busted right on through to Booker's music. The match itself was almost a straight job. I suppose it's for a greater cause though, as Booker T needs to keep his momentum going. These two could have a good one, if given ample time and motivation though. I'm still hoping to see a feud down the line once both have been elevated a bit.

-A bit of a disappointment for the main event.. still, I'd rather see Flair / DDP than Hogan / Luger. Oh, well.. at the very least, they didn't take themselves too seriously. The bookers understood this wasn't exactly a 'money' match, and gave it appropriate time. Flair looked like piss.. his body is going downhill, fast.
Overall Grade: B+

A damned good program, probably the best WCW has given us in years. Sure, they're still jerking us around in the main event.. sure, Konnan got some tv time while a few good workers sat at home (and I mean a few.. WCW utelized their roster well for the first time in ages..). Every program's bound to have dark spots, and this week we saw Hogan and Sid go wild on the mic and the 'Hulkster' try to steal every bit of the spotlight he could. Aside from it all, this week symbolized the powerful return of WCW's midcard lineup, which is cause for rejoice.

And what was on the other channel? Let's take a peek.


-You wanna know the honest truth? I didn't watch the first 15 minutes of Raw. If I'm given a choice between a Chris Benoit / Sting world title match, with no commercial interruptions, and commentators shilling for the Crippler like it's going out of style.. or Vince's big return to Raw, and the long-ass 20 minute interview to start the show that comes with it... guess what I'm gonna choose? I'm sure the ratings will show that mine wasn't a view shared by many, but I take pride in enjoying such a match rather than listening to Vince go on about 'contractual obligations', and seeing Austin hit the ring with "Ass this" and "Beer that". Quite possibly the best series of signs in wrestling history say it best: "Shut up and wrestle".

-Still, reading the transcripts (the internet is a vast, wondrous place..), it was good to see the WWF didn't completely spit in our faces, and explained the specifics of the deal about Vince's return. I don't see why he and Austin can suddenly get along, but I'm not here for the character development.

-During the Rock's bit with the older security guard, I was constantly reminded of Ben Stiller in Happy Gilmore.. the crazed retirement home worker. Woman: "My fingers hurt." Stiller: "Ooooh.. well now your back's gonna hurt.. cause just just pulled lawn duty! Anybody else's fingers hurt?!" Entertaining as hell, and I loved every bit of the 'tender side' of Rocky.

-Mankind played the unsuspecting victim to a "t" in the boiler room, when he spotted Mideon and offered him a warm "hello", along with a compliment on the new ring tights.

-Half an hour into the program without a match. Does anyone see why I've pointed this out? It's got nothing to do with business.. change the name or live up to it.

-Jericho has gone over Billy Gunn now.. Can you say "instant elevation"? The only problem is, incocievable as it may sound, Jericho's not getting over. I'm not sure who pointed this out, but I agree wholeheartedly.. Jericho shouldn't be a full blown heel. He's the best as the whiny, bitchy, arrogant coward.. but not as a complete heel. Mr. Huge hit a nasty DDT on Ass to the floor.. looked like it may have hit much harder than it should've. If they're gonna take up the padding on the floor, make sure somebody more accustomed to dishing out bumps delivers the follow through. Personally, I preferred Ralphus to the Fink and Huge.. his 'deer in the headlights' gaze worked with Jericho in so many ways. Hey, at least we got to see the man (Jericho) work on a Monday night. It's been ages.

-The Rock interview with Michael F'n Cole was formulaic, which isn't exactly unusual for the People's Champ.. I guess I was just becoming accustomed to his ingenuity in the past few weeks. Still, the sleeping bit was funny. Mankind saved the segment with his butcherings of the Rock's catches.

-I knew that fan was Luna as soon as I saw the fake-ass black hair in the audience. At least they aren't trying to make their plants too conspicuous? I saw quite a few people at that event with cowboy boots and a dress the color of a nasty-green Pinto. At least they're hyping this one a bit. Hey, Timbo! WOMEN'S HARDCORE!

-With all the segments building Shane's enthusiasm prior to the main event, I sort of expected a bit more up his sleeve than Test..

-A sub-par match from the Hardys, but still probably the best-worked match on last night's Raw. They gave it some time, we saw the Hardys in action, and it furthered a feud. I can't complain, really. The 3-D to close the match came out of nowhere, though, and was I alone in noting some sort of alliance between the "New Brood" and the Acolytes post-match?

-With all of the disgust over this terrible angle with Jarrett beating women, I thought it was hilarious when he strapped the makeup girl into the figure four.

-Post-match (which was wrapped up with a variation on the gut-wrench powerbomb, not the top rope elbow as was reported in the RAW review I'm working from), Jarrett got probably the loudest heel heat in the fed when he locked the figure four on Debra, surely gathering the rage and fury of John C, Austin, and millions of fanboys worldwide. Me... well, did you see that cellulite on her ass? Besides, I'd go for something a little less plastic.

-The Undertaker's stipulations just get sillier and sillier. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw an 'enima from the darkside' match in the near future. Meanwhile, I wonder if we'll ever see Wight as this "unstoppable monster" the Taker keeps proclaiming him to be. At the announcer's booth, the man from the darkside managed a somewhat decent reaction to Kane's refusal to align with his brother.

-Why doesn't Mariana just stick with Stasiak? Neither of them are doing anything.. Psycho chick...

-I was waiting for Kane's pyros to go off, igniting the big red machine. He went right for the corner after the save, and seemed to be leaning as far back towards the ringpost as possible. Would've been interesting. I guess we've seen him burning before though.

-The Bossman took a NAST shot to his right eye with that pitcher. He's still not a decent worker, but I've found some more respect for him after continuing the match through to its end with a wound like that. I think that's the only time we've seen the man from Cobb County, GA pinned after handcuffing his opponent to the ropes..

-The main event was short, and concise. Shane has blossomed into a good worker, willing to take bumps.. though he didn't really showcase it so well here. HHH ended up over strong, delivering the pedigree to both men on his own. He's still a force, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him take the belt in the 6-pack main event of Unforgiven.
Overall Grade: B-

Above average, but not by much. The show just didn't have that something special, which sends it over the top. Add to that a couple low-midcard matches, 3 poor gimmicked tag team matches and little-to-no in ring action, and you have a disappointing show.

Before I go, I'd like to touch on my previous post, regarding the WWF and it's direction. I recieved a few reader mails about this, and they all pretty much centered on the same point. So, insted of becoming repetitive and answering the same thing a dozen times, I'll just respond to this one. That's me, always looking out for you and helping you manage your time.

MrRichHead@aol.com sent me the following, under the subject "give it up already...":

"its seems as though you and matt spence are the only ones that really give a shit about the "wrestling" aspect of this business. I have news for you...the nearly seven million people that watch RAW every week watch it because of its storey lines and angles. I highly doubt that Vince Mcmahon is going to change is format to please you and Spence, and let down the millions of other fans that enjoy entertainment. I have an idea for you and Matt...You should take the first flight to Hawaii...Have a gay marriage...Move to Japan so you can watch those candy asses "wrestle" all day. Then you can take all those japanese wrestlers that you like so much...you can greise them up...AND STICK THEM STRAIGHT UP YOUR CANDY ASSES!!"

This one was almost an intelligent reply, up until the last bit.. Ah well.. takes all kinds, I guess.

It's true that a good number of today's wrestling fans could give 2 poots in a plastic specimen cup about the "wrestling aspect" of the business (A funny phrase, as the business itself is wrestling last I checked, and not sports entertainment.. no matter..). Also true is that these 7 million fans are there for the angles, storylines and maybe a little hardcore. My question is this.. where were these fans 5 years ago, and where will they be 5 years from now? The answer to both questions... more than likely not watching the World Wrestling Federation. The WWF is hot right now. Really hot. They're drawing in new viewers, and the fad is nearly in full-swing. Maybe a year from now, maybe 2, these fans will find something else to occupy their time with, be it the new Playstation2.. another television program or sport, or something we can't dream of. The point is this, the WWF has alienated a lot of its older, loyal fans with its product and when this fad passes will find itself in one hell of a hole, quite similar to the one WCW finds itself in today. Vince McMahon is quite a businessman. He knows what people want, and how to give it to them.. and I wouldn't expect him to change his programming, were I the world's largest and most influential journalist, or the crappy little opinionated columnist getting a little attention on the internet. Vince lives by the rule, and will die by the rule.. it's only a matter of time.

Regarding the column, I'm interested in how I could recieve so much hate mail from pro-WWF fans, since I actually stood up for the WWF and gave them another handful of chances. I still believe Vince can give us a kickass WRESTLING program, but I guess that isn't what anybody wants anymore.. right?

As for Matt and I's marriage... we had to call it off. Our girlfriends were pissed. So to everybody who recieved the invitations... sorry.

Anyway, I'm out. I'll be back later in the week with my Unforgiven preview.
until then, i remain

Thursday, September 16, 1999

Ringside Shadows #71: An Observation

Jeez, I lose a couple days and all hell begins to break loose.

It appears patience is beginning to run a little thin these days. Thin with wrestling in general, but specifically with the WWF and it's current downward spiral of sorts. Two of my good friends in Matt Spence and Dale Blasingame have become fed up enough to basically leave it off their viewing lists until things change, and I honestly can't argue with their logic. As I touched on in my last column, today isn't a good day to be a wrestling fan. If you're a Sports Entertainment fan, this must be like seventh heaven for you.. I can only imagine.. but the sport is in serious trouble.

A few short years ago, WCW was on top of the game. The nWo was in full swing, Bischoff apparantly had a good thing going, and McMahon was slowly watching his stars say goodbye for the greener pastures of the South. There was constant talk about who the newest member of Vince's crew would be to walk out on that week's edition of Nitro. Rey Mysterio Jr was young, the Giant still offered an effort, and Benoit and Malenko were seeing their initial elevations as a member of the 4 Horsemen and a cruiserweight champ, respectively. Then something changed.. Vince altered his product, shifting the focus even further from the original attraction, the physical confrontation from which the sport had grown. Fans started to check out the revamped 'Raw', to see what Vince would try next. The Attitude that's become legendary took the viewers by storm with inventive storylines, strong mic work and a sharper edge.. Now the talk was centered on which workers would be headed North, about who would guest star in Val Venis' next porno, about who'd be appearing on the next release of WWF: The Music.

What I'm trying to get at is this; Vince McMahon has been quoted as saying he hopes to someday be able to completely erase the 'wrestling' from the World Wrestling Federation. Entirely. The man behind 'sports entertainment' is sick of the 'sports' and the management at WCW, still worried about the precious ratings, can only follow in his footsteps. Given the right men behind the scenes and some time to gather its senses (not to mention some free thinking), WCW could become the only game in town. While the WWF moves their program to compete with the afternoon soap operas, WCW could go back to their roots and offer quality wrestling.

Or, they could go where the money is and catch 'The Young and the Wrestlers' Vince before cashing their checks at the bank.

But there's a chance that given some liberal thought, a love for the history, and a little power, things could change. Hey, maybe Shane McMahon doesn't share his father's dream. Maybe the WWF will take another 'new direction'. Maybe we can get a little wrestling back in our programming for a change

That hope is why I keep watching Monday nights. Be it WCW or the WWF, I still hope. Fads come and go. By the time this one passes the WWF may well be beyond repair. You'd thought they'd have learned their lesson last time, but things aren't completely out of hand yet.

And I still hope.

Call me too optimistic, or call my a shitty columnist with too much free time.. but I can still see what true wrestling was all about, and I can see it happening again. This time, I want to be the first in line to show my support. Be it through the evolution of the WWF or the 'Revolution' of WCW, I want to be there when the reversion happens, and I want in.

Anyway, sorry about the rant... but I figured it was about time I put together an actual 'column'. The Tuesday Review will return next week, and look for a "Complete Idiot's ECW Preview" sometime tomorrow or Saturday from John C. and myself
until then, i remain

Monday, September 13, 1999

Ringside Shadows #70: Bits and Pieces of Goodness

It's been something of a busy week in our world, with the majority of the attention (positive or otherwise) focused on the oft-criticised shoulders of WCW. Whether it be the state of tonight's Nitro, Eric Bischoff's release, or last night's Fall Brawl results... it's been anything but a slow news week in Turner-land. Jumping in feet-first...

Nitro's ratings solution.. a cartoon?
I rose from my slumber this morning, and checked out my weekly copy of ZENtertainment in my mailbox before heading to class, where I caught the horrific news regarding 'CHOWDAHEADS'... Take a look:

"TNT's WCW wrestling program MONDAY NIGHT NITRO will add the animated short series CHOWDAHEADS to its line-up with tonight's broadcast. The crude, crass series stars three teenage wrestling fans doing their best to put the SOUTH PARK boys to shame. It's produced by MANDALAY SPORTS ACTION Entertainment and Jason Hervey (DIFF'RENT STROKES' Charlie)."

I'm not sure where the execs are heading with this, but it would seem their aims are set for the hole in the toilet. I don't want to say anything certain until I've seen the segment, however I can't help but listen to my gut feeling. Sick bits like this will do nothing but further the downward spiral that has become professional wrestling. It's a bad time to be a 'pure wrestling' fan such as myself... granted, the business as a whole is enjoying one of it's most profitable runs ever, but at what cost? As of last night's PPV results, WCW is headed downhill at a sharper and sharper angle , the WWF is doing its best to eliminate the 'sports' from sports entertainment, and ECW is destroying the beauty that was their competition with the constant commercials (if I see Kevin Nash, screaming "I've got monster truck madness" one more time..), terrible replay setup, and tour dates. For the first time in quite a while, I head into Monday Night without any enthusiasm. And as a fan for more than a decade now, that's very.. very bad.

Scratch that 'no enthusiasm' bit. I'm excited, if only for one match. For some crazy reason, I get the feeling WCW will let Benoit and Malenko cut loose and finish the classic they started last week on tonight's installment. I'm sure we'll be treated to 2 commercial breaks as a minimum (which will then be used as an example of the duo's failure to draw ratings), but I somehow have a feeling that this one will end cleanly.. for a change.

Bischoff Out?
I'll keep this one short. I don't want to make a comment on Bischoff until I know it's for real. Something smells really fishy about this, and I wonder if unca' Eric isn't pulling the wool over our eyes one more time. Just a case of the boy who cried wolf, I guess.. regardless, if the whole thing is for real and last night's booking was an example of things to come, well.. hurry back, Eric.

Which leads me neatly into my..

Fall Brawl Reaction
(I'll keep this short, as I'm not planning on making this a massive post)

-Rey comes out with blond hair...? Why do I get the feeling this is bad? If he maintains a nice workrate, I can live with it. As for the match.. sounds really spectacular. I'm a bit confused as to why officials decided to open the show right up with their 2 best matches.. at least this month's PPV offered 2 matches worth our time. I'd have liked to see this one, if just for Eddie and Vamp stiffing the hell out of each other and watching Kidman register the pinfall.

-Wish I could've seen the Kaz/Lenny match too, but in the end I think the right man won. Lenny's further over, and I agree with Matt that Kaz would work better as a heel.

-Boy, is it good to see the Revolution came out of last night without a belt nor a win in their hands. Great way to take any credibility the group may have mustered up and stick it straight up your own ass. If anybody truly thinks Rick Steiner, High Morrus and Brian Knobbs should be working, let alone going over Malenko, Benoit, Saturn and Douglas... drop me a line. Who made the decision to let Steiner kick out of the DVD? That's what I call... credibility... beauty..

-I guess Bagwell didn't want to job again? Why are they even booking him in feuds if he won't lie down clean once in a while? If this guy keeps it up, somebody needs to remind him where he came from, what his role with the company is, and that egos like this will NOT help matters. Then again, I could be wrong.

-At this point, I could care less that Harlem Heat are the 9-time champions... Hoo boy..

-At the very least, Benoit got some offense in on Sid... even strapping him into the crossface before lying down to another sad powerbomb. Still.. this is no way to elevate somebody, and fans aren't likely to accept the crippler as a world title contender, especially considering the loss was clean.

-Finally, I'm not sure what to think of the Sting heel turn.. if that's even what it was meant to be (which is my guess). I'll have to draw my own conclusion from the fans' response tonight before I can say anything for sure, but for once WCW did something right in building this up and then throwing it at us from left field. I never expected Sting to turn, nor side with Luger again. A second shining spot in an otherwise bleak and sickening pay per view.
Overall Grade: D-

Before I close things up, I've got a couple letters to work on... here goes..
Seph (siggyb@enter.net) comes in with a follow up to her last letter:

"Lately, I've been bored seeing the Rock on RAW...paticularly because I'm sick of hearing him repeat himself 4 or 5 times a program. However, his impersonations of Kane and the Undertaker last night were gold. When he rolled his eyes back in his head and chanted "Die Die Die" I just about died. It was hilarious!"

I'm in complete agreement. The Rock has moments where he's pure gold, but then he has those when he's nothing more than brass-coated excrement. As a mic worker who prefers using catch phrases during each outing, there's only so much you can do before getting monotonous, repetitive and boring. This is what separates men like the Rock (the cream of the crop when it comes to incorporation of a catch) from men like Jericho and Foley (who can take nearly any situation and twist it in a humorous light that favors them). John touched on this in he and Dale Blasingame's recent installment. It's quite good, and definately worth a read.

"I also had a problem with the way the Edge/Christian vs. Acolytes match was portrayed. Edge is my favorite WWF Superstar. He's young, athletic, and extremely talented. As JR would point out, he's also "quicker than a hiccup." The WWF did make it sound as if their victory over the Acolytes was a fluke, when the fact is, it should have happened much sooner."

This seems to be a recurring problem.. not only with the WWF, but with the Acolytes. The same sort of tainted win took place during the Hardy Boyz' (that just looks weird.. a z as plural posessive.. whatever..) only tag team championship victory. Only time will tell, both in the case of Edge and Christian and the Acolytes, who move on to a feud with the Dudleys. The main comment I refer to when worried about my favorite workers' being held down is "they're only so many years old..". It's important to remember that Edge has only been in the WWF for one year, and in that time has managed to capture the Intercontinental championship. Give him some time to grow, and I'm sure the WWF will repay him for his work.

Next up, How316@aol.com vents some of his frustrations on the Hummer angle..

"regardless of the stupid color of the hummer, Hogan was "pointed" to as the driver. If you recall, the Hummer angle was first started between Nash and Macho, when Nash was hit. This happend while Hogan was out with a legit injury. Hogan was in a cast, recovering from a legit injury. Hogan could barely walk, I'm supposed to believe he could drive the Hummer w/ a bad leg?"

Sorry I didn't get to this one sooner, as it's almost a moot point now. I think the plan all along was to reveal Lex as the hummer driver.. thus, Hogan's injury wouldn't have been important. Then again, I doubt the bookers were worried about little details like this. Either way, your comment serves as a common one.. that of frustration. I wonder how many more fans WCW can afford to lose?

Closing up, Bryan Van Dusen (mvandusen@flare.net) had a response to one of my '23 questions' answers:

"I had to write and give my opinion of the best finisher in wrestling... The Falcon Arrow. In case you haven't seen it, it is performed by Hayabusa of FMW (Japan), it's a 450degree twisting moonsault. Hayabusa starts by standing on the top rope with his back facing his opponent who is on his back like someone is going to splash him. Hayabusa then jumps back and twists his body so he is facing towards his opponent and then does a 450 slam. It looks amazing. I saw Jakked last Saturday, and Papi Chulo totally amazed me. He may be one of the most underrated wrestlers in the WWF."

I've only heard tales of the Falcon Arrow, (most of them from my buddy Matt Spence) but haven't purchased enough puroresu to witness it firsthand just yet. (I think?) Regardless, I'm in full agreement with you that Hayabusa is a spectacular worker, but the trend with the 23 questions schtick was to keep it to American wrestling, so as to avoid confusion amongst the readers as much as possible. Otherwise, Jushin Liger would've been somewhere on my list, and I'm sure Hayabusa, Mitsuharu Misawa, and the Great Sasuke would've made their way on there somewhere as well. My experience is really small with japanese grappling, actually, but I've been breathless for what I have managed to catch.

As for Papi Chulo, I again couldn't agree with you more. But, sadly, with the death of the WWF LHW division I don't think he's in the right place to showcase his skills anymore. Raw has never been big on the style chulo works, and I don't think we'll see him anywhere but Jakked or Livewire these days, which is a real shame.

And that should pretty much do it for me. My eyes have recovered enough from my last long session of Final Fantasy VIII, so it's time to go kick the roommate off the tv and pick up where I left off. Squall is such a little dick!
until then, i remain

Friday, September 10, 1999

Ringside Shadows #69: WCW Fall Brawl 1999 Preview

Taking a quick glance at the issue number, I'll fight the desperate urge to cash in on the innuendo of the number I've reached with Ringside Shadows on this fine day. I have a couple memorable stories that come to mind regarding the number, but couldn't possibly hope to portray them with the grace or elegance that Dale did, when he reached this milestone a few short weeks ago. So, instead, I'll push out this Fall Brawl preview and be done with it.

WCW has lined up something of a better card in this month's offering, with the majority of their good workers featured somewhere (the only notable absenses I note are Juvi, Blitzkrieg, and Van Hamm... Juvi and Blitzkrieg.) The possibilities that could come to pass this Sunday evening are nearly endless, especially when you factor in the imminent return of Bret Hart looming on the horizon. How these possibilities are handled, however, has yet to be seen. With a few exceptions, this seems to be one of the stronger overall lineups we've seen from the Turner subsiduarie since the springtime. You've got an almost surefire cruiserweight spectacular with the Kaz/Lenny meeting.. Vampiro's in action taking on 3 of the top workers in North America, Rey, Kidman and Eddy.. Berlyn will make his anticipated debut.. Each member of the Revolution is in action, with 2 in contention for championship belts.. and Sting is getting his next shot at the world title.

But hey.. I'm getting ahead of myself.

Hollywood Hulkamania Whatcha Gonna Do Hogan v. Sting
World Heavyweight Championship

The matchup I'd wanted for as long as I can remember has lost 75% of the intrigue found in the original match. Still, both men were untouchable in the late 80's-early 90's heyday that was professional wrestling, and if both work their asses off, we could see something of a watchable match here. There is no excuse if this match extends beyond half an hour, and I'm putting a small bit of faith in the bookers to realize this. Hogan's said in a WCW Live interview that Sting was one of two men he'd consider passing the torch to, when the time is right. My train of thought lead me to concieve this as a good thing, as I have a strong respect for Sting as a person. I believe that the man behind the paint knows his time is coming to a close, and that he's not meant to last forever between the ropes. My hope is that Hogan passes the torch to Sting, only to watch it passed again.. this time to a younger athlete.

As for the match itself, I don't see Hogan dropping the belt this soon. It would be nice to see a Sting/Benoit meeting Monday Night, but I get the feeling tonight will be full of disappointments. I'll take Hogan after Luger interferes against Sting.
Winner: Hulky Hulk Hogan

Goldberg v. Diamond Dallas Page

The last time these two met they impressed more than a few. Complaints regarding Goldberg's endurance, DDP's credibility, and both men's overall ring prowess weren't exactly few and far between, and neither was an internet darling. However, at Halloween Havoc, both put forward a decent effort and went something like 20 minutes before Goldberg took home the clean pin after kicking out of a Diamond Cutter. I don't expect this weekend's match to rate as high, but wouldn't it be nice?

Goldberg seems to have taken as many steps backward in his absence (no-selling, psychology) as he has forward (ringwork, endurance) while DDP has almost faded into the background following his 2 world title reigns. I really don't see Goldberg dropping his first clean loss to DDP, especially not on his first serious PPV match since returning a couple months ago. The feud will end here, as Billy moves on to a battle with Sid Vicious that will probably serve to boost his credibility back through the roof. With that being said, I'm left wondering where DDP has left to go from here. Recently he's been something of a job boy. Don't get me wrong, I think everyone his age should put over younger talent on more than one occasion, but DDP appears to be the only one taking the fall here. A triad run-in would keep him from dropping completely out of the picture, but wouldn't exactly help either. However you spell it, Goldberg will take this one.
Winner: Bill Goldberg

Chris Benoit v. Sid Vicious
US Heavyweight Title Match

I can't express enough how f'n cool it would be to see Benoit over strong here, but I don't profess to be an idiot, and that's exactly what I'd have to be before I'd believe WCW would book something like that. I figure I'll be doing enough complaining following this one, so I'll keep it to a minimum here. Sid isn't a wrestler, he's a brawler. Benoit is.. to put it lightly.. whatever you need him to be. This could be one helluva match, certainly the best of Sid's career, if given the right time to tell a story. A Revolution or Rick Steiner run-in isn't completely out of the picture, but if Sid leaves this PPV without the US title the damage will be such that his upcoming feud with Goldberg could be in jeopardy, which is a real shame. Benoit is between a rock and a hard place, as it's pretty obvious he's not in a winning feud here, yet he still has some time left before he's ready to take the world title in the ensuing matchup this Monday. The only way the crowd would buy him as a strong world title contender would be following a big victory over somebody huge. Somebody like Sid.

As Mark Madden stated in his column on wcw.com, "There's a lot at stake. This is one of WCW's most meaningful matches in recent memory. " I don't think I could have said it better myself.
Winner: Sid Vicious

Perry Saturn v. Rick Steiner
Television Title Match

I think I've had my fill of Rick Steiner. The tale of the Steiner brothers is, like every other life story with an ending, a tragedy. Two superb athletes, (Bruno Sammartino listed them as among the half dozen wrestlers worth a shit in his autobiography a decade back) finally broken into ordinary, run-of-the-mill sports entertainers. A match with these two in their prime was almost guaranteed to be entertaining (Their only WrestleMania appearance, WMIX, remains quite good today), yet today they're "big poppa pump and his flunkie brother". For two men who never needed a gimmick, it's sad to see they've fallen far enough to where their gimmicks are all they have. Even more sad, however, is how both have waited until the majority of their skills have left them before seriously pursuing their singles careers.

But before I get carried away, I think it's safer if I take a look at the match at hand. Perry Saturn is the model of a WCW midcarder. A damned good worker with poor mic skills, little charisma, and trouble getting over. By the looks of things, the Revolution is helping with two of those areas, and I hope working against the heel Steiner will help the crowd to accept him as a steady face. I don't see this match coming through as anything more than mediocre at best, and with Dusty Rhodes at the helm we'll more than likely see a run-in here, too. When the dust settles, I see Saturn holding the Revolution's only gold.
Winner: Saturn

Barry & Kendall Windham v. Harlem Heat
World Tag Team Title Match

I won't lie, this match will probably blow chunks, pick them up, and swallow them up again. Booker T is the only true worker left in the bunch (sad, considering Barry once carried the world title) and even he's not up to the kind of carry job this would require. My hope (as always) is that Stevie does something wrong, ending in Harlem Heat's inevitable split and Booker's continued ascention to greatness as a single. With a new addition in Vincent, the West Texas Rednecks seem to be going strong again, and I'm willing to bet they keep a tight grip on their tag titles.
Winners: Barry & Kendall Windham

Berlyn v. Buff Bagwell

Speaking personally, I'm actually excited. WCW managed to debut a wrestler with a decent gimmick, and hasn't screwed it up before his first PPV. Where Alex Wright is concerned, there's still quite a ways left to go before this 'Berlyn' schtick can be termed a success (his ringwork, his ring attire, his continued heat, his loss of the piss poor translator), and tonight will answer a lot of questions. I don't like how this angle has become another 'American vs. foreigner' bit, as we've seen that so many times before, and I hope to see a bit more inventiveness with Berlyn's future angles. Meanwhile, Butt has been in the doghouse of late for his backstage attitude.. not to mention his contract is nearing an end, a situation that means instant jobs in WCW.

This match will more than likely be average, perhaps slightly better. But neither man is noted for their superb ring expertise, so the shorter this goes.. the better. Seeing as Butt won his Nitro match, and Berlyn is just now debuting in the ring, everything is pointing to a Bagwell loss.
Winner: Berlyn

Dean Malenko & Shane Douglas v. Brian Knobbs & Hugh Morrus

Ugh... Somebody tell me WHY Malenko is in here?! Knobbs and Morrus are two men who should NOT have work in this business, and Douglas' presence in WCW has been anything but spectacular. Seeing one of the world's best technicians in a slop match like this really makes me wonder what WCW is doing. The 'no-DQ' stip probably means both teams will come to ringside with trash cans, cookie sheets and giant Surge canisters, and Knobbs will try to look hardcore by working stiff again. As ECW graduates, Malenko and Douglas have past experience in matches such as these, but Morrus is one of the multiple human incarnations of 'suck', and Knobbs doesn't even deserve a comment. Douglas has looked sloppy in the ring since his arrival (which will probably result in a World Title shot), and Malenko appears to be the least pushed member of the Revolution. I see this one as another match used to soften the blow of Benoit's job to Sid further up the card.
Winners: Dean Malenko & Shane Douglas

Vampiro & ICP v. Rey Mysterio Jr, Eddy Guerrero & Kidman
Good... GOD! If Violent J weren't involved, this could tear the motherloving house down! Vampiro is a strong worker (who's had his differences with Eddy of late), Shaggy 2 Dope takes some of the most NASTY bumps this side of Shawn Michaels, and they don't make enough words to do justice to Rey, Eddy and Kidman. I was tempted to purchase the PPV for this match alone, but then I remembered I'm just a college kid and can't afford $30 on a card featuring Rick Steiner, the Windhams and Stevie Ray with Hogan in the main event. It's matches like this that make me sad WCW doesn't have a 'rescue of the week' like the WWF does.. allowing us to see the highspots of the previous night's ppv, as I guarantee the clip would be from this one. I see Vampiro & co. taking the win here, largely due to Kidman and Rey's trouble backstage and the Deadpool's recent aquisitions of 'talent'.
Winners: Vampiro & ICP

Kaz Hayashi v. Lenny Lane
Cruiserweight Title Match

...and we're sure to open up the card with the cruiserweight meeting of the evening. Both these men can be tremendous workers if "on". Hopefully both will give it their best, as it IS a PPV, and treat the viewing audience to some unbelievable spots. Lodi's presence at ringside has become something of a pleasant bit, since he seems to be a bit less reluctant to bump and much more willing to try some high-risk maneuvers to get his 'brother' on top. Kaz can give us something to remember, so long as he doesn't blow many spots.. his true weakness. In the last few weeks' time, setting up this feud Kaz has had matches with Lodi that didn't get near their potential due to just that.. blown spots. If the ropes aren't too loose, nor the turnbuckles too slick, this might be one to remember. Hopefully they'll give this one another while to develop into all it could be, maybe throwing in a couple more twists.. but even if it ends tonight, I'll be glad it passed at all. Getting the cruiserweight belt off Rey was one of the best moves WCW has made recently.

I'm taking Kaz, thanks to interference from Lenny's "insane fan"
Winner: Kaz Hayashi

And that'll pretty much do it for me. I'm off to pick up Final Fantasy VIII and kill my studies playing it all weekend, but I'll try to get something posted before the Tuesday review.
until then, i remain

Wednesday, September 8, 1999

Ringside Shadows #68: Getting to Know You

Some might call it a miracle, others.. a curse. Me, I call it an act of god. No matter how you slice it, this is the second Ringside Shadows in as many days.

It's been no secret that I've slightly expanded my posting circuit in the past month or so, and I'm currently offering my work at 5 opinion sections, available at finer news boards everywhere. With a recent addition, I often feel it necessary to offer a quick introduction before I begin posting.. but things have been quite hectic for me in the past month, and I'm afraid I've lost track of where I've introduced myself and where I've just jumped in headfirst with a post. So this is what I'm gonna do..

About a month or two ago, fellow Triad member John C. did a series of '25 questions' bits, allowing readers to take a quick peek into the person behind the column. During the time these were posted, I was enjoying one hell of a beautiful vacation in San Diego, and by the time I returned I'd missed the fun. John sent me the form, but it was unanimously decided that it was a bit late to offer mine up. So, in the 'sent mail' box it sat.. until now. I honestly can't think of a better form to introduce myself universally than this. Keep in mind that some responses are dated (I've tried to fix them up and bring them up to date as best I can..), and you're sure to see some answers that don't make sense. Plus; I've edited out a couple questions that just don't work without John to quip on them. But I'm rambling... I can make "Here's 23 questions about drq" go on for longer than Sid can make "Hulk smash puny luchas!". So, without further ado..

Here's 23 Questions about drq

1. What is your favorite wrestling organization? Is it WWF, WCW or ECW?
A: After 2 weeks of ECW, I'm maintaining my answer of 'none of the above'.. until the post production is taken a step up on ECW TV. I can't stand seeing the matches interrupted so many times, between the constant commercials and the 'extreme replay'.. there's no flow left.

2. Who are your favorite active wrestlers in North America? (3)
A: Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho and Bret Hart (and is it a coincidence all 3 are featured on the Triad's banner?)

3. Who do you think is the best wrestler of the 1990s? (3)
A: Bret Hart, Chris Benoit and Shawn Michaels

4. Five years from now who do you think will be the biggest name in wrestling? (3)
A: Chris Jericho, and...sadly... Hulk Hogan and Sid

5. If you could legitimately beat the crap out of anybody involved in wrestling who would it be? (3)
A: Dusty Rhodes, whoever booked the country singer on Nitro a couple weeks back, and Tony Schiavone.

6. Name the most underrated wrestlers in the business today? (3)
A: Chris Benoit (and I'll bet nobody's surprised here), D'Lo Brown (though he's making a big name for himself lately), and Blitzkrieg.

7. Name the most overrated wrestlers in the business today? (3)
A: Hogan, Sid, and the Rock

8. Who is the best little man in wrestling? (3)
A: 'little man'? Well, I think Dean Malenko is a great little wrestler... I assume you mean cruiserweights, so I'm gonna have to go with Kidman, Jeff Hardy and Brian Christopher.

9. What is the best finisher in wrestling today? (3)
A: If executed correctly, the lion tamer (Jericho's version was toned down a bit for American audiences.. watch Benoit's recent matches with Kanyon and his first meeting with David Flair for an example), the top-rope Juvi driver/Vampiro spike, and Blitzkrieg's top rope whatever..

10. Who has the best entrance music in wrestling? (3)
A: Music? hmm.. Gangrel/the Brood, the Deadpool, and HHH/Chyna

11. Who would win in a pie eating contest between Spike Dudley, Mark Henry, Viscera and Rey Mysterio Jr.?
A: Viscera would clean house, and would probably gobble up poor Rey

12. Who do you think is the best company leader. Is it Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff or Paul Heyman?
A: Paul Heyman amazes me..

13. Who are your favorite wrestlers of all time? (3)
A: Bret Hart, pre-WCW Scott Hall, and Chris Jericho

14. Of the following three men, who would make the better heel. Would it be Steve Austin, Sting or Goldberg?
A: Steve Austin would be incredibly hard to swallow, not to mention impossible to pull off... look at him, everything he does has "heel" written all over it, but he's a monster face. If they could manage it, i'm gonna go with Austin.

15. Has a celebrity ever helped promote a wrestling show? Yes or no. Please explain your thoughts on this issue.
A: Yes... Mike Tyson did a tremendous job at Wrestlemania XIV. The entire audience today could be attributed to Cyndi Lauper and her involvement at the very first Wrestlemania, and as somebody else mentioned, Pete Rose has been fun to watch the last 2 years. ICP seems to have the hearts to stay in the industry, but they're consistently badmouthing WCW.

16. What is your favorite gimmick match?
A: It would depend upon the performers. Hell in a Cell is always memorable, yet if the Bossman is thrown in there, it becomes a joke. A ladder match is an excellent chance to prove onself, but is often misused. I suppose an "I Quit" match has the most potential, so I'll go with that.

17. Which active wrestler does the best work on the microphone? (3)
A:Chris Jericho, the Rock and Mick Foley

18. Who is your favorite woman involved in wrestling? (3)
A: Torrie Wilson, Miss Madness/Mona, and Nitro girl Spice all keep me close to TNT.

19. If you ran WCW who would be your title holders? The titles are World, US, Tag, TV & Cruiserweight.
A: World: Chris Benoit, feuding with Bret Hart
US: Booker T
Tag: the Triad
TV: Kidman
C ruiser: Juvi

20. If you ran the WWF who would be your title holders? The titles are World, IC, Tag, Euro, Lightweight, Hardcore and Womens.
A:World: Steve Austin
IC: D'Lo Brown
Tag: Christian / Gangrel
Euro: Edge
Lightweight: Brian Christopher
Hardcore: the Big Bossman!!! Just kidding.. let's say Road Dogg...
the women's division is dead.

21. What are your favorite online wrestling sites? They can be newsboards, home pages, e-feds, etc. (5)
A: the big 3, ohmygod.simplenet.com, 2xzone.com, moonsault.com, and micasa 99.

22. Who are your favorite online writers (reporters or columnists)? You cannot include yourself you egomaniac!(5)
A: I'm gonna include the whole Triad in this as one vote.. so Matt Spence and John C., Sister Midnight, Micasa, Dale Blasingame, and the Franchise over at moonsault.com

23. How would you describe yourself in terms of your contributions to the online community. Choose one of the following phrases or select other and explain your choice.
a) I hope I'm getting paid to do this
b) I suck, too bad most people don't realize it yet
c) I am a God of the online wrestling world
d) I hope nobody realizes I have absolutely no social life
e) Other. (Explain if this your choice)

A: 'e'. I suck, but fear nobody reads my column anyway, and therefore nobody realizes it.

Anyway, thanks for sticking through this. I just got an e-mail from John C, and things look to be on an upward swing for him once more. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers, as this is surely a difficult time for him.

And I'm out.
until then, i remain

Tuesday, September 7, 1999

Ringside Shadows #67: The Tuesday Review

If it looks like the Tuesday Review, tastes like a log of gouda cheese, smells like beef, and is generally late then chances are... it's the Tuesday Review. Sorry I've been slow in responding to letters (not to mention posting in general), I hope to be caught up with the mess of things I've got underway by next weekend. In the meantime, you can look forward to a couple inter-triad workshops including the oft-mentioned 'secret' project with Matt Spence (it's on the way, I promise!) as well as a "complete idiot's preview" for the upcoming ECW PPV with John C.

Last night gave us a mediocre offering on both sides of the coin, but produced some bright spots including (but not limited to) the return of Bret Hart, another superb lucha tag match, and some match between a couple "good little wrestlers" with a world title match at stake. Meanwhile, we also witnessed another breathtaking lesson from the 'new brood', D'Lo Brown, and the Edge / Christian pairing, and Kane established himself as a serious main eventer.. But hey.. I'm getting ahead of myself.


-Out of nowhere, something completely foreign to Nitro started the show.. a surprise! Bret Hart's music blared, and I perked to attention to see what was going down. About a minute later, Tony Schiavone finally exploded with "My god! That's Bret Hart!". What a tool. Aside from the moronics of the lead broadcaster, Hart's interview still seemed to be missing something. He had a bit more heart behind his words this week, and made a good point when mentioning that he was "thinking too much". After which, he jumped feet-first into his long-awaited feud with Hogan. Who makes the better heel? Check out the letters at the bottom of this column to see my opinion.

-Riding high on that wave, Turner-land wasted no time in killing the night's expectations, taking us right to DJ RAN and RICKI RACHTMAN!!! Wooo! I think I'd rather watch tennis than this. Wait.. scratch that.

-During the cruiserweight match, I kept waiting.. and waiting.. and waiting for mention of Kaz Hayashi to solidify the match I'd hoped would make it's way to the Fall Brawl lineup. Alas; no such luck. I really hope August/September's jobber of the month, Evan Kurrageous (and his Van Halen wannabe entrance music) doesn't walk on to the cruiserweight challenger's slot on the upcoming PPV.

-Out came Vampiro and the ICP, who must've taken note of Sid's use of the run-in to boost his record and hoped to use it to their advantage as well. Hell, using that logic the "fan" that clocked Lenny is already 1-0.

-What was the reasoning behind the steel cage main event? Did they just have a cage handy, and decided to go ahead and throw that in as a 'bonus'? Usually, these things happen for a reason. DDP/Savage from many moons ago was to keep the nWo b&w out.. War Games is a tradition in the steel. Tonight's use was worthless, and didn't do anything to help the match anyway. Just more stupid, stupid booking by the WCW committee. I'm wondering if there wasn't a storyling planned behind this, and Hogan didn't screw it up and spoil it in his interview? I guess we'll never know.

-Quoth King Schiavone: "We're giving away a million dollars! This has never happened in our industry!" What a short memory span.. Didn't the WWF do it at a Survivor Series or Summerslam a couple years ago? I'll forget about it, if I'm given the said cash though..

-Why couldn't the pianist keep playing during Sid's rant this week?

-Oi, was the Harlem Heat interview a folly of errors. I almost thought it to be a humor segment, between Gene's dropping of the mic, Booker T's fury, and Stevie Ray's mucking up the difficult 'sunglasses removal' hold.

-Why do I get the sick, sick feeling that they'll try to convince us that Bret Hart jumped Sting in the locker room last night? Here, let me spell it out for you.. "HE WON'T WORK AS A HEEL". Don't mess it up.

-I am enjoying a bagle with cream cheese!

-The battle royal was actually a refreshing change of pace, especially considering it ended cleanly and we didn't have to suffer through too much of Brian Knobbs. Good to see the Revolution going over strong in this one too.. Given the contestants, I don't think I could've booked it better. They even portrayed Shane Douglas as the weak link of the Revolution. Bravo!

-For another change, I enjoyed the Cat-Bo segment. I hate Tae-Bo, and this segment was just hilarious. Mega points were awarded for that guy at the end, saying "Now I can be the greatest.. just like the Cat!"

-Why was Johnny Swinger v Prince Iaukea on this card? That's barely suitable for Saturday Night. It hasn't been long enough since I've seen Swinger, and the only time Iaukea was interesting was during his feud with Jericho.

-It's sad that Steven Regal is jobbing to Buff these days. Ah, well. I guess they had to put him over someone to soften the blow of jobbing to Berlyn on the PPV. Still; if this was legit, Bagwell wouldn't be walking right now.

-Blitzkrieg/Juventud Guerrera/Psychosis v Kidman/EddyGuerrero/Chavo. How could this match NOT kick my ass? As for rumors that Juvi's change in wardrobe was 'punishment' to Kidman, I'm really wondering how that can be so. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, plus if they consider another Kidman/Juvi feud, this time with more behind it than the cruiserweight belt to be punishment, then WCW needs to begin punishing a helluva lot more often. I can't even begin to note the cool-ass spots this one saw, except Blitzkrieg didn't recieve nearly as much offense as he deserves. Again. Still, teased tension between Kidman and Chavo can only mean one thing: a feud. And feuds in the cruiserweight division is reason to rejoice.

-I almost thought I saw some intensity behind Shane Douglas again. Alas; it was gone before I had the chance to look closely enough.

-Sadly, Berlyn's translator hasn't recieved the axe yet. Not only that, but they've assigned her a German name and are trying to pass her off as a native. Yea, German's HER first language. I maintain that Berlyn could be a genuine hard-ass, and one HELL of a heel if they brought a big, pissed off german guy in as his translator. To me, just hearing a deep voiced German man speak is intimidating.. throw in some threats and you have a gimmick that works.

-Benoit & Malenko gave us some of the best exchanges we've seen on television here in quite a while. Sadly, the crowd showed us that they weren't there to see wrestling.. most seemed to expect a circus. Still, I thought I saw a glimmer of hope when these two received applause for a tough series of near-falls. When I saw Sid, I about dumped my pants. Spence said it best: "WCW had me fooled.. Benoit v. Malenko with the winner receiving a title shot. Ha!". Somebody really likes to tease us with potential before pulling it away and tearing it all to shreds.

-As for the main event.. what arse. Sid no-sells all night for Malenko and Benoit, but gets in the ring and it's sell city for Hogan and Goldberg. Speaking of which, I think big Bill sold more on that Spree commercial they jammed down our throats than he did in the entire main event.

Overall Grade: D+

Not much better than last week, overall. Sure, there were some extremely promising moments, but almost all of them were spoiled by Dusty Rhodes and his "Run-ins are the answer" policy. On a side note, does anyone have the beginnings of a clue how fraggin' cool it would be to see Benoit kick the living hell out of Sid this Sunday? You're damned right it won't happen, but let me enjoy the notion while it's still something of a possibility.


-There's really not much more I can say about the Rock on the mic. Sometimes I wonder how someone could be so inventive on the mic week in and week out. I got sick of Austin quickly, but I honestly look forward to these segments anymore. He read all of our minds regarding Kane's voice box, and if there's anything I love it's brutal honesty.

-While we're on the Big Red Machine, tonight took big steps toward re-establishing him as a monster deserving of the title 'former world's champion', in more ways than one. Aside from his actions during the main event (which we'll get to later), he had a handicap match against the Rock & Mankind won before Helmsley interfered, and even then made a strong comeback. WCW, are you taking notes? This is called 'building a contender'.

-The Undertaker just keeps looking and acting more and more ridiculous. It's almost to the point where I'm ashamed to have enjoyed his gimmick. He's not a biker, he's a mortician! From hell!

-Let's see... No Debra... no Austin... Hmmmm.

-Was it me, or was the JJ / Jacqueline match disturbing? When it's Chyna in question, the violence is almost acceptable. She asked to be placed in the men's division, and has accepted any problems that might arise in that field. Even in that sense, I'm against it.. but I can see how it might be acceptable. With Jacqueline, things are different. No matter how you mask it, violence between sexes is wrong and I'm ashamed to be seeing it.

-I thoroughly enjoyed the Acolytes v Edge / Christian offering, though I didn't like the way it was portrayed in the end. They seem to have built this as more of a fluke win (ie the Hardys' title win over the Acolytes a month or two back), and in the long run may have hurt these two rising stars' credibility.

-If there's one lesson we learned last night, it's this: never... EVER... question the proportions of a Giant. Especially while he's pissing. Then again, Val was apparently urinating through his shorts, as there was no zipper on them. Maybe he just wanted to check out the Show?

-I'm glad to see Stasiak has escaped from his 'Meat' gimmick. Maybe he'll be given a decent chance this time around.. Oop... he's been jumped by the MSP. Never mind. On a side note; I find it bizarre that both Chaz and now Stasiak have broken kayfabe, and are involved in a feud with each other. Strange...

-What's a "punk card"?

-Leave it to the Dudley's to remind us that the 3 commandments are "Thou shall not kill, Thou shall not steal, and Look out". Moving on, I honestly can't say I'm looking forward to a feud between the former ECW stars and the Acolytes..

-It's been 2 weeks since he's appeared live on Raw, and he's yet to wrestle on the program. When are we gonna get more Jericho on Raw? They're still giving the Undertaker as much time on the mic as he wants, but Jericho gets about half a minute. I'm not complaining.

-I didn't like Billy Gunn as a face in DX.. not much has changed. Which leads me to wonder.. why is he a face, all of a sudden? Useless..

-At least we're not being smothered with the Stooges anymore. It was good to see them again, which means the bookers learned their lesson last time.. and hopefully they won't be overexposed again this time. Keeping it in context, JR gave us the line of the night when Patterson tore off his shirt with "Oh, god Pat! Don't!". Did Test jump as far as I think he did to deliver that flying elbow?! Good lord, he flew over three quarters of the ring!

-The Hardys / Hollys was a good example of how things should be handled these days. They got some time on the mic (which Holly .. er... #1.. made good use of, though my laughter was a bit guilty regarding the Karen Carpenter joke), and were given a good chunk of time to work with. The only problem I have is that the wrong team came out on top. On a side note, I'm really digging the whole 'new brood' bit.

-I thought for a moment that Al Snow was "coming out of his problems", and moving on to a push as... (suspenseful pause).. himself. Then he started barking. God, what a waste.

-Rock on the Undertaker: "Die, die, die. Die." I love it.

-2 GTV's last night?! Hunh. I wonder who Marianna was on the line to... maybe Thrasher?

-The women's title match was almost acceptable, until they tried to use the iron. Terrible!

-OK, the main event gave us 2 advancements to main event status in Billy Gunn and Kane. Which one doesn't belong? Maybe if Gunn could've successfully performed his finisher on HHH I'd have bought it. MAYBE. Then again, with a finisher that weak.. I doubt it.

Overall Grade: C+

If anything came of tonight, it was Kane's advancement to a serious contender for the World title. Not even when he was carrying the belt (For the long 24 hours following last year's KOTR) was Kane this formidable, and all I have to say is "about time!"

Anyway.. I've gots me some letters. Let's take us a gander.

Steph (siggyb@enter.net) wonders:

"Did it not strike anyone that the WWF advertised the following for RAW last night: "The Original DX reunites! What's on the minds of HBK, HHH, and Chyna? Find out tonight on RAW" We didn't see the three of them together. Hell, we didn't even see Michaels. Am I the only one who noticed this?"

That's a good observation, especially a week later. (sorry..) Since the reunion of the original DX on the initial broadcast of Smackdown, we have yet to see the HBK on WWF television. Maybe this will change on this week's installment of the aforementioned Thursday program, but only time will tell. And here I was, thinking this angle was a great way to make Michaels earn his paycheck by appearing on the weekly programs while logically involved in angles. I guess we can only have it so good, eh? Anyway thanks for writing, Steph, and keep reading. This situation with HBK isn't near over yet, and it should be interesting to keep an eye on.

Fellow columnist Pat Ekstrand (pekstrand@mst-us.com) threw in his 2 cents regarding the hummer debate:

"Regarding your hummer question, I believe it was a white hummer originally. They always referred to it as just a hummer until the black one showed up. You can check my facts, but I do believe that is correct."

...but then comes back later and tells us:

"Well, I went and looked at some old Video Captures, and sure enough as far as I can tell the Hummer was black? I am curious as to the change though. Why bother with it? They have a black Hummer, why not use it? Unless of course this is part of the angle. Maybe we're supposed to notice the change. Anyway, I wanted to apologize about my earlier e-mail. Thanks"

Sorry if I made you look like an ass there Pat, as it wasn't my intent. Your consecutive mails pretty much summed up the unanimous confusion and questions regarding this 'white hummer' bit. To this day, I can't say with any certainty that it was a black hummer, a white hummer with a white ragtop, a white hummer with a black hard top, or an f'n piss yellow pinto.. but I think I can rule out the last option. I went to the WCW web archives, where they'd posted a video of a white hummer with a black top ramming nash's limo. I don't know if I'm giving them too much credit or not, but I don't think WCW would have the brains to correct old web videos immediately following the program. Who knows though, maybe this is all a big schpeel dreamed up by Bischoff to make us all look like fools. I'm not really that concerned about it anymore, but I won't know for sure until I find another, unbiased video capture elsewhere on the net. Thanks for your letters, Pat. If you haven't yet, you can go check out Pat's column "Pat's Peak" right here at the Oratory..

Finally, Kevin Doherty (kdoherty@cosanostra.net) had a couple topics in mind..

"Regarding your comments on Sid's mic work ("Would it have been so hard to just powerbomb the workers, and say 'I'm Sid. I'm mean. Be afraid.'??"), Sid reminds me a lot of the episode of South Park where Stan is cloned, but his clone is this big dumb monsterish sort of thing, and now I can't see Sid without thinking "Me Sid pchewychomp pchewychewychomp!" :)"

Not much more to say here, except I agree wholely. Hell, I think the clone would make a more entertaining mic worker than Sid does.. he wouldn't even need those silly blue lights.

"Also, I had noticed Hogan's comments about clean finishes as well, and found it rather telling when they booked a run-in/no contest last week in his match with Sting. Apparently clean finishes are only applicable where Hogan gets the win. It seems obvious to me that the only reasonable course of action there would be for Sting to win cleanly and for Hogan to retire (as a face), with much fanfare and adulation from Sting, the announcers, the fans, etc. But, of course, this isn't to be."

At this stage of the game, I've learned to take everything Hogan says in an "I'll believe it when I see it" state of mind. The man has 'retired' so many times, gone against his word so many dozens of times, and has repeatedly shown that he will support no idea that places him anywhere but at the top that I really can't listen to a word he tried to pass off. How's his presidential nomination going, by the way?

"Also of note from Hogan's comments on WCW Live a few weeks back was his comment on how he didn't want to go out as a heel and wanted to be a face. Of course we've been hearing heel turn rumors on Hogan for weeks now, and if he wants to do a real feud with Bret Hart, one of them is gonna have to be face, and I'm really afraid that it'll end up with Hogan turning heel, retiring, and then coming back 3 months later because he didn't want to retire as a heel. We can only hope that someone cripples Hogan before then (as that's the only way I can see trusting him to retire)."

Even then, I think he'd find a way to 'triumphantly' return to the ring, if only as an announcer. At this point I'd rather watch him than hear him, so I suppose we're witnessing the lesser of two evils right now. Regarding the solidification of his feud with Bret Hart, I stand firm that the formulaic 'heel vs. face' formula doesn't always have to be the case. In my opinion, two of Hogan's more memorable feuds came in the form of Randy Savage at Wrestlemania V (in which Savage was technically a heel, but had only recently been a face) and the Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VI (in which case both men were faces, with their own unique fan followings). If executed correctly, a face v. face feud can garner more heat than a heel v. face feud as the fans try to decide which side to take. I have fond memories of the excitement I had built going into Toronto all those years ago, and they remain among my most cherished memories regarding this industry. So, in the end, I don't think either man must be a heel in order for this feud to work, but taking a look at the bookers in WCW today, I think that's the way it has to be. And that's a real shame.

But I suppose I've gone on for long enough. Thanks for your letter, and thanks to everybody for giving this issue of Ringside Shadows a read.
until then, i remain