Here I was, never thinking I'd say that. The switch of both programs' products is unmistakeable, and in the WWF's case.. nearly unforgivable. Like I said, the past month's performances have told quite a story. Only this time, I'm not talking about the angles and interviews held in the programs themselves. Nitro has been consistantly better each week, while Raw is slowly descending into the world of pure shite. I'm not sure how or when, but somewhere something clicked..
Anyway, both shows had highs and lows last night.. Nitro with a stellar match lineup that didn't quite follow through as it should have and a sequel to the car crushing incident, Raw with a meeting of the Broods that didn't quite follow through and a sequel to the Rock n' Sock fiasco of last week. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
-If the're looking for the right formula to start the show, this is it. Rey & Malenko gave us a nice follow-up to last week's helluva matchup, but didn't quite stack up as well as the previous meeting. I can't quite put my finger on it.. maybe I wasn't in a good mood.. but something was missing last night. A nice reversal of an attempted Hurricarana into a Cloverleaf by Dean, which came dangerously close to my hold of choice and creation, the unrelenting NERVE GARDEN!!
-The Revolution heel turn and split is starting to take shape, and they even threw a swerve at us for a change. Saturn & Douglas look to work well together as heels, with Shane especially breaking out with his killer heel's grin. This could be big.
-Schiavone tries to prove his worth to the internet "smarts" by mentioning the Ferrera/Russo move, cementing the reality of the acquisition. Does it strike anyone else as low to mention this on live television? 75% of the people watching haven't a clue who those two are, and the other 25% knew about the move a day earlier. A slap in the face to the WWF on a night that saw more than one inter-federation reference.
-WCW needs the Hollys out there with their scale.. 'cause Disco ain't no cruiserweight. Psychosis seemed to be a step behind, since losing his mask.. but at least he isn't wearing camo and a gas mask. And if his reward for dropping the mask is another cruiserweight reign for less than a week, I think he has something to complain about. Schiavone further proved his ineptness by stating "With the mask, he never carried a belt.. without the mask, he's got the crusierweight title". Forgetting a little bit of recent history, Tony? Speaking of forgetting... where's Lenny?
-Good to see Scott Hall back again, too bad he had to drag Nash along. Seems his wife had a point, taking him away from wrestling.. he isn't even active on the show, and he's immersed himself back into his problems. I love seeing the guy around, but if he's gonna destroy himself maybe he should've retired.
-So much for Sid's credibility.. he sold the majority of his match against Brian "discovered a razor" Adams and his patented "World's Ugliest Piledriver". At least he took off those god-awful sideburns. This apparantly makes Sid 120-0, which rivals my WCW record of 200-0. One of those is a joke, but even I'm not sure which.
-The Sid/Goldberg feud may have some of the most repetitous mic work in the history of our sport. Big Bill runs out there and cuts the same promo each week, culminating in his weekly uttering of "ass", while Sid used up all his inventiveness taunting 'the man' on his way to the ring. Such world renowned insults as "You're mine Goldberg!", "I've got you!" and "You're mine, Goldberg!" found their way into his repertoire.
-The Berlyn / Brad Armstrong encounter was well done, with Armstrong coming off as the high school hot-head that tormented every student at one time or another, while the former Alex Wright kept his cool and actually came off tougher than his opponent.
-The Harlem Heat / First Family clash demonstrated just what dire straits the WCW tag division is in right now. Hopefully the new bookers can breathe some life back into the once-great, thrice-lost scene. Why the First Family wasn't the first out the door when releases were being made is beyond me, I guess somebody seems to think they're worthwhile. It was pretty humorous seeing the dressed-up Booker T deliver an axe kick in his business clothes.. I can see action like that going down in the office.
-I'd like to say the Nitro Girls segment was watchable, but I was too busy checking out Spice's... outfit..
-As the illustrious Mr. Schiavone reminded us multiple times during Rey's match, he was the only "filthy animal" in the house... so why did Kidman have a match further down the card? Dumm..
-But hey, if it means another Kidman / Juvi match, I'll put up with anything Fat Tony dishes out. Like the Rey / Malenko match opening the night, this one wasn't all it could have been... but was still far better than anything the WWF threw out. A nice set of combos, reversals, spots etc. that had me glued to my set for the length of the match. Not to mention the fact they gave this one more than enough time to develop into the classic encounter we should expect form these two. Juvi's people's elbow was... unexpected, to say the least. The difference between Juvi & Rock's? Juvi still puts a little effort and emphasis into it. Wish I could've understood what he was saying into the camera afterwards. A nice diving... what was that, a splash? by Kidman outside the ring onto both men, too bad it had to be followed by a blown dropkick spot back in the ring. Juvi whupped out his always-impressive top-rope Juvi Driver before Rey nonsensically interfered, costing Kidman the match. While we're on the topic of these three... if you're looking for a good match, check out the 3-way dance they put on at Starrcade '98, the last WCW PPV I purchased.
-I'm sure there'll be complaints about the placement of the Bret Hart / Chris Benoit match.. and nothing's really gonna change that. All I ask is that anyone who would say something to that effect take a look at the competitors. This is a match that deserves to appear at the top of any card, even without the motivation behind it that last night had. Forget everything that's been said about Owen.. forget every tribute that's sure to come in the future, this felt right. This was the way to honor Owen, and finally bring a sense of closure to such a tragedy.
-I'll more than likely be lynched and stripped of my skin for this, but I was a bit let down by the match itself. I guess I'd been building this up too much in my mind, and was expecting such a completely incredible match that nothing could've met my expectations. I doubt the 2 commercial breaks really helped the flow of the match, though.. The WWF managed to go the entire 34 minutes of the Rock n' Sock fiasco uninterrupted last week.. would it have been too much to ask that Nitro do the same for this match? I'd have been willing to go without the DDP/Buff match for that.
-I don't have words to express how cool these spots were: Benoit's liontamer from hell, Benoit's tilt-a-whirl into tombstone, the teased dragon suplex, Hart's obligatory top-rope superplex, Benoit's amazing reversal of the sharpshooter into the crossface, the rolling suplex/diving headbutt combo, Hart's mean piledriver, and Hart's reversal off the 3rd german suplex, followed by his transformation of a crossface back into a sharpshooter for the win. Just a great match, and I wish my expectations hadn't been so damned high, as it held back my enjoyment of this match.
-Is it me, or did Buff manage to cut a promo without mentioning how he's "the stuff"? A surprisingly decent match from these two that saw DDP regain some much-needed credibility by taking home the clean win. If you wanna see how not to sell a diamond cutter, look no farther than Buff's selling last night. Yuck.
-Honestly? I didn't watch the main event. A healthy dump was much more entertaining, not to mention relieving. It's sad what Sting and Flair have been reduced to. Slick Ric looks terrible anymore, and really needs to think about ending his spectacular career within the next few months.
-I'm wondering which tow-truck service offers free crushing and returning service, with no legal questions. There's apparantly one in each town, and Sid and Goldberg manage to find them easy as can be in the phone book.
Overall Grade: A-
An excellently booked lineup, with few exceptions. There was definately something missing in the athletes' performance last night, but that's to be expected on occasion. One of the best cards of the year for WCW, and deserving of a high grade.
-Good to see the "Vince talks, threatens and rants for 20 minutes" segment of the show has been taken from the opening again.. though giving the Acolytes the belts to open the show doesn't really start the show off on a good foot. When are they gonna bring a close to this 'X-Pac feels bad about being little' angle? Barring the inevitable heel turn, he's gonna have trouble getting over as anything if he keeps jobbing to Bradshaw.
-All I know is that to me you look like you're lots of fun.. open up your lovin arms, I want some....
-I'm glad the WWF isn't slapping their European fans in the face by ignoring the PPV overseas, as has become the usual. I was thinking about their misuse of the European market while reading the results of the past ppv. When was the last time a major belt changed hands at such an event? The European champion, D'Lo Brown didn't even defend the belt on the card! But at least they acknowledged it and incorporated it into angles this time.
-When he was understandable, the Bulldog told us "there are too many women in the WWF today and they don't belong there". Let's see... Mae Young, Ivory, and the Fabulous Moolah were in action later in the card.. yep. I think I can agree with Davey Boy on this one.
-A decent twist to the Test / Stephanie angle with the amnesia bit, and an acceptable out for next week's wedding.
-Nice work from both the New and Old Brood, for the 3 minutes they got in the ring. There's little excuse for a damned good match like this seeing such a short time while even more time is spent on the mic. Where's Big V with his match length timer when you need him? Edge's spear to end the match was almost as ugly as Brian Adams' piledriver. Almost.
-Even though everybody, their brother, and their drooling, one legged, retarded dog named Earl knew what was gonna happen during the HHH / JR segment... I couldn't take my eyes off it. King was funny, yelling "This is a slobberknocker!" as JR tasted the beat down sauce.
-While we're at it, why don't we just invite the guys from G vs. E over for supper? I mean, we know them well enough from this week's Raw.
-Y'know, it was pretty nice, watching the women's match now that I think about it.. the cameramen should be commended for their work with Ms. Kitty. I'll take a nice pussy cat over some puppies any day..
-I shouldn't be surprised that they threw out another Rock n' Sock fiasco, after last week's record-breaking interview rating. Somehow, I doubt this week's offering will fare as well.. though I'm more than likely wrong. Going up against the Hart/Benoit match, this week will tell the tale of what today's viewers want to see, though the constant commercial interruptions on WCW's offering probably didn't help their product out any. I did get a laugh out of the Rock's denial of Foley's "poontang pie" offering. Finally, Jericho is thrown into a logical situation... and it's promptly screwed over by an enthusiastic fan. What a moron. Rocky's knocking Juventud? Hmmm... maybe the people's champ might be a bit... jealous of a worker that knows how to build, work, and bump during a match? Just a little food for thought.
-I'm not sure what to think about Jericho's situation in the WWF. On one hand, he's in the main event of Raw mere months after his debut.. on the other, he's a shade of his former self in the ring, he's not over, and he sold the majority of the match to the offense of the Rock... a punishment in and of itself. They won't even let him do the liontame....er...walls of Jericho... correctly anymore. Why not just call it a Boston Crab? That's what Jericho's performing nowadays.
Overall Grade: C-
I'm being generous, giving Raw a grade this high. The program wasn't near average, which is where I draw the line for a C, but earns back a few points for their use of the Brood, Edge/Christian, Mankind/Dude Love (whose video is hysterical), and Jericho. It's been said the internet is a harbringer of the future, and if that's so.. things are looking pretty bleak for the WWF.
As for me, I'll be gone until the middle to end of this week, where I'll try to get a real column up again. I feel like I'm not doing my job, focusing so heavily on the Monday programs.. so I'll try to start something different in the next week or two.
until then, i remain