Before we jump in, I'd like to thank everybody who voted for me in the 'mack daddy of columnists' poll, over at the Steel Cage Asylum. It's been a nice ride, and I'm flattered to have made it this far. I've been told I'd need to shill a hell of a lot in order to take the win in my current round against the Scotsman. However, I think I'm above the ridiculous amount of endorsement that would be necessary to achieve such a feat. So, don't look for any blatant shilling on my part, just thanks and a good chunk of hope.
Coming off something of a somber week (due in large part to the Owen Hart remembrance), I was hoping for a bit of a pick-me-up with this week's shows... and I suppose they delivered. Neither lived up to their potential, though that's not to say either was completely unwatchable. Both programs showed evidence of patient, eventual main event pushes for deserving midcarders (the WWF in Jarrett, WCW with..who else..Benoit), giving a strong sense of hope. Then again, both shows gave us a nice steaming pile of pooh in the ring (literally and figuratively) at several points throughout the night.
But hey.. I'm getting ahead of myself.
-Looked for a moment like they were thinking of resurfacing the Canada gimmick with Hart last night, as Luger threatened to call immigration..
-Some things shouldn't be rushed. Bearing that in mind, "big" Tony Schiavone's attitude during Bobby Heenan's hyped tribute to long-time commentating partner Gorilla Monsoon was atrocious and uncalled for. In a rare moment of weakness on Heenan's part, Schiavone trucks on through and hypes the main event while "the Brain" struggles to maintain his composure. I realize officials may have been on his back to move on and leave the tribute as a short memory, but sometimes emotion needs to come before business. I blinked, and I missed the most difficult words Heenan has ever spoken.
-The night started off not with a bang, but a whimper.. they went to commercial not 2 minutes into the opening match of Saturn / Mysterio. That's like lighting a pack of M80s directly in front of us, only to have them turn out to be those sad little ash 'snakes'.
-That double-leg scissors spot was nasty.. and I'm still confused as to why Kidman had to jump in the ring. Maybe payback for Rey's nonsensical ring entrance into a Kidman match a couple weeks back? Or maybe just so they had a reason for the tag match farther up the card..
-A rare peek at the backstage preparations of NWA legends Ric Flair and Arn Anderson gives us... Arn brushing his teeth, while Ric admires Meng? Bizarre.. Still, the aforementioned Meng promo was pretty funny. I liked the slow-mo voice-overs from different matches, proclaiming how unstoppable this man is. They hold consistant with the speed in which he works.
-Kaz Hayashi worked his ass off last night, going out of his way to put Disco.. er.. excuse me, "D.I." over strong. All Schiavone can do to recognize his efforts is slide away in his little rolling chair and comment on how hard the announcing table is. Sadly, according to Russo and Ferrera, this may be the last we see of Hayashi.. unless he learns to cut a promo in English really quickly.
-Meng/Konnan was our match of the week?? How sick is that? Both men blew up around the 15 second mark, showing that they need another couple months working house shows before they make their returns to Nitro. Am I the only one that found it ridiculously funny, seeing the 3 pre-teen, Tommy Hilfiger-clad fans that cheered Konnan standing just behind him on camera? That's his target audience, to a "t".
-Iiiii'm already sick of the 'Outsiders buying tickets' bit.. I used to like watching Hall in the ring during his prime, but it's just not the same. Two 40-something guys trying to act like they're the rebellious youth doesn't cut it for me anymore.
-Goldberg's regressed back to the jobber-squasher of old, minus about a third of the intensity. I wonder if WCW keeps trotting out these workers that were reportedly released (and for good reason, at that..) just to spite the net?
-As a general rule of thumb, if I see Hogan coming to the ring, I'm looking for the remote in an instant. Last night was no exception, though I sat for a good 10 minutes wondering where the action was. On Raw: Austin meandered along.. on Nitro: Hogan tripped over words. The Hulkster's avoidance of the question heard 'round the net answers more questions than his words could.
-Poor David Flair. I've been in that situation before...
-Wanna know how to make me hate you? Book a Brian Knobbs / Stevie Ray "street fight" ass-lovin' match... and throw it into the head-to-head section. Maybe if the stip was "loser leaves WCW forever, under penalty of death." I'd check out the post-match activities, just to see who won't be gracing us with his suck. This match was shit. This match was regurgitated gruel, lovingly dipped in glucose, regurgitated again, dipped in honey, and then scientifically added to the stankiest of the stankys, bringing to you... well, some really repugnant stuff..
-Follow that up with a kickass Revolution interview and angle development, along with an appearance by the coolest of all Luchadores, La Parka (who, again, thanks to Russo and Ferrera, won't be appearing on WCW tv much longer) and you've got a bit of a recovery. The biggest of the luchas needs to lose that new skull mask, though. Speaking of which, I don't think he's won a match in WCW yet. Which is a joke.
-Not only did we see the La Parka strut, but the Big Wiggle made an appearance, too. Norman Smiley is hilarious, and has been building his charisma for some time now. If he didn't look so damned goofy, he might have a very promising future.. the ring skills are there, the crowd loves him, he's got the body. But he's jobbing to Berlyn in a throwaway match..
-Flair has lost his mind. With that said, he's still a damned good interview, with intensity second to none.
-The match of the evening for both shows was Nitro's Kidman/Rey v. Malenko/Saturn matchup. These 4 dove in, and gave one helluva showing and a candidate for tag match of the year in my book. Kidman took a nasty bump while we were at commercial, when he was german suplexed to the floor, landing flat on his back a'la Shawn Michaels and Jeff Hardy. This kid's got real potential. Meanwhile, Rey and Saturn picked up where they left off earlier in the night, and helped deliver a classic. The spot with Malenko delivering the cloverleaf in his corner, only to be tagged out stands out as the defining moment of this one, which performed its function and delivered a solid conclusion to the Revolution split angle.
-Let me get this straight.. Van Hammer, jobber extraordinaire, moves from an unsuccessful TV title shot a couple months back on PPV to a US title challenger.. Meanwhile, Benoit.. a former US champ, goes from holding that belt to challenging for the TV belt? Somewhere, something got switched..
-While the majority of the viewers were watching Austin/HHH, WCW gave us a match between two of the top performers of the past decade in Curt "did Flair just call me Mr. Perfect?" Hennig and Ric Flair. 10 years ago, the roof would've blown off the place with this one, but with Flair in a steady decline and Hennig mailing his efforts from a Post Office somewhere in South Africa, it didn't meet the expectations. Still, it was a much better match than anything on that 'Heroes of Wrestling' extravaganza.
-As the majority of the internet hit orgasm (well.. maybe that's taking it a bit far..), Chris Benoit found himself in a main event match. As Steiner refused to sell, I'd have given a good sum of money, and eaten that gruel/stank mixture to see Benoit go over hard on the Dog Faced Gimp. Post match, the bookers showed they do know how to build a PPV matchup, giving Goldberg the edge to close out the program as the fans went nuts. This would've been the perfect lead directly to the PPV, were it this weekend.
Overall Grade: B
Definitely a step down from last week, not to mention the week before that. There was way too much poopy in this card to rank any higher than a B, but the Benoit/Hart, Saturn/Mysterio and Saturn/Malenko v. Kidman/Mysterio matches helped give the show a respectable final product.
-Good lord, there were a lot of people in Atlanta to see this..
-Both in the intro segment, as well as the match itself, I was waiting to see JR deliver a stunner to HHH or Chyna.. alas; it wasn't meant to be, and Austin consistantly forgot his little buddy, leaving him to his own devices ("laying there like a slug.. his only defense.." -great quote by Lawler, from a great movie, A Christmas Story.) That doesn't scream camaraderie to me..
-OK, the schpeel with the dogs is beyond old. It was stupid when WCW ran the "Steiners sic dobermans on Sting" bit, it was mindless when the WWF ran the "Let's lock Bossman and Snow in a cage with dogs" bit, and it's ridiculous now with the "There's a ton of Bulldogs... and they POOP!" bit.
-I'll admit I'm not the Road Dogg's biggest fan.. not by damn sight.. but I've got to admire his heart. He was one of the more vocal members of the WWF following Owen's passing, and he remains the only athlete to send get-well wishes to Droz on tv.
-One of the uglier Rocker Dropper (Famouser)s I've never seen. Billy Gunn sucks. There's nothing more to it.
-Y'know what? I didn't watch the women's title match.. I think my roommate said it best: "Grandma, why are you in the ring?"
-Just when things looked bleak, out comes the Brood & Christian/Edge match. I won't complain at all about this, as they were given a nice amount of time, and actually seem to be going somewhere. Jeff delivered a crazy...whatever it's called.. graceful moonsault... to breakup a pin attempt, before all 4 men dove from the ring apron in succession. I could watch this all night long.. my only question: What happens now that both teams have been counted out? Do they stagnate at 2-1, or did both teams pick up a win, bringing the record to 3-2.. and a victory for Christian and Edge. Either way, this was a nice way to swerve everybody who thought the Hardys were guaranteed winners here, sending the series to the full 5.
-...now that we're a full 2 months backwards in the X-Pac / Kane storyline, they've managed to get it back to where it was originally.. why? And why was X-Pac shitty about Kane's save? He was allowed to finish the match..
-It was nice to see the Headbangers back in the ring, as they're sure to add some spice to the struggling tag division. Once the originality of their reunion wore off though, their rust really started to show. That "stage dive" was nearly as ugly as Billy Gunn's famouser or Brian Adams' piledriver. Meanwhile, Jericho continues to leave me feeling unhappy. He was so entertaining in WCW, and now... he's just a shadow of his former self. I keep waiting for the old humor to resurface, but he shows no signs of going back. I've never laughed so hard as I did at his trip to Washington DC about a year back.. what happened to that guy?
-Mark Henry showed us that through all the house shows, the strenuous tour schedule, the training, and the injuries.. it's worth it in the end..
-I'm in full agreement with Bill Lupo about the Big Show terminal cancer segment. If this is a work (which is where my money lies), it's disgusting and doesn't further the WWF's product at all. However, if it's for real.. my prayers go out to Wight and his family. The segment seemed a bit humorous though, as you never saw any clothes on the Show.. was he sitting there naked, pondering his father? Does D'Lo just come up and sit down next to giant, lumbering naked men? Hmmm..
-HHH took quite a bump or two, falling into those concession stands. I wonder.. who were they catering to with those things? There wasn't anybody down there, and the fans couldn't get to that area. Austin proved he had good taste by spitting the Icehouse all over HHH.. Icehouse is among the nastiest beers known to man. How they thought people would enjoy that piss water is beyond me.
-As soon as I saw the laundry basket come out, I knew they were gonna try a NAO/Hardcore Legends deal all over again. The difference? Chyna didn't take the bump. Or was it coincidence that the camera cut away twice.. once right before the laundry basket's flight, once after.
-I don't have to point out that Bret isn't the only one letting this vendetta go on too long.. As long as Vince books blatant suck, like the Bulldog "rolling in his own excrement", both parties are at fault. The fans are sick of it, guys. Move on. Meanwhile, the Austin 'rattlesnake' bit was ridiculous. Not only did he lock Helmsley in that locker room, but a cameraman as well! Shades of the incredibly cheesy Ultimate Warrior/Jake Roberts segment years ago.
Overall Grade: C
A better show than last week's dysmal effort, but still nowhere near the level this program should be performing at. Way too many interview segments (big surprise there), accompanied with crappy matches. Not good, guys, not good.
Finally... I've a single e-mail that need answering:
'Mello Jello' had a brief comment on the Rock, and his originality:
"I listened to The Rock on the SportsBabe back before wrestlemania. He said he has a little notebook where he writes his own material down. He said he writes all of it. Of course, he could have been lying but someone would probably have called him on the lie. Just thought I would send that nugget your way"
Yea, I'd heard about that comment as well.. though I still don't 100% believe it. The true test will be the test of time, to see if Rocky remains as inventive and funny as he was when Russo and Ferrera were still under WWF employment.
Thanks for reading, and sorry that was so brief..
As for me, I'm outta here.. the final encounter in Final Fantasy VIII awaits. Shill.
until then, i remain