...aside from the 35 backstage shots, the gratuitous T&A that's been Raw's fortay in the past months, an interrupted cruiserweight match, Goldberg's breakneck re-ascention to the top, an evening gown match, and a blatant direct approach to the "smarts" on the net, things were the same.
These two are trying to create "Nitro is War", and that isn't supposed to be happening. Meanwhile, Raw is struggling to regain itself in the wake of this move, and things aren't getting done by themselves. In Vince's flailings, he's actually created a pretty decent drama series, but his path still leads somewhere away from pro wrestling. It's like a bad joke.. "How many columnists does it take for Vince McMahon to discover the err of his ways?"
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
-No time was wasted before we were shown the cruisers have no place in the new regime of WCW. I was actually hoping for a good display of Evan Karagious' skills here, so I could form an overall opinion on him. Then again, I'm among the masses that have been asking for a Bret Hart title shot in the past year, so I guess everything comes with a price.
-Sting's new haircut makes him look like a girl. Not to say that's a completely bad thing, but I'd figure the workers would want to distance themselves from that image as much as possible, especially in this industry.
-Everybody that knew who Ferrera and Russo were knew they'd be debuting on this evening.. why confuse the average fans by even mentioning their names? Catering to the internet won't help WCW much any more, especially after trying to get over this 'Hogan quits' deal by using the same means.
-I think I blinked and missed the Vampiro/Disco Inferno match. What the hell did they decide to do with the tattooed wonder?! I could see it would be a sick outcome when I caught the look on his face while entering the arena, but god.. is he supposed to be credible now? I've heard the rumors about the infamous '90 day notice' and Vamp's supposed firing,
but I didn't really think he'd jump ship. Now I'm seeing posts regarding a backstage discussion and a 'big role' in the future of the company. I think that's great and all, but doing the job in less than a minute is no way to treat anybody, especially somebody with talent... and it's certainly not WCW. On the other hand, PPV matches are finally starting to have some meaning. Lash LeRoux's commentary during the said match was a welcome and necessary addition to hype his title shot at Halloween Havok, though he doesn't seem ready to be anywhere near a mic just yet.
-Madusa pretty much said it all backstage, which makes me sad to see her comments were scripted. If you're planning on having a women's division, make it a women's WRESTLING division.
-I hadn't watched for it before, but yes.. the rumors are true. Mean Gene is a mic hog. Meanwhile, Bagwell confirmed all of our fears... his push is imminent, his ringwork is sad, and he does know more than 5 words.
-Looking for a good example of overbooking? You needn't go farther than last night's Harlem Heat v. Rey / Konnan match. There was so much unecessary shit going down inside the ring, outside the ring, on the headsets, and backstage that nobody human could correctly follow things. Whatever happened to "Rey pins Booker to win the gold"? Last night, that simple sentence was elongated to "Rey pins Booker with the help of Konnan to win the gold while Eddy chats on the mic and the First Family looks on, only to run into the new champs later". So much for the product I was enjoying over the last couple weeks..
-I'm wondering. Why did the ref even count the Filthy Animals pinfall? Last I checked, double-teaming like that was illegal, even in a tag match. If Konnan had stood in the ring looking on, rather than holding down Booker, I wouldn't have had any problem with it. At the very least, it marks a definate heel stable for WCW (Though they have Torrie, so they'll still get face pops..) and a jump in credibility for Booker T.
-I don't think David Flair looked at Kimberly's face the entire time she was talking to him.. hey kid, experience tells me it doesn't pay to be that blatant..
-Last I checked, Meng was still a part of the First Family. But I don't care..
-Clutching his "contract" (read: notes for his promo), Sid reminded me of a scene from Wayne's World. Remember the part where Wayne reads from his notecards, on the backs of which he'd written clever phrases like "Sphincter Boy" and "He blows goats... I have proof"? Here's a real-life reinactment.
-It was a good move, introducing a future Outsiders / Goldberg collision down the line.. however, I think we saw way too much backstage footage of Hall and Nash being escorted away from the building. A couple seconds would have done well enough.. instead, we're treated to 3 or 4 minutes' worth of the Outsiders' idea of drunken humor.
-An example of one backstage segment that served a good purpose: Bret Hart telling everybody he'd give Hogan first dibs on the title if he won it. It kept you guessing, and for once I was surprised when the run-in did occur.
-Flair played his role to a "t" all night long, both in the hotel scene, as the father motivating his son to fight back, and as the enraged guardian in the ring taking on all of the Filthy Animals. It really is a shame his time is coming to a close, as he remains the best there is in the entertainment aspect of this business.
-Hell, I was even rooting for David Flair for a moment, before I remembered how terrible he was in the ring. If this angle involved anybody else, it would be unbelievable. Just another reason why they shouldn't have rushed the great son into the ring, as his inclusion into this angle not only screwed a more deserving athlete out of a chance to raise their status (Rey, Juvi, Psychosis.. anybody with less than 10 years beneath their belt could've filled Flair's role), but may have injured Kidman's rise as well. Lil' Naitch did take that shooting star press like a trooper though, after Kidman botched it and kneed him directly in the face.
-Bret and Sting put forward a nice little match, though it was again a bit below my expectations. Maybe I've been watching too many of Hart's great matches recently to remember any of his not-so-great ones. Both these men let us know they can still work the style last night though, and left me anticipating a rematch with more buildup behind it. The excellence of execution has finally paid his dues.. welcome home, Bret.
-WOOOOOOO! As the llamas prance in joy, the world gasps.. La Parka took home a rare Nitro victory! Who cares if Bagwell 'let' him take it, or that this will probably be the last we'll see of him in a long while. It's worth it. As for Jarrett's arrival; I don't pretend to know what he was talking about, but he looks to have been immediately thrust to high-midcard rank. If the storyline goes that he's taking Buff's slot as the man to go to in the new regime, it's all cool by me.
-At this point, the WCW spot of the year is that ugly triple-superplex that Saturn, Chavo and Eddy pulled out. Just nasty, nasty stuff that I can't believe the younger Guerrero walked away from. If the crowd were into this one, it would've breezed right through to grab the match of the week award. As is, it still managed to grab it.. though the absense of noise was distracting, the bumps and work in the ring more than made up for it. Not only that, but the right man won! Now to include Chavo and his stable in this Revolution / Filthy Animals feud, so the win wasn't useless..
-Whoever decided to include a technical worker like Norman Smiley in a hardcore match needs to have their head examined. Horace has a decent resume extending back to Japan and the indy circuit dealing with hardwore working, but Smiley was completely out of his element and the style clash wasn't a nice sight to behold. I didn't have much room to notice however, as Smiley's woman-like screaming had me on the floor. I really like this guy, his big wiggle's hilarious and now this screaming!
-Anybody (myself included) hoping Jarrett had left the woman-beater angle behind in the WWF was rudely awakened last night. Of all the angles to keep alive, why this one?
-A nice spot to end the night on, as Goldberg spears Luger (I won't call him the 'TP'), who was racking Hart. The fans went home happy, and that's something WCW's been missing for quite some time. A final note: As I watched this match finish up, I saw a couple full cups of drink hit the ring and was reminded of the D'Lo/Droz accident. I can understand tossing some debris into the ring on a night that sees an indecisive finish, but what the hell. Some people shouldn't even breathe, and that encompasses everybody who would toss anything at the workers at a live show.
Overall Grade: C
Quite simply, an average show. A couple spectacular advancements went down, but they were cancelled down by the collection of suck and overall Titan-esque feel of the night. Nothing stands out in my mind as being unbelievable, nor 'shocking' as the headers promised. But then again, it's still too early to offer an accurate depiction of what the future holds for WCW.
-Monday's Raw was missing something. The spontenaity that usually fits in with Pro Wrestling was gone, traded for an almost cinematic sense of scripting. The workers seemed to be just going through the motions on this night, rather than really becoming the roles they occupy while in the arenas. For that reason, the Raw section of this review will be treated not as a wrestling program's review, but rather more as a theatrical review...
-The opening segment was a good preview of things to come, focusing on feigned collisions, dramatic interludes and a tense, more theatrical feel in the air. You could feel the electricity as the Rock and Austin eyed each other down and prepared to go at it.. I think I wouldn't be totally against another feud between these two somewhere down the line. Vince should've stayed retired.. his presense wasn't necessary here.
-The scripted atmosphere was best noted in the Dudleys v X-Pac / Kane beginning. Kane cut off BuhBuh at a moment in his speech that seemed almost too perfect. Meanwhile, the Kane/X-Pac split and feud that was teased Sunday night has apparantly been completely erased again. I wonder.. when will they get on with this? We've been through the same situations twice before, perhaps the third time's the charm?
-Hughes blew his line by delivering it too early.. Or maybe that was his problem all along? He acted as though he had lost before seeing Faarooq's hand. Hughes had a full house, and he offered the pot to the Acolyte when he announced he had 2 pair. 2 pair doesn't beat a full house... 4 of a kind does.
-Poor Mae Young showed her age by completely forgetting her lines, and then covering that even worse by reading them as though she were reading a book. Moolah tried to save the segment, but it was doomed before either spoke.
-I saw the happenings following Mark Henry's sex therapy session coming 12 miles away. And yet, I still watched. Much like Rosemary's baby, you couldn't take your eyes off of it. Sick.
-Bradshaw's got the 'clothesline from hell'... I nominate the Godfather / Mideon & Viscera fued for 'feud from hell', as the only one who could possibly enjoy a feud of such pure and utter dumplings would be the dark lord himself. Do they think we're gonna watch this? I'd rather ritualistically pluck my pubic hairs, one at a time with a pair of rusty tweezers.
-Jericho's honesty is one of the greatest things the WWF has going for it right now.. and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited at the prospect of seeing Chyna suffering in the LionTamer.
-They really did a good job in making it seem as though that trashcan could hurt, during the Bulldog attack on Test. If only it hadn't gave when it hit the mat, and bounced merrily on it's way. I guess the Posse needed to be somewhere, and the Bulldog seemed to need a little help... right? If not for their inclusion, this could be a breakout feud for both men, re-establishing Davey Boy as a viable contender, or building Test as a high midcard, occasional main event athlete.
-Nobody can make you feel sorry more than Mick Foley, and his work during the Rock encounter was outstanding. It's something I'd been waiting a long time to see, as Rocky's self-centered character trait is really annoying most of the time. Of course, they'll probably make it out to be somebody going through the Rock's things and tossing them, or something else completely unbelievable.. giving us the inevitable reunion. But until then, watch Mick. He knows what he's doing.
-I'd like to see the Venis / Snow feud continued in the future.. these two have styles that seem to compliment each other. Why not just give us an old fashioned wrestling feud, without any of these silly stipulations and mic work.. just solid matches? If they can deliver that, I'll never have a bad thing to say about the new direction again.
-The crowd's ovation for the Hardys and Edge/Christian was one of those moments that reminds me why I watch this stuff. It made me feel good to see two teams of the sport's best finally recognized for their talented encounters in the past. And hey.. looks like the Hardys
are on their own again.
-I wonder how the Bossman talked that cop into convincing the Show his father hadn't died 2 years ago of cancer, but instead had actually died last night?
-Another good example of leaving the show with a memorable spot that works. It's strange to see the WWF de-emphasizing their champion in order to push a feud that hasn't even begun to resurface, but that's just what they're doing here. I wonder.. will Austin and Rocky be too obesessed with kicking the hell out of each other to take advantage of
the title shot(s) at Survivor Series?
Overall Grade: B
Much better than last week, though still suffering through many of the same problems that has plagued the Federation in the past years. The road to recovery has already begun, and from what I can see at this point the next PPV looks more promising than the last.
That should do it for me. I'm sorry I couldn't get the column out yesterday that I'd promised. I didn't get home until much later than I'd expected (I was in South Bend catching the Notre Dame game this weekend), and didn't have much time to work on the letters and column itself. I should have it ready either tomorrow or Wednesday, and I'll return again Thursday evening with the "World's First Halloween Havok Preview".
until then, i remain