And for good measure I'll close it all off with my bag o' mail, ever-growing.
Why's that here? You'll just have to wait for the letters, now won't you? Let's go..
I don't really want to go too in-depth with this one yet, as I have a letter that touches on it. However, the sudden jump between the big 2 has finally given us something new and noteworthy to chat about... and I can't help but feel this means something.
Remember when Syxx/1-2-3-Kid/X-Pac started the exodus from WCW back to New York 1 1/2 years ago? The Raw following Wrestlemania that saw his return will go down in history as the night that saw the momentum head back in the WWF's favor. I, along with most everybody else, couldn't believe Bischoff would let this one slip through his fingers.. and in the end it cost him his job. Somehow, seeing Jarrett on Nitro and hearing about his reasons for leaving remind me of that night in 1998. Don't misread this: the only thing the two jumps had in common was the fact the men involved left one promotion for another.. X-Pac was fired while injured and had nothing nice to say about WCW and those on top, while Jarrett left the WWF on the best terms possible and even did an unnecessary job to leave the promotion as strong as possible. Still, I can't shake this intuition that there's more than meets the eye in this situation, and I wonder if the momentum might be up for another shift?
While we're on topic, I'd like to praise both parties involved with this split for their professional attitude and mutual respect. With one exception, the WWF avoided mentioning Jarrett in a bad light (and the mentioned instance was just good heeling), even wishing him luck on their web site. Jarrett avoided mentioning the WWF by name, and held back what could've been an explosive shoot. For that, both parties have my respect. There should be more of this in the news.
The WCW / NJPW relationship sours
In what's probably one of the last things I'd wanted to hear, it looks like the talent exchange between WCW and New Japan is coming to a close after several years' worth of excellent matches and saved cards. For those who don't follow Puroresu closely (myself included, so I'm opening myself up to severe ridicule here), NJPW is responsible for shipping over Jushin "Thunder" Liger, and the Great Muta, as well as WCW's eventual reception of Dean Malenko, Eddy Guerrero and Chris Benoit. This deal is to thank for what has been dubbed the greatest match ever seen on Nitro (a matchup between Jushin Liger and Brian Pillman), and several remarkable PPV and TV meetings, as well as providing a venue for Scott Norton, Malenko, Benoit and the nWo Sting to enjoy Eastern tours.
Simply put, this was a big deal.. and I was in hopes that the recent return of Benoit and Malenko to the land of the rising sun was a sign of things to come. I'll be sorry to see it go, but who knows.. it could be for the best. Sometimes blessings are well hidden.
Paul Wight's Current Angle
In the past two weeks, the WWF has proved something that hasn't been this obvious since WCW's "smoking Giant" angle.. they have no idea what to do with Paul Wight. I've learned through the past years that when the WWF tries something this pathetic, it's a last-ditch effort to form some controversy and eventually some interest around a worker that's otherwise losing heat quickly. Sometimes the controversy sticks, and it ends up catapulting the man to newfound stardom (Jarrett's beleaguered woman-beating angle generated some intense heat near the end of his WWF run).. but more often than not it only serves to further bury and lose the worker (Chaz, with the Beaver Cleavage gimmick).
A gimmick like this cancer angle is not only disgusting, but degrading and almost insulting to those who suffer every day with the virus. Beloved referee Mark Curtis, of whom the WWF made nearly no mention after his passing, died of the big "C". Maybe I'm taking this whole thing too seriously.. but even I realize that some things shouldn't be touched, and this is one of them.
There have been some small rumblings saying Terry Taylor is WCW-bound once more, and I think they're horsehit. What you're hearing is a classic example of jumping the gun and maybe a bit of wishful thinking. It's no secret that Taylor was one of the most respected bookers backstage at Nitro, and was single-handedly responsible for the cruiserweight division's success (the division his floundered since his departure, seeking direction). Were he to return to Nitro, doubtless the entire show would become much more enjoyable. I don't think that's bloody likely..
Taylor just felt a giant weight lifted from his shoulders... Vince Russo and Ed Ferrera, two men who owned the WWF book, have just left their guard with little to no warning. Things must be chaos in Titan right now, and if Taylor has anything upstairs he'll seize the day and grab what's his... a good chunk of the booking responsibility. Why would he head for WCW, where he'd doubtless pick up where he just left off as the guy with good ideas that nobody listens to? Russo and Ferrera will no doubt seek at least as much power as they were enjoying in the WWF, if not more, and there just isn't room for him in Atlanta anymore.
The main reason for the confusion and speculation about Taylor's departure is his contract's status. He's probably the last of the holdouts since the big shake-up, and for good reason. Vince wants everybody to sign a no-compete clause. Everybody. Taylor has no problem with that, but Vince is looking for a bit much... he wants that clause, without guaranteeing a job for Taylor along the way. Let's take a step back and look at the situation... In a town with two restraunts..BK and McDonalds, your boss at McDonald's offers you a slim raise, in exchange for signing a contract stating you won't work for Burger King for 1 year following the end of your job at the golden arches. But he won't promise you'll keep your job beyond the weekend.. Now you've got a family to feed, a mortgage to pay off, and you need a steady income to assure you aren't late on any of your bills. Vince wants Taylor to commit, but won't make a commitment himself. He wants to have his cake and eat it too..
Taylor has a damned good point, and I'm behind him 100%. And some McDonald's fries would sure hit the spot right about now, too..
Ain't she fine???
Finally, I picked up WWF Attitude from a friend over the weekend.. and I can safely say that Warzone has some competition for the enviable title of "worst wrestling game ever created". Sure, the create-a-wrestler functions are unbelievably detailed (The process takes about an hour, if you're nit-picky like me.), and just an all-out riot to behold. Hey, all the wrestlers have their original themes.. neat. Once your grappler climbs into the ring, you may as well take Matt's route and find a donkey, fit it with iron shoes, and wait for it to deliver a swift kick to your groin. The intros are ugly and delayed, the load time is atrocious, the moves are more difficult to execute than last time around, and it's just an nasty looking game. Honestly, I've never seen a game that showed the programmers' rush more so than this one. Not only that, but until you've been playing for a solid week the opponents are next to impossible. I can't tell you how frustrating it is being powerbombed multiple times by Sgt. Slaughter, while he mentions how he does it "all for his country".
Aside from the terrible graphics and gameplay, the game's a blast. I've programmed a wrestler that looks incredibly like myself, and given him moves that there's no way I'd be able to perform... let's just say it's a riot seeing a 6'2", 160 lb. guy deliver a running ligerbomb to a 7', 400 lb... followed right up with a wicked hurricanrana. I'll try to capture a couple screens sometime, so I can share the monster that is 'Ms. Biggie' with everybody in the weeks to come.
Finally, the reason everybody's here...
As always, the readers' comments appear in italics while my response makes itself known in the world-renowned plain font.
Ryan (email@example.com) proves he's among the Parka Patrol in his response to my plea for a La Parka win:
"actually, la parka did win a match... his debut had him going over juvi with his twisting plancha off the top rope thing. he also won two tag matches. the first one was a six-man tag when he was wearing that ricky ricardo (as heenan said) outfit, the one with the tasselled vest and big hat...he hit a flatliner on one of the smaller cw's and got the pin. he was on fire that night, as you might observe the second one was the luchalibre rules-falls count anywhere-hardcore match when he delivered a powerbomb on either damian or ciclope, whatever, on the table for the pin... i hope he lasts longer...his nutty dancing is enough to put him over, just like norman 'the man' smiley...just have him utter some rude spanish phrase and he'll be alright... VIVA LA PARKA!!! and norman too"
It's great to see the big man's got more than one fan out there.. I don't think humor wrestling is performed anywhere as well as La Parka is known to deliver. And who knows.. maybe all the bitching and moaning mounted to something.. Parka took home a singles 'v' this past week on Nitro. I just hope that wasn't a last hurrah for the Skeletor-maniac.
Anyway, thanks for dropping me the mail and the clarification on La Parka's record. I got a good laugh out of the whole deal.
Chris (firstname.lastname@example.org) gives me the reason to post a picture of a Pokemon in a column:
"You get me all excited and mention Jigglypuff but oh nooooooooooo not 1 mention of this great talent! Who is rounder than Viscera and Can sing better than Road Dogg? Who has the ability to put someone to sleep better than Hogen? There is only 1 and that is Jigglypuff! From now on you mention this wonder of the world you put it in your article's! A Crazed Jigglypuff Fan, Chris"
Today gives us proof that even X-Pac can't resist the urge to "catch em all". To everybody out there who insists that Pokemon is a girlish fad for little kids... well, you've never seen my Pikachu keychain. It lights up when you twist it's ass!! How f'n cool is that!!
Hilgemann (email@example.com) lends a comment about Russo, Ferrera, and Jarrett:
"Of all the angle's? If Vince Russo was the WWF's head writer which he was, then he probably is the man responsible for the JJ women beating angle, right? So, why does that not make sense to you? Just wondering. Secondly, I think it's pretty obvious in the my opinion, or at least I'm hoping that Steve Richards or Dude Love threw the book away. You could see the Rock reaching for the book and trying to talk. Stevie wants to be Mick's best friend and what better way then to eliminate the Rock from the picture, and set up a nice Mankind/Dude Love Stevie Richards feud? I've read that the WWF likes Stevie and this would get him over pretty damn well as a heel I'd think. Damn, is it me or is the WWF's Tag Team division as strong as it's ever been, not to mention the World Title picture. Now if only they would drop that idiotic Woman's Title, have Jericho beat Chyna's ass up for the IC Title, drop this horrible Bossman/Show feud, and finally no more Mideon/Viscera, or Godfather. Just bring out ho's, no one cares about the Godfather wrestling anyways. Just some random views, and it really was great to see the Hardy's, and Edge/Christian get the pops they did last night. Now for WCW, I don't think it's right for anyone to draw an opinion on the NEW WCW yet because it's only been one show."
Starting with the easy answer, I agree completely that it's too early to comment on the 'new' WCW. I was merely offering my first impression, and thought I made it apparant that I hadn't given up hope yet.
I think the best way to go about the Godfather/Mideon and Viscera feud is to have a 'loser retires' matchup.. that way everyone wins.
Your comments about the belt holders in today's WWF are well-founded. Things are really looking good if a couple feuds turn out correctly in the near future, and the WWF will finally have all their belts on the right people.. with Austin regaining the world title, Jericho carrying the IC gold, D'Lo grabbing the Euro title, and the Hollys holding the tag titles. Now for the rebirth of the Light Heavyweight belt..
Moving on to the first of your major points, I wasn't questioning the logic behind Jarrett's angle extension of sorts, but rather the choice in general. JJ's been through so many terrible gimmicks in the past, and I thought he'd found something worthwhile with his 'Don't piss me off' persona. After the great public outcry over this woman abuse gimmick, why would Russo and Ferrera choose this creation over any of their other characters to bring blatantly to their WCW regime? Personally, I was breathing a great sigh of relief when I heard JJ was WCW bound, as that would mean the end of this disgusting angle. Then again, it may be too early to say if that's what's going on again, so I'm safer to just say I hope it isn't what it appears to be.
As for the Stevie/Mankind/Rock situation, I hadn't really thought about it before I got your e-mail (which, incidentally, was delivered before Sister Midnight posted her theory on the Big3 main board.. just to avoid any issues that may arise there. she beat me to it), but now that you mention it.. that looks to be the logical way things will be playing out. I think it's great to see Richards elevated this quickly, as he's a great worker and quite charismatic. I worry about his neck's injury, but if he feels confident enough back in the ring, I'm all for it. I've been very impressed with the WWF in the past month, and it's ascension of younger talent.
Anyway, a well-thought e-mail, and thanks for writing.
UDMatt99@aol.com sent along a comment that was delivered to me a couple weeks late.. guess technology ain't all that great, eh?
"Maybe The Rock was making fun of Juvi Juice because Juvi stole the goddamn People's Elbow and then yelled one of The Rock's catchphrases into the camera?"
The sarcasm of my initial statement must've been overlooked... Either way, I think it's funny to imagine anybody 'stealing' a move that the Rock never really created in the first place. That's like saying "I'm mad as hell! Chris Benoit stole his belly-to-belly suplex from Scott Steiner!"
Bryan (Jones820@aol.com) had a couple questions:
"hi...im a long time reader of your and I wanted your opinion on two things...
First how good do you think a Booker T -Goldberg match would be? Personally I think Booker has the ability to carry Goldberg to his best match ever... assuming the booking committe lets them wrestle...
And which Tag team do you think is more over The NAO..or the outsiders? A match between them would surely suck...with the aging Scott Hall being the best worker and Billy Gunn's horrible rocker dropper...but the heat would be unmistakeable..the mark in me would enjoy it... what do you think?"
A Booker T / Goldberg feud would be something to get excited about for a couple reasons. First, I think Goldberg could actually teach Booker a thing or two about intensity. The former TV champ has all the tools with that exception. He always looks like a deer loking into headlights in the ring, and if Goldberg has one thing down, it's that monster look.
I'd agree that Booker could easily carry Goldberg to his best match ever, which isn't really saying much. Currently, "the man"'s best match was in his first meeting with DDP.. and I think Booker's twice the worker Page is. Watching Goldberg sell the Harlem Hangover or seeing Booker T breakdance up from a spear would be memorable material, to say the least. Finally, the most important thing that would come from a feud of this magnitude is Booker's advancement to main event level. Even a job would result in an elevation for Booker, provided he gave the former World Champ a good run for his money.
The NAO/Outsiders is a difficult question to answer. At one point, both teams have been monster over. In the end, I think I'd give the nod to the Outlaws, by a hair. Longevity means something, and Gunn and Road Dogg have stayed together as a team much longer than Hall and Nash. It would certainly be an ugly match if those 4 ever met, too.. I can see the ending now. Gunn screws up his Rocker Dropper on Hall, while Nash lightly drops James on his back in a powerbomb attempt.
Thanks for writing, both are interesting concepts..
Hilgemann (firstname.lastname@example.org) is back for more, proving I don't do the mail thing often enough:
"I just keep reading... and I guess I don't understand why this hasn't been mentioned. WCW a while back. David Flair US Champ. Rey Jr. not defending the cruiserweight title. Hulk Hogan vs. Kevin Nash. Just really poor feuds, and match ups. The only good thing ever included the Tag Team Title matches. It really can't get much worse, and it didn't. It can only get better, and it did and has. Filthy Animals vs. Revolution. What more can you ask for?
On the flip side, the WWF sucks right now, but wrestling goes through cycle's and there are several reasons why WCW is better then WWF right now, including the fact that the WWF just sucks right now. But, it can only get better, and no one seems to be looking at the prospects on what might be on the horizon."
I think your statements have definate value, as things certainly work in cycles.. but I'm betting you're cutting this cycle short way too soon. It's taken WCW nearly 2 years to recover and deliver a strong product following their slump. Just when I'd thought things couldn't get any worse, they found a way to do it. I'm afraid that's what we'll be seeing in the WWF before long, if they don't get their act together really fast..
"1. Kane and X-Pac. X-Pac is obviously going heel. Change is good. Wrestling is built on change. Even Hollywood to Hulk was good change.... for a while.
I wish I could share your optimism about the X-Pac / Kane feud, but I think after teasing it before us twice without any further build... it'll probably be quite a while before these two finally meet head-on. I'll be waiting with baited breath, as I'm sure you will be too.
"2. Test, Gangrel, D'lo Brown, Stevie Richards, and Chris Jericho. Five of the more talented mid-carders that are virtually without angle's right now. Test has Stephanie, but no wrestling angle, and one can only imagine that a Bulldog vs. Test feud is on it's way. Only my insight, but I'd love to see Richard's be Jericho's lacky. Gangrel has been mentioned a few times and what he thinks about the TIT invitational. And D'lo is holding the Euro title, but we all know what happened to Droz."
It looks like nearly everyone you've mentioned has since moved on to a feud, or seems to be on the verge of one. Test found his way to the Bulldog feud we all knew was coming, Gangrel now seems to be in a big feud with both his past Broods, Jericho's set his sites on Chyna and Intercontinental glory, and Richards has a program with Foley apparantly on the horizon. As for D'Lo, I'd say give him a couple more weeks before he's back in a feud with meaning.
"3. Women. From the looks of it, Chyna is going to win the title. That sucks, but it'll still be fresh and new. Interesting stuff comes from this. Where does JJ go from this? Who is Chyna's next feud with, and so on. Other shit includes Women's Title, and old ladies. And Bossman vs. Snow."
In my opinion, the women's division is dead. Moolah is the fourth horseman of the apocalypse.. when she holds the title, kiss it goodbye. Where does JJ go? WCW, apparantly. :)
"4. Other good stuff includes the world title picture which is pretty strong. Triple H, The Rock, Austin, and the elevation of Venis who is a pretty decent worker."
The world title picture is looking healthier than ever, with the Rock and Austin reigniting that old fire this past Monday and HHH acting as the sleazy champion that will probably screw them both out of the belt at Survivor Series. Things are fresh up top, and it's a welcome change.
"Anyways, I guess the point being is that the WWF at some point if it hasn't already will hit rock bottom like WCW a while back, and can conceivably only get better. And while I think Nitro will always be more keen on wrestling and the time it's given, the WWF usually gives the Main Event a pretty good amount of time, and at least the way things are looking some new fresh feuds are on the horizon. And the WWF usually does a pretty good job with their PPV's. Which is the way it's supposed to be at least if you ask me. That's speaking from a business stand point, but obviously the average fan wants everything on free tv, and who wouldn't. "
I don't really think there's much I can say that you haven't already touched upon, or I haven't already stated further up. I'll agree that the WWF does look to be turning things around, but I'm not ready to say the spiral has quit just yet. This past PPV was quite good, and the next one looks to be even better... so all signs are pointing to the end of this quiet dip in the WWF's performance.
Finally (whew!), Kelly McCrae (email@example.com) had a quick note to share about the Rok's lines:
"You had an email on your story thing about how the rock's lines will be after Russo has been gone and on Raw he did the same thing he did a while back with saying the other wrestlers catchphrases so maybe he's starting to dig up old material."
At this point, I haven't seen anything from the Rock suggesting otherwise. He hasn't created anything brand spankin' new, but he was never really that quick to phase out his tried-and-true phrases, so it's still too early to say whether this is conclusive evidence or not as to his originality. It's gonna be an interesting little side to keep your eye on.. Thanks for the mail and for keeping the watch alive.
Well, that should pretty much do it for me. I'll be back tomorrow with the "World's First Havok Preview", so keep your eyes peeled for that.
until then, i remain