Tuesday, November 30, 1999

Ringside Shadows #92: The Tuesday Review

The influx of reactions has already begun. I signed on last night, already groggy from Ny-Quil, about an hour and a half post-IWGP Jr-mortem, and was greeted by half a dozen e-mails and IMs calling the evening's programming everything from stupendous (what up Bill..) to the worst evening in pro wrestling history (and what up to Dale..). Honestly, I can't really argue with either... but personally, I thought the evening was decent.

I know, I've usually got something stuck up my ass regarding the state of the industry in North America today, the lack of workrate, the elevation of inferior talent, the tarnishing of a once-enjoyable athletic event. Was I upset with Jushin "Thunder" Lyger's treatment on last night's Nitro? You're damned right I was. Did I find anything worthy of TV time during the Test / Stephanie fiasco? Hell no. However, what I did see was several worthwhile matches on both Nitro and Raw, with the Benoit / Jarrett / Sting three-way on Nitro (accompanied by Bret Hart's discovery of a watchable match in Meng) and a pretty enjoyable (if short) Matt Hardy / Edge contest on Raw. In short, there was plenty to enjoy, along with the usual meaty chunk of suck for old time's sake. There was something for everybody to complain about. Let's start it off with:


On paper it looked watchable, as the poor workers were for the most part paired off with a decent or better counterpart. The evening wouldn't be housing any 5* matches, but it could give us another step up from the pits of the last few months. A tasteful salute to Hiro Matsuda, though I'm sure none of the fans watching knew who in god's name he was. In short, he's responsible for training the strongest and most popular workers of the 80's and early 90's in Hulk Hogan, Paul Orndorf and Lex Luger. Not an exceptional listing of workrate machines (well.. Orndorff was damned good), but definately an impressive collection of physical specimens.. which was Matsuda's bread and butter.

As Goldberg's gentle touch calmed and soothed a microphone, he managed to spit out a couple soothing phrases, including "Tonight, you won't be entertaining the fans". Not especially a phrase I'd incorporate on a program that seems to be shooting more for the 'entertainment' crowd than the 'sports' anymore. Still, the big man's vocal improvement is notable and he's playing with the idea of audience participation as well. Enter: the Outsiders and Sid, and the segment nears crowded. WCW Security took care of that, in the inimitable fashion only the men in the yellow.. er... black shirts can.

I wonder if the "Powers" noticed Buff's blown finisher last night, or his near-complete lack of... well.. anything redeemable. Probably not. In order for a move to be credibly assigned as your finisher, you need to demonstrate a mastery of it, as though you've been doing it for years. Missing your opponent entirely doesn't exactly enhance the image. Also of note; Booker T was taken out of the match by... his own axe kick? He nailed one member of the Blu Twins with a signature move of his own, but then feigned injury until after the match's finish. "Hey, don't look at me.. I just book this."

I think the bellow of happiness that emanated from my apartment around the 8:30 hour was loud enough to be heard 'round the world. This was around the time my roommate and I discovered Jushin Lyger would be facing Juventud Guerrera in a potential epic later in the program, rather than a silly Lyger/Evan Karagias blow-fest, which is what I was expecting.

I think Matt Spence and I are among the half-dozen vocal fans of Fit Finlay in North America. What the man has achieved is phenominal, and rivals the Bulldog's injury in its severity. Yet, he's come back (with a mean-assed scar, to boot) as strong as ever in half the time it took Davey Boy. A couple months ago doctors doubted his ability to walk again. To be even near the ring, let alone inside of it.. kicking, punching and all around dominating... is worthy of respect, if nothing else. And hey! He erased what may have been the ugliest man in WCW. Quoth Knobbs (who was graciously taken from our view for the rest of the night); "I am a hardcore soldier.... of war." Folks, the mic doesn't get much better play than that.

I'm still in shock from the mockery that was the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight championship match last night. You have, arguably, two of the most spectacular workers ever to step between the ropes in Juventud Guerrera and Jushin Lyger. You have the most coveted Jr. belt in the world. You have a TV audience of several million. How does one steer wrong with such a flawless recipe? Throw in "buzzkill", the latest waste-of-a-gimmick on Brad Armstrong (whose name is ironically appropriate). Not only does he steal the camera's attention during the most anticipated segment of the evening (well, for me anyway).. but he ruins the match by "calling" it in tripped-out hippie fashion, diverts the attention of the easily-amused announcers away from the action at hand, and 'distracts' Lyger into hands-down the most disgraceful moment in the history of the IWGP Jr. division. To see a belt so rich in tradition change hands in such a manner.. well, I'm really glad it wasn't Karagias. At least this way we've the potential of good match within the next month, when Lyger regains the belt.

Well, let's see if I can't pick up again.. this was the point at which I had last saved before my computer up and erased the rest of the Nitro review I'd written.. technology is such a blast.

Chavo Guerrero, Jr. was enjoyable in his role as the new backstage interviewer.. as a worker with a historical problem getting over, Chavo may finally start to go somewhere if this catches on, as comedy is truly his forte. Especially entertaining was his segment with the Nitro Girls backstage, nonchelant until the end. Perhaps this time he can see elevation without Pepe, his wooden horse.

Honestly, I'm still not sure if the Revolution was serious about their new names. The segment was just starting to garner some heat when Malenko wandered onto that. Saturn tried to save the segment with his "moron" gimmick, and did fairly well before Duggan made an appearance in the role he was born to play. I loathe the thought of seeing him back in the ring, but he received the pop of his career last night, and it's still nice to see him healthy.

Scott Hall surprised me by lifting Sid into the Outsider's Edge, with no help from the big man whatsoever. Afterwards, Sid hit one of his gentle chokeslams.. which sent my mind on a journey into the past. Remember when Sid's chokeslams looked like they could kill an African Elephant? It's a long time ago, I know, but pre-Wrestlemania VIII, they were devestating. Just an observation, I suppose. Meanwhile, backstage, Juventud moved forward the angle I really hope we don't see...

If nothing else, last night proved we haven't seen the last of the old Bret Hart, as he carried "The 'fro that lives", Meng to a nice little match. It's nice to see the fire lit back under the Hitman, which we haven't seen since his arrival 2 years ago. Despite the prerequisite of overbooking, I could swallow this one.. especially after watching Nash cower off in a hurry after several stiff as hell Benoit kendo stick shots.

The three-way for the #1 contendership was quite good, as well. Benoit came out and took one of the nastiest Stinger Splashes ever, Jarrett held his tremendous recent form, and Sting was... Sting. Even though I didn't recognize him, I was pleasantly surprised to see Dustin Rhodes' interference, giving Chris Benoit another chance at the world title. Though several have complained Benoit's match quality is dropping while his rank raises, all I need is a match like this one every week to keep me happy. Plus, even after he loses the inevitable World Title shot, there are several notable feuds on the horizon. He's barely scratched the surface with Jarrett and Hart.. another run with Hall or Eddy Guerrero would be worthwhile.. Booker T could jump start a renewal of their old TV strap feud.. Hey, even another series with Malenko is worth shouting about. I'm pleased to see where he is today.

While his interviews have taken steps in the past months, Goldberg's selling has gone more the other way. Hall and Nash pounded on him for several minutes, and during the moment's rest Big Bill came out almost refreshed. That's not intensity, nor is it toughness. That's just stupid. Post-match, I was awaiting the Bret Hart turn that seemed destined to happen at some point in the evening. Hart was holding a chair, unopposed in the ring as Goldberg finished off Nash. Could they set the table any more obviously? Yet still, Hart remains face.. I was surprised again.

I don't have much to say about the mud match, except there were fewer rolls on my Thanksgiving dinner table than there were in the kiddie pool here..

When I first caught a glimpse of Curt Hennig, I thought about what a nice angle this could turn out to be. His turn was done quite well, though I would've left him face a bit longer, and definitely had the audience's attention. I'd already thought of a role similar to that of the late Rick Rude, an enforcer outside the ring that everybody would love to see active back between the ropes.. but I guess that would involve too much development, as we deal with a 2 week "retirement" in its stead. During his match with Midnight, he occupied himself by slapping her breast... multiple times.. as Stevie Ray was slow on his run in. That's an awful long way to fall in one night.

Back into the mud, we go.. I guess a mud match is like the slip-n-slide in a way, since it's only broken out once a year and we make the most of it when it's available? It was fun watching Liz eat the entryway... hard.. on her way out, but otherwise I could live without it.

If there were maybe one fewer participant in the main event, things wouldn't have been such a mess. As is, it suffered from the same affliction that traditionally struck the former "World War III" PPV.. too much action, not enough space to provide a competant report. The only hope was to have a spotty, well paced match that would allow cameras enough time to segue between the spots freely. However, with Goldberg, Nash and Sid in the picture, you can throw that right out the window. Jarrett came out looking strong again, while keeping his name in the hat for a main event slot. He took some nice bumps, to boot. Meanwhile, Benoit pulled out his second pinfall victory of the night (!), as well as another giganta balls-like headbutt from the cage. Unbelievable.
Overall Grade: C+

I just couldn't bring myself to giving this one a 'B', thanks in large part to the mock boiler room match. Sure there was plenty of Campbell's Chunky Suck on Nitro but there was also an equally, if not greater, section filled with tasty morsels. And hey, any card that sees Benoit pushed through the stratosphere and Bret Hart as champion can't be all bad, right? The important thing now is to cut back on the damned gimmick matches... if I saw one more last night I'd have projectile-vomited onto the set. I actually expected good old Russo to come out with "Juvi, we've got the perfect match for you... a flaming aborted fetus match! It'll be great, there'll be dead babies en flambe, hanging from the ropes and stuff... RATINGS! RATINGS! That's draw." Or... maybe not.


A couple weeks ago, I wasn't sure The Big Show would be holding on to the belt beyond the next PPV.. now, I'm not even sure he'll be holding on to it for another week. His audience reaction was pitiful, a world apart from the monstrous pop he managed only one month ago. Honestly, looking back, was this angle with the Bossman as helpful as anticipated, and worth the tongue lashings in the press, internet and competition? I'd be led to believe not.. At any rate, this was a less than suitable opener for Raw and the only time we'd be seeing the quickly-alienated WWF champion in the evening.. though Tori sold the backspin kick like a champ.

HHH is worthwhile on the mic, but nobody.. allow me to repeat.. nobody needs a 20-minute lead off interview. The leader of DX floudered along after several minutes, and stuck to the same point.. though the random insertion of "disco music" was appreciated (what was that all about, anyway?). My roommate was quick to point out that a 'Temporary Order Of Protection' spells "TOOP", not "TOP". He then followed up that "backwards, it would be POOT!" This is a prime example of the discussions that go on in the apartment hereabouts..

Having just watched another highlight reel from the Hardys/Edge and Christian ladder match (the salvagable section of that "WWF's Best" program that just aired), I move on to the Matt Hardy / Edge matchup from last night, which.. wasn't comparable. Seeing as how I had to compare it to a definite match of the year candidate in order to cut it down to size should give you some inclination as to how good this one was. As opposed to the X-Pac / Jeff letdown last week, this came closer to a good delivery and was given ample time to develop as its own match. No matter how often I'm told and shown that Jeff is the good one, I'm always equally as impressed with his brother. The bump he took over the top rope into the camera was sweet, and the spear finish looked good from its initial angle. Easily the best match on Raw, and the audience was into it. You can't ask for much more than that.

I'd thought JR had announced a Chyna / Jericho match for Raw, later in the program. Apparantly I misinterpreted him, as instead we're treated to this little shindig. I wonder; could Jericho look much weaker?

If you'd like to know the truth, the Godfather character is a complete abuse of everything you can get away with on cable TV. Call me old fashioned, but if I were a parent, and my child were watching a pimp with whores, promoting the lifestyle and the use of illegal drugs, I might question the show's content as well.. Throw in the fact that he's anything but a decent worker, and you have prime material for the cutting room floor.

True conversations from the Muncie, Indiana telephone lines:
Caller 1: "Hello?"
Caller 2: "Did I just see what I think I saw?"
1: "I think so, yes."
2: "I just saw Mae Young doing crotch chops.. on national television."
1: "Yes. I think I'm in love."
2: "Oh, there's no doubt. I love Mae Young"

Caller #1 was my buddy from the dorms, Big Cheez.. Caller 2, myself. Thank you.

Well, the Too Cool / Hollys match was about as short as they come.. I was looking forward to a nice tag match between two of the reasons the WWF's tag scene is so good today.. yet, Bob was never even in action.

Test hit his beautiful gut-wrench suplex, and completely schooled whoever attempted it on Nitro. Call me a hypocrite, but your arsenal could consist of those two moves and I'd come back for an encore. Near the end of the match, my predictions as to who was behind the Vince mask were blown all to hell, as Shane came down the rampway. Perhaps a little GTV action is in order to clear up the identity of our masked referee?

Barbara Bush, huh? I don't really have a comment on that selection.

After a bit of getting used to, I've finally come around to respecting Kurt Angle. He wasn't much to look at when I was first introduced to him in a dark match at the live Heat I attended this summer, but he's certainly come a long way in the months since. Give him another couple weeks to get used to the microphone and ad-libbing for a live audience, and he'll find some real potential.

Easily the most interesting feud of the big 2 in the next few weeks looks to be the ongoing dispute between Al Snow and The Rock. One of the basic rules of writing a good story is to make the villain easy to empathize with, thus creating something of a split inside the viewers. They know who to pull for, but they can understand why the other guy's doing what he is. Unlike a DX run-in or a Val Venis random turn, the WWF writers have achieved this difficult feat with Rocky and Al.. let's hope they don't screw it up. In all honesty, I find more truth in Snow's words than I do entertainment in Rock's catchphrases, so I'm pulling for the misunderstood man with the Head.

Up until the wedding itself, both programs were running dead even in my book, and I was looking forward to marking down equal scores for the first time in the history of Ringside Shadows.. 20 minutes of utter shite and a Benoit cage dive changed all that for me. I flipped back over to Raw for the infamous "If anyone should oppose this marriage" line, where everybody knew something was going down... and nothing. The sound crew fucked up, as DX's music didn't hit until the pastor had moved on with the ceremony. Maybe they were jamming out to that disco music we were treated with earlier in the evening. At any rate, the end result was an unseen swerve. No tie to Austin's "accident", no run-ins. Just a calm demonstration of a video and some vocal threadings. Later in the night, Bill Lupo compared Helmsley's performance to HBK.. which is out of line in my book. The wedding segment was reminiscent, however vaguely, but lacked the fire and believability of a good Michaels segment. It should be interesting to see where things go from here, barring a "Loser divorces" match, with a special "Burning Fetus" gimmick.
Overall Grade: C

That should do it for me.. My girlfriend waits impatiently for me to complete this, so you'll excuse me if I'm brief as I wrap things up. I'm trying a couple different things with the format of Ringside Shadows, in an attempt to liken it to a more professional column, so let me know what you think of the slight cosmetic changes. A new banner's on the way for #100 in the next few weeks, and I should be back once more this week with a look at what makes a good heel.
until then, i remain

Tuesday, November 23, 1999

Ringside Shadows #91: The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse: A Tuesday Review for the Ages

So what's the deal... what's this "Fifth Horseman" crap? Chances are, if you've been a follower of my column in the months past you've seen more than your share of negative reviews, bitching, moaning, and all-around ragging. For every good, I can find a bad. Call it bullheadedness, call it disregard for the industry's future, I'd rather label it "criticism" and "hope". As a graphic design major, I realize the importance of learning from and improving upon your mistakes through critique. I've worked 3 months on a single project, only to see it torn to shreds by a prof with an attitude and a point. It's one of the toughest experiences anyone can be asked to withstand, and a lot of students don't make it through the first semester.

Where am I going with this...? There's a connection.

The truth of the matter is this.. a professor or employer doesn't criticize your work because he/she dislikes you, actually the opposite. Each wants to see you succeed, which in turn will lead to a success of their own.. either financially or morally. In that manner, I consider myself to be in the position of the prof and pro wrestling as a whole to be the student. I don't tear into the Monday programs without remourse just because I can.. I criticize them because I can see what they could be.. what they should be. But maybe I've been too harsh. Some time Sunday night, I was discussing the low points of the Mayhem PPV with another columnist when I suddenly asked myself; "What the hell am I doing?" Sunday's PPV was a damn good program but I looked past the solid finishes of the tournament, advancements of Booker T and Chris Benoit, and absense of older talent on the card. Instead, I complained about Bagwell's performance, about Brian Knobbs' employment, et al. Somewhere, a page turned and I realized that despite some terrible bookings, ignorant angles and absolutely piss-poor Nitros, Russo and Ferrera had intrigued me.

Why's this a Review for the Ages? Instead of sitting down in front of my television as a critic, I sat down as a fan. Monday Night.. I saw 2 programs that I enjoyed.

This one will be a bit short, however, as I'm about to leave for Pittsburgh, need to pack, and I'm expecting my new bed to arrive shortly.. I'll be back in full swing next week. At any rate...


-Nice introduction, setting up another month's worth of angles. Jarrett's main event push is a damn good idea, especially considering how he's busted his ass these past weeks. Meanwhile, Hart's interview skills still haven't met their previous high-water mark. Much as I don't want to see it, he's quite a bit better suited as a heel.

-Oh, they tried to screw things up last night.. Elizabeth in action.. a double serving of Meng.. but there was too much goodness thrown in to counteract the efforts.

-Goldberg's still got a ways to go before he's competant on the mic. He mumbled so quietly into the stick backstage that I was clueless as to what he'd just said.

-It was damned good to see Fit Finlay back last night, though the scar on his leg was horrendous. I was a bit worried he might mess himself up by returning to action so shorty, especially after seeing the muscle deterioration in his legs. Still, seeing him deliver the forward roll slam bodes well for the future. Too bad the crowd had no idea who he was..

-I liked having the Maestro's piano music continuous throughout the backstage segments.. if somebody had no idea what they were trying to say, I could always just zone out and enjoy the music..

-As the cruiserweight belt (along with Disco Inferno's pride) is drug through the mud, Saturn is given a well-deserved push. I've known for years that, given an interesting personality, this guy could tear the house down.. it looks like he's on the verge of that now. Would it have been too much to ask for Karagias to continue jobbing without the belt?

-The bookers had a field day with Wall / Vampiro. They effectively killed any heat the Berlyn/Wall breakup could've gathered by rushing through it (Ted Dibiase and Virgil were an identical predicament in the mid to late 80s, and that went on for years before it was finally completed, to much fanfare). The 'Oklahoma' mockery continued to rival Big Show/Bossman as the most disturbing angle in wrestling, and both Dr. Death AND Vampiro looked weak with the botched spin-kick over the top that stopped the insanity.

-Jarrett / Hart; thank you. A match worthy of a PPV, which I wouldn't be surprised to see before too long. Despite a dirty ending, this one was NICE.

-Kidman / Guerrero; what, are they trying to impress now? These two put on a clinic, but the audience wasn't buying. Practically a workshop of believable offense and selling here, with a little bit of psychology thrown in for good measure. A nice lead-in to a feud, but I hope we haven't seen the last of it.

-A quick note: the production quality continued to be terrible last night. Camera angles were both bad and inappropriate. And they still haven't figured out how to get all the smoke from the pyros away from the ring, giving the entire program a greyed effect.. Little pieces of that whole set WCW behind the WWF, resulting in a less professional feel.

-Now, more than ever, Meng looks like a tool. Get him a haircut, get him some pants and get him out of the ring.

-Our $2 X-Men punching bag can attest to the devastating power of Lash Leroux's finishing maneuver.. it didn't survive my first attempt.

-Instead of the sad little Nitro Girls match, why couldn't we have just been treated to a couple minutes' worth of Spice, prancing in her schoolgirl outfit and just looking sexy in general?

-Is Hennig ever gonna get another chance to play a legitimate face? Every time he finally gets the crowd behind him, he turns on them. I think this may've been the last straw in many eyes. Still, the turn was pleasantly unexpected, and meant Bagwell took punishment, so I'm all for it.

-Benoit comes out with laser lights, fog, new music, new tights, and a surprisingly bad match. Why does the best worker in the world need lasers? Sometimes I wonder if these guys get it.. and I don't mean as in the WWF's slogan. Had Benoit and Malenko been allowed to do what they do.. put on a mind-bogglingly intense technical masterpiece, I'd be dancing in the rafters shrieking "hooty hoo". Instead, we see a couple innovative moves, controversy, and a large piece of ugly that I could've done without.

-I could only groan when I heard Russo ask for Juvi, as I dread what's likely to transpire.

-Nobody even mentioned the poetry in motion that was Sting and Meng... and I think it's best left that way.

-Finally, it was actually a good call to throw Sid into the picture as a face.. though the company is now dangerously low on main event heels. Sid wasn't going anywhere fast as a heel, and a show of mutual respect tied up the loose ends in his feud with Goldberg. The match.. was ugly.. but that was to be expected.
Overall Grade: B

This one bordered on a B+, but there was enough terror to run that off. Following up one of the year's stronger PPVs, and a helluva long cry from the pathetic heap that was vomited out in Indianapolis, when I attended 2 weeks ago. There was plenty to like about this show, but then.. there was plenty to dislike as well. I figure once everything starts to click, another ratings shift may be in the cards.
And hey.. I need a room with the title "Powers that be" on the door.


-The bit with the Al Snow action figure has just run its course. The segment with Holly becoming enraged over its being pulled were funny, but I can't see that being used anywhere else without bleeding of overexposure. Then again, Vince never was one to know when to quit.

-Classic, classic "evil" McMahon.. hiding in his car with a ball bat, looking for fresh air. The comedic tension was great.. I'll take this over the Godfather any day, hoes or not.

-Kurt Angle / Mark Henry; honestly, I couldn't give a drop and a half of dirty poop water about this one, and my television sat on TNT for the duration.

-Watching Vince smash the hell out of the limo, I thought to myself.. "if I ever become a billionaire.. I'm doing that at least once." Never let it be said that Vince can't compete with Turner financially.

-Nobody says it like it is quite like Chris Jericho. His in-ring work has been sub par since coming to the WWF, but his mic work has taken strides. He's like the internet wrapped up into one.. and I love it.

-Amusing to see Edge cheesin it up with the new ring announcer, who didn't even bother to finish announcing half the competitors. Not a terrible match with the Dudleys, but no Kidman/Guerrero either. It ended with a miscalled reverse 3D, as JR plugged away at the Parents' Group trying to take them off of television.

-Speaking of the Parents' Group, I'm a bit disappointed about how the WWF has handled this 'threat'. I've always admired the way Vince & co. could take a verbal lashing from it's rivals, enemies, and former friends, yet keep their mouths shut and do what they do best... put on a good show. By even ackowledging the movement made by this group, they've opened themselves up to more ridicule and have dropped a notch in my respect. No longer are they above a little lashing of their own. JR's pre-typed message came off sounding dry, fake and insincere, as he was obviously reading it word for word from his sheet. I wouldn't have thought it to be so hard to just put it in your own words.

-Al Snow played the jealous heel while Mankind went back to his Rock n' Sock character.. that I didn't miss. Still, if it means Snow's getting a push.. bring it on. He and Foley could have some classics, and it's definately something to look forward to..

-The Mae Young wars continue.. an old friend of mine have an ongoing answering machine war, leaving the message "I love Mae Young" after the beep..

-Jeff Hardy / X-Pac was a great letdown, as these two have potential through the stratosphere.. I wonder if they're too used to working short matches anymore? Still, if a feud is on the horizon.. I'll pay to see it.

-Was anybody happy to see Viscera approaching the ring, let alone during Kane's world title shot? Yea, I didn't think so.

-Let's relive a moment from last night's RAW:

Shane: ..and not only that, but Vince has ordered that tonight..
(crowd starts to get excited)
Shane:..in this very ring...
(crowd readies itself, eager)
Shane:.. you will be in a handicap match
(crowd pops, saving itself for the high-calibur match that's sure to be announced in seconds)
(crowd awaits it's cue to explode with unbound joy)
Shane: The ACOLYTES!
(crowd goes for a beer)

-Was I the only one who noted a more than coincidental similarity to Yokozuna in "Rikishi"'s debut? Well, aside from his dancing..

-Following the sub par main event we were already expecting, HHH took a mean dive from the stage, but we never got the camera angle to do it justice. A nice way to build the McMahon / Helmsley match next month, and a good way to end the show, to boot.
Overall Grade:B-

Almost a C+, but not quite. A bit too much of Vince for my liking, as he dominated the program with checkups at least once every segment. Still, there's some good ground laid for the future in Test, X-Pac/Jeff Hardy and Too Cool.

So much for keeping it short.. still no bed however, so it's on to..


EFi6084413@aol.com had some questions about the Mayhem preview I offered up..

"I can tell by you have no sense about how to make money in US wrestling. First off you say that your biggest star shouldn't be in the main event of your biggest PPV of the year,WTF? Who should Goldberg be wrestling then Nash Again?Sid again? Hall again?. Give me a break. You always talk about how the fans want somebody as champion and to give them what they want. The fans want Goldberg as champion so what better way to give it to him then at Starcade oh yeah I forgot its because Souled out is more important."

Honestly, I wasn't offering an opinion on what would make money.. rather, what I would like to see. A deciding factor behind my endorsing a World Title Tourney rematch for Starrcade is because I don't want to see Bret Hart with a one month title reign after 2 years of disrespect, nor do I look forward to seeing a run-in during the main event of WCW's biggest PPV (the only alternative to a one month reign, as Goldberg won't be jobbing again). At this point, I'm gonna have to see how the hype the Starrcade match before I'd like to comment further. You do have a point though, that a good majority of fans would like to see Goldberg with the belt.. just not in Canada.

He goes on to say...

"Then you say that Chris Fucking Benoit should win the world title. Chris Benoit? A guy that if he makes it to the finals is only there because the PPV is in home country. Oh yeah I forget even though him and Bret Hart combined have about a fifth of Goldberg's heat they do have the all so important "workrate." You know what I say about that? fuck workrate. I have been watching wrestling for 13 years and I now or never will ever care about workrate and neither will many other "wrestling" fans. Well thats all I have to say,I had to point out a couple of things about your post,Peace."

In this case, I was looking for the most exciting finish to what ended up to be an anticlimactic main event. WCW is hurting for main event heels right now, with Sid turning face. Once Benoit has reached the upper echelon of the WCW elite (which I believe he did Sunday night), a heel turn would give him the unenviable role of lead heel for the promotion. What better way to turn him mean heel than to turn him on Bret Hart, at home, 2 years after Bret was last screwed out of a World Title? Fans would be screaming for Benoit's head on a stick both here and up North, and we'd have one helluva mean heel champion heading into WCW's "grand daddy" PPV, not to mention the momentum and excitement to possibly send them over the top in their war against the WWF. Incidentally, I don't believe for a second that Benoit made it to the finals because it was in his home country. Russo and Ferrera are admittedly high on the Crippler (as can be evidenced by his new, "improved" entrance of last night), and he was the most obvious in his bracket to advance. Malenko's not near main event, unfortunately.. Madusa? No. Scott Hall? Had a chance, but he's never really been perceived as anything but "the guy who turned in some ladder matches with Shawn Michaels", not to mention is unreliable. Benoit was the only logical choice. As for your assesment of audience reaction.. it all depends on the area. Everywhere but a chunk of the US, Goldberg is booed out of the arena while Benoit and Hart are respected for what they've done. All 3 are over heavy in the US, and I'd go with a combination of workrate and popularity when selecting my main eventers.

Thanks for writing, I love a good debate.

Closing out, Frank (BgBnkFrnk@aol.com) finds his way onto the post with an ungodly amount of brownnosing:

"Just wanted to say that I enjoy your columns more than anyone's in the Oratory, and it damn near killed me when the Big3 went down for about a week. Your Benoit theory is exactly what I've been hoping for for a few weeks. Hopefully it all pans out. Although, I don't think you can really go wrong with any of the four guys left. Well, in closing let me just say, I live for the Tuesday Reviews. Gawd, I'm such a mark for you...Heeeeeey, I'm a drq mrq! Whooo!!"

Not much I can say to that, except thanks. "Drq Mrq" has a nice feel to it.. heh.

Anyway, I'm off for the week. I'll catch everyone next time.
until then, i remain

Saturday, November 20, 1999

Ringside Shadows #90: The World's First WCW Mayhem 1999 Preview

About a week ago I was really looking forward to this PPV. It had basically been added to my purchase list, which is a big deal (especially for a WCW event).. Russo and Ferrerra hadn't tried to cram too much into the card, and the tournament finals were exciting to say the least. It seemed like these "powers" had stumbled upon the first well-anticipated PPV from the big 2 in well over a year, and I was ready to check it out.

A couple days back, the bad news came.. they'd taken a promising card, featuring several well-built feuds that led perfectly into pay per view clashes, and 'fleshed them out' (read: fucked them over) with 4 additional matches. Bagwell/Hennig? It's a logical addition, I can live with it. Vampiro/Berlyn? Put it on Nitro. Disco/Kurragious? Put it on Thunder. Hall/Steiner? Why don't you go outside and play hide and go fuck yourself? In the end, the card is crammed full with a record-breaking 12 matches. In three hours. And don't let yourself think we'll get through the experience without a good 15 minutes' worth of backstage antics, skits, interviews and other shite.

So let's take a look. 12 matches, a generously short 30 minutes of outside coverage (angle development, announcer babble, product shilling, interviews), and 3 hours. Averaged out, that gives each match 12 minutes to develop. I suppose that's not so bad, supposing each match gives or takes a little. If the World Title finals are given less than half an hour, it'll be a disgrace.. because with the 4 potential competitors, you're almost guaranteed a good match. Hart is basically a lock, so the crowd will be lit.

Simply put, this is make or break time for the men behind WCW's new direction. If this PPV blows heavy monkey schlong, it's gonna be a long, hard.. nearly impassable path back. However, if this rocks llamas.. things could get back into shape in a hurry. As for me.. those 12 matches have spooked me out of a buy. I can see them booking the hell out of this thing, without a single clear pinfall. I'd rather work on getting a new band together than take the chance. So, while Bret's working on his first legit WCW World Belt, I'll be slapping away on the bass.

Well, that was a bit long.. Let's get it on.

Scott Hall v. Rick Steiner
Title vs. Title

Wasn't Steiner 'injured' at the hands of Sid, less than a week ago? I suppose we've forgotten about that one already..

Chances are, both the Psycho One and the 'Sexy' One will find their way to ringside during this sad display of lost talent. Remember when these two were "it"? Steiner worked like he cared, while the legendary chemistry with his brother carried them to unheard of heights. Hall participated in one of, if not the greatest set of matches in our decade (If you've somehow forgotten.. the ladder matches with Shawn Michaels). All that was 5 1/2 years ago. How can two guys lose so much so fast? Egh.. I dunno, and I don't really care anymore. The fire was out for these two in '97.

If I've gotta pick a winner, I'll go for Hall. He did the clean job to Benoit last Monday, and will likely pick up a reward here.
Winner: Scott Hall

Meng v. The Total Package

They don't make words powerful enough to describe the happiness I was experiencing the moment I heard this one was added to the lineup. To quote David Spade; "Pure balls, ladies and gentlemen". I'm glad this one's eating time that would be better used in one of the countless other matches on the card. Neither man was especially impressive in their prime, and today they're just painful to watch. Luger will beg off for the majority of this match, or work another feigned injury angle. Either way, he'll take a win with the help of Ms. Elizabeth.
Winner: The Package

Disco Inferno v Evan Karagias
$25,000 Cruiserweight Title Match

I guess Disco's debt to the 'mob' is supposedly $25,000. With that said, the outcome is an extremely easy one to predict. Disco will dominate the early goings of this one, before he gets careless and loses the advantage (and the match) to Madusa's son's best buddy. I hope they leave the former 'Baldie' (Vito Lograsso) out of the whole schpeel, which is why he'll have an appearance tonight. There are plenty of cruisers that could desperately use this position right now (well.. maybe not so many. Dr. Death seems to have injured the majority of them), but Karagias gets the shot. Go figure.
Winner: Evan Karagias

Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko,& Asya v Eddy Guerrero, Kidman,& Torrie Wilson

Well, this one shouldn't be too painful. WCW follows their new rule of "No quality wrestling without T&A, run-ins or a gimmick" here, and throws in Ass-yuh and Torrie to keep their new audience interested while the athletes do their thing. I don't like the way she said it, but Tammy Sytch got the point across in her recent commentary, citing an occasion where Sabu and Candido were working their asses off in the ring. The crowd passed their time during this 'monotonous chore' by chanting "show us your tits". It's good to see the new influx of fans have the right idea. (Note heavy saracasm)

Anyway.. back to the match. The 4 involved in this one haven't really been living up to standards as of late, which makes me think they might be due for a good one sometime soon. With the Canadian crowd hot, these guys could really put together one for the books. In the end, however silly it is, it'll come down to the ladies. I'm envisioning something along the same lines as Chyna's encounter with Terri (then Marlena) several years ago.. just a complete dismantlement.
Winners: Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko, & Asya

Kimberly Page v David Flair

Strangely enough, the new bookers have done the unthinkable. While Juventud Guerrera walks the razor's edge without a direction, David Flair has been given an interesting character. It's good to see where their priorities lie. Aaaanyway. DDP will likely make his big return here, leading into what will no doubt be an absolutely horrid feud between the two. I doubt Kimberly will really even see any action, nor should she. The booking of this match is a joke.
Winner: Kimberly

Vampiro v. Berlyn
Chain match

God, I'm not halfway through the card and already I'm getting sick. Why should any of this matter to us? I mean, damned.. you can tell me I bitch too much and I'll tell you you're right on the money.. but how can WCW justify a card this bleak? I honestly have less and less hope for these guys every day.

This one won't be much to look at, with Vampiro seeming to lose a bit of the fire and Alex Wright never really recapturing it after his neck injury a couple years ago. The misfits will doubtless be on hand, as will "the wall" (doesn't say much for his speed, does it?). I'd be surprised if they weren't booked into the finish. Vampiro's taken a couple from under the German machine's nose, so Sunday will be payback time.
Winner: Berlyn

Norman Smiley v. Brian Knobbs

The "Hardcore Norman" thing isn't entertaining anymore.. Brian Knobbs still eats cow pies. At least when the blonde douche was a member of the Nasty Boys, there were two morons in painted black shirts. There was plenty of room to spread the suck, so as to not entirely guarantee a terrible match every time out. With Saggs gone, Knobbs comes out looking like an imbecile loner without a direction or anything that might be confused with a talent. Hell, I am complaining a bit, aren't I? How about this.. no matter how it pains me, I'll be honest yet optimistic for the rest of the card, eh? If I'm gonna preview this abysmal card.. I may as well have some fun with it. This one will close up with the use of a foreign object, as Smiley's push continues.
Winnner: Norman Smiley

Buff Bagwell v. Curt Hennig

I've actually pretty much enjoyed the Curt Hennig 'retirement' angle thus far. If Mr. Perfect were in better cardiovascular shape, this could really be the success story of the year.. his heart, for the first time in years, seems to be back into the game. It really is difficult to say anything nice about Bagwell, so I'll admit that I giggle like a little schoolgirl every time he busts out that goofy-ass "running in place" dance.

This will end in a no contest, elongating both men's careers.. at least until the next Nitro. It's really anticlimactic if I don't pick a winner though.. so I'm going with Butt Fagwell.
Winner: (No Contest) Buff Bagwell

Goldberg v. Sid Vicious
"I Quit" match

You've got two men with finishers that end in pinfall.. neither what you would call a technical genius. So.. you book them in an "I Quit" match? It worked with a brawler like Austin because he had a technician like Hart to back him up if it got too heavy. I do like the way this has been built though, with a couple exceptions. Goldberg's had the upper hand way too often, and has no-sold too much of Sid's offense. I fear the big-ego men have taken too strong a position in Big Bill's mindset, and he's starting to take a holier than thou approach. Against Sid, I really don't mind. However, if he no sells the biggest man in the company, who's gonna buy his reactions for a smaller warrior? Given a couple punk-outs by Sid, this could've advanced into a really nice feud.

As is the case with most I Quit battles lately, this one will make it's way around the arena.. blurring the line between itself and a hardcore match. This, more than the Hennig/Bagwell match, is a prime suspect for a no contest. The feud still has some legs, and Goldberg won't be moving on to a World Title shot until next year sometime (At least, logically). You wanna know how I'd book this? (I realize your answer is no..) Give the finalists from later in the night a rematch at Starrcade, and then start into a feud with Goldberg.
Winner: (if I have to choose one) Goldberg

Chris Benoit v. Jeff Jarrett
Tournament Semi-Finals

This is the match of the evening. I only hope Jarrett works as hard as he did for Bagwell on Nitro here. The former Double-J carried a 2 minute Bagwell match into something worth my time, and I've got all the praise in the world for him right now. I've been looking forward to this one for a long time, and am almost certain it will deliver. Despite rumors to the contrary, I'm taking Benoit and here's why; he and Hart have been extra buddy-buddy in the past few weeks, helping each other when in trouble. Both are Canadians, and bound to have the crowd's trust and support going into their respective matches. Both make it to the finals, and the crowd is going nuts.. The two shake hands and play it like sparring partners for a good 20 minutes, until Benoit just snaps. He turns full heel and abandons Hart, relentlessly beating on the Canadian hero and his reinjured ankle.. even as he begs off. For anyone to turn on Hart in the great white north is be big news. For a comrade-in-arms to turn on Hart across the border is an explosion, and one HELL of an angle.
Winner: Chris Benoit

Bret Hart v. Sting
Tournament Semi-Finals

A rematch from the not-so-classic Halloween Havoc clash from last year, which saw Hart beat Sting into submission with his own bat. This one has a chance to make up all the ground lost before. Sting has been working quite well lately, and even though he's meant to be a heel, the crowds can't get enough. The heat here may surpass the main event, despite there being almost no question as to who will advance. A clean loss after a hard-fought battle would be both a breath of fresh air and completely appropriate here, as Hart has advanced through the tournament only through outside interference thus far. Even his semi-clean submission win over Kidman last week was tainted by the presence of the Outsiders, distracting the Filthy Animals. If he's meant to be credible.. he needs a big win on his own over a top worker. Sting's the man.
Winner: Bret Hart

Bret Hart v. Chris Benoit
Tournament Finals

I've just played drums on my knees for a full 10 seconds, before realizing how annoying that is.

The tourney ends in the best manner possible, with the betrayal I mentioned two matches back and a damned good rivalry to look forward to in the months to come. We saw a technical masterpiece in Kansas City between these two.. throw in the emotions of a bitter betrayal in front of a home crowd, and you've got the feud of the year. Honestly, the main thing that detracted from the "Owen Hart memorial" match months ago was the non-intensity.. which I fully understand. You don't honor the memory of a fallen comrade by tearing each other to shreds.. you put on a clinic. Here, it's all on the line.. and these two should fight as though that's the case.

Of course, I won't be complaining if I see a Sting/Jarrett final either. If there's one thing I love about this PPV lineup, it's the final 4 that were selected. You couldn't have dreamed of a nicer selection.
Winner: Chris Benoit

I'm going to recieve plenty of angry mails about my choice of Benoit as champion, and I agree.. it's probably too soon. However, if there were only one scenario I could've imagined for Benoit's final ascention, this would've been it. He'd be monster over, in the feud of his life, and would fit the part perfectly.

Just don't team him with DOA.. ugh.

I'm on my way outta here, but first.. I've a letter or two to share.

"MR PPV RVD" comments on my writing style, opinions, and... well, just ME;

"Man your way to much of a complainer you make it seem like a perfect show has to go down exactly as you want it. Raw in no way beat nitro. Ya bossman theirs a good way to beat nitro. Well hey i guess thats what makes you so wack everyone else thought nitro killed raw. Then again your so messed up with some views I cant read anymore of your posts. You probably dont give a fuck but try to be a little bit more accurate for people who will read your post. You have no personality either. Everything someone hates you like. I just think your trying to be a bitch and be unique instead of speaking your mind. O well its your life do whatever the fuck you want with it."

It's good to get hate mail.. I take it as a critique, a way to improve my own writing style. And besides, I must've been doing something right at one time to invoke this kind of reaction from a (former) reader.

To start; I don't think a perfect show should go down exactly as I call the plays.. more the opposite, actually. A good show should surprise the hell out of me, and prove every little theory in my head as straight shit. However, you need to draw a line between a good surprise and a bad surprise. Honestly, I think giving the Big Show the title was a good surprise. Naming the Bossman as the number one contender was a bad surprise. It's as simple as that. Nobody's perfect, and I can let a few bad surprises pass. However, the last year and a half has seen more bad surprises and predictable storylines than anyone in their right mind could know what to do with. The main determining factor in my ratings is my personal enjoyment of a show. If the USA update man comes up, signifying the end of Raw, and I'm smiling, thinking to myself "where can they go from here?", it's a good sign. If Nitro goes off the air and I'm silent, with a bothered frown on my face.. it's not because I'm worried about Goldberg's well-being. It's because I wasn't entertained in the least. That's a bad sign. It's as simple as that, if a show entertains me.. it gets an appropriate grade. I haven't been entertained in while. Call me picky, call me a bitch (Actually, I prefer the term 'fanboy with a forum'.. I'm no journalist), but that's just how I viewed it. I'm not an easy egg to crack. I don't say things against the grain just for the sake of being different. I say them because I try to be brutally honest in each column. Anything else would be a lie, and I'm not big on lying.. least of all to my readers.

I'll agree that the Bossman wasn't the way to beat Nitro (even though the ratings say otherwise, sadly..). However, a dozen matches totalling less than 45 minutes of action ain't no way to tear down the Titan Towers, either. Raw gave us a good chunk of better entertainment in 2 hours than Nitro could in 3, and that's why I gave Raw the edge last week. I just call em as I see em, and that's that.

Meanwhile, beausw@webtv.net (Beau Shatava) comes out of the exact opposite gate with his response to my thoughts:

"I totally agree with the column you posted today. This shit is gettin out of hand and I am really sick of it. The thing that really pisses me off is the PPV's. I've gotten every WWF PPV since WM14 and I think I maybe enjoyed half of them. I honestly don't know why I keep buying the damn things. I guess I'm always hoping that they'll break the cycle one of these days but it's really not looking too good.

The only other comment I have is about the Acolytes. Now I like Faarooq but Bradshaw is a total waste. They keep having these guys go into bars and act like tough guys. The only thing I can think about whenever I watch one of these little skits with Bradshaw is the Brawl For All. I don't know if you remember or not but in the finals it was Bradshaw vs. Bart Gunn. For a full week all you heard from Bradshaw was how how fuckin cool he was and how he had never lost a fight in his life. Well, about 30 seconds into the fight, Bart knocked his ass out BIG TIME and Bradshaw was made to look like a total fool.

Sure Bart got wasted at WM15 but he looked like a deer in headlights from the time he walked out to the aisle and the guy was in way over his head from the time that match was signed. I guess I just find it funny how short people's memories are when I comes to this stuff. Yeah, Bradshaw may think he's a really tough guy, but with the Brawl For All still in the front of my mind, I ain't buyin it.

That's really all I've got. Thank God for ECW or I'd be going friggin' nuts right about now. Talk to ya' later."

Thanks for the support, as it's every bit as valuable to me as the negative critiques I recieve (see above). Unlike Spence and John, I don't have the ability to see every PPV available free of charge, (plus I'm a college student..) so I only purchase a PPV if it looks to be really, really good. I haven't bought one since KOTR, which I'm still feeling burnt over. I haven't seen a WCW event since the mockery that was last year's Starrcade, and that's because I told myself I wouldn't for another year.. at least. So, in other words.. my PPV tape collection isn't as extensive as yours.. but my wallet doesn't ache nearly as much, either.

Regarding Bradshaw.. I was merely stating my enjoyment of his current angle. I do fondly remember the Brawl For All (it shocked the hell out of me when Dr. Death was knocked out... GOOD surprise), but I never really discovered if the finals were the real deal, or worked. There were heavy rumors for months afterwards, with no real answer emerging in the end. You're right though, his loss does shoot holes through his current gimmick. I suppose they're running them to rebuild his said reputation? It's a good point to ponder for some time.

As for ECW.. amen to that, and puroresu imports. That hour on Friday nights goes by so fast... and I'm out.
until then, i remain

Tuesday, November 16, 1999

Ringside Shadows #89: The Tuesday Review

Let's be honest: if it had been reported, when Russo and Ferrera jumped ship, that not 2 months into their booking schedule we'd be seeing a football player vs. a man in a suit of armor and a Brian Knobbs run-in... would your hopes have been as high? I don't know who these men hope to make their audience, but at this rate they'll alienate anything and everything in their path before the turn of the century. Twice.

I think last night took the cake for the quickest click of the remote.. 20 minutes. After 20 minutes of "hardcore action" (see above), weak promos and an exceptionally unfunny mock interview from Kevin Nash, I opted for a more entertaining option. A&E was playing a Steve Austin biography, and I'll tell you one thing.. that kept me as entertained between the hours of 8 and 9 as I've been in months. They really did a great job with it, and I can't explain how much I'm looking forward to Owen's treatment tonight.

Raw gave us nothing to write home about either, mind you.. where there wasn't Brian Knobbs, the Barbarian or Jerry Flynn, there was the Bossman, Prince Albert and the Godfather. Let's just say after this evening, my eyes and ears had devoured an overflowingly generous portion of suck. On that note, I suppose I should jump into the full-blown review. This is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you.


-I'd actually contemplated recording each show from this week on, and then dubbing over the best matches of the year into one big compilation tape. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed. I have no hard copy of last night's Nitro or Raw, and I'm very proud to be able to say that.

-The Norman Smiley-in-pads bit wasn't especially funny to begin with.. now it's just getting stupid. Every once in a while, watching the programs, I remind myself to look at them in an entertainment viewpoint, rather than to jump to conclusions and rate them in my mind as to their technicality (thanks to an e-mail I recieved a few weeks back... thanks again). I honestly didn't find anything entertaining about this segment. Generally, even if something sucks royal ass, my roommate and I are cracking jokes and having a good time all around. Nobody said anything during this, except "are they done yet?".

-Now a Spice interview, I can stand. I'll be the first to admit I didn't hear a word she was saying.. but if you're gonna have some stank on the screen, it may as well be pleasing to look at.

-How do you mess up a Sid impersonation? It's among the easiest in the world to attempt, especially considering Nash's natural size. Hell, you don't even have to look like him. Just utter "I rule the world", "Who's the man", and laugh every once in a while. Hall could've played the straight man, asking him honest questions.. and Nash would alternate between Sid's 3 universal greetings. And it would've been good.

-Note to Booker T: we get the idea. Your new valet's name is Midnight. Quit saying "When midnight strikes tonight.." So long as they don't spell it 'Midnyte", or something along those lines. Booker started to try giving us a match, but DOA put a stop to that before it got too far. When the lights went out and the bell tolled, I thought it was TAFKA Goldust, 7even, whatever they're calling him these days. Guess I took the Undertaker aspect of his "gimmick" one step too far, eh? It took me a moment to make the association.. chances are it holds true with everyone else watching.

-The only thing that can kill off the pleasure of a First Family split? An extended feud between its former members. And we thought things couldn't get worse...

-The festival of lost punches that was Evan Karagious / Johnny Boone ended about 5 minutes after it should've. Again, if anybody found entertainment in this pseudo-match, welcome home. There's plenty more on the way.

-So this is how they're planning to use Juventud. Great suggestion.. kudos to whoever came up with it. I'd rather see him not working than thrown into this matchup. Everybody was off, both with the absurdity of the gimmick, the pointlessness of the finish, and a probable last-second booking. They didn't even bother threading the pinata up with a decent rope, as it fell the moment the pole was jarred. If Juvi and Psychosis aren't working, at least I can dream of seeing them in ECW sometime, where they'd be right at home. I guess it's like they say "I'm only happy when I'm in my misery".

-I loved Hennig's use of Goldberg's traditional entrance. It made me wonder; why hasn't anybody done that before? Of course Big Bill no-sold it (a nasty little habit he's been picking up lately.. he almost no-sold the nut shot at the end of the show, before he realized that might damage his image) and pretty much destroyed the spot. Hennig had a bit of fire back in him again for this one, but he blew up early and never really caught up again. Submitting to a leglock? I suppose it furthered his career, if nothing else.

-Duggan / Chavo? Hey, it won't be the worst partnership in WCW. They'll be the only solid face team in the fed. I've actually enjoyed Duggan's recent pieces, as he's had a chance to allow his personality to shine through. Call me old fashioned, but segments like these get me behind a guy more than a chairshot ever will.

-At least they got rid of Berlyn's translator. "The Wall"? I suppose it's better than 'Shaq Diesel' or whatever they were gonna call him before. Aside from nitpicking, they're playing this angle all wrong. I'm guessing the long-term plan is to turn the wall on berlyn and establish him as a credible babyface. If so, Berlyn needs to play the dominant, asshole master with complete psychological control over the monster. Post-match, wall should be begging for reacceptance from Berlyn. Ahh hell, what do I know anyway.

-The Misfits need to stick to run-ins. That was probably the ugliest kick I've seen in a wrestling ring since the days of Eric Watts.

-Steiner took, admittedly, a nice powerbomb through the stage. Sick as this sounds, I hope they keep him out of action for a while.. because I sure as hell won't miss him. Does this make Sid the TV champ now? Or was he disqualified? Counted out? Who knows.. who cares.. "Let's just not tell the fans. They'll forget about it"

-I could've stood keeping the channel on the same station as Asya... had they left Torri in the ring. Mmm. A random thought: I wonder if the 'bigwigs' behind WCW (better yet.. the powers that be) thought out their spelling of asya. Turning the 'i' to a 'y' works, when the I is anunciated, as in 'China'. It doesn't, when the I is silent, as in 'Asia'. In essence, they've named this beast "Ass-Yuh".

-I'm glad we saw Goldberg enjoying the concessions of backstage life throughout the evening. Goldberg drinks water.. Goldberg enjoys a Surge... Goldberg tastes a panda's ass. I honestly expected a shot of the men's room door, with Schiavone screaming "We're told Goldberg is in there, folks. What does this mean...? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN...??"

-Benoit / Hall led off the only 45 minutes of TV I enjoyed last night, the beginning of Nitro's 3rd hour. This one wasn't quite what I'd expected, with a bit too much stalling and one rest hold too many. However, once Benoit took over on offense, the crowd really stood up and took notice while the match became very good. Hall's reaction to Benoit's snot blast was classic (A look that said "what the fuck was that?!"). I like the idea of bringing Hart out to even the sides (it furthers my theory that the two will meet in the finals at Mayhem, with Benoit turning mega-heel and taking the belt), but where was Benoit during Hart's match?

-Speaking of which, Hart / Kidman was a let-down. The action was slow-paced, the finish was overbooked (surprise!), the announcers focused on outside interference above the action in the ring, and the last spot was blown. Still, I'd rather be seeing this than Bossman/Rock.

-On commentary, Rey's voice is comparable to Michael Jackson.

-If Luger saw Sting's reaction to his flowers on a monitor backstage... why couldn't the Stinger see the Package inserting Ex-Lax into his brownies? And where the f- was "slapnuts"?? That's taken a role in my everyday terminology.. you can't take it from me now!

-Jarrett was trying his damndest to get a good match out of Buff for the 2 minutes before DOA ran out to the ring. I was applauding his efforts, but when the two bald incoompetants made their way down, I had no choice but to change the channel. At least the right man won, and we'll be seeing Jarrett/Benoit (!) at Mayhem. What kind of a finisher is a russian leg sweep, though?

-I loved Saturn's reaction to the house of pain match.. it was the same as mine. And he got Dean-o to jump!! I laughed out of my seat... Good eatin's.

-I may not've liked the athletic portion of the Sting / Luger match, but I'll admit it kept me entertained, not to mention guessing. And the crowd was loving it. I'm not sure if this was meant to be or not, but Sting's more over than he's been in years, thanks to this heel turn. Fight the system, oi oi

-"Anything goes" main event (which I wasn't watching anyway.. hell, if they're gonna ask me to change the channel by putting Nash and Sid in the same ring together, I'm more than happy to oblige), and the bell rings when Goldberg hits the ring? How does that work? Who cares anyway?
Overall Grade: C-

I get so many complaints about my grades, that I've decided to raise the bar. Now, as far as I'm concerned, a "B" is average.. not a "C". Last week, this show would've been a D.. but this week, a C-. Which means it was below average. I figure this will allow me to better diversify my degree of suck, as I don't expect to see an average show for some time.


-Let's see, the hummer driver, the higher power, the man who raised the briefcase... now 'who hit austin'. I think I can safely say I'm sick of these damned mysteries. It was a nice touch and I loved it when they first introduced it. Now, it doesn't even border on repetition. There's no question about it.

-While reading his book, I look at Mankind in a whole new light when in action. Instead of a crazy son of a bitch, afraid of no injury.. I see a guy from New York that's every bit as human as you or I. Guess I had to get that philosophical bit of me out there. So much for Val's big main event push.

-HHH did a damned good job on the stick backstage, putting the 'police questioners' in their place. He swayed my view of the situation, and did so without resorting to moronic name-calling and catch-spouting. He actually portrayed himself as somebody mature enough to carry the WWF Gold, and took a step up in my book because of it. I did like hearing a bit of DX humor thrown in the segment though, as Road Dogg misspelled 'Deez Nuts'.

-Dude... I'd love a stuffed squirrel at my wedding.

-Hey, did you notice? The crowd could've given a shit and a half about both the Godfather and Kurt Angle. ..And this is Angle's hometown. If you can't get over in your home, how can you ever expect to do so on the road somewhere? The fan, I'm guessing was a plant, though I still have no real clue. My reasoning is this; they showed him after the fact on tv (a no-no in the WWF... they usually snap away as soon as a fan is near the ring), the announcers dwelled on it beyond the fact, and the workers incorporated it into the finish. Besides that, he was protesting 'filth', which the Godfather embodies in the wwf. We'll see him again.

-It hurt me to even think about what Chyna was implying with those hedge clippers... Meanwhile, the Acolytes have done the impossible.. they've interested me in their characters. I don't know how, but I do enjoy this new role of theirs as genuine bad asses who love what they're doing.

-In hindsight, I wish I'd watched more of the Al Snow / Road Dogg fight, but for some reason.. I didn't. Alas; there isn't much that I can say for this match. Mankind tried to get the fans behind Snow, but they sat on their hands and shut their mouths (as seems to be the trend for the evening). Why bother showing up if you aren't gonna enjoy yourself? Hunh.. wish I'd asked myself that question when I bought Nitro tickets.

-The Jericho/Chyna "hammer" skit was bad. Real bad. Maybe if she.. I don't know.. used her hand in any of her prevalent moves? It was pretty funny watching a rubber mallet slam into a fake hand though. Following the 'ordeal', the thumb that was "bleeding" looked about as real as Kevin Nash's Sid makeup earlier in the night. You could see it coming off. See, this is where the imagination is best let run wild. By showing the injury, you limit our minds.. I'm sure every fan had a much worse thought in their mind before the bloodied fist was shown. Bad storytelling is all, and completely against Jericho's character.

-Test has a supposed broken nose, and he protects it with.. a band aid. Intelligence. Plain and simple. Remember when a broken nose was a huge deal? At Wrestlemania VIII, Virgil (Vince/Vincent/Curly Bill) had a broken nose, and wore this huge, lame-ass white face shield that left him looking like the phantom of the opera than a wrestler. Today, a band-aid. Somehow, I think the answer is somewhere in between.

-I'd like to take last night's match as a sign of Kane's ascention to main eventer once again, but I know better. He didn't exactly have a great match, but he wasn't paired with the easiest of workers, either. You know what I'd like to see? Kane/Booker T. Two high-flying behemoths that can go. I'll just add that one to the list of WWF-WCW matches that will never pass. Post-match, I was waiting for Kane to choke slam McMahon for costing him the match.. but it never happened. More bad storytelling.

-Want my comments about Rock/Bossman? Go read Dale Blasingame's column. We share the 'told ya this was shit' mindset. Either way, do you really think the impending world title match would've been decent? Rock/Wight? Slow, lots of rest holds, a boring and weak match. Bossman/Wight? Slow, lots of rest holds, a boring and weak match with no heat. I guess the lesser of two evils would've been the Rock.. so leave it to Vince to deprive us of that as well.
Overall Grade: C

Keep in mind the new scale.. This show wasn't good. But it was better than Nitro, if for the sole reason that they gave a couple matches some time.

I'm really becoming unhappy with the future of American wrestling. I'm excited about the Mayhem PPV, but if they blow that.. I may disappear for a little while, as I'd question what I'm expecting to see.

Anyway. I'll be back later in the week for a Mayhem preview, and possibly another column along the way.
until then, i remain

Thursday, November 11, 1999

Ringside Shadows #88: The World's First WWF Survivor Series 1999 Preview

You know, when I was a kid I always dreaded the Survivor Series. It would consistantly be held the very same night as my Thanksgiving dinner, and that meant there was a chance the two would overlap... causing an international dilemma. Many a holiday I would devour an entire meal (over which my mother had toiled endlessly all day) in a rush to get upstairs and try to descramble the PPV images with my eyes.. while Gorilla would let me know what I was missing through the perfect audio channel I could always find. Sometimes the cable people would screw up, and I'd have a couple minutes of clear video to go along with my audio. Within a moments they'd realize their mistake, and I'd be back to square one again.. but there was always that hope they'd just leave it be.

It's been over a decade since those long nights in my parents' bedroom, the taste of turkey still on my lips and the thoughts in full support of the Hulkster later in the card. I often wish I'd taken advantage of that family time now that my parents have split. My views on the sport and the athletes that make it enjoyable have changed, nearly to the point I don't look forward to it any more. Hell, the entire event was blackened 2 years ago, and reinforced with last year's blatant slap to the face called a main event. Still, the Survivor Series lives on in my mind as the WWF PPV richest in tradition and therefore the most honorable of the lot.

So, I guess I'm not completely let down by this year's card, and the near-return to the traditional format it offers..

Ivory, Jacqueline, Luna & Terri vs. Tori, Debra, Fabulous Moolah & Mae Young

The official SS website claims this to be a "One Fall; Sudden Death Match" which means... jack. These sites are famous for making things completely unintelligable, at least in my book, and this is no exception. It's not a 'survivor' match, so I'm assuming this means it's just an 8-woman tag (which is much too hard to say when words like 'one fall; sudden death match' are around).Who's the champ? Who knows. Is the belt on the line? Who cares. The important fact is this; what you're gonna see will be damned ugly. Half of the contestants have no legitimate reason to be active in a ring, and the others are questionable. I've made a habit of taking Luna in the women's title match, though it becomes more and more evident that she'll never hold a belt each time she's involved in one of these. Of interest; the Survivor Series history lesson seems to have left the Gobbledy Gooker off it's write-up of the 1990 extravaganza... though there are 2 photos available! Take a gander!
Winner: Luna

Godfather, D'Lo Brown & the Headbangers vs. Acolytes & Dudley Boyz
Eight Man Elimination Match

Do any of these workers have anything to do with their partners? Sure, D'Lo and the Godfather have a slight past in the NOD and the rest are tag teams. Aside from that, they have no relation. The Headbangers and the Godfather? Seen each other in the locker rooms, I'm sure. Buh Buh Ray and Faarooq? Feuded a bit. The nonsensical booking of these matches is a warm reminder of the days of old, when you didn't need a reason to fight anybody.. just a will. In these days of storyline-focused television and character development emphasis, it's nice to just see an old-fashioned match every once in a while. Of course, if the Godfather makes the pinfall I'll be very upset. Even Bradshaw should be above selling his offense. Ugh. I'll go with the faces here, since the Dudleys and Acolytes will likely screw each other over.
Winners: The old NOD members and the Headbangers

Val Venis, Mark Henry, Gangrel & Steve Blackman vs. The Bulldog, Joey Abs, Rodney & Pete Gas
Eight Man Elimination Match

I'll bet the Bulldog's happy he hurried back to the WWF now. At any rate, half the athletes are competant here, and the result could be almost watchable. Not that I'll be watching it, I'm more likely to be off drinking something I shouldn't be by the time this one hits the air waves. If somebody lowers the cage and the Hardys decide to come out for an hour or two, I'll applaud the effort. Otherwise.. I can live without this. I'll reiterate though; it's nice to have old-fashioned matches without much buildup on the card again. I like the sense of unpredictability of seeing different men working with each other. If the Bulldog carries most of the load for his team, this will be a good, well-paced bout.. and that's what I'm counting on. The MSP isn't really renowned for their ring skills, and I'd expect to see them eliminated early. But the Bulldog will take home the pinfall.
Winner: The Posse (yo!) and the Dog

Big Boss Man, Prince Albert, Viscera & Mideon vs.
Big Show, Taka, Funaki & Blue Meanie

Eight Man Elimination Match

Whose decision was it to put Taka Michinoku and Sho Funaki into a ring with 6 lumbering men that wind themselves on the way to the ring? Does anybody know what you get when you throw cruiserweight fliers into a match with heavyweight rest-holders? Arses of fire. You get arses of fire. Without fail, it never works. But I like the Meanie, and it'll be fun seeing Prince Albert pick insects from the forest of his back, and I suppose Taka's working at the very least. Maybe Edge and Christian will lower the cage again and put on a sequel to the Hardys' hour-long epic earlier in the night. I'm taking Wight to clean house on the Bossman and cohorts, or to get himself counted out in his 'rage'.
Winners: Paul Wight, The Blue Meanie, Taka and Funaki

The Hollys & Too Cool vs. Edge & Christian & the Hardys
Eight Man Elimination Match

Somebody hold me back. I guaran-damn-tee this one produces the 'Navy Rump Hump of the Week' or whatever they're calling it nowadays, to be enjoyed once again on Raw. Never let it be said that the tag division in late 1999 WWF was weak, because there's more promise here than ever before. Once Taka and Funaki find their way into serious contention, we're talking non-stop goodness. These 8 have worked together rather extensively of late, and should really have enough of a feel with one another to put together an unbelievable package. Shelf this one away in the same category as Super Crazy / Jerry Lynn / Yoshihiro Tajiri match last week in that I'd consider suffering through hell to see it. Superb booking decision. The faces have been taking the wins of late, and I'd expect Too Cool to hand out a clean pin in the finish. Or maybe Brother Love will lower the cage and take out all 8 men on his way to a new reign of terror. Or you can forget that last sentence.
Winners: The Hollys and Too Cool

Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Stasiak

The technical skill is there. The fans don't care. I'll look for a full Kurt Angle heel turn here, taking the win through questionable measures. We haven't seen either man in physical capacity on television in months (or ever), and there isn't really much I can say beyond that.
Winner: Kurt Angle

X-Pac vs. Kane

It's been built up for a good 4 months now, I guess it's finally time to deliver. I wonder how X-Pac's meant to be a viable challenger when he fell victim to a chokeslam in record time during their last meeting.. maybe he "wasn't taking his opponent seriously"? Who knows. Still, if Kane pulls out a couple tricks, this could be notworthy. The big man is remarkable when he feels like treating us and I think the tension in the air, the proper storyline and X-Pac's reputation for making the other man look good will come together here and give us a possible show-stealer. With that said, the WWF will find a way to ruin it.. in this case, a dirty finish. X-Pac will drive the nail home with an X-Factor, but the feud won't really begin to heat up until next month some time.
Winner: X-Pac

Mankind and Al Snow v. The New Age Outlaws
Tag Team Championship

Looking for something negative about the tag division? These guys have the belts. Not to mention the near-complete deterioration of the straps' worth. They've changed hands 3 times in the past week and a half, and have a strong chance of looking for 4 here. That's completely unheard of, and makes me wonder what they're doing with all the potential they've got waiting in the wings. Mankind and Al Snow are a great duo (especially so when reading Mankind's book, in which he refers to taking a dump as "taking a quick Al Snow") who play off each other well. Their friendship both on-screen and off is evident in their comfortability with each other. They may well take the win Sunday night, but they won't grab the belts.
Winners: Mankind and Al Snow (by DQ or countout)

Chris Jericho v. Chyna
Intercontinental Championship

I'm as big a Jericho supporter as the next (if not bigger), but his time isn't now. Much as I'd like to buy into the hype that surrounds his first shot at WWF gold, I don't think the moment is right. He needs a little more time to fit into his new, less-restricted role here. I hate Chyna as a champ, but the signs point to her retaining, if only for a night.
Winner: Chyna

The Rock v. HHH v. Steve Austin
World Heavyweight Championship with Special Ref Vince McMahon

Finally, the one that's got us all guessing. Will Austin, Vince or both make their rumored heel turns? Together? Will HHH swerve everybody and retain? Will the Rock make the jump to Austin's level as a 4-time WWF Champion? Will the cage lower and... I think I'll drop that one. There's too many possibilities to mention here, but the one I'm siding with goes a little something like this: Austin and the Rock pummel HHH with double teams, before working on each other. As the brawl works its way through the crowd, HHH finds time to recover and upon their return to the ring, all 3 men are standing. Austin has brought a chair into the ring, which Vince attempts to take from him. Austin threatens with the chair, and Vince shows testicles the size of grapefruits and dares him to do it. HHH take the opportunity and attacks.

Later, Vince swings the chair at HHH, who is enraged over a slow count. HHH ducks and Vince nails Austin. Helmsley goes for the cover and Vince gives a quick 2-count, but the Rock breaks it up. Throughout the last portion of the match, Vince obviously sides with HHH. Austin and Rocky put both to the ropes and deliver the goods, as the fans explode. Both flip the birds to the audience in a sign of unity before Austin turns and delivers the stunner to the Rock. Vince sprints to his feet and counts the fall before anyone has a chance to see what's happened. As the show goes off the air, McMahon and Austin hold the belt and celebrate together. And y'know, I wouldn't be surprised to see a Sharpshooter thrown in there as well.
Winner: Steve Austin

With that out of the way, I had a couple comments on my ECW Preview with John that I'd like to respond to before I hit the road..

JD2512@aol.com asked about the idea behind the preview in general:

"I appreciate the attempt, but what's the sense in reviewing something you obviously know nothing about. I mean I can understand not seeing more of ECWs talent pool in action on regular TV but It seems as though you guys haven't even seen any of the ECWs other PPVs, or commercial tapes. Watch the PPV, and I hope you enjoy it. ECW always busts there ass to put on a good show. They are without a doubt the hardest working locker room in the business today. Have a great day, and keep on watching wrestling! Oh if ECW ever does come down to the Nashville area you guys really have to make an attempt to see them live, there is nothing like a live ECW event."

Actually, I think John was just making light of the fact they air a national program on the Nashville Network, yet never put on any shows in the network's hometown and namesake. Neither of us are from the Tenessee area (I'm from north-eastern Indiana, John calls Canada his home), and John was actually at the PPV in question.

As for the point.. I don't really think there was one. John and I knew we had no place writing up a preview over something with which we had little past experience, but the idea seemed to fit us like a glove. Besides, we just felt like doing a column together as we'd never done one before. We had a good time, and are planning to make it a monthly event.. which should be interesting. As we become more familiar with the product, the previews will become more relevant to the matches (unlike John's 2 paragraph rant about Tammy's breasts), and we'll become more comfortable being ourselves in the public eye. Believe me, if we get our act together on a preview, it could be golden. Thanks for your support, as it's truly appreciated.

Freddie Byies (cheesemonkey@worldnet.att.net) left a couple comments for me in the mailbox:

"I liked your preview for ECW's November To Remember. I know alot of people like to complain about a lack of ECW not building up their cards. But I don't care. ECW ALWAYS puts on one helluva show. They can have absolutely no buildup at all and the matches would still be great. I still say they should have the Triple Bitch Fight...a match between Tammy Sytch, Francine, and Dawn Marie...oh, that would be great. "

Not much I can say to that, except thanks and I'd estimate one helluva buyrate for the Tammy/Francine/Dawn Marie catfight, should it ever come to pass. Also; I didn't plan it out, but his remarks tie in nicely with my comments about the current PPV in question, regarding matches with little to no build-up. Thanks for reading

Finally, Fellow Big3 columnist Wayne Edmondson (FCa3537492@aol.com) throws me a bone about my main event thoughts:

"drq, I just read your N2R preview and rather enjoyed it, especially considering that you're both ECW "newbies". However there was one section that was waaaay out in left field, and I thought I would clarify it for you. Even if Tanaka wins the ECW World Title, there's not a chance in hell that he would face Misawa in a title defense. Tanaka is a FMW worker and Misawa works in All Japan, so the likelyhood of them facing each other is somewhat akin to a Goldberg/Austin match on your next ECW PPV. Simply put, it can't possibly happen. Possible opponents include Mr. Gannosuke or H (formerly Hayabusa) amongst others. But seeing that since Eji Ezaki has dropped his Hayabusa gimmick, there really are no other FMW workers that would have a snowball's chance in Hades of getting over with the typical ECW fan. Not trying to bust your balls or anything, but I thought I'd just try to clarify some stuff for you. I enjoy your stuff and keep up the good work."

I'm not sure where I recalled hearing the rumors of a Misawa involvement in ECW, but I think it's safe to say now that they weren't founded. Does anyone else recall a similar rumor, and if so who it was discussing? Matt Spence touched on it in an old column.. I searched and searched, but couldn't find a trace of it anywhere.

A Hayabusa run in ECW could be nice, but from what I've seen and heard he's been mailing them in for some time now. I did enjoy the hell out of his J Cup 94 matchup with Jushin Lyger.. Some of the bumps he sold near the conclusion of the match were just outrageous (especially the blown shooting-star press that nearly broke him in half), and if he continued that sort of style, I don't see him having trouble getting over anywhere in the world... gimmick or not. Thanks for the correction though, Wayne, and the compliments.

I'll be back next week, when Ringside Shadows will break the 90 mark.
until then, i remain

Wednesday, November 10, 1999

Ringside Shadows #87: The Nitro Experience

So I was at Nitro this past Monday. If you look reeeeaally hard, you can see my "Give us Jushin Liger" sign at various points throughout the broadcast. I always hated the crowd members with these things, anyway.. No matter what they did to it on the live broadcast (which I haven't finished putting myself through yet), let me tell you firsthand.. the show blew.

Not only did it blow, bite, suck, swallow, bake a cake, and do a little dance.. but it asked for seconds. If you're looking for some out-of-context notes from the show, I've got a couple. Want a story or two? Sure, I'll throw ya a bone. I'm just gonna warn you now, it may get wordy.. and it won't be pretty.


I had a plan. For days prior to this, I'd constructed what I thought to be a sensible agenda.. making the voyage from Muncie to Indianapolis and back, stopping to see my folks, catching a bite to eat, seeing the stars, and getting my column pumped out before I hit the sack. Kids, if there's one thing you should learn about a vacation, trip, event, etc... don't plan it. Don't try to plan it. Don't let the word plan enter your mind. Because the moment you do, nature begins to plot against you. Everything that can go wrong will find a way.. and then some.

I glanced through my syllabus around noon, and figured out that there's no set number of absenses before becoming inexcusable for my 2:00 Bio lecture... so I got a jump-start on the day by skipping it. I'm a college boy, it's all good.. besides, I haven't missed a lecture yet. About 3:00, half an hour before I'd planned to depart, my roommate and I realize we never made our signs. So we haul over to Village Pantry across the street, pick up a couple sharpies and grab my other roommate's forgotten Jar-Jar Binks promotional posters from Hollywood Video. We tape those bad boys to the board, face down, and utelize the only good part of the damned gungan poster.. the back. One hour and several trippy sharpie-fumes-hallucinations later, we emerge victorious, carrying two double-sided signs that, in addition to my previously mentioned phrase, read "I Schill for Schiavone", "I...I Love.." and the ever-popular "Poop".

We hit the road about a half hour behind schedule and almost drive through my other roommate, who tosses rent money my way.. cool. So we're off, making damn sure we don't leave the tickets behind. Surprisingly, besides the morons-with-licenses that frequent the Muncie, Indiana pavement, the drive ends uneventful and we stop to say a quick hello to my dad and his wife. As we're ready to take off, he says those fateful words that haunt me to this day; "They're not gonna let you bring those signs inside". We shrug the warning off nonchalantly and travel along our merry way.

If you're ever behind building a city street system, do me a favor... label the roads. Indianapolis has a big problem with this, assuming everybody knows exactly where they are and exactly where they're headed. Why blow the money on signs when everyone already knows where they're at? Now don't get me wrong.. I know Indy. I just need a little guidance finding a brand-new arena (Nitro was the second event to be held in this 'Conseco Fieldhouse'), located on some ass-backwards street on the South side of the city. But we finally arrived, early no less, and walked from our spot in a garage 4 blocks down the vein of the city to the arena.

We hung outside the arena near the entrance for a while, basking in the glory of our signs, before we caught a glimpse of the only wrestler we'd see outside of the ring, Norman Smiley. He was on a cell-phone (I would be too, after seeing what a match he was booked in), so I didn't bother him.. I offered a wave and a big wiggle and let him be. Some of the other fans weren't as considerate, but that's life.

We get into the arena, hand the man our tickets, and he tells us "Your signs are too large", and reaches for the ticket behind me. I ask what the specifications are for size, and he tells me "posterboard". "Good;" I respond "because these are written on the back of posters". Silence. I wait for his intelligent comeback, but there is none.. and now I'm the dickhead, holding up the line. I ask again, and the ticket-man puts forth the effort of asking the guy working next to him if this poster is ok. The answer is no, and I'm saying screw it. A couple minutes later I get the grand idea of tearing off the Jar-Jar poster, which I do, and manage to salvage my Liger sign.. along with a nice large Jar-Jar Binks sign as well. You win some, you lose some. On to the show..

All through the night, these two poor tools were running a carpet down the entrance ramp before a match, and rolling it back up before an interview. I guess the workers have had enough with killing themselves on that thing, though Liz nearly ate it on her way down. Pretty entertaining, actually.

Sid's position was foggy. He was a definate heel at the beginning and end of the show, but played a face during the Luger match. I suppose WCW wants us to choose the lesser of the two evils, as Sid was working the crowd a'la Hogan in the 80's. He'd "ask" us if we wanted him to hit The Package, and kept looking into the audience like a deer looks into headlights.

Nobody bothered telling the live crowd why Meng wasn't there, but I can't honestly say anyone really minded his absense.

Near the beginning of the show, I looked into the rows just in front of me and saw a bulky figure in a white WCW crew shirt. It took me a moment to figure out where I recognized him from, and by the time I realized, he was already backstage, through the same door Goldberg entered at the start of the show and Kimberly ran through after the David Flair skit. It was Terry Taylor. Had I realized beforehand, I'd have gone out of my way to shake his hand and offer my support.

DJ Ran was there... If only my excitement could jump off this computer into your face. He successfully butchered every song he played, by inserting his own name in at some point. Every song. It's pretty sick to hear "I did it all for the nookie.. so you can take that cookie and DJ RAN". He was booed mercilessly.

Benoit was the recipient of the 3rd largest pop of the evening, behind Bret Hart and Bobby Heenan (who's from this area). I can't express how happy that made me.

Goldust/7even/Dustin was sitting at the entryway for about 5 minutes before he made his appearance. I noticed nearly immediately, and mentioned to my roommate who he was. We spent the next minutes trying to figure out why he was just sitting there. When he did finally come out, his intro was spectacular. Seriously, I did enjoy the work that went into his entrance, but the floating deal was just stupid. Especially when factoring in the men behind the ring working the line that carried him.

Luger and Liz actually sprayed Sting with the mace on 2 separate occasions before he sold it. The cameras must have missed the first one, so they all moved to the other side of the ring and did it again.

During the Saturn/Bret Hart match, Shane Douglas was drenched with a full cup of beer after his interference. Security threw out 3 or 4 ticketholders for this incident, which makes all the sense in the world because only one beer was thrown. One guy even played to the crowd on his way out.

By the time the hardcore match rolled around, the fans had turned on WCW in general. When both men went backstage, a chorus of boos rocked the arena and fans could care less about the ultra-predictable ladder match turnout. If anybody knows how to kill heat, it's this new booking staff.

Jarrett was cheered wildly when he spun and nailed Booker's new "friend" with the guitar. How's that for against the grain?

Poor Curt Hennig played the face for the duration of his match, and tried his best in the ring (which, admittedly, isn't a shade of his former self), even bumping through the announce booth. The audience could've cared less. As he walked beaten down the aisle, he raised his arms but there wasn't a cheer in the house. He doesn't deserve this.

Ultimately, fans were sick of each man in the main event. All 4 men had been out to the ring numerous times over the evening, and I guess the impact had worn off.

Anyway.. I took off as Hart and Goldberg stood in the ring post-match and did a lot of nothing, along with the rest of the arena. Gone were the excited yells and exchanged high-fives of fans leaving the recent WWF event I attended, in their place were disappointed faces and unhappy viewers. A sign of another downward spiral? You bet. I don't see how they're pleasing anyone with this product.

The ride home was set to the tune of Oribal's CD, "Middle of Nowhere", which is incredibly excellent and worth a purchase. I nearly fell asleep at Nitro, so the drive home wasn't much better. I think I saw a couple demons in the hood of my car.. they were more entertaining than the $35 event I'd just witnessed. We finally pulled in to our parking spot after 2 AM and collapsed into bed. I'd planned to write up a review while still high from the event, but it should be obvious how likely that was. I instead set my aims for Tuesday, which didn't happen either.. I was still sleeping. So here I stand, offering my long-winded story a day and a half late and a page and a half long. But it's here, nonetheless.

Imagine my surprise when I popped in the taped Raw and enjoyed it. Maybe I should've made the 9 hour drive to Penn State.. they got to see some entertaining stuff.

As for me, I'm outta here. Look for some letters with my Survivor Series preview sometime tomorrow evening. Oh yea... and here, through the magic of computer-aided, image-enhancing software, you can see a close-up view of me at Nitro

Sean watches the magic of Rick Steiner..

OK... so I didn't use a computer-aided image-enhancer.. more like Photoshop.. But that really is me in the circles (both of them). You can't really read my sign, eh?

Back to Mankind's book for me.
until then, i remain

Friday, November 5, 1999

The Complete Idiot's Guide to ECW November to Remember 1999

My exposure to ECW has been, and continues to be, limited to their TNN airings. Thus the title, "Complete Idiot's Guide". Recent developments behind the scenes have given this PPV an air of unpredictability, as the former world champs Sandman and Mikey Whipwreck have made their official returns to in-continuity ECW action. I'll try to keep the names matched with the faces here, and hopefully we'll deliver a decent read.

Balls Mahoney, New Jack & Axl Rotten vs. The Baldies

OK, I have no idea who the f'n Baldies are. I've seen one New Jack match in it's entirety (His near-squash against Mike Awesome 2 weeks back on TNN), a couple Balls Mahoney matches and maybe one Axl Rotten attempt. See, this is why I shouldn't be previewing ECW PPVs just yet.. Let's take a little stroll over to the ECW page and become enlightened. I'm betting Mahoney will wander out with a chair. I'd expect something extreme to go down at some point. I'm thinking this will end in under 1 hour. And hell, with the chaotic match scheduling that's made ECW famous, this may well air after the World Title match. Honestly, I have no place previewing this match. Soo... I've blindly picked Balls, New Jack and Axl to take one home, only because they're the names I recognize. So long as New Jack is kept out of the ring a good chunk of the time, there's no reason for this to suck too hard.
Winners: Balls Mahoney, New Jack & Axl Rotten

Jerry Lynn vs. Yoshihiro Tajiri vs. Super Crazy
Three Way Dance

All right! If anybody can give me a reason for this match to go anywhere less than 3 1/2-4 stars, speak now or forever hold your peace. Seriously, these 3 rock harder than my llama-mating compound on a wild Friday night. I'll be out of town, and won't be able to order the PPV.. and this match makes me sorely upset at myself for that. My hope is to see this one on TNN Friday night, because that's likely my only shot at catching it.. Extreme Replays and all. Shit, 3 of the best North American workers today in the ring at one time, and I miss the damned match. Enough griping.. Lynn, with his usual carry-job atmosphere absent from this one, should have a big chance to shine as most of us know he can. For the first time in a while, he won't have to worry about making his opponents look good and can concentrate solely on putting together a nice match. Tajiri is one of the stiffest workers on our side of the ocean, and holds true to the ECW mold by fearing no spot. These two alone could put together a match of the year candidate, and then Super Crazy gets thrown into the mix! If it isn't readily apparent by now.. I want to see this match. No amount of detailed recaps on the net can do it justice, and I'm mad as hell to be missing it..
Winner: Damn, this one's hard to call.. Let's say Super Crazy

Sabu vs. Chris Candido

A difficult one to call, as they haven't done much of anything to build this.. (Come to think of it, aside from the Raven/Dreamer v. Impact Players feud, what has been built up??), but that won't necessarily detract from the match in the least. The crowd, as always, will be pumped.. Sabu's return is still fresh in their minds, and this should be Candido's first full-length match since his comeback, so both men will likely give it more than usual. Neither worker has a problem maintaining credibility, and doing the j..o..b. on the ppv won't knock them too far down the ladder. In the end, I think it comes down to outside interference and Tammy could probably take Alphonso in 10 seconds flat. I wouldn't overlook a possible interference from Dawn Marie, in her quest to be the "queen of hardcore", which could end up costing Candido the match. When push comes to shove, I'm taking Candido. The fact that this is near the bottom regarding the potential of matches on this card shows how strong this PPV really is.
Winner: Chris Candido

Rob Van Dam vs. Taz
ECW TV Title Match

Heyman could throw us all here, giving the belt to Taz in exchange for Van Dam's imminent ascension to full-blown main eventer. He knows how obvious the 'human suplex machine's departure is, and is known for taking an easily-predicted outcome and turning it completely inside out. Months back, there were rumors that Van Dam would be the man to finally take the belt from the unbeatable Taz.. now I wonder if things may have found a way to flip flop. The match itself probably won't be anything to write home about. Each man is notorious for the necessary carry job they require to look good, and throwing
two workers like that in a ring together usually ends in disappointment. My respect for Taz has gone up several notches for honoring his word-of-mouth agreement with Heyman to stay with the company through the end of the year, and I'd be lying if I said Paul didn't appreciate it. Maybe one last title run in the company he helped build is in line for the Taz-meister, (did I just say 'taz-meister'? Somebody smack me..) but I don't think it'll come at the expense of Van Dam's "longest title reign in the big 3".
Winner: Rob Van Dam

Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka
ECW World Title Match

The rules state "if Tanaka wins the title, he has one defense of the ECW Title in Japan against a yet to be named opponent. Whoever wins that match would then return to ECW and defend the title full time until he loses the belt." Anybody else remember weak rumors circulating about a certain Japanese legend making his way to ECW for a short run? I'm probably wrong, but I thought they centered around a fellow going by the name of Mitsuharu Misawa. If the rumors were true, what better way to bring the legend in for a brief ECW stint than as champion? And what better way to elevate a midcard worker to blow-the-lid-off-the-earth over than to put him over Misawa for the ECW title? The llama is braying in the sheer anticipation of it all. Then again, the wily Paul Heyman more than likely noticed these net rumors, too. This could be a big work put together to make us wonder about the possibilities. Still, why throw in the stipulation if it's not gonna see use? That little question has me picking Tanaka to hold the belt for a couple days, before dropping it to his 'mystery opponent' in the East. Sure, the multiple title changes place the belt itself at risk of a status drop due to multiple changes, but I think it's worth it in the end.
Winner: Masato Tanaka

Raven, Tommy Dreamer and Sandman vs. Rhino, Justin Credible, Lance Storm and pretty much the rest of the ECW roster not on the card

Tensions will be thick, as 3 former enemies find themselves on the same side in Sandman, Raven and Dreamer. Do I sound like the shill patrol, or what? Along with a few others, I'm hoping Corino somehow gets involved in this mix, though that would definitely be rushing things. Dreamer is insane for working with his back in that kind of condition, and I'm not sure Raven is 100% yet, while Sandman is working his first match back from an injury. With that said, I'm not expecting to see a bump-fest that runs over 45 minutes in this one. Lance Storm is quite good, and will more than likely carry the load for both teams, making Sandman look good, while Credible is a... credible... worker. Rhino hasn't quite impressed me, and I'm willing to bet he won't be spending much time in the ring. They've been building this Raven/Dreamer dissension for too long now to push a camaraderie on us right now, so the match itself will likely end with one turning on the other as Sandman slowly bleeds himself to death on the floor somewhere. Raven delivers the finishing blow, but the Impact Players collect the victory.
Winners: The Impact Players and Rhino

...and that's all she wrote. A card that looks a helluva lot more interesting than a St. Louis Rams game. Looks like I'll be missing both, but I may look into an encore of the ECW card.. provided my buddy across campus didn't order it.
until next time, i remain