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.
Vampiro v. Berlyn
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.
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
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
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
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, firstname.lastname@example.org (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