Tuesday, January 25, 2000

Ringside Shadows #101: The Future...

After years of mediocrity, repetition, dullness and... repetition, the wait finally came to an end last night. We caught a glimpse of the future.. and it really looks like a one-horse race from here on out. While WCW pranced out the guns that we've all grown tired of in situations we've passed on time and time again, Vince McMahon put together a flappin' good program (with a few notable exceptions) that can only get better when we add the now-imminent arrival of the WCW pilgrims.

"Where the big boys play" is quickly becoming a past-tense, and unless WCW takes some giant steps from what I saw last night, a return to state fairs and bingo halls can't be too far behind.

The Cruiserweight Tourney Stands To Regain Past Glory

Probably the shining light in the vast, never-ending darkness of WCW's present has been the opening of the past 2 weeks' shows. Psychosis met Kidman in an excellent luchador duel on last week's installment, while he opened off this week's program with a victory against the equally spectacular Kaz Hayashi. So long as the talent remains the emphasis of this new division, I think failure would be difficult.. but not unattainable. Case in point; this week's match. These two are among the most consistant of all North American grapplers, yet their match left a lot to be desired. The crowd was hot, so nothing was missing there. I can't argue with the booking (well.. Juvi's 'Rock' gimmick is getting old), so the problem isn't there. Even the talent can't really be blamed, as everyone has off nights. What these two were missing was heart. In a federation so plagued with backstage difficulties, it's painfully obvious that morale has sunk to an all-time low, and that's saying something. There was no life behind Kaz's mean plancha outside the ring. Psychosis stared vacantly into the crowd instead of showcasing the charisma that he focused on after losing his mask. These two went out, no longer because they loved what they were doing, but because they had a job to do. In the shambles of the Turner (wait.. AOL...) empire, nobody's backstage giving them a reason to show a spark, and that is why this relaunch has already failed.

Even the little things are returning to the hopeless form that we'd left behind with Eric Bischoff. As Bob Ryder noticed on WCW Live, there were no brackets presented in this new tournament. This not only leaves the fans in the dark, but the talent as well. The proof that this hasn't been thought through correctly is obvious. Even with Terry Taylor masterminding this new division, I wonder.. do they really mean what they say? Do they know what made the original cruiserweight battles so special, or are they simply falling back on something they know worked in the past? Without Blitzkrieg, 90% of their luchador roster, and an injured Juventud Guerrera and Rey Misterio Jr., can this manage to get off the runway before it collapses? Or will a new class step up and take the slots abandoned by their predecessors 2 years ago?

WCW Talent Check: week 2

Nearly everybody I mentioned as promising last week saw work on this week's edition of Nitro. Crowbar proved that he's got the talk to walk the walk, during his hysterical segment on Nitro. Three Count's Shannon Moore took some of the nastiest bumps this side of Madison Square Garden. And... um.. that's it. Damned, WCW has little to no future. Just for tits and wiggles, I'll toss the Vampiro / Kidman match into this little segment, too, as I think both more than qualify as 'talent'. Let's start with Crowbar. While some would look past his work on the mic, instead paying attention to Daffney's attempts at stealing the spotlight or David's mumblings, I can see the writing on the wall. Crowbar (that name's tired already) took the time to raise his character to a totally different level, separating himself from the Flair clone that he'd become and showing off his voice in a fashion that didn't demand attention, only asked for it. I got a chuckle or two from his off-hand remarks, and he obviously was seeing the match live.. so he couldn't have scripted his reactions or phrases. It's often been said that the best promos come from the heart, and he's apparantly already mastered that aspect. As the intellectual psycho, Crowbar (there's that name again) could go places in a hurry.

Of note before I move on; on WCW Live last night, Mark Madden mentioned that "Miss Hancock should learn to act because she was laughing during David Flair's dance on the table." Come on, Mark.. she wasn't hired to play a sexy lawyer, she was hired to dance as a Nitro Girl. I think she's done a good enough job as is, and her smiling at Dave could actually be worked flawlessly into a future storyline (actually, I'll be surprised if it isn't). Daffney knew something was up, and took to the assault.. nothing's better than a feud over a love. I got more than one laugh out of David's table dance, though.. classic stuff.

Three Count saw action last night against Norman Smiley, and managed to play the perfect annoying heel. These 3 have really grown into the roles they seem to have been born to play, and the audience has responded in turn. The crowd loves to hate them, and they can apparently get anybody over by taking a bump or two.As the bastard child of the Hardy Boyz and Too Cool, I could see Shane and Shannon branching off from Karagias and having a go of it as formidable, solid faces in the next months. Another couple of guys to keep your eyes on, for certain.

Finally, Vampiro took on Kidman in one of the more anticipated bouts of the evening.. and promptly blew nearly every spot along the way. Like I've said above, it's understandable for the talent to have an off night.. it's just preferable that it all doesn't hit on the same night. Kidman and Vampiro both have long, promising futures ahead of them, and I think their match can be filed away in the same category as Psychosis/Kaz Hayashi. There was no fire in this one, just a job being completed. That morale better lift quickly, before Busch & company have completely lost any foundation from which to build.

Poor Terry Funk, and the World Title Picture

I've said enough already about WCW, so I'll keep this brief. Terry Funk plays a damn good sympathetic face. Much like his blood brother, Mick Foley, this guy isn't just appreciated by the general public.. he's loved. If he brings Ric Flair back into the dance, the deal is sealed. While the inmates have again captured the asylum, Sid Vicious picked up the world title he probably should've grabbed at Souled Out.. for safety's sake. In a memorably bad match that a surprising number of people wanted to see, he 'tricked' little naitch, Charles Robinson, and won the match through questionable tactics. Whoopeee! I'll just say this; for every fan that cheered for Sid last night, there was something in the audience that made me forgive them. I saw, in no particular order, signs reading "WCW SUCKS", "we hate Goldberg", several dozen lucha masks, and interest in a match involving Psychosis. Hoo haa is right.

The Hot Feud of the Moment

If you'd like to know how to build a feud, take a glance over at the recent Hardys/Dudleys bits. Last week's singles encounter built to Smackdown, which in turn built to the PPV in a near-flawless manner. By putting both Hardys through a table and presenting an air of danger afterwards, the instance was burned into our minds and really stood out from the show. For example... how many of you remember the night Mick Foley and Terry Funk were thrown off the stage while inside a dumpster? OK, now what was the main event that night? See, if something sticks into your mind vividly like that, it's important to recognize it and expand upon it almost immediately. Maybe the WWF was just trying to build a little interest in the undercard of their Royal Rumble PPV... they unleashed a monster and instead of trying to capture it, they've climbed on and let it go its own way. At any rate, I think the moment that I realized just how genius this whole thing has come together was last night, when Buh Buh broke up the pinfall that would've resulted in the Hardys' second Title reign. I actually felt personally betrayed, and wanted to see the Dudleys pay for taking this special moment away from my favorite tag team. If a feud like this can break the plane of truth and fiction with me, somebody who doesn't think too highly of storylines to begin with, think of how easily it broke that division with those who thrive on them. This one's worth every second it's been on the TV screen, and I hope it continues for a good run.

Al Snow Steals the Show

Damn.. and he just got new theme music, too. Just when every hint of that loveable, fun Al Snow had been scraped away in favor of his newer "pissed off guy with a mannequin head" look, he tears out that promo with Steve Blackman. Honestly, the skit itself was merely amusing.. it was Al's encouragement and ultimate success with the crowd that made it hilarious. Only in an Al Snow match could you even think about hearing an audience chant "head cheese." After a long, strange trip (I shudder to use that tired old phrase, especially since I despise the Grateful Dead), Al Snow's finally found a character that works.. a darker version of himself. He's not the psychopath that talks to dogs and heads.. he's not the vengeful, betrayed friend.. he's not even Leif Cassidy (though I have no idea why that didn't get over). He's just himself, or a twisted version of such. Truth is stranger than fiction, and often more interesting to boot.

Grudges Don't Die.. They Just Get Boring

Can they drag out this Jericho / Chyna thing a bit longer? Yea, they respect each other.. whee ha! They don't need to prove it week in and week out by either saving or attacking each other. The feud's run its course, and needs to end. Now. As good as the WWF may end up being, the truth is there are dozens of lessons they still need to learn, and one of them is knowing when to end a feud. It was the case with the 'gang wars' of 1997, it was the case with the Undertaker's Ministry of Darkness, and it's the case now. This is getting beyond the point of raising Chyna's stock or establishing Jericho's credibility, this is dragging them both down. Al Snow barely recovered from his extended matches with the Big Bossman (though I'm not sure Paul Wight ever will). Don't let the same be true with Chris Jericho.

Finally, on a couple notes that don't fit much of anywhere, it was good to see Stevie Richards and Droz back and in good health this week. Their presence really lifted the spirits of the evening, as well as delivering a smile or two. Richards' violent kicking spasms post-match especially stood out as one of the evening's funniest moments.

And hey! I've got a couple letters.. let's pop open that mailbox .. lube that sumbitch up real good... and answer a message or two. What, you thought I'd try to stick that thing up your ass? You have any idea how much those things run? Anyway.. lame, sad humor aside, here's


Hammerly99@aol.com wrote in to clear up some of last week's confusion regarding the 'wrestling jesus' character;

"Wrestling Jesus was a parody that was first posted at WrestleLine. It was funny as hell if it wasn't taken to seriously."

Thanks for clearing that up, I hadn't a clue where this rumor would've started in the first place. Moving on..

Ravager30@aol.com has a thing or two to say about the WCW shakeup;

"Well, as hopefull as we all are that we may soon get to see Benoit in WWF, saturn, malenko, & mysterio in ECW/Japan, and Konnan working at Taco Bell, I'll believe it when I see it. Benoit & Kidman have had prior opportunities to leave, and passed on it(of course, things have never been this bad in WCW to my recollection). So, while I want to believe as much as anyone else, I won't fully believe it till they actually show up on another network. Hell, maybe a couple of them should go join good old Teddy down in Florida (Dibase is the commisoner of some federation called WXO down there). They could actually badly use some superstars with there top guy being Dan "the snorefest" Severn"

Yours is the most dependable outlook on things, and one I share myself. In this world of false internet reports, faked taping results and the like, it's difficult to take anything at face value any more. Though it all seems to be a done deal at this moment (with The Daily Lariat reporting it to be fact, and Perry Saturn's official website confirming his official release), I'll again wait until a Raw or Smackdown appearance to place all my trust in the final jump. It should also be noted that WCW.com hasn't removed any of the 4 men rumored to be out (Benoit, Saturn, Malenko, and Guerrero) from their 'superstars' list, though Jericho had been on WWF tv for nearly a month before he was removed. At any rate, things look good for the four I mentioned and very bad for Konnan and Douglas, who were apparantly left in the dust with this exchange.

I've also heard of Dibiase's federation, and the fact that he's behind it lends instant credibility in my book.. though none of the workers in question would really fit into such an environment. The former Million Dollar man runs a clean, wholesome show aimed at a family audience, which is a niche that definately needs filling in today's industry. However, a step down at this point would be critical to Benoit.. not one month removed from carrying the WCW world title. Konnan, Saturn, Guerrero and Douglas are out of the picture on general principal, as all are best suited in their controversial roles, while Malenko would probably be the easiest fit. All in all, I'd really like to see Dibiase survive, but I don't think it's meant to be. Anyway, thanks for your letter and for reading.

For those keeping score, the Suicide Machines / mp3 hunt has come to a successful conclusion thanks to Greg Porter (esquire187@hotmail.com), who wrote a bit more that was cut out.. sorry..

"Napster has a music player, the option to build playsets to listen to certain downloads in, people can upload your music that you currently have, and like I said, it has everything (remixes, live shows, Woodstock, etc.). Give it a shot by going to "www.napster.com" and download it to your database. You will not be disappointed. DRQ, thanks for the great column & y'all take care."

I'll personally vouch for this one, it's pretty sweet. Where else would I have found an mp3 of Mr. Bungle playing the Super Mario Brothers theme song? Smooth...

Wrapping things up on a wrestling-related note, TROY, FROM MARYLAND (boakley1@home.com) writes;


To put it bluntly, he's not.. Shawn Michaels has retired. The reign is over. The dynasty has collapsed. The man has moved on. He has a family now, not to mention an incomplete back. If he returned to action, it would not only be at a tremendously limited position (he would let us all down, after this immense buildup), but he'd be risking his life to do it. Personally, I'd rather keep all those good memories than see him go the way of a Roddy Piper or a Randy Savage and run with it until he's nearly ruined all the good matches with his bad.

That should do it for me. I've finally got my work caught up, an empty mailbox, and a fresh column on the boards. Add to that the fact that I'm nearing the end of Final Fantasy V, and Life is grand.
until then, i remain

Friday, January 21, 2000

The World's Greatest WWF Royal Rumble 2000 Preview

It's me, it's me, it's the drq that fights like a she. Don't knock it 'till you've tried it.. Stephanie McMahon wiped the floor with me in Wrestlemania 2000 last night. At any rate, here comes the WWF's big show, pulling it's drunken corpse back into NYC for one of their big 5 PPVs. The unpredictability of the Rumble was always a unique attraction to me in it's youth, and the past few years have seen the event drawn further and further away from the Rumble itself, which was responsible for the different feel of the event. This year seems to be no exception, as the intervals between men have been cut down to a mere minute, resulting in a much shorter event. There's plenty elsewhere on the card, as Cactus Jack makes a run at the title and the Hardys meet the Dudleys, but I'd think there's just too much to take in here. With the rumors already flying around Benoit and company, though (one rumor has them disrupting the rumble itself), the possibilities and expectations could be quite high with this Sunday night.

Kurt Angle vs. an unnamed opponent

And let the speculation begin. Names ranging from Tazz to Jake Roberts have been thrown in here. One site's reporting an early return here for Ken Shamrock, another goes so far as to say one of the WCW escapees will show. I'm going for the more realistic (though somewhat lamer) choice of the British Bulldog, possibly in a 3-way with Blackman thrown in as well. If he weren't involved in the main event, I'd wonder about HHH, which is where this feud will inevitably head. Angle's made a surprisingly good transition from amateur wrestling, and is really quite good on a mic, to boot. If this is a 3-way, he doesn't give or take the pin.. but if it's a simple one on one, he's over clean.
Winner: Kurt Angle

Hardys vs. Dudley Boyz
Tag Team Table Match

Here's something you don't see every day; a feud that's both well worked and written, and hasn't found trouble getting over with the fans. The Hardys are finally monster faces (which is enough to give me hope for Benoit), and the Dudleys took the big step they needed to finally be considered contenders in the big leagues this past week. I'm not positive what the gimmick entails, but seeing as how it's the second 'first ever' match on this card, surely some previously-untouched line will be crossed. All 4 of these guys are nearly fearless in the ring, and I'm looking for some almost life-threatening bumps here. The Dudleys need the win a lot more than the Hardys right now, and I see them going over with a possible rematch later down the line.
Winners: The Dudley Boyz

Terri vs. The Kat vs. Luna vs. B.B. vs. Ivory vs. Jackie vs. Mae Young
Miss Royal Rumble Swimsuit Competition

Is this a match? Eghhh. Of course, you realize the WWF plans to cash in big on this one.. the puberty buys will come pouring in, hoping to see Miss Kitty's fun bags, and Vince will be laughing all the way to the bank. Good news, kids! When you turn 18 a whole new world opens up behind that little door in the video store! It's called porn, and the storylines are a lot more entertaining.. not to mention cheaper. As a vague prediction here, we'll see altogether too much of Mae Young, Ivory will be attacked and stripped yet again, and plenty of teased naked bits.
Winner: if the crowd votes on it, The Kat.. if it's planned, Mae Young

The Acolytes vs. New Age Outlaws
Tag Team Title Match

Despite their recent push, I still don't consider the Acolytes a worthwhile team, let alone one that should be receiving shots at the tag team gold. Then again, I'd much rather see the straps around their waist than around the current champions, the New Age Outlaws. These two have managed to hang onto the straps throughout an apparent resurgence of talent in their division; a resurgence that's apparently dying back down now. HHH will have his fun with the stipulations for this match, but the Acolytes have been punked one time too often of late. Then again, maybe both will end up with concussions, and the Taka/Funaki team can grab the gold in their stead. Hey, it worked in WCW.. for a night.
Winners: The Acolytes

Chyna vs. Chris Jericho vs. Hardcore Holly
Intercontinental Title Match

Plain and simple, Chyna and Jericho bicker too much for either to come out of this one as champ. Bob Holly has paid his dues (multiple times, thanks to that terrible 'spark plug' gimmick), and he deserves this title more than either of his opponents and I think he'll be the one with the gold after this one, at least for one night. With rumors of Jericho's main event push coming sooner rather than later, we could get a hint of the future right here. Add to that a second competent and solid ringman in there with the Lionheart, and we could have a very decent 3 way in the works here.
Winner: Hardcore Holly

Triple H vs. Cactus Jack
Street Fight: WWF Heavyweight Title Match

I'm going with HHH here, with a rematch coming at the next PPV. Since his return, Cactus has been pure gold on the stick but his ringwork is showing definate signs of aging. Foley and Helmsley have had a worthwhile feud in the past (which culminated in the birth of Dude Love), and then Mankind managed to drag a good match or two out of the current champ. Unless he completely throws his body to the wolves here, the crowd will go away a bit disappointed. Seeing as how a rematch is inevitable with the winner heading into Wrestlemania, I don't see Cactus spilling everything out here.
Winner: Triple H

30 Man Royal Rumble Match

If you don't think the Rock will be among the final two, you're kidding yourself. He'll likely end up in the middle of the ring with the Big Show, and I'd look for a little controversy leading further into the feud those two have going now. They've hyped the Rock too strongly of late to just eliminate him for surprise's sake.
Winner: The Rock

In Closing...

This week's been a better one than the last, as I found a clip of the new Cure single on the net. It's a departure from their last album but a real return to form for the boys. Things are settling down a bit for the semester, and I'm getting a chance to enjoy some quality wrestling from my expanding tape library. With that said, there's some potential for this one. A lot of questions will be answered along the way, as returns and debuts from the Undertaker and Tazz (as well as the longshot, Ken Shamrock) are certainly possibilities. I'd expect an action packed Raw directly following to hold those appearances, however. Though I complained earlier about the length of this card, the WWF has managed to do quite a good job of building each match, allowing just enough time to get the interest pumping. Meanwhile, John and I hit the reset button on our little competition for the third and final time.. here's hoping this one's the charm.
until next time, i remain

Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Ringside Shadows #100: A Brief Celebration

Well, well.. Looks like I reached #100 after all. After the hellacious schedule I've undertaken this semester, it started to look as though a stall at #99 would be indefinite. But hell... there's too much going on these days to hold onto my opinions forever. That, and my mailbox has been steadily filling up. Even Matt Spence has posted twice since my last visit, and that's a sure sign it's been too long.

If you're looking for a 100th issue celebration, you've already passed it. I'd like to consider myself as anything but egotistical, and rather than spend an entire issue patting myself on the back, I've put up my new banner and gone on doing what got me here in the first place. Wait, scratch that. I do have one more little celebratory piece to throw up here..

This thing's just too goofy to let sit for much longer. That's really me, in both red circles.. in the smaller one, you can barely make out my hurrying to grab a sign, reading "Give us Jushin Liger". It didn't get on tv, but we eventually did get Liger. My "I schill for Schiavone" banner was taken from me because it was "too large". At any rate, this is my proof that I have, in all actuality, seen Rick Steiner (and the Disco Inferno) live. He's just as terrible as on TV.

So anyway.. I caught the Monday evening programs this week. I haven't much to say, so I'll try to keep it contained to a couple paragraphs.

WCW's Remaining Talent Gets their Chance

When Kevin Nash called out the WCW roster Monday Night, some called it a show of unity. Some, a sick jab at the men who stood up for themselves. Me, I saw it as a failed attempt by WCW officials to reassure themselves. In that ring stood a relatively poor group of talent, with a handful of exceptions. Juventud sat on a turnbuckle, completely disinterested in Nash's speech and playing totally out of character. Kidman stood in a similar pose. After a quick glance at the sorry sight, I realized there really wasn't much reason to watch WCW any more. What good is a rejuvinated cruiserweight division without the talent that made it special in the first place? But then again, that's not to say I didn't see a few potential diamonds in the rough..

The active members of Three Count (read: not Evan Kurragias) have more than a glimmer of hope in their future. Based on their willingness to bump like madman, as well as their spectacular double-teaming, I surely won't be the only one making a comparison to the Hardy Boyz. If they can dump Karagias, these two have a heel gimmick that works in their silly teeny-bopper band.

After all this buzz around Crowbar, I paid a little closer attention to his moveset this past Monday and was more than a bit surprised. It may have been the willingness of the aforementioned 3-count members to bump, but Crowbar merits closer watching in the next few months. If he can move on beyond this blatant David Flair clone of a gimmick he's got, things could be looking good in his future, too.

The Big Reversal

If they hadn't done it in the exact manner they did, I'd be jumping all over them right now. The fact of the matter is this; when reports and images of the Benoit/Sid match came in, I personally noted Sid's foot under the ropes immediately. I figured nothing would come of it, since we're expected to forget such things, but there it was, plain as day. Bob Ryder has stated in his column that it was a horrible move on WCW's part to place the belt on Benoit, despite his estrangement. I won't argue with that.. though the men who booked this one were a whole lot more on the ball than big Bob gives them credit for. Sid's foot being placed underneath the rope was no accident, it was insurance. They knew there was potential for explosions within the next few days, but they were confident that Benoit would make the choice to stay a bit longer if he had that extra incentive. I'll commend both parties; Benoit for sticking to his word and backing his friends, and WCW for doing everything in their power to simplify things to a point where a working environment is once again possible. If they'd recruited anyone but Arn Anderson to pass the news, I'd have been pissing up and down and all around on the WCW right here. As is, Anderson worked his magic in one of the most heartfelt apologies I've ever been privy to. His gentle tone smoothed the moment over in my mind, and though I'm still far from happy about the results, I can take the time to realize both sides were doing what they felt they had to. Still.. wouldn't it have been sweet to see Benoit go over in 3 matches on Nitro? The program sure as hell would've kicked harder than ever in these past few years.

RAW Opens With A Speech...

...and I loved every minute of it. Mick Foley is the supreme being of all mic workers. Hopefuls like HHH or the Rock can learn more than a thing or two by just taking a seat and watching. Foley spent a good 10 minutes and not once became redundant or boring. He promoted this Sunday's main event in a way that was both believable and entertaining. It's rare that I'll offer praise regarding mic time, but Foley and Anderson were both deserving this past week.

Vince Does the Impossible

It's true... he managed to coerse the fickle WWF "sports entertainment" fans into watching.. and enjoying.. a damn fine match and feud between the Hardys and the Dudleys. Both teams were hot with the audience for a good run, but were slowly showing signs of cooling off before this Monday's brawl and what will come this Thursday evening. Finally, the Hardys are being rewarded with a lengthy feud that doesn't require a carry job. Where Matt and Jeff would likely find themselves narrowing their offense in an effort to carry the Headbangers, they can let it all hang out without worrying about the Dudleys keeping up. Sure, their feud with Edge and Christian was legendary for these same reasons.. but the main beef I had there was with its longevity. This is a feud that needs to be limited to a maximum of 2 PPVs and then cut loose. Damned if those weren't some of the nastiest looking 3-D's of all time, though. This is the feud championships are made of... somebody tell me why there isn't any gold up for grabs in this one.

A Couple Out of Context Words

Kanka. Retrospect. Mama llama.

Surely, those were out of context.. I've a couple little things worth commenting on, but none of them are worth their own paragraph. First off, I picked up a copy of Ultimo Dragon's Toryumon promotion this past week (thanks to the provider.. I'm not sure if you want me printing your name here, lest ye be overrun with requests. You know who you are), and was reminded just what brought me back to wrestling in the first place. While several of these guys are/were green as hell, some of the spots are spectacularly innovative. A couple just defy logic, such as the Dragon Kid's 180 into a hurricarana pinning combo. The whole tape had a lighthearted attitude to it, as the younger trainees took hold of the cameras for a while and toured their dorms. That, and it's gold watching Ultimo walking through an airport in his mask. If you dig high flying stuff that blows your mind, this is definately worth your time.

I was cruising the WCW web page earlier today and happened across some shots from Steve "Sting" Borden's new made-for-tv movie. Be it the not-so-tough man on a motorcycle shoot or the Stinger looking quite uncomfortable with a gun, things just don't get much goofier than this.

Finally, I caught Andy Kaufman's film, Man on the Moon, a couple weeks back and meant to make a post mentioning it prior. A lot of those old Memphis moments didn't carry through the Hollywood treatment as well, and I'd urge you to keep your eye on Comedy Central. They've been airing the feud in it's entirety lately, and I'm sure you'll agree that Andy was the supreme heel back in the day. In case you're interested, the special is titled "Andy Kaufman: I'm from Hollywood", and I was watching a good chunk of it during the worse bits of Nitro's first hour last week. On a final note; during the movie, the credits were shown in their entirety at the beginning of the film, and never played again. I could be mistaken, but I swore I saw Gordon Soley playing the role of Ring Announcer in the Kaufman/Lawler fight. Anybody else notice this, or am I just a tool?

And what the hell.. let's wrap up with a few


"Mello Jello" (michaels@naxs.com) had a question about Flair's rumored jump and the Rock's involvement;

"now i could very well be wrong, but i remember seeing somewhere (probably at 1wrestling.com) that the reason flair wanted to jump to the wwf was to feud with Rock. btw, the new tuesday review is great."

Honestly, I haven't the foggiest. I'll follow you and say I'm far from flawless, though I do remember more than a couple pointed words being aimed at Flair by the 'great one' around the time of his first rumored jump last year. Is there anybody out there that has a stronger memory than I and can clarify this statement? Sorry I wasn't much help at this point, but thanks again for your comments and for reading.

Mojomajik9@aol.com passed along a rumored gimmick;

"I just read off of the IWZ web-site and I am not sure if it is true or not. But from what I understand WCW plans on having Devon Storm have the gimmick of the..drum roll please...WRESTLING JESUS!! Now I am not going to bitch about this because I am a religous zealot who wants to bomb a plane. But I do wish to complain about the stupidity of this move on WCWs part. I was raised in the South and believe me when I say this isn't going to fly. Hitler would have a better chance of becoming a member of the friars club.

I can see it now..He goes undefeated until the dastardly NWO "kills" him but he comes back from the apparent death on a pay per view. Excellent idea Vince Russo. Also this sets up some mighty nice crucifixtion matches and oooh maybe an angle with Bill Goldberg for the title of the real King of the Jews. Now why don't they get Meng to be Buddha and Booker T to be Muhammed. And they'd be all set.

In all seriousness I hope this idea doesn't come forth because I know alot of the wrestlers are Christians. Eddie G for example. But not only for company moral but to keep the media backlash from hitting them in the balls. This could spell disaster for WCW. Thanks for hearing me bitch for a bit."

The rumors have been dispelled, and there will be no wrestling Jesus gimmick, as it seems to have been a rumor falsified by a reporter somewhere. Still, the notion is a sick one and brings up several moral issues that have been crossed in the past with this industry. How much longer will it be before an angle like this one actually comes to fruition, in the name of ratings?

Up next, "DC" (themightybuffster@yahoo.com) was among the many to ask about my comments on the Suicide Machines;

"I'm a big fan of your work at the Big 3 Newsboard. You did a great job on the Souled Out Preview and your columns are always food for thought. Anyway, let me get to my point. I noticed in your Souled Out Preview that you mentioned your favourite band is The Suicide Machines.

I happen to really love one of their songs that I taped off the radio awhile ago, but the tape was destroyed and I haven't been able to find the song since, and I was wondering if you could help me find it. The song I'm talking about is called "Give" and is from the album "Battle Hymms". If you know anywhere that I could find an mp3 of this song, I would be very appreciative if you could direct me to the place. Thanks for your time, and keep up the good work!"

I don't think I can help you with locating an mp3 of the song (if anybody out there can, toss him an e-mail), but it may be up in that or RA format on the band's official website. That's located at www.thesuicidemachines.com, and is where I found the mp3 of their new attempt, leading to my almost complete disenfranchisment with the band as a whole. It just hasn't been the same since Derek left. Anyway, thanks for the praise and for reading.

Ravager30@aol.com voiced a question that was mentioned in several e-mails this past week, so I'll clarify;

"Great ideas on how those seven guyys should be used, but what is the "sunny incident"? I've never heard of it"

To put it bluntly, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels' feud got way too personal, and Shawn accused Bret, live on RAW, of having an affair with Sunny behind the scenes. Bret was offended, and the two got into a legit fight backstage.. this led to Shawn 'losing his smile' and refusing to job the title back to Bret at Wrestlemania 13, which he was then forced to sit out.

And that'll do it for me. Thanks to everybody who stuck around with me through these 100 issues, and I guarantee you the next 100 will be just as fun, and better written to boot. John and I will be back Friday with the third and final PPV of this month, so check back in with me then. Thanks again to everyone who's supported me, as well as everybody at the Big3 Oratory, which will always be my home, Justin Waine and everybody at BreakDownNews.com, Bill Lupo and the guys at DasmackDownNews, the Pro Wrestling Plancha, and everybody I talk to through AIM. I appreciate all the feedback I've recieved from you guys and look forward to 100 more's worth.
until then, i remain

Monday, January 17, 2000

Ringside Shadows #99: Seven to the Fore

What a weekend.. between Russo's apparent departure and the assignment of a new booking committee, the injuries and alterations that have plagued the now-past Souled Out card, or the threat of 7 important talents' pilgrimage to another promotion, things will most certainly never be the same again.

That's right, I said 7 workers have threatened to leave the promotion. According to varied reports across the net, Eddie Guerrero, Billy Kidman, Konnan, Perry Saturn, Shane Douglas, Dean Malenko and newly-crowned champion Chris Benoit have asked for their immediate release unless Kevin Sullivan is removed from the company. A move of this magnitude could well knock WCW out of any future contention in any way, shape, or form and don't think the higher-ups are taking this lightly. This is huge news, and may well shape the future of the industry as we know it. The WWF would certainly have interest in all men with the exclusion of Douglas and Konnan and given ECW's recent resurgance, any one of these men could completely blow the company through the roof.. literally.

Personally, I don't know what to say. I'm still reeling from the 1-2 punch of Russo's elimination and Benoit's sudden championship reign. However, these developments have given me plenty of food for thought. What position would I most like to see these guys in, given the potential jump to one of the other big 3 actually takes place? The possibilities would be endless... Jeff Hardy v. Kidman, Benoit against Yoshihiro Tajiri, Malenko meeting Little Guido, Guerrero flying with D'Lo. A lot of dreams would come true, but if I had to choose just one.. what would it be? In the following paragraphs, I plan to take a close look at what makes each of these guys desirable or repulsive to the WWF and ECW, and run through one feud in either promotion that I would love to see. Not only that, but I'll go one step further.. I'll tell them how to book it. Hell yea, kids. Drq's in control, and he's got the tools to make the rules.

And so, without further ado, let's get into this;

Chris Benoit

Current Stats:
Current WCW World Heavyweight Champion, former WCW US champion (2), former WCW TV champion (5), former WCW tag team champion (2), former ECW tag team champion, 1994 Super J Cup Winner.

Chris Benoit is becoming a cult icon on the internet, and not without good reason. His brawling is superb, he's a firm grasp of psychology, he can work nearly any style in the world, he's got 'the look'. The only thing he lacks, seemlingly, is mic skills. Sad that in an industry that once thrived on it's physical aspect, a man so perfectly suited struggles due to a lacking vocal presence. Regardless, Benoit has finally come into his own and has carried each of WCW's 4 heavyweight belts in less than a 6 month timespan. With somebody on a tear like Benoit's, you'd be insane not to insert him right into the world title or upper-main event scene.

In the WWF's Book:
Break Benoit out in the role originally reserved for Dr. Death, Steve Williams. That's right, he's coming directly after Austin himself. Hold his debut off until Stone Cold makes his long-awaited return from neck surgery, and open up his first Raw back with a pause that's interrupted moments later by the familiar breaking glass. As Austin comes to the ring with a full 6-pack, he grabs a mic and starts to rant about "it's great to be back", "ass", and the like. As the audience eats out of his hands, Benoit comes silently down the entryway nearly unnoticed until he's directly next to the ring apron, never breaking eye contact with the Rattlesnake. Austin finally notices the newcomer's presence, and asks him if he needs any help in the distinctive fashion only he can. Benoit swears there's no problem, but Austin ain't buying that and invites him into the ring. As Benoit steps in, Austin berates him until he's right in Benoit's face. Neither man flinches until Austin breaks open a beer, sprays it over the wolverine and starts to turn away. Benoit, also turned from the surprise, spins around and delivers 3 solid chops that reverberate through the arena and send Austin nearly off his feet. The staredown continues, until security pulls the 2 men apart. Austin breaks free and delivers a stunner, which the crowd explodes for.. but Benoit gets back up and stares right back at Austin, face to face. Cut to commercial as Austin glares bewildered at his new rival..

Why not ECW?:
Honestly, I'd love to see it. A rejuvinated feud with Malenko on ECW time would top any of their WCW efforts in an instant. A match with Mike Awesome would be nearly to the death in its sheer bump-taking and intensity. A series with Jerry Lynn would be just unbelievable. It's every true wrestling fanatic's dream come true, but it's not the best choice of the two. Not for Benoit anyway. Where a Malenko or Saturn might have trouble getting over in the WWF because of their lack of charisma, Benoit makes up for his mic difficulties with a ring presence second to none. If handled properly, Benoit could skip right over the bonafied stinkers in the Godfather, Mideon, or even the New Age Outlaws and break into worthwhile feuds with Steve Austin, Mick Foley and an upper-card Chris Jericho. While Vince might look to the expertise of Paul Heyman in developing proven personalities with an Eddie Guerrero, Benoit's ready to go now. Aside from all that, many would see a jump to ECW as a step down for the champion. After climbing the ladder so many years, Benoit is finally near the top. Why risk the trouble of dropping out of the spotlight in ECW (still considered a minor league to the general population) when he can land with a prime slot in the WWF? Instead of a dive, his popularity and recognition would instead skyrocket, with the McMahon publicity machine behind him all the way.

Billy Kidman

Current Stats:
Former WCW cruiserweight champion (2), former WCW tag team champion (2).

Kidman has also been an object of the internet's affection in the year past, and with good reason. One of the most amazing and innovative high fliers in a time dominated by the like, Kidman's unique blend of lucha and puro jr-style is a dream in the ring, and his plain ring attire is simple but effective, helping him to stand out from the masses. Another man with trouble behind a mic, a little direction can go a long way in his case.

In the WWF's Book:
Amidst no fanfare, no entrance music and no pyrotechnics, Billy Kidman walks out on a live Raw and grabs the mic. Half those in attendance figure him to be some sort of deranged fan that got past security, while the other half recognizes him, but remains puzzled as to his arrival. Kidman prepares to speak, but is instantly cut off by the Y2J countdown. Past the fireworks and obnoxiously blaring music comes Chris Jericho, wearing an outfit identical in every way, shape and form to that of Kidman's. Y2J rattles off a list of insults in a way unique to the lionheart, taking him back into the sophomoric attitude that made his last years in WCW so memorable. He finishes his speech with "Little Billy, when I left Atlanta 6 months ago it was with a heavy heart. You see, I'd left WCW in shambles.. their pride and joy, their bread and butter, their cruiserweight division was a shell. Juventud? Unmasked. Rey rey? I took his knee! Chavo? Let's be blunt.. the man rode a toy horse! I was, without a doubt, one bad mama jama! )insert fanfare( But there was one little oversight, billy-bo.. one conflict that slipped through my fingers. I never... broke... you." By this point, Jericho's in the ring. Somewhere, a bell rings and Kidman takes the offensive. The two have a stellar match, though the audience dozes through it, and it ends with Kidman in the liontamer. Struggling, Kidman finds a way to shake Jericho's balance and turn the submission over into a pinning combination, earning a victory by the skin of his teeth. Jericho is furious, and throws the kind of tantrum that made him famous, and Raw cuts to commercial just as Jericho begins to take apart the announce table.

Why not ECW?:
For no reason other than his missed WCW feud with Jericho. I got a bit long-winded in my WWF assessment, and believe the workers could pull even my failed script out of the dirt and make it a believable feud. There's something about Kidman that translates relatively easy to the limelight of Titan productions. I see his debut running parallel to that of the 1-2-3 Kid, X-Pac.. accelerated greatly, of course. Once his feud with Jericho ends, the two would work a sort of mutual admiration deal (again, like Waltman and Razor Ramon), and Kidman would get the opportunity to jump into high flying feuds with Jeff Hardy, Brian Christopher and Taka Michinoku. If things go well, he could even become the next Shawn Michaels.. with a twist. This Michaels is just the guy next door. In ECW I'd be afriad Kidman would get too overtaken with sheer bump-taking and not hone his real craft, the high-flying style that's given him his recent recognition. His down-to-earth look would translate much easier to the fans of the WWF than the rabid, bloodthirsty ECW regulars.

Dean Malenko

Current Stats:
Former ECW TV champion (2), former ECW tag team champion, former WCW cruiserweight champion (4), former WCW tag team champion, former WCW US champion.

Few nicknames in the industry have been more honest than that of Dean Malenko's "man of 1000 holds". The technical master of his time, Malenko's time in the sun was never recognized. Largely one of the more underrated and under-used men of his era, Dean's hidden one of the most believable dickhead personalities ever since leaving ECW. Any way you'd like to stretch him, Malenko's there to turn it around on you in an instant. While he's best kept silent, Dean Malenko could find a way to make any man alive tap out in frustration.

In ECW's Plans:
Joey Styles and Joel Gertner make their way out to start off this TNN taping just the same as they've started off every other. Just as Gertner gets to his obligatory middle name joke, a voice from the back blares across the speakers, screaming "This isn't right! This is not right.".. enter: Steve Corino. He makes the segue about Gertner's intro being a prime example of what's wrong with the industry today, and how any worker from the old time wouldn't stand for it. He points out Dean Malenko at ringside and starts to pick on him about his father, how Dean should be taking a stand for what his father was all about. Malenko enters the ring and things start to get heated between the two, ending in a screaming Corino getting right in the Iceman's face. Just as it seems Malenko's about to deck the annoying heel, he turns and takes out Gertner while Corino embraces him and celebrates. Styles backs off, while Malenko looks right into the cameras and solidifies his alignment as Corino's main event heel. Assaults continue throughout the night, as New Jack, Spike Dudley and Tommy Dreamer are taken out. We finally arrive at the main event, a Mike Awesome v. Sandman hardcore brawl, when Malenko and an ecstatic Corino make their way to the ringside area and take in the fight from close proximity. Even through the finish, Malenko stands at ringside, a stone of a man. When the Sandman raises his newly-won world title in the air and pops open a beer, the Iceman hits the ring. He wipes the floor with the already-winded new champion and immediately grabs the belt, polishing the spilled beer from it's golden surface.

Why not the WWF?:
Personality. While Malenko could really tear it up in the ring, that's not what the WWF's fans care about unless you're throwing yourself off an 8 story building into a bed of nails. Malenko's not that hardcore, so he won't be able to rely on that in the way that Jeff Hardy can while he hones his personality. Were Dean to head to Titan, it would be as a jobber. Vince would take this great technician and completely smear him across the television almost as a personal jab at the shell of WCW. That, or he'd stick him with a terrible gimmick and wait for the imminent death. He'd have potential gems with Jericho, X-Pac or Too Cool, but nobody would be paying attention to that and he'd be subsequently ignored and/or booed out of the arena, and that's not something I'd look forward to seeing. Sure, the audience could pull a complete 180 and surprise the fuck out of my by accepting him for what he is and actually enjoying it, but that's not bloody likely. I'll take the safe bet and give him his just dues and a world title in ECW, where the crowds seems to know what makes a good match.

Perry Saturn

Current Stats:
Former WCW tag team champion (2), former WCW TV champion.

One of the toughest-looking men in the industry, Saturn both looks and acts the part of a man that would just as soon step on your face as look at it. For a man of his stature, he flies like a bird and more often than not lands like a rock. Toting some of the more realistic offense in the game, Saturn's offense is just brutal, plain and simple. He, too, brings along an extensive grasp of the game itself and his style lends itself well to nearly any opponent he may find himself up against.

In ECW's Plans:
In such a strict contrast to his appearance, Saturn would become something of an fool's intellectual. He'd deliver a look at culture through the eyes of the common man, which isn't too far of a stretch from his current role as the dunce of the Revolution. Every rambling madman eventually has a point, and it's about time we understood Saturn's. He'd stand up against Steve Corino's "old school crew" (now including Malenko), but wouldn't really know why. He'd take offense to their berating of things he likes to do, but will stumble over the words, and Corino won't let him forget it. Finally, with the pity of every fan in the building, he'll make his stand and fight back.

Why not the WWF?:
Saturn's finally hit it big with a personality that works (his 'idiot' character), and I can actually see his subtle prods at pop culture in that forum eventually being recognized and appreciated by the WWF's moody fan base. His main problem is the lack of refinement at this moment, and if anybody can help him nail this gimmick it's Paul Heyman. Given 6 months of heavy promotion in his old stomping grounds, Saturn would have the 'idiot' down pat, and he'd be ready to move on to the big leagues of the WWF. Physically, he can go no matter where he is.. once he completes the package with a great character, the sky's the limit.

Eddie Guerrero

Current Stats:
Former ECW TV champion (2), former WCW cruiserweight champion (2), former WCW US champion.

The supreme heel. Eddie is one of the few men alive to have such a remarkable aura as to have been labeled as an 'instant heel'. Much in the way that Rey Misterio Jr. will never be booed, Eddie will never be cheered. With that said, he's progressed into one of the best in the world at what he does. Backing up some tough words with even tougher actions. There are maybe a handful of men in the world that can keep up with Guerrero when he's on, and lately... he's been on. His frog splash is a thing of beauty and he adds one of the most dominant Lucha libre/North American technical styles in all the world to our group.

In ECW's Plans:
Cut to ECW on TNN, a week from this Friday night. Rob Van Dam and Sabu are having a rematch over the previously-contested TV championship, and actually manage to put on a tremendous match that wears both men to the point of exhaustion. In the end, Van Dam squeaks out a close 3 count, hanging onto his coveted belt once more by the skin of his teeth. Both men slowly get to their feet and shake hands in a sign of unity rarely seen these days. As the audience applauds their approval, out steps a lone figure from behind the curtains. A disenfranchised Eddie Guerrero is slowly making his way down the ramp and the audience roars upon recognition of the star come home. Sabu steps out, but Van Dam remains in the ring and even opens the ropes for the still-blank faced Guerrero, who ignores the courtesy and enters on the other end of the ring. The winded tv champion speaks as Eddie glances into the stands, proclaiming his respect for the ECW alumn.. a move which seems to snap Guerrero back to the present. Eddie gets right in Van Dam's face, grilling him with questions about his 'respect'. Guerrero brings up Van Dam's drug habit, among other things and Van Dam backpedals. When the verbal assault subsides, Van Dam is dumbfounded and asks "what is it you want, man?". Guerrero points at the TV title.. "I want my belt back". He then drops the mic and exits the ring, leaving Van Dam at a complete loss.

Why not the WWF?:
That's a damn good question, and one I'm not at all confident in answering. Eddie rides the border in this one, I can easily see him arriving in both promotions with equal success. In the WWF, I can even see Guerrero taking off in a feud with the Rock. The two play such wonderful manipulating heelish personalities that they could have a field day with each other, and the audience would quickly embrace the Rock. I chose ECW only because of the history he's left behind there, and the fun I could have playing it all up.


Current Stats:
Former WCW tag team champion (2), former WCW US champion, former WCW TV champion.

Over as hell with the pseudo-ghettos, and I haven't a clue why. Konnan caters to the lower denominator in this otherwise-strong grouping. One of the few to confidently work a mic, he's recently relied heavily on catch phrases and the same old schtick week-in and week-out. When he wants to come out and play, he's not an awful worker by any stretch of the imagination, but therein lies the trick.

In the WWF's Book:
Just as Raw hits its unopposed second hour, the audience is surprised as the former theme of WCW group the Filthy Animals is faintly broadcast across the speakers. Jerry Lawler comments on another production screw up, but eats his words as Konnan peeks his head out from behind the curtains. As he tries to hold his pants up down the entryway, the audience reacts with surprise and confusion. He gets to the ring, and spews the regular catch phrases to which the crowd gives a half hearted response. Midway through his promo, the Acolytes come down to ringside and interrupt his meanderings. Konnan breaks kayfabe, asking "what? I'm trying to cut a promo here, man" to which Faarooq replies "Son, you got a pantie on yo' head." Konnan takes offense and attempts a moonsault from the ring apron to the floor, which lands several feet short. The Acolytes think for a moment, and then toy with Konnan's corpse before putting it out of its misery. Konnan is never seen again in either the WWF or WCW.

In ECW's Plans:
Just as TNN Friday night hits it's unopposed second half hour, the same music blares into the ECW arena. Konnan steps out into the entryway, but is stopped midway by Paul Heyman himself. Words are exchanged, with the blunt point being "Konnan, I didn't hire you." Konnan gets on his knees and begins to beg, and Heyman has no choice but to powerbomb the shell of a worker through an armored truck or something just as ludicrous, which is met with a solid "E-C-DUB" chant from the rabid audience members. Heyman makes the observation that K-Dog does indeed have a panty on his head, and Konnan is never heard from again.

Shane Douglas

Current Stats:
Former ECW World Heavyweight champion (4), former ECW TV champion (2), former WWF Intercontinental champion.

Finally, we come to "the Franchise", Shane Douglas. Formerly "dean" Douglas of the WWF, Shane never found a personality that stuck until he founded ECW and became an extension of himself. One of the best interviews in the business, Douglas found a way to make The Wall seem interesting. Though his ring skills have decayed heavily in the past year, Douglas can still get in and go when he's needed. He's best suited as the mouthpiece and leader of a stable, much like the role he plays now as a member of the Revolution.

In ECW's Plans:
They say there's no better angle than the truth, and I'd take that ball and run with it here. Shane Douglas would become involved in a battle of the minds with ECW owner Paul Heyman. Heyman himself has always played a hands-on role with the company both on and off air, so crowd recognition is a non-issue. Douglas' problems with Heyman have been well-documented, and I'd expect to see a lot of brutal honesty coming out along with the storylines (think Bret and HBK's "Sunny incident"). Eventually, things would encompass almost the whole of ECW with workers choosing sides and trading slots as needed. One thing that's plagued feuds like this in the past has been a neverending booking schedule. Every week in 1997 Nitro would end with the nWo and WCW "finally" meeting. This feud would be concise, streamlined, and believable. It wouldn't last more than a year, nor less than 4-6 months and when it was over Douglas would step out as champion, reconciling his differences with Heyman and leaving everybody with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

Why not the WWF?:
Simple politics. Much as is the case with ECW, Douglas has left behind a lot of enemies in the WWF and has burned a lot of bridges as well. Even if he could get out of his WCW contract (around which this entire column orbits), the WWF wouldn't be interested. In a federation that's been built upon it's young stars, Douglas would stick out like a sore thumb. His history with the promotion isn't exactly stellar, he most likely won't accept another gimmick idea (after the sad affair that was 'dean' douglas), and he's past his physical prime. That's reason enough for Vince to toss his proposal right out the window.

And for me, that's how it goes. Look for my big, bad 100th issue this coming Tuesday evening, which should be accompanied by a new banner and a paragraph or two reflecting on the last year's worth of strain I've placed on my wrists writing these things. But, as always...
until then, i remain

Friday, January 14, 2000

The World's Greatest WCW Souled Out 2000 Preview

So here we've got WCW, serving up yet another overloaded PPV card even without the presence of Bret Hart. Current word from the bigwigs at WCW.com has the main event including a Sid Vicious World title match, without the Hitman's presence. That's just great to hear, as I'm sure a good chunk of their buyrate depended on his shot at the gold. Sid, known to be a ratings GIANT will probably walk out of this with the strap and promptly attempt to surpass Paul Wight as the biggest flop champion of 2000. Hey, it's his year. Elsewhere on the card there's little cause for interest. Terry Funk's talent is nulled by the stank of Kevin Nash, Booker T embarks on one last attempt to get his brother over, Oklahoma makes us all proud to be fans, and Jerry Flynn graces us with yet another installment of the popular "block" series. All that, and I've just heard the new single from the Suicide Machines (one of my favorite bands), and it sucks some tremendous ass. If there's anything you can do to follow up their first two killer albums, this lame-ass shit isn't it. The only thing of interest for me this weekend looks to be the series of Benoit/Jarrett matches, which have the potential to be spectacular. But we'll get to that. Including the 3 match series there and Sid's imminent shot, this card is boiling over with 12 matches, marking the 3rd straight PPV of such gigantic proportions. Give us a break already, eh?

Booker T vs. Stevie Ray

Finally, the split I've been looking for has come to pass. I was against the reformation of Harlem Heat in any form when it first went down (as were many others), and have been counting the days until a breakup ever since. Booker deserves a major singles push following this whole fiasco, but that's something he's been deserving for a solid 2 years now. Benoit's ascension has been nothing but good, now it's time for an equally deserving talent to get his chance. Booker needs to come out of this in a near squash, while his brother needs to go the way of Brian Adams.. released, and begging for his old job back at half the pay.
Winner: Booker T

Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn and ??? vs. Konnan and Kidman

I suppose I should ponder the identity of this 'mystery partner' a bit. It's actually intrigued me, which is a pretty difficult thing to do these days. Shane Douglas has finally started to work on the mic, and it's about time. Now he just needs to get back into the thick of things, and he may yet have a future. Anyway, the partner. I'm guessing it's a member (or former member) of the Animals, at this stage my money's on Guerrero. He plays a heel far superior to his sick little face run, and his inclusion would really boost the Revolution's roster, which has lagged a bit following Benoit's departure and Douglas' injury. The match itself should be spectacular, if the men involved feel like working. Saturn's launched himself to a new level in a vain attempt at recognition (which has worked in this case.. along with Tajiri, Saturn is one of the men I absolutely love seeing right now), while Malenko has faded into the woodwork a bit. Kidman's also been on something of a backburner, and Konnan is just...Konnan. The feud itself needs to be nearing an end though, as audiences the world 'round are getting bored with it. The Revolution goes over with their new acquisition
Winners: Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko and Eddy Guerrero

Madusa vs. Oklahoma
Cruiserweight Title Match

I'm glad I'm not ordering this PPV, as I'd have to fight the urge to wipe the television screen with a chunk of my own squirts. The whole 'Oklahoma' deal, Madusa in general, and this treatment of the cruiserweight belt need to be scrapped completely and left in the sun to rot. I'd honestly rather have seen the cruiserweight belt handled in the same fashion as the TV strap than watch it go through this regression. Stroke that ego, guys..
Winner: Oklahoma.. just to show us all that he hates us

David Flair vs. Vampiro

So much for the future. With David Flair quickly shriveling in the limelight and Vampiro relegated to next to nothing feuds like this one, there isn't much to be said for the younger generation. Is Crowbar WCW's version of Christian? Is Oklahoma their attempt to counter Jaff Hardy? The future's never looked so bleak, and WCW could care less, releasing the majority of their next generation and burying those who remain. I was really starting to enjoy 3-count as strong heels who had tremendous physical potential, but they're apparently gone just as quickly as they appeared. In this one, the future gets darker and darker, with Vampiro jobbing to an unclean David Flair pin.
Winner: David Flair

Tank Abbott vs. Jerry Flynn
Shoot Fight

Yet another installment in this series of matches that go not under the name "why did we let foley go?", but "the block". The block. I won't begin to wonder what the hell that's supposed to mean.. maybe an assessment of the combined charisma of these two? At any rate, Abbott has potential if he's allowed to properly develop into a competent worker. As is, that's not bloody likely. The higher-ups seem to be high on this guy, and they're pushing him through men Goldberg-style. There isn't much to be said for those who don't learn from their mistakes, except 'see ya in the unemployment line'. Goldberg is just now starting to learn what makes a match work and why selling is sometimes important. Abbott will no-sell his way through this one, disregarding any intellect at all and picking up a win in the prestigiously gimmicked match that is.. the block.
Winner: Tank Abbott

Brian Knobs vs. Norman Smiley vs. Fit Finlay vs. Meng
Hardcore Title Match

Hey, remember when the WCW hardcore division seemed to have real promise? What happened to that? Oh yeah, they released all the talent that made it special to begin with. The only guy left that was originally scheduled for the division, Perry Saturn, is out there dying for our entertainment week in and week out to little or no fanfare. Meanwhile, the audience grows tired of this cute little 'Screamin' Norman' deal, which is why I think we're likely to see a new champ come out of this one. Since Finlay still hasn't regained full use of his leg and Norman has regressed to a new, "crash tv" style gimmick, there's really nothing redeeming about this match at all. If the finish sees Brian Knobs burned at the stake, I'll give it credit for being well booked.. otherwise, it's bound to be a flop.
Winner: Brian Knobs

Diamond Dallas Page vs. Buff Bagwell
Last Man Standing Match

They've actually done something of a decent job of building this one up slowly. Tidbits were 'leaked' to the net several months back to start interest, the men have steered relatively clear of each other with the exception of their encounter on Nitro, and the "buff is the stuff" count has been kept to a minimum What Bagwell could really use at this point is a schooling in the middle of the ring, and I think DDP could be just the man to do that. Given that he remains in his edgy, heel-like persona, Page could come out of this feud over like a beastly face, while Buff steps out a changed man and a much more comfortable heel. Keep it short, keep it indecisive, and give it another month or two to work itself out. The lines are drawn Sunday night, as Buff turns heel and the crowd is finally given direction.
Winner: Buff Bagwell

Kevin Nash vs. Terry Funk
Hardcore Match

This ain't a real difficult one to predict. With Funk's warnings against nWo interference in the main event becoming useless after Bret's injury, he'll lose it all in this surefire miss of a match. As Nash becomes more and more bored with his position in WCW, his workrate's downhill dive grows steeper and steeper. Boy, Kev, if you're bored with this stuff and you're actually involved, imagine how stellar it is to all of us! Funk will try his damndest to make this worthwhile, but anything short of a Cactus Jack run-in and multiple flaming chair shots to Nash will be a disappointment. I wouldn't bet completely
against a swerve leading to the Funker surprising us again, but the safe bet goes with a new commish by the new week.
Winner: Kevin Nash

Jeff Jarrett vs. Chris Benoit
U.S. Title Match

Well, tickle my toes and call me a monkey. I can see why they couldn't have just booked this as the new main event and let bygones be bygones with the Bret Hart situation, but damned if that wouldn't have made more sense. There was little question Hart would've come out with the title, and both Jarrett and Benoit could use the recognition of competing in the final matchup of the evening at this stage in their development. Plus, do the men backstage really think a Sid Vicious match will even come close to topping anything these guys put on? In a closed cage match? The idea is to send the fans home as happy as possible, with a feeling nothing could top the last match but an interest to see it happen nonetheless. I think a Benoit/Jarret match given a good half hour and proper motivation (i.e. Main event billing) could easily rise to that level and deliver the kick in the pants this promotion really needs. Anyway, these guys will certainly trade wins in the first couple matches. My picks are Jarrett in the Dungeon Match and Benoit in the Bunkhouse Brawl, just to shake things up a little. In the end you know I'm taking Benoit, because if I didn't it would just go against my own nature. I'm looking for the Wolverine to bust open something from the top of the cage here that just knocks everything else out of the water, since audiences almost expect the headbutt from the top anymore. Definitely one to watch, but the only match on the card that's worth your time.
Winner: Chris Benoit

In Closing...

They don't really expect anybody to shell out $30 for this, do they? I can't remember how many times I've said that in the past, but I don't think I've ever meant it as much as I do now. There's little excuse for a card this poor, especially from WCW's big "saviors", Oklahoma and the ever-mysterious power who is. ..and that's all I really have to say about that. In the personal battle between John and I, things should shape up to be more of a race after this PPV, since John hopefully didn't cop out and copy all my predictions again. Also; dig the new banner, put together by some no-name hack out there in cyber-space. I'm just going crazy with the dashes this go-round, aren't I? A sure sign that it's time to go.
until next time, i remain

Tuesday, January 11, 2000

Ringside Shadows #98: An Eve of Unpleasant Surprises

Hmph. Just when I had good reason to get pissed about North American wrestling, they pull out an evening that, instead of giving me ammunition, actually entertained me. That's right, I like being a bitch.. when there's nothing left to critique, what use is a critic? I suppose, though, that I can go happy. On an evening that saw Edge and Val Venis go to a clean finish, there was also a Bossman match and a prolonged Rock interview. The proverbial something for everybody, I guess. There was a good bit of something to enjoy, and something worth tearing apart in my column.

So, following this mother of the weak intros will come a new format for the Tuesday Review. After only 97 consecutive columns (a great majority of which were crap), I realized something; I was sick of writing these long winded columns every Tuesday. For some reason I felt some sort of duty to comment on everything that went down on any given Monday, so I produced more than my share of crap. As a general rule, if you don't like what you're doing.. it shows. If you're halfway into writing a column and bored out of your mind, the reader's probably been bored for a couple paragraphs. At any rate, last week I tried something new. I'd been gone for some time and needed a way to get caught up in a quick fashion, while not dating myself by skipping over the events of one evening prior.

Hell.. this is my long-ass way of saying here's the new format for the Tuesday Review. I think it's a lot easier on the reader and the writer, but what do I know? Toss me an e-mail. Let me know. What was I watching this week?

David Flair's Odyssey with the Tag Straps

It's official; the whole David Flair gimmick is officially old. He suddenly had rhyme to his reason as of Thunder, officially ending the true unpredictable 'psycho' trait that made him different. He's spending more and more time in the ring, and his offense hasn't improved a step. Worst of all, he's going over struggling workers that need the wins much more than he does. Saturn nearly killed himself (and most certainly broke a few ribs) in his spectacular dive from the rafters, and was rewarded for his efforts by jobbing to baby Flair. There's something to be said for paying your dues, and Ric's eldest has done nothing of the sort.

I think it was the beginning of the end when David got his own music, coinciding with his inane laughter.


They've gotta be doing this on purpose.

I hate to even mention their names, as the subject's been more than beaten to death during their reign.. but the observation just doesn't work without it. So bear tight, here it comes. Remember when Russo and Ferrera (Ngaaaaah!) were first making their leap from the WWF? Interviews were up almost instantaneously, and one of the questions frequently answered was "Will you be appearing on camera?" I won't remind you of the answer, as it should be obvious by now. Now it's 2 and one half months past the big shift and not only is Ferrera playing a recurring role on television, but he's fighting Madusa for the fucking cruiserweight title. On a pay per view. So now, aside from stroking their egos backstage by flexing their power, they have the gall to ask us for $30 to watch their misguided athletic aspirations. Hey guys, how about this? Fuck you. Fuck you and the high horse you rode in on. End this crap and move on.. bury the cruiserweight belt if you like. Have a great time. I've waited through worse than anything these two could possibly throw, and I'll wait through this. In the end, I'll still be watching WCW while they're out looking for a job. That, or rolling in their money. It could go either way.

The 'Old Age Outlaws'

The name's funny. Give it 2 weeks, and I guarantee it gets overdone. That's not the point, though, and I'm sick of talking about the two bastards in charge. The Terry Funk commissioner angle has life again. As quickly as it blew over last week, it's come back with a full head of steam this go-around. I could talk about WCW's labelling as an old timer's home and how they've been trying to escape that for so long now, and I would. But damn, if it wasn't fun going back in time once or twice this week.

It was great to see George Steele again, especially back to his old tricks. It's safe to say he was among my favorites growing up (come to think of it, the same can be said for all three men they brought in) and seeing him take out a turnbuckle was a welcome flash back a dozen years. That spot always brought a smile to my face before, and didn't fail to do so again this time. Tito, on the other hand, only served to show us why he retired in the first place. It was almost sad to see the shell of himself Santana had become. His body was out of shape, he's lost more than a few steps, and the hurried nature of the match quickly took it's toll. Once the shock of seeing his return had subsided, things went downhill quickly. That brings us to Snuka...

If you had half a mind for history, you could put 2 and 2 together before the match even began. It's a cage match. It's Buffalo. Anyone other than Superfly would be cause for a riot. Once you got through the disrespect of the match itself (consisting of Snuka hiding in the corner while Benoit & co. pounded Jarrett into the ground), you find Snuka and Benoit atop the cage in one of the coolest spots of the year, with one exception. Snuka jumped first. This may be the only time I criticize a Chris Benoit maneuver, so heads up. Benoit's done the dive before. 3 times, at least. Snuka's jump was legendary. A recreation of the leap makes any program on it's own, but you can't top it. Benoit tried it. He should've let Snuka finish the match off on his own, rather than scooping the attention and delivering the finishing blow himself. Other than that, it was just f'n sweet.

Dissention in the nWo and DX

The lines were drawn on either side of the spectrum, and the similarities were more than just passing. Had the problems in the nWo or the breakdown in DX happened one week later in either case, a call would've gone out across the net against the apparant plagiarism. As is, I think both were sorely needed, and really helped the evening's programming out. Bret Hart drug a kicking and screaming Kevin Nash from his laziest slump and forced him to work a decent match. X-Pac found a gem in HHH (but did it really need to be non-title?). If this keeps up, things could be headed uphill for a change. The cracks in the current incarnation of the nWo came to a head this week, with the obvious issues between Bret and Nash beginning to be adressed. Meanwhile, Stephanie played the 'Yoko Ono' of DX, and actually threw out a believable line or two before she was through. I'd scream of oversaturation of a similar angle if they both didn't work so well.. it's obvious the writers of both sides have been building up to this for some time, and I'll be the first to say they've worked out perfectly.

Quality Matches??

What the hell...? Quality matches in the WWF? It's true... Edge/Val, Hardyz/Angle and Blackman, Chyna and Jericho/Hollys, and Rikishi and Too Cool/Headbangers and Snow all went to a clean finish, with some getting a decent amount of time to develop first. What station am I watching?! I'd like to leave it here for a while. HHH/X-Pac wasn't clean, yet it was a good match given time and the finish served an immediately identifiable cause. Kudos to the WWF, but in the immortal words of 'the wolf', "Let's not start suckin each other's dicks just yet". Though it leads to a future breakup, the Road Dogg/Ass match was weak as can be imagined (Ass was pissed when Road Dogg beat him, but he was taunting like a bitch throughout the match?), and a card that sees the Bossman in action is a card that has room for improvement. Still, a step back is a small price to pay for 4 steps forward. I'll give the much-maligned writers behind the WWF a bit of well-deserved credit. They do know how to book a show worth televising, after all!


I'm looking for a turn. Don't think the little tidbit HHH dropped was without reason. They were already planning to reinstate him? There's something behind all this, and I wonder if a big turn might be coming soon. He's in the right position.. the fans love him, the Rock has finally accepted him, and HHH is in a can't-win situation. Oh yeah, the safe money's seeing him as a top heel before long. I know, I've heard the stories about how he'd like to retire on top at Wrestlemania, and how 2000 is likely his last year. It isn't that easy to just up and walk away. After this big Cactus Jack/ Helmsley deal is through, HHH comes out with the strap and a new ally.

As is, though, it's great seeing that familiar "bang bang" on the air waves. Call me a nostalgic bast, but I could go to bed happy after seeing George Steele, Cactus Jack, and a Snuka leap from the cage. Hell, the only thing that could top all that would be another Flair/Steamboat go 'round.. but you don't think..?

At any rate, it's good to see Mick back, no matter how short his absense was. Raw just isn't the same without him.

Guilty as Charged Comments

I didn't see the PPV but for a few spots here and there, so I'll keep this short. The Crazy/Tajiri swerve was brilliant, and completely fucked with John and I's predictions. As Wayne Edmondson noted in his anaylsis, it would've been just that much cooler, had Heyman sent Lynn over to the TV title match and forced Corino to tag with Little Guido. Tajiri, Guido, Crazy and Corino in one ring is enough to take the roof of the place without the sweet future storyline developments it could've brought about, but Lynn's the next best choice.

Raven and Dreamer lost the straps, as all the fanfare would have suggested.. and Raven took the pin after saving Francine. Don't think this was an accident..

Finally, we come to Mike Awesome and Little Spike Dudley, who worked their asses off to deliver one of the finest main events in recent memory. Between Spike killing himself by bumping like he wants to meet God in person and Awesome ready to help push him through the gate, the action was just amazing. I'd thought I was one of Spike's larger supporters in a match many thought he didn't deserve, but even I didn't really expect him to put on this sort of a show. During John and I's preview, I noted that even a DQ victory would result in a huge rising of Spike's stock. In this case, a clean loss amounted to that and more. If anybody knows how to build a competitor, it's Paul Heyman. Great show.

And what say we close up with a couple...


G MEN27@aol.com touched on a couple points in his dual mailings;

"Is technical wrestling your favorite style of wrestling?"

I realize this question was made as a joke, but I'm also not too bullheaded to realize my own shortcomings (get your mind out of the gutter, I've no trouble in that department). I hold a pretty high standard, and when I see something I don't like, I'll compare and contrast it with something I do like.. more often than not, technical style. In all honesty it's something I'm trying to cut down on, because I do it way too much. To answer your question though, no.. technical wrestling isn't my favorite style. Currently, my favorite is anything Yoshihiro Tajiri pulls out. His is a mixture lucha / puro / submission / how-the-hell-did-he-do-that?!. So I guess that should be considered my favorite..

His next letter reads;

"I know you hate Chyna but she receives pretty big pops from the crowd. Like it or not, the matches that have had the most heat with Jericho in them have involved Chyna, just get a tape of Survivor Series 99. Also, Ric Flair refused to be on Nitro, so that is why Russo did not use him. Finally, do you think the Rock will ever be a good worker? Do you think a Rock-Flair feud could be in the near future?"

Hate is such a strong word... I'd rather say I hold a strong, strong dislike for Chyna. There are probably about 3 people I've ever seen that I'd say I hate, and Chyna's not one of them. And honestly, gauging from crowd heat doesn't necessarily make one a contender (or vice versa). Look at Rocky Maivia in his first run: he was as over as a stone wall, but he was pushed to the moon anyway. On the other hand, there's Buff Bagwell. He's over huge (god knows why), yet he lingers in the midcard. Sure, Chyna was over at the Survivor Series. Look at her opposition.. arguably the best heel in the business (until his recent face turn). Given time, I think Jericho could get Steve Blackman over..

The Ric Flair deal was something I learned about after the fact, but still... not including him in any way, shape or form and then pushing this big, mysterious new commissioner angle right in his backyard was a huge mistake. They should've at least delayed it until they were in another town or given Flair some time (on or off mic) to speak his piece with his home crowd. To not do so shows a total lack of respect. As for Rocky, he wasn't really all that bad to begin with. For someone with his lack of experience, he showed surprising potential, actually. It wasn't until he made the big time that he started slacking off. With the current position he's been put in, I'd be surprised if he ever returned to form. He just doesn't have to when the crowds know no difference and he can get by with much less. And a feud with Flair is out of the question. Ric has over a year left on his current contract, and WCW would be dumber than they seem to give him his release. Besides, wasn't Rocky one of the more critical of Flair when he was rumored to be making his big jump a year and a half ago? Flair's got a good memory, and I don't think he's really looking to do anything with someone that holds no respect for his achievements.

thanks for the e-mail(s).. moving on, hitman (ECWRaven95@hotmail.com) had some comments on the "World's Greatest GAC Preview";

"You say Spike Dudley hasn't beat anyone credible? HELLO, He Acid Dropped Big Vis!!!! You don't get any better than Big Vis. (I hope you know I am kidding.) Rob Van Dam is the best wrestler in North America (If you don't sense the extreme sarcasm here than you deserved to be punished with a Best of Hogan vs. Sid video) I am pretty sure Masato Tanaka won't be on the PPV due to the fact that he is back in Japan, which is why he isn't booked. I think he returns in February or something, so he can work a program w/ Awesome. I am not exactly sure, but I've heard something like that. I have found John C's secret. John, you claim you got the "smell ya later" quote from Nelson on the Simpsons. In the aggravating words of Steve Austin, "UH-UH!" If anyone's ever played PokeMon.... you'll notice that Gary says "Smell Ya Later" I can smell conspiracy all over this one, PokeMon boy!"

A great letter, and not one that I feel I should clog with an unnecessary follow up. I do need to point out, though, that in my Pokemon Blue game, the aforementioned Gary is instead named "bitch".

Finally, here's RVDDreamer@aol.com with a couple random tidbits;

"I just wanted to drop a couple of lines and let you know about a few interesting things I saw on television this past weekend. First, while flipping through the channels at about 2 am Sunday morning I came across the religious channel, there was no good porn on the pay-per-view porno channels, and who did I see but Jake "The Snake" Roberts. I am almost 100% positive that this interview was back in 1996 around his return to the WWF (he was talking about having a place to talk to the world about God). He was talking about finding God and getting help with his drug and alcohol addictions. If I am right about this being from '96 then he obviously lost God given his recent actions at the Legends PPV if in fact he was drunk or stoned from what I have heard and read. The second thing is I ordered last nights ECW PPV and during the pre-show a message from ECW scrolled across the top of the screen saying that The Sandman would not be wrestling because of a serious family emergency. My satellite company is Dish On Demand and I don't know if this message was given to everyone and I don't remember hearing anything about The Sandman during the PPV. I might have missed it however since I refused to watch New Jack's match and began playing Medal of Honor on my Playstation. One more thing, Joel Gertner was hilarious last night and seemed pretty damn over. What did you think about it? '

I can't say anything about the ECW PPV, since I didn't see it.. but I did see that Sandman wouldn't be there posted everywhere on the net early that morning. No excuses there.. :P

Ah, the saga of Jake Roberts takes another poke into the light. Honestly, his is one of the more sad stories I've heard, though Mick Foley claims he's always been a ripe bastard. For a few years in the 80s, he was the shit and appeared to be going places quick. His persona fit the gimmick to a "t", right down to his ringwork which was accentuated by the sweetest DDT you'll ever find. Hearing about his condition on the 'Heroes of Wrestling' flop just reopened the wound he's left behind on his legacy. From what I understand, a large chunk of it had to do with Neidhart being a bitch, but there's still no excuse. Roberts is a man forever haunted by his own demons and it's a shame that not even the man himself could help him out of that hole.

At any rate, thanks for your letter and for reading.. I'll be back with John for our Souled Out Preview (in this month of PPVs) Friday, and I'll try to get a little something else put together for my 100th, coming up in about a week. A new banner should be the bare minimum.
until then, i remain

Friday, January 7, 2000

The World's Greatest ECW Guilty as Charged 2000 Preview

After a good couple weeks away from the limelight (if it can be accurately called that), it's good to be back on the boards. Then again, the fact that this is a card that nobody can make a safe argument against purchasing doesn't hurt either. The big bad C seems to have something against the Mike Awesome / Spike Dudley match we've got for the title, but I don't see anything not worthwhile there. Spike's as over as anyone in the big 3, with a few obvious exceptions, and has something of a method to his madness after what went down a week or so back on TNN. I've got something to say about Masato Tanaka's absence from the card, but that'll have to wait until further down the preview. Suffice to say, ECW is serving up a PPV worth the asking price to start off the year, which is much more than I can say for the 'other guys'. If you've got a problem with what's to follow, Homer Simpson's got the right words for ya; "This ticket doesn't just give me a seat. It also gives me the right- no, the duty- to make a complete ass of myself."

Super Crazy and ???? (Little Guido) vs. Tajiri and ???? (Jerry Lynn)

How can a company turn such a cold 180 degrees in the span of just one match? We go from a lock-on stinker to a continuation of the series of matches that have basically kept me going in the past few months. Tajiri has steadily been shooting to the top of my list of favorite workers recently, thanks in large part to this feud and his myriad of personas. Meanwhile Super Crazy has also been taking big strides up the ladder, through this feud and his memorable series of offensive moves. Something about these two is just special, demanding attention, and I'm quite glad to see their series continuing into 2000. Despite the slight handicap of a tag match and the gimmicky 'mystery partner' stipulation, this could end up rocking several varying degrees of koala machismo. Their last meeting was something of a let-down, partially because of the tremendous amount of hype the match had received. It's a testament to their talent that this rematch has just as much build as the last one, despite a somewhat disappointing result. This is a tough one to pick, but I'm going with my gut and taking Crazy, since Tajiri took their last match clean on TV.
Winner: Super Crazy and mystery partner

New Jack vs. Angel

Goodness.. never let it be said that ECW's perfect while New Jack is still collecting paychecks. He's everything bad about a junk brawler, and goes just above Brian Knobbs in my book. Watch any of his matches and identify more than a handful of moves. Sure, he's "fearless, maniacal, vicious" and all that.. he's also a talentless bastard that gets more air than any garbage wrestler should ever think about. I could really care less who takes this one home, nor how they do it. I'm sure they'll involve a staple gun, silverware or one of those vicious aluminum trash cans that seem so credible, and will take their sweet-ass time doing so. I'll flip a coin to decide this one... and it looks like it's New Jack's lucky day.
Winner: New Jack

The Sandman vs. Rhino

Admittedly, I've never been the biggest fan of Rhino. He's seemed like the punk kid receiving the push of his life about 2 years too early, before his talents have had a chance to really mature. Since the first time I laid eyes upon him though, he's really taken some large steps. I'm beginning to enjoy his character when it gets a chance to develop (more of Paul's work, I'm sure) and his ringwork is getting better every week. He's still plagued with rookie errors (how many times can he smack his head while delivering a spear through the table before he learns?) and hasn't built much of a fan base, but it's a start. I can finally see the potential Joey's been screaming about for months, but I'm not ready to call him a "rookie sensation" quite yet. Meanwhile, the Sandman's back home and over like a monster. Hak no longer, he's back to his old tricks.. smoking, drinking and caning his way back up the ladder. The fans are back by his side, and though he has some backstage issues to iron out, I wouldn't put anything on watching him job here.
Winner: The Sandman

Raven and Tommy Dreamer vs. The Impact Players (Storm & Credible)
Tag Team Title Match

The definite attention-getter of this PPV, Heyman has been pushing this one like there's no tomorrow of late. Honestly though, the heat has been slowly heading downhill for some time with this Raven/ Dreamer angle. It was revolutionary at first, and really shook things up as the two former hated enemies were forced to co-exist, and given time I can see it getting really ugly again. It's not accident that Francine's been taking Raven's side whenever he gets out of control, and before long these two will be at it over yet another woman. For right now, though, it's just stalling. The impact players are a good stable, as one covers up the other's weakness (Lance Storm is a superior worker who lacks mic talent, Credible can talk but has trouble putting together a great match) and the Raven/Dreamer team up is no dog either. I could see the beginning of the end for the unlikeliest of all alliances here, as one team member loses the straps only to be blamed by the other on TNN. Besides that, it's the only way to get things interesting again.
Winners: The Impact Players

Rob Van Dam vs. Sabu
Television Title Match

It's actually been some time since we've seen either man in action on television, which is surprising considering both have been pegged to be the future man to carry the company into the future. I wouldn't be the first to mention Van Dam's needing help to look good, nor will I be the last.. the question is, can Sabu make this one worthwhile? For my dollar, I'd rather have a more rounded worker in there to cancel out Van Dam's spottiness, a detractor that will become much more painfully obvious once Sabu gets in there with him. The 'homicidal, suicidal' Sabu doesn't quite have it all together, at least not well enough to make this one stupendous. As is, this one should entertain.. which is all we can hope for, really. Bill Alfonso's decision should come out here.. but not without some heavy tension being played throughout. I'd expect to see his interference lead to the finish here and though I'd expect Van Dam to drop the belt soon, it won't be here nor to Sabu.
Winner: Rob Van Dam

Mike Awesome vs. Spike Dudley
Heavyweight Title Match

Picking up where the intro left off... where the hell's Masato Tanaka?! Just as it appeared the imminent feud that's been hanging since November would see it's explosive conclusion here, Spike Dudley takes the shot while the former FMW champ sits at home. Awesome and Tanaka had the ideal heavyweight match on TNN a week back, in the evening that saw Judge Jeff Jones's boy take back his belt. Honestly, if we saw a quarter of the exchanges those two put to use in a single heavyweight match anywhere else in America (or Canada, for that matter).. well, stuff would be much, much more interesting. As is, I don't think we have any HHH Roaring elbows or Rocky top rope awesome bombs in the near future. I see something terribly wrong in short changing the third and final rematch between Awesome and Tanaka, but it's not to be. Let's take a look at what we will be seeing.

Spike Dudley's reprising Mikey Whipwreck's 'giant killer' angle of years past, and actually doing a pretty good job of it. Granted, he hasn't taken down anyone to justify a world title shot (mostly the likes of Uganda and Roadkill), but this may be his breakthrough matchup. His moveset seems well enough, though I haven't been privy to more than a few minutes' worth, followed by an acid drop. Given a good showing here, his stock is definitely in line for a raise but I don't think this is the right time nor place to take the strap from the newly recrowned champion. Awesome takes it home with a seated powerbomb through a table.
Winner: Mike Awesome


And that should do it for me. Not too bad of a PPV, and one that's sure to be much longer and more involved than the preliminary card we previewed. Things tend to go down at the drop of a hat during an ECW PPV, and it would be a crime not to see Masato Tanaka, Nova or Steve Corino in active competition sometime in the evening. John's already pointed out that he took our last preview's running tally by 2 matches, and I'll be the first to admit I'm not confident whatsoever in my picks for this one (after all, we are 2 "complete idiots"). I understand that leaving the impression that I know what's up is important though, so John.. listen up.

Once I finish tearing you a new asshole this month, I'm gonna get right to work on our next encounter. I'm counting the ways I can dominate you, and I'm running out of digits on my hands and feet. Give me 3 weeks, and I'll give you a collective margin of victory that can only be rivaled by Matt Spence's alcohol intake. And, uh... I'm the game.

How was that for a shitty promo to end the preview? At any rate...
until next time, i remain