As if that wasn't enough, I found some old school *.mov files elsewhere in the 'net that brightened my day even further. Everything from DDP's encounter with Raven on MTV to Flair's second World Title victory over Harley Race graced my monitor, while I gleefully took it all in. Taking the cake, though, was the Ultimate Warrior's initial speech upon his arrival to WCW. To think that I was pissing my pants with pleasure the first time this aired was enough for a smile. Watching it a second time nearly two years later was good for a laugh or two. Jeez, this guy's even more long winded than I.. behold; "History tells us, Hogan, that a man's legacy is build from the premise that within his life the moments lived, once lived, become a piece of his history. Somehow, you have conveniently, even eloquently, misplaced pieces of your history."
Right. So I'd said something about the present, too. Nitro and Raw gave us a couple worthwhile programs last night. Neither were without their flaws, but even those were threaded in with the good stuff well enough to be overlooked, for the most part. I don't agree with the way everything went down, but I'll admit both presented an admirable effort. Despite the presence of slop like the Godfather and Ernest Miller, the WWF and (occasionally) WCW are giving us some really solid, memorable programs of late. Just like the Flair / Sting blowoff at the 1990 Bash, I'll remember the night the Radicals arrived in Titan until the day I die. Though the importance is arguable, Ric Flair's World Title victory from nowhere two weeks ago will live on in my mind for years to come. These are some the days you'll remember as you grow older and the industry changes once again. We've finally defined the boundaries, and both federations are allowing themselves to blossom and fill out the new rules. The "Attitude" years are reaching their peak.. take note and enjoy them.
"Take control of the limited ability you have to understand the words I am about to say."
WCW's Upper-Midcard Facade
It's good to see "Big Poppa Pump" finally making his long-promised World Title push, after several near misses and derailments. More now than ever in the past, I'm willing to accept Steiner as a serious contender to the belt. He's got the look, he's got the confidence and the crowd's behind him. It's too bad his ringwork's deteriorated as far as it has, but I'd rather see him given a shot than proven failures like Kevin Nash or redundant victors such as Hogan. Steiner's captured my curiosity, and once his US Title is finally jobbed to a deserving midcarder (here's your shot, Booker..) he'll be free to make his own way in a headlining feud.
Speaking of which, I don't really have much to say about Booker's new role as G.I. Bro, except.. well, it's ridiculous. Maybe Booker presented the idea himself, maybe it is a cute little throwback to his breakthrough role in the old days... but it's also to blame for a strong loss of credibility. In a day that's more centered on the image than the substance, something as simple as a name change could make or break the career of an upcoming single like Booker. The audience has been firmly behind him for years, so a gimmick change was far from necessary at this stage. He didn't need anything else to be noticed, aside from a US title push and some air time… and even if the whole thing was presented by Booker himself, that's where Bischoff and Russo need to step in and start doing their job. You'd have to be an idiot not to see the potential there, and to waste it with a gimmick that's failed before entering the gates is senseless. Still, a feud with Mike Awesome could be more than worthwhile if both continue bumping in the same fashion as weeks gone by. The two are among the only true heavyweights worth the time of day, and an extended feud would serve to elevate both. The first minute or two of last night's encounter sucked pretty fiercely, but the finish more than made up for it; sweet as can be.
Goldberg's return came at an extremely important time for his flailing home promotion, and goddamned.. how they need this guy back. It was a bad idea to show us all that he wouldn't be back for the main event (proving it was safe to watch Raw), but even that wasn't enough to kill the man's hype. Let's get Steiner to the World Title for a couple months while Goldberg heals and obliterates Tank Abbott, then turn the youngest Steiner heel and let the crowd eat it up. It almost books itself, but Russo won't allow that.. it's too "predictable". Shit, predictable isn't always bad if it's used sparingly. It goes hand in hand with giving the audience what they want. Starrcade '97 was a failure, because the booking focused so heavily on being anything but predictable, and WCW's been falling ever since as a result. The buyrate was superb for the late winter event, and everybody tuned in to see Sting take a clean victory over Hogan after months of chasing. Instead, Hogan dominated the match, handed out a clean pin early (oh, wait.. that was a "fast count") and the whole thing ended in a schmozz. Sending Sting out the clean champ would've been predictable, but it also would've suited the situation. You're outswerving yourself here, guys.
What would've surprised me is a solid, ten minute match to a clean finish between Sting and Kidman. The two showed glimpses of what could've been, with some inventive spots involving the rampway, but overbooking once again reared its ugly head and took us home within three minutes. I'll even argue that Sting should've gone over here, because Kidman is far from a credible opponent at this stage. Building Kidman up a bit more does nothing but good for all parties involved. Even a loss against WCW's franchise could raise the public perception of Kidman after a hard-fought match, resulting in more interest in his rematch (or is it a threematch?) with Hogan on the upcoming PPV. Sting would get the credit for a clean win, and Kidman would get the rub he's been missing from Hogan.
Raw's New Main Event Plans
Last night saw Kane's hat thrown back into the mix for the World Title, in another of those moments that gets filed away as "Cool moment" in the back of my head. There, it's doomed to forever bounce around with its peers; a Perry Saturn dive to the outside on Raven, the Big Show's scream and pose after pushing a dumpster onto the Bossman's car, Chris Benoit and Jimmy Snuka's dives from the cage months ago. All extremely sweet lead-ins, great camera angles and superb positioning. You saw it coming, but it didn't matter. All was well in the world, but you knew nothing was really gonna come of it. Sure enough, Saturn toiled in WCW's midcard for years, Raven quit the promotion, the Show's title reign was a farce, and Benoit's ascention had already halted. I'd like to believe Kane will finally receive the slot he's been denied thus far, and with the main event scene as limited as it is I may be proven wrong yet again. With the case being what it is, I'll put my money on a British Bulldog-esque main event run (ONE PPV), some fireworks and a possible run with the tag titles. Still.. he looked freakin' smooth standing above HHH, title in hand, while the Rock and the Taker shared bewildered glances.
Speaking of which, the Undertaker's presence pretty well seals HHH and Rocky's final arrival as true main eventers, in my book. Here's a man that's seen the past four solid WWF champions through their reigns: Hogan, Hart, Michaels and Austin. He's main evented with all of them with the belt on the line... and beaten all, to boot. To the casual WWF fan, the Undertaker is the standard torch bearer, and he's finally given his blessing to the main event of today. Now if we could only do something about that DOA gimmick and Kid Rock theme music..
Yeah, I caught Kid Rock's performance. I wasn't happy about it (I'd rather have seen it in head to head, so I could watch something else), but I saw it. I'll say the same thing I said when WCW gave us KISS and Vince gave us Motley Crue (or was it Poison? Hell, I don't care..); it was a good waste of a quarter hour. I caught the censors' slip up, too, and wasn't really that shaken by it. They miss that word every time X-Pac's theme music comes on (suck it.. two tears in a bucket.. i'm not the one they tried to fuck wit'), so I don't see why it's such a big deal this time around.
Earlier in the card, we got a solid five minutes out of Kurt Angle and Eddy Guerrero, despite the silly finish and near-blown hurricarana wrapup. I'd love to watch these two go to a clean finish sometime, as their styles are perfectly suited for one another. The crowd eventually sided with Guerrero here, though both seem to be on their way to a face turn (by popular demand), which is really a shame. The WWF needs solid heels right now, but can't get one over without another crowd turnaround. In this day and age, the only way to establish yourself as a solid heel is to oppose the Rock in singles action. So, anyway... whatever DID happen to that Al Snow / Rocky feud?
Anyway, I've wandered long enough for today. Though it might now show in my words, I found both shows worth my time for the majority of last night, and I can only hope things continue along the path they've taken for the past weeks. The intra-fed feuding is getting old, and while the WWF realizes it and marches on, Russo throws jab after jab in the media. I'm none to keen on Vince Russo right now, come to think of it.
So hey! Get your ass out to the video stores and look about for some old NWA action! Good times, good times... Thanks for taking the time out to read, and keep your eyes peeled for my exhaustive Horsemen series, coming soon to better newsboards across the nation.
until then, i remain