Tuesday, May 23, 2000

Ringside Shadows #122: Letting the Mind Wander

I'm sick of drawn out Tuesday Reports, recitals and reiterations. So, for this week I've limited my ranting to one section and my playing about to another entirely. There were a couple things worth discussing in depth last night, and I think I need to get those off my chest while they're still somewhat lukewarm. After that, it's probably best that you skip to the finish, because I'm gonna try to be funny. I've discovered several photos from last night's programming that inspired a bit of good natured ribbing on my part. So long as I keep myself amused, it's good all around. Check back here again next week for your regularly scheduled sarcastic, pessimistic shithead.

Nitro was a heap of poo this week, and between the unceremonious stripping of Ric Flair's title, its placement once again on Jeff Jarrett (who has yet to successfully and cleanly defend a World Title) or Terry Funk's anticlimactic 'retirement' speech, there's little question why. All that, and they took away the throwback entryway almost as soon as I'd begun praising it. Screw you, guys. I later found myself begging for a worthwhile channel to explore, finally resting on The Stand on the Sci Fi Channel.. fucking great TV Movie.

Raw's first hour was pretty well the polar opposite of Nitro as a whole. It delivered several quality matches, advanced an interesting storyline throughout, and did it all with limited McMahon appearances and a combined 0 minutes' worth of HHH and/or Rocky promos. I'll buy that for a dollar. So, keeping that in mind.. Nitro's program gave me more ammunition to tear apart in the photos, while Raw received a bit of praise (!) in the paragraphs. Before we get to all of that though, I've a word or two to say about a phenomenon that's becoming more and more prevalent.

The Big Spot

Now take it easy, this isn't just another episode of my "old school fan tears apart the current state of the industry" series. I'm actually behind highspots as a whole, provided the workers understand when to use them, where to use them, and how to use them. In a world where Mick Foley's Hell in a Cell dive made an otherwise slow paced match into a "greatest of all time" candidate, it's really easy to just say "to hell with buildup, we'll just jump from one spot to another." Many folks have made a good sum of cash with that mindset... take a look at New Jack.

Now I'm not here to give a lecture. If I'm gonna go into a full-blown, in-depth look at bumping and spottiness, I'll just blow a whole column on it and go all out. I'd just like to make a comment on a trend that's been taking place in hardcore matches around the nation; no selling big bumps. Every federation has been guilty of it at some point, but it's never been as blatant nor as worthless as this past Monday on Nitro with the Wall. The man went through a table from the ring apron, and was back on his feet within seconds. That doesn't make me respect him as a hard-ass, that doesn't make me applaud his stamina. That makes me shake my head and wonder what this says about big hits in the past. A table spot was usually enough to take a man out for a couple weeks. Now they're passe, almost comical. When will somebody take a dive off the top of a 20 foot steel cage, only to get up and go on with the match? And what will that say about those who've done it in the past?

How about Kanyon? He took a fall from a cage to an obviously padded entryway, which Schiavone, Madden and Hudson have sold as life threatening.. and then, not ten minutes after his footage from the hospital is aired, the Wall pulls this.

I seem to recall a man who paved the way for Hardcore, Mick Foley, chiding the youth about this kind of thing.. and it wasn't that long ago. Have we truly forgotten him, just months after his retirement? It's time to take a step back and give our predecessors a little respect. The fight to top the same old set of historical moments will flow eternally, but to do so by completely disgracing the past... well, what have you really achieved? The future will always build upon the past, and it's not such a good idea to knock out your own support structure.

Clean Cut

Raw is really beginning to flow. Now that their initial difficulties have been overcome (the smaller roster, the poor match quality, the overbooking, the ridiculous gimmicks.... wait, scratch that), the boys from Connecticut have just been perfecting the art. The booking of the Benoit vs. Jericho finish at Judgment Day was quite good (and CLEAN!), as was the way they handled it this Monday night. I wouldn't have used Venis this close to his return, but Holly needs the change and Jericho's presence will add the necessary crowd interest one more time. Speaking of which.. good lord, how over can a man be??? He didn't have to say a word in Indianapolis this week, his body language and presence were enough to send the crowd into a frenzy. Between his charisma and popularity, I'm sure I wouldn't be alone in comparing last spring's hottest free agent to Sting in his mid-80s glory days.

Elsewhere, the tag team division won't go away. The Hardys and T&A provided just about as perfect a match as could be expected for the time given, and really impressed me. Just as I was starting to lose faith in Matt and Jeff, they go out with another two guys that I'd never given a chance and light the place up. Hot crowd, constant action (dig the way there was NO time to rest throughout) and a buyable, clean finish.. what the hell's got into the WWF? And how nasty was Jeff Hardy's senton / swanton / superton bomb?

In the character development area, they snuck up on us with the Acolytes. Once a team that I dreaded seeing, they've become general hard-asses with some of the strongest character depth in the WWF. It's almost a treat to see them climbing into the ring... but then you realize their skills haven't really kept up with their gimmicks. Still, they're still a step and a half above anything WCW can offer. Bradshaw does have a mean clothesline. Elsewhere; we'd kidded about it, we'd laughed... and now it's come to pass. Dean Malenko and the Godfather. Need I say more?


Oh, Lord, the PAIN!
Now scarred-for-life referee Mickey Jay attempts to recover from an accidental glance up Tank Abbott's shorts, while the wCw superstar heads to the ring...

There there, big fella.
...to lend a gentle helping hand in Scott Steiner's hour of need. Steiner had just begun his new, Austin-esque "rebel" gimmick and, after pelting the audience with obscenities, accidentally drank a mouthful of Icehouse-brand "beer." Steiner's vomiting continued through the night and Abbott reportedly never left his side, cradling and cooing Big Poppa Pump like an infant.

Little Stinger #1
Vampiro gapes in surprise and agony, as Sting treats the viewing audience to a little frontal male nudity. Later, the former World Champion wowed fans by 'teabagging' the young star into submission.

Hand Job Central
...(I don't think much more can be said)...

Hey! It's THAT GUY!
Devon Storm wonders why he didn't go to the WWF, while that guy makes another unprecidented appearance in the front row. For a man that must be a millionaire, he certainly has poor taste.

Positively No Dumping
Chris Candido questions the integrity of placing a toilet in such an open area, while Shawn Stasiak admires his effort and Eric Bischoff begs with "Hard Knox" not to strain himself with the big ones.

Ever Get That Not-So-Fresh Feeling?
Embarrassingly, Kevin Nash forgot it was "his time of the month", leading to this little accident.

Dimpled Like a Golf Ball
The WWF Cameraman's dream shot (and the sick thing is, it's true.. enough with the Rikishi ass shots, please)

Kid Freaking ROCK?!
and this just parodies itself

So that's it. I had fun, and managed to toss out a halfway decent point for a change. Perhaps I'll get back to that subject in a column some time. For now though, it's back to my illustrious Horsemen project. With any luck, I'll have it completed by next week, so cross your fingers. It's slowly becoming a better time to watch wrestling again, so long as you skip most of WCW (and that's coming from somebody that would watch Nitro religiously not a year and a half ago). As always, thanks for reading. And a big welcome back to Matt Spence, returning after several weeks away! Hoo haaa.
until then, i remain

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