Saturday, December 16, 2000

Ringside Shadows #156: The World's Greatest WCW Starrcade 2000 Preview

I've returned once more for another trek into the world of modern wrestling. This month, WCW trots out what should be regarded as the best they've got to offer, in the self-proclaimed "granddaddy of them all," Starrcade. Like many of the ongoing PPVs that remain from the NWA days, this event is hip-deep in tradition, and that's what makes the card this time around that much more disappointing. Though they've taken great strides in the last year and have more than a couple matchups that could draw a fair share on their own, none of those face-offs are going on here. Where the company's top two superstars, Bill Goldberg and Scott Steiner, should no doubt be facing off for the World Title in the match fans obviously want to see, each instead finds himself in another encounter elsewhere on the card. Several of the promotion's top rising stars aren't even represented on paper this Sunday night, (Chavo Guerrero Jr and Mike Sanders spring to mind) and those that are in action have their work cut out for them with opponents that won't be taking their match to the heights it could reach. WCW as a whole is in a holding pattern right now, and while that's admirably ballsy with their income so low, even I have to question their motives going into the PPV blowoff event of the year. This is the event bookers should have been planning for over the last full year, the culmination of dozens of storylines. Yet it feels like this lineup was scribbled onto a rest stop napkin not one month ago. Not the best way to play catchup, and a step back from the promise the last few months have shown on WCW TV.

The Cat vs. Lance Storm

The only real proof I need that WCW isn't as interested in promoting their future as they'd have us believe. In Lance Storm they've got a solid future main eventer, no question. He's strong in the ring, works the mic decently enough and has credibility written all over him. Instead of taking the natural progression up the card after his lengthy run with the US title, the bookers have here sent him a step or two backwards, trying to use his hard earned reputation to springboard the Cat back into the mix of things. The obvious next step in the booking would have given this feud to Elix Skipper while Storm made some sort of presence near the main event or just laid low while his ribs took time to heal. "Prime Time" and the Cat have had a small program of their own going for some time, and each occupies the same position on the card. At the very most, I'd have given Storm a small bit of involvement in the match on PPV, perhaps making a surprise return to give Skipper the victory nobody expected. Instead, we'll see an injured Lance Storm taking on a worthless Ernest Miller. Perhaps "The Cat" will justify his position with a strong performance this Sunday night... but I'm not counting on any miracles. Lance needs the win to bounce back from a loss last month in the US title hunt. He's my choice here.
Winner: Lance Storm

3 Count vs. Knoble & Karagias Vs. Jung Dragons
Triple Ladder Match For #1 Contender To The WCW Cruiserweight Title

Here's one to ponder; why isn't this match for the #1 contendership to the tag team titles, rather than the Cruiserweight belt? With the tag scene almost begging to be set free and rock the free world as a strong division, it's somewhat telling that Nash and Page have taken the title shot, while these three teams tough it out near the bottom of the card. Though none of the combinations here have refined their skills enough to be considered tag team champions, I'm betting the only thing they need is motivation. Despite the lack thereof, they'll still keep plugging out nice little face-offs month after month here, until the WWF finally picks up on what WCW has missed and makes them stars. Action packed, intense-yet-spotty goodness is what you'll get in this one. Chances are it'll be the best match on the card.
Winners: Knoble and Karagias

Mike Awesome vs. Bam Bam Bigelow

I'll maintain what I said last month: these guys could really cut loose and give the crowd something to remember if they were only permitted the time to do so. Both Awesome and Bigelow have a firm grasp of what it takes to make a good match into a great one, but have found themselves wasted with silly gimmicks, aborted angles and crash tv attention spans. As super heavyweights that need no gimmicks, these two would skyrocket. As sports entertainers, they'll likely fall flat on their faces. Still, I'm giving this one the nod as underdog of the evening, and I'll keep hoping Bigelow will go over with a monster spot that knocks Awesome right out of his horrid, horrid gimmick.
Winner: Mike Awesome

Crowbar vs. Terry Funk
Hardcore Title Match

It was nice to see Terry Funk back again this past Tuesday night, but I quickly found myself wondering just how many more times they can wheel out the old war horse before fans start to turn on him. It's the same thing they've been doing with Ric Flair (in Charlotte, no less.) He always seems to be off the airwaves just in time to make a royal return to his home state of NC, and though the roar is still monstrous every time, the crowd noise is slowly dying with each new return. WCW is oversaturating and overusing the things that worked for them at one time, and it's gonna bite them in the ass sooner rather than later. Still, this Sunday should be an interesting Hardcore match. Crowbar's got one of the best defined characters in WCW right now, and the little side story of a champion facing off against his idol is just enough to make this one worthwhile. I still wish they'd have given it another couple weeks to develop before throwing it onto PPV, though. I'll go with the Funker, since he's running with the momentum of his return.
Winner: Terry Funk

KroniK vs. Reno and Big Vito

I'm completely in the dark here. I don't remember any sort of angle leading up to the matchup, so I'll just completely skip that part of the analysis. In the ring, Vito's without question the most redeemable one here, with Reno still a little green to make any sort of definite decision about. Kronik... well, I'm no fan of Kronik. This should be a little slow-paced, a little boring and something of a squash for the green machines. I'll go with the big K, as Reno and Vito get into some sort of little family squabble and screw each other in the end.
Winners: Kronik

General Rection vs. Shane Douglas
U.S. Heavyweight Title Match

I'll admit it: though I still don't like the guy, WCW's actually built High Morrus to the point where I'll accept him as US Champion. I'm not sure if that says something about the building of Morrus himself or the de-elevation of the US title, but I'm accepting him with the gold either way. In Shane Douglas, they've got a decent enough star that's working through something of a slump lately. They haven't given the match any sort of feud here, which leads me to believe it'll be an introduction of sorts to an ongoing series that should last over the next couple months. If the glimpse of gold is enough to shake the Franchise from his current mindset, I've no problem with it. This Sunday, the two will likely be feeling each other out more than anything else, which is why I expect the match itself won't be breaking any sort of records. The feud's young still, as I said, and Rection should leave Sunday night with his belt firmly in hand, though I wouldn't completely rule out the opposite.
Winner: General Rection

Jeff Jarrett and The Harris Brothers vs. Konnan, Kidman, and Rey Mysterio Jr.

Though he ended up jobbing in the end, I'll be the first to admit the handicap match of sorts that went down on Nitro this week went quite a ways toward establishing Jarrett as a formidable competitor. Though Kidman and Rey haven't done anything notable lately, the fact that Jarrett could handle both for an extended amount of time on his own proved more than his multiple title reigns ever did. That's why I think it's silly to team him with proven failures like the Harris brothers this Sunday on PPV. The association alone can't do much to help his reputation, and will kill any hope for the match in terms of quality almost instantaneously. If Jeff takes the lion's share of his team's offense and Konnan bides his time on the apron for a while, we could still see some fireworks here... but that's asking quite a bit. I'll go with JJ and the Harris boys in the end here, since six people are far too many for one ref to keep an eye on, and Jarrett's got quite a few guitars.
Winners: Jeff Jarrett and the Harris Brothers

The Perfect Event vs. The InSiders
World Tag Team Title Match

Though I didn't have too much problem with it one month ago, the Page / Nash team is already wearing a little thin on me. Their matches have become formulaic in record time, and not even DDP's usual enthusiasm and ingenuity is enough to keep me interested. Likewise, their opponents aren't breaking down any walls lately, though they have made a good deal of progress since their intial teaming this past summer. Stasiak may make a decent heel after all. Though I know it's not much of a possibility, I'll still hope this is kept to a minimum. The tag titles could be so much more...
Winners: The InSiders

Goldberg vs. Lex Luger

One of the sillier choices on the card. Goldberg is without question the fan favorite, and though I'll give WCW credit for sticking by their guns on this second streak, they're taking quite a risk by keeping him out of the World Title scene at the biggest PPV of the year. I wasn't looking forward to their match last month, and the feeling holds true here. Luger's been playing a worthwhile heel for a change, and though the angles here have been a little silly, I can see how the bookers have been logically advancing the feud. Barring any ref spears or other outside interference, I'll stay the course and keep my choice from last month.
Winner: Goldberg

Scott Steiner vs. Sid Vicious
World Heavyweight Title Match

Not the best choice they could've made. Sure, half the roster's injured and the other half hasn't quite worked up to the point of main event just yet. Still, I wouldn't have opted to bring the scissor man back just to save a couple buys. But hey, I already pretty much stated my opinion in the last match, so let's just run with what we've got and take a look at what to expect this Sunday. Steiner's been established as the hard ass heel we all knew he was over the last couple months, eliminating Sting and Booker T and capturing his first World Title along the way. Right now he's a heel machine, and seems to be filling the role to perfection. Sid, on the other hand, well... if anybody knows what the hell he's doing, please raise your hand. His overselling on the car roof this past Nitro was laughable, as are his ridiculous plays to the crowd. This man's without question a product of the early 90s, Hulk Hogan's lost heir. Audiences have accepted him, based solely on the fact that it's been a while since we've seen him. Give it two months, that won't last. If not Goldberg, I don't know who they could've found to fill the shoes of the challenger, but I certainly wouldn't have gone with Sid. In the ring, these two aren't even half their former selves. In his prime, Steiner was one of the best and Sid was almost carryable. Nowadays, it would take Christ himself to make Scotty sell and the Psycho one hasn't progressed any from the old days. Just like the Rection / Franchise match further down the card, this could surprise me and end up halfway watchable, but I wouldn't count on that by any means. In the end, I'm taking Steiner to retain with the reverse chinlock of death. His title reign's still got several months left to go.
Winner: Scott Steiner

And that's all she wrote. Like I said, Starrcade is a card that should be built towards all year, and the fact that 2000 was yet another disappointing twelve months for WCW is painfully obvious here. Much of the talent is in the wrong place and those that aren't haven't even made an appearance. Disappointing as it sounds, my advise is to keep your $30. Christmas is upon us, and you'd do much better for yourself by spending it elsewhere.

Before I head out, I want to make a couple notes. Fiveja, a loyal reader, will be attending Raw this Monday night and has asked me if I've got any suggestions for a unique sign or two for the trip. Being the uninventive little bast that I am, burnt out from finals and all, I've pretty much hit the bottom of the barrel personally, so I've left it up to you guys. Wanna see your words on TV? This is your chance. Toss him a line at with your proposals. I'm sure he won't mind the help one bit.

Also, Max Power put up a great little piece about the greatest men of the sport's past and present about a week ago on the Oratory, which is a nice little read, and one well worth checking out.

Finally, my posting may be a bit sporadic over the remainder of December, but don't fret! It's been quite a while since I took a break from posting, and I think I'm most certainly due for another. That, and I'll be visiting my girlfriend's folks in Virginia, who recently cancelled their internet connection. I should be back on track before New Year's, but until then don't look for much out of me. I've got plenty on tap for 2001, so if I don't see you guys until then, thanks for reading and for making 2000 the best year of Ringside Shadows ever! Happy holidays, and all the best.
until then, i remain

Friday, December 8, 2000

The World's Greatest WWF Armageddon 2000 Preview

While several matches on the undercard could quite possibly deliver, what really matters is the last bit on the card, the one that takes us home. What exactly the WWF has done here has yet to be revealed.. whether they shot themselves in the foot by throwing all their main eventers into one match or revealed their path to success by covering the weaknesses of the unhealthy with the enthusiasm of the new faces, we won't really know before this Sunday night. Also, my partner's been correct in mentioning the lack of build in the undercard. This was something that bothered me with last month's Survivor Series lineup, and I'm not happy to see the trend continuing.

Hardy Boyz & Lita vs. Eddy Guerrero, Perry Saturn & Dean Malenko

I'm actually enjoying the hell out of this angle. Even though the whole 'date' was quite silly this past Thursday night and the LHW championship match on Raw wasn't all it could have been, there's just something that clicks with the backstage segments and these players. I've been hooked by the 'thrill of the chase', and find myself counting the days until Lita makes the big turn on the Hardys, giving the Radicals the momentum they need to be taken seriously. With that said, the action in the ring won't be shabby, either. The Hardys and Radicals are among my favorites in the sport, and to see them facing off against one another in any situation is cause for rejoice. Perhaps the brothers Hardy will be able to rub a little of their magic heat off on Malenko and company? I'll go with Team Extreme here, though the angle should run for a month or two longer.
Winners: The Hardys and Lita

Val Venis vs. Chyna

We've got a taste of irony going on with this one... somebody that's got everything it takes in the ring, but no sort of push or attention from the fans meeting somebody with little to no redeeming value on the mat, alongside the push of a lifetime and all the fan support you could ask for. Maybe 1 + 1 will equal two and the match will be surprisingly good.. or maybe we'll suffer through a little slop before these two go their separate ways and the viewers are left neither richer nor poorer for the effort. I'm betting on the latter, but I can definately see the former going down as well. Worth keeping your eye on.
Winner: Chyna

Ivory vs. Molly Holly vs. Trish Stratus
Women's Championship

The women's division, too, is doing fine and dandy.. in fact, better than it's ever been. As evidenced by this match, we've got women that are easy on the eyes, but can still work an interesting and believable match as well. While Trish may drag the match down a notch as the least adept of the three, her inclusion was almost a must to ensure the audience's attention, no matter how much positive publicity Molly's been getting over the last month. If kept short, this should be nice.. and I can't justify giving it more than five or six minutes. Ivory's my choice to retain, as her heat's been steady and she's a fighting champion. Can't ask for much more.
Winner: Ivory

William Regal vs. Hardcore Holly
European Championship

Regal's been a bastard this last month, completely destroying poor Crash and Molly, and it's a side of the British good will ambassador that I really enjoy seeing. After dropping the European title for a lengthy one day to the younger cousin, Regal's been built for this match quite nicely.. and the title shot for Hardcore himself is a natural progression from the events. The tension between this little 'family' has been teased for some time now, and while I won't say with any certainty that it's going to boil over Sunday night under the lights, I have been looking for it for a little while now. Regal holds onto the gold by the skin of his teeth, possibly splitting Hardcore from Crash in the process.
Winner: William Regal

RTC vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Road Dogg & K-Kwick vs. Edge & Christian
Tag Team Championship

Though the re-turn of the Dudleys was quite a bit predictable, the way they did it came a bit out of left field. When they refused to tear off their suits and ties this Monday night, I thought the angle might be the real thing after all.. but just as I found myself believing the hype, we were reminded who really is in charge here, as they turned face almost immediately Thursday Night. Perhaps a bit of a rejuvenated feud was hinted with the Hardys, as their little ploy cost the Boyz the Tag Team titles, but that's still quite a ways off. Elsewhere, I like K-Kwick allright, though he's still green as grass, but in all honesty he doesn't deserve a title shot just yet. The New Outlaws' loss on Raw was more an issue of inexperience, rather than cheating on the part of the blondes, and I was surprised to see the decision overturned on those grounds. While this would be nicer without Road Dogg and the RTC, it won't be too ugly as is, and serves as all the proof you need to declare the Tag division healthier than ever.
Winners: The Dudley Boyz

Billy Gunn vs. Chris Benoit
Intercontinental Championship

Though I'd rather have seen Benoit involved in the main event and Guerrero granted the rematch for his title on PPV, this will do nicely on its own. If nothing else, the point of this match should be to get Benoit further over as a ruthless SOB that deserves his spot near the top of the card. Though an Intercontinental reign doesn't look to be in the cards for him, this should serve as a nice little retainer between feuds, and may just give Gunn the motivation he needs to quit sucking cheeks. Gunn retains through DQ, as Benoit takes it too far and slaughters the former Ass master.
Winner: "Number Two" Billy Gunn

Kane vs. Chris Jericho
Last Man Standing Match

Pretty much a guarantee as the blowoff here, I say it's about time. While both the participants are equally promising talents, they just haven't clicked in their brief feud and it's in the best interests of all to just move on and quit trying to build something where there's nothing. It would be nice to see Jericho continuing his slow, steady heel turn, while gaining some badly needed credibility along the way with a victory over the former champion in red. Paul Bearer's been rumored for Sunday, and I'd wager his appearance is more likely here than in the Cell. May or may not have an impact on the outcome.
Winner: Chris Jericho

Kurt Angle vs. Triple H vs. Rikishi vs. Steve Austin vs. Undertaker vs. The Rock
WWF Championship - Hell in a Cell

A quick show of hands; how many readers out there are looking for Rikishi to follow Mick Foley's path to fame with a dive from the cage this weekend?? Bloody hell, I'm not sure the arena's foundations could stand it. By keeping the card relatively small, the WWF has made it perfectly clear they'll be giving this match all the time it needs to develop into whatever shape it may choose to adopt. The possibilities here are endless, and we're pretty likely to see every two man combination in the match headed after one another before the final bell tolls. Vince will make his presence known during the match, though in who's favor I haven't a clue. Perhaps the long-rumored Austin heel turn will come to fruition behind the fencing, though he's got another couple matches with HHH down the road.. so I'd probably scratch that. With two injured men, one super heavyweight that isn't likely to scale the fencing and a veteran that's having more and more difficulty just getting to the ring, it all comes down to the Rock and Angle in the end. Though I expect things will get complicated, leading to the rumored Rumble for the gold next month, but we're pretty much expected to choose a victor in these things. "No contest" reads like "cop out" in my eyes, so I'm taking Kurt Angle for my man. His reign still hasn't lasted quite long enough for my tastes.
Winner: Kurt Angle

In Closing...

Really not that awful of a card, and a definate step up from last month's questionable Survivor Series. A number of feuds are either hitting full speed or blowing off this month, and the World Title's surrounded by quite a bit of interest as well. It's reason enough to blow off studying this Sunday night (then again, what isn't..?), but I think things will look even nicer at the Rumble a little ways down the line. Not their best work, but a far, far cry from their worst.
until next time, i remain

Wednesday, December 6, 2000

Ringside Shadows #155: Seven From the Fore

With the end of the year rapidly approaching, dragging with it my colleagues' own individual "best of" lists, I find myself looking back over the century past and recalling the good along with the bad. The final curtain was drawn for both Bret Hart and Mick Foley, while the play has only just begun for HHH and Lance Storm. Yet, despite what's likely to be remembered as the year that spawned both Helmsley and Angle, I just can't stop thinking about what remains the most significant event of the new century in my own eyes.

In the early evening of January 17th, I climbed aboard my Pentium 486 with a purpose. The gears of time were churning, nearly loud enough to shake the room, and it was all I could do to keep the speed my fingers were typing somewhere near the speed my thoughts were processing. Vince Russo had been removed from his seat atop WCW. In his place stood Kevin Sullivan, and in his wake came the story of 2000; the pilgrimage of the Radicals.

When I posted Ringside Shadows #99, things were still speculative. Alongside Chris Benoit, Eddy Guerrero, Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko stood Billy Kidman, Shane Douglas and Konnan. While the WWF was certainly the promised land, the name of ECW was also in the mix. Though I'm rarely one to embrace a rumor when it first presents itself, this one was too good to pass by. It was more than just food for thought, providing me with the shot in the arm I'd needed for a good six months. Even if nothing came of this rumored leap in the real world, I'd have made my speculation regardless. It was truly too good to be true, something everyone had crossed off their lists but still imagined in the back of their mind. Jeff Hardy vs. Billy Kidman? Chris Benoit vs. Yoshihiro Tajiri? Eddy Guerrero vs. D'Lo Brown? The possibilities were now endless, and it hadn't taken me long to spread my feelings across the waves of the internet ocean.

In "Seven to the Fore" (Ringside Shadows #99), I took a closer look at each of the seven men involved with this opportunity and put in my two cents. I theorized whether they'd be a better acquisition for the WWF or ECW, stated their strengths and weaknesses, listed their career accomplishments and even set them off on the right foot, booking the introduction for their first feud in the new federation. To this day, I consider it one of my greatest works and find myself glancing back at it more often than any other column.

Now that we're nearly a year beyond the shift that shook the wrestling world, I think it's time to take another look at these seven, as well as my own predictions for where the move would have landed them in the end. In some instances, my guesses were about a mile and a half from the truth, while in others I was a bit too close for comfort. The steel's come back from the fore, and not all of it came out in one piece.

Chris Benoit

With Benoit, I found myself booking big. Honestly, who could blame me? The man was now a former WCW World Champion, stripped of his title in absence and ready to play in the big leagues. He was the key player in this power move, without whom none of the undeniable impact would have been present. So I threw him into a feud with Steve Austin. Coming off a high profile play like this would net Benoit instant notoriety with the audience, his name still fresh from that World Title victory over Sid. In his feud with Austin, I molded Benoit into what Stone Cold had been missing for much of his Main Event career: somebody that could beat him any day of the week without missing a beat. I sent him to the ring in the middle of an Austin interview, backed by no pyro, no entryway music and no elaborate ring attire. Amidst little fanfare would appear this stoic figure, quietly strolling his way to the ring. When Austin notices him and calls him up to the apron, the Crippler maintains his composure all the way to their unavoidable staredown. Playing the role he was born to, Austin cracks a beer and sprays the wolverine down, only to find himself nearly knocked off his feet by a couple of Benoit's vicious trademark chops. Left with little alternative, Austin would land a stunner, which Benoit would ride all the way down and reverse into a crossface at the last moment.

I didn't send Benoit to ECW, because it wouldn't do his newfound image any justice. To jump from the WCW World Title to ECW wouldn't have meant anything... if nothing else, the audience would have seen it as a step down. What Benoit needed was a bit of a tweak in his image and mic skills, something Vince McMahon knows like second nature. With the Titan publicity machine churning by his side, Benoit's a surefire future World Champ. With Paul Heyman's distant third place promotion, he'd become a "could've been."

So, did I choose correctly? To an extent. The WWF didn't see the instant main event power I did in Benoit, but began the building process for a run at the top almost immediately. They established him as the leader of the Radicals, without question, and proved he was a force to be reckoned with by giving him a great, competitive match with HHH to begin his WWF career. He's challenged the Rock in the main event of several Pay Per Views, held the IC gold for an elongated run, and introduced a sort of technical renaissance to the mix lately, influencing Steve Austin noticeably. While he hasn't yet paid his dues long enough for a slot at the very top, the sky is certainly the limit for the Crippler within another six months. More importantly, though, he's rediscovered his love for the sport. For that reason alone, Benoit's much better off in the WWF. He made the right choice in heading North.

Billy Kidman

Also on my flight to Titan, I booked Kidman into a feud that eluded us during the WCW run of another superstar gone to Titan: Chris Jericho. I cast Y2J in the role of Razor Ramon and Kidman as the 1-2-3 Kid in a reenactment of the match that brought Shawn "X-Pac" Waltman to the WWF for his first run. Passed off by many in the WWF audience as a jobber, the voices of those who did recognize him would have been drowned out by Jericho's blaring Y2J countdown. Playing the role of the heel he perfected in WCW, Jericho would poke fun at everything from Kidman's haircut to the way he wears his clothes. He'd make note of the time both had in Atlanta, mentioning how he'd torn through everyone in the cruiserweight division except little Billy Kidman. With Kidman putting up more than a little fight for his first match, I had Jericho locking in the Walls after about seven minutes. Desperate, I called for Kidman to shake his opponent's balance enough to roll him up into a pinning combination. Afterwards, I had Jericho throwing one of the tantrums he made legendary at the very start of his run as a cruiserweight champ.

I had little reason for not sending Kidman to ECW, aside from this feud. Though he hasn't proven himself when push comes to shove in WCW, I think the bright lights of the WWF could bring out something that would be missing in the lower-tier ECW; a desire to succeed. Kidman has the skills, but hasn't been given reason enough to break them out. In the right situation, along with a little luck, Kidman could be the next Shawn Michaels. In ECW, he'd be just another talented guy that won't make it to the big leagues.

It's pretty obvious that of the three decisions Kidman could have made at the crossroads last year, he made the wrong one. Though he was promised the sun and the moon for his loyalty, nothing has come of his career over the last eleven months. In addition to that, the backstage depression that's poisoning Turner's brand of wrestling has infected this rising star as well. Much like his WCW comrades, it's beginning to seem as if Kidman just doesn't care anymore. He's lost the cutting edge enthusiasm that made him such a joy to watch, and doesn't seem to be the same man because of it. In staying with WCW, Kidman made a poor decision.

Perry Saturn

As a man without any solidified personality but plenty of ferocity in the ring, I sent Saturn off to ECW, for the talents of one Paul Heyman to groom into a complete package. His gimmick at the moment was the dunce of the Revolution, missing the point of many Shane Douglas tirades and playing the gimmick for all it was worth, obviously having fun along the way. Though the gimmick had shown flashes of brilliance, Saturn hadn't quite nailed it yet and would've been eaten alive if he'd tried it in the WWF. Therefore, I had Heyman work his magic in E C dub for a while until Perry had the whole schtick down pat. Then it would only be a matter of time before the WWF came knockin' with a contract ready to be signed.

Since then he's abandoned the gimmick completely and become what I'd hoped against hope he wouldn't; a big, talented guy with little to no personality. As a result, the fans haven't backed him and he's floundering in the lower mid card. I still maintain that Saturn could be a player in the near future, but it's going to require a strong personality or gimmick, a few lucky breaks and a feud that really clicks. He's still got what it takes in the ring, but needs a solid direction. With the roster as full as it is right now, Saturn's finding himself more and more lost amongst the deserving workers that are being forgotten amidst the shuffle. In ECW, he could have built a lot of momentum before jumping into the big pond. Though he's experienced some moderate success as a European champion, I think Saturn could've made something more of himself with a little time in Extreme, which is why I'm calling his move to the WWF the wrong one.

Eddy Guerrero

A shorter synopsis of my ECW booking plans for Guerrero wouldn't really do myself justice, so I'm opting for a direct quote here; "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 three 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."

I wasn't sure about my decision to stick him in the world of Extreme when I made it, and Guerrero's proven why. In the end I stuck with ECW because of the history he's got there and the absolutely wonderful, deep, strong stories that could be told with it. He's a completely different man than he was during his first run with the company, and I think his presence could have catapulted ECW to new heights much like the Raven / Tommy Dreamer feud did earlier in its history. While he's still working something of a joke gimmick in the WWF, he could have been all business in ECW and built himself as even more of a legitimate package with their World Title around his waist.

Still, Guerrero's success hasn't been missing in the WWF either. Though I wasn't the biggest fan of his "Latino Heat" run, I will recognize that it's what made fans care about him as a character, a step Saturn and Malenko never made. Thus, when he finally made the heel turn I was dying for, it was accompanied by amplified boos and a great atmosphere. Guerrero's good enough to do well for himself wherever he goes, but the WWF is slowly becoming the only name in town. For that reason alone, Guerrero made the right decision.


I don't like Konnan. That much is obvious while reading my synopsis of where his career should have gone those fifty six issues ago. I sent him to both the WWF and ECW, where he was torn to pieces progressively. In the WWF, I gave him a big time entrance with fireworks, rap theme music and a new t-shirt. To the ring, he came, high as a kite. He hit his redundant catchphrases to a halfhearted response from the audience and was interrupted a moment later by the Acolytes. Verbally upset, Konnan broke kayfabe and asked the two what they were doing. Faarooq seized a mic and exclaimed "Son, you got a pantie on yo head," to which Konnan took offense. Attempting a bit of legit offense, he went for a moonsault from the apron to the floor, but landed a couple feet short. The Acolytes toyed with the corpse a bit before growing bored and moving on.

In ECW, I didn't even let him off the entryway. Peeking out from behind the curtain, I confronted him with Paul Heyman himself, who let us all know he didn't hire the guy. With Konnan on his knees begging for a job, I had Heyman powerbomb him through an armored car to a solid "E C DUB" chant. Nabbing a mic, Paul E. would've confirmed what Faarooq noted the Raw before, letting us all know that Konnan does indeed have a pantie on his head.

Konnan wasn't even that good when he cared about what he was doing. I would've loved to have seen my bookings come to life, (if just to see Faarooq deliver that line with a straight face) but realize it's got the chances of a snowball in hell. For that reason alone, I say Konnan made the right decision in staying on the sinking ship of WCW. He shouldn't be working.

Dean Malenko

Not going anywhere in WCW, Malenko needed a change and a jump to ECW could've been just what he was looking for. Landing at the same time as Steve Corino's "old school" gimmick, I sent the "man of 1000 holds" out to defend Joel Gertner from an attack by Corino himself (working a variation of the angle the RTC is using today in the WWF.) Berated and incited by Corino's excellent mic work, I'd teased Malenko's rage boiling over... right up to the moment he turned around and leveled Gernter with one quick, concise blow and embraced Corino. Since Corino was far from the World Title level he occupies today, Malenko would have been the main event man for his little stable, slaughtering all the top faces (New Jack, Spike Dudley and Tommy Dreamer) for destroying everything the gladiators of old had built. Booking The Sandman over Mike Awesome for the World Title in the main event, I sent Malenko out post match to assault the new champ from behind, polishing the spilled beer from the belt's surface and arriving as a force to be reckoned with.

Much like his Radicals teammate, Saturn, Dean Malenko is a brilliant worker without the personality to make it in the modern WWF. When the Radicals arrived on Raw that memorable Monday Night, it was Malenko that worried me the most. Barely achieving moderate success in WCW, where fans were more likely to watch a technical fight, I didn't give Malenko a chance in hell with the WWF. Unfortunately, I was right. Though his last Light Heavy match with Scotty Too Hotty on PPV was met with a great reaction from the crowd, the WWF showed their heart wasn't into it by pulling the belt's defenses from television and taking the federation in another direction. I placed him in ECW because the fans there are among the most educated in the world, and are about 75% more likely to enjoy his stuff than the more mainstream WWF audience. Now, almost a year later, I stand by my original decision. Malenko in the WWF is a puzzle with a mismatched piece.

Shane Douglas

A bit of a loudmouth, Douglas burned bridges both in the WWF and ECW, but as he was going nowhere in WCW found himself with a decision; he could swallow his pride and ask one of the men he'd scorned for another chance or stand by his guns and stick with the boat everybody was abandoning. For my decision, I went with ECW. It was here that the Franchise really proved himself, more so than he'd ever manage in the WWF, and it was here that he could rediscover just who he really was. I put him into a long term feud with Paul Heyman, which would be a ballsy thing for the company owner to agree to, since the two have a great deal of personal hatred between them. I'd handle the thing like the Austin / McMahon feud, though neither would be a face or a heel. The audience would be free to back whoever they wanted, and the thing would wrap up in no more than six months.

I didn't throw him into the WWF because of his age and ongoing personality problems behind the scenes. Though he still gets a great deal of credit for starting the revolution that became ECW, that alone isn't enough to risk the WWF's backstage harmony for.

As is, Shane Douglas hasn't made much out of himself anyway. Remaining in WCW, the Franchise has floated from one throwaway feud to the next with Torrie Wilson by his side. Though he didn't have many other options, remaining with the company that had proven they didn't know what to do with him wasn't the best choice on Douglas's part. Despite the fact I have no idea where he could have gone once released, I'd say Shane made the wrong decision by waiting things out.

And that, as they say it, is that. The sport is without question a much different place now that Benoit's challenging for WWF gold, and though a couple workers made the wrong decision when the dust began to settle, hindsight is always 20 / 20. At the very least they can say they were a part of the story of 2000... not a small feat by any means.
until then, i remain