I'm semi-recovered from my surgery last week. I spent my New Year's with two suction tubes coming out of my neck and a cut running from my earlobe to my adam's apple. How was yours? :-)
Thanks to Aldo for a kick-ass Nitro report while I was preparing to get cut last week.
And, apparently WCW hasn't learned from last year's debacle that killed Sting's heat - it's usually not a good idea to job your face in your biggest feud on your biggest PPV. It ruined Sting's credibility last year, and you've got to wonder what it'll do for Flair this year.
Yeah, I know, Flair got his revenge the next night, and it WAS sweet, but you've got to wonder about WCW's business strategy - using the PPVs to build up the Nitros, rather than the opposite.
Oh well. Last time WCW gets my money again until they prove that they know what to do with it.
As an aside, the only lamer title that Steiner could hold as leader of the nWo is the "Western States Heritage Championship." Anybody remember that belt? I think the only guys to hold it were Barry Windham and Larry Zbyszko.
Fans like surprises - and the easiest surprise to give them is to trot out a new wrestler. But new wrestlers need angles to be put in, lest they just show up for a few weeks and then vanish, wasting time. Duncum is a good example of this. And with a glut of established stars getting a large share of angle time, and the up-and-coming stars (Jericho, Giant, Benoit, Guerrero, etc.) wanting to make their move into the spotlight as well, it's a logistical nightmare to try to fit these bodies into interesting angles week after week.
Now, contrast this situation with the WWF. Their roster is thin almost to the breaking point - their stars either get hurt (Michaels, 'Taker, etc.) or lured away (Hart Foundation). As a result, they were forced to elevate midcarders like Maivia, Foley, Shamrock, etc. up to the front of the card. And guess what? It's worked. With less "dead weight" up at the top of the card, they've been able to put something fresh together. I'm certainly not saying it's BETTER (boobs and cussing ceased to be the end-all and be-all of humor sometime during high school), but to their fans, it's something different than what they'd been doing for the previous couple of years. And, with that change, has come a dominance of the TV ratings that the WWF hadn't seen since before the first can of spray paint put down the letters "N-W-O."
I don't think it's a coincidence.
WCW is in the same position now. They're stuck giving their allegiance to an nWo angle that is dead and gone. They seem to believe that the "faction wars" that were such a disaster in the WWF (remember Los Boriquas vs. DOA vs. NOD?) will work with them (Wolfpac vs. LWO vs. nWo). The World title has been stagnant for the past few months, with things only starting to heat up now. The once-mighty tag belts are beyond a joke ("Check yourself before you wreck yourself"). Who has the US belt now, anyway? See above for my comments on the TV title. And the Cruiserweight division, while far and away the best thing going in wrestling today, needs a few more contenders (Chavo, Kaz, Psychosis). The Ric Flair angle has the potential to be a showstopper, but I fear that Bischoff's ego is going to ruin it. And let's not forget that there is still the possibility of the Hogan Revolution coming again, bringing us more Hogan vs. Savage, Hogan vs. Piper, Hogan vs. Warrior, and Hogan with the World belt as his permanent air guitar. Perish the though.
WCW has gotten old. There isn't the spark of mystery anymore. Like a struggling business, they need some changes to get competitive again. Here are my suggestions.
That's my view on what's going on as we enter 1999. WCW is still the best WRESTLING promotion in the US, but is shooting itself in the foot time and time again. I think that they can make it back to the top without resorting to "Bra & Panty matches," South Park references, dick jokes, and silicone, but it'll take changes in the way they do business.
Hal W. sends the following arena report:
I and my friend Mark ventured to tha' Dome for my first live Nitro. We got there around 6:45. The place wasn't so packed, but that was to change quickly. Around 7:30, Dave Penzer comes out and starts talking to the crowd. He introduces some DJ from one of the local stations, 99X, who comes out and starts talking. While he's talking, our favorite steroid poster child comes out for some cheap heat. He talks about how Atlanta sucks, etc. and proceeds to beat up the guy. Kinda humorous.
Before they go live, Wildcat Willie came out to NO heat. He was filler, and boring filler was he.
By the way, our seats were close to the top of one of the lower sections, and they were piping in TNT into the monitors hanging from the next level. There was a 15-20 second delay between what was happening live and what was on TV.
The crowd was into it at times, but WCW could've put on a much more hype show for them to be in their own back yard. Most of the time, the crowd was quiet. The best moments:
- Benoit's chops were LOUD and could be heard where we were (we were behind the cameras, up 30 rows, which with the floor seats added, equaled about row 60).
- The place was dead during DDP's match, until he hit the Diamond Cutter. The place went nuts. He did receive one of the biggest pops coming in.
- Ric Flair coming in is one of the loudest things I've ever heard.
- Surprisingly enough, Konnan got a big pop as well, but the best pop of the night in my biased opinion, was the fact that everyone went nuts for NORMAN SMILEY! YESSSSS!!!
- I begged for Kidman. They gave me Kidman. Probably one of the best matches (Kidman and Rey).
- I think the second loudest pop occured when they told Liz she could go to jail for filing false charges! Everyone started cheering. It was hilarious.
- Believe it or not, Hogan got a lot of cheers, mixed with a lot of boos.
- Anytime Goldberg came on, the roof popped off the place.
- When Scott Hall came out with Nash, people lost their minds...me included!
- Buff doing the "Dirty Bird." That was a riot.
Despite the fact that I had read ahead of time that the original Wolfpac would be reformed, it was interesting to see the reactions of the 30,000+ marks in attendance. I hate to say it, but it was awesome seeing Goldberg get punked. And even from where we were sitting, you could HEAR the crackle of the cattle prod that Scott Hall was using. After they went off the air, Goldberg got loose. As the nWo made their way to the back, about 12 of the Falcons came out. Why they didn't come out earlier, I don't know. There was a lot of hyping of things going on in the ring, talk of the Falcons, hugging, etc. Too little, too late.
- Wrath = NO MIC SKILLS
- During commercials, Jericho and Saturn exchanged sleepers over and over. Bryan Adams just had DDP in side headlocks, with some other forgettable action.
- There were many missed spots that were probably obvious even to those in the nosebleed seats.
- Glacier first? People were bored from the outset.
All in all, it was a fun time, but whether or not I'll go again is up in the air.
Brian E. hailing from Rome, Georgia (Arn Anderson's hometown) sends the following arena report:
Probably the biggest pop for a wrestler was, surprise, Ric Flair. Goldberg, when he came in at the end, received a huge one also. Hogan and Bischoff drew the most heat. Hall and Nash received a huge pop and a lot of booing after their turn.
I didn't notice the ending of the Saturn-Jericho match from where I was sitting. It was one of the better matches of the evening. Jericho received a fairly high level of praise from the audience.
I don't know if you could hear it on TV or not, but when Steiner was wrestling and afterward the crowd was chanting, "Steroid."
At the end, the reformed nWo got pettled with trash from the audience all the way to the entrance/exit. I think that Nitro has already gone off by then, based on the monitors, which we saw the whole Goldberg incident on. When Goldberg finally got up he challenged Nash to come back and wrestle him if Nash has the balls for it. A good number of the Atlanta Falcons football team came down to the ring to be with Goldberg. He challenged Nash to fight another time if he didn't want to fight tonight.
After the final match, the two friends who I went with and I started chanting "We got screwed!" We hoped to get the whole audience to do it with us, but to no evail. I said, "Where do we get a refund?" What I really hated was what happened after NITRO. It is extremely cold in Atlanta right now. We had to stand outside with a huge crowd waiting for MARTA (a rail system in Atlanta). I mean, we paid about $30 apeice to see what is one of the worst NITROs that I have seen. Then, we had to stand in the cold waiting for the train while the people who ripped us off (Bischoff primarily) were no doubt in a nice warm area.
Just a personal thought. Why is it that a guy that hasn't wrestled in months and has cost WCW money on pay per views and announces that he is retiring, is allowed to come back after this long absence and win the belt without any pretense of wrestling. Is Eric Bischoff that stupid? Needless to say there were not a lot of happy people there tonight after the show.