Ringside Shadows #66: The Tuesday Review
The pattern continued this past Monday, and somehow managed to widen the gap even farther between the WWF's and WCW's products. We saw Sid's undeserved push continue (with hints of his next 'conquest'), Alex Wright's re-debut in Berlyn, and one helluva Lucha tag match in Turner-World, while Vince & co. gave us an uneasy alliance in the Rock/Mankind team, a tag "rumble", and more than a handful of PPV-calibur matchups.
..but I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's just take a gander over at
-Even from the opening minutes, I knew I was in for a long night. Sid didn't even bother giving the far-superior European grapplers a chance to break a sweat before he imposed his visage upon us. Why do I get the feeling this whole push has 'DUSTY RHODES' written all over it? In the meantime, I really have no idea what Sid was trying to say. Would it have been so hard to just powerbomb the workers, and say "I'm Sid. I'm mean. Be afraid."?? Because I didn't even get that much from his meaningless babble. But hey.. the blue lighting sure was neat...
-Signs of the night: "I miss Ralphus", "Raw is Tennis".
-WCW just won't let us forget the KISS concert last week, as we watched that terrible introduction more than once. Didn't last week's ratings plummet give them any clue that viewers don't want Gene Simmons and company?
-(:sigh:)... the plight of Lash Leroux. A highly promising young talent who busted the hell out of himself for the production of a VIDEO GAME, but doesn't even get a chance to show what he's got in an undisturbed match, sans run-ins. Speaking of which.. didn't I hear Hogan say something along the lines of "We realize that the fans are getting sick of run-ins. From now on, we're gonna go for a definitive ending. No more disappointments"? So what's changed since then?
-I don't think I've seen as compelling a storyline as Vampiro came out with last night in years. Thrilling dialogue, like "You owe me." "No, I don't." "Yes... you do." "No, really.. I don't." "Yes." Wow. To say it blows my mind is an understatement. The man's an excellent worker and has the fans behind him, but give him a bit before you drop a mic in his lap.
-At the very least, they're allowing the better talent a chance to work on their mic skills in the revolution's interview. The more I see of Shane Douglas, the more I'm disappointed. The expectations coming in were so high that everyone must've overlooked his failing ringwork and aging body. Meanwhile, Benoit's mic work is slowly coming along and Malenko's blooming faster than anyone could've expected. Beside that, I'm sure Matt Spence was excited.. they said 'The Deal' and 'Benoit' in the same sentence! On the air!
-I nearly flew out of my chair when I saw Kaz Hayashi coming towards the ring, as the man's work very rarely disappoints. Last night's event surprised me though, full of blown spots and poor work all together. Maybe if Lenny had been working, instead of Lodi, who I don't think is quite ready for working Nitros just yet. Once the dust had cleared, we'd witnessed our first cruiserweight match in weeks that managed to make it through to a finish without Sid mucking up the works. And Kaz even picked up a win! Thank the lord for small miracles..
-I enjoyed the light piano medleys that made their way into programming around the 9:00 hour. They were lightly in the background during the beginning of Hogan's babblings (giving us probably one of his more enjoyable interviews, as a result.. it gave me something to put my focus on), and were later mentioned by the big "T" Schiavone.
-F'n A! Kickass! THREE of WCW's talented youngsters saw cameras last night. A shame that we didn't get a chance to see Blitzkrieg's finisher, as that would've really made my day. Unfortunately only one of the aforementioned talent's matches managed to deliver, in the form of this La Parka (!!!!)/ Blitzkrieg v. Rey / Eddie meeting. While a bit spotty at times, the action was almost non-stop and almost a textbook of available lucha libre and lightweight maneuvers. Blitzkrieg is like a younger, faster, Rey who never wore a gas-mask, teamed with Konnan, or considered himself a No-Limit Soldier. His teammate, La Parka (who bore a strong resemblance to a much larger Darth Maul on this night..) is just... hilarious. I can't see this guy without laughing. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be for Darth Parka and the young talent, but any night that sees Rey and Eddy take one home isn't a bad one by any stretch of the imagination.
-A couple quick thoughts on Berlyn: The interpreter (or at least the one he brought along Monday) MUST GO. I can see this working with a big, overbearing German guy, but the peppy woman he had with him who couldn't even read her teleprompter completely screws the image he's looking for. Otherwise, the gimmick has promise. I like the high-contrast 'helicopter lights' look that he uses for his introduction, and the air of a snobby German artist is captured to a "T" here. Give it some tweaking and he could be a monster heel.
-OK, let me get this straight. The Rednecks take home the 'v' in a match that saw no opposition (hell, they won it with a KNEE DROP) while Benoit sells the majority of his US title match with Jerry Flynn?! And they wonder why we say something's wrong..
-Waitaminute.. am I just a moron with no memory, or was it a BLACK hummer that hit the limo all those weeks ago?? This is straight bullshit, they even threw together some new footage with a white hummer. WHAT. THE. HELL.
-I did get one helluva laugh watching DDP jump into the ring, punch Hogan and leave.. after which nothing really happened as the three in the ring went on as thought the assault hadn't happened. Somehow, that little segment could be used to pretty much sum up WCW in 1999 thus far.
-It was around the Mike Enos / Evan Kurragious match that I just threw up my hands in confusion and surrendered any hope of understanding I might hope to hold for the show. Let's see.. these two were in the 3rd hour.. Vampiro came out for no apparant reason, continuing his "you owe me" angle of brilliance.. the Demon pulled the pointless run-in total to two for this match (though I wonder if what he did can be considered a run-in.. maybe a roll-in, as that scary-sp[ikey-coffin thing just kinda rolls where it likes..), and then babbled a bit before the angle went to commercial. WHA?!
-Goldberg was even humorous last night. Why was he spitting? He wasn't even active during his first segment. Plus; I think he had to use the little boys' room.. he was doing a pee-pee dance while Hogan meandered on the mic.
-I'm still wondering.. was Rick Steiner stiffing Perry Saturn during his run-in? Even if he wasn't, he was making the 'revolutionary' look like pure 'S', which justified the stiff-ass side kick he gave the DFG.
-Sadly, rumor has it that Benoit will drop his US title to the walking push, Sid, at their inevitable meeting further down the line. This is pure bullshit. How long has the crippler been loyal to WCW? He's finally awarded a major title (or at least, as major as things get in WCW these days), and he goes into a losing feud with a noted egomaniac, pushed right from the get-go, who isn't even worthy of licking Benoit's boots. Sick.
-Goldberg's no-selling is nearing Taz-levels. Meanwhile, Sting discovered Randy Savage... which comes as a complete shock. I thought he was headed to the WWF? Heh. (Note the HEAVY mf'n sarcasm..)
Overall Grade: D+
A slight step up from last week's bitter performance, but nothing NEAR the level this program should be performing at. The lone bright spots of the program were in the hands of their youngsters, as everything else (well.. even a good portion of that..) was dull, unorganized, and completely nonsensical. Despite Raw's pre-emption, if this manages to pull down a ratings victory I'll eat my keyboard and take a photo.
-Every week headed into his interviews, I start to wonder why the Rock isn't more original.. and every week after said interviews I'm left wondering... why not? Rocky seems to throw in just enough new material to keep it fresh, while maintaining his old for the fans that are only there to hear the catches. I am getting sick of this 'turn it sideways and stick it straight up your ass' bit though.
-Chyna has what could be the worst-masked kicks in wrestling history.
-Shane's boys took some hardcore bumps during their match with Foley.. the 'Do Not Enter' sign comes to mind. While we're on the topic, did anyone NOT see the Mankind / Posse match ending like that, once Shane announced himself referee? Post match, I'm wondering if the new ring girl was supposed to screw with the victor, or if she just f'ed up of her own accord. Either way, use her somewhere else.. she sucks.
-After last night's performance, I think we have ammunition enough to merit the Undertaker's loss of mic priveleges for some time. Not only was he cooler, and a helluva lot more intimidating, but he seems to have trouble fitting words together into a working sentence. What'd he say on Raw, anyway?!
-The match itself was about as good as you're gonna get with the competitors. It looks like Wight's big push is just around the corner.. Taker was hinting at it with his "When he realizes.." comments. While short, the match was explosive.. especially the ending. Must've been some kind of record or something, destroying the announce table within the first 15 minutes.
-During Al Snow's interview, I think everyone in the arena figured Val Venis was up to his old tricks again, judging from all the heavy breathing in the background. Snow shouldn't be included with such segments, especially when he's doing his 'charming dog owner' schtick. It's almost sad. Further down the way.. The Bossman gave us the memorable 'you fucked up' moment of the night, when he told us "I had a dog once.. he got run over by a dog." Bravo... I've been saying that all day.
-Upon hearing Taka's music, I was pumped.. but deep down I knew to expect disappointment. The crowd was almost totally dead for this festival of power, showing what the WWF's audience comes to see anymore. The men in the ring gave us a decent effort, and did about as much as you can hope to in the 5 minutes (give or take a couple) they were given to work with. The highlight of this one was probably either the Asai Moonsault Taka nailed early on, or the set of counters and exchanges late in the match.
-Good thing they didn't screw up the tag team bit again.. Ahh well, at least we saw a couple wicked Jeff Hardy bumps.
-One of the more memorable sets of verbal exchange in quite a while, as the Rock / Mankind coalition was formed. Hearing 'the great one' scold Foley as a child was so fitting, it's a wonder nobody discovered this chemistry in the past. Unfortunately, I knew where this was going as soon as I saw they were looking for the tag belts. Sure enough, we've transgressed back to the tag scene of last summer, with the belts meaning nothing, being tossed back and forth between main eventers thrown together on a whim.
-So much for the GTV naysayers. I'm wondering.. what was Meat coming out for, in the first place? He apparantly didn't have a match scheduled.
-D'Lo / Billy Gunn? Is this an attempt to get the "Ass Man" back over as a face, or Brown back over as a heel? Either way, it effectively killed the heat for this one, as fans didn't know whether to cheer or boo. As for the conclusion.. good lord was that predictable. You saw that coming so far away you had time to throw together a 5-course meal, devour it, allow it to digest, and crap it back out again before the guitar finally hit.
-Gangrel v. Shamrock was a much better matchup than the vampire's meeting with the Rock, which was god-awful. There were some nice exchanges and some harsh spots, but nothing to write home about. Another match that suffers in a card featuring 7 minutes, an exhorbonant amount of interview time, and commercials all squeezed into a 2-hour block. Post-match, I was saddened to see Jericho wasn't in the arena. I'm really looking forward to a clash between these two though, and I don't think it's in position to disappoint, though it may leave a sour taste in the mouth. No matter who comes out on top, Shamrock will be way over as a face, only to leave and lose his built up heat for a run in the UFC.
-Taking a page from Matt Spence's book, I'll make a quick comparison: The current Women's division, or a swift kick in the groin? Which to choose...?
-Was the Undertaker even legal in the main event?? I figured we might see him in the ring for at least a moment. Maybe his ankle injury is more severe than we'd thought? I did like the double people's elbow, though. See my previous comments about the title change, and was it just me or did the Rock seem reluctant to fork over one of the belts to Foley?
Overall Grade: B+
Not a bad Raw at all, and the bookers are certainly taking leaps and bounds from the direction they seemed to have headed for last month. It bothers me a bit that Raw wasn't half the show we saw last week on Smackdown, but I suppose with a new show that's to be expected.
As for me, I'm out of time. Take it easy, and..
until next time, i remain