Ringside Shadows #82: Not a Single Pokemon Reference (as per request), Along with the Preview You've Come to Love... the World's First Halloween Havok Preview
It looks to be that time again.. and it appears the more things change, the more they stay the same. One year ago this month, WCW made what would come to be known as probably the worst decision in a long line of decisions. Halloween Havok '98 ran beyond the 3 hour mark for the first time in recent memory, which upon first glance appears to be a blessing. WCW, however, managed to screw it up as only they can. The move was both unprecidented and unmentioned up until the weekend of the event, both to fans and distributors. On a card that featured the Warrior's much-heralded rematch with Hogan (a match that would become the long-winded one's last in WCW), and a Goldberg title defense against DDP which remains the big man's best match to date, the powers that be decided not to announce the extra time extension. As should be expected, the distributors filled the slots immediately following the PPV and all hell broke loose as the 3 hour mark passed before either of the main events had seen conclusion. Some providors stayed with the feed, some cut off. A few offered a refund, a few a free replay of the event. Any way you slice it, WCW screwed up... bad. How do they answer this mistake? By playing the DDP/Goldberg match the next night on Nitro (during the head to head period, of course) and further alienating their dwindling PPV-purchasing audience.
This year, we're treated to another double-main event, again including Hogan and Goldberg, and only time will tell if WCW officials decide to attempt another blunder the size of last year's.
With that said, a glance at the card revels a quite unbalanced lineup. With one, maybe two exceptions (the cruiserweight championship match and Fair/DDP), each clash features a good-to-superb worker meeting a sub-par athlete. Take a look yourself: Bret Hart meets Luger, Benoit takes on Rick Steiner, Sting meets Hogan..
The PPV could be outstanding.. or, if the decent workers discover a collective off-night, it could be a nightmare.
Disco Inferno v. Lash Leroux
Could be one to keep your eye on.. Leroux seems to have potential in the ring, as well as on the mic. Though a bit annoying, the cajun accent gives the young cruiserweight identity, which is incredibly important in this world of cookie-cutter workers all vying for the viewers' time. I've been keeping an eye on Lash since his premiere on Nitro several months ago, and he continues to steadily improve. Meanwhile, Disco seems to be breaking out of a major slump. Both men are good workers, neither anything to write home about right now, but both carrying definate potential.
When push comes to shove, I'll be rooting for Lash.. but my brain tells me it's too soon for Disco to drop his current strap.
Winner: Disco Inferno
Brad Armstrong (BA) v. Berlyn
Honestly, I don't have any interest in this feud. Berlyn could've been huge if his premiere hadn't been screwed so, and now he's feuding with another also-ran in the form of "BA". I'm struggling for anything worth mentioning here... never a good sign. So I figure I'll spare the agony and just move on. Berlyn begins a new push in the Russo / Ferrera Era, and it begins here.
Chris Benoit v. Rick Steiner
If Chris Benoit returns from a Japanese stint that sees him going over Jushin Liger, only to job to Rick Steiner.. I can't really put to words what I might do, for fear of their inclusion as evidence in the resulting trial. It says something if the best brawler in the world can't carry you to a great match, and the previous Steiner/Benoit encounter on Nitro wasn't very good. Steiner's sad new style (some deviation of pseudo shoot-brawling that makes Ernest Miller look like a technical genius) borders on disgrace, and destroys any match in which he's involved before the bell sounds. If I were to choose between watching one of Steiner's recent matches and a rough enema performed by rabid, gay dingos... I'd have to choose the latter. However, if the said match were with Benoit I may reconsider, just to see if the "Pegasus Kid" were up to the inhuman effort it requires to carry this hunk of fat to a watchable match.
Benoit takes it home within the first 5 minutes.
Winner: Chris Benoit
Ric Flair v. DDP
Actually, this could turn out to be pretty nice. If the finger of god touches this match, and delivers a no run-in, well-planned, nearly retro Flair match that sees about 15 minutes of old school technical holds.. it would surely steal the show. Flair still has a couple outstanding matches left in him, and if he works his freckled ass off, DDP can still put forward a nice encounter from time to time. I wonder what a match this could've been if Page had discovered his current drive about 15 years ago. Shudder to think..
As is, this is a meeting of the question marks. Both men have no readily set future in the Russo and Ferrera scheme of things just yet. Flair seems to have a bit of direction, heading into a feud with the Filthy Animals... but that doesn't seem like a long-term plan. Those facts lead me to believe this won't be the end of it all. Between the two men, Flair would benefit the most from a victory.. all I ask is to see selling like he showcased on Nitro, where he took the diamond cutter like a true champ.
Winner: Ric Flair
The Filthy Animals v. the First Family
In most instances, a heel v. heel feud results in little to no fan interest. However, the recently turned Animals were still recieving a pop when mugging the Flairs, so that won't be the case here. I guarantee this one won't end cleanly, and the action will probably blow for the majority of the match. The only worker worth mentioning in this one is Rey, and I fear falling back into association with Konnan will have another adverse effect on his workrate. As is, the formula calls for the little man selling most of the match, until he makes the hot tag to the big(ger) man, who cleans house. Look for Rey to become very familiar with the mat this Sunday Night, and maybe a Harlem Heat intervention.
Winners: The Filthy Animals
Bret Hart v. The Total Package
If I didn't pick Hart, who appears on the verge of finally recieving his WCW World title, it would definately be taken as a request to be committed. Luger's coming off a big revamp (which consisted of... new tights, and the return of Elizabeth (oh, new music too..), but Hart's coming off an even bigger return to the ring. In his current incarnation, I'm not sure Luger's up to being carried by anybody.. but Hart may just give it a go. Watch for an early Hitman domination, followed by a Luger comeback with forearms and clotheslines, concluding with a Bret victory. That's the formula Lex has used every match for the past 15 years... why change now?
Winner: Bret Hart
Hulk Hogan v. Sting
The rematch to a rematch that followed a rematch made necessary by a rematch. Doesn't seem as revolutionary and earth-shattering a meeting now as it did at Starrcade '97, does it? As for my prediction: see last month's PPV preview. Things haven't changed much since then. Hogan still thinks he's a face, and Sting's still a fading star. Much as I'd like to see Hogan/Hart next month, Sting/Hart would be a better match all-around, and would add a touch of credibility to the bruised title.
Goldberg v. Sid
At the very least, they dropped that moronic 'win streak' of Sid's. This one goes in the same no-brainer book as Hart/Luger. The new 'creative team' (I love that blatantly PC term. If you're gonna mention them at all, just call them writers.. or bookers..) is said to be building Goldberg as the man to carry the company, and his path begins anew here. Sid may walk out with the belt through a DQ or countout, but Goldberg takes the win.
What's this beast??
Well, that's the WWF Attitude wrestler I mentioned in yesterday's post. That's me, "Ms. Biggy". If you're looking to waste time.. I can't think of a better way to do it than my next post. Be warned however, the load time may be large.. but I assure you it will be worth your time. I went a bit tech-happy when capturing the stills for this one and hit about every highlight from my match against Jerry Lawler earlier today. It's a stupid little thing I feel like doing, and you won't be missing out on anything if you skip it.
One more note before I run. Congrats to Dale Blasingame on recently passing the 100 mark with his 'Warmin Up the Band' column. You can check out his landmark column by clicking here. Inside is a simply hilarious drunken conversation between Dale and Matt Spence, which is particularly funny to me, as I've been lucky enough to catch both in such a mentality. Nothing brightens my day quite like a drunken banter from one of these two. Nice banner, Dale...
Speaking of Matt Spence.. he's closing in on his 200th issue, so I figure I might as well throw some congrats his way. It takes a lot of dedication to get this far, and he deserves all the praise he gets. Maybe someday Matt and I will get off our lazy asses and deliver the big project we've been working on all summer before the end of the century.
While we're on the topic, John C. is approaching his milestone 172nd column. Good work, fool.
As for me.. I'm trotting along in a distant 4th. But hey.. 3 columns in as many days is a good start.
until next time, i remain