Ringside Shadows #84: Why, Oh Why Did They Tear Down the Wild Ride? Damn You, Disney! Plus a Giant Inflated Elephant and the Tuesday Review
Why did they tear down Mr. Toad's wild ride? Anyone who's experienced this thriller of thriller-coasters knows the terror held beyond the famous doors knows no bounds. The attraction was in Disney World... and in the end, you die and go to hell. I'm not making this up. It was the funniest, most out-of-place piece of work in the park's long history, and I loved it. Every visit to Disney World would begin and end with a ride with Mr. Toad. A few months ago, they tore down the cult-favorite ride in favor of a Pooh attraction. How's this related?
Why did they tear down the 'new' WCW regime?
I figure it's for similar reasons. Give it a little thought.
Russo and Ferrera tried their damndest to deliver the goods last night, in what was dubbed 'the most shocking Nitro ever'. I'm still awaiting that big shocker. Was it Goldberg's second loss? The Outsiders' return? Was it the announcement of the World Title tourney? Or what about Norman Smiley? The world may never know.
Meanwhile, Raw countered with one of the weakest cards to date.. and one helluva impressive cage dive from Test.
But I'm getting ahead of myself..
NITRO IS WAR
-I still haven't a definate opinion on Russo and Ferrera's work here yet. On one hand, they've done their job; my interest is piqued, and I'm enjoying the tournament, Benoit/Malenko, a rejuvinated Sting, and Bret Hart's rediscovery of the persona that carried him through his championship years in the WWF. In these instances, as well as a few others, they're doing a marvelous job and deserve all the praise they get.
On the other hand; I don't know who's a heel and who's a face anymore. With the exception of Sid, Sting, Hart and Goldberg.. who knows? I'll touch on that when it's relevant further down the page. The new men have taken the credible excuse of "using WCW as a new challenge" and blown it right back out their asses. If they did indeed view this as a new opportunity to challenge their storytelling skills, they didn't view it in the correct way. The challenge was to put out a good show within the confines of WCW's previous limitations, not to step in and pick up right where they left off in the WWF. Case in point; their first night in the booking dept, Nitro saw its first evening gown match. Last night, the Outsiders took on a team of women with insane breasts. That's not why I watch Nitro.. that's why I rent porn. Unless Russo and Ferrera take a step back and recognize the true challenge, things are set for a rocky decline.. and fast. Hell, if Turner had given the go-ahead a couple months ago, I think Bischoff could've produced this card. Then again... maybe not.
-Sting showed some fire, some energy for the first time in months last night. It's almost as if he had direction, like he knew where he was going with certainty. I like it. Plus; appearing sans face paint and ring attire, he gave the opening of the show a strong, believable start. My only complaint is his waste of an entire igloo's worth of water.. do you know how many hungry people he could've fed with that?
-I knew poor JJ would be taking a fall when he took his glasses off after entering the ring.
-It's official; Norman Smiley is one of my favorite athletes. Not only does he know what he's doing in between the ropes (apparantly a moot point anymore), but he's got that charisma schpeel going and he's downright hilarious on the stick. Why won't they push him as a credible worker, rather than the inept fool who's bumbled through 2 matches now? I'm confused: what exactly put Bigelow out? I thought this guy was in line for a moderate push.. he's supposedly a great guy backstage and has been busting his ass at house shows getting into shape for this program. Just goes to show you.. everybody gets screwed in wrestling.
-Who's the heel? The Revolution, the Filthy Animals or Harlem Heat? The Animals turned heel last week by 'mugging' Ric Flair, and made it official by ditching him in the middle of nowhere this week. The Revolution turned heel a couple weeks back, and continued this week by running the 'kidnap Torrie' angle. Finally, Harlem Heat played the apparant heels in their attack from behind on the past Nitro. 3 Heel teams in the tag divison.. and the bookers wonder why nobody was cheering.
-Kidman's career is in trouble.. they stuck him with the old 'Syxx w/ a camera' gimmick that killed Sean Waltman in WCW during the nWo's heyday. While we're on topic, the segment that aired with Flair being ditched in the desert was disturbing. I'm still left wondering; are we supposed to be cheering for these guys? The only thing that's for certain: Flair's gonna be as over as ever if and when he returns for this feud with the Animals.
-I'm not sure what was more entertaining.. Hennig's feigned rebirth in the ring, or Disco trying to get a headset on over that mammoth hat. I wanted to believe what Hennig said prior to his match about re-dedicating himself to the sport and discovering the fire that made him outstanding in the late 80s and early 90s. The effort he mailed in with second rate postage last night made it nearly impossible, though.
-Y'know, too many angles are revolving around the new booking team, and their treatment of the talent. Hennig, Savage, Bagwell, Hart, Hogan, Jarrett, Nash, Hall, Sting, Madusa, and a couple others are all using this move as an angle, and it reeks of oversaturation. It's a nice angle for one, maybe 2 wrestlers. Don't kill it by flooding the gates.
-At least Jarrett hasn't been killed just yet. He seems to be gliding into a high midcard position that could possibly include a couple main events.. his woman-beating hasn't come to the front (yet), and he isn't overdoing it on the mic. Short, concise and to the point. I like it.
-Great psychology, if the workrate was a little slow for the Saturn / Guerrero match last night. Given another month or two to develop and work with each other, these two could really produce something special. As I mentioned before, the psychology in this one was second to none, and every aspiring grappler should take a look at it and take notes. Selling a leg injury as Saturn did, or a rib injury like Eddy improves the match quality and the believability, not to mention helps build the other man as a credible worker.
-Good backstage development between Benoit and The Revolution. It's clips like these that I don't mind in the least, as they logically set up and progress a big feud, stressing the emotion and ferocity of it all. It was fun watching Saturn flail uselessly at the cage door with that trash can.
-It was nice seeing the Outsiders back in the ring and on the stick. It'll pass.. give it a week.
-I was surprised as hell to hear the Macho Man's entrance theme blast across the speakers midway through the evening.. his interview was in the vein of these 'pseudo-shoot' spots that are quickly becoming the norm for Nitro, and I haven't a clue who or what he was talking about. I'll admit, though I haven't been a big supporter of the Macho Man lately, I'm really interested to see who his new protege will be.
-Anybody miss The Cat on WCW tv these past 3 weeks? Yea, me neither.
-I accept Chyna as a men's competitor, because she asks to be one and she has the size to stand up with most of her competition. Madusa neither asked for this, nor has the physical capacity to stand up against this. I dislike her, but things are getting way out of hand in this area.
-Apparantly, Hennig has split from the Rednecks already, unless Armstrong appears in the stable within the next 2 weeks.. Plus, what happened to Dustin Runnels?
-The Steiner / Luger match was even worse than I'd imagined it would be. I wonder if either of these two has any illusions about their abilities? If they had half a brain, they'd each have realized the necessity of a carry-job in their matches and annexed this match before it went to television. I like the direction they're taking the Jarrett feud (Though it tries to establish Luger, a heel, as a face and Jarrett is yet another tweener). So long as it ends up that Jarrett really didn't hit Elizabeth, I'll be pleased. Was it too much to ask, for this one to end a double-countout? Finally, of note was the uselessness of the effects crew, who turned Luger's entrance lights back on in the middle of the match.
-Shades of the Intercontinental Tourney in the WWF about a year back, placing Konnan & Kidman against one another in the first round.. X-Pac / HHH, anyone? Much as I hate Konnan, nobody should be forced to take that mother-of-all-uglies pedigree, delivered by Stevie Ray. Ugh.. does he even have a clue what he's doing?
-DOA's in the fed.. and they dumped Vampiro? Motherfucker.
-A good, stiff-looking brawl between Benoit and Malenko, with a questionable ending. Though I'd rather see the technical exhibition that was their last meeting, this style better suited the atmosphere than a mutual respect masterpiece. Watching the fans go nuts when Benoit hit the rail made me wonder what I'd do if I were in that front row seat.. I'd end up saying something like "How's it feel to go from Liger to jobbing to Steiner?"
-It was good fun, watching Rey carefully back out of his spot in the parking lot as he gave chase to the Revolution.
-That is how Brian Knobbs should be treated. Meanwhile, Sting looked a lot better this week as he adopted a sharper heel attitude and dropped the weak shoulder straps from his wrestling gear.
-Damned, Booker T got some height on that skipping hook kick! I'll applaud that any day of the week. I don't know which match the ref was watching, but Stevie's shoulders weren't down. The camera angle made it painfully obvious, and they didn't bother with a replay.
-Why didn't anybody touch on the last time Hart and Goldberg met?
-David Flair saw his first interesting segment last night, and promptly showed us he's still not ready.. though he does seem to be sculpting his body a bit. Give him another year, and see if he's learned anything from his dad. At least neither man advanced.
-I don't agree with the decision to put the US title on the line throughout the tournament. This way, the belt is guaranteed to make it all the way to the finals, even if it changes hands 8 times on the way. I'd have thought this belt would distance itself from the tourney and make its own name. The match itself suffered thanks to this injury angle Hart is working, giving him more of an underdog role. I was wondering how they'd get him over Goldberg while maintaining both men's credibility, and figured it would include Sid or the Outsiders. I didn't imagine they'd send out all 3. Nowhere near the superb match these two could've brought out, and Big Bill didn't learn a thing.
Overall Grade: B
Actually, a bit of a step up. The new team surprised me throughout, pleasantly on a few occasions and not-so pleasantly more than once. It's still a little early to form an opinion on where things are headed, but the two paths are definately starting to become more clear-cut now. There's big room for improvement, but they've also taken some giant steps. If Eddie or Vince-O realize the true challenge, things could get very interesting.
-What an abysmal start the an overall weak program.. I missed the opening minute, and noted that HHH and the Outlaws seemed to be quite buddy-buddy, which took away the surprise of the DX reunion later in the show. And let's see... the most crucial moment for gaining viewers, the 9 o'clock hour. WCW's pulling out all the stops by busting out Goldberg and the Outsiders. Raw counters with the 'feud from hell', the 'clash that wouldn't die', the 'collision not even their mothers will watch', the Godfather / Mideon & Viscera non-feud. Does McMahon really have this little of a clue? Why didn't he just send out the Gobbledy Gooker?
-The only reason to watch the WWF right now is the tag scene. Period. With Christopher & Taylor back in the thick of things, we're bound to catch some outstanding action. Throw Too Cool, The Hardys, Edge/Christian, & The Hollys in the ring, and what do you get? Pure entertainment. I haven't looked forward to a tag feud like this in ages.
-Rather than watch the women's segment, I called up my buddy Cheez and played a game of 'who loves whom'.. I called him first, proclaiming "I love Moolah" and quickly hung up. He called back with "I love Mae Young". This went on throughout the worthless segment. Try it, it's a lot more entertaining.
-The Wight angle just gets worse and worse. I've already said enough negative about this feud to fill a dozen pages, so I'll note the only positive effect.... Wight's intensity has shot through the roof. That hammer shot was hilarious... He reacted as if to say "what? A hamme...ut.. oh OH!" There's no retrieving that gold chain now that it's gone down into the forest of Prince Albert's torso. I doubt Albert himself could find it.
-Can a Jericho / D'Lo feud be far off, pending the result of Y2J / Chyna? I, for one, am eagerly anticipating the possibilities. Let's hope Jericho feels like working again when that one rolls around. As for this tag match.. why was D'Lo even there? Was he ever active in the ring? And what happened to Stevie Richards' association with Mankind?
-Speaking of Mick, I had a strange feeling Mankind would walk away with the belt last night. Guess my intuition isn't always right, eh? Despite the nonsensical finish, I'm glad to see Venis & Snow involved in a major feud, both have the skills to take the company far into the new millennium. If they get over now, the WWF is set for years. I was considering buying Mick's book, then I took a look at the price tag.. $50?! I'm a college kid, I can't afford that.. Maybe I'll wait for the paperback. Or hit the Library. Or just listen to them read it line-by-line on Raw, as they've been doing the past couple weeks.
-Why does Kane have to use that stupid voice box again? I thought he was ok to go without it now? Either way, he sounds like a ninny. Let somebody else do the talking.
-They may not be in shape, but the Dudleys worked their asses off last night. Meanwhile, the Kane / X-Pac storyline took a twist that I saw coming about 15 miles down the road. With the X-Man's full heel turn, this feud should finally kick into high gear.
-My respect for Test just went up dozen notches.. For a man of his size, a jump from the top rope is commendable.. and he takes a dive off the top of the freaking cage?! Unbelievable. The WWF has a real gem in this guy, and it looks like they realize it. Given another year or two, he'll be even more incredible. I hope working with the Bulldog teaches him a bit about pacing himself and working psychology into a match. With the right tools he'll be unstoppable. Anyway, I better get off my knees.. Shane took a nice dive too.. though the MSP took the brunt of his fall. Quoth my roommate: "Shane climbed that cage like a monkey! He was in DRESS SHOES!"
-The Acolytes segment was just what I don't like to see on a wrestling program. Put that up next to the Benoit / Malenko segment on Nitro, and you'll see the best and worst that 'bonus' segments bring to the show. If that arm wrestler steps into a ring soon, heads will roll and the WWF will have lost one fan.
-The main event was a slow-paced, 'methodical' dump-fest. I'm not sure who said it first, but these words ring true: "Whenever an announcer calls a match 'methodical', it means it's slower than an old man's piss and boring as hell." The DX reunion was a well-played trump card, that'll certainly shake things up in today's WWF, and rivals the original lineup for it's long-reaching effect. You've got a world title contendor in HHH, an intercontinental challenger in X-Pac, and multiple-time tag team champs in the NAO. The only thing that was wrong with the face DX was the questions about their rank, without a world title contender. Now that HHH has silenced the critics, DX is as alive as ever. It'll be fun seeing how this plays out.
Overall Grade: C-
Far from average, I'm being gracious in giving this show a C-. Of the whole night, the only thing that remains in the front of my mind is the Viscera/Godfather match to open the show, while I'm reminded of Hart pinning Goldberg from Nitro. Not a good way to kick things off...
And I'm outta here. I'm not sure when to expect another article, but it may be a while after the post-heavy week I've just finished up. Keep the llama alive!
until next time, i remain