Ringside Shadows #89: Grappling Has Never Before Been This Serious... A Tuesday Review
Let's be honest: if it had been reported, when Russo and Ferrera jumped ship, that not 2 months into their booking schedule we'd be seeing a football player vs. a man in a suit of armor and a Brian Knobbs run-in... would your hopes have been as high? I don't know who these men hope to make their audience, but at this rate they'll alienate anything and everything in their path before the turn of the century. Twice.
I think last night took the cake for the quickest click of the remote.. 20 minutes. After 20 minutes of "hardcore action" (see above), weak promos and an exceptionally unfunny mock interview from Kevin Nash, I opted for a more entertaining option. A&E was playing a Steve Austin biography, and I'll tell you one thing.. that kept me as entertained between the hours of 8 and 9 as I've been in months. They really did a great job with it, and I can't explain how much I'm looking forward to Owen's treatment tonight.
Raw gave us nothing to write home about either, mind you.. where there wasn't Brian Knobbs, the Barbarian or Jerry Flynn, there was the Bossman, Prince Albert and the Godfather. Let's just say after this evening, my eyes and ears had devoured an overflowingly generous portion of suck. On that note, I suppose I should jump into the full-blown review. This is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you..
-I'd actually contemplated recording each show from this week on, and then dubbing over the best matches of the year into one big compilation tape. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed. I have no hard copy of last night's Nitro or Raw, and I'm very proud to be able to say that.
-The Norman Smiley-in-pads bit wasn't especially funny to begin with.. now it's just getting stupid. Every once in a while, watching the programs, I remind myself to look at them in an entertainment viewpoint, rather than to jump to conclusions and rate them in my mind as to their technicality (thanks to an e-mail I recieved a few weeks back... thanks again). I honestly didn't find anything entertaining about this segment. Generally, even if something sucks royal ass, my roommate and I are cracking jokes and having a good time all around. Nobody said anything during this, except "are they done yet?".
-Now a Spice interview, I can stand. I'll be the first to admit I didn't hear a word she was saying.. but if you're gonna have some stank on the screen, it may as well be pleasing to look at.
-How do you mess up a Sid impersonation? It's among the easiest in the world to attempt, especially considering Nash's natural size. Hell, you don't even have to look like him. Just utter "I rule the world", "Who's the man", and laugh every once in a while. Hall could've played the straight man, asking him honest questions.. and Nash would alternate between Sid's 3 universal greetings. And it would've been good.
-Note to Booker T: we get the idea. Your new valet's name is Midnight. Quit saying "When midnight strikes tonight.." So long as they don't spell it 'Midnyte", or something along those lines. Booker started to try giving us a match, but DOA put a stop to that before it got too far. When the lights went out and the bell tolled, I thought it was TAFKA Goldust, 7even, whatever they're calling him these days. Guess I took the Undertaker aspect of his "gimmick" one step too far, eh? It took me a moment to make the association.. chances are it holds true with everyone else watching.
-The only thing that can kill off the pleasure of a First Family split? An extended feud between its former members. And we thought things couldn't get worse...
-The festival of lost punches that was Evan Karagious / Johnny Boone ended about 5 minutes after it should've. Again, if anybody found entertainment in this pseudo-match, welcome home. There's plenty more on the way.
-So this is how they're planning to use Juventud. Great suggestion.. kudos to whoever came up with it. I'd rather see him not working than thrown into this matchup. Everybody was off, both with the absurdity of the gimmick, the pointlessness of the finish, and a probable last-second booking. They didn't even bother threading the pinata up with a decent rope, as it fell the moment the pole was jarred. If Juvi and Psychosis aren't working, at least I can dream of seeing them in ECW sometime, where they'd be right at home. I guess it's like they say "I'm only happy when I'm in my misery".
-I loved Hennig's use of Goldberg's traditional entrance. It made me wonder; why hasn't anybody done that before? Of course Big Bill no-sold it (a nasty little habit he's been picking up lately.. he almost no-sold the nut shot at the end of the show, before he realized that might damage his image) and pretty much destroyed the spot. Hennig had a bit of fire back in him again for this one, but he blew up early and never really caught up again. Submitting to a leglock? I suppose it furthered his career, if nothing else.
-Duggan / Chavo? Hey, it won't be the worst partnership in WCW. They'll be the only solid face team in the fed. I've actually enjoyed Duggan's recent pieces, as he's had a chance to allow his personality to shine through. Call me old fashioned, but segments like these get me behind a guy more than a chairshot ever will.
-At least they got rid of Berlyn's translator. "The Wall"? I suppose it's better than 'Shaq Diesel' or whatever they were gonna call him before. Aside from nitpicking, they're playing this angle all wrong. I'm guessing the long-term plan is to turn the wall on berlyn and establish him as a credible babyface. If so, Berlyn needs to play the dominant, asshole master with complete psychological control over the monster. Post-match, wall should be begging for reacceptance from Berlyn. Ahh hell, what do I know anyway.
-The Misfits need to stick to run-ins. That was probably the ugliest kick I've seen in a wrestling ring since the days of Eric Watts.
-Steiner took, admittedly, a nice powerbomb through the stage. Sick as this sounds, I hope they keep him out of action for a while.. because I sure as hell won't miss him. Does this make Sid the TV champ now? Or was he disqualified? Counted out? Who knows.. who cares.. "Let's just not tell the fans. They'll forget about it"
-I could've stood keeping the channel on the same station as Asya... had they left Torri in the ring. Mmm. A random thought: I wonder if the 'bigwigs' behind WCW (better yet.. the powers that be) thought out their spelling of asya. Turning the 'i' to a 'y' works, when the I is anunciated, as in 'China'. It doesn't, when the I is silent, as in 'Asia'. In essence, they've named this beast "Ass-Yuh".
-I'm glad we saw Goldberg enjoying the concessions of backstage life throughout the evening. Goldberg drinks water.. Goldberg enjoys a Surge... Goldberg tastes a panda's ass. I honestly expected a shot of the men's room door, with Schiavone screaming "We're told Goldberg is in there, folks. What does this mean...? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN...??"
-Benoit / Hall led off the only 45 minutes of TV I enjoyed last night, the beginning of Nitro's 3rd hour. This one wasn't quite what I'd expected, with a bit too much stalling and one rest hold too many. However, once Benoit took over on offense, the crowd really stood up and took notice while the match became very good. Hall's reaction to Benoit's snot blast was classic (A look that said "what the fuck was that?!"). I like the idea of bringing Hart out to even the sides (it furthers my theory that the two will meet in the finals at Mayhem, with Benoit turning mega-heel and taking the belt), but where was Benoit during Hart's match?
-Speaking of which, Hart / Kidman was a let-down. The action was slow-paced, the finish was overbooked (surprise!), the announcers focused on outside interference above the action in the ring, and the last spot was blown. Still, I'd rather be seeing this than Bossman/Rock.
-On commentary, Rey's voice is comparable to Michael Jackson.
-If Luger saw Sting's reaction to his flowers on a monitor backstage... why couldn't the Stinger see the Package inserting Ex-Lax into his brownies? And where the f- was "slapnuts"?? That's taken a role in my everyday terminology.. you can't take it from me now!
-Jarrett was trying his damndest to get a good match out of Buff for the 2 minutes before DOA ran out to the ring. I was applauding his efforts, but when the two bald incoompetants made their way down, I had no choice but to change the channel. At least the right man won, and we'll be seeing Jarrett/Benoit (!) at Mayhem. What kind of a finisher is a russian leg sweep, though?
-I loved Saturn's reaction to the house of pain match.. it was the same as mine. And he got Dean-o to jump!! I laughed out of my seat... Good eatin's.
-I may not've liked the athletic portion of the Sting / Luger match, but I'll admit it kept me entertained, not to mention guessing. And the crowd was loving it. I'm not sure if this was meant to be or not, but Sting's more over than he's been in years, thanks to this heel turn. Fight the system, oi oi
-"Anything goes" main event (which I wasn't watching anyway.. hell, if they're gonna ask me to change the channel by putting Nash and Sid in the same ring together, I'm more than happy to oblige), and the bell rings when Goldberg hits the ring? How does that work? Who cares anyway..
Overall Grade: C-
I get so many complaints about my grades, that I've decided to raise the bar. Now, as far as I'm concerned, a "B" is average.. not a "C". Last week, this show would've been a D.. but this week, a C-. Which means it was below average. I figure this will allow me to better diversify my degree of suck, as I don't expect to see an average show for some time.
-Let's see, the hummer driver, the higher power, the man who raised the briefcase... now 'who hit austin'. I think I can safely say I'm sick of these damned mysteries. It was a nice touch and I loved it when they first introduced it. Now, it doesn't even border on repetition. There's no question about it.
-While reading his book, I look at Mankind in a whole new light when in action. Instead of a crazy son of a bitch, afraid of no injury.. I see a guy from New York that's every bit as human as you or I. Guess I had to get that philosophical bit of me out there. So much for Val's big main event push.
-HHH did a damned good job on the stick backstage, putting the 'police questioners' in their place. He swayed my view of the situation, and did so without resorting to moronic name-calling and catch-spouting. He actually portrayed himself as somebody mature enough to carry the WWF Gold, and took a step up in my book because of it. I did like hearing a bit of DX humor thrown in the segment though, as Road Dogg misspelled 'Deez Nuts'.
-Dude... I'd love a stuffed squirrel at my wedding.
-Hey, did you notice? The crowd could've given a shit and a half about both the Godfather and Kurt Angle. ..And this is Angle's hometown. If you can't get over in your home, how can you ever expect to do so on the road somewhere? The fan, I'm guessing was a plant, though I still have no real clue. My reasoning is this; they showed him after the fact on tv (a no-no in the WWF... they usually snap away as soon as a fan is near the ring), the announcers dwelled on it beyond the fact, and the workers incorporated it into the finish. Besides that, he was protesting 'filth', which the Godfather embodies in the wwf. We'll see him again.
-It hurt me to even think about what Chyna was implying with those hedge clippers... Meanwhile, the Acolytes have done the impossible.. they've interested me in their characters. I don't know how, but I do enjoy this new role of theirs as genuine bad asses who love what they're doing.
-In hindsight, I wish I'd watched more of the Al Snow / Road Dogg fight, but for some reason.. I didn't. Alas; there isn't much that I can say for this match. Mankind tried to get the fans behind Snow, but they sat on their hands and shut their mouths (as seems to be the trend for the evening). Why bother showing up if you aren't gonna enjoy yourself? Hunh.. wish I'd asked myself that question when I bought Nitro tickets.
-The Jericho/Chyna "hammer" skit was bad. Real bad. Maybe if she.. I don't know.. used her hand in any of her prevalent moves? It was pretty funny watching a rubber mallet slam into a fake hand though. Following the 'ordeal', the thumb that was "bleeding" looked about as real as Kevin Nash's Sid makeup earlier in the night. You could see it coming off. See, this is where the imagination is best let run wild. By showing the injury, you limit our minds.. I'm sure every fan had a much worse thought in their mind before the bloodied fist was shown. Bad storytelling is all, and completely against Jericho's character.
-Test has a supposed broken nose, and he protects it with.. a band aid. Intelligence. Plain and simple. Remember when a broken nose was a huge deal? At Wrestlemania VIII, Virgil (Vince/Vincent/Curly Bill) had a broken nose, and wore this huge, lame-ass white face shield that left him looking like the phantom of the opera than a wrestler. Today, a band-aid. Somehow, I think the answer is somewhere in between.
-I'd like to take last night's match as a sign of Kane's ascention to main eventer once again, but I know better. He didn't exactly have a great match, but he wasn't paired with the easiest of workers, either. You know what I'd like to see? Kane/Booker T. Two high-flying behemoths that can go. I'll just add that one to the list of WWF-WCW matches that will never pass. Post-match, I was waiting for Kane to choke slam McMahon for costing him the match.. but it never happened. More bad storytelling.
-Want my comments about Rock/Bossman? Go read Dale Blasingame's column. We share the 'told ya this was shit' mindset. Either way, do you really think the impending world title match would've been decent? Rock/Wight? Slow, lots of rest holds, a boring and weak match. Bossman/Wight? Slow, lots of rest holds, a boring and weak match with no heat. I guess the lesser of two evils would've been the Rock.. so leave it to Vince to deprive us of that as well.
Overall Grade: C
Keep in mind the new scale.. This show wasn't good. But it was better than Nitro, if for the sole reason that they gave a couple matches some time.
I'm really becoming unhappy with the future of American wrestling. I'm excited about the Mayhem PPV, but if they blow that.. I may disappear for a little while, as I'd question what I'm expecting to see.
Anyway. I'll be back later in the week for a Mayhem preview, and possibly another column along the way.
until next time, i remain