Ringside Shadows #96: Goodbye For a Bit, and Letters...
No no, I'm not following in the footsteps of my buddy Dale Blasingame and concluding my viewing of North American wrestling as a whole.. I'm just headed across the country for the holidays. I'm off early tomorrow morning for western Virginia, where I'll visit with my girlfriend's family for several days before headed to my parents' in central Indiana. I won't be back to my trusty tangent POS (the home computer) for about a week and a half, perhaps 2 weeks.. thus, I may not be posting for some time. There will be no Tuesday Review tomorrow, and in an attempt to make it all right, I've decided to empty my mailbox. Pray for me..
Anyway, kicking things off is email@example.com, with a couple comments about David Flair;
"You are right about him, he has improved his selling and should i say TRANSFER as well, do you remember DDT he pulled off on Diamond Dallas Page 4 weeks ago? I was just stunned as i asked my self if even Raven could compare to that perormance of DDT.
It`s really nice to see that Ric`s kid has some talent. I also think that his Psycho Persona is appropriate for him(he walks like a psycho, he looks like one and he talks like one and finally Russo utilized him appropriately). :))"
I'm not exactly sure what you mean by 'transfer', but I pretty much completely agree with your points. I'd almost call his change a metamorphasis, as there's almost nothing left of the boy we saw carry the US title through the mud all those months ago. Damn, when I remember that angle I realize these 'powers that be' aren't quite as bad as they appear. Flair's blossoming is easily one of the higher points in current WCW lineage, and I just hope his work in the ring can keep it that way.
Up next, Micheal Koehler (firstname.lastname@example.org) has something to say about the Tuesday Review;
"I would have to agree with you on your Nitro grade. Some of the match they had should have been better (and longer). There is one point with the new and improved David Flair that I picked up on last week and last night and no one has seemed to notice or care about. Last week the Goth Chic had her little Nitro Party clip saying how she loved David Flair and listening to (fighting the urge to blow chunks) Celion Dion and rocking like David with a teddy bear. This week David gets that same bear as a present and cuts the head off and is rocking back and forth with it in his locker room. I may be reading way to much into that story line, but there is some coneect that I am sure will unfold in the next few weeks. At least that is what I have noticed. Dammit a triangle feud with Beniot, Jarrett, and Rhodes is going to kick ass. I am hoping that with the unbelievably horrible ratings this week (2.5) they will clean their act up and get rid of the shit like Stevie Ray, Even Couragious and that entire first match, with the exception of Symphony. Anyway that is what I think..and yes Puckers rule. Mix with 7-Up. Anway enough of me ramblin on. Later"
I didn't really pick up on the Celine Dion in the background, but I'll resist the urge to rummage through the old tapes to check it out and take your word for it. Not quite the best choice (with her goth look, I'd have gone with something like Sisters of Mercy, old school Cure, or Joy Division.. but that's just what I dig), but the angle is definitely something they're trying to slip underneath our noses. I'd say an appearance at the PPV isn't out of line, maybe even leading to a Flair victory (which would be a bit much, since DDP needs all the heat he can muster any more). I'm enjoying his gimmick as a single so much right now that I'd resist adding anything to it, but I'll just have to see how it all plays out before I can comment. Good work, making the tie with the bear though, as it slipped by me.
A Rhodes / Jarrett / Benoit feud would certainly be something worth celebrating, with Jarrett particularly tearing the house down of late. He and Benoit have had some keepers on Nitro that would definately rock dead apes if their finishes had been clean, and I think the two combined could pull a nice series of matches out of the shell of Dustin Runnels, maybe even producing some heat for the gimmicked-out son of a dream along the way.
As for cleaning up Nitro, it's something that really needs to be done.. but won't be. Russo keeps stating how much he hates the 3 hour format, and how great Nitro will be once it gets to two hours. He's screaming about having trouble filling time, which is..supposedly.. why the shitty stuff is in with the good. Meanwhile Eddie Guerrero, Blitzkrieg, Juventud, Psychosis, Kidman, and a half dozen worthwhile luchadores sit on their asses backstage.
Puckers mixed with anything is a nice mix.. in fact, I think I'll help myself to a bit this evening. Thanks for your e-mail.
Patrick Austin (email@example.com) had a comment on my thoughts regarding Stephanie;
" drqshadow, nice column but there is one thing I don't agree with and that's the Stephanie heel angle. You said she wasn't believable, I don't agree with that. I admit she is not in the same league as her father and brother on the mic. But don't forget how many women in wrestling are actually good on the mic. The ones that are good don't get any response from the crowd. Also when HHH, Rock, Jericho and Austin all started being heels they all lack something, but as time went on they became the better heels we all know and love.
Back on to the Stephanie thing; If you didn't notice she was getting some good (small, but good) heel heat from the fans. And I agree with you that given time she can only get better. But the fact of the matter is this Stephanie did a good job playing the power hungry bitch! For her first time of course. Stephanie still has way to go before she gets to her father's and even her "husband's" level."
You make some good points about the Rock, Jericho and HHH having trouble getting heat as beginning heels, and I'll completely agree that Stephanie is going through the same thing. The big difference here is this; none of the aforementioned heels were given as much time as Stephanie was Monday night. She and HHH dominated the evening's events, popping up before nearly every match, with a completely unnecessary "reason" for its booking. Honestly, did you need to know the 'couple' were responsible for the Hardys/Canadian Blondes cage match? I'd have enjoyed it just as much without that little bit of info.
I will agree though, that nobody is perfect right off the bat. Rocky was shoved down our throats as a face, even carrying the Intercontinental strap in his first year, to the tune of little or no attention from the fans. Shane was regarded as the worst interview in the industry during his first few months on the scene, and was basically ignored until he really found his niche and started knocking out killer promos, showing shades of his father. I'm confident Stephanie will do the same in time, but pray that we won't be there to see every step of the growing process. Until she's a good speaker, keep her off the mic. At any rate, thanks for the well stated e-mail
Next, G MEN27@aol.com had something to say about the Raw portion of my Tuesday Review;
"I'm not sure how you can call the X-Pac v. Chris Jericho a "garbage match". They didn't even fight out of the ring and didn't use any weapons or "plunda". Besides as Sean Shannon says, there is no such thing as garbage wrestling, its just stuff that you and people like Herb Kunze don't like. Technical wrestling is not the only style of wrestling and many people enjoy the so called "garbage" matches. There is no "one" way wrestling should be. I used to enjoy your columns but quite honestly you are starting to sound like a miserable workrate freak. Vince Mc Mahon is trying to (gasp) make money instead of catering to workrate fans, what a horrible, despicable, no good, low down thing to do."
I may've misspoken, but I didn't mean to categorize the said match as a 'garbage match', or 'junk brawl'. I may've lumped it in with another junk match, in an effort to show what's incorrect about the profession today... the X-Pac/Jericho match was, in one word, 'overbooked'. Chyna's presence was not necessary, yet she made her way down and interfered unintelligently in the match, causing a premature finish. I've never once proclaimed that there isn't room for more than one style in this profession, actually much to the opposite. I'll hop from puro to lucha to european, and yes, I'll enjoy a 'hardcore' brawl, if it's done correctly. When I see Roddy Piper take 15 chair shots to the head and kick out of a pin attempt, I'll scream bloody murder. That's what I call a 'garbage match', and it's something I try to avoid.
In McMahon's case, you're damn right I'll get up in arms. The second somebody takes something that I hold sacred, in this case strong wrestling, and disgraces it for their own profit (aka 'selling out'), I'll be right there to point it out. What McMahon has done is take the easy way out. Frankly, he needed the money, and chose to do something that generates immediate interest and revenue... controversy. Look at Howard Stern.. you can't honestly believe he stands behind everything he says. Half of what comes out of his mouth is what made him; controversial. In his case however, it wasn't a case of losing money and needing a quick answer, he's just that way. Confrontational in nature, which is why I can stand him. McMahon did it to get a quick buck and I've got big problems with that.
Anyway, thanks for the mail..
"THE GRUFF!!" Jim Green (firstname.lastname@example.org) has a conspiracy theory of sorts to share;
"I have noticd a lot of duplication between the WWF and WCW lately. Are their individuals in the WWF and/or WCW who are informants for the opposing wrestling fed leaking info about upcoming storylines, plot twists etc. etc?"
Honestly, I don't think there's any easy way something of that scale could take place. It's mostly just a case of two things; lack of originality, and Russo/Ferrera. Without a doubt, there are insiders on both sides to pass word along regarding talent acquisition (how do you think Paul Wight, Jericho, or others switched around without tampering with contract limitations? However, the said sources would be outed immediately if they let anything slip about future angles and storylines... so it's not bloody likely.
BUFF099@aol.com had a couple comments on the state of wrestling today;
"I understand where you're coming from with this longing for Benoit vs. Eddie Guerro matches but you have to look at reality. Nobody cares about a Benoit Guerro match...nobody cares if it is the match of the year...before you get all pissed off let me explain. I love beautifully wrestled matches...I know Benoit/Mysterio/Guerro will put on a show, but they're not over with the crowd and will never be. The only chance Benoit has at being over is if they have Hart turn heel and play Benoit off as a major baby face for the next PPV...as for having matches between Boring Malenko/too short Mysterio/Can't speak English well enough Guerro...it doesn't work in this day and era...it would work 5 years ago, just not now. People want to see these gimmick matches. Wcw put on these great wrestling exhibitions all of last year and it got them in the cellar of the ratings. Look at the WWF, there is like two guys there that can wrestle with Benoit...do you think they care? No. They can't even use Jericho without having problems...you know why...he wrestles. There is no more room for wrestling anymore...sorry to say it...wrestling is just entertainment now...the wrestling aspect is dead."
Honestly, I must've been watching a different Nitro these past couple years, because with few exceptions (Spring Stampede 99 being one of them), I saw very little 'great wrestling exhibitions'. The only Nitro I've enjoyed seeing in the past few years has been the brief month between the reign of Bischoff and the ascention of the 'powers that be'. Things were starting to shape up as they should've for some time, with the elderly making their way down the card, and the cream beginning to rise to the top. The crowd was starting to get into it, morale had boosted, the ice was beginning to shake off the slumbering old machine. Then two unnamed writers made their way from the WWF and plunged WCW into the murky depths previously only habitated by the McMahons and their program.
I read a column earlier today that stated most of an audience hated Benoit.. another that claimed he got over based solely on his mic work. To both, I say hogwash! (because it's an interesting word to say!) Benoit has been a solid member of the roster for years. Tell me you weren't rooting for him when Raven sent out a different Flock member each week, backing away from a straight physical confrontation every Nitro. Listen to the pop he recieves on his way to the top rope, ready to deliver his diving headbutt. Granted, his may not be the loudest on a Monday Night when he walks down to the ring.. but I'd challenge you to find anyone (sans the Rock) more over when he walks back to the dressing room. That's not thanks to a catch phrase, that's not a clever package or an awe-inspiring laser-light introduction. That's working a damn fine match, which leaves an audience with little choice but to get behind it. Even if his opponent doesn't, Benoit knows how to tell a story, to make Kevin Nash's rest holds look explosive. He draws interest back to where it used to belong, between the ropes. Sure, a crowd may jump off the rafters when Rocky hits 'the people's elbow'... $10 says they were sleepng five minutes beforehand. If you give a crowd a good worker, I stand firm that they'll give you a hot audience. I firmly believe so, and that's why I maintain hope in wrestling today.
Wrapping things up, here's Sca6820574@aol.com with a question about the Starrcade card;
"I heard there was going to be a Harlem Heat and Midnight vs. Creative Control and Curt Hennig on Nitro. Was that taken off the card? I don't want too see that match either, since Booker T and Curt Hennig are the only good wrestlers, and Curt blows up after 3 minutes, but I just heard it was happening."
As far as I know, the match isn't happening. The card John and I used was straight from the WCW website, paragon of journalistic intergrity that it is, and I won't stand by it. Such a match would likely blow a rather chunky ass, and the only good that could come from it follows; "Booker and Hennig take it outside, while Midnight, Stevie Ray, and the Bleu twins brawl in the Ring. As Hennig and T fight up the entryway, the ring mystically explodes, ending the match and injuring the 4 inside just enough to keep them retired for good. Then Booker T and Curt Hennig have a feud. The End."
And with that lovely thought, I take my leave of you for now. I'll be back within a couple weeks' time, but..
until next time, i remain