Ringside Shadows #105: Emptying out the mailbag
Since John and I put out the World's Greatest PPV preview a couple days back, my mailbox has taken a substantial hit. Must've hit a nerve, entertained, what have you. At any rate, I'd planned to put together part 2 of my WCW talent evaluation today but have decided to pass until the middle of the week for that, in light of this immaculate reception of sorts.
This is bound to be a long one, so if you aren't all about the idea of an entire column devoted to mail this isn't likely to rub you in any special ways. There won't be much aside from raw opinions and the like, some mine and more than a couple yours. So let's just dive into this beast, then.
G MEN27@aol.com gave me one of the better responses I've had the pleasure of answering in some time this past week;
"God,man, two weeks in and your already predicting that Malenko will be buried. As far as the Rock goes, I don't think he is as lazy as you say. Hey, at least he took Benoit's chops, unlike Sid. Also, why don't you compliment him on jobbing to Benoit? Whether he is lazy or a good worker, he is the company's top face and he jobbed to someone who is just starting his second week in the company. He has also jobbed to Mr. Ass, Bob Holly, and THE BIG BOSSMAN over the past 6 or 7 months. Sure, he is no Mitshura Misawa, but he doesn't seem to have a huge ego like Hogan or even Shawn Michaels. Do you think Shawn would have ever jobbed to Bob Holly as the company's top face? Perry Saturn, on his site, said that the Rock is a real down to earth guy and has a lot of talent, unlike Hogan. My point is that you are just so damn negative all the time. I have come to the conclusion that you will NEVER like the WWF, unless D- lo , X-Pac, and Benoit are having triple threat World Title matches on every televised show, PPV, and house show, and everyone 6'6" or taller is turned into a jobber. You are becoming more and more like Herb Kunze with each column you write. The WWF will never have 60 minute technical masterpieces with clean finishes and there will be more "garbage" wrestling on their shows, so why don't you just quit watching American wrestling."
Regarding Malenko; it's not a prediction, but more of a gut feeling.. the audience could've given a shit about his match with Saturn against Rikishi (who remains one of the most over men in modern wrestling), and his personal disappointment showed near the end. I'd love to see the WWF prove me wrong (wouldn't be the first time), but I really don't see this clash of the styles being resolved soon, if ever.
As for the Rock's credit for jobbing, I'd meant that to be a big part of that paragraph, but guess it got left out.. I have tremendous respect for the Rock, though I don't often show it. He knows what to do, when to do it, and how it should be done.. and for that, I commend him. I'm no fan of his work, but I'll recognize his cool head and willingness to do the right thing for the company, whether that benefits him or not. I guess I'm letting his laziness overtake his charisma in my mind.
I'm actually enjoying the WWF quite a bit right now.. perhaps more than ECW, and that's saying quite a bit. It bothers me to see D'Lo teamed with the Godfather and X-Pac held back, yes, but it balances out in the end, as Vince has been putting out top notch shows since the big jump. I'll admit I prefer watching speedier, smaller guys in the ring, but that doesn't mean I'll never give a tall guy the time of day. Mike Awesome is a tall mother, and I'm rather high on him at the moment.. Kane constantly surprises me.. and Kurrgan is superb (ah! gotcha..) I try not to bias myself by physical appearances, the facts just appear to be lined up in such a way that taller workers don't put forward the effort of their smaller counterparts, because they don't have to. Their presence gives them an immediate advantage, and it's an uphill climb to be accepted as a smaller worker. I'd challenge you to list a gigantic worker that didn't resort to a 'methodical' pace, which is commentator for "slower than shit, and boring as hell".
I'm not sure who Herb Kunze is, but I'd assume the comparison is not a positive one..
I'll agree with your observations here; the WWF has had few 60 minute matches (the only true 60 minute match that springs to mind, Bret/HBK at Wrestlemania 12, was far from a masterpiece). They've taken a more 'hardcore' edge, which can be termed as a garbage style. That's not to say everything hardcore needs to be complete and utter crap. Compare a Mike Awesome / Mikey Whipwreck match against a New Jack / Angel pile of shit, and you'll see that the right workers can make a hardcore match just as interesting as a technical masterpiece, if not more so. (On that note, Samir had a good paragraph or two on this subject in his recent Trendsetter Press, which you can check out by visiting the Big3 Oratory) In the end, it comes down to heart and a love for the business. The cream will always rise to the top. As for why I still watch American wrestling.. aside from the rejuvination of the WWF in past few weeks, I watch for one simple reason; hope. At any rate, thanks for taking the time to read my column and to respond. Your feedback, positive or negative, is truly appreciated.
Gkurupt27@aol.com gave us a thought or two on a victim of the sarcastic drive-by that was our preview, Scott Hall;
"S.Hall is the man he will be a camp very soon"
..just a little fodder to show everbody it's not that glamorous as a columnist. Anyway, I've been looking to see a Scott Hall title reign for some time now. I'll be the first to say it: if WCW puts the belt around his waist now, we haven't even begun to see the bottom of this spiral. Personally, I'd be surprised to see the belt around the waist of the Razor in this lifetime... esse.
Brian Broederdorf (firstname.lastname@example.org) had this to say about the 'Chosen One', J-e-double f J-a-double r-e-double t;
"Imust say you guys majoraly under rate JJ JJ is great and is ready to be champ"
Actually, I did end up picking Jarrett to win the title tonight, but I'm far from confident in that one. I'm one of Jeff's biggest supporters in all actuality, and the tunes of delight were a-many during his extended feud over the US belt with Benoit earlier this year. However, much like Benoit (who everybody apparantly knows I adore), Jarrett's not ready for a World Title reign. The public as a whole views him as the US champ that tags along with the nWo, not a viable contender. Not yet, anyway. Six months from now could be an entirely different story, with proper building of Jarrett as a solid worker that can go head to head with the big boys, even without the aid of his characteristic guitar. Just like Benoit's world title reign (apparantly wiped clean the night after) at Souled Out, a Jarrett title reign here would be an act of desparity. He's simply not on the same level as an Austin, a Rocky or even a Kevin Nash. Not in the eyes of the common fans, and that's what's important. It's holding Kidman and Booker back now, and it's one of the major reasons WCW's in so much trouble right now.
Sexi Lips@aol.com had a bone to pick about the man of the hour, Scott Hall;
"those comments about scott hall were unnecessary. alcoholism is an addiction, a disease. hope you or your love ones one day have to walk a mile in his shoes and experience what he is going through!! you unsensitive thng."
In all honesty, I've sympathised with Scott Hall one day too many. His problems have been well recorded for the past 2 years, and I was willing to accept his absense from the scene for good when he seemed to be finally getting his act together away from the limelight. I really did feel for him, and I was happy to see him overcoming his own personal demons. That all quit, however, when he returned and delved headfirst back into the bottle. Several times. He's played a parody of himself on national television, for god's sakes. Don't tell me he couldn't have said "no" and walked away from that, because it's just not true. I'm seeing something along the lines of the boy who cried wolf with Hall anymore, in that he's done the wrong thing so many times that he almost has no choice but to try the right thing once in a while. Add to that his opening himelf up to public ridicule by returning to the airwaves and I don't see any reason to support him any further. The man was a superb worker in his prime, but these days he deserves everything he gets, as far as I'm concerned. Sorry if that was a bit harsh, but if there's anyone out there undeserving of your sympathy it's Scott Hall. These are his demons, and if he needs to leave the business to conquer them, so be it. At any rate, thanks for your e-mail and understand that I do put a lot of thought into my words before I write them (though I understand if it doesn't appear so). If somebody gets a ribbing from me, it's in good spirits for the most part.
Tyler Betts (email@example.com) had a thing or two to say about the preview as a whole;
"I have just a few problems with your predictions. Number one, you say that people watching the pay-per-view will not like this, and not like that. That's incorrect. Nobody will be watching it. Why would anyone way 30 bucks to see this crap, when I can get much better entertainment flushing turds down the toilet. I used to be WCW's biggest fan. I defended it through anything it did. I now see only one thing that might help WCW's future. Get someone over as a heel by having him assassinate Hogan. That's the only answer. That'd be a good gimmick, for, say, Sid, wouldn't it? Oh well, as long as Hogan is in WCW (and it's not just Hogan, it is Luger, Nash, Hall, Sulivan, Steiner, et al), it will continue to suck. War, Out, ECW!"
We share a common ground here; we both stood behind WCW until the very end. As you pointed out though, the end's come and gone as far as I'm concerned. What's left is just a crust, with a few cherries hidden underneath. Oh.. that, and we both derive a sick pleasure by leaving a solid log in the porcelain temple.
"Bryan" (Jones820@aol.com) had a comment about the majesty we're sure to see in Demon/The Wall tonight;
"Yes. I think the wall Vs the demon will be a 5 star match...if i use enough hallucinagenic drugs it will seem like one,"
Christopher Brennan (firstname.lastname@example.org), John Pritchard (email@example.com) and TWOJoey@aol.com all had contributions to our ever-growing list of the word "Big" in the WCW roster (both past and present), so I'm grouping them all together. The comments appear in the same order as the writers just above these words;
"I read your Superbrawl preview and I'd thought I'd add a few names to your list of guys with "big" in their identity of nickname of ring name. Don't forget J. Biggs, the evil lawyer of doom, or "Big Sexy" Poochie Nash, and Scott Steiner calls himself the Big Bad Booty Daddy. Just a few extra names to spice it up."
"Didja forget "Big" Sexy?"
"I want to thank you for the hilarious Supercrawl preview....but you forgot to mention a couple of my all time favorite BIG people big sexy kevin nash, big boss, and who can forget the lovable Big Josh. Just think maybe BIg Van Vader will return as a mexican luchadore with the name Super Big. Thanks for taking the time to read this and hope i put a smile on your face too."
I was surprised to see this little thread of John's picked up upon, but I guess it's always the quiet ones, you know? Anyway, thanks for the contributions guys, they've surely been added to the archives. Personally, though he doesn't really fit in this list, I've always been a big fan of the unique ring stylings of one Norman the Lunatic. Anybody remember him? Anyway, are we missing anybody else? And what does everybody think about the name "Big" John C.?
Alan Lisenba (Crimson_Storm@webtv.net) ties in some of his own experience with this response;
"I'm a WcW reporter on the 'net and I gotta tell you, it's depressing as hell these days. I've been a loyal WcW viewer for almost two fuckin' years and I don't feel like I'm getting rewarded for it. Who wants to see a 90-year-old Funk flab around the ring with an (almost) equally old Flair. Why's the WWF doing so much better.......because they know when to push the old farts out of the way and promote younger fresher faces (btw, no offense to the "old farts")? The real difference between the WcW and WWF (I think) is because McMahon has wrestling in his blood and he's the president of his own company, which is the only thing he has to do. He's not the owner of 100,000,000 cable channels or a billion skyscrapers, he just eats, sleeps, and breathes wrestling, while Ted Turner hasn't a damn clue as to what wrestling is! He oversees nothing in the WcW company and wouldn't know what to do even if he did! In short, Ted Turner doesn't give a shit whether WcW lives or dies because he's got those damn Braves to tend to or all the other business ventures he's into. McMahon cares about what he does and frankly, doesn't have a major sports franchise to run, along with the aforementioned channels and skyscrapers!"
Well put, though I'd have a bit of an argument about that last sentence.. Vince does tend to dillude his interests, what with the World Bodybuilding Federation and the recent announcement of the XFL. But those don't tend to last very long anyway, and this is likely to be a short expedition as well. Your points are well said though, and your observations relevant. On an interesting sidenote; Vince actually worked for Turner at one point in the early-to-mid 80's, though theirs was a short-lived alliance. Something along the lines of Vince flooding the market with his own ads.. Anyway, thanks for the well-put response.
Gerard (GML17@aol.com) sympathized with our 'duties';
"Man, that you guys will watch this pay - per - view should at least get you out of your jobs with a disability pension or something. Keep up the good work."
It should be noted that Gerard's subject line read "taking one for the team", which I found pretty funny. Anyway, I won't be watching this one.. even if I had access to one of those mystical black boxes, as is the case with John, I'd seriously consider skipping this one. The possibility of a disability pension is certainly tempting, but.. sometimes money isn't everything. Serious mental instabilities could follow this one, and that isn't something I really need to deal with right now. Thanks for the sympathy note, but this one should be saved for John.. even with the leisure of the fast forward button, I wonder if he'll come out of it the same.
Michael Barker (firstname.lastname@example.org) talks about Hogan;
"I'll have to agree with you on this one, hand Superbrawl a straw because it sucks. I have been a long time WCW fan, and I can't believe how crappy it has become. I have yet to get a PPV because I am waiting for a decent one. There was a real good point brought up in your preview. "Push the guys the people like." Shit, Hogan's act is OLD and from what I hear, he's a major Tracy (Dick Tracy). God, why couldn't they have pulled their heads out of their ass and kept Jericho, Benoit, and the rest? I would rather watch "The Giant" than Sid. Anyway, this Bud's for hoping there's a light at the end of the tunnel. (And that the light isn't China from digging them selves such a big hole.)"
The Hogan point seems to be becoming a moot one these days, as the man has unimaginably gone through a rebirth in popularity (at least, judging from the reaction he got last week). Much as a great majority of us don't want to see him any more, there's still a partition (however small) that wants to see his fake-ass hair under those lights, hitting that big boot and dropping that legdrop. It isn't something I'll tune in for, but at least they know what audience they've got left. Here's a great story; Hogan spent $12,000 on a lock of his own hair. Since he hasn't got any left (well.. real), he hopes scientists can use this strand, saved from his youth, to regrow his own hair once more. Is it me, or is the whole idea of artificial Hogan hair growing somewhere in America absolutely frightening? As for the Giant.. well.. I don't know if I'd rather see him than Sid. Both suck a pretty hearty portion of ass. Maybe if it was under a stipulation like 'Loser washes down the rest of his meals with Dran-o...
N8URE B0Y@aol.com sends along the first of a couple necessary corrections;
"it wasnt chad that said the purple reign comment, it was borash"
Sorry about that.. I was relying on the report posted on the Daily Lariat, since I don't really bother listening to Live any more. It's interesting how the plight of WCW can be traced all the way down to their internet production, isn't it? At any rate, thanks for the correction, and for reading.
Keeping with that theme, Steve Riley (Riley@steve007.freeserve.co.uk) corrected my more glaring blunder;
"Sorry to be pedantic, but in your sarcastic prediction of Big Al v Tank Abbott you mentions Steve Austin's 1997 KOTR speech - his famous '3.16' and 'Bottom Line' speech was at the 1996 KOTR speech! By the way I enjoy your previews."
I must've overlooked that one.. Don't you wish Word '98 would correct idiocy, as well as spelling? Thanks for spotting that one and pointing it out though.
With tongue planted firmly in cheek, JrStonCold@aol.com touched on the Wall/Demon 5* classic already underway;
"ARE YOU GUYS F#$KING NUTS?!?!?! The Wall and Demon being a 5 star match??? You have to be kidding me. Is Mideon one of the top high flyers in the world? There is no way this match is going to be a 5 star match!! Man you guys are stupid. Its 4 and a half TOPS! Hogan Luger on the other hand has 5 stars written all over it!"
Grizzly Adams did have a beard. Anyway, there's rumors of Mideon coming in tonight in a surprise appearance, helping the Wall deliver my predicted Shooting Star Press off a balcony, through 13 tables and into shark-infested waters. This one's bound to be a keeper, folks!
BStardogg@aol.com had a more serious question;
"Do you know anything about this Billy Riel and are you going to talk about the impact he might have on WCW?"
I'll admit it, my knowledge of the independant scene lands somewhere between slim and none. Thus, there's very little I know about Billy "Highlight" Reil aside from his nickname, and chances are quite low that I'll touch on his potential impact unless he actually shows up on WCW tv, where I might see him. Sorry, I don't think I'm qualified to say much of anything about him just yet.
Another poop reference surfaces with a mail from Mike (MICKEYSKIN@aol.com). Must be floaters;
"Good article, it's a good thing both of you have good creative writing skills! If not I would not have read this cuz' this PPV SUCKS! Nobody cares about WCW, okay maybe some people care, YEAH THE PEOPLE WITH LESS OF A LIFE THAN 99% OF US. My friend gets every PPV, and I usually watch them but not this one. I will look at the tape the next day, but I am not going to waste 3 hours for this shit! Can't wait until next week so you can write about something wrestling fans actually care about. I would like you all to start writing more about ECW, atleast I can watch their whole show not less than a 3rd of it. When is WCW going to get better or just GO AWAY."
Mike went on to address John, which I won't touch for obvious reasons. I'm actually thinking of forking over the $30 for the WWF PPV next weekend, as they look to have lined up a slam bang of a show. Then again, how could they do anything but kick our asses with the stellar lineup they've got on staff nowadays? WCW found a way. I, too, think ECW's missing a lot of coverage. A lot of that has to do with their exposure and timeslot. For a good chunk of the country (myself included), the only ECW television in the area is the TNN show, which airs Friday nights at 8. Probably the worst timeslot imaginable for this type of show, as everybody does something Friday nights! With that said, I've only seen one show in the past month and it wasn't spectacular. I caught a bit of the show 2 weeks ago, and there was no Tajiri match, no Super Crazy, no Raven in action, no Little Guido. A lot of Dusty Rhodes, though, which I could care less about. ECW remains the untouched frontier, and reaps both the positive and the negative ends of that label.
Finally (woohoo!) we'll wrap it all up with mail from AboveTHErim99@aol.com about the king of it all, Hulk Hogan;
"im not one of those biased fans, but i want to know why do u bash hulk hogan so much? i mean the guy did make wrestling. ive been watching wrestling for 11 years, and i know the man is not what he used to be in the ring, but do u ever watch and of his matches? the fans are always cheering extrememly loud for him or booing the hell out of him when hes a heel, so people still give a damn about hulk hogan. now he might be trouble backstage, but dont lie to me and tell me that if u had done exactly what he had done for the business u wouldnt act the same, so dont fuckin lie and say id be nice and put guys over cuz u wouldnt. now hogan isnt even my favorite wrestler, even though he is one of my more like ones(beniot, rock, hhh r my favorites) so give the man at least a little respect for what he has done for the business. And i bet u liked the man 5 years ago too, and if u didnt, then so be it, but quit bashing the man like he is the devil of the wrestling business. also im not sayin this cuz i dont like ur site because it is my favorite wrestling webpage, thanks for readin my comments"
I knock Hogan for much the same reason I knock Scott Hall.. because he begs us to. Hogan should've realised when the time was to pass the ball, instead of keeping the credit (and accompanying cash flow) for himself. You ask me if I'd put over the younger talent if I were in his shoes, and I'll tell you without hesitation: yes, I would. It's all about values and a love for the sport. If you respect wrestling and its long, near-mythological history, you'll give the same credit to the future by building its stars with your own fading power. You'll see it through to the next generation. Andre knew when it was time, as he passed the ball to Hogan. Jumbo Tsuruta knew when it was time to move down.. he even owned the promotion and put himself lower and lower in the card, while elevating the youth. Would it be hard to say goodbye to the guaranteed money? Sure. Along those same lines though, with great power comes great responsibility.. if you're earning the big bucks, you better be putting it away somewhere because everything that goes up must come down. Just when you think you can't be touched, everything can fall apart around you. I have no sympathy for sports stars who've gone broke, all the while sitting in their 15 million dollar homes and waxing their fleet of porsches. I have no sympathy for a man who can pay $12,000 for a lock of his own hair. In excess is loss, and Hogan's the king of excess.
Whew, was that a load and a half.. I feel like I just took a big, giant dump. Relieved, yet.. slightly empty. At any rate, I'll definitely be back Tuesday evening with the triumphant return of the Tuesday Review, hopefully sometime later in the week with part 2 of the WCW Talent Evaluation and then again Friday with John for our No Way Out Preview, which does look to be quite good. Thanks for suffering this far.. I know it wasn't easy. As always,
until next time, i remain