Ringside Shadows #112: What?!
Of the proposed swerves and storyline twists, only one really caught me off guard.. that tag team thing Raw pulled on us. wCw managed to put out a worthwhile show (and a valet actually spoke rather well for herself in Paisley.. probably better than the man she's representing), while Raw made a dream reality. Nah, I'm not talking about that big 'Mick Foley' schpeel.. this Intercontinental Title 3 way is the stuff I was looking forward to the moment the wCw 4 jumped ship. My text editor has decided it might be a fun game to not type the occasional letter.. bear this in mind, while we hit the Tuesday Review.
That Tag Team Thing
Where'd that 'tag tourney/battle royal' thing come from? Last I checked, Edge and Christian had secured a shot at the belts.. but I guess that's gone right out the window. The whole thing, while quite hurried and out of the blue, actually played out pretty well and gave us some nice action. And then there was the finish. What's the point of building an entire program around a central theme (ok.. 2 central themes) if it's just to result in a run-in and a no decision? Too Cool's matchup with the Radicals took the cake as far as the tournament's concerned.. which is actually somewhat surprising. I'd expected a Rikishi run-in or Guerrero interference causing a DQ, but they actually allowed both teams to stand strong for the duration. Malenko even set in with a false finish before a distracted ref caused the loss. Applause.
I never thought I'd be saying it one month back, but the Dudleys aren't making the best of tag champs. Oh, they're a nipple and a half above the Outlaws.. don't get me wrong.. but I was hoping for a strong title defense or two in between PPVs. As of now, I haven't seen the belts actively opened up for competition on Raw more than once. The table spots are nice and all, but what's the point if they aren't built as strong competitors? What would it hurt to compete on air, and then move on with the big spot? With that said, this week's table spot with Jeff Hardy was quite vicious, eh?
How Well Are the Belts Being Used?
Since we're on the topic of good champions, what were all the other gold-plated warriors up to this week? Over in wCw, Chris Candido made his official debut with a firm jump into the cruiserweight scene. While the new acquisition said all the right things in his promo (attempting to maintain his fitting 'no gimmick necessary' attitude), Mark Madden was already contradicting it all by filling us all in on his launchtime gimmick, "hard nox". Despite the near-instant plot errors, Candido did his best to give us a good show and came out with a pretty solid match against the maligned Lash Leroux. It'll be interesting to see if his enthusiasm holds strong a couple months from now, when management is likely to have deemed anything less than earth-shattering popularity a failure.
The U.S. strap's still around the waist of Jeff Jarrett, while he continued his big main event push. After teasing us with the same main event for the 3rd straight PPV, Jarrett revealed he'll be stepping back down to regular defenses by the time the evening was over. Isn't it great how wCw can pick and choose when to enforce that '30 day' thing? Meanwhile, talent that could've benefitted from a 2 month US title reign continues to meander unnoticed in the midcard.
Speaking of the midcard, Kidman and Booker had a go at the wCw tag titles last night. Despite both Harris boys' glaring display of "how NOT to take the rock bottom", the unlikely duo nearly drug a watchable match out of them.. just out of spite. And hey! Torrie popped out! Maybe the outcome wasn't all bad.
Finally, we limp to the World Title scene. Sid's soothing voice still whispers sweet nothings, stroking the belt during his promos. If I ever find myself with trouble falling asleep, I think of Sid's calming promos... many a night have I fallen asleep to the soft strains of "i am... the master." From the look of things, Sid's all too predictable turn is leading to the Wrestlemania VIII rematch nobody really wants to see. Guys, I saw the first encounter live and let me tell ya... it wasn't pretty. Still, I'll give it to the crowd.. no matter how wCw tried to kill them, they stayed strong throughout. Congrats, Florida. You're stronger fans than I.
Over on the other end of things, the IC feud I'd kill for has finally become a reality. Benoit/Angle/Jericho has the potential to steal the show at Wrestlemania, and the participants proved the storyline has enough heat to carry the crowd through all this necessary 'workrate' side of things. Sure, Jericho's lost a step... maybe Benoit isn't the same man who owned the world in '95... perhaps Angle's still a little green. Put the three of them together and I'm predicting magic. At this stage, I'll take Jericho going over at Wrestlemania with Angle defending his European belt while Benoit continues a long feud with Jericho, eventually elevating Y2J to the main event. Count me in.
In the main event, we saw what Dale's proclaimed to be the worst act since original sin... Foley's return. Say what you will, so long as he doesn't come back full time I'll buy it. His return felt right, despite yet another unnecessary appearance by Linda McMahon. I hate the woman. Her children have adapted well enough to the mic, and her husband remains among the best, but does she have any idea how to address a crowd? Memorizing your lines and reciting them in the same fashion as you'd read aloud the ingredients in a bottle of "man-delay" (it's a real product, kids..) doesn't really cut it. It isn't becoming of the big boss of the WWF, and it was the only detractor to Foley's big return. I'm still not convinced about a 4-way main event at Wrestlemania, but if anybody can make it work, Vince can.
And here we go with a few random observations that don't really fit anywhere else. David Flair took the nastiest bump of the night, but only because no video was shown of Crowbar's fall Sunday night. I'll maintain that pushing a man to take such bumps in exchange for a push is immoral and downright wrong, but I admire him for taking it like a man. Is it me, or does it seem like an eternity since Eddy Guerrero injured himself on Smackdown? My wait becomes more and more impatient each week, as Eddy gets more and more familiar with his role and his surroundings. So much of what Eddy does is hidden away in the little things, to the point that it nearly goes unnoticed. Case in point; the finish of the Radicals' tag match. Guerrero made one last big dive in an attempt to break up the pin, landing a split second after the final count.. and he did so in a convincing manner, something that should be mentioned. It's one thing to play the heel and 'accidentally' lose the match for your team. It's a completely new game to be the heel, and convince the audience there was nothing more you could do in the verdict.
Crash Holly's title defenses get more humorous by the week. What once looked to be a complete waste of air time (the MSP's assault in the hotel?) has become something worthwhile, and Crash fills the role perfectly. The moment anything remotely hardcore nears him, Crash turns ass and SPRINTS. Fun, fun stuff. Hey, how about the post production last night? Here's to a full minute of cumulative blank screen between both shows, an early announcement of Sid's partner and an extra ten seconds of Bob Backlund staring at the fan looking for a high five. Television at its finest.
What was Sid hopped up on for the opening interview of Nitro? Good god, I thought he was about to piss himself. Hugh morrus came back? I hadn't noticed... Finally, it's nice to see Curt Hennig finally enjoying that last big push. I never thought they did enough with that Mr. Perfect schtick in the WWF and though this is likely a case of too little too late and he's playing with the demon himself in Hogan, I'll still applaud wCw for going through with it. If only he were still in shape..
Well, hey! Let's peek into the mailbox to see what's caught my fancy this time around.
bryan (email@example.com) has a word or two about the recent hot word in the industry;
"I don't know what percentage of the Oratory writers have seen beyond the mat..but I saw it on Saturday..and it was awesome. I learned what a truly screwed up existence Jake the Snake roberts has and that he is every bit as evil out of the ring as he is inside it. Parts of the movie were sad, such as Roberts disturbing life and his rocky relationship with his father and daughter, parts of it were touching..seeing MIc Foley with his wife and kids and Terry Funk giving the opening prayer at his daughters wedding. Parts of it were funny and amusing...seeing Darren Drozdov getting the name Puke in Vince McMahons office, and seeing Austin, who was totally out of character, talking to Foley's kids. I think I even got a glimpse of Kane without the mask.
All the stuff that was in the movie made it good...but what made it great was what it lacked, thats right the man who made wrestling, brother, the man with the Leg Drop of Doom, and master of the Yappapie strap match, the yellow llamma, Hollywood Hulk Rogaine was not in this film. That fact alone makes the film worth the price of admisson."
I haven't had the chance to see this one yet (Mainly because there remain 2 theatres in the STATE that have chosen to air it, and I refuse to drive over an hour to see any movie. Wait, scratch that. I drove an hour to see 'Being John Malkovich'. But still.. it should be showing nearby), so I haven't much of a comment on it. I caught a couple glimpses on Larry King live this weekend, including the mentioned Droz "puke" scene, and found it hysterical. Definitely one that's on my list, if I ever decide to take the risk that comes along with taking my car over a couple miles at a time.
Moving on to a couple responses to 'The World's Greatest Uncensored Preview', mark (Confusatron2000@hotmail.com) writes;
"John, you already know I love your posts anyway... but I have to give it to Drq... your sarcasm was absolutely brilliant! I laughed my ass off reading how you both basically said everything I've been pissed off at the WCW about for the past two years. To be honest, I stopped watching completely. I could care less about WCW right now. I only catch ECW's TNN show about once every other week, if that, because it's on while I work and my VCR doesn't tape TNN for some reason. But in any event, I can honestly see ECW becoming second in ratings, with WCW a distant third. Then maybe talented people like Vampiro and Booker would go to a better federation! We can only hope...
Oh, and I hope the main event at Uncensored becomes a 3-way dance between Sid, Jeff Jarett, and The Dog. And I hope the Dog wins the title, too, because it would completely signify the direction WCW is going these days.
What does it tell you about WCW when:
1) More people watch WWF Sunday Night Heat than WCW Nitro, for chrissakes!?
2) Jeff Jarett is the number one contender for the heavyweight belt in WCW, while the biggest push he got in the WWF was for the I.C. belt? And he gets that status for the title belt the minute he comes into WCW?
3) I have fallen asleep during Nitro, waiting for Raw to come on... I'm serious... and I ended up missing about 5 minutes of it... but to be honest with you, I'm pissed at WCW for making me miss those 5 minutes of Raw.
Well, Raw is coming to my city in July, and because my boss knows someone at the box office, it is expected that I will get somewhere near the front row for Raw... so on Monday night, July 17, 2000, look for a sign on Raw that says something like "Smell ya later John C" or "Mideon = ratings". That'llbe me."
I'm glad you enjoyed my sarcastic look at the upcoming wcw ppv. I had a lot of fun writing it, and with a few exceptions it looks to have been a hit. Unless wCw gives us something to get excited about, you can look forward to similar previews in the future.. I'll tell you, they're much easier to put together.
As far as Booker and Vampiro jumping to ECW, i'd love to see it.. but i know we won't. Booker's been with wCw through thick and thin for over 7 years. He's supposedly a great guy backstage, but also a very quiet, nonconfrontational man. Unless the company folds completely, he won't walk out on that large a paycheck nor that long a history. As for Vampiro, I'd agree if not for his recent push to the moon. Vamp's the only bright spot in the recent bookings, and I'd be really surprised to watch him give all that up on a whim, especially considering all he went through to get there. Fans are associating him with the big names, and he's forming a team with Sting.. arguably the company's #1 face. Who knows, he may even be in the world title scene a year from now. He's much better of than.. say.. Kidman or the Jung Dragons.
Good luck finding tickets for Raw. I missed the announcement of their visit to Indianapolis, and tickets had sold out within an hour. If I can find a scalper I'll be making it (3 cheers for legalized ticket scalping in Indiana!), but if not.. I won't be a happy puppy, let's say that.
Anyway, thanks for writing and best of luck on your ticket hunt.
Bryan (BrianM1419@aol.com) brings up the rear of this letters section with a negative response to the previous preview;
"I dont like the direction WCW is taking either. Right when they "let go" the radicals was my final straw. I also think their storylines are dumb as hell and everything. But is it really helping to berate them at every moment you can. Its not going to change what they are doing. What you are doing is embarrising yoursleves by showing how partial you are to the WWF. Just report what is happening in the news and stop with your personal agenda to turn everyone off WCW. It's really sad!!!!"
Sorry you didn't enjoy the preview, though I find your classification of 'partial to the WWF' to be a bit harsh. I have no personal agenda against wCw, nor do I hope to see fans turned away from the product. Only six months ago, I was dodging assaults to the polar opposite.. I held hope for wCw far longer than was probably wise, because I maintained hope. If the product could get itself together again, I honestly saw things becoming competitive again with the WWF... and that only produces two better Monday programs. Strong competition gives programs that extra boost normally absent in day to day operations. Look at the years wCw owned the ratings: the WWF put out what's come to be known as arguably the best string of shows in the history of the sport, and it caught up to wCw.
This isn't all to say that I can't see things competitive again. Given a new beginning, new players and an interesting overall story to tie things together, I maintain that Turner can rebound. As is though, it would've been a struggle to get through that preview as a writer.. and if the writer doesn't like what he's doing, it drives away his audience. As is, I had a good time with the preview and the majority of the readers seem to agree.
As for your closing statement, 'Just report what is happening in the news'.. honestly, that isn't my job. I have no sources, no inside connections.. I just state my opinions. I don't expect anyone to agree with them, nor do I expect them to be read. They're just out there to add a little diversity, to spice things up a bit.
..and that should pretty much wrap things up for me. I'll be back later this week to contribute part three of my oft-delayed wCw talent evaluation (!), so keep your eyes, ears and other orifaces peeled for that.
until next time, i remain