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Booker T Delivers a Spinaroonie

WCW Mayhem

WCW Mayhem for the PlayStation

Slobberknockers abound
Ringside Shadows #153: The World's Greatest WCW Mayhem Preview

Before I take my feet-first dive back into all things WCW, I need to make a bit of a discouraging announcement; my good buddy and long time PPV partner, John C, has opted out of continuing our tag team demolition of WCW PPVs as of this month. I can't argue with his reasoning, as the shows just aren't motivating him enough to write about them any longer, and it's with a heavy heart that I must move on. As always, John and I will be around for the WWF Previews every month at The Oratory, where we act as Co-Administrators, and I'll do my best to carry the torch lit by he and the MIA Matt Spence many moons ago with the "World's Greatest" WCW Previews. As of right now, I'm not sure if I'll be seeking out another partner (of whom I've already got one in mind) or not, but for the next month or two at the least I'll be going it solo. Best of luck to ya John, and here's hoping I can do the tradition justice.

The boys at Turner, meanwhile, keep trying to make the best of an overly poor situation. Their rediscovery of home grown talent continues this month, as the two men fighting over the World Title have WCW pumping through their veins, and the theme runs true all the way to the bottom of the card. As I mentiond last month, this is truly a rebuilding year for World Championship Wrestling... there's really no doubt who's running with the ball and who's jogging behind in an all too distant second. With that in mind, the guys in charge are finally allowing some of their wounds to heal. Younger, hungrier talent is finally getting their shot all across the board. The right names are coming up in the right places in the title hunt, (with the exception of Luger) and a vast majority of their gimmicks and storylines are originals, not merely pale imiatations of the WWF's past. It's a dark time for the company, without a doubt, but with one or two tweaks in the booking department, a lucky break or two and a slip on the WWF's part, things could fall into a whole new perspective.

3 Count Vs. Evan Karagias And Jamie Knoble Vs. Jung Dragons

Probably one of the best decisions WCW has made in the last six months has been the split of Three Count, though the follow through fell short in more than one aspect. The original lineup saw two fresh new faces and a tired former cruiserweight. By cutting Evan from the squad, Shane and Shannon trimmed the fat and should have been propelled into serious contention for the tag team titles. Perhaps it's still a bit too early to say, but unless something drastic goes down after the necessary feud with their former partner, the talented duo looks have found themselves slipping back into the same rut as before. The matches are strong enough, if spotty, but enough is enough. It's time to let the Jung Dragons / 3 Count feud take a little breather while both teams work towards earning the success they're due. My money's on the stronger gimmick of the three here, though my mind's telling me Evan and Jamie will be take the 'V' in their stead.
Winners: Three Count

Reno Vs. Big Vito Vs. Crowbar

Another set of WCW originals, mixed in with a veteran of the ECW trenches. Of all the young prospects in the Atlanta bullpen, Crowbar shows the most promise as a future main eventer, but all of that is lost in these throwaway Hardcore matches. Every time the men in charge decide to wheel out another redundant hardcore garbage brawl, fan support dives a little further. Once one of their strongest attributes, the WCW Hardcore Division is now nothing more than a ghost, a shell of that which has passed. While Reno shows promise, Crowbar has everything you need in a worker and Vito has delivered in the past, I'm not sure even this tight little knot of athleticism can save the Hardcore gold. For what it was, Crowbar and Vito had a nice little confrontation on Nitro this past Monday night; nothing too over the top, but nothing boring either. Makes me wonder how much more I'd be anticipating this Sunday's match if it were a straightforward wrestling match, as opposed to a junkyard brawl. While a no contest is somewhat likely here, I'd put my money on Reno. It's like they always say, strength lies in numbers, and Reno's got the Natural Born Thrillers in his corner.
Winner: Reno

Cruiserweight Title Match
Kwee-Wee Vs. Mike Sanders

In Mike Sanders, WCW has found a surprisingly strong addition to their roster. In Kwee Wee, they're doing their best to eliminate another. While Sanders is given the chance he certainly deserves, pushed near the top of the card as the acting commissioner, the former Alan Funk is stuck running with a lame catchphrase, little to no credibility and tight pink trunks. It's quite a paradox, really, as both deserve the chance to either jump that hurdle or fall flat on their face based on their own actions. No matter, if given enough time to properly develop and start to tell a story, this could be a surprisingly strong matchup. Both are young, so the flaws will no doubt be showing, but both also have the vigor and enthusiasm that's been lacking in the work of Kevin Nash and Lex Luger for years. For what it's worth, I expect a neat little cruiserweight battle here, with just a bit more matwork than the usual lightweight title defense. Kwee Wee takes the upset, since Sanders is by no means a cruiserweight.
Winner: Kwee Wee

The Cat (with Ms. Jones) Vs. The Franchise (with Torrie Wilson)

Though I'd usually be on the opposite end of the spectrum as my perennial Douglas-despising former partner, John, I can't help but agree with his criticisms in this instance. Shane's been headed downhill for a ways now, and seems to be growing more and more erratic as time goes by. You couldn't ask for a better promo than he delivered time and time again during his ECW days, yet he's seemingly become a completely different man in the rings owned by Turner. Far from aiding matters is his opponent this Sunday night, the consistantly annoying Ernest Miller. As commissioner, I had no problem with him. He spent far less time in the ring that way, and I could learn to live with his mic work. As a talker he's tolerable, but a wrestler he's not. In this instance, I find myself going with the lesser of two evils.
Winner: Shane Douglas

Mike Awesome Vs. Bam Bam Bigelow

Two ECW alum that haven't been given the chance to shine in the big leagues. Between Bigelow's free TV jobs to Goldberg in under two minutes and Mike Awesome's ludicrous gimmick, there's little question why this one isn't getting the attention it probably should. What could have been a nice contrast of styles is now likely to fall through the cracks as just another "could've been." Built properly, I stand firm that this could tear the roof off any arena in the country. As for Sunday, I'll wager Bigelow pounds the hell out of Awesome, knocking some sense into him and ridding the world of that terrible gimmick.
Winner: Bam Bam Bigelow

U.S. Heavyweight Title Match
Lance Storm Vs. General Rection

Probably won't be all it should be. Storm recently used his website to confirm the troubles he's currently having with his ribs, letting us all know he plans to give us 100% but not to expect five stars. Seeing as how the leader of team Canada's one of the brightest spots on WCW's increasingly youthful roster, that's quite a setback. As one of the most consistantly built, pushed and handled wrestlers in the sport, Storm's without question one of their "go-to guys" for the next three years. With his feud against General Rection and the MIA finally wrapping up within the next couple months, (likely blowing off at Starrcade) it's do or die time for those involved. One man will use the US title as a springboard to the top, while the other heads to the midcard for another visit. My money's on the Canadian.
Winner: Lance Storm

The Chosen One, Jeff Jarrett Vs. Buff Bagwell

I really haven't much to say here. While I was one of the loudest voices opposed to Jarrett's breakneck ascention to the main event, it wasn't so that he could be used like this in the mid-card. What Jeff needs is a solid spot in the US title scene and something to thrust himself back into the spotlight. One year ago today, he was in the exact spot he should have been, continuing a strong feud over the US title opposite Chris Benoit. A clearly defined, deserving face meeting his match in a clearly defined, deserving heel. Though there's no problem deciphering face from heel here, neither is at the level required for the World title shot they're dangling above the winner's head. Jarrett needs the victory to hit the skids on his decline, but Bagwell seems more likely to receive the big main event push.
Winner: Buff Bagwell

Tag Team Title Match
Kevin Nash and DDP Vs. The Perfect Event

A decent extension of the Nash / Thrillers feud. Though these aren't the teams I think of when the words "Tag Team Championship material" come up in a conversation, it's a passable facsimile. By turning on Nash, the Thrillers took on a little personality of their own and started down the long path of establishment. Now they've got to look strong in a nose to nose confrontation with the man himself and another top star, Diamond Dallas Page. Though the pairing is likely to end in a brief feud shortly down the line, their team is nice for the short term fix it is. The tag division gains a little length on its lifespan, and four otherwise aimless souls find something to do in the title scene. I've got Page and Nash cleaning up in this one, with rematches on the way.
Winner: Kevin Nash and Diamond Dallas Page

Lex Luger Vs. Goldberg

It was a nice twist thrown at us Monday, in the same vein as the Mick Foley stipulation at Wrestlemania, as Ric Flair announced this would be for the World Title at Mayhem if Luger managed to beat Booker T that evening on Nitro. Of course Booker held onto the belt, but the mere mention of the stipulation made it seem as though Luger couldn't help but win. A little unpredictable, and a nice twist... not overthought and double swerved, just a nice, subtle little trick that could've been easily overlooked. I'm hardly anticipating the matchup itself, as Luger's been poor for quite some time and Goldberg has been stagnating for the majority of his "second streak," but the build has been worthwhile, at the very least. There's no question who's playing the face and who the heel, and neither's worried about looking cool or selling merchandise; only nailing the angle and playing their roles. It isn't difficult to predict this one, as Goldberg heads into Starrcade with a head of steam and Luger softly fades out once again.
Winner: Goldberg

Caged Heat World Heavyweight Title Match
Scott Steiner With Midajah Vs. Booker T.

The gimmick's quite silly, (a straight jacket will be hanging above the ring) and doesn't really aid the match in becoming something it's not, but at the very least it won't be a poor match. Booker and Steiner have shown in the past that they can put on a tremendous show as professional wrestlers, (albeit alongside a shady finish that spoiled their cumulative efforts) and I'm sure the two of them can work around the slight handicap of the dangling jacket to give us another effort worthy of the main event here. While I don't agree with their decision to hold off on a Steiner title reign until one month before the blowoff PPV of the year, I will say with quite a degree of certainty that he's gonna take it here. What that leaves WCW is one month to build their top heel into an unstoppable champion, strong enough to hand Goldberg his first clean loss, build the encounter, add a couple heated exchanges and sell the fans on the whole schebang. Ideally, I'd have carried Booker's first World Title reign all the way through to Halloween Havok, where he'd drop the belt cleanly to Scott Steiner. Booker would be granted his rematch the next month, only to lose through shady measures and Steiner would dominate a short program of his own, biding his time while Goldberg built his streak to 175. But hey, what do I know? I'm just an internet junkie. The match should be worthwhile, though I'm still a bit skeptical of the gimmick. Steiner takes his first World Title only to drop it to Goldberg next month.
Winner: Scott Steiner

In Closing...

There's also a Jimmy Hart / Mancow match this Sunday night, but I've chosen to relieve you of that burden, as I'm sure we all hope WCW will by bell time as well. At Mayhem this Sunday night, WCW delivers something of an indecisive card. Many matches need only a spark to ignite their way into history alonside Kurt Angle, HHH or The Rock. It's that spark, however, that I'm starting to doubt. It takes only a glance to realize the workers in the company no longer care about the product for the most part. Spots are sloppy, movement is slow and the intensity is almost non-existant. With a few shining examples, the entire WCW roster is letting the slump get to them. Turner could have a powder keg here, but somebody forgot the lighter.

And that should do it for me. As always, all feedback is welcomed and read with an open mind. I'll be around at the usual time in the middle of the week (for real this time! I forgot about the holiday last week) for my regularly scheduled post, so...

until next time, i remain


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