Ringside Shadows #158: The World's Greatest WCW SiN Preview
With all the excitement floating around the state of WCW now that it's no longer a Turner subsidiary, most everyone seems to have forgotten they've still got a PPV to present this weekend, emanating from my hometown of Indianapolis. Though I've decided not to attend the event itself, that's not to say the card is a complete waste of space. While the main event is pretty well unrecoverable at this stage (especially if their big mystery man really is Scotty's elder brother Rick), much of the undercard is either very, very promising or salvageable at the very least. Despite the crippling injuries of Booker T and Sting, the promotion continues trying to make the best of a bad situation, elevating some new faces and concentrating more on producing good programming, rather than catching the WWF in the ratings. Provided Bischoff's arrival doesn't erase the big steps these guys have made in the last six months, the promotion could find their collective heads above the water rather soon... with much larger things even further down the line.
As for who they need healthy, active, motivated and elevated to get them to that higher level, well, I'll keep that list to myself for now. It's more important to concentrate on what's here and real now than to hypothesize about the future. While this card won't be rivaling the Royal Rumble in any way, shape or form, it could easily blow any of the struggling promotion's own offerings from 2000 out of the water. And that, I think, is a victory in and of itself for these guys.
For the Cruiserweight Title
Shane Helms vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.
Hands down, the match of the night. While he hasn't really hit his stride as a heel just yet, Chavo's been on fire in the ring these past few weeks, and with good reason. He's been given his shot, and dammit... he's making the most of it. Though the belt means squat, Eddy's cousin is determined to make his mark on the cruiserweight title. Another couple weeks of this and he'll have a hard time finding anyone to claim otherwise. On the other side of the ring, Shane Helms has taken the initiative and moved (along with partner Shannon Moore) into the spot I've maintained they deserved for over a year now. Fans are really coming around for these guys, due in large part to their "get it done in the ring" mentality. It was a refreshing change this past Monday night, watching an entire match between Shannon and Chavo sans run ins, blown spots or a questionable finish. Chavo played an old school heel, accentuated by his post match assault on Shane, and I loved every minute of it. So long as they don't go the obvious "shock TV" route Sunday and turn Moore on Helms, this will be a keeper. Chavo squeaks by this time, with another couple months with the belt in his future.
Winner: Chavo Guerrero, Jr.
Big Vito vs. Reno
This one's got more potential to surprise than any other on the card, as neither man has been given much reason to really come out of their shells in the federation. Both have shown glimmers of potential at one point or another, and with their similar builds and styles shouldn't have much problem entertaining the crowd Sunday night. The storyline they're working isn't doing anything for me, though, so I hope mic time prior to the match is kept to a minimum. If I'm not mistaken, I believe Johnny the Bull has turned up once again, so we're likely to see a bit of him here. Not entirely a bad thing, since he's got just as much potential as Reno or Vito. So long as Vito's "sister" doesn't climb between the ropes, this'll be respectable. Vito goes over, as he's been needing a victory for quite a while now.
Winner: Big Vito
For the Hardcore Title
Crowbar vs. Meng vs. Terry Funk
Placed right alongside Moore and Helms, (and, later, The Jung Dragons) Crowbar made my list of names to keep your eye on little over a year ago. Unfortunately, he's probably blossomed the least out of that company and today finds himself involved with a Hardcore Title scene that's more than a bit lacking. With tired old veterans like Funk and Meng haphazardly flung into the thick of things, there isn't really much room for a budding young prospect to develop into the big time star I still think he could be. While I've all the respect in the world for Terry Funk, I'm quite sure I won't be the first to say his time has come and gone. The man's a legend, but even John Wayne had to hang up his cowboy boots at one point. This won't be near the level a Hardcore match should inhabit, and unless Crowbar does something inhuman, the audience is likely to snooze through it. Meng takes this, though he really shouldn't.
For the Tag Team Titles
The Natural Born Thrillers (any two) vs. Kevin Nash & Diamond Dallas Page
Even though they're still many years from the big time, the Natural Born Thrillers took giant steps toward establishing themselves as distinct personalities and athletes in 2000. Though I still don't care much for Stasiak & Palumbo, and Jindrak & O'Haire are sort of bland, the stable has managed to carve a nice little niche for themselves within the hierarchy that is today's WCW. Where they started as a group of guys that wore the same shirts and acted kind of mean, they're now starting to branch out into well developed personalities within a living, breathing, structured little gang. In other words, they're beginning to mesh. While I'd rather see Sanders involved here, his match with the Cat pretty well eliminated that possibility, leaving either the Power Planters or the Perfect Event. My money goes with Jindrak and O'Haire as the whipping boys of choice here, and I'd like to see them given a fighting chance against the seasoned veterans. While the Thrillers have a great deal of clout thanks to the commissionership of Sanders, they're still lacking the credibility they need to really arrive with the public. A good showing against Nash and Page could net that for these two, even if they end up doing the job. I'll call it as a good, competitive match, but the InSiders aren't about to lay down for the heels this time.
Winners: The InSiders
The Cat vs. Mike Sanders
Speak of the devil. Here we've got Mike Sanders, one of the guys I've found myself actually enjoying over the last few months. He knows his role (for lack of a better phrase) in the business, and has secured for himself a solid spot on the WCW midcard for the foreseeable future. I've never been a supporter of his opponent, the Cat, and while I don't plan to become one any time soon, I think I can see a decent angle for him when the dust settles here. Though it's just a hunch, I'd wager they're planning to turn Miller this Sunday night, aligning him with the Thrillers and putting Flair in one hell of a position. So long as it keeps the Cat out of the ring, I'm all for it.
Winner: The Cat
First Blood Match For The U.S. Heavyweight Title
General Rection vs. The Franchise Shane Douglas
Rection's first real challenge as US Champion. While Douglas is certainly no slouch, he's also no longer in the league of Lance Storm when it comes to building a great match and giving us our money's worth in consecutive showings. Though Rection won't be carrying the Franchise this Sunday, he will have a lot more responsibility than he did against the former Canadian champion. In a way, it's his first real test in this new role with the company, and if the match turns out ugly I'd wager we won't be seeing nearly as much of him in the weeks to come. Don't expect any miracles out of this, though I wouldn't mark it off as a failure just yet either. Douglas is likely to lay down in the end, as the US division seems to be devoted to establishing Rection as a future star right now.
Winner: General Rection
Canadian Style Penalty Box Match
The Filthy Animals vs. Team Canada
Though the gimmick may hinder things a bit, this match is more than likely to be excellent. The current incarnation of Team Canada is inarguably the strongest we've ever seen, and with Lance Storm putting foot to ass on a regular basis lately in the ring against opponents far less talented than the Animals, this one could really be something special. It's pretty well a given that the girls will get involved, and with Duggan donning the striped shirt I've got no illusions; this won't be five star material. However with Storm, Skipper, Awesome, Kidman and Rey all involved we're pretty much guaranteed a couple fireworks. Let's hope the Lance vs. Kidman match on Nitro was a good representation of what they've got planned for us Sunday.
Winners: The Filthy Animals
Goldberg & Sarge vs. Lex Luger & Buff Bagwell
More than anything else, this match is probably the main reason I chose not to attend the event. With the combined forces of suck appearing in the forms of Lex Luger and Buff Bagwell stinking up their side of the ring and a man that's got no place on television, let alone an upper echelon PPV match in the Sarge, I don't figure the end result here will be too pretty. In my eyes, Goldberg's underrated... but no underrated enough to carry these three to anything even resembling a good match. I suppose it's only fitting, then, that this is the most likely suspect for an overbooked beginning, middle, end and post-end. I'm not sure if Goldberg's streak is even an issue here, but I don't see him doing the job either way. Luger will flex, Buff will act annoying, Goldberg will hit a spear and Sarge will stare into the crowd like a deer in headlights.
Winners: Goldberg and Sarge
4 Way For the World Heavyweight Title
Sid Vicious vs. Jeff Jarrett vs. Mystery Opponent vs. Scott Steiner
It would be a nice change for Sting to arrive as the mystery man, wouldn't it? If he's healthy and the bookers have any sort of common sense in their heads, that's what they'll have planned for this weekend, whether they've got Jarrett slated for a face turn or not. Either way though, this won't be much of a technical masterpiece. While it could be argued that many fans don't enjoy a technical masterpiece anyway, I have a hard time believing they'd rather watch the aborted beast that's going to birth in the main event of SiN instead. Steiner's decent enough as a champ, though he could stand to sell a little more and the tension he's got going with Jarrett is interesting, but those two positives do not a good match make. I'd bet the mystery man will move on to a match or series with Sid after this, while the uneasiness between Jarrett and Steiner explodes into a full blown feud over the title heading into Spring Stampede. For now, though, Steiner will escape with his gold.
Winner: Scott Steiner
Like I said in the intro, this isn't an entirely promising card, but it's not a completely disappointing one either. Take a look at the roster and tell me it doesn't look about fifteen times more promising than the sad crew they'd assembled this time last year. The feel around WCW these days is changing to one of hope, of building towards a future. Sure, bad seeds like Sid and Buff Bagwell are still slinking around the backstage area. Long time problems like Hogan and Savage, though, are nowhere to be found. But in any set of eyes, that isn't the message that this PPV will be remembered as embodying. If nothing else, WCW SiN 2001 will go down in history as the last PPV before Bischoff and company made an impact, be it positive or negative. Let's pray this newfound hope survives through the first month of the new year, to blossom into a profitable tree later in the summer.
until next time, i remain