Ringside Shadows #166: The World's Greatest WCW Greed Preview
Believe it or not, the time has rolled around once again for another WCW PPV, and as usual I'm here to nail down the particulars for those that have remained loyal. Before I get in too deep with this one though, I want to mention this will be the last "World's Greatest" WCW Preview I'll be doing as a solo. That's right, starting next month I'll be proud to welcome fellow Oratory member Xavier Von Erck to the WCW Preview squad as my regular broadcast partner. I had a couple different prospects in mind when John left the WCW crew, and Xavier was the one that rose to the top when all was said and done. Xavier brings a style all his own to the table every week, and I think you'll agree he's the right man for the job when we bust out our first preview together this time next month.
What WCW's lined up for us this month could turn out some pleasant surprises, but then again a couple mistimed spots and blown matches could send the whole card spiraling off down the path to a burning inferno of doom. Several clashes on this lineup have more than a little potential to produce, but chances are strong the audience won't be as interested as they could be. I count five matches which were most likely booked at the last minute with little or no build, and while any good match should be able to overcome such an obstacle I'm still left with some doubts. I'll be blunt with this one; I've seen much, much worse from WCW in the past. With that said, I've also seen much, much better. WCW remains in a holding pattern here, biding their time with a couple feuds and elevations that could possibly alter the company and sliding by with an emotionless card like this one instead. Hey, at the very least Robocop, Chucky, the Yeti and the Black Scorpion won't be making any appearances.
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Shawn Stasiak
Just about a poster boy for the hurried, barely built matchup I described in the paragraphs above. While I'm glad to see Bam Bam back in the mix, the way they chose to reintroduce him was offbeat and more than a little bizarre. Was Bigelow ever really associated with the David Flair / Ms. Hancock affair? Or Stasiak? Why didn't the Nature Boy's eldest make an appearance during the promo that wrapped up his deepest, most involved storyline? Don't misread here, I'm actually rather relieved we won't be seeing David Flair vs. Shawn Stasiak this month on PPV, but I was somewhat interested to see what little Dave's first reaction was going to be. Instead, Bigelow makes his way to the ring, cuts a strange promo to which the audience didn't know how to react and makes the challenge for Sunday night. Okaaay...
Regardless, if Stasiak feels like getting off his ass and working for a change, this could be a nice, tidy little matchup. Bigelow should be able to ride the wave of his return for a little bit yet, so there should be some interest from the crowd, despite the angle development Monday. It looks like "Perfect Shawn" is in line for something of a generous push in the near future, though, so I'll be taking him here. The "Beast from the east" has nothing to gain from this feud... but then again, he doesn't have much to lose, either.
Winner: Shawn Stasiak
Hugh Morrus & Konnan vs. Lance Storm & Mike Awesome
It's really a shame to see Lance Storm slowly sliding back down the ranks of WCW after such an impressive and entertaining rise to the upper echelons. Not even his "Team Canada" angle makes sense anymore, and that's a real shame as I think their current lineup is far and away the best of the stable's short history. What happened to the Lance Storm that blew through 2000's list of paper champions, nearly capturing every belt in the promotion before he was through? There was interest in that! His match on Nitro with Booker T, only weeks after capturing his third consecutive title, was brilliantly booked, worked, and accepted. The crowd was thirsty for his blood, and when it seemed like he might actually have a shot at forcing then-champ Booker T to tap out you could just feel the tension blasting through the television. That's how good feuds should be built. That's the kind of thing you remember.
Now, Lance has become a paper doll himself, losing the killer instinct that set him apart and becoming less of a fighting leader and more of a frightened commander. With Awesome, Storm's got a partner that can keep up, (though he, too, is but a shade of his ECW self) however we haven't even seen the tip of the iceberg from them in-ring. Working a nowhere feud with Konnan and Morrus, I really don't see that changing. We'll get a fun exchange or two, perhaps a weak-hearted Mapleleaf and a false finish along the way. When it comes down to it, though, Konnan and Morrus seem to be on their way up while Storm and Awesome are becoming forgotten.
Winners: Hugh Morrus & Konnan
Ernest Miller vs. Chris Kanyon
So... why's Kanyon taking on Ernest Miller here again? I realize he assaulted The Cat's manager in the hospital a couple weeks ago, but they didn't bother to progress it much further than that. Now, if you checked out my post last week, you'll know I've got no problem whatsoever with booking a match just for the sake of having a match. That's where the industry came from. Before there were storylines, audiences were attracted by the sheer enjoyment of watching two men almost kill each other. When federations get to thinking they must have a storyline, as is the case in this instance, they start to get in over their heads.
The match won't be one to write home about. Kanyon's a damn fine worker when he's motivated and matched up with someone worthy of his time, but not even Chris Benoit could drag a decent match out of the Cat. You're likely to see the same three or four kicks several dozen times here, with Cat's lame little people's elbow ripoff thrown in for good measure. If Kanyon had any brains, he'd start the match by clipping a knee and go from there. While that's not a likely prospect, I do think Kanyon's chances here are better than average. It looks as though he's about to embark on a serious heel push, and I don't think that's something I'd complain about one bit.
Winner: Chris Kanyon
Jeff Jarrett & Ric Flair vs. Dustin & Dusty Rhodes
Proving they've still miles to go, WCW took a good, fun, real moment in Dusty Rhodes's surprise appearance on Nitro several weeks ago and exploited it, milking the emotion for all it's worth and building the whole thing into a $30 PPV mess. While it'll be nice to see Flair and Rhodes back in the ring, if just for old times' sakes, I can't really say it's something I'd be willing to spend thirty bucks on. The nostalgia factor is strong in me, but not that strong. Looking beyond the elder statesmen, Jeff Jarrett has been priceless with his building of this feud, as usual. His mockery of old-time stars is dead on, as evidenced by his masterful portrayal of Duth-tay a couple weeks ago on Nitro and the now classic Sting impression several months ago. Great stuff, watching him squeeze his crotch and squirm like a nimrod. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about Dustin.
Hard as he tries, the son of the dream just isn't that interesting. Without the Goldust character to fall back on, Rhodes is constantly searching for a personality that clicks and he's always seemed to come up blank. His ringwork hasn't evolved nearly enough to stay fresh on that front, and set up next to Jarrett his flaws are more evident than ever. I really, really hope WCW isn't going to try turning him on his father this weekend. Regardless, the heels are holding all the cards here. Flair and Jarrett should clean up.
Winners: Jeff Jarrett & Ric Flair
Cruiserweight Tag Team Title Match
Billy Kidman & Rey Mysterio, Jr. vs. Elix Skipper & Kid Romeo
Here's one instance where WCW did the unthinkable and surprised me. When they announced the Cruiserweight Tag Team Title, I dismissed it without even giving it a chance. I thought it was a silly idea, along the same lines as the ill-fated Six-Man Tag Team titles, the US Tag Team Titles and just about every other failed belt along the way. However, once I sat down and actually watched a Cruiserweight tag tourney match, I was hooked. These guys have been out there busting their asses for the last couple weeks, fighting to make this idea work. And, for my money, they've been successful. The Skipper / Romeo storyline is fun, and adds a good bit of tension to the mix. Making it this far sets the stage for some prime time fireworks (if you'll pardon the pun) on the big stage, not to mention a very promising match with Kidman and Mysterio.
Kidman and Skipper have worked really well in the past together, which leads me to believe "Prime Time" is more than a little compatible with Rey Rey as well. If Romeo keeps up his pace here and the booking doesn't get too complicated, the match should take the final step towards establishing these titles as something worth fighting for. I'm gonna take Skipper and Romeo here, but a breakup is just looming over those two already, so I don't figure they'll hold the belts for long.
Winners: Elix Skipper & Kid Romeo
Cruiserweight Title Match
"Sugar" Shane Helms vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.
I don't remember any build behind this one, but that's ok because they've still got quite a backstory to work with from their earlier feud. Chavo continues to kick more ass than previously conceivable in the cruiserweight division, with Shane following not too far behind in the same department. These two are total packages, guys with fully developed ring skills and believable personalities to back them up. They're both going to make something of themselves, and this feud is a large reason why.
To say these two are compatible is like saying Paul Wight's a little slow in the ring. It's the understatement of the century. This won't be the last time they meet, and let's thank the wrestling gods for that. With that said however, it's been too much a Guerrero-fest in their matches up until now. If Helms jobs again, they'll have trouble convincing fans there's a chance the champ may ever drop his title. It's time to balance the scales again. It's time for Helms to snag the belt.
Winner: Shane Helms
Tag Team Title Match
Lex Luger & Buff Bagwell vs. Sean O'Haire & Chuck Palumbo
Perhaps it's the regular tag team titles that should be retired, instead of the new cruiserweight straps. If they can't come up with a better opponent for Palumbo and O'Haire than Luger and Bagwell, some serious work needs to be done if they hope to keep the division respectable. O'Haire's got potential, but he's not there yet... not by a long shot. He needs a strong heel to help him develop properly into what he could be, and Luger isn't that heel. Bagwell isn't either. Hey, why isn't Team Canada in this match?
This'll be below average. Luger and Bagwell bring a bit of crowd interest with them, as they're associated with Ric Flair's "Magnificent Seven", but the match itself will suck. And you can quote me on that. I've got O'Haire and Palumbo retaining.
Winners: Sean O'Haire & Chuck Palumbo
US Title Match
Booker T vs. Rick Steiner
Good lord. Who, in their wildest dreams, would have imagined Rick Steiner would hold this US Title for so long? Better yet, who could've predicted he'd be going over established main eventers with it? Steiner's reign of terror is probably the single worst thing going on in pro wrestling today. And I don't think I'm exaggerating by making a statement like that, either.
Probably the saddest thing isn't that WCW has pushed the elder Steiner (that'd be Rick) through the roof, it's that he used to actually deserve to be here. Take a peek back at his classics with Mike Rotunda in the late 80s, or his work in the now-classic tag team that bore his last name. Rick Steiner was superb, and though he was often saddled with silly gimmicks or angles, one could always count on him to deliver a strong match when needed. Seeing this shadow of a man holding the US title when he wasn't afforded such an honor in his youth is more than just disconcerting. It's disappointing.
So, when you see Rick Steiner this Sunday night, no-selling the match away and making Booker T look like piss, try to remember the man he used to be. If nothing else, it'll take your mind off the crap you're watching in the ring for a while. Booker has every right to take this match, as well as the US title that's eluded him to date.
Winner: Booker T
World Title Match
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Scott Steiner
Not really as bad a match-up as others would like you to believe. Scott Steiner, like his brother, has lost the ability to sell, but still remains a decent enough worker. With Page opposing him, a man who can carry just about anything to a solid *** performance, things shouldn't get too ugly. The angle progression has been sloppy and more than a little stupid, thanks in great part to Steiner's horrendous promos, but I don't think that's hurt interest in the match too badly. There's no question this will be more entertaining than last month's lame Steiner / Nash "collision."
I don't think Scotty's run as champ is quite over yet, especially considering his whole run is basically only to build him as credible challenger when Goldberg returns, so I'd be willing to bet he'll go over here. Having put out the majority of the faces in the business, Steiner would be left as an undisputed champ when WCW goes black in late March. That's about as strong an image as you're likely to recover from this fallen dynasty.
Winner: Scott Steiner
A surprisingly strong undercard, followed by a sub par set of main events that's sure to leave the viewing audience with a bad taste in their collective mouth. The cruisers really are the main attraction here, with the title more than likely changing hands and the tag scene getting off to a grand start. Keep your eyes glued to the undercard, but when that last hour rolls around you're just as well off making a deposit on the porcelain throne.
until next time, i remain