Welcome to the wonderful Sunday edition of the Phat Daily Column. It's been a long week for myself, and I'm sure for the overwhelming majority as well, so it's time to sit back, relax, and read about the federation which will lose their Time Warner television spots really soon.
A couple of History things I want to point out..... Many of you want me to do a "History of ECW" column. Sure, that sounds like a good idea, BUT I was only a viewer of ECW stuff from late 1996 to late 1997, and from the fall of 1999 to the fall of 2000. Meaning, I missed all of the very oldschool ECW, and I missed a lot of what happened between 1997 and 1999. That's a lot of years, unknown to me, to try to cover. With the WWF eras or the WCW eras, I can at least relate to them because I actually watched or read about a lot of the stuff happening. I don't know.... maybe I'll read into it more, and possibly throw together one.
A couple of wrestlers have been brought up, too. I've got your e-mail requests saved, and I'm deciding on what to do for next week's column, once I FINALLY finish up the history of WCW columns. It seems like Chris Benoit is the big favorite of the requests, and I'll see what I can do there. For Benoit, I know his career perfectly from the time he entered WCW... before that, well.....
Hey, why should I keep rambling on when I could be talking about the FUN of Vince Russo's second run in WCW? On to the PDC. Oh wait! In the XFL Gazette, I'll have my thoughts on the Vince McMahon on Bob Costas's "On the Record", so you don't want to miss that!
Halfway done with the Chyna book.........
Now whether Bischoff hired Vince Russo to screw up WCW, or to actually give himself the appearance that he was in fact doing his job, well, that's unknown. What is known is that Bischoff is/was a part of a scheme to purchase WCW, which ended up being back by Fusient. That deal has since been failing, if you've kept an eye on the LoP Main Page lately. Russo is now back, after a very bad fight, last time, with guys like Kevin Sullivan, JJ Dillon, and all of the other "Good Ol' Boys" who have been in the wrestling business for years.
Again, like I stated with the last Russo Era column, the problem with Russo as the head booker of WCW is this: he's a writer, not a booker. There's a great difference between a writer and a booker. A booker knows the wrestling business, and books matches or feuds that the FANS might or will like. A writer is someone a booker relies on to write details of how the booked feud will play out. So as a match maker, Vince Russo was absolutely terrible! As a writer though, as seen in the WWF, he can be a force.
So WCW decides to take a one week shutdown so that Russo can write up long term storylines. The thing is, he didn't write any long term storylines whatsoever, and he improvised bookings like when David Arquette comes to town. OOOPS! We'll hold that one off. Russo does a few interviews at this time, too, and he states that "I will never be on television again". It took him the first night of Nitro to break that, and Russo would try to be a regular character a few months later.
But the first Nitro was creeping around, and a lot of oldschool fans were anticipating it because the Sullivan era sucked that bad! It was decided that WCW will reset all titles, which was intriguing by itself. WCW also grabbed a lot of new talent out of the wind, like Shawn Stasiak, Chuck Palumbo, and of course, Mike Awesome. With Mike Awesome, a lot of controversy occurred about his WCW debut. He apparently just up and decided to jump to WCW, without looking at his guaranteed contract to see if he could do it or not. Awesome was supposed to jump Kevin Nash in an angle for the first Russo/Bischoff Nitro, but the fellas at ECW gave them a call. After several threats to sue, Mike Awesome was finally allowed to appear on WCW television, but not without a price. ECW swindled around $300,000, I believe, from WCW in exchange for Mike Awesome. After that, ECW heavily protected wrestlers from making any kind of jumps.
The first Nitro was actually a very refreshing one. There was a long opening segment, in which Russo let the "Good Ol' Boys" know that he was in charge. Russo and Bischoff were on the same team, and they announced that they will help the "New Blood" defeat the "Millionaires' Club". Old Blood was turned down, by the way. But the highlight of the night was with Sid. Sid was the current WCW World Champion, as he was for most of the Sullivan era, and Eric Bischoff had to get the title off of him. In an angle to start heat with Sid, Bischoff shot on calling him "Softball Sid", and he kept asking where the scissors were! The notice of this gave Russo a hard on, and he let wrestlers shoot on each other from then on. Sid didn't amount to much in WCW, though. From being the stable WCW champion, Sid accumulated some injuries which he'd need time off to heel. After losing in the mini tournament for the World Title, Sid disappeared from television. He would come back to join the New Blood, turning on the Millionaires' Club, I guess, but he'd never be seen again until he'd return to fight Scott Steiner at the end of 2000. Sid actually did a lot for WCW in their time off, as he went to Australia to promote their very successful tour there.
The first Nitro had a few odd twists in it. One, they finally had Ric Flair and Shane Douglas feud! This was a dream feud for ECW marks, as Douglas has been running his mouth about Flair in ECW for the longest time. A New Hulk Hogan? Yes, a newer one in street clothes who was feuding with Billy Kidman. Both wrestlers did some evil "shoot" interviews on radio stations to get this feud over. Finally, Shawn Stasiak debuted with a "Mr. Perfect" like gimmick, and he distracted Curt Hennig in his match. I liked this Nitro so much, that I gave it an A+. Seriously.
Now if you ever want to see a RUSHED Pay Per View, then go rent Spring Stampede 2000. I swear, there's like 12-14 matches on the card for a 3 hour show! Jeff Jarrett would win the World Championship, Scott Steiner, fresh off some bad incidents during the Sullivan era, won the US Title, Chris Candido, with the returning Tammy Sytch, won the Cruiserweight title, Buff Bagwell and Shane Douglas won the World Tag Titles, and the returning Terry Funk won the Hardcore Title. The evil New Blood aimed at Terry Funk, since he was the only Old Fart with a title. Many attempts at him to win the title, to no avail. With Candido and Sytch, they didn't quite last that long. Tammy was unfortunately accused of doing drugs again, WHICH SHE WASN'T, and after getting her name cleared, she never returned to WCW again. Neither did Chris. The sad thing is that both Tammy and Chris were a good combination in WCW, but WCW dropped the ball.
A week after this Pay Per View show, Diamond Dallas Page defeated Jeff Jarrett for the WCW World Title. For their rematch, it was announced that they'd fight in a 3 tier cage match at Slamboree, you know, like they had in the new movie Ready to Rumble. Uh oh, you know what's coming next. 1 Day later, at Thunder, they invited the star of Ready to Rumble, David Arquette, to do a match involving Jarrett and DDP. The match was DDP/Arquette vs. Jarrett/Eric Bischoff, with the one getting the pin, winning the WCW title. This is the very first move that ruined Russo's booking ideas from the start. Remember how I said he was a WRITER, and not a BOOKER? Here's your proof of that, setting up this ridiculous match in the first place. But the outcome was the ridiculous part....
Somehow, some way, David Arquette pinned Eric Bischoff in this match. Obviously, someone forgot to mention that only Bischoff or Jarrett could only win the title off of a pin, and NOT the World Champion's tag partner. But no, Arquette could win by just helping his team win the match. Arquette won the WCW World Title, in probably the most embarrassing moment in pro wrestling history. WCW lost a lot of respect for this move, because a lot of oldschool fans liked the prestigue of the World Title. Russo didn't care for it, which was a mistake. After involving David Arquette in the Slamboree 3 tier match, fans really began to disappear. Arenas became empty, badly, again, and ratings were going back to the Sullivan era's success. Arquette actually pulled an evil heel turn at Slamboree, if you cared... Jarrett was the champion, again.
But Russo had something good going for him at the time: he had the cooperation of Hulk Hogan, who held out during the 1st Russo era. Or did he? Under the new gimmick of Stone Cold Hulk Hogan, he was going after Billy Kidman and oddly enough, Mike Awesome. It was actually exciting to watch, too, because Hogan never let any younger talent go over him in WCW, like he did for Awesome and Kidman.... at first. Hogan had other plans, and boy, were they devious ones. Hogan has the creative clause in his contract, remember? Well, with that, he let Russo control his storylines with Kidman and Awesome, but there was a catch. For all of the hard work with Kidman and Awesome, Hogan's real goal was to grab the World Title. Reports were surfacing that Hogan actually didn't care for Russo's storylines at all, in fact, many said he dogged Russo behind his back. Hogan was waiting for the right opportunity to capitalize on the weak Russo, or so he thought. So for the final match at the Great American Bash 2000 against Billy Kidman, Hogan creatively added that if he won the match, he'd receive a title shot at the next Pay Per View. Hogan won the match, so he was to receive a title shot at Bash at the Beach 2000.
But Russo had other plans, but there was nothing he could do about Hogan now. He struck a deal with Hogan to work with Kidman and Awesome, and he was about to pay for it. So leading up to Bash at the Beach, Russo decided to strike a deal with Hogan. Russo wanted to do some kind of angle of company man vs. top wrestler, just like Vince McMahon vs. Steve Austin. Yes, he was totally ripping that off. Russo, however, took a few weeks off leading up to the show. Hogan did too. While off, Terry Taylor was in charge of the show, and he made some very significant changes.
For one, Taylor pushed Booker T like never before. No more GI Bro, no more just Booker, and no more being held down. Booker T rose at the opportunity, and the fans took notice. When Russo came back, he had to take notice, and he went with the flow and decided to finally give Booker T a shot himself. Russo's new plan with Hulk Hogan was to have him defeat the willing Jarrett, and then have Russo "shoot" on Hogan. The final plan was to have Booker T and Jeff Jarrett fight over the title, but the real story was supposed to be the Hogan vs. Russo feud to be the biggest storyline for WCW. But that didn't happen.
You see, instead of doing the feud, Russo didn't even script anything for Hogan. With Hogan, which many of the other bookers or company Presidents didn't realize was that they could just not include Hogan on the storylines. Just that easy, and Russo did it! The refusal of Russo was an actual doublecross after Bash at the Beach 2000, and then Hogan filed his lawsuit which is still pending today. Booker T won the World Title at the Bash, fulfilling the dreams of many who thought he deserved it.
With Russo's second run, he made a lot of stupid, stupid mistakes. One, he decided to put Chavo Guerrero, Van Hammer, Hugh Morrus, and Lash Laroux together to form the fun loving Misfits in Action. If that wasn't bad enough, he gave each wrestler a funny name (sarcasm). Chavo became Lt. Loco, Van Hammer became Major Stash, Hugh Morrus became General Rection, and Lash Laroux became Corporal Cajun. The funny thing with Van Hammer was that he rejected the name "Private Stash", and he never was truly excited about the angle anyway. Hammer would be sent home for acting like an idiot backstage, and was replaced by the Wall. The Wall would become Sgt. A-Wall, in which announcers like Shiavone, Tenay, and Mark Madden kept saying "do you get it? A.... Wall?" My good friend "shooter" Shawn Valloric kept saying this on the Wrestle Palooza Audio Show, to remind everyone of the ignorance of WCW announcing, and then I kept saying it. These 4 guys would just SUCK up the place in WCW, and besides Lt. Loco, all bad matches were generated whenever the Misfits were in action.
Team Canada was another terrible, terrible idea. WCW's recent purchase of Lance Storm was a good deal indeed, and from the start, you could see that Storm made the right decision. He was carrying matches well from the start, and pissing off fans with his snobbish Canadian attitude. It worked so well that he would end up winning the United States title in a vacated tournament, to the surprise of many. Storm also won the Cruiserweight title, and he gave it to a guy who claimed to be Canadian in Elix Skipper. Skipper, who has never lived in Canada, claimed to have played in the Canadian Football League. Despite that, Skipper made a good partner for Storm.... until they had to fight the Misfits in action. Their long feuds were the biggest bunch of crap that I've ever seen. I could get into this more in depth, but we must move on so that I don't spend 4 hours at the computer today.
Back to the World Title..... Kevin Nash buddied up to Vince Russo at the end of the Summer in 2000, and convinced Russo to let him feud with Booker T. Yeah, it wasn't such a bad idea, until Nash tricked Russo into giving him the World Title at a Nitro. Instead of hyping up a match at the Pay Per View between Nash and Booker T, they had to do the underdog angle again with Booker T trying to beat the "tough champ" in Kevin Nash. It was just one of those lovely powerplays by Nash on Russo, but at least Nash lost the title cleanly at Fall Brawl 2000.
A week later at a Nitro, Vince Russo decided that it was time for him to win the WCW World Title. Yeah, maybe Kevin Nash had an influence on him or something? Yet another black eye for the World Title. Russo made the title vacant the next week, making Jeff Jarrett and Booker T fight for the World Title... again?!? Booker T won the World Title back, but like with what Nash did before, his credibility was shot. Even worse, WCW was letting him use the Bookend as his finisher, which was a Rock Bottom imitation, and the WWF fans saw that.
But before we go any further, let's talk about Bill Goldberg. Just a little after Russo came back, Bill Goldberg came back too. He would wrestle limited action, and then Russo got the idea that fans no longer cared for Goldberg whatsoever. So Goldberg was turned heel at the Great American Bash, to the caring of nobody. Goldberg didn't know how to play a heel, either, as he says in his book. The whole thing was a disaster, and they slowly turned Goldberg face again. Bill Goldberg did the wonderful streak again, since that was the only angle/gimmick Russo could get him to agree on. Goldberg would do the streak until he ran into the likes of Buff and Lex Luger at Sin. It should be noted that Buff came back after being arrested for assault on a Time Warner employee, and Lex Luger was sent home for refusing to work with the very green (at the time) Chuck Palumbo.
Russo's body, or should I say mind, began taking a toll on him. He received a bad concussion from wrestling in some stiff matches or beatdowns. Russo suffered from very bad post concussion syndrome, and he wasn't able to be on the Australian Tour. Terry Taylor and Johnny Ace fought over Russo's power down in Australia, which was overshadowed by the Australian fans' appreciation for WCW finally coming to the land down under. Johnny Ace, by the way, was brought in by Eric Bischoff, who snatched him from the All Japan shake up. Ace was said to be great on booking finishes, as we are just taken away by his Head Booking today. Russo would never return to television after this, as his condition wouldn't allow another comeback.
So Terry Taylor and Johnny Ace fought over power for a few months, until in December of 2000, Russo's right hand man, Ed Ferarra became head booker. It's not like he made a difference or anything. Booker T and Scott Steiner were now battling over the title, until Scott Steiner finally won the World Title at Mayhem. Steiner would then face the returning Sid to an interesting feud, actually. Sin arrived, but WCW went about it all wrong. Ferarra booked a stupid Masked Man to attack Scott Steiner, only to help him defeat Sid at Sin. The match looks more incredibly stupid when Sid goes down with a badly broken leg, and Steiner wins off of a kick by Animal.
But while all of this is going on, Eric Bischoff and Fusient are trying to make a deal with Time Warner to purchase WCW, but to keep WCW television on TBS or TNT. A small deal was accepted between the two, and Eric Bischoff was placed in charge of the company again! With that, Rick Steiner returned out of no where, and he's currently main eventing WCW shows(while Crowbar gets cut and the Natural Born Thrillers are depushed - guys who worked hard for the company before Bischoff came back). Johnny Ace won the head booker position, and he's currently boring us with lame storylines. Just recently, it was announced that Fusient and Time Warner can't strike a deal, and to top all of that off, an AOL chairman announced that Thunder and Nitro were cancelled after March 26th!
So for all of these insanely bad booking decisions or all of these bad company decisions, the shit has finally hit the fan for WCW. The nail might finally be in the coffin, and they can only blame themselves for their actions. As I've covered from 1990 to today, 2001, WCW has only been a success once. Their NWO years brought the respect and profits they never saw before, but that didn't quite last too long. They screwed up their chance of remaining at the top of the hill, and not properly giving the WWF any runs for their money. Don't even blame the competitive Vince McMahon for the destruction of WCW. Oh no. WCW has always hurt themselves, and the fact that they are going down, right now, is a result of it.
That's the final chapter on the history of WCW, as I really hope someone pulls a miracle out of their ass to give me another history column to present. If not, so long.............
Wrestle Palooza Audio Show: Listen to the shows to find out how to win a Wrestlemania Gift Pack!!!!! (I may or may not be on the Sunday Show this Sunday. But check it out anyway, with a Greed Preview show)
LoP T-Shirts: NEW STUFF IN STOCK! Mouse Pads, Sweat Shirts, Coffee Mugs, more T-Shirts, Baby Doll shirts, and more! Also, you can now order via Credit Card!
Backyard BBQ: The Best in Backyard Wrestling!
KOLTERSHOCK!!! NEWS ORGY!!!
@That's all for today. I'll stop this WCW madness for next week, going into some other kind of history (I hope). I'll be back with an actual Sunday column, after taking the 2 previous Sundays off. I at least have a Pay Per View to discuss this week! Whoo! Just chill till the next PDC.
Memphis Maniax vs. NY/NJ Hitmen
The Outlaws and Thunderbolts game will be the "A" game for NBC, tonight at 8 pm. I predict that the show will receive a ratings drop of a lifetime, thanks to the NCAA tournament. Speaking of the NCAA, I'm so glad I didn't waste my time on filling out a brackets prediction sheet. Phew! Too many upsets out there for me.
I felt the interview was pretty even up until Costas questioned Vince McMahon about wrestling. Costas should have prepared himself much better there. For the XFL, I found Vince to have some good points about what he was saying. McMahon said that it's very hard to build a "brand", which I kinda agree. I've read into the histories of professional leagues, and many of them started out as slow as the XFL is currently witnessing. I think Costas made some good points about some of the corny stuff the XFL has tried, like the Cheerleaders' locker room segment and more. Vince responded well in that he's working hard to get ratings. It was fairly even for the XFL stuff, and if anything, Vince got the upperhand on Costas.
Costas, by the way, is very hated among baseball historians. I know one of them from Ohio University, and he bashes Costas's inconsistancies about recollections of baseball's pasts, and how Costas can act very conceited about baseball. I've heard other baseball announcers or analysts remark about Costas's views on baseball history as well, meaning that he might not know everything he claims to know. For wrestling, Costas didn't know what he was talking about, whatsoever. The Lionel Tate court case mention was a very bad error on Costas's part. Everyone and their mother knows that the 12-year-old Tate had the intent to kill the 5 or 6 year old girl, despite being a fan of wrestling. Bad, bad error on Costas. Costas then brought up the Trish Stratus angle, which I actually thought was pretty low of Vince. Vince did cover himself well, though, by telling Costas that Trish will most likely get the best of Vince at the end. Costas should watch for that, is what Vince said, and he made me a believer there.
The WWF has some very strong women though. Just take a look at Chyna. Who else is looked upon as a tough role model for younger girls? Seriously. Lita has a lot of that too, as does many of the WWF ladies. Sure, we have our wonderful ones like Trish and Debra showing off their goods, but the majority of the WWF ladies are tough anymore. Costas was just another reporter grabbing the wrestling stereotypes and making conclusions about something he never watches anymore. Therefore, the winner is......
Winner: Vince McMahon
Vince earned a lot of my respect from this interview by sticking up for what he believed in, and making Costas look like a fool on certain parts. Way to go Vince!