Saturday is here, and History class is in session. Looking through the request list, which grows by the day, I see that all of the ones on it need extra time in preparation. The Booker T column, last week, took a significant amount of time to do, and I don't have the time to repeat that feat today.
So..... I've decided that I'll review something easy and relatively fresh in my head, and to actually continue what I said I was going to do. Yes, we go back to WCW to finish up the bad management days, and one of the worst cases of all time will be covered today: the Sullivan era of 2000.
Scary, isn't it? On to the PDC.
Vince Russo is in a lot of hot water, right now, with WCW for his constant fight with "Standards and Practices" over his content. Instead of booking a clean show, Russo cries non stop. During this time, a bunch of oldtimers who ran the company during the summer before Russo, are talking to Bill Busch, who they say ran WCW at the time. Busch was and always will be one of the weakest WCW presidents of all time. Sullivan and pals sweet talked Busch into firing Russo on the next conflict that he had with Russo.
During this time, the Ratings weren't coming in after Starrcade or after the so-called return of the NWO. Also, WCW suffered through a significant amount of injuries. Jeff Jarrett, Bret Hart, Bill Goldberg and a few others were hurt leading up to Souled Out 2000, and Bill Busch was totally pissed about it. Goldberg put his hand through the window, which Busch blamed Russo for. Now I've read Goldberg's book, and Bill says that Russo told him to do it, so...
With all of the pressures by the oldschool guys, the injuries, and just impatience with the ratings war, something was about to give. Well the Jarrett and Hart injuries really stripped down Souled Out 2000, as Bret Hart was supposed to wrestle Sid Vicious for the World Title, and Chris Benoit was supposed to fight Jeff Jarrett in the Triple Threat Theater set of matches. With Jarrett and Hart injured, they needed a World title fight to give to the fans. So the plan was to make the title vacant, but who would win it? Sid? Oh no, Russo had a so-called better solution: Tank Abbott. Russo pushed hard for Abbott to win the title at Souled Out that an argument occurred with Busch about it. Busch thought it was a ridiculous idea, as did the rest of the wrestling world, but Russo kept insisting that Abbott was WCW's man. After he had enough, Busch fired Russo as the head booker immediately.
So we are just days from Souled Out 2000, and the card needs to be slopped together, and fast! Busch then tries to find a new booking team, and he turns to Kevin Sullivan to head it. Sullivan became the head booker, which he reportedly pushed for and he had a few of the Russo leftovers writing the shows with him as well. But mainly, Sullivan was in charge, and that was a BIG problem for especially one man: Chris Benoit. Why? Because Benoit stole Sullivan's wife away, Nancy Sullivan, and she was carrying Benoit's child at the time. Of course that won't sit well with Kevin, who was using his clout for the past 4 years to hold Benoit back in WCW because of this hatred. Kevin Sullivan NEVER was a head booker for WCW, and this was his first chance at it. Before, he was just a regular member of the team, but now he had final say on ALL storylines. Chris Benoit had no chance in hell.
BUT Bill Busch wanted Chris Benoit to be the World Champion. So Sullivan said "ok", giving Chris Benoit the World Title at Souled Out 2000 by defeating Sid Vicious. Sullivan reportedly agreed just so Busch could be happy, and then depush Benoit after that. Chris Benoit knew that would happen, and he told Busch that he was going to walk out of WCW if Sullivan was going to be head booker. Benoit worked the Souled Out show, but with the support of Dean Malenko, Shane Douglas, Konnan, Perry Saturn, and Eddie Guerrero, a protest or walk out was going to happen the following Monday Night. Each wrestler would then ask for their FULL release, and each wrestler was then sent home that night. An explanation on how Sid's foot was on the ropes led to a vacant World Title.
Let's give some credit where credit is do. Bill Busch did indeed give Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Perry Saturn, and Dean Malenko their FULL releases when he didn't have to. He could have forced the wrestlers to live up to their contracts, or actually get rid of Sullivan instead. Busch, not a smart man by no means, thought that Sullivan could make WCW a success and that the Radicalz, as they would later become, could amount to nothing in WCW.... or so he thought. Shane Douglas and Konnan would back out of the protest, and wouldn't be seen on television, again, until the 2nd Vince Russo era. Billy Kidman was reportedly going to join this movement, as well, but backed out when WCW convinced him that they'd give him a push. That push: Torrie Wilson as a valet. Sure, it's nice to have a hot lady by the side, but where is Kidman's wrestling career today? Still in the same position a year later.
Without the 4 Radicalz, WCW's wrestling product diminished. Dean, Saturn, Eddie, and Benoit helped carry most of the roster to semi-decent matches, and they made the show Thunder something to watch at least. Benoit and Dean, especially, had some good Thunder bouts and they were easily the best thing to watch there. Thunder was immediately flushed down the toilet to becoming probably the worst prime time wrestling show in the history of wrestling. It was so bad that Wrestleline's Thunder recap guy, Scott Keith, snapped and couldn't take recapping the show anymore.
So what to do with the World Title, eh? When someone weak minded takes over WCW, who always is there to stir things up? Why, that's Kevin Nash. For Souled Out 2000, Kevin Nash defeated Terry Funk to become the NEW commissioner of WCW. Although that angle would lead to some really looney skits on Thunder, Nash used the gimmick to position himself to make Sid look bad. Sid was the man to become the company's top star, but Nash wanted a piece of it early on. Sid would defeat Nash for the vacant WCW title shortly after Souled Out, but you know that crazy Kevin Nash. Sid won it on a Nitro, and Nash, as the commissioner, was placed in a rematch at Thunder. Nash declared the title vacant, since he's the commissioner, but Sid got the win again to win the World Title again. I believe they fought again the week after this, but by now, the World Title didn't mean much when it would become vacant after every win by Sid. So in essence, Sid's start as champion wasn't very strong.
A major problem lurking around with Kevin Sullivan is that he liked to push his good friends. The biggest proof of that was the Artist, who was a very close pal of Sullivan's. He won the Cruiserweight title in the revamped Cruiserweight title tournament, after Oklahoma screwed the respect of that title. The Artist dominated the division, despite most of his opponents carrying each match. No crowds reacted to him, none of the matches he wrestled were good, and so forth. But Sullivan didn't care, for the Artist is his buddy. Guys like Booker T and the usual handful of others who worked and caught the attention of the crowd were forgotten again.....
Coming into Superbrawl 2000, which was a terrible show by all means, WCW got Jeff Jarrett back from injury. Since WCW didn't have much of a heel other than Kevin Nash, a decent Jarrett and Sid feud was going to occur. But wait! We still have Scott Hall lurking around, and you know how much everyone LOVES Scott Hall, right? The bookers thought that, and they pushed him to the top of that feud too. That push was nice in that it shot down all locker room morale. Wrestlers thought "I've been busting my ass for the past few years, while this asshole can come and go as he pleases". Hey, that's sort of like Rick Steiner now, but without the drugs. The match at Superbrawl 2000 was Scott Hall vs. Jeff Jarrett vs. Sid Vicious for the World Title. Yipee. But a problem occurred...
While touring in Germany, I believe, Scott Hall ran into some problems with customs at an airport. Apparently, Hall was "not in the frame of mind" to be on an airplane, meaning that Hall had a little something to get high in the sky without being on a flight. It was embarrassing for WCW and Time Warner to hear about, and the writing was on the wall for the end of Hall's WCW career. At Souled Out 2000, Scott Hall was actually injured badly at the hands of some stiff wrestling by Sid, and was to be out for a few months. That allowed Brad Siegel to eventually gain controll in WCW, to which he never let Hall return to WCW.
Sid retained, though, and Sullivan kept him as World champion throughout his run as WCW booker. Although he was a stable champ, Sid also proved himself to be a very boring champion in that nobody paid money to see him. Attendance was really dropping by now, and the ratings were hitting Rock Bottom levels. WCW was totally showing an old image, by having some of the most boring feuds ever possible. We had the worst in Dustin Rhodes against Terry Funk, which was garbage. Yet another Ric Flair vs. Hogan feud, which has been attempted too much. Another Sting vs. Luger feud, which was about 8 years behind its time. Just regular boring stuff, which is what Sullivan kept promising to Bill Busch that would work.
Jeff Jarrett would keep feuding with Sid heading into one of the WORST Pay Per Views ever, Uncensored 2000. It's just so boring and stupid, with no good matches at all. But the overall feeling of the shows were just boring, and by now, the WWF was far ahead of WCW in the ratings. After reports of a horrible buyrate from Uncensored came in, along with continued low attendance, bad ratings, and just an unhappiness in the locker room among most wrestlers, Time Warner executives had enough. They got on the phone and called back Eric Bischoff to run the company again. He agreed, but in all reality, he just did it to undermine the company so that he could eventually help to buy it.... which is where he's at today!
With Bischoff back, he decided to bring Vince Russo back into the equation. Bring back Russo meant that Sullivan was out of the job. Thus, the Sullivan era was over, and WCW did a one week shutdown to revamp storylines heading into Spring Stampede 2000. They did an angle where ALL WCW champions were stripped of their titles to reset the company, leaving the great champion Sid without an even longer title reign. Sid, actually, wasn't ever the same without the title until he returned around Starrcade. The Artist jobbed away during Russo's 2nd era, and didn't have his contract renewed when it came up. Russo and Bischoff would later say that it was a total mistake to let Malenko, Guerrero, Benoit, and Saturn jump to the WWF.
Times were changing fast, as Russo tried to his crash TV format, which failed the last time around, again.... but that's another column, which I'll cover sometime in the future.
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@That's all for today's column. I shall be back tomorrow with some controversial wrestling topic for the new "Can of Worms" segment, which should be extended since there are no Pay Per Views this week. Just chill till the next episode.
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Take Care, and Thanks for Reading.
Birmingham Thunderbolts (2-2) vs. San Francisco Demons (2-2)
The LA vs. NY/NJ will obviously have announcing team #1 of Ross and Ventura, especially to push the Ventura vs. Coach Tillman feud. Isn't it funny how a Governor of a state can be involved like that? The other game will be Lawler-less, but with Dick Butkus stepping in to smell the ratings.