Volume 2, Issue 143
March 15, 1997
Weekend Review: Part 1
WCW Main Event and WWF LiveWire are the usual rehash programs - nothing new to report.
WCW Saturday Night
The opening contest features Eddie Guerrero vs. Sgt. Craig Pittman - the Pit Bull dominates the early going but Eddie comes back with a vicious attack. There definitely seems to be something up with Eddie G. He uses his foot in the ropes to win this one.
In a postmatch interview he tells Lee Marshall to shut up when the latter suggests that he's been taking shortcuts. He vows to do "...what I have to do" to fight his way out of the corner that Dean Malenko has pushed him into.
High Voltage are set up for another win on today's program by being matched against Chavo Guerrero Jr. and Billy Kidman. Too make it look good the Kidman/Guerrero team shows some good tag team coordination at the beginning of the match. High Voltage are a real team however so they break things up fast. Chavo Jr. cleans house mid-match and looks pretty good but he has no support for his efforts. A double team move puts him down for the count. Troy Williams is smiling right now...
They're showing that "Sting in a suit" commercial more and more these days. Look for him to be back in action sooner than expected (I hear his scenes from the movie he's been making have been relegated to the cutting room floor...)
At the beginning of the show it remains unclear who Piper's team will actually be for tomorrows main event. Flair seemed to be offering the services of Arn and himself last Monday but we know that neither of them is up to the task at the moment. That leaves Mongo, Jarrett and Benoit (who is said to be coming back from his injury). Sure enough the Uncensored promo in the second hour list the latter three as the team with Piper.
Meanwhile they keep showing Sting's dour continance during the promos for the PPV, I wouldn't be surprised to see him get involved somehow - and not on the side of the NWO. Since, with the current stipulations, there seems to be no chance that Team WCW will win the match - I would expect Sting to have something to do with a win by the Piper forces (if he has any role at all). Randy Savage is also a mole - I'm almost certain of that...
Bobby Eaton is forced to job once again - this time to a very aggressive Dean Malenko. Bobby needs to turn heel once more so that he can start winning matches again. Unfortunately, he only seems to be able to do that when he has a good partner.
Prince Iaukea vs. Juventud Guerrera - an excellent, if short, warm-up for the TV Title match at the PPV tomorrow. The Prince starts out strong but then gets caught by a flying drop-kick as he tries a planche to the outside. Next he gets powerbombed on the floor. Back inside the two competitors struggle for the advantage at the top turnbuckle - Iaukea wins this contest and Frankensteiners his opponent to the mat for the pin.
During an interview with Kevin Sullivan and Jaquelyn a video is shown of a young man who says that he was in the room when the Taskmaster's mother died. Tony hints that this young man might be Sullivan's son Ben (does that mean he is also Nancy's boy? Probably not.)
PE took on Mike Enos and Bunkhouse Buck toward the end of the program. What is it with these WCW referees allowing the Public Enemy to bring their table right into the ring and then awarding them the victory after they use same? Sorry guys that is just too weird...
The (misnamed) main event had Renegade and Joe Gomez (the jobber princes of the Western World) mismatched up against Harlem Heat. There is no need to describe this one...
Of course Public Enemy does a run in right at the end to try and generate some heat for the match at the PPV.
Ric Flair interviews to end the program. He says the Horsemen are going to see that Piper wins his chance to meet Hogan in the cage down the road.
Bret Hart's Weekly Column
This weeks column is entitled Lucky ol' 13
Bret starts out saying it's amazing to him that he's training for Wrestlemania 13 now when, one year ago, The Hitman hung up his tights after Wrestlemania 12. It was an act born of the exhaustion of 17 years on the road.
He says it was a protest of the direction wrestling was going -- too much emphasis on theatrics and not enough rewards for athleticism. "...it was ironic that some fans had been so conditioned by the surrealistic atmosphere that when I quit they thought it was part of the story line!"
Bret says that the fact is that he wasn't sure if he'd ever come back. "What for? I didn't think I had anything left to prove".
But there was this nagging need to "save the sport" that kept popping up in the back of his mind. It kept him from enjoying the only time off he'd had in 12 years. "Finally, I passed up a big money offer from the competition hoping to show by my own example that loyalty and integrity still have a place in this sport".
As it turns out, he may have been wrong about that. "...I came back to wrestling to try to steer the sport back onto what I would consider to be the right track".
He says there are wrestlers and fans who have gotten behind him in the cause but some fans are just clueless. "I tried to get the point across by explaining how I've been screwed by Shawn Michaels, Vince McMahon, the referees -- the whole long list. I thought everybody would see that the officiating in the WWF has become a sick joke and that something needs to be done to fix it. Instead, now I'm being screwed and booed by some fans, the same sad group who would also vote for Sycho Sid as athlete of the year! They hold up signs that call me a crybaby and a whiner. Well, all that `crying' and complaining got me the Final Four match after Stone Cold screwed me out of winning the Rumble".
Now that `crying' and complaining has got him a title shot on Raw on Monday -- before Wrestlemania! It's Gorilla Monsoon's way of trying to compensate Bret for when Austin cost him the title 24 hours after he won it! "Another thing my `crying' has got me is former UFC champion Ken Shamrock!"
Since UFC (Ultimate Fighting) was banned on Canadian TV, most of his regular readers this didn't get to see Shamrock earn his well-deserved reputation as "the submission specialist."
Bret says "I'm pleased that Shamrock has finally made his way onto a Canadian pay-per-view, especially since it's because he'll be the special referee for my submission match with Stone Cold Steve Austin! If it was going to be a WWF ref, I'd have refused to do the match unless it was a cage match. With Shamrock in the ring, I'm confident he'll call it right down the middle. As soon as my mind was at ease about the officiating for my Wrestlemania match, Monsoon scheduled a title match between me and Sycho Sid on Monday and that stirs everything up again! If I beat Sid on Raw, then I go to Wrestlemania as defending champion against Undertaker". (Editor's note: that's a new twist...last week he was saying that his WrestleMania challanger would be Steve Austin)
Who will be able to keep Stone Cold from interfering in both of those matches? Maybe Shamrock?
Bret feels that Owen is putting on a good act that he's happy Davey is the new European champion, but the truth is he's crazy with jealousy. "I can't help but wonder how that will come into play when Davey and Owen defend the Tag Titles against Vader and Mankind at Wrestlemania 13!"
Bret ends the column with a plug for Wrestlemania and urges his fans to order early.
Vader: Can this Career be Saved?
The Great American Bash of 1992 was the biggest downer of a PPV in my memory, where Vader beat Sting for the belt and Steve Williams and Terry Gordy crushed the beloved Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham. I can handle bad guys winning, really I can. But every match? And they didn't just win, they beat the fool out of our heroes. However, this all led to the brightest spot in Bill Watts'
WCW reign. At a TV taping Sting was attacked by Jake Roberts, forcing him out of a rematch with Vader. Simmons' name was pulled out of a hat, and he caught Vader coming off the ropes to pin him and win the belt!
That was a big surprise. However, Watts' regime broke down at some point over the next few months. Two days after Starrcade (a disastrous PPV plaqued by injuries and last-minute lineup changes) Vader regained the belt at a house show, shown from a bad hand-held camera shot that weekend.
Vader became a very big fish in an increasingly small pond. The appeal of Vader's year-long reign was the appeal of Godzilla. The hook to Godzilla movies is watching the puny humans try to find a way to stop the monster. You tuned in every week to see if anybody else could do it. Vader broke jobber Joe Thurman's back. In a match that those who saw still talk about, he powerbombed Cactus Jack on the concrete at WCW Saturday Night. Soon after, in Germany, Cactus' head was tied up in the ring ropes by Vader, and Cactus lost part of his ear when he was being released. Davey Boy Smith made a much-lauded debut, swearing that he would put a stop to Vader's rampage. He was the first man to ever match power with Vader, but of course, Sting was still the man--despite his repeated beatings at Vader's hands.
For, you see, Vader began breaking the rules. I don't mean pulling hair and yanking tights. The booking of Vader's reign was characterized by its flouting of unwritten rules. One of those rules was that heels win dirty. Ric Flair practically wrote this rule himself. Not so with Vader--his whole body was a foreign object and he didn't mind using it. His big moves, like a clothesline, like that lunging head box, like a trotting big splash, all looked like they really hurt. And that's how he won matches: by beating the ungodly crap out of whomever was unlucky enough to wrestle him.
Another unwritten rule was that if a bad guy was in a low-pressure situation, he wouldn't win. In other words, non-title matches were times for the challenger to shine because the champ had nothing to lose. Nope. Vader won anyway. Before he regained the belt from Ron, he even substituted for US champ Rick Rude vs. Nikita Koloff at Halloween Havoc 1992. Rude had a vicious feud going with Nikita, but was forced to wrestle twice on that card.
Going in, I thought, cool--Rude can't possibly win 2 matches. Nope. Vader substituted for him, carrying the US title to the ring. Cool, I thought--this isn't really Vader's title, and won't Rude be ticked off when Vader screws up and loses Rude's belt? Besides, the only guy who can beat Nikita is Rude. Nope. Vader dropped Nikita like a bag of dirt.
When a bad guy got into a specialty match with a good guy, this meant it was time for the good guy to get some satisfaction. Bad guys are a superstitious and cowardly sort. They take advantage of normal rules, but quail under added stipulations. Good guys, on the other hand, are supposed to thrive under the extra weight of a specialty match. It's a greater risk, but it leads to a greater triumph. Yes, Vader broke this rule, too. Archenemy Sting met Vader at SuperBrawl 3 in Feb. 1993 in a strap match. Vader won. He strapped Sting down and whipped him, literally.
By the time of Halloween Havoc, Cactus Jack had recovered, turned into a very popular good guy, and was set to meet Vader in a "Spin the wheel, Make the Deal" match. It ended up a Texas Death match. Vader won. After the actual, real-life injury of Cactus, Vader still won. After the huge push to put Cactus in as a good guy, Vader still won.
Ric Flair was back in the ring by this time, and Vader turned his sights on him. He crushed the Nature Boy with a big splash at Battle Bowl. Pre-"Sycho" but definitely psycho Sid Vicious was fired by WCW after a scissors fight with Arn Anderson in England. The monster mash set for Starrcade was changed to one last ride for Ric Flair. He took on Vader in front of Ric's hometown Carolina crowd. Finally the scriptwriters relented, perhaps realizing the Mexican soccer-level riot that might have erupted if Flair had lost.
Most everything that happened in Vader's reign went against classic booking. This was not a bad thing. It was just surprising, which is how the best wrestling booking should be. Vader blew up to truly monstrous proportions, a totally invulnerable bad guy, the likes of which WCW had never seen. Godzilla was hurt, but not down.
Until the arrival of Hulk Hogan in WCW. What would happen if Godzilla fought Superman?
Stay tuned for Part 3.
Solie's newest contributor, Joe B. Crowe, is 26 years old, a book editor and stand-up comedian based in Birmingham, Alabama.
I'll be back tomorrow night with the rest of the weekend news and my in-depth report on Uncensored. Until then...
Anyway, that's the way I see it...
editor Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
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