HOW MANY IS TOO MANY?????
by "Wild Bill" Rawlings
One topic that is getting a lot of discussion both at Solie's and many other websites is whether or not there are too many "groups" in the WCW right now. Before trying to answer that question, let's take a look at the current situation and the origin of these groups before we decide "how many is too many?"
Looking back at NWA/WCW history and we see the first family of groups, the Four Horsemen! Although undergoing numerous personnel changes over the years, and a dormant stage while Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, and Tully Blanchard plied their wares in the WWF, the Horsemen are the original gang! Often imitated, but never duplicated! Their goal was the total domination of the wrestling world! However, with Arn Anderson sidelined due to surgery, and lacking any other leadership, today's collection of horsemen are unfocused and unprepared to lead the WCW into battle! Thus Ric Flair has to turn to Roddy Piper and Kevin Greene in his battles with the NWO, instead of true Horsemen.
Then you have the Dungeon of Doom! Led by Kevin Sullivan, Jimmy Hart and Ms. Jackie, this group includes the Faces of Fear, Meng and the Barbarian, Konnan, Hugh Morrus, and Maxx. Originally brought together to bring an end to Hulkamania, their main purpose lately has been to make Chris Benoit's life a living hell for stealing the affections of Woman!! They have also jumped the Steiners on at least two occasions! Although not responsible for the "death" of Hulkamania, this group remains a threat to whomever is in their gunsights! However, this is currently the weakest group in the WCW and is beginning to show signs of internal stress. It may be that the end is near for the Dungeon!
Then comes the historic NWO. Led by WCW Executive Vice President Eric Bischoff, the stable includes Ted DiBiase, Vincent, Buff Bagwell, Scott Norton, Masa Chono, the "fake" Sting, Macho Man Randy Savage, Miss Elizabeth, Cruiserweight champion Syxx, Tag Team champions Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, and World Heavyweight champion Hollywood Hogan! By far the largest of the groups currently in the WCW, this awesome collection of athletes truly began after Hall and Nash stunned wrestling fans with the introduction of their newest member Hulk Hogan. Changing his name to Hollywood, and throwing away a career as a fan favorite, Hogan turned the wrestling world on it's ear with his decision! After having accomplished everything there is to be accomplished as a "face" in wrestling, he now turns his latter years into playing the role of the "heel". Created to put WCW out of business and to take over the whole organization themselves, the NWO expanded its membership and owns most of the gold, calling most of the shots!
Next comes the WCW stable, a loosely knit group of wrestlers united against the NWO. These include Sting, Lex Luger, the Giant, Diamond Dallas Page, and the Steiners! Although all of the wrestlers in the WCW would probably hope that the NWO are unsuccessful in their takeover bid, these six wrestlers have been the ones leading the charge at one time or another against Hollywood and his gangl! The Steiners have been at the forefront of the tag team battle with the Outsiders to the point of being jumped from behind and even driven off the road!! Lex Luger's friendship with the Giant and his remorse over not having trusted Sting started bringing these guys together...but it was Sting who descended from the rafters, ball bat in hand to unite them in their effort!
Add to these groups the rumors of a new Horsemen group, either giving a total of two set of Horsemen or bringing an end to the originals, and the possible breakaway of Hall, Nash, and Syxx to form their own "Clique", and it would appear that we have way too many groups on our hands. But if the WCW is going to present another two hour live show, again as rumored, then the more groups they have the better the angles and gimmicks they will be able to develop. Consider the WWF right now. Currently, they have the Nation of Domination, which might even go out of existence tonight at their latest PPV, and then they have the Hart Foundation. Without the quantity and quality wrestlers as their competitors, if all they show week to week is the New Hart Foundation vs Stone Cold and _____ (fill in the blank), it would grow stale very quickly! Some wrestling fans are already complaining that the NWO angle is starting to grow stale, and this in less than a year's time! But it is my argument that it is not the number of groups that is causing the problem, just what is or isn't being done with the members of the groups!
The days of individuality and standing alone have long since passed, at least in the WCW. I would compare this current situation (the growing number of groups in WCW) to the NASCAR circuit and the fact that the most successful racing teams in Winston Cup racing are the ones with more than one car on the track! They share data, research, results, and use it to double and triple team the other drivers! This is not quite the same as ganging up on them, because accidents at 180 MPH leave no winners, only losers, however, it is in indication of the mentality of the different groups. In a group, you have someone watching your back...and you watch theirs!
For WCW to continue to have the success it has achieved this past year, they must continue to push the groups versus each other...and do it in a way that is fresh and unique! Members of the NWO actually wrestling members of the WCW instead of always ganging up on them, the Horsemen going toe to toe with members of the Dungeon of Doom, these are just some of the examples of what will continue to help WCW grow more popular in the coming years...if done correctly!
"Wild Bill" Rawlings is a regular correspondent on the Solie's Readers' Forum where he helps to keep things lively with his humorous posts. Besides sending an occasional article to us, he currently writes a weekly WWF column at Big Oren's Wrestling Galore, it's sister Publication - The Wrestling Authority and also an infrequent column at RealNews Wrestling Sheet.
This account of the recent PPV program was sent to us by one of our regular readers who attended the show in person. Thanks Kevin!!
First Person Account from In Your House - Cold Day In Hell
by Kevin Cuddihy
After a fun two hour drive in the sun (and I've got the car arm to prove it) my friends and I arrived at the Richmond Coliseum, set to view some wrestling firsthand. First thing to note -- it was only $3 to park there; living in DC, that rate looked quite nice.
We got there around 5pm, and with the show scheduled to start at 6:30, we thought we had about a half hour to waste. Wrong! The doors didn't open until AFTER 6pm. For a business that gets a large amount of money from merchandise sales, you'd expect them to give you more than half an hour to let you buy stuff. I barely had time to get a program and make a lap around the concourse before the Free For All started. And I'd say a good one-third of the crowd was out of their seats at the time also.
For those of you who have read rumors on the Internet that the WWF provides some fans on camera with signs, particularly anti-WCW signs, I can tell you that those rumors are false. It was incredible the amount of people who came streaming through the doors holding a sign. And no, no one was there to check the content of the signs for vulgarity or appropriateness.
Also before I forget, there's a cool new T-shirt out that I hadn't seen before. It's a simple black shirt with a smiley-face on it, and the smiley-face has Mankind's mask on it. Yep, the back says "Have a nice day." I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't start pushing these soon, as they looked tres chic. (On a side note, I wonder why the WWF doesn't sell Mankind and Vader masks? Didn't WCW sell Vader masks a few years back?)
Anyway, as you can imagine the Austin 3:16 shirts were the hot sellers of the day. I could have made two laps around the concourse in the same time if it weren't for all the people in the way putting their new Austin T-shirts on. Not that I'm complaining, because there were some VERY immodest women there changing, but that's another website ...
Okay, on to the actual card. Before the cameras were on, Tito Santana was introduced as a new Spanish commentator, and got a healthy reaction. I was glad to see I wasn't the one with the longest memory there, although there were a few shouts of "El Matador!" As I've said before, about one third of the audience wasn't in their seats when the Free For All began. Those that were, were very lackadaisical to see Double J come out -- until his music screwed up. After a lusty boo (Double J: "I deserve that!"), he tried again, again to no avail. This time, as it was apparent he was giving up, what crowd there was broke into a cheer, as we wouldn't have to hear him sing.
I don't remember much of the Free For All match ... you've seen the PPV reports anyway, so I won't go into any detail on that or any match. A large portion of the audience, though -- it's the side on camera, so if you taped it you can probably notice it --wasn't watching the match much, myself included. Behind the TV screen at the entrance, Sunny was preening for the crowd, posing and teasing a flash of different body parts, so she held quite a bit of attention during the match. I'm sure a lot of necks were craned, and I'd guess no one watching had much of an idea why. But she continued that during almost all of the match, so I was spared the sight of another Rockabilly match. For that, I thank you Sunny!
Right after that was when Sunny came out and posed on camera (I have no idea what for, though), and some schmuck in the audience hit her with Silly String. Needless to say, security escorted him away rapidly -- not their only action of the night, as I'll get to later.
The Hunter Hearst Helmsley - Flash Funk match went by rather quickly. Richmond fans seem to be very intolerant, as Flash Funk got a very small pop. Perhaps that's a testament to his poor showings as of late, or perhaps that his opponent doesn't evoke much emotion, who knows. The WWF should do something with both of these guys soon; there were many chants of "boring" during the match, and not many fans cared about either wrestler.
The Ahmed Johnson trilogy was next, and most of the people around me expected some sort of surprise. By the way, if you think Ahmed is hard to understand on TV, try it over some PA system. Even worse.
Anyway, it seems that someone said something they weren't supposed to during the prefight interviews, because everyone in the arena was under the impression that Farrooq would be the first opponent -- wasn't that Ahmed's condition of the new match? That, combined with rumors of the reformation of Demolition and Ahmed turning heel, caused some people -- myself included -- to postulate that Crush, as the last opponent, would lose to Ahmed, get attacked by the NOD, get an apparent save by Ahmed, but then he would JOIN the attack and the NOD, and THEN the save by Ax.
As you know, none of that happened, and Farrooq surprisingly got a clean pin, albeit after two other matches for Ahmed. No run ins, no screwjobs. And now with Farooq fighting the Undertaker at King of the Ring, no more feud. Very abrupt and confusing end to this feud, and there was a corresponding lack of reaction from the crowd.
Next up was Vader against Ken Shamrock in the No Holds Barred match. Don't you think the WWF would shy away from this description? Oh well. Even being just a rookie, Shamrock received the biggest pop up to that point. Obviously he has name recognition, but that could just be the crowd he was in front of. Lots of good spots here, and the crowd rewarded both participants for them. Vader got quite a large cheer when he went top rope for the attempted moonsault. If I'm not mistaken, he hasn't tried that move in a while, so it was good to see him display his agility, even if he did miss it.
One side note, though. Vader was, in fact, actually hurt during the match. He leaned quite heavily on the referee to make it up the ramp, and once he got through the curtain, they had a wheelchair ready for him, which he just about fell into. Not sure how serious it was, but something happened to him.
Lastly, at least televised, was the title match. First, of course, the Hart Foundation came out to their seats. They got some healthy boos, especially considering they weren't even in existence until a month ago. I don't think they're quite up to the monster heel status that the NWO has, not quite yet. They did, however, make the security earn their money, just during that one match. After the scuffle occurred, it seems some audience members decided to continue it, and security ended up escorting three people away, and there seemed to be an injury in the crowd, as paramedics were in action during a lot of the match. Wrestlers in the crowd -- especially heels -- just don't work, and cause more problems than they're worth, I think.
The actual match, then, Stone Cold Steve Austin versus the Undertaker. For someone who's selling so many T-shirts, I expected much more of a pop from Austin than what he actually got. I've been in that building many times before, and college basketball has heard louder cheers than he got. Still, it was the loudest of the evening that far, if only for a few seconds until the Undertaker showed up.
The Undertaker got a MUCH better pop than SCSA, though. Not that Austin isn't popular, but I liken it to Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Sure, Scottie will get his share of cheers, but nothing compares to Jordan, and right now UT is Jordan for the WWF.
The match itself was very upfront -- nothing extra happening in and around the crowd other than the security flap already mentioned. The ref's flicking offof Austin got the biggest cheer of anything that happened during the match, and there was a bit of a messup as Pillman got to the bell WAY too early and had to wait a good 15 seconds for Austin to hit the Stunner before ringing it. The post-match brawl wasn't too well-received either, although it was a shock to see Bret take a hit from the wheelchair. That, combined with the RAW hit, shows just how much of a professional he really is.
After the cameras went off, we were "treated" to an interview from Shawn Michaels. The reaction to him surprised me, as it was a mix of shrieking cheers and loud boos. During the interview, he made reference to Richmond being the place Owen Hart knocked him cold, and that drew some loud cheers. No news at all; perhaps people are just tiring of hearing him talk.
The last event was the tag title match, LOD versus Owen and Davey Boy. Am I wrong, or was the WWF promoting this on TV as for the PPV? I'm sure there were lots of unhappy campers, especially with the thought that the title would change hands. Not being on camera, that thought quickly erased itself from my mind, and sure enough there was a screwjob ending. Bulldog attempted to save Owen by hitting Animal with the Intercontinental belt, but hit Owen instead for a DQ. Then they simply hightailed it out of there, even forgetting the belts and the Slammies.
Overall, the crowd seemed to enjoy the evening, save for the tag match being off camera and thus taking any suspense away from it at all. Richmond is definitely a good wrestling town, and deserves more events like this.
Solie's One Year Anniversary
On a personal note I would like to thank all of my friends and supporters on the web for all of their kindnesses during the past year (yesterday was the first anniversary of the day I launched the Solie's Vintage Wrestling website). With important wrestling websites disappearing right and left I just want to assure you all that Solie's is not going anywhere. I will continue to try and provide this service to the Internet wrestling community to the best of my ability and hope to continue to improve and expand this site.
I will be back over the weekend with my in-depth report on WCW Slamboree. Until then...
Anyway, that's the way I see it...
editor Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
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