by Joe Crowe
First up, the WWF. They have one Monday night show, then they spend the rest of their shows talking about it. Shotgun isn't shown in all areas, namely mine (Alabama) so I have no idea. As recently as last year, the WWF's Sat. AM show talked about Raw, and the Sunday AM show talked about their syndicated program. So if you didn't see one or the other, you got another chance. That was fine.
Just fine, not good: fine. The WWF should be using their airtime for original wrestling, like WCW does, often to the point of wasting our time ("oh--Hardwork Bobby Walker--again". But that was the subject of the last State article). Failing that, they should give everyone the option of seeing all the wrestling they are producing. Namely, on Sunday morning show us what happened on Shotgun Saturday Night! I speak for lots of people when I say WE DIDN'T SEE IT!
Let me jump in here and say that I have no inside knowledge. The only access I have is the same that most of you have, so all I know is the way I feel...a little Joe Cocker "Up Where We Belong" there for you...but anyway.
Todd Pettengill is gone, apparently. Michael Cole (Caffeine Free Todd) and Kevin Kelly (Jim Ross Jr.) are growing on me.Jim Cornette is a plus. It's good to see him again. But where in the world is Dok Hendrix? He always jazzed up the proceedings back when Live Wire was live, when he did backstage interviews, whenever. Vince, bring him back. You NEED him.
The WWF continues to rule in the production department. The WWF Attitude spots are GREAT. Two thumbs up. This week Rocky Maivia and Marc Mero joined the pack. I'd love to see Dude Love in there talking about injuries, or Hawk and Animal. ("We've painted our faces and beaten people up for 15 years." Best part is the end with the defiant "You think this isn't real?"
But sadly, nothing has really changed since the last State of Wrestling TV article.
On to the WCW: Big news all around here. The rumor I'm reading is that when the new WCW show starts in January, WCW Main Event and WCW Pro will be cancelled. I have two words.
THANK YOU. Two more words. MERCY KILLING. I stopped watching long ago. As a wrestling fan, maybe you're like me. If wrestling is on, you feel like you must watch. My eye is drawn to it. On one hand I think "It's nice to watch matches with no point. I'm in it for the action." On the other hand I think "I could be with my family and friends or enjoying a good book."
At least some thought must go into the new WCW show. No thought has gone into the pre-packaged over-produced under-booked weekend shows in a long, long time. WCW Sat. Nite as the only taped-that-week wrestling on cable on the weekend is satisfactory. But its current look is several years old. Even wrestling-in-a-can World Wide has been updated recently (and pretty well).
Also a live feel would be good. Hint: live announcers instead of a video wall backdrop. "But we can't do that, Joe. Tony and Dusty are busy men." Get somebody else to host it! Get Scott Hudson off his butt! What about all those guys on the WCW Hotline? What about Terry Taylor, whom, I hear, is booking Sat. Nite anyway? He would know better than anybody how to put that show over.
Better still, I see David Crockett in the PPV credits. Give him a mike.
The big plus for Sat. Nite, however, is the talent. When are these guys going to get on Nitro? Chris Adams (killer superkick) and Louie Spicoli (Death Valley Driver!) are fun to watch. So are Barry Darsow, John Nord, Kendall Windham, Barry Horowitz, and Norman Smiley. I hear that the new shows will have segregated talent rosters. Hello! We're there already, and it can only dry up the work rate and the interest level.
The new show and an NWO-hosted Nitro are on the horizon, it seems. Worse comes to worst, we'll have NWO Souled Out every Monday, and WCW Pro during the week. Not good.
I cannot concede my point about getting rid of Main Event and Pro. Wrestling on the Superstation has been a Saturday morning, Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon thing for over a decade, but it's not like it used to be, so we have to let it go.
I am hungry like the wolf for good rasslin'. The new year holds nothing but potential. I for one can't wait.
Joe Crowe is a regular contributor to Solie's Newsletter.
They had a couple of great matches on WCWSN last night. Rey Misterio vs. Eddie Guerrero for the Cruiserweight Title ended predictably with Guerrero retaining - but the match itself was a genuine marvel. Rey showed us a devastating new move wherein he puts himself into a surfboard position and then drops his weight on the opponent's face. Ouch!!! That was followed a little later by a real slobberknocker between Chris Benoit and Saturn which set us up nicely for tonight's match with the Wolverine against Raven.
Later, DDP strolled out in the middle of a Curt Hennig/Bobby Eaton match and walked off with the US Title belt!! Hennig was very confused when he discovered his loss. He limped away from the ring asking the crowd what happened.
Still later Scott Hall came out and faced Ray Traylor in a real barn burner that turned into a kind of lumberjack match when four members of the nWo were matched at ringside by the Steiner Bothers and Harlem Heat.
Yesterday morning we went through the entire WCW Main Event program until almost the very end without any mention of the Weasil's defection to the nWo on Nitro this week. All through the program the Brain sounded the same as he has all along, calling Hogan "garbage" etc. At the very end Tony asked him "What was up with that?" and Heenan made a very weak statement about being a spy or something. Obviously the numbers weren't very good for the first episode of "nWo Nitro" and so that scenerio is being swept away. Look for Larry Z to squeak by tonight at the very least...
Before we get into this PPV report I just want to make a statement about what happened on Nitro last week.
Hulk Hogan was given some extravagent gifts, including a gorgeous World Tile replica ring in what I have come to realize was a genuine expression of appreciation for a guy who has (at least temporarily) thrown away his very impressive legacy in order to play the villian to the hilt. They were also legitimate tributes the the greatest wrestling personality of all time who knows the score and realizes that, in wrestling if not necessarily in life, the villian eventually gets what is coming to him.
Hogan has known since the very beginning of the nWo storyline that he could expect to lose the Title to Sting at this event or one like it. His time is passing and he is prepared for that, believe me. They have been paying him a fortune to do what he has been doing for the last year, and what he will have to do in the year to come. Hogan knows that at some point in the not-to-distant future (could be this year or maybe not until next), he will give up his heel personna and try to make a comeback as a face. He's likely to spend the remainder of his WCW contract (however little there may be left of it at that time) as mid-carder...like Hacksaw Duggin or Ray Traylor. He'll also likely (eventually) return to the WWF and serve a similar journeyman tour there before hanging up the tights for good.
That's why Hogan was given those gifts and tributes, such as the unveiling of his Sports Illustrated cover - no other wrestler has ever appeared on it - and none probably ever will again - that is a real accomplishment of which Hogan can truly be proud. World Championship Wrestling is trying to remind us all just how important Hogan has been to our favorite sports entertainment before he, like all of wrestling's greats, fades into obscurity...
My friend Charles Maclauren and his correspondents, in last night's Bagpipe Report, predicted that tonight's main event will be a sorry affair. I disagree - I think Hogan and Sting will go all out to give us a memorable match. I guess we'll know soon enough...
I tuned in for the last few minutes of Tony Shiavone and Bobby Heenan's hype for the event, then the Federal warnings came up and Starrcade was on the air. Live from the MCI Center in Washington D.C. Tony is the host with Mike Tenay and Dusty Rhodes. We are told that the referee for the Main Event was drawn from a hat. We also see that all of the WCW wrestlers are in attendance tonight. Tony tells us that they have received word that Kevin Nash will not be appearing tonight.
Dean Malenko vs. Eddie Guerrero - WCW Cruiserweight Title match - Guerrero starts out by thrusting the ref between himself and his opponent and uses the distraction to take the initiative. It doesn't help him however, Malenko is too sharp to get caught that way. He asserts himself from the get go. Both men are solid grapplers plus Guerrero is a competent high-flyer as well so the match is pretty evenly fought all the way through. After about 5 minutes, Eddie decides to take a powder and retreats up the aisle. It is only a feint and soon he reverses course. Back in the ring he takes the upper hand. Now it is all Guerrero and he asserts his dominence with a drop-kick square in the face of his seated opponent! Malenko comes right back in surprisingly short order and goes to a mat wrestling strategy which ties the Champ up. Soon Guerrero is backing off - even stooping to kiss his foot!! Malenko ponders this a moment then lays a drop-kick to Eddie's chest as he stands on his knees. They end up in a Greco-Roman knuckle lock up which Malenko wins - he places his opponent's hands on the mat and stomps them then immediately hits him in the face with another drop-kick. Now it is Guerrero's turn to surprise us with his endurance. He comes right back and drags Malenko to the corner. He drapes Malenko over the apron and attacks the legs with a vengence. They go out to the floor and Eddie uses the ringpost to do more damage. Then he wedges Malenko's leg between the post and the ringsteps and drop-kicks the steps to crush his opponent's leg yet again. Back inside both wrestlers are reeling and struggling for position. Malenko seems to be losing ground because of his injured knee. They battle right to the wire but Malenko is showing more and more vulnerability. Finally Guerrero uses his Frog-Splash on the injured leg to secure the pin and retain the Title.
Scott Hall comes to the ring wearing his bogus Tag Title belt. He is not scheduled to wrestle tonight. He is here to conduct his usual survey. He pretends to be happy with the results. He reminds us that he will face the winner of the main event at SuperBrawl. Then he tells us that Kevin Nash will not be here tonight and if anybody has a problem with that they can meet him "down there" (whatever that means...) He asks for a referee to come out and award the match to the Giant. He gets the Giant himself instead. The Giant has lost his cast. He takes the mic and makes a statement about being a patient man - he can wait to take Nash out. Hall attacks and gets headbutted down. The Giant starts to put him in a chokeslam but then changes his mind and puts Hall into a powerbomb instead. He leaves the ring, and Hall laying in it.
Vincent/Scott Norton/Konnan vs. the Steiner Brothers/Ray Traylor (w/Ted Dibiasi) - Norton and Vincent help Hall out of the ring then come back for their match. Konnan has not shown up yet. The Steiners and Traylor come to the ring with Dibiasi. Still no Konnan. The nWo music plays again and Randy Savage comes out with Liz. Apparently Savage will sub for Konnan. He has a little shouting match with the Harlem Heat and Rey Misterio who are at aisle-side before he finally goes to the ring. After some jostling, Savage goes in to face Scott Steiner for the opening of the match. Savage is taunting everyone. He loses the first exchange and so decides to fling Steiner's back into Norton's knee. Nortion is tagged in and continues the attack. They are working on Steiner's back (which has had problems in the recent past). Savage comes back in and loses the initiative immediately. Scott clears the ring and the WCW guys are on the inside as the nWo regroups on the floor. Now we get Rick Steiner vs Norton. Norton is bigger but who is more powerful is subject to debate. Traylor is tagged in to face Norton who bulls hius opponent back into his own corner. A little triple-team action ensues but afterward Vincent is tagged in and loses the advantage. Scott comes in and creams the nWo Director of Security then tags Traylor back in.Vincent is reeling until he gets the action over to where Norton can interfere. Still Traylor comes out on top then tags in Scott Steiner. Chaos ensues for several moments but sorts itself out - the Steiners hit their top rope bulldog on Vincent. Norton saves him from the pin. Scott downs Vincent again (with a top rope Frankensteiner) and Savage makes the save. As Scott and Savage struggle for position on the top turnbuckle - Norton comes from behind and takes Steiner on his shoulders. A fall-away slam leads to Savage's big elbow. Steiner is pinned.
Mean Gene with JJ Dillon - JJ reveals that Nick Patrick has been chosen to officiate the Main Event match tonight. There is some grumbling about that.
Bill Goldberg vs. Steve McMichael - clash of the Grid-Iron greats - Mongo takes his time coming to the ring so Goldberg comes out to attack him in the aisle. They brawl with Goldberg holding the upper hand. He picks Mongo up and takes him to the ring. Goldberg starts to throw a table into the ring but leaves it leaning against a ring post instead. Goldberg comes on strong and takes the advantage immediately. He tosses Mongo out to the floor and goes out after him. It turns out to be a mistake as McMichael asserts himself. Back in the ring Goldberg turns the tables once again. he appears to be wrestling with a bit ore authority then his opponent. He is posing and strutting a lot, which could be his undoing. He goes out and sets up the table then re-enters the ring. He puts Mongo on his shoulder but is prevented from tossing him onto the table by Mongo's struggles and Randy Anderson's intervention. Moments later he suceeds as the crowd chants "EE-Cee-Dub!!" Back in the ring Mongo has splinters in his back. He overcomes his opponent momentarily and goes for the Tombstone but can't manage it with his injured back. Goldberg executes his "Jackhammer" suplex-powerslam and takes the pin.
Raven saunters to the ring as Dave Penser introduces him. Raven takes the mic away and sinks into the corner. He says he has chosen not to wrestle and tosses the match to Saturn.
Saturn vs. Chris Benoit - no DQ match - the crowd takes up the ECW chant again as Saturn approaches the ring. Benoit takes the mic as he enters - he addresses Raven who jumps onto the apron attempting to distract him as Saturn attacks from behind. Benoit spins around and chops the inrushing Saturn to the mat. The match is on and Benoit is holding the upper hand until Saturn muscles him out of the corner and beals him. They trade blows and the match see-saws. The match goes to the outside where both Sick Boy and Kidman get involved to Benoit's detriment. Back in the ring, Saturn is in charge for the first time. He works on Benoit's neck. Saturn throws a moonsault but gets caught on the knees of his opponent. Both men are reeling. Saturn recovers first and continues his assault on Benoit's neck and head. He goes for the pin twice but no cigar. Now he seems to hesitate - never a good idea when your opponent is such as Chris Benoit. Sure enough the match see-saws again. Benoit seems to regain his composure but Saturn absorbs the blows. He puts Benoit down then slowly climbs the rope. Benoit is playing possum and traps him there then throws him to the mat. They fall out to the floor where Benoit slaps on the Crippler Crossface. The Flock swarms but Benoit manages to keep his cool and upset their efforts as Saturn moonsaults off of the apron and knocks them all down. Benoit rolls Saturn back in and has to fight off the Flock again - Raven slips up behind him and puts on a DDT. Saturn applies the Rings to take the win.
Buff Bagwell vs. Lex Luger - Bagwell seems hesitant to get into the ring at first. He disrobes out on the floor. Once inside he proves that he had good reason to hesitate as Luger takes him apart from the get-go. Eventually Bagwell walks back up the aisle and calls Vincent out to lend him "moral" support. Back in the ring he mounts an aggressive attack which gives him control of things. They go out to the floor where Luger re-assumes command. Back in the ring he continues his attack. He is soon overwhelmed however by the two on one assault of Bagwell and Vincent. Now it is all Bagwell for the first time in the match. It only lasts until Luger is whipped to the corner. He bounces out with a boot to the face then a massive clothesline. A finger to the eye gives the advantage back to Buff - he slaps on a reverse chinlock and rests. Luger struggles to his feet and escapes. Vincent takes a hand to reverse things once more. Bagwell is trying to get the pin but can't quite manage it. He goes back to the reverse chinlock. Luger escapes again and the match see-saws until Bagwell grabs a sleeper. Luger escapes once more using a belly-to-back suplex. Vincent tries to interfere but is ejected. Luger suplexes Bagwell. Vincent climbs the turnbuckle and gets caught and tossed onto his partner. Luger is stomping a mudhole in Bagwell until the ref pulls him off. The argue and Bagwell hits him from behind - the referee goes down. Luger catches Bagwell and would rack him but now Randy Savage comes in and interferes. Luger throws Bagwell out and racks Savage!! But then Scott Norton comes in and smashes Luger with what looks like a dog-collar wrapped around his fist. Bagwell stumbles over and pins him as the now recovered referee crawls back into the ring for the count.
Curt Hennig vs. Diamond Dallas Page - US Title match - Hennig has his belt back as he enters first. DDP comes in second regardless of the fact that he is the challenger. Hennig starts with wrestling moves while DDP brawls - but then Page shows us some wrestling moves as well. He goes for an early Diamond Cutter but Hennig has the move scouted and avoids it easily. DDP seems to hold all the cards in this one as he beats Hennig at his own game time after time. The match goes outside where Hennig turns the tables. Back in the ring Hennig is working on the back and ribs. He tosses DDP to the floor and follows him out. DDP gets smashed into the ringsteps. Hennig is removing the padding from the rib bandages around DDP's waist. Back in the ring, Hennig removes most of the bandage itself and continues his assault. He holds DDP on the on the mat with a reverse chinlock - using the ropes for leverage. The cameras keep showing us the WCW wrestlers who sit all around at ringside. In the ring a slugfest erupts and DDP finally takes th upper hand again. They fight out to the floor and over the railing. On the nine count they roll back into the ring. DDP slips out again and drags Hennig's legs over and smashes them into the ringpost. Back in the ring the match see-saws. Both men are trying to pin their opponent. Hennig tries for his Fisherman's Suplex (Tony calls it a "Hennig-plex") but DDP blocks it handily. Moments later he manages to execute the Diamond Cutter and wins his first major title.
Bret Hart comes out to referee the next match wearing black jeans and t-shirt. He gets a big pop and is eating it up.
Eric Bischoff (w/Scott Hall) vs. Larry Zybzsco - special stipulation match - the nWo will win Nitro if Bischoff wins the match - Larry Z gets Scott Hall at SuperBrawl if he wins - Legendary Larry comes out to the Nitro theme. He wears his classic short black-sparkley jacket with the big "Z" on the chest. He gets the biggest pop of the evening so far. Bischoff wears martial arts pants and gloves and spats over his bare feet. Larry looks good as ever actually and is all business. Bischoff gets in the first blow but it doesn't phase Larry Z. They spar and Bischoff avoids contact. Good idea - if Larry gets his hands on Eric it's all over. Larry gets in a slap. Then Bischoff levels the Legendary one with a kick. Larry goes into a rage and grabs Eric by the hair. He rubs Bischoff's face in the mat. Hart warns him off. Larry grabs a sleeper - Hart calls it a choke and breaks it up. Larry grabs a head scissors which Hart also calls a choke. So Larry gets a standing figure four. Eric gets to the ropes. The fight goes out to the floor where Bischoff gets creamed. Back inside Bischoff uses Hall's distraction of his opponent to slip in some kicks. For the next few moments he seems to be able to tag Larry at will but then we realize that Zybszco is taking it to wear Eric down! Sure enough as Bischoff starts to show fatigue Larry explodes all over him and has the match well in hand. He's pummeling Bischoff in the corner when Hart drags him away. Scott Hall mounts the apron and loads Eric's spat up with a steel plate. Larry gets it right in the face (the steel plate goes flying) and Eric starts to celebrate. He wants Hart to raise his hand but instead he decks him!! Hall enters the ring and is leveled by Hart's clothesline. Then Hart slaps on the Sharpshooter!!! Larry chokes Eric with his own belt as Hall is tapping out. Hart releases the hold and declares Larry Z the winner of the match. They shake hands afterwards.
Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. Sting - WCW Heavyweight Title match - Michael Buffer introduces the match. Again the Champion is introduced first. The lights go out and we hear the childs voice recite the Sting Battle Poem for Sting's entrance. He comes in with bat in hand and slowly strides to the ring. They stand face to face in the center of the ring as the lights come back up. Hogan shoves him then throws his bandana in his face. Sting comes back with a slap to the face of the Champion. Stings arms, which we haven't seen in months, look huge. The pace is very deliberate. Both men are cautious to start. The lock up in a test of strength but Hogan breaks it up with a boot to the gut. He punches Sting then bulls him to the corner and follows in with a clothesline. He is taunting Sting - calling him "Hero". Sting comes back with a standing drop-kick that knocks Hogan to the floor. Hogan comes back in and grabs a headlock. Sting throws him off and they criss cross - the flurry ends in two drop-kicks and Hogan is out on the floor again. Back in the ring Sting grabs the headlock and holds onto it as Hogan tries to shove him off. Hogan then tries to power out but fails as Sting re-asserts the headlock. Hogan finally escapes and they collide - Sting goes down. Hogan tries a verticle suplex but Sting just pops right up and gestures "Wolfpack style" at him (which they haven't been doing since DX appropriated the gesture). The fight goes to the outside where Hogan holds the advantage. He taunts Sting with a fan's T-shirt. They scuffle and then Sting throws a Stinger splash but gets hung up on the railing as Hogan sidesteps the move. Patrick leaves the ring to try to restore order and Hogan has to roll in and out to break the count. Back in the ring Hogan continues his assault. He flings Sting into the ropes and meets him with a boot to the face as he springs back. Hogan drops the big legs then pins Sting and Patrick counts him down. But the bell doesn't ring because Bret Hart has grabed the clapper!! He refuses to let the bell ring. Patrick comes out to argue with him and gets decked!! Hart enters the ring and restarts the match!!!
This time it is all Sting as he throws two Stinger splashes and fights off attacks by nWo thugs - soon he is slapping on the Scorpion Deathlock as Hart watches. Hogan signals surrender and Hart declares the Sting the winner. The ring fills up with celebrating WCW wrestlers and Sting looks into the camera to say soomething in Spanish about his "mamacita" as we fade to black.
I thought it was a good PPV but I don't know about that ending. Hart really didn't have any reason to restart the match from what I could see. This one will be contested...
Anyway, that's the way I see it...
editor Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
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