Since the last State of Wrestling TV I did several months ago, both WWF and WCW have made some big changes, and some problems remain unresolved.
WCW: Is three hours on Monday night too much? Yep. When you've got three hours of announcers floundering around wondering what's going on, seeming more confused than the viewers, there's bound to be trouble. But the three hour format has been around for a while, so it's not the biggest problem. Here's the biggest problem.
Everything but Nitro. WCW really stepped up to the plate to fix this one, and they have done well. Adding Thunder was a good thing, getting Tony Schiavone and Duthty Whodeth off Saturday Night was a good thing. Getting rid of the annoying extra programs like WCW Pro and Main Event was a good thing. Now the Orlando tapings may be history, which is a good thing.
On that note, it's ironic that WCW announced how those months-in-advance Orlando tapings would "revolutionize" wrestling TV. No belts, no angles, no wrestling fans in the crowd. If all their wrestling was taped like this, no problem: then it would be like sitcoms and other TV shows. But new developments happen live every week on their other shows, featuring booking at a moment's notice.
There are two schools of booking thought, and it's interesting how much WWF and WCW are polar opposites in this regard. WCW does live Nitro, and does every-other-week tapings for Thunder, the first of which is live, the second in the can. Saturday Night is never live, but is taped two weeks at a time as well. Yet, WCW's taped efforts lack of continuity is often staggering. The crowds often don't even seem into it. Do they know they're a taped crowd and not a live one? So my question is: how can WWF do a live show or a taped show and you can't tell the difference?
On to WCW's good points, though: Having three separate programs full of wrestling is a very good thing. Spreading the rasslin' through the week is nice. Scott Hudson and Mike Tenay's Saturday Night commentating is good, unhindered by Bobby Heenan's blather and Tony Schiavone's inherent Tonyness.
What am I saying? I LIKE Tony. (Deep sigh)
Remember when he named all the moves? He and Bobby are good together, but as a rule the face announcer must never lose his cool with the antics of his color man. Tony's tendency to throw out a "Shut up" at his partners has gotten out of hand. How does anyone mount a comeback from that? Does Heenan sulk after he gets scolded like that? Why is Tenay the only one allowed to know any history? That lack of continuity came up just last week when Mike regaled us for the first time about Sting and Warrior's rookie year together. Then Michael Buffer bellowed how that night was the first time they had ever teamed.
Mike should tell Tony in advance the names of moves so he stops doing an impression of the 80s Vince McMahon with "look at that!" and "Wow!" instead of telling us about the move. And it would be nice if Tony stopped apologizing for not talking about the match. Either talk about the match or just let it go.
Anybody else notice how so much wrestling history in WCW didn't happen in WCW at all? I found it funny when Bobby brought up how he was there the last time Hogan and Warrior fought. Tony added that he was there, too. They did everything but say "We were working for the WWF." I like the idea of the announcers not knowing what's about to happen. But when they have no idea about something, then they expound on how little they know. Moderation is key.
WWF: Three words: Sunday Night Heat. An extra show full of wrestling is the prescription that the WWF needed. They don't show you what happened on Raw again, they just get right to the matches, and they have little developments and setups for what will happen on Raw the next night.
Shane McMahon isn't bad. He's got it in his blood, and he obviously loves what he does. Another good thing is pairing him with Jim Cornette. Jimbo needs the work. He said it himself. The two of them get right down to talking about the matches. Neither of them are Ross, who has the responsibility of telling the whole story while it happens, or Lawler, who has the responsibility of snappy one-liners and old-school heel announcing. It's fun to hear a new voice in announcing. Shane is young, and he's happy to be there. His exclamations are enjoyable ("YEAH BABY!") Although once when Vince joined him for commentary, he called his own father "baby," which I found odd.
Back to Jim Ross for a moment. Being a comedian enables me to recognize timing, and he's got it. His delivery is crucial to some angles, like the dumpster dive. ("OH MY GOD! THERE'S PEOPLE IN THERE!") He's much funnier than Lawler, when he takes the opportunity. Last week when Godfather appeared, he dropped the straightest straight line, very matter-of-factly. "You know, pimpin' ain't easy." That was sweet.
Now on to the criticism: Exactly how many shows does the WWF do? Does anyone know? WCW has three shows, four if you count World Wide and that's it.
WWF has Raw and Heat, their two recap shows whose names I will not type, and syndicated-to-some-of-us Shotgun, which features brand new matches. Why then, on their recap shows we see clips of something called "Slam Jam."? What is that? Why do they advertise "WWF New York" on USA network, which broadcasts nationwide? Or WWF 11 Alive? I tend to think that all these shows are repackaged Raw clips.
What if you live in an area and get multiple shows? How many times can you watch Raw without, I don't know, doing something crazy like picking up a book or spending time with your loved ones?
A syndicated show should be for people who don't have cable. I was one of those people for a long time. How was I supposed to know what was going on with my stories? Raw should just have a straight 2-hour replay. On a different night is fine, in a different time slot is fine. But if they must do a weekend morning wrestling show, give us something we haven't seen.
Finally I end on an up, with One Cool Thing about each fed's TV.
WCW: PPV promos. "The shadows have unleashed a forgotten soul." That's the Warrior they're talking about. Maybe "the shadows" are the Internet fans, who did not forget the Warrior, and talked him up daily since he left the last time. Now he's back, and it's all our fault!
WWF: This is just to show my love for the WWF's "you can feel it" promo during the Walker Texas Ranger credits just before Raw. The mellow pop instrumental is soothing, no voice-over, and it is nicely out of sync with the slamming action that the accompanying video depicts.
Irony is good.
Joe Crowe is a comedian and writer based in Birmingham, Alabama, and a regular contributor to Solie's newsletter. He would like to remind everyone that Ricky Steamboat still rules.
Scenes from the Sting/Hart battle last night begin the program. Cut to Nitro Grrrrls in the ring as Tony hawks tonight's cards. Nitro is live from the America West Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.
Tony makes a statement about something that happened Sunday night - he mentions that some of the fans at home missed the last match of the night because their cable companies inadvertently cut off the program at 8 PM (about 20% of the audience, apparently). WCW has decided to replay the main event from Sunday night tonight just before the 9 o'clock hour! He has the balls to state that it isn't a ratings ploy.
Kenny Kaos vs. Stevie Ray - Stevie Ray attacks before the bell and takes the immediate advantage. He tosses his opponent to the floor and follows him out to do some more damage. Back in the ring, he keeps the initiative for a moment until he misses an elbow drop. Kaos is right back into it and dominates until Buff Bagwell runs in and throws Stevie his weapon. Kaos is dispatched. They start a punk job on him but Rick Steiner runs in and chases them off. Rick (who single-handidly won the World Tag Titles Sunday night) then offers Kaos the chance to be his tag team partner against the nWo tonight. It isn't made clear, but I assume he is offering to share the Tag belts with the youngster. Kaos says his main man Rage is out with a shoulder injury but that he has idolized the Steiner Brothers for ten years and he will be proud to accept. Cut to commercial.
Prince Iukea vs. Kanyon - the latter tries his call and response with the usual results then turns and decks the Prince with the microphone. He wins the next exchange but then turns away to gloat and gets flattened with a drop-kick. Iukea dominates for a moment and then a swinging neck breaker stops his momentum. The match see-saws as first the Prince and then his opponent throw each other out of the ring. Kanyon attempts a piledriver on the ring steps but gets dumped instead. Raven appears at ringside but declines to involved immediately. The Prince springboards from the outside in and downs Kanyon. He downs him again then they struggle for position - Kanyon gets the Flatliner and the pin. Cut to commercial.
Nitro Grrrls surround the broadcast position as we return. Cut to Mean Gene in the ring. He invites the Four Horsemen to the ring. Three of them appear - Mongo is missing, however. The announcers don't seem inclined to explain his absense - but maybe Okerlund will. He mentions it to Flair right away. Flair says, "Mongo's missing in action but I'm sure he will be here before the night's over." He says it had to do with their Las Vegas experience. They mention that Hogan and Bischoff are missing as well, then Eric makes an appearance. He has a mic and wants to make a statement. He starts by saying that he was wrong and that he has underestimated Flair, that he didn't realize how much Flair means to the fans. He says they want to see him wrestle again - so he says they will. He declines to reveal who the opponent will be. Flair says he doesn't trust Bischoff (I wonder why...) but he will be ready. I wonder if the opponent might not turn out to be Mongo or one of the other Horsemen..? Cut to commercial.
Tony announces that Diamond Dallas Page will get a title shot at Bret Hart tonight. Cut to scenes from the Hall vs. Nash match from Sunday night.
Alex Wright vs. Barry Horowitz - no question about who the winner of this one. Horowitz is a competent wrestler but Wright is a genuine talent and is getting a big push right now. In fact Horowitz is out of it from the get go. Wright just moidelizes the guy until he launches himself off the top and eats leather. Horowitz goes for a high-risk move of his own and pays the price for it. Wright wins with a neckbreaker. Cut to commercial.
We return to some of the recent events in the ongoing Hogan/Warrior feud including scenes from Sunday night.
Wrath vs. Sick Boy - Wrath attacks on the bell but then is stopped in his tracks by a round kick. He comes roaring back and bulls his opponent into the corner where he boots him to the mat. He grabs a reverse chinlock then turns it loose and throws Sick Boy through the ropes. He follows him out and rolls hiim back in, slingshots himself into a flying shoulder block and gets a two count. After a couple of exchanges Sick Boy makes a comeback with a neckbreaker but Wrath pops right to his feet. He gets the Meltdown to win. Cut to commercial.
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Goldberg - World Title match - this is a replay from Sunday night. Because of the confusion I suffered last night when the show cut out on me as well (I had to restart my Internet connection after I got the show restarted), I will attempt to provide a more complete description tonight. Michael Buffer does the introductions, including those of the entire Nevada Athletic Commission. DDP takes a detour past the broadcast position on his way to the ring. He stands head down, not watching Goldberg's entrance according to the announcers. They lock up and DDP is thrown off three times. Page pauses then they lock up again and Page gets an arm drag. Goldberg jumps him and they roll out to the floor. In a flash they are back in the in the ring. Page grabs a headlock but Goldberg shrugs him off - Page sweeps a leg and Goldberg does a back handspring ending up on his feet! Page trips him again and Goldberg pops right back up. Page rushes into two kneelifts and drops to his knees. The Champ grabs a cross arm bar but Page grabs the ropes to escape. A jawbreaker barely affects the Champ. Page hits his short arm clothesline and goes for a Diamond Cutter but is shoved right through the ropes to the floor. Page regroups before going back in. They lock up and Goldberg grabs a hammer lock. Page twists out of it and drops Goldberg to the mat with a drop-toe hold to a hammer lock og his own. He switches to a side headlock and gets bumped out of the ring again. As he re-enters he snaps the Champs head off the top rope then rushes into a swinging neck breaker before the Champ can recover. Page is all over him, smashes him to the corner then gets a Russian leg sweep and a cover. Two count. He holds Goldberg on the mat with a front face lock. Goldberg struggles but can't rise. Finally he gets to his feet and downs DDP with a knee lift. Goldberg actually looks winded as Page struggles to his feet. Goldberg whacks him upside the head then delivers a kidney blow. He muscles Page into a belly-to-back suplex. Pulling him up, the Champ whips Page into a sidewalk slam. He goes for a pin but fails. I don't think I've ever seen Goldberg go for a pin without first delivering the Jackhammer. He applies an arm bar and rools through to the cross arm. People try to call Goldberg an Austin clone but he has used more wrestling moves in the the first 15 minutes of this match then Austin has used in his last ten matches! Page gets to the ropes again. Goldberg releases the hold and goes for another sidewalk slam, but DDP reverses it into a flying had scissors that would do a luchadore proud. Both rise and Goldberg plants a standing side kick which drives Page into the corner. He rushes the corner and drives his shoulder into the post when Page sidesteps. Goldberg is writhing on the floor! Page can't follow up because he is exhausted. Goldberg rolls back into the ring. Page scrambles to the top and delivers a flying lariet and gets another two count. Now Goldberg is reeling, favoring his injured shoulder. He manages a one-arm slam but Page is up first and signalling for the Diamond Cutter. He turns around and Goldberg spears him. But Goldberg can't follow up! Both guys are down. He struggles to his feet slowly and attempts to get Page into the Jackhammer with one arm. He fails, then he gets him up Page droops over and turns it into a Diamond Cutter. Again both guys are down. Page struggles over for a cover but no cigar. Page goes for a suplex of his own but fails, Goldberg surges into the Jackhammer and gets the pin. He acknowledges the crowd and then helps Page to his feet. They embrace then Page leaves the ring to the Champ. Whew! What a great match. Goldbeg has crossed the line in this one.
The announcers comment then throw it to commercial.
Mean Gene talks to Kevin Nash in his dressingroom. Hall shows up. Gene wants to know why he didn't finish the match Sunday night. Nash tells him wasn't about winning or losing - he wins when he gets Hall back as his friend. Hall makes a short speech about getting his life back togther, then they shake hands. Suddenly the Giant shows up and attacks Nash. Hall and the Giant pound on him then throw him through a plaster wall. So much for friendship. Cut to commercial.
Nitro Grrrrls dance for UNICEF. Then the nWo music plays. Legendary Larry says "Here are some guys who don't work for UNICEF.." Of course, he knows that Hulk Hogan is to this day very active in UNICEF despite his heelish character. Hogan, Bischoff and the rest of the thugs come to the ring. Horace is with them now. Bischoff introduces Horace was the newest member. Hogan presents him with his weight belt and an nWo t-shirt. He talks about blood a lot... Cut to commercial.
Saturn vs. Eddie Guerrero - Oh boy! WCW is packing the program tonight. This has to be a great match. Both men start catious, as well they should. Eddie grabs an arm bar and takes Saturn down. Saturn then suplexes him off. The criss cross and collide, Guerrero goes down and claims a hair pull. using the ref for distraction he cheapshots Saturn then springboards onto his outstretched leg. Saturn backs into the corner and takes some chops but then a whip leads to another suplex. Through the next several exchanges Eddie outwrestles his opponent but Saturn's strength is formidable and thwarts him repeatedly. Saturn is also a suplex machine and that proves decisive. He is ready to go for the DDD when LWO members hit the ring. Ciclope and Garza hold him while Eddie tries to splash him - but Saturn ducks and Eddie flies to the floor. Saturn is back in charge until the rest of the LWO shows up including a new member who is a stranger. They punk him and hold him for Eddie's frog splash.
Mean Gene is with Judy Bagwell who is pretty upset at her son. She says she is a "mother on a mission" and loves Marcus Bagwell with all her heart but she's "had enough os Buff!" Cut to commecial.
Stevie Ray/Giant vs. Rick Steiner/Kaos - Tag Team Title match - Kaos starts with Stevie Ray and gets the better of him. He is running on adrenalin. Stevie whips him into the Giant's foot and the tide changes. They isolate him for several moments until the Giant puts him into a bera hug and drifts to the enemy corner where Rick gets a blind tag. Kaos rakes the eyes then Rick hits the big guy with a Steiner line in the corner and two more. The Giant reels back then charges, whips Rick to the opposite corner then rushes into a boot. Rick knocks him down with a flying clothesline then goes for a pin but is knocked to the floor by the kick out. Stevie attacks on the outside but Rick turns the tables. Back in the ring, Rick gets his top rope bulldog and pins Stevie. Cut to commercial.
Bischoff has joined the broadcast team as we return. He reveals that Flair is going to wrestle...on tape. They show footage from the 1994 edition of Bash at the Beach. Hulk Hogan in yellow and red fights Flair for the World Title with Mr T and Jimmy Hart in his corner and wins it for the first time. Bischoff then crows about Flairs always being second fiddle to Hogan and leaves.
Juventud Guerrera vs. Kidman - Cruiserweight Title match - Juvey shows some attitude before the match, Kidman smirks at him. The match is a high speed affair - really to fast to call. Juvey gets a flying head scissors and takes the advantage. He gets a two count at the end of his flurry. Juvey recovers and coms back with a Juvey driver but no cigar. The match continues with Juvey dominating the action. he goes for another head scissors but Kidman reverses it into a backward suplex. Juvey comes back with a bulldog. Juvey flies and gets the splash and another two count. He climbs again but gets drop-kicked out of the air. Kidman climbs but Juvey catches him on the way up then gets the Frankensteiner from the top. He goes for a powerbomb but Kidman reverses it then hits the Shooting Star press for the pin. Great match! Cut to commercial.
Scott Steiner comes to the ring with Bagwell - Big Papa Pump rants about his sexual prowess. Buff rants against his mother. Scott then requests a rematch with his brother tonight. JJ Dillon comes to the ring to find out the score. Scott rants some more ala Tommy Smothers (you always liked my brother better then me...) They argue about why the referee changed in the middle of the match Sunday night. Then Buff attacks and Scott starts to apply the Steiner recliner - but security intervenes. Cut to comercial.
The Warrior appears as we return and runs to the ring. He rants against Hogan saying Hogan has set a fire that will "haunt you forever" and other mixed metaphores. He is almost comprehensible....but the gist is a challenge to Hogan to fight him now. Hogan appears but Horace takes his place and gets squashed. The Giant runs in and gets ejected - then Hogan blindsides him but also gets downed. Bischoff is knocked off the apron. The Warrior stands tall as the nWo retreats.
Scott Hall/Scott Steiner vs. Konnan/Lex Luger - All four go at it from the get-go - it sorts out to Luger vs. Hall in the ring. Konnan and Scott fight on the floor. Hall and Luger end up out there as well. Then Steiner and Konnan re-enter the ring - but the referee is out in the aisle with the legal men (I guess). Soon all four are brawling in the aisle, then Luger and Hall return with the referee. Luger is in control as Hall reels around the ring. he starts to go for the rack but Steines intervenes and they double team him. Konnan returns with a chair. The refree gets knocked out of the ring. Steiner is ejected and Hall is racked but Steiner runs back in and spears Luger just before we go to commercial.
The ring is cleared for the main event. Michael Buffer makes the introductions.
Bret Hart vs. Diamond Dallas Page - US Title match - the match is a see-saw affair from the get-go. They stick mostly to wrestling throughout the early going. Hart repeatedly complains about non-existent hair and tight pulls. Gradually he starts to take the advantage. He dominates the action for several minutes, cheating wherever he can. Page struggls up from a reverse chinlock but gets DDT'd. Hart gets a two count. Page starts punching the mid section then gets a lariet followed by a flapjack and a two count. He climbs the top but gets caught there and superplexed. Both guys are down. Hart tries a cover but fails to even get one. Hart grabs a small package and gets two. The match goes into see-saw mode again. Hart gets a backbreaker and the elbow drop on the throat. He is getting frustrated as he fails to get the pin again. He goes for a suplex but Page blocks it and drops him with an arm bar. They rise and Page gets a jaw breaker. In the corner, Hart back-kicks both Page and the referee in the groin. Hart tries to help the referee up and is distracted allowing Page to get the Diamond Cutter. Page is the new US Champ!! Hart uses his brass knucks to hit Page and the referee then attacks Page with a chair, beating on his knee as he did Sting the other night. He applies a Sharpshooter as Page screams in pain. He releases it and hits him with the chair again and again! He launches himself from the second rope and hits him again with the chair. Goldberg runs in to break it up and we fade to black. One of the better Nitro's lately.
At least that's the way I see it...
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
This page is a personal tribute and is in no way connected to any of the wrestling promotions mentioned on it. It is dedicated to the Dean of Wrestling announcers, Gordon Solie. Copyright 1998 - Jump City Productions