We watch Curt Hennig arriving at the arena with Barry Windham. They vow to enter the Tag Team Tournament and win it. Cut to footage of the Nitro Grrrrls rehearsing only to be interrupted by Scott Steiner who starts to manhandle Kimberly. She accidently trips over one of the other dancers (like a schoolboy maneuver) and is knocked unconscious.
Mean Gene invites Konnan and Rey Misterio, Jr. to the ring for an interview. He asks Rey about his problems with Lex Luger. He says he will take Luger down if he has to in order to gain his respect. Konnan he says that he and Rey plan to do a number on Luger and and Kevin Nash. Rey wants to put up his mask against either of the Wolf Pack guys' hair.
Were back at the airport again with the B-Team. They can't get a car to take them to the arena. Stevie finds a limo driver and says he thinks Hogan has gotten them "hooked up". Sure enough there is a limo waiting but Vince is shut out by the rest of the gang. He calls Nash who pulls up immediately in another limo with the Hollywood team and they take him in. Cut to the opening montage then to commercial.
The Nitro Grrrrls dance in the ring sans Kimberly.
Nitro is live from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Ric Flair is giving Eric Bischoff his latest assignment. He will be the target in a dunking tank!! Outside!!! In the snow!!!! There are WCW employees lined up to take their shots. Bischoff agrees to do it but says he will have the last laugh tonight. He rather ominously asks Flair if he knows where his son David is. There are 57 days left of Flair's presidency. Cut to a replay of what happened to Curt Hennig last week.
Curt Hennig/Barry Windham vs. Chris Benoit/Dean Malenko - Tag Team Title tournament match - I thought Malenko was still on the shelf - I guess I missed something. Hennig and Windham try a little verbal intimidation before the match. Not likely guys... Hennig faces Benoit to start and Benoit is all over his opponent who leaves the ring to regroup. Hennig returns and takes the initiative for a moment but then Benoit comes back. These are all fine wrestlers but, of course, the two current Horsemen are both in their prime - the other two aren't. Windham is tossed to the outside then Hennig is double teamed. Benoit has him well in hand as we cut to commercial.
The fight is out on the floor as we return. The Horsemen are stilling controlling the action. Scott Dickenson sits ringside again tonight. In the ring, Benoit misses a baseball slide which allows Hennig to turn the tables. Windham tags in and continues the assault. He stands Benoit in the corner and lays in some heavy chops. The bad guys are taunting Malenko into running in thus distracting the referee so they can do their dirty work. Benoit is being isolated and beaten down. He suckers Hennig into a Crippler Crossface but Windham breaks it up. Finally Malenko and Windham are tagged in simultaneously. Malenko beats his opponent to the punch but can't put Windham away yet. Now all four are in. Winham puts a superplex on Malenko but they aren't legal. All four are in again and in the confusion, Benoit falls victim to the Hennig plex and is pinned.
Outside Bischoff is being dunked by JJ Dillon. LaParka is next in line. Meanwhile the nWo limos have arrived. Stevie is running Vince down again to Nash. He is surprised to see Vince emerge from the Wolf Pack car. Nash and Luger smooth things over and we hear that Hogan isn't here tonight. Cut to commercial.
The B-Team arrives in their dressing room to find four girls waiting for them. Back in the ring, Mean Gene brings Flair out for a talk. This is a homecoming for the President - having been born in Minneapolis in 1949. Flair says that the nWo is falling apart. He refers to Vince as "Virgil" at one point. He says Hogan didn't make it here tonight but that he will be there at SuperBrawl on the 21st to take a licking (I have heard a rumor that Flair was supposed to win that match but that Hogan is refusing to job). Flair turns his attention to Bret Hart. He books a match for the US Title verses Chris Benoit. The Wolf Pack interrupts at this point in the form of Scott Hall and Disco Inferno. Hall has his own mic and proceeds to insist that the crowd is there to see the nWo. He doesn't recognise Flair's authority to give the US Title match to Benoit. Hall says he should be the #1 contender. Benoit comes out to defend his position and a melee breaks out which results in the Horsemen clearing the ring and Hall getting a match with Benoit to determine the #1 contender to the US Title later tonight. Cut to commercial.
Kenny Kaos vs. Van Hammer - this could go either way since both of these guys have been getting minor pushes lately. During this match, Tenay and Zbyzsco mentioned the death of Giant Baba. The two comptitors seem pretty evenly matched throughout the contest. Van Hammer's win is rather anti-climactic since the Sandman immediately makes his WCW debut by running in and hitting him with a Kendo stick. He rants about being the original Hardcore wrestler, "...I was the first man to use barbed wire for ropes...", etc. He calls Bam Bam Bigalow out to face him. Cut to commercial.
Bigalow is approaching the ring as we return. Sandman attacks him with the stick as he enters through the ropes. The announcers are pretending like they don't know who the Sandman is. Bigalow finally turns the tables due to sheer bulk on the outside. He rolls Sandman back into the ring and prevents him from getting his stick. Then he hits him with a chair repeatedly. Moments later, Sandman avoids a corner rush and gets hold of the stick again. He puts Bigalow down then strings barbed wire over one of the top ropes. He continues his assault with the cane but Bigalow comes back with a DDT onto the chair then whips him into the barbed wire covered corner and squashes him. He finishes it up with his "Greetings from Asbury Park" onto the chair. Out back Bischoff is shivering as a cameraman attempts to dunk him once more. Cut to commercial.
More Nitro Grrrrls on the platform followed by more dunk tank action. Cut to Diamond Dallas Page who is getting the word from Kidman about what happened to Kimberly. He invades the Wolf Pack dressing room and demands to know where Steiner is - he threatens all of them. After he leaves, Steiner appears carrying a piece of Kimberlys personal property. They send Vince out to find DDP and deliver the message that Steiner will take the match, and to slap DDP in the face. No fool he, Vince dispatches Disco Inferno to do it for him, assuring him that the nWo will attack as soon as he delivers the slap.
DDP goes straight to the ring and calls Steiner out. Disco strides out to do his errand. He delivers the message and the slap then looks around for the assistance that isn't coming. Disco is destroyed. Back in the nWo dressing room the Wolf Pack are congratulating Vince on his smarts while DDP gets in his car and heads for the hospital. Cut to commercial.
Lash Larou vs. Kidman - Cruiserweight Title match - Larou is one of the assistants to the Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker (the head trainer) at the WCW Powerplant and as such is in fact a formidable competitor. The fight goes to th outside where Larou is hoisted on his own pitard when he sets up th ringsteps for a move that fails. Back in the ring he is right back on the attack. Kidman comes back with fist of fire but Larou elevates him and drops him on his face. Larou grabs a reverse neck vice to ground his opponent. Kidman escapes and gets a corner splash but then misses a frog splash. Larou goes back to the neck vice. Kidman escapes again but Larou is right on him. This kid is showing us something. He takes the Champ to the top but then showboats too long and is powerbombed. Kidman takes the advantage now but Larou is still in it. He gets a slam out of a fireman's carry. The match is firmly in see-saw mode as they trade hold for counter-hold until Kidman holds onto his opponents head and turns a poerbomb attempt into a face slam. The shooting star press tells the tale. Out back, Heenan is getting his chance at Bischoff. He pretends to be handing Bischoff the balls but stumbles into the trip lever and sends him into the drink. In a limo somewhere, Hogan and one of his Hells Angels friends (Zito the VanDaminator) are having a conference. Cut to commercial.
Mean Gene interviews Booker T in the hallway near the locker rooms. They share a moment over coffee. The talk about Booker's injuries last year. Booker does no whinig about Bret Hart's victory over him last week. He reveals that he has Disco Inferno at SuperBrawl.
Scott Steiner and Buff Bagwell come down to the ring to talk some trash. Steiner rants about there being a stip during their last match that said that Steiner would get Kimberly he won (I don't remember that, but then I'm pretty old...) Cut to commercial.
Chris Jericho vs. Scott Steiner - Jeicho has his hand full as Heenan correctly points out. Steiner just shoves him off after their first lock-up. He is also quite capable of outwrestling Jericho and proves it during the second encounter. Jericho is press slammed. He comes back with some flying feet and puts Steiner on the mat then follows with a missle drop-kick. Steiner tosses him out to the floor and assaults him mercilessly on the outside. Back in the ring, Jericho recovers his poise and gets a splash but it hardly affects Steiner who comes roaring back and mauls Jericho in the corner then hits him with a powerbomb. Buff tries to interfere as Jericho lies on the apron but is thwarted. Jericho recovers and gets in a couple of shots before Steiner runs him down yet again. Jericho is now mounting a holding action while simultaneously fighting Bagwell off. He gets a jawbreaker and follows with a Lionsault but can't get the pin. Steiner hits him coming off a whip then delivers a pump handle suplex. Jericho reasserts himself then tries to abandon the match. He walks right into Saturn (wearing a long, striped jersey dress) in the aisle. Saturn drags him back to the ring and rolls him in for Steiner to finish him off with the Steiner Recliner. Cut to a scene from Mad TV - Bret Hart attacks a Jesse Ventura look alike. He turns to the audience and explains that he and this actor have a personal issue from the last time he was on the show. He slaps on the Sharpshooter as we cut to commercial.
Fyre dances behind a screen with a pole - very hot... Cut to commercial.
The Wolf Pack in the persons of Kevin Nash, Lex Luger and Miss Liz come down to the ring. They are here to answer the challenge of Konnan and Rey Misterio. Each of them shakes his hair out then Nash says they'll put Liz's hair on the line against Rey's mask at SuperBrawl. She seems non-plussed but they assure her that it will be all right. Cut to commercial.
Ernest Miller (w/Sonny Oono) vs. Scott Norton - before the match Miller intimidates the ring announcer into announcing that he (Miller) wants to be known as the "greatest of all time" from now on. No doubt he means the greatest jerk. Miller again invite "anybody" to come out and face him. The crowd chants "Goldberg". Back in the dressing room, the nWo decides to sic Norton on him. Intelligently, Miller is a little taken aback at the prospect of facng Norton. Even he isn't stupid enough to turn his back on the former IWGP World Champ. Norton lays into him and immediately "the Cat" is in trouble. He takes it for several exchanges then delivers a drop-kick to the knee to turn the tables. He starts delivering kick but then goes for a spin-wheel and is caught in mid-air. Miller comes back with a low blow but it only gives him a moments respite. Now Norton is just standing there inviting Miller to kick him. Miler hits a jaw breaker and gets another short flurry before Norton mows him down again. Miller drags Oono into the fring and flings him at Norton to distract him. Again - it is only a temporary breather. Miller destroys him with a clothesline and a powerbomb to get the pin. Cut to the Nitro Grrrla dancing in the aisle then to commercial.
Mean Gene welcomes Goldberg to the ring for a rare interview. He questions the former Champ about his feud with Bam Bam Bigalow. He tells Bigalow, "Your next!" Cut to commercial.
Out back the Horsemen are taking their turn at dunking Bischoff. Bischoff, for his part, continues to ask Flair, "Where's your kid?"
Michael Buffer intros the main event. He refers to someone named Bret "Hitman" Clark (I don't know who that is either...) Later he calls Benoit's finisher the "Cripple Crossface" - how much do they pay this guy..?
Scott Hall (w/Disco Inferno) vs. Chris Benoit - US Title contender's match - Bret Hart (Clark?) joins the broadcast team for this match. Hall wants a test of strength but of course his reach is way to high. Benoit clears his nose on Hall then drops to his knees. Hall tries to kick him but Benoit catches the boot boot and legwhips the big guy. Benoit dominates the action. Disco tries to interfere but Steve McMaichales comes down to take him out. He drags Disco bck to the back pounding on him all the way. Back in the ring Benoit is still in charge - in the back Mongo throws Disco into the Horsemen locker room where Arn Anderson waits, tire iron in hand. Cut to commercial.
Benoit still dominates as we return but Hall gets a finger to the eye to turn the tables. Benoit comes back with a sleeper but Hall drops him on the top rope to escape. Now it is all Hall (Hey, that rhymes!) but he can't get a pin. He slaps on his abdominal stretch and uses the top rope behind him for extra leverage. The referee sees him cheating and pushes his hand away so the Benoit can get a hip toss to escape. But Benoit is weakened and can't follow up. They battle in the corner and Benoit starts to gain ground again. Hall is being whipped piller to post and suplexed mercilessly. Benoit gets his flying headbutt then cuts off Nash who has rushed to the ring to interfere. He goes to the top but is caught there, conveniently in position to be put into the Outsiders Edge and pinned.
Back in Hogan's limo with Hollywood and Zito. They watch David arrive at the WCW headquarters in Atlanta and are ready to attack him. Back in Minneapolis, Flair is watching what is going down on a backstage monitor and starting to freak out as we fade to black...
Major continuity error there - Hogan and Zito are watching David in broad daylight in Atlanta which isn't possible when it is 11 PM on the West Coast - unless they are on tape...
While I agree that the main product of the WWF is what is attracting most of the viewers, I will point out at least one angle that is the epitome of the new Get It direction that has caused the fans to enjoy MORE of Raw and more of the WWF wresters.
Mark Henry has been back from injury for over a year now. Absolutely nobody gave a damn about him for several months. Many viewers probably changed the channel. I know I did. Some of those viewers changed the channel to Nitro.
Enter Sexual Chocolate and a career is reborn. His current angle is drawing more crowd interest and getting more cheers in one night than in all of his appearances COMBINED in most of 1998. And D-Lo Brown has even benefited from Henry's new popularity. Although D-Lo DID win the European Title a couple times in the summer, the fan base never grew. Now, with the help of Sexual Chocolate, it has.
And then there is Val Venis, who so far has been getting decent fan reaction. Probably more than his mic skills and in ring performances has shown he deserves. And for a brief few weeks, Val and his angle actually did what had never been done before then nor since. It made the WWF fans actually give a damn about what Kaientai was doing.
The verdict is still out on what the Ministry will do to revive the careers of those involved, but ANYTHING will be an improvement for Bradshaw and Faarooq, not to mention many of the 'recruits' so far. While this angle may make the Undertaker less interesting by a big margin, I think they may be using the Undertaker's popularity to help some of the other stars get over with the crowd. Maybe they feel that if Calloway IS retiring soon, the best use for him for now will be in this capacity. Plus, Calloway is the type of performer, and the Undertaker is the type of character than can instantly win back the fans if, say, he became more like himself, say, at Wrestlemania.
So yes, the fans are tuning in each week to see the latest chapter in the Austin/McMahon feud, or the Corporation/Mankind feud, or even D-X. But the new direction is making many of these fans more pleased with the overall show. 4 months ago, Raw sometimes had to resort to having Austin in every segment to get ratings. Now Austin can take an entire week off and the loss to viewers is not as bad. Not to mention the fact that by making fans care about Mark Henry and such, the QH ratings are more stable than they were. You rarely see any big dips in Raw's ratings like you used to. And the Nation of Domination's Mark Henry was not holding onto Austin's audience like Sexual Chocolate.
For that reason, McMahon's new direction is working for now. As for that article, you left out the part where the author exdplains that she was a fan and then mentions all the OLD TIME 80's ANGLES. She was a fan of the 80's. To me, it sounded like she hadn't seen a wrestling show in over 6 years. She certainly didn't mention anything about the current wrestling storylines, aside from what she didn't like. McMahon knows the 80's are over and for the most part, fans of that wrestling are not watching anymore.
Quite frankly, I don't see a single shred of evidence to support your fear that the new direction will hurt future ratings and advertisers. Fans of that kind of entertainment are loyal. Look how well There's "Something About Mary" did this summer. Jim Carrey is making 20 million dollar a movie due to that form of entertainment. And with the ratings the WWF is getting, any loss in advertisers due to adult angles will be more than offset in others willing to cater to the bigger fan base. History has shown that.
One last comment before this novel comes to an end...To answer a point by Ryan Norcross, I'm not sure many stations would air the WWF commercial if it gave the time and day Raw is on. The only ones who would air it would be USA Network and Sci-Fi, which is owned by USA. Other channels would be giving commercial time to their competition! (Editor's Note: Actually, USA airs commercials for WCW PPV's and WCW based video games during RAW quite frequently) But you are right, the commercial probably did not draw new fans. However, it MAY have had an impact of some of the old 80's fans who have forgotten all about it and may now decide to check it out again. May not be worth the money, but hey, it is about what WCW spends on having Michael Buffer come out and call the US Champion Bret Clark, or Benoit move the Cripple Crossface every week. So it is not like the WWF is the only ones squandering money.
Then there is this response on the other side:
Although we have disagreed before about the WWF direction, I think you are quite right about the flaws of the "get it" campaign. It is arrogant, and I think it shows that Vince and the WWF, despite all their recent success, does not get it.
Remember Vince's announcements of a year ago autumn? In it, Vince said the black-and-white era was over, and that the WWF was going to stop insulting the audience's intelligence. For much of the last year, they did that. The Austin/Corporate feud was great. I even liked Val Venis a lot (like with Austin, I liked someone who was supposed to be a heel, but missing the mark). And backing it all up, was some exciting wrestling.
These days, there is less and less wrestling. And the storylines are beginning to feel insulting again (now insulting vulgar instead of insulting childish). Vulgar can be done well, but at the moment, it is being overdone and done poorly.
And finally, I should say that telling everyone how "hip" you are is a major sign of not being hip at all.
I appreciate the sentiments expressed in both of these letters. I have to say to TH that I admitted in the article that the new WWF direction is not hurting the popularity of the WWF product - my concerns go more to what is being done to the overall perception of pro-wrestling. I have found that in making this argument on some of the wresling discussion boards, that that is the aspect which is most often brushed aside by WWF supporters. I think they miss what the point of the editorial was...but then maybe I just don't "Get It." :-)
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