WARNING: Those of you who don't like ass kissin', don't read this review, because I tried to make it otherwise, but it just wasn't happening. This may well be the greatest show I've ever read ... and I've read a lot.
The whole set-up premise of this show is that it is one without
the nWo. Considering what went down Sunday at Sin, it is as though things are finally looking up in the world of WCW, as the black cloud has finally subsided etc. Such a simple yet effective premise.
So let me just say this to get this long overdue review underway: Szumi, if you've never considered writing other fiction before (I'd be gobsmacked if you didn't already), whether it be for the screen or the page, then you really should. This opening promo was the perfect
example of the "pride comes before the fall" hero scenario. I'll give you an example of it from popular culture. You ever seen 24? Of course you have, everyone loves Jack Bauer. But just take a look at what that show does; it has 24 episodes to run with what in essence is usually quite a simplistic plot (a bomb in LA, a kidnapping etc.), all the while thinking, "what more can we do to fuck up Jack's life even more?" What that show does perhaps better than any other is give the audience their big relief i.e in Season 5 Jack has stopped the Russian terrorists from launching the missiles, has killed the Big Bad, and we all collectively go *ah* "well done, Jack Boy, we can all relax now." Right? Wrong. The sheer brilliance of this narrative technique is escalation and BAM~!, catching the audience at our most relaxed the Chinese abduct Jack. This
is exactly what you've done, Szumi. I think you'd be the first to say that the opening part of this promo (Phase 1 if you will) from Flair and HBK was nothing more than 'good'. Y'know, in the usual Szumi way, it was flawlessly in character (do you ever write guys out of character you annoyingly talented bitch?
) and quite interesting. But really, nothing
happened. And you knew it: "We cut back to Flair, who looks to keep going. Make this better, aye Ric?"
So I don't even feel bad for pointing it out. The whole point
of this opening promo was for it to be slow, was for it to be rather dull, rather pointless in essence, simply because of what was to come. You took your audience (us) and put us in a false sense of security. We thought this was the Horsemen's night. Nothing could go wrong for them, and it would all be capped off with a new dawn, a new day as Shawn Michaels challenges Big Poppa Pump for the World Heavyweight Championship. Oh, how you took the idea of a Chinese abduction, screwed it up, and threw it in the bin.
"The Kliq – me, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Hunter, Sean Waltman – we were innovators too. The New World Order, it is Kevin and Scott’s brainchild. They know how to run this group, and me, I know the way they think. Every move the New World Order makes… I see it comin’ before they can even take one step."
The placement of this comment from HBK was so wonderfully placed; it sets him up for the inevitable fall before it has even begun yet. Eric Bischoff is the King Of Smug, so his appearance to set it all up just makes it even better. What follows shows that not only do you clearly have the same sick mind as me (
), but you're also a graduate of the Heath Ledger Joker school of villainry. Why settle for a simple beat down to hurt the man for a moment
when you attack his psyche permanently
? This has elevated Scott Hall and Kevin Nash in particular (forget the rest of the nWo) to a whole new level of heel. This sketch, the stalking of their former best friend's wife and child has almost transcended the whole nWo/Horsemen feud, breaking away on its own, become a Kliq feud instead. It makes it even more surprising then that you gave us Michaels/Nash on free TV a few weeks back, as this seems to be the route you're taking this thing:
"Will Rebecca still want to be the wife to a man who has so many skeletons in his closet that men such as Timothy McVeigh and Osama Bin Laden are deemed decent individuals when compared to you? Well let me tell you, Shawn, we’re about to find out. I’m gonna go inside your house, and I am gonna sit down and tell Rebecca every single sin you have ever committed."
Nash truly is the Devil. He is harshly underrated, but the way you've characterized him in these handheld camera videos is as the ultra smug, nasty, but highly, highly
intelligent psychopath with a real problem with his former friend's blissful happiness. Scott Hall? He's not as complex; he's almost the comedic foil to Nash's heinous evil in this scene, the Grima Wormtongue to Nash's Saruman [/nerd] if you will. The idea is that Nash, because he has remained the same old sophomoric, egotistical, selfish, narcissistic bastard that he has always been, cannot stand the fact that HBK has become some new, has cast that side of him away forever, has grown up
in essence. So what does Big Sexy want to do? He wants to take away the two things that symbolize Shawn's new lifestyle above all else: his wife and his son, two things that Big Kev [/kayfabe] can't have.
An absolutely astounding opening to the show, Szumi. Probably the best I've ever read, simply because of it's sheer intelligence. The way you lull the reader in with Flair and Shawn's verbal back slapping before really sticking the knife in and twisting it with the nWo's little home video outing. It was perfect
, just perfect. God knows where this leaves the main event now, but something tells me Shawn Michaels/Scott Steiner will have to wait.
Aaaaand straight away, after all of the euphoria of Sin, the Four Horsemen are back to being in total disarray. I think I already know the route you're going with the main event after our little conversation, and Mike Awesome's uhm awesome presence during the opening promo. It will be interesting to see how Flair & Co. respond to this.
Great to see Sugar Shane getting right back on the horse after a disappointing result at Sin. You get the feeling that Helms has the potential, certainly in this thread, to make the step up to North American Championship level, he's been that
"Let me tell you people, I REFUSE to allow these Mexicans to conspire and screw me over! Oh no, I will not let their blatant racism and discrimination last! Super Crazy, you pushed me over the edge! I’m goin’ a little craaaaaazy! I’m loco, essa!"
Man, Shane reminds me of one of the those 80's movie villains from something like RoboCop. His racism gimmick and Carolinan twang make him an extremely entertaining antagonist. Like I said earlier too, in story telling 101, escalation is the name of the game, and with Sugar well and truly flipping the lid, one has to assume that things are indeed going to escalate for Super Crazy and Chavo Guerrero.
Speaking of Chavo Guerrero. You'll have to excuse my lack of enthusiasm for a few of these segments, since they have a hell of a lot to live up to all night. Kidman, Rey and Konnan aren't exactly favorites of mine, so I kind of zone out during their ass-licking, but I surprisingly like Chavito, so him being the one to finally take the belt from Shane 'OWNS' Helms makes it barely bearable.
Obviously the new champs retain, and it looks as though with this loss the Natural Born Trillers might be the team to leave the equation, leaving the Animals and Lions to go at it from now on. Fair enough. Sorry once again, but the tag division/segments are definitely the weakest/most boring parts of your shows - that's from a great tag team advocate like myself
- but when you're name's Szumi, that ain't really saying anything.
Haven't really been digging (no pun intended) Booker or Steiner lately, mainly because they seem almost too
edgy, too bad ass, just all round insane, but the way you've handled their feud has been a thing of beauty, with two guys, one a tweener close to heel (Steiner) and one a tweener close to face (Booker), just really pissing each other off in the worst way. When their feud continues into the next PPV (which it better), it's going to be fuckin' epic. Book's interaction the more docile Flair was certainly something to see, since T has always been one of those faces who has never really sucked up at all.
"I’m a thug, huh? Dat’s all Booka’ T is, Flair? Ight, sucka, we’ll see whose right ‘den. Gimme a match, Prez! Gimme someone ta’ wrestle, n’ I’ll put ‘em down – one, two, three! How ya’ want it, huh? Book End? Axe Kick! 110th Street Slam? How ‘bout da’ Harlem Hang Ova’? Wanna see Booka’ T go ol’ school!?"
Booker's poised almost too perfectly at this point to turn heel for it to actually happen. I mean, he lost the title when Flair and not him got pinned, he got screwed at Starrcade, screwed again on Nitro, god knows what you call what happened at Sin, and now Slick Ric's blocking him again. It would make sense for a Harvey Dent-like turn from Booker as he goes to the dark side to finally get what he wants, but since Sting's inglorious exit, you don't have enough main event faces to be turning them willy nilly.
"The crowd breaks out into a surprisingly loud reaction, mostly filled with boos although some pops can be heard out of surprise and/or having not seen this gentleman in a long time. After a few seconds, the legend himself, Chris ‘Champagne’ Kanyon comes out from the back, strutting out onto the entrance stage, his arms raised at his sides and head tilted back, taking in the crowd’s reaction. Kanyon is dressed in an elaborate and expensive fur coat and sunglasses (Did Liberace pick that out?), and has a mic in one hand and a champagne bottle in the other."
EPIC. Great introduction for Champagne, but really, Szumi, stop insulting your readership
He might not be (as good as) Jericho, but he's definitely in that kind of mold. Just looking at your main event/upper mid-card scene, it's an intensely serious level (due mainly to the nWo/Horsemen's occupation) filled with bad ass guys, severely lacking in the dickish heel category, the likes of Jericho, Flair etc. Kanyon could well be that man.
"Ya’ know, WCW, you have seen Kanyon around in a while, but that’s okay! Don’t fear, babies! Chris Kanyon hasn’t been kicked in the mud, living the standard life of an out of work professional wrestler, oh no! I wasn’t homeless and living under a bridge, I wasn’t working part time at McDonald’s, I was living the life!"
I think I'm going to enjoy this guy. A great comedic speech in what is a very dark and serious show. I always find that is an important element in BTB and wrestling in general. Yes, I'm a great advocate of dark, sinister material (much like WCW Rules in that aspect), but I also see the benefit in utilizing the Chris Kanyon's, Spirit Squad's, Santino Marella's, Kurt Angle's of this world. You don't won't your audience/reader to be totally fuckin' depressed by the show, you want them to be completely jazzed and such, so guys like Chris 'OWNS' Kanyon contribute enormously to this side of things.
Quite surprised to see Booker T make his way out here all fired up, but it makes sense, giving Booker a little story for the time being, as he tries to earn the respect of/prove himself to Ric Flair, and it also shows the path you are going with Kanyon, putting him in there with a main eventer right away. Hopefully he sticks at this level. He stuck it pretty well with the former World Heavyweight Champion too, so I have high hopes for the man in this thread. I've never been too keen on a guy losing his debut/return match, but I think this was more about showcasing him on a main event level, so I won't come down on you too hard for that (it's hard given everything else you're writing). Welcome to TTO, Kanyon.
Here we go again. For anyone who has ever
doubted Jeff Jarrett's sheer awesomeness as a heel then take a long, hard
look at this motherfucker, because, Szumi, you blew my mind.
"You see, Flair, while The Outsiders went to San Antonio, a good friend of yours, Jeff Jarrett, he took a trip with Curt Hennig to North Carolina. This had to happen, Flair. We had to do this. Someone had to knock you off of that fictitious throne you sit so highly upon. Your faceless legions, they have to know about the real Ric Flair behind the Nature Boy moniker."
This set up is a different one to HBK's seemingly. While Hall & Nash's 'attack' on Shawn seemed much more visceral, this one courteousy of Curt Hennig & Jeff 'OWNS' Jarrett was all about the psychological damage it would do to Flair. Surprising, that I call this one less visceral than The Outsiders' one, considering that that one actually contained no violence, while this one featured a heinous, bloody assault on a recovering addict, virtually retarded young man, but that's just the way it came across. I think that may well be because there was a great deal more dialogue in this second section, as Jeff runs his mouth more than Big Kev, while - this could be complete bullshit, but I'm just speculating - Hall & Nash's seemed extremely visual, and, in particular when focusing on the images if Rebecca, quite sexually charged. The emphasis on the person implies that something will
happen (i.e. rape), whilst in Jarrett's monologue the liberal use of dialogue fools the audience - maybe intentionally, maybe not - into thinking that this is not about violence. I, for one, didn't think that Jeff was going to actually lay a hand on David. Since you merely suggested
it in the first video, I thought that you would adhere to that old technique that the unseen
is actually scarier than the seen
. Y'know, so that for Shawn Michaels, it is implied
that Kevin Nash is going to rape his wife, but we never actually see anything; it is left completely to his and our imagination, which always makes things worse than they actually are (I'm going to assume that Kev and Scott don't actually rape Rebbecca
). However, with Jeff Jarrett and David Flair, you actually do
give us the money shot; you show us Double J and Hennig beating the holy hell out of Flair's son, and I actually would've criticised you here - yeah, it would have been the most pedantic, nit-picking, ridiculous criticism ever, but hey, you don't give a guy like me a lot to
criticize, mate - if it wasn't for what you did later with Jeff & Co. As it turns out, this was just the beginning for Ric Flair; in a more sadistic, deranged twist on the Flair/HBK promo at the start of the show, this was, in fact, the set up. Ironic considering Jeff speaks for so long about how Flair treats David as second best and then uses Davey as nothing more than a set up, a manic taste of what to expect later on. It's dark, it's devilish, and it's oh so delicious. Just because you deserve it, Szuminator, I'll treat you to a few of my favorite lines from Mr. Jarrett:
"Play time’s over, Davey."
In a promo littered with long speeches; simple. Chilling. Effective.
"How do you feel now, Ric? How does it feel watching this? Do you feel concern over baby David? Do you fear for his safety, his life? Do you want to kill me, Naitch?"
I love this mocking, inquisitive sociopathic tone that Jeff adopts here; it's almost Riddler-esque - fuck Jim Carrey, I'm talking about the deranged psychopath from Frank Miller's version of the Batman series. Intense. His obsession with Bruce Wayne is much like the one you've created for Jarrett with Flair. Warped and wicked.
"I want to know if this made you angry, Ric. I wish I could see how you’re reacting right now. Sadly, Ric, I can’t… I still have another stop on my mission, Ric. This is only getting started, Ric… the best is yet to come."
Always save the best for last. The sheer foreboding oozing from this message is startling. Just what in god's name could JJ possibly have in store for Naitch? You're taking the whole escalation narrative in wrestling and taking it to a whole new level, Szumi. It's a beautiful, wonderful
thing to behold, my friend.
The contrast between Flair and HBK's reactions to their situations is quite interesting. Probably an age thing, but Naitch seems much more coherent, if you catch my meaning? He hasn't gone tearing away into the night to get to Davey - well, isn't that funny considering everything that Jeff just said - while Shawn was gone in an instant. I guess Ric doesn't care about David that much after all.
"That’s not you’re mission, Lance. Lance, I don’t care about the Title right now, there are more important things than gold and glory. Don’t focus on the match, Lance, don’t give that World Heavyweight Title a second of your time. I want you to pay no attention to Scott Steiner. You keep your eyes on Mike Awesome at all time, and damn it, you break his frickin’ neck! I want you to SHATTER his kneecap – your destroy his God damn career and inflict so much pain on his carcass that Eric Bischoff and Jeff Jarrett can feel, EVERY OUNCE OF PAIN, YOU CAUSE THAT SON OF A BITCH!"
That's a bit more what I was expecting; the fiery, intense side of Slick Ric. His character in this situation is a extremely intriguing one. I would like to see you build on the contrasting reactions of the two men - Flair and Michaels - in the aftermath of this show please. Glad you kept this segment short too. Lengthy focus on Flair right now would detract from his state severely. Good call. Finally, I'll just mention the main event (weird how that's the last thing on my mind right now, eh?), it's still looking hot with Storm and Awesome in there in place of Michaels, but, really, ain't nothing going to happen
That main event was ... INSANE~ In a NIGHT OF THE PROMOS, you'd be excused for just not giving a flying fuck about the matches, but for the World title bout you at least gave us a brutally exciting contest to cap everything off. Hell, for a TV match, it even had a story
for God's sake, with Storm given the mission of murdering a member of the nWo, Awesome & Storm's history anyway, as well as Steiner's continued pissed off behaviour because of Booker T. Brutal spot with the monitor shot and Brainbuster through the table to Awesome - I guess he did his job right?
- until Booker and Scotty go at it again. What kind of gimmick match did WCW utilize at this time that would be a suitable way for those two to end their feud? Did WCW use anything other
than Cage Matches? Szumi special please. Lol, nah just kidding, a Cage Match will be just fine.
And here it is. After the most deranged and calculated set up of all time, we finally come to what is quite possibly the sickest part of this entire show. An unsung hero of this night has been Mr. Bischoff, once again proving his sheer greatness as the catalyst for this whole thing (and, let's face it, probably the brains) while Nash, Hall, Jarrett & Hennig do the dirty work. Sinister. His intensity boiling over in this scene too was particularly shocking considering his usual laid back, smug approach to everything. Why the hell wouldn't this guy hate Ric Flair's guts? Naitch has made his life a living hell, ruined his evil schemes at every turn and in general just pissed off the wrong egomaniacal son of a bitch. It makes sense
that this would send someone as barmy as Easy E. over the edge already.
But enough about that, because the real fun's about to begin, and it's all going down in House Flair. The set up you made with the 'visit' to David Flair was done just so well that the sense of foreboding in the air as these two maniacs invade Ric's home is just off the chart. It reminds me of those occasions when supervillains ask the hero who they love more, so that when the hero answers, they deliberately target that person to inflict maximum
pain to their foe. Remember in The Dark Knight (so what if I love it too much? Fuck off
) when at the end Dent toys with Gordon's family to try and find out which member of it he loves most? That'sexactly
what this reminds me of.
"Don’t think I’ve forgotten about your wife either, Ric. Do you love your trophy wife, Elizabeth? I’m sure you do, she’s the kind of beautiful woman you’ve slept with all over the world – night in and night out. But what I question is, is does she really love you? How can someone as sexy as her love someone who isn’t even a real man? I can show your wife a real man, Ric. I can let her find out all about Jeff Jarrett and my… heh, slap nuts. How does that sound, Nature Boy?"
Goddamn this is a thing of beauty to read. That has to be the most terrifying thing to inflict upon the man you are trying to torture mentally by watching this, the idea that you are going to rape one of his 'girls. You implied it with Big Kev and Rebbecca earlier, and you've chosen to do it here with Flair's wife. God knows how people would've reacted had you opted for Ashley instead. How old is she at this time? 18 maybe? Damn, part of me actually wishes you were sick enough to do it [/challenge]. The men take the fall in this video, so you give us that kind of 'pay off', but the fate of all
the women in left completely up in the air in the end for Shawn, Ric and us all to only imagine. Is Jeff going to break Ashley's legs? Is he going to rape Flair's wife? Are The Outsiders going to do even worse to Shawn Michaels' family? Jesus.
"This is your worst nightmare, isn’t it, Ric? I’m making you watch your own living hell."
I think this line pretty much sums up the entire premise of what the n.W.O have been trying to achieve on this night, for both Flair and Michaels alike. That sight of Flair collapsing in tears to end proceedings is not just a beautiful contrast from the elation of Sin, but a startling metaphor for this whole show has been: the downfall of the Horsemen. Bischoff's bleak expression was just so cold it's not even funny anymore. You simply don't FUCK with Bischoff's crew.
I'd say I was speechless, but then that would be a lie considering I've just written this long ass review, but when I first read this show that's exactly what I was: completely and utterly lost for words. I've read some great, amazing
shows in this place; it's not like we're short of great bookers or anything, you know that and point it out as much as anyone. It's not like I kiss your ass all the time (I hope
), as that's not the way BTB is supposed to be. It's just that I cannot for the life of me do anything except acknowledge that show as THE GREATEST SHOW IN THE HISTORY OF BE THE BOOKER~
I've not read every show that's ever been posted, far from it but I just don't honestly think that anyone would've ever done anything that good without creating an absolute shit storm in the section like this baby has done. I know you already have a following, a bandwagon etc. so you'll get more attention as a result (shit, you don't even need my lazy ass review
) but IT DOESN'T FUCKIN' MATTER~ You can quote me as much as you want (because everyone cares what I think, right?
) on this, because it truly was the greatest show I've ever read. It might have had some boring shit with the tag division, but really, really, who give a FUCK when the rest of the show was so unbelievably spectacular?!?!?
The aftermath has A LOT to live up to, but you know what? I think you can do it, sweetness. I have faith in you. After this, who the hell wouldn't?
I <3 you.