With the recent backstage fight between Dallas Page and Scott Steiner making headlines, I have decided to go back this week and look at some of the more infamous off-TV brawls in recent US wrestling history. There’s no way this list is even close to complete, and it only includes fights, not double-crosses or guys refusing to cooperate inside the ring. Someday, I’ll do an article on those. If you have any additions to this list, can help with the dates, or have suggestions for future articles, please let me know. Thanks very much to Chris for coming up with the idea, and to Dave Meltzer for his help.
Alex Wright and Hardbody Harrison May 13, 1997 — Alex Wright and Hardbody Harrison (Harrison Norris) were going over their match at the WCW WorldWide tapings in Orlando, FL when Harrison said he wouldn’t do a few of the spots Alex had come up with. Alex told Randy Anderson about the problems, and Anderson told Harrison to do whatever Wright asked him to do. Harrison got angry that Wright had “gone over his head” to Anderson, and the argument turned into a fight. Alex apparently got the better of it, cutting Harrison’s head open and requiring him to get seven stitches afterwards. The result surprised a lot of people since Harrison had gained a reputation from winning several Toughman contests.
Kevin Nash and Roddy Piper June 9, 1997 — Following one of the most horrible matches in wrestling history pitting Scott Hall and Kevin Nash against Roddy Piper and Ric Flair, Nash stormed to Piper’s dressing room. Nash was angry over what he perceived was Piper not cooperating during the match and subsequently going into business for himself. Piper went as far as to call for the finish six minutes early, so the post-match brawl ended up going on seemingly forever and making for hideous television. Nash pounded on Piper’s door until Piper’s bodyguard, Craig Malley, opened the door. Nash stormed in and pie-faced Piper, who jumped back up and tried kicking at Nash’s bad knee. Malley and Ric Flair quickly broke it up and Malley backed down from the much larger Nash when a fight nearly started between the two of them. Nash and Piper parted ways, leaving the heat between the two unresolved.
Earnest Miller and Billy Kidman February 8, 1999 — Earnest Miller and Billy Kidman (Peter Gruner) got into an altercation at a bar following that evening’s Nitro. According to witnesses, Miller grabbed at Kidman in a playful manner and Kidman took it seriously, shoving Miller away. Miller shoved back, they got into an argument, and Miller allegedly punched Kidman in the face. Kidman shot back with a punch to the chest at which point several wrestlers broke it up. Kidman reportedly told Miller that if that was all he had, he definitely wasn’t the greatest. Miller got pissed and they were about to go at it again when the wrestlers and hotel security managed to calm both sides down. Miller left to his room and Kidman remained at the bar.
Hawk and Randy Savage November 6, 1999 — Randy Savage (Randy Poffo) and Hawk (Mike Hegstrand) ran into each other backstage at a Kid Rock concert in the Tampa, FL Sun Dome. The two had been involved in a previous incident on April 26, 1996 at the Tokyo Dome when Hawk allegedly sucker-punched Savage after an argument over a pizza. That altercation was broken up before it could escalate into something further. At the concert, Hawk went to shake Savage’s hand, but Savage reportedly sucker-punched him. During the fight, Nora Greenwald (Molly Holly) and Stephanie Bellars (Gorgeous George) allegedly jumped Hawk’s wife and pulled out some of her hair. The fight was broken up and Hawk threatened to file suit against Savage over what happened to his wife.
Mike Rapada beat Sabu to win the NWA Title for the second time on December 22nd before 300 fans at the Nashville fairgrounds. Sabu came to the ring looking like hell with his knee and jaw taped up like crazy. He was said to have still worked hard to have a good match. They might have gone home early after Sabu tried an Arabian facebuster, slit his wrist open on the jagged edge of a table and started bleeding everywhere. Sabu did the pinfall job clean in the middle. Bill Behrens opened the show doing a Jim Cornette gimmick, complete with an “NWA” tennis racket, with Bad Attitude playing his version of the Midnight Express. Behrens actually worked a match on the show, losing to Mike Porter after interference from Corsica Joe. Imagine not being able to beat Bill Behrens without outside interference. Bert Prentice was supposed to work the match as well, but he suffered what appears to be a legit elbow injury the week before, so he wasn’t involved. The other title change saw Bad Attitude beat Air Paris & Rob Williams to regain the NWA World Tag Team titles in a ladder match. Said to be a great match and Prentice was telling people it was the best match in the history of the fairgrounds.
WCW Wednesday Thunder (12/20/00)
Quick Review: Another horrible show with far more bad wrestling than usual.
Summary: Flair, in a limo, hyped up the show. Shockingly, he promised it would be great. Flair said he wouldn’t tell us who Steiner would be facing later, but it would be a major opponent. Maybe it’ll be Crash Holly. Flair also promised the mystery man would be there later.
This week, Jaime Knoble’s name was spelled “Jamie Knoble”. I guess they ran the graphics through spell-check for once. Chavo cut a promo saying Shane Helms won the number-one contender’s match to win a shot at Syn. So is Knoble the number-two contender, and why did he got a shot before Helms? Chavo cut a goofy promo saying if he lost to Knoble, he (Chavo) would be number-one contender. This was a waste of two minutes of my life. Chavo beat Knoble with a brainbuster after interference from Shane Helms. Well, at least it made sense, since Helms wanted to protect his title shot. Pretty good match, no heat whatsoever.
Crowbar, in his old gas station attire, cut a promo with Daffney. He said he’d beat up Bigelow on Thunder and then win the belt back from Terry Funk at Syn.
Shat and Miss Jones arrived driving what I swear to God appeared to be a John Deere tractor. Shat said he wanted a match with Steiner. Flair said he’d already booked it. Flair must have ESP.
Bigelow cut a promo. He said he’d had a revelation when he fell through the ambulance roof. He said the revelation was that he was hardcore. I thought the revelation would be that he was too fat.
Jim Duggan came out in street clothes. Crowd called him a “ho”. Duggan said he was sad. He said he screwed up and had given his life to the fans. “You still suck!” a fan screamed really loudly. WCW didn’t bother to bleep this out in post-production. Duggan, who was pale, said he turned on his country for one more day in the sun. He should have cut this promo while sitting on a tank. He apologized to his dad and his wife and kids. But most of all, he said, he wanted to apologize to his fans. He said he owed the fans everything and had disappointed him. He begged for forgiveness, but said he understood if they didn’t. Some scattered boos. Seems nobody believed him.
Mike Awesome approached Duggan backstage. He said Duggan was a great guy, and said if he stuck around until the end of the show, he’d give him a ride home. “Thanks, brother!” Duggan said.
Gene interviewed the Thrillers. They said they’d win the Tag Team battle royal.
Rection met with Duggan and said he knew where he was coming from. He offered his forgiveness and gave Duggan a hug. “Thanks, brother!” Duggan said.
All four Thrillers won the most hideous Tag Team battle royal maybe ever. During the match, Vito ran out and attacked Reno. Johnny the Bull then came down, caned Reno, and reunited with Vito. Weren’t they feuding the last time we saw them? Tony didn’t understand how four men could win. Well, they did. Sanders babbled FOREVER just to say that all four guys were number-one contenders.
Konnan beat Elix Skipper in a HORRIBLE match. Konnan botched a major spot and the cameras cut away so TV viewers couldn’t see it. It must have been one HELL of a missed spot, because they cut away to a shot of maybe the ugliest fan in the whole arena. Commentary may have been worse than the match itself if that’s even possible, as Tony went back to his roots and made fun of Tenay for being able to identify a la magistral cradle.
Jarrett said he would watch Steiner’s back at the PPV. By the way, didn’t Jarrett get his last title shot ever a few months ago?.
Wall and Cajun met with Rection and yelled at him for getting soft with Duggan. They were pissed that he couldn’t cut Chavo a little slack. Cajun said the difference was that Duggan apologized and Chavo didn’t. They sarcastically said they understood, and stormed off.
Bigelow beat Crowbar after Meng interfered. Bigelow KILLED Crowbar with an Asbury Park Driver for the finish. Match was decent.
Smiley watched the Glacier promo on a monitor and said a real hero was coming back.
Goldberg killed Norman Smiley. Goldberg was pretty much the only babyface on the show the crowd reacted to. Luger and Bagwell appeared on the big screen afterwards. They announced Goldberg & Sarge vs. Luger & Bagwell at Syn. Bagwell said if Sarge did the job, Goldberg had to retire. Goldberg said he’d beaten Luger twice and Luger was still running his mouth, so this time he was going to have to kill him. I believed Goldberg when he said that.
A pre-taped interview with Flair and Tenay aired. Flair said he wouldn’t reveal the mystery man yet. He said he was retired for good. Tenay asked if he was jealous of Steiner. Flair said he’d never been jealous of another wrestler one day in his entire life.
Douglas & Kronic beat MIA. Clarke hit Rection with a chair allowing Douglas to pin him with the Franchiser. Bad guys destroyed MIA after the match.
Team Canada came out. Storm ran down Duggan. Suddenly, Duggan came out to a pretty big ovation. They had the longest staredown ever, presumably because Mike Awesome missed his cue. Awesome finally hit the ring, but ended up turning on Duggan. “What a swerve!” Tenay said. Awesome tore his shirt off revealing the Canadian maple leaf. When they got backstage, Gene interviewed him. Awesome said the stupid leisure suits were out, and the Canadian Career Killer was in FULL f***ING EFFIZZECT~! Well, not those exact words. Greatest news of the month from WCW.
Steiner beat Shat with the Recliner. The Mystery Man appeared on the stage and shimmied around like an idiot. Looked like La Parka actually. Steiner ran after him post-match.
Keith Olberman on FOX Sports called Vince McMahon “the worst man in the world” last week. Well, that’s going a bit far. Vince is many things, but I’d argue against the worst man in the whole world.
USA Today rated Raw the ninth worst show on cable, calling it “vulgar, badly-acted trash”.
A lot of the guys backstage were asked what they thought of the WWF bringing in Rob Van Dam, and he didn’t get overall stellar reviews.
Future of ECW remains in doubt
In what would be a disastrous blow to the company, there is a chance that ECW Hardcore TV might not air on the Madison Square Garden Network this Saturday night. The MSG Network is ECW’s strongest TV base in the New York market, where the Guilty as Charged PPV will emanate from the following afternoon. Two sources at the MSG Network revealed that the ECW contract with them had expired and had not been renewed as of press time. Paul Heyman told people the show would definitely air Saturday. ECW buys the timeslot from MSG as paid programming, so the feeling is that as long as they pay before Saturday, the show will air. Of course, since it’s paid programming and not a time slot exclusively assigned to ECW, if the people who do the George Foreman Grill ad campaign, for instance, bought up the spot tomorrow, ECW would be s’ out of luck. I think if ECW fans tuned into MSG Saturday night and found a George Foreman Grill infomercial, they’d still buy the PPV the next afternoon, but the perception issue is what is really important.
Not having a show in that slot would just reiterate to fans that the company is in such bad shape that they couldn’t even afford to air their TV show the night before a PPV in the market the PPV is airing from. Paul Heyman has talked with friends in the last week and made it very clear that things are in really bad shape and there doesn’t look to be a good chance of turning the company around anytime soon. He’s admitted to being about four million dollars in debt, and said he’s desperately looking for someone to buy the company. He’s even gone as far as to state that if the buyer didn’t want to keep him on as booker, he’d be quite willing to accept that and walk away from wrestling. He did give the indication that the parties he has talked to about buying the company generally really want him to stay on as booker, and he said he’d be more than happy to do that as well.
Even though we’ve been writing about it for months, and everybody knew it was bound to happen, it’s still hard to believe that Ted Turner no longer owns World Championship Wrestling.
It was announced on Thursday, January 11th, 2001 that Eric Bischoff and Fusient Media had purchased World Championship Wrestling for an undisclosed amount, believed to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 million. MultiChannel News reported that WCW was sold for $74 million, while Jordan Rohan, a Wit Soundview media analyst, claimed the company was only worth $10 to $15 million. The sale is expected to be officially closed within 30 to 45 days. Bischoff, who will serve as company President, took over creative control upon making the announcement at a meeting with WCW department heads at 9:00 AM last Thursday. Brian Bedol, head of Fusient, will become WCW’s new CEO.
The hierarchy of the one-year-old Fusient consists of Brian Bedol, who will become new WCW CEO, and Chairman Steven Greenberg, former deputy commissioner of Major League Baseball and son of Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg. According to their press release, Fusient is “focused on identifying, funding, developing and distributing next generation content and converged media brands.” Prior to forming Fusient, Bedol and Greenberg created the Classic Sports Network, which ESPN later bought and renamed ESPN Classics. Bedol was the former vice president of Time Warner Enterprises, helping set up Quincy Jones Entertainment and the Six Flags theme parks, and was also instrumental in the start-ups of both Nick at Nite and Court TV.
TBS, Inc. retained a minority interest in the company in order to retain long-term programming rights. For the time being, Nitro and Thunder will continue to air in their current timeslots. There has been talk for over a year of moving all sports-related programming off TNT and onto TBS, so Nitro will probably be moved to TBS at some point. Bischoff himself has expressed interest in eventually dropping one of the two shows, most likely Thunder. Although Turner executives are claiming the sale had nothing to do with the imminent Time Warner/AOL merger, it seems hardly coincidental that the sale was announced the same day that the final merger obstacle was overcome. Most believe the reason the sale took so long to complete was because TBS wanted to make sure Fusient had enough resources to keep WCW alive. Although Nitro and Thunder ratings have taken a beating over the course of the past year, they’re still good numbers when compared to the ratings for other basic cable shows. Obviously TBS wanted to keep the programming, but unload the company and its $60 million in losses. Theoretically, Fusient has the resources to keep WCW alive for about a year, unless things turn around and the company becomes profitable.
Other pertinent information was disclosed during a national media conference call Thursday with the key parties involved in the sale. Among the highlights:
• Brad Siegel claimed TNT and TBS would actually increase the promotion of Nitro and Thunder now that the sale has gone down.
• WCW will retain its name, and it may take some time before real changes become noticeable to WCW fans.
• The sale included the purchase of all WCW contracts. Bedol said it was uncertain whether there would be layoffs among the front-office staff.
• Bedol said he’d be the guy in charge of marketing, distribution and promotion, while Bischoff would be in charge of the programming and production. But, Bedol added, Bischoff was a smart guy so he’d be somewhat instrumental in the marketing and promotion as well.
• Bischoff said he felt Hulk Hogan was an important brand in wrestling, but that they hadn’t had an opportunity to sit down and discuss things with him yet. By the way, Hogan’s WCW contract expires in a couple of months, so he’ll probably try to play both sides.
• Without directly saying so, Siegel hinted that he was in way over his head as the guy in charge of WCW the last few months.
• Over the course of the weekend, Bischoff said the word “brand” approximately 672 million times.
Bischoff also appeared on WCW Live on Thursday and Wrestling Observer Live on Friday. In general, he seemed a lot more humble than he’d been in the past, particularly when WCW was on top, and appeared to have learned something from his mistakes. Of course, because these were media appearances directed at the generally more knowledgable Internet audience, one also has to assume that he was probably saying certain things that he knew people wanted to hear. Whether or not Bischoff is successful has almost nothing to do with what he says he’s going to do, but rather what he actually does now that he’s the head honcho.
The first interview, on WCW Live, was pretty general and Bischoff strayed away from certain questions and gave less than definite answers to many. Among the highlights:
• Bischoff said he was surprised WWF didn’t take more of a hit after the jump to TNN. He said the XFL should be successful, but Vince might be spreading himself too thin.
• He said there was talk of shutting down WCW for two or three weeks at some point.
• Regarding Scott Hall, he pretty much just said Hall was a very creative person when his head was on straight, but that he hadn’t talked to him for a long time. He said there was a chance he’d be back, but didn’t want to make any promises either. Basically, this was a way to make people happy without having to come right out and give a direct answer either way.
• He said “revenue is a result of ratings”, which I hope was a joke. Revenue is a result of successful house shows, merchandising, and, most importantly, pay-per-views. Revenue is even less a result of ratings when another company, in this case TBS, is handling all the advertising.
• He said the whole Standards and Practices argument that Vince Russo used to put forth was lame. He said WCW had stepped over the line quite a bit recently and that he wasn’t down with all the swearing and vulgarity. He said the reason Russo’s ideas didn’t work was because everyone had already seen them in the WWF.
• He said he probably wouldn’t be an on-air personality. He said it was fun, but that he was sick of the whole Wrestler vs. Company Owner storyline and the Company Owner would be the natural role for him to play.
• He basically said that when he came back with Russo in April, he discovered that his philosophy and Russo’s philosophy were quite different. He figured Russo would self-destruct, so he got the hell out of Dodge so he wouldn’t be associated with the failure.
• He really put over Johnny Ace as a great asset to the company.
• He said a move to Las Vegas or Orlando had been discussed, but no decision had been made yet. Basically, the feeling is that it would be cheaper to run all the shows from one venue, and then rely on tourists to fill the buildings up every week. At press time, Los Angeles was also being discussed as a possible site.
• He really put over the Cruiserweights, saying he was definitely going to put more emphasis on them because they were part of a formula that worked.
• He claimed they wouldn’t rely heavily on celebrities, but if the right person came along at the right time, they’d take advantage of it.
Bischoff’s second major interview was on Wrestling Observer Live the next day. He was far more open about certain issues and it turned into a really good show. Unfortunately, we also got a couple of callers who tried to get a job. Among the highlights:
• He said it would take some time to implement creative changes, because he didn’t feel comfortable stepping in and immediately scrapping everything the current booking crew had been working on. As far as I know, he did make some changes at the PPV and at Nitro, but generally the shows were left as the creative team had originally scripted them. He said it would be about two months before the real changes took place.
• He said he probably spread himself too thin during the hot period trying to do too many things at once, many of which he could easily have asked others to do. He didn’t seem to think being the guy in charge and an on-screen character at the same time was a bad idea.
• He said what lead to the downfall of the company was the fact that when WCW was hot, he signed guys to high-paying guaranteed deals in order to keep them away from Vince. At the time, that was fine, because WCW was making hella money. But eventually, Vince created a product that appealed to the 18-34 demographic better than WCW’s product did, so those people switched to RAW. Once things started going downhill, the company was left with these enormous contracts without the necessary revenue coming in. That’s pretty much exactly what happened. He said they would probably create a new salary system similar to the WWF’s downside guarantees, so when business is good guys will make more, and when business is bad the company will pay less. He admitted that incentive-based contracts were necessary in today’s wrestling world.
• He didn’t seem to be too concerned about having older guys on top. He said if you take guys like Rock and Kurt Angle out of the equation, it generally takes about eight years for a person to develop. He said Austin had been in the business for almost ten years before he made it big. This disturbed me a bit, and I got even more disturbed when I saw the top heel group on Nitro consisting of Ric Flair (50s), Scott Steiner (almost 40), Jeff Jarrett (30s), Lex Luger (40s), Buff Bagwell (30s) and Animal (40s). He claimed he knew that young guys needed to be elevated and said creating new, fresh talent would be a priority.
• He said he had no idea where Variety got the story that he was trying to set up interpromotional PPVs with the WWF. He said it would likely never happen.
• He was asked if he thought the fact WCW never beat the NWO contributed to the destruction of the company. He said the problem was guys like Scott Steiner, Hulk Hogan and Scott Hall coming out every week and saying “WCW SUCKS!” He said it was damaging to have guys come out and say things that didn’t support the brand. He said they probably should have run the angle in a way where WCW wasn’t buried as a company. But, he said, he didn’t think the fact that WCW didn’t win in the end had anything to do with it. He’s definitely right that it’s bad news for guys to constantly bury the company. However, if you look at the history of real interpromotional feuds (including the New Japan vs. UWFi feud that gave Bischoff the idea to create NWO), the losing company almost always ends up dying or being absorbed into the other company. WCW lost the “interpromotional battle” with NWO. Then they almost died. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
• He said he’d talk to ECW guys only if an attorney told him that they were available. He also said he was interested in reopening relations with New Japan and talking with Ultimo Dragon about working with Toryumon.
• He said the Power Plant was an idea whose time may have passed. He basically said he was going to look for potential wrestlers everywhere, not just inside the wrestling business, and then introduce a cutting-edge training system. He did not reveal what this system was.
• He said he was not worried about guys refusing to do jobs. He said the product was going to pick up, and once it picks up guys generally have less of a problem doing what they’re asked to do. He hinted that his long-term solution was incentive-based contracts, so if a person refused to cooperate they’d be taken off TV, which would result in them losing money.
• He hinted that Mark Madden wouldn’t be back, and insinuated that Madden tried too hard to get himself over on TV as opposed to getting the product over. He called announcers a necessary evil.
• He pretty much buried Russo. He said when he was first let go, Harvey Schiller asked him about Russo. Bischoff said Russo was working for McMahon without a contract, which meant he was either not very valuable, or McMahon was an idiot. He told Schiller that time would tell. Well, time has told a story and it does not appear that McMahon was an idiot.
• Bischoff said he had heard of Christopher Daniels, but wasn’t familiar with his work. He reiterated his interest in creating a strong Cruiserweight division and said he wanted to see Daniels.
• He said the older name brand stars were important because they gave a necessary rub to the younger guys. He used DDP for an example. He said DDP worked hard and tried everything to get himself over, but nothing worked for the longest time. He only broke into the main event slot after feuding with Randy Savage. Therefore, Bischoff said, DDP benefited from Savage’s brand name. He said he wasn’t responsible for the Hogan/Kidman feud and that the story there sucked, which was why neither guy got a rub out of it.
• He reiterated that he wasn’t worried about guys refusing to do jobs. He pointed out that Nitro did a 2.2 the week before and couldn’t go much lower, which meant nobody really had any leverage. He said if Nash walked out, how much lower could the company possibly go?
• A guy named Rob tried to get himself a job.
• He said he hadn’t watched much wrestling while he was gone. Uh oh. Last two people who made that statement were Vince Russo and Billy Gunn.
• He said he wanted to remain running head-to-head with Raw, and would prefer going up directly against them the whole two hours.
• Another caller tried to get a job. Eric told him to send booking ideas to WrestlingObserver.com. Nice try, buddy.
In November of 1988, Jim Crockett Promotions finally lost their four-plus year battle with Vince McMahon’s nationally-expanding World Wrestling Federation and sold the company to Ted Turner’s WTBS. JCP was pretty much the final major NWA faction still living, the final major American promotion not consumed by McMahon. The wrestling business would be much different today had that sale not gone through. For almost ten straight years, the company went through various bookers and executives, losing money year after year. The only thing that kept the company alive was the protection offered by the Turner corporate umbrella, and there were still times when the company came very close to being shut down. But WTBS, and eventually Turner Broadcasting, kept the company afloat until finally, under Eric Bischoff, the company made more money in a two-year period than they’d lost in all the previous years combined. Turner knew the value of his wrestling franchise, and kept it close to his heart since in many ways it proved to him during his formative business years that he really could create a national Superstation. He knew the cyclical nature of the business. But, unfortunately, Turner’s company itself was finally gobbled up by an even larger conglomerate. Without autonomous power he pretty much lost his ability to save WCW, and after losing an estimated $60 million in 2000, it was finally sold.
So things have come full circle. WCW is back to being a company forced to rely on itself to survive. It can no longer count on a gigantic parent company to support it should the cycle hit another $60 million low. WCW under Turner Broadcasting was almost the perfect model of a modern wrestling company, but now, with the sale, it’s sink or swim. For twelve years, WCW could afford to make costly mistakes, because Turner was willing to absorb the money losses and keep the ship afloat. Now, under the ownership of a one-year-old company with vastly inferior financial assets, those days are over. WCW can no longer afford to make costly mistakes.
Can the company survive, and even prosper, under Eric Bischoff? It’s way too early to tell. The outlook in the very short term is positive, as the company presented a fairly strong pay-per-view Sunday and followed it up with a very good Nitro. Bischoff, with some obvious exceptions, said all the right things during his media appearances. The wrestlers, many of whom are ecstatic to see him back in charge and some of whom are just desperate to keep their jobs, worked harder this past weekend than some of them have literally in years.
But it’s only been two days and the changes have barely even begun. The wrestling business today is far different than it was in 1995 when Bischoff ushered in the most recent boom period. Vince McMahon isn’t struggling and there aren’t any high-profile names left to steal. Turner’s bottomless checkbook and fatherly protection is a thing of the past. For Bischoff to survive, he has to turn around a company that lost $60 million last year, using pretty much the same guys that worked on TV during the period when the company lost that money. In no way am I saying it absolutely cannot be done, but it’s going to be a long, hard, uphill battle, with almost no room for costly mistakes.
Where do you see WCW in one year’s time under Eric Bischoff? Results of 1,501 total votes: Making a profit (12.5%); Losing between $1.00 and $5 million a year (13.5%); Losing between $5 million and $25 million a year (23.9%); Losing between $25 million and $50 million a year (9%); Losing more than $50 million a year, but still somehow in business (7.6%); Bankrupt (33.5%).
Who would you put in charge as head booker of the new WCW? Results of 1,915 total votes: Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara (8.6%); Kevin Nash (1%); Eric Bischoff (6.8%); Hulk Hogan (2.6%); Terry Taylor (16%); Johnny Ace (24.1%); Dusty Rhodes (2.7%); Bring in somebody brand new (38.2%).
WWF announced last week plans to debut a new reality-based television show entitled “Tough Enough”. The idea, which Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler plugged on Raw last week, is to take “twelve talented, charismatic male and female athletes” and train them to be wrestlers.
Viscera was released a long time ago. Shockingly, once word got out, some Internet fans started up a “Save Viscera” campaign. Really.
From the “Only in WCW” department: Beginning January 17th, Nitro and Thunder will be airing head-to-head in Australia. Nitro will air on Fox Sports 1 and Thunder will air on C7 Sports, both at 11:00 PM.
WCW Monday Nitro (1/15/01)
Quick Review: A shockingly good show, much better than Raw.
Summary: Show opened with clips from backstage at Syn of Steiner, Jarrett, Bagwell, Luger, Animal and RIC FLAIR all celebrating together. I knew it. Flair is a bad man.
They cut to Tony Schiavone and Scott Hudson, who were sad. They said Goldberg’s career was over forever. Also, they said, Sid hurt himself. Tony warned parents to get the youngsters out of the room because there were about to show some very graphic footage. Parents around the nation probably scoffed, thinking this was just another pro-wrestling angle. Unfortunately for them, the footage that aired was probably even more gruesome than anyone could have imagined going in. Sid tried to jump off the top rope with a flying kick, and SNAPPED HIS LEG LIKE A TWIG. It was brutal beyond belief. They showed this from three different angles, and also in slow motion. Sickening.
A funeral dirge played and some pall bearers came down to the ring with a casket followed by Luger and Bagwell. Inside the casket was Goldberg’s book, a spear and a jackhammer. About 30 fans chanted “Goldberg!” Luger cut a promo saying everyone had lost a great hero at Syn. Ted Turner? He said Goldberg would never be seen again ever. I am somewhat embarrassed to say I was amused by Luger’s false sincerity. They talked WAY too long though. Finally they said anyone who had anything to add should come out now. Jarrett came out. He said he had a special memory of Goldberg to share. That memory was that Goldberg never beat him while in WCW. This memory must have been really special, because all three guys suddenly stopped being sad and began high-fiving each other. Luger called out Steiner. He said he’d warned Sid to stay away, just like he’d warned Sting and Booker T. He said good riddance to Goldberg and added: “There will be no rematch.” Suddenly Goldberg’s music played to a huge pop. They cut backstage to his locker room. The door opened, and Flair and Animal came out. Good heat for that. “Welcome to the new WCW!” Flair said. He claimed to be surrounded by the greatest collection of athletes ever assembled in one place. Well, he’s still lying. Flair went so wild he almost had another aneurism. Man, Flair was great here. Nash interrupted the promo and challenged Steiner to a match in the main event. Flair said he was talking pretty tough for a guy all by himself. Nash said he wasn’t alone. Page and Rick Steiner came out. Flair went mad and said Nash couldn’t make his own matches. This was Shat’s cue to come out. Shat said he was Commissioner, and signed Nash vs. Steiner for later.
Crazy Flair tried to recruit Crowbar backstage. He pretty much refused.
Chavo beat Crowbar with the brainbuster to retain the Cruiserweight Title. Pretty good match, no heat.
Luger and Bagwell recruited Bigelow.
Rey & Kidman beat Two Count. Another good Cruiser match with no heat. During a train wreck spot, Rey did a twisting Asai, which is the craziest dive he’s done since knee surgery. Kidman also did a top rope frankensteiner, which I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him do before. Kidman reversed the Vertabreaker into a Tomikaze for the pin. Crowd did pop big for the finish. Team Canada attacked the Animals after the match. Awesome challenged Kidman to a hair vs. hair match later.
Kronic wanted a title shot against the Thrillers later. Shat agreed to give them the match.
Flair tried to recruit Chavo, who said he needed to think about it. Flair then chatted with Sanders and said he’d make him the next dirtiest player in the game.
Bagwell and Luger tried to recruit Rection. Funny seeing Bagwell telling Rection he was a big star.
Palumbo & O’Hare beat Kronic pretty much clean. Adams superplexed Palumbo, but O’Hare came off top with a senton for the pinfall. Jindrak and Stasiak ran out near the finish to attack Clarke. All four guys worked hard and it was better than you’d think.
The doctor examined Kidman backstage and said he couldn’t work the match with Awesome. Shat walked in. Konnan asked Shat if he could take Kidman’s place in the hair vs. hair match. Shat noted that Konnan had no hair, but agreed anyway.
A Royal Rumble commercial aired.
Palumbo and O’Hare yelled at Stasiak and Jindrak backstage for running in during their match. Sanders walked in and said they needed to work together to prove themselves to Flair.
Prior to the hair vs. hair match, Flair appeared on the big screen and said if Awesome beat Konnan, Kidman lost his hair. Finish absolutely petrified me as Awesome appeared to be going for the Awesome Bomb off the top turnbuckle. Thankfully, Konnan turned it into a DDT instead, which was actually almost as scary. This may have been Konnan’s biggest victory ever in WCW. Konnan cut about two inches of Awesome’s hair off after the match. In a major shocker, the least hip man in the world Tony Schiavone properly identified Awesome’s hair-do as a mullet.
Shat came out and issued an open challenge to anyone. Bam Bam Bigelow accepted. Shat won with a strange kick. Nothing of note.
Douglas beat Rection. Douglas tried to get a chain, but Rection grabbed it and tossed it out of the ring. Chavo then ran down, grabbed the chain, and punched Rection with it. Douglas then got the pin. Douglas at least tries.
Captain Rection cut a promo, saying he was sick of being Hugh Morris and sick of being Captain Rection. I thought “Hugh G. Rection” was his real name? He said he was going to kill Chavo.
Kevin Nash NC Scott Steiner when all the bad guys ran in. Man, Bischoff deserves credit for something, because Nash looked better than he has in literally years. Crowd went wild for Nash’s comeback, so you can imagine how much they hated this lame finish. Things were going so good up until that point too. Oh well.
WWF opened up their PPV year with an awesome Royal Rumble, which saw Steve Austin last eliminate Kane to win a shot at the WWF Champion at WrestleMania. Kurt Angle left the show as Champion after Austin attacked Triple H leading to the pinfall finish. The show seems to set up Austin vs. Triple H and Rock vs. Angle as the top two matches for the February PPV, with Rock likely winning the title to set up the expected Rock vs. Austin main event for the WWF Title at Mania.
The show also featured three surprise returns. Honky Tonk Man made a brief but entertaining one-minute appearance and was quickly eliminated by Kane. It seemed as if very few of the fans in attendance even had a clue who he was. Big Show also made his return, looking bigger than ever after his stint in Ohio Valley Wrestling, but still being pushed as a huge star. A note on the WWF website stated that he planned on fulfilling a few obligations for OVW, but was pretty much back in the WWF full-time.
The most surprising return was that of Haku, who just one week prior had won the WCW Hardcore Title as Meng. Real name Uliuli Fifita, he was pushed hard both Sunday and Monday despite now being the oldest active competitor on the roster at 42. WCW had put the Hardcore Title on him despite the fact that he was working without a contract, so when Jim Ross called him the Wednesday prior to the Rumble and asked if he wanted to jump, he had nothing holding him back. He apparently gave the Hardcore belt to Barbarian, who presumably returned it to WCW. The WCW website responded by not only removing Meng’s bio from the site, but also removing the entire history of the Hardcore title, so apparently he also took the division with him. There is a lesson to be learned from this, but like every single lesson in wrestling, nobody ever learns anything.
The first big return happened just as the show started, with Boris Karloff returning from the dead to narrate the video package. It was pretty dang good.
1. Dudleys beat Edge & Christian to win the WWF Tag Team Titles. Dudleys attacked them at the bell and ran wild until Christian clonked D-Von on the back of what was described as his “concussed” head. Not a lot of heat early as the crowd apparently was waiting for the tables. Work was good though. They did a major false tag spot that made the crowd very unhappy. Edge and Christian finally went for their double-chair spot on D-Von, but they missed, allowing him to hit a double clothesline and the hot tag. Bubba ran wild, including giving Christian his trademarked Highest Backdrop Ever. Dudleys did the crotch spot and Got The Table. Some really good nearfalls. Dudleys went for a 3D on Christian, but Edge speared D-Von midway through and Christian laid out Bubba with a spinning DDT. Edge went up top for the headbutt spot, but D-Von shoved him off and he bonked into his partner. Christian fell outside and the Dudleys hit Edge with the 3D for the pinfall. Come to think of it, I don’t think anyone went through the table at all. Finish sequences were great and it turned into a good match. ***
The first Hunter and Stephanie segment aired already. Hunter told Steph he didn’t want her causing trouble with Trish during his match with Angle later. She told him not to worry about it. Carey walked in. He said he hadn’t watched much WWF TV lately. Well that’s putting over the product. He said he ran into Kamala at the airport recently. He asked where Vince was, saying he wanted advice on promoting his PPV. So the company gets buried, but of course Vince does not. Oh yeah, and Carey recognized Hunter, although Hunter has been on his show. Anyway, someone should have told Carey how well Vince did promoting boxing, bodybuilding and rock concerts. Instead, Steph offered to take Carey to meet Trish.
2. Chris Jericho beat Chris Benoit to win the WWF Intercontinental Title in a ladder match. Neither guy walked under the ladder. Pussies. Jericho missed a Silver King dive early and “injured” the arm Benoit had worked over on Smackdown. Benoit pummeled him and grabbed the ladder. Loud “Y2J!” chants. Jericho set up the ladder in the corner but got reversed into it. He fell to the outside. Benoit then hit the ropes and went for a tope, but Jericho MURDERED him with a chairshot in mid-air. That was BRUTAL and Benoit also almost hit his head on the dasher boards on his landing. During a brawl outside, Jericho ATE a ladder shot to the forehead. Ouch. Lots of capital letters in this match too. Benoit hit a quite violent little chairshot and tossed Jericho’s body back into the ring. Some really innovative and sometimes scary ladder spots, but mostly just a hard-hitting wrestling match. Announcers mentioned Shawn Michaels, which wouldn’t be the last time they did so this evening. Benoit took the old teeter-totter spot. Jericho tried to climb the ladder, but Benoit grabbed him and gave him a back suplex over the top rope to the floor. Not quite as scary as it sounds, but pretty dangerous nonetheless. Benoit started to climb, but Jericho cut him off and put him in a modified Lion Tamer on top of the ladder. I can’t even begin to explain what it looked like, but I can tell you it looked like it hurt like all hell. Benoit fell to the mat, but before Jericho could get to the top of the ladder, Benoit pushed it over. Benoit put on the Crossface and Jericho tapped, but of course there were no submissions. Jericho fought back and tried to superplex Benoit off the ladder, but Benoit punched him to the mat. Benoit then climbed to the very top of the ladder, which was quite unstable, and missed a SUPER PHATASS diving headbutt. I thought he was done for. It takes a lot for me to think Chris Benoit is done for, but that did it. He ended up not being done for, and managed to tip the ladder over again. Benoit started to climb again, but Jericho grabbed a chair and whacked him in the back. Benoit took a big bump stomach-first on the top rope, then fell to the outside. Jericho climbed, and Benoit wasn’t able to get back inside in time to make the save. The top rope bump was a bit overdone by the finish, which I think hurt the match slightly, but overall tremendous. ****1/2
Carey met with Trish. She said she was currently seeing someone, but didn’t say who. Vince walked in and looked quite surly. Drew said he wanted some help with his PPV promotion. Vince suggested he participate in the Rumble match. Drew said he didn’t want to get hurt, but Vince assured him everything would be OK. Drew said sure, what the hell.
3. Ivory beat Chyna to retain the WWF Women’s Title. Pretty bad. Chyna killed her forever and Ivory just bumped all over the place for her. Crowd really didn’t care much considering this was Chyna’s fabulous comeback from her horrible career-ending injury at the hands of RTC. Stevie got involved and Chyna handed him his ass too. Chyna hit her comical handspring elbow, but then fell down in a non-comical manner. She sold it like she was dead, and Ivory crawled over and got the pin. They did the whole injury angle dealy after the match with the EMTs, the stretcher, Lawler hitting the ring, the whole nine yards. Since XFL season is upon us, I can’t believe the announcers haven’t said “whole nine yards” more often. The front row was so worried about Chyna’s condition that they chanted “SERGEANT SLAUGHTER!” when he came out. Ross had to act concerned and try to explain from the replay how she hurt herself. Of course, the handspring elbow looked so absurd that even the most fragile person ever, like Shane Douglas, couldn’t have hurt themselves doing it. But Ross had to try. She was finally taken out on the gurney and many people clapped, so they did work a good portion of the crowd. As soon as they went to the next video package, I could just imagine Ross and Lawler whispering to each other: “My God, I can’t believe we had to sell that one!” *
4. Kurt Angle beat Triple H to retain the WWF Title. Hunter, with his new music and fancy-ass new light show, looked more like a superstar than ever. Angle, with his patriotic outfit, outdated music and sub-par fireworks display, looked like as big a geek as ever. That cannot be a coincidence in this particular match. Lots of basic wrestling at the beginning. It looked like Angle was playing the babyface role, but nobody likes a geek, so the crowd chanted “ANGLE SUCKS!” Those jerks. Total old-style match. Angle got a nearfall after three vertical suplexes in a row. Hey, that’s Steve Austin’s finisher. Hunter went to work on Angle’s leg. Real lack of heat because the fans just didn’t know who to cheer for. Actually, they appeared to be slightly behind Hunter. I suppose this shocked people, but think about it. The fans haven’t been conditioned to cheer either guy, and one is clearly booked to appear cooler than the other. Hunter put on the figure four and the crowd went “WHOO!” Hunter grabbed the ropes for leverage and Trish climbed into the ring, well, to flash her panties. So Steph attacked her. They got into this HUGE catfight at the Spanish announcer’s table that was actually damn stiff in spots. Vince strutted down to the ring in fast-forward and tried to separate them. It didn’t work, so he grabbed Trish and started carrying her backstage like a caveman, making sure the camera got a glimpse of his strategically-placed hand. Stephanie jumped Trish again. Vince finally carted both of them backstage. Poor Angle and Hunter could have sat together in the middle of the ring and had a picnic and nobody would have known any different. Once everyone else left, they went back to fighting. Angle really was working as a total face by this point, but nobody cared. He went up top and actually HIT HIS MOONSAULT, the first time he’s ever done it without killing someone. Hunter fought back and hit a Razor’s Edge, which Ross identified as — yes — a Razor’s Edge. Big reaction for that. Man, he’s over in two companies despite working in neither. Ref took a humorous bump and fell down. HHH went up top but Angle ran up the ropes and armdragged him off. He made the cover, but there was no ref. Angle went to check on him, but Hunter cut him off and the referee took another bump. After another series in the ring, Hunter hit the Pedigree, but there was still nobody to count. Suddenly, Austin hit the ring and beat the atshay out of Hunter. He pounded on him, hit him with the WWF Title, then gave him a Stunner. Austin then threw the ref in the ring. Angle made the cover and the ref counted the pin. YAHOO~! Hunter jobs on a PPV and the streak is over. Hunter was bleeding everywhere after the match, which is like four PPVs in a row. ***3/4
5. Steve Austin won the 2001 Royal Rumble. Notes: Jeff was number one and Bull was number two, so of course Matt was number three. Hardyz got rid of Bull and were forced to wrestle each other, which was OK but not great. Jeff missed a dropkick to an embarrassing degree and Matt sold it. At another point, Jeff almost killed his brother with a twisting moonsault. They claimed 2:00 between guys, but it was actually about 1:45. Show still ran long. Some fans actually chanted “DREW!” when Carey came out. He stood in the ring while Matt and Jeff eliminated themselves. He was all alone, and Kane was the next guy out. Earlier in the show, Carey had quipped that Kane’s mask was goofy, so this all worked out perfectly. Kane stalled, so when he finally went to chokeslam Carey, Raven ran in to make the save. Carey then eliminated himself and went to the back. He was smiling on the way down, smiling in the ring, and smiling as he left. What a happy man. Pretty much a waste. Junk ended up in the ring and it turned into a Hardcore battle royal for awhile. Kane eventually cleared the ring of everyone and then Honky came out. He said he was the greatest IC Champ of all time and was going to sing his song. I want you all to know that not only did Craig sing along, he also knew all the words. Kane was appalled at Honky’s behavior and smashed the guitar over his head prior to eliminating him. Goodfather came in but went right out. Thank goodness for that. Tazz then came in and went right out. He was actually in probably ten of fifteen seconds, but they did a replay and tried to make it out to be five seconds. He’s being buried for sure. Lots of boos for that one, by the way. Rock got in and actually took a Clothesline from Hell from Bradshaw. I shouldn’t be shocked, but I was. Kind of boring during the middle portion. Big Show made his return, and I know people are going to think I’m saying this out of spite, but he looked FATTER THAN EVER. I want it also known that I was FAR from the only person who thought this. Show eliminated a few people but then got clotheslined out by Rock. He gave Rock a chokeslam through the announcer’s table as revenge. This gave Rock a good five minute nap to recuperate. Rikishi actually eliminated Undertaker clean with a superkick, setting up matches nobody in their right mind would ever want to see. Austin came out but Hunter jumped him in the aisle and destroyed him. Austin gigged and started bleeding like an absolute MOFO all over. It was like that WrestleMania match with Bret all over again. He just laid in the aisle forever, probably because his knee is legit screwed up and they wanted to save him until the end. Austin eventually got in the ring and went hog-wild on everyone. He got into a really hot brawl with Rock to tease the WrestleMania main event. It came down to Rock, Austin and Kane. Rock threw Kane out, but Kane went through the middle rope and wasn’t eliminated. As Rock and Austin fought on the ropes, Kane snuck in and threw out Rock. After a pretty damn good brawl, Austin finally hit Kane with three stiff chairshots and then clotheslined him over the top for the win. Totally mondo pop for the finish. Turned into a hell of a match the last five or ten minutes. ***
Rock got poked in the eye a few weeks ago and it screwed him up, but his retina appears OK and he should be fine. The eyebrow is OK too.
Company may shut down temporarily
There was talk this past week of temporarily shutting the company down for a short period following the SuperBrawl PPV and then relaunching Nitro and Thunder anywhere from two to three weeks later. The tentative plan was to shoot some sort of major angle on the PPV, and then either shut down that night or shut down following Nitro the next evening. Then, the week before the shows were scheduled to return, the company would take out a major advertising campaign alerting viewers to the big relaunch. Strangely, the idea is not to relaunch with a complete overhaul, but rather to slowly work changes in over the next two or three months. This makes absolutely on sense to me. The ratings for Nitro were hurt badly by the pre-emptions in late December and early January, and I see no reason to risk slowing any momentum they may have gained for a relaunch that doesn’t include a complete overhaul of every aspect of the company. I kind of figured that was the point of a relaunch anyway, to start over fresh and convince fans that things have changed and it’s a new beginning. What the hell is the advertising campaign going to say? “Tune in next week to see WCW pretty much exactly as it was three weeks ago when we disappeared!” Personally, I think a shutdown and relaunch is kind of dumb at this stage anyway, since the switchover has already occurred, but to do it without instituting universal changes seems absolutely pointless and stupid.
WCW WorldWide opened with Scott Hudson and Mike Tenay putting over Meng as a monster and showing clips of him winning the Hardcore Title at the Syn PPV. Of course, this aired the same day Meng jumped to WWF and worked the Royal Rumble.
Man, it’s sad to see what has become of the former ECW top stars. Justin Credible, who was World Champion not too long ago, is booked for one of Ian Rotten’s Mid-South shows on February 3rd. He’ll wrestle some guy I’ve never heard of named Colt Cabana.
Randy Savage is currently shooting scenes for the upcoming Spider Man movie, where he plays a character named Buzz Saw. I know absolutely nothing about Spider Man, but I do remember a He-Man character named Buzz Off, who was a bug-type guy with wings. Some indy guy is going to be a big hit someday with a Buzz Off gimmick.
Test beat Steve Regal clean in about two minutes to win the European Title. This was quite depressing. Ross commented that he didn’t think anyone could beat Regal that quick, and said maybe he was hurt. Regal really is hurt, I believe with two herniated discs in his neck, so that explains this finish.
WCW Monday Nitro (1/22/01)
Quick Review: The streak of good Nitro’s ends at one.
Luger beat Page after Jarrett hit Page with a guitar. Even though there was guitar debris covering the canvas, the referee still called for the bell. Luger’s fundamentals are worse than most rookies.
Chris Daniels NC Mike Modest when Scott Steiner ran in. Daniels slipped on the top rope trying a springboard and landed RIGHT ON TOP OF HIS HEAD. Seriously, it was SO nasty. Daniels looked totally out of it for a few seconds but managed to keep working. His left arm looked really screwed up throughout the rest of the match though. Crowd more than gave them a chance which was good. Lots of cool moves. Modest used Akiyama’s pumphandle exploder and also hit an awesome Dragon suplex depositing Daniels right on his face. Modest kicked out of Angel Wings near the finish, which is basically a sitting Pedigree. Steiner ran in, killed them both with exploders, and then “broke their ankles” with a hokey steel pipe spot. Steiner said he was sending Sid “these two jabronies” as presents. Man, WCW sure knows how to put over new talent.