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Vandy! (September 1996)

 

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Issue # 455

Date:  Sunday January 2nd, 2000  10:33 am

The Wrestling Booking Sheet

WCW crashes and now burning
By Mike Mooneyham
Sunday, January 2, 2000

Congratulations if you're reading today's wrestling
column. It probably means you survived Y2K.

Surviving the New Year, much less the new century,
may be a lot tougher for World Championship
Wrestling.

The new regime at WCW warned us that they were
bringing "crash TV" to their viewers. They were
right. It crashed, and now it's burning.

For all the hype and hoopla heralding the arrival
of "The Powers That Be," the results of the past
several months haven't given the front-office
folks in Atlanta a lot to be happy about.

There are those who rightfully argue that the new
team hasn't been given ample time to turn the
product around. Some will claim that a large
portion of the audience just doesn't "get it."
And there are those who suggest that Nitro's move
to two hours will produce a significant
improvement.

The numbers, however, don't lie.

Last week the tally read: Raw 5.8, Nitro 2.9. If
my math is correct, Nitro was doubled up (head-to-
head it was 5.8-2.5). It was also the lowest
rating since scriptwriters Vince Russo and Ed
Ferrara took over. Nitro could fare no better in
its overrun period, which featured a match
between proven ratings failures Kevin Nash and
Sid Vicious, and was once again doubled up
6.6-3.3. The Dec. 22 Thunder, revamped with all
the company's major stars and coming off Starrcade
weekend, could only muster a 2.2 going head-to-
head with Smackdown, which did a 4.4 on network
television.

It is painfully clear that the numbers have sunk
to levels approaching those in the final stages
of the Kevin Nash booking fiasco, and that is
certainly not a good sign. And there's no
indication of a turnaround in the immediate
future.

I'm sure Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara have, for
the most part, enjoyed a better working
relationship with WCW's performers than
predecessor Eric Bischoff. And I have no doubt
that their intentions to take WCW to the next
level are sincere. Something, however, is
missing. Characters are not over. Merchandise
isn't selling. House show attendance is down.
Television ratings are stagnant.

The "more is better" philosophy just isn't
working. Tony Schiavone's declaration last week
that Nitro will now be "faster-paced" with the
show cutting back to two hours was laughable.
The viewer is already bombarded with so many
angles that none of them are memorable.

Russo recently said he was phasing out the "Powers
That Be" angle to give the NWO gimmick top heel
billing in the company. The initially successful
NWO storyline grew stale last go-around, and it
has to be viewed as somewhat of an act of
desperation to revive it.

Bret Hart appears less than comfortable in his new
role resembling a brain-dead teen-ager perpetrating
petty acts of violence (turning over food tables
and smashing cars).

Jeff Jarrett, despite his ability to work solid
matches, is still questionable as far as tangible
drawing power.

Hall and Nash are, well, Hall and Nash. Both insist
on cutting babyface promos despite orders to the
contrary and the fact that the NWO is being pushed
as the major heel group in the company. Hall, who
is making $1.6 million per year while generating
most of his headlines outside the ring, was taken
off television last week as a disciplinary measure
for doing a babyface interview on Bill Goldberg.
WCW, in its typical forceful manner, suspended him
- with pay - for that week. Hall, meanwhile, is
taking yet another hiatus and will be out of action
for several more weeks due to knee surgery.

Perhaps the most curious speculation centers around
Russo's concerted effort to bring back The Warrior
(Jim Hellwig). This, in light of the fact that
Warrior's previous WCW stint was a miserable failure
and ratings flop, and the fact that his interviews -
which are a staple of the Russo programming
philosophy - are possibly the most incoherent and
rambling pieces of verbiage in the history of the
business. This time, however, Russo is trying to
convince Warrior to return as a heel and possibly
align him with the NWO.

Perhaps it's a blessing for WCW that the TV numbers
were down last week, and that a paid audience of only
8,000 at the Houston Astrodome watched a
disappointing Nitro featuring an eight-match "Lethal
Lottery" tag-team tournament that saw senseless turns
in seven of the bouts. Those who watched the show
probably won't next week.

• WCW received more bad news when it learned that
Bill Goldberg could be out of action for as long as
three months due to a severe forearm injury he
suffered while smashing the windshields of a
limousine at Thunder tapings Dec. 21 in
Salisbury, Md.

Randy Savage will replace Goldberg in his match
against Rick Steiner Jan. 4 at the Tokyo Dome.
Goldberg is expected to miss the next two WCW
pay-per-views, and his absence also puts a kink in
the upcoming Souled Out pay-per-view. The revamped
lineup features Bret Hart defending his WCW title
against Sid Vicious (replacing Goldberg), and
Chris Benoit against Jeff Jarrett in three separate
matches (dungeon rules, bunkhouse and cage).

The tentatively scheduled bout between Diamond Dallas
Page and Buff Bagwell is up in the air following
DDP's recent surgery to have a cancerous growth
removed from his chest.

Other bouts include a four-way hardcore match with
Norman Smiley defending against Brian Nobbs, Meng
and Fit Finlay, Tank Abbott vs. Jerry Flynn in a
block match, and David Flair vs. Vampiro.

• Scott Steiner and Mick Foley were the latest in
a growing number of stars to announce their
"retirement" from wrestling during episodes of Nitro
and Raw last week. Steiner, of course, used the
announcement as an angle to return later in the
show, while Foley will be back, probably in the role
of Cactus Jack, for a Royal Rumble title showdown
with Hunter Hearst Helmsley.

Similar fake retirements by Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan
and Kimberly Page have been staged in recent months.

• The Undertaker (Mark Calaway) is scheduled to
return to WWF rings following the Royal Rumble.
Taker worked recent shows in Puerto Rico in which
he teamed with Viscera (Nelson Frazier) against
Kane (Glen Jacobs) and Godfather (Charles Wright).

Taker, who reportedly is far from 100 percent, has
taken the past several months off to deal with a
number of physical problems, including bad knees and
elbow and a pulled groin, in addition to a messy
divorce.

• There now appears to be an outside chance that
Steve Austin could play a role at Wrestlemania 2000,
although most likely it would be the part of an
enforcer referee. His surgery was moved up to Jan. 11
due to a cancellation on his doctor's schedule, and
he is now talking more positively about returning to
the ring if surgery goes well and he receives a
favorable prognosis.

Austin, whose head will be immobilized in a halo for
six weeks following surgery, has tentatively
scheduled his wedding with Debra Marshall (formerly
McMichael) after the operation.

• Is it any surprise that The Rock, arguably the
best trash-talker in the wrestling business, was a
member the Miami Hurricane, a squad that took trash
talking to a new level in collegiate football?

According to a recent issue of ESPN The Magazine,
The Rock has become a favorite of a number of
current NFLers, including Minnesota's John Randle.

Said The Rock: "If you ask Randle: 'What do you
think about facing Favre this weekend?', he'd give
you something like, 'Hopefully we'll put our whole
defensive scheme together and come out on top.'
And what would The Rock say? 'I'm going to take
Favre's helmet, shove it sideways, and stick it
straight up his ---.'"

The Rock, then known as Dwayne Johnson, was a Dennis
Erickson-era Hurricane, a defensive lineman (1991-95)
who manned the same trenches as future Pro Bowlers
Warren Sapp and Jessie Armstead. The team did two
things particularly well - win and talk trash.

Kevin Nash also was featured in the ESPN magazine
piece entitled "Jocks or Rocks?" "I was Dennis Rodman
before Rodman was," said Nash. The article listed the
former Tennessee center's (1978-80) career per-game
rebounding average as 4.2 (along with 5.1 points).

Examples of his rebel rep showed up as early as his
college basketball days, the story notes, when Nash
hurled fruit at poolside loungers from his hotel
window during the '79 NCAA tournament (the Vols lost
in the second round). And when coach Don DeVoe
ordered him to cut his shoulder-length locks, Nash
showed up with a 'fro.

Mike Mooneyham can be reached by phone at 937-5517.
He can be heard every Tuesday from 6-7 p.m. on
"Ringside Wrestling Talk" on WQNT ESPN Radio 1450-AM
(call in at 763-6631). For wrestling updates during
the week, call The Post and Courier Info Line at
937-6000, ext. 3090.

Mike Mooneyham can be reached by phone at (843)937-5517
or by e-mail at mooneyham. More
wrestling news with Mike Mooneyham is available
every Monday on The Wrestling Observer Hotline. The
number is 1-900-903-9030. Calls are 99 cents per
minute, and children under 18 must get parental
permission before dialing.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
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+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
ADVERTISEMENT
FLYBOY98 is running an all tag team wrestle
fed; contact him for details…
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
WCW & PERSONAL PREFERENCES
Written by reader: XxSHershxX
In response to MJenk32306's
"A Series of Confusing Scenarios":

Why get so bent out of shape just because someone
has different likings than you? Are you just
bitter because the same old catch phrases and the
same clichés are destroying your favorite promotion
in the ratings? I mean, Steve Appy sends me
the ratings every week, and it's sad to see that
even Sunday Night Heat beats WCW Monday Nitro, but
that's no reason to get angry at the fans'
preferences.

I say if you like Nitro, Thunder, WorldWide, watch
your shows...I won't get angry at you. But if I
choose to pay more attention to my cheesesteak than
the television from 8 to 9 o'clock on a Monday night,
don't get angry at me over it. I share some of your
likings - it was obvious that Steiner was nWo after
they interrupted his "retirement" speech, but it was
still a good angle. They just have to be careful
about not screwing things up like that. I like the
5-some they have now, and they should keep it that
way. And I agree... DX is getting a bit boring,
and the Rock's catch phrases may have been played
out worse than hit songs on a Top-40 station....
but because the "same old crap" is more entertaining
than WCW trying to do the same exact thing with a
twist doesn't constitute your anger. The Bill of
Rights grants us all sorts of freedoms... express
your opinion as you must, but don't get mad at us
for expressing ours' right back at you.

Steve "Austin" Williams, Mark Calloway (Taker), Ken
Shamrock, Vince & Shane, etc. - they've all been off
TV for a considerable amount of time and the WWF
still manages to keep the ratings up without them,
because Vince is a mastermind. WCW junkies are
going to have to understand that originality goes a
long way, and that Russo and Ferrara are going to
have to do a hell of a lot of brainstorming to even
score half the ratings they did in the WWF.

WCW has a hell of a lot of talent.. I'll give them
that - they just don't know where to use their pushes.
The WWF doesn't as well, for that matter, but they do
a better job at it than the WCW, * in my opinion *.
You get tired of "Pancake your ass back to Chicago"
- well, personally, I think that hearing that for the
283rd time still has more flavor than hearing "ba da
bing, ba da bam, ba da bang" from a guy that doesn't
know whether he wants to be trailer park trash or a
movie star. I don't complain that people watch WCW,
though...
++++++++++++++++++++
Steve Appy responds:
I don't think that Russo & Ferrara are lacking in
creativity (despite their return to the stale nWo
concept). They have creativity bursting out of every
seam, in fact, they've made NITRO a variety show.

Their problem is that they aren't half as funny as
they think they are.  While it is creative to find new roles
for Shane (Virgil), Asya, Jim Duggen, Evan Karigious,
Roddy Piper, Larry Zybyzco, Rhonda Singh & The Harris
twins, it's also silly and makes for bad TV.

We can all agree that Vince Russo is not interested in
presenting a compelling WRESTLING product (we've been
told enough times that it's sports entertainment and
"the people don't care about the in-ring action
anymore" to get that straight). It's just too bad that
he isn't good at what he is trying to do, we would be
forgiving if his variety show was actually entertaining.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
BRET HART
Written by reader: DrawBoom
Bret Hart actually would make a good heel. He did so
before in the Hart Foundation days, he just makes a bad
juvenile delinquent. It's been written here before and
I wholeheartedly agree that the NWO --two of whom are
exceptional WRESTLERS-- look ridiculous pulling all
these petty, sophomoric stunts.

As for the return of retired wrestlers, you're
absolutely right. What was the point of retiring Hogan
and Flair only to dust off a new crop of seniors?
Flair was one of WCW's hottest properties and contrary
to popular belief Hogan, I believe, was still capable
of drawing heat...IF marketed properly. (Hogan the
Power mad Prima Dona: very logical. Hogan the Cowardly
cheater: not logical.)

Many have stated that the NWO grew stale because it
hung around too long. I disagree. After all, they
weren't around as long as the Horsemen. The difference
was the Horsemen were always taken seriously as a
threat and their goals were clear. Neither was the case
with the NWO. Though the NWO included some of the most
celebrated performers in the world, not one of them
seemed capable of winning a clean match against even the
lowliest jobber.

Sting could clear the ring of the entire faction armed
with nothing more than a ball bat. So how much of a
threat could they be? And what was their agenda? A
hostile takeover? By gangbanging the company's top
stars? Not logical, and THAT is why they grew stale.
Hard to believe that they're on course to make the
same mistakes again already. Too bad too because it
really is a good angle. Just my opinion.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
TAG TEAM WRESTLING
Written by reader: MattA75
In response to UNCBlue33's diatribe on the WWF tag
team division, where he said "I hope the WWF shapes
the tag team scene up soon." What is there to shape
up? The tag team division is the strongest it's been
in years. The Acolytes, Dudleys, Hardys, Edge/
Christian, the Holly cousins, Too Cool, the Outlaws
and the occasional Rock and Sock have made this
division watch able again.

Do you want to go back to the days of the Godwinns
and the Smoking Gunns? Or hell, even back to the
beginning of the year where the late great Owen
Hart and Jeff Jarrett were the champs? Nothing
against Owen or Jarrett, but neither of them are
what I consider tag team wrestlers, especially
Jarrett.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
ANOTHER TAKE ON IT…
Written by reader: Heather (FtWorthBlondie)
Hello all you maniacs! This letter is coming from
a 27 yr old Mommy:

I started watching the WWF in the last 10 months
and was instantly fixated. The 'soap-operaesque'
storylines, the chicks sellin' it, the bravado...
I loved it all and became a fan! I like the bad
guys, I like the good guys, and I like the guys
that are somewhere in the middle. I did the
whole 'McMahon family is god' thing too.

I get these newsletters a couple times a week and
I gotta tell ya, you people are boring my brains
out!!! "I hate Rocky....I hate SCSA.....Why
doesn't TBS get more pops?......" Whaaaaaaa,
quit whining you buttheads! You aren't strong
enough to the moves and your not smart enough to
do the writing. Just sit back like the rest of
us slobs and enjoy the damn show.

Who cares if you want to see less of The Rock and
SCSA....frankly I'd like to see alot less too, but
I was thinking clothing...not action. <giggle>

I guess what I am saying is this....pull your
carkey outta your ear, and drink your Schaffers
beer and SHUT THE HECK UP!!! Its entertainment,
not rocket science. Your job is simply to watch,
if you hate it so much then watch something else.
Like PBS. Learn something!!
-Heather. Fan...no matta what!
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
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on all of the action. Subscribe to "Sports
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+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
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Independent Professional Wrestling in PA
(IndyWrestlingPA) has formed and we invite you
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IndyWrestlingPA The intent of this board
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UPCOMING EVENT:
Event: IWA Championship Wrestling
Date: Friday, January 07, 2000
Time: 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Place: Riverside Beneficial Association, Pear Street,
Reading, PA 19601

Description: "Hunters Fight Hunger" IWA Championship
Wrestling card - Doors Open 7:00PM; Belltime 8:00PM.
Tickets available through Cruel School at 610-373-6222.

Come out and see ECW favorites as well as local IWA,
EWF and FWA favorites in action!
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
ADVERTISEMENT
8:00 PM, Sat. Jan. 8th at the Sanford Civic Center
---Southern Championship Wrestling returns for
"New Years Resolution" On the card is Scoot Andrews
vs. the Insane Al Bino, Jeff Peterson vs. OG Scarface,
Millennium Bug vs. Ivy Leaguer, plus Frankie Capone
will defend his SCW Heavyweight Title against a
mystery opponent while Buenos Aires continues to try
to persuade the Freak Foundation to let him join.
All this, along with Rocking Rico Casanova, Jonny
Gecko, Bryan Austin, and many more! Tickets are $10
at the door. For more information call (407) 668-5392
===========================================
The staff of The Wrestling Booking Sheet
Editor: Steve Appy
Columnist: Mark George
Columnist: SamJerry
Columnist: Fritz Capp
Columnist: Rick Phelps
Columnist: Cindy Barnes
Columnist: Josh Hewitt
Columnist: Swami
Columnist: Tom Misnik
Columnist: Nate Pelley
Columnist: Robert Troy (Osiris)
Columnist:
Tom Kirkbride
Columnist: Ryan S. Oaks
Columnist: Darren Kramer


Any submissions sent in by readers or columnists become the property of The Wrestling Booking Sheet, and are subject to editing due to grammar, spelling, or content. Any information taken from The Wrestling Booking Sheet must be credited properly, with our E-Mail address listed. We have no problem if you want to use our stuff; just credit it properly.

Copyright- Steve Appy of The Wrestling Booking Sheet ©1998, 1999, 2000

 

"When you're young and you pick up a guitar, it feels so powerful. It feels like you pulled the sword from the stone. I used to believe that it could save the world. But I don't really believe that anymore." - Bruce Springsteen

"The greatest challenge of adulthood is holding on to your idealism
after you lose your innocence and believing in the power of the human
spirit after you come crashing into the limits of the real adult
world." - Bruce Springsteen

 

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