Wednesday, September 7, 2000
SLAM! Wrestling Guest Column
Pushes can never be taken for granted
I found it interesting to read Chris Gramlich's editorial 'Consider the radicals before jumping.' It was certainly thought provoking, enough so I sat down this morning wanting to say my piece.
I disagree. Completely.
The Radicals have been in the WWF all of seven months. If you take a look at several guys from the past that jumped, how many of them were even close to where some of the Radicals are now? To paraphrase Kurt Angle, in his first seven months Triple-H was putting over Henry Godwinn in hog pen matches, along with nearly everyone else. Granted a part of this stems from the infamous 'MSG Incident' but that happened nearly a year into his WWF run. Until his IC title win he was basically a jobber, and even then it wasn't until he formed his alliance with Shawn Michaels that he started to shoot to Superstardom.
Anyone remember 'The Ringmaster' Steve Austin? I for one was thrilled when he signed with WWF having witnessed his classics against the likes of Dustin Rhodes and Ricky Steamboat in WCW. Then he debuted with Ted Dibiase to literally no fanfare. He was a nobody, feuding with Savio Vega and Marc Mero for the better part of his first year. Yes, 'Austin 3:16' started the ball rolling, but it wasn't until his feud with Bret Hart that Steve Austin became a superstar. Again nearly a year into his tenure.
Even Mick Foley, who probably started off the best with his high profile feud with the Undertaker didn't really take off career wise until Hell in a Cell. Sure, lots of fans noticed him, and ooohed and awhed at his bumps. But how many fans really took notice of him before that match two years after his debut?
Even a guy who never wrestled in WCW was made to look like a total idiot his first year. The goofy haircut, the rapid push. Everyone hated this guy, and now he is the most popular wrestler in the world today. Yet for nearly a year, until he turned heel, The Rock was, to quote him, a jabronie.
Yes, the WWF has blown opportunities. Vader should have dominated the WWF. He started off strong and then got stuck in pointless feuds and jobbed until he left for Japan, where he resumed being a monster heel. Marc Mero, a very talented wrestler, got overshadowed by his wife and eventually disappeared after a strong start. It is hard to judge at this point exactly where the careers of the current batch of WWF stars are going. Or for that matter what would have happened had they stayed in WCW.
WCW itself has blown plenty of wrestlers, both ex-WWF and not. One only has to look at the misuse of Sean Waltman, Bret Hart, Davey Boy Smith and others to see that there are two sides to the coin. As is evident by Kevin Nash regaining the belt, it is not all young blood over on WCW's side either. Other then Benoit, the Radicals were pretty idle in WCW when they left as well. Guerrero and Malenko both started off strong in WCW, but fizzled later in their tenure.
Chris Benoit has been main eventing. Eddy Guerrero is starting to main event. All four Radicals have held some kind of belt in the last seven months. There are plenty of wrestlers I am sure would die for the opportunity they have had in just seven months.
One can't play the 'What if game.' Yes, the WWF is very talent-heavy right now. WCW had the same problems in 1996-98. But if a wrestler feels he would be happier, overall in WWF and his contract is up, go for it. Sure, you may end up misused like Taz or Al Snow. Or you may be catapulted like the Dudleys and Chris Jericho. One can't really tell until you get there.
Jason Clevett is from Calgary, Alberta, and can be emailed at email@example.com.
He wrote a previous column for us entitled Indies an important part of wrestling.