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SLAM! WRESTLING: Guest Columnist

SLAM! Sports
SLAM! Wrestling







Tuesday, December 8, 1998

SLAM! Wrestling Guest Column

Tracking WCW's breakdown

Starrcade
Sting confronts Hollywood Hogan at Starrcade 97'. It's been all downhill from there says Devon Morehead.
By DEVON MOREHEAD -- For SLAM! Wrestling

There was a time, not long ago, when the competition between WCW and WWF television programming seemed horribly one sided. One of the participants was getting its nose bloodied with stunning regularity, and there were numerous rumors floating around about the fate of the organization and its programming.

What's that you say? Sounds like the current situation? You are correct, except for the fact that the tables have been turned. The WWF has seized the moment, and the once indomitable WCW Monday Nitro has become a distant second.

A year ago, the WWF was getting pounded in its ratings and was reeling from the aftermath of the '97 Survivor Series. Many, myself included, wondered what was going to happen to the organization that had first introduced us to wrestling in the mid-1980's. WCW, conversely, was sitting atop the ratings heap. It had Bret Hart coming in, and the match of the century in Sting vs. Hogan at Starrcade '97. WCW looked like it would remain the champion in terms of ratings and public perception.

And Starrcade proved to be the turning point for WCW. WCW had a guaranteed blockbuster pay-per-view event, one that had been built up for a year. I'm sure that we all remember Sting lurking in the rafters, Crow make up in place, baseball bat pointed silently at Hollywood Hogan. What a buildup! Every time WCW played the angle, you couldn't help but feel the adrenaline rush.

Then, when WCW had the match and the potential to have a long term, competing champion.... they dropped the ball. Instead of having a great match, with a clear cut winner, they decided to involve their new acquisition, Bret Hart, and have him save the day by bailing Sting out. I won't go into the details, since they have been extensively debated, but it led to a dizzying array of title changes, a period with no champion.... everything but a champion that the fans clearly wanted. Instead of Sting holding the title in all of his monochromatic, silent glory for a decent stretch of time (a la Goldberg), we were subjected to Randy Savage and Hollywood Hogan as champs (been there, done that) and are currently in the midst of a boring stretch with an indestructable champ. Gee, didn't Hulk Hogan perfect that act in the mid to late-80's?

What this all comes down to is a simple conclusion: WCW has no one at the bridge, and the iceberg is coming up fast. Talent wise, WCW's roster compares with the WWF, but their decisions concerning their wrestlers make me wonder if they know how to use them.

  • Example 1: The constant pushing of Hollywood Hogan. Yes, he's made wrestling what it is today, but the fans cooled on him, and they should have known that. Kevin Nash, Sting, the Giant, DDP, etc.... They could all have been great champs with serious pop. Instead, we kept having an aging Hollywood wannabe as champ.

  • Example 2: The deemphasis of tag teams. Harlem Heat. Public Enemy. The Outsiders. The Steiner Brothers. Vicious & Delicious. The Great Muta & Masa Chono. What do they all have in common? They are (or were) fun, exciting tag teams. Eric Bischoff's decision to limit tag team matches shows his ignorance of what makes wrestling great. Tag teams have always been popular. Witness the New Age Outlaws today, and the middle years of the Road Warriors. Squelching tag teams deprives WCW of great matches.

  • Example 3: Poor writing. The reason that the WWF is succeeding is because its stories are compelling. Once the NWO angle played out, WCW should have had the intelligence to come up with something to play off of its end, not this hollow Wolfpac off shoot. We've had the Warrior come in to renew a feud that no one really cared about anymore, and way too much of the Four Horsemen doing nothing except insulting Bischoff. Here's a hint, Mr. Bischoff: drop the idea of handing complete control to wrestlers, and hire writers. It's what they do best.

    Warrior
    WCW's much-hyped return of the Warrior flopped.
  • Example 4: Lack of courage. WCW has shown a tendency to try and play it safe, as with the Warrior. Why renew a decade old grudge when with a little creativity you could do something new and cool. The reliance on Hogan is another symptom of this. The reason why WCW seized the momentum from the WWF in the first place was because they had the guts to take some WWF talent and invent the NWO concept, which no one had ever done before. Now, its time to find a new storyline.

  • Example 5: Ego. It seems that WCW's success has inflated the ego of Eric Bischoff. The Ric Flair debacle is an example of this. Bischoff's ego led him to try and teach a legitimate legend a lesson. Lesson learned, Eric? I hope so. Remember that lesson in your current reducing of Chris Jericho, et al. If you had treated them right, and used the mighty pen you love so much, it wouldn't have come to that. Also, don't use yourself in angles. It works for McMahon, it's never worked for you.

I believe that WCW can make it a real race again. The fan base is there. But someone needs to listen to the fans and give them a good product. WCW needs to ride the edge, not play it safe. I'm not saying to become as extreme as the WWF has become, merely to have some courage and take chances. My guess is, they would win more than they would lose with that strategy. Bring back tag teams, stop relying on Goldberg so much, make Hall & Nash their nasty Outsider selves again by destroying the rotting NWO... Just do something!

The 'retirement' of Hollywood Hogan has given WCW a chance to start fresh, much as the WWF did after Bret Hart left with its 'attitude' approach and the rise of D-X. Its up to WCW to take the opportunity.



Devon Morehead is from Longview WA. He can be emailed at morehead@kalama.com

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