Thursday, June 17, 1999
SLAM! Wrestling Guest Column
WCW on the rebound
Last Thursday, I watched an episode of WCW Thunder just like I do every Thursday night. Now, I know what a lot of you are thinking: Thunder (actually any WCW show) isn't a very good wrestling show. For a long time that was true, but things have been changing lately in Turner-land. Here are some thoughts on why WCW may be poised for a bit of a come back.
When I said that I watched Thunder just like I do every Thursday I lied to you. You see, I watched Thunder with my mother, which is a grand departure from the normal. Why is a 25-year-old man watching wrestling with his mother? I'd rather not get into that right now, I'm trying to get this posted. Not even one time during the show did I feel uncomfortable with what we were being shown. The women weren't dressed like tramps (but they still looked... how shall I say it? "Sweeeet") and nobody told us to get ready to suck anything.
I don't know about you, but I really hate to be told to suck something. (I hate it even worse when my mother is told to suck something.) Even the swear words that got beeped out were in uncensored use in prime time television five years ago. It was kind of fun explaining to old ma that Rey Jr. actually is a wrestler ("But he's so little!") and seeing the look on her face when a guy got dropped on the ropes ("Oh, that must hurt!"). Had we been watching one of Vince's shows I have the feeling that I would have turned the channel after five minutes. I know ma's a mature adult just like I am, but where I come from there are just some things a guy doesn't watch with his mother! I deem WCW to be mother-safe (that's a GOOD thing, just in case you were wondering).
Has anybody else noticed that WCW has started to put a lot of wrestling into their shows? I noticed this a couple of weeks ago but Larry Zybysko said during a Kanyon rant, "Whatever happened to this new 'shut up and wrestle' thing we've been doing?" I haven't pulled out the old stop-watch or anything so I don't have any statistics for you, but they seem to have adopted a new attitude. This is what we wanted! We've all seen the signs in the crowd, "Shut up and rassle!!" I know a lot of people who have said that. I've said it. Now that they are giving us what we wanted nobody notices.
One of the few things that WCW has done better than the WWF for the last year is actual wrestling. Most would concede that WCW has far more talented wrestlers than the WWF. What's that you say? Wrestling without decent story lines isn't going to cut it? I agree, WCW's story lines haven't been very good but I'll get to that in a moment.
I can only think of one match that was pretty bad last Thursday (and wonder of wonders it didn't involve the luchadores!) and it's pretty sad that it was the main event. Saturn and Kanyon crawled on the mat for ten minutes earning themselves a "boring" chant until (we will ignore the ridiculousness of this) DDP and Benoit showed up to turn it into a pretty decent tag match in which we saw new tag team champions crowned. In the last few weeks there have been some useless all-jabroni matches, but all in all I haven't regretted watching WCW wrestling shows for about three weeks now. It's been a while since I could say that.
The WCW story lines have been pretty atrocious for some time now. The last story lines I really liked were Chris Jericho's feud with Dean Malenko and Jericho's taking of trophies. Man did I laugh. It was so much the better that there was some pretty fine wrestling involved in both story lines.
After that nothing much happened in WCW worth noting until Raven went home and greeted his good friend Jim by the poolside. Hmmm, that Hak guy looks alot like Jim. Oops, we're not supposed to remember that. The best WCW angle in a long time was scrapped so abruptly that Raven's still got skid marks on his butt (no lurid jokes from you WWF fans!).
Nash laid down for Hogan with the push of a finger ruining the credibility of the WCW Heavyweight Championship. I can't even remember what happened with the tag belts after that confusing tournament and when did Rick Steiner get the TV belt? So here we are now with a bunch of meaningless belts and no decent feuds.
It sounds like I have no hope for WCW story lines. I actually do.
Being teamed with Dean Malenko was killing Chris Benoit's career. Malenko is a great guy to feud with, not team with. It's starting to look like a Benoit/Malenko feud is brewing while at the same time Benoit is holding the tag team belts with Saturn (last week anyway). The tag belts (in my eyes at least) are becoming hotly contested by good and/or popular wrestlers (as we all know that being good has nothing to do with popularity and vice versa) but one or two more high-profile teams would make things very interesting indeed.
Nash holds the WCW Heavyweight title now (and seems to want to keep it this time) and the feud with Macho Man has been building for a few weeks. Can you believe it? A feud has been building for more than one week going into a Pay Per View!
Two of the belts are slowly becoming respectable again after a year of being afterthoughts. They also seem to be slowly building a young guys vs. old guys angle. This could be a great angle if they do it right. Some super-stars will have to job. Clean -- and that's the tough part in WCW it seems. If Rick Steiner is going to be successful as TV belt holder he's going to have to find a way of generating some heat without his brother in the arena (or turn face again). Where's Booker T or Jericho when you need them? Both were great TV title holders (remember Booker vs. Benoit?).
Cut the screw-job endings to about a third of what they are now and we'll have a wrestling organization on the rebound, maybe even worth watching again.
There are still a lot of things wrong with the WCW but I think that they are turning it around. It will take awhile as the damage they have done for the last year or so cannot be undone in a month. I hope they can pull it off. I think that the world may be ready for a mother-safe (remember, that is a GOOD thing) wrestling show that doesn't suck.
Joel E. Stone is from Blackfoot, Alberta, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.