February 15, 2000
Open letter to WCW
What's happened to WCW over the past year? It used to be the place to go when a fan got fed up with the WWF's over-the-top antics. The wrestling was consistently better, the color commentary focused on the match, and most importantly, there was little, if any, of the ridiculous soap opera angles that the WWF was passing off as entertainment. It had even gotten so that the WWF was copying WCW (D-Generation X was never anything more than NWO-lite).
All that seems to have changed. Every week, there's more and more of the "behind the scenes" foolishness that sent many fans scrambling from the WWF to WCW. The match commentaries are now about 90% pay-per-view hype, and let's face it, the wrestling has degenerated to the point that most of the main bouts resemble openers, at best.
I recently watched a WWF match between Chris Benoit and Triple H, and was reminded what a great match looked like. At several points throughout the match, I found myself caught up in the excitement that got me hooked on pro-wrestling back in the late 60s/early 70s. I can't remember the last time a WCW match was able to grab my attention like that...more to the point, I can't remember a WCW match that kept me from changing channels to see what match the WWF had going.
I've been a fan for over 30 years now. I grew up watching (and reading) about some of the greatest wrestlers who ever stepped into the ring. When I was a kid, my favorite part about family vacations to Florida was that I would get a chance to watch NWA/AWA matches on the local channels. The matches from down south always were more exciting than what Vince MacMahon Sr. was broadcasting up north. As much as I used to love seeing Bruno Sammartino, Chief Jay Strongbow, and Ivan Koloff, nothing could match the excitment of watching Harley Race, Ric Flair, or the Funks going at it in a knockdown, drag-out wrasslin' match.
It was those memories that hooked me into WCW a few years back, when it was struggling to make a name for itself in the game. There was a promise of that older style of wrestling that didn't rely on mic time and a circus atmosphere to push the show over.
The Luche Libre matches were exciting as hell, as were the cruiserweight matches. The main events were always top notch (even reminiscent of the live matches I used to go see at the Boston Garden during the 70s). All in all, WCW was a refreshing place for a wrestling fan to go. I've missed that since WCW has been (unsuccessfully) copying the angles and the backstage soap operas the WWF became (in)famous for.
So as not to be accused of only complaining without at least offering a suggestion or two, here's a list of 4 suggestions that I think would help to improve the caliber of the entertainment that WCW is putting out these days:
Ted Thomas is from Stoneham, MA, and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.