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SLAM! WRESTLING: Guest Columnist

SLAM! Sports
SLAM! Wrestling







February 15, 2000

Open letter to WCW

By TED THOMAS -- For SLAM! Wrestling

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:

  • Lose the "hardcore" angle. Just have the guys go out there and put on a hell of a match. Having them inevitably end up backstage and throwing each other at piles of pallets and hitting each other with rubber trash cans (or even worse, the shiny cans that are about as sturdy as chewing gum foil) has become so predictable that it's difficult to justify not changing the channel.

  • Get rid of the non-wrestlers like David Flair. People don't really tune in to see some idiot running around with a rubber crow-bar. They tune in to see good wrestling matches.

  • Stop relying on the older B-grade wrestlers like Jim Duggan and Chris Adams. Their matches were boring back in the early 80s, and they certainly haven't improved as they've gotten older. I remember feeling embarrassed the night Jim's "2x4" bent like a piece of foam rubber during a tug-of-war with it. I was embarrassed for Jim, in addition to being embarrassed for myself (that I was actually watching such garbage).

  • Enough with the cameras in dressing rooms and offices. If the WCW wrestlers devoted as much energy into putting on a good match as they now devote to the between-match skits, the shows couldn't help but improve.

If they're unwilling to try any of the above, I hope they at least try something...anything...before their remaining talent runs off to the WWF or back to ECW. At the rate things are going, I doubt it'll be too long before the excitement of a WCW show is on the same level as that of a local promotion at the Pinkeye High School gymnasium.


Ted Thomas is from Stoneham, MA, and can be reached by e-mail at kizmiaz@mediaone.net.

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