EDITOR'S NOTE: Eric Benner is SLAM! Wrestling's regular Friday columnist.
Friday, April 28, 2000
It's now 12 special PPVs
One of the big reasons people are so hot for this show, perhaps THE reason, is that Stone Cold Steve Austin will be making his return at the show. I've already made my thoughts about this known, but suffice it to say, I think it's a mistake. That is, unless he'll be ready to wrestle earlier than previously thought (and soon), in which case I say it's a great swerve.
But if this is all a ruse to spike a buyrate, and we'll either have to suffer through a non-wrestling Austin or watch him disappear for another two months, then I'm less happy.
Nonetheless, the news of his attendance is generating a lot of hubbub over Backlash, and over future offerings by the WWF.
We'll have Triple H vs. The Rock with guys in their respective corners (Vince McMahon, Steve Austin) who may turn on either of them.
We'll also have the Intercontinental title on the line in an anticipated match between Chris Benoit and Y2J Chris Jericho. Most of the rest of the card isn't too out of the ordinary -- Kurt Angle takes on The Big Show, Edge and Christian defend their belts against The New New Age Outlaws, The Dudleyz take on T&A, Tazz and Saturn and Crash and Hardcore Holly vie for the hardcore title, Eddie Guerrero defends his Latino -- er, European title against Essa Rios, and The Acolytes finally wrestle against Big Bossman and Bull Buchanan.
I don't want to jabber too much about the pay-per-view itself -- you can read such jabberings in our Backlash preview.
I do have a point, though. Many of the Backlash matches are no more meaningful than any WWF pay-per-view in 1999. Somehow, it seems more special, though. It's weird.
The year's first pay-per-view seemed special, but that was The Royal Rumble, so that's easily explained.
The year's second effort, No Way Out, featured a Hell in the Cell retirement match between Mick Foley and Triple H, so that one seemed special.
The third was Wrestlemania, which requires no explanation.
And now we have Backlash, and again, the WWF has pulled a trick out of its hat to make everyone think that not only with the pay-per-view be significant, but it may very well churn out a strong buyrate.
Right after Wrestlemania, I wrote that it was important to lower the level of the year's biggest show just a little, not because it's better for the show itself, but because it makes subsequent pay-per-views seem more important, and thus more attractive to prospective buyers, and thus more lucrative for the WWF.
Vince McMahon is making the transition from five to twelve pay-per-views only now. We complain about not having enough time for plots and feuds to be created, and now he has twice the television time to do it. In addition, we complain about the non-big five pay-per-views of being less significant. Since the middle of last year, that hasn't really been the case, either.
McMahon is a genius, no one denies that. But finally, I think, he may have taken the WWF to the next level -- a level where buyrates will be high all year long. That will mean a lot of extra revenues for the WWF, and that will help them stay on top.
After Backlash, we get King of the Ring, which will likely be special on its own -- though perhaps not as much so in recent years. Then the to-be-renamed Over the Edge and another former In Your House show, then SummerSlam, then three more In Your House shows and Survivor Series, not in that order.
Slowly but surely, we're learning the names of these new pay-per-views, they're becoming more of a staple, and the old big ones are becoming a thing of the past. Now, it's the big twelve.
Don't order No Mercy, and you might miss the year's best match. Don't order No Way Out, and you might miss a prominent player's retirement. Don't order Backlash, and you just might miss the triumphant return of an even more prominent player of recent history.
Don't order Wrestlemania, you might miss a good show where no plots are advanced and nothing spectacular happens, except for The Rock not winning the title.
Interesting turn of events, eh?
Tell me - will you be ordering Backlash?
That's all for this week. Here's the mailbag.
Danny Middaugh, from email@example.com, writes:
"I thought Nitro this week was a good show. It was not as good as last weeks Nitro or even Thunder, but it was better than Raw in my eyes. I love the storyline of young vs. old. I particulary like the segments which feature Hogan running around back, swearing, knocking over things while looking for Kidman. This is a really hot feud. The thing I like best is that Hogan isn't wrestling any real matches, he's just having brawls. They do need to have more quality matches, though. More cruizerweight matches would be a big help. And when the old guys have matches, they should be short. But right now, WCW is my favorite promotion. The WWF storylines are very tired."
A fair series of arguments, but remember one thing -- since the WWF has been number one, many people at many different times have called it stale. Vince McMahon adapts.
John Bastedo, from firstname.lastname@example.org, writes:
"I agree completely with your analysis of WCW's attempted resurgence, it will only force all wrestling telecasts to improve. This week's Nitro was not as strong as RAW, but then again when was the last time the belt changed hands in the first 20 minutes of any wrestling telecast?
My other opinion I'd like to express is on the widespread criticism of WrestleMania. I think that what often happens is that people get so caught up in their own predictions, that when they are wrong they take personal offence and offer an indignant 'that was stupid, they could have done WAY better.' That better way being, of course, whatever the individual predicted would happen. WrestleMania was a great card, and the wrestler who DESERVED to win in the main event came out on top. That's the way it has always really gone, and how it ought to be. John, Brampton, ON"
At least one reader agrees with me! Aha! Some of you Canadian guys are so darn smart. No offense to our American friends, who are also quite smart when they agree with me.
Wish me a happy vacation, thanks for reading, thanks for writing, and enjoy the column I left for next week -- I have a feeling some people may disagree. Have a great week!
Send email to email@example.com.