EDITOR'S NOTE: Eric Benner is SLAM! Wrestling's regular Friday columnist.
Friday, December 24, 1999
A bunch of WCW hypocrites
I've had to live with it for over two years now. Each and every time I'd proclaim RAW was the more enjoyable show, aside from the band-wagon claims, I'd have to deal with people telling me that the show was only more successful because of profanity, or half-naked women, or sacrilege, or whatever. Of course, the tone of such comments were never polite.
Worst of all were the top stars and executives in WCW -- Eric Bischoff and Hollywood Hogan and Tony Schiavone and the rest of the gang, every Tuesday morning would hide behind their shield of purity, for World Championship Wrestling doesn't resort to such crude tactics!
It didn't take too long for the ratings gap to slip to an entire point, then two, then three and low and behold, RAW was soon doubling Nitro. Fat pay cheques were sent out to useless celebrities and musical artists galore, and clearly the time for panic had come.
Heads were to roll, and they did, first and foremost with Bischoff's. Strangely enough, two of the men most responsible for the filth you see each Monday, Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara, were brought in to plug the leaks in the sinking ship, and make it sail again.
Pretty much immediately, all the barriers were lowered, and WCW, for the most part, became the WWF's equivalent in filth. Of course, Armageddon changed all that, and in truth, Turner's wrestling company never really reached RAW heights anyway. Much of that can be blamed on Standards and Practices.
Oh, how the hypocrisy continues. Here's where it all comes together:
WCW points a judgmental figure at the WWF for their 'too hot for TV' antics, claiming a halo of innocence for itself, but mostly using it all as an excuse for their horrible, horrible performance in every imaginable area in 1998 and 1999.
When it gets so bad that questions are raised higher up in the company, the Pope of Good Wrestling Content and Not Sinking to the WWF's Level, Eric Bischoff, gets cut loose. That's only better for him, anyway, because for him to stay on with this company, with what it's doing now, would be the greatest hypocrisy of all.
WCW brings in the very thing it claimed to stray from in Russo and Ferrara -- hypocrisy number one.
They give them full reign over the company, and after a very short while, we're watching mud wrestling, bikini-clad women, men wrestling women, and the like -- hypocrisy number two.
Russo goes on the record, over and over again, claiming that he's handcuffed by Standards and Practices, which sets up hypocrisy number three:
Then, this past Monday, the grand-daddy of them all. I don't know the details of exactly what went down, but apparently, WCW notified all the appropriate parties that they'd be swearing like sailors and to ready the censors, but somehow, those censors didn't show up for work or something and a lot of it got let through. I don't know if this was staged, but WCW's press release sounded more than a little bit like the WWF's press release following Miss Kitty's "unauthorized" removal of her top at Armageddon. Therein, my good friend Watson, lies the third hypocrisy, as only days before that every WCW employee who could get to a phone went on record as attacking the WWF's obvious attempt to cover its own butt by pretending the actions of its own employee were unauthorized when they were, of course, staged.
Et tu, Russo?
Now, don't take this the wrong way, I'm all for WCW's new direction. I even sort of liked Nitro this week, except maybe for the fact that it was a tad on the long side. Definitely better than what RAW served up, though. So don't take my statements here as an excuse to point the accusing finger of bias, because I really like what WCW is doing and hope they stick with it.
What I can't take are the people who can't just accept that for a year and a half, Monday Night RAW was the better show. With or without nudity, swearing, and blood. They just used said hardcore aspects to attain the celebrated mainstream status they now enjoy, but make no mistake, with or without it the ratings war was theirs.
And now, to everyone who's called me or any WWF fan or employee a lecher or a heathen or whatever over the past two years -- I hope you've stopped watching WCW, because then you'd just be wrong. If you're still watching, though, I'm actually curious as to your excuse, though no matter what it is, I'm sure it's still a blatant hypocrisy.
But enough about me, here's the mailbag.
David Embrey, from firstname.lastname@example.org, writes:
"Ok let me get this straight, WWF had to tone down its content on Smackdown! so they would not lose advertisers...everyone is on the WWF's case for this that and the other thing....and then we have WCW. Where the S word is thrown around by Kevin Nash, and Bret Hart, like they just learned it yesterday...hrm??? I have nothing against the word, it is an excellent word in certain circumstances....last I checked Public TV is not one of 'em. Was it broadcast in Canada? Your thoughts?"
Hmmm. I think I agree with you. But you raise a point I forgot to mention -- this is probably the worst timing in the world, as WCW may now have trouble distinguishing themselves from the raunchier WWF programming with respect to their advertisers.
As far as the Canadian broadcast goes, TSN pretty much always edits out the bad words, and I'm kind of thinking this coming Nitro probably won't be the exception.
Shirley Sawka, from email@example.com, writes:
"Just thought that an idea you might like to take on would be to add your ideas to the idea of TSN moving RAW to a later time slot. I'm upset and disgraced at the fact that the city whom the WWF Intercontinental Champion proudly hails from has turned their back to him and other canadians in the wrestling world. I have always believed that parents should talk to their children on the subjects of sex, violence and television. Obviously we need to find a scapegoat for lackluster parenting. Also how does one submit a guest column??? Do you have people you call or can people forward it to you?"
For those who don't know, TSN broadcasts WWF RAW both live on Monday night, again at midnight ET (9 pm on the west coast) and then again on Tuesday afternoon. Personally, I think RAW probably shouldn't be broadcast at all in the afternoon, and I support moving it out of there.
I remember the big fuss the Winnipeg parents made about wrestling last year, but let's be honest, I don't think they exactly pledge allegiance to Y2J. They aren't exactly turning their backs on him, when I doubt these people were ever Jericho supporters. Parents should talk to their children about what's on the television screen, though, and shouldn't feel forced to go to the networks and have a show removed for an entire city or country because of their own tastes and opinions.
I really get agitated hearing when people try to do that.
To submit a guest column, first go read our guidelines, then send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
That's all for this week. I'll be away all of next week, but I should be able to check my mail once or twice, and you can still likely expect a column - because rain or shine, Benner's here every week. Don't forget to check me out on ICQ - 10595535. Thanks for reading, thanks especially for writing in, and have a great week.
Send email to email@example.com.