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SLAM! WRESTLING: And Nothing but the Truth

SLAM! Sports
SLAM! Wrestling







EDITOR'S NOTE: Eric Benner is SLAM! Wrestling's regular Friday columnist.

Friday, June 18, 1998

WCW starting to get it right

Eric Benner
By ERIC BENNER
Special to SLAM! Sports


A weekly
SLAM! Wrestling
Editorial Column

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I like Pepsi. No offense to Coke, but I simply prefer the taste of Pepsi to their product. It's nothing personal against Coca-Cola or any of their subsidiary companies. It's not the result of a vendetta against anyone who works for Coca-Cola, nor is it because I dislike Coke-drinkers. I simply prefer the taste of Pepsi. Plain and simple. Is that allowed? Or does it make me 'biased'? Does it open up anything I say about either Coca-Cola or Pepsi to blatant slander? I should think not.

Then why, may I ask you, am I not also allowed to simply prefer WWF product and television programming?

Why must I continuously suffer the rebuttal "you're just biased against WCW!" when I state that I liked a WWF pay-per-view? Why am I "just a WWF mark" when I frown upon one of many in a long line of stupid WCW gimmicks or storylines? I simply prefer the taste of the WWF.

But wait, don't tune out just yet, WCW fans and nay-sayers. You see, if Coca-Cold were to alter their recipe, to change the ingredients or their proportions, then it's completely possible that I would change my mind and prefer Coke to Pepsi. That's because I prefer the current product, not the company. That's what makes me unbiased - relatively, for obviously everyone is biased.

On that note, let me say that I think that WCW has changed their ingredients lately, and especially their proportions. I like it.

But if this column is about why I like WCW's new product, then why did I open with comments against their fans, or at least the more rude of them?

That's because I'm not ushering in a new era of Benner columns, of WWF-slandering and name-calling and bias-uttering. Being a WCW fan doesn't necessarily require me to call the WWF an affront to all things good and intelligent and it doesn't mean I have to belittle their fans. While I am slowly edging south toward Atlanta, the product up north in Stamford remains top-notch. What I mean is that even though I'm liking WCW's stuff more and more, I still probably prefer the WWF, and even if I started to like WCW more than the WWF, I would still be a fan of the WWF's as long as their product is still interesting.

I felt the need to add that entire bit in because I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression. I'm not jumping on any bandwagon, and I'm not going to start slurring the WWF. In the months preceding, I've chosen WWF programming over WCW almost ninety-nine times out of a hundred, and I've had bad things to say about WCW because theirs was bad. But as that number starts to reduce slightly, down to maybe eighty-five or eighty times out of a hundred, I slur no one, because both products are good. Is this clear?

If you're still unclear on how it's physically possible to be a fan of two (count 'em, two) wrestling organizations at the same time, then please refer to my very first column at SLAM!.

Now, onto what was supposed to be the content of this week's column.

These days, WCW is doing a lot of things right. I'm starting to enjoy the pay-per-views and Nitro more and more, and I'm almost interested enough to tune into Thunder. Almost.

Some of the things WCW is doing right:

I guess you've got to start with their title situation. Now, I'm not saying that the heavyweight division of WCW has been or ever will be their greatest asset, but it's at least slightly better than before. For one, the feud between Macho Man and Kevin Nash. That's right, I said it, am actual feud. In WCW. For the world title. You heard me. Kevin Nash and Macho Man have almost been generating interest for their bouts, what with their out-of-the-ring shenanigans. Almost reminds me of another organization where the title situation almost always reflects personal vendettas to be settled in the ring. It's a good formula. Nobody cares about wrestlers vying to be the best because nobody possibly can. It's just not believable that Goldberg or Sting would ever not be the champions if the champion were nothing more than the best. But WCW, and I admit that it may just be a fluke or an accident, is starting to change their pace, and at least their main events are quite stinking up the show as much as they used to.

Something else I like about the new look of WCW is the well-deserved pushes that a lot of younger athletes are starting to get. For example,

Chris Benoit and Saturn. These two guys, whether individually or together, are starting to garner the respect they deserve. They may not be on the fast-track to the heavyweight title, but at least they're being booked with some respect for them, instead of cleanly doing the job to anyone and everyone. It's giving them a chance to get over, and over, they're getting.

Kanyon. Same thing. I've always been a big fan of this guy, and I think that being a part of the Jersey Triad is the best thing to ever happen to him. I hope that people start to recognize this guy as the talent he really is, both in the ring and out.

Mysterio. I may dislike Konnan or any angle he's ever been involved in, but teaming up with Mysterio is good for little Rey Jr.'s career. He's being booked with the big boys, and he's coming up on the winning end.

Sting. It's just good to see this guy back to his old self. He's so over it's not funny, and I hope WCW finally realizes that.

The Steiner brothers. It's too bad that Harlem Heat won't be able to reform for awhile due to injuries, but when they do, it'll be quite a feud, even if it's not in the ring as a tag team. The Steiner brothers are great wrestlers when they want to be, and Scotty seems to be popular, so this is probably a good thing.

These are just a few examples, but it seems to be that someone or some people on the WCW booking committee have smartened up a bit. I'm starting to enjoy their product more, and I'm sure it's thanks in no small part to the booking.

Speaking of booking, the storylines coming out of Atlanta are getting better and better. Sid may not be the greatest wrestler ever to grace the inside of a ring, but his appearance was at least interesting. I personally think Master P is useless as far as wrestling is concerned, but I think he'll still have an impact with the fans. The young versus old storyline is compelling, and I can't say enough good things about Buff Bagwell getting the clean pin on Flair. That's something that's really nice to see, and so rare in WCW. That brings me back, slightly, too.

Buff Bagwell. I had actually written a few paragraphs about Buff, but then I thought you know what? This would make a good column by itself. So next week, I'll be talking about Buff Bagwell, why he's (I think) the future of WCW, and why he could be as big as The Rock.

MAILBAG

Kris, from kris@argyle.ca, writes:
*I am a longtime Wrestling Fan and I prefer the WCW over the WWF. For one I don't like McMahon and I think there are too much talking not enough matches how many times can you watch the Rock, Austin, Mankind and UT fight. But I have noticed( so to have the fans judging by the ratings) the the WWF has done something that WCW can not or is not willing to do, that is make the midcarders part of the story line, make people care what happens when Edge fights Val Venis. The WWF did this over time it took about 8 months and the WWF ratings took a hit but once they got the mid carders rep and story lines going the ratings took off.
I guess my question to you is do you think that the WCW is under pressure to win the ratings game now or can they afford to take 6 to 8 months to build the midcarders I include in this list Lane,Disco, El Vampiro, Shipwreck, Chavo etc. I still believe that the WCW has the better talent and more of it but it is being mis used by the egos that is the bookers.*

Your point is well-taken, but I think you're off the mark. I think WCW is in the perfect position to build up talent over a long period of time if they so choose. With more wrestlers, aneer. He's being booked with the big boys, and he's coming up on the winning end.

Edward Arriola, from eca@ite.net, writes:
Here is a question I bet a-lot of people wonder once in a while: Who controls the belts? Say Stone Cold, or whoever is the champion, finishes a Raw or a PPV as champion. Does he take the belt home and be responsible for it, or does he check it in and out after each appearance (in ring or out of ring). Please answer my question.*

Eddy here might be a nominee for Question of the Year. I'm not sure why, but a question about one of the mundane and practical aspects of wrestling is refreshing.

Let me start by saying that I have no idea. I may come off as almost knowledgeable sometimes, but make no mistake: I've never worked in wrestling and I'm just some guy who likes to express himself. I do have the power of my own logical faculties to work with, though.

I've actually thought about this question before, and here's what I came up with. Although I think there's a wardrobe department in the WWF, most wrestlers carry around and are responsible for their own gear. All those shots you see of Stone Cold entering the building in street clothes (or army fatigues?) and carrying a bag, presumedly with their gear inside - they're not completely off-base. From what I know, wrestlers do indeed keep their own gear, even when it's probably something the WWF made for them (Kane's suit, for one). I've also heard Bret Hart, on occasion, talk about how his kids like it when he wins the title, because they like to play with it. Now, I'm not sure whether he means when his kids come visit backstage or whether he takes the belt home, but I think…I'm not sure, I just think that wrestlers take care of the belt when they win it. If anyone out there knows for sure, please let me and the readers know.


You know the drill by now. Everyone have a great weekend and a great week, enjoy the summer while it lasts, thanks for reading, thanks especially for writing, and keep on writing. Oh, and I'll have some news in an upcoming column about some exciting new places - off the internet - where you'll be able to read me in the future, in addition to here. Stay tuned. I guess I could abbreviate my final phrase to CUin7. Naw. See you in seven.

Send email to ebenner@hotmail.com.



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