EDITOR'S NOTE: Eric Benner is SLAM! Wrestling's regular Friday columnist.
Friday, January 1, 1998
nWo? Team Corporate? What's the diff?
When I turn on Nitro, I get that feeling a lot. It sort of evolved into this eternal hopelessness, though, which I don't much worry about. Call it fatalism. There are so many good things coming from the WWF, though, that it pains me so much more when they ruin a good thing, or worse, when they're about to. I must admit, though, since I'm always one to give credit where it's due, that I've had thoughts before and (nearly) invariably, Vince McMahon and his cracker-jack staff of bookers have pleasantly surprised me. I'm not so sure, this time.
I've been watching this build up for weeks, now. At first, I thought it was a novelty. I figured that it would stop soon enough. It didn't. I figured it was a plot device, and that it would be over with time. It isn't. I figured that I would get used to it, that the WWF would make it better for me. They haven't.
What I'm talking about is the Corporation - the second coming of Hogan and Bischoff's nWo and the bane of all wrestling.
Let me take you back, first, to January 1, 1998, a year ago today. Degeneration-X had ushered all but one of the Hart clan down south, and they were taking the low road to dominating the ranks of the WWF. Shawn Michaels was your WWF champion and Triple H was your European champion. Rumours abounded the internet that so-and-so would shortly be joining the degenerates, that Sid or Chainz would be their next enforcer, that this person or that would be making the jump from WCW to join them. Well, the Royal Rumble came and went, and the dX count was still three. The very forgettable In-Your-House came and went, and there were still three. They seemed to have allied themselves with the New Age Outlaws, but the Outlaws were independent enough to keep their own music and not always appear with dX. Everything turned out okay, except maybe for the fact that Triple H beat Owen Hart (my man) about half a dozen times for the European strap, each time because of a Chyna low blow. The point is, McMahon didn't sell out for cheap shock value, there was no "new member of degeneration-X to be revealed tonight on Raw," and the interference seemed okay because it was more like heel interference than gang warfare. I've never been fond of gang warfare.
Granted, X-Pac was added and the Outlaws were re-affirmed after Wrestlemania, but WWF executives knew they would be losing The Main Event, The Show Stopper, and The Icon, all in one night, so they had to replace those three key individuals somehow.
Meanwhile, over in WCW, we had the nWo black and white, then known only as the nWo, maintaining their strangle-hold on the ranks of WCW. Hogan, Nash, Hall, Macho, Giant, Hennig, Rude, Bret Hart, Norton, Bagwell, Vincent, Adams, Chono, and all those other guys who don't come to mind would interfere in their own matches, each other's matches, and even matches which had nothing to do with any of them. They made Nitro suck. I could barely watch it anymore. My only joy in WCW came from watching Sting kick their keisters.
My point is that this is the easy direction to take. As bad as they ended up, count up the members of the nWo (at least twenty, if not all at once) and you'll see just how many shock surprises WCW had for us. In addition, some members joined two or three times, so that pumps the number up to about thirty. That's over half a year of crap wrestling sustained by shock value.
Over time, though, people became harder to shock with heel turns, and they cared less about WCW personalities. This started to show in the ratings only recently. Vince McMahon must be a prophet or something, because they were giving themselves ratings boosts down South and he had the guts to maintain a regular pace for the sake of the long-run.
This all brings me to my point: the Corporation has too many members, they interfere too much, and they basically resemble the nWo more than I'd like.
Count them yourself, either by heads when they walk down or in your head right now: McMahon, McMahon, Patterson, Brisco, Slaughter, Shamrock, Boss Man, Rock, Test, and Kane. Ten individuals, five wrestlers. The other five just take up air-time and interfere incredulously. Admittedly, though, this isn't by biggest problem, I just think it's indicative that McMahon isn't going to take the dX route on this one.
My problem is the interferece. The Rock does not have a single clean win since he won the title. I hate that. He's a great wrestler - give him a clean pin or two and I'll see him as a threat to anyone. Keep him winless and I don't see how he can defend that title. There's no reason the bad guy can't be as skilled as the good guy. That just makes it all the tougher for Austin, er, I mean, anyone, to win the Royal Rumble and take the strap from him at Wrestlemania. For those of you who are keeping score, The Rock still won't have a clean win as of this coming Monday, and I'm going to start wondering if he can win at all.
I sincerely hope the WWF takes the high road on this one. It's okay, we understand that the Corporation is bad, and that they like to interfere. But they don't have to do it all the time. I'm having a hard time hating these bad guys for the bad guys they are. I'm just starting to have them in the name of idiocy.
It's bad enough that Shamrock is holding two belts now.
Here's the reader mail-bag. Keep the letters coming!
Dwayne Davis, firstname.lastname@example.org, writes:
*Are you for real. If you need someone to pump this card up then do me a favor and don't watch it and don't lemme pull this web site up and see you rank it as a 3/10. Just watch the smut on WWF and enjoy urself but you don't have to ruin WCW for others!*
Hey, I don't write the pay-per-view results here, but they're always on the ball. I wouldn't give Starrcade a very good rating after having seen it, either. Everyone has a right to their opinion, though, and if you prefer WCW's style, that's cool. The thing is, I really, really want to like it. There's so much more wrestling talent there than at Titan, but they're wasting almost all of it. I do need hype to get pumped up for their special events. And hey, isn't it better with some hype anyway?
*i wanted to make this a mean letter, but then i realized, hey, its only entertainment. so i will just make my points, and leave it at that. Your anti-wcw analyzation of the PPV on the 27th was to put it mildly, uninformed crap. As i have been bombarded with the hype i can honestly say that you correct in the case of Bam Bam and Hall match. It was rushed and poorly developed, although one who maybe looks past all the obvious promotion would realize that Bam Bam is Goldbergs problem and Hall is Nash's problem. The storylines will obviously cross here. As for the cruiserweight title match, WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN WATCHING? We have every Nitro, Thunder, and WCW Saturday match taped from WW3 on. Every, and i mean every single episode has something concerning this match, Mysterio and Eddie are on every show, Kidman in all but two, and Juvy is featured 5 times. So, in an effort to be negative, don't dismiss things for the sake of easy writing. I do agree with your feelings towards the DDP\Giant and Konnan\Jericho match, though they both have been promoted well to those who aren't aware of the contract situations. I could care less, except i hope that DDP quits wrestling, because he is a pathetic toothpick no talent one dimensional speaking ugly ohhhhhh i can't stand him............ ok, well, in summary; naw it really doesn't matter.........*
Let me get this straight. I was right about Bam Bam and Hall. I was right about Page and the Giant. I was right about Konnan and Jericho. But I was wrong about what, Kidman? What I stated about Kidman was that I didn't know why they were fighting. I hadn't been given any reason that Mysterio or Juventud would be after him. Do they want his title or him? Simple, straight-out, let's-fight-over-this-title wrestling is very forgettable. But I see, "DDP is a pathetic toothpick, [...] and my article is uninformed crap." In other news, Diamond Dallas Page has signed a multi-year extension for bigger dollars than all but two WWF wrestlers.
Hey, have a terrific New Year, everyone. I hope that everybody drank and did something stupid, but I hope that no one got hurt. That's what champagne is for. Try to remember that positive attitude you had on the night of the 31st, and if you can, keep it with you all year long. Thanks for reading, thanks especially for writing, see you in seven.
Send email to email@example.com.