SLAM! WRESTLING: And Nothing but the Truth

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

Friday, November 20, 1998

Reflections on a wild week

Eric Benner
Special to SLAM! Sports

A weekly
SLAM! Wrestling
Editorial Column

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Wow, that was a helluva week. A new WWF champ. A new WWF corporate champion. The end of the people's champ. No more title shots for Austin. New highs in ratings, both for an individual match and for a wrestling show. The return of the Beast from the East. I have a lot to say, and hey, look at all this space. Here goes.

First thing's first. One tune I've always trumpeted on my horn was that The Rock was better off as a bad guy. I think it's pretty clear to everyone that The Rock gained his fame as the Nation leader, a heel who lost cleanly often. The ladder match gained him some respect from the fans, and some less-than-inconspicuous commentating from good ol' Jimmy Ross made him an obvious face. I was thinking to myself, though, as Ross called the Rock a "blue chipper" for the third time in a single telecast, that the WWF was going to run Rocky right into the ground where he came from. I've always been one of The Rock's biggest fans - back from when he was a Nation jabrony - and even I was getting sick of him. Little did I know that Ross was doing it on purpose just so that the heel turn would shock us all the more. Great job, Ross. You're to be commended. If it weren't for the fact that every jabrony and a half is probably doing it already, I'd proclaim myself the "corporate columnist." In fact, I might just do that anyway. I'm right behind you, Rock!

Speaking of commentators, I hope Tony Schiavonne gets fired before WCW goes out of business. I just watched Nitro today, and all I remember from it is his take on the return of Bam Bam Bigelow. "It's incredible!" Then his voice gets louder. "It's mind-boggling!" Louder. "It's unbelievable!" Louder still. "It's ..." Luckily the Brain had enough sense to cut him off before I did. No wonder WCW got ratings over a full point lower than the WWF this week - almost two full points in head-to-head hours. I don't know if anyone at Turner is taking all this as a sign, but their pay-per-view buys are lacking, their ratings are lacking, and though I can't speak for their merchandise sales, I know I'm not wearing a Goldberg T-shirt. I really hope someone's worried. If they aren't, then I have to wonder what kind of a business it is they're running.

While I'm ranting, let me say that this Hogan-for-President thing is not only stupid (so stupid that it's not even wrestling-related anymore) but fails to even take advantage of the very event that inspired it. No one cares. Knock it off.

I have a bad feeling. A very bad feeling. It looks like Steve Austin, who won't be able to get any more title shots the normal way, may have to resort to winning a certain thirty-men-in-a-single-ring contest, a contest which he has twice already won, a contest which is becoming predictable. In fact, the WWF's entire year is becoming predictable. Here's their new pattern, re-usable every year:

January: Austin wins the Royal Rumble.
February: Meaningless In-Your-House pay-per-view with eight-man tag main event.
March: Star-studded Wrestlemania sees Austin win the title.
April-August: Austin defends his title three times, against at most one credible opponent, loses his title once, regains it within twenty-four hours.
September-October: Meaningless In-Your-House pay-per-views which draw many viewers, incredulously.
November: The title situation is somehow screwed up at Survivor Series.
Decemer: Meaningless In-Your-House pay-per-view with poor main event.

Wash, rinse, repeat. Ugh.

Don't get me wrong. I'm enjoying WWF programming as much as the next guy. I'm just afraid they're going to start repeating themselves, because as everyone knows, when one repeats oneself, the repetitious repetition bores the reader, er, viewer, into a repetitious boredom which repetitiously bores the subject until in a repetition-based rage inflicts repetitious damage on some sort of, well, you know what I mean.

Owen Hart as the Blue Blazer against a Conquistador in January 1989. -- Mike Cassesse, Toronto Sun
What's with the Blue Blazer? I'm really, really curious as to who's under that mask. My original prediction was that it was just Owen Hart and Double J alternating in a pretty lame double-team but the third guy is really stumping me. He's using the dragon sleeper, and it would certainly make for interesting television for him to turn out to be Dan Severn, but the Blue Blazer I saw on Raw this week looked far too small. I heard rumblings that it may be another member of the Hart clan, specifically Bruce, but I really haven't a clue. Any ideas out there? Send 'em over.

I am loving The Brood. I'm not sure how far the WWF is going to take the vampire aspect of their angle, but they put on some great matches, I must say. Look for big things from this group, especially if a certain large fuschia machination joins their ranks, which I could see happening.

I don't think I really need to express my on-going Chris Jericho addiction, but I will anyway. This guy is The King.

It's too bad that WCW wastes their talent by the truck-load. As I watched both shows this week, it occured to me that the WWF has great story-tellers but few people with whom to tell their tales, and that WCW has superb performers and nothing to do with them. None of this is news, of course, but it really struck me as ironic that I enjoyed Raw so much more this week despite several marquee matches on Nitro - several more than on Raw.

Well, I've been Judge Eric, and this has been The Truth. I'd like to know what the SLAM! readership would like to see in the way of columns - my slant on the state of wrestling this week, my vague attempts at some kind of humour, my thematic columns (like Wrestlebrawl), my relatively informative bios, something new, or some combination of the above. Any thoughts? Send 'em over. Have a great week, everyone, see you in seven.

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