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Kayfabe Commentaries Timeline Series: 1996 WCW as told by Kevin Sullivan

With all of the 1996 WCW reviews and whatnot, I figured why not get some insight from the Bookerman himself, Kevin Sullivan. This was originally posted in July of 2013 but figured why the hell not read it again tonight.

This was released on June 25th, 2013.




JANUARY

Sullivan is asked about Bischoff giving away the results of the RAW Bowl, including the Smoking Gunns winning the Tag-Team Championship. He thought it was a horrible idea, as the fans who want to see what happened. He said that this really came back to bite WCW in the ass when they announced Mick Foley winning the World Title. He said at that point, he told everyone they were in deep shit but no one believed him.


On the January 13th edition of “WCW Pro” Sullivan squashed Damon Striker, who would go on to the WWF a few years later an become Edge. Sullivan is asked if he saw the potential in him and he stated that he did and should have courted him at the time.


The Public Enemy debuted, defeating the American Males. Sullivan said that he liked them and did not look down on them because they were from ECW, as he wrestled there at one point. Sullivan puts over Heyman as one of the brightest minds in wrestling and would always call him several weeks ahead of time when his talent was joining WCW, so he could make the best of the situation. Sullivan then compares wrestling to the circus, saying that there is stuff for everyone. This is one of the many analogies that Sullivan makes throughout the interview.


Oliver reads a legal letter from Bischoff, threatening to sue the WWF over the Billionaire Ted Skits. Sullivan said that he loved those sketches, as he is a fan of parodies. He then says that the American public is not stupid and does not want to see their stars and heroes become destroyed when a corporation or business says so, but rather on their own.


Sullivan is asked about a few things from Clash of the Champions XXXII. When asked about Elizabeth debuting in WCW, he said that believes Hogan’s wife wanted to get involved in the program. He is then asked about the three-way feud between Hogan, Dungeon of Doom, and the Four Horsemen. Sullivan said that the Dungeon of Doom was his idea of making Hogan relax, as it gave him cartoon heels to wrestle instead of the cooler heels, like the Horsemen. He also mentions that Hogan was getting booed a lot at this time and fans were starting to like the cooler heels. He then states how anyone can book but you need to have a strong personality to make it work. He brings up another analogy, this time about a sabermetrics argument on the MLB Network in which one of the ex-managers appeared to have won, because he had a forceful personality.


Sullivan is asked about the incident in which Brian Pillman grabbed Bobby Heenan’s jacket, causing him to swear. Sullivan believes that it was a shoot, then goes on to talk about how Pillman and Steve Austin went from being in a tag-team to breaking up on their own and developing “loose cannon” personas and got involved in a controversial angle in the WWF. He says that all the guys who drew money in the business magnified their own personality to get over with the fans.


Sullivan is then asked about the luchadores. He brings up his circus analogy, stating that they were missing the acrobats at this time. He said some of the workers complained about them, but those were usually the guys who used five minute restholds. He thought they would not be accepted at the top of the card but made for a great mid-card act.



FEBRUARY


Oliver brings up the debut of Loch Ness. Sullivan said he was a fan of European wrestling. He thought the guy could work and claimed he was the highest draw on “WCW Saturday Night” for that year. He then brings up another analogy, stating that if you eat steak every day for a long time, one day you are going to just want a taco. I guess this makes Loch Ness the taco of professional wrestling.


Sullivan is now asked about the “I respect you bookerman” comment made by Pillman at Superbrawl VI. He said it was a work and that Pillman came up with the whole idea by himself and he was just along for the ride, knowing that what he was doing had never been done before. He mentions how some of the workers thought that Pillman was being legit with all of his antics and told Sullivan how they wanted nothing to do with him, thinking that he was completely insane. He then says how guys like Kevin Nash in the WWF were buying the PPV to see Pillman shoot.


He is then asked about Elizabeth turning on Savage an aligning with Flair. He says that it might have been Hogan’s idea, as he and his wife were trying to get them back together in real life.


Sullivan is then asked about Arn Anderson beating Hogan on Nitro, giving him his second loss in three weeks. Sullivan brings up there was the pro-Hogan and the anti-Hogan parties in WCW. Hogan was told that he was getting heat for not putting other guys over and did this to shut up the anti-Hogan camp.


The first non-televised house show in a few years draws 11,000 in Baltimore, MD. Sullivan said he knew they would draw there and it was great for Hogan’s ego because he would think that he was the reason for the large crowd. During this show, Lex Luger defeated Johnny B. Badd for the TV Title but lost it the next night on Television. Sullivan claims that he was vetoed against shooting angles at house shows. He brings up how running everything on PPV ruins business.


The “Baywatch” episode featuring himself and other wrestlers is brought up. Sullivan said the actors hated the wrestlers and David Hasselhoff refused to be on that episode due to his hatred of Hogan.


MARCH


Johnny B. Badd wrestles his last match for WCW, losing the TV Title to Luger. Sullivan said that he wasn’t missed and thought it was ridiculous for a white guy to impersonate a black guy then compares the Badd character to Al Jolson.


The Doomsday Cage Match at Uncensored is discussed. Sullivan said that the original idea was for himself and the Giant to face Hogan and Savage but everyone else was brought in and it became a debacle. He said that at the end, it worked out as it made Hogan happy and he was able to be steered towards more serious angles.


APRIL


Hogan was written off TV on the April 15th episode of Nitro. The original plan was for Hogan to leave on a stretcher but that got changed to Hogan no-selling chairshots and a chokeslam from the Giant, after beating Sullivan and Anderson in a handicapped match. Sullivan said that Hogan took a shit on the company by doing that and said Hogan was too smart to not sell during this segment but he was very unsecure in WCW.


The Giant beats Flair for the World Title on the April 29th edition of Nitro. Sullivan said that they needed a heel champ for Hogan to face when he was going to come back but compares the Giant to a guy batting 8th in the lineup, thus not ready for the belt.


On the same day as the title change, Bischoff was attending a show in Japan in which the UWFi invaded NJPW. He said that Bischoff did not get the nWo idea immediately afterwards but rather called Nash and Hall to join WCW.


MAY


Diamond Dallas Page wins the “Lord of the Ring” at Slamboree. Sullivan calls DDP one of the hardest working people in the business but being friends with Bischoff helped him tremendously.


The Road Warriors wrestle their last match in WCW. Sullivan said that Hawk could have been a draw as a singles wrestler but was trapped in his gimmick. He thought that he should have went to Japan to revamp his character.


The first two hour Nitro starts on May 27th. Scott Hall returns and Sullivan claims that some of the guys in the locker room thought it was a legit invasion by McMahon. He said with two of Vince’s biggest stars and Waltman, who was a great worker, he just needed a seed of an idea to make this work.


JUNE


Kevin Nash returns to WCW on the June 10th edition of Nitro. Sullivan also confirms that Shawn Michaels was offered a contract with WCW at this time but turned down the deal. Sullivan puts Michaels over as one of the five greatest workers of all-time.


Sullivan mentions the WWF lawsuit against WCW for using Hall and Nash. They were sued for likeness of character. He said he spent four days in disposition, where he told prosecutors that he was not using Hall as Razor Ramon, because he was not portrayed as a Hispanic drug dealer and wouldn’t because he is white.


Kevin Greene is brought up. He teamed with Steve McMichael against Flair & Anderson. He said that Greene had a mind for wrestling and said Mongo’s personality fit in well with the Horsemen. He tries to make another athlete analogy but in a funny momeny, mistakenly refers to Karl Malone as Moses Malone.


JULY


Hogan joining the nWo is mentioned. Sullivan said that Hogan and his agent were so nervous about the turn that he had them both stay over his house the night before the PPV and had Hogan arrive to the show He claims his agent was attempting to talk him out of the turn. Sullivan said he booked it at Daytona Beach due to the high concession sales and that it was surrounded by bars, so it would get a good reaction.


When asked about Flair beating Konnan for the US Title, Sullivan said it was beneath Flair but did this to show Hogan that he was going to book him and the nWo strong.


The moment in which Nash launched Rey Mysterio like a lawn dart into the production truck is brought up. Sullivan originally wanted him to be tossed through a window but was afraid Mysterio would get too cut up.


AUGUST


The black-and-white nWo promos are brought up. Sullivan believes that Nash and Hall came up with that idea. He also said how some in the locker room were really thinking that it was a legit invasion by the WWF and would come up to him, stating that they heard them talk to Vince. He also puts over Hall and Nash for getting on board with this promo style and making him comfortable.


Up next is the Hog Wild PPV and Harlem Heat getting attacked. Sullivan mocks the state of Wyoming and states the PPV was so Bischoff could ride his motorcycle. He said that having Harlem Heat show up there was akin to showing up at a wrestling show in Nigeria with a plantation owner gimmick.


Juventud Guerrera debuts and Mean Gene conducts an in-ring interview after the match but Juvy did not speak English at the time. Sullivan said that it might have been a rib on Gene. He then brings up Juvy walking through the hotel lobby in Australia naked, stating that he was Jesus.


Chris Jericho debuts defeating Alex Wright. Sullivan said that he knew Jericho was talented when he was in Smoky Mountain. He said that he was vocal but offered a lot of ideas and knew the business well.


SEPTEMBER


The Giant is introduced as the newest member of the nWo, as he turned on WCW during a run-in after the Horsemen defeated the Dungeon of Doom. Sullivan said that this happened because negotiations with Davey Boy Smith fell through. Sullivan thought that only ex-WWF guys should have been in the group but even felt that Davey was a bad fit a he had been a face and didn’t need to be brought in as a heel. When Oliver brings up the rumor that Hogan nixed the idea of the Horseman making a comeback during the segment, Sullivan confirms and says that at that point, they were sucking the blood out of the company.


Glacier debuts. Sullivan said that this was the creation of DDP. He then states how a lot of Eric’s friends were giving ideas at this time.


The Fake Sting is brought up and Sullivan said that this was from Jason Hervey. He was against it as he felt it muddled up everything.


Waltman debuts as Syxx. Sullivan said he was planned for the original part of the group but legal issues delayed his debut.


OCTOBER


Bret Hart turns down a three year, 8.4 million dollar deal from WCW. He thinks that Vince promised in carte blanche in the WWF and that is why he stayed.


The Outsiders defeat the Harlem Heat for the WCW Tag-Titles at Halloween Havoc. Sullivan is asked if the nWo was taking over the whole company and Sullivan completely loses me with an ice cream sundae analogy to explain the situation.


Piper’s debut at the show is discussed. Sullivan said that Bischoff thought he could put Vince out of business by bringing in all of his stars.


On the October 28th edition of Nitro, Sting is seen in the rafters wearing his crow makeup. Sullivan says that the idea was Scott Hall’s. He said he was kept off of TV because he was trying to get work as an actor.


NOVEMBER


Curt Hennig meets with Bischoff. Sullivan said that JJ Dillon was very helpful for them as he dealt with the contracts in the WWF before going back to WCW, thus knowing when they were close to expiring. He puts over Dillon for having a photographic memory.


Bischoff joins the nWo. Sullivan said that it was the idea of Hall and Nash.


Sullivan attacks Chris Benoit. He says that Benoit was always professional in the ring. Sullivan said that he and Nancy were not getting along at this point anyway, so the divorce was inevitable. Oliver then asks Sullivan about the murders, and he says he had no idea that would happen and nearly breaks down as they quickly switch to the next topic.


Giant wins World War III. He said that Bischoff always thought bigger was better. He also said that when he booked the match, he only really cared about the last ten guys in the ring. He said the entire concept was a bad idea.


DECEMBER


Piper beats Hogan at Starcade. Sullivan said that this was Hogan’s favor to Piper for not putting him over in the WWF.


Sullivan is then asked about the dangers of a wrestler being given creative control. Sullivan said that they will always be about themselves but puts over HHH as the exception to the rule, because he has to think in terms of the company and puts over his program with Brock Lesnar as an example. He then puts over Hogan for making wrestling what it is today, stating he was powerful enough to replace SNL once a month.



Final Thoughts:  I would recommend this but beware that Sullivan tends to stray off topic at times. He also loves to use analogies so be prepared for that as well. He does offer a lot of insight to this period, especially from his position as the booker, although his justification of Loch Ness comes off just as someone who cannot admit failure. A lot of this is focused on the first few months of the year and if you are interested in the stuff that Pillman did, there is a ton of that here. Its available on demand at KayfabeCommentaries.com if you want to check it out.

Comments

  1. I loved the preview to this shoot on YouTube...
    Talking about being told by the higher ups not to use excessive violence, Sullivan tells Hall & Nash "Don't hit them with a chair" as he's nodding his head saying it.
    Of course, the greatest is Cactus Jack's WCW debut - "I don't care what Ricky & Scott (Steiner) do to you - after the match - you drop the fucking elbow on your part-nah".

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  2. You doing two of these this week?

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  3. The Smokings Gunns didn't win the tag team titles at the RAW Bowl....

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  4. Yeah this struck me as odd, too.


    You'd think that Piper would be the last guy that Hogan would do a favor for, since he never really put Hulk over during his WWF run.

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  5. If you weren't a fan of Loch Ness I don't want to know you.

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  6. Fat, Ugly Inner-City SweathogJanuary 20, 2015 at 7:29 PM

    Yes. Piper should have eaten a big boot and leg drop at Wrestlemania 2 after a wild brawl.

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  7. Or....if Piper is so against being pinned (so ridiculous), why not him in the cage instead of Bundy. Hogan/Piper in a cage at WM2 would've been huge business.

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  8. He tries to discuss another Sullivan analogy, but in a funny moment he mistypes momeny for moment.

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  9. Classic or Clusterfuck:

    Loch Ness vs Haystacks Calhoun

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  10. Not sure the hillbilly charms of Haystacks would work with the witty smugness of the British Loch Ness.

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  11. You could say "Hogan put Piper over in gratitude for Piper putting him over in the WWF", and it would mean the same thing whilst getting over your hangup over how Sullivan said it.

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  12. Nasty Ned Brady!

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  13. Just busting out some older ones. Thought since this era was just recapped here I would put it out.
    I am actually considering getting a site to archive all of my reviews. I did before and it was a pain but it would be easier for me to reference stuff.

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  14. I like this guy. I really do.

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  15. I would really love to hear more from Sullivan if it's out there

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  16. I always enjoy Sullivan's shoot interviews. This and his "End of WCW" one are pretty good. They've been burning through producing the WWE timeline ones recently so I hope they go back to doing some WCW ones (and keep Vince Russo away from 1998 of WWE).

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  17. Savage really needed a secondary finisher and should have saved the elbow for bigger matches.

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  18. No I understand Sullivan is saying. My "hangup" as you call it is that Piper never actually put Hogan over.

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  19. But then we could have never had that ***** Mr. T match.

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  20. The win over Hogan was probably key in getting Piper to come in and do the feud.

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  21. Didn't Public Enemy join WCW in late 1995?

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  22. You do a lot of under appreciated work here, Brian.

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  23. Man, I wonder how pissed Hogan must have been that Piper wouldn't lay down for him, but would lay down for Bret?

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  24. 17 year old me jumps out of the chair "PIPER WINS THE TITLE*"!!!

    *non title

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  25. I've always thought Sullivan has shown a lot of class with the Benoit thing. As much as Mike Graham was a grade A douche, I thought he made some pretty good points in his shoot when it came to Sullivan and Benoit.

    I think it's obviously a hard subject for him. My thinking would be, our marriage was over, but at the time this was someone I cared a great deal for. Maybe if I had tried harder, she might be alive.

    I don't know. Hard spot to be in.

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  26. Two other things.

    I, too, always thought the NWO should be X WWF guys only.

    But, him and I, have a totally different definition of putting a guy over. Hogan lost to Arn, he didn't put him over.

    If Hogan had really wanted to do the right thing, he should have used that time to give Savage his one win over him.

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  27. "Sullivan said that Badd wasn’t missed and thought it was ridiculous for a white guy to impersonate a black guy" ... nobody told Sullivan that Marc Mero is half black?? Idiot

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  28. Sullivan is kinda a burnout now. Give him that one

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  29. He's an amazing carny booker, something extinct in the current world of 30 person creative teams

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  30. Sullivan is at his worst with his stupid analogies in this one. I find him very hard to listen to, along with the usual never accepting fault in anything booker stuff.

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  31. He is? I never knew that.

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  32. You do know Moses Malone was a basketball player and went to multiple championship and former mvp, right? Fo fo fo... he spoke jive, needed june cleaver to interpret like in airplane. So he may have met Moses not Karl Malone but I didn't see it.
    enjoy these recaps. Just gotta give Moses sone love. Brought the 76ers a championship

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  33. Nope, January 1996 as stated. Their last ECW show was on January 5. Their deal with WCW had to have been signed in late-November or later because they wrestled the Smoking Gunns in a dark match at the 1995 Survivor Series.

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  34. In retrospect, was Benoit just paranoid re: Sullivan? I mean Benoit won the feud, he was a key member of the Four Horsemen (and given Flair/Sullivan were/are pretty good friends, that inclusion speaks volumes), Main Evented Fall Brawl 1997, and generally Benoit was THE GUY out of The Radicals that everyone liked and saw as a solid upper mid-carder. And as Sullivan has noted, they managed to convince Sid to job to Benoit.

    Given what we later knew about Benoit, is it possible he was always a paranoid idiot?

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  35. It was really fucking stupid.

    I mean I'm sorry, but the job of the number one heel is NOT to beat the number one face at the biggest show of the year. Ever. You lose the match, you put the face over, and you shut the fuck up while counting your six-seven figure check.

    And even stupider given Piper-Hogan would've drawn HUGE numbers. So the undercard guys who get paid based on how the show did got fucked over for what? Bullshit posturing?

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  36. I genuinely cannot see 1992 Piper pulling that shit against Vince McMahon. Not after his acting career failed.

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  37. Hard to tell how Sullivan would have booked with those guys. I don't think those guys were really booked that much better under Russo between Oct 99 and Jan 2000 than they were for most of 99. Benoit was in that tournament main event but he wasn't a main eventer. My main memory of those guys in the Revolution was of ridiculous cartoon angles of people being locked in cages backstage, and beating up Jim Duggan with a foam 2x4.

    When Sullivan took over in 2000, we did get Hulkamania running wild and all kinds of nonsense, but again, who knows what direction they'd have gone in with Benoit and Eddy still around.

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  38. Benoit absolutely was a main eventer in that period. After his brief feud with Malenko, he was regularly interacting with Hall, Nash, Goldberg, Sid and Bret Hart. Now the booking sucked, but while he wasn't 'the guy' he was definitely in a much better position than he'd ever been in WCW.


    Would he have ever been the guy in WCW? Nope. He wasn't the solution. But he was never the guy in the WWE - when he won the gold, they had HHH/Michaels Main Event while Benoit faced Kane. Benoit's only Main Events were against HHH, and Orton (a vehicle to get Orton over.)


    And watching old Nitro's, WCW booking Dean Malenko as 'cold, emotionless guy who's great in the ring' really shows how good Malenko was in his prime. WWF really fucked up with Malenko and Saturn (the latter, in ECW, was a ridiculously awesome wrestler.)

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  39. Hmm, yeah I think you're probably right. That first Russo era is a bit of a blur. I just can't ever see him really overtaking Nash, Goldberg, Sid, Bret, Hogan, Sting, Luger, Piper and those. I think he'd always be stuck in about 10th place. I think he made the right move.

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  40. "I guess this makes Loch Ness the taco of professional wrestling."


    This got a good gut laugh out of me.

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  41. As Nash often says, Sullivan is a master at booking heat. I think the drawback to that is he's not sure how to follow it up, or end it.

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  42. Is anyone good at ending it? Wrestling drags out every feud long after it's peaked. Austin vs McMahon was still going late 2001, Tajiri vs Super Crazy were still fighting years later.

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  43. 12 year old me thought the same thing. Like many, I was new to WCW at the time. They hyped Srarrcade like it was on the level of Wrestemania with the Granddady of them all crap. Can u imagine the champ in a non-title match at WM. I couldn't either. That was my first of many "this shit is second-rate" thoughts about WCW

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  44. AverageJoeEverymanJanuary 21, 2015 at 9:13 AM

    So does Half Black + Half Jewish = Blew?

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  45. Very true.Taj/Crazy still ran because of the perceived match quality though, I'd wager.

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  46. "We booked the entire promotion so one insecure narsacist would be kept happy."

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  47. Feuds don't always need an ending, though, i.e. Rock & Roll/Midnights could be thrown anywhere on any card. Eternal feuds should always have a place.

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  48. Not only that, but if a particular feud is hot and making a ton of money, it's gotta be hard to move off it to another feud that you have no idea how hot it'd be. Same reason Hollywood is more likely to make a movie based on an existing property or franchise instead of a new, original idea. Even if the feud experiences diminishing returns, 80% of a super-hot feud is still a ton of money.

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  49. Sounds like that's exactly why Hogan did it that way.

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  50. True. Same with Steamboat/Flair. But as we've seen with Dolph/Kofi, in this day and age they can't just go 'hah, three star match' and have it every week for a year.

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  51. Fat, Ugly Inner-City SweathogJanuary 22, 2015 at 11:02 AM

    Absolutely. The perfect blow-off to their feud. Hulk can do the big boot, leg drop, and then climb out of the cage. Easy day. Piper goes spastic with an epic heel tantrum inside the cage as Hulk celebrates in the aisle with Mr. T to end the show.

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  52. exactly hogan put wcw out of buisness

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  53. he wasnt paranoid he took kevins wife wouldn't you want to get even,heis lucky kevin didn't kill him i mean literally

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  54. who said mero is half black?

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  55. piper never lost to hogan clean get your facts straight if hogan said he did he is a liar

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  56. iam sure he was very angry but time change things

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