The Netcop Rant for WCW/nWo Slamboree 98
Live from Worcester, Massachusetts
(Oh man, just reading this one over makes me think it’s LONG overdue for a re-rant, given all the historic stuff and interesting tidbits that I wish I would have known about 14 years ago.)
Your hosts are Veni, Viti and Vici.
Recap of Bischoff's grandstand challenge from Thunder. This becomes a recurring theme all night. (So yeah, historic thing #1: Eric Bischoff challenges Vince McMahon to a fight, putting up a sign on the fake dressing room door that says Vince “Reason For The Ratings” McMahon. The implication here is that the WWF’s ratings victory over WCW, which was a new thing back in 98, was somehow an aberration caused by Vince being all over TV and not by their stars. So anyway, Bischoff issues a challenge for a fight, but in the buildup to the show WCW’s legal team makes him note that Vince would not be there to cover their bases. However, the WWF’s legal team sues for falsely advertising Vince McMahon as appearing, because in wrestling when you say someone is NOT going to be there, you are implying that they ARE going to be there. Thankfully they settled that one out of court without the judge having to rule on the nature of reality itself within the WWE Universe, although I don’t believe the official terms were ever disclosed. It involved a lot of money, though.)
Opening match, TV title: Fit Finlay v. Chris Benoit.
Cool wrestling sequence to start, but it slows down a lot. Many chinlocks from Finlay bring it down. A beautiful spot near the end, as Benoit tries a tope suicida, but Finlay simply holds up a chair, which Benoit slams into in mid-air. Cool. (Bret Hart once talked about how wrestlers get hit with chairs without it hurting or doing damage. Short answer: They don’t. To expand on this, I often wondered how Benoit could slam his head into chairs repeatedly in stupid spots like that one without suffering brain damage. Short answer: He didn’t.) Back in the ring, Finlay goes shoulder-first into the turnbuckle and Benoit does the triple suplex, but Fit blocks. Then a Crippler Crossface, but Fit's in the ropes. Oh, dear lord, I don't like the looks of this. Cue Booker, in a suit and tie. Benoit stands and yells at him, and Finlay baseball slides into him, knocking him out. Tombstone, and Finlay retains. **1/2, and may I be the first to say GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKING SHIT DO I HATE THE FUCKING WCW BOOKING COMMITTEE AND I HOPE KEVIN FUCKING SULLIVAN FALLS INTO THE TOILET AND DROWNS THE NEXT TIME HE'S FIGHTING SOMEONE IN THE BATHROOM!!!! (Well that’s a bit extreme, 1998 Scott. The finish was right out of the RAW lazy booking playbook, though.)
Okay, I'm better now.
Bryan Adams v. Lex Luger.
Wow, demoted to second from the bottom. That's gotta be a slap in the face. A gigantic, heaping plate of suck steak with fried suck potatoes on the side and suck pudding for dessert. (Mmm, suck pudding…) Adams swings at Lex and he ducks and catches him in the Rack out of nowhere for the submission. Whoa, that last one was almost a wrestling move! DUD (Two matches in, two dead wrestlers.)
Cruiserweight battle royale: Chris Jericho comes out to introduce all the participants, in a bit so funny at times ("Rock rock til he drops, rock rock never stop!") that I nearly spit out my Coke. I can't even do it justice. (Chris Jericho when he was young and hungry and trying to Zack Ryder himself up the card was a thing of AWESOMENESS.) No Malenko, though, oddly enough. A nothing battle royale which comes down to Juvy and Ciclope (!). They have a staredown, and suddenly Juvy jumps over the top and eliminates himself. Que? Ah, Ciclope is unmasking to be...drum roll...DEAN MALENKO! (The crowd came UNGLUED for that one. One of the great swerves in WCW’s history, actually.)
Cruiserweight title match: Chris Jericho v. Dean Malenko.
Dean looks like a tool in the Ciclope suit. He absolutely goes medieval on Jericho's ass, and the fans pop like nuts. You hear that sound, WCW, it's HEAT for this feud. (Yeah, but then it kind of died off after this, because they didn’t know where to go with it.) Juvy cheers Dean on at ringside for the added touch. Good but not great match with terrific crowd heat, including several "Jericho sucks!" chants. Jericho tries the Liontamer a couple of times but Malenko keeps reversing it. Jericho tries the SuperFrankensteiner, but Malenko turns it into a gut-buster from the top rope, seemingly buggering up his knee in the process. Texas Cloverleaf, and Jericho has nowhere to go but Tap-Out City. The arena just explodes! **** for the whole thing, including the battle royale. (Apparently an exception to my non-rating of battle royales, although I hadn’t really established that rule back then.) Juvy taunts Jericho a bit more as Malenko celebrates the title victory.
Unfortunately, the show pretty much descends into silliness from there.
We cut to a "Vinnie Mac Cam" outside the arena as a white limo pulls up. Nothing comes of it. (Except a giant LAWSUIT!)
Bowery Death Match: Raven v. DDP.
It's an enclosed cage with two garbage cans full of weapons on either turnbuckle. 80 million sharp objects and DDP goes for the bullrope. He tries to hang Raven a couple of times. Absolutely zero wrestling here, just senseless foreign object shots out of the Gangsta playbook. Okay, pay attention because now the Hyper-Fighting Booking Style of WCW kicks in: Ref gets bumped and is out for like six minutes. The Flocks runs in past the riot squad and cuts open the cage to interfere. Van Hammer is under the ring, and he comes out and holds off Riggs and Sickboy and Reese. Then two of the riot squad come in themselves and reveal themselves to be Kidman and Boulder. DDP is up and takes *them* out with a pair of Diamond Cutters, but Raven DDT's DDP and then after another sequence gives DDP a Diamond Cutter of his own. But Page is up at 8 or so, delivers his own Cutter to Raven, and beats the 10 count up for the win. Yay, this feud should be over now. –** (That sounds pretty harsh to me.)
Then *another* riot squad member comes in and handcuffs the remaining Flockers, then Raven, then unmasks to be Mortis, who then unmasks again to reveal what Mortis looks like without the mask. I hope this kills those dumb "Mortis is Chris Champion" rumors. (I’m assuming that rumor came from Chris Kanyon having a similar name and some doofus on RSPW confusing the two. And add Kanyon to our dead wrestler count for this show.) Mortis smokes Raven with a chair. This is what Steve Austin was referring to when he noted that ECW is a "bunch of violent crap." They didn't even bleed here, despite a VCR shot to Raven at one point. There was no flow or storyline to this mess, just a bunch of weapons and Diamond Cutters. And ECW logic kicks in again: Raven isn't put out by a friggin' VCR to the head, but a Diamond Cutter knocks him out cold? Puh-lease, I have to endure enough of this garbage when I watch ECW, I don't need Scott Levy importing it to WCW in a watered down form. I hated almost everything about this and I hope I never, EVER, have to see Raven v. DDP again. And furthermore, what about all the Jake Roberts and "childhood friends" hints and shit they dropped? Were they just making it up as they went along? Next match, please. (Yeah, I dunno if that was Raven going into business for himself and trying to come up with a storyline or what, but that went nowhere, and later there was that stuff with Raven being a rich kid that got dropped and forgotten too.)
Ultimo Dragon v. EDDY~! Guerrero.
Crowd just dies like THAT. (Speaking of dead…here’s another one to the tally for a total of four dead people thus far.) Whoa, that's not a good sign. The match is very lacklustre, mainly Sabu stuff (spot-rest-spot). Fast forward to the end: Eddy hits a tornado DDT (with the announcers correctly noting that Chavo uses it) but misses the Froggy Splash. Ultimo with the Dragon Sleeper, but Eddy flips out and puts Ultimo in his own. Nice. He puts both feet on the ropes, and Chavo jumps up and tries to break it up. While they argue, Dragon tries to kick Eddy but misses and nails Chavo. Eddy with the brainbuster and Froggy Splash #2 for the pin. A disappointing, Worldwide-worthy match. **1/2 (It’s gotta be better than that. I need to watch this show again, I’m pretty sure.)
Chavo snaps and wipes the mat with Dragon for not freeing him from Uncle Eddy. Eddy looks very proud, but Chavo is about to hit him, too. Eddy begs him on, but Chavo can't do it and gives him a kiss on the cheek instead. Is this feud EVER going to blow off? Do we get another two months of teases again? (Nope they blew it off pretty quickly after this.)
US Title match: Goldberg v. Saturn.
Apparently, the Gauntlet match that was announced on Thursday has already been scrapped and replaced with a Saturn-Goldberg match. That's WCW for ya, here today, gone later today. (Just to clarify here, the bookers changing their mind on an advertised match after they were already announced…that’s something that WCW did. So to do that would be a bad sign, right?) I guess this is a face turn for Saturn, who told off the Flock in a previous interview, but putting him against Goldberg isn't a great way to get him over a face, or a major factor in anything. Oh, well, there's always Glacier. (The Raven v. Saturn feud ended up being pretty hot, although Saturn didn’t get any farther up the card than that position either in WCW or when he jumped with the Radicalz.) Lots of standing around with the occasional good move tossed in. Goldberg comes so close to imitating Warrior's mannerisms at times in this that it's almost eerie. Be afraid. Not as good as Spring Stampede, and it's the usual Goldberg ending. *
In what I guess is the payoff for this whole stupid Vince McMahon angle, Eric Bischoff actually has Michael Buffer introduce a "match" between them, complete with referee. Vince, of course, doesn't show up so it's a win by forfeit for Eric. Words don't do justice to how incredibly pointless this was. Why not challenge Steve Austin and then declare yourself the WWF champion when *he* doesn't show? Same thing. (Vince would of course go on to make much crazier grandstand challenges to people who would never care a bit about answering him. Oh, and when we finally did that payoff for the Eric v. Vince feud in 2002, it was…a hug. ON THE FIRST SHOW. And people were surprised when Brock lost…)
Bret Hart v. Randy Savage, Grudge Match From Hell.
Hey, do you think I make up these match titles? (Well sometimes I do. Mostly when midgets are involved. Oh, and Randy Savage makes five dead wrestlers.) Bret gets screwed out of the main event again. This is bad wrestling that segues into weak brawling outside the ring when they realize that the in-ring stuff isn't working. So they go into the crowd, walk over to the hockey boards, do a shot there, and then walk back to the ring. Bret works on the knee. Move, taunt, move. In retrospect, I'm becoming more and more happy that Vince dumped Bret when he did. (In retrospect of that retrospect, I wish one of them would have swallowed their pride and made up so that Bret could go back to the WWF before Goldberg kicked a hole in Bret’s head to end his career.) This is a 1995 Savage match, with Randy taking punishment then mounting a one-move comeback, that being the Big Elbow. Savage's knee gives out, and he can't make the pin. Sharpshooter, but Savage actually reverses it into his own. Elizabeth (what? She's still here?) bounces out and gets into a shoving match with referee Roddy Piper, which allows Bret to deck him from behind with brass knucks. Ah, nice to know he's become a total snivelling coward in the Hulk Hogan tradition. You know, this is exactly the sort of heel turn that Bret whined about Vince wanting him to do. (That’s because WWF Bret actually give a shit about his character and motivations, unlike WCW Bret.) And speaking of Hogan, he runs in and wraps Savage's knee around the ringpost, which allows another Sharpshooter and a submission win for Bret. *1/2 Overbooked as usual and non-sensical to boot. Let me get this straight: Bret hates Hogan so he's teaming with him, Savage hates Bret for teaming with Hogan and hates Hogan because he lost the World title to him because of Bret, and Hogan hates Savage so much he's willing to help Bret. The question I have is why didn't Bret help Savage to win on Nitro so that this match would be a title match? Oh, yeah, because he wants to win the title from Hogan, who he hates so much that he's willing to help. You know, maybe it's me, but this seems like a lot of trouble on Bret's part, and furthermore who's gonna want to see two mega-heels go at it? Why would Hogan even agree to give Bret a title match? (Hmm, so WCW was also known for characters changing motivations without any internal logic at the drop of a hat? Sometimes from show to show because the creative team couldn’t keep their own storylines straight? Interesting…) Anyway, next match...
Main event, WCW tag team titles: The Outsiders v. Sting & Giant.
Just Giant, he had to drop the "The" when he joined the nWo I guess. And Hall actually shows. Seems a little wobbly coming in. I called the ending to this before the show even started, it should be noted. Hall brings back the survey, even though he's endorsing nWo Hollywood while doing it. The usual crap once the match starts. Sting has deteriorated so much I'm surprised he doesn't fall to pieces once he gets in the ring. He plays Ricky Morton, and makes the hot tag to Giant. Giant tries a top-rope splash, but falls flat on his face. Nash goes for the powerbomb, but Hall comes in and turns on Nash, decking him with the belt. Giant pins Nash and we have new tag champs. Rhodes and Hall celebrate with Giant as Sting looks stunned, probably because he's trying to understand the booking just like me. DUD. (Don’t worry, once the Wolfpac threatened Hogan’s spot too much they reversed everything and turned them all heel again anyway.)
The Bottom Line:
Why in the HELL would Scott Hall turn on Kevin Nash? I knew it was coming because that's exactly the sort of thing that WCW has resorted to lately, but there's only so many shock heel turns that can be done. (Hmm, so swerves and heel turns just for the sake of being shocking are a bad sign? I see.) Kevin Nash, Sting and Randy Savage are pretty much the only faces left on the upper card, and of those Sting is only one that even resembles a traditional babyface. There's just no one for the fans to cheer for anymore. And none of it interests me as a wrestling fan. nWo v. nWo? Great, let them kill each other, it's about time we got rid of them. I'm sure there's others who agree with me on that one. (They probably would have some good coin off that too, had Kevin Nash not gotten out-Nashed by Hogan.) There's no "big money match" on the horizon -- Nash v. Hogan won't happen because of egos (didn’t happen until 99, long past anyone caring), and Hart v. Hogan won't draw because the fans hate both of them now. (Happened on Nitro, no one cared. Probably should have headlined a Starrcade.)
I don't even know if I liked this show or hated it. Hall's heel turn wasn't really a heel turn because he was already a heel. I guess maybe it's a Nash face turn, but he's still nWo so he's a heel, right? (Nope, this was Nash’s face turn as it turns out.)
There is such a thing as too much character development, never more evident than in this case. (You could say that having too many writers overthinking the details instead of paying attention to basic storytelling ruined things for WCW. I see.) WCW seems so concerned with shock value that they probably don't even realize what a great reaction the whole Jericho-Malenko bit got. You know why it got a great reaction: Because Jericho's a great heel and the storyline is timeless. And the face went over. (After the heel initially won to make the fans think that the babyface couldn’t beat the heel.) Where does the upper card go now? Hall v. Nash, I guess, but that's a dead-end feud. Hart v. Piper? Who wants to watch that? (A sharply decreasing number of PPV buyers.) Hogan v. Savage...again? (AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN)
I dunno. Thumbs in the middle for Slamboree, leaning towards up, but I don't know what they're going to do when they run out of heel turns and they have to depend on, you know, wrestling to carry them. (Oh wait, I’ve got it! We’ll beat our biggest star on the biggest show of the year, then the guy who beat him will just lay down for a fingerpoke from Hulk Hogan and lose the title to him! That’ll put butts in seats!)