WCW's failure with the unopposed Nitro
February 16, 2000
By Fritz Capp
It was going to be a night to end all nights, because on this night no expense was going to be spared and nothing was going to be held back. Tonight was one of those make or break nights that you so often hear about. Everything was riding on this and you could tell by the buzz in the back that everyone involved knew it.
As an innocent bystander would later tell me all they could do was sit back in amazement as they watched the commotion and all the hustling going on behind the scenes. You could feel the high energized enthusiasm and you could practically cut the high strung tension with a knife. People were everywhere going over last minute preparations for the night that was going to change the course of the oh so many people in the backstage area.
The announcers were busy in a corner going over the night's lineup and making sure they had everything just right. Off to the side you could see the promoters and producers going over last minute shot angles striving to get the best possible angles for the national television crowd to view. Meanwhile there was someone running around like a crazed lunatic trying to make sure that everyone had the correct order that they were supposed to go out on television that night. Nothing was going to be left to chance as this was "the" shot.
Meanwhile not all that far away in another arena, World Championship Wrestling was preparing for itís swan song. Little did they know that they were about to lay the biggest egg in sports entertainment history. On this night WCW held in its own future in their own hand for on this night they were going unopposed. The buzz was going across the Internet, "Could WCW pull it off?" was being asked everywhere.
Nowhere was this question more evident than in the WCW chat room. The room was full of people giving their opinions as to what was going to happen that night. "I think WCW can pull it off" one person was saying while another replied, "Theyíll blow it, they always do!" Little did this person know how truly prophetic his statement was going to be.
Considering that all WCW had to do was put on a competent show in front of an audience that was starved for them to do something, you would think that this would be easy. In my mind it is, but then again I am not down there dealing with the multitude of egos that WCW now has in their locker room. It is easy to judge when you are not there but then again with the current situation, it is easy to judge even if you are there.
The show should have opened up to something that would have peaked the even the most critical personís interest. But alas we were treated to a long diatribe by Jeff Jarrett. Even booking on the fly with all of the supposed wrestling years that are accumulated in the back, you would think they would come out of the gate running but this was not the case. Jarrett ran his mouth for a bit and then got into it with a wheelchair ridden Kevin Nash who put his buddy Scott "I wanted to be there but was too drunk to be allowed on the plane" Hall into the main event at the upcoming pay-per-view. As usual here was WCW trying their best to impersonate the opening of RAW and once again failing.
At least you would think that the first match would be hot and heavy to keep the fans interest correct? Sorry everyone, this was not going to be the case either. Instead they had 3 Count come out (ugh) and they were going to go up against....SURPRISE....Norman Smiley. Earlier they had shown that Smiley was attempting to get Lodi, I mean Idol, and Lane to put on some hockey jerseys but Idol had a better Idea and went to the bar instead. The highlight of this match did not happen in the ring though. Instead it was out of the ring while Ms. Hancock danced atop the announcerís table. Now I know that WCW is family entertainment and this was a great show for all of the 4-10 year old kids in the crowd. I am sure that their teachers do this all the time correct? This outside commotion allowed the great Norman Smiley to use that devastating finishing maneuver that he came up with all by himself....the Norman Conquest. This was a 5 star opening in any Japanese Arena correct? Hardly is the answer you should have come up with.
Now before everyone runs from their keyboard in fear that I am going to cover the whole card do not worry, I am not about to subject either you or myself to that. I was merely pointing out the opening of this show of shows that WCW was putting on for all the wrestling public within eyeshot of a television to view. Needless to say the car commercial that was run during the Westminster Kennel Club show on USA out drew WCW by a margin of 2.4 I believe.
Considering that WCW has known about this open slot to promote itself for a long time one has to wonder just where their heads are at. This isnít some wrestling fed that runs shows on a monthly basis, this is supposed to be the guys that beat the WWF into submission. Oh thatís right, thatís when they were buying their ratings and had Eric Bischoff running the show. For all my bashing of what Bischoff did in retrospect, I wish he would be running WCW now. It was a better show then what it is now.
I can hear everyone opening their e-mails getting ready to send me those famous "you're a WWF mark" e-mails that I love so much, but hold on a second. I know that Goldberg and Bret and Sting werenít on the show. I also know that Scott Hall was sipping wine out of sheep skin sacks while the guys were getting airsick over the Atlantic but what does that have to do with the show?
WCW has a wealth of talent, you cannot deny that. What WCW does not have is the ability to use what they have. Unless the person is named Hogan, they have no clue. Forget Nash, he promotes himself and himself only unless there is something that he can get out of the deal down the road. Forget Sullivan, he is too busy showing why he should be there and not Russo. Terry Taylor isnít going to buck the system, and Flair and Funk while being huge names just do not fit into whatever kind of direction WCW thinks itís going in.
I wonder how WCW feels about being beat by a dog show? Here we have a wrestling promotion that has the backing of Time Warner and it cannot even beat a bunch of canines being walked around in a circle. What does that say about not only the promotion itself but the work rate of the people that they put on television? It is simple knowledge that good work rate equals interest. When you have a Shetland Sheepdog being able to out do the over hyped Flair/Hogan match you have a definite problem.
I believe that WCW can fix their problems, I just wonder whether they want to or not. They obviously have to be able to see the current road they are going on isnít going to do it. Especially now that the WWF has added wrestling back into its program. While WCW is playing around with 3 Count, the WWF is having Benoit vs. Rock. While WCW is having Norman Smiley act like a complete and utter moron, the WWF is giving us The Dudleys vs. The World in matches that are being talked about all over the wrestling world. While WCW is allowing its workers to stab each other in the back while vying for political power within the company, the WWF is about to embark on what could be their most successful year ever. The humorous thing is the ever growing group that the WWF relies on came from WCW.
I just returned from WCWís Saturday Night Live taping at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, PA. For a show that used to be the flagship of the company, it is now nothing more than a glorified indie show now. The wrestling is poor, the crowd is dead (except for when Kidman came out) and all in all they did absolutely nothing to make anyone want to come to the next show in the area. Not that the arena was full by a long shot. But this is another area that WCW is dying on.
I remember in 1996 and 1997 in my Editorís Choice Year End Awards I named WCW the best promotion. Why? Because they were. They had the hottest angle in wrestling going and has some of the best wrestling you could find anywhere. Remember this is when ECW really started losing its talent and had scaled back on the gimmicks because of the fire incident. This is also when Tommy Morrison contracted HIV. Heyman banned the blade for a bit of time, and right after that they had the Crucifixion of The Sandman, which sent Kurt Angle right out of the promotion. So it was not a very good time for them, as they were trying to work their deal with Vince, so they played by a different set of rules.
WCW has gone full circle since those days. This is because at the first hint of a ratings drop they tried to beat Vince at his own game instead of sticking with what brought them to the dance in the first place. The "only" thing they can do now is scrap it all and start over.
The first thing I would do is turn Goldberg heel. Sure there is no comparable face to deal with this, but then again there is no credible heel to deal with him when he comes back, so put the swerve on. Goldberg could be a monster heel and run roughshod over the opposition, giving WCW time to either create or find someone that could be the answer to Goldbergís menace. You could have at least three to five months to get Goldbergís ultimate opponent. (Please...I did not mean the Warrior)
Stop with the hero stuff with Hart. Hart makes a better heel. You also have guys going out there who are trying their best to get heel heat but cannot. So why fight it? The NWO could turn face almost instantly and be over like they were before. If Flair wants to fight the babyface responses then find a real way to get him the heel heat he wants.
Now think about it for a second. You could actually re-form the Horsemen if you would put together the likes of Flair, Hart and Goldberg. If you really wanted to add another piece to the puzzle you could add Jarrett to make the fourth member, but I do not know if Jarrett and Flairís ego would be able to co-exist. If done right, the new Horsemen could rival the heel heat of the original NWO. The key there is "if done right". One thing is for sure you have the best of all worlds with a team like this. Experience combined with youth. This team could be the main heel group for some time.
And with that I am outta here. Remember wrestling is nothing more than it appears to be.
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