The Tazz in ECW situation, offers harsh opposition to NJ legislation and more
April 14, 2000
By Fritz Capp
The big Nitro rebirth has come and gone and I have to be honest; I enjoyed the show.
I will admit that when it opened and they had everyone in the ring it was a bit slow at first, but the show built straight through to the end so that in itself has to be proclaimed as a triumph for WCW.
I will also admit that the first thing that caught my eye and had me enjoying the show was Tank Abbott beating on Mark Madden. I sat here waiting for the SPCA and PETA to run in at anytime due to Tankís cruelty towards the beached behemoth. Now I will give it to Mark for taking the bump (not really much of one but one all the same) but letís be honest, Jenny Craig does work and should really be considered in Maddenís case. That had to be the grossest display of laziness I have seen on television in a long while. For someone to let themselves go to the point where they look that bad amazes me. It does explain why he has such an attitude though. Trying to compensate for the years of feeling insecure due to the lack of physical attractiveness that he carries on a daily basis. Stay behind the desk or on the Internet, Mark, and please donít ever take off your shirt again.
The rest of the show was very good by anyoneís standards. The fact that Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan have come down off of their clouds and are working with the younger guys (Douglas and Kidman) shows that they may be once again be showing that they are the professionals that they once were. Hogan and Flair, with the best interest of the company at heart, can only be a plus for WCW. I also like the look Hogan had on Nitro. For once he didnít look as old as he is. He should stay with the black bandanna, white shirt and black jeans look. It fits him.
While Flair conceding to work with Douglas is something I never thought I would see, the biggest thing I saw on the show was Hogan not only working with Kidman but also allowed a three count (although there was outside interference by Bischoff) and he bladed. I have to say that Hogan showed he is the seasoned professional he is supposed to be because not many people can blade standing in the middle of the ring with the cameras on them and not be caught by the majority of the wrestling fans watching. Monday night for the first time in a long time I saw the Hogan that was supposed to be. Hopefully he will realize that doing things like this will not hurt his legacy but will help it to live on. Hogan has been so caught up in his own legacy that he had forgotten that you also must give during your career and not just take. Hoganís involvement with Kidman may be the precipice of a new Hogan coming on the scene, behind the curtain where it counts.
It is a shame that they did not have Goldberg appear at this show just for the fact that everyone wanted to see him. While they probably did not need him there for this particular show I do not see anything wrong with them adding him into the mix. They kept his name going by having Abbott challenge him and now have the story line going that Abbott will continue to beat "innocent victims" until he reappears. All the same, even a shot of him sitting in the stands like they did with Bret Hart would have been good. In fact, why didnít they have Hart and Goldberg sitting side by side, taking everything in? That would have led to a lot of speculation as to why the two were together. I guess in the big mix you cannot always see everything available to you at the time.
Mike Awesomeís appearance left me with mixed emotions as I have never heard WCW use ECWís name on their program before. They usually always referred to them as "those guys in the bingo hall" or something to that effect. Awesome is not the best mic worker, which is necessary today, but he does have one advantage over most guys his size; He can work his ass off. It will be interesting to see if he is just a flash in the pan or if WCW will know how to utilize his talents.
The stripping of all titles was a unique concept and if done right could really change the complexion of the company. Also the "young vs. old" motif that they are now going to run takes away a lot of past grudges and alliances and allows for them to start fresh.
The majority of the matches still featured "old" WCW or "The Millionaires Club" as they started referring to them as, but I am sure this is going to change as time goes on. To have almost every match have some kind of interference was a bit much, but I guess we will see all that come into play later on. It is apparent that "Crash TV" is alive and well in WCW even though it was not Russo who coined the phrase or came up with the concept.
It was nice of them to seize the moment and put an ending to the "Who is driving the Hummer" story line they started last year. A predictable end now that everyone is where they are in the company but it shows that they are not just thinking short term anymore and are trying their best to not only tie up loose ends but to enhance their programming.
The question is do they have what it takes to stay on this path through all of the criticism that will surely come in the upcoming weeks if the ratings do not rise out of the muck? While they are paying big lip service to knowing that it will take some time to rebuild the numbers but saying it and actually putting that into practice are two totally different things. I also think the timing of this comeback was not well planned since they will have pre-emptions to the programming in the upcoming weeks. Hopefully they will go to Tuesday night so they do not lose any momentum.
Changing topics, what is going on with the ECW/WCW/WWF three way concerning Mike Awesome? Thursday night, Taz returned to ECW and beat Mike Awesome for the ECW heavyweight title. Now I thought that ECW and the WWF didnít have any kind of working agreement. Isnít that what Heyman has said on many occasions? So what is a WWF employee doing holding the ECW belt? Especially considering the win came over an ex-ECW/supposed WCW employee? My what a tangled web we weave.
While Paul may have positioned himself in an "all roads leads to ECW" scenario, he also may have positioned himself into a quandary as both of the major companies could squash ECW if they really felt the need to. I have said many times when talking about ECW that you cannot serve two masters and this is a case where it seems Paul may be trying to do just that. Wrestling breeds very strange bedfellows and this culmination of the three in Indianapolis could be the strangest yet. This will be very interesting to not only watch play out, but also to see all of the insane rumors flying around the Internet trying to be passed out as facts, from people who not only do not have a clue as to the inner workings of pro wrestling but also who believe that their supposition is actually going to play out to be the truth. It will also be interesting to see the reports from those who supposedly are "in the know" to see how much they try to swerve the Internet for their employers or liasons.
The WWF is continuing their stance against "extreme" wrestling as they recently pulled all of the talent they were going to allow at the JAPW convention thus canceling the event. Let it be known right now that in the past the WWF had no problems with allowing talent at this convention. Jersey All-Pro Wrestling is one of the promotions that has Gov. Christie Whitman all upset and instituting legislation against what they call "ultra violent" wrestling. Once again I have to point out a very hypocritical stance by Vince McMahon with the way the Rock bled on RAW this past week. It was reminiscent of Steve Austin in his match against Bret Hart a few years back as both left puddles of blood in the ring. This does not take into account all of the sexual innuendo, T+A and use of weapons (tables, steel chairs, broom sticks etc) that they WWF uses on a regular basis. All of these instances are being used to bring about legislation in New Jersey against the smaller promotions while allowing the big money promotions to run freely.
While it is true that not all of Vinceís product is extremely violent, its other content leaves something to be desired in many peopleís eyes. I understand that this is a money thing and that is why the WWF and WCW will not fall under the jurisdiction of this new legislation if passed (ECW probably wonít either unless they lose their backing of the WWF which could come into play due to recent events). However, is it fair to say that one company can do what they want to and another one canít just because of the amount of money they bring to the state? If instituted in the state of New Jersey it could start a widespread run with each state enacting similar laws. If this happens, once again, Vince McMahon will be at the forefront of destroying many small independent promotions, only this time he can hide behind the guise of enacted state legislation and just say that it is out of his hands. People, this is wrong no matter how you slice it. When Vince singlehandedly almost destroyed independent wrestling in the eighties the ramifications were felt for years. This could have the same effect if not only accepted in New Jersey but in all the states around the nation.
When a bill is passed that hurts some but exonerates others when they are doing basically the same thing, it's not only up to the legislators in that state but also to the "powers that be" in the upper echelon of the sport to dictate who can do what and when they can do it. Do not forget that it is not the WWF "Funkin Dojo" and the WCW Powerplant that has brought us many of the stars we see today. It is/was the smaller independent promotions who allowed these people to practice and hone their talent. The talent of tomorrow is now working their butt off in these small promotions as I write this. To take away their ability to learn their trade will hurt wrestling down the road, as was shown in the previous years when independent promotions almost because extinct.
The Hollywood Reporter (among the many others reporting on this) added more information to the ongoing USA-WWF-CBS saga. The article says that USA issued a statement earlier this week but refuses to make any other public comments about their bid to keep WWF TV. USA refuses to go into detail about what exactly their matching bid contains and whether it addresses the perks and other details that make the CBS/Viacom bid so appealing to the World Wrestling Federation. A quote from a PWTorch.com article says, "Some observers suggest that USA's move may suggest desperation, since it seems to be pinning its legal hopes on having matched on the question of cable rights only when any Viacom-CBS deal presumably offers promotional platforms on the billboards, radio, and TV stations CBS controls and cross-promotional possibilities with WWF Smackdown. While USA can tout the merchandising and marketing possibilities possible through its Ticketmaster and Home Shopping Network and Internet divisions, some say that's nothing like the pot of gold the WWF sees in the expected merger of Viacom - with its male-heavy MTV Networks' audiences - and CBS, which is expected to fold its cable operations, chiefly TNN, into Viacom's cable division. With its upfront presentation set for April 27, USA Network in particular needs a speedy resolution."
Looking at the last line we can once again see just how mired ECW falls into the happenings of the WWF right now. If the WWF would go for the CBS deal and CBS folds TNN, are the Internet rumors true that ECW would jump to the USA Network? After hosting the WWF through its recent glory years I feel that USA would be very disappointed in ECW present time and I find it hard to fathom that they will get off of the purse strings to acquire it in the near future. ECW has a history of being "tight" with the money and missing out on many opportunities because of this.
While their TNN show is "watchable" as opposed to what they previously had been showing say last year in their localized markets, it is a far cry from what they would need to produce to satisfy USA. Paul Heyman right now is more worried about suing XPW over the use of "extreme" in its name and holding Sabu into being somewhere he doesnít want to be. Paul Heyman, while being the creative genius he is, has been shown in the past as someone who cannot have too many things on his plate or everything goes to hell. This is evident in the mid 1997 - early 1999 era when he focused more on production and less on booking and couldnít keep a show running up to the standards he had set back in 1995 - 1996. He put that aside in late 1999 and look at how his promotion prospered not only in the publicís view but in the promotionís product itself. With the petty nuances of Paul Heyman coming into play recently with Sabu and now Mike Awesome, combined with his threats of lawsuits to the Insane Clown Posse over Sabu and XPW for the word "extreme" in its name, Heyman is once again showing that while he wants to play with the big boys he doesnít have a clue as to how to go about it. ECW is at a pinnacle in its history and Heymanís promotion would be better served if he got rid of the distractions and focused on taking his promotion to the next level.
And with that I am outta here. Remember wrestling is nothing more than it appears to be.
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