Straight Shooting
What if Paul Heyman became head booker of WCW?
May 30, 2000
By Fritz Capp

First things first. I want to lay to rest the rumor I was in a bad mood last week. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Itís just that sometimes there are things in wrestling that annoy me beyond belief and I speak out on them. That doesnít mean Iím in a bad mood does it? Nah....just shows how much I love the sport. I mean if I didnít care, I would never get upset right?

Anyway there are a lot of things I want to cover. Whether or not I actually get to them all this week is yet to be seen but I will try. Letís see...where should I start?

I could start by laughing hilariously at Tammy Sytch....nah...Iíll save that for later.

I could start with reader e-mails but I definitely want to do that later.

Hmmmm...how about an earth shattering news breaking story like we are all so used to on the Internet? You could see this one in most tag lines to be sure, the only difference is you donít have to click to get the story:

"Heyman to WCW after selling off ECW!"

Now that got your attention huh? With all the talk of SFX trying to buy every big name wrestling promotion on television except the WWF (okay..there are only two others) and with all the reports saying that if this "secret big deal" goes down it will change the face of wrestling forever, I started thinking about what could actually be that earth shattering. Heyman selling out of ECW and going to WCW was the only thing I could come up with.

I mean, letís get real here for a second. I do not care who may or may not buy WCW. Unless they are willing to go completely fresh as far as booking and workers are concerned, the bottom line is it will still be WCW. Not that it's a bad thing, but not much will change. Sure there will be rumors of changes and money influxed into the company, but WCW already has a big enough bankroll to choke a horse, so where will that help? If they keep the booking committee intact, we will have the same brain trust running the show. If they keep the workers, the work rate will be the same so what will change? A television station? In the grand scheme of things....so what? Does going from channel 138 (TNT) on the Dish Network system to channel 102 (USA) really mean that much? Not really. Major changes internally are the only thing that would shake up the wrestling world. No matter what channel Vince runs on (they could put the WWF on the Home Shopping Network and it wouldnít matter) they are going to give him carte blanche to do what he wants to do. The only thing that WCW may gain is a little more freedom, but with the T&A they now use plus the profanity that spews from the wrestlers mouths these days they are not going to be able to do much more than they already can on TNT.

ECW on the other hand is receiving lower ratings than they want as of late. While both WCW and ECW loyalists continue to come up with excuse after excuse as to why their respective companies have lower than expected ratings, the bottom line is in the fans' perception of the product. I noticed that when I started seeing more blood on ECWís TNN programming, their ratings dropped. I believe that todayís wrestling fans see ECWís bleeding as a rip-off of the WWF in a small way. While nothing could be farther from the truth, you must realize a lot of wrestling fans today only came into the sport within the past three years. That would be between late 1996 to early - mid 1997. While they hear the stories of ECW in their early days, they were not witness to the magic that ECW created amongst the wrestling fans around the world. They are also not privy to the fact that it was in fact the WWF that stole most of what ECW was doing in the mid 90's and put it on the grand stage. While WCW tried and failed to capitalize on ECWís talent, the WWF took their ideas and made them an integral part of their show. Funny thing is that the WWF ended up with the majority of the ECW talent that Bischoff and company stole from Heyman and Gordon back in 95/96 anyway so they won all the way around.

Now everyone sit back for a moment and think about this. Paul Heyman as head of the booking committee in WCW. This would mean that Paul would no longer have to worry about production. He would also not have to worry about money. WCW would have one of the most creative bookers ever in the business. I watched Paul take a bunch of no names and build them into a company that was on everyoneís lips with only about 11% of the world ever seeing the product. Could you imagine what he could do with the talent that WCW has?

Of course this is just a grand dream and will probably never happen. What a shame though because Heyman is exactly what WCW needs to put it past the WWF. I know Vince would be worried for the first time in shall we say 85 weeks?

One of the biggest problems I see is the ever-growing ego and arrogance of Vince Russo. Russo is trying so hard to be like Vince it is almost sickening. As much as I wanted Russo to take WCW to the next level all I see is him doing the same thing that Bischoff did in the waning months of his last term. Trying so hard to be like the WWF they are losing sight of what they originally intended to be like, and that was to rebuild WCW into its own entity like it used to be.

This is really evident if you listen closely to some of Mark Maddenís commentary. On this past Nitro he kept trying to put across just how "dysfunctional" the WCW family is. I donít know if these spots were scripted or not, but no matter what, they shouldnít have been put in there. They seemed forced and did not come off very well. To me, when was saying how "dysfunctional" WCW was, all I heard was, "see how much like the WWF we really are, weíre cool too!"

Shifting back to Russo for a second I want to take a quick look at some of the things heís been saying lately. It is almost like he is playing the Internet so people will talk about him. Ok, Iíll give you a few Vince since your obviously begging for a mention everywhere.

On one of his latest appearances on WCW Live, which he seems to be appearing on a lot lately, Russo had this to say about the Internet :

"I really don't read too much on the Internet anymore, because it's just all so negative and I made the statement three weeks ago and I'll make the statement again... We really need to take a close look at who's payroll certain individuals are on, because it's just becoming clearer and clearer to me, as a matter of fact, it's a no-brainer, when no matter what kind of a show we put on, you know, it's negative, it's terrible, we can't do anything right. It's so obvious to me now that, you know, who's zooming who and who's on who's payroll, that it's really become a joke to me."

Awww poor Vince, is everybody always picking on you? Funny, I see a lot of positive reports. Well, more than I used to anyway. But then again I remember back in 1996 and early to mid 1997, no matter what McMahon did, everyone said it sucked. Why? Because it did, thatís why. Now you have to be on someoneís payroll if you do not say something nice about WCW? Let me wake you up Russo since you memory seems to be short, the WWF languished in mediocrity although they had the superior product for six months before the wrestling fans sat up and took notice. The WWF had superior production, story lines and work rate, but because WCW was the ratings winner for so long it took quite a bit of time before people noticed. You are just starting the rebuilding process and your whining after two months because the world isnít beating a path to your channel on Monday night? What do you expect given half the crap you have tried to feed the wrestling fan. Oh thatís right, I forgot, you donít respect the wrestling fan or the sport do you? Sorry, I forgot.

Letís take a look at what else Russo had to say :

"I will watch Norman and Ralphus any day before I'll watch a 20 minute cruiserweight match"

Is this just to try to get heat from the fans or are you just that STUPID? Thank God Benoit, Malenko, Guerrero and Saturn left WCW considering you have that attitude. Ralphus and Norman may have some comic relief to some people but to say you would rather watch them over a 20 minute cruiserweight match only shows how out of touch you really are. Let me teach you something here since you were obviously too busy rewinding tapes at the video store to notice what put WCW on top in 1996. WCW did it with one rebel group and great story lines with guys who could work it. Most importantly, they had something back then the WWF did not, "wrestling ability and work rate". Sure Vince overcame that with "glitz and tits" but if you notice they are going back to in-ring work rate.

You try so hard to be like your namesake. Here is more proof :

"I caught the last segment of Raw from the hotel on Monday night. You know Rock did the interview and Hunter...You know I'm not taking anything away from the performers. Rock is... I can't describe words for what he is. There will never be another like him in the history of this business. Ever. There never has been, there will never be another. The guy is phenomenal. But the story lines... there are none. Um, I sat there and I watched the last segment and you can just predict from A to B and C to D to E and F, you can lay it out, here comes Taker on the bike, and you know exactly what's going to happen."

Well buddy all I can say is that WCW is so predictable I watched a 10 year old tell me what was going to happen next on Nitro more than once Monday night. So who is really predictable. Letís see, WCW opens this past Monday night with about eleven minutes of mic work. Now where have we seen that before? The difference is you really donít have anyone that can really hold the crowd's attention for that long do you? Oh you have one or two that can do some great mic work in the form of Hogan and Flair but even those interviews are just repeats of former interviews.

Your heels all start out strong and invincible but they generally end up being "girls" after a while.

Why didnít Tank stand up to Goldberg. Instead he took off from the ring after all of his mouthing. You could have had the locker room empty to pull them apart, that would have been a great buildup. At least Tank wouldnít have acted like a chick by leaving the ring as soon as Goldberg got there. How about Kidman? He started out all big and bad and wanting to rip Hogan apart only to cower behind Torrie later on in the story line. You yourself, even with your bat, act like a pure punk. Is that the true definition of a New Yorker? I donít think so. So you see, Russo, you are very predictable, as is your show. You have a woman holding a manís belt, (now thereís something original huh?), you have title changes because to "you" it is unrealistic for one person to hold a belt for any length of time (what an utter load of crap that is, if you knew anything it builds the credibility of the title and also the person holding it) and you have more T&A and vulgarity than ever in the history of WCW. (Although you say you're nothing like McMahon, you sure sound like you get all of your ideas from him)

Why donít you sit down with some people and come up with something fresh? Why donít you put some reality into your promotion? If your going to portray someone as a badass then let him be one. Tank Abbott came to WCW with an incredible reputation and what are you doing to him? Having him call out Goldberg week after week only to have him run at the first sign of him? So much for booking strategy.

I received a letter from Michael A. who asked this question :

Hey Fritz,

Just got done doing some browsing through your old archives of Straight Shooting. I have but one question to ask you. How do you think that the major players in the whole Survivor Series 1997 fiasco have fared since then, in your opinion?

Players being Vince McMahon, HHH, Shawn Michaels, and of course, Bret Hart.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Bye,

Michael A.

Now this is a good question and while I did read the letter I didnít give it much thought because I like to respond to letter with a relatively fresh perspective.

Vince McMahon used that night to catapult not only himself but his company into the mainstream spotlight more than I believe than even he thought possible. While it would be months before the wrestling fans caught up with what Vince was doing, that night was the defining line in the rebirth of the WWF. Now a publicly traded company with more brand recognition than most companies could only hope for, Vince parlayed that one night into a monster that still has yet to be quieted, yet alone stopped.

Shawn Michaels' life took many interesting turns since that fateful night in Canada. Almost completely out of the sport due to his injury, he is no longer able to wrestle which is saddening to the wrestling fan. Shawn was one of a kind, but appears to be happier now than ever before. A new wife and child seems to have brought Shawn a sense of responsibility and reality that he may not have had for years leading up to it. He does own a small wrestling school in Texas and only time will tell if he devotes enough time and energy to truly make it a success or if it is just there to satisfy a craving to be somehow associated with the business.

Triple H, while not as much of a beneficiary as Vince is, has seen his career skyrocket since 1997. Triple H is one of those people who did benefit from Hartís leaving the company even though he did not play an active role in his demise.

Bret Hart became, bewildered, misled, misinformed, misused and bitter since this happened. WCW blew it big time with Hart as far as not knowing what to do with him. Maybe they gave him too much creative control over his character at a bad time in his life. Maybe WCW just thought his name power alone would be able to carry the company. For whatever reason though, Bretís stock in the wrestling world dropped drastically since 1997 and may not ever regain its former glory. Not even delving into the Owen tragedy, Bret carries his bitterness on his sleeve. Whether or not he should do this is not for me to judge, I just think it hurt him during his first tenure in WCW. Bret came out the worse on this while the WWF and all who came after Bret benefited greatly.

I hope that gives you my take on the "players" you mentioned in the "screwjob" of 1997. By the way it doesnít look like Hebner has suffered much now does it? Thanks for asking Mike.

Now onto the Readerís section. Last week I posted a letter I received from Bob Cole who stated he was outraged by the Kanyon angle in WCW. I asked what you thought and here are some of your responses To refresh everyoneís memory here is the letter again :

"Dear Fritz,

I was just glancing at some of the WCW programming while I waited for WWF RAW to begin.

I find nothing entertaining about the Kanyon Angle. When I first saw the fall that he took, while admittedly very dangerous, I could see that it was set up better and with better protection than many of Mick Foley's unprotected and legitimately accidental falls.

Worse, I think that to create an angle out of him with a neck injury, is a stab in the back and an insult to Steve Austin, Darren Drozdov, and all other wrestlers who REALLY found themselves having to wear a halo.

Thank you,

Bob Cole"

---

From Bill01SPK

Am I offended by the angle? No. Bob's an obvious WWF fan who's just shilling for his beloved fed- nothing more. If it's not one thing it would be another. C'mon Bob, "anything goes in sports entertainment", right? Enough mock outrage - let's get real.

In the past couple of years the WWF has had one guy killed, one paralyzed, and another who suffered a serious neck injury. If he truly cares so much, perhaps Bob should be commending WCW for the bump being "well protected" in (his) comparison to the "many ... accidental ... legitimate" bumps Foley suffered in WWF rings toward the end of his career.

P.S. I wonder why I've heard virtually no comment amongst the pro-WWF Internet crowd (let alone outrage) concerning our "Vinnie Mac" filing legal suit against Owen's widow? The way I see it WWF fans shouldn't need to "glance at WCW programming" to find something they can take offense to.

---

From Nick Minecci

In response to Mr. Cole's letter:

A few thoughts I have. First, I don't know, but I'm GLAD Kanyon had the protection, while not a big fan of his I still would love to see the fall and him back in the ring than not taking every precaution possible. But what really bothers me is Mr. Cole says it's a slap to those with real injuries to have a story line with him having a neck injury. Then we need to take it further and have no angles with broken arms or legs because that would be an insult to anyone who had an injury for real that kept them out or ended their career. And remember the angle of Flair's heart attack? How dare they, after all, men have died in the ring. Mr. Cole is nothing more than more political correctness run amok in this letter ... to not have an angle because others are really hurt is ludicrous. Marvin Gaye was killed by his dad in a family dispute, do we not have father v son or other family angles? The Kanyon angle is fine, in fact it was the best part of that card. Too bad WCW is ruining it, as they do everything else lately.

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From Jubie316

You know being a wrestling fan for years I love the fact that wrestling is fake but the bumps sometimes real, I mean when I first saw King of the Ring with the classic Hell in a Cell that was the match that put wrestling on the mat because Mick Foley actually took real bump that to this day messed him up. But than I see WCW and there lame attempt at a Hell in a Cell (triple decker cage) and really thatís lame but whatís even lamer is the fact that this guy fell and you could blatantly tell he hit a mat to support his fall on the outside. In fact I didn't see the PPV just heard all the Internet reporters go nuts about a real injury, but when I saw Nitro and the reply the next day I laughed at how those people couldn't tell how fake it was. Okay, now they make an angle out of this? Huh so much for Vince Russo thinking we are smarter than that huh??? Just my thoughts though.

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From Jenni Stewart

I think the Kanyon neck injury is very stupid and rude. It was an cool bump but like you said it was so obvious that he was protected from the fall. I think it makes WCW look cheesy doing an interview from his bedside. And Mike Awsome's mic skills suck.

From BroodMonky

You are completely right. Here's another viewpoint. Kanyon, a really good wrestler wanted out of his contract. Kanyon gets to hang with DDP, but still wants out of his contract. So WCW throws him off a cage. Also making it an angle really downsized the bump he took. Mankind's fall is historic footage. Kanyon bump can only be seen during that interview, so there's a good chance some fans havenít even realized what type of bump he took. The fans who don't religiously watch WCW would miss it. It looks like WCW is screwing everyone.

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From Linda James

I agree, it is a low blow on dubyah-c-dubyah's (WCW) behalf. I feel that it's not right to imitate a career let alone, life threatening injury. On another note I feel that WCW are big time contradictors. When the WCW wasn't in so big of the slump they're in now (1998) they preached and preached about being a more "family" oriented federation. Now where do they find themselves now? Using the total opposite product, and digging a deeper hole for themselves.

And that's all I gotta say about that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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From Dredd64

A stab in the back? Because Kanyonís wearing a neck brace he doesn't need? Man I didn't know people could over dramatize things that much.

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From Roger Taylor

My God, is every wrestling fan going to get all gushy and sentimental every time something happens? WWF and WCW use fake injuries as angles all the time, and there is nothing wrong with that. Really, gimme one good reason why there is something wrong with faking an injury that happened to happen to someone else. Now, I don't really like the angle, because Kanyon is a great wrestler, and the WCW should take better advantage of his talent (instead of having him drinking out of straws for the camera). But still, there is nothing wrong with fake injury story lines. Don't get your panties in a bundle.

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From Rick in Illinois

You know, I really can't stand it when wrestling companies insult our intelligence by staging "traumatic" injuries like the one received to Kanyon. I mean come on! How can Kanyon be paralyzed when you know he'll be back in a month or two. Why does WCW have to suck like that...it just isn't RAW enough.

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From Peter Hernandez

When I first saw the bump it made me very scared for Kanyon, as did Foley's. The reason I felt worried for him is because I am paralyzed from the waist down since 1997 and every day is another battle, and this is something Russo, Bischoff, Kanyon, or Foley need to realize. And making a mockery over something many paralyzed people go through is not appropriate, even if it is an angle. It is hard to believe that WCW is doing this for a rating point.

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From Twitmare

I didn't watch the PPV itself (since WCW hasn't done much to get me interested in buying one), but I saw replays of the bump, so at least I know what people are talking about. Of course it looked scary, but it was obviously well-protected. Wrestling has had people "injured" for many years as part of an angle. The Kaufman/Lawler angle is a good example, as I could pull out many others. I'm not all that offended that the bump took place. I just think the selling of it is a bit wrong. After the things that Steve and Droz have gone through (and with both of those guys rehabbing their asses off) as well as others, I could see why could be considered a slap in the face, a kick in the ass, and a stab in the back to guys Like Austin and Droz.

Actually, I heard that Tony said that it "was like Kanyon falling from the rafters" during the bump. I don't know if that's true, but if he did, that would be what I would think would be the offensive issue here since he said that in the Kemper Arena around the time of year that Owen died.

Okay, I've whined enough, later.

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From Red Knight

I think personally that's a sh*tty way to do things. I mean you have two people who've faced paralysis one recovering while the other may never Steve Austin being the first, and Darren Drozdov being the later. Then to have a guy fake this type of career ending injury is just a testament to WCW's out right insensitivity to its wrestlers and those wrestlers who have faced real paralysis. I mean this is one of the more dumb, stupid, and down right idiotic things WCW has done in a while. This is right up there with not turning Kimberly into a Sable-esque character. And while on that subject, I know Page probably had something to do with it, not wanting her to out shine him. I'm glad they're letting her out more, but its still not enough in my opinion. Anyway to the subject in question; The main point is this, WCW apparently never has and never will give a monkey's ass about its talent or people who have given there bodies and careers to them or professional wrestling in general. How Paul Orndorff and Arn Anderson could work for a company that would trivialize their career ending injuries is beyond me, I guess they gotta eat too. Oh well that's it for my rant.

RedKnight Out.

---

I want to thank everyone who wrote in. Of course there is not enough room for everyoneís letters and I apologize for that. This week I want to hear your opinions on how you feel a company like SFX would either help or hurt the wrestling business. Please send your comments to Straight Shooting Reader Submission If you're not familiar with the company SFX you can read up on it by going to pwbts.com and reading the post by Paul Michaels dated May 30, 2000 titled "Who Is SFX and why do they think they should be involved in wrestling?"

Friday night, July 21, 2000, the Eastern Wrestling Federation will present Summer Spectacular 2000. This event will be held outside the Northampton Fire Company on Lerchenmiller Dr. in Northampton, Pa. This event is also a fund raiser event benefiting the Northampton Fire Company.

Northampton has seen some very exciting EWF events and this one, without a doubt, will have excitement written all over it.

Highlighting Summer Spectacular 2000 will be the 3rd Annual ECW Bikini Contest. The brand new EWF Hardcore Title will be up for grabs and the Bad Butcher is looking to bring home the Hardcore gold. The EWF Tag Team Champions, Bad Crew, will defend their titles in a Steel Cage Brawl. You will see this and much more at the EWFís Summer Spectacular 2000 show.

Be sure to keep up to date with the Eastern Wrestling Federation by checking out EWFBCBumps.com

Upcoming Live EWF Events

Friday June 2, 2000 - Castle Hill Ballroom - Bethlehem, PA
Friday July 21, 2000 - Northampton Fire Company - Northampton, PA
Friday August 11, 2000 - Castle Hill Ballroom - Bethlehem, PA
Friday September 15, 2000 - "Cage Terror III" at the Castle Hill Ballroom - Bethlehem, PA
Friday December 1, 2000 - Castle Hill Ballroom - Bethlehem, PA

If you are interested in holding an EWF Fundraising Event please contact the EWF at (610)502-1184. If anyone is interested in becoming a professional wrestler, manager or referee contact B.C.Bumps at (610) 770-7313

And with that I am outta here. Oh yeah I almost forgot all about Tammy Sytch (not really hard to do actually). It appears that dear Tammy is actually what I have been saying for all these weeks since her return, worthless. While people I talk to do not want to comment on the situation she was held off of WCW television due to "problems" that arose when she showed up at the arena. Here is a woman who once held the wrestling world in her hands and cannot deal with the fact that she no longer does. I said a week or two ago that she has to forget that "Sunny" ever existed and create a new persona for herself. Until she does that she will never be anything but what she currently is and that is a "used to be" which is very hard for anyone to accept who used to be on top. Tammy would be better served starting out fresh and new and realize that three pounds of makeup does not cover up the hard road she has chosen for herself to walk.

Remember wrestling is nothing more than it appears to be.


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