October, a time that many things happen in the world of Pro Wrestling. This is usually the time of ECW's annual carnage and mayhem inside the ECW Arena but with the passing of 1997 they chose to break the chain as last year they decided to stop the annual "shooting themselves in the foot" routine which was becoming an annual event and break down and get back to wrestling in the month of October.
The torch seems to have been passed onto Eric Bischoff and company down in Atlanta who seems to have decided to not only make this an annual event, but a weekly one.
I can hear the WCW fans groaning as I type saying that I am a WWF mark and I am biased in my reporting but nothing can be further from the truth. I can remember when I was called a WCW mark as I picked apart the WWF for all their shortcomings in the years preceding 1998, where without a doubt Vince McMahon reclaimed the top spot in the wrestling world as far as product and fan interest is concerned.
This is by no means a shot at all of the talented workers in WCW which by and far there are many. You know the ones, the guys who go out there night after night and bust their ass for love of the business knowing that if they are the best at what they do the money will follow them. No I am not taking shots at them at all. Who I am taking shots at is the so called booking committee and at the errant and sometimes farcical promoting of the workers in the locker room in WCW. The usual names of Malenko, Guerrero, Benoit, Mysterio, Saturn and Jericho always come up when talks turn to the talent that lies within WCW. But there are a lot of other great workers or big names in the locker room that have forgotten their roots and are now so involved with their own ego's they have chosen a different path from what they were originally taught. Many have chosen the microphone to prove their workrate or they have taken to the road of never ending and weak contrived angles that is proving to be a mistake of epic proportions.
While great mic skills are becoming more and more necessary in the evolution of professional wrestling and angles now play more of a role then ever they cannot be used in place of in ring skills.
Let's take a look at one such person, Bret Hart. Bret Hart came into WCW as a supposed savior all the while the only thing he has saved is a lot of money in his bank account. During his tenure in the WWF Bret Hart was a fighting champion whether he had a belt strapped on him or not. He had his say on the microphone but will never be known as one of the great orators in the sport of wrestling. What Bret did was let his in ring talent do his talking for him, which in my humble opinion spoke volumes. Bret Hart was the consummate worker, giving 120% each and every match which is why he was so over in the promotion. In WCW I have not been impressed with the new Bret Hart. Sure he still has his skills if he wants to use them, but he is now more content to talk on the mic, play out a myriad of angles and hardly wrestle which was his mainstay in the WWF. It is a total reversal of idealogy which has parlayed itself into Bret's current lack of popularity and credibility amongst the wrestling fans.
In comparison let's look at Konnan. Konnan was always a great worker but really never got over with the fans. This was even true in ECW until his farewell match when he showed everyone at the ECW Arena that he could kick some ass. Konnan in 1998 has in a way repackaged himself by adding great mic work to his already impressive skills in the ring. The results: Konnan could conceivably be one of the most over workers in WCW today.
In defense of Bill Goldberg (which is something I'm not prone to do often because I believe that a lot of other guys have paid the dues he has yet to experience) his in ring workrate is starting to pick up. You can see that he is trying to add more and more to his repertoire as far as wrestling moves are concerned and I believe it is in his best interest to stay off the mic right now because he is not a natural so he still needs to be heavily coached at that part of the game. I still say that Goldberg will be a true force in the business 5 years down the road but as of right now the jury is still out until he receives his first loss and we all see how he is going to overcome the monster that WCW has created by pushing him so far so early. It will only be then that the test results on Goldberg will be in and can be answered as we will then see how Goldberg handles mentally the fact that the fans will turn on him because his string of victories will have ended and they set their sights on a new icon.
Scott Hall in my opinion is not out to destroy his career nor are the actions we see and hear as of late something that can be totally believed. I believe that even though Bischoff is a businessman first and humanitarian second, someone who is having the problems that Scott Hall appears to have would have been addressed long before now. While it may be true that you cannot help those that do not want to be helped, WCW by using Hall's supposed alcohol problem as part of an angle tells me that WCW is trying to use anything to get people to watch their program and that Hall's outside the ring antics are part of the angle. If this is the case it is a sad day in wrestling because Hall is a very talented worker and did or does not need this sort of booking to garnish fans or fan interest. Ask yourself one question : If this is not a work on the part of the promotion, then what kind of promotor allows his workers to go to the ring in various states of drunkenness, thus possibly injuring either himself or another worker? Also ask yourself this one : Why would Eric Bischoff allow this sort of behavior from a worker considering he went out of his way to make an example out of Ric Flair for going to his son's wrestling match and missing a Thunder? On the other hand if this is not all a contrived work on the part of some lame booking, then my opinion is Scott Hall is doing his outright best to be fired from a company that he no longer wants to be a part of which could be a grave mistake on his part as I cannot imagine any promoter wanting to deal with this sort of behavior from a worker no matter what his name value is. That is of course unless a certain promoter who shall remain nameless is coaching Hall in an effort to try to get him released anyway possible so he could re-sign him. But that would never happen in wrestling now would it?
I have one question, "Where and what is becoming of Sting?" For 18 months we heard WCW say that Sting was their icon. We heard them beg for him, plead with him and everything else under the sun only to see him blend in with the rest of the forgotten into virtual obscurity. Sure they have a commemorative plate for him in the TV Guide but what the hell is that? This is the man who carried WCW throughout it's infancy (that's right, Ted Turner may think he has the history of wrestling behind him but he abandoned the NWA and thus should have abandoned their lineage also) Sting was main eventing for the company for many years until the arrival of Hulk Hogan and in my opinion just shoving money in his pocket does not seem to me to be utilizing him to the best of his abilities. The only thing Sting is showing to the people now is that he has no workrate now and is no better than the rest of the multi millionaires that WCW has on their payroll at the moment.
We could probably continue this all day. You have Kevin Nash who mostly earns his money by doing 4 minute in-ring interviews and the occasion run in or Hulk Hogan who is good for maybe 4 matches a year with the rest of the time being an annoying a-hole who is losing heat faster than the Ultimate Warrior is running out of large words to stumble over during an interview. You have the Warrior making a semi quasi comeback basically to just stuff some money in his bankrupt pockets. Meanwhile we have Scott Steiner feuding with his brother Rick (if that's what you want to call it) who is not only looking more and more like Superstar Billy Graham but is also on the same path as him as far as body building techniques are concerned which will eventually leave him in the same condition as Graham with bones so soft and brittle he will need a wheelchair to get around. We are treated to another incarnation of Brutus Beefcake who has not had a workrate since his tragic boating accident years ago and who in my opinion should not be near a wrestling ring. You have a great talent in Raven who never really wrestles but mostly guides others to do his bidding thus not showing the talent he possesses and they are now pushing Wrath who although he has comeback in maybe the best condition of his career is in squash match after squash match thus showing that his in ring skills are not where they should be for a man with his time in the business.
Eric Bischoff is not experienced enough to understand that while his big money boys may have more time in the business you cannot allow the inmates to run the asylum. That combined with the fact that Bischoff has been in a panic for most of the year due to the resurgence of the WWF has him grabbing at straws hoping to find the cure to his current dilemmas. The problem is he is looking for a quick fix which works for a short period of time but when allowed to be taken into the long haul almost always results in more problems then what you originally started with. (look at the TV ratings for the night that the Warrior first appeared as opposed to what they were last week) Add this to the fact that he has friends outside the business telling him what he should do with angles and workers and you have a recipe for disaster unless realized before it is too late.
And everyone wonders what is happening to WCW?
Fritz Capp is the editor for Pro Wrestling's Between The Sheets - for comments or opposing viewpoints please e-mail to Pro Wrestling's Between The Sheets