AS I SEE IT - 1/18/2000 - Special Edition
by: Bob Magee
REARRANGING THE DECK CHAIRS ON THE TITANIC
There was a morbid fascination in watching WCW during the last 48
hours....a morbid fascination more or less on the level of watching a car wreck. You knew
it was wrong to watch, but you couldn't turn your face away.
By now, we all pretty much know WHAT happened.
World Championship Wrestling as a promotion self-destructed.
Things happened that the company had no control over, including injuries to Bill Goldberg, Bret Hart, and Jeff Jarrett.
But there was one thing they could have controlled: the removal of Vince Russo as a number of wrestlers, including the company's Heavyweight Champion, Chris Benoit, asked for and were initially have reported to have received their releases from WCW, as a result of their anger regarding the circumstances surrounding the removal of Vince Russo and the return to power of Kevin Nash and Kevin Sullivan as bookers.
And it gets worse...
The Pro Wrestling Torch reported the following yesterday:
"Chris Benoit is accusing Mike Graham of threatening him with violence because he was told Benoit was part of a group of wrestlers trying to get him ousted from the booking committee.
Bill Busch and J.J. Dillon ostensibly told Dean Malenko, Saturn, and Shane Douglas earlier today that part of the reason they wanted to send them home is they were worried about an incident between them and Graham. Despite supposedly being worried about 'workplace violence,' Graham was not sent home. He was at Nitro. Turner's human resources department was officially informed that Graham was alleged to have threatened Benoit with deadly violence, thus Busch was concerned with making sure he kept the accusers and the accused apart.
Benoit found out that Malenko, Saturn, and Douglas were being sent home, but not him, too. He was the one who said Graham threatened him. He inquired about why he wasn't also being sent home, suspecting WCW management really just wanted to 'divide and conquer.' Benoit felt management was going to try to manipulate him by having him stay around while sending his closest allies ('the bad influences') home.
When Benoit confronted Busch about the Graham situation, Busch expressed to Benoit that Graham was denying he made any threats. Benoit must have suspected Busch was siding with Graham, because that is what set off Benoit and caused him to throw the WCW Title belt aside storm out of the room. He said the belt meant nothing if the head of the company didn't believe him."
Numerous sources have reported that Benoit, Malenko, Saturn, and Douglas were sent home to "cool off", pursuant to a mid-week meeting with Bill Busch.
My thoughts on this:
What in the hell is WCW thinking?
First, Vince Russo's demotion. No one can possibly be asked to turn around a company in three months. Russo himself said in numerous interviews that he'd need at least six months to do so.
Whatever one thinks of the recent WCW product (and I didn't think much about a lot of it), Russo was at least making an attempt in certain areas to set up storylines. That is, when he wasn't spending time ridiculing his former employer. But creating ANY storylines was, in and of itself, is an improvement.
What preceded it? Kevin Nash's "protect my friends and book on the fly" approach has cost the company a reported $10 MILLION in losses last year. If any other company but Time-Warner-Turner owned WCW, the company would have been out of business. For reasons that defy the most generous attempts at finding one bit of logic, WCW management has apparently chosen to return to this approach once again.
From every report, there were people trying to sabotage Vince Russo from day one. Two of those people were Kevin Nash and Kevin Sullivan. As of last week, it appeared that they had gotten their way. Then came the firestorm.
One has to wonder if WCW management had any idea of the what would would result from this action. If they did, WHY in God's name did they do what they did?
Then, we have the reported incident with Mike Graham. Anyone reading this want to bet wrestlers are getting their agents and lawyers to put together a case for a release or legal action based on a "unsafe working environment" as we speak? This is NOT what WCW needs to happen.
And if THAT wasn't bad enough, it's being reported on Lords of Pain.Net that Terry Bollea is suing WCW.
Here's the report:
"Hogan's meeting with WCW last Friday was cancelled because his meeting the day before (on Thursday afternoon) went so poorly. Hogan is on such bad terms with WCW now that he is considering suing WCW over merchandising money he believes he has been shorted. He is not currently in any of WCW's plans no matter who ends up in control of booking. Hogan may be using the threat of a lawsuit to get out of his deal with WCW so he can work for a Fox start-up (which may or may not be a legit option - but Hogan and 'his people' have tried to make hit seem like an option), or he may doing so as leverage to eventually get his way in WCW.
Hogan met with WCW two weeks ago, on Jan. 6, and at that point agreed to return to WCW TV for the unopposed Nitro on Feb. 14 at Nassau Coliseum.
From the start, Hogan was against Vince Russo's booking style and the power that he was given. Most thought Hogan would be happy that Russo was ousted from his 'creative director' position, but apparently Russo's 'demotion' on Friday didn't changes Hogan's stance position with WCW. As of this afternoon, key sources said they didn't believe there were any changes in his situation."
Well....there you have it: a wrestling company, with corporate resources behind it beyond any other in the history of the professional wrestling industry, with media resources available to it beyond any other in the history of the professional wrestling industry...totally and completely self-destructing right before our very eyes.
For those who usually send me hate mail if I question anything whatever about WCW, ask yourself these questions:
What was WCW thinking when they did this to Vince Russo, after knowing the type of product they were getting, and knowing how long it would take he and Ed Ferrera to improve ratings and buyrates?
Why is WCW apparently ready to lose some of their greatest talent, as the result of a power play that WCW management allowed to succeed?
Why is WCW giving authority back to people who clearly have failed at what they've done?
Ask yourself these questions.
For that matter, WCW should do the same thing. Even better, they should have done so last week before all this started.
Until next time, with my regular column...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com)