wrestling / Video Reviews

The Furious Flashbacks – WCW New Blood Rising

June 25, 2007 | Posted by Arnold Furious
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The Furious Flashbacks – WCW New Blood Rising  

The Furious Flashbacks – WCW New Blood Rising

Not so much a blow by blow look at the event but more a character assassination of Vince Russo

Last time out I covered the first Russo-Bischoff PPV Spring Stampede. The dynamic seemed to work quite well and for a change the wrestling didn’t completely suck. I remember reviews of the show at the time compared it very favourably to Wrestlemania 2000. It did seem like WCW was on the up for the first time since the slide began to really kick in during early 1999. After all it had only been a year since WCW was an actual viable commodity. Yes, there had been a huge drop off and the buyrates were in the toilet but WCW was capable of getting out of this rut they were stuck in. However Vince Russo thought he’d cash in on WCW’s cinematic contribution from early 2000 Ready to Rumble. The film, made for an estimated $24M (no, really), didn’t do badly at the box office bringing in $12M from its niche audience. Wrestling fans didn’t particularly like it, which shows how hard it is to market anything that’s not wrestling to wrestling fans. Vince McMahon could learn from this. The film starred Oliver Platt, Scott Caan and David Arquette. Oh, yes, you know where this is going. Russo saw potential for some crossover storylines and brought in Arquette to work with some of WCW’s stars. He did the same thing in the WWF where Jeff Jarrett got to slap Ben Stiller around. In WCW he went one step further. Arquette was signed up and competed in a tag match on Thunder, yes the Thunder that virtually no one was watching, teaming with DDP against Jeff Jarrett and Eric Bischoff. And because Russo is a mongoloid the WCW title was up for grabs. Whoever got the pin became the champion. So after Bischoff ate the Diamond Cutter the pinfall was made by…ready? David Arquette. So now WCW’s world champion is an actor. Russo pushed for this despite opposition amongst the roster AND from the actor himself who knew damn well the crowd wouldn’t like the angle. If it was so obvious to David Arquette than how come Russo pushed for it anyway? All the momentum was gone. Flushed down the pan in a quick fire fix solution. It got the front page of USA Today, as Russo is so fond of telling people, but how much does that pay exactly? Right. The following PPV’s buyrate was so bad that WCW refused to release it.

It was somewhere around this point where Russo lost the plot entirely. The storyline where Arquette lost the gold was handled ok but then some strange stuff followed on the TV afterwards. Like David Flair somehow hopping from Daphne, his storyline to girlfriend, to Stacey Kiebler, his real life girlfriend, because presumably Russo thought that if everyone on the Internet knew they were a couple then EVERYONE knew. The funny thing is, I was on the Internet and I didn’t know. Hell, I was writing about wrestling at the time. Not quite in syndicated column form, perhaps a year before that. But I was just confused as to why David had gone from one girl to the other. So were the fans. The Vampiro angle continued with Sting using the Brood gimmick of dropping blood from the ceiling. This is interestingly enough how Russo booked an ending to a First Blood match between Sting & Vampiro. The gimmick extended to other wrestlers but Vampiro’s blood drop on Kevin Nash missed and splattered several fans instead. The cut to Vince Russo with his mouth wide open was superb. Especially when he was in a room with several other wrestlers who cracked up. He wasn’t used to incompetence after his WWF run where Vince McMahon only hired people who were good. Now he was stuck with WCW and surrounded by morons. If the Arquette debacle had taught Russo anything he sure as hell didn’t demonstrate this when booking the title after Arquette’s reign. Jarrett got the belt back and quickly lost it to Ric Flair, something that actually gave them their first positive ratings move in a long time, so Russo decided to do another ridiculous fake heart attack angle with Flair. This from the company who ran the exact same angle the previous year. The belt was vacated and somehow Kevin Nash v Jeff Jarrett got booked for the vacant title. The match ended when more blood came from the ceiling and just about managed to wing Nash thus costing him the match. Nash won the title back on Thunder and on the following Nitro the belt changed hands twice! Russo’s logic was that you HAD to tune into WCW TV shows because anything could happen. Like Russo somehow managing to further devalue a belt once held by David Arquette. If that wasn’t bad enough he eventually booked the title onto himself. The match where he won the title was incidentally the last time I watched WCW, ever, when it originally aired. I saw the shoot promo on Hogan at someone else’s house but that was it.

Sidenote – I’ve done a few other WCW shows from 2000 including the Bash at the Beach show. You can find those in my FR.com archive here. The WCW 2001 link is to WCW’s final PPV. Everything else is what it says on the tin.

So with WCW in the toilet Russo’s attempt to get it out again was to turn Goldberg heel. *Ahem*. Yes, the same Bill Goldberg who was largely undamaged by the stupidity of the companies booking over the past two years and the same Bill Goldberg who’d been out injured for six months. Imagine when HHH blew his quad out and came back to huge cheers. Imagine the WWE essentially ignoring the whole crowd, swerving them all and turning HHH heel at the following PPV. Because that’s what Russo did with Goldberg. He turned him because it was the only turn he’d not done. The only shock he had left. It was the act of a desperate man. He actually threw his toys out of the pram and went home shortly afterwards. His reasoning? Because Lex Luger refused to work with Chuck Palumbo. Luger had no interest in helping a new guy get over and refused to do the angle. Russo sent him home and said he’d never use him again. He was overruled by the company and Luger returned. Russo quit.

WCW’s incompetence wasn’t limited to him though. They placed an ad in the USA Today hyping the Nitro that evening. That Monday evening. The issue of USA Today in question came out on a Thursday. WCW effectively just pissed $50K up the wall. If Russo had concerns over the inmates running the asylum then he was right. Scott Steiner refused a job and threatened to kill Terry Taylor for asking him. So he was sent home for two days. With pay, natch. Scott Hall was scheduled to do a live TV phone call with Kevin Nash but when they rang him to start it he’d gone out.

Bash at the Beach is the one WCW show in 2000 that followed Spring Stampede that got any kind of hype attached to it. The main event was scheduled to be Jeff Jarrett v Hulk Hogan for Jarrett’s WCW title. According to backstage sources Hogan had refused to lose and would exercise his creative control clause to avoid the loss. Understandably the returning Vince Russo was pissed. They ran an angle whereby Jarrett lay down, Hogan pinned him and Russo publicly buried him later in the show. The idea they’d come up with was that Russo & Hogan would work a shoot. Where Russo would set it all up to look like a shoot and then Hogan would eventually return. But Russo didn’t want Hogan to come back so he buried him so bad on PPV that Hogan actually sued. Russo just didn’t want to deal with Hogan’s demands anymore and figured this was the only way to get rid of him. Meanwhile Hogan was at home earning his guaranteed money wondering where the phone call was coming from to bring him back. It never came. Neither was the lawsuit dropped and was the cause of Hogan’s refusal to work for TNA in 2004. WCW, still capable of ruining other promotions booking even three years after the company was dead. Quite extraordinary.

With the fans of WCW demanding more wrestling and less sportz entertainment it seemed that Russo would have to give in to their demands or watch the money continue to drain away. This was the situation leading into the New Blood Rising PPV.

We’re in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Hosts are Tony Schiavone, Mark Madden and Scott Hudson. Is it just me or does having those three guys make every show feel bad right from the start?

Ladder match – Three Count v Yung Dragons

I’ve done this match before. Seeing as it’s just a bunch of spots my opinion hasn’t really altered.

This is Evan Karagias, Shane “Hurricane” Helms and Shannon Moore vs Jamie-San (the masked Jamie Noble), Jimmy Yang and Kaz Hayashi. Why the ladders? Well up above the ring are a recording contract and Three Count’s gold record. If 3 Count get them they get to keep recording if the Yung Dragons get them then they stop 3 Count recording. Tank Abbot is at ringside to support 3 Count. He went on record after leaving WCW that he loved doing the Three Count angle because he just got to goof around and got paid for it.

Ladder comes in early and Moore gets backdropped into it. OUCH. 3 Count get a double team in on Yang though with a powerbomb followed by a twisting splash from Moore. The Yung Dragons get racked up on the ladder and Moore is backdropped onto them. DOUBLE SPRINGBOARD DOOMSDAY DEVICES! Yang gets the chance to climb but gets shoved off into the ropes. Noble up the ladder – PLAAAAANCHAAAAAAA to the floor! Moore and Yang up adjacent ladders and Moore hits a not quite perfect Edgeomatic off them. Noble goes up so Helms neckbreakers him off. Hayashi up top and Karagias vertical suplexes him off. This feels like a TLC match. Hayashi with a ladder but Helms superkicks it back into his face. Dragons bring the spinkicks. Karagias powerslams Hayashi on a ladder. We get the ladder seesaw spot from No Mercy ’99 except now it’s Shannon Moore not Jeff Hardy diving onto the other end AND Helms hits a seesaw assisted Russian legsweep off it. Noble hits a super rana and up go the Dragons – DOUBLE LADDER SPLASH! Noble has the gold record at 9.06. But they still need the contract so Tank Abbot decides it’s time to interject himself so he gets twatted with a ladder shot. Noble with a Tokyo Jam allowing the other Dragons to climb. They’re joined by Three Count but that doesn’t go anywhere. Noble grabs Moore off the ladder though and hits a SIT OUT POWERBOMB. That looked painful. Tank comes in to lay everyone out in his general plodding fashion. Karagias goes up and gets the contract at 11.28. Which is kind of a split decision. ***. The spots were good and looked to be going somewhere but the booking seemed to be putting Abbot over, which makes little sense because he’s no damn good.

BACKSTAGE the Filthy Animals suck up to WCW commissioner Ernest Miller (how’d he get that position? I can’t remember). Disco’s “word to ya mother” line cracks me up. Miller kicks him out but adds the Animals to the tag title match as an assortment of special referees.

Great Muta v Ernest Miller

Oh boy. Russo has gone back on his promise to never hire Japanese wrestlers. Muta’s return has more to do with the Vampiro angle. He’d not been a regular in WCW since the early 90’s. Not entirely sure why he’s working Miller. Muta when he can’t be bothered is a truly horrendous sight. By 2000 Muta knew damn well he could get away with doing fuck all in the WCW ring and no one would notice. Hudson uses the term “legit heat”, which makes me want to reach into the TV set and punch him in the face. The commentators talk about the second W in WCW standing for wrestling. Someone should tell Vince Russo. Although they couldn’t because an internal memo circulated in WCW stated 10 Questions Not to Ask Vince Russo. One of them was “what does the second W in WCW stand for?” Around this time WCW actually reduced the control that Bischoff had over Russo thinking he was more to blame for the company being a disaster. Meanwhile in the match Tygress comes out to take a look. She used to be in the Nitro Girls but when the group was disbanded, because essentially it was a project to get Kim Page on TV, they tried to use the girls in different ways. Tygress got put in with the Filthy Animals seeing as their girl had buddied up with Billy Kidman who was off elsewhere. Muta works some lazy stuff in this one but at least attempts psychology by taking Miller’s leg and preventing the kicking. Miller uses the Feliner anyway for the pin at 6.47 after help from Tygress. DUD. What was the point of that again? At least Miller is over as he was one of the few guys that Russo got over (pretty much just him and Smiley).

BACKSTAGE Buff looks around for his Mom. At least she hasn’t rung in sick for him.

”Positively” Kanyon v Buff Bagwell

This is the infamous Judy Bagwell on a pole match. True to their ridiculous stipulations Judy isn’t even on a pole she’s on the front of a forklift. Buff is effectively being punished for being a jerk backstage. Kanyon rips on Canada and calls Judy a “big, fat battle axe” hence the change in the match title. She’s too heavy for a pole. This is so lame. Buff comes out here and they brawl into the crowd. Judy is screeching away in the background. The tape I have for this show is rolling so badly I can’t actually follow the match. Not that I’d want to. I’m not sure why Kanyon has taken exception to either Buff or Judy. Surely his feud, seeing as he’s imitating DDP, would be with Dallas Page. Of course DDP is probably injured as his health wasn’t great in 2000. Kanyon spends most of the match warming up Buff’s neck for the Kanyon Kutter. Kanyon exposes a buckle but Buff dumps him on it for 2. BANG! Kanyon Kutter…for 2. Crowd really isn’t responding to Kanyon. DDP’s music kicks in but it’s actually David Arquette. Sorry, former WCW world heavyweight champion David Arquette. I don’t see what the point is of having him come out here as his interference on behalf of Kanyon goes nowhere. Buff lays him out so Arquette jumps in there and Buff beats them both down. Double Blockbuster! Buff gets the pin at 6.45. DUD. So Kanyon gets interference on his behalf and that causes him to lose without a miscue? Ok then. Another burial.

POST MATCH things pick up for Kanyon who Kutter’s Arquette to a big pop. Arquette takes a great bump off it. He really threw himself into the move. I dig. Of course he’s good for a bump but not necessarily anything more than that. Like say, a world title.

BACKSTAGE a huge limo pulls up with LANCE STORM in it. POP~! The tape rolls so much I can’t tell what the commentators are talking about. In fact it rolls so badly I can’t finish the tape because I can’t tell what’s happening. So that’s it. Bye bye WCW. Here’s the rest of the card from Wikipedia…

KroniK (Brian Adams and Bryan Clark) defeated The Perfect Event (Shawn Stasiak and Chuck Palumbo), Sean O’Haire and Mark Jindrak and The Misfits in Action (General Rection and Cpl. Cajun) (w/Disco Inferno, Tygress and Rey Mysterio, Jr. as Special Guest Referees) in a Four Corners match to retain the WCW World Tag Team Championship (12:22)
KroniK pinned Palumbo.
.

Looked like an incredible clusterfuck. The only good wrestler in the match was Chavo Guerrero Jr so I can’t believe that anything of any use happened. Chavo wasn’t in the match you say? Not so, he came down and put on a referee’s shirt (in a match with THREE special guest referees) and counted the finish. And Kronik somehow won because of this? I’ve given up trying to understand the logic of Vince Russo’s booking.

Billy Kidman defeated Shane Douglas (w/Torrie Wilson) in a Strap match (8:22) .

Douglas hasn’t been worth shit since jobbing the ECW title to Tazz. In fact he didn’t look great in those matches against Tazz either. He was broken down by that point. I think the arm injury pretty much marked the end of his career. Some of his matches since then have been nothing short of shocking. He’s actually a guy who could do Mark Madden’s job about a thousand times better than Mark Madden though. I’d have put him on commentary. Hey, it couldn’t have been any worse than what they already had going! Meanwhile Kidman has nothing thanks to a bad feud with Hogan where he got buried by never being shown as anything close to Hogan’s level. Which he isn’t but the idea of having him in that feud was to raise his profile. Didn’t work. The crowd never bought it because it was never sold to them right. So Kidman came out of it with a damaged reputation. He didn’t get his old reputation back until he turned face again. Luckily when the WWF bought WCW out most of the fans could only remember Kidman as the star he was long before the Hogan damage was done so he could walk back into his old position on the roster. There’s something positive about WCW in 2000; no one was watching so no permanent damage was done to anyone involved.

Major Gunns defeated Miss Hancock in a Rip off the Clothes match (6:43)

This ended in a pinfall and they did an angle with Stacey Kiebler losing a baby. Keep in mind how much everyone backstage in the WWF hated Russo for running the same angle with Terri Runnels. I think the basics of what Jim Cornette said about the angle remains true. He said that the angle never sold one ticket and never would because there’s no match to come from a lost pregnancy angle. All you’ll do is upset some of the female fans watching. Russo’s retort was that they did it on Dallas or Dynasty or some other soap opera. But people watch soap operas for storylines like that. Wrestling doesn’t have storylines like that because they don’t sell tickets. If Russo was using Dallas as a template for his booking then it’s no wonder it sucked. I’ve seen Russo’s shoot interview and every point he makes is wrong. He literally hasn’t got a clue what he’s talking about. It amazes me, to this day, that anyone would be dumb enough to fall for his bullshit and how a global wrestling company could let someone who knows nothing about wrestling run a wrestling company. In fact if you want to know what Russo said here’s a link to Brandon Truitt’s recap of the shoot Russo did. Makes for interesting reading. Some of it annoys me just reading it. Like him using a tequila bottle in the Juvi-Liger match for the IWGP junior heavyweight title. Antonio Inoki must have rolled his eyes at that one. There’s disrespecting people and then there’s disrespecting the business. Russo did both. Often without asking if it was ok.

Sting defeated The Demon (0:52)

Ah, the KISS Demon gimmick finally gets buried for good. I guess Russo hated it. WCW were never serious about pushing the gimmick so I don’t know why they bothered signing contracts with Kiss.

Lance Storm defeated Mike Awesome (w/Jacques Rougeau as Special Guest Referee) in a Canadian Rules match to retain the WCW United States Championship
Storm won when Rougeau attacked Awesome and Awesome couldn’t get up before the 10 count.
Rougeau changed the rules during the match to make it so pinfalls had to be 5 counts, the title couldn’t change hands by submission, a wrestler had a 10 count to get up after being pinned, and that a wrestler would lose if they couldn’t get up before a 10 count.

Bret Hart came out to celebrate afterwards. The crowd had been baying for Bret pre-match before the special referee was announced. Although the heel Canadians cheated like crazy the crowd still popped it. This is a fine example of Russo not knowing his audience. He didn’t realise how the Canadian fans would react. The WWE always seems to know how fans will react in advance. Look at Rock-Hogan or Rock-Austin the year before. This match had HUGE potential btw and they screwed up by having it as overbooked as it was when a straight up match could have generated huge buzz. They could have had a great straight up match here and saved the bullshit match for back in the USA when the crowd would bite on it. But then patience is something that Russo doesn’t have any of. Why build up to something when you can do it right now? Who cares if the crowd doesn’t react right in the arena? It’s the ratings that matter! On PPV. Dumb fucking booker. Russo never understood that buyrates were all important and he just killed buyrates because he booked horseshit on PPV.

Vampiro and The Great Muta defeated KroniK (Brian Adams and Bryan Clark) to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship (9:06)
Muta pinned Clark after a moonsault.

As if one Kronik match wasn’t enough. Plus this one has added Vampiro. It was here to set up Kronik v the Harris Brothers. There’s no need to change champions. There’s no need to have Vampiro team up with anyone because it betrays the only character trait he has. Kronik and the Harris’s suck. Another thing Russo never fully understood was that a mixture of matches was needed. I don’t get how he understood the importance of Internet fans and booked specifically for them and somehow never booked anything they liked. There’s a fine example with this next match.

Kevin Nash defeated Goldberg and Scott Steiner (w/Midajah) in a Triple Threat match (10:48)
Nash pinned Steiner after a Jacknife Powerbomb.

So Russo knew the Internet or Smark fans understood booking. Duh. So they booked a match where Goldberg would refuse to lose thus exposing wrestling as a total joke. The smart fans on the ‘net bashed the hell out of the show for being so retarded and that was the audience that Russo was booking for. Just because fans understand that wrestling is pre-planned doesn’t mean they want a big sign on TV saying “this is fake” before every match. This truly stupid angle lead to Steiner losing to be “a good professional”. So the match that a lot of fans wanted to see as a three-way power match got reduced to a load of bullshit about booked finishes. And that makes people want to buy the next show…how? Hey, look at the ridiculously stupid thing we’ve done. Tune in next month and we may actually do something dumber. I would say this is the dumbest thing Russo ever did but by this point the whole of his WCW run was just one long string of stupidity. When people are chanting “Fire Russo” at TNA shows it’s because this is the level of booking that could crop up again at any time. And the thing that really bugs me is that Russo is convinced he was always right. That he always made the right choices and sticks by them. Like his decision to put the world title on David Arquette. He also tries to spin numbers to make himself look better although every number out there shows him to be a disastrously bad booker on every level.

Finally we have the title match, which I’ve done before.

WCW title – Booker T (c) v Jeff Jarrett

Booker is carrying a leg injury so Jarrett goes right after that from the get go. Jarrett makes a mistake looking for a rana though and Booker powerbombs him for 2. Booker’s kicks look weaker with the injured leg, which introduces a high amount of injury psychology here. Or it would if Booker remembered to sell it from moment to moment. Missile dropkick from Booker and he sells on that so Jarrett just shrugs it off. Jarrett posts the leg, which should be curtains but he’s not done – CHAIR SHOT. Back inside and Jarrett slaps on a Boston crab. Booker gets into the ropes. Interesting note is that the crowd is utterly dead, which is because Russo never used his existing main event talent to put over the younger guys – just pushed the young guys right into the main event against each other. Booker with a Brisco corner roll up for 2. Booker with a spinebuster for 2 with NO sign of selling the leg, which Jarrett has battered for the previous 5 minutes. Axe kick from Booker, again with no signs of selling. Spinneroonie but the ref is bumped. Jarrett decides to remind Booker about that bad leg – GUITAR SHOT TO THE KNEE! Figure 4, slapnutz! Booker sits in it for a while before getting the ropes. Sheesh, how flat was that? Jarrett won’t break it because he’s an asshole. Crowd doesn’t care. Jarrett with the title belt, which presumably he’s going to hit Booker in the leg with but ends up miscuing and hitting the referee in the face. That’s ref bump #2. Is Stephanie McMahon booking this? Oh yeah, Russo. They fight onto the apron and Booker weakly pushes Jarrett off through a table, which was supposed to be a Bookend but Booker didn’t even move. Back inside and Jarrett gets pinned for 2 but just bails out for a chair. Low blow, right in front of the ref who Jarrett chair shots for ref bump #3. Stroke on the chair on Booker but the ref is out. Jarrett covers anyway and out comes the 3rd referee for this match to count 2. Jarrett swings with a chair and misses so Booker botches a neckbreaker on the chair for 2. Jarrett comes off the top, gets caught in the Bookend, blocked, Bookend again and Booker goes over at 14.29. **. Messy and overbooked. Booker’s selling was all over the place and towards the end the booking took over to replace the midcard wrestling. Weak for a main event, even in WCW. Booker remembers he’s meant to be selling the leg post match despite not having sold it for the past 5 minutes or so.

The 411: One good spotfest, nothing else doing. Fire Russo *clap clap clapclapclap*. It’s now gotten to the point where I can’t watch any more shows Russo has booked. So this is my final WCW flashback. I was planning on going all the way through but it’s such a waste of my time and energy and it’s so depressing I think I’ll do something else instead. Anything else. Thanks for the memories WCW…rot in hell.
 
Final Score:  2.5   [ Very Bad ]  legend

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