While looking for old photos on the REALLY old computer, I happened across a file named "Moonsaults" which contained this essay. Way back when, Mo Chatra emailed me asking if I would be interested in doing a guest column for his Moonsault newsletter, then a UK version of the Wrestling Observer (I think?) - I think the selling point was maybe Meltzer would see it and ask me to write columns for the Observer or something. I was skeptical, but the WrestleLine thing was still months from happening and at that stage in my "career," I guess I didn't mind another avenue of exposure, so I said I'd give him some "angry man shtick." As you'll soon read, I didn't get all that angry after all, but I DID think I managed to share a hot take that I hadn't seen anybody else offer. (Time has proven it was probably also bullshit, but...)
Unfortunately, in the process I went WAY over the suggested word count (I can't remember if it was supposed to be 500 or 1000 words - probably 1000, since I clocked in right around 1300) and to be honest, it was never confirmed to me that this ever made it into print, as before he sent me my complimentary copy of the newsletter, Mo turned insane with rage over my terrible, terrible bias against WCW (and there are probably a few "I Get Letters" example emails signed by Mo out on the old site to back me up if you're realllllllly bored enough to go find them) and welched on the deal.
In my fevered imagination, years ago somebody from the UK said they had indeed seen this column, but I dunno.
UNSEEN by darn near the entire world in over fifteen years (this file was dated 11 March 1999; hopefully this ended up published before WCW Uncensored before I could essentially be proven wrong), here now is a bold reclamation of my copyright as I present... to YOU! ...
MY LOST COLUMN:
What the hell is Kevin Nash thinking?
In November 1998, it was made common knowledge amongst the "smart" wrestling community that Nash was being given the book - the keys to the WCW storyline planning. Angles, titles, you name it - Nash was booking it. World War 3, as a result, saw a series of "shocking" developments which in retrospect only belied a greater pattern. Nash not only nixed a scheduled match between himself and Scott Hall - opting instead for an NWO beatdown of Hall in which he gallantly made the save - but also promptly entered one of the three rings in the World War 3 battle royal and tore through 19 jobbers and luchadores single-handedly in about two minutes. More minutes later, Nash was dumping out Hall and Luger at the same time to win that battle royal and secure the #1 Contendership to Goldberg's belt.
In itself, this wasn't too bad. As a storyline, it made sense to build up Nash as a dominator (if you could overlook the WCW-storyline-induced "quality" of the people he squashed - many of whom deserve a hell of a lot better, but I'm rambling now) and a credible threat to defeat the unstoppable Goldberg. This even seemed to make sense when, on the next night's Nitro, Nash had little problem in defeating Wrath, a man whose "undefeated" streak had been heavily hyped in previous weeks since his return to action.
The next week saw Nash acting like a man 1/3 his age, trying to play juvenile "mind games" with Goldberg as their contract signing was televised on Nitro. Even this, perhaps, is excusable as "in character" for Nash to act this way. But yet another thing happened that week to turn this columnist (and quite a few others) to see that the new boss was going to be the same as the old boss. Konnan, avowed friend-of-Nash and fellow Wolfpack member, won the World Television title that night from Chris "Monday" Jericho.
Chris Jericho is one of the few performers in WCW that's worth watching. That's only my opinion, of course, but there is a difference between the kind of cookie-cutter performance that seems so commonplace on television these days - not only in interviews, ("Hey yo," "if you smelllll...," "I'm the greatest," "and that's the bottom line," to name but a few) but in actual wrestling as well. Jericho varies both his arsenal and his moveset, and this is one of the many things that makes him one of the most exciting people to watch Monday night. If you miss him one week, you don't know that you'll be able to see whatever he did again the next week - that's the sort of thing that would keep people tuning in - get me? You want to see what he does next.
Well, apparently Nash didn't want to see what Jericho did next, because he took the strap off of Jericho and put it on Mr. Bowdy-'bout-it-and-rowdy-rowdy, Mr. Toss-my-salad-and-peel-my-potato, Mr. Take-the-grass-out-of-your-pocket-and-smoke-it, Mr. Believe-I'm-a-bus. The K-Diggity-Dogg - who runs out of breath walking to the ring and doing a call-and-response with the crowd before the match.
In the intervening months, we saw Nash retire the Giant, we saw Goldberg's undefeated streak end at the hands of Nash, thanks to Scott Hall's Mountie impersonation - on the same night Eric Bischoff scored a pinfall victory over The Man; and a week later, we saw Hall reunite with Nash, throwing months of storyline work out the nearest window, and in a hundred seconds that shook the world, Hollywood Hogan pinned Nash after the finger to the chest of Doom.
A lot was made about Hogan and Nash at the time - why did Hogan come back after just over a month of "retirement?" Why did he immediately get the belt? Why does he seem to be helping Nash with the booking?
One popular conspiracy theory advanced by a writer far more credible than I is that Hogan and Nash are deliberately running WCW into the ground so they can both jump ship when it's all said and done, leaving a husk of a company behind - and advance their careers even further in the other league.
I have a theory of my own which I'd like to advance, and since you've read this far, you might as well run with me the rest of the way.
Nash got the book - he tried to turn things around and in the month that followed saw the ratings inch closer and closer as Nitro went head-to-head with RAW is WAR. After a month of improvement, Hogan came back. He saw things getting close and wanted to be the reason WCW came back on top. He got the belt. He went on to defeat The Man thanks to his son, David Flair, turning on him and letting loose like da Mountie.
None of this has worked, of course. Since we turned to 1999, the ratings gap has actually widened to its highest levels in a long time, and possibly the highest for RAW since the Monday Night Wars started. It isn't working. The numbers show that Hogan isn't helping the overall bottom line - in fact, quite the opposite.
We could actually blame the nonsensical overall booking, the burying of the talented wrestlers in pairings no one actually wants to see, much less pay for, the return of "senior" superstars who suddenly win titles (only to drop them to friends of the booker soon thereafter) from worthy belt holders, and skits and vignettes that insult the viewers' intelligence rather than suspend their disbelief, to be sure, but that doesn't play into my conspiracy theory, so I will casually ignore it so as to infuriate the skeptical reader.
My theory is this:
Nash is trying to bury Hogan once and for all, by any means necessary.
How else can you explain a planned Hogan face turn? No one thinks it will go over except for possibly Hogan. Nash hopes that this will be the final nail in the coffin - the last straw breaking the camel's back - the ultimate (poor word choice) factor in getting Hogan out of the wrestling business forever. At the time this is written, UnCeNsOrEd hasn't played out, so this could still change, but assuming that they'll follow through with all the rather blatant clues we've been handed, it seems a certainty. And a face Hogan is pretty much a Hogan living on borrowed time.
Why would Nash want Hogan out? Check out December again. In the absence of Hogan, it was Nash who reigned supreme in WCW. Everything revolved around Kevin - who I took to calling "Big Poochie" in my Nitro reports because, like the famous cartoon dog in the Simpsons, he (well, Homer) wanted people to wonder about him even when even he wasn't anywhere to be seen. Nash über alles!
How exactly Nash would get Hogan out while keeping his own job is a riddle wrapped in an enigma in itself, but one would presume that Nash has this bit worked out already if he's really going along this path. If Hogan is out, we're back to November and December and King Kevin. Why wouldn't Nash want to try to bring WCW back this way?
Thus, we are left with a dichotomy. Surely, many of us would rejoice at the prospect of a Hogan-less industry in 1999. But at what cost? To simply have Nash walking around as Hogan II?
Christopher Robin Zimmerman is usually a lot funnier when dissecting Monday Night shows for wrestlemaniacs.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interesting. I never thought of it that way. Hindsight being what it is I think Nash had a bunch of motives. Money being at the top, it wouldn't surprise me if flushing Hogan was another. In the end Nash was just really bad for wrestling. WWE would probably be in shabby shape today if Nash had stayed and someone else jumped with Hall. He was just a drain. Big Poochie was a fiting name to stick him with.
That's only my opinion, of course, but there is a difference between the kind of cookie-cutter performance that seems so commonplace on television these days - not only in interviews, ("Hey yo," "if you smelllll...," "I'm the greatest," "and that's the bottom line," to name but a few
Alas, Jericho became 'that guy' ... I guess they all do after awhile.
. If you miss him one week, you don't know that you'll be able to see whatever he did again the next week - that's the sort of thing that would keep people tuning in - get me? You want to see what he does next.
Where can we get some of this? Not since the Summer of Punk have we been left with that feeling. In the end he became 'that guy' too. And so it goes.
Originally posted by BigDaddyLocoAlas, Jericho became 'that guy' ... I guess they all do after awhile.
I would offer that Jericho is still better than most about trying to introduce new wrinkles, though, my incredible biases aside. When he was busy not shouting as "the last honest man," he was as fun to watch* (*for me) as he ever was. Not talking for several weeks was a bold tactic. I don't know if he's got any new tricks up his sleeve for this time around, but even his callbacks to 1999 don't seem overplayed when he DOES go there.
Subject: CRZ, Have You Lost It? I recall WWF doing many things to make WCW look stupid (Billionaire Ted, DX Invasion, Gillberg, weekly cheapshots by Good Ol' JR) yet that was OK because it was funny. Yet when WCW does it, it's not funny and you act like a 12 year-old lemming with a Vince fetish. God, I never realised you took the WWF so seriously. For God's sake lighten up, dude. Why is it so many WWF lemmings get emotionally upset anytime anyone has the audacity to rip into the WWF and the Allmighty Vince. People like you should get a life!
Nice screen name. Using the word "lemming" is an automatic DQ, but let's assume the ref isn't looking. PLEASE go to the Archives and check for DX's invasion and what I said about it. PLEASE make the ATTEMPT to back up your claims that I have a blanket of praise for everything WWF. I am BEGGING you - don't just make the claim to feel better, provide some proof. 'til then, I can't take you seriously.
Subject: Re: CRZ, Have You Lost It? OK, you didn't like how the luchadors were used. It's reality check (TM, Roddy Piper, 1999) time. As much as 'smarts' enjoy watching the likes of Psychosis, Silver King and La Parka do their thing, the majority of fans can't stand them. These days the fans want storylines (ask your God V.K.M. about that) and unfortunately, most luchadors cannot assist WCW in that respect due to the language barriers. Because 90% of fans couldn't care less about work rate or great matches, the only other way to use these guys is in a comedy role. Look what portraying guys like Jim Duggan, Norm Smiley and Lex Luger as comedy figures has done for them. They're like entertaining for the first time ever. OK, the whole luchador match was booked around silly stereotypes. Well, the WWF has always been built around stereotypes (have you forgotten Iron Sheik, The Bolsheviks, Saddam Slaughter, Mr. Fuji & Prof. Tanaka, Koko B. Ware, Yokozuna, Tito Santana (El Matador), Kamala, etc., etc.) so for you to be offended by the WCW bringing stereotypes into their product, yet at the same time admitting you're a lifelong WWF fan that has been built around stereotypes, it's just plain confusing.
Let's look at the facts:
WCW Monday Nitro is almost universally agreed a better show since Russo and Ferrara have taken over. At the same time, WCW has started taking weekly cheapshots at the opposition in a manner the opposition has employed over the last nearly four years (beginning with the factually incorrect Billionaire Ted skits, that were funny to begin with but by Wrestlemania XII were very old). The only real criticisms of the new direction has been the phasing down of the cruiserweights and the shorter matches. The answer to that is that most of the cruiserweights don't want to work in that division anymore (Rey, Kidman, Malenko, Benoit, Guerrero, etc.) and it's only in the last eighteen months that Nitro started having ten minute matches. During the glory days of Nitro, most matches would only only last 2-5 minutes, whereas over the last eighteen months more matches last 8-12 minutes. Over the last eighteen months, we saw some of the worst Nitros ever. In other words, cutting the duration of matches is a good thing because it's basically just cutting out the restholds and allowing workers to work faster-paced, more athletic and exciting matches as opposed to slow, boring snorefests. Over the last few weeks, you're hatred towards WCW has grown greater than ever before, with your reaction to any cheapshots made by WCW that have been aimed at your beloved WWF treated with incredible hostility. Face it, you don't like WCW because they are ripping into your promotion and their performers. Also, their show isn't easy to criticise like it once was, and you're finding more things to criticise on Raw, yet because of your blind affiliation to the WWF you cannot bring yourself to criticise them the same way you would WCW if they were putting out some of the crap the WWF is putting out at the moment. Your reports used to be real funny but now their just forums for you to vent your pathetic anger towards WCW for daring to providing your beloved WWF with real competition and for having the audacity to criticise the WWFE. Heck, after reading one of your reports you don't even know if the show was good or not. Now that your reports have become great cures for insomnia, I really believe you should just quit while you're ahead and make way for a more talented, more objective, less serious, laid-back generally funny guy like Scott Keith. Up until about three months ago, your reports were much funnier than Scott's. However, your reports now just suck big time and you should just quit because you've become a cyberspace hasbeen. It's time for you to do the right thing for the business that made you and lay down for Mr. Keith, and then drag your tired old ass outta town.
Ahhhh, NOW I get it. You're Scott Keith, aren't you? Come on - admit it!
Subject: Oh My God! Your so fucking anti-WCW, it bugs you to hell when other people think they put on good shows. I'm going to do the first online fatwa and place a bounty upon your acne-ravaged head.
Send all contributions to Mo Chatra, care of "Limeys who Know Meltzer for WCW", UK. I hear he's working on an article for some site or zine or something which will TOTALLY PUT ME IN MY PLACE. If you see it, please pass on the link to me...
Well, I was going to post this much earlier but then I was seized with a compulsion to defragment my hard drive and that took FIVE HOURS. I had hoped that it would stop making Compaq display "DRIVE FAILURE IS IMMINENT!