Subscribe to the podcast via: iTunes | RSS Feed | Email Newsletter
Straight To Hell – It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that in the two weeks after In Your House the WWF leant on their only hot ticket. After Steve Austin and Bret Hart had their third PPV match, they devised an angle for Raw to “injure” Hart to enable him to go away and have knee surgery. The angle, a prolonged “street fight” including multiple waves of interferences ended with Austin locking Bret in a sharpshooter before Bret ended up being stretchered away.
As Bret was lead towards the ambulance, we witnessed the growing entertainment of Brets two stooges – Owen Hart and the British Bulldog – as they pleaded for mercy as Bret’s knee was being jarred on the way to the ambulance. But as the doors were closed it was revealed Austin was sat in the drivers seat, he climbed through to take some unopposed shots on Bret as pandemonium erupted in the arena and on commentary. Austin, and Bret on the stretcher got pulled out of the back of the ambulance before the signature shot of Austin getting some shots in on Bret, vertical and tied to a body-board. Excellent segment, Austin is hot.
Making Amends – The story in the past few weeks of the NWO had been one of dissention, with internal fractures causing the departure of both VK Wallstreet and Big Bubba. As with a lot of things on WCW television at the time, it was a storyline which had its roots in reality. After a shoot-laden promo from Kevin Nash at the end of March bemoaning Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff opting to be at the side of Dennis Rodman rather than at Nitro, that setup a summit of the NWO on the first Nitro in April. Hogan laid out his story and said that if Nash had a problem with him recruiting world class athletes like Rodman then he and Nash had differences that needed to be settled. It ended with Hogan and Nash patching up their differences but for once was a quite nuanced NWO storyline.
Hitman in his sights – With everyone developing a new attitude on Raw in the last six months, it apparently meant everyone was to start shooting also. Shawn Michaels was given an open mic on the April 7th Raw and went after Bret Hart. Shawn in a scattergun promo basically said that Bret would sell out his family for a dollar, deliberately left the WWF a year prior to try and set Shawn up to fail on top and that all Bret cared about was the WWF championship. Like a lot of these segments at the time, it was hard to work out exactly how it was sticking with the viewing audience, but it was a strong segment nonetheless. Perhaps the most noteworthy part was Michaels touting how he’d performed the best at the WWF box office in the last six years, only to put Vince on the spot for confirmation. Vince obliged.
Youngsters Aint Got No Respect – I mean, you’d be better off listening to our April WCW podcast to get the full low-down on this story, but to quickly summise it: after Hulk Hogan opted out of main eventing as a part of a six man tag match in May, there was call for Syxx to step into the breach alongside Hall and Nash – only Ric Flair and Roddy Piper both objected to that, feeling that Syxx wasn’t a big enough star to fill the spot that would also include Carolina Panther Kevin Greene. That, basically started this…
So, on Nitro on April 14th, WCW sent out Greene, Piper and Flair to do a short segment hyping the match. What we got was Piper (like usual) making no sense, Greene randomly talking about how the young NFL players have no respect (a shot at the “young” NWO group) and Flair giving us a history lesson of about how he only found out he belonged when he defeated Dick the Bruiser 25 years ago. The segment went so long it’s said WCW were trying to work out how they could get it over. As it was the segment came to an eventual conclusion. We hadn’t heard the end of this one.
Exhibition Mode – Wrestling, even by this stage, had a very wobbly relationship with “shoot-fighting”. As we saw with ECW in 1996, even when presented with the best of intentions people can get things wrong quite easily. Fast forward to April 7th and the WWF decided to host an “exhibition” with Ken Shamrock. The short segment was so incredibly flat, the action looking nothing like anything that resembled a “shoot”, Shamrock ended up unloading on the guy so much he busted him open , but the segment basically was a dud.
Off-Season – WCW were going football mad in April, building towards a May pay-per-view that would feature Kevin Greene in the main event and a match between resident Steve McMichael and… Reggie White. While the segment between White and Mongo on April 14th was relatively simple, the spit and pull apart brawl was easily the best thing Mongo has been involved in since he joined WCW.
Raw is Bore – As we’d seen in the couple of months prior, the switch of Raw to two hours had created a couple of “dead” weeks where tapings did not or could not exist. One of those was April 14th, where Raw was formed of part of a show taped the week before and part from a tour of South Africa. The stuff taped the previous week was flat, but the stuff taped in South Africa (that formed the bulk of the show and the majority of the in-ring time) was just awful.
I mean, put aside the audio issues that rendered many of the matches commentary-less, just imagine an EIGHTEEN minute match between Rocky Maivia and Savio Vega, then imagine hearing that it (arguably) wasn’t the worst match on the card. It’s a show so dull you almost need to watch it, one so bad that Jim Ross on his hotline said it “sucked”.
Saint Patrick – So, as part of a reshuffling of the NWO this month Nick Patrick was ejected from the group at the pay-per-view after taking an emphatic powerbomb from Kevin Nash. Not to say that Patrick returned as a babyface; he still had his attitude, but Patrick returned to Nitro on April 21st and took two minutes by the commentary position to plead his case. And you know what? Patrick is one of the best, most concise talkers WCW have. He adequately explained his position, succinctly gave his reasons why he wanted to return as a referee and asked to be reconsidered. It was a promo so strong I’d have knocked the whole thing on the head and found someone for Patrick to manage so he could talk more often.
House Arrest – So… Vader had been held under house arrest in Kuwait following a legit incident on a morning talk show where Vader got a bit physical with a host and swore. While the WWF didn’t plan the incident, it’s pretty clear they seized the opportunity to turn it into a storyline once they worked out the lay of the land. So we saw the clip, including WWF champion Undertaker in a bandana and sunglasses, and Vader flipping a coffee table.
Vader was held in Kuwait but made it back to Raw in time for April 28th, where he was asked by Jim Ross the same basic question that the Kuwaiti presenter asked him – “is this fake”. Vader once again wasn’t happy, but this time Ken Shamrock came out and threw Vader across the ring with an overhead belly to belly. This, not “exhibitions” was how to get Shamrock over.
Bite Me – Another part of the NWO restructuring has been the demotion, if you will, of Eric Bischoff. Not in so many words, but more that once it became clear that the NWO wasn’t going to have its own show or take over WCW that Bischoff wielding unchecked power made no sense. So as they did last month with Harvey Schiller, this time JJ Dillon came down to read Bischoff his rights. His contract was tight, but he had no power. Bischoff, the smug git that he was, just pushed the whole thing off – “BITE ME”.
Foundations of Gold – After the British Bulldog won the European Title at the beginning of March, the Hart Foundation added another piece of silverware to their growing cabinet after Owen Hart defeated Rocky Maivia for the Intercontinental Title. Rocky’s run, even short at a couple of months, was flat as hell and he needed to be put out of his misery. The match on April 28th wasn’t much of note, but it’s probably worth checking out just to see the smug reaction from Bulldog, Owen and the now wheel-chair bound Bret afterwards.
I Don’t Talk Much – We finish with a doozy from the NWO on April 21st, a retort if you like, from Syxx and Kevin Nash to Ric Flair and Roddy Piper. We got to hear from Syxx first, who said that he doesn’t sweat Flair or Piper, before Nash got the mic and basically shot on how he and Scott Hall were in WCW in the early 1990s, but that you only got a push in WCW if your dad was in the company. Nash then said that he and Hall left for pastures new and had success. Nash called his guys the “New Genaration” (where have we heard that before) before laying down the challenge. Mercifully, by this stage, both groups backstage had agreed that they’d work together for the good of the programme – providing nobody called Flair or Piper old!