“What happened to that sweet little wrestling show we were doing every Monday?”
Kevin Nash, April 2000
Whilst looking back at Backlash 2000 a couple of weeks ago, I was pleasantly reminded of how great the then WWF’s product was at the time. Meticulously scripted by head writer Chris Kreski, the WWF shows featured great storylines and great in ring action to boot.
But what of the WWF’s big rivals WCW? After three consecutive profitable years from 1996 to 1998, WCW ended 1999 with a loss due to horrible booking and a stale in ring product. This drop in fortunes caused head honcho Eric Bischoff to get put on gardening leave. Vince Russo, the WWF’s much vaunted head writer of the time, had gone over to WCW to try and get things going again, but his scatter shot “Crash TV” booking saw Pay Per View buy rates tumble and he was forced out by early 2000.
However, Russo’s leaving meant that long time wrestler and backstage hand Kevin Sullivan was upgraded to a position of authority in the writing room once again. This angered a lot of the younger wrestlers, who felt that Sullivan and his allies had held them down whenever they’d had control of the book in the past. As a result, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn, Shane Douglas and Konnan all ended flying in the coop, leaving WCW’s roster irreparably depleted.
With everything in disarray, WCW reached out to Bischoff to see if he would
A – Be prepared to return
B – Be prepared to work with Russo
Bischoff met with Russo and, feeling that it could work, agreed to comeback. The first Nitro with both men back in the saddle would be on the 10th of April 2000. The big storyline to shake things up was the idea that the younger and mid-level wrestlers would band together to take on the established names that had previously held them down. Would this reboot of the company finally give it the impetus for survival? Let’s read on and find out! I’ll be doing this Nitro, the pay per view straight after it and then the Nitro on 17/04/2000. Sadly the WWE Network hasn’t uploaded Thunder shows from 2000 yet, so I’m afraid we’ll have to skip those ones.
The event is emanating from Denver, Colorado
Calling the action are Tony Schiavone, Scott Hudson and Mark Madden
The show starts with most of the WCW roster filling up the ring and ringside area. The Wall, Scott Steiner, Booker T, Vampiro, The Cat, Kidman, Torrie Wilson, Van Hammer and United States Champion Jeff Jarrett come out to join them. Jarrett grabs a microphone and introduces Vince Russo, who comes down to join everyone in the ring.
Jarrett says that Russo turned the WWF around and would have done it in WCW but the “Good Ol’ Boys Network” (Get used to hearing that a lot tonight) stopped him. Russo says he came to WCW to beat Vince McMahon at his own game, and that the “New Blood” of WCW were in the midst of changing the game when the Good Ol’ Boys used politics to bring him down.
He mentions the departing wrestlers by name, saying they left because of politics, and then turns to everyone in the ring to say it’s a new era and they need to seize this opportunity. We now hear Bischoff scoff “Are you done yet?” over the house mic before making his grand return. He comes into the ring, teasing that he’s here to oppose Russo, but it’s a SWERVE and he actually shakes Russo’s hand.
Bischoff becomes the third man to blame the Good Ol’ Boys, as I’m honestly wondering who these people are supposed to be because they haven’t actually named them yet and it was 18 years ago at this point. Bischoff finally lays out some names, targeting Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Sting, Diamond Dallas Page, Sid Vicious and Hulk Hogan. We see that Lex Luger, Miss Elizabeth, DDP, Kimberley Page, Sid and Sting are all backstage watching this on a monitor.
Bischoff says everyone warned him about Hogan and he should have listened, but now he sees clearly and pledges to help out everyone in the ring in this new era. Bischoff calls out everyone from the back and then sarcastically thanks them all for actually showing up to work tonight. DDP asks long time real life friend Bischoff what’s going on, but Bischoff tells him to get screwed and asks him where he was when he was let go back in 1999.
Bischoff says he made everyone on the stage and that he will break them. So with Bischoff singling out his former friends, it’s time for Russo to establish his primary target in this thing by cutting a scathing promo on Ric Flair, going as far to compare him to excrement on the bottom of his shoe. With that rant on Flair out of the way, Russo now declares that all the titles will be stripped tonight to create a “brand new playing field”.
Sid Vicious, the current World Champion, doesn’t want to give up his title for obvious reasons, so Bischoff actually marches down the ramp to get it. He says that Sid is welcome to beat the heck out of him, but he’ll find himself unemployed if he does. Bischoff then “ups the ante” by saying “What’s the matter Sid, can’t find your scissors?”
For those not initiated with the intricacies of behind the scenes 90’s wrestling, Sid and Arn Anderson once got into a real fight during a WCW tour of England in 1993, which saw Sid stab Arn with some scissors. Of course, unless you were a regular subscriber to the Wrestling Observer or Pro Wrestling Torch back then you probably wouldn’t even know that story, which is highlighted by the crowd not even reacting to the line. Bischoff repeats it, and the crowd still don’t have a clue what he’s on about. This should have set alarm bells off right away, as they were assuming the fans knew a lot of real life goings on when they clearly didn’t.
Sid thinks about destroying Bischoff, but then reluctantly hands the title over. We then cut to the announcers, who recap what we’ve just seen. As they talk we see Hulk Hogan arrive in the arena as we go to a commercial
Right, let’s analyse the good bits of that opening segment, because there definitely were some. Firstly, Bischoff’s delivery was excellent and he plays a smarmy heel wonderfully. They quickly established that Bischoff will be going after his, now ex, friends in the form of Hogan and DDP whilst Russo would be going after Flair. Good, that differentiates both men’s motivations and gives us a clear picture of who hates who.
Hogan is taping his wrists up when Sting walks over and tells him about the opening segment. Hogan sets off to find Bischoff.
Diamond Dallas Page w/ Kimberley Vs Lex Luger w/ Elizabeth
The announcers tell us during the entrances that the winner of this match will face the winner of a Sting/Sid match later to decide who fill face Jarrett for the title at Spring Stampede on Sunday. DDP and Luger both have their entrance music cut off before getting to the ring, which the announcers chalk up to Bischoff and Russo messing with them. It could just be a technical snafu, I mean; this is WCW we’re talking about!
DDP gets a neck breaker early but Luger gets a mule kick to take over, as the fans are unsure who to cheer for. Page gets some punches but a Luger clothesline restores his control. As the match goes on, Buff Bagwell’s music suddenly hits and he comes down to the ring with full pyro. DDP low blows a distracted Luger, but then gets distracted himself, as Bagwell chats up Kimberley outside.
Luger quickly jumps DDP, shaking off the shot to the balls like it never happened. This match has done it’s best to kill the concept of low blows. Buff now turns his attention to Elizabeth, which causes Luger to get distracted for a second time, allowing DDP to hit the Diamond Cutter for the pin fall.
WINNER: DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE
Match was all punching a kicking with a cheap finish.
Meanwhile, Hogan is still looking for Bischoff.
Curt Hennig finds Russo backstage and wants to be involved in his plans. Russo books him against Jarrett, with the winner getting the main event slot at Spring Stampede.
Meanwhile, Hogan is still looking for Bischoff. Come on, how big is this building?!
Tank Abbot joins us in the ring and cuts a middling promo, challenging Goldberg in the process. Goldberg is currently injured at the moment, and thus isn’t there. Tank says he’s going to start attacking innocent victims until Goldberg comes back to stop him. Madden loves the sound of this and eggs on Tank to beat up the other announcers, but irony is a cruel mistress as Tank attacks him instead. I don’t see how destroying Mark Madden makes anyone a heel to be honest.
Meanwhile, we see that Jarrett is complaining to Russo about having to face Hennig later. Russo tells Jarrett to trust him
Meanwhile part two, Torrie Wilson is backstage with Billy Kidman and asks him if he’s sure he wants to do what he’s planning to do. Kidman tells her to stay in the back and heads off.
Meanwhile part three, Hogan bumps into Terry Taylor, who directs him to Bischoff’s office. Finally!
This show is an ADD sufferer’s dream, with something happening in Every. Single. Segment.
Hogan, needing a full commercial break to complete the roughly 12 second walk to Bischoff’s office, finally arrives and Bischoff sheepishly invites him in.
Back at ringside, Billy Kidman comes down to the ring for some promo time. The story here was that Hogan had made some disparaging comments about Kidman, saying he couldn’t main event at a flea market, so Kidman decides to call him out. The announcers at least explained that for us. Kidman says he has two things Hogan doesn’t have, which is heart and talent. That’s a very baby face styled thing to say, but I’m pretty sure Kidman is supposed to be the heel here. It’s a decent promo from Kidman to be fair to him.
Hogan leaves Bischoff’s office and decides to come down to the ring to confront Kidman. We see how both men are miscast here, as Hogan towers over the much smaller Kidman, looking like a bully in the process. Hogan declares that Kidman is pussy whipped, which causes Kidman to start attacking him. Hogan soon gets control however and lawn darts Kidman into the ring post outside. Cue Bischoff with a chair. He teases hitting Kidman, but nails Hogan instead in another SWERVE. That was some Sting level naivety from Hogan there. Kidman “makes the cover” on Hogan and Bischoff counts the three, despite this not being an official match. This segment did nothing for Kidman, as Hogan destroyed him and then all the heat went on Bischoff as it was him who decked him with the chair. Hogan even blades from the chair shot.
Meanwhile, we see Ric Flair arrive at the arena in a limo.
We recap the Kidman/Hogan segment and cut to Hogan tearing apart the backstage area in a rage.
Cut to Ric Flair watching a video of the opening segment. He then comes to the ring and cuts a promo on Russo. Flair says he didn’t get old, he got great, which is an fantastic line. Flair calls Russo out but gets Scott Steiner instead (To his old “Steinerized” entrance music) who insults him. Steiner complains that Flair drove guys out of WCW so that he could win so many world titles. Steiner puts in some fake teeth and does a terrible Flair impression, which allows Shane Douglas to make his return to WCW and attack Flair from behind.
Meanwhile, Kevin Nash arrives at the arena on crutches.
We see Bret Hart sitting in the crowd as we go to a commercial
Recap of Douglas attacking Flair. We cut to Flair searching for Douglas.
Douglas is with Mean Gene Okerlund in the interview area. Douglas says he hates Flair and tells Gene to kiss his backside. So for those who aren’t aware, Douglas felt that Flair had held him back during a previous stint in WCW, so had spent most of the mid 90’s cutting bitter promos against Flair, which Flair had always ignored up to this point.
Sting Vs Sid Vicious
My word, an actual wrestling match! Sid’s dubbed theme is horrendous and doesn’t suit him at all. Who listened to that and thought “Yup, that makes me think of Sid alright!”? Sid cartoonishly sells some Sting strikes before immediately shrugging it all over and dropping Sting on the guardrail outside the ring.
Sid takes a face crusher (Landing on his knees first) but gets his knees up when Sting tries to splash him on the mat. Sid gets a Cobra Clutch Slam, but he’s no Jinder Mahal and Sting kicks out at two. Sid goes to a horrible loose chin lock, which Sting easily fights out of and we have a double down following a double clothesline.
Cue The Wall with a table, because every match and segment requires a run in on this show apparently. The referee gets bumped and Sid gets a powerbomb on Sting, but The Wall hits him with a chair and then choke slams him through the table outside the ring. The ref wakes up and counts Sid out, giving Sting the win.
WINNER BY COUNT OUT: STING
An awful match, almost all down to Sid, with a terrible screw job finish for extra measure.
Tony and Scott say they don’t know what’s going to happen next, at which point Flair comes down to the ring and challenges Douglas for a match later on.
Cut to the backstage, where Hogan is still tearing the place apart.
We’re back with Hogan’s continuing quest to find Bischoff and Kidman. Three Count don’t know where they are, so Hogan pummels them in frustration. What a jerk!
We see clips of the “Ready 2 Rumble” premiere, which involved David Arquette hitting Jarrett with a guitar.
Winner gets a World Title shot at Spring Stampede
Jeff Jarrett Vs Curt Hennig
Jarrett’s dubbed theme at least fits him more than Sid’s does. The fight starts in the aisle, which goes Hennig’s way. Jarrett hot shots Hennig to take over and punches away. Hennig slugs back but runs into a sleeper, which he counters with a back suplex. And now it’s time for another run in because…
Anyway, this time its Shawn Stasiak, who comes out to a Jimmy Hart restyled version of Hennig’s WWF theme. The ref catches a stray back elbow and he’s down, which allows Stasiak to come in and hit Hennig with a horrendously botched slam of some kind. It looked a bit like a TKO. Jarrett follows up with The Stroke and that’s enough for the pin.
WINNER: JEFF JARRETT
It looked like Stasiak’s move was supposed to be the finish, but it was botched so badly that Hennig demanded Jarrett hit another move first. Not an auspicious debut for the former “Meat” there.
Hogan goes up to the Skybox to look for Bischoff and ends up yelling at fans that are just enjoying the show. I mean, why would anyone like Hogan on this show? He’s been an absolute tool.
Meanwhile, Ric Flair is on his way to the ring, as the breakneck speed continues.
Kevin Nash is on the phone to someone backstage.
Sting is with Mean Gene in the interview area. Sting says he’s been working hard for WCW since 1988 and is coming for the “Golden Boy” Jeff Jarrett.
Ric Flair Vs Shane Douglas
Brawl to start, as both men are still wearing their street clothes. Flair goes low on Douglas before ripping off his shirt and delivering some knife edge chops in traditional Flair Style. Douglas gets a low blow of his own but Flair goes to the eyes to regain control. The ref doesn’t seem to care about any of this cheating, which fits the lawless nature of the show I guess.
Flair hammers away on Douglas, which is the cue for Vince Russo to come down to the ring with a baseball bat. Russo hits Flair with the bat for the DQ and then beats him down with the assistance of Douglas. Russo steals Flair’s watch as a trophy.
WINNER: RIC FLAIR BY DISQUALIFICATION
Another abrupt match that was all punching with a screwy ending
Kevin Nash is on his way to the ring.
Recap of the two on one beating on Flair.
Kevin Nash comes to the ring for a promo. It takes Nash all of, oh, 45 seconds to mention Scott Hall in his promo. Scott Hall was like the Ramiro Funes Mori of 2000, in that the longer he was out the more popular he seemed to get. Anyway, Nash delivers the line at the top of the review and says that he’s spoken to Hall, who is sober and in a bad mood. I doubt one of those statements quite strenuously.
Nash insults both Russo and Bischoff and calls them down to the ring, but is attacked from behind by the debuting Mike Awesome. Awesome was the current ECW Champion at the time, and him showing up at Nitro led to serious legal issues between WCW and ECW. Awesome cuts a quick promo, saying he had to come to WCW now Bischoff and Russo were running things again.
This got WCW in a bit of hot water with ECW’s legal team, as WCW were supposed to both hype Awesome’s upcoming title defence as well as not have Awesome talk on the mic. So of course they didn’t live up to either promise, which caused ECW to get very snippy indeed. Hudson made a brief mention of the title defence but didn’t mention the date or who it was against.
We cut to Hogan sitting in his limo yelling on the phone to his attorney. However, a Humvee shows up and smashes into the limo numerous times. Bischoff and Kidman climb out of the Humvee, showing they were behind this vicious act of attempted murder. You’d think they wouldn’t want to reveal their identities in such a situation wouldn’t you? Does anyone else feel like we’ve blown through 4-5 shows worth of stuff in one night for just this feud alone?
Recap of the previous segment. We see Hogan being loaded into an ambulance. Bischoff and Kidman show up and Kidman sprays “NB” onto Hogan with red spray paint. So this just the nWo with a different name then? Good to know…
Winner gets Jarrett at Spring Stampede for the World Championship
Diamond Dallas Page w/ Kimberley Page Vs Sting
DDP now gets his full entrance, complete with pyro, despite being denied it earlier by Russo and Bischoff. See, if you can forget continuity from as little as 90 minutes ago, what chance do you have of maintaining it over the long term? This is how you know that Bischoff and Russo are not good writers, because a competent writer wouldn’t forget something like that.
We get our run in early here as Jarrett comes out at the start to do guest commentary. DDP goes for the Diamond Cutter early but gets shoved to the outside by Sting. Sting gets a face buster and two Stinger Splashes, but DDP makes the ropes to stop the Scorpion Deathlock. Slugfest goes Stings way but DDP reverses and Irish Whip and gets a belly to belly suplex for two.
Jarrett goes to harass Kimberley, so DDP heads out to brawl with him, which distracts the referee. With the ref distracted, Vampiro comes into the ring and hits Sting with the Nail in the Coffin. DDP comes back in after fighting with Jarrett and gets the Diamond Cutter on Sting for the pinfall.
WINNER: DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE
Too short to be anything and, needless to say, the run was completely unnecessary and left a sour taste in the mouth. Would it have killed them to have the, what I’m guessing is the baby face, competitor for the pay per view at least earn their spot with a clean win? They could have still had Vampiro run out afterwards or something.
Jarrett tries to clock DDP with his guitar post-match, but DDP ducks and he ends up hitting Kimberley instead. Kimberley telegraphed it somewhat by covering up before DDP even ducked.
We get a recap of the previous segment, as this show is starting to drag.
Jarrett decides to come back out for more talking. Urgh, is this really needed? Wasn’t hitting a woman with a guitar a suitable enough finale for the show, considering there’s still Thunder to go before Spring Stampede? Anyway, Jarrett says he’s winning the title on Sunday and makes some lewd comments about Kimberley, which causes DDP to sprint out and attack him. See, why not have Jarrett bail here so that DDP can’t get his hands on him and thus we have a reason to buy the pay per view to see it? Everyone runs down for a brawl, which goes the New Blood’s way due to having greater numbers. Bischoff and Russo taunt from the entrance way, as Bret Hart walks out from behind them looking on unimpressed.
This show was absolute overkill, with something happening in almost every segment, with none of it being given any time to breath. The show was pure excess, to the point that everything started to lose meaning. Every match having a run in sure made those lose any importance they might have after the third one as well. When you do something in every segment it loses its impact pretty quickly. It conditioned the fans not to care about any of the matches, because they knew the end wasn’t coming until the run in. There was enough going on that the show was never boring I suppose, which is the highest praise I’m able to give it. I’m kind of dreading Spring Stampede now, but we’ll get to that next week.
Thanks for reading