Madden Mailbag: Goldberg, Don West’s Heel Turn, & More

Mark Madden

Hundreds of questions submitted; only 12 usable. Your batting average SUCKS; I’m still hitting home runs. Submit future crap e-mails to: You’re welcome.

From: Ian

*What happened the night the Radicalz left WCW?

It was Souled Out 2000 in Cincinnati. Vince Russo had just left WCW, and VP Bill Busch had put Kevin Sullivan in charge of booking. Several wrestlers, concerned about WCW’s future direction, met with Busch. Eddy Guerrero, Perry Saturn, Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko asked for their releases, which came as a surprise to other wrestlers who attended the meeting but had no intention of asking out, including Shane Douglas and Konnan. Benoit asked me to go to the meeting because "I know you feel the same way." But I never had a problem with Sullivan or his booking, and I wasn’t going to walk out on a lucrative part-time job. (Coincidentally, I debuted as Nitro co-host just two weeks later.) One thing to remember: Benoit had stolen Nancy Sullivan from Kevin in 1997 (Kevin not only booked his own divorce, he put it on TV). Benoit wasn’t just down on Sullivan’s old-school booking and supportive of Russo, he was concerned Sullivan might exact revenge for his marital woes by burying him.

From: Jay
*Who is the best wrestler ever at carrying a match by himself?
Ric Flair, without a doubt. Flair spent years going all over the world taking on hometown heroes as NWA world champion and believe me, Ric had some real beauties as opponents. Three hundred-plus nights per year, minimal pre-match preparation, call the spots in the ring, and night after night, Flair delivered. When a great worker carries a bad one to a good match today, it’s largely the product of well-rehearsed choreography. But Flair did even better ad-libbing. Witness some of his matches with an often nearly unconscious Kerry Von Erich. There’s a tape floating around where Flair deftly maneuvers himself into an abdominal stretch against a comatose Kerry. Flair was a miracle worker some nights.

*Who was the best in-ring female performer?
I’m a bad person to ask, because I think women’s wrestling is totally unnecessary and doesn’t draw a dime. But I appreciated the way Trish Stratus made herself into a solid, relatively believable performer. She had the looks, she had the body, her promos were OK and her work was above-average. But there were probably 50-100 better workers in Japan. I always liked Bull Nakano and Dump Matsumoto. Women have destroyed my life, so I find it realistic when they’re hardcore heels.

From: Brad

*What are your thoughts on Don West’s turn?

Don is doing a better job as a heel than he ever did as Mike Tenay’s parrot. He’s an articulate, semi-reasonable alternate viewpoint. He’s not as funny as I was in the same role, but he’s better at putting over the heels without burying the babyfaces. Case in point: When Team 3-D lost the IWGP tag belts to the British Invasion, I’d have said that the thought of Team 3-D representing America was treasonous, adding that the fat, lazy, bloated Dudleyz represent everything wrong about fat, lazy, bloated America. It would have gotten laughs, and I’d have been right, because the Dudleyz are a joke. But if the Dudleyz are part of the company, you can’t cut off their legs to make the opposition look taller. Don draws that line nicely.

From: Paul
*Why do so many think Kurt Angle is good? His mic skills are terrible, he looks ridiculous stumbling backwards when punched and if he learned a new move, it would be a miracle.
You couldn’t possibly be more wrong. You can sum up Kurt Angle in one word: BELIEVABLE. Believable ringwork, believable promos, believable facials…he’s just got everything. He has made the legitimacy of his Olympic gold medal last 13 years by perpetuating the legitimacy through incredible performances. Wahoo McDaniel and Ernie Ladd, for example, eventually stopped being known as ex-football players and were just pro wrestlers. Angle has been part of the pro wrestling circus since 1999, but his legit gold medal is still a talking point, and not in a sarcastic or humorous way. Angle makes you suspend disbelief. He’ll be remembered as one of the Top 10 ever, unless toiling in relative anonymity with TNA sabotages his Q rating.

From: David
*Does Vince Russo even know how to create an original storyline? It seems that all he does is rip off his failed WCW angles.

Of course he knows how. Russo’s not stupid. He’s actually very creative. But as much good as Russo learned from McMahon, he acquired one very bad habit: He books for himself. If he books an angle or feud that the audience hates, that everyone backstage hates, that leads to bad ratings and a non-existent PPV buy rate, Russo’s response is, "They just don’t get it." If need be, Russo can very legitimately convince himself that he is right and EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE WORLD is wrong. Exacerbating the situation is a never-ending stream of backstage yes-men looking to keep/enhance their jobs by way of sucking up. I used to be a big Russo fan. But he just doesn’t learn from his mistakes. He doesn’t even acknowledge making any. Too many people in wrestling don’t understand the meaning of "the customer is always right." The quality of the product is reflected by how many people purchase it, period.

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