The night that Benoit, Eddie, Dean, and Perry walked out at Nitro was a crazy day. Everyone was in meetings with Bischoff as the day went on trying to figure out what to do. The boys would huddle in little groups to try and sort out the gossip. So about five guys (I think one was Okerlund) and myself were standing around bull shittin’ and Bobby Heenan walks up to us and he says,”Have you heard the latest?” We’re waiting with baded breath,”No. What?” He says, “Maestro’s in there with Bischoff. He’s threatening to stay.” Heenan is one of the funniest guys of all time.
I’ve been watching a lot of NWO stuff on YouTube. One thing I’ve noticed was that even though Nitro was hot back then, in retrospect the shows were really vanilla. I think Russo really changed a lot about the way wrestling was written, making it more of a t.v. show as opposed to a wrestling show. What kept Nitro going was that the show had so many great talkers, when they really weren’t saying much.
Here’s an example of a typical half hour of Nitro. Announcers talk for two minutes about what needs to be done to stop the NWO. Hall and Nash come out for a six minute promo, where basically all they do is the survey, and plug their match later in the show with Sting and Luger. Next up is about a twelve minute match between Mysterio and Kidman, where the announcers talk for ten minutes about the NWO.
Next is a shot of a limo arriving to find out that Ted Dibiase and Virgil and Hulk and Fake Sting are here. Another two minutes of the announcers talking about the NWO. Add the commercials and you got thirty minutes. I think there was so much mention of the NWO that it subliminally made your mind think that what was happening was the most important thing of all time.
If you didn’t have talkers like Hall, Nash, Flair, Arn, Hogan, Piper, Macho, Sting and even Bischoff, who was great in his role, the show would’ve actually stunk. All the guys did was come out and challenge each other and talk about how bad they were going to beat each other up.
I can’t get over how funny the NWO’s 4 horseman impersonation was at the time. What made it great was that Flair and Arn and their friends were literally upset over the incident. I was thinking what great t.v. it must be to get guys mad for real on a show that’s about fake fighting. I think that in this day and age promos should be more personal. The problem is that guys don’t want their feelings hurt.
Look at the promos Konnan was cutting on the Dudleys in TNA. They were good enough that I had friends calling me asking if I’d seen it. They worked because Konnan didn’t like Bubba Ray for real, and they got some good t.v. out of it. In this day and age of reality shows and with the Ultimate Fighter guys setting the standard for shoot promos these days, wrestling needs to get more real with their angles, at least in the way the guys talk about them.
I’d like to see Hogan v. Austin. I know Austin isn’t that enthusiastic about doing it unless he goes over clean, because he doesn’t want to work with Hulk because he thinks he’s the shits. I’d tell him he needs to get over it. Every time Hogan has been on the grand stage in what’s obviously been the twilight of his career, he’s delivered and then some.
Rock-Hogan, McMahon-Hogan, Michaels-Hogan. You can say that Rock and Michaels carried him, but anyone in the biz knows it takes two to have a four star match. Besides, Vince didn’t exactly carry him, and for drama, I thought it was the best match on that show.
One of my biggest regrets in this business is never having wrestled at Madison Square Garden. If you watch clips of old MSG shows, guys back then really knew how to work. Today, most matches are formula. Baby shines, heat, comeback, finish. Here’s an example of an MSG match. Putski v. Orton,Jr. Putski tries to get in the ring, Orton knocks him off apron to floor. Repeat once, repeat twice, repeat three times. Between all the selling on the floor from getting knocked off three times, five minutes has gone by.
Finally Putski shoulders Orton in the belly, hits the ring, gives him some shots, hits the Polish Hammer. Done. That’s the whole match. Seven minutes and the crowd goes crazy. Those guys knew how to get mileage out of something without really doing anything. It’s truly a lost art in this business. No two matches were alike, because guys used to call a lot of the stuff in the ring. Some matches were just a couple of spots. That was it. Five minutes.
Wrestlers today can’t go five minutes on a house show. The formula takes longer than that. I’d like to see more matches where one guy gets 98% of the offense and the other guy gets a pin. If you asked some of the guys today how to do that, they would have no clue, because everyone needs to “get their shit in.” Why do PPV main events have to last 20 minutes? That was a knock the top guys had against Goldberg. “He can’t go twenty.” Well no shit. He shouldn’t go twenty. You’d be lucky if you lasted five minutes with him, or at least that’s what I thought.
I think a main event can be great if it’s only three minutes long, if it’s an exciting three minutes. That’s one of my pet peeves on the unwritten rules of wrestling, that there’s a minimum amount of time for the main event.
These are just opinions and are not meant to discriminate against anyone based on race, creed, color, or religion.
PS. I was just thinking what Vince McMahon would do if Hogan killed his wife and kid. That’d be a lot of erasing.
Have a news tip? Attended an event and want to send a live report?