WCW Sin 2001 1/14/2001
Written by: Arnold Furious
As WCW entered into it’s final few months as a company there was still, in some quarters at least, a belief that they would turn it around. 2001 marked the end of these beliefs and it happened quickly and decisively. Russo’s habit of hot shotting the belt on free TV and building up feuds over stupid worked shoots and then providing rotten and badly booked finishes to those feuds on PPV had driven the customers away. WCW’s fanbase was dwindling. There were house show gates, no PPV buyrates and the only thing they had supporting the entire company was the fact that WCW was on TV. Without TV the company would be absolutely dead. And keep in mind this is the same company that blew $60M in 2000 WITH TV and without Eric Bischoff’s lavish spending. When WCW’s Thunder TV show was cancelled in January of 2001 the writing was on the wall. The ratings had gone past the point of no return and it joined WCW Saturday Night on the scrapheap. Now all WCW had was encapsulated on Nitro. Worse still WCW’s one saviour was Ted Turner. The guy who owned the company. The man who put WCW on his channel.
But in early 2001 AOL and Time Warner merged leaving Billionaire Ted with a board of directors that was less than thrilled with his money pit ideas like WCW. Professional wrestling was no longer profitable as the boom was over. The WWF had cornered the market and had all the stars and all the popularity. AOL/Time Warner decided to sell WCW. Officially. It wasn’t the usual rumours of potential buy-outs it was up for sale. To the highest bidder. And the highest bidder, try not to laugh now, was Fusient Media Ventures. Headed by Eric Bischoff this group claimed to have the $63M it would cost to purchase WCW outright from Time Warner. His idea was to take over in February and shut the entire company down for a month to do a total re-boot. In the process most of the highest earners would be gone, because he couldn’t afford them, and he even had ideas in place to work with Ultimo Dragon’s Toryumon to bring in fresh faces from Japan. Sounds good huh? I’ll continue the story with the next show; Superbrawl Revenge, which really IS the final WCW review for me. I do have the last show they ever did but I’ve already reviewed it once and I’m not doing it again.
We’re in Indianapolis, Indiana. At the Conseco Fieldhouse. The building seats 18,000 but WCW drew a whopping 6,617 for this PPV. It’s still a sizeable crowd but ECW was drawing numbers around that for their PPV’s (5,700 for Heatwave 2000 for example). It’s at this point where WCW was struggling a little to remain #2 pro wrestling company in North America. Hosts are Tony Schiavone, Scott Hudson and fuck Mark Madden because he’s gone.
Cruiserweight title – Chavo Guerrero Jr (c) v Shane Helms
Helms was just starting to come into his own and his cool looking finisher, the Vertebreaker (Kudo Driver/Cop Killer), had got him over as a star in one simple step. WCW is finally getting the focus back on cruiserweights, which was one of Eric Bischoff’s keys to success seeing as the WWF was incapable of having a cruiserweight division because of Vince’s big man fetish. It’s actually a great match from the off with them trading on hammerlocks and the crowd actually paying attention. I guess all the Attitude fans have gone by the wayside and they’re just left with the wrestling fans from way back. The crowd eats up Chavo’s Flair-esque chops and Helms’ Steamboat-esque armdrags. Yeah, they really ARE going there. Helms with a flying headscissors and the crowd is eating this up, which shows you where WCW’s priorities went wrong. HEY, WRESTLING! WOO! Chavo hits an Alabamaslam and the crowd just erupts. Then again as Chavo goes low. Did they turn the mics up or something? Some of the pre-planned stuff looks very “Indy” style, which shows how green Helms was but he had tremendous potential. He hits a wicked looking flying neckbreaker and the crowd goes nuts on the double count out. This is the best crowd WCW has drawn in like 2 years. Shane busts out the X-Plex for 2. Tony thinks it’s the dragon suplex but Hudson jumps in to correct him. Helms with a superkick but Chavo uses the ropes to save himself. Helms gets thrown to the floor and Chavo decides it’s time to fly with a plancha. Crowd ROARS as he climbs the buckles. Chavo gets hip tossed over the top and now Shane is up with the FROG PRESS off the top. Hudson totally oversells it claiming Helms covered “50 feet across the floor”. It was more like seven. Helms calls for the finish but Chavo blocks the Vertebreaker so Helms counters into the Nightmare on Helm Street…for 2. He goes for another but Chavo knees out. Chavo wants the tornado DDT bit that’s blocked so Chavo switches out to the brainbuster and that gets the pin at 11.13. Chavo defends. ***1/2. The effort and determination was a metaphor for how alive WCW suddenly became when Bischoff laid out the plans for its future right before this PPV. Here are two guys that were listening. Either that or they were trying to get WWF contracts a few months down the line. Either way it was impressive.
Big Vito v Reno
This is surprisingly energetic and Vito is even…OVER. What the fuck is that? Of course these guys are far more limited as wrestlers than the cruisers in the last match so it’s not great or anything but the crowd pops everything and Vito’s superplex gets met with an enormous roar and a near fall. The brawl gets even more energetic as they spill out to the floor and start stiffing each other. Does the winner get an extra large from Original Ray’s or something? They seem unusually energised. I think this angle didn’t work because the whole ‘brother turns on brother’ angle isn’t particularly shocking without background and they basically decided they were brothers after debuting Reno so it didn’t really have any history like the Steiner Brothers and that turn. At least they’re trying. Vito with a big overhead belly to belly and a sloppy Savage Elbow gets 2. Ultimately neither guy is a good wrestler so that’s a problem. Reno calls for the Roll of the Dice out of nowhere but Vito counters into a suplex. Reno pops back up and hits an Exploder. What the hell? STRONGSTYLE RENO~! They start elbowing each other and REALLY channelling Misawa. Vito goes for another suplex but Reno blocks right into the Roll of the Dice and you know that finishes at 8.39 as the commentators spent the whole match talking about how deadly the move is. **1/4. This is a shocker actually. Neither guy is much good but they gelled well. Although it’s mostly brawling they had a good finish. And it was all about wrestling. Nifty.
Yung Dragons w/Leia Meow v Jamie Noble/Evan Karagias
And FINALLY we have a match added to the card that DOESN’T suck. I’ve lost count of how many special bonus matches WCW have put on that just stink and no one wants to see. Again this would be part of Bischoff’s plan to push cruisers again. I’m certainly happy with Kaz popping off German suplexes on Evan. Dragons come out to the floor with double Asai moonsaults and Evan nearly gets killed during that. Excellent. Noble and Yang run some nice pre-planned stuff that ends with Noble ranaing Yang to the floor. Evan tries for a superplex but Kaz dumps him off face first. Kaz tries to follow but Evan dropkicks him out of the air. They run a charge spot where Kaz drop toeholds Evan into the bottom buckle at speed. Evan is killing himself for my amusement here. He still sucks but I at least appreciate the effort. Evan flies into the buckle the other side chest first. Good man. Keep it up. Kaz gets picked off to play yellow in peril. Noble suplexes him around the ring and generally mimics the style of He Who Must Not Be Named. Evan even busts the press spinebuster and does it a damn sight cleaner than Goldberg. Evan blows the top rope quebrada but still lands on his face so in a way it’s still good. Noble elbows Kaz right in the jaw so Kaz kicks him upside the head. Glorious. Crowd is loving all this. Kaz gets the hot tag, to less than expected reaction, but Yang cleans house and dismantles Noble’s knee. He gets distracted by Evan though and Noble German suplexes him for 2. Evan dives with no regard for his own safety and wipes out Kaz. Noble looks for a super rana on Yang but that’s blocked into the LIGERBOMB OFF THE TOP…for 2. Evan is back in to neckbreaker Yang and hit the Firebird Splash for 2. Kaz slingshots back in to DDT Evan into the King Crab Lock but Noble kicks him off and hits the Tombstone…for 2. Yang is back up and takes Noble down but misses Yang Time. Noble grabs him Yang rolls him up for the pin at 9.21. Oh, someone fucked up the finish Jimmy. ***1/2. Insane spot heavy formula tag. Just great effort from everyone involved, even that doofus Evan Karagias. The only downside is they didn’t get longer to work with. Well, and there was no spot where Leia Meow either hit someone or dived and Yang fudged the finish. Otherwise gold.
PROMO TIME – Out comes Mike Sanders to run his mouth. He rambles about the commissionership and how Miss Jones is also on the line.
Ernest Miller w/Miss Jones v Mike Sanders
The problem with the commissionership is that WCW was treating it like a championship belt. And not even an important one. After all Ric Flair was the man in charge regardless of whatever Sanders or Miller or whoever else did. Miller stupidly gets suckered into a popularity contest, which is blatantly set up for Sanders to jump him. Sanders is still really green. He can talk but that’s about it. Sadly this isn’t a talking match. Miller does his stuff, which is basically a load of kicks and count-along stuff with the crowd. Sanders goes low but that just gets him kicked more. Crowd is into Miller although he’s very limited in the ring. He has enough signature stuff to be popular. WWF never rated him enough for the push. Sanders bails for a chair but Miss Jones boots him up the arse and chases him around the ring. If Russo was booking she’d turn heel right there. The Thrillers run out here to attack Miller but Kronik attack them in a face turn. Sanders is confused and then he’s unconscious as he turns into the Feliner for the pin at 5.42. ½*. Lousy match between two guys who really aren’t up to much in wrestling terms. Crowd enjoyed it though and at least they turned Kronik face, which has a pay off unlike Miss Jones heel. Which has no pay off.
Penalty box match – Team Canada (Storm/Awesome/Skipper w/Major Gunns) v Filthy Animals (Konnan/Rey Mysterio Jr/Kidman w/Tygress)
Referee is Hacksaw Duggan. He’s back babyface and leads the crowd in chanting “USA”. So, why did Team Canada have a bus? This is a good match potentially as you’ve got a lot of talent out there. Only Konnan really sucks and the girls add an extra dynamic. But the rules, where anyone who breaks rules gets sent into a penalty box at ringside, don’t help and adding Duggan as referee isn’t the brightest idea considering he was feuding with Team Canada. It sets up a blatant one sided affair…tough guy. Anyway, Skipper stomps away in the corner and he isn’t legal anyway so he’s sent to the box. Awesome accidentally brushes Duggan and he gets sent to the box too. Impartial refereeing my ass. This is why Canadians hate America. Storm gets tripled teamed repeatedly, which is also against the rules but Duggan doesn’t want to punish the American side. Even though two of them are Mexican. The powerplay is over and the heels pick off Kidman for some heat. Skipper is the up and coming star who later made a name for himself in TNA as one third of Triple X. He shows some nice work with Kidman until Awesome pulls Kidman’s hair and he’s in the box. Storm gets sent out too for touching Duggan in protest of that decision. So now Skipper gets beaten up by the babyfaces who’ve now unfairly gained another 3 on 1 advantage. The Animals can’t get it done during the powerplay. Skipper makes the mistake of trying to work lucha libre with Konnan, which is brutally bad. Konnan stands around waiting to be missile dropkicked. I hate that guy. Awesome comes in and starts to dominate suggesting he probably should have just tagged in earlier. Gunns and Tygress get into an altercation. Duggan breaks that up. Rey runs into him and ends up in the penalty box. Kidman joins him and it’s another dumb piece of booking. It makes Duggan look like a total turd. But this gets better as Tygress sprays Major Gunns with water. WOOO! YUS! CATFIGHT! The ladies get sent into the box…but they were working their way into the box Jim. Give them time. Duggan can’t let anything entertaining happen outside of his own officiating though. BOO! Konnan meanwhile has been taking a 3 on 1 for a while but Team Canada seem to have no interest in finishing this. Konnan comes back with an ugly X-Factor. I don’t know why he bothers with wrestling holds because he can’t do anything right. Kidman tags in with dropkicks a plenty and the Rydien bomb gets 2. A brawl breaks out on the floor and Duggan bitches at everyone. Awesome gets boxed for trying to cut Kidman’s hair. Since when is that an offence? Tygress gets boxed for a broncobuster. Storm gets hung up and Rey slingshot legdrops him off. Storm superkicks Rey out of the ring but Kidman tags in blind and hits the Kid Krusher. Awesome just barely gets back in there to save. Rey dives in there but Awesome hits the Awesomebomb. He’s not legal but Kidman and Storm are and the Maple Leaf finishes at 13.05. Er, what? **. It was sort of entertaining but confusing and sort of pointless as the babyface referee kept making weird decisions and the heels won anyway. At least Team Canada is now looking really strong.
Hardcore title – Terry Funk (c) v Crowbar v Meng
Meng has the belt because he stole it and no one has the nuts to take it back. Daffney is in the crowd so Funk goes after her but Crowbar charges him with chair shots to free her. Meng doesn’t give a shit and stays in the ring. They brawl into the ladies toilet backstage. Ok, where’s Kevin Sullivan? You know he’s somewhere loving this. I hope Torrie Wilson isn’t back there taking a dump. Meng strolls back there having figured out he’s missing out on some action. Plunder shots follow. Funk throws a trashcan RIGHT IN HIS FACE. Well, if there’s one guy with the balls to do that it’s Terry Funk. Meng gets himself buried under a stack of tables courtesy of the other two. Funk goes to town on Crowbar with a chair but Crowbar has the fire extinguisher and fends him off. They set up a blatant table spot and Crowbar starts climbing the cheap seats. He legdrops Funk through the table and the retarded director cuts to some guy in the crowd thus missing the spot. Luckily they have it on the replay but how dumb do you have to be to miss it in the first place? This is a case of the company actually ruining the wrestling with stupid little mistakes. Crowbar gets himself superkicked down the ramp. Funk lamps Meng with a snow shovel a few times before setting up a guardrail ECW style. Crowbar gets slammed on it and it snaps in half. Crowbar is trapped in it and Funk gets hit in the face as the rail flips over. Ah, good old fashioned madness. Gotta love it. Crowbar goes after Funk’s already busted up knee and Tony points out Funk’s knees have been featured in documentaries as having zero cartilage now. Crowbar slaps on a Figure Four and Meng runs in but Crowbar points out that’s NOT the spot and no sells his strikes. Oops. Meng heads up top and splashes Crowbar. THAT is the spot. Idiots. Meng with a piledriver and Funk has to save. Meng heads up AGAIN to frog splash Funk. Jesus, you can tell there’s effort going on when Meng is up on the top. The others team up to chair shot Meng down. Crowbar tries to pin so Funk DDT’s him for 2. Funk signals for a double DDT on Meng, which gets a chair shot off Crowbar. Superkick for Crowbar and Meng uses the Tongan Deathgrip to pin Funk at 11.40. ***. One of the more entertaining hardcore matches from WCW. There was great effort all round from these guys. The undercard generally has shown a lot of drive.
Tag titles – Insiders (Kevin Nash/DDP) (c) v Natural Born Thrillers (Sean O’Haire/Chuck Palumbo)
WCW has finally figured out which of the Thrillers could work. Obviously comedy sidekick Stasiak is jettisoned and one trick Jindrak followed suit. That leaves the two aces from the Thrillers stable. Neither one of them is a great worker but they’re big, strong, fast and young. Mike Sanders brings out the other Thrillers to strut around at ringside. He claims he can make “substitutions” during the match. That brings out an unimpressed CEO Ric Flair to point out Sanders just lost the commissioner position so he can’t do jackshit. Flair throws out everyone bar the guys who are meant to be in the match, which is refreshing. They could have just done that backstage and saved some time but that would mean less air time for Big Kev. DDP adds a few extra quirks into his spin around lariat by having several counters in the middle of it. Nash-O’Haire and that’s something the crowd is interested in because O’Haire is up there near Nash’s size. Nash boots him in the face and throws the corner knees. O’Haire runs the buckles, moonsaults over Nash and superkicks him. Whoa. It’s easy to see why WCW fans were raving about O’Haire’s ability. Palumbo comes in to punch at Nash and drop him to the mat. Palumbo has always been very capable of doing the basics it’s just developing beyond that where he’s run into a brick wall. DDP in but O’Haire cheap shots him to set up the Jungle Kick from Palumbo for 2. This sets up the whole ‘heat on DDP’ formula tag thing that the Insiders have been running since this team came about. Palumbo does a great hidden highlight during the heat. As DDP tries to struggle up by crawling he plants his one arm first and Palumbo kicks it away. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that but it’s so obvious and straightforward. DDP reverses a Tombstone on Palumbo though and Tony even has an excuse for the reversal claiming DDP caught Palumbo with a knee in the set up. Tony making sense? I’m shocked. Nash gets the hot tag and cleans house using his sideslams. Big boots follow. Well, he’s out of moves. Straps come down. The Thrillers run out here again, which somewhat confuses matters as they’d been booted from ringside under threat of suspension and fines. The ref bails to ensure they don’t make the ring. Lex Luger has run out as well. DDP goes after him. This leaves Nash to look around and wait for the run in, which comes from Buff Bagwell and a monkey wrench. Nash is out and the Seanton bomb finishes at 11.15. *1/2. It was going fine until the booking intense finish, which simply didn’t need so many people involved in it. DDP whiffs horribly on a chair shot as O’Haire leaves the ring.
BACKSTAGE Flair gets into a limo, which provokes Scott Hudson into claiming he’s off to get the “mystery opponent” in tonight’s main event.
US title – General Rection (c) v Shane Douglas
This is a first blood, chain on a pole match. The idea being that Shane busted Morrus open with the chain so now it’s legal in this one and the blood is the finish. Although it’s referred to as being “on a pole” the chain is in fact hanging above the ring thus making this a first blood, chain, ladder match. Shane makes ridiculous claims pre-match about calling the US title a stepping stone to the WCW title. As if any company would consider putting the world title on Shane after his run of stinkers in 2000. Morrus points out Shane probably has a chain in his tights and he does. The ref bravely pulls that one out. This is a typical yawner from Douglas. Morrus, now I think about it, has never had a good match. The pacing on this is particularly mediocre. Morrus works the arm for a while, which makes perfect sense in a first blood match. Douglas figures out the rules a few minutes in and boots Morrus in the groin. Morrus stupidly wastes time going up top and he gets crotched. Shane works on the leg, which provokes another brilliant piece of analysis from Tony; “if he can’t stand his defence is limited”. Of course Morrus never sells the injury on the finish anyway so all this is just filler. Douglas works the figure four. No one cares. They head outside and that’s an environment suited to a first blood match. Morrus brings the dumb again by climbing the rail looking for a moonsault press. Nice one, fatass. Shane goes back after the knee. Sigh. Chinlock. Fuck you, Douglas! You lazy bastard. Morrus decides to get a ladder to reach the chain but then figures on just bashing Douglas with it. No blood. Morrus gets the chain down but Shane pushes the ladder over bumping the ref in the process. Douglas has another chain in his boot and socks Morrus with it. Why did they need a ref bump for that? Morrus is busted and Douglas gets the belt at 10.57. ½*. That was poor. Two bad wrestlers having a dumb match with lousy rules.
BACKSTAGE Mean Gene talks to the champ; Scotty Steiner. He cuts a confusing promo about how he can’t trust Ric Flair, which should be obvious and telegraphs the forthcoming heel stable.
ELSEWHERE Hugh Morrus shouts about having nothing now. Geez, what a whiner.
Bill Goldberg/Dwayne Bruce v Totally Buff (Luger/Bagwell)
If either babyface loses then Goldberg is out of the company forever, which was oddly enough the case. If there was ever a stipulation that no one wanted to be actually enforced it was this one. I’m reminded that Bruce coached guys at the Power Plant, which produced a string of mediocre to abysmal wrestlers. Most of them had to be re-trained by the WWF. That was reserved for those they cared about enough to spend time on. The rest have just faded into obscurity. Bruce gets some offence in against Bagwell and looks terrible. That doesn’t last long and the heels pick him off. Bruce has trouble getting into the ring after being thrown out. Why give Bruce the majority of the match? Goldberg decides to save after a DDT from Bagwell. The beatdown continues until Bruce reverses a suplex and does a lame job of getting a hot tag. And he TRAINS wrestlers? Goldberg gets the tag anyway and hardway suplexes Bagwell. Some kid gets in an altercation with Luger causing Goldberg to run over. The kid sprays something in Goldberg’s eyes, which provokes an enormous throw from Goldberg in defence. That looked really cool. Like a rag doll. Goldberg can’t see now allowing the heels to pick him off. Luger uses a chair so I assume this is no DQ, which makes you wonder why they bothered making tags all match. A double team Blockbuster takes Goldberg over off Luger’s shoulders and THAT gets the pin at 11.00. -**. Incredibly dumb with horrendous wrestling complete with one of the most retarded swerves ever booked by someone who wasn’t Vince Russo. Yes, it’s shocking but it’s shocking because the crowd are all sat there thinking “wow, I didn’t think even WCW was stupid enough to do that”.
And who the hell was that plant? He was blatantly too small to be a wrestler. He looked like Kevin Federline.
WCW title – Scott Steiner (c) v Sid v Jeff Jarrett v Mystery Man
There is no 4th guy because Flair hasn’t brought him into the arena yet. Steiner goes after Flair so Jarrett bails to point out there’s a match going on. Midajah joins in and Steiner nearly gets himself counted out (in a three way? What?) Sid ends up taking over in the early going. In the process they run a horrible spot where Jarrett runs into Sid who’s standing there with his arm out ready for the sidewalk slam. Looked like crap. The heels take over though with Steiner popping off a White Thunder belly to belly for 2. Jarrett doesn’t even consider breaking the pin showing himself to be a real team player. Of course the team doesn’t exist yet but that’s besides the point. Bicep kiss elbow is followed by the push up’s. The match actually gets worse with Sid running for ages into the guardrail on an Irish whip and slowly falling over it. This is bad comedy, Starscream. Sid is doing wrestling by numbers and it looks awful. He comes back with horrible looking strikes but the heels always have 2 on 1 because apparently this is no DQ as well. Like WCW has any clue what’s going on. Jarrett gets a near fall and Steiner shouts at the referee for counting it. What? Sid blocks a double suplex and powers both guys over. Sid with the big boots and it’s like he’s Kevin Nash only blond. And dumb. Chokeslam on Jarrett and the Cobra Clutch slam for Steiner. Jarrett gets thrown into the crowd and in the back the mystery man arrives complete with stupid looking mask. You know it’s not someone good because they don’t show his face. While that footage plays however Sid breaks his leg jumping off the second rope. Steiner helpfully kicks at his face and does more push up’s. Oh, it’s a disaster of WCW proportions. Crowd isn’t thrilled at the “mystery man”. The show goes on as Sid lies there thinking “get me some fuckin’ morphine”. The “mystery man” heels on Sid and Steiner quickly pins him at 7.53. Now get a medic out there stat. DUD. Terrible match. Bad idea all round really.
POST MATCH the Mystery Man unmasks to reveal he’s Roadwarrior Animal. Steiner hugs him. Jarrett is there too and this is the beginning of the Magnificent Seven. We get replays of Sid fucking his leg up and it has to be the hardest footage to watch because it’s just completely sickening.
Final Thoughts: The undercard has so much hard work in it. Two great cruiserweight matches in the first half and a solid hardcore match. Basically everyone who had the chance to move up the card tried really hard. Then the main event guys strolled out there and dogged it in matches riddled with stupid booking. Sid broke his leg, Goldberg is out of WCW forever. Earlier on Steiner had taken out most of the WCW’s babyfaces. There’s really only Nash and DDP left and they just jobbed to a couple of rookie midcarders. The direction of the company was once again embarrassing. Way to go Eric Bischoff. Turn that company around! It’s all pretty depressing. Luckily enough WCW died two months later and now no one has to watch it. Yay!