Canvas Critiques #8 - WCW Uncensored 2000
Posted by Nick Sellers on 04.30.2013
Hogan vs Flair, Sid vs Jarrett and Sting vs Luger are your big matches. How will this follow up from Superbrawl and Souled Out earlier in the year?
Canvas Critiques #8 - WCW Uncensored 2000
The Artist retained the Cruiserweight title against Psychosis.
Norman Smiley & The Demon beat XS.
Bam Bam Bigelow def The Wall by DQ, after The Wall Chokeslammed him through a table by the stage. Shortly after, David Flair and Crowbar attacked, which lead to Crowbar getting Chokeslammed off of the set and through a floor.
Brian Knobbs def. All three members of 3-Count to regain the Hardcore title.
Booker and Billy Kidman def. Harlem Heat (Stevie Ray & Ahmed Johnson)
Vampiro defeated Fit Finlay in a Falls Count Anywhere match.
The Harris Brothers won the Tag Team titles after beating The Mamalukes.
Dustin Rhodes bested Terry Funk in a Bullrope match.
Sting defeated Lex Luger
Sid Vicious retained the WCW World title against Jeff Jarrett.
Hulk Hogan beat Ric Flair in a Yavapai Strap match.
Flair/Hogan - Another chapter
For years, Hulk Hogan was the WWF's poster boy. For seemingly just as long, Ric Flair was the NWA and WCW's poster boy. When Flair made his WWF arrival in '91, bringing the big gold belt with him in the process, he was immediately mixing it up with Hogan as they built to a match between them.
Flair was seen as the workhorse. The man who could tie his opponents up in knots and wrestle matches around the hour mark before hitting the bar and partying all night, usually before having to go and do the same thing the following night. To many, he was, as he often used to say, “The REAL World's Champion.” He was hailed as a legitimate athlete and someone who gladly maintained the sporting aspect of the profession.
Hogan, as popular as he was, was seen as the bigger star but by no means as the better wrestler. His character launched the WWF into the mainstream, even if at times the characters popping up on WWF television seemed a little more cartoon or action-figure like than their counterparts in the NWA. They were larger than life entities; real-life superheroes if you will.
Naturally there was plenty of excitement for the seemingly inevitable Hogan/Flair showdown. But the match never happened (save for a couple of house show bouts). We never got to see them in their prime years. All we've had since then is pale imitations of what could have, and should have, happened in the first place.
Now I'm not one for looking at the age of a worker; If they've still got something to offer, and I genuinely believe these two did have, then keep them around. But as they get older you have to make sure that you don't neglect fresh talent at the expense of keeping the older stars in a prominent position. Wins and losses aren't necessarily the issue, but instead of putting two older stars in a program together, which won't really benefit either in the long run, why not put them into different feuds with fresher faces? Even if they don't do the job, the very fact that they were rubbing shoulders with a different performer for a change would ultimately sustain the audience's interest in both the newcomer and for themselves in the process.
It seems that for whatever reason, WCW just weren't getting the message. I'm actually a fan of both Hogan and Flair and have a tremendous amount of respect for what they've done. I don't even have a problem with the booking of the match itself; I just think it's laughable that it was the main event, especially as it took place over the WCW title bout. I know Flair and Hogan are bigger than the title, but it does no favours for Sid or for Jarrett. (They did actually explain the match going on last quite well, but more on this later).
There's several reasons that this baffles me. First and foremost, this was the same Uncensored main event from 1999. Second, should this really have been their main event program in 2000? The WWF's product had the likes of Triple H and The Rock on top. Age is often cited, but the main issue here is that WCW were just doing NOTHING new, or nothing to try and help new stars grow. Goldberg was an exception, but not the rule. Booker T and Jeff Jarrett were working hard to climb the ranks, but until Hogan's unceremonious Bash at the Beach departure, Booker didn't have a hope of hanging at the top of the card and Jarrett was more of an also-ran. This, more than anything else, was WCW's downfall in the long-term.
As for this particular bout, to me it wasn't the easiest to sit through. I'll admit that it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be, but as opponents these two just had nothing to offer each other, and their pairing together just did absolutely nothing for WCW. As we saw just a couple of years later in the WWE, they absolutely had something to offer to a new set workers and with some fresh ideas thrown in. But here, the match just didn't have the desired effect.
Soon after, WCW had a complete reset, and they even screwed *that* up. But that's another story for another Canvas Critique.
Still The Total Package?- Luger vs Sting
The Luger angle actually had it's good parts. I like these kind of storylines where a string of wrestlers get taken out by someone on a path of destruction. I just like it more when the worker in question is someone I can get invested in. Just not when it's Lex Luger. In the year 2000.
Again, I've nothing against elder workers plying their trade, but there's a way of going about it. Luger wasn't the guy for Sting to be going up against. Scott Steiner, for instance, would've been much better suited to this role. He too had a good physique, but he was a fresh and exciting new singles star in the company making waves, not someone on the come-down like Luger.
If you have Big Poppa Pump tearing through people in the same manner as Luger, you build up a new star who might generate more interest in addition to giving Sting a fresh face to do battle with. Hell, having Luger rubbing shoulders with Steiner wouldn't have been a bad idea either. They could've tagged together occasionally and Luger could've been the guy singing his praises and putting him over as the new “Total Package” of sorts.
The match itself isn't actually that bad, and I liked how all of Luger's previous victims were at ringside. Not sure about actually billing it as a “Cast lumberjack match” or Luger's own lumberjacks sporting casts as well (A glimpse at my notepad for this match reads thus: TOO MANY CASTS!!), but Sting's energy meant this worked reasonably well. Vampiro also got something of a rub from him at the end too, which is better than nothing. Not great, but pretty easy on the eye.
WCW Title- Sid vs Jarrett
This was the planned main event, but Jarrett (kayfabe) re-scheduled it to go on earlier in a bid to surprise Sid, who in theory wouldn't have been prepared to go on earlier and thus would be at a disadvantage. It's actually a pretty dirty, clever heel manoeuvre which I kind of applaud. IT certainly added to Jarrett's dastardly heel schtick. Little touches like that are brilliant for character development. If it weren't for Hogan/Flair going on last, it might've been more effective.
For me, this was the time to pull the trigger on Jarrett as the Champion. I liked Sid and he was fairly popular as the champ himself, but Jarrett was quickly earning rave reviews for his promos and for his energy in the ring. Having Jarrett as the WCW Champion and having Hogan, Sting and a vengeful Sid as his chasing challengers might've done well. It might've done even better if the likes of Booker T were elevated quicker to that kind of standing. Goldberg wasn't far off of his return either. I just think there were more options with Jarrett holding the gold than Sid. Jarret actually did win the belt the following month, albeit as part of a company re-boot and not in as effective a manner as it could've been here on the PPV.
The match is fine, although it turned into the Hogan show again by the conclusion. Nothing against Sid, but Jarrett's energy and willingness to bump around like a trooper are what made this one worth watching. Maybe it's performances like this that eventually convinced them to give him the gold.
Any other business- The rest
The Cruiserweight title opener was disappointing. The Artist wasn't a bad heel Champion and I actually liked the gimmick, but Psychosis just seemed to be going through the motions. A pity, because he was capable of much, much more. Also, Iaukea seemed a lot slower than he did in his bout with Lash LeRoux at last month's PPV. Really poor, wether you judge it by the standards set in the past for this division or as a stand alone bout.
XS were nothing special, and the Kiss Demon may have been a failed experiment, but Norman Smiley will forever remain one of the brighter sparks of this dismal year for WCW. The crowds just adored him, and he never fails to entertain. This is how they should've opened the show, and not with that dreary Cruiserweight bout.
Another PPV, another month where The Wall was given the rub. It did actually make a change to see him doing battle with someone his own size, while Bam Bam was always a glutton for punishment and didn't mind bumping around for him. The Chokeslam through the table and the arrival of the EMT's afterwards wasn't particularly convincing though. The move itself wasn't the best, and Bam Bam in the past would need a lot more than getting put through a table before paramedics would come out and tend to him. Still, at least they were trying to establish a new monster, and the big Chokeslam from high up the stage to Crowbar in the post-match skirmish did much more for The Wall in those few seconds than anything else prior to this point in his push.
For the third month in a row, Brian Knobbs walked out as the new Hardcore Champion, this time be besting 3-count. The high flying pretty boys were actually a good heel fit for the Hardcore title, something which I think might've worked well for them in the WWF at the time. Brian Knobbs is just abysmal however, and his performances just seem to get worse and worse with each passing PPV I have to re-watch. At the time of writing, I can't recall off-hand the results of the April PPV, but I'll be gobsmacked if he wins it again on that show. And as for him rubbing his foes face into his armpit as part of his offense, it just makes me detest him even more.
Booker and Kidman were at least given the victory over the new Harlem Heat. I've already talked about WCW's failure to keep things fresh, and here were two chaps who would've helped them rectify that given the chance. As for the new and “Improved” Harlem Heat, you'd have thought that after the two previous PPV's Booker might be done with them by now. Alas, they keep coming back for more and stinking up the ring in the process.
Finlay and Vampiro's brawl was one of only a few things on the show that I enjoyed. The Falls Count Anywhere stip lent itself well to the theme of the night and the brawling around the crowd and in the concourse of the arena was good fun. It wasn't like the similar matches WWF would put out, but without comparing the two promotions (or with an ECW show for that matter) this worked just fine.
I'm torn on the decision to award the Harris brothers the Tag Team titles. On the one hand, the Mamalukes were a popular act, but on the other it did mean that the babyfaces could now potentially embark on a chasing spree to regain their gold. On the other, they couldn't have been any blander as Jarrett's security force and you can't help but feel they should've been held by someone else.
And finally (man, they really used to cram in matches on their PPV's didn't they?) Dustin Rhodes and Terry Funk's bout just didn't grab me. The cowbell offence didn't do much for me, and the whole thing just seemed a little too messy for my liking. Not something anyone will remember for either combatant. The chicken was hilarious though. Does anyone else notice that you can actually hear clucking every time he runs? That was the highlight for me!
The 411: Some parts were at least fun, but others were either too messy or just didn't have much about them. Still, this was marginally more entertaining than Superbrawl and at least their shows were getting slightly better each month. But you can already see some of the cracks starting to appear, and sadly things don't get much better from this point forth.