WWE Ride Along

wwe-ride-alongThe WWE Network has done a great job of adding original content in the past few months and one of the newest shows is called ‘Ride Along’.

Each episode features two groups of wrestlers traveling by car from one show to another one and gives the viewers the experience of seeing these performers out of character and just acting normal.

There are only a couple of episodes so far, but some of the early highlights are The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Big E) traveling together and being almost as silly out of the ring as they are in it, and Renee Young, Summer Rae and R-Truth traveling together and cracking each other up. Getting to see another side of a performer like Summer Rae, that we normally do not get to experience during typical WWE programming, is refreshing.

The WWE Network is great for die hard wrestling fans like myself to have access to 1000’s of hours of WWE, WCW, and ECW programming like weekly shows, PPV’s, etc… What keeps the network growing in subscribers is original programming with shows like this one that will convince people who have been on the fence about subscribing to give it a shot.

There are many new shows coming to the WWE Network in the next several months that I am looking forward to and I will feature them on my blog between opinions on PPV’s, Raw, Smackdown, etc…

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NWO

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The NWO was a phenomenon. The angle/wrestling stable started in 1996 when Scott Hall made a surprise appearance on WCW Monday Nitro. This was before the internet was a huge part of our everyday lives and most fans did not know that the artist formerly known as Razor Ramon had left the WWF and signed with WCW. Many fans, myself included, thought it was the long dreamt of cross promotion between WWF and WCW. World Championship Wrestling even played it that way. Scott Hall sold this ‘invasion’ angle very well and a couple of weeks later he was joined by the second ‘invader’ Kevin Nash, formerly known as Big Daddy Cool Diesel. Due to a lawsuit from the then WWF for false advertising, WCW made it clear both men were not a part of the rival wrestling organization and were working ‘independently’. Nash and Hall became known as The Outsiders and began dismantling the WCW roster. Even though the NWO was the key to launching the Monday Night Wars into the stratosphere and helping to make wrestling the biggest form of entertainment at the time, the cracks in the storyline could already be seen. Two men who made their careers in the WWF were beating the hell out of WCW staples which made the promotion look bad, but it did not seem like the higher ups in WCW realized this or perhaps did not care.

Overall, the angle was entertaining and got over with the fans big time. They started branding some of the PPV’s as NWO run and their t-shirts and other merchandise were big sellers. The NWO angle gave WCW the edge in the Monday Night Wars which they had for a little over a year and a half. Then things started getting convoluted. By late 1998 the NWO split into 2 rival factions (NWO and NWO Wolpac) with the majority of the WCW roster being allocated to either group. It seemed as though they forgot that the big draw was NWO trying to take over WCW, not actually succeeding and having approximately 30 members. The angle became too big for its britches and overwhelmed the creative team with all of the individual egos they had to appease. Slowly but surely the NWO fizzled out as did WCW as a whole. Without the NWO storyline it seemed as though WCW’s creative team had nothing left. In 2001 WCW went under and was sold to Vince McMahon and the WWF seceding the Monday Night War to the most well known wrestling promotion in the world.

In 2002 the WWF/E brought back the original three members of the NWO (Hall, Nash, and Hogan) mostly to show they were no match for the WWF/E roster. Besides Hogan having a very memorable match at WrestleMania that year against The Rock, the NWO was gone shortly after and despite a forgettable quasi-reunion in TNA (Total Nonstop Action Wrestling) in 2010 they became another memorable past wrestling angle.

The NWO storyline was initially highly entertaining and kept me interested, but over time it became very predictable which can, and will, doom any angle. If handled correctly, this group could have lasted a good 5 years, but instead lost its momentum in just 2-3. During all of this the WWF kept plugging away and introducing the world to now legends and household names like The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Degeneration X, etc… Individuals and storylines that kept things fresh and interesting while WCW put all of it’s eggs in one basket called the NWO.

The New World Order was a great idea that was initially executed fairly well, but egos and weak creative teams could not maintain it.

Sting (not the singer)

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Sting is officially a part of the upcoming WWE 2K15 game which launches October 28 of this year.

This also means he is officially part of the WWE, but in what capacity remains to be seen.

He is the last of the big name WCW wrestlers to make an appearance in the WWE and it has been a long time coming. When Vince McMahon bought WCW Sting made the decision not to join the WWE and once his final WCW contract was up he started a fairly long run with TNA.

There have been rumors year after year of him joining the WWE, but it never came to be until now.

I have always been a fan of Sting from his bleach blonde surfer days to ‘The Crow’ gimmick and always felt he should have joined WWE where he could have had a legendary run. He purportedly stayed away due to his disliking of the WWE’s adult approach, but it seems ever since they went to a more PG product he has decided to end his career with the one organization he had never been a part of.

It is still a mystery as to what else his role will be with the company besides being in a video game, but I sincerely hope we get at least one more match from him at next year’s Wrestlemania so he can say he wrestled in all the major promotions and us long time fans can give him one last goodbye and thank him for an amazing run.

WCW Halloween Havoc 2000

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The final Halloween Havoc has arrived…with a thud. Realizing this was at a time when WCW was at it’s lowest point as a company and they were about 6 months or so from being sold to Vince McMahon I can understand why this PPV was so terrible. You could tell from beginning to end no one in charge of WCW had a clue how to properly book a wrestling card and the talent just could not compensate for such poor decisions.

I will briefly cover each match since this is the final Halloween Havoc and will not even mention who won since it does not matter on what turned out to be such a terrible show.

The Natural Born Thrillers vs. The Filthy Animals vs. The Boogie Knights – A lot of talent was in the ring for this match…Rey Misterio. Jr., Billy Kidman etc…but you really got the feeling this one was booked on the fly…the wrestlers seemed confused and this match seemed like it was thrown together at the last minute. Everyone seemed puzzled and gave off that sense of ‘I just want to get this over with”.

Reno vs. Sgt. Awol – No…no…no…neither one had a lick of talent and Sgt. Awol looked like some overweight guy who just walked in that night and management let him get in the ring and make an ass of himself. Pure garbage.

The Misfits in Action vs. The Perfect Event – Oy…these four (Chavo Guerrero, Cpl. Cajun, Shawn Stasiak, Chuck Palumbo) were okay, but this was another match that had a weak storyline and seemed thrown in just to fill up some time.

Buff Bagwell vs. David Flair – Just a bad match…it had a storyline, but the match itself was terrible because of David Flair…he tried, but he did not try hard enough. He had no business wrestling and came off pitiful. Buff Bagwell was an excellent in-ring performer at one time, but this was when he was clearly in his “I don’t give a flying shit” phase and should have just left the business right then and there.

Mike Sanders vs. Ernest “The Cat” Miller – This was a ‘boxing’ match and I was prepared for the worst, but it was actually a good match! Miller clearly had an athletic background and did a damn good job making his kicks and punches look impressive.

Mike Awesome vs. Vampiro – Okay match…could have been better…most memorable part was Vampiro speaking. He has this goth/horror intro and look that made me interested and then when he got in the ring and on the mic his voice ruined the whole damn thing…nothing intimidating or ‘horrific” about him…he should have went with the silent gimmick like Sting when he first started the Crow character.

General Rection vs. Lance Storm and Jim Duggan – General Rection…so sad…Bill DeMott is a solid wrestler, but this play on words was just plain stupid and you could tell in his pre-match promo he did not like the name as well. I also felt bad for Duggan who has said recently he did not like the anti-American gimmick WCW forced on him and you could really tell in this match. Lance Storm is another great talent who was wasted by WCW. Despite all the potential downfalls of this storyline, the three of them did a good job and had an overall entertaining match.

Jeff Jarrett vs. Sting – Two top notch performers who were saddled with a match that featured Sting being attacked throughout by several fake Stings…ignorant booking and a waste of two very talented wrestlers.

Booker T vs. Scott Steiner – Booker T is one of my favorites…okay match, but Steiner spent 90% of the time attacking referees and going after fans that it became quite mundane. It got worse when Steiner used a ‘steel’ pipe to attack several people in the ring and it was clearly made of rubber. Just sad.

Goldberg vs. Kronik (Brian Adams and Bryan Clark) – Only 3 minutes long which made it by far the best match of the night and marking the end of the Halloween Havoc PPV’s.

This was undeniably the worst of the Havoc PPV’s and I could not help but feel bad for the talent, especially knowing they were so close to going out of business and on the verge of being bought out by McMahon.

For the next handful of weeks I am going to discuss some wrestling related programming and events along with PPV’s. I subscribed to the WWE Network on day one and have enjoyed it immensely. There is a lot of great programming on the network and a lot of various goings on in the real world of wrestling over the past several years that I would like to give my thoughts on and hear other’s opinions of as well.

Thank you for reading and I appreciate all comments!

WCW Halloween Havoc 1998 & 1999

My original intention was to review the final 3 Halloween Havocs today and move on to other wrestling PPV’s, but I have had such difficulty getting through the final one in 2000 that I will just go over ’98 and ’99 now and force my way through 2000 for next week. The quality of shows is getting worse and worse.

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1998 actually could have been a great PPV if it was not for one match that was so embarrassingly bad that it brought the rest of the show down.

Starting off with the good:

Chris Jericho beats Raven – Two great characters and terrific performers who started the show off on the right foot. Lots of great high flying spots which ended with Raven submitting to the Lion Tamer.

Disco Inferno over Juventud Guerrera – Disco Inferno was a ridiculous character but he could perform well in the ring. The winner of this match received the right to face Billy Kidman later in the show for the Cruiserweight Championship which leads us to…

Billy Kidman defeating Disco to retain the belt – Kidman was a great wrestler and this match came off great. Fast paced with some great spots with Kidman winning using the shooting star press.

Bret Hart taking out Sting – A match that everyone wanted to see for a long time and finally got the chance. Overall, a good match between two legendary performers.

Now for the one match that destroyed it all…

Hollywood Hogan vs. Warrior – Holy crap was this bad. I have heard about this match for years as being possibly the worst of all time and although I cannot confirm that since I have yet to see every wrestling match of all time I can validate the fact that this match is the worst I have seen yet. I would rather watch Al Snow vs. Big Bossman in a kennel match (look it up on Youtube) 100 times in a row than watch this stinker a second time. It was supposed to be a historic rematch for the ages, but the problem was, in my opinion, Hogan. At this point in his career he just could not put on a great match anymore. He needed to have the right person to work with and even though I feel Warrior was perfectly fine in the match, the way it was scripted no one could look good. The icing on the cake is when Hogan attempted to do the old fireball in the face trick and he fumbled his way through it and wound up burning himself in one of the most embarrassing moments in his career. I feel the main issue is WCW itself. The fall of the organization was beginning and bad booking and pure ignorance is what started the fall.

Amazingly enough, there was one more match that night and thank goodness for it…

Bill Goldberg retained the World Title over DDP – Many people consider it the best match ever on a Halloween Havoc card and they are correct. Both guys were in their prime and busted ass to compensate for the previous match that almost destroyed the show. What I did not know was that when this show aired live the people who had paid for the PPV did not get to see the final match. The PPV lasted well over 3 hours and the cable/satellite companies were prepared for 3 hours, which is the standard, so the show ended abrubtly. The match was aired on Monday Nitro the next night for free and WCW had to refund the people who purchased the show the night before.

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1999 was just weird. It seemed rushed together and was just a giant cluster you-know-what.

Eddy Guerrero beating Saturn was fun. Rick Steiner over Chris Benoit was good. DDP getting a big win over Ric Flair was neat. Then there was Hogan being beaten by Sting. Hogan lies down and tells Sting to pin him which he does. No explanation. Everyone in the crowd sat there with blank looks on their faces as did I. Just nonsensical garbage that should have been explained.

At the end of the show was a 3 minute out of nowhere match with Goldberg winning the World title over Sting. Huh?! The outcome of the match was fine but the shortness of it was bizarre to say the least. The longest match was just shy of 13 minutes which gave this show the feeling of being rushed together and everyone involved just wanting to get it done with and get out there ASAP. WCW was now on its last legs and it really shows.

One more Halloween Havoc to go and I can finally move on to the good stuff.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1997

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The 1997 edition of Halloween Havoc was another good one. WCW did have some truly good years and deserved to have a short reign at the top of the pro wrestling ladder and this PPV was a good example of why.

The highlights:

Yuji Nagata over Ultimo Dragon – An exciting match between two very talented cruiserweights. Ultimo Dragon was a solid performer and had many memorable matches in WCW.

Chris Jericho beats Gedo – Nine times out of ten Jericho has a great match and this was no exception. This is the first time I have ever seen Gedo and he worked quite well with the future Y2J.

Rey Misterio, Jr. defeats Eddy Guerrero – Two of the most talented wrestlers of all time. They were both great athletes and rarely had bad matches. They had a terrific in-ring chemistry that left you wanting both to win.

Randy Savage defeated Diamond Dallas Page – Another fun match between two guys that worked well together. It ended with interference from a fake Sting which surprisingly did not take away from what was a good match with a good story.

The lowlights:

Lex Luger losing to Scott Hall – Could have been a decent match if not for all of the interference. We are starting to witness the major issue with the NWO angle, it made no sense. Okay I get it, they are pretending to be an invading group trying to destroy WCW and from time to time they should get the upper hand. The problem is they got the upper hand way too often and made the rest of the roster look weak which does not help to sell an angle.

Roddy Piper vs. Hollywood Hogan in a steel cage match – it was okay, but seemed to go too long (even though is was only a 16 minute match) with more interference from the NWO which made me roll my eyes.

Despite those two matches it was another solid Halloween Havoc.

The final 3 will all be reviewed in next week’s post. 1998-2000 had some memorable matches, for bad or worse. This is when the wheels were coming off and WCW was nearing the end of it’s existence.

It is always nice to have competition no matter what industry you are in, but WCW really deserved to be put out of their misery which can be seen in the last 3 Halloween Havocs.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1996

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Now things are getting interesting in WCW.

This is the year when the NWO angle started which helped WCW to have a 2 year or so run as the top wrestling promotion in the U.S. Even though it was a huge angle that lasted a few years too long, the true key to WCW’s success at this time was the new crop of wrestlers they had on their roster and this Halloween Havoc was a great example of this.

The PPV started off with Dean Malenko defeating Rey Misterio, Jr. to win the Cruiserweight Championship – This was a great example of the talent level WCW had at this time as these two got the show off to a fantastic start. Two top notch wrestlers who had differing styles that worked perfectly together.

Diamond Dallas Page over Eddy Guerrero – Eddy Guerrero was a great mix of high flyer and mat wrestler. DDP was a guy who got his start in the business at a later than normal age, yet kept himself in shape and worked hard to put on some classic matches that defied time. This was a terrific match that really showcased both performers.

Syxx over Chris Jericho – Never really liked Syxx/123 Kid/X-Pac/Dumbass (not an official name), but he could put a good match when he tried and with Chris Jericho at the top of his game this was another excellent match from an overall great show.

The Outsiders beat Harlem Heat for the Tag Team titles – Excellent match from four big guys who could put on a great show when they worked at it. Harlem Heat always seemed to work hard and put on good matches. The Outsiders (Kevin Nash and Scott Hall) got lazy towards the end of their WCW run, but when they put out the effort, as they did in this match, they really showed everyone how talented they truly were.

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After all of these good matches you cannot help but be concerned about the main even featuring Hollywood Hogan and Randy Savage. Even though Savage was late in his career, he still put on some classic matches, but Hogan was definitely past his prime. Fortunately, this match was worked perfectly with a bit of comedy thrown in. Hogan came out wearing a hair piece that came into play during the match when Savage pulled it off and wore it himself. Overall, this was a good, solid main event despite Rowdy Roddy Piper coming out at the end and giving one of the most boring promos ever. I love Roddy Piper. He was a great wrestler and terrific promo guy. This was a poor example of it. It went so long the PPV just abruptly had to end which was great, since it got to the point of embarrassment.

Despite the ending promo, this was an excellent show that proved WCW could be a very good promotion when they tried.

1997 was pretty solid as well and will be the sole PPV featured next week.