Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Rebooking WCW 1998

WCW in 1998 was the year it all went horribly wrong. The undercards were awesome, nothing but great booking all over the place. Even underneath the very top guys the booking was tremendous. It was where it counted that things went screwy with unbelievable results.

The undercards featured Chris Jericho as a heel, classic feuds with Rey Mysterio, Juventud Guerrero and Dean Malenko. Raven and the Flock, featuring Perry Saturn most prominently. Booker T branching out from tag teams, and Chris Benoit and Kanyon and Eddie Guerrero and Steve Regal having great matches all over the place.

Above them you had Scott Steiner going heel and solo, Buff Bagwell right behind him ready to become a major player, DDP getting over to huge levels and even winning the world title the next year and guys like Ric Flair, Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Curt Hennig, The Giant and Lex Luger who maybe were on the decline but were still huge top order stars who for the most part could still go.

But everyone remembers it being a terrible year. Why is that? Well it's all about the top of the card. For starters, Hulk Hogan was the top guy all year, and 1997 was clearly the peak of the Hollywood Hogan run. It had been two and a half years since his heel turn, the story had peaked, Sting had come out of the woodwork and beaten Hulk for the title, only for shenanigans to screw up the seemingly inevitable title run. Goldberg came shooting out of nowhere and briefly became one of the top two stars in the business and won the title, only to be relegated to second fiddle. Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Syxx-Pac had seemingly turned face with the Wolf Pac, only to see it dumbed down with Luger and Sting, their former enemies, joining up along with a bunch of others.

And then there was Bret Hart. Bret came in on fire after the Montreal screw job, well not only did they not even book shows in his home country of Canada, they booked the man as if they didn't even want him coming to work. After his initial memorable angle and match with Ric Flair, which in hindsight was far and away the peak of his WCW run, he was turned heel a couple of times, had a later run in an NWO version, had a great match with Benoit, got a concussion and never wrestled again. An ignominious fate indeed.

Here's what they should have done. Clearly the guys at the tippy top on the face side should have been Sting, Bret Hart and Goldberg, with DDP taking over the Lex Luger role as second from the top baby and Luger and Flair still up there.  Hogan jobbing to Goldberg should have been the absolute end of that character, and in between, doing another job to Sting wouldn't have hurt, and at least an angle with Bret Hart seems unavoidable in retrospect.

So what do we need, DDP, Scott Steiner and Buff Bagwell need to be going over big names and establishing themselves, Goldberg actually got it all work out perfectly for him so he's fine. The obvious candidates to really get Steiner over is to book him with Sting on top, Bagwell could feud with Randy Savage and Ric Flair and Lex Luger and beat them all. Bret could have worked against the Wolf Pack continuing the Kliq vs Bret Hart deal from WWF. Booker T was coming up pretty quick too.

So many easy options, by the end of 1998 you could have had Sting beating Scott Steiner for the belt, Bret Hart could have finally got his match with Hulk Hogan and Goldberg could have been the hottest guy in the promotion without the belt. They should have kept that belt away from Goldberg, wasn't much to do with him once he was the man.

You go into 1999 planning on having Scott Steiner as top heel and a match with Goldberg set for Starrcade and Sting and Bret Hart on the way down the ladder.

The Death and Death of WCW (review/summary)

Here's what I get from Bryan Alvarez' book Death of WCW that was just re-released deluxe edition style. I didn't live through this era so it's been interesting reading the history of the business as it developed.

So you've got WWF and five or so other major promotions, one, the AWA, was independent of the NWA, another Memphis Wrestling, run by Jerry Jarrett, had nothing to do with WCW until the absolute very very end of the story, you got WCCW over in Texas, and then you had these three NWA affiliates:

Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling, owned by Jim Crocket, booked by Ole Anderson
Georgia Championship Wrestling, also booked by Ole Anderson, airing on TBS doing huge business
Mid South Championship Wrestling, owned and booked by Bill Watts, and airing briefly on TBS and reputedly the best of the bunch.

Mid Atlantic had the biggest stars, Ric Flair & Dusty Rhodes. Georgia had Ole's good booking and great wrestling action and Gordon Solie on commentary, and Mid South had the best creative episodic television as well as great action.

Georgia Championship Wrestling is a show on TBS, changes it's name to World Championship Wrestling, gets bought by WWF and canned, Ted Turner brings it back under another name, then brings in Mid South, then when Mid Atlantic buys World Championship Wrestling back, cancels Mid South and the Championship Wrestling from Georgia shows and goes with what was essentially Mid Atlantic.

So the show that was originally World Championship Wrestling was actually Georgia Championship Wrestling, booked by Ole Anderson. Let's remember that. But Mid Atlantic was booked by Ole as well, so you'd think that that would be about the same when Mid Atlantic essentially took over Georgia's re-named show and took it's timeslot. But no, because Ole Anderson was fired and replaced by Dusty Rhodes as booker. Two years later they were out of business.

Bill Watts went national after being replaced by Mid Atlantic and went out of business pretty quick and sold to Jim Crocket, then Jim Crocket went bust, but this time Ted Turner himself said fuck it and bought the company. So now you've got Georgia and Mid South dead and gone, and the owner of the television network that's airing the main NWA show is now the owner of the company.

First order of business? Ric Flair as booker, business booms, 1989, early 1990, everything right with the world. Suddenly Ole Anderson is back as booker, but it's not 1984 anymore, and Ric Flair was doing a great job and business was great, PPV buys through the roof. He sucks, is replaced by Dusty Rhodes, again. Dusty sucks but sticks around somehow for three years, briefly working under Bill Watts who is brought back but again, it's not 1984 anymore and he doesn't work out. Dusty meanwhile has pretty much never worked out as booker.

1994 and Ric Flair's the booker again, once again, business goes great, shows are great, Hogan comes in, business booms for six years or so. Kevin Sullivan, under Eric Bischoff, books WCW to incredible heights and huge gross revenue. Eventually Hogan gets old, but they keep booking him on top and letting younger guys go to WWF, panic sets in, the product implodes, Kevin Nash gets more creative influence for a while, then they hire WWF's writers and oust Eric Bischoff as the man in charge.

Then Russo refuses to be part of a committee and Kevin Sullivan's back in charge for a few months. Then Bischoff is brought back to run the company again and Russo agrees to come back as booker, this last a few months and then Bischoff quits and Russo gets a concussion.

Bischoff and Jerry Jarrett try to buy the company but dodginess prevails and some criminal underhandedness (allegedly) might have happened and Vince McMahon ends up with the company.

Then TNA starts up, Jerry Jarrett and his kid, who loves Vince Russo. Russo gets the ass when they try to bring in Hulk Hogan, who hates him, Jeff Jarrett takes over the booking, and then Dusty Rhodes is brought in to book, with no success again, then Scott D'Amore does a great job for a year and is fired, Jeff takes over again, then Russo is brought back for a nearly six year run. Eventually they bring in Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff to run the show and force them to work with Russo as booker. This doesn't work. Somewhere along the line Jeff Jarrett gets the boot from his own company, then ends up starting an imaginary wrestling company that sells merchandise of him and his wife but doesn't run any shows or have anyone employed.

Clearly what should have happened was that Bill Watts should have been given the book back in 85, and even if Ted Turner never ended up owning the company, that's pretty much immaterial to the show's success. By 1989 maybe Bill would have been old hat and replaced by Ric Flair as booker, who books until 1995 and is then replaced by Kevin Sullivan, they do exactly what they did until 1998 with the exception of letting Steve Austin and Mick Foley go.

Then in 1998, they move the fuck on and book Sting, Bret Hart and Goldberg as the top guys and everyone lives happily ever after. And that, is where I'd like to leave off, for my next blog: Rebooking WCW 1998!

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Random Davo's Rankings Why Not? (and some thoughts)

Heavyweight

1. Cain Valesquez
2. Junior Dos Santos
3. Daniel Cormier
4. Fabricio Werdum
5. Josh Barnett
6. Antonio Silva
7. Travis Browne
8. Frank Mir
9. Allistair Overeem
10. Mark Hunt

Okay, so I'll believe Cormier at 205 when I see it, to me, there's no problem with being #2 and knocking off other title challengers. Hell if that's the way it is, that's the way it is. Clearly he's the number 3 guy now, I want to see if he can beat Junior. After that who cares? Noone's beating Cain until someone gets lucky anyway, and Cormier and Junior at 2 & 3 means that you've got two guys who have absolute credibility, so if anyone beats either of them you've got an instant credible title challenger. Why should fighters get an easy route to the championship? It's one thing if there's only one clear credible number 2 guy, but in this case you've got both Cormier and Junior ahead by a million miles. Who else Junior going to fight anyway? Just do it. So DC's not gonna fight Cain? Who cares?

Fabricio Werdum vs Josh Barnett needs to happen too. One of those Pride fights that never happened. It's not exactly a dream match but it's the clear next match. Fabricio's already lost to Junior, stands zero chance against Cain (who does?). Barnett's already fought Cormier. Okay, you could do a little tournament if you really wanted to, Junior vs Barnett, Cormier vs Werdum, but you might end up with JDS vs Werdum again, and then Junior going yet again against Cain for the love of God. I don't care about titles I just want to see new fights and resolve who's better. I think we're all pretty sure who wins JDS vs Cain/Werdum by this point.

Light Heavyweight.

1. Jon Jones
2. Alexander Gustaffson
3. Glover Texeira
4. Rashad Evans
5. Lyoto Machida
6. Phil Davis
7. Dan Henderson
8. Shogun Rua
9. Ryan Bader
10. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

First of all, people are ranking fighters like damn fools. Lil Nog fights and beats a Rashad Evans who is having the worst fight of his life and suddenly people have him top 5? No way in hell Lil Nog's done better than Shogun, Dan Henderson, Ryan Bader or Phil Davis, three of whom have wins over him.

I don't care if Machida did lose a decision to Phil Davis, I had Machida winning, and either way, Phil Davis hasn't done more than Machida, but he has beaten Alexander Gustaffson. Coming close to beating Machida is no achievement anyway, most of his opponents don't get blown out, hell he's even lost one to Rampage by forgetting to win on points. Phil Davis does need to fight a top guy immediately, any of them really, Shogun, Hendo, Rashad, Glover the only options.

This division is also where I get a touch retarded about this ranking stuff. Lyoto Machida is still ranked as a light heavyweight, because he's been fighting there for years but I'll also have him ranked at middleweight. If he doesn't fight anyone at 205 for a while then we don't know how he'd do anymore and can't rank him, why people just drop him immediately when he's still accomplished all he's accomplished I disagree with that idea.

The other thing is this: Is Machida vs Hendo a 205 fight? Well it took place at 205, both fighters were fighting as light heavyweights for years going into the battle, but you're also talking about two fighters who are walking into the cage at a lighter weight than most 185 pounders. If Chael fights Vitor at 205 is that really a 205 pound fight? It's a middleweight fight without the nonsense of weight cutting.

Here's another thing. Just because Chael beat a Shogun who's head doesn't seem in the game, doesn't mean you immediately have to rank him higher than Shogun. There's not a rule about it. Would you tip Shogun or Chael to win more fights against the rest of that top 10? He's already got a draw against Hendo (yes I'll rewrite history I don't care), a win over Lil Nog, two (yes TWO!) wins over Machida. What's Chael done? Bugger all except tap a 'not giving a fuck' version of Shogun.

Further damn more, Shogun lost to the #1 & #2 fighters in the division. Now when top fighters suddenly hit the skids, people write them off immediately as completely irrelevant. Look at the 185 pounders, Wanderlei had wins over Brian Stann and Michel Bisping who were both ranked top 10, but since nobody thinks Wandy's relevant anymore he was never ranked near the top 10. And Rich Franklin beat him (at least once, unless you have him as knocked out in that second round), and Wandy beat Cung Le, who beat Rich!

We'll see how Shogun does, he strikes me as a Fedor type, his confidence doesn't know anything but absolute assuredness that he's going to be the man. He's not the Dan Henderson / Randy Couture type, win some lose some, always competitive, loves to keep competing, he's used to being the absolute man, whether he can get his mojo interested in simply being a top 10 or top 5 guy is really questionable. We'll find out in a couple of weeks if he's still got one more run of relevance left, but here's the thing, he hasn't lost anything physically, he has had a couple of knee injuries, but that was before the Dan Henderson fight and he was barely even breathing hard after going five monstrous hard rounds with Hendo punching the shit out of him for the first three rounds. How the hell people question his cardio is beyond me, look at the first Machida fight, high action for five rounds, again not even breathing hard.

He's never been knocked out, his chin is still intact, he's still one of the greatest fighters in the sport, if he's ever had cardio issues it was only against fighters he was probably utterly certain he could beat, and he only ever lost that one fight against Forrest Griffin because of cardio. Shogun's that kind of fighter, he's not going to be too motivated to dominate in the gym unless he's going for the top prize, he'll come in soft and still kick guys like Brandon Vera's ass all day long, but getting tapped in the first round to a fucking guillotine by Chael Sonnen was probably not a good sign about where his head's at, but let's at least give him one more chance before completely writing him off.

As far as new matchups, with Glover getting the next title shot, Rashad having already beaten Phil Davis and Dan Henderson, everything depends on if Daniel Cormier can get down to 205. I'm skeptical and then there's no real telling how he'll do. Most are predicting a first match against Phil Davis, and I've got no problem with that, since Phil's already fought Gustaffson and Rashad and Glover's booked. This leaves the best two other top five fighters available to fight eachother, Rashad vs Gustaffson. Unfortunately they're obsessed with rematching every close fight (and several complete blowouts) these days so Gustaffson will probably is getting Jimmy Manuwa (seriously?) and then gets to lose to Jon Jones again.

Two other things I'd like to see are firstly Anderson Silva moving to 205 permanently. It's like the old days of the WWF, the long time Intercontinental Champion loses but rather than deciding to go back after that title, he sets his sights higher on the World Championship. This time I feel like Anderson doesn't even want the middleweight strap anymore, could care less, will probably wreck Chris Weidman in the rematch much like he did to Chael, and then who's he going to fight? Gegard Mousasi's the only guy in the division he's not best buds with. Move him to 205 and put him in there with absolutely any of them.

The second thing I'd love to see, despite normally hating rematches and Machida being newly a middleweight is Rashad vs Machida. Okay, someone will say, what's the point of that? Machida's not a 205 pounder anymore, shouldn't even be ranked Davo you stupid don't know shit. I disagree, Machida's still a ranked 205'er, and a Rashad Evans rematch would be ace.

Middleweight:

1. Anderson Silva (ftw)
2. Vitor Belfort
3. Lyoto Machida
4. Chris Weidman
5. Chael Sonnen
6. Gegard Mousasi
7. Ronaldo Jacare Souza
8. Dan Henderson
9. Yushin Okami
10. Tim Kennedy

Calm your farm. Yes, I think Chris Weidman is the fourth best middleweight and I would gladly tip all three fighters above him to kick his ass soundly. I think he's getting molested violently in his rematch against Anderson Silva and I don't care if I have to supposedly rank him at the top, I ain't. That's just the way I tip. If I would tip all of those fighters to beat you, then how can I rank you above them? Even if you just beat them! That's just the way I'm doing things.

Okay, admittedly, Dan Henderson hasn't fought at 185 or shown much interest in doing so in a few years now, he's lost to Anderson, Vitor and Machida, but has a win over Vitor and was competitive somewhat against the other two. What's great about this division is that hardly anyone in the top 10 has fought against eachother. Tim Kennedy I feel has been surpassed by Jacare at this stage, despite beating him, Gegard Mousasi also hasn't fought at 185 for a while, but he has a win over Jacare and I rate him highly so I think he'd still beat him and all the fighters ranked below him, and hopefully a few of the fighters ranked above him. He's fighting Machida, and I'm looking forward to that, but don't really want either of them to lose. I was hoping for Chael vs Machida myself, almost as much for the promo's as the match itself. Vitor simply has to fight for the belt next. Machida has a win over Dan Henderson, who's only wins in the division are against now welterweight Rousimar Palhares and borderline top 10 fighters Michael Bisping and Wanderlei Silva, as well as the 2006 win over Vitor Belfort of course.

Hopefully Hendo continues, fighting a 185 pounder at 205, does that really count as a light heavyweight bout? I mean they're weighing the same they would during the actual fight anyway if it was at 185. Anyway, loads of great new fights to look forward to.

I want to mention Rich Franklin here. Another guy who's completely written off. He has wins (at least one) over Wanderlei Silva and Yushin Okami, a very close loss to Dan Henderson, and straight losses to Anderson Silva, Vitor Belfort and a very long time ago to Lyoto Machida. I hate the way Rich Franklin's been booked. Forced against his will to move to 205 where he never wanted to fight and came away with a win over Matt Hammil, a KO over a previously KO'd three times in his previous five fights Chuck Liddell, and a loss to Forrest Griffin. All that really achieved was denying him the possibility of maintaining any relevance as a middleweight, but that's not what really pisses me off about how he's been booked.

From a marketing perspective, this was one of their top guys when the boom started, he was a superstar, and look at who he's been booked with: beloved fan favourite Dan Henderson, beloved fan favourite Wanderlei Silva, beloved fan favourite Cung Le, beloved fan favourite Forrest Griffin and Vitor Belfort, who most people are rooting for because he's always knocking fools out.

There's plenty of guys you can put Rich Franklin against where he'd have an opportunity to be the guy actually cheered for once. He wants to fight Michael Bisping. Makes sense, the guys a marketable heel, Wanderlei Silva beat him, he's overrated, I thought he beat Chael Sonnen just barely that one time, but apart from that he's a gatekeeper to the top 10 and ranked too highly every time I see a rankings report. There's a rematch with Lyoto Machida, people want to see Machida beat, and that fight, hell I've never even seen that fight, it was in Japan years ago and wasn't even in Pride. There's Jacare, he comes off like someone you want to see get his ass kicked no? Anyway, he's said he's not retired, he's coming back, hopefully against Bisping or Jacare.

Welterweight

1. George St. Pierre
2. Johnny Hendricks
3. Carlos Condit
4. Robbie Lawler
5. Jake Shields
6. Damian Maia
7. Rory McDonald
8. Ben Askren
9. Jon Fitch
10. Nick Diaz

If I rant here about how GSP's been treated by Dana White and Joe Rogan over the last few days this completely unreadable blog will blow out to 10'000 words, words that both of you reading this far would cherish dearly no doubt, but instead I'll take a different tact. As someone who thought he quite clearly won a razor tight decision, what's pissing me off about all this shit talk about the man is the fact that nobody, even those who think he won, have been so busy defending their opinion that they've completely ignored what an incredible accomplishment Georges achieved in defending his title here.

Six years, twelve different top contenders dispatched ruthlessly and brilliantly. The rest of the welterweights have had six years to know how hard they have to work to catch up to the top dog, and they still haven't got the job done yet. Six years to watch every fight he's had and he still comes away with the win against his toughest challenger to date.

I'll admit, I was a Pride mark, I used to bitch about the ten point must system, the five minute rounds, and particularly against fighters who fought to win decisions. I take all that back, I'm over it. GSP is the shit. He knew when he was dominant and everyone wanted him to go up to 185 and fight Anderson Silva that he's not superman, he didn't get carried away with his ego like at least one of his former challengers did and go up a weight class. He knew he wasn't particularly big (though huge reach) for welterweight let alone middleweight, and he knew it wouldn't last forever.

He's a 185/190 pound fighter in the cage, he's fought guys 200 pounds, he's fought guys barely 170 pounds, I think Koshcheck is about 175 and Jake Shields about 185. So he's fought theoretically quicker opponents and theoretically stronger opponents, he's fought wrestlers that could strike, strikers, grapplers, jui jitsu black belts, and he's beaten them all. He also beat Dan Hardy. Whatever.

Anyway, I think he's done. OCD is the rumour and it is nothing to be sneezed at, he should tell UFC to eat a dick and not defend his title and retire. I think it's offensive to say that every time someone loses a close fight they should get an immediate rematch and particularly offensive that UFC brass seem to want to give their clear cut top contender chance after chance to beat their seemingly outgoing top dog. He won, Johnny lost. No rematch, you get one chance, you blew it. Goodbye. Get to back of the pack and work your way up. That's how I'm gonna book it soon as Joe Silva retires and I get the pen.

I think he'll retire, which means Nick Diaz will immediately unretire and Robbie Lawler in 2013 actually has a chance of being the World Champion. How the fudge did that happen? Rory McDonald is a bust, overrated. Carlos Condit is clear #3. Damian Maia lost, but I don't think he drops too much with that loss, what really happens is Jake Shields beat a guy who's been outstanding lately and dramatically reasserted himself in the division. Yeah styles make fights and they had complimentary styles so it was the type of top five guy that Jake had a good shot against, but he still went out and did it over five rounds.

I don't think guys like Yushin Okami, Jon Fitch and Ben Askren have a clue how to negotiate. They're probably going in there like Tim Sylvia and saying hey I'm one of the top guys that means I'm worth more money right? No you fool. Here's what you do have that's worth something to the UFC: How did Johnny Hendricks make his name? By being 'that guy' who stopped Jon Fitch's streak. The only thing that these fighters have as far as marketable value to Zuffa is that they have built such good names and are so credible that a win over them can put other fighters on the map. They're jobbers to the stars, credible as all hell. You beat them, you're somebody. I hope they both make it back to UFC and Askren might have an actual chance of getting the belt, at which point he has even more credibility for people to make their name off of later.

Lightweight
Featherweight
Bantamweight
Thatotherweight
Womansweight

Yeah I don't watch the little guys. I don't mind their fights, but I generally never know who won and seemingly nobody else does either so I find it boring to follow them. For my money, Frankie Edgar is both the lightweight and featherweight champion. Benson Henderson beat Frankie the first time and beat unworthy challenger Nate Diaz and lost to Frankie in the rematch and Gilbert as well. I just pretend there is no championship at this weight, plus I'm convinced that Jose Aldo would legit beat everyone in the lightweight division easily so there's that too.

I'd love to see Uriah Faber escape from bantamweight irrelevance. We always said oh he's finally got his own division he's gonna do so well down there, well Kid Yamamoto did a hell of a lot better fighting at lightweight than he did at his actual weight class. Some fighters do better against bigger opponents, either way, is a fight with BJ Penn or Nate Diaz so hard to put together? Or even Frankie Edgar?

No instead we get the umpteenth rematch in recent times, Frankie Edgar vs BJ Penn III. Sigh. BJ, it's over. You lost, get over it. You want to redeem your career? Stop trying to reclaim the past, you're not going to be the welterweight champion, you're not going to beat Frankie Edgar, not going to happen. You could of course, simply try to climb the ranks at either featherweight or lightweight. But no, BJ gonna BJ, he's gotta fight for some imaginary glory that he never really quite achieved. His ego let him down his entire career, though I am one of the few people who think he beat Lyoto Machida, wait, nah he couldn't have beaten Machida surely? I should re-watch that one.

Pettis out for a year. Josh Thompson fighting Benson Henderson, Melendez should be fighting Edgar, Jose Aldo should work his way up at 155 and fight Gray Maynard or TJ Grant.

Anyway, thanks to all my millions of loyal readers. I'm quite enjoying doing these blogs, I have a cricket twitter account and blogger blog too. Getting into it a bit, I'll probably do it again. Thanks for all the kind words, the e-mails, the comments, the letters, the donations of money and songs written in honour of my blog.

Yeah I know noones reading this far. Like I would use a phrase like 'eat a dick' if I thought anyone was reading lol.

Cheers from RandomDavo!