Vince's Shovel Week One: Burying the nWo in WWE
I've decided to start writing a little more about pro wrestling. While the product is not what it once was, it will always hold a place in my heart, as I watched in faithfully as a chubby, sticky-fingered youth. It occurred to me that I could write about exactly the thing which has put me off from WWE as I grew into a thin, hairy, bitter man: Vince McMahon and some of his head-scratching and occasionally spiteful decisions. I don't know if I'll make this a weekly post or a bi-weekly post, but you can rest assured that I will be both scathing and somewhat informed every time I tickle the old keyboard on this subject. This week, we will examine probably the most egregious instance of Vince's shovel work (as far as this writer is concerned), as we step back to 2002 to look at what happened when he brought in the nWo as a dose of lethal poison.
Even with the ridiculous facial expressions and horrific over-acting from Vince here, you must admit, it was an exciting moment. The idea that Vince was so upset having Ric Flair as the majority shareholder of his creation that he wanted to bring in the nWo to kill the WWE off is silliness, but think of all the insane possibilities this angle has! All of the superstars built by the WWE in the years since Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hulk Hogan left for WCW having to face these legends of the ring? Sign me up. I couldn't wait until they debuted...but then when they did, it was way more vanilla then any of us could have possibly expected.
Okay, what the fuck? Instead of coming in and trying to draw heat with the faithful WWE fans, the nWo comes in rather quietly. Hogan even openly claims that they have no desire to come in and hurt the WWE! Instead of coming in burning like a barn fire, the nWo is reduced to more like a Yankee Candle at your mom's house. But wait, do they redeem themselves before the night is over?
Now we're talking. Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) squaring off against Stone Cold sounds like something every kid watching wrestling in 1998 would have sold their Giga Pets to see. Hall and Nash were thick as thieves, so you knew the big man would be ringside for the conflict. Also, what's this going on with Hollywood Hogan?
Good stuff here...good stuff. After an underwhelming debut, it looks like this thing is on track. Sure, there was some weirdness in between this period and Wrestlemania: Scott Hall (a recovering alcoholic) is kidnapped by Stone Cold and has beer poured all over him, the nWo attempt to literally murder The Rock with a semi-truck, and there are a series of tag matches leading up to Wrestlemania during which the nWo looks completely over-the-hill due to the way they are booked to get their asses kicked.
Still though, at this point, I'm feeling pretty optimistic. This angle is too big for Vince to fuck it up for his own spiteful reasons. Hall and Nash will get their revenge on Stone Cold at Wrestlemania by cheating to win the match, and Hogan will put over The Rock and further the feud.
As it turns out, I was only about 1/3 of the way right:
The Hall and Austin match was a complete dumpster fire, which was only made worse by the fact that Hall not only lost, but he barely put up a fight against Austin. The Rock and Hogan was absolutely great, but why have Hogan and the nWo part ways at the end? We just started the fun here and already we are putting a pin in the angle? I get it, Hogan was over with the fans and they wanted to see him do his prayers and vitamins shtick., but couldn't that happen down the road? Also, where do Hall and Nash go from here?
Okay awesome! I can live with this! X-Pac with Hall and Nash open up a ton of possibilities! Let's just get them looking strong with a big win and get them out of this angle so they can go wreak havoc on the WWE.
Alright, seriously, what the fuck? They can't let the nWo get a win and move on to go feud elsewhere with WWE talent? Shawn Michaels is rumored to return to ring action, so why aren't we starting to think about an nWo vs DX angle? X-Pac was in both groups, so maybe he could be torn between his two groups of friends. They could have had over a years worth of storyline if they could just make the nWo look like a legitimate threat.
Sadly, after this, it just goes on to get worse and weirder. Scott Hall gets fired about a month later for breaking his sobriety and getting drunk on The Plane Ride From Hell (Ric Flair pulled out his dick on the plane ride and managed not to get fired, by the way), Shawn Michaels joins the nWo instead of bringing back DX with Triple H, Kevin Nash tears his quad as a result of just being tall apparently, and the entire angle is officially six feet under.
Thanks for shitting on everybody's parade, Vince.