The Ledger – February 1, 2002
By Matt Tracker/Gregory Dickens
The WWF continues its run of no-nonsense serial drama, and why not – wrestling is a TV entity nowadays. As much as people may decry the label of “male soap opera,” let’s be frank, it is just that.
Vince McMahon, Victor Numan. They ain’t that different. They’re the same type of characters: super-rich, dressed to the nines, larger-than-life and wielding significant power. And, of course, both overact like you wouldn’t believe.
Just accept it, kids. If you watch wrestling on a regular basis, you might as well be watching “Melrose Place.”
So I applaud the WWF for embracing its nature – a broadcast series, not a traveling circus – and crafting actual stories that build and develop in increments. It makes for much more involving TV, especially when they eliminate the trashier elements. They’re a brother to “Melrose Place” but they don’t have to be its twin.
Whether you’re following the meltdown of the Triple H/Stephanie marriage, Maven’s baptism by fire, or the success of Billy/Chucky tandem, the WWF is offering an array of subplots to lure your attention.
I’m still not sold on the New World Order revival. Just as we saw in 1998, Ric Flair is again defending the sanctity of a wrestling organization’s history from the threat of a power-man promoter and his gaggle of thugs. But instead of WCW’s Eric Bischoff, Flair combats Vince McMahon.
Flair made his argument Monday against the NWO with a jaw-dropping video encapsulating the WWF televised history. From the earliest shows with Bruno Sammartino to Andre the Giant to Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels to Steve Austin and Chris Jericho, the package was a truly stirring recap as to why pro wrestling fans get so attached to their favorite performers. The WWF also should be commended for showing the late Owen Hart and Yokozuna.
It’s no surprise Vince is aligned with the NWO; that gang will project a swaggering antihero attitude, and they’ll be embraced by a healthy contingent of fans. Vince wants to be on the cool team, so he can bask in the bad-boy glow.
The problem is, a lot of people saw the NWO degenerate into a laughingstock as lesser performers moved to the fore. I noticed a fan’s sign on this week’s “RAW” reading “K-Dog, we miss you.”
When you’re showing some love for Konnan because of nostalgia you have more issues than TV Guide. Do you really want to hear the former WCW U.S. champ scream “arriba la raza” while he shakes his crotch at you?
But we know from the grapevine that Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Hulk Hogan are signed up. As long as those guys represent the lone contingent from the WCW days, I’ll be happy. We don’t need Buff Bagwell, Bryan Adams or Stevie Ray stinking up the joint.
Now if we could get Stevie Ray back on ringside commentary I’ll be happy.
The NWO revival brings up two questions: When will they arrive and who else will join?
As far as the “when,” I’d be surprised if we see them in action before the “No Way Out” pay-per-view on the 17th of this month.
But if the NWO follows the pattern of the WCW run, those three founders are going to go recruiting. Who in the WWF might join the gang?
The Big Show was in the “band” when he was in WCW. I think Dallas Page was at one point too. You gotta wonder what part X-Pac will play since he was a prominent member back in the day.
And you have to wonder what the WWF has planned for Kane after he twice body slammed Big Show and escaped a chokeslam pin within eight days. He’s now officially a monster, and seemingly can’t be left out of a title hunt. But against which wrestler and for which title will he compete?
Those are the kind of questions that have me looking forward to the WWF’s shows of late. And that’s a credit to their renewed creative vigor.