JC’s Top Rope Report: Ten Thoughts On 1998 WCW

Thanks to the WWE Network, I have been going through all the old Nitros and PPVs in succession. It would be great if Thunder was also on the Network, but considering WCW barely ever acknowledged Thunder’s existence it doesn’t seem like that is necessary. I like being able to go back and watch these. I watched both as a kid, but when push comes to shove I always leaned toward the WWF.

By mid 1998, WCW seemed like a mess. It had so many stars under one umbrella that you have to scratch your head trying to figure out how they failed. We all know at this point that WCW was pretty much its own victim. They imploded from within. There were too many egos in one company and they were all out for their own well being. And by the time they realized they needed to make new stars, WCW was on its last legs. There was no saving it at that point.

If you followed my tweets about a week ago on Starrcade 98 you know that by that point WCW was in a bad spot. Their last light of hope, Goldberg, was defeated. WCW really had nothing left. And the reformation of the nWo in 1999 was never going to help things.

But after watching 98 WCW, I guess I can throw some of my own thoughts into the mix about the company. While it was on a downhill slope, there were still some bright spots. There are also some things I would have changed with the company.

1. Sting Should Have NEVER Joined nWo Wolfpac

-This one seems like a no brainer and has been talked about to death already. So I don’t want to spend too much time dwelling on it. Sting spent all of 1997 going after the nWo for all of the problems they caused him. And just because he sees Hall turn on Nash and his good friend Lex Luger join the Wolfpac he is cool with the likes of Kevin Nash, Konnan and Randy Savage now? Sting should have always been a lone wolf in this scenario. Or at least team with guys in WCW like DDP and Goldberg. But the problem with WCW is that Eric Bischoff was always about the nWo and nothing else. It is like he barely put any effort into anything not nWo related. Maybe if the Wolfpac didn’t have the nWo label attached to it this might have been okay. But it still would have seemed off. Sting never needed to join a faction. By this point WCW stopped all of his momentum anyways, so maybe they felt this was necessary. But it wasn’t.

2. Halloween Havoc 1998: Good On Paper, Awful In Execution

-If you were to take a look at the Halloween Havoc 98 card and didn’t watch any of the show itself, you would think that the show would be one of the bigger ones of the year. You have DDP going against Goldberg for the Title. Hogan vs Warrior 2. If you saw the first one that over delivered, maybe this one would too? The Outsiders imploded with Hall and Nash taking on each other and also Sting vs Bret Hart. Bot holy hell did this card suck. Hogan vs Warrior might have been the worst match ever in WCW, and that is saying something. Nash vs Hall was based on Hall being a drunk, which is awful in storyline. And Hart vs Sting under delivered big time. DDP vs Goldberg was great. Too bad if you bought the PPV live you weren’t able to see it. The Jericho/Raven opener was good. And they fucked around with the Steiner Brothers stuff again. This card should have been a Starrcade card. And they still found a way to fuck it up.

3. Ric Flair: Returns In September, Doesn’t Wrestle Until December

-Another decision that makes you scratch you head. Flair’s return promo and the subsequent reformation of the Four Horsemen was one of the highlights of WCW in 1998. But then the following weeks were nothing but Flair cutting good to great Flair promos and the Four Horsemen doing pretty much nothing in between. So in typical WCW fashion, they made an impact with something and failed to deliver in the long term. Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit should have been on winning streaks and in the U.S. Title picture or more. They should have fought the nWo and won matches. But Bischoff never liked pushing the Horsemen after the nWo arrived. That is probably because they were looked at as the old guard. Then they have Bischoff WIN at Starrcade, only to lose the next night and then give Flair control of WCW. Oh and how did Flair win? With random help from Randy Savage. I wondered why so I asked Dave Meltzer.

WCW is the gift that keeps on giving!

4. The LWO Was A Complete Waste Of Everyone’s Time

-I imagine the thought process for this one went something like this: “Hey we need to find a way to get all the Mexican wrestlers in one segment so we can have more time for the nWo. What if we put them in one group that was kind of stereotypical and have them do pretty much nothing of substance? We can call it the LWO, the Latino World Order! They will do nothing but feud with Rey Mysterio and Billy Kidman and then be destroyed when the nWo reunites!” That was pretty much the whole storyline of the Latino World Order. It never amounted to anything. It was a waste of Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio.

5. Any Mid Carder That Started To Get Over Was Shot Down

-The list just keeps going on and on. Chris Jericho was getting over then lost to Konnan and did pretty much nothing after. Saturn was getting over with the crowd then seemed to have the legs cut out from under him. Then there was Wrath. He had an undefeated streak going then lost to Nash in the build up to Starrcade. No what might have been interesting instead? A one off PPV with Goldberg vs Wrath. But neither was nWo brother so that couldn’t happen. How about Bam Bam Bigelow? He debuted attacking Goldberg then was pushed to the side. Once anyone in WCW’s mid-card got the littlest bit over it seemed like they were doomed to fail. If WCW just had an end game for the nWo, there was SO much potential there for new guys to step up in their absence.

6. The Scott Steiner/Rick Steiner Storyline Sucked

-All WCW had to do was give Rick Steiner a huge payoff win against his brother Scott and move on. But we never really got it. Sure Rick won the Tag Titles then fought Scott after, but the entire story was so convoluted that it took away from the actual moment. Pus we saw Rick have a promo battle with Chucky the Doll during the build up. It is simple story telling like this that WCW screwed up constantly.

7. The Non Existent Tag Team Division

-And you thought the WWE used to book their tag team divisions bad. By the end of 1998, I couldn’t even tell you who the tag team Champions were. I’m pretty sure there were no actual tag teams left by the end of the year. Rick Steiner won the Titles with Buff Bagwell, even though Bagwell turned on him during the match. Then Rick picked Kenny Kaos as his partner from High Voltage. Then they did nothing and Rick got hurt so the Titles were apparently vacated. Earlier in the year the Titles were passed around the nWo. Another example of how the WWE didn’t care about anything outside of the nWo.

8. The Ultimate Waste Of Money

-At this point it is pretty much universally agreed upon that the Ultimate Warrior was brought back so Hogan could get his win back against him. Imagine carrying about that so much if you are Hogan. I can’t think of a single good Warrior segment from WCW. Imagine Bray Wyatt now but worse. It was that bad. He was part of the worst match of the year as mentioned above. He barely did anything in the War Games match and wrestled one match on Nitro. There is no way that the money spent on Warrior could ever be justified. And then they probably paid him to not do anything after Halloween Havoc.

9. If You Were Going To End Goldberg’s Streak, Heel Bret Hart Should Have Done It

-While I still think turning Bret Hart heel was a mistake from the beginning, it actually wasn’t as bad as I remembered it. Bret Hart and his “Hit List” of going after WCW’s top stars was good. And his heel promos were much better than I remembered. Most people agree that Nash should not have been the one to end Goldberg’s Streak. I think a heel Bret Hart should have done. It would have done him wonders and made him the top heel in WCW in 1999 after the nWo dissolved (more on that next). Bret should have been a face from the beginning and helped the likes of Sting, DDP and others fight off the nWo. I feel like turning Bret heel and making him a Hogan mark was done by Hogan to stroke his own ego. But if you insist on having him heel, go all the way with it.

10. The nWo Should Have Ended At Starrcade 1998

-Everyone has their own idea about when the nWo should have ended. I’ll go with Starrcade 98. It is your biggest show of the year, so why not have a blowoff to your biggest angle ever at that show. Throw in a couple of undercard matches then have a best of five series to close the show. I could go into great detail about what I would have done, but that could be a future column from me. I would have never broken off into two nWo factions. Sting doesn’t join obviously. After Starrcade let Nash, Hogan and Hall take some time off. They are still getting paid so I am sure they’d be okay with it. Then you slowly reintroduce them into new storylines. Two and a half years may even be too long for the nWo storyline. But that’s where I would have ended it. No need for anything else after it. Some day I will write my nWo breakup column.

Until Next Time,

Justin C

Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka