EvilHomer - 2014-03-24 The WCW was such an awful promotion. I have no idea how it even lasted as long as it did. Their only good wrestlers, chiefly Jericho, wisely jumped ship to the WWF; everybody else was either a rip-off (Goldberg), a has-been (Hogan), or some generic background wrestler that nobody could ever possibly care about (DDP, Sting). The only thing even remotely watchable about that entire franchise was the Nitro Girls, but even they could only drag Wheel Chair Wrestling so far.
In fact, Wheel Chair Wrestling was SO pathetic, I could even believe the premise of this movie: that a short, fat comedy actor like Oliver Platt was the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. I actually thought he WAS a legit champion. Had to look it up on Wikipedia to make sure.
Your move, Cena.
Hooker - 2014-03-24 So, the people that think things like this aren't necessarially wrestling fans; they're WWE fans. The WWE/WWF for the past sixteen years now has been a promotion centered around a punch/kick style of wrestling similar to Memphis Championship Wrestling (the Jerry Lawler promotion that famously had Andy Kaufman briefly work for them). The reason for this is twofold. First, when Vince Jr took the promotion huge, it was built around Hulk Hogan, a notoriously awful wrestler who could not at all work Flair/Steamboat style wrestling. Thus, the promotion centered heavily on theatric wrestling where pointing to the crowds, cartoonishly selling minor moves, and things like that took over. The WWF actually saw something of a renaissance after Hogan jumped ship and they went with Bret Hart being their top worker. However, that came to an end when Steve Austin took over. Austin was actually a fantastic traditional wrestler, but his neck got severely fucked up when Owen Hart botched a piledriver on him, resulting in seriously limiting the moves Austin could do and basically outright removing the possibility of Austin taking any moves that would make him land hard on his back (the fundamental bump in traditional wrestling). As a result, the WWF went harder than it ever did in the direction of punch/kick wrestling. It's worth noting that Austin did take a year of at his peak to surgically repair his neck, and when he came back returned to wrestling traditionally and it was GLORIOUS, but his knees by that point were fucked (he would often wrestle in two huge knee braces), so it didn't last long.
The Austin era had another profound effect on the WWE. Because the punch/kick style requires so little training (again, Andy Kaufman essentially walked right into it), the company could now basically pick whoever they wanted, wrestler or not, and make them into serviceable main event wrestlers. The result is a main event scene populated by the likes of Randy Orton (who, despite being the son of a wrestler, didn't start until he was an adult), Batista, John Cena, etc. Only recently, with the influx of indy talent such as CM Punk (currently walked out of the company) and Bryan Danielson (currently floating to the top, but hard to merchandise for) is the company finally crawling back to actual pro wrestling.
WCW, meanwhile, was almost always (until Vince Russo came over, who, despite how maligned he gets, always writes for and controls the entire product) a circus where, unless you were in the main event, management barely cared what you did. The result was a myriad of different wrestling styles - lucha libre, puroresu, English wrestling, catch wrestling, mat wrestling, garbage wrestling, high-spot wrestling, etc. - were all on display. This is the primary reason that even today WCW has such a loyal following. There really has not been a promotion like it in the 21st century.
EvilHomer - 2014-03-24 So then how do you explain Rey Mysterio? Matt and Jeff Hardy? Steve Blackman? Ken Shamrock? Tajiri? Kurt Angle? Mick Foley? Jericho? The main carders in Attitude (and post) Era WWF may have been "punch-kick" style shlubs, like The Rock or John Cena, but there was just as much variety in the mid and low cards as there was in the mid and low card WCW. While I'd agree that the promotion went way downhill during the Cena Era (such is the price of unchallenged market dominance), claiming that Wheel Chair Wrestling had a myriad of styles and the WWF did not, is absolutely ridiculous.
I agree with you on one thing, though - the WCW WAS a circus. A circus full of clowns.
Hooker - 2014-03-24 Look, I can't even tell if you're doing GimmickHomer or not any more. I'll address some of that.
Of course there is going to be some variety in the WWE. Wrestling a business where you need to stand out as much as possible. However, in the company there is and always has been a style that everyone must conform to. Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio famously had huge trouble conforming to the style. Mysterio finally adapted by jettisoning the majority of his acrobatics (which went hand in hand with the massive muscle gain the WWE required of him, missing the point of someone like Mysterio completely) while Jericho, I and many other people would argue, never really reached the levels he did in WCW. Jericho talks at length in his autobiography about how much trouble he had changing his entire wrestling character and style to fit the WWE.
Ken Shamrock came from a punch-kick sport, so I don't know why you include him. Blackman is a joke question? Tajiri, while a fine mat wrestler, was a do-a-move-and-mug-for-the-crowd wrestler in the vein of Hulk Hogan during his WWF/E career. Mick Foley is probably the most punch-kick wrestler of all time. The Hardy Boys are terrific high spot wrestlers, which has always been an acceptable mid-card act in the WWE, but it kept them out of the main event picture despite the fact that they - and especially Jeff - have often or always been vastly more popular than many of the main event destined wrestlers like Orton, Cena, and the like. Rob Van Dam is another classic example of this.
Kurt Angle was a massive talent for which there was no real precedent in wrestling. He (along with Chris Benoit) very much reinvented how a wrestling match is put together in the WWE (and, subsequently, TNA). Whereas previously, owing to Bret Hart's legacy, matches would gradually build up towards each wrestler's finisher (a style still prevalent in Japan), Angle introduced a style more focused on a fast-paced finisher-reversal-submission-reversal style. Today, every main eventer has an impact finisher (Angle Slam / Attitude Adjustment) and a submission (Ankle Lock / STF), and whereas before you would see one Sweet Chin Music or Sharpshooter at the end of a match, and it might get reversed at Wrestlemania, you will often see multiple attitude adjustments in a single match on RAW. So, Angle and Benoit definitely changed how things are done, but also within guidelines already established. It was like the movement from Hollywood westerns to spaghetti westerns; regardless of how different they are, they're still westerns.
Now, just to make my position on this clear, I don't have a horse in this race. The NWO-era WCW main event scene was populated by wrestlers that range from shit (Hogan, Nash) to borderline shit (Sting) wrestlers. If I looked at the total of great storytelling and great matches, the WWF/E would probably come out on top by quite a margin. However, you asked, bewildered, why WCW was so popular. The answer is that it was the opposite of what the WWF provided. The WWF is one flavour rigorously enforced; WCW would throw everything they could at you.
EvilHomer - 2014-03-24 So you acknowledge, with some squirming†, that the WWF had a variety of wrestlers in the mid and low cards. You admit that this variety did not extend to the main cards of _either_ promotions, which in both cases was populated chiefly by shit wrestlers. And yet you still conclude that they were opposites? How does THAT work?
You're right in saying that the WWF had far better storylines and much more exciting matches. The WWF was the king of sports *entertainment*; they understand the package, and with better writers than the WCW, and loads more money than the ECW, they delivered this package far better than anyone else could. But the level of variety in wrestling techniques was actually fairly comparable between the two promotions, slight differences not-withstanding, and those WCW fans who claim that superior variety is why they clung to an inferior product long after it became clear the WWF had won, well then, these smarks are clearly mistaken.
And I asked why the WCW lasted as long as it did. I did not ask why it was so popular. It was NOT popular, which is why it went broke.
(†come on, Ken Shamrock? Punch-and-kick? One of the pioneers of MMA, whose ground game was so strong by the time he got to the WWF that he was able to fight ROYCE GRACIE to a draw?!? Now which one of us is playing a gimmick! Same goes for your classification of Steve Blackman. Well, yes, TECHNICALLY he does punch and kick, I guess that's true, but his _style_ of punching and kicking is as different from Cena and Orton as puroresu is from luche libre. Blackman was a taekwondo karate man; how many taekwondo karate men did the WCW have?)
sosage - 2014-03-25 I'm not even sure what you two are arguing about anymore.
All I know is, all three of these companies seemed to fuck up the narrative pacing of wrasslin forever. Killing off the jobber system was the worst thing to happen to this...whatever we call it...ever. They were serving prime rib every night, making everyone sick of prime rib. They also couldn't top prime rib.
sosage - 2014-03-24 I've been watching this entire series and flip flopping on sharing it here. I'm glad someone pulled the trigger. They go through the entire "Hulkamania" era, including reviewing No Holds Barred, and it's been a pretty entertaining way to relive childhood memories (and to watch all the ways Hogan stole everyone's spotlight and acted like a heel).
Born in the RSR - 2014-03-24 The "nogger" running joke of the series made me a bit uncomfortable, but this movie is so bad, and the review so spot-on, I couldn't just keep it to myself.
Jet Bin Fever - 2014-03-27 I saw this on Cinemax back in 2000 or so with this smelly fat guy who went to my high school. He lived across from me at one point, but after Magic cards lost interest to me, I lost track. So, I thought I would be nice to him by visiting his house, and we sat through this shit because he was a huge wrestling fan. I felt really unsafe in that house, because his family was really unstable and shady characters came and went. I later learned that he was busted for meth then narced on some buddies of his. I don't know where he is now. Jail or dead, is my guess.
So yeah, those are my only memories of this fucking movie.