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Charles (Loss)

[1997-03-03-WCW-Nitro] Roddy Piper tryouts

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Okay, here it is -- prior to 1998, what was probably the worst segment in Nitro history. A rare major misfire for WCW around this time.

 

The Omni crowd seems happy to see Piper again. I'm guessing it had been years since he had been in the building at this point. Piper finally explains what he said in gaelic months earlier.

 

No name after no name comes down the aisle (including the future Luther Reigns), finally culminating in John Tenta, takes on Piper as the crowd dies. Honestly, I can see why they thought this might work and it's an interesting concept. But it … doesn't.

 

No one can say Eric Bischoff didn't take some really ballsy risks during this time.

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This segment might still be going on, 16 years later. It just died and died and died again. The whole thing was predicated on Piper being Steve-Austin-in-1998 over. He wasn't.

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This is an interesting segment on so many levels on its own but even more interesting that this happened in the Omni.

 

For a building so famous in wrestling , this symbolized the lasting image as WCW never ran another event in the Omni. This was a particular frustrating time to be a fan in Georgia because of Bischoff's insistence to leave Atlanta being associated with WCW and WWF still not running there either.

 

I remember this show almost as vivid as the later 7/6/98 and 1/4/99 Nitros especially this segment. Being there live, it died an awful death. Around 10 minutes too long and really botched as they scrapped this whole concept by the next week.

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In defense of the segment, I will say again that Eric Bischoff had balls of steel in 1997. I'm up to May and so far he has attempted a cross-promotional tie-in with TNT to promote a new show, given his top heel faction their own pay-per-view, placed a match between referees in a head-to-head quarter hour, started a martial arts division, built a 20-minute segment around no-names fighting to compete with Roddy Piper, allowed a segment with Randy Savage staging a sit-in to go nearly 15 minutes, used the biggest pop culture fixture in basketball in his top heel faction, and headlined and co-headlined a pay-per-view with football players. There are some failures, but he was far more willing to step outside the box and attempt new things than he really needed to be considering how far ahead they were of the WWF, and I will give him credit for it. To this day, I'm not sure Bischoff realizes that the willingness to take huge risks coincided with his biggest success. I mean, he was willing to try stuff like this, and 18 months later, wasn't willing to let Chris Jericho get squashed in five minutes by Goldberg in a semi-main event spot on pay-per-view. That's a huge change in mindset and really explains a lot about WCW's collapse.

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Well yes, but the difference between Bischoff and Russo was that Bischoff knew enough to know he wasn't an expert on all things wrestling and surrounded himself with people who knew their stuff. Russo thought he had all the answers (and really, really didn't understand the difference between the WWF and WCW viewing audiences, which I think is really summed up in the crowd reaction to Regal vs Ultimo at Slamboree compared to Vader vs Shamrock at Cold Day In Hell). Check my thoughts in those threads to see what I mean.

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Bischoff proved he could show some patience to during this time. Sting in 1997 is amazing to think about how drawn out it was. Really looking forward in 1998 how this change in philosophy switches and then we get the amplified Russo years.

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I think it was right to keep this thing on in full. Nitro hasn't really had a mis step in a while until this and its still a very interesting thing to look back and reflect on.

 

I actually asked my dad tonight if he remembered this and he said, "that was the most boring thing in any wrestling show you ever dragged me to."

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Perhaps i'm alone but I was always legit entertained by this, and not even in a train wreck sorta way. I think it would have gotten a warmer reception from others had it contained known guys as Tenta got a good reaction for his bit and the brawl at the end. I was freakin pissed as hell when they got replaced a week or so later and then we never saw any of em again. I wanted to see how the mysterious unknown martial artist guys would have fared....

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Someone mentioned, years ago, that Bill Goldberg was one of the people originally on Piper's team. Any truth to that, I'd long since forgotten about the entirety of the segment, except for John Tenta.

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What a bizarre segment.

 

The concept of Piper taking three unknowns/newcomers to compete on his Uncensored team sounds great in theory. You instantly give three different wrestlers the main event rub and insert some new blood into the promotion. So in theory at least, it is not a terrible idea. The execution however was just awful. The little matches they do just stink and Piper gets in the majority of the offense. If they were actually planning on having these guys be part of Piper's team that they'd let them get something on Piper, but no. The crowd completely dies and it just dragged on and on. Piper nor anyone else came out of this looking good.

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The Train Wreck analogy works best here. Btw, This was the highest rated segment of the night and crushed RAW.

 

The hairy man in little red shorts doing that weird running in place provided many o' belly laughs that night.

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As much as McMahon runs down the senior circuit, Piper gets a big reaction coming out from the crowd. Guys keep coming down to spar with Piper. We get a throw back to WrestleMania 2 as there is a mini boxing match. Crowd doesn’t like this part. Boxing match ends but Piper wants to go again. That’s where you call an audible and not do that since the crowd was already booing. Tenta arrives and the crowd seems happy to recognize someone for once. With such a loaded year I do wonder what was the last segment cut for this to make it. :)

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Perhaps i'm alone but I was always legit entertained by this, and not even in a train wreck sorta way. I think it would have gotten a warmer reception from others had it contained known guys as Tenta got a good reaction for his bit and the brawl at the end. I was freakin pissed as hell when they got replaced a week or so later and then we never saw any of em again. I wanted to see how the mysterious unknown martial artist guys would have fared....

I think this segment might have actually worked if they used the right guys. If they replaced the horrible kickboxer for example by Meng (not that he was doing much with the Faces of Fear at that point) and used some known face instead of the boxer (is that Brady Boone?), Hacksaw might have worked (though I really would have loved to see Fujiwara in this trying to get over in that 3-5 minutes he would have gotten), I think. Of course with the plan being that the guys were to be replaced anyway it made no sense to use non-jobbers for this.

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Well yes, but the difference between Bischoff and Russo was that Bischoff knew enough to know he wasn't an expert on all things wrestling and surrounded himself with people who knew their stuff.

 

Namely, he had Kevin Sullivan to book most of the product, with lot of inpunts from Hall & Nash as far as the nWo stuff went (this is from Sullivan himself). Apparently, Piper being used was pretty much Hogan and Bischoff's idea.

 

God awful angle. To me Piper on TV every week and thrown into PPV main events in 97 is the first alert sign for an incoming decline. He was fine for the Starrcade main event. But he overstayed his welcome bad and quick. The Superbrawl main event was shitty, the Alcatraz idea was corny at best. Now this. Just a terrible terrible segment. Piper cutting promos every week was exposing him as dated, uncool and rambling. And him working matches regularly was… the less said the better. So yeah. Add in Souled Out which petered out, the Steiner car accident and Prince Iaukea mimicking Rocky's IC title win, and you got a bunch of misfires dating back from late January 97.

 

I wonder exactly when we can point out to Sullivan getting burned out and the inmates finally running the asylum (the main event scene was trashed as soon as early 98, and we know who's fault it is).

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I think. Of course with the plan being that the guys were to be replaced anyway it made no sense to use non-jobbers for this.

 

Was that actually the plan or did they just realize afterwards how badly this segment sucked and quickly replaced Piper's "family" with the Horsemen?

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According to the WON of the time,

 

it went like this:

 

-Originally it was supposed to be Sting's team at the third team, but Piper was really over so they went with him and prolonged the Sting angle.

-Piper had creative control so when he suggested his outsiders, they couldn't really say no.

-He wanted Tenta who was a personal friend and then "also get work for his bodyguard/gofer and a friend of his from his straight-to-video action movies." The gofer was joked to be Piper's "bruti" backstage.

-They realized how massive a disaster it was as it was happening and people wanted to call an audible and have the show end with Piper's team getting destroyed but no one could figure out how to break it to Piper.

-Already after Nitro they were thinking of finding a way to pull Jarrett/Mongo from a Public Enemy match at the PPV and shorten a Benoit injury angle to get them in there instead.

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How WCW misused Tenta is pretty sad and typical for a company that had an embarrassment of riches when it came to their roster. Seeing him do the Oddities thing later in WWF felt even worse because they made him a clown.

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So, yeah...THIS is the first prominent Piper segment I've watched since his passing. I may as well have taken a wiz on his grave. His opening promo isn't bad to start, but he quickly starts rambling. He's way over, but the problem is none of his opponents are. The crowd pops for Piper squashing guys, but don't pick up on the story that contestant #3 is supposed to win them over. To them, some nobody they've ever heard of is beating up their favorite. It almost seems, after the crowd boos after the first stalemate, that Piper calls an audible and has the segment continue in a desperate bid to win the crowd back over. Doesn 't work, obviously. This portion of the segment alone is interminable and completely sinks this. He's followed by a martial artist who comes off as the lovechild of Steve Williams and Raja Lion. John Tenta is last and finally is someone the crowd recognizes and gives a moderate pop for. The other two guys jump him for no particular reason.

 

An infamous segment, that was oddly fascinating in that train wreck way. I get that they were still trying to position Piper as an outsider (as opposed to an Outsider), still not aligned with either company. But holy shit, there had to be a better way to establish his team than this.

 

As a footnote, supposedly people in the WWF saw this segment and immediately tried to sign the future Luther Reigns away on sight alone. For whatever reason, they couldn't do it.

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