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Guest Hunter's Torn Quad

Was any of WCW's success based on the undercard?

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Guest Hunter's Torn Quad

[Mod's note: I split this off from the "What Are You Watching?" thread, because it's a topic worth discussing in and of itself. This is HTQ responding to one of the last match reviews I did and the discussion continued from there. -- Loss]

 

 

...Meltzer always seems to try to paint the picture that signing all the great workers had Jack Shit to do with WCW's success in the late 90s, but it didn't, and if this match doesn't explain the company's downfall in bite-size format, I don't know what does.

Hope they remember another key of that period was they were presenting incredible matches on television and signed nearly every great young wrestler in the world and were blowing their opposition away in the ring, something that is far from the case today.

Straight from the Observer you wanted me to post a few days ago.

 

Dave has consistently stated that part of WCW's success was a strong in-ring product.

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Right, that was the point I was making, was that he credits the ring work with playing a part in WCW's success, when it didn't. Otherwise, the cruiser matches on TV would have had far more heat. I didn't word that properly.

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Guest Hunter's Torn Quad

Right, that was the point I was making, was that he credits the ring work with playing a part in WCW's success, when it didn't. Otherwise, the cruiser matches on TV would have had far more heat. I didn't word that properly.

But the ring work did play a part in WCW's success. With the WWF still promoting the same basic ring style from the 80's in most of the matches, WCW presented a midcard that was full of fast action, big highspots, and pretty much left the majority of the WWF's product in the dust as far as athleticism goes, and that undoubtedly brought in fans who wanted a more modern product.

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I don't know that those types of fans existed, because while they got heat on PPVs, Rey Misterio didn't really get over huge consistently until 1999 when he feuded with Nash, and guys like Benoit, Malenko and Guerrero were over at times and not over at other times. The crowd was there for the NWO, to a point where it bothered me when both the fans and announcers ignored ongoing good matches.

 

Jericho was very over in 1998, but that had nothing to do with his ability in the ring, and Juventud Guerrera was pushed as a joke and thus perceived as one. Guys like La Parka, Silver King, El Dandy, Ultimo Dragon, etc, I don't think brought in any viewers at all.

 

At least not until 1999. I agree that by 1999, Hogan, Nash and company were no longer pulling the numbers, and more weeks than not, whatever guys like Benoit and Misterio were doing were getting the ratings in their quarter hours, usually second only to Ric Flair's segments as the highest-rated on the show.

 

When I talk to casual fans about WCW, the one consistent thing they say is that there were way too many luchadores hanging around. I realize that those types of fans are always going to exist, but this has been a consistent, across-the-board thing.

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Guest Hunter's Torn Quad

So the fact that WCW was producing the superior in-ring product had nothing to do with their success ?

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No. The NWO was the reason for their success. The fans were apathetic when the talented guys were in the ring more often than not, at least on TV.

 

That's not something I'm particularly happy about, or want to be true, but it sadly *is* true.

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Guest Hunter's Torn Quad

So, if WCW had put out nothing but DUD matches that were terrible, it would have made zero difference ?

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People didn't buy PPVs to watch cruiserweights, they bought them to see the nWo, Sting, The Giant, and later Goldberg.

 

The cruisers kept the crowd entertained, but I don't think anyone in the crowd paid to see a hot Juventud match.

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Guest Hunter's Torn Quad

The cruisers kept the crowd entertained, but I don't think anyone in the crowd paid to see a hot Juventud match.

And without such consistently entertaining matches, I'll guarantee that things wouldn't have been so successful for WCW or Nitro. It's all well and good getting people to pay $35 for a PPV main event, but if you give them nothing but shit on the undercard, they'll eventually become more choosy, and not so willing to shell out the money for a show they've come to expect to be total crap, no matter how appealing the main event is.

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I do think that all DUDs all night would have caused the inevitable crash and burn to come sooner. When the top guys in WCW stopped drawing, the strongest point they had was the undercarders who could work, a select few of whom should have been pushed higher on the card. So, I give them credit for prolonging WCW's demise in 1998-1999, because they kept the bottom from dropping.

 

I also give them credit for maintaining ratings. Even the most casual of fans is going to prefer to watch a Rey Misterio Jr match over a TL Hopper match, so in that case, yes, they were a success. I don't know that their matches sold the PPVs though; it was the NWO that drew the money. However, I think part of the appeal of Nitro at its peak was that you never knew when the NWO was going to show up and wreak havoc on a match, so they watched whatever was going on at the time. WCW had a winning TV formula that the undercard did play a part in, but when it came to pay-per-view, or arena business, it was the top of the card that brought the fans to the matches.

 

I also give them credit for keeping WCW's core fanbase excited. Wrestling was always more important in WCW than in the WWF, because that's how the fans had been educated. I just don't know that Rey v Psicosis or Benoit v Jericho or a similar match was a PPV draw.

 

This is coming from someone who will start a riot if Rey doesn't make the Hall of Fame this year, and who also thinks Benoit, Jericho and Eddy could have succeeded in WCW's upper card.

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I'll back up Loss for this one. People came to WCW to watch the NWo, and then Goldberg. When WCW put out a truckload of merchandise, how much of it marketed those terrific wrestlers of theirs'? Fans like us appreciated the great matches at times, but most casual fans do not come around primarily for the matches.

 

Most casual fans are not aware of the nuances that make a great match or a boring match. This think, this wrestler was cool, or that wrestler was fun. Look at WWE. They didn't have that many noticeably great wrestlers in the late 1990s, but they did have Steve Austin and The Rock. They drew huge. But when Benoit & Company arrived, did the fans stick around as the in-ring product improved? They left soon after their favorites left.

 

Star power draws fans. I haven't seen much evidence to suggest that workrate does. In the same manner that the art movies are played in the small cinemas while the big name movies like "Big Mammas House" somehow draw the big crowds.

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Guest Hunter's Torn Quad

I've never said the the good matches sold PPV's. I'm just making the point that the in-ring product played a key part in WCW's success, even if you do take the position that all it was was help stave off the inevitable demise of WCW by at least making for entertaining TV and PPV's.

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The demise of WCW was always monetary. WCW overpaid for big name stars and no amount of success could pay the bills. And Time Warner did not have the patience to dump those stars and built around unproven draws.

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Guest Hunter's Torn Quad

And people paying money for PPV's were regularly let down by sub-par shows. It probably wouldn't have made much of a difference, but they would have undoubtedly had a few more buys had the fans come to expect a PPV that was at least going to entertain them with good matches, rather than being educated to expect a shitty PPV.

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WCW just learned the secret that made the WWF boom in the 80s when they had Hulk Hogan drawing in the marks and the Bulldogs, Savage, and Steamboat drawing in the people who wanted to see quality wrestling. They maximized their audience by having something for everyone.

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Guest Hunter's Torn Quad

They maximized their audience by having something for everyone.

And if you take away part of that equation, they don't draw as many people as they could. On it's own, no one part of what made WCW a success would have had as big of on effect as it would have without the other pieces that made up the puzzle.

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In terms of ratings, I absolutely agree. In terms of why they were profitable, I'm still torn. They were running so many dream matches on top, and that's the fuel that kept the fire burning. It's the same thing in the WWF -- they could have had total crap in the undercard (and they did) but people loved Austin, Rock and Foley so much that they sat through it to get to what they wanted. Val Venis and The Godfather weren't really part of a formula.

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Guest Hunter's Torn Quad

As part of the bigger picture, everything that made WCW a success played some role, no matter how small, in making it profitable.

 

And I'd say Val Venis and The Godfather were part of the WWF formula, in that they usually got the night off to a somewhat entertaining start, which set the mood, and which undoubtedly made people more receptive to what was to come.

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The point I was making is that in the 80s WWF, Hogan was the reason for the big money. Just like the nWo was the reason for the big money in WCW.

 

Both had undercards designed to entertain those who may have not been fans of the upppercard, but the undercard wasn't what helped draw money. They helped the ratings, I'm sure, but not money.

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Guest Hunter's Torn Quad

Anything that draws fans in, in whatever numbers, helps make money.

 

And don't underestimate the long term value of having a good series of undercard matches on PPV's, because it helps make for a quality overall product, and if people know they're getting a well rounded PPV, in terms of storylines and match quality, then they'll be more likely to buy.

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From personal experience from 96-97, the great matches on the undercard were not the reason why the casual fans I knew ordered PPVs. My friends/cousins and I ordered several WCW PPVs from 96-97 and while the undercard was on, they were all almost completely silent. They thought guys like Benoit and Malenko were boring. Then they would erupt when the NWO came on the screen. I remember ordering Hog Wild 96 and like 5 or 6 of them went out to play basketball during Benoit/Malenko. Then they were going crazy during Hogan/Giant and Hall/Nash v Sting/Luger. I remember my cousin and I were dying to see Nash and Giant feud in the summer of 96 (96 was my last year as a mark). The NWO was clearly the draw and really the only reason we ordered WCW PPVs.

 

They always made more noise during WWF PPVs. I remember them loving guys like Tatanka, Adam Bomb and Men on a Mission, etc. There was more of an emotional bond with WWF guys (even low card guys). We didn't even know what workrate was.

 

The only time I was into WCW over WWF was from Sept. 95 till Nov. 96. I was drawn to Nitro because of the dream matches they put on top rather than the great wrestling in the undercard. The NWO drew me further in until the Piper/Hogan feud in Oct/Nov turned me off to WCW and I really never came back.

 

The great matches might have drawn some smart fans, but the NWO drew the vast majority of the money because they drew in the casual fans.

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The one thing I want to add here is something touched on earlier. It is really weird how one week guys like Rey, Benoit, and Eddy would be way over, to the point that unless the main event had a fresh angle, they would be the most over people on the show. The next week, it could be dead silence until the guys would get the crowd into the match in ways that only they could.

 

Talking about WCW sucks because now that they are dead and buried, the "what if's" only make me miss them more.

 

Tim

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I know, it was very uneven. I credit that to WCW not following up when those guys would have a great match, therefore leaving the audience to forget that it happened. They got much better about that in 2001. They got much better about a lot at that point actually.

 

BTW, was I the only one who was *sad* that Benoit and Eddy left WCW? You might as well have nailed the coffin shut on the company at that point, and knowing how incredibly limiting the WWF style is, it was a little sad, and I think that's when the idea of the Monday Night Wars actually being anything resembling competitive died. Because by that point in time, Benoit was probably the most over guy they had that had never won the World title (unless you count Scott Hall, and I don't, since he couldn't be counted on anyway).

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Sad?

 

Devistated is more like it.

 

Russo's first run sucked but at least Benoit was in the main events. I was actually looking forward to three Benoit vs. Jarrett matches at Souled Out, even though I wouldn't see them until a few days later as I was in Florida at Disney World. With no PPV access, we turn on Nitro the next night and Kidman/Psicosis work a 15 minute match and then Sullivan/Rotunda/Chono come out and I know something is up.

 

I had never bought a WWF PPV prior to the Rumble 2000, just in anticipation that Benoit & Co. would show up.

 

Russo's 2nd run was made even lousier by the fact that he didn't have the workhorses of Benoit/Eddy plus Rey/Kidman/Juve knew they could let their valets do all the work.

 

Tim

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I was also going to point out about how one week Benoit/Malenko/Eddie would be way over and then the next they would get no reaction at all. It was very weird. It seemed to be dependent on what market they were in or the programs they were involved in. This especially applied to Benoit during this time frame. He would get tremendous reactions sometimes and then nothing. It was very unique.

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