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Best Angles That Didn't Pan Out


Johnny Sorrow
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I've been on a marathon of watching Will's Horsemen set and I'm right on "Pre-Starrcade 1986" and it's so great as this was when me and my buddy Joe were 16 and fully obesssed with wrestling. It was to the point where I convinced my Pop to take us to Greensboro from New Jersey to spend Thanksgiving in a hotel and at the Greensboro Colleseum, and I scored third row seats on the phone with TicketMaster.

 

The Nikita Koloff face turn was so fucking awesome when it went down.

 

I remember watching TBS or Worldwide and seeing that footage from the cage match and marking the fuck out once I realized that Nikita wasn't going to attack Dusty from behind and was instead kicking Ole Anderson's ass.

All the follow up stuff with Nikita talking about learning to respect Magnum, etc was fucking gold. Granted, I always thought they were always waiting for an opportunity to turn Nikita into a good guy. Nikita was so super over as a heel that he had his own T-Shirt available at the merch table at cards. I had one that I thought was cool until my girlfriend asked me why I was wearing a T Shirt with a big Muscle man on it, "That's gay."

 

They built Nikita's awesome turn to the Main Event at Starrcade...and they went with a double dq to end the show, (which was an awesome show), and the Omni crowd that got the Main Event were loudly booing Nikita, as they seemed like they weren't ready to cheer the "Russian". Nikita's face turn kinda fizzled after that.

It should have been huge.

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Fun topic.

 

The Freebirds and Rock 'n' Wrestling. They debuted with David Wolff and Cyndi Lauper as their managers in August of '84. They could have been huge but they completely fizzled and disappeared within 2-3 months.

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HHH/Steph/Angle love triangle. Really the hottest, best booked storyline in years and it just completely died at the end when it was about to REALLY take off because of HHH being an insecure douchebag.

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Kawada vs New Japan, which was large two-and-out on big shows that drew more than the vaunted Hash-Ogawa series.

 

Wait... don't get me started on the Hash-Ogawa series. Fuckers.

 

Dynamite Kansai as WWWA Champ. I know they wanted the year ender with Toyota, and perhaps they thought the fed vs fed stuff was getting played out after two years. But they really had a lot of guns they could have run at Dynamite to make for a chase to "get the title back in AJW" all the way to 12/96. Given the 1996 decline, and then the company breaking apart terribly in 1997, I think they blew a strong year of business. Frankly Dynamite deserved the run after putting Aja over so many times.

 

Stone Cold Heel Turn. I disagree with the notion that it was a bad idea to turn him. We saw Hogan turn, and it was the best run of business in WCW history. Austin's face return from the injury in late 2000 wasn't all that hot. Part of it was a really shitty storyline in terms of crap writing and resolution. But there was something lacking. Heel Austin had a chance to spice up the top of the cards, and we did see during Austin's heel run in 2001 a lot of flashes of both great promos and out of the ring stuff from Austin as a heel, and also in-the-ring stuff. But the momentum of it was just killed the Monday after Mania when Trip joined hands with Vince to lessen the impact of the turn, and then the turn got instantly bogged down in a feud with Taker & Kane. It's kind of sad. Austin-Rock is almost exactly the perfect turn match for Austin.

 

People could probably come up with several for Eddy.

 

It's a far smaller thing, but the BookDust vs UnAmericans title match at SummerSlam 2002 still sticks in my head. One of those times where the fans are really tasting a title change, really up for it, and they get flipped the bird for really no good reason. It's a small thing, but one of the things at the time that struck me as evidence of just how fucked in the head the WWE was becoming. In 1998 and 1999 they would have been far more aware of things like that, and able to deliver. Think of freaking Too Cool winning the Tag Titles in 2000 when Scotty was hot, and they were aligned with Rikishi.

 

John

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Flair/Hogan is a feud I don't feel like was ever done right, mainly because Flair was always re-cast as a cartoon character when either WWF or WCW did the feud.

 

Believe it or not, I actually think their '99 feud is the *closest* they ever got to getting it right, because they at least let Flair do some incredible promos to build up SuperBrawl. The problem there was that Hogan didn't really do any promos to build up the show, so it was kinda one-sided.

 

But still, heyday Hulk Hogan versus heyday Ric Flair is the biggest dream match that never was. We all know the WWF story, and by the time the feud got to WCW in 1994, the wrestling boom was long over, and Hogan's astroturf fan support was way too obvious and obnoxious. They also put Flair with Sherri, and both guys were old by this point anyway.

 

This happening in 1989, had Flair jumped with Arn, Tully, and eventually Windham and JJ, would have been huge, although the WWF needed to acknowledge the existence of both the NWA and Flair's past in order to make it work.

 

Flair/Sting is another feud that for all the times they met, they never really got that proper well-hyped championship match on PPV given plenty of time without added nonsense like at Bash '90.

 

It seems weird to say those two considering how many times both matches have happened, but those are the first two that come to mind for me.

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Stone Cold Heel Turn. I disagree with the notion that it was a bad idea to turn him. We saw Hogan turn, and it was the best run of business in WCW history. Austin's face return from the injury in late 2000 wasn't all that hot. Part of it was a really shitty storyline in terms of crap writing and resolution. But there was something lacking. Heel Austin had a chance to spice up the top of the cards, and we did see during Austin's heel run in 2001 a lot of flashes of both great promos and out of the ring stuff from Austin as a heel, and also in-the-ring stuff. But the momentum of it was just killed the Monday after Mania when Trip joined hands with Vince to lessen the impact of the turn, and then the turn got instantly bogged down in a feud with Taker & Kane. It's kind of sad. Austin-Rock is almost exactly the perfect turn match for Austin.

What sucked right off the bat was Rikishi being revealed as the mystery driver. I was fifteen when this happened and was like, "WTF?"

I think it would have been difficult to turn Austin heel, I mean, he'd been sneak attacking people for a while already, doing heelish things, and the crowd loved him. He'd probably have to do the Edge/Orton style heel tactics to get over as a heel.

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I don't know that Austin was different enough when he turned heel. He still looked the same, talked the same, and wrestled the same. He did more comedy as time went on with Vince and Angle and all the guitar stuff, but one reason the Hogan turn worked is because he completely reinvented himself. Austin didn't really do that when he turned.

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James Gang/America's Team vs. Midnight Express had some great angles with Corny getting kidnapped and the introduction of the James Gang gimmick but the angle pretty much died around the summer of 1986 with no real blowoff all together.

 

DiBiase/Tommy Rich in 1983-84 that featured the introduction of Mr. R that was blown off with Tommy making his last appearance on TBS at the podium while Brad Armstrong as Mr. R was in the ring beating DiBiase for the National title. Rich went to Memphis and DiBiase moved on to feud with Brad a little bit before Brad moved on to the Spoiler until the feud with Garvin started.

 

Sting & Rick Rude in 1991 never had the proper blowoff or any PPV singles matches as they went from the Clash match to Battlebowl to Sting going to Luger winning the title and Rude moving on to Steamboat.

 

Doom vs. Windham/Arn had those fucking awesome video packages with the Horsemen getting grimey in the hoods of the ATL but they never had the big matches as Doom hooked up with the Freebirds then broke up for no fucking reason other than to get Ron Simmons over as a singles wrestler.

 

Just a few off the top of my head.

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I don't know that Austin was different enough when he turned heel. He still looked the same, talked the same, and wrestled the same. He did more comedy as time went on with Vince and Angle and all the guitar stuff, but one reason the Hogan turn worked is because he completely reinvented himself. Austin didn't really do that when he turned.

I think you actually saw examples of Austin as a heel in the stuff that he did with Double Chris, not just in the ring but also some of the backstage stuff. I recall one promo where he was told he'd have to face one of them again, which was after facing them on the prior show. He's sore, wore down and wondering what the hell the promotion is doing to him. His commentary during the Benoit-Angle cage match was excellent as well in nailing the heel character.

 

I would have scratched the Angle comedy entirely. I enjoyed the Vince-Austin "hug" stuff at the time because they'd already screwed up nailing the heel turn perfectly and I simply was looking for anything entertaining out of it by that point. But I would have skipped it as well.

 

I don't think pairing him with Vince at Mania and immediately after was a bad idea: Vince was over as a heel. The two of them pairing up to screw over Rock made sense. It's the Trip stuff, and yet another feud with Taker so quickly (rather than building towards it) were the biggest mistakes.

 

John

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I don't know that Austin was different enough when he turned heel. He still looked the same, talked the same, and wrestled the same. He did more comedy as time went on with Vince and Angle and all the guitar stuff, but one reason the Hogan turn worked is because he completely reinvented himself. Austin didn't really do that when he turned.

Another reason the Hogan turn worked was because the crowd was sick of face Hogan by '96. In 2001, fans still wanted face Austin, and largely sided against him against The Rock. That's not to say you couldn't have made it work, but the fact that Austin was still the hottest face act in the company means turning him is kind of a dumb thing to do.

 

On a smaller level, I still think WWE screwed up by not following through on the Jamie Noble/Chuck Palumbo double turn a few years back.

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Didn't America's Team-MX get blown off during the Bash tour with the six person tag matches?

They only had 3 matches on the tour in Memphis, Charlotte, & Richmond so it was unspectacular. Now Corny & Baby Doll worked all over the Bash in different pairings.

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I don't know that Austin was different enough when he turned heel. He still looked the same, talked the same, and wrestled the same. He did more comedy as time went on with Vince and Angle and all the guitar stuff, but one reason the Hogan turn worked is because he completely reinvented himself. Austin didn't really do that when he turned.

I think you actually saw examples of Austin as a heel in the stuff that he did with Double Chris, not just in the ring but also some of the backstage stuff. I recall one promo where he was told he'd have to face one of them again, which was after facing them on the prior show. He's sore, wore down and wondering what the hell the promotion is doing to him. His commentary during the Benoit-Angle cage match was excellent as well in nailing the heel character.

 

I would have scratched the Angle comedy entirely. I enjoyed the Vince-Austin "hug" stuff at the time because they'd already screwed up nailing the heel turn perfectly and I simply was looking for anything entertaining out of it by that point. But I would have skipped it as well.

 

I don't think pairing him with Vince at Mania and immediately after was a bad idea: Vince was over as a heel. The two of them pairing up to screw over Rock made sense. It's the Trip stuff, and yet another feud with Taker so quickly (rather than building towards it) were the biggest mistakes.

 

John

 

Yeah, I dug paranoid heel Austin who's afraid that his time has passed and the promotion is turning towards others. Austin hugging Vince stuff made a lot of sense when you take that into account.

 

Angle comedy, specifically the music playing, is something I would've scrapped too. But the Angle feud itself was fine, since Angle was the guy Austin was afraid would be overtaking him. Stuff like the milk truck wasn't a bad plot device as far as a reminder to what Austin was in the past, both to him and to the audience. Perhaps Angle could've gone over at SummerSlam. But paranoid Austin doing whatever he possibly could to get disqualified is something you'd expect.

 

Agreed that the first two months or so after Mania until Quad Tear No. 1 sucked, though. After that, some good stuff, but it was likely too late.

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On a smaller level, I still think WWE screwed up by not following through on the Jamie Noble/Chuck Palumbo double turn a few years back.

I thought so too for a while, but then I realized they had booked themselves into a corner. They had Noble win a bunch of matches against Palumbo before the turn, so where do you go after it? The logical end to the angle had to be Noble beating Palumbo for revenge, but he'd already beat him in all the buildup leading to the turn.
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I always felt Flair's introduction to the WWF was a flop in the sense that they still weren't acknowledging the NWA at that point. The belt he was wearing didn't mean anything to the WWF centric fans, and then the whole lawsuit happened that prevented them mentioning it if they wanted to. It made Flair come off as some wanna-be wearing a fake belt. It was only Bobby Heenan working his ass off that got him over with the WWF crowd at all. It's no wonder the Hogan feud didn't set the world on fire, if you were a fan who was only aware of WWF history, you would have little to no reason to care about that Flair guy.

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On a smaller level, I still think WWE screwed up by not following through on the Jamie Noble/Chuck Palumbo double turn a few years back.

I thought so too for a while, but then I realized they had booked themselves into a corner. They had Noble win a bunch of matches against Palumbo before the turn, so where do you go after it? The logical end to the angle had to be Noble beating Palumbo for revenge, but he'd already beat him in all the buildup leading to the turn.

 

Yeah, but they were all real flukey wins, done with Noble as the heel and Palumbo as the face. Double turn completely changed the dynamic of the feud. Not enough for Noble to score fluke wins in a lame attempt at impressing Michelle McCool anymore. Now he has to score a decisive win to avenge her abuse at Palumbo's hands.

 

Also thought that the logical end to the feud was Palumbo going over in some type of gimmick match so that he could go off and feud with Matt Hardy over the US Title or something like that, but Noble giving him enough of a fight that he gets to leave with his dignity and get the girl.

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After watching the whole 1991 Season of USWA TV, I gotta say the Texas vs Tennessee feud. Embry was great as a paranoid leader feuding with Jerry Lawler and all the main Memphis guys. The thing missing that could have made the feud great was The Von Erich's. I mean Heel Kerry and Kevin Von Erich vs Lawler and Dundee could have been epic. I mean I liked Tom Prichard as Embry's second but the Von Erichs would have been better.

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Obviously WCW blew Sting/Hogan as the most obvious giant example for them which was a pretty remarkable build, but even after they fucked up Starrcade (which has been discussed to death) the build to the Superbrawl rematch in early 1998 was really weird and it didn't seem to really get built up the way it should somehow. They were already trying to cycle Hogan off into an inside nWo feud with Savage during the buildup and that almost overshadowed the rematch for the weeks leading into Superbrawl, which was crazy. Then the Superbrawl match itself was another clusterfuck with, of course, a Savage run-in for the finish, which killed the impact. Obviously botching Starrcade hurt like hell but they might have salvaged it better if they hadn't also botched the rematch too.

 

And of course Sting, after being built as Sad Jesus for over a whole year, dropped the belt like a month later to Savage at Spring Stampede. And the very next Nitro... Hogan wins it back from Savage. Angle more dead than zombies in a Romero movie. Well done.

 

All the Sting/Hogan buildup was something really special but Goddamn did they ever botch the home stretch.

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The Hogan/Sting Superbrawl match was booked horribly. Hogan dominated almost the entire match then Sting makes his comeback and can't even win clean as Savage's interference led directly to the fall

 

and then Hogan got the belt back two months later anyway

 

Plus like Starrcade Hogan sold no fear of Sting. He had acted scared of him for over a year and then when the day comes he's trash talking, stooging and mugging to the camera

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After watching the whole 1991 Season of USWA TV, I gotta say the Texas vs Tennessee feud. Embry was great as a paranoid leader feuding with Jerry Lawler and all the main Memphis guys. The thing missing that could have made the feud great was The Von Erich's. I mean Heel Kerry and Kevin Von Erich vs Lawler and Dundee could have been epic. I mean I liked Tom Prichard as Embry's second but the Von Erichs would have been better.

Kerry was in WWF and Kevin was running opposition to USWA in Dallas so there was no way in hell of that happening.

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This is the one that has bugged me the most for years, aside from Big Show's awesome but far too short run as a total ass kicker good guy with a knockout punch during the final weeks of the Big Show vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. build and maybe three weeks after that:

 

I've always thought WWE really dropped the ball on Christian vs. John Cena about four-five years back. The were on separate shows and Christian was coming out and cutting promos for a good two or three months ripping on Cena and his whole act. The crowd response was phenomenal, with one segment of fans as a result really getting behind Christian and everything he did, not just the Cena stuff, and the other feverishly cheering for Cena.

 

Finally, the annual draft happens and they're drafted to the same show (at least for a few weeks, I believe) and they set up a highly-anticipated Christian vs. John Cena PPV title match, which is doubly great because Christian has been "officially" elevated to a main event PPV level and he's new and fresh to that scene.

 

And then.....Chris Jericho is inexplicably added to the match making it a triple threat match.

 

And we never, ever got Christian vs. John Cena as a PPV title match.

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