Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Once A High End Product

WCW never seemed to be the high end product that I always saw the WWF as. This was probably due to the fact that I started getting into wrestling at the point when WCW was on the way down. The only episode of WCW that I ever saw was the last one which happened to be advertised on Monday Night Raw the whole week leading up to it because it was going to be a simulcast. At the time it seemed peculiar to me because I had no idea that the WWF had bought out WCW. What I saw in class the last few classes was completely different from what I saw that episode. The better lit arenas and the high class atmosphere was present in those videos. That last episode had none of that. The ring was outside and I felt like there were very little people watching. It seemed so second rate at that point. The old WCW had a clear ambience that was driven by the idea that this promotion was about the sport and competition first and foremost. Story and character came later. And this was further exemplified for me by the appearance of Lou Thesz as a guest judge for the Rick Flair vs Ricky Steamboat match. It seems ironic though that WCW would reach its highest level of success due to the addition of colorful characters like Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage.

The match between Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat and Rick Flair really showed what a classic match was all about. This was not a one sided match. There were points where the match would get one sided with one man taking control but it never seemed like you know for sure who was in control and in the driver’s seat. The thing that surprised me about this match was the pace. Think that is one of the things that sets the match apart from other pay per view matches that would last this long. The wrestlers never let up and continued to pound at each other and throw each other around the ring. Other matches that would last as long as that did might be of a slower pace. Either lots of grappling or lots of down time where there would be a big clash and someone would go down for a while. It is a good match because there was not controversial finish and there was no disqualification or count out. The people got a conclusion to this championship match. I can’t really say that it was the greatest match of the decade or anything like that. I have seen great things that made me jump out of my seat more but it really does fill out that idea that the NWA was trying to convey to the people of athletic matches that were serious competitions.


Carolina said...

I agree with your take on WCW. I started watching it regularly in 2000, but by that point it was clear that the WWF was top dog. I watched it sporadically while the WWF was my religious television viewing experience, something I never missed and would go completely out of my way to catch up on if by rare occasion I did. There were some aspects of WCW that I did enjoy, but I feel as though I just caught the tail end of what seemed like a magnificent ride. It's interesting to me to think what would've happened had I stumbled upon WCW first. I think in the end though, I would've been sold on the WWF, because at that particular point in time, when I became a fan, they just had it won.

I also enjoyed the Flair/Steamboat match, but greatest match of all time? Well it certainly has to rank up there, but out of the matches I've seen, I don't know if I could rank it the greatest. Maybe it's because I'm young and am partial to the more modern product, maybe it's because I wasn't around at the time to experience how huge of a match this was, but I can't say it's the greatest. I personally found the Steamboat/Savage IC Title match from WrestleMania 3 to be better, the show-stealing match of that show. I think the Bret/Shawn match series from the 90s has to rank up there, and their Iron Man match to me is one of the best. In the end, it's personal opinion. Granted, many current wrestlers go back to that Flair/Steamboat match, but I've seen lots also go to the Steamboat/Savage match. It's subjective is what it is.

Don't get me wrong though. I would definitely place the Flair/Steamboat match in the top matches of the 80s. But of all time... overall, sure. It's the concensus it seems. But personally, I find it hard to say...

Sam Ford said...

Luis and Carolina, two great takes on the NWA/WCW product. The WWE will be a heavy focus of this class, but I think that the Crocketts and Turner deserve plenty of credit for their side of a hot wrestling war that lasted from the mid-1980s until the beginning of this decade.

As for Flair/Steamboat vs. Savage/Steamboat, intersting that Steamboat is a common link in the two. WWE traditionally played up Savage/Steamboat more, since it's their own history, but Savage is not in with the current WWE, and Flair and Steamboat both are, plus I think many people just think of Flair as the greatest performer of all-time so they look to his match list to figure out which is the greatest match of all time.

But Steamboat often gets forgotten in the process, partly becuase he was such a clean cut babyface that he was most memorable in the ring.