At least Goldberg got to fulfill the dream of many a Internet Wrestling Fan and scream obscenities in Vince Russo's face...
The Worked Shoot.
There are many different definitions of what classifies a worked shoot but to me there are 2 types, which often over lap.
- An angle, promo and/or match that takes a legitimate grievance or complaint that a worker has and uses it to create conflict and/or a story between the workers involved.
- An angle, promo and/or match that essentially reveals behind the scenes of the kayfabe in some fashion.
So something like the Fingerpoke of Doom, while awful, is not a worked shoot because it kept it's kayfabe intact- after all, Nash and Hogan were in cahoots. The Bash at the Beach debacle on the other hand, with Russo talking about Hogan's politicking and refusing to do the job for Jeff Jarrett, was most definitely a worked shoot.
Speaking of Vinnie Ru, let's see what he was doing after Hogan buggered off. And it involved this guy:
Here's a stat that'll warm the cockles of those who hate on WCW: After Goldberg lost the title at Starrcade 1998, Kevin Nash held onto it 5 times. Bret Hart held it twice. DDP three times. Sting twice. Vince Russo and David Arquette once each.
You want to know how many more times Goldberg held it? None. That's right. The man who managed to amass
not quite 173 victories in a row and was seen as a megastar by the company could not get his damn hands around the belt again (oh, and he only managed to hold onto the US title once more too).
So how does possibly the most over face of the company manage to not get the friggin' title back? Particularly when he was screwed out of the title in the first place. Wouldn't be a nice pop for the audience even 6, 12, 18 months later when he realises his dream again? Who's booking this?!
Part of the problem was that everytime Goldberg would get within sniffing distance of the championship he would a) be a victim of the trademark Russoswerve or b) be a victim of the trademark Russoswerve before injuring himself. However despite all of this, people still liked him because...well...it was Goldberg for God's sake. Along with Sting and DDP, Goldberg was one of the perennial fan favourites of WCW, possibly the fan favourite as he was arguably more over than either the Stinger or DDP.
So Russo decided to turn him heel.
Yes, you heard that right. Vince Russo decided that the best way to revitalise the WCW brand was to turn Goldberg heel, even though the dude had just come back from injury and the fans were cheering him like he was the Second Coming.
The context behind all this is important. When Goldberg came back, the company was divided into two factions- the Millionaires' Club- comprising of Hogan, Nash, Sting, DDP, Flair and others; and the New Blood, which was a faction led by Bischoff, Russo and Jeff Jarrett, which comprised of younger wrestlers (though 'young', as we shall soon see, is relative.
Now if you are trying to get young talent over why would you:
- Make them the heel team even though the other team is called the Millionaires Club and your team is essentially addressing the damn problem many viewers have with your show.
- Feel it is necessary to have two non-wrestlers as the leaders of the faction. Furthermore, since these two non-wrestlers are the most prominent Authority figures of the show, you have essentially made the old farts look like rebels and the new youthful team look like the establishment! Despite the fact the for the past, God knows how long, Bischoff especially has been dancing around with an nWo t-shirt and a leather jacket.
It was truly screwy. Anyway, throughout all this Jeff Jarrett was the WCW World Heavyweight Champion and coming up against one Kevin Nash. Goldberg, who had just returned, formed an alliance of sorts with Nash. Bischoff, to ensure the deck was stacked in Double J's favour at the Great American Bash, essentially put police protection. But lo and behold! Goldberg managed to get in anyway!
However, as soon as Goldberg manages to get into the ring, rather than save Nash from a mugging, he speared Nash (admittedly with a rather weak one), allowing Jarrett to retain and allying himself with the New Blood faction.
Ok, now a lot of people may say that this seems a little like the Hogan turn at Bash at the Beach 1996, but there are a few important differences. Firstly, the idea that Hogan would ally with Nash and Hall was immediately logical and convenient. Now, you could argue that Goldberg was held back and would want to be part of the New Blood but...why would he just be Jarrett's enforcer? Secondly, and arguably more importantly, when Hogan turned, he was still a big name who christened the New World Order of wrestling. Goldberg merged into an existing group and the next night on Nitro, the first people who came out to explain Goldberg's actions...were Bischoff and Russo.
It also didn't help that Goldberg...didn't really change. Admittedly there wasn't a lot to his character to begin with (I once likened him to a demolition derby) and so when he basically ran over guys, no sold their offence and continued to signal to the crowd when he was going to do the Jackhammer...people went ape shit. When he wasn't doing that, he was things that were decidedly odd...like challenging Nash to a match for Scott Hall's contract...before (and I am not making this up) then eating the contract on air to symbolise...something?
This all culminated at the Bash at the Beach, where Nash and Goldberg fought over Scott Hall's contract...only for Scott Steiner to betray Nash and cost Big Sexy the match, at which point he joined the New Blood faction and Kevin Nash probably felt himself a bit of a fool.
At the same time at this was going on, Vince and Eric was soon to have a massive problem with one Hulk Hogan, for at the same PPV Hogan would walk out on the company after Vince Russo called him a "bald son of a bitch" to make a worked shoot into a full-blown shoot. This probably threw a massive spanner in the works of Russo, who was getting more power backstage while Bischoff was relegated to a consultancy position by Brad Siegel.
The next night Nitro tried to reference this subtly by referring to Booker T as a man who would do anything for the fans, and would not walk out and had earned this title, which by the way, was not a prop anymore in the "new WCW'. Indeed, during that night Booker and Mike Awesome would have a 15+minute match for the World Title where both men were cheered for a great performance. How un-Russo like.
Of course, without Hogan the company was arguably down a major franchise player, so there was a slot to fill. But who to fill it? Steiner was, er, erratic and hardly role model material. Nash? He was certainly a big star but had lost a lot of big matches lately so had kinda stalled momentum wise. Booker T was the champion but arguably needed more time before being a true face of the company. There was one obvious choice.
Of course this meant turning Goldberg back to a face again- which, on the face of it seemed tricky because of his recent heel turn. However inspiration struck Russo. Or probably beat him to the point where he was only semi-lucid...
Firstly, for a PPV called New Blood Rising, it has to be said that only Booker T was in any way 'new' to the WCW World Title picture in both the world title match, as well as the #1 contender's match. In any case, it was the #1 Contender's Match between Goldberg, Steiner and Nash which saw the real controversy.
Y'see apparently the three competitors could not agree who would be going over, with the three of them issuing warnings during 'shoot' interviews (and, yes, the commentary team referred to them as such) that they may not be entirely professional because...apparently this #1 contender's match meant more than all the others they've been in?
Another wrinkle was added when viewers found out that Goldberg had suffered a motorcycle accident the day before and so was not available apparently for the match, with the commentators putting over the fact that Russo would be much happier with a Nash or a Steiner win than with a Goldberg win. Indeed, even though Goldberg's music played at the start of the match, Bill was nowhere to be seen (with the commentators theorising that the Russo was doing it to 'punish' Goldberg for not turning up).
Anyway, the match begins with some fairly basic offence from both guys before Goldberg turns up, complete with taped ribs and a steel chair to clean house. And look, this would be cool, except for the fact that it's only a minute into the match, making the whole run-in angle seem kinda...ridiculous. The match is also hurt by the fact that the three guys aren't what you call especially mobile. Sure Goldberg has some explosive offence, but otherwise, you have weird short arm jabs from Steiner that are supposed to be lariats.
Soon however Steiner is dumped outside and Nash levels Goldberg with a boot, allowing him to lower the straps and set him up for the Jacknife Powerbomb...only for Goldberg to shove Nash away and walk out of the ring to the ire of Russo who came out and demanded that he go back into the ring, to which Bill simply asked him what he was going to do about it before flipping Vinnie Ru the bird and saying "F**k you" to Russo.
Obviously Goldberg is more a Jim Cornette guy...
So it's now Steiner and Nash in the ring, with the announcers attempting to put over the fact that this is so unusual, with Schavione saying "If the Jacknife Powebomb was part of this design, what are they going to do now, improvise?" The stupid thing is then three sentences later they then are happy to adhere to kayfabe by talking about how Steiner betrayed Nash at Bash at the Beach. They even have bits where they can't decide whether they're in kayfabe mode or not, with Steiner's girlfriend Midajah came out and Schavione pointed out that a Nash powerbomb put her on the shelf for a week, only for Mark Madden to say "and she went up for it".
So Midajah comes out to give Nash a low blow after Steiner pushes the ref over. Then Nash delivers one back to Steiner. Then Midajan comes back and hits an elbow to Nash's jewels, while the commentary is screaming about how "everybody is going into business for themselves!" Then Nash hits a (rather weird looking) DDT and, rather than emphasise how this innovation in Nash's offence showed how much the 2 were going to the well to beat each other, the announcers once again put over the fact that it obviously shows how much these 2 workers have to improvise since the prepared finish did not happen.
At the end of this cockamamie clusterfuck the announcers point out that Steiner was the professional one. The same Scott Steiner who accosted the ref twice during the match and told the crowd that they were shit.
And Goldberg? Well, essentially he moved into a feud with Russo. A writer (and also incidentally, going by a lot of the footage I watched for this article, a guy who has a totally overblown sense of his promo skills).
Russo has always been fascinated by blurring the lines between kayfabe and reality. However, the result of such experimentation means that, like many things that are blurred, the lines are hard to define. As a result angles such as this one do less to excite the crowd and more to confuse them, or worse, disappoint them as they feel the wrestling they have known and loved compromised by a guy who has little respect for the integrity of his universe. The New Blood Rising match did something that is unforgivable for any angle- it decreased the momentum of all of its performers by focusing more on stuff that, frankly, championship contenders shouldn't give a shit about.
And that's article 81! Next time we look at another boneheaded betrayal and turn. See you then!
The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.