There has been a huge amount of speculation about the backstage antics of the WWF’s top stars in the past few months. It is said that there is a sentiment among the wrestlers and news sources that the main eventers, specifically Steve Austin and HHH have become political players backstage in the WWF and work to make sure their top tier spots are secure.
Most say that Austin and HHH do whatever they can to minimize other mid card guys, such as Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit, so that Austin and HHH can remain in the big money main event spots for months and years to come.
And most of these reports are sure to compare these tactics to the antics of Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and the other WCW main eventers who held back the mid card for so long that the promotion was eventually rotted to the core. WCW pays for their treachery every week, and will continue to do so for months and years to come.
These reports say that if HHH and Steve Austin continue to hold back the younger talent that the WWF will be in shambles sooner than later. And while it is true that political stroke the likes of which is wielded by H and Austin is detrimental to the WWF, Sunday’s No Way Out provided a perfect example of why the WWF in 2001 is much different than WCW in 1997.
No Way Out was a fantastic card from top to bottom, but with a strong emphasis on top. The HHH/Austin best 2 out of 3 falls match was an instant classic, with two ring veterans putting on a working clinic, complete with amazing psychology and a brutality that these two guys don’t need to display, but did for the sake of the match. I am not one to assign star ratings, but that was just about a 5 star affair. And the Rock/Angle world title match was also a great match, not 5 stars, but very well done, with great near falls and both guys working their asses off.
And as I sat back and enjoyed No Way Out’s stellar in-ring action, I never once saw any glimpse of a promotion in decay. When the nWo was at it’s height in WCW, you could tell that Hogan/Piper was a weak main event. You just knew that Nash was lazy and slow. The old guard was just that, old, and was already getting to be a liability in the ring.
But with Austin, HHH and The Rock, all three are in their prime. They should all be able to continue in their current roles for years to come. Unlike Hogan, who’s drawing power was fading as he continued to hold down wrestlers, HHH and Austin continues to deliver the goods. And while they are continuously bashed for never elevating mid carders, William Regal, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit have all been involved in major TV angles with HHH and Austin.
There seems to be this notion that HHH and Austin should not only work with younger talent, but they should already step aside and let the new guard take over. It’s as if the last generation, the Hogans, the Flairs, and the Savages overstayed their welcome, so the current generation of stars, HHH, Austin, Rock and others should step aside too early rather than too late.
In two years, when Austin is physically deteriorated, and HHH and Rock are extremely stale, there are already top level mid carders who have gotten enough of a rub to carry the torch. Benoit, Jericho, Big Show, Angle and others have already gotten enough of a taste of the big time so that a small super push over a couple months could make them into main eventers.
In WCW, at its peak, there was no one even close to that level, because Hogan and his crew would not even acknowledge them on TV, let alone wrestle against them or tag with them. But HHH associates with Jericho weekly. And Austin recently jobbed to Regal.
Sure they do a lot to hold their own spots intact, but who could blame them? HHH and Austin spent years paying their dues and waiting for a shot at the big time. It is ludicrous to suggest that they should simply step aside now that they have had some time in the spotlight. They deserve their run at the top, and it should continues as long as they are able to turn it up to a top level. They have already shown that they are willing to sometimes work with lower level wrestlers, but they should also be able to mingle with the top tier on a regular basis.
Judging by the big matches at No Way Out, the top WWF stars can still go, and still draw money- so why end it prematurely?