Cheap Heat 2.06.01: Nitro Moments


There is hardly anyone out there, minus a few die hards and the "family-friendly" folks who wouldn't admit that the WWF has the stronger product. ((well, this week excluded. Yet another fun tag-team match as the WWF's main event. At least this week's match furthered something)). They have more national exposure, face recognition, and talent than WCW. But there is one thing Nitro has that Raw seems unwilling or unable to match. Maybe it's lack of recognizable history, maybe it's something Vince McMahon doesn't want a part of.

Nitro Moments.

Those few moments of Nitro when they sort of toss kayfabe aside and celebrate WCW's history. They recognize something out of their past, or something that's going to affect their future. It's something that lets the fans know something important is going down. It's also a nod to the folks who've been watching WCW. Some of my favorites:

The night Arn Anderson announced his retirement. Eric Bischoff just gave AA 15 minutes to say his piece and to thank everyone who watched him over the years. Those people who paid money to see Arn wrestle. A chance to thank the people he'd worked with over the years. It was a moment enough to get, what I believe, honest tears from Ric Flair. Ric, watching his best friend in the world, hang up his boots because he just couldn't do it anymore. It was something special.

The night Hugh Morrus won the US Title. For years people had been clamoring that Morrus was underutilized. Then his moment finally came. He won a title, something he'd been working toward for however many years. The locker room came out to congratulate him. Even Goldberg, the accused prima donna, had something positive to say. They gave Hugh 15 minutes to thank everyone who's supported him, and gave the locker room a chance to give their praises.

The night Ric Flair returned to television after his tiff with Eric Bischoff. The crowd was berserk and Flair had 15 minutes to thank everyone for their support while he was gone. What did it get all them? A promo from the master and the chance to see him in a WCW ring again. Flair didn't disappoint. It was just the people getting their way, and seeing Flair again.

And just this past week on Nitro. Dustin Rhodes walks on the scene. It was overhyped for the first hour. Who cares about Dustin Rhodes unless he's painted up like a freak? Not too many folks but, by God, that building lit up when the American Dream arrived. Dusty, back in WCW for the first time since joining the New World Order. No one remembered that, they just remembered Dusty. The Dream. It was the babyface Dream standing up to the heel faction led by Ric Flair. And just like that, everyone remembered. Sure, maybe not a whole lot of the fans in the building knew the whole history. Hell, I don't know the whole history. But those who did loved it, and those who didn't could feel it.

Eric Bischoff likes the "anything can happen on Nitro" feeling. Of course he does, it keeps viewers. But giving them a little something extra. A something extra that depends on that feeling of history in WCW. Sure, they have some older guys, but with the older guys come YEARS of history. Can they play up the history between Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage? Of course not, according to WCW, they've only been in the business since '94.

This is something the WWF never does. When Triple H won his first world title, you didn't see him thank anyone. Of course not, it didn't fit his character. What about Steve Austin? A guy who's worked in the business for 10 or 15 years before getting a nod at the top. Do you think he might have had a couple words? Or when the New Age Outlaws finally got some recognition and a set of tag belts. Not a peep. When Shawn Michaels decided he was going to hang it up permanently after Wrestlemania. Did he get a few minutes in the ring to say good-bye? 15 minutes, that's all it costs. Sure, Shawn's making a comeback now, but did we know then? The closest RAW has ever gotten was giving Mick Foley approximately six seconds to say hello to his kids after he won the World Title.

I think the WWF doesn't want to acknowledge life in the locker room. There is no "out of character" moments on RAW, just constant storyline. No people, no men behind the characters, nothing that doesn't do SOMETHING for television. Maybe Vince doesn't think they need to or, like I said above, maybe it's just a lack of history. The people in the WWF's upper tier don't have a "legendary" history. Steve Austin was a blonde haired surfer dude called "Stunning" Steve. Nothing he wants to be remembered as, I'm sure. The Rock, well, he has about as much a history as I do. Kane, another guy who likely doesn't want his history brought up. Pretty much, the only really "lifetime" WWF guys are the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. Neither of whom have ever gotten a second on television to say anything to anyone.

Maybe in the years to come, if the WWF keeps their main eventers, then we'll see some RAW moments we'll appreciate. I can see myself, down the road, at 40 or 50, still watching wrestling and enjoying every minute. Maybe we'll see a 40 year old Duane Johnson appear on RAW and ask us if we smell what the Rock is cooking one more time.

Somehow, I don't think it'll be the same.