Tuesday, July 20, 1999
SLAM! Wrestling Guest Column
Douglas could be WCW's saviour
Well wrestling fans, it is very possible we have seen history happen before our very eyes. Right before the main event of Monday Nitro, we saw The Franchise Shane Douglas come to the aid of Dean Malenko, Chris Benoit, and Perry Saturn. After helping that trio he made some scathing remarks about an old-timer who he left nameless. To Shane Douglas fans, we know who he was referring to however.
For the past couple of years Shane Douglas has ripped on the Nature Boy Ric Flair for trying to keep the young stars bottled up under himself. Well, finally we may see another example of art imitating life.
It looks as if the young/old angle in WCW is about to heat-up permanently, and Shane Douglas will be the catalyst. The important question will be whether this angle will actually lead to changes within WCW or if it will be yet another platform for young WCW stars to be used to "put over" veterans such as Hollywood Hogan, Roddy Piper, and Ric Flair.
It became obvious this Monday that Hogan has no place in WCW anymore, at least not as a wrestler. It was the same song and dance we've seen for twenty years now. I mean, Dr. J is a great basketball player but would you really want to see him go one on one with Allen Iverson today? Of course not, unless you like seeing fifty-year-old men brutalized. Well, that is what is happening to Hogan. Luckily for him he was able to face another technical abomination in Sid on Nitro.
The nearsightedness of WCW to only showcase established stars has cost them their young cornerstones Paul Wight and Chris Jericho already, not to mention a few points in the ratings. It seems as if until very recently they are still trying to live on the shock value of their various free agent signings. Now they may have another crack at it with Douglas leading the way.
For those of you unfamiliar with Shane Douglas, he has had a long and storied wrestling history. The thirty-six year old native of Pittsburgh joined the WWF in the early 90's, making a sudden impact and even appearing in the 1991 Royal Rumble.
He disappeared shorty after and turned up in WCW. During this time Douglas claims he was held down by Ric Flair and other established stars who refused to pave the way for the young superstars of the business. After leaving WCW he became a true superstar and icon when in 1994 he won the NWA World Title Tournament, threw the belt down and called it a "dead" organization. With that he proclaimed himself the ECW World Heavyweight Championship, a title that will very soon achieve true World Title status once they appear on TNN.
In the summer of 1995 he left ECW and joined the WWF as "The Dean" Douglas. Yes, a truly terrible gimmick. He held the WWF's Intercontinental title for a matter of minutes at one time. He entered a real-life feud with clique members Scott Hall and Shawn Michaels that still stands today. He returned to ECW in 1996 and claimed that The DEAN was dead. He also continued to dog Ric Flair in interviews at any chance he got. He won the ECW Title a couple more times before ultimately losing it to Taz just a few months ago. After leaving ECW in 1999 both the WWF and WCW bid for his services. Maybe now we will finally see that Flair/Douglas feud transpire.
WCW clearly has an impressive group of young talent with untapped potential: Dean Malenko, Chris Benoit, Perry Saturn, Kidman, Raven, Hak, Kanyon, Vampiro, Rey Misterio, Eddie Guerrero, Buff Bagwell, Goldberg and even Bam Bam Bigelow and now, Shane Douglas.
Looking at this list shows what WCW could put against the WWF's equally impressive under-40 roster. The question is will they? Right now we still have the same old names leading the way. Hogan, Flair, Sid, Macho Man, Piper, Sting, and the list goes on. There may be room for all of those guys with the possible exception of Hogan who simply wants too much air time, and won't put anyone over. He's lost touch with wrestling while he believes he is still the savior, as his recent interviews attest.
So here is the question that we will see in the next few months. We will see it in the WCW product, in their ratings, and in their overall success. Is this young versus old angle just that, an angle? Or will this be the first step to building this company around its young talent, the same way the WWF has?
This may be WCW's last chance. If they let their young stars fade away, so may their already dwindling ratings points.
Andrew Warren is from Princeton Jct, NJ and can be reached by e-mail at Chiefs29@aol.com.