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Fingerpoke of doom


humanracer

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I believe there is a lot of truth in it being the beginning of the end of WCW. A lot of people point to the awful Starcade 97 as being the start of a decline but at least to me WCW was pretty strong in 98. I remember my friend boycotted WWE after the Montreal incident and only watched WCW until Summerslam 98. The action was great and Nitro seemed to be an all round better show. I have fond memories of watching Nitro on TNT after the end of Cartoon Network. I also used to watch the PPV's on the German channel DSF. I remember watching the Nash vs Hogan and the fingerpoke and my friend and I both commented it was lame. After that I honestly do not remember watching WCW again. It wasn't really a conscious decision, rather that the storylines just seemed to make little sense and there was no point following it.

 

I recently started watching some 99 matches on youtube. From what I can see Flair reformed the horsemen and feuded with the NWO. Then he lost to Hogan after his son joined the NWO. Then he beat Hogan but turned heel due to the way he won the match. So you had two heel groups, NWO and the Horsemen. Fine. It worked in 97 with Hart Foundation and DX. Anyway DDP wins the title in a four way match and then turns heel in a match with Goldberg. Goldberg doesn't seem to care about the NWO anymore. Hogan leaves with a injury. The NWO fizzle out. Hogan comes back and turns face. Nash has a title run but I can't remember if he was heel or face or not. Anyway it was all rather confusing. Somehow I get the idea that WCW just ran with storylines at random. WWE seemed to be more focussed and at least the Ministry of Darkness storyline had some kind of proper ending (end of an era match at Fully Loaded 99).

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I've made this point before (everytime a 'contentious viewpoints' thread comes up), but I thought it was a fucking great angle. It was very obviously WCW's attempt to come up with a conspiracy swerve to match the Rock/Corporation angle the WWF had done at Deadly Game a month earlier, and which had emphasised how far behind the WWF was leaving WCW creatively at the time (remember, the Warrior's return, the 'pissed Scott Hall' worked shoot and the Rick Steiner/Chucky/Judy Bagwell shenanigans all happened in the few months preceding the fingerpoke).

 

They had to come up with something big to try and claw some momentum back, and in that respect, I thought trying to relaunch the nWo as an elite group wasn't the worst thing they could do. As far as killing the world title, I thought the whole thing was congruent with the nWo ethos - they'd never respected tradition or titles, as emphasised by the spray-painted belt that Hogan always wore, and Nash's character was one who was more about personal power and shit-stirring than titles. In and of itself, I don't think the fingerpoke angle killed the WCW belt anymore than Andre selling the WWF title to Dibiase.

 

Some of the TV in the few months after the angle was amongst the worst I've seen outside of Guest Host-era RAW, though.

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Me and my mate were thinking about this the other day, and actually it could have been the route to recovery for WcW which had already started dipping in the ratings and at the gate, if they had followed through with what seemed to be the original plan. In a similar methodology to building the original nWo storyline building towards Sting getting to Hogan, the reboot would have told the (admittedly shorter) tale of Goldberg getting back in the ring with Hogan and getting the belt back.

 

Think about it - the elimination of the problem of the order being diluted by overpopulation and then forming the super six elite version created a fresh dynamic, with the added intrigue later of "what about when Savage comes back? Or Sting? Where do they stand?" but more to the point, you have Goldberg hopping mad, desperate to get back at Hall for costing him the belt to begin with, Nash for pinning him, Luger for turning on him and then chasing down Hogan to get the belt back. Out of Goldberg's mouth he was going to hunt them down one by one starting with Hall at Souled Out.

 

Over the months that followed, Goldberg should have gone through Luger, Steiner, Bagwell and Nash en route to his rematch with Hogan. WcW should have done everything possible to gear towards Goldberg's pursuit and recapture of the belt, he was still their star at this point. What happened instead post-Souled Out was Goldberg working Bam Bam at SuperBrawl, having Uncensored off (sweet lord) in the wake of his angle with Bret in Toronto, and by the time he got any member of the Wolfpack Elite in the ring again - Nash at Stampede '99 - the double-turn had already taken place and the nWo were all drifting apart with Hogan and Luger hurt, Hall pissed, Nash yearning to be a blue eye again and only Steiner and briefly Bagwell still flying the flag of villainy.

 

Oh, what could have been.

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I didn't start watching wrestling until 2000, and then my viewing was pretty much WWF-exclusive until discovering indies and Japan in about 02/03. However, I remember hearing about the fingerpoke as a 12 year-old through playground hearsay and thinking it sounded like an awesome angle.

 

I still haven't caught up with exactly what the circumstances were but I understand Nash had finally ended Goldberg's monster winning streak, winning the WCW title from him in the process, and then the next week threw his first title defence against his former running buddy Hogan thereby revealing that there had been a conspiracy to re-unite the formerly dominant nWo with the title as it's centerpiece around Hogan's waist.

 

Still sounds like an awesome angle to me, especially since the company's new ace was right there with organic ready-made feuds with practically every member of the new nWo. I don't think it necessarily de-values the title either since it's apparent that Nash coveted it but thought it more important that the nWo possess it as a collective rather than himself individually, in fact that's a good way to implicitly emphasize the cohesion of the new faction.

 

Shame the follow-up was apparently so poor, because that right there is a great angle on paper. Having actually watched the fingerpoke recently though the crowd does seem to groan more than boo when Nash hits the deck, so perhaps there was some nuance apparent to regular viewers at the time which kept the whole deal from being exciting somehow.

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I always felt the angle got far more notorious and infamous after WCW folded when people were looking for turning points. I cant remember many people complaining too much at the time although I was just getting into wrestling around this time to be fair. It feels like an easy thing to point the finger at (no pun intended) with the benefit of hindsight and revisionist history.

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Power Slam loved it at the time, it got the right amount of heat in the building, the ratings never dropped for months. The only reason the angle went nowhere was because Hall went missing, Luger tore his shoulder out and Hogan was operating on one leg. Everyone got injuried. The whole point was you had an nWo Elite group for Goldberg to plow through. If all went according to plan, Goldberg would have wrestled Bagwell, Steiner, Luger, Nash, Hall and then Hogan in PPV matches over the course of the next year. For me, the angle was red hot and what they needed after a weak as piss few months. What came after the angle is what was shit.

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Slightly off-topic, but wasn't there an angle in WCW where Ric Flair faked a panic attack?

 

A heart attack I believe!

 

It was also booked pretty secretively, so plenty of the talent though it was legit and became concerned/upset for real.

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I wonder what the initial reaction would have been if Owen Hart had dropped from the arena in WCW? There was a few eyebrows raised when WWF announced he'd dropped from the floor and you could see in JR and King's eyes and tone it was real. WCW used to do all kinds of fake tragedy stuff and the commentators weren't subtle in the slightest. A dummy of Sting even dropped from a wire and they acted like it was real until the nWo started swinging a baseball bat at its rubber face.

 

The Flair thing was pure drama though. He's head looked like it was about to expode before he dropped to the mat. It was very believable.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mZ-ojBiF-c...feature=related

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