Nope, not dead again. Just very, very tired.
8:00-8:15: Keeping the Crowd Hot
The problem with most Nitros is that the first hour totally kills the live crowds, which is incapable of getting into anything good because it has already seen 1/3 of a crappy show. Crowds are normally VERY hot for the first segment if you can put anything decent out there. So Nitro should start off with a 10 minute or so match featuring a top star guaranteed to get a reaction but not really involved in this week’s storylines (or possibly someone younger and talented in the middle of a push) against a respected midcarder. Should be a competitive match that is capable of being good and not necessarily a foregone conclusion. A perfect example: Sting vs Curt Hennig. Sting is a top star, always draws a great reaction, is capable of a good match, and is often not a main focus of the storylines. He’d definitely be favored against Hennig, but you could concieve of a situation in which Hennig would go over, so it’s hardly automatic. And Hennig would hardly lose face jobbing to a top star. This is more of an exhibition match with the guys pretting much just telling a story in the ring and outside storylines really shouldn’t come into play. The Announcers can review them of course, but no run-ins or anything to kill the crowd heat. In fact, match should always end cleanly. This isn’t an advance a storyline kind of match, it is supposed build up the crowd heat for the rest of the night and give the show time to develop.
Quick backstage interview segment: Basically, I’d resurrect the idea of the backstage interview. Put Mean Gene or whoever backstage interviewing guys who don’t normally talk too much. Let them talk for a minute or so, simply to issue a challenge, advance some storyline, make some sort of an announcement or whatever. Example: Mean Gene finds Raven and Dean Malenko and asks them what they think about their partners forming a team without them. Both are pissed and are going to from THEIR own team and challenge someone tonight. It would be nice if this could set up the first main event (I’d have one for every hour).
8:15-8:30: A Gimmick Match
I’d throw in another 10 to 15 minute match in again. I think WCW really should concentrate on making hour number one featuring some really good wrestling for wrestling’s sake. If WCW is going to entertain once again, it is going to have to retrain its fans to have the patience to enjoy good wrestling. Since Hour 1 has no direct competition, this is your chance. This could be a 3 Way Dance, a Four Corners Match, a Survivor Series type elimination match, a small Battle Royal, Texas Tornado, even a Ladder, a Cage Match or a Hardcore match. I’d try and feature different types of wrestlers in this. Up and coming guys (Blitzkreig, Vampiro), Luchadors (La Parka, Psychosis, Damien, El Dandy, Silver King, Ciclope) Toughman types (Fit Finley, Hugh Morrus, Hak, Brian Knobbs, Mike Enos), fairly over guys not doing much at the moment (Disco Inferno, Booker T), repackaged guys (Riggs, Van Hammer, Brad Armstrong). The crowds may not necessarily care about the guys like they would a top star, but it should still be pretty hot for the match if a) it is good and b) match one did it’s job and built up the crowd.
Another backstage interview- Maybe this one sets up a match on Thunder or WCW Saturday Night. Maybe this would be a good spot for a PPV promo or one of those storyline video packages (as long as it hasn’t been show earlier).
8:30-8:50: Advancing the Storyline for the evening and More
- A live interview/confrontation that sets up the main event for the evening or builds to one of the top matches on the PPV. The Macho Man-Nash confrontation a few weeks ago (when the girl came out the bag and dumped the sewage on Savage) was a good example of a successful segment like this. It was stupid idea to begin with, but it was nicely planned and more importantly…it WORKED!
- Another quick interview to set up another match for the evening. Let’s say Lenny Lane wants a shot at Rey Mysterio’s cruiserweight title. -
- After this, I’d put in a quick WWF style match (without the screwy finish). Example: Hak quickly dispenses with Bobby Duncam, Jr in a hardcore match.
- Quick interview- Earlier challenge is answered and first main event is established. Story is moving on.
8:50-9:15: The top match of the evening- the first main event.
This is the main event for the first hour, but it will bleed into the second. I’ll explain why in a moment. This should be a 20-25 minute or so match, pitting what will probably be the best wrestling match of the night. It should feature two wrestlers (or teams) that are fairly evenly matched, so the audience doesn’t really have any idea who should win. This match should feature wrestlers who have the ability to create 4 star matches with relative ease and be part of a story that the audience has some sort of interest in. The finish should be clean whenever possible and always there should at least be a conclusion (not a DQ run-in). Now I’m not saying that one great match, now matter how much it rules the earth, is going to compete with a good opening Raw segment. But I think if you establish this slot as the GUARANTEED KICKASS MATCH slot and switch around the talent competing at this point so the matchups remain fresh, I think people (especially those real wrestling fans) will eventually pick it over a 20 minute interview.
9:15-9:30: Establishing the second main event and more.
- A Live Interview that sets up a title match (preferably US or Tag) that will anchor the second hour.
- A solid 7 minute or so matchup. Again, two talented guys or teams (or at least one being carryable and the other being talented enough to do the carrying) in a showcase type wrestling match.
- A backstage interview- someone who has already wrestled tonight. They are pissed at somebody or something and here’s what they are going to do. Keep in mind these are simple little establishing interviews just to get some guys some mic time who don’t normally in a controlled setting.
9:30-9:45: Setting up for the other PPV matches.
I’d just put a couple of talented midcarders in this slot and let them go. It can be guys who have a issue or two guys who have PPV matches coming up against others and we’re just reminding you they exist. Buff Bagwell vs Disco Inferno was a good example of a recent match that fits this category, but it was way too late in the show.
9:45-10:00: Second Main Event.
- A title match set up earlier in the hour. Make an occasional title switch here to keep this segment lively. Good example of a match to put here would be Scott Steiner vs Chris Benoit or DDP/Kanyon vs Konnan/Mysterio from last Nitro. This match should definitely not be a foregone conclusion. A clean finish the vast majority of the time is appreciated, even if it means a heel has to go over.
10:00-10:45: The fastest 45 minutes of the show.
This should feature lots of quick matches and segments
- Match- A 3-5 minute affair or so. Booker T gets a win over Scotty Riggs, for example. 10:05
- A moment from the past. Some sort of flashback looking at something that has happened in WCW over the past nine years. Just something for the fans. This can have a purpose (such as, if Steve Regal or Alex Wright come back and fans don’t remember them, just show a video clip of them winning a title or something to re-establish them a bit) or just show some significant moment of WCW’s past (formation of New World Order, Flair winning title against Vader, etc.) 10:08
- Match- A really quick squash. Sid destroys Kidman, for example. 10:14
- A Sports Entertainment moment. Let’s see. Going further with this…After the match, Sid decides powerbombing Kidman through a table might be a good idea. Nash and Sting come make the save. Savage and the women come down. And it’s on. Now, it’s really on. Luger comes down, too and like everyone expects, turns heel on Sting and the three beat down the other two. Suddenly, though…what no one expects happens. In this case, Hulk Hogan or Goldberg or Bret Hart or Chris Jericho comes out to make the save for the faces. 10:18
- Backstage interview segment. I think everyone understands this concept by now. 10:23
- Token cruiserweight match. When was this belt last defended? When was any belt besides the Tag belts defended on TV? Just questions I’d like answered. Be nice if we spotlighted a cruiserweight getting a push here (Blitzkrieg would be perfect). This would be kept short for Nitro purposes…Thunder is better for long cruiserweight matches. 10:30
- Backstage interview segment. Maybe one of the guys in the main event needs to cut a quick promo. 10:32
- Another good competitive matchup. Maybe it sets up the PPV. It would be nice if it stems from something that occurred on another show, like Thunder or WCWSN. 10:40
- Backstage inteview segment. Last words before the main event. 10:42
10:45-end of show: The Main Event.
There isn’t much to say about this. Everyone knows what a main event is. Just deliver a good, solid match. Try to avoid commercials if possible. That’s something the WWF has done very successfully and it has paid off. Make a clean finish the rule instead of the exception. That would make me a very happy czar indeed.
Other notes: It wouldn’t be so bad to have a theme for every Nitro. Book several matches that are upsets and call it a night of upsets, for example. Be bold and be daring. Do something truly different and remember that you’re strength lies in your collection of talent. When things are bad (and they definitely), it is time to go back to the basics. That is good wrestling, well thought out and well communicated storylines, commentary that focuses on the matches, avoid cliches, cheap tricks (swerves), and stuff that pisses of the fans (screwjobs). And try and keep everything from being totally obvious.
By the way, I'd like to thank everyone who sent me e-mails and banners and cool stuff like that. I'd like to apologize to those who I didn't e-mail back. I do have a good reason, though. Honestly.
Well, sort of a good reason.
Until further notice.
"I love Disco."