Mailbag Edition: DDMe, The Bash 2000, Hall/Nash, & More

Mark Madden

Finally, some relatively intelligent e-mails. Did your parents write these for you?

From: Brad

Q: When you first heard of the New Blood angle, what was your gut reaction? Why did it tank?

A: It tanked for exactly the reason I knew it would tank: I knew the established stars would never truly put the young guys over, which meant the angle would either be confusing or have a "meet the new boss, same as the old boss"-type feel. Don’t confuse doing a job with putting someone over. When Hulk Hogan beats the crap out of Kidman for 10 minutes, loses on a fluke, then beats the crap out of him for 10 more minutes, that’s not putting Kidman over. That said, what tangible gain is made from Hogan putting over Kidman? How over can Kidman get? Can he draw money? None. Not very. No.
 
Q: As soon as a guy puts his spouse on the road, is their marriage doomed?
 
A:
Pretty much. When both halves of a couple are involved in wrestling, invariably one is a bigger star than the other and trouble ensues. Case in point: Debra and Steve McMichael had problems because Steve was featured more than Debra. When Debra got a bigger role and became a bigger star, her attitude became, "What do I need him for?" Keep in mind these are often not the most stable relationships to begin with.

From: Andrew
 
Q: How much did Nash, Hall and Hogan have to do with the development of the nWo storyline?
 
A: Hall, Nash and Bischoff booked everything in the initial stage of the invasion. Scott and Kevin had a ton of input. Hogan wasn’t concerned about it because, don’t forget, at the time it was not a given that he’d be the third member. In fact, it was widely assumed by many that he would back out the night of Bash at the Beach.  Many people backstage weren’t sure what he would do even as he hit the ring.
 
In terms of organization, things went to hell as soon as Hogan got involved. He had creative control, so he had everything that didn’t suit him rewritten. I wasn’t announcing then, but I have vivid memories of rewrites being rushed out to the broadcast table during commercials.
 
Nash and Hall are two of the smartest guys I know when it comes to booking ideas. For example, here’s how Sting’s "Crow" persona came about: Ideas for recasting Sting were being discussed, and Hall remembered that one wrestler used to wear "Crow" makeup while banging one of WCW’s ladies because she had a major "Crow" fetish. Scott, as a resident of the wrestling bubble, never saw "The Crow" and had no idea where the makeup scheme was from. So Scott said, "Hey, how ’bout we put Sting in that makeup [so-and-so] used to wear when he was ****ing [so-and-so]?" So we did, and it worked. Sorry, gang, no names.

From: Stunner

Q: What was the Macho Man like with Miss Elizabeth & then Gorgeous George?
 
A:
Randy was never with Elizabeth during my time with WCW. I really liked Liz. She was as classy as she was presented to be. Her and Lex Luger were a really good couple, and I feel awful about the torment Lex undoubtedly carries around with him.
 
As for George, Randy was extremely jealous and possessive. George was never out of his sight. He treated her like an employee, not a girlfriend. Just domineering 24/7. Once George was wearing bib overalls with nothing else covering her considerable breasts. She stopped to talk to me, Hall and Nash. Randy didn’t say anything, but he stared holes in her and evidently took notice of what she was (and wasn’t) wearing because when I saw her again 20 minutes later, she was wearing a T-shirt under her overalls. That’s how Randy was with women. 

Q: How did the wrestlers react to mainstream stars being brought in to wrestle main events?

A: The big bitch was that DDMe was always involved. He was involved with Malone and Rodman. He was involved with Leno and got on The Tonight Show. It certainly wasn’t because DDMe deserved it. It was because of his relationship with Bischoff. Otherwise, the boys mostly liked having the mainstream stars around. In some small way, it provided a bit of validation.

From: Dennis
 
Q: Was Warrior brought into WCW so Hogan could get his WrestleMania win back?
 
A: Yes. Is that a secret? If Hogan could get away with digging up Yokozuna and pinning the corpse, he would. A more interesting story occurred in 1995 when, at Hogan’s behest, WCW turned Rick Williams into a Warrior look-alike called "The Renegade." A Hogan protege initially, the plan was to eventually turn Renegade heel so Hogan could beat him and, in Hogan’s nutty logic, get a win over a Warrior clone. But Renegade proved to be a terrible performer – Arn Anderson was nearly moved to tears after dropping the TV title to Renegade in a god-awful nine-minute bout – and was soon de-emphasized and dropped. Rick Williams killed himself in 1999.

From: Milky Way
 
Q: What was the best Ricky Steamboat-Ric Flair match ever?
 
A: Bruce Mitchell of PWTorch.com says that Steamboat and Flair had dozens of matches in the Mid-Atlantic territory that topped anything we ever saw on PPV, and Ric himself allows that that’s a possibility. But my favorite Steamboat-Flair match was Chi-Town Rumble ’89. The pace and psychology was flawless, it had the unexpected result and the Tommy Young/Teddy Long by-play at the conclusion buried (at least temporarily) the "Dusty finish," which was long overdue. When the match ended, I was legitimately upset that Flair had lost the title. When you can get me to suspend disbelief to the point where I’m choking back tears of frustration, that’s an amazing match. All the usual Steamboat-Flair stuff organized and executed perfectly.

Q: What do you think of Randy Orton?

A: Overrated. But then, I’m not a fan of twink porn.

Q: Was Vince Russo correct to do what he did at Bash at the Beach 2000?

A: Judging by my color commentary at the time, you’d sure think I approved. But Hogan had creative control IN HIS CONTRACT. Legally, you had to let Hogan do what he wants. Same with Bret in Montreal. Contractual obligation takes precedence over what’s best for the promotion. I’m still not sure how much of what happened at Bash at the Beach 2000 was a shoot, though. Looking back, I think it was a work gone bad.

From: Aaron

Q: Who is the biggest pain in the ass you’ve ever worked with?
 
A: DDMe, and it’s not even close. DDMe couldn’t see anything, not even for one second, from any perspective besides his own. He’d always come up with ideas to "help you" that would somehow wind up helping him. He would give me advice on announcing that would invariably come around to, "Bro, say this about me when this happens…"  He once told Mike Sanders, "Bro, say that I might be 40, but I look like I’m 30 and I wrestle like I’m 20." It was totally out of context. There was no reason for Sanders to say it. But DDMe wanted it said. Marti Funk, Dory Junior’s wife, heard this story and said, "He looks like he’s 60, wrestles like he’s 70 and acts like he’s 10." The worst thing about DDMe was that he had too much influence on Bischoff. When Bret Hart was spinning his wheels after joining WCW, I suggested a storyline that would turn him babyface, align him with Flair, and declare Bret "the real world champion" since he never lost the WWE belt. Bret loved it. Bischoff loved it. But it ultimately got nixed because DDMe had a feud coming up with Bret, and turning Bret good would have aborted that. Bischoff probably felt it was worth continuing to waste Bret if it meant not hearing DDMe whine. Having heard DDMe whine, I don’t blame him.

Q: During the Monday Night Wars, who did WCW hold back that really had star potential?
 
A: Off the top of my head, there are two entities they could have used better. One was Raven, who was ’90s wrestling’s most compelling original character, the grunge loser who was moved to psychotic rage and grandiose manipulation by his own sense of self-loathing. More on that in a future column. The other, believe it or not, was Three Count. Boy bands were huge then, those guys all looked good, and Moore and Helms could really work. I’m not saying Raven and Three Count should have been top of the card. But they were apropos to the times, and WCW never took full advantage of that.
 
Q: What was the crazy/funniest/most distracting thing you’ve ever seen while broadcasting live?

A: That’s easy. At a Spring Break Nitro, a bunch of kids just behind the broadcast location were smoking a ton of pot, and Schiavone and I caught a vicious contact buzz. Watch that show today, and you can hear me make several references to it. At one point, Nash got on the headset and said, "Madden, are you high?" I just laughed and he said, "I’m coming out."

From: Carl
 
Q: Who do you feel has really gotten shafted by not being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame?
 
A: First and foremost, Bruno Sammartino. It doesn’t matter that he won’t come to the ceremony because he’s a bitter, cantankerous old jerk who believes his own BS. If Bruno won’t show, he should be inducted in absentia. The WWE Hall of Fame loses credibility because of his absence, not that a "pro wrestling hall of fame" deserves much credibility or is even necessary. Bruno was the original cornerstone of the World-Wide Wrestling Federation. Not having him in the WWE Hall of Fame is like Ty Cobb not being in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
 
Secondly, Randy Savage. We hear all sorts of sordid stories as to why he isn’t. It doesn’t matter. He’s one of the 10 biggest stars in the promotion’s history. If a wrestling hall of fame had a morality clause, it would be an empty building. Savage should be in.

From: John

Q: What was it really like when Vince Russo was running WCW? I watched all of the episodes and they were an illogical mess. Didn’t anyone ever say, “What the hell is this guy doing?”

A: Uh, no. That was the problem. In WWE, McMahon edited Russo. In WCW, Russo mostly had carte blanche. Those who were in a position to correct/edit didn’t want the bother. Terry Taylor was a perfect example. Terry knows more about the logical progression of wrestling storylines and match layout than anybody. But he didn’t want to do his job; he wanted to keep it. Making the situation even worse was that Russo’s sidekick, Ed Ferrara, was in charge of humor. And he just wasn’t funny. He thought he was. But he wasn’t. Russo is good at ideas, not execution.
 
Q: Exactlly how slutty were the Nitro Girls?

A: Then, as now, the girls are put on the road to sleep with the boys. Several Nitro Girls were "road wives" to wrestlers. On the road, they were monogamous. At home, they were monogamous, too — just with other people. Hey, when you put young, good-looking, athletic guys and girls on the road together, nature takes its course. Nothing wrong with that.

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