First off, Nash has creative control. He had every right to do what he did.
Second off, the booker isnâ<80><99>t always right. That especially holds true in the current clime.
The power of the pencil has been eroded over the years, largely because Hulk Hogan often insisted Nitro be rewritten while the show was in progress. But thatâ<80><99>s OK, because thereâ<80><99>s been a lot more bad booking than good over the history of wrestling. A lot more fails than works.
There are only so many plots and storylines that apply to wrestling; most have been used more than once. Because of the businessâ<80><99> myopic nature, everyone is well-served to be selfish. Booking is also plagued by the often gratuitous fallibility of those doing it. Bookers reward friends and punish enemies. Bookers like to test performers. Bookers will put performers in embarrassing situations to see how much theyâ<80><99>ll take, to see how far theyâ<80><99>ll go. Strangely, that never happens in Hollywood. â<80><9c>Die Hardâ<80> scripts, for example, tend to cast Bruce Willis in a good light. As a result, they make money. Go figure.
Anytime a performer is uncomfortable with the physical risk demanded, he/she should say no.
Anytime a performerâ<80><99>s character is severely compromised with no gain for the performer or the company, he/she should say no.
Ric Flair, for example, should have refused to let Vince Russo shave his head on Nitro with a mere two hours of buildup. The shaving of Flairâ<80><99>s head should have been teased for two months, then sold on pay-per-view. Teasing it for two hours didnâ<80><99>t even draw a good TV rating. Flair gained nothing. Russo gained nothing. WCW gained nothing. So Flair should have refused, or a WCW exec should have vetoed it.
Hereâ<80><99>s an example that hit close to home:
When I was doing color on Nitro, Russoâ<80><99>s shirt got ripped off. As heel commentator/Russo stooge, I complimented Russoâ<80><99>s physique, saying he had won several bodybuilding contests in his weight class. Tony Schiavone and Scott Hudson , meanwhile, made fun of Russoâ<80><99>s scrawny frame.
Next week, when I got the Nitro script at the production meeting, it called for the announcers to work the show topless by order of Russoâ<80><99>s on-screen character. I weigh 350 on a good day. Ouch.
After the meeting, I spoke with Schiavone, who was also supervisor of announcers.
Look, I said, Iâ<80><99>m not going on TV with my shirt off. It doesnâ<80><99>t make sense. Why would Russo punish me after I complimented his physique? Iâ<80><99>m his ally. When weâ<80><99>re on the mic together, Russo sucks up to me as much as I suck up to him. Where does our relationship go from here?
When Tony said that he didnâ<80><99>t think that was important, I said, well, if my character isnâ<80><99>t important, then what am I doing on TV in the first place?
At this point, Tony looked like heâ<80><99>d rather be gargling ground glass than speak any more about this. Youâ<80><99>d better talk to Bischoff, he said.
Ah, Bischoff. Now things were adding up.
I owe Eric Bischoff a lot. He gave me a lot of opportunity. He helped me make a lot of money. I like Eric. But Eric was a big fan of the human cockfighting described in this column and, for some reason, heâ<80><99>d chosen this particular Nitro to push my buttons.
Keep in mind this wasnâ<80><99>t about vanity. Not a lot, anyway. Iâ<80><99>d previously been stripped to the waist by Tank Abbott when Tank attacked me to begin a storyline that saw him randomly assault one victim per Nitro until WCW gave him a title shot. I wasnâ<80><99>t crazy about that, but it had some value for Tank, and I thought it came off pretty well. Announcing an entire Nitro topless had no value, not for anyone.
So I talked to Eric. I said that announcing topless didnâ<80><99>t make sense. Russo wouldnâ<80><99>t do that to me.
Sure he would, Eric said. Heâ<80><99>s a mean bastard.
No, he wouldnâ<80><99>t, I reiterated. This is humiliation for the sake of humiliation, and I wonâ<80><99>t do it.
So I went to the announcersâ<80><99> dressing room and prepared to go home.
After about 15 minutes, Eric came into the dressing room and said OK, you donâ<80><99>t have to do it. I see your point. But donâ<80><99>t show me up in front of everybody again. Donâ<80><99>t make me look bad.
The odd thing was, not a single other soul was around when I first spoke with Bischoff. I didnâ<80><99>t show him up â<80>” not in front of everybody, or anybody. That was his way of getting the last word, I guess.
Anyway, Hudson had to work the show topless, which made a bit more sense, but added no value to the show. After enough silly decisions got made, Nitro became a show with no value.
Kind of like TNA Impact! Is a show with no value, ECW is a show with no value, and Raw and Smackdown are both getting there in a hurry.
Itâ<80><99>s all up to Freddie Prinze Jr. Save us, FPJ!
THE WIT AND WISDOM OF DDMe (one in a series)
DDMe was known for overly scripting his matches, and I mean that literally â<80>” he would prepare multi-page scripts laying out matches in minute detail. It was too much even for those who preferred that sort of thing. For those who liked calling matches in the ring, it was excruciating.
The late Chris Benoit liked calling his matches in the ring. At one WCW PPV, Benoit was scheduled for a three-way dance with DDMe and Raven. DDMe had prepared copies of his script â<80>” which was no thicker than a small townâ<80><99>s Yellow Pages â<80>” and collared Raven, but Benoit was nowhere to be found. Like most of the boys, Benoit dreaded working with DDMe and was pointedly avoiding the script read-through.
DDMeâ<80><99>s strategy: Stake out the runway under the stands and wait for Benoit to walk by. Benoit would strip to his dress slacks and prowl the arenaâ<80><99>s catacombs on PPV days while drinking an endless cup of coffee. If you stood in the runway and didnâ<80><99>t move, eventually Benoit would run into you.
When Benoit finally happened upon DDMe, DDMe thrust a copy of his script at Benoit. Benoit â<80>” in one smooth motion â<80>” grabbed the script, shredded it, and just kept on walking, leaving a shower of confetti and a dumbfounded DDMe in his wake.
The match got called in the ring. It was great.
When DDMe went to WWE, Triple H begged him â<80>” BEGGED HIM â<80>” not to foist scripts upon his opponents. Theyâ<80><99>ll eat you alive here if you do that, Trips said.
So one day Trips walks into catering and sees DDMe presenting a script to (drum roll) THE UNDERTAKER. Needless to say, it was not well received. Triple H was beside himself.
But thatâ<80><99>s DDMe. Nothing is more dangerous than an idiot oblivious to his own stupidity.