Last week marked twenty years since one of the most infamous pay-per-views in pro wrestling history, New Blood Rising, an event that more or less showcased the reasons almost entirely why the company folded within a year, selling to Vince McMahon for literally pennies on the dollar. (Yes, I know it would’ve been more timely to write this on the exact day that it aired in 2000, but it’s a pandemic, forgive me)
The opening match was Three Count vs. The Jung Dragons in a ladder match with two objects at stake, a recording contract and a gold record. For a match that was based on young high flyers taking bumps into and off of ladders, the stipulations are so absurd that it basically ruins the impact of any of the risks these guys take during the course of the match. Plus, Tank Abbot clumsy dancing around just seems like more of a mockery of six guys trying to make a name for themselves than anything else. This bout seemed to be a less polished answer to the WWF’s TLC matches at the time. The sad part is, these six competitors took some of the biggest in-ring risks on this show, but were among the lowest paid members of the roster. Furthermore, why exactly would The Jung Dragons care about someone else’s gold record or a recording contract? Climbing up the ladder to retrieve a nonsensical item is the first sign of Vince Russo’s finger prints that are all over this broadcast. Even as early as the opening video package, terms like “go over” are used, as Russo tried to play to the internet crowd while 90% of the viewing audience missed the reference. Despite The Jung Dragons getting the gold record first, Tank Abott picks it up and somehow it doesn’t matter that the opposing team climbed the ladder to retrieve it. Eventually, Three Count grabs the record contract to officially win the match. Let’s be honest here, the reason this match was booked was to get these guys in a match to do high spots with the ladder, which is fine because it opens the show with a fast-paced bout, but the shenanigans around this contest make it absolutely laughable. It’s also remarkable that Russo took a legitimate cage fighter, as unconventional as he might be, and turned him into a comedy act. This entire segment showed how much WCW minimized any talent it had in 2000.
Next up, Ernest Miller beat The Great Muta in roughly five minutes, and the match was fine for what it was, but Scott Hudson’s reference of “legit heat” between the type will make you roll your eyes because there’s no basis for any such claim. I’m assuming these lines were scripted by Russo because Hudson was actually a better announcer than he gets credit for. Muta’s run at this point in WCW is somewhat odd because again, they have a legitimate Japanese legend at their disposal and granted he had slowed down somewhat at that point before he took time off to recover from injuries, but they didn’t really have him do anything of importance during this particular stint in the company.
Perhaps, the debacle this event is most known for, the Judy Bagwell on a forklift match between Buff and Chris Kanyon. This is Russo 101 and so ridiculous, it’s easy to see why fans didn’t want to pay to watch it as the buyrate for the pay-per-view in August of 1999 drew 235,000 buys while New Blood Rising garnered just 85,000 buys, a substantially decrease as the organization declined in quality during the Russo era. Don’t worry though, the company might’ve lost $60 million in 2000, but at least Buff was reunited with his mom, as he won the match. The only good thing to say here is that Kanyon was an underrated talent, but it’s very sad that he passed away at such a young age.
In more trademark Russo fashion, there was a four-team tag team championship match with four of the Filthy Animals as special guest referees. Yes, four teams and four special guest referees. Konnan is on commentary, and I guess in another attempt to seem edgy, the script called for commentator Mark Madden to refer to him as Carlos, his real name. The problem with this is, that in 2000 before wrestlers’ real names were easily found online, I doubt many fans got the reference. Eventually, Kronik retained over The Perfect Event, The Natural Born Thrillers, and MIA. Vampiro and Muta showed up to brawl with Kronik to set up a match later in the night without much logic or explanation.
Billy Kidman beat Shane Douglas in a strap match, but it wasn’t anything too spectacular, more or less just an average match. Post-match, Kidman was hung up by the strap and actually suffered a legitimate injury from the spot that resulted in him taking time off. Big Vito made the save before he also dispatched of Reno, who did a run-in despite no involvement in the Kidman-Douglas storyline.
If you aren’t ready to smash your streaming device yet, just wait for the mud match between Major Gunns and Ms. Hancock. The two actually show decent athleticism with the moves, which they deserve credit for, considering that they didn’t have a lot of in-ring experience at the time. However, this one goes downhill very quickly as they fight toward the mud pit when Stacy Keibler sudden grabs her stomach and crouches down in pain. Major Gunns, her opponent, suddenly stops the act and looks very concern for her rival. David Flair runs unannounced from the locker room to check on his girlfriend. The announcer explain that this isn’t part of the show so basically the entire point of this angle was to tell the fans that “the rest of the show is fake, but this is real” which makes any emotional investment in anything that happens during the rest of the show pointless for viewers. As we know, the “real” part of the pay-per-view was nothing more than another nonsensical angle that didn’t have any major payoff. Granted, this show was originally on pay-per-view, but the “worked shoot” garbage is enough to make someone turn the channel to check the score of the local sports team. More on that later.
Just when you thought this show couldn’t get more pointless, The Demon, who debuted earlier in the year as a part of a Kiss performance on Nitro that was one of the lowest-rated segments in the show’s history was pinned by Sting in roughly thirty seconds. Nothing says giving the fans their money’s worth like giving one of the top stars in the promotion less than a minute of an appearance on the show.
In a US Title match, with the belt renamed the Canadian title, Lance Storm was greet with a hero’s welcome by his fellow countrymen as the show was hosted in Vancouver. Not surprisingly, the booking for this one was completely backwards as Jacques Rougeau was the special guest enforcer of the Canadian rules. As far as in-ring action, this was probably the best match of the night, but Awesome beat Lance Storm a few different ways before Rougeau would find a rule to save the match for Lance. Granted, the crowd was happy to see Storm still in the match and were thrilled when he won, but they also saw the wrestler that got the biggest pop of the night get beat clean three different times so it takes away some of the shine of the win. Post-match, Bret Hart made a surprise appearance and the crowd went crazy for the legendary grappler. It was a nice moment to see Lance in the ring with Bret, especially because Hart was away from the company for an extended period of time following the injury he sustained in a match with Goldberg.
After this, Vampiro and Muta beat Kronik for the tag titles in a decent match, but it seemed totally thrown together because Muta already lost to Ernest Miller earlier in the show, and it made Kronik look foolish for putting their titles on the line for a second time in a night, especially because they wasn’t a feud or anything to explain why they would offer a title shot to Muta and Vampiro. As I said earlier, Muta’s stint at the time was completely underutilized, but if they were going to use him to help propel Vampiro, who became one of the most over performers on the roster, at least that would’ve made sense. Instead, they dropped the titles to The Filthy Animals the next night on Nitro, which made this match and the title switch pointless.
The triple threat match is another example of Vince Russo scribbling nonsense on a format sheet as Goldberg was rumored to be injured so Kevin Nash and Scott Steiner started the match. After Goldberg enters, he was set up to take a power bomb from Nash, but leaves the ring. Russo had to make sure he got some face time on the pay-per-view so he meets Goldberg in the aisle way to tell him to get back in the ring. Goldberg refuses and leaves, implying that he refused to go along with the script. Another attempt at a “worked shoot” that basically tells the audience the rest of the show is fake so don’t worry about that, but this is real. If wrestlers can just walk away from attempted moves, why should the audience care about the main event when the title is on the line? Nash wins the match, but the way this was presented was an absolute train wreck.
The commentators labelled Goldberg as being "unprofessional". pic.twitter.com/AvWS0B6g9t
— On This Day in WWE (@WWEotd) August 13, 2020
Booker T defeated Jeff Jarrett for the WCW Heavyweight title and these two had some really good matches, but this contest was diluted with several run-ins, ref bumps, and too man swerves. Watching this event again for this review, I found myself wondering how a company that had Vince McMahon on the ropes just a few years earlier could fumbles that momentum in such a disastrous fashion. The way the cruiser weights were used, the terrible “worked shoot” angles, and the booking that minimized the talent was unbelievable at times, which is why the company went out of business roughly six months later.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.
Until next week
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