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  #1  
Old 07-14-2017, 12:54 PM
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Default The Finger Poke of Doom: The Next Step In WCW's Destruction

In my last thread I covered Starrcade 98 and briefly discussed the Finger Poke of Doom. That's an event that one just can't gloss over, though. It's one of the most infamous events in the history of all of professional wrestling. It's right up there with the Montreal Screwjob as one of the dark stains of professional wrestling. So, in this thread, we're going to discuss the Finger Poke of Doom.

1998 saw the World Wrestling Federation’s very first ratings victory in the Monday Night War against WCW Nitro following an 84 week drought. During these 84 weeks, the World Wrestling Federation ran storylines such as ‘Pillman’s got a gun’, The Formation of DX and the debut of Kane. Easily the product was better, but wrestling fans were too used to watching Hogan make 5 title defences of his championship a year and Sting flying around the arena. By the time Austin faced McMahon for the first time, it only took the WCW 6 months before its final recorded ratings victory. Frankly, the reason it lasted that long is because the World Heavyweight Champion at the time was Goldberg.

So what did WCW do? They decided to take the title off of Goldberg and end his undefeated streak, which was the only thing that was keeping them afloat. So, has we discussed in the last thread, Kevin Nash, who had the book at this point, decided that he should end Goldberg's streak. They had Hall run down to the ring during the match with a cattle prod and shock Goldberg to give Nash the victory. We've already talked about how dumb this was, so we'll leave it at that.

So here we are, January 4th, 1999, one of the most important days in wrestling history. WCW’s show boasted a championship rematch between Kevin Nash and Goldberg in the sold out Georgia Dome, in Goldberg’s home town of Atlanta and the return of Hulk Hogan. Those two points alone was enough for ratings to swing the way of WCW. Monday Night Raw had been having a decent show, and only halfway through the program, a WWF Championship match between Mankind and The Rock was announced. WCW was still winning that night, then night then turned ugly for WCW. Throughout the show, storyline had been developed to have Goldberg be arrested by Atlanta police for alleged abuse of Elizabeth and Hulk Hogan had taken the title shot instead. So we weren’t getting Goldberg wrestle for the championship that he lost in such a screwy fashion in his home town and he was getting arrested for something he didn’t do. This followed by Tony Schiavone announcing that Mankind was defeating the Rock for his championship that night caused ratings to plummet for Nitro as angry viewers who weren’t going to see Goldberg get revenge, decided to watch Mick Foley win his first and very much deserved World Championship.

The only hope WCW had left this night was the main event of Kevin Nash v Hulk Hogan, who had come out of retirement that night, for the WCW Championship. Hogan had been greeted to a tremendous response and faced Kevin Nash in the worst match in history in my opinion. 40,000 people screaming for the confrontation as the crowd went ballistic. Nash and Hogan sized each other up, and after a little bit of backwards and forward taunts, Hogan simply poked Nash in the chest, Nash took a bump and Hogan covered him for the one-two-three, reuniting the nWo as a whole. This became known as ‘The Fingerpoke of Doom’.

This ‘match’ is seen as the reason for WCW’s downfall firstly because it screamed the fact that wrestling is fake. Kevin Nash, the world champion, just lets Hogan take it from him? If you’re in wrestling, you’re in to be worlds champion and he just gives it to Hogan so that their two stables can reform.

Goldberg’s streak was something so monumental that whomever snapped the streak would live as the man who did it and would be seen as unstoppable. Kevin Nash, 8 days after beating one of the most impressive winning streaks in history, lost in 30 seconds to Hulk Hogan who didn’t do one move. This makes me wonder, ‘What was the point of ending the streak and winning the Worlds Championship at your version of WrestleMania, if you didn’t even want it? Why would you ruin the streak then and not wait for another person more deserving of a lengthy title reign to do it?’

What do you guys think? Let me know your opinions.
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Old 07-14-2017, 01:12 PM
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Yeah, the Fingerpoke Of Doom is infamous for several reasons. As bad as WCW had managed to miss out on opportunities for colossal events at not one but two consecutive Starrcade shows in 1997 and 1998, there was no recovering at this point. After Starrcade 97 the product was still interesting. They still had Goldberg and his streak. They also had the Wolfpac faction which I was a big fan of. Starrcade 98 was another moment where the quality took major damage. The end of Goldberg's streak was horribly handled. Nash was one of the worst possible options to end it. In fact other than Hogan he was arguably THE worst option. He didn't need it. That's without even addressing the cattle prod. As frustrating as it was getting to watch Nitro at this point, the idiocy of the Fingerpoke was the final straw for many. The reunited nWo faction was a stupid idea. Hogan being HANDED the title was even more stupid. Raw was the better product every week from then on. The Fingerpoke is not THE single moment that killed WCW, but it for me was the moment where they had reached the point of there being absolutely no chance of ever recovering.
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Old 07-14-2017, 02:30 PM
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The finger poke of doom was the beginning of the end for not only wcw, but its world title. Before this incident, the title was pretty prestigious. From Flair winning it in 1991 to Goldberg losing it at Starcade 98. After the finger poke of doom the title was passed around like a meaningless prop. A lot of people hate that David Arquette won it, but if you think about it the title was meaningless by then anyway!

For wcw, this was the final nail in the coffin. They never recovered from this. They never beat wwf after this. The latter overtook them so badly that the Monday Night War was pretty much over by the summer of 99(yes I know it officially ended in 2001).

Jamie Kellner did not want wrestling on TBS and TNT anymore and he is blamed for "killing wcw". I think if wcw's ratings were on par with wwe he would have still wanted them on there. The brand had been so damaged and ridiculed since January 4, 1999 and the ratings tanked at a rapid pace afterwards, thus it was an easy decision to get rid of that "lowbrow entertainment" off the network.
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Old 07-14-2017, 04:14 PM
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No matter what you personally thought of the fingerpoke of doom and the quality of WCW around this time, one of the biggest misconceptions in the history of the industry is being further perpetuated in this thread.

Sure, an argument could be made that this event had a long-term negative effect on both the reputation of the WCW World Title and the overall success of the company, but to say everything tanked right after this is just completely false.

The fact is that ratings were sky high on January 4, 1999, and they were sky high the following week too, because so many people were intrigued to see where this angle was going. I personally liked it, many people didn't, but as the early 1999 ratings, and hell even attendance and pay per view buy rates indicate, this angle was far from a failure, and actually much closer to being successful, believe it or not.

If it had the negative effect everyone thinks it did, ratings would have tanked immediately. They did not. Instead, WCW had a hugely successful January, and then set records in February. They had their highest TV ratings ever in February, 1999. Superbrawl IX was a very successful show by every measurable statistic, a full month after the so-called horrific fingerpoke of doom. Merchandise sales were better than ever in the first quarter of 1999 as well. March and April saw slight declines in business before the bottom fell out in May for a multitude of reasons. But as of May 1, 1999, WCW was on pace to eclipse their record-setting year of 1998 in terms of revenue and profits. The last 8 months of the year saw the company completely fall apart, but how could anyone say the fingerpoke of doom drove fans away immediately, when the facts and numbers are out there to prove otherwise? It took a few more months for ratings and overall business to go down.

No matter how many times this is said people will come back at me and dispute it. Hey, you could hate this "match" and angle all you want, and say it was another major blow to the company, but I am just going by the numbers, not made up WWE revisionist history. The fact that WWE was easily beating WCW in the ratings war at this point alters everyone's perception of the truth, and the truth is that early 1999 was actually WCW's peak in terms of profits, not 1998. Therefore the fingerpoke of doom was not really that damaging at all. On the contrary, I would considerate it at least a moderate success.
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Old 07-14-2017, 07:10 PM
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For me, I think the Fingerpoke of Doom was the step down a slippery slope that there truly was no coming back from. I believe in October of 1999, Vince Russo would join WCW and take the quality of any major wrestling company lower than it's ever been before or since.

In January of 1999, there was no Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube; the internet only had a fraction of the impact on society that it has today and wrestling fans weren't as jaded as they've become in the 18 years since. The FPOD changed things and not for the better because seeing a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match on television instead of ppv was supposed to be something special, something meaningful, something more than just a cheap ploy to get people to tune in and symbolically laugh in their faces.

It was also the start of WCW really going into overtime when it came to hot potato title changes as it changed hands a total of 11 times in 1999. It got even worse in 2000 as it changed hands 18 times and was vacated a total of 6 times. At Starrcade in December 1998, Kevin Nash ended Goldberg's streak and with it went the last WCW World Heavyweight Championship run that really meant anything as Nash would drop the strap 8 days later via the Fingerpoke of Doom to Hollywood Hulk Hogan.

The quality of WCW had been going downhill for a little while but once Russo got there, it became unwatchable in my opinion. The Fingerpoke of Doom along with David Arquette winning the WCW World Heavyweight Championship are probably two of the top three World Championship changes in wrestling history, with the other most likely being the Montreal Screwjob.
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Old 07-14-2017, 08:23 PM
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I'm most likely in a huge minority here, but I thought this was awesome watching it that night. Nash was already pretty over as a face, and with his buddy Hall back together, was even more over. Hogan winning wasn't surprising, but the way it happened was out of nowhere. Plus we got the see the reformation of the nWo with it's core guys, along with Stiener, and Luger I believe.

One of the better swerves pulled off ever. Even Bischoff played his role nicely. Also, wasn't this suppose to have setup a huge angle with Goldberg where he runs though the whole nWo before finally facing Hogan at Starcade? Of course, ego's, creative, and a bunch of other stuff changed all that.
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Old 07-14-2017, 08:46 PM
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The thing with WCW was they didn't seem to think much of their world title around this time as my memory may have gotten this wrong as I know David Arquette won it but also didn't both Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff also hold the world title for a while as well as having weekly title changes and was vacated multiple times and twice on one night and they even let Chris Benoit win it even though they knew he was leaving the next day, Hogan also won it similar when Jarrett laid down for him at bash at the beach.
Doesn't sound very prestigious and think the champion should be the face of the company but their title reigns seemed random and all over the place, It got to the point towards the end where I never really cared who the champion was as it had lost all prestige for me.
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Old 07-15-2017, 12:03 AM
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Ok....in one thread about WCW's death, i said that (in my book) the fault ALL on the AOL/Time Warner selling it to Vince McMahon. if they would've sold it to Bischoff, then it could still be alive in some form (key word is could)....

With that said, the reason WCW started to lose the war with WWE was THIS event in my book, i think the Starrcade 97 ending was a bit of a punch, then it got worse, but this was the big shot that really ended WCW's winning over WWE. First it started with giving away Foley winning the title (which the fans WANTED to see), then they (WCW) decided to NOT give us Goldberg vs. Nash 2 (Which fans WANTED to see) and then gave us Nash vs. Hogan.

if Nash vs. Hogan happened in a real match, then it's POSSIBLE that WCW would've kept their fans because then it would've been an nWo battle with Goldberg also in the mix, but instead they just re-formed which the fans hated and put the title on Hogan just because they could.

Hogan winning the title wasnt the bad part, it was HOW he won. if he beat Nash in an actual match and then Goldberg came out at the end (but Hogan left the ring before Goldberg attacked) then it could've been a hit for the fans to see a possible triple threat, but instead it was Goldberg vs. the nWo which not many (if any) fans wanted to see. So yes, this was a major part in why WCW died, it wasnt THE reason (AOL/Time Warner's fault), but it was a major dent in the WCW car
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Old 07-15-2017, 01:56 AM
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You people are all drinking the WWE revisionist history kool aid.

FPOD wasn't a bad thing, cattle prod ending the streak wasn't a bad thing either.

Lets start with the Starrcade ending; while I agree that Nash shouldn't have been the guy to end the streak (it should've been Big Poppa Pump) the taser was a great way to keep Goldberg looking very strong; what other wrestler in that time period needed to be hit with a shock stick to get beaten?? Nobody, not even crow Sting who was also a nigh unstoppable force for a time.

The FPOD was a great way to streamline the heels and have a machine for Goldberg to run through on his way to a PROPER victory on PPV over Hogan; Luger, Bagwell, Steiner, Hall, Nash and finally Hogan in the summer gets beaten to finally finish off the nWo once and for all.

Now WCW screwed up this potential goldmine by losing sight of this easy to follow storyline; instead they put Flair/Horsemen above Goldberg in stature while Bill spent time dealing with guys like Bam Bam meanwhile Hogan and Flair decide to do a double turn and kill the damn thing right then and there.

WWE love to gloss over the fact that 1/3rd of the new nWo were immediately injured so this took some steam out of the group also; Hall and Luger both went down by Superbrawl.

So in retrospect yeah; the Poke wasn't good but had WCW stuck to the original plan afterwards then wed be looking at an entirely different story, one where Goldberg reigns triumphant after a long chase for the belt in the summer of '99

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Old 07-17-2017, 11:51 PM
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You people are all drinking the WWE revisionist history kool aid.

FPOD wasn't a bad thing, cattle prod ending the streak wasn't a bad thing either.

Lets start with the Starrcade ending; while I agree that Nash shouldn't have been the guy to end the streak (it should've been Big Poppa Pump) the taser was a great way to keep Goldberg looking very strong; what other wrestler in that time period needed to be hit with a shock stick to get beaten?? Nobody, not even crow Sting who was also a nigh unstoppable force for a time.

The FPOD was a great way to streamline the heels and have a machine for Goldberg to run through on his way to a PROPER victory on PPV over Hogan; Luger, Bagwell, Steiner, Hall, Nash and finally Hogan in the summer gets beaten to finally finish off the nWo once and for all.

Now WCW screwed up this potential goldmine by losing sight of this easy to follow storyline; instead they put Flair/Horsemen above Goldberg in stature while Bill spent time dealing with guys like Bam Bam meanwhile Hogan and Flair decide to do a double turn and kill the damn thing right then and there.

WWE love to gloss over the fact that 1/3rd of the new nWo were immediately injured so this took some steam out of the group also; Hall and Luger both went down by Superbrawl.

So in retrospect yeah; the Poke wasn't good but had WCW stuck to the original plan afterwards then wed be looking at an entirely different story, one where Goldberg reigns triumphant after a long chase for the belt in the summer of '99
I said nearly the exact same thing on this topic a few years ago. Now I think WCW screwed up Goldberg's title reign because they never let him main event or gave him the top storyline until it was time to end it. Why was Hogan getting the best storylines and main events in July, Aug & Sept PPV events while Goldberg was champ, only to share a "Double Main Event" at the huge Halloween Havoc PPV with Hogan's rematch vs Ultimate Warrior (then Goldberg didn't even have a match on the Nov PPV!!!). Through all of this Goldberg remained way over, so his loss was a huge!

RE: The Fingerpoke, maybe the greatest swerve ever in Pro Wrestling History. Not entirely original as it bore a lot of similarity to Andre The Giant/Ted DiBiase and the selling of the WWE Title for cash in 1988, but Nash had been booked as a fan fave almost all of 1998 and was clearly (at this point) not on the same page as Hall and Hogan. Nash continuing to disavow their overtures and promise to settle things set up a dream match scenario, therefore when the FPOD happened it was a TOTAL SHOCK, not just that Nash would reconcile with those two (that's not a shock, just a minor surprise) but that he would give Hogan the belt like that "To Get The Band Back Together".....look at the ratings WCW drew huge numbers that night and the following week and then in Feb 99 twice topped the 5.0 mark DESPITE BEING IN DIRECT COMPETITION WITH WWE RAW.

FPOD set up an entirely new dynamic, ending the nonsensical Red & Black vs Black & White feud, allowing the NWO to purge all the ridiculous 2nd and 3rd teamers from their ranks (really, can you imagine DX, The Horsemen, or Evolution allowing the likes of Virgil, Horace Hogan, & Scott Norton in, and wasn't it long overdo the injury prone never around for long Curt Henning got the boot ?), returning the group to a lean, mean ruthless fighting machine. There was a twist this time, for the first time ever they DIDNT have control of WCW, Bischoff lost that to Ric Flair, but with Hogan back and The World Title in their pocket, they had some stroke, enough to wage a new war for hostile take over. WCW was badly in need of a serious heel after some ridiculous booking in 1998, a consistent bad *&* group that fans legitimately feared could and believed would beat their beloved fan faves.

The potential here was awesome, WCW is drawing 5.0 ratings and popping a huge buyrate for SuperBrawl in Feb with fans clearly into the new NWO dynamic of trying to get control of the company back from Mr WCW Ric Flair, all while Brett Hart, Sting & Lex Luger were all off injured. Imagine WWE doing that much business with HHH, Undertaker, & Mick Foley all out with major injuries ?? DDP was very popular, probably at his career height, and despite spending most of his title reign booked underneath Hogan, Goldberg was insanely popular. FPOD drew interest and initially sparked some tremendous storytelling potential. It was a success.

What came after, at least after SuperBrawl, that was the problem. A) The Double Turn: All of the effort in rebuilding the NWO establishing their ruthless heelishness was waisted two months in when Hogan decided he wanted to be a fan fave, leading the disbanding of the group. A major bait and switch, huge swerve, several cunning moves to stay ahead of the new WCW President, all wasted two months in. Meanwhile, Flair was so over with fans when he returned he was rivaling Goldberg for crowd responses yet two months into his triumphant return and table turning power play that took control of WCW away from the NWO he turned heel. Fans weren't impressed, Steiner soon dropped into the lightly promoted mid card after the NWO disbanded, Nash went back to being a face, Hogan actually disappeared from programming till late summer when he returned with the Red & Yellow Hulka-Mania persona, Flair went into an insane asylum (spending a month there until Scott Hall, his acrh nemesis snuck in and broke him out, a storyline that made almost no sense). The WWE equivalent would be if two months after Austin joined McMahon and defeated The Rock, in a legendary swerve no one saw coming that also established Rock as maybe the most popular face in the company, Rock turned heel, Austin left McMahon and just disappeared, and HHH walked away from all of them and turned face.

Supposedly the storyline was scrapped despite the high ratings simply because Hogan decided he wanted to work face because his young son had never seen him in his "Red & Yellow" phase as a hero, Flair agreed to it in order to get the title reign Bischoff allegedly had promised him as part of negotiations to get him to return (after Nash allegedly had asked Hogan to job to Flair at SuperBrawl to capitalize on the popularity of his return and Hogan refused) and of course Bischoff did it, well because he did what Hogan wanted. I'm all for established stars having input in storylines and character development, but not having the power to simply end top storylines at will despite their success just because they feel like it. ESPECIALLY after they (WCW) went out of its way to position him favorably and make him champ again in said storyline!

B) Mis Use Of Goldberg: One of the things that initially made the FPOD so compelling was the belief that we would finally, for the first time ever see a Goldberg vs The NWO feud, it had never been done. Hogan never feuded with Goldberg, in fact they almost never crossed paths after their title switch, Goldberg had minor feuds vs Henning & Big Show that never near the air time or storyline that Hogan's feuds at the time got. The NWO was back and badder than ever, and they not only had to deal with an old nemesis running the company now (Flair) they had to deal in the rind with maybe their toughest nemesis ever, Goldberg, after they stole The World Title from him and screw jobbed him out of his Streak. Goldberg-Nash II should have been huge, Goldberg-Hogan II should have been epic. Having Sting, Luger, and Brett Hart all ready to come off IR in the near future, plus DDP & Flair, there was tremendous potential storyline wise. The NWO should have done everything in their power to keep Goldberg away from The World Title and Goldberg should have syetmatically plowed through the entire group, ending with Nash and then Hogan. If WCW was intent on giving Flair a title run they could have him beat Hogan, causing heat in the NWO between Nash & Hogan with Nash pulling a power play and ousting Hogan (allowing him his time off, I believe the official reason for his absence in the spring & early summer of 99 was knee surgery), then have Nash steal the title from Flair, setting up his re match (and loss) to Goldberg who would still have to march through the group to get him, who then could have had a fan fave vs fan fave match vs a returning Hogan (Goldberg winning again).

It certainly would have been better than having Goldberg drop into the mid card to feud with Scott Hall, then find himself replaced in the World Title scene by DDP and Sting, have his re match with Nash relegated to an off month low value PPV (in the mid card no less, not even the main event!), then continue to languish in the mid card as Nash, Savage, Hogan, and a returning Sid Viscious dominate the top tier through the Summer of 99. If the double turn was horrible, this was twice as bad. Hogan & Flair were near the end of their time as consistent main event money makers, wasting them and their storyline was stupid. Goldberg was much younger and fresher, he was the future, already huge in the present, and WCW buried him for no apparent reason that made any business sense.

I don't know if Id call the FPOD brilliant but it was bold move that shook up WCW alliances and storylines in way really not seen since the early days of the NwO storyline in 1996, driving big numbers and interest in a product where 3 of it's biggest stars were all out injured. The potential storytelling in it's aftermath looked almost full proof, as if money was all but guaranteed, and yet WCW screwed up so much after the fact it boggles the mind.

Really the thread we should be debating is SuperBrawl 99, the beginning of the end of WCW

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