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  #1  
Old 07-14-2017, 01:54 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, 02:12 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, 03:30 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, 05:14 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, 08:10 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, 09:23 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, 09:46 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, 01:03 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, 02:56 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

Last edited by relentless1 : 07-15-2017 at 03:01 AM.
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Old 07-15-2017, 06:14 AM
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I think when David Arquette got made WCW world Champion it shat on the entire business.
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