When Scott (The Raven) Levy first debuted in Extreme Championship Wrestling (then Eastern Championship Wrestling) some three and a half years ago – brought in by Stevie Richards (as a childhood rival of Tommy Dreamer’s) – he was an instant success. In the span of weeks he was one of (if not THE) most hated heels and his ready-made feud with Dreamer was, is and always will be a Hardcore classic. While his feud with Dreamer lasted his entire tenure, he faced other challenges and soon became the ECW World Heavyweight Champion on two separate occasions and was co-holder of the World Tag Team Championship twice with Stevie Richards. In the process not only cementing his place in pioneering the ECW style, but as one of the “icons” in the Hardcore/Extreme world.
However, that old cliché about all good things and their inevitable culmination held true and in June of 1997, Raven found himself out of ECW and in World Championship Wrestling. While the reasons for his departure are irrelevant to this article they centered on less abuse, increased pay and a desire for longevity in the sport.
At first it seemed that Raven’s switch to Turner Land was a good one. He was probably the most over heel (i.e. generating the most fan heat) besides Hollywood (too old to learn a new move or do my own three properly) Hogan. He received massive exposure with vignettes and interviews and was involved in a number of excellent feuds, most notably with Chris “The Canadian Crippler” Benoit, Diamond Dallas Page and Perry Saturn. He even won the United States Heavyweight Championship (albeit for a day) and gave Goldberg his best matches by far, before ultimately doing the job to the talent-deprived muscle head with no mic skills, no ring skills and no hair skills.
But without the darkness there can be no light and after jobbing to Perry Saturn at Fall Brawl, in turn sacrificing the Flock (who were never utilized correctly anyway), Raven began a downward spiral of jobbing, revisited angles (Goldberg, Page) and pointless whining. In reviewing Raven’s stay in the WCW so far it’s safe to say that he has gotten himself over in spite of the WCW. WCW has portrayed the Raven as a self-centered, whining, spoiled brat, who uses whoever is around him to win his matches and has turned his catch-phrase: “Quote the Raven nevermore”, into “What about me?”. The only reason he still has some credibility remaining is because of the quality of his matches, which are usually the best or at the top of the card and the amount of punishment he can withstand and deliver.
It never used to be like this. Raven in ECW was a misanthropic, nihilistic, psychotic who cared less for his body than he did for his opponents. Sure he still used people to help him win matches (see the Nest), but it was used in the classic way of beating a face without that face losing heat or credibility. Raven was feared, respected and hated but he was Raven, not a whiner, not a pariah, but an incredible performer. When ECW played the depression angle, Raven was champ and lost both Beulah (to Dreamer) and then Kimona to Beulah (see the “lesbian kiss” angle). However, he still managed to beat Shane Douglas to hold the belt and deliver outstanding match after outstanding match.
The way WCW has played the angle it won’t be long till Raven is counting the lights while jobbing to Barry Darsow, if they even let him wrestle. We’ve seen him walk out on matches in the last couple of weeks and now he’s refusing to fight altogether, just another example of WCW inadvertently harming a wrestler’s persona by dragging an angle out for far too long.
If one were a constant caller of the WCW Hotline, you would have heard straight from Mean Gene’s mouth, that this whole depression angle is a precursor to Raven’s inevitable push, which will be massive. If one were a reader of the Internet sheets you would have no doubt come across numerous rumors that Scott Levy wants out of WCW because the pay isn’t substantially better than other federations, the shows are substandard and the lessened workload is more than offset by the constant travel schedule. Unfortunately, Raven has over a year and a half left on his current contract and no matter how big his push. It has become painfully obvious that WCW is not the place for Raven.
So what’s a distraught misanthrope to do? Well, whether Raven wants out of WCW or not it’s becoming painfully obvious that he should leave, because he will never be allowed to exhibit what brought him to stardom as long as he stays in WCW. Going back to ECW is an option but the reasons why he left will probably render that option untenable and besides it would almost be a step backwards, since he’s done it all in ECW. So that leaves the WWF. Raven probably should have gone WWF in the first place, it’s more conducive to Hardcore wrestling and just look at the heights Raven’s former disciple Mick (Cactus Jack, Mankind, Dude Love) Foley has attained in his WWF stint.
Bleeding is acceptable, chairs are used with reckless abandon, the Spanish announce table has a permanent target painted on it and the roster isn’t as convoluted as the WCW’s. Every now and again something truly death-defying happens (i.e. Hawk getting pushed off the Titan Tron, Cactus Jack and Terry Funk’s dumpster ride or Mankind’s flight off the “Hell in the Cell”) and he would have probably been given a major feud right away (see Mankind/Undertaker). Also, although Raven hasn’t been lacking in airtime, he would have probably been granted even more than he has already had.
The only real problem with Raven going to the WWF besides the year and a half left on his current WCW contract, is the past between himself and Vince McMahon. Raven used to be Johnny Polo, manager of the Quebecer’s and Adam Bomb (now Wrath). Gradually he was phased out of on-air programs and was granted a full-time office job. In Scott’s own word’s he was being groomed for big things in the corporate world of the WWF and in an act, which defined his character and gave birth to the Raven persona, he upped and quit. Leaving with nothing and beginning his journey through the ECW to his present in the WCW.
While no one knows whether Vince would forgive Scott (although he might, considering Raven’s one of the most over heels in wrestling), it’s all speculation as long as the Raven remains in WCW. One thing is for sure, unless WCW kills Hogan (execution style, right to the head, BANG!), teaches Goldberg how to wrestle and focuses more on developing talent instead of wasting it; Raven will probably never get the past mid to upper mid-card status, which is a damn shame. Since he’s one of the best workers the WCW has ever had and his penchant for violence and taking abuse is matched only by Mick Foley and look at where he his now.