Those who questioned Lance Storm’s decision to leave ECW for WCW earlier this summer are still picking their teeth clean of the full course of crow they’ve been dining on.
Since joining WCW, Storm has gone from mild-mannered mid-carder to one of the top heels in the promotion. He’s added three titles to his collection and has become the hot topic of discussion in wrestling. And for good reason. He’s taken WCW by storm (no pun intended), establishing himself as one of the hottest commodities in the business.
This Sunday, Storm defends his Canadian Heavyweight title against Mike Awesome as part of WCW’s New Blood Rising pay-per-view from Vancouver, British Columbia. And even though he’s had successful runs in Japan and in ECW, there’s no question that Storm is in the middle of the biggest push of his career.
“I think that’s pretty safe to assume, yeah,” laughed Storm over the phone during an interview with SLAM! Wrestling last night. “It’s amazing. When you first jump to a new company you’re a little trepidatious, you’re a little unsure of what they’re going to do with you. Especially with the nature of wrestling because you can be buried regardless of how good you are. But they’ve made me feel very welcomed when I first met with them and talked with them.”
Storm is ecstatic about the push he’s getting as it’s far exceeded his own hopes when he initially joined the company.
“I had my hopes up but I never thought in a million years it would be this much, this fast. They’ve really jumped onboard with me and I’m just thrilled to death that they’re putting this kind of time and effort into me. I spoke with the marketing guy today and they seem to have a lot of plans for me.”
A proud Canadian, Storm says there’s a lot of him in the flag-waving, pro-Canadian character he plays on TV.
“Oh god yeah!,” chuckles Storm. “I would say 90 per cent of it is me.”
Lance has enjoyed working with Mike Awesome so far and is looking forward to the match on Sunday.
“It’s a lot of fun (working with Awesome). His heart is in the right place when it comes to matches, he just wants the best match possible. So he’s a really easy guy to work with that way. I’ve worked with him now in three different companies and have always enjoyed it.”
Storm believes his matches with Awesome in WCW have progressed from their earlier contests.
“I think they make a lot more sense now. When I worked with him in (Japan’s) FMW the one time, it was a tag match back in ’91. I was just starting my second year in wrestling and he was probably only in his second or third year too, so we were pretty green. We were out there doing everything we could but probably doing more than we needed to and not in the right places. Where now, I think we have a lot more of a grasp of what needs to be done and where it needs to be done. I think the matches make a lot more sense and have a lot more drama to them now.”
Storm realizes that putting on a stellar performance on Sunday is crucial in order to maintain his momentum in the company.
“I think it’s important as always, especially with me being such a wrestling based character that the match quality is very important to me. But obviously a lot of this push I think was done so quickly because of this show. So, it’s really my time to perform and to have the crowd reaction and perhaps the T-shirt sales and the heat, and hopefully some buyrates as well that prove that the effort they’re putting into me isn’t a waste and that I’m actually going to produce for them.”
Some fans are worried that Storm is only getting pushed because the pay-per-view is in Canada and that once the dust settles from this weekend, he’ll be just another name on the roster.
“I thought about it when it first started happening that ‘gee, I wonder how long this is going to last,'” confessed Storm.
“But with the crowd reaction I’m getting right now, I think perhaps that was the original plan… you know we’ll skyrocket him a little here real quick to get whatever we can out of the Canadian loop. So far, all those shows I’ve worked have been in the States and I’ve gotten tremendous heel heat that the crowd is really reacting, as well as the fact that the ratings have done well.”
Storm’s match on Monday with the World Champion is a great source of pride for him.
“Booker and I did really good in the ratings that I don’t think they would abandon it now because, regardless of us running Canadian shows, I’ve been producing in American towns with good crowd reaction. I’ve been producing on the regular TV with ratings. I really don’t think they’re going to abandon it at all at the end of the Canadian loop. Everybody here is extremely happy with the way things are going and I think things will just keep going from here.”
Many fans gasped in horror this past Monday when Storm took a nasty bump through a table during his match with Booker-T. While it did hurt, Storm assures us that he’ll be ready to go on Sunday.
“I’m still a little bit soar,” admitted Storm. “It’s not going to be enough to effect my performance. There’s nothing I can’t do because of it. I’ll just be a little bit more soar afterwards than I normally would. But with a show this big, and this being the town that I really have to put out in, it’s not going to hold me back at all.”
Storm is also excited about his new T-shirt made by WCW merchandising.
“They FedEx-ed it to me this morning. It’s really nice. It’s a red shirt and it’s got three pictures made into a banner, so like the Canadian flag would be of me, with each one getting a bit closer. On the back it’s got ‘Don’t blame Canada, blame yourself’, with a tag on the top saying ‘100% Canadian’. I was really impressed with it. I phoned them right away and said I liked the shirt and that I had hoped that somebody got things done in time that they’d be on the British Columbia loop and they are.”