The January 31st episode of RAW is WAR began with a pyrotechnics display followed by the entrance of The New Age Outlaws as The Radicalz debuted on WWF Raw. Road Dogg gave a typical spiel about how great it is to be tag team champions and how he and Billy Gunn were bound to beat anyone who came to the ring. After a commercial break, Al Snow and Steve Blackman came out for a WWF World Tag Team Championship match.
The result seemed a foregone conclusion, with The New Age Outlaws as part of the recently reunited D-Generation X and Snow & Blackman still without a team name. However, as Snow & Blackman stepped into the ring, the cameras cut to the crowd, where four men seemed to be causing a commotion. Those four men were Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko, Chris Benoit, and Eddie Guerrero.
The Radicalz Debuted on WWF Raw
The Ex-WCW talent took their seats in front of the back left turnbuckle, not quite opposite the camera. Al Snow shook hands with his former ECW colleagues, allowing Gunn and Road Dogg to get some shots in on Blackman before the bell. When Snow returned to his corner, the bell rang, and the match began in earnest.
Something was strange, however, as Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler neglected to call much of the championship bout going on in front of them. Instead, the commentators focused on the four men at ringside. Ross uncharacteristically notes the internet buzz about the WCW stars, sharing the word that these four men were in talks to jump ship. He also repeatedly uses the word ‘radical’ to describe the free agents and their actions in showing up that night.
Click here to view The Radicalz debut
After another commercial break, Billy Gunn hits a vertical suplex power slam on Steve Blackman and goes for a pin. Al Snow breaks the pin, only for Road Dogg to send him to the outside. Road Dogg and Al Snow brawl on the outside shortly before Snow Irish whips Road Dogg into the corner barricade. Road Dogg sells the impact briefly before Snow hits him with a dropkick, sending him over the barricade into Saturn, Malenko, Benoit, and Guerrero.
The four WCW stars look down on Road Dogg in disdain, refusing to help him to his feet. Road Dogg shares a mean look at the men who refused to help before throwing a fist at Benoit. The rest of the pack then gang up on Road Dogg, raining blows on him before all took to the ring to hit their signature moves. Having laid out the champions, Saturn, Malenko, Benoit, and Guerrero walk up the ramp with JR suggesting they’d signed with the WWF and calling them “Radicals” one more time before commercials.
The Night Goes On
Later on that episode, The Outlaws complain to Triple H & Stephanie McMahon about the interruption to their match. Hunter tells his lackeys that the WCW wrestlers are in the building on invitation from Mick Foley. Furthermore, he doesn’t seem to understand why The New Age Outlaws couldn’t just beat up the noticeably smaller interlopers.
Later on, The Radicalz met with Foley, who told them the WWF was the place to be before the four men start a brawl with the Mean Street Posse. Further on, Foley introduced his guests to some other members of the WWF locker room, who seemed welcoming to the potential signees. The notable exceptions were Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, who raised their concerns about hiring the ex-WCW employees.
Namely, Stephanie brings up their issues with management. Foley tells Hunter that he should sign the free agents because fans might want to see something other than the Mean Street Posse every Monday night. Benoit follows up by saying all they want is an opportunity to impress. Hunter told them he’d think about it.
The Radicalz and Mick Foley approached Triple H again later that night, just before The Game’s main event match against Kane. When asked if he’d made up his mind, Hunter responded that he didn’t believe the four men had what it takes to wrestle for the WWF before ordering them and Mick Foley out of the building. When The Game made it to the ring for his match, Kane did not appear.
Instead, Mick Foley entered the ring, taking out his frustrations on Triple H. The Game left the ring and tried to head back up the ramp, only to find The Radicalz waiting for him. The four men aided Foley in beating up Triple H, standing tall as RAW is WAR went off air.
Why The Jump?
In the summer of 1999, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn were at a crossroads. All three were big stars in ECW. Benoit and Malenko had held the tag team and television championships in The Triple Threat, and Saturn enjoyed three reigns as tag team champions with John Kronus as The Eliminators. On top of that, Malenko and Benoit were both part of the final incarnation of The Four Horsemen, and Saturn was in Raven’s Flock.
The three men were already well-loved among the WCW crowd, putting on classics just below the main event. But, unfortunately, they just weren’t good on the mic. So when they brought the idea of teaming with WCW newcomer Shane Douglas, things started coming together. They began an angle on WCW television wherein they railed against then-WCW president Ric Flair for holding down young talent. The angle seemed to be going over well with Revolution members facing Ric Flair and The Jersey Triad regularly. However, trouble was on the way.
In October of 1999, in an attempt to capture some of the WWF’s magic, WCW signed Vince Russo. The former WWF head writer came to work for the competition, along with working partner Ed Ferrara, to avoid the increased workload associated with the debuting SmackDown!. Russo intended to bring his ‘Crash TV’ style to WCW, which meant greater focus on backstage segments, ‘worked shoot’ angles and an egregious number of title changes.
The Revolution became some of the first victims of the Russo regime, with their anti-establishment gimmick being retooled into an anti-US Government gimmick. They also started feuds with multiple teams, including the West Texas Rednecks, The Filthy Animals, and The Jersey Triad at the same time. Stretched thin, Malenko, Benoit, Saturn, and Douglas contacted the WWF, negotiating better deals.
In an attempt to keep their talent, Russo booked them in prominent positions in the 1999 WCW World Heavyweight Championship Tournament, with Benoit losing to Bret Hart in the final. As a last-ditch effort, WCW booked Benoit to defeat Sid Vicious for the vacant WCW World Heavyweight title at Souled Out. It was no use, however, and an altered version of The Revolution debuted in the WWF 15 days later.
The following episode of SmackDown! opened with all four men in the ring with Mick Foley. The Hardcore Legend explains that The Radicalz are his guests and that they’re prepared to hold up the entire show until they get signed. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon come to the top of the ramp with the rest of DX in tow. Hunter calls the four men “intruders” before Stephanie says that, upon reviewing their work, they’re ‘average’ wrestlers, and they don’t belong in the WWF.
However, Hunter says that if they think they can hang in the WWF, they can prove themselves by defeating the various members of DX in a series of “tryout matches.” Unfortunately, this did not go well. X-Pac defeated Dean Malenko, and The New Age Outlaws put away Eddie Guerrero and Perry Saturn in under 5 minutes each. In the main event, Triple H took just over 9 minutes to pin Chris Benoit.
The following Monday, The Radicalz cut a promo about how they blew their opportunities Thursday night. First, they call out Mick Foley to give thanks and say goodbye. However, the moment is short-lived, as Triple H arrives to inform Foley that he cut a deal with the newcomers privately. Then, The Radicalz attacked Foley, turning heel in the process. As the Radicalz Debuted on WWF Raw.
The Radicalz Debuted on WWF Raw
The Radicalz captured their first championship at WrestleMania 2000 when Chris Benoit defeated Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle to win the Intercontinental Championship. Eddie Guerrero would capitalize the following night, winning the European championship. By the end of April, each man held a belt, with Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn capturing the Light Heavyweight and Hardcore Championships, respectively.
The Radicalz would slowly drift apart over the summer, and the 50/50 aspect of their booking would continue even then. While Benoit and Guerrero were usually featured in prominent storylines, Malenko and Saturn got the short end of the stick. That summer, Malenko would take on the “Double Ho Seven” persona, playing a womanizing James Bond type who was never a success with the ladies.
Meanwhile, in 2001, Saturn took part in a storyline wherein he befriended and fell in love with a mop, allegedly as punishment for clobbering a jobber. By the end of 2002, Saturn had left for the upstart TNA, and Malenko hung up his boots to become a producer and road agent. And by the end of the decade, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit were no longer with us. Was the plan a success? About halfway, yes. But that was more than they could ever expect from WCW. As The Radicalz Debuted on WWF Raw.
What do you think? Was the arrival of The Radicalz a success? Would you have liked to see a proper send-off? Would you like to see The Radicalz in action today, and if so, who would you like to see them face? Please share your thoughts and memories of The Radicalz with us in the comments.