The Eye On Wrestling
by Jeremy Hartley
In this ever-changing world of sports entertainment, there is quite a lot of talk about legends. Baseball has Ted Williams, Babe Ruth and Willie Mayes. In football, Joe Montana and Dick Buttkis. Wilt the Stilt in basketball. Professional wrestling too has its' legends. Legends of wrestling may be looked upon by some people as fakes and frauds. Nevertheless, these men of the squared circle started something, or gave new life to something that needed a new innovation.
There are many differences in Professional Wrestling, when compared to other genres of sports entertainment. This is the fact that many of the participants are able to compete into their 50's, sometimes as was the case of the great Lou Thesz, into their 70's. Some wrestlers can withstand the pounding, and it appears that they never get any older. Terrible Terry Funk is a prime example of this. Others lose a step or two over the years, and should hang it up and let their status as a legend in the sport carry them. Dusty Rhodes is an example of such a wrestler.
Sadly, there are a select few that don't know when to quit. These are the men in our sport that could be considered legends, but because of the generational switches of the fan base, may never get the chance. One person in particular is Roddy Piper. His career has passed him by, and his continuous donning of the trunks in 1997, in my view is doing nothing but tarnishing a career of one of the super legends of our sport.
Before there was Roddy Piper, wrestling saw the likes of Bruno Sammartino and others, where the sport of wrestling meant technique. When this young brash Scottsman came on the scene, he was certainly not a good wrestler.
(Editor's Note: I would disagree, I was always impressed by Piper's mat wrestling skill - it was often overshadowed by his brashness and his interviewing style) In fact, his sporting experience came as his days as a Golden gloves champion in amateur boxing. From day one, Piper was not afraid to speak his mind, start and finish fights, and take this sport to a new level. Some would even say that Piper was ahead of his time. His battles with Ricky Steamboat, Greg Valintine, Rick Flair and others were some of the best in our sport. Granted, there will always be only one Roddy Piper, but it is becoming more and more common to see copies in the sport.
One of Piper's big claims throughout his career was that he had never been pinned cleanly in a wrestling match. This would be a claim that Piper would proudly boast until the early part of the 1990's. During his career, if Piper had been pinned, it was hardly ever. True enough, not even Hulk Hogan pinned the Hot Rodd on a nationally televised match.
When I began following wrestling it was in 1987. Piper was in the feud with Adrian Adonis, and was announcing that he would retire after his match with Adonis in Wrestlemania III. Piper would go onto win that match, and if he stayed out for good at that point, he still would have been a legend, due to his many years in the sport.
The spotlight would shine again on the Hot Rodd in 1989. Piper returned to the WWF and had some classic battles with Bobby Heenan and Rick Rude, in which Piper came out on top. Again, Piper left the WWF. Had he decided to hang em up then, he would have been even more a legend.
Once again, Piper would return. This time, he took the WWF Intercontinental title! Piper's reign as IC champ was not a memorable one, but he had finally won his first WWF title. Piper would lose the title to Bret Hart in Wrestlemania VIII in a terrific match. At the conclusion of that match, I thought for sure that Piper was going to call it a career. With the Exception of Rick Flair, Piper had been involved in probably the most colorful wrestling career, matched by no wrestler, even today.
Of course if you have been watching WCW, we know that Piper is back at it again, beating Hulk Hogan twice! His recent battles with Flair and the NWO is doing nothing in my opinion except hurting a legendary career.
Since Piper's debut in the 1970's, many generations of wrestling fans have come on the scene. Piper's long absences between comebacks probably prompts some new fans to ask, Who is that? It is my concern that if Piper continues this trend of getting beat down by the NWO, there will be a hole mess of fans who will only see that Piper. They will only see the human Piper. They will only see an older broken Piper, which is nothing like the Piper of old. As mentioned earlier, Dusty Rhodes knew when his time had come. The late Andre the Giant was able to see his final days in the WWF as a fan favorite and on top once again.
In closing, let me remind you of the career of one Jimmy Snuka. It was not long ago that Mr. Snuka was known as one of the classic competitors in our sport. Snuka could do it all, and during his prime, the world knew it. Snuka made a rather short lived appearance in the summer of 1989 in the federation he once called home, the WWF. Sadly for fans of the Superfly, Snuka was constantly beaten down by younger and stronger opponents. Had I not known about MR. Snuka's past career, I might have never understood what everyone meant when they would talk about this guy's accomplishments. I would like that to not happen to whom I consider to be one of the greatest wrestling entertainers of all time..
And with that, the eye is closed until next time.
Please feel free to email me at: mailto:email@example.com
Stunning" To "Stone Cold": The History Of Steve Austin
by Ervin Griffin Jr.
Part 2: A Dangerous Alliance
"You know, if you really think about it!!! You would've made a damn good-looking woman!!!"
"Stunning" Steve Austin made his WCW debut in May of1991 with Lady Blossom (Jeanie Clark) at his side. After only wrestling a few matches, he challenged "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton for the WCW World Television Title. With some assistance from Blossom, Austin won the belt and went on to defend it for almost a year. Challenges came from Eaton, Ron "Faarooq" Simmons, Dustin Rhodes, Barry Windham, Van Hammer, and even Scott Steiner. None of these men could get the strap from him however. I mentioned Rhodes as one of his main rivals. The two would clash over WCW gold from 1991 until 1994.
One of their most famous encounters took place at Halloween Havoc at the UTC Arena in Chatanooga, TN. The match was an exciting and brutal 20 minute draw. Afterwards, Lady Blossom left the sport and Austin hooked up with Paul E. Dangerously as part of the Dangerous Alliance. His stablemates included Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton (ironically), Larry Zybsco, Rick Rude and Madusa. Austin and the Alliance raised hell for about seven months in much the same manner that Austin does by himself today.
In April of 1992, Austin finally lost the TV belt to Barry Windham in a two out of three falls match in Atlanta, GA. Undanted, Austin regained that belt in May of 1992 from Windham. Although not as violent as he is now, the deviousness that would mark Austin's career showed in this match when he clobbered Windham with the TV belt to get the pin.
Austin would reign as champ until September of 1992 when Rick Steamboat defeated Austin during a Clash Of The Champions event that celebrated 20 years of wrestling on TBS. This would not be the last time that Steamboat and Austin would meet up. By this time, the Dangerous Alliance had (more or less) folded and Austin spent the remainder of 1992 between tag team and single matches. Next: The Hollywood Blonds If you have a question, comments, criticism or just want to talk pro wrestling, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ervin Griffin Jr. is a regular contributor to Solie's Newsletter as well as the Ringside Insider and other publications.
That's all folks. I'll be back on Monday with the Monday Night Wars Edition. Until then...
Anyway, that's the way I see it...
editor Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
Copyright 1997 - Jump City Productions