The Eye On Wrestling
by Jeremy Hartley
When we think of the Undertaker, we think of that almost superhuman superstar of the WWF. We think of the man who deals with death everyday of his life, comes down to ringside with "For Whom the Bell Tolls" in the background. He wrestles as if he feels no pain. He goes through the crop of superstars as if he was claiming souls one by one.
What would you say if I said we were all wrong? What would you say if I told you that the real undertaker is not Mark Calloway? Indeed there is another Undertaker, an actual undertaker in the WWF.
He is a man who goes by the name of Vince. He wears a suit and is the loud commentator on the Monday night Raw telecasts.
Of course, Vince's real occupation is the owner of the World Wrestling Federation, multimillion dollar business. After watching this latest part of a rather twisted storyline involving the Undertaker and Paul Bearer, it is my belief that the true Undertaker is Mr. Vince Mcmahon.
Please allow me to go out on a limb here. I think we can safely say that the WWF is no longer interested in appealing the younger generation of fans. They are not at all interested in trying to make up things that are even somewhat believable. They have taken the idea of the Undertaker phenomenon and have gone way too far.
Let's examine last Monday's Raw segment in detail. If you think back, Bearer called the Undertaker's little brother Caine. Supposedly, Caine was to have died in the funeral home that the Undertaker supposedly burned to the ground. When I first watched this, something struck me about the name of the little brother.
Does anyone remember back when the Undertaker made his first appearance at the 1990 Survivor Series? Allow me to refresh your memory. Ted Dibiase brought in Brother Love as the manager of... Of.... "Caine! The Undertaker!" I am quoting directly off the survivor series video tape.
Could this be the case of a miscalculation? Could it be an idea that was swept under the rug, and brought back again? I would be really curious to know how long in advance these storylines get developed.
That was not the real story, and that was not the reason for writing this week's column. I am going to make a plain statement here and state that I think that the WWF is presenting this angle in terrible taste. Hey. Don't get me wrong. I am interested to see the final conclusion to this angle. I want to see it played out as much as the next guy. But I know the difference between the character and the individual. I know the intricacies that go into creating a storyline. I love wrestling just as much as all you fans, but I don't believe every story that appears on the screen. However, what about the young kids? What is a parent going to tell a little kid who idolizes the undertaker's superhero status?
The almost superhuman coming back to life in the ring is bad enough. How is a little kid going to react when he finds out that his idol is being called a murderer of his family? Yeah, I am aware that a child should have more than a character on the television as a roll model! But.... Like it or not, wrestling has served the purpose of presenting certain roll models for youngsters. At its' worst case, this tells kids that it is OK to play with fire, you will get off easy, and become a wrestler. Ok. Maybe that is a little too harsh, but I hope my point was taken.
I have another question. What about when Mr. Calloway walks through airports. Can you just hear the people yelling? Can you just hear those fans who like to raise all kinds of cane (pun intended)? "Oh! There is that murderer!"
In closing, let me just say that I may be stepping overboard in this column. My job in this column has always been to try and provoke thoughts, and maybe look at something like nobody else has looked. I will leave this question up to you? Did Vince McMahon carry this a bit too far? Do you think it will have any impact? Do you think I am off my rocker? And with that, the eye is closed until next time. Please direct any comments questions ETC. to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeremy Hartley is a regular contributor to Solie's Newsletter.
For a change I actually remembered the Free-For-All and tuned in to see it.
Canadian fans badmouth American fans in the opening teaser then we fade into Bret Hart putting his Figure Four Around-the-Post routine on Steve Austin. Fade to backlot images from Calgary and Doc Hendrix warming up the crowd. He talks about Austin and gets roundly booed.
Godwins vs. the New Blackjacks - our free match pits the federation hayseeds against each other. The Godwins are sporting their new "tough guys" attitude - their opponents have always been hard cases. There is no discerable crowd favorite in this match. No clear dominent team either - Windham does most of the work for his team. The Godwins eventually win it by using superior (illegal) team work to get a small package roll-up (Phineous over Bradshaw I believe).
Cut to promo clips - a trip down wrestling memory lane...
The opening montage is heavily weighted towards the irony of the situation - the Harts' being the heroes in this one.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Mankind - some opening contest! Chynna is wearing her hair down tonight and has shorts on for a change. Hard to tell who is the most cunning in this contest. Hunter tries to walk out at one point but Foley cuts off his retreat on the ramp and then gets a verticle suplex. Helmsley crawls back to the ring only to get downed and clawed. Chynna extracts him from peril. Outside Mankind gets powerslammed by Chynna into the steps and is injured - Helmsley polishes the leg off with a chair shot.
Back in the ring Helmsley is relentless as he continues to work on the injured knee. Hunter slaps on a figure-four and using the ropes until he is caught at it. Moments later he attempts a pedegree but gets blocked and thrown - Mankind's knee buckles and he ends up dealing out a low blow as he falls. Now Mankind takes control of the match - the flurry ends in a piledriver. He then clotheslines Hunter and tumbles out of the ring with him. Outside he is outnumbered and loses the advantage. After pummeling him for a while - with and without the chair - Hunter dumps him over the railing into the crowd and gets the match thrown out. They continue to brawl out in the stands then on the floor.
Honky Tonk Man and Sunny promo the Hotline...
Video clips of the Calgary Stampede festivities. Doc is interviewing Bret Hart when Steve Austin decides to interrupt. He is hustled away.
Taka Michinoku vs The Great Sasuke - Japanese light heavyweights get it on. But first we pause for Part II of the Mankind/Hunter brawl. Back in the ring Sasuke is clearly a martial artist he uses a lot of come-from-nowhere kicks. Taka is clearly intimidated by his elder cohort. Michinoku has some good moves but he is outclassed in this one. A series of attacks on Sasuke's knee puts Taka in charge but then there is a see-saw exchange featuring a spectacular dive by Taka then a moonsault by Sasuke. They continue to exchange the advantage and pinfall attempts until Sasuke sneaks in a roll-up to get the pin.
Mankind and Hunter continue to brawl in the parking lot. They stumble into a stack of beer kegs...
Clips from "'Cause Stone Cold Steve Says So" Video. There seems to be more promo time then matches in this event...
Doc Hendrix with Paul Bearer and Vader - they want to win tonight.
Vader (w/Paul Bearer) vs. The Undertaker - WWF Title match - seems kind of early for this match - maybe they know something we don't... the match is distinguished by long portions of see-saw action with the Undertaker in control throughout most of it. Actually a somewhat boring match with few highlights to recommend it - no new secrets were revealed. As usual UT dominates the early stages. Vader gets in a few licks (via Paul Bearer's interference) but is mostly on the receiving end. Oh yeah...UT retained his title after two chokeslams and a tombstone piledriver.
The Anti- Harts interviewed. They all have something to say until it comes to Steve Austin who just stalks off the set.
Oh Canada as sung by Farmer's Daughter - Stu and Helen Hart share the spotlight with the premiere of Canada.
Goldust/Ken Shamrock/the Road Warriors/ Steve Austin vs. The Hart Foundation - Austin flips the double bird to the entire nation of Canada during his introduction. Pillman, Neidhart, Bulldog and both Harts gather at the entrance before coming to the ring together. Bret gives his shades to his mom... Austin and Hart start with a slugfest which Bret wins - the crowd goes wild. Austin spins him around in the corner and the crowd booes. Bret is dominant until Austin hits him a low blow. Stone Cold slaps on a sleeper before Bret escapes and tags in Neidhart. Shamrock comes in and immediately goes for a submission hold - Pillman breaks it up.
Moments later he tags in and dominates the inexperienced former UFC champ. Owen and Goldust tag in. Owen suckers his opponent into grabbing his leg so he can spin kick to the back of the head. Hawk comes in and takes over. Owen turns the tables as Animal comes in - then Bret is tagged in. Animal gives it over to Goldust who gets caught and pounded in the enemy corner. Owen deals some more on him then Animal is back in. Things break down for several moments with all ten guys in and Austin is dragging Owen to the corner to attack his knee.
Back in the ring Austin is working toward the win but gets overwhelmed and pounded again. Bret tries to destroy his leg with a fire extinguisher.. Owen Hart seems to be out of the contest and now Austin is being led away as the match goes on with 8 men. Hart and Neidhart show us some of their classic teamwork as they work on Animal. Somehow Animal tags in Shamrock who takes an early advantage. But it doesn't lasy long. Shamrock ends up out on the floor where he gets creamed. Back in the ring its the Bulldog's turn beat on Shamrock. A low blow helps him escape and tag in Goldust. Goldy gets superplexed just before Austin limps back to the ring. He is in with Bret Hart in a moment. They trade the advantage back and forth for several minutes. Animal saves Austin from a Sharpshooter - then Austin gets the SS - Owen Hart is back to save his brother. Austin goes out to the floor and picks a fight with Stu and the other Hart brothers. He gets trounced then rolled back in to be pinned by Owen.
All hell breaks loose as the Hart Family invades the ring which fills up with wrestlers and security people. The Harts are declared the winners to great aclaim. Austin comes back and the melee erupts again. Austin is subdued and handcuffed by the security guys then is led away cursing up a blue streak.
The Harts friends and family celebrate in the ring.
This PPV was a real crock...
What's All This Raven About?
This editorial was written for my Bad Boys of the Wrestling Web column. Because of overlapping vacation schedules it appears that it will not be published there in a timely manner, so here it is...
Scott Levy's appearance on Nitro, I believe, means a new direction for WCW and the nWo storyline. It also signals a new level of play between the two premiere Wrestling organizations. Especially because the it was coupled with the simultaneous appearance of Curt Hennig. These two aquisitions represent a major coup for the Atlanta promotion make no mistake about it.
Vince McMahon has been trying to corral the ECW roster by taking a hands-off approach. Pitting Extreme Championship Wrestling's finest against their own numbers in order to spare his own aging work force.
The one exception, made quite some time ago, involved the "Franchise" Shane Douglas. Douglas made the first move from ECW to WWF...and back again -after being an utter failure in the Titan promotion despite being handed the Intercontinental Title (only to lose it in a match immediately following the giveaway). Scott Hall said in a recent "Internet Insiders" interview that he wrestled Douglas in the WWF and they guy was a "stiff". He had an arrogant attitude and "...couldn't work a match to save his life."
Since then, after a delay of nearly a year for their debuts, all of Paul E's troops have been held at arm's length to some degree.
Sabu had a match with Flash Funk last week - but Funk is also a fairly recent aquisition from ECW. Robb Van Dam has faced jobbers and, more recently, Jerry Lawlers apparently illigetimate son Brian Christopher has appeared (another fugitive from another small promotion). There appears to be a feud developing between Paul E's key players (himself, Tommy Dreamer, Sandman etc.) and Lawler's forces (sonny boy and Van Dam).
Meanwhile, Vince's main players (the Harts', Austin, Undertaker etc.) go about their business as usual as if the ECW doesn't exist. Actually Vinny is too busy worrying about what the competition down South is doing. He subverted his biggest face star to a heel (Bret Hart), invented an invading organization (the NOD), and introduced Scott Hall and Kevin Nash look-alikes all in the vain hope of slowing Bischoff's juggernaut but ended up simply throwing more attention to his nemesis. For a year now Bischoff has been the innovator while McMahon has been the imitator.
WCW takes a different tack. They boldly integrated their "Outsiders" right into the competitive structure. So it will be with Hennig (to some degree - Mr. Perfect is past his prime and has been out of action for a long time) and especially with Scott Levy.
I haven't decided what I think Raven's role will be in WCW. Obviously he will be carrying over his Raven image intact from ECW, Scotty the Body is much too experienced in the ring wars to have let Paul E get control of his character and copyright it.
Hennig I expect to see join the Four Horsemen. He is perfect (pardon the pun) Horsemen material. He could even be coming in to straighten out Benoit. This would certainly rejuvenate that storyline.
The logical guess is that Levy will join the nWo - but I'm not so sure about that. His current characterization, sullen, dangerously silent, is very reminiscent of the "Crow" personna that has been adopted by Sting for the past half year or so. Wouldn't he make an excellent companion to Steve Borden? The secret weapon needed to defeat the nWo..?? Just a thought...
My point is - the reason Bischoff has been so successful in the last year or so is because he figured out a great angle, executed the storyline and then stuck with his scenerio regardless of fan sentiment - and now he's about to take his angle to the next level.
The rise of Diamond Dallas Page has been all about a diversion (something wrestlers are expert at) to keep us occupied while we are set up for the final act in the nWo storyline. Levy fits perfectly into this storyline as the partner of DDP - gives the fans another strawman hero to take the focus off Sting for just a bit longer now.
Bischoff is setting us up for the impending doom of the nWo but he will continue to do it at a tortuously slow, steady pace. Expect to see WCW gain more small victories over the months to come with Sting becoming more and more involved but still hanging back while his surrogates (DDP and Raven) keep the pot stirred.
Anyway, that's the way I see it...
editor Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
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