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Solie's Tuesday Morning Report: EXTRA!

WWF Friday Night Main Events

The World Titles: An Historic Perspective

by Matt Benaka

Farewell Old Friend

A Tribute to Arn Anderson by Ervin Griffin Jr.

Volume 3, Issue 214 - August 29, 1997

Bob Ryder sends along this news :

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

1Wrestling.com has announced major enhancements to the premium section of the wrestling related site, including a Message Board, Chat Area, and weekly Real Audio talkshow hosted by the legendary Gordon Solie.

Gordon Solie, the longtime "Dean of Wrestling Broadcasters", will host a weekly talk show that will feature special guests and interaction with fans via phone calls and email. Solie was for many years the "Voice" of Florida Championship Wrestling and Georgia Championship Wrestling.


Farewell Old Friend

by Ervin Griffin Jr.

Recently, the wrestling world was stunned by the shocking announcement of Arn Anderson giving Curt Henning his spot in the Four Horsemen and his subsequent retirement. I don't think there was a fan out there that wasn't shocked. So, in tribute to the man, here is a brief overview of Arn Anderson.

Arn's career began in 1982 in the old Georgia Championship Wrestling area. He was managed, at that time, by "Precious" Paul Ellering and formed a brief but formidable tag team with Matt Borne. Later, after a brief feud with Stan Hanson and his father-in-law, Ole Anderson, Arn joined Ole to form the second version of "The Minnesota Wrecking Crew." Although an effective tag team, they weren't given many opportunities to go for the NWA World Tag Team Titles. They were, however, dominant NWA National Tag Team Champions. They defeated the team of Thunderbolt Patterson and Manny "Ragin' Bull" Fernandez for those now defunct straps in either April or May of 1985 (the full story can be found in Earl's Illustrated History Of The Four Horsemen page). It should also be noted that Arn and Ole never lost those titles. They were stripped of them because of a leg injury that Ole suffered at the hands of Dusty Rhodes and The Road Warriors in January of 1986.

This incident sparked a new direction in Arn's career as he entered and 8-man tournament that month to crown a new NWA World TV Champion (a title he would go on to win on three other occasions). He defeated Wahoo McDaniel in the finals to become TV champ and held that title for nine months (longer than anyone expected him to hold it).

During that reign, he popularized a move that became known as "The Spinebuster" (a double-leg pickup into a spinning powerslam). The first time I ever saw him use this move was in April of 1986 in a TV title defense against Sam Houston. It was an awesome maneuver (then and now)!!! His DDT was also very damn effective as well (even better than Jake Roberts' ever was, IMO)!!! He was also one of the founding members in the formation of the Four Horsemen.

It was during these years that he formed his famous tag team with Tully Blanchard (later to be known as "The BrainBusters" in the WWF). With Tully, Arn won two NWA World Tag Team Titles and one WWF World Tag Team Title (only the Road Warriors and The Steiners have won both of these titles). Arn also went on to win NWA/WCW Tag Titles with Larry Zybszco in 1991 and Bobby Eaton in 1992.

Now, this is just personal opinion, but I think the end of Arn's career really could be traced back to 1990 during a NWA World Tag Team Title match at WrestleWar '90. His partner was Ole Anderson and their opponents were The Steiners. If you'll notice late in the match, Rick Steiner's "Steinerline" was aimed higher than usual and really caused Arn's head to snap back. Afterwards, Arn spent the next five months in traction with a herniated disk in his neck.


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Now, while I don't personally know the man and while it is none of my business what his personal health is, I just want to make the point that he has had neck problems since 1990. Still, it is a testimony to this man that he even kept competing over the next seven years following that. His neck and back problems might have been reaggravated by his 1996 Halloween Havoc match up with Lex Luger and by his insistence on competing after that match. But I think that really showed his love for this business and such dedication is rare these days. So, in closing, all I have to say is "Arn, you've had a hell of a career and you will be missed. May God bless you in anything that you choose to do. Farewell, My Friend."

If you have a question, comments, criticism, or just want to talk pro wrestling, e-mail me at griffiev@hotmail.com.

Ervin Griffin Jr. is Solie's resident historian and also contributes to the Ringside Insider on a regular basis.


The World Titles: An Historic Perspective

Here is the continuation of Matt Benaka's historical perspective on the lineage of the two major promotions' World Titles. This chapter, and the next four, concentrate on the personalities who held these Championships, beginning with WCW.

Part II: WCW - The Personalities 1991 - 1994

by Matt Benaka

Last time, I looked at the lineage of The WWF and WCW World Heavyweight Titles. This issue is devoted to the former champions of each promotion. I will start from the first champion of each organization and work my way down the list. I will provide the length of each reign, and any oddities surrounding these reigns.

First we will look at WCW's former champions. The first champion was "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair. As was explained in issue 1, Flair defeated Sting for The NWA World Heavyweight Title on January 11, 1991 in East Rutherford, NJ. With the NWA no longer operating as an organization, Flair was recognized as the first WCW World Heavyweight Champion. He would be stripped of the title on July 01, 1991 when he was fired by WCW after signing a contract with The WWF. His reign lasted 5 months and 22 days.

WCW now had a vacant World Title. Flair was supposed to defend The World Title against The United States Heavyweight Champion, Lex Luger, in a steel cage. With Flair gone, and the title vacant, WCW inserted the number one contender, Barry Windham, to face Luger in the cage and fill the vacancy.

Thus, on July 14, 1991, Lex Luger, with help from his new manager, Harley Race, and his bodyguard, Mr. Hughes, defeated Barry Windham for the vacant World Heavyweight Title. An interesting fact about Luger's title win is that, while he did win The WCW World Heavyweight Title, he did not win The WCW World Heavyweight Title Belt. The belt that had been used by Flair was the property of "The Nature Boy", and he took it with him to The WWF. Since WCW only had fourteen days between Flair's departure and Luger's win, they didn't have enough time to have the new belt created. In short, WCW had to pull a bait and switch. While the usual scene after a World Title win is that of celebration in the ring, Luger made a hasty retreat to the locker room. The reason for this was that the belt he was presented was the old NWA Florida Heavyweight Title with a makeshift plate so that people wouldn't notice.

Luger won a World Title from a man that wasn't a champion and was awarded a belt that was formerly a regional title. A new belt was created during Lex's reign and was the first belt to say WCW World Heavyweight Title on it. Flair's title had merely said World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion. Well, Lex would continue this awkward reign for 7 months and 17 days.

Who better to take the title from Lex than his former best friend, Sting? On February 29, 1992, Sting defeated Lex Luger to win The WCW World Heavyweight Title. This is an important reign for WCW as it is the first time that The WCW World Heavyweight Title was lost by the reigning WCW Champion in the middle of the ring. This simple fact helped to restore some much needed credibility to the title. Sting's reign lasted 4 months and 13 days.


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On July 12, 1992 Sting would lose The World Title to the overpowering Big Van Vader. While Vader would do much for the WCW World Title, it wouldn't be during this reign which only lasted 22 days.

August 02, 1992 was Ron Simmons' greatest day. Sting was supposed to have a rematch with Vader for The World Title, but Jake "The Snake" Roberts injured Sting earlier in the evening. So, not wanting to disappoint the fans, WCW Commissioner Bill Watts put the names of the top contenders into a hat. He drew Simmons' name and one match later, Simmons' was the first black WCW World Heavyweight Champion. Simmons' style was a lot like a black version of Lex Luger. Needless to say, he would be WCW World Champion for an even 5 months.

Vader was given a late Christmas gift. A few days removed from Starrcade, Ron Simmons gave Vader a rematch. It would be on this day, December 30, 1992 that Vader would win his second WCW World Title. Now, he had a manager in the form of Harley Race, and he seemed unstoppable. Vader ushered in an aura of brutality the likes of which had not been seen in WCW before. As all good things, his reign would have to come to an end. After being the man for 2 months and 13 days, he lost The World Title.

On March 11, 1994 Sting would become the second two time WCW World Heavyweight Champion by defeating Vader in London, England. This was the first time that the WCW World Heavyweight Title would change hands overseas. He would never get to show his World Title to his fans back home, as his reign only lasted 7 days.

On March 17, 1994 Vader would become the first three time WCW World Heavyweight Champion when he defeated Sting in Dublin, Ireland to reclaim the title. This was the second time that the World Title would change hands overseas. With Harley Race still guiding his career, Vader saw nothing but good times ahead. At least for a while. His third and final reign as champion lasted 9 months and 12 days.


WWF Friday Night Main Events

Tonight my wife and I went out to see "Event Horizon" (skip it - it's a crock...) and left the video running on USA. Imagine my surprise to come home and find that the Friday Night Main Events program hadn't started yet!

With Jim Ross and Jim Cornette.

Shawn Michaels comes down to the ring in street clothes and says that he was painted into a corner and that's why he attacked the Undertaker with a chair last week...(I know, beats me too...). He rants on interminably - sounding more and more like Bret Hart's recent excoriations. The crowd seemed to like him until he started talking.

Right off the bat we get th Main Event - Bret Hart vs. Vader - WWF Title match - Bret starts out by insulting the big man and gets clotheslined for his trouble. He very quickly turns the tables and is in control as we go to commercial.

Coming back Vader has battled back and the match is a see-saw affaire with Vader holding his own in a very fast paced match. Within minutes the rest of the Hart thugs show up and attack en masse. Together they drag him to the corner where Bret puts on his peculiar figure four. The Patriot runs-in to the rescue (yawn...)

Afterward the Patriot rants for a while. They are trying desparately to create some heat around this very questionable Main Event at Ground Zero. Sunny comes down to the ring appropos of nothing.

We get a review of the Pillman/Goldust complete with accusations of infidelity - then Goldust comes to the ring to face Salvitore Sincere. The match itself is a bore which ends when Goldust gets a Curtain Call. Then Pillman appears in the stands and starts talking about being Dakota's father - this is really offensive... Cut to commercial.

Jim Ross is back with a rundown on Steve Austins condition and then we get a replay of the interview from last Monday.

Rockabilly vs. Dude Love - Foley's wife and sister-in-law don't seem to be around tonight. Jim Ross is calling RB an "outstanding competitor" and "highly underrated" - look for him to lose... He gets his licks in, however - Dude Love has some anxious moments during the middle portion of this match. He eventually comes back with some "Sweet Shin Music (a kick in the shins followed by a double-arm DDT) to win easily. I spoke to soon about the Dude Love girls...

Dude gives good interview after the match. He allows that if Austin doesn't come back, he will have to forfeit his Tag Team Title. Sunny invades the Hart's dressing room but doesn't get an interview except for a short diatribe against Sgt Slaughter by Owen. Cut to commercial.

The Undertaker comes to the ring with his usual pomp and circumstance... Jim Ross is there to interview him. He gives his standard "You will rest in peace..." speech directed at Shawn Michaels. That match will be the saving grace of Ground Zero. Cut to commercial.

British Bulldog vs. Hawk - This is a slow moving match (non-title) which is going nowhere when the Godwins appear on the scene. The Bulldog has control of most of the action. Animal is ringside but he is largely ineffective. Bulldog is firmly in control and the Godwins have yet to make a move going into the next commercial.

Hawk is sinking fast as we return. He turns the tables briefly just before Owen Hart gets involved and causes the DQ by hitting Hawk with the European Title Belt.

Sunny is in the back with the kitchen help. They promo their Ground Zero match against the NOD and the DOA (3 Corner tag match elimination?)

NOD music plays - Faarooq/Rocky Maivia vs. Chains/Crush - the latter seem to be the crowd favorites - they announce that this program will be back again next Friday. Maivia gets creamed early on by Chains. Faarroq manges to even up the odds and even Rocky is getting in some licks when Los Barecuas show up to start a melee. The ring fills up with wrestlers and officials. Sgt Slaughter gets right into the middle of it as we cut to commercial.

Jerry Lynne (Mr. JL) vs. Taka Michinuko - this is probably going to be the best match on the program. Both wrestlers are risk takers. Taka throws a spectacular springboard planche and seems to have things well in hand until he misses a moonsault. Lynne gets to control thiings for a few moments but in no time at all Taka executes his Michinuko Driver to get the duke.

Sunny interviews the Truth Commission - more really exciting stuff...

Sniper/Recon vs. The Headbangers - the latter dominate th early going. I have heard it said that the Interigator is the wrestler once known as Ei Gigante - nope - different guy. This is a fairly fast match for two heavyweight teams The Bangers are the superior team but have a third man to trip them up. Recon wins it with a fairly pedestrian roll-up.

They could have skipped this show - no wonder they decided to put it on late at night.

Anyway, that's the way I see it...

Earl Oliver,
editor Solie's Wrestling Newsletter


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