From the Ryder Report
Jack Adkisson, better known to wrestling fans as Fritz Von Erich, died today at the age of 68 at his Denton County home near Dallas, Texas after a two month battle with cancer.
Adkisson was admitted to the Baylor Medical Center in July and doctors discovered cancer had spread throughout his body. Adkisson had been a heavy smoker for years, and the cause of death was a brain tumor.
The Von Erich family has experienced tragedy before with five of the Von Erich sons suffering tragic deaths. David Von Erich died in Japan while on a wrestling tour under suspicious circumstances that led many insiders to believe the death was drug related.
Chris, Mike, and Kerry Von Erich all committed suicide. Another son died as a child in a tragic electrocution accident.
The sole surviving son is Kevin, who spent much of the past month at the Von Erich ranch looking after his father.
Adkisson was a major International wrestling star, and at one point briefly held the AWA World Heavyweight Championship, beating Verne Gagne on July 27, 1963.
Jack Adkisson was age 68 at the time of his death.
By Garland Chan
The votes are in and the winner is-best heavyweight. Actually, it was a 3-3 tie with, guess who, as the tie breaker. See? You too can make a difference. Vote =). A heavyweight in my book weighs at least 300 pounds. So here are my main big men:
1. The Giant
Is there any real surprise here? This guy is a true athlete (did you know that an NFL team contacted him to play an offensive line position?) and the WCW is doing a good job marketing him. Move by move, he's surprising more and more people. Paul Wright flew over the top rope once, and performed a standing dropkick...things you don't expect from 400+ lb. people. I have also heard a report that when he was in the WCW Powerplant, he performed a flying crossbody from the top rope! The guy is only 24 folks, and he's going to be the top heavyweight for a long, long time.
Vader seems to be a joke, but hey, it's all in the way he's handled. The guy has a couple things going for him. For one, he has that brawling, no fear mentality that's taken him far. Secondly, he has three legitimate finishers: a powerbomb, a Vader bomb and a moonsault which, by the way, never fails to draw the fans to their feet and bring in pops for the Rocky Mountain horror. On top of that, he's still a very capable wrestler and with better matches he can once again be the monster we have come to know and love.
3. The Undertaker
I wouldn't believe that a guy so big could walk the top rope with such balance. The reason his gimmick continues to work after 7 years is the man can give a performance. Every night out he goes all out and the fans appreciate it. His classic battles with Mankind show he can deliver Match of the Year candidates. The Undertaker will continue to work on the dark side for many years to come.
4. Ahmed Johnson
Only one word describes this man, only one: INTENSE. The guy pulls no punches and takes no flack in the ring. I would describe his intensity as something comparable to the Road Warriors of the 80's. The only advice I would give to his opponent: Don't make him angry.
Ha Ha. Just kidding of course. The fifth and final spot goes to Hugh Morris. He may be laughing. But no one is laughing at his wrestling ability. This guy has the agility of a cat and his moonsault (affectionately called "No Laughing Matter") is one cool move.
Honorable mention: Yokozuna (where the heck is this guy anyway?) and Kevin Nash
Last week I asked who best represented the blue-collar wrestler. I got some great responses, but there was some ambiguity to what a "blue-collar" wrestler is. I'll give you my idea, and if yours differs significantly, then please feel free to e-mail and argue. I think that a blue-collar wrestler is a hard worker who, by circumstance or by choice, never really gets the spotlight. That wrestler is a team first player who is willing to sacrifice himself. The wrestler is not flashy, but extremely effective and highly respected. And while he is a delight to watch, he can often times go unnoticed and unappreciated until, like Arn Anderson, it's too late and he's gone.
Here are a couple of thoughts from some of my readers on who are the current blue-collar wrestlers:
"If given the opportunity (or taking it) I think Chris Beniot or Dean Malenko could be the next blue-collar wrestler. No flash, no theatrics, just phenomenal wrestlers. What both lack are the interview and mic skills of Arn but they are improving. Others I considered are Chris Candido, Al Snow and Hugh Morrus. All great workers and performers who unfortunately got stuck with gimmicks that will be negatively associated with them for some time. It may be that we've yet to see that next figure, but whatever the case may be there is only one Enforcer, only one Arn Anderson, and he will be missed and .remembered."
- Todd Smethers "My answer is none other than Double-A's protege, Chris Benoit. Benoit never complains about not being in the Horseman spotlight (vintage Anderson), he always puts the Horseman first (vintage Anderson), and he always gets the job done when he says he is going to do it (vintage Anderson). I think Benoit will be a future world champion."
- Claude "Buddy" Guffey
Thanks Todd and Claude!
On a side note, I think that Dean Malenko is the man who best fits this category. I don't think that he'll ever be a world champion and at age 37, has probably reached his prime. I feel he best fits in that Horseman role as Enforcer because of his silent commitment. Chris Benoit, on the other hand is only 30, and I feel, destined for a world championship. He has a long career ahead of him.
Question of the week: Which is the better federation, WWF or WCW? Why? (Please e-mail with your thoughts-if I like it, I may print it!)
VOTE!!! What would you like me to write about next week? Best Lightweight or Best Commentator? Gotta get one of these in. Heh heh.
Agree? Disagree? Suggestions for future articles? Go ahead make my day.
Until next time, this is Garland riding shotgun...
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. The next three chapters concentrate on the personalities who held the WWF Championship. In this installment we read the story of how the WWWF Title came into being.
Part IV: WWF - The Personalities 1963 - 1988
by Matt Benaka
Now for the WWF Champions. In the beginning there was "The Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers. He had been NWA World Champion, but lost the title in a one fall match to Lou Thesz. Several promoters felt that the title could only change hands in a two out of three falls encounter. Thus, The World Wide Wrestling Federation World Heavyweight Title was born during April of 1963. His would be a short reign though. After, approximately, 1 month and 17 days, Rogers was no longer Champion. He would enter the ring to face Bruno Sammartino after having a heart attack in the locker room and lose the title in 48 seconds via submission.
That brings us to Bruno Sammartino. On May 17, 1963 he began a domination of the WWWF/WWF World Heavyweight Title that has yet to be matched. For 7 years 8 months and 3 days he faced, and defeated, the top wrestlers of his era. January 18, 1971 would be the day that Bruno would lose his title to Ivan Koloff. Koloff would be managed by Lou Albano during his 22 day reign as Champion.
On February 08, 1971 Pedro Morales would win The WWWF World Heavyweight Title. It wouldn't remain The WWWF World Heavyweight Title though. During Morales' reign The WWWF joined the NWA. This reduced The WWWF Heavyweight Title to a regional title. None the less, it was the top prize of the WWWF. Pedro's run as WWWF Champion would last 2 years 9 months and 22 days.
December 01, 1973 was the day that The Grand Wizard would lead Stan "The Man" Stasiak to The WWWF Heavyweight Title. His reign was a brief 10 days, but he will be forever remembered as a champion.
Stasiak would fall victim to Bruno Sammartino. On December 10, 1973 Sammartino would defeat Stasiak to become the first two time WWWF Champion. He would stand as the only two time champion for approximately 6 years. Bruno's second reign marked the first time that Arnold Skoaland would manage a WWWF/WWF champion. His second reign lasted 3 years 4 months and 22 days. His combined reigns add up to 11 years 1 month and 25 days. That is a mark that no one is likely to challenge for a very long time.
Sammartino's days as champion ended when a young, muscular, superstar named "Superstar" Billy Graham took the title. Graham would be managed by The Grand Wizard during a reign that lasted 9 months and 21 days.
Graham would lose the WWWF Title to a much different wrestler. While Graham was the muscular wrestler who relied on sheer power, Bob Backlund was a small man who relied on technical ability and his wits to win, and keep, the title. Backlund's date with destiny was February 20, 1978. During March of 1979 The WWWF Heavyweight Title was renamed The World Wrestling Federation (WWF) Heavyweight Title.
On March 25, 1979 Backlund wrestled to a double count-out against the Minnesota based American Wrestling Association (AWA) World Heavyweight Champion, Nick Bockwinkel, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His first reign as champion would last 1 year 9 months and 9 days.
While it still has yet to be recognized in North America, the next WWF Heavyweight Champion would be Antonio Inoki. On November 30, 1979 he defeated Backlund in Tokushima, Japan. This marked the first time in the title's history that it had changed hands overseas. Backlund pinned Inoki in a rematch in Tokyo, JAPAN on December 06, 1979, but WWF President, Hisashi Shinma declared the match a no-contest because of outside interference from Tiger Jeet Singh. Shinma gave the title back to Inoki, but he would not accept the title after having been pinned. So, the title was declared vacant for the first time in its history. Inoki's reign was a brief 7 days.
On December 12, 1979 Backlund defeated Bobby Duncum for the vacant title. This made Backlund the second man to have won the WWWF/WWF Title on two occasions. It was during this reign that Arnold Skoaland began managing Backlund. On September 22, 1980 Backlund defeated The NWA World Heavyweight Champion, Harley Race in New York, NY by disqualification when Race struck the official. The WWF Heavyweight Title was held up on October 19, 1981 when Greg Valentine was mistakenly given the belt by a dazed referee after being pinned by Backlund. His second reign lasted 1 year 10 months and 9 days.
November 23, 1981 was the day that Bob Backlund became the first three time WWWF/WWF Champion. With Arnold Skoaland at his side, he pinned Greg Valentine in a rematch to fill the vacancy. He wrestled to a double count-out with NWA World Heavyweight Champion, Ric Flair, on July 04, 1982 in Atlanta, Georgia. During 1983, the WWF would leave The NWA and elevate their title back to World Title status. Thus, during 1983, Backlund went from WWF Heavyweight Champion to WWF World Heavyweight Champion. His third title reign lasted 2 years 1 month and 4 days. Backlund's dominance of the title would end after an amassed 5 years 8 months and 22 days.
Bob Backlund's legacy would come crashing down on December 26, 1983. He was caught in The Iron Sheik's camel clutch, but he would not give up. So, Arnold Skoaland threw in the towel for his man. The Iron Sheik won The WWF World Heavyweight Title without pinning the former champion or making him submit. "Classie" Freddie Blassie managed The Iron Sheik's 29 days as World Champion.
The Iron Sheik was merely a transition champion. He is what led to Hulk Hogan. On January 23, 1984 Hogan would pin The Iron Sheik for The WWF World Heavyweight Title. He would usher in a new era of wrestling to The WWF. He brought professional wrestling into homes all across America and was the first wrestler to be a household name. Hogan had the muscular build of "Superstar" Billy Graham and the longevity of a Bruno Sammartino. His first reign lasted an impressive 4 years and 14 days.
Hogan's reign ended on February 05, 1988. Andre The Giant pinned Hogan to win The WWF World Heavyweight Title. Andre was under contract with Ted Dibiase, at the time, and Dibiase had paid the referee's twin brother to work the match. Thus, even though Hogan lifted his shoulder, the referee counted a three count and presented Andre with the title. Immediately after winning the Title, Andre chose to award it to "The Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase. In doing so, he vacated the title. To make a long story short, Andre was champion for only a few minutes before he handed his dream away.
WWF President, Jack Tunney, decided that the vacancy would be filled in a one night, sixteen man tournament to be held at Wrestlemania IV. On March 27, 1988 "The Macho Man" Randy Savage would go on to defeat Ted Dibiase to win The WWF World Heavyweight Title. With Miss Elizabeth guiding his career, Savage would remain champion for 1 year and 7 days.
Next week Matt will continue describing the WWF Champions.
by Ervin Griffin Jr.
Part 8: Scorpion Unmasked
While Sting had, for the time being, ended the threat of Sid Vicious, he still had "Scorpion" problems. Namely, The Black Scorpion and his bag of tricks. Looking back on this angle, I see it as a terrible version of the "Spider-Man VS. The Green Goblin" wars where Peter Parker (Spidey) would fight different people under the Goblin mask. Sting must have felt like Parker because several men donned the mask of The Black Scorpion to battle him. None of them, however, were the real thing. Scorpion would also use magic tricks to psych out Sting as well as make references to Sting's past.
Finally, Sting signed to face The Black Scorpion in a cage for the NWA World title at Starrcade '90 in St. Louis. I don't remember but I think there were 4 different Black Scorpions at ringside as the real one battled Sting. The special referee was the late Dick The Bruiser. This match was surprisingly dominated by the Black Scorpion until Sting threw him up against the cage!!! From there, the match belonged to Sting as he used a flying body press to finish off Scorpy!!! Then, Horsemen members Arn Anderson and Barry Windham came in with the other Scorpions to attack Sting and Bruiser. Sting and Bruiser held them off as long as they could but were soon overpowered. Terry Taylor and Z-Man (Tom Zenk) tried to come to the aid of Sting but were lock out of the cage by Arn Anderson. The Steiners came down with some bolt cutters to cut the chain so they could open the door!!! By this time, Sting had pulled off the mask to reveal what some people had suspected all along!!! That the Scorpion was Ric Flair and that this was another Horsemen plot!!!
(Editors Note: While it it true that the Black Scorpion was a Horsemen plot all along - the initial Black Scorpion character was played by Ole Anderson. In fact, my sources tell me that the match with Sting was the only time Flair wore the outfit, or portrayed the character. That is supported by an interview given by Sting shortly after the match in which he claimed that he knew it was Flair the first time they locked up - that they had met so many times in the ring that Flair's style was unmistakable to him. It suggests that Sting would have recognized him in one of their earlier encounters if it had been Flair all along.)
This revelation made Sting even angrier at his rival. A rematch was set for January 11, 1991 in the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ. On this night, Ric Flair regained the NWA title from Sting by putting his feet on the ropes and knocking Sting's foot off the bottom rope!!! Sting's lack of success against Flair continued as his team lost to the Horsemen at WrestleWar '91 in a WarGames match when Brian Pillman was deemed unfit to continue after Sid Vicious power-bombed him twice!!!
Feeling the need for some different competition, Sting signed to wrestle on the WCW/New Japan SuperShow in March of '91 against The Great Muta. Muta won the close match when, as Sting was attempting the "Stinger Splash", he blew his "green mist" into the face and eyes of Sting. Muta then executed a flying bodypress and got the pin. Sting, however, was in for some more surprises in the months to come.
Next: A Red, Crazy, Rude Awakening
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 Solie's resident historian and also contributes to the Ringside Insider on a regular basis.
Congratulations to the Headbangers for winning the WWF Tag Titles. This a great young team and deserves every break thay can get. I have my doubts that they will be allowed to hold the Titles for any length of time...but that is another commentary...
I may have made an error in my commentary involving the RAW broadcast last Monday. I stated that I thought the "Uncle Cletus" Godwin character might have been Matt Borne. An alert reader pointed out that it was more likely Tony Anthony (most recently known as T.L. Hopper - formerly the "Dirty White Boy") If so I'm glad for Anthony's sake. Anything would be better than being known as the "wrestling plumber"...
Speaking of the Godwins, I have been getting flack again, now because I happen to think the Godwins are one of the better tag teams around. Everybody seems to dislike them and put them down, but if you examine the reasons for this most people just say they just don't like the Godwins' characterizations. I have to agree with those sentiments - I would much rather see them in their former identities of Tex Slazzenger and Shanghai Pierce.
My point is that you can't fault their tag team expertise. I have noticed that in many cases the Godwins control the action from the get-go and are so strong and fundamentally sound that the only way to turn the tables on them is to wait for an opening and then capitalize on a mistake. This is not, of course, an uncommon strategy for many tag teams to pursue, especially if their competition has a size advantage (which the Godwins almost always do).
I have watched the Godwins more then hold their own against the best the WWF has to offer - the Blackjacks, the Headbangers, the Road Warriors, Owen & Bulldog, etc. All of these teams have had their clocks cleaned by this massive duo at one time or another. The fact that they consistantly rank among the top three or four tag teams in the WWF attests to their talent.
Anyway, that's the way I see it...
editor Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
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