By Garland Chan
Well, this is it. The tenth issue. I hope that you like it; it may be the last. I am hopelessly running out of material and without reader support, I'm at a loss to reasons to continue. I guess the only way for me to keep writing is if I get e-mails (say 50 or so) that say they read my stuff and hopefully have some ideas and/or critiques. As you know, there was no pole this week. That's because I knew if I put "Best Wrestler" vs. "Best (anything)," I knew what would win. I will base this subject on wrestling skill only. Microphone duties are fine, but I think that I enjoy watching the real stuff better. This time I'll change the format to a "Top Ten" list. I hope you enjoy it; it's been fun.
1. Bret "Hitman" Hart
Perhaps not the best there was or the best there ever will be, but certainly the best there is. Bret has worked hard to get where he is. I really enjoy watching how hard he works out there. I've had the privilege to watch him live when the crowd was 4000-5000 and he treats it like a PPV. His technical knowledge and ability to go 60 minutes are two of the biggest reasons I selected him. He also has that "snappy" quality in which we see that sudden movement in his style. I like that. I like that a lot.
2. "Crippler" Chris Benoit
Well speak of snappy. Chris Benoit and Bret Hart come from the same school and from watching their styles it should be obvious. Chris is only 30, but he has gained the respect of workers and fans alike. His intensity is matched by nobody else in the sport today.
3. "Two time Slammy award winning" Owen Hart He has had classic matches with Bret Hart and Davey Boy Smith. Candidates for match of the year even. I can tell he's being primed for some world championship reigns in his future. That will only happen when Bret retires, but given that he's 40, that shouldn't be "too" long. He is a classic aerialist who mixes it well with the opponent on the mat. He's gotten away from the high flying a bit, but he's still exciting to watch.
4. Dean Malenko
Dean is a man who impresses me. He doesn't have the mike skills necessary to sustain any world title reigns, but he's certainly got the skill to be a world champion. His bread and butter mat wrestling approach really seems to fit him well and he's had many classic matches with the likes of Eddie Guerrero, Jeff Jarrett and the like. The man truly knows a thousand wrestling hold (and perhaps a few more).
5. Curt Hennig
Still going after all these years. I think that the reason I enjoy watching him so much is that he puts so much effort into selling his moves. On both the receiving end and upon delivery, Curt goes one inch from making the move real. And with his facial expressions, I don't think anybody can tell the difference for a while. His bit where he gets leg kicked from behind while holding the ropes and continually falling on his neck is classic. This man has not yet won a world championship, but fully deserves some consideration now.
6. Steve Regal
The man is getting fatter, but make no doubt, he's still one of the premiere wrestling talents in the world today. Regal's rare ability to oversell his move and still entertain is the one trademark I'll remember when he retires. He has found a gimmick that works for him and his already excellent repertoire accommodates him nicely.
7. "Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels
Good and he knows it. May have been ranked higher if it weren't for his long periods of inactivity. He began his career as a high-flying tag team specialist. Then he refined his skill and became one of the most technically proficient wrestlers around. Physical injuries have forced him off the ropes somewhat, but he remains one of the most dangerous when he climbs. Shawn will long be remembered for his dangerous matches (Cage match at Badd Blood and Ladder Matches vs. Razor Ramon).
8. "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith
He doesn't show it as much as the "bad" guy, but he is one of the finest technical wrestlers in the world. This fact is often disguised by the fact he has such a big frame and a strength advantage over many opponents, but he also blends it with tremendous athletic ability and savvy. He is a 20-year veteran of the sport, but remains in his prime and has many years in front of him. His Intercontiental title match with Bret Hart in Summerslam 1992 was the stuff of legends.
9. "Nature Boy" Ric Flair
Ok. Ric probably can't take it 60 minutes anymore. And Perhaps 30 is asking too much. But how can I possibly leave out one of the all-time greats from the list? The man truly knows his wrestling. He is perhaps the dirtiest player in the game and he uses his psychological tactics as much as his wrestling skill to get the best of his opponents. Yes, 30 minutes may be too much for him now, but give him 20 and he'll still stand toe to toe with anybody in the sport today.
10. Eddie Guerrero
Again I had the privilege of witnessing this man in action and I have to say, although he's a fine lightweight, perhaps it's time to consider world championships for this guy. His timing is impeccable and his wrestling is second to none. He needs to consider taking on some of the heavyweights and test his abilities there. I think he's got a bright bright future ahead of him.
Honorable Mention: Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Randy "Macho Man" Savage, Sting (if he ever gets back)
Last week I basically asked Brian Pillman questions and here's what I got:
"I, personally, felt that Brian Pillman may have came back too soon, but seeing how Vince McMahon (to whom I apologize to about the interview with Mrs. Pillman) and the WWF has handled it, I don't think that they made Pillman come back so much as Pillman wanted to come back. He loved the sport and his dedication to it was apparent. As for how it will effect the wrestling community, I say it will initially, but I think (sadly) will soon be forgotten and all will go on as usual until another star dies. I know that sounds cruel and heartless, but unfortunately that's how this business (and life in general) is. Still, it is a lesson that all of the wrestlers (whether young lions or great veterans) should learn. They should learn from Pillman's mistakes but don't condemn him for them they should celebrate the time he was here and remember him fondly."
Agree? Disagree? Suggestions for future articles? Suggestions for future questions? Go ahead make my day. email@example.com
Until next time, this is Garland riding shotgun!
Garland Chan is a regular contributor to Solie's Wrestling Newsletter.
by Ervin Griffin Jr.
Part 12: Snake Bitten
After a crushing defeat at the hands of Vader. Sting was left to recouperate and plan for his next assault to regain the WCW World Belt. That march, however, would take an unexpected bump on August 2, 1992 in Baltimore, MD (the site of Sting's first World title victory). While commentating with Jim Ross on a US Title match between Nikita Koloff and Rick Rude, Cactus Jack came down and attacked Nikita. This prompted Sting to leave the commentary booth to help Koloff. Sting cleaned house but then a figure in black leather jumped over the railing!!! At first, it looked like an overzealous fan but it was Jake "The Snake" Roberts!!!
Jake slid (no pun intended) into the ring and brutally attacked Sting, giving him the DDT onto a steel chair twice!!! Roberts was chased off by WCW wrestlers but the damage had been done. Roberts was fined $25,000 for his actions but he didn't really care. He had made his mark in WCW at the expense of its franchise player. It should be noted that because of this attack, Sting had to forfeit his chance at Vader later that evening. Ron Simmons was chosen to take his place and he captured the WCW belt from Vader, making him the first African-American World Champion in a major federation.
Sting, meanwhile, was left so lick his wounds. While he was happy for Ron winning the title, he was furious at Roberts for attacking him. Roberts and Sting would face off at several arena cards while waiting for their showdown at Halloween Havoc '92. This match was to be unique because of the "Spin The Wheel, Make The Deal" rules. Before the match, Sting would spin a giant wheel that would pick his match with Roberts. In this case, the wheel pick the "Coal Miner's Glove Match." This match was not one of Sting's best performances and was not even the match of the night (that honor goes to the WCW/NWA World Tag Team Title match between champions Barry Windham/Dustin Rhodes VS. "Stunning" (Stone Cold) Steve Austin/ Steve "Dr. Death" Williams). Still, it was significant because Roberts' plan was to have Cactus Jack bring a cobra to the ring and have it bite Sting but it was Roberts who ended up getting bitten!!! After this match, Roberts was not seen or heard from again in WCW!!!
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.
In this issue we welcome back one of our regular contributors, Joe Crowe. Readers will remember his excellent series on the Career of Vader a while back.
by Joe Crowe
Everybody discusses and dissects Raw and Nitro minute by minute, but the bulk of televised wrestling programming is rarely even mentioned. I'm sure many wrestling fans remember their only viewing times were the weekends. Everything happened on WWF Superstars or NWA World Wide, and there were a couple of other shows both feds threw in. Without cable, that's all you had. For years before I got cable, it was a treat to go to a friend's house with cable and see an NWA weekend show or WWF's Prime Time show on Monday night, which had matches from Madison Square Garden.
That's all history now. The advent of hour-long syndicated action shows like Star Trek and Hercules have taken away the audience for syndicated wrestling, so we're down to WCW World Wide and WWF Shotgun Challenge--and that's only in selected cities. Everything in wrestling happens on Monday night, and if you don't have cable, you're up the creek naked in a barb wire boat.
Even if you do, there's not much going on in wrestling outside Monday nights. Here's how wrestling weekend television breaks down. The WWF has a total of 3 hours: 2 hours on USA (Live Wire on Saturday and Superstars on Sunday) and in a few cities, the syndicated Shotgun Challenge. WCW has a total of 5 hours: (4 on TBS, Main Event and Saturday Night on Saturday, and Pro on Sunday), and World Wide in syndication.
In the WWF's 3 hours, only one is new wrestling. Live Wire and Superstars are reruns wrapped in pretty packages. Shotgun Challenge is an hour of matches taped right after Raw that week. Live Wire is bell-to-bell coverage of Raw. Superstars used to be cable coverage of the syndicated show. Not any more. It is now a SECOND recap of Raw. In case you missed it 24 hours earlier?
Of WCW's 5 hours, scarcely 30 minutes is recap. 4 1/2 hours of new wrestling every weekend. Saturday morning's Main Event is supposed to be a recap show, but for some reason they have "Main Event exclusives" that they throw in randomly. The rest of the show is brief match clips and highlights of interviews from Nitro. WCW Saturday Night is a separate taping later in the week. All the other shows are pre-taped matches with commentary done that week to give you the impression that they are new. But I'll get to that later.
In the "old" days, announcers were in the arenas or on studio sets amidst the action. Now the WWF has no sets. The studio on Live Wire might well be their actual studio. Shotgun Challenge has the same announce table at ringside as Raw, because it's taped right after. WCW has spent some money on sets, apparently. Main Event has a nice-looking desk done in dark tones. WCW Pro looks like somebody's basement. Why stained-glass windows? World Wide has the newest look on the weekends. Unfortunately, the need for "new" was mistaken as a need for "hi-tech" and the set looks like the movie TRON.
You barely even see the WWF announcers on the weekends. Jim Ross and somebody does Shotgun Challenge (I wouldn't know--Birmingham, Alabama is not one of the selected cities). Somebody walks around the WWF studio and chats about Raw on Live Wire, and an invisible voiceover by Todd Pettingill chats about Raw again on Superstars.
Tony Schiavone is the hardest working announcer in wrestling. He is on every single WCW show except Sunday afternoon Pro. He has to play straight man to everybody. That used to be fine, when Tony had that jumpy somebody-help-me look inside the Techwood Drive studios years ago. But now thanks to the miracle of videotape, no announcer is anywhere near the weekend matches. They do their commentary to a tape from the comfort of the edit booth, or might as well be their La-Z-boy swivel recliners.
I don't think I have to explain the problem with the weekend shows. The focus is on Monday nights, and all of both feds' energies are aimed at the Monday Night Wars. That's fine, to an extent. But all of both feds' energies used to be focused on weekends, and now those shows are on remote control, literally, in WCW's case. If some of the weekend shows were cancelled, then less might be more. But WCW cranks out hours of matches just to fill time. And they're planning on adding another show!
It's money that matters. The respective financial situations of each fed are no secret. The WWF used to have a live Raw and a separate Superstars taping during the week. Then they went to taped Raw with live episodes after the PPV, but they retained the separate Superstars taping. Now to keep up WCW's Joneses, they have 2 hours of sometimes-live Raw and one hour of Superstars taped immediately afterward. It's cost effective. TV tapings are expensive.
Which, of course, doesn't make a dadgum difference to WCW. Ted Turner's wallet can handle it. After always-live Nitro, a separate weekly Saturday Night taping is done in another city on another night. And they have their bulk of pre-taped matches, sitting on a dusty shelf ready to go.
Who has more audacity? WWF, for showing us infinite replays of not-exactly earth shattering matches so much we could recite the announcer's dialogue along with them? Or WCW, for showing us matches that could have been taped when great lizards roamed the earth?
Why is this a problem? Doesn't this make WCW the clear winner, with all that brand new wrestling every single week? It's new to you if you're not on the net. What exactly is wrong with all this wrestling on the weekend, and what could be done about it?
I'll talk about problems and solutions in part 2.
by John Armstrong
A little bit about the winner of the WCW's Steve Austin lookalike contest, Bill Goldberg. When he first appeared, he was thought to maybe be Kendall Windham, but by now we all know that can't be the case. I mean, from what I remember of Kendall, he would have to have eaten steroids three meals a day to look like that. Anyway, the latest on ol' Bill is that he may be the winner of the World War III battle royal next month. Which means he would earn a shot at the World Title. Which means he would face Hogan. Hmm...wouldn't it be something if HE turned out to be the one who brought down the nWo? Another tidbit - a pal of mine off the 'net went to high school with Billy Goldberg, as he was known then, in Tulsa, OK.
There has been a bit of speculation that Taz is headed to the WCW. Some of the reasoning involves his friendship with Perry Saturn. This one is kind of hard to believe, based on Taz's pretty blunt statements about "selling out". But then again, there's no doubt the WCW has much more to offer to a man of his talents. The only thing I wonder about is whether or not he could handle having to lose, because he will unless he joins the nWo, and that just wouldn't go with Taz.
There is still talk of Yokozuna returning to the WWF, but in what capacity it is not clear. The word is that he is now tipping the scales at 600 lbs, and wants to drop 200 of that before he gets back into action. Also mentioned in a return are the Quebecers, who are rumored to be coming back as a part of the Hart Foundation. Jacques and Carl are one heck of a team, and I thought they got royally screwed in WCW. The addition of those two would help the WWF in talent. And on the subject of tag teams, LaFon and Furnas are slated to return as well, possibly by Survivor Series. I just hope that they get the push they rightly deserve this time.
A few sheets are reporting that Ed Leslie is returning to WCW, but in what stupid role this time we're not sure. He must have really been needing work to do the Zodiac gimmick. But then again, Booty Man wasn't much better. On another WCW note, Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko may be teamed together on some upcoming cards. I certainly hope so. Just a thought, but with Hall and Nash going more of a singles route, might these two be the ones who will beat The Outsiders for the tag straps? Benoit more than deserves a title reign.
Earl made a question earlier during the Nitro report about Billy Kidman that rang a bell with me. Is this guy Flair's son? Well, I do have a copy of Starrcade '93, and Flair's family is on the tape, and he does have an older son with dark hair, so I will take a closer look at that tonight and see just what I can find out. He does have Flair's nose.
In the last issue, I wondered if the Destruction crew of Mike Enos and Wayne Bloom would be reunited. They were on a Nitro dark match last night. They took on Blacktop Bully and Nord the Barbarian. Now I see why it was a dark match. But I do hope they give Bloom and Enos a chance.
Until next time...
John Armstrong is Personnel Director for Coleman-Taylor Transmission Company out of Memphis, TN. He first became a wrestling fan when I was 8 years old, watching Georgia Championship Wrestling with his father. This was also his first introduction to the legend himself, Gordon Solie. John says "I mainly enjoy wrestling because of the humor involved - but it's also a darn good soap opera, too!"
That's it for this issue. I will be back on Monday with the regular Monday Night Wars edition. Until then...
Anyway, that's the way I see it...
editor Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
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