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Solie's Tuesday Morning Report: EXTRA!

Friday Morning Edition

An Interview with Bob Ryder: Part 3

Conducted by Jeremy Hartley for TWC Online
Transcribed by Earl Oliver

Stylin' And Profilin':
The Legend Of Ric Flair: Part 8

by Ervin Griffin and Matt Benaka


Volume 3, Issue 309 - May 1, 1998
I am forced to make another correction. When the WWF announcer mentioned that Jerry Brisco was a former Tag Team Champion I assumed he was referring to the WWF Tag Team Titles, in fact the Brisco Brothers were the NWA Tag Champs but never held the WWF Titles. Jerry Brisco also held the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Title for a period in 1981.
News from Bob Ryder

MARK MADDEN UPDATE

Mark Madden has been dropped from the WCW Hotline, and at the present time, is no longer a part of the company.

Madden says the reason he was given for his release was "unprofessional conduct" at last week's NITRO event. Madden says he threw a headset in anger after a director continued yelling instructions in his headset while he was trying to do play by play for the event.

When contacted today, Madden held out hope that he might at some point return to WCW, and said he plans to meet with WCW management in the next couple of weeks to discuss the situation.

NWA ALLSTAR WRESTLING

NWA All Star Wrestling has a big card this Saturday night, May 2 in Salisbury, NC. The card features an appearance by ECW Television champion Rob Van Dam, who will take part in an autograph session from 6:30-7:30 p.m. In action that night, Jim Cornette's Midnight Express defend their NWA World Tag Team titles against former champions The Rock-n-Roll Express, Bobby Duncum Jr. battles Germany's Ulf Hermann, Madd Maxx and Fly-High Eddie square off against The Border Patrol, and four other bouts including girls. For more information, check out: http://www.allstarwrestling.com


An Interview with Bob Ryder

Conducted by Jeremy Hartley for TWC Online
Transcribed by Earl Oliver

Here is the final installment of a three part interview with the man who could arguably be called the founder of the Internet wrestling community.

Jeremy Hartley: Now relating to your 1wrestling.com, I noticed that over the past few weeks that you have had the Classic Interviews, Moondog Main, Roddy Piper, Terry Funk, Eddie Gilbert, Wrestling #2, etc., etc. I think that that's a good way, as you say - a whole generation of fans having not seen these stars dead or living...does 1wrestling.com have plans to keep on presenting that, either in video segments, audio segments, are you guys going to continue to push for this education about wrestling's past?

Bob Ryder: Absolutely, I think it's very important that fans not lose touch with the history of the wrestling promotions and what happened in the past. The interview that your talking about with Roddy Piper is a classic. There's another one that we had up with Terry Funk, some of those are interviews like you just don't hear anymore. One of the things that I really miss the most about the Mid-South promotion and about that time period is that the companies devoted more time to interview segments where a wrestler would just come in and talk and talk and talk. It wasn't just a situation where someone would babble endlessly, they would put on a performance. The interview and the art of the interview was something that a lot of the guys today just never really had to learn because in the early 80's they got away from it. All of the emphasises went to the music and the entrances, the costumes, the gimmicks and the characters. The interviews were not important in that time. The other stuff overshadowed it and now you've got guys who don't have the slightest idea what to do or what to say. That's why a lot of the the guys during the last ten years were booked with managers who could do the talking for them. I think its very important to show the history from the old days, and we're going to continue to do it. We'll keep having the classic interviews footage. We're working on a situation now with some of the old video libraries where we can show clips of that - there's going to be different things we'll be doing.

Jeremy Hartley: Right...

Bob Ryder: I think it's very important that the fans not lose touch the history. And there are several layers of history, I think fans should pick up Lou Thesz' book, that's an incredible read and it tells the history of the NWA basically through the forties to the mid sixties, I would very strongly urge any serious fan to not just look at what they show you on Monday night, not just look at what's going on today but look at what led up to this, and what were the foundations of the popular promotions. If you're going to be a complete wrestling fan you ought to know who these people are, where they came from... The story of Roddy Piper - starting out as a seventeen-eighteen year old kid on the West Coast becoming one of the biggest superstars in the business. He had a lot of steps along the way. We'll have some footage of one of the interviews he did on Georgia Championship Wrestling when he had been a heel for the longest time and basically came to the rescue of Gordon Solie, one of the most memorable segments in the history of television - it turned him to a good guy overnight. Those are the kinds of things the fans who never had a chance to see and never understood, you know, how these things happened. We want to try and bring it too them at 1wrestling.com.

Jeremy Hartley: Tell us how you came to be featuring the ECW, Music City and Ring Warriors broadcasts on the web. Did they approach you..?

Bob Ryder: No, I went out looking for the deals. Basically, I already had a relationship with ECW because we had been doing monthly chat events with them, I would fly up to Philidelphia each weekend and we've been doing play-by-play via chat for Prodigy members, so I already had the relationship there and I knew we were going to do 1wrestling.com so I wanted to work out a way to do a show for the fans on the internet because I knew that ECW was only available in a limited number of markets and people couldn't see the show so I started looking to see how feasible it would be to put the thing together. It's not an inexpensive thing to do, it's fairly expensive to do what we've done. I was lucky to come across a company called AudioScape that does a fantastic job for us, we went into it on a joint venture basis. It's something that's been very very popular, it's getting anywhere from 4000 to 5000 hits a day from all over the world. We're introducing ECW to fans all over the world. We have people sending us fan letters, we have people ordering video tapes from Hong Kong - it's really a world wide situation. It's something that we plan to continue, there may be some adjustments to change the way that we do some of the things. We'd like to offer this service to other promotions that might be interested. But it's very sigificant and something I'm very proud of that we were the very first to have a weekly show available on an on-demand basis with real video. We don't have the money of Time-Warner, we don't have the money that the WWF has but we've done as good a job as we can with our limited resources, and I think that having the first weekly videos is something significant...

Jeremy Hartley: You mentioned about the WCW and WWF web sites and WCW has seemed to have taken to the Internet like a fish to water, in sorts of respects, of course Eric Bischoff has had the Prodigy chats with you as well as other WCW stars - I mean they're a joy to read. I've noticed that between the two federations, they really seem to be appealing to both wrestling fans and online fans - what do you think the percentage is between those two groups..? And should the promotions really be going out of their way, and booking for these online fans and trying to appeal to this audience - is it really a significant number or are we still talking about 20 - 80, etc...?

Bob Ryder: Yes it is a significant number and even if it is 20% - that's a lot of people. I don't know what the breakdown is, I think that obviously if you search on Yahoo you come out with a lot of wrestling sites, lot of different places on the Internet that talk about wrestling. I know from a personal viewpoint that the volume we are getting at 1wrestling.com is staggering. There are some other big sites like Scoops and MiCasa and some of the others that do a good job as well. There is just a tremendous amount of interest out there and I have to say that probably if you look at the majority of the Internet fans they are mostly WWF fans and that probably has to do with the fact that they were the first to have the site on AOL and basically cultivated a fan base there but WCW has survived that thing because they have been more aggressive in going after the Internet fan and making themselves available to the Internet fan and to me it's the situation of a company that "get's it" and a company that "doesn't get it".

Jeremy Hartley: Uh huh...

Bob Ryder: The WWF has made the decision to turn their back on what has made them the most successful promotion ever in the history of wrestling, even arguably more successful then WCW has been. From WCW's standpoint, they have, after several years of going in awful directions they have found something that works. They have focused on continuing to do what works and as long as they do that, as long as they don't do anything - like the nWo almost taking over Nitro - there's no reason to believe that they're going to have any failure. I think the WWF ought to take a look at what makes Nitro successful. There's been a lot said about imitation and about, you know, one promotion copying another one, and someone stealing ideas - well why not? If something is working it doesn't matter if somebody else thought of it first, there's not really any new ideas out there, I mean it's just the way that they have implimented them. The WCW has hit on something that is successful - why not copy it, why not try to do it better then they have? Why re-define your own promotion in a direction that it is appealing to something - I guess they call it a more contemporary, more cutting edge...I think what they ought to be doing is figuring out what Nitro is doing right and try to do it better. If that happens we're going to see a very interesting confrontation between the two promotions. Something that might change the way the Monday night ratings turn out each week.

Jeremy Hartley: In the New Year - being 1998, is there anything that you can shine a light on...I mean where does 1wrestling.com go next?

Bob Ryder: Hopefully it continues to to get bigger and better, we're going to make some adjustments, we're going to make some additions, make some changes, maybe some other people will be updating the audio section, we're going to add some new features, we're going to continue with the things that have made us a popular service. Things that we've recently added like the classic interviews I think are going to continue to be very popular. That's probably the thing that we've gotten the most email on lately. When a major story breaks we're not going to hide it from the people, we'll have it right up front. The premium area is mostly for people who want access to the Lariet, to the Chatterbox, people that want access to things that do cost us a little bit more. Things like the RealAudio, like the classic interviews. Those things aren't cheap to produce. When you really think about it, I figured it out the other day, your yearly membership works out to right at $.25 cents a day - you drop that much on the ground walking to your car...so I think that it's a bargain, I think that we're offering a very good deal to people. If they look at us as a source of information, rather than just a web site - I think that we're very much worth what we are charging and i encourage people to visit the page. We do have a feature up where you can take a kind of guided tour of the Premium Area to see some of the features we've had on the page in the past we give you an idea about the kinds of things you can see in the future. There's a copy of the Lariet, Chatterbox, some update from each of the contributers, Classic Interviews, and all of that is available for free so you can see what you're getting into before you subscribe. So we'll keep plugging away and trying to be the best site we can be...

Jeremy Hartley is a longtime friend of Solie's and a regular contributer to the newsletter. His "EYE on Wrestling" columns can be found in the "Articles" section of the web site. His previous interviews with Bob Blackburn, Lou Thesz and Buddy Landel are currently to be found in the "Interviews" section.


Stylin' And Profilin': The Legend Of Ric Flair

By Ervin Griffin, Jr. and Matt Benaka

Part 8: First Blood

After surviving an NWA World Title defense against Ron Garvin on February 6, 1986 in Atlanta, GA, Ric Flair & Arn Anderson began what would soon become wrestling's most revered supergroup: The Four Horsemen.

The group officially came together in March when Tully Blanchard was in an NWA National Heavyweight Title match against then-champion Dusty Rhodes. The bout was televised on NWA World Wide Wrestling. Ric Flair was doing guest commentary for that bout. Rhodes had Blanchard on the ropes when Flair snuck a pair of brass knuckles to Tully. When Dusty went to pick Blanchard up for a back-suplex, Tully nailed him in the head with the knucks and got the three count and the title!! Afterwards, Flair, Anderson, and Blanchard ganged up on Rhodes until Magnum TA and others arrived to clear the ring. That moment, The Four Horsemen had been born!!

At the end of that month, an interesting situation developed. The Rock n Roll Express (Rick Morton/Robert Gibson), in the mist of their feud with The Midnight Express (then Dennis Condrey and Bobby Eaton), began making inquiries about Ric Flair and his buddies. During an interview on World Championship Wrestling, Flair came out to confront Morton. Morton took Flair's sunglasses and stomped them in front of Flair!!! Flair responded with a slap in the face and a fight was on!!! Morton laid out Flair on that particular incident. The next week, Morton and Gibson was getting ready for a match when Flair came out and said he wanted Morton in the ring now!!! With Gibson and Arn Anderson, respectively, in their corners, the fans in TBS' studios and a tv viewing audience were treated to a very entertaining and competative contest!!! It ended when Morton, unofficially, pinned Ric Flair in the middle of the ring!!! I call it unofficial because the ref was down and Robert Gibson was the one that made the count!! Still, this psychological blow was enough to make the R n R's prime targets of The Four Horsemen.

NEXT: Savagery Of The Four Horsemen

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

Ervin Griffin Jr. is Solie's resident historian and also contributes to the Ringside Insider on a regular basis. Many of his previous articles are available in the Articles section of the website. Check out Ervin's Pro-Wrestling Fan Fiction web site.


That's it for today. I'll be back with the Monday Night Wars Edition. Until then...

At least that's the way I see it...

Earl Oliver
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter


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