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Solie's Tuesday Morning Report: EXTRA!

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Hogan Will Defend vs. Goldberg
at the Next Nitro!!!

Pro-Wrestling and Its Fans: Part 3

by Alex Kreit


Volume 3, Issue 332 - July 3, 1998
News from Bob Ryder

MANKIND UPDATE -- Mankind will be taking some time off to recover from his injuries suffered at the King of the Ring PPV.

He will not be working on the Canadian swing this weekend, and Vancouver shows. He may return for the Atlantic City show on July 11, but is under no pressure from the WWF to return. The WWF wants him to take as much time off as he needs.

He will not be requiring surgery as had originally been expected.

PENTHOUSE ARTICLE -- Penthouse will have a major article on WCW in their magazine that will hit newstands on August 1. Writers for Penthouse spent time backstage in recent months interviewing WCW personalities for the article.

Before you ask...the NITRO girls keep their clothes on.

JERRY LAWLER WEBSITE -- Jerry Lawler has launched his very own web site featuring a biography of "The King", famous quotes and photographs, artwork by Lawler, merchandise, and a message board. Check the site at: http://members.aol.com/jerlawler/main.html

CONGRATULATIONS TORCH -- Congratulations to the "Pro Wrestling Torch" on their 500th issue. Wade Keller launched the Torch in October of 1987.


Professional Wrestling and its Fans

This is the third of a five part series in which Alex Kreit explores the history of pro-wrestling and its relationship with its fans. It was originally written as a paper for his "Sports and Society" class at Amherst College and represents a scholarly examination of our favorite Sports Entertainment. It is presented here complete with footnotes which are accessed by clicking on the number links scattered throughout the text. Return links are provided in the footnotes section to take you back to where you left off in the narrative.

by Alexander Kreit

Part 3

Pro-Wrestling Goes International

By the late 1880's, American professional wrestlers were traveling to other countries, demonstrating their athletic ability and helping to make professional wrestling somewhat of an international sport. However, professional wrestling was not a well respected sport. Aside from the betting that often went on, professional wrestling was not formed into one league like baseball, consequently opening the way for each promoter to proclaim his own "world's champion." "Wrestling... grew on the fringe of respectable society...

The very independence of the sport left it open to all the controversy, conflicting championships and suspect contests still found in boxing today."(19) However, the occasional suspect bout of the late 1800's, where one wrestler would be paid to take a dive, was a long ways from a fixed match where the loser wasn't paid off, but rather worked cooperatively with his in ring "opponent."

While not entirely well thought of, professional wrestling was becoming quite popular, especially overseas and "by the early 1900's professional wrestling was an established international sport."(20)

The controversial and profitable title matches of 1908 and 1911 involving Russian George Hackenschmidt are proof that American professional wrestling had spread to many places around the world.

In the matches, challenger and Iowan Frank Gotch faced Hackenschmidt, who had won a match against Tom Jenkins four years earlier to become the first widely recognized "world champion." The championship was recognized by a loose organization of promoters known as the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA); by the end of the 1908 bout, the belt was around Gotch's waist. His win was not particularly admirable, as Hackenschmidt quit two hours into the match complaining that Gotch had oiled his body to help him escape from holds. The 1911 rematch was held at Chomiskey Park in Chicago and was attended by 40,000 spectators who paid a record $90,000.

Although the match was a huge financial success, it was another sporting failure. Hackenschmidt wrestled the match with an injured leg, supposedly caused by a training partner who had been paid by Gotch. Gotch won in a matter of minutes and the crowd was quite unsatisfied. Together the two matches caused professional wrestling to lose much of its popularity.

"The failure of these two matches to satisfy audiences, and the accusations of fraud marked a temporary decline in the popularity of wrestling that lasted until the late 1920's."(21) The matches between Gotch and Hackenschmidt presented huge problems for professional wrestling. The first match, like almost all matches at the time, was much too long for fans to enjoy. Furthermore, it was incredibly slow paced. The second match saw Gotch "work" Hackenschmidt's leg and cause him considerable pain in a demonstration of just how dangerous professional wrestling could be. Additionally, while the brevity of the match was unusual, it reinforced the feeling that the times of matches needed to be controlled.

These concerns ultimately led to professional wrestling's transformation from contest to show. However, fixing the matches didn't exactly fix professional wrestling. By the mid 1920's almost all competition was gone from professional wrestling, causing a minor resurgence in popularity. Unfortunately, it also posed a whole new set of problems. "When the 'fix' was inadvertently discovered fans were outraged (Note: For example, once in 1929 in New York City, a drunken press agent accidentally released all the next night's winners to the newspapers.)...

Professional wrestling was caught between two undesirable extremes. On the one hand, audiences were bored by the bureaucratically controlled ritual, and on the other hand, they were outraged at the deceit of the promoters."(22) By the mid 1930's professional wrestling was something of a laughing stock and its spectators began to be seen not only as low class but also as fools.

By the late 1930's professional wrestling had disappeared from the mainstream; but it was not in danger of extinction. Wrestling remained popular among many working class spectators who watched competitors grapple in small regional promotions, which had replaced larger "national" promotions. "

In 1933, there were six 'world champions'; in 1934, two; but, by 1943, the list had swelled to fifteen."(23) Each regional promoter controlled a "territory" of the United States and the other promoters respected the boundaries. No one in wrestling was making the large sums of money that might have been possible in a national promotion; but everyone was doing decently in an industry almost free of competition.

Aside from respecting territorial boundaries, promotions rarely, if ever, competed for talent and long term contracts were non-existent. "In those days wrestling was very much a regional sport. A guy would come into an area and wrestle there as long as he could before becoming 'overexposed.' When that happened, it was time to move on."(24) Although the wrestling business wasn't poor, it was outside the mainstream.

Most newspapers had already stopped covering it and it didn't lend itself to radio. "Wrestling coverage in the print media and over radio had been dismal... The only mention of wrestling on the sports pages were derogatory remarks from 'real athletes' and sports writers."(25) The situation allowed the ideas of the early 30's to settle and stereotypes of professional wrestling fans as working class and foolish became ingrained in popular opinion. More importantly, the two stereotypes blended together and it became increasingly difficult to separate the foolish fan from the working class fan.

Alex Kreit is a student at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, where he concentrates on Documentary Video and Film/Political Theory. He is from Oakland, CA and has been into wrestling since 1989. He says of this project, " I have wanted to learn more about the history of pro. wrestling for some time and thought about writing a paper on it since the summer before I began college. Over the course of my first semester I became more serious about the idea and decided to take a class called "Sport and Society" at Amherst College my second semester. I chose to write about the economic class of fans because I am very interested in the way pro wrestling is portrayed in the mass media and felt that the two issues are closely linked."

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Thunder Report

We get a promo spot for the upcoming Bash at the Beach PPV before the opening montage.

Thunder comes to us live from Columbus, Georgia Civic Center Arena. Tony intro the program and he, Lee Marshall and Bobby Heenan give us some more hype for the coming PPV. Tony says there is a major announcement coming from JJ Dillon tonight. Could this be the announcement of the Hogan vs. Goldberg match on next week's Nitro? We shall see...

Chris Jericho vs. "Rey Misterio, Jr." - Jericho enters with his "Conspiracy Victim" sign pointing to the right (as we observe it) instead of down. He makes his usual self-serving speech before his opponent arrives. Claims that Malenko has been running from him - right... He then says that he has flown in his opponent at his own expense and introduces Rey Misterio Jr. Of course it isn't Rey... This guy is even smaller then Rey actually, and not nearly in as good shape. Jericho pretends to wrestle the pipsqueak, who is not quite a midget wrestler. The little guy even gets in a pretty good drop-kick to the Champ's knee but Jericho eventually creams him. Then, he pulls the guy on top of him and pins himself! His strategy then becomes clear as he declares the bogus Misterio to be the #1 contender and therefore eligible to replace Malenko in the match at the Bash (dream on Conspiracy Boy...) Cut to commercial.

The Giant comes to the ring and stands patiently with his head bowed. He starts his rant by asking for a moment of silence, then trains his guns on Goldberg and Kevin Greene. He then turns his attention to the Wolf Pack and throws out a challenge to Lex Luger for a match tonight.

Doc Dean vs. Stevie Ray - look for a squash in this one. Stevie must be handpicking his opponents these days. The word "match" only very loosely desscribes this encounter. Need I go on? Chavo Guerrero shows up on his hobby horse again at the conclusion of the slaughter. He goes right into the ring and tries to engage the confused Stevie Ray in a conversation comparing their respective family problems. He apologizes to his grandmother for Eddie's recent actions. He asks Stevie if he wants to do the same vis-a-vis his brother and gets shoved down for his trouble. Stevie departs as Chavo protests the rude reception to his idea. Cut to commercial.

Public Enemy vs. Jim Neidhart/British Bulldog - is the announced match but we get Disco's music instead, then the man himself appears followed by his foolishly dancing partner Alex Wright. Wright delivers a rant in German which Disco interprets as "...everybody came here tonight to watch Disco Inferno and Alex Wright dance." Now PE's music plays and they appear toting their table. Rocco gets the mic and and delivers his own rant challenging the Fools to a dance contest. First Disco's music plays and the Fools dance. Then the PE's music plays again and they start to dance then knock the Fools out of the ring before we cut to commercial.

Davey Boy and Neidhart make their entrance as we return. They clear the ring immediately. Rocco comes back in to face Neidhart. A quick double team swings the momentum to PE. Grunge comes in and slams the Anvil into his partners boot. Neidhart is unfazed - so Grunge pokes him in the eye. Moments later all four men are in and PE are being handed their head. Grunge slips out of the ring and throws in the tasble but then gets pearl harbored by the Dancing Fools. They enter the ring as Bulldog is ghetting ready to powerslam Rocco Rock, pick up the table and catch both the Bulldog and his victim with the table. DQ ending.

Tony is with JJ Dillon for his announcement. Sure enough he announces a WCW World Title match for Hollywood Hogan vs. Goldberg!! The Goldberg chant goes up immediately as we cut to commercial for Goldberg T-shirts. I look for a screwjob ending that leaves Goldberg's winning streak intact but no Title change... I also expect that Nitro will give RAW a run for its money, ratings wise.

Raven touts himself as a philanthropist - right...

Kidman vs. Saturn - the announcers pretty much ignore this match to talk about what we heard before the break. Tony even apologizes for their neglect. Saturn tosses Kidman over the top to the floor then tries a suicide dive only to run head first sinto a chair held up by his opponent. Back in the ring, Kidman has the match under control until Saturn comes back with a big clothesline. Kidman comes right back with a perfect drop-kick and retakes the initiative. He tries a 3/4 nelson but Saturn is too powerful to be held that way. This is a very comptitive match but Kidman is outweighed and mostly outwrestled. He goes up for his Shooting Star press but gets caught there and superplexed. They struggle for position and Saturn executes a belly-to-belly. Lodi interferes and is ejected from the apron but that gives Kidman the chance for a bulldog and a two count. Saturn comes right back and the Death Valley Driver tells the tale.

Cut to a trailer for "Small Soldiers"

Replay of the "eavesdropped" conversation between Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit from last week's Thunder broadcast. Mike Tenay replaces Lee Marshall to talk about this development. Cut to a taped interview with Steve McMichael. He talks about his days as a football player and draws a parallel to his days as a Horseman. Mike Ditka inserts some comments from a previous interview. Mongo implores Arn Anderson to put the Horsemen back together.

Tony hypes the Hogan/Goldberg match again then we go to sell something. He is saying that he expects it to be the "biggest televised wrestling event ever".

Review of what happened towards the end of last week's main event - leading up to this week's Giant/Luger match.

Bobby Blaze vs. Brian Adams (w/Vincent) - another squash for sure. Blaze gets in a couple of slick wrestling moves before Adams creams him. He has another brief flurry before Adams puts on the big dropped back-breaker and ends it.

Raven comes out to a new musical theme as the announcers are getting ready to throw it to commercial. He goes to the ring and slumps in the corner with mic in hand. He accepts Saturns challenge for a match at the Bash. He calls Saturn an egotistical, self-centered user" - takes one to know one I guess... Cut to WCW Motorsports report then to commercial.

Fit Finley vs. Booker T - TV Title match - unless I missed it, this is Booker's first Title defense since he faced Benoit a few weeks ago. Finley comes on strong to start the match and has things well in hand in the early going. The fight goes out to the floor where Finley is relentless. Back in the ring, Finley tries a backslide but no cigar. He continues his very effective assault. He delivers a double foot stomp on the prone Champion's stomach. That seems to wake Booker up and he turns the tables moments later. It is short lived as Finley's devastating forearm uppercut has its desired effect. They struggle for position and Booker comes back with a sidewalk slam - but then Finley clotheslines him to the floor. Back in the ring Booker stops his opponent's momentum with a flying burrito and then delivers a missle drop-kick to take the pinfall. This was an excellent contest.

Booker T interview with Tony. He comments on his upcoming match with Bret Hart and claims that Hart has been showing his fear by attacking Booker with chairs. Stevie Ray comes down to run his usual rant about "taking care of business". They have words about it and Booker ends the interview. Tenay hypes the Nitro card for next week. Of course they present it as having one of two outcomes - a new World Champ or the end of Goldberg's streak. I figure it will be neither. Cut to commercial.

Chav Guerrero vs. - Chavo comes out carrying a big cardboard box and says he's "hunting Eddies". He also has a toy bow and arrows. He sets the box up as a deadfall trap (stick and string type) and puts a burrito under it as bait. He retreats to ringside and starts calling "Here Eddie, Eddie, Eddie..." His uncle shows up and trips the box then hides. Chavo comes in to check his trap and gets blindsided bu Eddie. Outside on the floor, Eddie moves the floor padding aside and executes a brainbuster on the concrete! Back in the ring, he slaps his nephews face with the burrito. Now he has the scissors that Chavo brought to the ring - he cuts a chunk out of the unconscious Chavo's hair. Cut to commercial.

Replay of the JJ Dillon announcement from earlier.

Kanyon vs. Konnan - two K-men face off. This has the makings of a good match but there isn't much time left in the program. Both guys miss key moves during the early going. Konnan has the advantage as the audience erupts in boos. Somebody is coming out but the camera's aren't showing who it is. Kanyon is on the offensive again as it is revealed that the Flock is approaching the ring area and surrounding it. Konnan makes a comeback and the match begins to see-saw. We get a westling lesson from these two master mat men until Lodi distracts the ref so that Raven can slip in and DDT Kanyon. Konnan takes the fall then stands at ringside as the Flocks swarms into the ring. He turns back to help his former opponent and gets punked himself until Lex Luger runs in to save his bacon. Luger takes the mic and makes a statement. He addresses the Giant and throws out his own challenge - the Giant starts his entrance just before we cut to commercial.

The Giant vs. Lex Luger - the Giant is on the apron as we return. Luger waits until he is barely in the ring then attacks. The Giant reels then shoves him off but Luger comes right back. He is downed again then clotheslined as he gets up. Luger is on the recieving end now. The Giant is grinning as he stands on Luger's chest. Luger comes back with a jawbreaker then uses three clotheslines and a flying forearm to finally put the Giant down. nWo Hollywoods swarms the ring followed by Konnan - then the Flock! The bell rings repeatedly as the melee ensues. Cut to another Bash promo then fade to black...

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

Earl Oliver
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter


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