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Solie's Tuesday Morning Report: EXTRA!

Friday Morning Edition

Stylin' And Profilin': The Legend Of Ric Flair: Part 21

By Ervin Griffin, Jr. and Matt Benaka

A Conversation with Al Isaacs

Conducted by Jeremy Hartley for TWC Online
Transcribed by Earl Oliver


Volume 3, Issue 350 - August 21, 1998

A Conversation with Al Isaacs

Conducted by Jeremy Hartley for TWC Online
Transcribed by Earl Oliver

Here is the first installment of an interview conducted with the man behind one of the most popular wrestling web sites, Scoops.

Part 1

Jeremy Hartley: As usual I'm just going to start at the beginning and then we'll work our way to the present. I'm always interested, with anyone I interview, as to what turned them on to this sports entertainment of professional wrestling and then what made you decide to pursue this as somewhat of a line of work, Scoops has become a major player in Internet wrestling - so take us from the beginning here and tell us what turned you onto wrestling in general.

Al Isaacs: Well, first, thanks for the compliment there. My dad was a big fan. As far back as I can remember, I would be sitting at the dinner table and he would be in the living room and I could hear Gordon Solie talking about "the Omni"...

Jeremy Hartley: Oh yes...you're talking at that point about Georgia Championship Wrestling...

Al Isaacs: Yeah. It seemed like everything was at the Omni...

Jeremy Hartley: The Omni or in Columbus, Ohio...

Al Isaacs: (laughs) My dad took me, I don't even remember being there, but he tells me that he took me to see Larry Sammartino and Larry Zbyszco at Shea Stadium.

Jeremy Hartley: Wow!

Al Isaacs: I wish I remembered it. I was in single digits so I don't remember, but I do remember him taking me when I was around twelve to Nassau Coliseum - the main event was Don Muraco and Tony Atlas in a steel cage. And you know, I really never watched it before then but I really got turned on by it and every since them I've been a fan. It was always in our area - either at the Garden or the Coliseum, and I would watch it on Saturday mornings. The was Scoops came about was a complete and total accident.

Jeremy Hartley: (laughs)

Al Isaacs: Uh...I had no plans, there was no great scheme going on. What happened was, I was doing a Hotline in the City (NY) purely as a voice-over job - you can tell by my nasel voice right now what a great voice-over expert I am - and I had gotten in touch with my, now partner, Rene Ortega, with BizArt Studios on a separate project completely. During our first meeting our mutual friend mentioned that I was doing this wrestling line, and he literally said, "We have some extra space, would you consider making a wrestling site?" At that point it was an interesting idea, but I honestly didn't take it too seriously because I had contributed a story to one other site, to MiCasa, I reported on the last night that Hall and Nash were in the WWF at Madison Sqaure Garden when they broke kayfabe. I wrote an article for them on that and Charles Maclauren with Bagpipe Report was helping me out with the Hotline stuff. So, I mean, they're great and I had no intention of trying to replace anyone. So I said, "We really don't need another one otu there..." I mean, here we are now and there are literally tens of thousands of sites (Editors Note: wrestling sites comes and go, I doubt that there are more then 800 to 1000 at any one time) - but at that time those were the big two - so I said, "If we're going to do this I would want to do it a bit differently..." - add some personality to it, maybe some humor. We started doing it with Tabloid Wrestling Federation and a lot of stuff with the Email Federations, which I got a big kick out of - and the rest, I don't know how it happened but here we are...

Jeremy Hartley: So you were saying you were in your single digits so you are now in your twenties..?

Al Isaacs: Yeah, I'm 28.

Jeremy Hartley: So now we have this major boom of wrestling web sites, it seems like every time you turn around...

Al Isaacs: Everyone with a little space...

Jeremy Hartley: And you know, that makes sites such as your and the one that Bob Ryder put together...you do have some credible wrestling sources, but where do you think the Internet wrestling scene is going? We just saw the WCW Boston Brawl Internet pay-per-view happen, which didn't work out well, and for which now nobody is going to have to pay for, as a result of some bad planning - but what I was getting too, if you caught any of the audio, or if you could even stomach listening to it - both of the big two seem to put the folks on the Internet assignments that, it almost seems like they are attempting to run it into the ground - I mean Mark Madden and "Deli Boy", I mean give me a break, I understand that Gene Okerlund was supposedly sick. I think having Mean Gene on there would have harkened back to the old days of wrestling radio and that would have been fine, these guys don't seem to really enjoy wrestling for what it is, they just seem to enjoy the fact tha they are in "the business" and it frustrates me as a fan and someone who has talked to many folks in the wrestling indutry, as I know you have, because we both know that most of those wrestlers, they never use terms like "shoot", they just talk like normal people - but again, my point (in a round about way) is - where do you think we're headed as a wrestling Internet community?

Al Isaacs: You know it's interesting, someone else asked me that and, also as a stand-up comedian, I saw something similar happen there. I started doing comedy about ten years ago when I was 18 and it was a time when comedy was kind of like what disco was ten years earlier when everyone with a strobe light all of a sudden opened up a disco. They did the same thing with comedy, every restaurant threw up a microphone and had an open mic night, they were everywhere, and everyone who had ever stood up and told a joke at a party decided they were a comedian, you know you've seen it a hundred times...

Jeremy Hartley: Sure...

Al Isaacs: ...and I think a lot of it's the same way now. You know, anyone who has access to a telephone can call a Hotline and pass off the information as their own and throw up their own web page. And I think the same thing that happened with comedy is going to happen with the wrestling sites on the web in that the smaller ones are going to fall by the wayside, people who were in it for a lark, and the one who are really dedicated to it and really love the sport are going to stick around. I mean, I know how much work gets put into this, its tough, and that's one of the things that bothered me was when Bob Ryder announced a while back that he was going to have to start charging people - there was this huge backlash - and that was, I think, really wrong on the part of the fans. There's a mentality that "if it's on the web it should be free"...

Jeremy Hartley: Exactly.

Al Isaacs: I know how much it costs us to keep the web site up every month just for maintenance alone. When you start adding in the cost of having video feeds, and all that it really really gets expensive. And sure these people can say, "Well, why pay for something we can get for free?" Well, you're getting for free from people who are stealing it from somebody else.

Jeremy Hartley: Right. And the thing is, and I can understand about the costs, I am the web host of the Wrestling Channel Online, to try to keep them afloat every day so that nothing happens and to try and continuously monitor the system and supply their RealAudio demands and whatnot - it does - it gets very costly. But I think that people would just sit down and realize something, there very lucky, and I'm very lucky that I haven't had to charge for this show. Because we've had a lot of good guests on this show by the grace of the Internet web gods, or whatever - they've been getting it for free and I hope that it can continue that way.

Al Isaacs: Right, and you know they point to other sites that give the stuff away for free but what they fail to see is that a lot of these other sites are just an offshoot of something else, the Internet isn't their main source of income, they're not relying on people buying merchandise or any of this other stuff to keep them afloat. They just have a small profit margin so they can throw up the web site.

Jeremy Hartley: So you're basically saying "fluff" verses real substance...

Al Isaacs: Exactly, there are thousands out there but it is essentially free space. When you start pulling in the numbers that we have been fortunate enough to get, the bandwidth starts costing a lot of money. It's like comparing the Internet to television. You know, we get television for free but you have all that advertising there - and unless advertisers are willing to take a chance on a medium, I mean wrestling, that is not looked upon favorably by the general public - it's tough.

Jeremy Hartley: Right.

Al Isaacs: I mean you can throw numbers at these people all day long, and the demographics, you know people between the ages of 12 and 30 - males, with such and such income - we know all that, and yet their not willing to take a chance on it, so it's gotta come from somewhere. Unfortunately Bob had to take the first step and he felt the backlash.

Jeremy Hartley: Yep... Yeah, he felt the backlash but I also think he felt some of the better support that any site has had. It kind of works both ways, and you know, I'll be watching it of course, you know, having a vested interest in what's going to happen... But just on a side note, for those who have not visited Scoops, which has now taken on somewhat of a new name, to Scoopcentral.com, but describe to a newcomer, or somone who hasn't been around for a while, the layout of your page - what types of things that you offer to the fans and to the general public - you know, just sort of give a plug here (laughs).

Al Isaacs: Okay! Well, I guess the heart of Scoops is the Daily News, which we have up by 7:30 AM every day (except for Sundays) we use that day to recuperate (laughs) - and that's coming from varied sources that I have mostly within the big two. We have the written word section, which is a variety of writers that we've picked up over the last year or so - which kind of crosses different demographics. We have woman writers, we have different ages, from different areas of the country and of the world really. We have the TWF - the Tabloid Wrestling Federation - which is kind of a bizarre, celebrity wrestling matches which we started a couple of years back when we first started Scoops. That's a lot of fun. That kind of allowed me to cross over my comedy to wrestling a little bit. The latest thing, the one I'm most excited about is our PowerSlam Profiles, which, as we've been getting a lot more inside with WCW and the WWF they've been giving us a lot more access to the talent - so we have interviews with Buff Bagwell, I just did one with Arn Anderson that went up this weekend, Bret Hart will be going up, Marc Mero, so that area has been expanding a lot lately. We have Scoops Direct, which is more then a links page, it's more kind of a sports directory because while it's focused on wrestling, we are kind of broadening it so that you find resources for almost any sport on there. We have the mailbox page, daily answering mail from our readers because it got crazy trying to answer our mail. You know, 300 emails a day, which we try and kind of select the ones that cover the most of what eveyone's asking and get it up there.

Jeremy Hartley: Sure...

Al Isaacs: We have Time Killers, you know, games for folks who are at work and just want to kill a few minutes. You know, like a hangman game and a couple of other things. We have a pretty nice variety and we have a lot more in store for people. You know, we've been negotiating with a couple different companies and there are a couple of things in the works that people are going to be seeing over the next few weeks as far as us expanding into other areas. I wish I could reveal a little bit more, but readers will find out soon enough.

Jeremy Hartley: Sure. I can definitely respect the fact that negotiations are not always the easiest things in the world and, as I mentioned to you in email, I've done about 15 of these interviews and when you have to do your own negotiating, it's tough. I've been in contact with the publisher of the Arn Anderson and Ted Dibiasi autobiographies (Bob Blackburn) to do some ads for them and I understand that they have an agreement with you now and you have been quite fortunate, of course you've put in a lot of hard work, but one of the things that impressed me is the fact that you are able to get these negotiations and it's nothing to sneeze at...

Al Isaacs: I'm really fortunate in a couple of respects in that I have a great partner, Rene Ortega, who handles all of the business while I'm trying to, you know, keep a roof over my head off working. And I guess what has impresses me is that the people in the business saw that I wasn't out to get anyone. You know, if you look at my page, and the news that I've written over the past two years, I've never gone after anyone, I've never had a bad word to say about another web page, I have never tried to skewer one wrestler or federation because, you know I look at - they're reading this page and if I attack anyone, then no one's going to want to work with me. It's like if I go after this guy today, then maybe it will be me tomorrow. I have the most respect for these guys and they've picked up on it, and I was glad to be "picked up on", you know, otherwise I was wasting my time. When I was approached to work on Arn's book and help them out with that, I mean, I couldn't be more flattered with what they asked me to do. I have a background in publishing and stuff, but they didn't even know that - that was just a bonus.

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, Bob Ryder and Buddy Landel are currently to be found in the "Interviews" section. You can also hear any of these interviews in RealAudio by visiting Jeremy's web site, Up Close Wrestling


Stylin' And Profilin': The Legend Of Ric Flair

By Ervin Griffin, Jr. and Matt Benaka

Part 21:Thunderdome and Troy

On July 23, 1989, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair defended his NWA title against Terry Funk. Flair was successful but this one on one feud became a two on two feud as Sting and The Great Muta got involved!!! Muta sided with Funk while Sting side with his old rival in Flair!!! Over the summer, Flair and Funk would engage in a series of matches that pushed both men to the brink of retirement!!! Then, in early September, Flair broke the arm of Funk during a house show (I don't know where or when this injury occured however)!!! Around that same time, Flair and Sting had signed to face Funk and Muta at a September Clash Of The Champions special (again, I forgot where but I think it was either in South Carolina or Georgia)!!! "Dirty" Dick Slater, an alleged cousin of Terry Funk, volunteered to take Terry's place in the match but he was coming in with a bad arm as well!!! This was the result of Flair hitting him with Funk's own branding iron weeks before this bout!!!

Then came the match!!! This match was dominated mostly by Sting and Flair!!! It also marked the first time that Muta and Flair had actually met in the ring in any type of official match up!!! It was a pretty good exchange between the two!!! Anyway, the match ended when everyone got into the ring!!! Unexpectedly, Terry Funk showed up and tried to suffocate Flair with a plastic bag!!! Sting, meanwhile, was getting worked over by Slater and Muta!!! This incident led to the NWA suspeding Terry Funk and fining him $25,000 dollars. A high fine for that time (the recent finings of Kevin Nash have well surpassed that number)!!!

Flair, in an unprecidented move, demanded that Funk be reinstated and he payed Funk's fine!!! He then signed for he and Sting to face Funk and Muta on October 29 at NWA (now WCW) Halloween Havoc in Philedelphia, PA (future home of ECW)!!! The match would take place in a "Thunderdome" cage match with electric wiring on the top edges of the cage to keep the wrestlers in!!! Thunderdome was an early predecesor, IMO, to the "Hell In A Cell" cage match!!! The rules of this match was no DQ, no countouts, no time limit!!! The match would end when either Gary Hart (for Funk/Muta) or Ole Anderson (for Flair/Sting) would throw in the towel for their team!!! The special ref for this bout was former two time WWF World Heavyweight Champion Bruno "The Living Legend" Samartino!!! This match was wild and crazy!!! The match came to an end when Flair caught Funk in his figure four leglock with Sting continuously splashing Funk from the top rope!!! During this brutal scene, Hart got into it with Ole!!! Ole leveled Hart with a punch that caused the towel to leave his hand!!! Samartino, not seeing what had actually happened, assumed that Hart threw in the towel!!! He called for the match to end with Sting and Flair victorious!!! This was, however, not the end of Flair VS. Funk.

Troy, NY. The site of another Clash Of The Champions special!!! It happend in November 15!! Flair and Funk did battle in an "I Quit" match!!! This bout was slow and not as exciting as their first encounter in Baltimore, MD but was interesting nonetheless!!! The end came when Funk got caught in Flair's figure four!!! After about 30 seconds of struggle(continuously yelling "No!!! NEVER!!!), Funk finally conceded by saying "YES, I QUIT!!!" Funk also shook the hand of Flair after the bout (which, before the match, he'd promise he'd do if he lost)!!!

Afterwards, Hart cheap shot Funk in his knee!!! Flair came to Funk's defense by attacking Gary Hart!!! This also brought out Muta and The Dragon Master to attack Flair!!! Sting soon arrived and he and Flair had Muta and DM in their respective submission holds!!! This went on until then NWA US Champion Lex Luger (who had a confrontation with Sting earlier that evening) came in with a steel chair and whacked Sting in the back with it!!! Flair left Muta to go after Luger but was soon overwhelmed by the numbers!!! Flair, Funk and Sting were all laid out in the ring!!! This scene led to Flair requesting a match with Muta on World Championship Wrestling!!! It was a pretty good match that saw Hart bring out Buzz "Mad Dog" Sawyer!!! Both Muta and Sawyer did a number on Flair!!! Flair saw it was time to bring out the troops!!!

Next: Return Of The 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.


Thunder Report

I assume this program is on tape since they don't say it's live and they don't announce the arena.

Psychosis vs. Juventud Guerrera - Cruiserweight Title match - Juvey comes down off of his flying game to ground his challenger in this one. It is evident by what happens the first time Psychosis is knocked to the floor...nothing. Not that this is a straight mat wrestling match by any means, but it doesn't come close to some of the suicidal contests we've seen in the past. Unfortunately for Guerrera, his opponent's size advantage makes this strategy perilous for the smaller man. He moves more into the ether as the match progresses, but then he loses his balance and straddles the corner. Psychosis is right on him and joins Juvey on top to put on his foreward roll sunset flip and gets a two count just before the first break.

Psychosis administers a brainbuster DDT as we return but Juvey kicks out. What follows is a series of failed pin attempts culminating in a Guillotine legdrop and a very cavalier cover that also fails. Guerrera comes back with a Juvey Driver and takes the pin. Cut to commercial.

Mean Gene interviews Stevie Ray on a backstage set. Stevie says he's going to take care of the Giant during their match tonight.

Replay of the Warrior's appearance on Monday night. Mercifully, they show an abreviated version.

Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. Barry Darsow - two bull-like has beens go at it. Duggan has been getting a minor push lately because of the Meng connection while Darsow is pretty much a non-entity so I think I know where this one is going... Darsow dominates the proceedings in the early going and stays right on top of his man throughout the match. From Krusher Kruschev to Demolition Smash to Repo Man to the Blacktop Bully - this man has always been a comer. But Duggan lets it go on just long enough to make his comeback more effective - then hits the three point stance and demolishes (no pun intended) the guy. Cut to commercial.

History of War Games video.

Mean Gene interviews Bret Hart - they talk about War Games. He refuses to name the third member of the nWo team (w/himself and Hogan). He states unequivically that he will win War Games then go on to defeat Goldberg at Halloween Havoc. Cut to commercial.

Mean Gene interviews Steve McMichaels who talks about his match coming up with Curt Hennig.

Dean Malenko vs. Brian Adams (w/Vincent) - Adams has an overwhelming size advantage in this one - plus he has Vincent hanging about ringside. With the deck stacked against him, Malenko is reeling through much of the match. He gets a break when Adams picks him up while he is holding a front face lock. Malenko uses his weight to turn it into a DDT and then goes for the Texas Cloverleaf. But Vincent is on the apron immediately to distract the referee while Curt Hennig runs in and creams the Ice Man. Adams gets the pin. Cut to commercial.

Replay of the Buff/Steiner appearance from Monday night. Cut to commercial.

Replay of Raven's rant and subsequent confrontation with Saturn which set up the Raven/Saturn match for War Games for the soul of the Flock.

Kanyon vs. Saturn vs. Horace vs. Raven (w/Lodi) - Four Corners match - the four combatants are introduced then we cut to commercial.

Raven and Saturn are in to start but then Raven tags Horace in immediately. As big as he is, Hulk Hogan's young cousin is no real competition for Saturn. Kanyon is tagged in and now Horace gains a little ground, but not for long. Kanyon turns the tables then tags in Raven. Raven wants his opponent to tag Kanyon back in but he refuses, so Raven slaps him to convince him and he complies. Kanyon needs no urging to attack Raven, who out maneuvers him and now he and Horace are working as a team. Raven comes back in and tags Saturn who goes over and slaps Horace on the chest. Horace gets the advantage over Kanyon and has him pinned but Saturn breaks it up. Raven is tagged in to face Kanyon as Horace goes for the Stop sign. He bashes Raven either accidently or on purpose. Both comptitors (Raven and Kanyon) are down then they start crawling toward Saturn's corner. Saturn choses to tag Kanyon out then goes to town on Raven. Kanyon wants to cooperate with Saturn now, or so it seems, but it is a ruse to get the upper hand in the overall match. Now bodies are flying all over the ring area. Saturn and Kanyon end up on the outside while Raven gets the DDT on Horace and takes the pin. Cut to commercial.

Mean Gene with the Giant - he considers Stevie Ray a gnat to be swatted.

Curt Hennig (Rick Rude) vs. Steve McMichael - Hennig and Company get to the ring before we cut to commercial.

Mongo makes his entrance and proceeds to dominate the opening moments of the match. He basically overpowers his opponent. Eventually, Hennig outwrestles the big guy. A drop toe hold turns the tables and Hennig is all over the former Horseman, working on his left leg to set up the Fisherman's suplex. Mongo makes a comeback with a neckbreaker then hits Hennig twice with the football tackle before Rude bashes him with a chair. Hennig has the pin but Dean Maleko runs in and attacks him. Rude takes Malenko out then the two of them beat on Mongo before they leave the ring. Hennig won, by the way...Malenko got Mongo DQ'd. Cut to commercial.

The Giant (w/Scott Hall) vs. Stevie Ray - we get a replay of previous confrontations before the feature bout starts. What is with the bow on Hall's head..? Stevie talks some trash as he approaches the ring but his eyes show his unease, Hall's presence is not helping, of course. They lock up and the Giant seems to have a bit of difficulty throwing his opponent off. Again the lock up and the Giant grabs a wristlock. Stevie reverses it then plants a boot into the Giant's face and downs him! Hall comes in to provide the distraction so the Giant can sneak up behind his opponent and grab him by the throat as he turns around. Chokeslam city, followed by a tongue-lashing from Hall then some more nWo thugs come in to humiliate the former Tag Champ. Cut to video of the Warrior's debut then fade to black.

This seemed like a less then usual Thunder program.

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

Earl Oliver
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter


(Editor's Note: If you have found anything thats been said here to be particularly offensive please read this disclaimer).

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Visit Jeremy Hartley's
Up Close Wrestling

This is the official web site of my friend Jeremy Hartley and the home of the "Up Close and Personal" RealAudio show. Jeremy has assembled all of his UCP interviews here and will also be featuring my "Time Machine" series which used to run on the TBR Wrestling Hotline. Jeremy has interviews with such wrestling personalities and Lou Thesz, Les Thatcher, Bob Blackburn, Buddy Landel and people associated with the Internet Wrestling Community such as Al Isaacs, Bob Ryder, Scot Teal, J. Michael Kenyon and even yours truely!

Bret Hart's Weekly Column in the Calgary Sun


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This page is a personal tribute and is in no way connected to any of the wrestling promotions mentioned on it. It is dedicated to the Dean of Wrestling announcers, Gordon Solie. Copyright 1998 - Jump City Productions


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