Here is the second installment of an interview conducted with the man behind one of the most popular wrestling web sites, Scoops.
Jeremy Hartley: Now you were instrumental in putting up the excerpts of another gentleman who I just had the pleasure of interviewing, and it's on the page, it's the Lou Thesz autobiography, and that must have been a real thrill. You were able to online publish the first five chapters of the book...
Al Isaacs: Lou and his wife Charlie are just wonderful people. They sent me a Christmas card this year, and that was such a huge, huge thrill for me because my grandfather was a boxer and he used to sit and tell me stories. Lou was his favorite wrestler, and one of his favorite memories was that, while he was working out at a gym in Brooklyn, Lou Thesz walked in to work out, and it was the biggest thrill of his life. And here I am, you know, so many years later and all of a sudden I'm working with Lou Thesz. That was just unbelievable. To say that he has helped me is an extreme understatement. When I got a call last January from the folks in Oregon, when they were having problems with their boxing and wrestling commission, they hadn't had a live show there in a decade, and they were going in front of the committees trying to reformat their entire boxing commission. I turned to Lou and within days I already had letters from people in the Cauliflower Alley Club, the folks who really made this business what it is, showing their support for people who wanted to get live wrestling back in the great State of Oregon. And that was really instrumental in getting it back, I am really thankful for him. He really...working with his really kind of made me feel like I was doing the right thing when I started working on Scoops.
Jeremy Hartley: Sure, you need that, we all do. When you go to the trouble to put this stuff up for the public, you always have little doubts, "Well, are people really going to take to this? Is it going to be the biggest flop known to man?" But when you work with somebody like a Lou Thesz, or Les Thatcher or somebody in that vein, and they give you their undying support, and they are always there for you, it makes you think, "Wow!I guess I am..."
Al Isaacs: ...I guess I am doing the right thing... Yeah, I just interviewed Bret Hart a while back and I told him, "You know when I first started Scoops I told my wife that there were three people I hoped I woud get to talk to and tell them how much I admired and respected them, and that was Lou Thesz, Bruno Sammartino and Bret Hart. And I got to do it. I got the "trifecta"...um...so I can die happy now.
Jeremy Hartley: (laughs) That's it, you've accomplished...
Al Isaacs: (laughs) That's it...game over...everything beyond this, you know, is just icing on the cake. And the funny thing was, I had told Bret Hart I had set up an interview with him a couple of weeks back, and you know how this is when you're trying to get someone to do something, it kind of fell through and the next thing after I had hung up with him I got the phone call from Arn Anderson, so I told Bret Hart, "Look, I was supposed to talk to you but you weren't there so I asked Arn all of your questions, so if you don't mind, what was it like being with the Minnesota Wrecking Crew..?"
Jeremy Hartley: (laughs) Yeah, what was it like being "Ole's brother"..?
Al Isaacs: (laughs) Yeah, I got that out of the way. But it really is amazing to see this side of the business. I mean, I've always appreciated the athleticism and whatnot but to see what really makes these guys tick is just incredible. And it's great when they actually turn around and appreciate what I'm doing. And know that I'm not out to hurt anyone. My partner always says that a lot of site are out there sort of being the "National Enquirer" of wrestling. And we look at ourselves as kind of the "TV Guide" of wrestling. There have been a lot of times when we have had stories run across my desk that I haven't gone with because I've thought that it really is no one's business - this is their personal life and it really doesn't affect them in the ring...
Jeremy Hartley: Yeah, nobody really needs to know about this stuff. I spoke to a couple of people in the business about this a couple of days ago and I said, "You know, the amount of smarts that it doesn't take to put up a web site - the new breed of wrestling fans seems to think that it is their right to know everything a wrestler does, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - I try to still be a fan even though I might have my own ideas about what is going to happen. But you see a lot of these people who claim to be "in the know" - and those are the one who say "...oh, this is going to be a terrible event..." and I have to ask, "Then why are you a fan? Why are you involved anyway..?"
Al Isaacs: Yeah, I have never understood that. I honestly don't. It's tough, as much as this business has changed since, say, the late eighties, it's had it's ups and it's had it's downs, there are a lot of positives and a lot of negatives. You look at first, how the business its now, where there is no true good and evil anymore. There are so many shades of gray, and the fans are definitely a jaded group. It is amazing how jaded they are, because if you watch the tapes of the original couple of WrestleMania's and first PPV's, everyone cheered for the same guy, everyone booed the same guy...
Jeremy Hartley: That's right...
Al Isaacs: ...and you booed him, you didn't say he "sucked", there weren't the signs. Where so many fans today consider themselves to be "smart" - they don't seem to know where that "line" is, they keep crossing it, I mean, throwing stuff in the ring...and um...it's gotten a little bit scary - the idea that anyone would still want to be a wrestler anymore. These house show events have really gotten out of hand in the last couple of months. I find it incredible that anyone would even want to be a heel these days (laughs) because now you're not just getting people crazy in their seats booing you, but you are almost putting your life on the line...
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
The Free-for all was the usual blend of hype and commentary.
5PM straight up and the program gets underway for real with a flash of pyrotechnics and the sound of a live band. Madison Square Garden is the location of the tenth annual SummerSlam card.
Val Venis vs. D'Lo Brown - European Title match - Mr. Cheese makes his entrance first - the usual faintly obscene opening remarks. D'Lo is introduced as "now hailing from Helsinki, Finland" (right...). JR is reporting that D'Lo's chest protector has recently been reinforced with something. Brown seems to be trying to to frustrate his opponent in the early going. Venis goes for a massive knife-edge chop but has no affect at all because of the chest protector. Later Brown uses the device to down his opponent during a head-on collision. Venis switches tactics and goes after the back and finally takes control of the match. Val is showing me something in this match. His execution is getting better and he's broadening his repetoire. D'Lo finally turns things back around by ramming Val's back into the corner. His advantage lasts just a moment and then the match starts to see-saw. D'Lo asserts his authority again but he is not trying very hard to get the pin. Val keeps kicking out easily. His back seems to be giving him some problems. Twice he is unable to hoist his opponent into the air because of back pain. D'Lo finally gives up the initiative by missing a splash. Val is slow but manages to turn the tables decisively. He goes for the Money Shot but D'Lo alertly catches him in mid-air and power-bombs him. D'Lo then gets a DDT which flips Venis clear over onto his stomach but can't get the pin. They climb to the top together and struggle for position - then D'Lo knocks his opponent to the mat. He throws another splash but gets caught and power-slammed. They struggle in the corner again and Val gets the upperhand. He goes for the Money Shot again but this time D'Lo gets his knees up. Now D'lo goes for a power-bomb but slips and drops Val on his head. He comes back with a second power-bomb then goes for another splash and misses again! Venis seems to be getting his second wind. He removes the chest protector from D'Lo and power-bombs him. Then he puts on the chest protector and climbs to the top. The referee tries to interfere with him and causes him to fall off the top and straddle the corner buckle. Val tries to go up again and the referee blocks him so he throws him aside. Before he can complete his attack the ref DQ's him. D'Lo leaves and an angry Val Venis puts the referee down and drops the Money Shot on him.
Mike Cole is with Mankind in the back where a hearse is parked. It was beat up earlier (during Sunday Night Heat) by Steve Austin with a sledge hammer. Mankind says something about this being "his ride" and brandishes the sledge hammer.
The Insane Clown Posse makes it debut accompanying the Oddities to the ring.
Kaientai vs. the Oddities - Golga, Kurrgan and the Giant Silva are in this handicap match against the four members of Kaientai - somehow this doesn't really seem like a handicap match...unless you consider it in the other direction. Taka starts out against Golga, who devastates the entire opposition. Yamaguchi-san runs in and gets a shoe full of water in his face. Kurrgan tags in for the next mismatch. He also fights off all four of his opponents. Seems like that's the way this is going to go. Kaientai look like a bunch of little munchkins against any member of the Oddities. Now Silva is in and nobody wants to take him on. They all four come in and he just takes it for a moment then tosses them all aside like so many sacks of potatoes. He herds them into a corner then backs into them ala Andre the Giant. He then gorilla presses Taka and tosses him out for his cohoorts to catch. Golga comes back in and the pattern continues. Two of his oponents mangage to stop him with a double drop-kick and a double slam. All four of them drop on him as he lies on the mat then start hitting him with rapid fire elbow drops. Three then hold him while the fourth drop kicks him in the mush. Eventually they let him up and Kurrgan comes in so they have to start all over again. They attack him en masse which brings Silva back in to break that up. Luna gets involved then all four are chokeslammed by the two biggest guys. Golga drops a splash on the four of them to end the match.
Doc Hendrix talks to Shawn Michaels who declines to predict the outcome of the next match between Double J and X-Pac.
Dubba J (w/Southern Justice) vs. X-Pac (w/Howard Finkel) - Hair match - the Fink was shaved earlier tonight on Sunday Night Heat so he's here to lend moral support. SJ gets sent back to the showers. The fight goes out to the floor in a flash and Jarrett picks Waltman up and slams him crotch first into the corner post. X-Pac is almost counted out of the ring but gets back in at 9. Jarrett is in control of things now as he whips Waltman into the corner then gets a powerslam and the first pin attempt. No cigar. He misses a move and X-Pac gets the chance to climb the corner and lay a flying DDT on his opponent. Jarrett is back up in a moment and gets a sleeper on Waltman. X-Pac is reduced to a prone position but manages to fight back up. He reverses to a sleeper of his own but Jarrett runs him into the corner again. Waltman recovers and tries a twisting splash but misses. Jarrett rushes in and misses one himself but then X-Pac tries to come back with a spinning heelkick and also misses. Jarrett slaps on the figure four leglock. Waltman fights it and manages to almost turn Jarrett over but fails. He finally escapes then tries a belly to back suplex which leaves both men on the canvas for the count. Jarrett recovers first then helps Waltman up but he is surprised with another round kick which connects this time. Now the match is see-sawing again. Waltman goes for his bronco buster move but misses it and goes down. Finkel jumps onto the apron and distracts Jarrett while Waltman recovers. Southern Justice runs in and tries to use Jarrett's guitar but Waltman gets hold of it and uses it while the referee is distracted by SJ. He gets the pin then all of Dubba J's previous haircut victims hold him while Waltmans shaves Jarrett's head.
It is a comical scene as various bald guys (the Headbangers, Finkel, Droz etc.) try on tufts of Dubba J's blond locks.
Doc shows us the "Lions Den" an octogonal shaped small cage that will be used for the special match between Ken Shamrock and Owen Hart later. Cut to Mike Cole who interiews the Rock concerning his ladder match with HHH.
Mark Mero/Jaquelyn vs. Sable/? - Mixed Tag Team match - Sables mystery partner turns out to be Edge. Sable wans to start the match but Jaquie is hanging back so we get Mero and Edge. Mero starts strong and asserts his experience advantage in the first exchange but Edge turns it right around then Mero tags in Jaquelyn. Edge takes his time tagging in Sable and when she gets in, Jaquie hightails it out of the ring. back to Mero and Edge. Mero dominates with his lady's help but Edge comes right back. Mero escapes and tags in Jaquie and Sable finally gets a chance to grab her nemisis. She dominates for a moment but Jaquie is really much stronger then her opponent and come out on top. She carries Sable through this part of the match then allows herself to be put into a TKO. Mero interferes to prevent the pin then holds Sable so that Jaquie can splash her on the ropes. She hits Mero instead and he is tagged in. Edge comes in and knocks Mero to the floor then suicide dives on him. Back in the ring Edge is still in charge until Mero pulls off a Samoan Drop. Mero climbs the corner and gets upset there. Sable runs in and puts a Frankensteiner on him as he sits on the top corner buckle. She goes for a pin then moves aside so that Jaquelyn can splash him! Edge drops Sable on him as well then Sable pins her husband.
The Undertaker grabs the mic away from Mike Cole to tell Austin that he will face him alone tonight. Cole then talks to Mankind who says he's lost his car, lost his tag team partner and his sledge hammer and suggests that perhaps Cole could be his partner. Vince McMahon shows up to give him a pep talk. He says that he has an idea - why doesn't Mankind face the opposition on his own..? Mankind is dubious until Vince offers him a spot in the MSG Hall of Fame.
Owen Hart vs. Ken Shamrock - Lion's Den match - I see that the Lion's Den has a catwalk around the upper edge where, I presume, the referee will keep and eye on things. It also has 12 sides, not 8 as I said before. The sides slope inward towards the bottom. The King erroneously refers to the "Beast" as "Ken" Severn. Shamrock seems to have the upper hand through the opening moments but neither man really has the advantage for any length of time. This is no holds barred so Owen's low-blow is legal. Shamrock comes right back. Both men are going for submission maneuvers for the most part and not really using the cage to their advantage until Shamrock jumps sideways and springboards off one of the walls. Owen turns around and starts ramming his opponent into the support where the cage pieces meet. From this point Owen is definitely in control. He pounds on his opponent and doesn't try for a pin. He goes for a piledriver but it is blocked. He comes right back and mainatns his control of the action until he goes for a standing Frankensteiner and gets power-bombed instead. Now Shamrock holds the cards, delivering kicks to the midsection and face. Owen is bleeding from the mouth but recovers with a power-bomb of his own then goes for the Sharpshooter. Shamrock drags himself to the cage wall and starts climbing up hand over hand until he breaks the hold. He hits Owen with a DDT, kicks him in the face then downs him with a clothesline. Owen comes back with the Dragon Sleeper style maneuver taught to him by Severn but Shamrock manages to walk up the side of the cage and flips himself out of it. He makes Owen submit with his ankle lock as Severn walks away after refusing to throw in the towel.
Mankind vs The New Age Outlaws - No Holds Barred/Pinfalls count anywhere/handicap match for the Tag Team titles - Foley brings a chair and a baking pan to the ring for weapons. The Outlaws bring a dumpster full of weapons. They run in and get downed immediately by the pan. Billy comes back in with a chair and they have a fencing match for a moment. Finally they start to wrestle - but not for long. Both Outlaws attack mankind with cookie sheets. The ref is finding it impossible to control this mess. Somehow, Foley separates the two opponents and starts working on them separately in turn. He is successfull for a moment but then they overwhelm him. The fight goes to the outside where they pound on him some more. Back in the ring they prop a table up in the corner but Mankind reverses the whip and sends Billy into the table. Now they set up two chairs facing each other and power-bomb Foley onto them then they set-up and execute a spiked piledriver on one of the Tag belts. Billy gets the pin. The New Age Outlaws are the New Tag Champs. They dump Foley into the dumpster after the match. Suddenly Kane emerges from the dumpster with the sledgehammer. He appears to bash something with it (presumably it is Foley but we don't actually see it) Kane rolls the dumpster away.
What follows is about 8 minutes of hype for the upcoming ladder match.
HHH vs. The Rock - Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Title - the DX band preceeds HHH to the ring and performs their DX theme using wireless instruments and a wireless mic. They destroy the drum set after the song is finished. It will be interesting to see whether these two are capable of mounting a ladder match to compare with the classic ones between Shawn Micheals and Scott Hall. They start out with a slugfest then start laying in the high impact moves immediately. These are both huge guys - I think the Rock is possibly a little larger and certainly has more raw talent - but neither of them is a really seasoned wrestler so it is a pretty even contest. They go out to the floor after a few encounters in the ring - HHH takes control of things then drags Maivia back to the ring. The ladder hasn't come into play yet. HHH is the first to try and bring it into the ring but he takes to long getting out there and is blindsided by his opponent. The laddr gets knocked over as HHH is slammed into it. Rocky puts his opponent down and then drags the ladder to the ring. He is in turn blindsided by HHH, but Maivia reverses things and rams HHH into the ladder. Now the ladder is in the ring and Rocky is trying to set it up. He starts to climb as HHH arrives on the apron. He flies off the top and topples the ladder right onto himself as the Rock is knocked in the head and thrown clear. HHH recovers and starts using the ladder as a weapon. He creames his opponent with it then sets it up and starts to climb. Maivia recovers and pulls him off. They struggle around the ladder then Maivia moves it out of the center so he can work on HHH's leg. Things are looking bad for Helmsley - especially after Maivia hits his leg with the ladder! He positions the injured leg under the ladder and smashes his weight onto it twice then gets a chair and hammers Helmsly with it twice.
The fight goes out to the floor and now Maiva is really taking Hunter to school. He leaves HHH laying on the floor and goes back in to try for the belt again. He climbs too slow and HHH recovers enough to re-enter the ring and upset Maivia's balance. HHH takes the ladder down and shoves it out of the ring. He props it up against one of the announce tables and prepares to fling Maivia into it but the Rock blocks the move then reverses it and smashes HHH into it instead. He tries to hit him again but HHH gets in a gut shot. Now Hemlsley positions the Rock for a Pedegree on the ladder but Maivia reverses it and drops HHH on it instead. Chyna is comforting his (er...her) man while Mark Henry tosses in a second ladder. The Rock is on his way up as Henry restrains Helmsley - Chyna delivers a solid forearm to Henry's head and HHH manages to topple the ladder just as the Rock has the belt in his grasp. The Rock tries to come back into the ring but HHH baseball slides into the ladder and smashes the Rock. Now HHH climbs the ladder and is upset at the last moment. He takes a nasty fall to the mat. The Rock sets up the first ladder on one of the corners and tries to whip HHH onto it but Helmsley reverses the whip so Rocky settles for a DDT instead. Both guys are down. Maivia recvovers first and starts to slowly climb the ladder again. He is blinded by the blood in his eyes from what appears to be a broken nose. HHH then starts up the other side. They engage in fisticuffs near the top and HHH is knocked into the other ladder but rebounds and knocks Maivia's ladder over as well. Maivia picks up the fallen ladder but HHH knocks him down with the ladder on top of him then smashes him a couple of times with a chair. Somehow, the Rock recovers and knocks HHH down, positions him lying on one of the ladders and drops the People's Elbow (ouch!!!) Maivia starts up the now shaky ladder and HHH is up and trying to go up the other side. Their progress is halted when Maivia hits a Rock-Bottom on HHH from the top of the ladder!! They struggle some more at the foot of the ladder and HHH gets the Pedegree. Helmsly climbs the ladder and actually touches the belt as Rocky climbs the other side. Rocky upsets HHH and almost has the belt but Chyna runs in and gives him a low blow. As the Rock writhes in pain on the mat, HHH retreives the belt. HHH is the New IC Champ.
That was a very good match. Both of these guys showed me something tonight.
The Undertaker vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin - World Title match - interestingly enough, there are no special stipulations attached to this contest. I think this is the only plain old, regular match on the entire card. JR asserts that there has never been a reception at MSG like the one that Stone Cold receives (of course, being with the NWA at the time, he was never there for any of Bruno Sammartino's matches, or Hulk Hogan for that matter). This match is an all out brawl from the get-go. It's hard to see how Austin can win this in a fair contest. He is outweighed and the Undertaker is also much more agile then his opponent. Sure enough, UT dominates the early going relying on sheer size to overwhelm his opponent's defenses. He performs a hotshot out of an attempt at a Lou Thesz press by Austin. Austin is reeling from and earlier headbutt. The Undertaker is dictating the pace as the contest continues. Austin is being whipped from piller to post. He finally gets a chance to smash UT's leg against the apron and turns the tables. UT gets up quick as Austin re-enters the ring. He hits his flying clothesline then starts choking Austin. The ref breaks that up with a count. UT grabs a wrist lock then walks the ropes but Austin jerks him off his perch and goes to work on UT's leg. Now Kane shows up at ringside but UT motions him to go back. He wants Austin to himself. Kane retreats as the match continues. Austin goes back to work on UT's leg but UT recovers and turns the tables. He chokeslams Austin off the apron and back into the ring. The fight goes out to the floor where a brawl ensues. The referee follows them, allowing them a lot of leeway. They fight right into the crowd. Austin gets backdropped on the concrete out there then they fight back towards the ring where Austin is posted. Back in the ring Austin goes for a Stunner but the Undertaker slips away and flips himself over the top rope to the floor. Austin tries to suicide dive onto him but is caught in mid-air and smashed against the post again. Back in the ring they get into a fist fight until UT flings Austin out of the ring. He tries to catch the rope as he goes over and appears to wrench his back pretty severely. UT follows him out and continues to pound on him. He positions Austin on the announce table but the referee intervenes and UT returns to the ring. Then he goes to the top and drops a leg onto Austin who is still lying on the table. The table is shattered as UT picks Austin back up and forces him back into the ring. He goes for the pin but Austin shoots a shoulder. Austin is spitting up blood now. UT props him in the corner and rushes in but Austin steps aside. UT is unaffected and continues his assault. They collide in mid-air after a whip and the ref starts a double count-out. Both guys recover and a slugfest ensues. Austin gets the best of it then goes for a whip, ducks a clothesline and hits the Thesz press this time. They struggle some more and UT blocks another Stunner. Now UT gets the chokeslam and then goes for the Tombstone but Austin slips away from it. UT maintains control and gets a reverse Atomic Drop. Now Austin is down and out of it. UT gets up first and waits for his opponent to rise. He goes for his rope-walking schtick again and again is upset by the Champ. Austin finally hits the Stunner and the match is history. UT gets up and grabs the belt. He faces Austyin for a moment then hands it to the Champion. he splits looking disappointed but has shown his integrity. Austin is groggy and has some trouble mounting the ropes to celbrate with the crowd. The brothers turn and leave as Austin wearily leaves the ring and splits.
Excellent stuff top to bottom...I think we might hear that Austin was injured when he took that spill out of the ring earlier. It really looked like he hurt himself and he was definitetly favoring his back after the match.
At least that's the way I see it...
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
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