This new format also gives me room to go back to editorializing more often, the immediate results of which can be read below.
A montage of scenes from last week's program. Young master McMahon breaks his fathers heart. Shane McMahon is introduced and goes to the ring. Jim Ross says that Vince McMahon is not in attendance tonight. Shane announces that he is the "acting chairman' of the WWF and says that Steve Austin will face the winner of the Survivor Series on RAW the next night for the WWF Championship. He then introduces Austin. In the back Vince McMahon arrives via limo. His cronies meet him and wheel him into the arena. Cut back to the ring where Austin is celebrating with the fans. Vince has a mic and starts ranting as he comes through the entryway. He brands the rumor that he is going to retire as "wishful thinking". The crowd starts their "a$$hole" chant. Shane looks satified at that. Vice goes on - "...you'd really like it if I retired wouldn't you" addressing Austin, Shane and the crowd. He vows to stay in the saddle until the "...day I die." And when he does, he doesn't want any of them to attend his funeral. He wants to go "straight to Hell..." He says he has been in Hell for the last several weeks thanks to Austin and now Shane. He strips his son of his corporate responsibilities, then demotes Shane to referee. He says if Shane can't handle that job he'll bust him down to a member of the ring crew. He says that Shane is nothing like himself, but compares him to his mother. He turns to Austin and moves his Title shot up to the night of Survivor Series so that he will get it after wrestling at least four matches that night. He turns the rising chant back on the crowd, calling them all "a$$holes". JR notes that there is a cage suspended over the ring. Cut to commercial.
McMahon makes a final statement as we return. During the break he went down a harrassed the announcers, points to the cage and tells them that somebody is going to "pay hard time" whatever that means (he probably meant to say "serve hard time"). Sounds like the Bossman is going to have a cage match with someone.
New Age Outlaws/X-Pac vs The Brood - 6 Man Tag Team match - some of the crowd tries in vain to follow the Dog's intro word for word from the beginning - they catch up with him on "tag team champions of the world..." The Brood is Gangrel and the Edge brothers since their debut on Sunday Night Heat last night. Edge starts the match with X-Pac. Edge actually seems more vulnerable somehow since he lost his solitude. He and Christian do make a good team however as the double-team on X-Pac. Road Dog then comes in against Christian. He is on the receiving end and they isolate him until both the other DX'ers enter the ring and then the lights go out. Kane stalks down to the ring. He encounters Builly in the aisle and flattens him. Once in the ring he chokeslams Edge, then X-Pac, then Christian. The rest of the combatants wisely stay out of the ring. Kane splits and we cut to commercial.
Finally we are told that RAW is live from Houston, Texas. In the back we see Vince harrasing Michael Cole during the break. He sics the Bossman on him for asking him "How do you feel?" as he was leaving the arena last week. "How do you feel?" asks McMahon.
Droz vs. Hawk - Hawk stumbles to the ring is an apparent stupor. Droz assaults him before the bell, the referee seems disinclined to actually start the match. Animal stalks down to the ring and watches the carnage. A second referee enters the ring and then a third but Droz just keeps beating on Hawk. Animal enters the ring and orders Droz away then chastises Hawk in a loud voice before he splits. Backstage, McMahon is giving Jim Cornette a hard time over his wardrobe (actually he is dressed conservatively tonight in black jacket with red shirt and tie) and telling him to stop talking about that "1980's rasslin' crap". Cut to commercial.
Mike Cole interviews Mankind and Al Snow who disagree about there respective "companions". He says, "Just last night the secrets of wrestling were revealed to me..." at one point (obvious reference to the special on NBC last night).
The Oddities vs. Mankind/Al Snow - Dusty Hill from ZZ Top is shown at ringside. The oddities put forth Golga and Kurrgan to face the maniacs. Kurrgan is in with Mankind to start. Snow joins him to doubleteam the big guy while Golga distracts the referee. Snow then takes over. He is beaten into the corner by the giant then comes back by attacking his knee until he tumbles to the mat. Kurrgan absorbs some punishment then tags in Golga to face Mankind. Golga gets the best of his opponent then tags in Kurrgan again. Mankind downs Kurrgan then takes off his boot only to find he is barefoot underneath! Where's Mr. Socko?! He goes looking for him leaving Snow to face the Oddities on his own. Golga throws an elbow drop that misses, Snow whacks Kurrgan's foot with Head but can't avoid a splash from Golga and is pinned. In the back we watch as McMahon tells Shaquil O'Neil to leave the building because he doesn't have a backstage pass! Shaq ignores him and sits back down next to D-Lo Brown. Cut to commercial.
Backstage, Mankind is still looking for Mr. Socko. He asks Shaq for help and then goes looking for McMahon. Uh oh...
Steven Regal vs. Goldust - this "Real Man" personna is yet another example of McMahon's vaunted creativity. Ranks right up there with the wrestling plumber, and the wrestling garbage man. Regal goes to the ring and invites anybody to come out and face him "like a man". He gets the rather effeminent Goldust! This should be good. Regal starts out looking pretty inept against the Golden One. proabably a little shook up considering his "real manliness" (probably never eats quisch). Regal finally gets over his shock and sends Dustin flying over the top rope. The pregnant (this was revealed last night on Heat) Terri Runnels shows up dressed as Marlena, cigar and all. Crawling back apparently. In the ring the match has gone into see-saw mode, now favoring Regal. Uh oh...here comes Kane again. He ruins another match. Marlena runs in to comfort her estranged husband - so Kane starts to chokeslam her! He lifts her into the air by her throat but referees and Tony Garea swarm in to prevent it. He puts her down and chokeslams Garea instead. Cut to the Survivor Series brackets then to the backstage area where McMahon is actually speaking calmly to Mick Foley. He makes him promise not to interfere in the IC Title match tonight and then gives him the "WWF Hardcore Championship" belt. The belt's shield is broken into pieces which cling to the leather backing sort of haphazardly. He tells Foley that, although he may have lost a son last Monday, maybe he gained another one. As he leaves, Foley says, "Thanks Dad..." That causes McMahon to pause and ponder what he has just done. Cut to commercial.
Ken Shamrock vs. The Rock - Intercontinental Title match - as Shamrock makes his entrance we flash back to a few moments ago when Shamrock had a meeting with Vince. We don't get to hear what was said. Vince interrupts the match before it can begin to say that since he has a problem with "the people", he also has a problem with "the People's Champion" - he adds a stip to the match. Maivia has to win the Title tonight or else he is out of Survivor Series and loses his #1 contender status. The Rick takes him at his word and goes right to work on Shamrock. he drags him to the apron to beat on him. Back in the ring, Shamrock turns the tables and delivers some devastating blows to drive Maivia from the ring. On the outside, the Rock quickly resumes his control of the action but is stopped short and rammed into the steps then slammed on the concrete. Back in the ring he continues his assault until he stops to encourage the crowd's chant. The Rock strikes back but then ends up in the ankle lock submission. McMahon is enjoying this but Maivia guts it out and gets to the ropes. The two combatants criss cross then collide. Both go down for the count. At 6, Maivia recovers enough for a weak cover but gets a 2 count. Shamrock comes back with a series of slams and pin attempts. Still no cigar. He misses a clothesline and gets DDT'd and almost beat. They're back up. Shamrock ducks a clothesline and the referee gets it instead. Shamrock gets a chair but when he swings it it rebounds off the top rope and hits himself! Maivia would have the pin but there is no referee. He goes to rouse the ref giving Shamrock a chance to hit him with the chair. The referee sees this and DQ's Shamrock. McMahon tells the Rock that he is out of Survivor Series and calls him the "People's Chump". Cut to commercial.
Replay os McMahon crowing over Maivia's misfortune - cut to the back where the Rock is kicking furniture. Of course by setting up conflict with himself, McMahon is raising Maivia's stock even higher with the fans. Very clever.
Val Venis vs. Jeff Jarrett (w/Debra) - rematch from last night - Mr. Cheese compares himself to Akeem Malajuan (sp?) in his usual tacky intro speech. Jarrett outwrestles his opponent early on then walks right into an abdominal stretch. He escapes with a backslide reverse. They struggle for position and Val gets DDT'd but pops right back up. Now Val in on a roll. He flings Jarrett piller to post the stops to kick him in the face before going to the top. The Blue Blazer shows up suddenly and upsets his balance. Together he and Jarrett punk Mr. Cheese.
Out back a police car arrives and two officers enter the building as we cut to commercial.
Backstage McMahon is with the cops telling them that the Rock has threatened his life and he wants him arrested.
The Headbangers vs D-Lo Brown/Mark Henry - the Bangers are dressed up and NOA. Mosh does a high pitched rendition of the Road Dog's intro speech and introduces them as "the New Age Idiots". Thrasher imitates Billy Gunn and ends his speech with "You Suck!" The crowd reacts almost not at all to this match. Apprently they don't care for either team. The Bangers are the better team by a long shot and it shows as the match continues. They isolate Henry until D-Lo pulls the rope down so that Mosh tumbles to the floor. He loses his cornrow wig as he re-enters the ring. Now it is Mosh who is being isolated. D-Lo gets a cover and a two count. Then he rushes the corner and runs into a boot. Henry and D-Lo doubleteam Mosh as the referee removes Thrasher. D-Lo comes in and misses an elbow drop. Both guys are down then both tag out. Thrasher comes in a house afire but he has injured his knee earlier and favors it. Things are breaking down as the lights go out and Kane comes in to ruin another one. D-Lo and Mosh face Kane and then D-Lo shoves Mosh into Kanes boot. He turns his back to gloat only to turn around and be half of a double chokeslam with his erstwhile opponent. Backstage the Rock is being cuffed and hauled away. He offers them donuts but they don't bite... Cut to commercial.
The Rock struggles with the police as he is loaded into a squad car. Nearby, McMahon taunts him.
Owen hart comes down to the ring to make a statement. he says that he is here to hear what Dan Severn has to say and adds that he has retired. Severn makes his painful way to the ring. Severn says he's not here for an apology. he wants to know who Owen thinks he's kidding by running around in the Blue Blazer outfit. He calls him scum which earns him an assault (apparently Severn has recovered from his injury). Steve Blackman runs down and runs Owen off. Owen again claims that he is retired as he backs up the aisle. JR is saying, "Severn is hurt! My God! get an ambulance!" as we cut to commercial.
There are ten minutes left in the program - the cage still hangs ominously above the ring. Severn is being taken away in a meat wagon - Owen Hart appears and is attacked by Steve Blackman who is in turn attacked by...the Blue Blazer!!
Back in the arena, the cage starts descending to the ring. We cut to commercial before they tell us who the competitors will be.
McMahon is wheeled out to annouce who is going to "pay hard time" - come on Vince get it right, for God sakes... He is wheeled down to ringside, harranguing his stooges as they take him over to the announce table. He orders the Bossman and the three stooges to make sure the cage is secure inside and out. He has the Bossman lock himself inside the cage with the stooges then sics him on them! Brisco makes a pretty good fight of it but Traylor has his nightstick. Patterson tries to climb out but the Bossman drags him back. Slaughter attacks from behind but the Bossman turns around and clobbers him. Patterson starts up the cage wall again as McMahon demands that they "vow allegience" to him. Bossman hauls him down again and continues to beat on the three of them. Then McMahon orders the Bossman to rip their clothes off. At this point Austin runs down and scales the cage wall. He attacks the Bossman. Patterson grabs the discarded nightstick and hits Austin behind the knee. They are punking him together when Shane runs down and opens the cage. He pulls the Bossman off of Austin and then is confronted with the nightstick himself. Vince calls his dog off. The Bossman leaves the ring. Shane gives his father the finger then splits. Uh oh...here comes the Undertaker and Paul Bearer. They stride to the ring and UT enters the cage. He attacks Austin and they braawl for a couple of minutes...then the lights go out. Kane stalks to the cage as Austin and UT look on. He pauses at the door and his fire flashes and catches on the cage. Austin and Kane are attacking the Undertaker in concert as we fade to black.
As expected, I garnered quite a bit of reaction to my editorial last week comparing Vince McMahon and Bill Gates. A lot of it was negative, again as expected - it was my opinion and I stick by it and I won't apologise for it.
What was surprising is that there was quite a bit of positive reaction as well. You can check out some of the letters on my Mailroom page. A couple of messages gave me something to think about, and that will be the subject of this column.
One correspondent from Europe pointed out that he would not have the programs that he now watches without Vince McMahon's push to put wrestling into the mainstream. That sounds like a valid point and it gave me some pause, but on further reflection I have to wonder if it is really true.
At about the same time that McMahon was raiding other promotions and setting up his deals for National syndication, a fellow named Ted Turner was unveiling his TBS SuperStation. The "SuperStation" concept was based on the emerging cable industry and satelite transmission technology. Basically it was a local TV station that broadcast across the country via satelite and cable. Turner's was not the only "SuperStation" there was also WOR in New York and a few others. In fact it was WOR, running local WWWF programming in New York, which first introduced their product to the Nationwide audience (before Vince Jr's take-over of the promotion).
One of the mainstays of the Turner Atlanta station at that time was Championship Wrestling from Georgia, later called World Championship Wrestling, which aired live wrestling action twice on Saturdays, at 9 AM and 6PM (6AM and 3PM on the West coast). Turner's wrestling program (under promotor Ole Anderson, affiliated with the NWA and hosted by Gordon Solie) was an incredibly popular show in Atlanta and the South and proved to be a hit across the country once it breached the National airwaves.
Among the stars that emerged from CWG/WCW were: The Road Warriors, Dusty Rhodes, Ronny Garvin, Brad Armstrong, Tommy Rogers, Jake "the Snake" Roberts, Ole Anderson (who was also Solie's color announcer), Jimmy Hart, Tim Horner, the Freebirds (long before their WCCW fame), King Kong Bundy, Adrian Street, Tommy Rich, the Spoiler, Tully Blanchard, Baby Doll (Andrea Roberts), Sam Houston, Kevin Sullivan, Ted Dibiasi and a host of others. The program also featured frequent appearances by NWA World Champion Ric Flair.
I personally discovered WCW and the WWF at about the same time, in 1981 when we got our first cable hook-up. Both promotions were essentially of the territorial mode, featuring local wrestlers, many of whom had National and even Worldwide reputations because of the traveling engendered under the territory promotions. I also discovered WCCW, Mid-South and Lucha Libre wrestling under similar circumstances shortly thereafter.
So I have to question the assumption by many that the upsurge in popularity of wrestling in the eighties was purely a result of the WWF's penetration into new markets. I just can't buy it. It's true that McMahon saw the value of altering his product to appeal to a broader audience, but as I have stated before, I'm not sure that those changes were really for the good of wrestling, rather then McMahon's bottom line.
I would also point out that those changes in the product were made gradually over time. As wrestling shot up in popularity, the WWF was still presenting matches not unlike those that aired on other programs from the same era. In fact even a cursory reading of the popular wrestling magazines from that period will show that a lot of wrestling fans considered the WWF product to be inferior, mostly because almost all the matches were showcases for the "Superstars" and represented very little "competition".
If you watched WCCW you could see the Von Erich Boys getting their tails kicked by the Freebirds, for instance. On WCW, King Kong Bundy made mincemeat out of the Road Warriors on several occcasions, or Ronnie Garvin creaming Ted Dibiasi. Meanwhile, the WWF was showing match after match of their big stars squashing jobbers.
McMahon's efforts to bury his competiton (and his tendency to cry "foul" when the shoe is on the other foot) is what irks me. He even bought out the promoter who was running the TBS broadcasts at one point. His attempts to mount a similar live, in-studio program (which was required under the contract with Turner Broadcasting) was a dismal failure. I remember vividly watching Greg Valentine giving the small studio audience the fisheye as he appeared to reluctantly approach the ring on one such program. McMahon quickly abandoned the promotion to the good offices of the Crockett family, whose Mid-Atlantic Wrestling had been a Southern States mainstay for several years. To this day it is obvious that McMahon feels a great antipathy for Turner (duh...) - I wonder sometimes how much of that is due to the competiton between the two promotons and how much is because the Turner promotion represents a failure by McMahon in Atlanta those many years ago.
So my point here is that we really don't know what would have happened between then and now. I have to question whether McMahon's monopolistic business practices were really necessary in order to bring wrestling to its current worldwide audience.
I will be back with part 2 of this commentary, in which I try to answer another correspondent's troubling questions, next week. And I'll be back with the Nitro report tomorrow night. Until then...
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