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Solie's Tuesday Morning Report

Monday Night Wars Edition: Part 1

Giant Baba Dead at 61

Sunday Night Heat Overview

Mankind the Two Time WWF Champ!

RAW Report

The Way I See It...

Opinion by Earl Oliver

Volume 4, Issue 419 - February 1, 1999

Shoehi "Giant" Baba, died on January 31 at the age of 61

The legendary founder of All Japan Pro-Wrestling (AJPW), and the three-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, Shohei "Giant" Baba died of liver trouble at 4:04pm on Sunday, January 31st, 1999 in Tokyo.

Baba started his own All Japan Pro-Wrestling in 1972 with a big support from his friends, such as The Destroyer, Bruno Sammartino, and the Funk Brothers. Baba defeated Jack Brisco on December 2nd, 1974 in Kagoshima, Japan to become the first non-white wrestler to win the NWA World Heavyweight title.

Being a strong member of NWA, All Japan was one of the hottest promotions in the world throughout '70s and '80s.

Vigil is to be held on February 1st, private funeral on February 2nd, and a farewell ceremony for fans will take place in a near date (to be announced).

Sunday Night Heat Overview

Not much happened during the beginning of the hour. As expected, Chyna came out to be officially inducted into the Corporation saying it was all about money. DX appeared on the platform where HHH chided Chyna for being jealous because she's not a man (could have fooled me...).

The new Tag Team Champs faced the former Champs in singles competiton and lost both times. Debra was unable to distract the Bossman sufficiently to help Jeff Jarrett and the "Black and Blue Blazer" (who, I am now hearing, is Koko Ware and not Mo as was reported last week) fell off the top corner and thus failed to aid Owen Hart.

The feature contest was the Halftime Heat match which saw Mankind take back the WWF Title after a brutal encounter in an empty arena. I really don't get the point of this empty arena stuff. I realize it has some history behind it but all I can think of is the ridiculous empty arena matches the nWo put on towards the beginning of that storyline. Vince McMahon assumed the commentary duties for this one, playing the heel announcer with relish as Mankind tells him he is "next". The match went first once around ringside then out into the floor seats where the Rock folded chairs up and dropped them on his opponent. As he walked back to put on a headset and do his usual schtick, Mankind recovered and came at him with Mr. Socko. They fought up the stairs then Maivia waited with a trash can to clobber Foley as he cleared the top of the stands. Foley rolled down the steps to the first landing followed by Maivia who emptied the trashcan onto his opponent then then brained him with it again. The fight continued into the kitchen where a cotton candy display was brought into play. Then Maivia grabbed Mr Socko and threw him into an oven, attempting to stuff Mankind in as well but failing that, so he started throwing loaves of bread at him. He stopped to take a swig from a Jack Daniels bottle, giving Mankind a chance to turn the tables and use a bag of popcorn as his weapon (Gosh! That must have hurt...). Throughout all of this, McMahon's commentary continued to push his "Get It?" line, referring to the WWF as providing "action adventure" entertainment. He seems to be having trouble deciding whether his programming is meant to compete with Melrose Place or Xena (Hint: Vince, your competition is down in Atlanta...) Meanwhile, Maivia and Foley brawled right into the dining room where the crew were having dinner, fought their way down a buffet table - food flying everywhere. Next they fight into the office area where startled office workers stand back while Maivia answers the phone to say that Mankind isn't available right now. Again Maivia allows himself to be distracted by a secretary so that Mankind can turn the tables yet again. The brawl goes out to a loading dock where Foley positions Maivia under a fork lift and lowers a palette of beer kegs onto him to get the pin and the title.

The match was clearly intended to appeal to a non-wrestling fan audience with all the comical asides meant to provide more pure entertainment value then real athleticism. I am not convinced that it succeeded, certainly it didn't impress this wrestling fan as a legitimate way for a great performer like Foley to win back the Title. Then again, I can't remember any WWF Titles that have changed hands in a legitimate fashion lately...

RAW Report

Shane is backstage with some of the Corporate thugs (Test, Bossman and Shamrock) saying that his dad is out of town so things are going to be done his way tonight. Uh oh...we remember what happened the last time he said that. They run into PMS on their way out to the arena and aren't very gentlemanly about it. Shane and company stroll out to the ring. Lawler is reminding us that all hell broke out the last time Shane declared himself in charge. The boss' son sends his escort to the back then announces that Vince has gone to Victoria, Texas to confront Austin in hopes of provoking a fight which will get Stone Cold fired. There is a cage suspended over the ring (for a match between HHH and Kane later tonight). Shane has it brought down, but doesn't notice that X-Pac is riding it down. In the back the Corporate team members are brawling with DX. Shane finds himself caught in the cage with Waltman. He tries to attack but X-Pac gets the jump on him. Chyna shows up in a white lame bikini and delivers a low blow after Shane distracts X-Pac. She holds him while Shane punches him out. Together they put the boots to him. Chyna comforts Shane - poor baby, he split his lip! Cut to the SuperBowl commercial.

Mr. McMahon is in a bar in Texas with the stooges (in cowboy hats). He proceeds to harrass a barmaid who tells him to "...get the hell out". Nearby patrons back her up.

Ken Shamrock comes down to do commentary for the next match.

Billy Gunn vs. Val Venis - Shamrock has a real problem maintaining his composure with his two arch enemies in the ring. He states that he has forbidden his sister to go out with Val. Venis wants to shake hands before the match but Billy isn't biting. He moons Val and then attacks him. Venis comes back strong and takes the advantage but only for a moment. The match goes into see-saw mode as Shamrock rants at ringside. He says he has promised his sister that he won't lay a hand on Val but insists that Val is "corrupting" his sister. Lawler eggs him on by evoking images from the Venis video. In the ring, Val is in control with a side headlock which has Billy on the mat. Billy gets to his feet and escapes but again Venis turns the tables. He is gyrating in the ring when Shamrock runs in and smacks him with his chair (I guess technically he didn't lay a hand on him...). Billy chases him away leaving Venis to again assume that it was Billy who hit him. Venis attacks Billy with the same chair (of course). In the back Mankind has $487 of the Rock's money and is buying Max Mini (out of costume) from Vince Russo. Cut to commercial.

The Rock is on the phone in the back talking to Vince, complaining about Mankind spending his money.

Kevin Kelly (trying to look like a grown up in a beard) welcomes Debra to the platform for an interview. Mark Henry shows up to hit on Debra again. He gives her a long stem rose. She distracts him so that the Tag Team Champs can attack him from behind. Now Mankind is giving Kurrgan financial advice. He supplies the money for him to buy stocks (more of Maivia's cash, of course). Cut to commercial.

D-Lo Brown (w/PMS) vs. The Big Bossman - Terri makes a speech before the match about needing to "...teach another pig a lesson". D-Lo protests that he is fed up with doing Terri's dirty work. Terri disagrees, as does Jacquie. Terri calls the Bossman out. D-Lo gets the first lick in but then the Bossman takes control and is all over his opponent. They end up trading punches in the center of the ring as the girls grin at ringside. D-Lo gets a standing kick that puts the Bossman down. He throws a forearm off the second rope and connects. Bossman comes back and mounts the corner only to be caught there by D-Lo. He has the Bossman down for the count but the girls are on the apron distracting the referee. Bossman comes back with a sidewalk slam and gets the pin. After the match the girls split and Bossman attacks with the night stick until Mark Henry comes down and chases him off. Back in Texas the stooges are flirting with a couple of female patron in a pool hall. Patterson take a knee to the groin (ouch!!) for his trouble. Lawler is saying that Vince has found Austin as we cut to commercial.

The Blue Meany comes out to audition as the "RAW Boy" - a dance act to ape the Nitro Grrrrls I presume. Goldust attacks him forces him to the ring. Goldust takes control as they arrive and delivers the Shattered Dream then splits. In the back, D-Lo is being treated by a doctor who reveals under questioning that Terri Runnels wasn't pregnant at all! Cut to commercial.

The Oddities come to the ring as we return. Kurrgan will face Droz in this match. Apparently Droz is separated from LOD at this point - he is back to his old plaid outfit complete with silly hat. He has little success against this monster and is on the receiving end through most of the match. He is tossed out to the floor and uses a broom handle to poke his opponent in the face then runs in and gets the pin before Kurrgan can recover. He continues to attack the big guy until the rest of the Oddities chase him away. Cut to commercial.

Vince and the stooges have found the hangout where Austin comes for his evening snack. Brisco harrasses a waitress and gets a plate of beans dumped on his hat.

The Undertaker comes out with Paul Bearer, Mideon (Dennis Knight) and Viscera (Mabel) for a six man tag match against the Brood. UT sits on his throne as the Scarey Brothers Lite walks past him to make their entrance. A "match made in hell" is ever there was one. Mideon faces Gangrel to start the match. As I said, this is supposed to be a six man but UT continues to sit on the platform as the match gets started. The Brood have their opponents outnumbered and are ahead of the game when the Acolytes run in and cause the DQ. A melee erupts in the ring as numerous officials converge. The Brood toss the officials out, what? The "Ministry" continues to beat on the Brood and then produce a noose and place it around Gangrel's neck. UT enters the ring and lays hands on Gangrel, then they toss him off the apron and hang him. In the back Mankind is giving Debra a sweater so that she won't catch a chest cold (a potentially fatal condition) from exposing so much flesh. Cut to commercial.

So far this program is reminding me of Half Time Heat. Lots of funny stuff, less and less wrestling. If this is an example of the "new WWF direction" maybe McMahon should change the name of his organization to the WSEF (World Silly Entertainment Federation).

Mankind comes to the ring as we return. The crowd goes wild for their Champion. They chant "Foley! Foley!" Mankind thanks them and says he doesn't feel all that good and probably doesn't look all that good - but he does look like the new WWF Champion. The Rock shows up to spoil the the party. He rants at Foley in the third person as the crowd chants "Rocky Sucks!!" His voice sounds spent. He, of course, wants his money and his Title belt back. Foley says he only has about $72,000 of the money left...and he's changed his mind about giving any of the money back and calls him a horses a$$. He offers Maivia a re-match. The Rock wants a "last man standing" match at the Valentines Day Massacre PPV. Foley agrees. Maivia finishes ranting after dropping all of his cliches. They show a spoof version of the "Get It?" ad then cut back to Texas where Vince and the stooges are outside a pawn shop. Vince says he will attack Austin verbally then wants the stooges to attack him physically while he (Vince) goes to get the car. Cut to commercial.

Back in Texas, Vince is about to put his plan into action. He goes through the door and flicks the ear of a guy he thinks is Austin...but it isn't! The guy levels a 30-30 Winchester at him and send him packing to another location (a bar) where Austin is supposed to be.

Jesse James/Al Snow vs. The Acolytes - Hardcore tag team match - the fight starts in the aisle as the Acolytes make their entrance. The brawl goes right to the announce table then moves off around the ring. Bradshaw tosses Snow into the ring and throws the ringsteps in after him. He tries to toss them on Show on the other side but misses. Snow gets a chair and levels both Acolytes. The fight goes into the crowd and up to the concession stands. Snow and Simmons end up in the parking lot while James and Bradshaw battle behind the stands. A "fan" tosses a drink at Bradshaw and get leveled. James and Bradshaw end up back in the ring where a table is set up. Outside, Viscera has gotten involved against Snow. Back in the ring, Faarooq has arrived to help Bradshaw take care of the Dog. They put him through the table and pin him. The rest of the Ministry (including three Druids) shows up to kick James out of the ring, then UT appears on the platform again. The Druids that accompanied the Ministry to the ring are revealed to be the Brood (Gosh, what a surprise... ). Edge grins like a cretin. Cut to commercial...please!

In the parking lot, the Dog has found Snow and is chewing him out for deserting him. He doesn'twant to hear about Viscera's assault and attacks Snow with a chair. Back in the arena, the cage descends toward the ring as we cut to commercial.

McMahon finds Austin as we return and starts badmouthing him. Austin holds himself in check and tells Vince to stuff it until the PPV. Then he sics the assembled Texans on Vince and the stooges and leaves.

HHH vs. Kane - cage match - HHH does his bad Michael Buffer impression with an aside directed at Chyna then Kane makes his entrance. HHH attacks Kane as he steps into the cage. He pounds Kane to his knees but then the big guy grabs him by the throat and throws him into the cage wall. It is all Kane for a moment. HHH comes back but can't make a dent in his monsterous opponent. Kane misses an elbow drop but it doesn't faze him. It looks like HHH is out of luck. Kane signals for his corner post blasts and the cage is bathed in red light as the match continues. Then the lights come back up. HHH is still in it but can't seem to get anything going. He tries to escape through the door but is dragged back. He finally turns the tables and runs Kane repeatedly into the cage wall. He tries again to escape but is cut off. Kane downs him and starts to climb out over the corner. HHH goes for the door again but Kane abandons his own flight to cut him off again. HHH pulls a chair back in with him and uses it. Kane goes down and pops right back up to drag HHH off the cage wall. Kane tries it next and is himself dragged back. HHH climbs again but is stopped at the top of the wall. He kicks Kane away and gets to the top but Kane is back and tries to chokeslam him to the mat. He fails and loses his balance in the process, falling astradle the top rope. Back in the ring, HHH tries to set up a Pedagree, but Kane back-drops him and then gets a chokeslam. HHH lies in the center and Kane goes for the door, but X-Pac is there to slam the door in his face. Now Kane starts to climb the wall but X-Pac beats him to the top and slugs him, distracting him so that HHH can attempt his escape. Chyna runs in to prevent him from making it but is kicked away. HHH makes it over the top and to the floor for the win.

Chyna calls Kane back from chasing the boys. She tells HHH to expect the worse at the PPV but doesn't make it clear what she means.

The Way I See It...

I am quite willing to admit that I don't like Vince McMahon.

I don't like his business practices and I especially don't like the arrogance he displays in making statements like "We're giving the fans what they demanded..." then presenting storylines involving porn stars, racial and sexual overtones, obscene language and gestures and the like. But I also know that I can complain until I'm blue in the face and it isn't likely to affect anything because I am a member of a non-accredited journalism community called "wrestling writers" - and am even further down the totem pole because I do my reporting on the Internet.

I don't even have enough clout to spark a response from the WWF such as the articles by Vince Russo and Kevin Kelly published on the WWF web site in the last few weeks taking on Eric Bischoff and owner Bob Ryder.

The WWF kicked off their big "Get It?" publicity campaign during the second half of yesterday's SuperBowl broadcast. I happened to see the commercial because I was trying to see the Halftime Heat program (which, incidently, didn't air at halftime here on the left coast). It was pretty innocuous except for the glipse of what appeared to be a couple engaged in intercourse in the background as Sable talked to the camera about how the WWF "...wouldn't think of using sex" to sell their product.. I also know something about this ad campaign because I read some of the news coverage of the TV Critics Press Tour event in Los Angeles this week wherein Vince McMahon outlined his strategy.

Now I can understand the impetus to experiment with new forms. This "Get It?" strategy, however, is fraught with peril because instead of trying to find out what people really want, the WWF seems to have decided to put forth the proposition that if we don't like what they are doing then we just don't "Get it..." The arrogance of such a position by a company that bases it's success or failure on public perception of their product is simply staggering.

Here is some of what Newsday reporter Diane Werts had to say in her article about this event. She starts by talking about her own experience with watching pro-wrestling and admits that she always liked it. Then she says:

Later in the article, Werts goes on:

This same set of press conferences found Eric Bischoff having to defend his product against reporters' biting questions obviously based on what they are seeing in the WWF. Bischoff admitted that WCW is suffering in popularity vis-a-vis the WWF but allowed that there were certain things his company isn't willing to do for ratings. And what was McMahon's response? The article continues:

This is strong language, and frankly, I find reason for concern when a mainstream feature writer such as Ms. Werts finds it necessary to sound such an alarm. I read articles on the same subject from other parts of the country this week. Some were as critical as this one, some weren't - all of them were negative in tone.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that this kind of publicity is going to hurt the wrestling business in terms of putting "a$$es in the seats" as the popular saying goes. In all likelyhood, if it has any affect at all, it will be to increase the gate receipts, TV ratings and PPV revenues some incremental amount. I say "if it has any affect at all" because I am not convinced that it really will. In my opinion, the things that have been driving the WWF into the #1 spot in recent months have had more to do with the popularity of Steve Austin and the innovative storylines surrounding the Austin/Mcmahon feud. I will concede that there is the possibility that this "smut factor" could serve to attract new viewers.

But any such gain is always at the expense of something, or someone. In this case, the cost is likely to be to the reputation of the wrestling business in general as a family-oriented entertainment form. My fear is that this is just the tip of the iceberg - that the WWF's decision to push their sleazy programming in peoples' faces will eventually come back to haunt other wrestling promotions and all of us who love this peculiar form of "sports-entertainment."

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

Earl Oliver
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