Since I wrote the article two years ago, the WWF took my advice and turned him good. It didn't work. Oh well. I detailed the steady decline of Vader's "credibility", from splitting his pants on national TV (which wasn't intentional, but sure didn't help) to being body slammed by lightweights. Unfortunately it did not end with the events detailed in my article. Eventually he became the jobber of the week, until finally high-tailing it from the WWF last fall.
He is now flourishing in Japan, and that is a good thing. He's the first guy in history to hold both the All-Japan and New Japan titles. They dig him over there. He just fights.
So I was wrong, and somebody was right. Vader's career has been saved. In Japan, it seems, he gets the respect that American wrestling steadily stripped from him for three years.
Now let's look at another wrestler in jeopardy.
Dan Severn's "sports entertainment" career hit the big time after Wrestlemania 14, when he debuted with his NWA championship on WWF TV as part of Jim Cornette's ill-fated NWA angle.
Dan wrestled in the independents, and was the recognized champion of the National Wrestling Alliance on cards all over the country. [Note: He recently lost the title in Japan]. Of course, he made his name in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He won a bunch of tournaments with his Greco-Roman fighting style. At the same time, also coming up in the Octagon was his biggest rival, Ken Shamrock.
I read that Severn had been courted by both WWF and WCW. He was a star in the UFC, which at the time was competing seriously on PPV with the pro graps federations. Shamrock and Severn were the top two men, and Shamrock made the jump successfully. The UFC in my opinion has peaked. No other UFC fighters have made the switch to "sports entertainment" besides those two. Shamrock met with comparably great success, Severn with ... well, look at the title of this article.
Severn cannot be blamed for the failure of the NWA angle. The WWF was moving as quickly as it could away from "the old days." If the NWA had gone over, we would have seen a tradition vs. new school feud that would have been very similar to WCW vs. nWo. The WWF lacked not only the star power, but obviously the desire to carry it through. Severn was just along for the ride.
The WWF was obviously looking to repeat the success of Shamrock. Severn ain't Shamrock, as everyone soon learned. Severn looks like he stepped out of the 1950s; while Shamrock looks like a pro wrestler in the Lex Luger mold. Severn likes to clamp on armlocks. Shamrock has explosive moves like the belly-to- belly suplex, a Frankensteiner, a flying leg lariat. Severn can't cut an interview to save his life. Shamrock ... well, I guess they are similar in one way.
Shamrock stepped out of the Ultimate Fighting world all the way, eventually wrestling in "loser eats dog food" matches, steel cages, taking numerous chair shots, and beating up referees. Severn was tried doing many of those things. He "injured" D-Lo Brown, which resulted in a huge push for D-Lo, not Severn. They tried "injuring" Severn to get fans on his side, but the fans stayed away in droves, and their silence when he appeared in the ring was deafening.
Shamrock became a WWF Superstar, leaving the "Ultimate Fighting celebrity" role behind. Severn was NWA and UFC champ when the WWF briefly was happy to mention other federations and leagues. When that history stopped being talked about and the NWA thing was down the toilet, all Severn had left was Shamrock and the eventual "When Worlds Collide" of the two UFC greats.
That didn't work out either.
Severn and Shamrock eventually did fight in a throwaway match on Raw, not the main event, not even close, with no buildup. It should have been a pro- wrestling version of two real men finally settling the score. Instead, a sleeping crowd watched two men grapple for less than five minutes, then ended with a run-in screwjob (by Owen Hart). Which never happened in the Octagon.
They did focus on Shamrock as Ultimate Fighter against Owen Hart, with Severn thrown into the mix. Owen's real-life infliction of neck damage to Stone Cold was put on Severn. Shamrock got even with Hart, for no reason, Severn did a heel turn, for no reason. Then Shamrock went bad, joined the Corporation, and left the Lion's Den matches, and Severn, all behind.
On Scoops Out Loud, Severn said (paraphrasing) "Does anyone really want to see Shamrock vs. Severn the way the WWF would do it?" I haven't heard the final report on whether Severn is all the way gone from the WWF or mostly, but last I heard he was wrestling out the remainder of his contract, with release or no push as his only options.
I hope he took the release.
To Severn's credit, he's not a bad wrestler. He's very good. Unfortunately, while he is a great "wrestler," he has not been a good "sports entertainer." That's where the sport is today, for better or worse, and we can debate that point till the cows come home all blue in the face. He's got it all between the ropes, but, here's a news flash, wrestlers who suck with a capital R-O-C-K are over with the crowd as long as they can interview and they look good.
So let's try to answer the question. Can This Career Be Saved?
Severn never stopped being the itinerant NWA champion. He can still travel around the leagues and pro wrestle. He could go back to the UFC and probably be the big fish in that small pond again.
But would he even want to be a sports entertainer? If so, there's always WCW. Hmmm.
We never got a real chance to see him in the WWF ring, doing what he does best, because the WWF doesn't focus on that, and that's Severn's whole deal. He didn't have wrestlers to wrestle. WCW has half a zillion of those, and seven hours of television time every week to fill. Severn could twist those guys into pretzels every single week. I could see him having a series with Bret Hart, who is also into the game for the wrestling -- and Bret could add the heat and charisma to the feud.
So yes, Severn's sports entertainment career might be saved, but I don't think it's necessary. His wrestling career is just fine. Eventually the axis will shift, as it always does. Once again what happens on the mat will actually matter in pro wrestling. Dan Severn -- and precious few others -- will be ready.
Joe Crowe is a writer and stand-up comedian based in Birmingham, Alabama.
You may have noticed the "Storefront" graphic at the top left of many of these pages. I have recently entered into an association with Amazon.com to offer wrestling books and videos which I am willing to review and recommend. Clicking on the "Storefront" graphic will take you too a page with links to recommended books (like Arn Anderson's Biography, for instance, and the Lou Albano book reviewed below) and wrestling videos that can be purchased on line from Amazon.com. There is also a search engine that can be used to access any of the items in the Amazon.com on line catalog. By using Solie's Storefront you are contributing to Solie's web site upkeep because Solie's receives 5% of all qualified sales derived from these links. I have always offered this web site as a free service and have no intention of turning it into a profit center - but it does cost money to run so any proceeds from Solie's Storefront sales will be dedicated to defraying my web expenses.
The program opens with Boyz 2 Men singing America the Beautiful followed by a little pyro - cut to a promo spot featuring Freddie Blasse paying tribute to the star of the WWF and welcoming us to WrestleMania XV.
WrestleMania is live from Philadelphia, PA and to get us started, "What does everybody want..?"
Al Snow vs. Hardcore Holly vs. The Road Dogg - Hardcore Title triple threat match - Billy thinks he's going to make a little speech but the other two attack him then start beating on each other. They fall out to the floor and are followed out by Billy who attacks them both. They cooperate to dispatch him then go back to fighting each other. Snow finds a hockey stick and gains some ground but Billy comes back with a tray of drinks then Show finds a broom. All three return to the ring where Snow alternately beats his two opponents. He gets a chair and uses that as well. Everytime things turn his way - Snow goes out to find another opponent. He gets a table and brings it in but Billy takes control of the situation and ends up sending Snow through the table - the only problem is that he sets Snow up for Holly to pin - which he did. Hardcore Holly is the two time Hardcore Champion.
Video from earlier this evening on Heat - a battle royal.
D'Lo Brown (w/Ivory)/Test vs. The Pissed Brothers - Tag Team Title match - Debra makes no pretense at dressing up for this appearance. Her outfit is a showgirl's bikini with sequins under a mourning coat. Oh I see - D'Lo and Test are partners because they won the battle royal. Owen Hart does a great job of making Test look good right up to the moment he clips him with his insiguri. D'Lo comes in and Hart maintains control then tags in Jarrett. They are talking about Debra "molding the team" - yeah, I'm sure she has a lot to teach Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart... Eventually PMS shows up and gets into a dustup with the other ladies which distracts Test clear out of the ring and leaves D'Lo to be squashed by the Tag Champs.
Isaac Hayes is in the house - right there at ringside.
Bart Gunn vs. Butterbean - Brawl-for-All match - Howard Finkel introduces the judges, Kevin Rooney, Chuck Wapner, Gorilla Monsoon (looking pale and wan) - Butterbean enters with his entourage followed by Bart and his two trainers. Butterbean knocks Bart down about 30 seconds in. Bart gets up and the Bean beans him a second time and puts him down for good. ASo much for Bart Gunn's storied career. The San Diego chicken rus in to play with the referee afterward - he gets punched. Cut to video of a backstage brawl between Mick Foley and Paul Wight earlier today.
The Big Show vs. Mankind - match for the right to referee the main event tonight - Mankind starts on the move and tries to knock the giant over but gets a boot to the face. They both head for the floor immediately where Foley is king. Wight has to use his overwhelming power to regain the initiative. He rolls Foley in. Inside the ring, Wight is more comfortable and quickly takes control. Foley attacks the eyes to get Wight out of the ring. He dons Mr. Socko while Wight is making his way back into the ring. Back inside, Foley misses his first attempt but then gets his claw hold on Wight who starts to sink to the mat. Foley gets on his back which proves a mistake as Wight applies a fallaway slam. The fight goes back out to the floor where Wight grabs a chair and uses it. The referee admonishes him to return to the ring so he takes Foley with him. He sets up two chairs facing each other then chokeslams Foley between them. The referee disqualifies him - so Mankind will referee the big match. Vince McMahon comes down to get in Wight's face and gets lifted up by his throat. He calms the big guy down but then insults him and slaps his face! The Big Show punches out McMahon (one punch, actually...)
In the back, McMahon orders that Wight be arrested for assault.
Road Dogg vs. Ken Shamrock vs. Val Venis vs. Goldust - Intercontinental Title 4-Way Dance - the Dogg gets a better chance to do his DX act by coming out alone to start the event. Val Venis makes his WrestleMania debut tonight. All four start to brawl so i takes a moment to sort it out to Road Dogg vs Shamrock to start. The Dogg is immediately on the receiving end but he comes back with a drop kick then tags in Goldust who retains control of Shamrock before handing off. Shamrock tags in Venis to face Goldust. Dustin has his hands full (no pun intended) with Venis and soon is on the defensive. Road Dog gets involved and Shamrock as well - Goldust and Venis end up lying in the ring for a count! Road Dog tags in and Venis seems to have his number for several moments but then the Dogg goes into his shake-rattle-and-roll routine and cleans house. He gets a pump handle slam to end the flurry. Shamrock tags in and grabs an ankle lock submission on Val but he struggles to the ropes. They fall out to the floor and end up getting counted out. That doesn't stop Shamrock from running back into the ring and suplexing everybody. Eventually he is contained and removed. Now it is James vs. Runnels for a minute then Ryan Shamrock tries to get physically involved but grabs the wrong guy (her guy Goldust) - he is distracted and rolled up. In the parking lot, Paul Wight is being arrested as ordered.
Kane vs. HHH - the chicken runs in and attacks Kane - it is Pete Rose! He was Tombstoned a year ago...and again tonight. HHH then sneaks up from behind and attacks the monster. He knocks Kane to the floor but the big guy lands on his feet. HHH comes out to continue the brawl and has better luck - running him into the stairs and other objects. Back in the ring, he runs into a chin-high boot and loses his advantage. He rolls out to the floor then drags Kane out feet first. HHH tries to mount the stairs but is caught there. Now it is all Kane. He drops HHH astraddle the safety railing then clobbers him. Back in the ring, HHH is completely defenseless. Kane is choking him continuously. He stands HHH in the corner and punches his lights out. Kane goes for a cover but not yet... Kane beats on him some more then throws him over the top to the floor then suicide dives on him!! Back in the ring he heads for the top but is caught there and slammed. HHH is all over his man who is a little off balance. HHH dominates until Chyna appears headed for the ring. He is distracted and blindsided - they get back into it and both are knocked down. She throws a set of stairs into the ring. Kane tries to use them but they are kicked into his face then HHH trips him sending his crashing head first into the stairs. They are outside again for a moment then Kane asserts control. He is ready to finish off HHH but Chyna is on the apron with a chair and wants to have the privelage. Kane allows her to enter the ring with her chair. He turns away and gets his skull split! He turns back to her and is blindsided by HHH. Chyna runs into HHH's arms and they are reunited. Or is she a mole to work against X-Pac later..?
In the back McMahon is declaring that he will be the referee for the main event himself.
Sable vs. Tori - WWF Womens' Title match - Tori's cat outfit is kind of weird. Sable won't let her in the ring at first then takes control of the challenger as she finally passes through the ropes. Tori is ejected then drags Sable out. The Champion re-asserts her dominance but after a bit we begin to see that Tori is a determined competitor and Sable showboats too much.The match goes into see-saw mode as Tori kicks is into gear. Sable is making a comeback when giantess Nicole Bass runs in and grabs Tori and powerbombs her. Sable adds one of her own and takes the pin.
More of the adventures of Mac Daddy and the Greenwich Mafia.
Shane McMahon (w/Test) vs. X-Pac - European Title match - the Stooges attack X-Pac on the ramp but their assault fails and he conetinues to the ring. Shane shows some fancy footwork in the ring then stops to poseand gets tossed out of the ring. Shane decides to leave but is cut off by the Challenger. Test catches up with them and runs X-Pac into the ringpost. Shane returns to the ring while the referee counts on X-Pac. He returns to the ring and is downed. Shane sets up his version of the "Corporate Elbow: but misses. Test has to interfere again - tossing his weight belt to Shane who uses it on Waltman. They go out to the floor again and Shane maneuvers Waltman into contact with his buddies. X-Pac fights them all off then gets clotheslined by Test. X-Pac is rolled back in but Shane can't get the job done. Test drags X-Pac out again but the smaller man gets the better of him and returns to the ring. He is all over the Champ, gets the bronco buster, even, until Test slaps his face with the Title belt. Shane gets a two-count. He chokes Waltman with his boot and goes for the bronco buster and misses. Now Waltman looks in charge but Chyna is on the apron distracting the referee. HHH runs in and clobbers X-Pac! HHH has joined the Corporation!!! The rest of DX runs in and the fighting erupts all over the ring until the lights go out. Kane enters to chase the bad guys (and girls) away. The NAO's help X-Pac up and vow revenge against HHH.
The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) vs. The Big Bossman - Hell in a Cell match - this is an unfornate choice for a big PPV - Ray Traylor really hasn't distiguished himself much in this new incarnation as the Big Bossman - not that he couldn't really go at earlier points in his career - but now as the Undertaker's opposition at a major PPV - doesn't exactly send shivers up my spine. UT's new outfit is pretty cool. The one advantage that Traylor might have is quickness and he plays to that strength to start the match. After a moment UT cuts him off. As the match goes on, Traylor shows that he is the more likely one to turn to wrestling moves when he finds himself on the receiving end - which is most of the match. The cage is large enough to leave some maneuvering room around the outside of the ring and so the fight goes there. Bossman pulls a set of handcuffs and uses them as a weapon then cuffs UT to the cell wall. He uses his night stick a couple of times - as UT falls he breaks the cuffs. Bossman is all over him with the stick but UT comes roaring back. He runs Bossman into the far wall. UT is bleeding from the forehead (I don't remember seeing that happen before) but unbowed. He finds a chair under the ring and hits the Bossman with it. The fight goes on out on the floor for a whil then they roll back into the ring. UT agains asserts control. He does his top rope walk schtick then hesitates and is upset. The Bossman has his first extended offensive flurry but it ends in a nose to nose punch off in the center of the ring. Bossman wins that but UT delivers a low blow that stops his progress. Moments later he gets the Tombstone - not exactly a classic Hell in the Cell match. Afterward, the brood descends from the ceiling and land on the roof of the cage. They tear their way into the cage.Bossman is still out of it. They lower a noose into the ring. UT puts it around the neck of the Bossman who is just coming to. They tie it off and re-ascend to the ceiling. The cell is raised and the Bossman is hung. This is disgusting... First they burn a cross on McMahon's lawn and now they perform a lynching. What's next, white hoods?
Michael Cole introduces Jim Ross to come down and do commentary for the main event.
The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin - WWF World Title match - Mr. McMahon is the special referee - despite the fact that Mankind earned that job over and over again. There is then a surprise guest - Shawn Michaels comes down to a huge pop. He is here to enforce his rule I imagine. He chides McMahon because he wasn't invited to the PPV. He starts quoting the WWF rulebook to the boss. He reminds McMahon that only he (Michaels) can appoint a referee for the main event. He bars the Corporation from ringside then escorts McMahon away. A regular referee takes his place. The Rock makes the first entrance - indicating who the real star of this match is. The Rock doesn't care for Austin's demonstartions for the crowd so he cuts them short and the match gets underway. We are informed that the match was changed to a no-DQ contest earlier on Heat. The fight goes right into the crowd. Has anybody else noticed thatit seems like the majority of Maivia's matches take place outside the ring? They fight back down to the ringside area - the referee has been following them all over the building. They fight away from the ring area again in a diffrent direction this time. Austin gets backdropped onto a lighting fixture and appears to injure his knee. He comes roaring right back and runs Maivia into a boom mic set-up. They brawl up to the entryway and Maivia is run into the scaffolding that holds the WrestleMania sign up. Maivia gets a suplex on the concrete to turn the tables for the first time in a while. He stops to sip some water then spits it in Austin's face. He is then elevated and dropped onto the rail. Austin takes him to the Spanish announce table and annialates him and it. They roll back into the ring but Maivia goes right out the other side. He pulls Austin into the corner post but Stone Cold is still coming at him. Maivia is propelled into the stairs. Back in the ring Mavia gets the Rock Bottom and a two-count. Maivia gets a chair and brings it in but Austin grabs it then accidently clobbers the referee. With the referee out, Maivia gets the chair and uses it repeatedly on Austin's injured leg. He still can't get the pin as Tim White replaces the previous referee. The Rock grabs a reverse chinlock. Austin struggles to his feet and escapes but runs into a clothesline. Maivia grabs the chinlock again. Austin seems to be failing...but then he struggles up again. They go fists of fire but then Austin is caught in a fallaway slam. He gets a two and gets in the referee's face then drops him. Austin attacks again and gets a stunner - Earl Hebner runs in to count but Maivia kicks out. McMahon comes down to distract Austin and succeeds. Rock hits him a low blow and McMahon enters the ring. He decks Hebner! Here comes Mankind - back from the hospital apparently. He takes over the referee duties and ejects McMahon. Maivia is strong and gets the Rock Bottom again but he goes for the Corporate Elbow and misses. He goes for a second Rock Bottom but Austin eludes him then kicks at Maivia's middle and completely misses - but Maivia sells the move then is put into the Stunner. Mankind counts him out. Steve Austin is the World Champ!
After the match Austin shares a Steveweiser with referee Earl Hebner. McMahon gets in Austin's face on the floor and ends up getting punched out.
I'll be back with the Monday Night Wars report. 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